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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-11-20

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

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

Saturday, 20 November 2010 Issue No: 3650

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Papandreou on new NATO strategic concept
  • [02] PM meets with President Obama, Chancellor Merkel
  • [03] Greek PM meets Canadian counterpart in Lisbon
  • [04] Samaras: Electorate sent message for change of economic policy
  • [05] Samaras with 'troika' reps; cites recessionary measures
  • [06] Greek PM contacts Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi
  • [07] Cypriot President Christofias in Athens next week
  • [08] Papoulias to receive Bakoyannis; FinMin on Mon.
  • [09] Leftist leader Tsipras' interview
  • [10] Competition commission investigation at Siemens Hellas offices
  • [11] FinMin: Only long-term Eurozone solution will calm jittery markets
  • [12] BoG: Trade balance deficit shrinks further in Jan-Sept. 2010
  • [13] EBEA proposes 12-measure package on economy
  • [14] 'Troika' calls for speedier opening of 'closed professions'
  • [15] CoS to rule on constitutionality of memorandum
  • [16] Civil servants' union raps draft 2011 budget
  • [17] Figures on public enterprises' financial status pending
  • [18] European conference in Thessalonikion: 'A new model for tourism'
  • [19] Greek merchant Marine fleet posts marginal decline of 0.2% in Sept.
  • [20] Stocks nosedive 0.68%
  • [21] ADEX closing report
  • [22] Greek bond market closing report
  • [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [24] Papoulias statement on Armed Forces Day
  • [25] Sinking of Togo-flag freighter off Cephallonia causes oil slick
  • [26] Belle Epoque at National Gallery
  • [27] Prosecutor orders investigation into reports of infant trafficking at two hospitals
  • [28] Foreign national arrested for murder in Veria prefecture
  • [29] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [30] Cypriot community leaders to intensify talks
  • [31] President satisfied with New York meeting Politics

  • [01] PM Papandreou on new NATO strategic concept

    LISBON (ANA-MPA/V.Mourtis)

    NATO's new strategic concept is trying to respond, twenty years after the end of the Cold War, to what the Alliance needs and this is done with success, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said at the end of a NATO summit here on Friday night, in which the leaders of the 28 member countries approved a relevant document.

    Papandreou added that the new strategic concept evaluates the new threats against humanity, such as climate change, mass movement of populations, economic and social inequalities, fundamentalism and others.

    All these change NATO's form, which is called upon to support a more democratic society in the framework of the United Nations, Papandreou added.

    The Greek premier also praised efforts for cooperation between the Alliance and Russia, saying that in this way Cold War taboos are overcome.

    NATO's former strategic concept dates back to 1999. The members' heads of state and government (HoSG), at the 2009 summit in Strasbourg, tasked the Alliance Secretary general to develop a new strategic concept and convene and lead a broad-based group of qualified experts, on the basis of whose recommendations the secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, drafted the New Strategic Concept which was endorsed at the Lisbon Summit.

    The Strategic Concept is a framework document reviewed every decade, aiming to equip the Alliance to effectively approach new and emerging security challenges and guide its future political and military development.

    The New Strategic Concept text reaffirms the Alliance's core task, that of collective defence and the members' territorial defence, and stresses the need for modernisation how this is done, including cyber defence and missile defence, while it also aims to clearly define NATO's mission to manage the full spectrum of crises in the 21st century.

    [02] PM meets with President Obama, Chancellor Merkel

    LISBON (ANA-MPA/V.Mourtis)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou held here on Friday, on the sidelines of a NATO Summit, a brief exchange of views with Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

    According to reliable sources, the discussion was held during the debate on the issue of NATO relations with the European Union and when the Turkish leader reiterated his country's position on the Cyprus Republic's participation in international organisations and specifically in NATO's plans.

    The same sources said the Greek premier responded that the Alliance was not the right forum for resolving the protracted Cyprus problem and asked from all those who could help finding a solution to do so towards a just and viable solution, in the framework of UN resolutions and the acquis communautaire.

    Papandreou also held a brief encounter with U.S. President Barack Obama.

    The Greek premier also met, on the sidelines of the Lisbon Summit, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Reliable sources said that Papandreou briefed Merkel on a Greek proposal for a different support mechanism. The two leaders agreed, the sources added, to examine the issue through specially appointed officials of the two governments. The meeting was termed by the Greek premier as constructive, the sources added.

