|Monday, 16 July 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 11 November 2010 Issue No: 3642
 FinMin meets Fitch officials, KatseliFinance minister George Papaconstantinou held a meeting at noon Wednesday with a team of experts from the interna-tional ratings firm Fitch, which is evaluating the course of the Greek economy and progress in planned structural reforms, aiming at a re-evaluation of Greece's macroeconomic prospects.
The meeting took place at the request of the rating agency, whose experts will also be meeting with the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) to discuss growth data and other macroeconomic indicators, and with officials of the General State Accounts Office and the Public Debt Management Agency on the course of execution of the budget and the country's borrowing status.
Similar meetings will be held with a team of Moody's experts expected in Athens by the end of the year.
Fitch's is currently the only ratings firm that has maintained Greek sovereign bonds at a BBB- rating, whereas Moody's and Standard & Poor's have downgraded Greek bonds to junk status.
Finance Ministry officials say that there has been an improvement abroad regarding the Greek economy, which increases prospects of upgrading its macroeconomic prospects, although not before mid-2011.
Papaconstantinou met later on Wednesday with labour and social security minister Louka Katseli, his last in a series of consultations with government ministers before the drafting of the ministries' budgets and the 2011 general state budget.
In statements after the meeting, Katseli suggested that spending cuts of up to 1.5 billion euros might be achieved through the cooperation of the various ministries involved.
The new budget is due to be tabled in parliament on November 18, and will take into account an upward revision of the country's deficit for the period 2006-2009 expected to be released by Eurostat on November 15, the day that a team of European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' inspectors will arrive in Athens to draft their regular report ahead of approval of the third tranche of the EU-IMF support loan to Greece.
The government has said that the main emphasis in the 2011 budget will be to cut back state spending without further cuts to wages and pensions or increases in taxation above those already agreed on.
 Former ECB vice president on economic crisisFormer European Central Bank vice president and honourary Bank of Greece governor Lucas Papademos, in an address on the theme of "Fiscal restructuring and monetary stability", said that Greece's fiscal adjustment and the exit from the crisis will not be easy and brief without the taking of bold measures.
Papademos added that there must be no illusions of painless solutions for imbalances and the ineffectiveness of decades to be reversed that led to the present economic situation, stressing that the government has taken so far difficult and politically bold decisions.
He reiterated many times that if a substantive and permanent fiscal restructuring is not achieved, monetary stability will not be achieved and the country will be unable to exit from the crisis.
Referring to the issue of the restructuring of the country's debt, he said that it is neither a desirable nor a necessary solution for the country as well as the eurozone. Papademos further said that the socially fair distribution of the cost of fiscal adjustment is necessary for social tensions to be avoided that will make the implementation of the goals that will lead to the exit from the crisis difficult.
 No dismissals in public sector and of permanent staff in utilities, minister saysInfrastructures Minister Dimitris Reppas, speaking to the "9,34" radio station, stressed that "surely, there can be no dismissals, given that the civil servants are under the protection of the Constitution. Employment of permanent employees in the public sector is not at risk in any case," while adding to radio station "9" that in the ministry's public utilities there shall be no dismissals of permanent staff.
He further said that the middle class will not be burdened by the 2011 budget and added that "of course the services of the state must become more effective, as regards the receiving of revenues and of course the measures that the government must face can only be measures that will not undermine the growth momentum that we must always pursue in order to exit from the recession. They must not restrict liquidity in the market, which is necessary for the economy to move and they must not harm those forces that are at their limits, concerning the tackling of the problems of their day-to-day life."
 ND: new tough measures after the Nov. 14 electionsThe main opposition New Democracy (ND) party accused the ruling PASOK on Wednesday of having a "secret agenda", pointing out that the government has already decided to proceed with the implementation of new tough measures soon after the second round of the local government elections on Nov. 14.
ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos stressed that "the citizens have realized that the policy followed by the prime minister leads to destruction and that was the reason they called for a change of course through their vote."
He expressed certainty that the anti-memorandum vote will be "dominant in next Sunday's elections as well because, apparently, the government has not received the message sent by the electorate".
 Support for candidates in the second round of the local government electionsThe opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S)-backed Piraeus mayoral candidate Petros Mantouvalos (a former ND MP), on Wednesday called on those who voted for him in last Sunday's first round of local government elections to support the main opposition New Democracy (ND)-backed candidates.
