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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-03-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Thursday, 24 March 2011 Issue No: 3750


  • [01] PM: 'Light at the end of the tunnel in 2012'
  • [02] Greek PM to meet fYRoM counterpart in Brussels
  • [03] Greece will have supporting role in Libya, foreign ministry says
  • [04] Defence minister to ND on Libya
  • [05] ND leader meets with European Parliament president
  • [06] National Council for Education presents report to PM
  • [07] Parliament handed case file on firefighting choppers' leasing
  • [08] Tsipras accuses gov't of 'scheming' against SYRIZA
  • [09] SYRIZA's head meets with Russian ambassador
  • [10] Foreign ministry exhibition on 1821 revolution inaugurated by FM
  • [11] Sites, monuments open on March 25 national holiday with free admission for public
  • [12] Papoulias warns against nuke plant in seismic region of Turkey
  • [13] Pamboukis meets Cyprus president
  • [14] Gov't earmarks 30 mln euros to support innovative enterprises
  • [15] Labour minister meets with local authorities in Thessaloniki
  • [16] Domestic tourism to fall 20 pct in 2011
  • [17] Business briefs
  • [18] Stocks end 1.42% down
  • [19] Greek bond market closing report
  • [20] ADEX closing report
  • [21] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [22] Bomb squad neutralises device at Neos Kosmos tax office
  • [23] Brown bears in Arcturos sanctuary in Nymfeo awake from hibernation
  • [24] Study on fatal motorcycle accidents
  • [25] 'Homer and the Alphabet' event at HAU
  • [26] Gang arrested on charges of homicide, burglaries
  • [27] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [28] President Christofias submits proposal for census on both sides
  • [29] Turkish Cypriots condemn Turkey on the issue of settlers Politics

  • [01] PM: 'Light at the end of the tunnel in 2012'

    The turning point when the country would once again get back on a path to growth will come in 2012, Prime Minister George Papandreou said during a cabinet meeting held on Wednesday. He stressed that major changes that the government will have to make after the European Union summit on March 24-25.

    He referred to three important milestones in this course, the first being the three-year programme that would have to be made part of a national plan, the second being ruling PASOK's national conference and the third, the Thessaloniki International Fair.

    Papandreou stressed that the deadlines were tight and a great deal of work had to be done, during which the government had to wage a battle with established interests, entitlements and privileges and deeply-rooted attitudes that had made the country "sick".

    In a reference to groups of citizens that gathered to jeer and otherwise express their displeasure at members of the government and other politicians when they went abroad, the prime minister said an effort was underway to "cut off" the government and PASOK from society and daily contact with citizens and their problems.

    "We will persevere and remain at the citizens' side on a daily basis with even greater intensity, we will talk with them and jointly tackle the problems," Papan-reou stressed.

    Concerning the upcoming EU summit, he said it was crucial and that, if everything went well, the decisions made by EU leaders on March 11 would be confirmed and made official, stressing that these would benefit both Greece and Europe.

    He noted also that Greece's proposal for a 'Tobin Tax' on financial transactions was being adopted by more and more countries within the Eurozone.

    Papandreou underlined that one of the first priorities was to build a relationship of trust between the state and citizens. For this reason, there could be absolutely no digression from the targets the government had set and the promises it had made, which was to free the next generations from the burden of the past and change the country.

    One of the issues raised by the prime minister was the quality of the government's legislative work, which he said would take precedence since several bills had needed to be passed extremely quickly. "I want us to make a new start," he said, adding that the laws should have "very specific values, which the government expresses".

    He said an assessment process of existing legislation will soon begin, to see to what extent their impact was positive of whether they needed amendments or improvements.

    As an example, the prime minister cited the results of a survey that showed that a significant portion of each wage-earners salary was still being lost as a result of bureaucratic procedures.

    He also referred to international developments, such as the nuclear disaster in Japan and developments in Libya, where he said that Greece's priority was to find a peaceful solution. He stressed that Muammar Gaddafi would have to accept the terms of the United Nations, however, concerning protection of civilians and begin a process of democratic reforms.