    Addressing earlier the Alliance's Summit, Papandreou said, according to the same sources, that the NATO's new strategic concept was to give a new direction in tackling problems, which would be solved through "synergies of more countries".

    [03] Greek PM meets Canadian counterpart in Lisbon

    LISBON (ANA-MPA / V. Mourtis)

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou met here on Friday with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, on the sidelines of a two-day NATO Summit.

    The meeting, which was also attended by Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos and government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis, focused on bilateral relations.

    [04] Samaras: Electorate sent message for change of economic policy

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras told a meeting of his party's executive secretariat on Friday that voters had sent a message for change of the economic policy, during the recent local government elections.

    He told the meeting, which was convened to assess the election outcome, that ND was on the rise whereas PASOK and its policy had been belied both before and after the polls.

    Samaras added that ND has stabilised its position and was now only "a breath away" from the leading party (ruling PASOK).

    He added that ND's policy remains unwavering, and it was this that enabled the party's speedy recovery, and reiterated his call for altering the economic policy mix for exiting the crisis with economic recovery and growth, "and not with asphyxiation".

    Samaras noted, however, that ND considers any structural changes useful and backs them.

    "We are in favor of fiscal consolidation, we are in favor of reduction and rationalisation of the public sector, but this cannot be achieved with mass dismissals -- that neither the society or the economy can bear, and which have a minimal yield ...? Samaras stressed.

    He said that ND has achieved a lot in a very short time, but still has much to do, and attacked the government, saying that "the party of blackmail lies is now face-to-face with its worst self, its worst past, its unbelievable mistakes, its heavy sins", and was now in an even worse position and forced to take harsher decisions that are also impasses.

    Samaras warned that increases are coming in food prices, utility bills, public transport tickets, but also reductions in public works.

    The government has fallen short of its targets, the ND leader stressed, and warned that persistence with the same policy will lead to even greater impasses.

    Moreover, in later comments, Samaras categorically rejected any discussion over constitutional revision, linking the issue with what he called the government's attempt to achieve the lifting of tenure in the civil service.

    Conversely, reports state that ND is, however, in favor of the next Parliament -- after elections -- serving as a revisionary legislature.

    Amongst others, ND officials said the current unprecedented crisis brings to the forefront issues long blocked by "political correctness", such as issues related to religion, daily issues, immigration, citizens' security, the environment and new technologies.

    [05] Samaras with 'troika' reps; cites recessionary measures

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Friday expressed concern over the implementation and effectiveness of the EU-ECB-IMF memorandum dictated measures, in a meeting with "troika" inspectors.

    Samaras referred to what he called the low effectiveness of measures so far, using as an example the smaller than anticipated state revenues.

    The ND leader also referred to the social situation in the country and the relevant views shared by the social partners, while he also cited to the higher unemployment rate and increased number of closed businesses as being "loud indications of recession".

    Finally, Samaras outlined specific proposals that will boost the domestic market's growth and invigoration, such as partially subsidised housing loans.

    [06] Greek PM contacts Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday spoke by phone with Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was recently released from several years of house arrest by the country's military junta.

    In a statement issued in Athens, Papandreou expressed his "personal joy and satisfaction" over the democratic leader's release, as well as his support, "personal and on behalf of the Greek people".

    The Greek premier, who is also president of the Socialist International (SI), also said that he and the SI were closely monitoring developments in the SE Asia country.

    Papandreou invited Aung San Suu Kyi to visit Greece while they both agreed to have continuous briefings and contacts regarding the situation in Myanmar.

    [07] Cypriot President Christofias in Athens next week

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias will be in Athens on Nov. 23 to address a special session of the Greek Parliament, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Cyprus, and following a formal invitation by Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos.

    Christofias will address Parliament immediately after his contacts in New York concerning the Cyprus issue.

    He is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister George Papandreou to discuss developments in the Cyprus issue, and in the light of new developments stemming from the New York talks.

    After the special Parliament session, Christofias will inaugurate a photography exhibition in a Cypriot diplomatic mission in Athens, entitled "Famagusta: A Ghost City".