Mantouvalos, who did not garner enough votes to be eligible to run in next Sunday's second round of local government elections, expressed support to ND-backed candidate Vassilis Michaloliakos who will run against ruling PASOK-backed Yiannis Michas for the municipality of Piraeus.
Mantouvalos also expressed support to the ND-backed candidate for Attiki Regional Governor Vassilis Kikilias who will face PASOK-backed candidate Yiannis Sgouros.
Meanwhile, the opposition Coalition of the Left (SYN) Political Secretariat decided by a majority vote to urge its supporters to "decide on their stance in the second round of the local government elections at will", adding that "this stance meets the needs of society and reflects the party's political strategy."
However, this stance was rejected by the party's leftist wing which was in favour of voting down all candidates supported by the two major political parties, ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND).
 BoG recommends measures to cut public debt, rejects talk of debt restructuringBank of Greece governor George Provopoulos on Wednesday recommended a package of three measures aimed at counterbalancing the dynamic of the country's public debt, ahead of a forthcoming upward revision of the country's fiscal statistics by Eurostat.
The central bank, taking in mind an anticipated upward revision of the country's fiscal deficit and public debt data, estimates that a fiscal adjustment program should be accelerated, presenting a larger decline of primary deficits and achieving higher primary surpluses earlier, accelerating a privatization program (beginning with the restructuring of Hellenic Railways) and improving management of the state's real estate property, in an effort to take structural development measures to speed up economic recovery and creating preconditions for satisfactory and sustainable GDP growth rates.
The central bank reiterated its position that any restructuring of the country's debt would be hazardous to the Greek economy and noted that this could be avoided by implementing the necessary policy mixture. History shows that in the past any developed country which achieved zero or negative primary result did not declare bankruptcy but continued fiscal adjustment efforts. This is the clear commitment of the Greek government. In any case, the Bank of Greece's management believes that the political and economic cost of a bankruptcy would be much larger than any short-term cost related with a strategy of fiscal consolidation.
A bankruptcy combined with a restructuring of debt would have direct and significant negative consequences not only for the assets of foreign investors but for Greek banks, Greek pension funds and Greek private investors holding a significant part of the public debt, along with foreign pension funds and EU banks, also holders of a significant part of Greek public debt.
 Greek fiscal deficit down 30 pct in Jan-OctGreece's net regular budget revenues rose 3.7 pct in the January-October period, compared with the same period in 2009, slightly up from a 3.6 pct rise in the nine-month period this year, the Finance ministry said on Wednesday.
This development mainly reflected a large recovery in VAT revenues, as a result of higher VAT rates and efforts to combat tax-evasion, while a negative impact on revenues had lower receipts from other taxes. However, the ministry expects tax revenues to rise in the last two months of 2010.
The fiscal deficit fell to 17.405 billion euros in the 10-month period, down from 24.833 billion euros in 2009, for a decline of around 30 pct down from a 32 pct target envisaged by an updated economic policy program. The annual target for the year envisages a decline of 36.9 pct.
Regular budget spending were down 7.0 pct in the January-October period, with primary spending down 11 pct -surpassing an annual target of a 9.2 pct decline, while interest payments rose by 5.5 pct, down from an annual target of a 7.2 pct rise.
Spending by a Public Investment Program were down 24.6 pct, while revenues were down 3.3 pct compared with 2009.
 EBEA presents proposals to help in the recovery of the Greek economyThe head of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Constantinos Mihalos, on Wednesday urged the government to accept the chamber's proposals aimed at helping in the recovery of the economy and boosting business activity in the country.
Speaking to reporters, Mihalos said the need for accepting these 10 proposals was more significant now ahead of a revision of the country's fiscal deficit and public debt. Mihalos said a revision of the country's statistics to the worse has been discounted, while he noted that Greece offered huge counter-incentives to attracting new enterprises. A recent survey by EBEA showed that almost nine out of 10 enterprises thought that the current tax policy was burdening their financial performance, while more than eight in 10 faced a decline in turnover, two in 10 were examining plans to relocate in foreign countries and one in two was examining the termination of their operations if financial performance did not improve within next year.