    Wednesday's cabinet meeting was held to discuss and approve five draft bills that are to be tabled in Parliament. These include a bill for reforming the system for agricultural cooperatives, an environment ministry bill on oil and gas pipeline projects, a second environment ministry bill on waste management, an interior ministry bill on improving the legislative process and a finance ministry bill setting up a General Secretary of Public Property, and changing the legal framework for public organisations and enterprises, the organisation of managing public debt and the Consignment Deposits and Loans Fund.

    [02] Greek PM to meet fYRoM counterpart in Brussels


    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is scheduled to meet with his counterpart from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Nikola Gruevski, on Thursday afternoon on the sidelines of a European Union Summit here.

    The meeting comes days after the International Court of Justice at The Hague (ICJ) opened proceedings on a case initiated by the land-locked former Yugoslav republic against Greece. The former claims that Athens violated provisions of a September 1995 "interim agreement", namely, the stipulation not to block fYRoM's entry into international organisation, i.e. NATO in this case.

    Greece has vehemently rejected the accusation, pointing instead to what its calls a series of provocative and even irrendentist actions by successive Skopje governments. Amongst others, the latter filed the motion at the ICJ under its constitutional name instead of the UN-recognised former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    [03] Greece will have supporting role in Libya, foreign ministry says

    Greece will not participate in military operations in Libya but respond to the requests of allied countries so that UN Security Council resolution 1973 can be enforced, Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said on Wednesday.

    During the regular reporters' briefing, he said that the Security Council's resolution had "strong legitimacy," emphasising that hostilities in Libya had to end and non-combatants protected. He also repeated the prime minister's position, that the international community must continue to strive for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

    "Military operations cannot provide the solution. The order of the Security Council was to protect civilians. Afterward we will need to seek a political solution," he said.

    Greece had the capability to contribute to such an effort, he added, while he also stressed that Greece supported the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Libya.

    Delavekouras said that talks on the crisis were underway within NATO, and plans adopted for dealing with the humanitarian situation, enforcing an arms embargo and a no-fly zone above Libya.

    The European Union had decided to become actively involved in the humanitarian aspects of the operation but had not yet made its plan of action specific, the spokesman said. Greece would coordinate its action with that of the EU in order to open up supply routes for humanitarian aid, evacuate citizens and help those trapped at the borders to leave.

    Delavekouras reported that aircraft of allied countries were currently at Greek airports in the framework of UNSCR 1973, while the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle had asked and would receive permission for its aircraft to use Greece's Flight Information Region in the framework of allied operations.

    Asked about the reprisals threatened by Muammar Gaddafi against Mediterranean countries that assisted the attacks on his forces, Delavekouras cited assurances from the foreign and defence ministries that all necessary precautions have been taken.

    "Based on the information we have, there is no possibility that Greek territory can be harmed by the forces of the Gaddafi regime," he said.

    The spokesman especially emphasised Greece's relations with the Arab world once the conflict was over, saying that there was a relationship of trust and mutual respect with Arab countries in which Greece had acted as a bridge and that it will continue to have this role in the future.

    "We have to build a new partnership relation with the Arab world, which at present is experiencing radical developments, with social movements that reveal that there is a new face to the region," he said.

    The spokesman said that Europe should support this process of democratisation, while Greece and the EU had to begin processing a new relationship with the Arab world and make the "necessary political investments".

    He underlined that Greece could play a leading role in this process.

    Questioned about the prospect of a large spike in migration from north Africa, Delavekouras admitted that this was a concern, noting that the issue had been raised by Greece when protests started in Egypt and that it had been discussed at the level of heads of state and government.

    "We have made sure that it is high on the EU agenda," he said, noting that EU operations were already underway in Greece and Italy, while the European Commission was working on a strategy to present in June.