    The event will be attended by Republic of the President Karolos Papoulias.

    [08] Papoulias to receive Bakoyannis; FinMin on Mon.

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday will receive at the presidential mansion independent MP Dora Bakoyannis, a former foreign minister and up-until-recently a high-ranking member of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party.

    Bakoyannis requested the meeting to take place on Monday, one day after a scheduled announcement of the founding her own political party.

    Earlier, the president will receive Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, to be briefed on the 2011 state budget tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

    Papoulias will also receive Hellenic Army General Staff Chief Lt. Gen Frangos Frangoulis on Monday.

    [09] Leftist leader Tsipras' interview

    Opposition Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras on Friday clarified that his party is destined to play a leading role in the creation of a "political power of the left" in the country.

    In an interview with ANA-MPA, Tsipras underlined that he will work to this end, stressing that "we have a responsibility to create the future".

    Tsipras underlined that the Parliament-represented Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), a coalition of leftist political parties, and radical ecologists should find common ground, indirectly noting that former SYRIZA leader Alekos Alavanos is not excluded from such a dialogue.

    As regards the Democratic Left, an offshoot of Synaspismos, established and headed by MP Fotis Kouvelis, he said that his "former comrades" had toiled over the decision to break away from Synaspismos, and stressed that "no one is flawless", responding to a question on his share of responsibility.

    Referring to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), he said that the party's showing in the recent local government elections will "strengthen intransigence".

    [10] Competition commission investigation at Siemens Hellas offices

    The Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) on Friday proceeded with a surprise inspection of the Siemens Hellas offices in Athens to ensure that competition rules are enforced, following a letter by Sifis Valyrakis, president of a Parliamentary fact-finding committee investigating the Siemens bribery and kickback furor.

    The commission proceeded with the investigation after finding that the letter by Valyrakis included necessary evidence, suggesting a likely violation of rules of competition. The independent authority will probe whether the German multina-tional had a predominant presence in the public sector contracts and tenders.

    Financial News

    [11] FinMin: Only long-term Eurozone solution will calm jittery markets

    FRANKFURT (ANA-MPA)

    Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou was quoted here on Friday as stating that even if Ireland decides to accept assistance from Eurozone countries, it would not be enough to calm jittery markets, which are awaiting the creation of a permanent mechanism to tackle EU crises, according to a report by AFP.

    Papaconstantinou said markets remained tense because they have not been persuaded that long-term solutions are on the horizon.

    [12] BoG: Trade balance deficit shrinks further in Jan-Sept. 2010

    Greece's trade balance deficit shrank further in the nine-month period January to September in 2010, reflecting the recession into which the Greek economy has entered, the Bank of Greece (BoG) said on Friday.

    According to figures released by the central bank, Greece's external deficit in the above period fell by 3 percent, or by 508 million euros, to 17.1 billion euros. This development was attributed to a reduction in the trade deficit and an increase in the services balance surplus. More specifically, the trade deficit fell by 922 million euros, attributed to an 11.4 percent (2.671 billion euros) reduction in imports (minus fuel and ships) more than counter-balanced a 2.5 percent reduction (209 million euros) in exports.

    The figures confirmed that shipping is a decisive factor of the trade balance, as net revenues, chiefly from merchant shipping, rose by 15.6 percent in the nine-month period to end-September. Conversely, the downward trend in revenues from tourism continued, with net income at source declining by 484 million euros and gross revenues (from non-residents) fell by 636 million euros (7 percent). At the same time, Greeks' spending for tourism abroad fell by 8.3 percent, or 152 million euros.

    [13] EBEA proposes 12-measure package on economy

    Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) president Constantine Michalos on Friday unveiled a package of 12 measures the chamber proposes for bringing the country out of recession and the crisis instead of the measures contained in the new state budget tabled in parliament the previous day, which he warned are inapplicable and ineffective.

    "The EBEA considers that the new budget will deepen the recession in the market and cause a new shrinking of GDP and a substantial rise in unemployment," a chamber text said, adding that "it is at the same time doubtful whether the budget will achieve the projected increase in revenues and reduction in expenditure, without social reactions or, even worse, collateral losses."

    It said that the business world calls on the government to put a halt to this dead-end course which leads to recession, and proposes instead 12 practical and immediately-applicable measures that could lead the economy out of the crisis.

