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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 4 May 2011 Issue No: 3778


  • [01] Greece secures EU funding of major infrastructure projects
  • [02] Gov't dismisses reports over Helliniko property
  • [03] ND to unveil latest proposals
  • [04] Parliament president in Romania
  • [05] Main opposition leader meets Asst Sec. Collyns of US Treasury Dept.
  • [06] LAOS leader: Government must be replaced
  • [07] LAOS pulls out of Parliament probe of subs scandal
  • [08] Presentation of municipalities' revenues-expenditures
  • [09] Attica police chief blames broken turnstiles for Cup Final violence
  • [10] Military helicopter on training flight makes forced landing, crew safe
  • [11] Social policy priorities outlined by labour minister
  • [12] Greek proposal on Energy Effectiveness
  • [13] Ceiling on unleaded prices in 13 prefectures
  • [14] ADEDY, PPC union to strike against power company's privatisation
  • [15] OGA inspectors uncover prescription scams costing upward of 250,000 euro
  • [16] Tourist arrivals at Rhodes airport increase in April
  • [17] Brief business ...
  • [18] Stocks remain under pressure
  • [19] Greek bond market closing report
  • [20] ADEX closing report
  • [21] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [22] Popular 'everyman' actor Thanasis Veggos passes away
  • [23] President Papoulias, political parties express sadness over death of actor Thanasis Veggos
  • [24] Apostolos Santas's funeral
  • [25] Nostos literary contest winners announced
  • [26] 8th International Book Exhibition opening on Thursday
  • [27] Study: Fewer smokers in Greece
  • [28] Athens Fun Run
  • [29] Igoumenitsa port blockaded in protest over acute immigration problem
  • [30] Burglars smash into jewelry shop with stolen car, escape with goods
  • [31] Police arrest figures for western Greece
  • [32] 'Red tide' phenomenon in Thermaikos Bay
  • [33] Rainy on Wednesday
  • [34] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greece secures EU funding of major infrastructure projects


    A revision of a trans-European transport network programme was discussed in Brussels on Tuesday between Greece and the European Commission.

    Greece was represented by Harris Tsiokas, secretary-general of the Infrastructure, Transport and Networks ministry, while M. Ruete, director general of Mobility and Transport in the EU headed the EU executive's delegation.

    The Greek side aimed at including Greek transport network projects to trans-European Transport Networks, securing EU funding for Greek infrastructure projects and boosting efficiency of the Greek transport system, by highlighting the country's geo-strategic position and its evolution into a cargo centre in Southeastern Europe.

    Greece seeks to secure funding for road projects connecting Greece with other Balkan countries, including a north road project in Crete to Trans-European Transport Networks and promoting road networks in the Peloponnese by upgrading Patras into a central hub and an exit gate to Italy and Europe.

    The two sides also agreed to promote a series of railway projects and including the ports of Kalamata, Katakolo and Santorini, along with the airports of Nea Aghialos and Kalymnos to an EU-funding programme.

    [02] Gov't dismisses reports over Helliniko property

    Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis on Tuesday denied a front-page news report in an Athens daily according to which plans for the development of the state-owned Helliniko site -- the old Athens airport and adjacent facilities -- is not progressing as planned.

    Petalotis termed the news report as "groundless and unsubstantiated". He underlined that the "development plan for the Helleniko property has not been abandoned" and referred to a written confirmation received from Qatar several few weeks ago of continued interest in the specific investment.

    He also dismissed allegations over a directly assigned contract signed with a noted Spanish architect.

    [03] ND to unveil latest proposals

    The updated proposals of main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, designed to lead the country out of the economic crisis, as the party said, will be unveiled at the Zappeion Hall in Athens on May 12 by ND leader Antonis Samaras, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis said Samaras will meet with "troika" representatives on May 13, following their request.

    Responding to a question on whether national elections could be an answer to a bankruptcy risk faced by the country, Mihelakis spoke about "disaster scenarios that originate from inside the government" and referred specifically to statements on debt restructuring made by government vice-president Theodoros Pangalos and former prime minister Costas Simitis.

    ND also called on the government to give a clear response as regards the development of a state-owned real estate property at Helliniko in Athens following relevant news reports in an Athens daily raising transparency issues.

    [04] Parliament president in Romania

    Hellenic Parliament president Filippos Petsalnikos begins a two-day official visit to Romania on Tuesday, during which he will meet with Romanian president Traian Basescu and attend a conference of the presidents of the Party of European Socialists' (PES) national parliaments.