EBEA's proposals included: cutting tax levels for enterprises, cutbacks of state spending but not of the Public Investment Program and the implementation of a Fourth Community Support Framework program. Other proposals include an immediate promotion of specific development projects and policies, such as development of a fiber optic network, development of a state real estate property in Hellinikon, exploiting regional airports and ports, building theme parks and sports facilities, etc. Action was also needed towards a radical reform of the public sector, deregulating closed markets and professions and creating terms of equal competition between state and private sector enterprises, along with a restructuring of all loss-making public sector enterprises and actions to deal with liquidity problems in the domestic market.
 Gov't could cut pharmaceutical spending by 1.5 billion euros in 2011Pharmaceutical spending could be cut by 1.5 billion euros in 2011 compared with this year, in cooperation with all related ministries, Labour and Social Insurance Minister Louka Katseli said on Wednesday. Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou to discuss the 2011 budget for the Labour ministry.
The meeting with the Labour minister completed a round of meetings between the Finance minister and his colleagues in cabinet ministries in the framework of drafting ministry budgets and the state budget for 2011. The government will focus on cutting state spending to achieve its goal for lower fiscal deficits
 Deputy Culture Minister Nikitiadis in LondonDeputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis, addressing the panel of the Tourism Ministers session organised by the World Tourism Organisation and held in the framework of the International Tourism Exhibition WTM 2010 in London, outlined Greece's positions on the main problems concerning the world tourist market. The coordinator of the discussion, in which a Greek minister participated for the first time, was the well known CNN reporter Richard Quest.
On the same day, Nikitiadis had separate meetings with three of the biggest tourist organisations, that take tourists from Britain to Greece, the leadership of the TUI, the president and associates of the administration of Thomas Cook, as well as the heads of Olympic Holidays.
He then met with the vice president of the Ryanair airline company and the representatives of the administration of Easyjet and of Monarch airlines, as well as with representatives of the companies Trip Advisor and Expedia.
Moreover, placing emphasis on the alternative forms of tourism, Nikitiadis provided a working luncheon for the representatives of the biggest British special tourism offices (Sunvil, Planet Holidays, Responsible Travel, CV Travel, Ramblers, Ionian&Aegean Holidays), discussing with them possibilities of developing their tourist products.
 New era for sea cruise in GreeceThe Greek Minister of Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries, Yiannis Diamantidis on Wednesday signed a ministerial decision setting the boarding fee for cruise ships under non-community flag seeking to operate in the Greek sea area. The decision sets the boarding fee for each passenger and per cruise travel at 3.95 euros. The contribution sum will be cut by 20 pct on condition that the sea cruise company would employ Greek sailors at a rate of at least 1.0 pct of total ship crew. The contribution sum will be cut by 7.0 pct for each additional Greek port the ship approaches according to the cruise schedule of the company.
"Today is the beginning of a new day for the sea cruise [sector] and for the country. This decision offers incentives to sea cruise companies to operate more in Greek ports, offers incentives to hire Greek sailors, offers incentives for the development of our ports. According to information, this decision was met with enthusiasm by sea cruise companies and I believe a new era for sea cruises begins from 2011", Diamantidis said.
 Session on 'How global economic crisis is changing the Greek economy'The theme of a session of the Manchester Business School of the University of Manchester, held on Wednesday afternoon at the "Esperidas" hall of the Hilton with the Alpha Bank as the joint organiser, focused on "How the global economic crisis is changing the Greek economy."
Among the main speakers was Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis who said in his address that "the Greek problem is also of a productive model. Greece did not wish to determine what its role is in the global distribution of labour."
Sahinidis also referred to the markets, stressing that "since 2001 the markets did not evaluate risks correctly. They allowed countries to borrow cheaply. I remind you that during the drachma era as soon as the deficit emerged at 7-8 percent the markets profiteered. Then, the governments took immediate measures."
The event was attended by senior banking officials and a large number of businessmen.
 European Commission on red tuna fishBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)
The European Commission, following a proposal by Greek Commissioner Maria Damanaki, adopted on Tuesday, during its session, a proposal on red tuna fish that will be tabled at the next session of the International Committee on the preservation of the tuna of the Atlantic ICCAT, that will be held in Paris in a few days.
At this session, the parties in ICCAT will be called on to agree on a plan on regaining red tuna fish reserves for the 2011-2013 period.
Referring to the issue, Damanaki said among other things that "it is a step of progress of major importance. For the first time we have a clear proposal by the Commission for the Council to decide the decrease of the total fishing quotas of red tuna fish allowed, based on scientific factors."