    The recommendations include full privatisation of state organisations and enterprises without fearing the political cost; exploitation of the state's real estate property; deregulation of the closed-shop markets and professions; recognition of foreign universities and liberalisation of higher education; activation of the law on public-private sector collaborations; simplification of the licencing procedure for new businesses and activation of the new of the new General Register of Companies (GEMI); announcement of a Spatial Plan and a binding timetable for completion of the National Land Registry; Activation of the Competition Commission; re-evaluation of all research and technology development actions; acceleration of the absorption of National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA) funds and support of SMEs via the new entrepreneurship fund; amendment of labor legislation for greater flexibility in the job market, and reduction of employers' contributions (to employees' social security funds); and stamping out bureaucracy and streamlining -- not de-regulation and annihilation -- of the core public sector.

    According to the EBEA text, the government has, unfortuna-tely, limited itself to a barren policy mix the sole components of which are tax increases, salary reductions and cutbacks in the public investments program, instead of accelerating the necessary structural changes and giving a new boost to the Greek economy.

    EBEA "sounds the warning bell" regarding the impasse to which the Greek economy was headed, the text said, and warns that "if the government does not proceed immediately to deep-rooted changes and reforms that give hope and a prospect to the country, we will soon find ourselves face-to-face with that impasse".

    [14] 'Troika' calls for speedier opening of 'closed professions'

    Representatives of the EU-ECB-IMF "troika" currently in Greece called for the intervention of the Hellenic Competition Commission (HCC) to ensure quicker procedures for the opening of so-called "closed professions".

    During a recent visit to the HCC offices, "troika" repre-sentatives focused on structural reforms that need to be made to ensure the independent authority's optimum operation.

    The opening of ?closed professions" in Greece -- a decades-old demand the business community -- was high on the list of "troika" demands, with representatives recommending that the HCC be staffed with more personnel.

    [15] CoS to rule on constitutionality of memorandum

    A Council of State (CoS) plenum will convene on Tuesday to hear civil suits brought by trade unions against \ wage cuts and austerity measures imposed this year by the government.

    The civil suits challenge the memorandum, signed with the EU-ECB-IMF "troika", as being unconstitutional, illegal and in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The two CoS legal rapporteurs assigned to study the civil lawsuits are expected to recommend their rejection on the grounds that the memorandum (Law No. 3845/2010) is constitutional and in compliance with European and international legislation.

    The civil suit, suggesting that Law No. 3845/2010 is not legitimate because when it was passed in Parliament without the necessary majority vote (3/5 of all the 300 MPs), will be ruled as unacceptable, because it is based on the incorrect assumption that the memorandum is an international treaty, according to reports. The CoS rapporteurs are expected to maintain that no authority is being surrendered to bodies of international organisations, and that national sovereignty is not affected.

    As regards the civil suit against the wage and benefits cuts, the CoS rapporteurs will maintain that such moves are justified to protect the higher public good and placed within the framework of the need to cut the country's excessive fiscal deficit and external debt -- in response to obligations Greece has undertaken within the framework of Economic and Monetary Union.

    Civil suits against the cuts in wages and benefits and others opposing the memorandum -- the linchpin of a 110-billion-euro Eurozone bailout -- have been filed by the Athens Bar Association, civil servants' union ADEDY, the journalists' union ES?EA, pensioners' associations and others.

    [16] Civil servants' union raps draft 2011 budget

    The civil servants' union, (ADEDY), on Friday sharply criticised the tabled draft budget for 2011, charging that it will accelerate the EU-ECB-IMF memorandum's monetary policy and heighten "extreme austerity", as it said.

    The civil servants' union cited what it called more hikes in indirect taxes and more cutbacks in social expenses, while referring to a "confirmed incompetence" in curbing tax and contribution dodging.

    [17] Figures on public enterprises' financial status pending

    Detailed figures on the current situation of public utilities and enterprises will be at the disposal of the ministry of finance within a month, in order to be able to proceed with restructuring and the balancing of their expenditures. The EU-ECB-IMF memorandum-affiliated measure is aimed to cut deficits, which burden the state budget.