    Petsalnikos will be received by Basescu later on Tuesday, and will take part in the conference of presidents of parliament of the Europarliament's Party of European Socialists, which he will address on the theme "European economic governance and the role of the National Parliaments".

    On Wednesday, Petsalnikos will hold separate meetings with Romanian Senate president Mircea Geoana, Chamber of Deputies president Roberta Anastase, and Patriarch Daniel of Romania.

    [05] Main opposition leader meets Asst Sec. Collyns of US Treasury Dept.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday had a meeting lasting approximately one hour with visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Finance Charles Collyns.

    No statements were made after the meeting though ND officials said that it was conducted in a "very good climate, better than any other time".

    [06] LAOS leader: Government must be replaced

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday repeated his call for early national elections, saying it was essential that the "government be replaced in any way, including elections".

    Karatzaferis noted that the state must soon take decisions that will decide the country's future and that LAOS would soon be presenting its policy platform.

    [07] LAOS pulls out of Parliament probe of subs scandal

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday sent a letter to Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos, informing him that LAOS will not participate in a Parliamentary probe into the actions of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and an emerging scandal surrounding Greece's purchase of four German-made submarines.

    The Parliamentary inquiry is the equivalent of an examining magistrate's investigation under the Greek legal system and could result in the former minister being indicted to stand trial.

    LAOS officials said the reasons given by Karatzaferis for not participating in the Parliamentary preliminary examination committee is the failure to include other political figures also involved in signing and then executing the questionable contracts, apart from Tsohatzopoulos, that had been named in the report sent to Parliament by a public prosecutor.

    [08] Presentation of municipalities' revenues-expenditures

    The country's municipalities are presenting revenues that are slightly higher than expenditures, according to their own data, which are registered on a database of the Interior ministry.

    This data was presented on Tuesday during a joint press conference at the Interior ministry by Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou.

    "There are no -apart for certain exceptions- municipalities that are underfinanced," the Interior minister said, providing the final revenues and expenditures figures for local administration bodies.

    According to them, the minimum operational costs of municipalities, as a total, is estimated at 3.8 billion euros, while the revenues at 4 billion euros.

    [09] Attica police chief blames broken turnstiles for Cup Final violence

    Appearing before Supreme Court Deputy public prosecutor Anastasios Kanellopoulos on Tuesday, the chief of the Attica police said broken turnstiles at the OAKA stadium had prevented police from controlling hooliganism at the Greek Super League Cup Final match last Saturday.

    The April 30 game between AEK Athens and Atromitos was marred by extensive violence both inside and outside the stadium grounds while the match had to be ended early after AEK supporters stormed the pitch during injury time.

    Kanellopoulos launched a preliminary inquiry investigating all aspects of the incidents in order to determine whether there was negligence on the part of authorities, the football federation EPO or supporter organisations.

    The Attica police chief said that he had devoted a large number of men to police the specific match but the broken turnstiles had made effective control of supporters entering the stadium impossible because they came through in large groups.

    He also noted that the Greek Police do not yet use trained dogs at stadiums while it was not possible to make more extensive use of tear gas to prevent the incidents escalating.

    The prosecutor will also summon EPO officials responsible for the contract with the security firm for the stadium, the head of the security firm and two managers of the OAKA stadium, as well as the police officers in command at the stadium last Saturday.

    [10] Military helicopter on training flight makes forced landing, crew safe

    An Apache army helicopter on a training flight made an emergency landing near Megara on Monday night, but the crew are well in health and taken to an Athens military hospital for precautionary reasons.

    The Apache caught fire during the forced landing, and a team of experts was examining the causes of the incident.

    Financial News

    [11] Social policy priorities outlined by labour minister

    PARIS (ANA-MPA / O. Tsipira)

    Labour Minister Louka Katseli on Tuesday addressed the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) two-day ministerial meeting on Social Policy held here and outlined the Greek government's social policy priorities.

    On the sidelines of the meeting, Katseli told reporters that a cooperation agreement will be signed with OECD this week aimed at "reforming our social policy to make it more effective".

    Two OECD services will cooperate with three government ministries in Greece (labour, health, interior) to fully evaluate all social programmes currently implemented in the country in a process that will be completed by the end of 2011.

    "Our goal is to create an electronic data base to ensure that benefits will reach those eligible?focusing on those who are most vulnerable," Katseli stressed.