 Sifounakis says tender for improving Thessaloniki sea front in two monthsDeputy Environment Minister Nikos Sifounakis on Wednesday announced that studies on improving the Thessaloniki sea front are due to be completed in two months, at which time there will be a tender for the projects as announced in the environment ministry's Thessaloniki 2012 programme.
Sifounakis was speaking with the members of Thessaloniki's Agency for the Regulatory Plan and Protection of the Environment.
 ESEE representatives meet with deputy minister of financeTaxation issues that have a negative impact on business activity were outlined by National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) representatives in their meeting on Wednesday with Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Kouselas.
They focused, among others, on VAT payments, the issuing of receipts, and adoption of rewards for law abiding taxpayers.
 ADEDY warns with worker mobilizationsThe civil servants' umbrella federation ADEDY warned that the government will launch "new attacks and cuts targeting labour, collective and social rights", in a statement issued on Wednesday in response to the "setting that is being created" using as a vehicle "the size of the deficit" and the "vagueness of statements recently made by the government spokesman".
ADEDY accused the government of "implementing an anti-labour and anti-popular policy which is being escalated to extremes" through "threats of layoffs in the public sector and the lack of a clear denial on behalf of the government, which cannot ignore that such a move will be a blunt and direct violation of the Constitution." The statement also referred to "the layoffs of contract workers, the first victims of the Memorandum," and to "the unprecedented, in the post WWII period, reduction of incomes and upsets of social insurance rights."
ADEDY underlined that "the workers united and in massive numbers will respond immediately with mobilizations within the next 15 days" and called on the government "to clarify its position and intentions in a direct and categorical manner. In a different case, it (the government) will be responsible for the mass production of similar scenarios and will be judged by salary earners, pensions, the young and the jobless and each and every citizen."
 AB Vasilopoulos reports 5.0 pct rise in Q3 salesAB Vasilopoulos on Wednesday reported a 5.0 pct increase in its third quarter sales to 367 million euros, from 350 million euros in the same period last year.
In a report by Delhaize Group -the owner of the super market chain- said AB Vasilopoulos continued gaining significant market share despite adverse economic conditions prevailing in the country. Private label sales accounted for 17 pct of total sales. Operating earnings margin fell to 2.3 pct of sales in the third quarter of 2010, from 3.6 pct last year, reflecting additional promotion actions, higher payroll cost and higher taxation. Operating earnings fell 31.8 pct to 9.0 million euros, from 13 million euros last year.
 Building activity down 25.2 pct in Jan-AugBuilding activity in the private sector dropped 24.8 pct in August, for a decline of 25.2 pct in the January-August period this year, with industry officials remaining pessimistic over the outlook of the sector. Private sector builders' hopes are focusing on home restoration and co-funded programs to saving energy.
Hellenic Statistical Authority on Wednesday said building activity in the private sector totaled 2,697 building permits, down 5.2 pct from August 2009, while it was down 24.8 pct in volume over the same period. Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (-48 pct), Epirus (-41.5 pct), Attica (-39.6 pct), Western Greece (-38.8 pct), Crete (-35.5 pct), Central Greece (-35.2 pct) and Western Macedonia (-30.3 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses in building volume among the country's regions, while only three regions scored gains in building volume, Southern Aegean (16 pct), Thessaly (11.7 pct) and the Peloponese (8.4 pct).
Private building activity fell 10.2 pct in building permits in the eight-month period, and by 25.2 pct in volume, compared with the same period in 2009. All regions suffered declines in building volume, with Attica (-35.9 pct), Central Greece (-33.5 pct), Western Greece (-25.4 pct) and Central Macedonia (-23.7 pct) recording the heaviest percentage losses.
 Stocks end 2.0 pct downGreek stocks suffered heavy losses in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, ending a three-day rally in the market. The composite index fell 2.0 pct to end at 1,510.16 points, with turnover a low 98.309 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 2.78 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.11 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.41 pct.
Coca-Cola Hellenic was the only blue chip share to end higher, while OPAP (4.83 pct), ATEbank (4.76 pct), Piraeus Bank (4.23 pct) and National Bank (3.73 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses.