    A certified auditors' firm has been assigned with the specific task and will undertake to collect, codify and analyse financial figures of selected public utility companies.

    [18] European conference in Thessalonikion: 'A new model for tourism'

    The existing momentum for further development of the Black Sea countries' tourism product and the cooperation among their authoritative tourism agencies was underlined in statements to ANA-MPA by culture and tourism deputy minister George Nikitiadis, who earlier opened the 3rd European tourism conference in Thessaloniki, titled "A new model for tourism", which was held on the sidelines of the Philoxenia international tourism exhibition.

    Nikitiadis said that there is a bright road ahead for the Black Sea countries to work together for growth.

    Opening the conference earlier, Nikitiadis said that boosting alternative forms of tourism is a primary goal of the Greek government, and noted the provision in the new state budget for 2011 tabled a day earlier in parliament to transfer tourist accommodations from the 11 percent VAT to the lowest VAT rate of 6.5 percent.

    Nikitiadis said that alternative forms such as religious, cultural, diving, and even climbing tourism could attract visitors to destinations all over the country, thus enabling Greece to draw large sectors of important markets and tourists.

    Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO) president Nikolaos Kanellopoulos highlighted "green tourism", stressing that emphasis needs to be put on developing specialised forms of tourism that will expand the country's tourism seasons.

    At present, he noted, the characteristics of Greece's tourism include dependence on specific European markets and overconcentration of tourism activities in specific parts of the country, with 50 percent of foreign visitor arrivals concentrated in the three-month period of July to September.

    "The answer to the crisis is 'green tourism', which includes the protection and development of the country's natural resources and heritage," he said, adding that the new "tourism identity" entails a new legal framework for cutting down on bureaucracy, the use of alternative energy sources, the creation of an administrative tourism protocol focusing on the customer, and incentives for investment in green tourism.

    Kanellopoulos also noted the efforts being made by the GNTO to streamline the organisation, which has a 120 million euros debt mainly to international media and promotion agencies.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) shadow tourism minister told the conference that maximisation of revenues from tourism, rather than increasing the number of tourists, should be the target.

    She said it is necessary that "our culture acquires a strong brand name and new marketing strategy", adding that it is unthinkable that the monuments are open only during specific hours, and called for extension of those hours.

    [19] Greek merchant Marine fleet posts marginal decline of 0.2% in Sept.

    Greece's merchant fleet recorded a 0.2-percent decline in September 2010 in comparison with the same period in 2009, according to figures released on Friday by the National Statistics Authority.

    According to the independent authority, 2,116 merchant vessels are listed on the Greek ship registry.

    The total capacity of the merchant fleet increased by 2 percent in September in comparison with September 2009.

    Finally, total capacity in September 2010 exceeded 43 million DWTs.

    [20] Stocks nosedive 0.68%

    Stocks lost ground at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, returning to losses after only one positive session. The composite index of the market lost 0.68 pct to end at 1,492.67 points, with turnover a low 73.69 million euros.

    The Big Cap index was down 0.80pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.19 pct up and the Small Cap index fell 0.10 pct.

    Insurances (1.68 pct) and Foodstuffs (0.74) posted the biggest earnings of the day, while Commerce (3.46) and Raw Materials (1.80) posted the biggest losses.

    Broadly, advancers trailed decliners 63 to 99 with another 51 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.68%

    Industrials: -0.30%

    Commercial: -3.46%

    Construction: -0.67%

    Media: -1.03%

    Oil & Gas: -1.73%

    Personal & Household: +0.53%

    Raw Materials: -1.80%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.44%

    Technology: -1.51%

    Telecoms: -1.75%

    Banks: -0.73%

    Food & Beverages: +0.74%

    Health: -1.59%

    Utilities: -0.40%

    Chemicals: +0.53%

    Financial Services: +0.12%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.58

    ATEbank: 0.74

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.16

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.65

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.65

    National Bank of Greece: 7.08

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.05

    OPAP: 12.50

    OTE: 6.75

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.20

    Titan: 15.50

    [21] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount 1.45 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover at 23.870 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,794 contracts worth 16.737 million euros, with 34,521 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,118 contracts worth 7.133 million euros, with investment interest focusing on OTE's contracts (3,013) followed by National Bank (2,718), MIG (1,624), Eurobank (1,330), Alpha Bank (1,128), Hellenic Postbank (820) and Piraeus Bank (616).