    The labour ministry priorities outlined by Katseli include the social insurance system reform; labour market flexibility; subsidized employment; measures for young entrepreneurs and setting up a Social Economy Fund.

    [12] Greek proposal on Energy Effectiveness

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Secretary General Constantine Mathioudakis on Tuesday delivered to the Executive Director of the International Energy Organisation Nobuo Tanaka a proposal by the Greek government for an executive Agreement on the promotion of Energy Effectiveness in a structured environment.

    The development took place during the Informal European Council on Energy that is taking place in Budapest, in the framework of the Hungarian Presidency of the European Union during the first half of 2011.

    The proposal constitutes an initiative by Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Tina Birbili and aims at various actions that must be developed in urban environments with the purpose of improving the energy performance of buildings and the overall contribution to the handling of the phenomenon of climatic change.

    [13] Ceiling on unleaded prices in 13 prefectures

    The government on Tuesday imposed price ceilings on unleaded gas in 13 prefectures in Greece, without an expiration date, and effective as of Wednesday.

    Regional development and competitiveness minister Michalis Chrysohoidis, in a press conference, said that the ceiling would be removed when the problem of excessive prices was permanently solved, and presented figures showing retail prices of up to 16.9 euro cents per liter above the average price in Athens.

    A ceiling is also imposed, for the first time, on wholesale unleaded prices in five of the 13 prefectures affected by the retail price ceiling.

    Chrysohoidis explained that the ceiling enters into effect on Wednesday, and will not be removed until the prices fall and the problems caused by illicit competition are solved permanently.

    The prefectures (and highest prices for unleaded recorded) affected by the ceiling are: Cyclades islands (1.724 euro per litre), Cephallonia (1.769 euro per litre), Corfu (1.765), Lesvos (1.722), Grevena (1.736), Evros (1.744), Evrytania (1.745), Fokida (1.735), the Dodecanese islands (1.724), Lassithi (Crete, 1.788), Rethymno (Crete, 1.774), Samos (1,734) and Chios 1.739).

    The ceiling on wholesale prices was imposed on five of those prefectures: Dodecanese (1.654), Lassithi (1.718), Rethymno (1.704), Samos (1.664) and Chios (1.669).

    Chrysohoidis announced that beginning on May 9, consumers in Attica prefecture may be informed of the gas stations with the three cheapest prices in their area by sending an sms to the five-digit telephone number "54151", while the system will extend to the entire country as of July.

    [14] ADEDY, PPC union to strike against power company's privatisation

    The civil servants' union federation ADEDY and the GENOP-DEH trade union representing staff at Greece's Public Power Corporation (PPC) on Tuesday announced plans for strike action opposing a planned privatisation of the power utility.

    "The privatisation of the last great public utility in a critical sector for the prospects of the country, the economy and society effectively neuters a major public tool for socio-economic growth, which must serve public and social interests, not private interests," an announcement by the unions said after a meeting on Tuesday.

    The two sides agreed that measures should be taken to ensure that the country was not "plunged into darkness" during the PPC strike, saying that this was a shared goal. They also stressed, however, that this would not mean that there could be strikes without repercussions.

    ADEDY stressed that energy was an economic figure of strategic significance and a social good, with government powers to decide pricing policy being directly linked with policies for cheap rates for the public.

    The union federation also supported that starting with the general strike on May 11, the issue of the PPC's privatisation would enter a new cycle of dynamic mobilisations that would aim to put a stop to policies for lowering living standards.

    [15] OGA inspectors uncover prescription scams costing upward of 250,000 euro

    The farmers' state pension and health care fund OGA on Tuesday announced that a fake prescription scams recently uncovered by OGA inspectors had cost the fund upward of 250,000 euro for pharmaceuticals and medical services never actually used by OGA patients.

    Among others, the checks led inspectors to a company supplying oxygen tanks and related apparatus in western Greece that was even earning money for patients that were dead.

    The scam also involved administrative staff at a health centre, doctors that prescribed tests and services for patients that had never been examined or were actually dead and a police officer that certified that the signatures of the beneficiaries were genuine.

    Issuing fake prescriptions was also the method used by one Cyclades pharmacy to boost its turnover. Inspectors were alerted to the problem when the invoices submitted to OGA by the specific pharmacy suddenly jumped by roughly 50,000 euro from a monthly average of 4,000. In total, the specific pharmacy is estimated to have cost the fund 180,000 in fake prescriptions.