The Health (7.47 pct) and Food (1.02 pct) sectors scored gains, while Media (4.51 pct), Travel (4.25 pct) and Banks (3.40 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 95 to 62 with another 42 issues unchanged. Euroline (17.81 pct), Altec (16.67 pct), Paperpack (13.11 pct) were top gainers, while Alsinco (19.4 pct), Druckfarben (16.07 pct) and Tegopoulos (9.09 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.78%
Personal & Household: +0.03%
Raw Materials: -2.13%
Travel & Leisure: -4.25%
Food & Beverages: +1.02%
Financial Services: -2.89%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.52
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.22
HBC Coca Cola: 19.70
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.49
National Bank of Greece: 7.49
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.37
Bank of Piraeus: 3.17
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened sharply to 920 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 896 bps on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.59 pct and the German Bund 2.39 pct. Turnover in the market was 46 million euros, of which 21 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 25 million euros were sell orders. The three-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 15 million euros. In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.54 pct, the six-month rate 1.27 pct, the three-month 1.04 pct and the one-month rate 0.85 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -3.04 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover at 47.276 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,972 contracts worth 39.133 million euros, with 28,370 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,388 contracts worth 8.143 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,885), followed by Eurobank (979), OTE (466), Piraeus Bank (2,053), Alpha Bank (1,083), Marfin Popular Bank (296), Cyprus Bank (274) and ATEbank (201).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.388
Pound sterling 0.863
Danish kroner 7.513
Swedish kroner 9.371
Japanese yen 114.39
Swiss franc 1.350
Norwegian kroner 8.140
Canadian dollar 1.394
Australian dollar 1.387
 Asopos River region characterized as vulnerable zone by joint ministerial decisionThe greater Asopos River region has been characterized as vulnerable by a supplementary Joint Ministerial Decision to be published soon in the Government Gazette.
The new decision supplements an earlier one (Decision No. 19652/1906/1999) to protect more effectively the aquatic environment at the Asopos River drainage basin. The region is characterized as vulnerable to pollution by nitrates due to agricultural activities.
The studies conducted by Athens water company EYDAP to ensure that the region's population will be supplied with clean tap water will be completed by the end of the year, while tenders will be issued for the necessary projects, a statement by the ministry of environment, energy and climate change underlined on Wednesday.
The ministry is also considering the establishment of a special inspectors' office at Oinofyta, the site of an informal industrial zone in the greater Asopos River region.
Asopos River is a small but significant water course some 60 km north of Athens.
 Hytiris greets INSI debate on the safety of journalists"The journalists' right to do their job is society's right to speak and be heard," Alternate Culture Minister Tylemachos Hytiris, responsible for mass media, stressed on Wednesday while greeting the International News Safety Institute (INSI) convention in Athens entitled "Live to tell: debate on the safety of journalists".
Underlining the importance of the journalist being identified with society, Hytiris pointed out "the journalists have only one asset, their signatures; namely, their credibility."
He added that "democracy and culture identify with free information and dialogue. The journalists should feel and be free."
INSI director Rodney Pinder stressed that "the institute's mission is to help journalists survive to tell the stories, we all have to listen."
 Exhibition of maps of Aegean Sea from 15th-17th centuryAn exhibition of maps of the Aegean Sea from the 15th to the 17th century opens on Thursday at the Eynardou Mansion in downtown Athens.
The exhibition is titled "The Aegean Sea - Cartography and History 15th-17th century", and the exhibits are from the Greek Cartography Archives collection.
The Greek Cartography Archive was founded in 2002 with a donation by Victor and Niovi Mela of their old maps collection to the National Bank of Greece's Cultural Foundation.
The exhibition, at the Eynardou Mansion on the corner of 20 Agiou Constantinou and Menandrou streets off Omonia Square, will run through May 29, 2011.
A second exhibition will follow covering the period from the late 17th century to the early 19th century.
The Eynardou Mansion houses the National Bank's Cultural Foundation.
 Athens-Patras highway section to close until Thursday morningThe Athens-Patras national highway was shut down in both directions on Wednesday afternoon between the Ancient Corinth and Kiato junctions in order to demolish and remove the Tarsinon bridge. The highway will remain closed along that section until 7:00 on Thursday morning.
Trucks heading from Athens to Patras will be diverted onto the old national road until Kiato and private cars will be directed onto a four-kilometre detour. Vehicles travelling from Patras to Athens will be diverted onto the old national road.
 EMCDDA unveils 2010 Annual Report on the drug problem in EuropeThe use of heroin is on the rise across Europe, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) 2010 Annual Report: the state of the drugs problem in Europe, presented on Wednesday in the ministry of health.