    Delavekouras stressed the need for solidarity on this issue between EU member-states, saying that countries like Greece and Italy that were on the front lines of the migration wave could not be asked to carry the burden alone.

    [04] Defence minister to ND on Libya

    National Defence Minister Evngelos Venizelos will brief, Thursday, main opposition New Democracy's (ND) vice president Dimitris Avramopoulos on Greece's position regarding the Libya crisis, following the 1973 UN Security Council resolution, it was announced on Wednesday.

    [05] ND leader meets with European Parliament president

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras met here on Wednesday with European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek.

    After the meeting, Samaras underlined that the European Parliament has a stronger role in issues related with the economic crisis such as, giving the "green light" to the EU leaders' decisions on the economic governance of Europe.

    Samaras stressed that "our continuous and close contact with the European Parliament is necessary", adding that "Greece expects support as regards the Structural Funds, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the major European infrastructure projects."

    [06] National Council for Education presents report to PM

    The National Council for Education on Wednesday unveiled its proposals for reforming the education system in a report that Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou presented to Prime Minister George Papandreou.

    This called for a change to the current system of nationwide university entrance exams and a streamlining of the large variety of unnecessary specialist departments in universities and technical colleges.

    The minister said that the Council's suggestions would be taken into account in the drafting of a draft law on education reform that is currently in the early stages of preparation.

    The Council chairman A. Lykourgiotis noted that there was broad consensus on many issues in the report though objections had been voiced concerning the administration of universities and ensuring that the new exam system was not subject to abuse.

    One bone of contention was the method of electing a university rector or technical college president, with academics reacting to the ministry's proposals for radical changes.

    [07] Parliament handed case file on firefighting choppers' leasing

    A case file concerning the overpriced leasing of firefighting helicopters was forwarded to Parliament on Wednesday, as the latter will decide to investigate whether there is liability on behalf of former alternate public order minister Christos Markoyiannakis.

    The case file on the five Erickson Air-Crane helicopters was forwarded to Parliament by Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Athanassios Katsirodis. Copies of memos with Markoyiannakis' claims on the case have been forwarded to Athens' First Instance Court Prosecutor.

    The investigation on the case was launched after the issue was brought to Parliament by former Deputy Citizen Protection Minister Spyros Vougias in May 2010. Vougias, who renegotiated the controversial contract, told Parliament that the leasing of each helicopter had cost 35 pct higher in 2009 compared to 2010.

    The Athens First Instance Court has filed criminal charges in another leg of the case that concerns the overpriced maintenance of five firefighting helicopters. Following an investigation, the current citizen protection general secretary, Grigoris Tassoulas, is facing felony charges for breach of faith, while Fire Brigade officers and Civil Aviation personnel face complicity charges.

    [08] Tsipras accuses gov't of 'scheming' against SYRIZA

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras on Wednesday spoke of "unprece-dented political scheming against SYRIZA" that is being "designed with the government's full coverage".

    In statements made after the extraordinary meeting of the small Parliament-represented leftist party executive secretariat, held with the participation of SYRIZA MPs, Tsipras kept his distance from phenomena of violence, stressing that "violence was always the last resort for the darkest cycles of power when they felt cornered".

    The executive secretariat discussed the atmosphere in the party's relations with the government as a result of a high-profile clash with government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos.

    Tsipras stated that the situation was created by the "completely justified indignation expressed by the people and their spontaneous reaction to the government policy".

    Referring to the comments made by government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis on Tuesday, Tsipras accused him of "announcing a provocation against SYRIZA".

    [09] SYRIZA's head meets with Russian ambassador

    "The further development of the Greek-Russian relations is a constituent element of a multi-dimensional foreign policy," Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday, following a meeting with Russian ambassador to Greece Vladimir Chkhikvishvili.

    Their discussion focused on the course of bilateral relations, as well as, on regional security issues with an emphasis on the military intervention in Libya. Tsipras underlined SYRIZA's position in favor of a peaceful solution.