    [22] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds increased to 893 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.62 pct and the German Bund 2.69 pct. Turnover in the market was 19 million euros of which 9 million were buy orders and the remaining 10 million euros were sell orders. The 3-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 3.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.54 pct, the six-month 1.27 pct, the three-month rate 1.04 pct and the one-month rate 0.84 pct.

    [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.378

    Pound sterling 0.862

    Danish kroner 7.515

    Swedish kroner 9.469

    Japanese yen 115.0

    Swiss franc 1.371

    Norwegian kroner 8.265

    Canadian dollar 1.406

    Australian dollar 1.401

    General News

    [24] Papoulias statement on Armed Forces Day

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Friday issued a statement on the occasion of Armed Forces Day in the country, noting that "we honor those, who with self-sacrifice; who on many occasions exceed their physical and mental boundaries, defend and guarantee the security and territorial integrity of our country". Papoulias also expressed his personal wish for the good health, strength and success to armed forces members.

    [25] Sinking of Togo-flag freighter off Cephallonia causes oil slick

    An oil slick covering approximately 2,000 square meters has been caused off the Myrtos coast of Cephallonia island from the sinking of a Togo-flagged freighter on Thursday morning.

    Harbor officials opined that the area is not at risk of pollution from the slick caused by the tanker "Christine", since it is comprised of biodegradable oil by-products, while floating dams and absorbent materials have been put in place to prevent possible leakage of pollutants from the shipwreck.

    The wreck of the "Christine" was located by an amateur fisherman on Thursday 1.5 nautical miles off the bay of Myrtos after he spotted a life-raft adrift near the spot.

    The freighter's six-member Ukrainian crew managed to swim to safety, emerging at Fiskardo beach, and went to the local port authority on Thursday afternoon.

    They told port authorities that the freighter, which was sailing from Albania to Bulgaria carrying three vehicles, developed engine failure and a rift, and sank after taking on water.

    The six men were arrested, and were given at their request a 48-hour postponement for testimony.

    A preliminary investigation into the circumstances of the incident was continuing on Friday.

    [26] Belle Epoque at National Gallery

    "Art Nouveau and Modernism: Treasures from the Petite Palais-Paris Museum of Fine Arts" is the title of an exhibition that opens Monday at the National Gallery in Athens, reminiscent of the Paris of the Belle Epoque.

    More than 150 paintings, furniture pieces, posters, jewelry designs and other objects will be on display, a reminder of the flourishing era of artistic and cultural refinement in Europe, and especially in France, that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I, that has come to be known as The Belle Epoque.

    [27] Prosecutor orders investigation into reports of infant trafficking at two hospitals

    A prosecutor has ordered an investigation into charges of infant trafficking at the hospitals of Patras and Tripolis, with Greek and Bulgarian nationals involved, following recent press reports.

    At the prosecutor's demand, regional health services chief Panagiotis Goumas will turn over all data on births at the two hospitals to the prosecutor's office.

    The investigation concerns whether the two hospitals are being used by members of an infant trafficking ring to bring foreign women to give birth to infants, which are later sold.

    [28] Foreign national arrested for murder in Veria prefecture

    A 28-year-old Albanian man was arrested this week on homicide charges related to the murder of a 35-year-old local man in the village of Kouloura in Imathia prefecture, northern Greece, police announced on Friday.

    The victim was reported missing earlier this week, while his body was found dumped in a ditch not far from his residence on Friday morning.

    The 28-year-old reportedly confessed to the murder, claiming that he hit the victim with a piece of wood and a sharp object during an argument over personal differences. According to his statement, the victim drove him with his truck to a rural region, where the homicide occurred. He claimed that in an effort to leave no evidence behind he set the vehicle ablaze.

    [29] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The 2011 State Budget and the 14.3 billion euros fiscal adjustment, and speculation of lay-offs in Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO), dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' dailies

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Prime Minister George Papandreou preannounced new sacrifices".

    AVGHI: "State Budget of 'Controlled bankruptcy'."

    AVRIANI: "Half the state hospitals will shut down".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "High cost of living and destitution".

    ELETHEROS TYPOS: "Who will pay for the damage?".