The EU agency's figures concern the year 2008 and show that cannabis remains the most popular substance, considering that 22.5 pct of the population in Greece has tried it.
Roughly 14 million Europeans have used cocaine in their lifetime, 3 millions under the age of 34. The rising use of cocaine is evident in Greece as well based on the fact that the number of people requesting help to deal with cocaine addiction has tripled in recent years.
As regards heroin, it is the most widely used controlled substance in Greece. A serious problem for Europe is the continuous appearance of new synthetic drugs, while very alarming is the fact that these substances are sold over the internet.
Referring to the housing problem faced by the state-run drug rehabilitation agency OKANA, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos stated that the best possible solution is being sought, focusing on moving the agency's services to hospital areas.
 Psychiatrist arrested on child porn chargesA 48-year-old psychiatrist has been arrested in Thessaloniki for trafficking in child pornography material over the internet, in the framework of a collaboration between local police with Interpol, it was made known on Wednesday.
Police said that the detainee's trail was traced through an investigation on the internet, and a spot investigation was made at his office in downtown Thessaloniki on Tuesday, where police confiscated the psychiatrist's PC, which contained files with child porn videos.
At a subsequent search of the man's house, police found and confiscated a second PC hard drive, which was currently being examined by police experts.
The psychiatrist, who was detained at the Thessaloniki security police headquarters and was being interrogated, was also a collaborator at a local state hospital in a substance detox program, apart from his private practice.
 Foreign national arrested for drug offences in central AthensA team of Rafina coast guard officers acting on a tip-off on Wednesday arrested a 37-year-old foreign national in the Agios Panteleimonas district of central Athens after finding one kilo of cannabis hidden under his clothes.
Authorities also searched two apartments from where the 37-year-old said he had obtained the drugs. In the first apartment they found 89 grammes cannabis in total, packaged in 16 matchboxes, and 11 grammes of opium divided into eight packages, as well as a 20cm flick knife and a 9cm blade.
In the second apartment they found 4,133 kilos of cannabis divided into 44 bars, 216.2 grammes of heroin in plastic packages, 459 grammes of opium divided into three packages, 1.573 kilos of unprocessed cannabis, another quantity of unprocessed cannabis weighing 138 grammes divided into 25 matchboxes, 1,035 euros and dozens of drivers licences and passports from various countries.
 Prisoner escaped since 2008 caught in ImathiaGreek authorities on Wednesday reported the capture of an escaped convict that had been sought since September 2008 in Alexandria, Imathia prefecture.
The convict was a 35-year-old Albanian national that had escaped from the Larissa prisons, where he was serving a lengthy sentence for drug-related and other offences. The prison had given him a brief furlough and he had failed to reappear at the appointed time, using it as an opportunity to escape. At the time he was recaptured he was driving a stolen car with fake number plates.
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 26C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with southerly 4-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 25C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 23C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe deficit and deliberations ahead of the second round of local government elections, the EU-ECB-IMF troika's pressure to put aside the collective labor agreements and the markets' overture to Greek banks, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "More austerity measures to come".
AVGHI: "Third round of measures with lay-offs and cutbacks".
AVRIANI: "4.5 billion euros black hole in deficit brings new snap elections scenarios".
ELEFTHEROS: "Ministers and PASOK cadres pull the carpet from under Papandreou's feet".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Troika threatens salaries in private sector".
ESTIA: "Tragic decisions for the economy".
ETHNOS: "Prime Minister George Papandreou's rage over his ministers' and cadres' wrong handlings".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The defeat in elections brings in-party clashes, and the day after the elections additional measures".
IMERISSIA: "Deficit off target".
KATHIMERINI: "The measures divide the government".
LOGOS: "In the vise of the troika and rating firms".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "National Bank of Greece and Eurobank offer 8.7 billion euros liquidity to market".
TA NEA: "Government 'sees' unholy alliances between ND and Communist Party in the second round of local government elections".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Government is lying that it will not harm salary and pension earners".
TO VIMA: "Nagging in ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy over the local government elections result".
VRADYNI: "Troika wants more blood".
 FM issues press release on European Commission's report on TurkeyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus deems as satisfactory the 'objective ascertainment' of the European Commission that Turkey has not yet fulfilled its obligations towards Cyprus.