    [10] Foreign ministry exhibition on 1821 revolution inaugurated by FM

    An exhibition of historical documents and works of art related to the 1821 revolution, marking the 190th anniversary of the March 25, 1821 launching of the Greek struggle for independence from Ottoman rule, was inaugurated on Wednesday by foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas.

    The exhibition is hosted on the ground floor of the foreign ministry premises at 1 Akademias street in downtown Athens.

    "Our devotion to the country remains undiminished," Droutsas said in his inauguration address.

    He also thanked the foreign ministry staff "who are carrying out their duty conscientiously in all of Greece's diplomatic and consular missions all over the world", as well as for their "successful handlings in difficult situations they were called on for recently in Egypt, Libya and Japan".

    Referring to the exhibition, Droutsas expressed the wish for such events to become an institution, and added his intention for the foreign ministry to be "open to society, since its everyday operation is a constant contribution to society, even though this may not be always evident, in all aspects", from exercising a responsible policy that consolidates the country's interests always and everywhere to the provision of assistance to Greek citizens in need of it.

    Droutsas further underlined the significant international ramifications of the 1821 revolution, as it "shook up the conservative establishments that oppressed the peoples of the European continent, gradually stirred the progressive spirits all over the world, and inspired the ideal of liberty to the other peoples of the Balkans".

    He further paid tribute to the "common struggle waged by the revolting Greeks, the philhellenes and the Greeks of the Diaspora to project the just demands of the struggle, influence foreign centers of authority and create international alliances, a task that proved to be a saving intervention at the critical moment".

    [11] Sites, monuments open on March 25 national holiday with free admission for public

    All the museums, archaeological sites and monuments in Greece will be open on March 25, a national holiday, the culture and tourism ministry announced on Wednesday.

    All the above sites will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with free admission for the public, on the March 25 holiday marking the 190th anniversary of the Greek Revolution against Ottoman rule, the announcement said.

    It added that the museums and sites will be closed on Monday, March 28.

    [12] Papoulias warns against nuke plant in seismic region of Turkey

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday underlined "the imperative need" for Greece to respond, in tandem with its partners, on an institutional level to Turkey's "absurd insistence to build a nuclear plant on a site that is highly seismic, thus endangering both Greek territories as well as the safety of the wider region's residents."

    In a message addressed on the occasion of Greece's March 25 Independence Day anniversary, Papoulias added that the "tragedy experienced by Japan today, reminds us of the caducity of matter, the vanity of consumerism and wealth, the insignificance of life against nature's absolutism."

    He also called on Turkey to "realise that it does not exist all alone but that it co-exists within an international environment governed by concrete rules and limits."

    Finally, the president urged the nation to keep alive the memory of the 1821 War of Independence.

    [13] Pamboukis meets Cyprus president

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)

    Greece's Minister of State Haris Pamboukis was received here on Wednesday by Cyprus President Demetris Christofias.

    "The Greek government and the people of Greece support President Christofias's efforts for a solution to the Cyprus problem, and I call on all sides involved to do the same," Pamboukis said after the meetin, clarifying that his call did not refer to Greek Cypriot political parties.

    Financial News

    [14] Gov't earmarks 30 mln euros to support innovative enterprises

    The Greek government on Wednesday unveiled a new program aimed at offering incentives for the set up of new innovative enterprises, or supporting existing ones in developing innovative products and services.

    The program, budgetted at 30 million euros, will begin next month and envisages offering financial support to manufacturing enterprises (30,000-300,000 euros), or other sectors (20,000-200,000 euros). Public funding will cover up to 50 pct of spending, while businessmen will have to cover at least 25 pct of the project in a wide range of businesses such as: machinery and laboratory equipment, IT/Telecommunications, patent-copyright, design and certificatin of products, services and procedures, technical, scientific and consulting support, promotion and communications, human resources and prototype development.