    ESTIA: "State Budget up in the air".

    ETHNOS: "Regulation/breather on the acquisition of first home".

    IMERISSIA: "Huge cutbacks everywhere".

    KATHIMERINI: "Possibility of layoffs in DEKO remains open".

    LOGOS: "Troika's Budget".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Harsh measures and 6.3 billion euros in new taxes".

    NIKI: "768,000 civil servants' daily life changes".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "State Budget wildly looting the people".

    TA NEA: "Where the government will find 14.3 billion euros".

    TO VIMA: "Budget of necessity and ....whoever can bear it".

    VRADYNI: "Government devastates market and employees".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [30] Cypriot community leaders to intensify talks

    UNITED NATIONS (CNA?ANA-MPA)

    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus have decided to intensify their contacts in the coming weeks in an attempt to overcome the major points of disagreement, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced in New York, in the early hours of Friday (Greek time).

    Speaking after a meeting with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, Ban said he will meet again with both leaders in January next year in Geneva.

    "We have just had a constructive exchange of views on the core issues, including governance and power-sharing, economy, EU matters, property, territory and security," he said, having thanked the two leaders for traveling to New York for the meeting and having expressed appreciation for their commitment.

    He said that "real progress was being made in the talks", noting that when he visited Cyprus earlier this year, he could feel the hope and expectation among people on both sides for a settlement that would finally reunify Cyprus

    "That sense of anticipation has faded, however, as talks continued throughout the remainder of the year without clear progress or a clear end in sight. That is why I invited the leaders to meet with me today (Thursday). The peace talks on Cyprus were losing momentum and needed a boost if the two sides are to reach a settlement while there is still the time and the political opportunity to do so," the Secretary General explained.

    He stressed that "only the leaders can give it that boost. The United Nations can support them, as we have been doing through the work of my Special Adviser and his team. But only the leaders can arrive at a solution."

    "I made it clear to both leaders that the United Nations respects these talks as a Cypriot-led process. It is precisely for that reason that we expect the Cypriot sides to assume their responsibility to drive this process toward a solution. The people of Cyprus and the international community want a solution, not endless talks," he pointed out.

    Commenting on Thursday's meeting with the two leaders, he expressed hope that the meeting had helped to restore momentum to the process.

    "Both leaders have told me they recognize the need to move more quickly and decisively in order to reach a settlement. Serious differences remain, but both leaders expressed their commitment to work together, as partners, toward that goal."

    Projecting positive messages, he added, "is critical if any agreement is to be trusted and embraced by the respective publics in referenda."

    "Specifically, the leaders agreed today to intensify their contacts in the coming weeks in order to establish a practical plan for overcoming the major remaining points of disagreement. We have agreed to meet again at the end of January next year in Geneva," Ban announced.

    In the meantime, he continued, "the leaders will identify further convergences and the core issues which still need to be resolved, across all chapters. That, in turn, will help the United Nations determine its own next steps."

    Referring to his forthcoming report to the Security Council later this month, which is to provide an assessment of the state of the negotiations, Ban said he had promised the leaders that the report will be frank and fair.

    "Today's meeting has helped to inform that report. I will remain in close touch with my Special Adviser in the days ahead," he concluded.

    Peace talks, under UN auspices, began in September 2008 in Cyprus with a view to find a negotiated settlement to reunite the island, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    [31] President satisfied with New York meeting

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias said late on Thursday he was satisfied with the results of his joint meeting in New York with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.

    ''I am leaving New York very satisfied with the results of this meeting,'' he said, noting that ''there are no timeframes, there is no threat from anywhere, and there is no intention on behalf of the Secretary General to exert pressure.''

    President Christofias added that ''we want a solution of the Cyprus problem, we do not want talks just for the sake of it,'' noting that ''we will do everything possible to break the deadlock and I hope we do.''

    Earlier on, President Christofias met the Permanent Repre-sentatives of France, Russia and Greece, to brief them on the results of the meeting, and wrapped up his meetings on Friday with the Permanent Representative of China.

    According to sources, President Christofias and Eroglu will continue discussions in Cyprus, with the assistance of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    President Christofias and Eroglu are currently engaged in talks with an aim to reunify the island.

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