It also considers as positive the Commission's reference that Turkey is expected to actively support the ongoing UN-led Cyprus talks aiming at reaching a just, functional and viable solution of the Cyprus problem, in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the EU principles.
In a press release issued Wednesday on the European Commission's progress report and its Strategy Paper on the Enlargement, the Foreign Ministry of Cyprus deems as objective and of great importance the opinion of the Commission that Turkey's substantive and in concrete terms commitment towards a functional solution of the Cyprus problem is of crucial importance.
However, the Foreign Ministry expresses its objection towards the Commission's claim that Turkey continues to publicly express its support towards the Cyprus talks.
The Foreign Ministry stresses that Turkey's stance towards the ongoing Cyprus negotiations is contrary to its EU obligations for a substantive support of the efforts to reach a solution in Cyprus based on the relevant UN resolutions and the EU principles.
It also points out that "what is of importance is not the Turkish public declarations but the substance of the statements of the Turkish officials, which, until today, contravene the agreed basis for a solution of the Cyprus problem''.
The FM says that the Commission's report states that "however, despite repeated calls by the Council and the Commission, Turkey still has not complied with its obligations as outlined in the declaration of the European Community and its Member States of 21 September 2005 and in the Council conclusions, including the December 2006 and December 2009 conclusions".
"This ascertainment is objective and reflects the fact of the non-compliance of Turkey with its EU obligations and its obligations towards its member statesÖ" the press release says.
The Foreign Ministry points out that Turkey's obligations as outlined in the Declaration of the 21st of September 2005, include the recognition of all EU member states by Turkey, as well as the implementation of the Ankara Protocol, the normalization of Turkey's relations with all EU member states and the support on behalf of Turkey of the efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
The Foreign Ministry notes that for one more consecutive year, the Commission's report points out that Turkey does not meet its obligation of the full, non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not removed all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport links with the Republic of Cyprus.
In addition, the FM notes that the Commission refers to the fact that Turkey has made no progress as regards the normalization of its bilateral relations with the Republic of Cyprus.
In its press release, the Foreign Ministry notes that the Commission refers to Turkey's stance to continue to veto Cyprus' membership of several international organisations, including the OECD and the Wassenaar Arrangement on export controls for conventional arms exports and dual-use goods.
Moreover, it also notes that in its progress report, the Commission says that the government of the Republic of Cyprus reported violations of its territorial waters and airspace by Turkey.
The Foreign Ministry considers as positive the fact that the Commission will continue to monitor closely and specifically report on all issues covered by the 21 September 2005 declaration, in accordance with the Council conclusions of December 2006.
It also points out the proposal of the Commission, that due to the lack of progress on behalf of Turkey, the EU continues to block the eight EU-Turkey negotiating chapters it had frozen in December 2006, a measure that will have a permanent impact on the overall progress of Turkey's EU course.
Moreover, the Foreign Ministry considers as inappropriate the Commission's comment that there has been an increase in the number of applications before the so called "compensation commission" for Greek Cypriot properties in the Turkish occupied areas.
The Ministry notes that the issue of properties is extremely complicated and points out that given in mind that the interpretation of the European Court of Human Right's decisions does not fall within the competences of the European Commission, the Commission's comment was unfortunate.
The government of the Republic of Cyprus will proceed to a thorough study and evaluation of the content of the two papers and will express its opinion on all matters to the Council of the EU, the FM says.
The FM's press release concludes that the Council of Ministers and the European Council will make their conclusions next December as regards the progress of Turkey's accession negotiations.
 Fuele: Imperative need for Turkey to implement the Customs Union ProtocolBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
It is an imperative need for Turkey to implement the Customs Union Protocol without any discrimination, European Commissioner for the Enlargement Stefan Fuele has noted, speaking on Tuesday evening before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament.
Presenting the annual reports produced to assess progress in European Union membership candidate and potential candidate countries, and replying to a question, Fuele said that the rhythm of the EU accession negotiations is not satisfactory. Fuele called on Turkey to "implement the Customs Union Protocol without any discrimination, in order the momentum of the negotiations not to be lost".
Fuele did not give any kind of guarantee that new EU-Turkey negotiation chapters will be opened. However, he noted that every kind of progress will accelerate the process.
Finally, he reassured that the European Commission fully supports the ongoing direct negotiation process between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, aimed at finding a solution in the Cyprus problem.
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