    [15] Labour minister meets with local authorities in Thessaloniki

    Labour Minister Louka Katseli on Wednesday expressed optimism that the downward spiral of the economy will be reversed by the end of 2011 and in 2012 the country will return to positive growth rates.

    In a press conference in Thessaloniki, where she met with mayor Yiannis Boutaris and local government officials, she underlined that "caution is necessary when referring to future developments in the economy," stressing that "they are affected by many factors and mainly by the Eurozone decisions."

    Katseli referred to the unemployment problem, backed the utilization of the state-owned real property, and underlined that strategic public utility companies should remain under public control.

    The labour minister unveiled two programmes with a total budget of 52 million euros aimed at tackling unemployment in the Central Macedonia Region of northern Greece.

    [16] Domestic tourism to fall 20 pct in 2011

    Domestic tourism is expected to fall by 20 pct this year, compared with 2010, Andreas Andreadis, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers said on Wednesday.

    Andreadis said although this trend was not expected to significantly affect total tourism figures, it raised doubts over the viability of mostly medium-sized hotels which were exclusively dependent on domestic tourism The rent room sector, which attracts the majority of Greek tourists has 40,000 enterprises with 500,000 beds, or 50 pct of the touristic potential of the country, offering more than 100,000 jobs.

    Andreadis said increasing insecurity of Greek citizens over their finances would greatly limit domestic tourism this year, despite an expected recovery in incoming tourism in the country.

    Domestic tourism fell 5.3 pct in early last year, recording declines of 12.8 pct in the summer season and falling by 11.3 pct in the September-December period. It was the Greek tourist, however, who helped the country's tourism industry in 2009 helping to raise -slightly- overnight stays in Greek hotels and campings, according to figures released by Hellenic Statistical Authority. Overnight stays in hotels and campings grew 0.6 pct in 2009, with Greek tourists rising 9.6 pct and foreign tourists falling 2.7 pct in the year.

    [17] Business briefs

    -- National Bank Group - Greece's largest banking group - on Wednesday said its net profit before an extraordinary tax charge totaled 485 million euros in 2010, down 50 pct from the previous year, while net profit after an extraordinary tax charge fell 56 pct to 406 million euros. NBG said net interest income rose 5.0 pct to 4.148 billion euros, with interest margin remaining unchanged at 4.0 pct.

    -- Lamda Development on Wednesday said consolidated after-tax and minorities results showed a loss of 29.1 million euros in 2010, after a profit of 7.7 million euros in the previous year. The group attributed these negative results to a loss of 39.3 million euros in the commercial evaluation of its real estate assets reflecting a negative economic environment in the country, while an extra tax charge of 2.6 million euros also burdened its 2010 results.

    -- Marfin Investment Group (MIG) on Wednesday announced a capital boosting scheme worth 941.5 million euros in a move aimed to take advantage of any investment opportunities appearing in the market this year. A board meeting approved a share capital increase plan, worth 256,776,061 euros, which envisages the issuing a new shares to be offered in exchange for three existing ones at a price of 1.0 euros per share.

    -- Job losses in the manufacturing sector dramatically exceeded average job losses in the industrial sector last year, hit by an unprecedented economic recession in the country, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday. In a report, the statistics service said a total of 125 workers per day, or 3,740 per month, on average, lost their positions last year in the industrial sector, with this number rising to 182 per day, or 5,460 per month, in the fourth quarter of 2010.

    -- Pharmaceutical products and foods/beverages topped the list of Greek export products in 2010, the Panhellenic Exporters' Federation announced on Wednesday. In a report, the Federation said the list of export products, which did not include oil products, showed that pharmaceutical products remained at the top for the second consecutive year, with a value of exports totaling 555 million euros, followed by fish products (405 million).

    [18] Stocks end 1.42% down

    Stocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, pushing the composite index of the market below the 1,600 level. Selling activity fosuced on bank shares. The composite index fell 1.42 pct to end at 1,588.33 points, with turnover soaring to 223.695 million euros. The Big Cap index dropped 1.75 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.01 pct down and the Small Cap index fell 0.52 pct.

    Motor Oil (0.55 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end higher, while MIG (5.81 pct), Alpha Bank (4.86 pct), Eurobank (3.43 pct), Piraeus Bank (3.23 pct) and Mytilineos (3.13 pct) were major losers.

    The Financial Services (4.35 pct), Raw Materials (3.47 pct), Health (3.03 pct) and Banks (2.52 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Insurance (14.26 pct) and Commerce (0.03 pct) scored gains.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 101 to 53 with another 47 issues unchanged. European Credit (16.33 pct), Creta Farm (14.88 pct) and Sanyo Hellas (9.09 pct) were top gainers, while Kyriakoulis (18.87 pct), Neorio (16.13 pct) and Boutaris (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +14.26%

    Industrials: -1.31%

    Commercial: +0.03%

    Construction: -0.87%

    Media: -2.76%

    Oil & Gas: -0.41%

    Personal & Household: -2.02%

    Raw Materials: -3.47%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.23%

    Technology: -2.29%

    Telecoms: -0.36%

    Banks: -2.52%

    Food & Beverages: -0.89%

    Health: -3.03%

    Utilities: -0.01%

    Chemicals: -1.49%

    Financial Services: -4.35%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were Crown Hellas Can, National Bank, OPAP and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.89

    ATEbank: 0.78

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.22

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.67

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.45

    National Bank of Greece: 6.65

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.78

    OPAP: 16.14

    OTE: 8.20

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.50

    Titan: 16.95

    [19] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened again to 928 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market, with the Greek bond yielding 12.51 pct and the German Bund 3.23 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 18 million euros, of which 11 million were buy orders and the remaining 7.0 million were sell orders. The three-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 1.94 pct, the six-month rate 1.50 pct, the three-month 1.19 pct and the one-month rate 0.902 pct.

    [20] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.46 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover a low 39.956 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,800 contracts worth 32.419 million euros, with 25,549 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 14,647 contracts worth 7.537 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,522), followed by Eurobank (889), MIG (2,667), OTE (1,760), Piraeus Bank (940), Alpha Bank (2,615), Mytilineos (712) and Hellenic Postbank (369).

    [21] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.424

    Pound sterling 0.876

    Danish kroner 7.517

    Swedish kroner 9.002

    Japanese yen 115.34

    Swiss franc 1.284

    Norwegian kroner 7.954

    Canadian dollar 1.400

    Australian dollar 1.411

    General News

    [22] Bomb squad neutralises device at Neos Kosmos tax office

    A makeshift explosive device at a tax office in the southern Athens district of Neos Kosmos was neutralised by bomb disposal experts using a controlled explosion on Wednesday.

    The bomb was found on the ground floor of the building in a rubbish bin after an unidentified caller placed a warning call to the newspaper "Eleftherotypia". The call came at 2:00 p.m., warning that an explosion would occur in the building in 25 minutes.

    The building was evacuated and the area cordoned off while a team of bomb disposal experts located and then safely detonated the device, which proved to be a time bomb.

    An investigation has been launched, while no organisation has so far claimed responsibility.

    [23] Brown bears in Arcturos sanctuary in Nymfeo awake from hibernation

    Spring is in the air, and the 13 bears sheltered at the non-governmental Arcturos conservation organisation's Brown Bear sanctuary in Nymfeo, Florina prefecture, have awakened from their winter hibernation in the still snowy sanctuary.

    This year's short but heavy winter in the area resulted in a 2-month hibernation period for the bears.

    Of the 13 brown bears, who all have names, lively Manolis was the first to awaken, closely followed by Barbara and Tassoula, Yorgakis and Irene, Kyriakos and the elderly Mitsos, Katerina, Vesna, Duke and Misha, George the black bear, and 46-year-old Andreas, the world's oldest brown bear living in a sanctuary.

    Since its foundation in 1992, Arcturos has been actively working for the conservation of the brown bear and its habitat in Greece and the Balkans.

    In 1993, with the assistance of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), the bear sanctuary was built outside the quaint, traditional village of Nymfeo. The five hectare enclosure is built in a beech forest, which is a natural habitat of wild bears.

    [24] Study on fatal motorcycle accidents

    Shocking facts on the consequences of motorcycle riders not wearing protective headgear were presented by Deputy Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Spyros Vougias on Wednesday.

    Speaking during an event on the contribution of the FIA Foundation to the Special Olympics movement and the UN initiative on safe driving, Vougias unveiled a study conducted by the University of Athens, according to which, 80 pct of motorcycle riders killed in road accidents died from severe head injuries. Specifically, those who do not wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle are twice as likely to suffer head injury.

    The study revealed that motorcycles are involved in 1/3 of the traffic accidents in Greece, while 25 pct of the motorcycle drivers do not wear a helmet. Women have a higher percentage (30 pct) in the specific traffic code violation. The facts on motorcycle passengers are equally alarming, considering that 54 pct - women being the majority - do not wear a helmet.

    The annual death toll in road accidents in Greece is roughly 1,300 people, with an estimated socio-economic cost that exceeds five billion euros.

    [25] 'Homer and the Alphabet' event at HAU

    The Hellenic American Union (HAU) on Monday commemorated World Poetry Day with an event on the pioneering theory of poet Nanos Valaoritis on the Homeric epics, on the occasion of the publication of "Homer and the Alphabet".

    A discussion on Homer's epics and the primordial development and structure of the Greek alphabet followed.

    The discussion was coordinated by HAU managing director Leonidas-Fivos Koskos, with several noted academics participating, including Valaoritis.

    [26] Gang arrested on charges of homicide, burglaries

    Piraeus police announced on Wednesday that they have disbanded a 6-member gang accused of one homicide and tens of thefts and burglaries on the nearby island of Salamina.

    The gang comprised six Greeks and three Romanian nationals who in the past year burglarised apartments and held up shops.

    The gang members are also charged with one homicide, in the case of a break-in into a home in Salamina, where they tied up an 80-year-old man hand and foot and gagged him, resulting in the elderly man's death from suffocation.

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

    The shortfall in state revenues in the first two months of the year and other economic issues dominated the front-page headlines in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "The 'green guards' (PASOK partisan state) are coming back".

    AVGHI: "In absentia of parliament and the people - Foreign military planes involved in war against Libya enter Greece, in violation of the Constitution".

    AVRIANI: "They have also bankrupted the municipalities".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Von Droutsas in new misadventures".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Papaconstantinou: We failed, but you will pay for it".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Ghost consultant will 'decide' on the 50 billion euros".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "12 ways to have years recognised (towards retirement)".

    ESTIA: "There is no national vision".

    ETHNOS: "New extraordinary contribution for 2011, this time by professionals, on the table".

    IMERISSIA: "10 percent stake in OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) for sale".

    KATHIMERINI: "Shortfall in revenues brings 1.8 billion euros in extraordinary measures".

    LOGOS: "No salary reductions or VAT increase foreseen".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The 'shipwreck' of the state revenues brings new package of measures".

    NIKI: "Manhunt and 1.8 billion euros package".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "PASOK blatancy, ND cynicism, on the interests in the war".

    TA NEA: "1.7 billion euros in new measures".

    VRADYNI: "Government abolishing all the benefits".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] President Christofias submits proposal for census on both sides


    The Greek Cypriot side has submitted a precise proposal for a census in both communities that will be monitored by the United Nations and under its aegis, said here Wednesday President of the Republic Demetris Christofias.

    The president noted, however, the opposition of the Turkish Cypriot side towards such action.

    President Christofias made the statement after Wednesday's talks at the UN Protected area in Nicosia. The meeting lasted one and a half hours and the two leaders decided to meet again on Wednesday, 30 March, said UNFICYP Acting Spokesperson Rolando Gomez.

    Gomez added that Alexander Downer, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General, was unable to deliver post-meeting remarks as he was engaged in a meeting.

    The leaders would meet on 30 March and their Representatives will meet on Tuesday, 29 March, he added.

    In his remarks at the Presidential Palace, President Christofias said he and Eroglu continued the discussion on citizenship.

    "We have submitted a very specific proposal, to hold a population census in both communities that would be undertaken by the UN", Christofias said.

    He added that there is a special UN census department, and recalled that the UN Secretary-General had stated, during their last meeting in Geneva on 26 January, that he was ready to help towards this.

    "If we really want to talk about a solution to the citizenship issue, i.e. the settlers' problem at the end of the day, we really have to have this census done", President Christofias remarked.

    The president underlined that "if we do not know the numbers and how many Turks from mainland Turkey have the so-called citizenship, we are not able to get into the depth of the issue. We are ready, the UN has said it is ready to help towards this, but unfortunately, we have again problems with the Turkish Cypriot side".

    President Christofias said the problem will be further discussed with Downer, since he represents the SG and "we will try to persuade the Turkish Cypriot side-since the UN are willing to undertake this project-to accept an impartial census of the population to enable us to know where we stand and how we will deal with the citizenship issue", he concluded.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island?s northern third. The leaders of the two communities are currently engaged in UN-sponsored talks to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue.

    Spokesman:We do not accept timeframes or arbitration

    The President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has a clear and firm position on the Cyprus talks, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said Wednesday, adding that President Christofias does not accept any timeframes or arbitration.

    The spokesman was invited to comment on a statement made Tuesday by Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, who said that President Christofias will accept timeframes and intensive talks before the presidential elections that will take place in Cyprus in February 2013.

    "The President's position is clear and firm. This position is also supported by the whole political leadership in Cyprus. We do not accept timeframes or arbitration", he underlined.

    Asked whether there is an agreed basis for the Cyprus talks, Stephanou said "of course there is" and recalled that the Greek Cypriot side had asked the Turkish Cypriot side to reaffirm the agreed basis of the talks since many of the positions submitted at the negotiating table on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side fell outside the agreed basis.

    Referring to the illegal settlers brought to the Turkish occupied areas by Ankara to change the demographic structure of the island, he said that this issue, according to the international law, constitutes an illegal action and is a war crime.

    Concluding, he said that the Greek Cypriot side can not accept the Turkish Cypriot position that all illegal settlers stay on the island.

    [29] Turkish Cypriots condemn Turkey on the issue of settlers


    Turkish Cypriots, members of trade Unions have condemned Turkey for the policy that follows on the issue of settlers in the occupied part of Cyprus, during an event organized in Brussels by the left wing party of AKEL and the European United Left party of the European Parliament, and titled "Cypriots together, creating our common future-Social and political aspects".

    President of the Turkish Cypriot Trade Union DEV-is Mehmet Seyis, President of KTAMS Ahmet Kaptan, Secretary General of KTOS Sener Elcil and the representative of KTOEOS Arsenven Sermet participated in the event.

    All the representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Trade Unions referred to the demonstrations that took place in the occupied part of Cyprus against the economic package that Ankara tried to impose to the Turkish Cypriots.

    In addition, they referred to the serious problems caused by the mass arrival of Turkish settles to Cyprus. They also demanded a census in the occupied part of Cyprus.

    Secretary General of the Turkish Cypriot party "Unity Cyprus" Izzet Izcan, addressing the event called on Turkey to give an end to its policy on the issue of settlers.

    President of the European United Left Lothar Bisky was among the main speakers in the event. Bisky said that the Cyprus problem is a problem of invasion and stressed that the main parameters of the solution constitute the UN relevant resolutions and the High Level Agreements. Finally, he underlined Turkey's obligations towards the Republic of Cyprus deriving from its EU course.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island?s northern third. The leaders of the two communities are currently engaged in UN-sponsored talks to find a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue.

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