    A further 65,000 euro was taken in this way by a pharmacy on Crete, where inspectors found doctors' stamps used to illegally write out precriptions for drugs never received by those they were intended for.

    [16] Tourist arrivals at Rhodes airport increase in April

    Tourist arrivals at the airport of the Aegean island of Rhodes increased by 132 percent last month, compared to the corresponding month in 2010, according to data announced by the Civil Aviation Service.

    Tourists arriving in Rhodes with charter flights amounted to 67,692, while during the same month last year they had totalled 42,495. The increase in April was in the region of 132.54 percent, a percentage that was surely unexpected despite optimism over the development of the month's movement.

    Last month services of the Civil Aviation Service had recorded the movements of 945 aircraft, while last year the corresponding figure was 436 and in 2009 558.

    The increased tourist movement in April is due to a certain degree to the fact that this year the Orthodox and Catholic Easter coincided, while also contributing to this development was the continuing unrest in countries in North Africa that turned European tourists to safer countries.

    [17] Brief business ...

    -- Minister of State Haris Pamboukis on Tuesday flatly rejected an Athens daily news report on the development of the state-owned real estate in Helliniko. Pamboukis , who holds the strategic investments portfolio, stated that the news report is untrue, stressing that Qatar never withdrew its interest, while Germany and the European Commission were never involved.

    -- The clothing/footwear sector is suffering mostly from a deep economic recession in the country, with a "free-fall" in sales continuing this year. Market executives expect a negative figure in turnover to continue in May and predicted that a decline in sales would total around 20 pct in the first five months of 2011. Antonis Makris, executive vice-president of the Association of Retail Sales Enterprises of Greece, told ANA-MPA that it won't be a surprise if turnover fell 20 pct this year and stressed that "beyond a negative psychology, Greek consumers are hit by a shrinking income".

    -- The Bank of Greece on Tuesday permanently revoked the license of the Eurostar insurance company and placed the company under liquidation. Eurostar is a smaller-sized insurance company with activities focusing on the damages and vehicle insurance sectors. BoG froze its assets in February after the company failed to submit a share capital increase plan.

    -- Eurobank EFG Mutual Funds Management Company topped the list of the domestic mutual funds management market with a market share of 23.31 pct, figures showed on Tuesday. A report by the Association of Institutional Investors said National Asset Management (17.07 pct), Alpha Asset Management (16.40 pct), Insurance Organisations Management (10.59 pct), HSBC (Hellas (4.08 pct) and Hellenic Postbank Asset Management (3.85 pct) were next on the list.

    [18] Stocks remain under pressure

    Stocks ended significantly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The composite index of the market fell 1.14 pct to end at 1,412.84 points, with turnover remaining a low 71.959 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 1.42 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.26 pct down and the Small Cap index rose 1.10 pct.

    Eurobank (3.98 pct), OTE (3.37 pct), Jumbo (3.22 pct) and Alpha Bank (2.84 pct) were top losers among blue chip stocks, while Ellaktor (2.88 pct) scored significant gains.

    The Media (6.24 pct), Health (2.65 pct) and Technology (2.10 pct) sectors scored gains, while Telecoms (3.37 pct), Personal Products (2.30 pct) and Banks (1.88 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 76 to 69 with another 46 issues unchanged. Vovos (19.3 pct), Mohlos (11.11 pct) and Pairis (9.38 pct) were top gainers, while General Commerce (15.38 pct), ANEK (10 pct) and Epilektos (9.3 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: -1.24%

    Commercial: -1.01%

    Construction: Unchanged

    Media: +6.24%

    Oil & Gas: -0.99%

    Personal & Household: -2.30%

    Raw Materials: -0.37%

    Travel & Leisure: Unchanged

    Technology: +2.10%

    Telecoms: -3.37%

    Banks: -1.88%

    Food & Beverages: +0.06%

    Health: +2.65%

    Utilities: -0.35%

    Chemicals: -0.87%

    Financial Services: -0.94%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.77

    ATEbank: 0.44

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.24

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.31

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.03

    National Bank of Greece: 5.13

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.62

    OPAP: 14.48

    OTE: 7.75

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.07

    Titan: 17.85

    [19] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 12 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 15.25 pct and the German Bund 3.26 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 42 million euros, of which 26 million were sell orders and the remaining 16 million euros were buy orders. The three-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 8.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved slightly higher. The 12-month rate was 2.14 pct, the six-month rate 1.68 pct, the three-month 1.40 pct and the one-month rate 1.25 pct.

    [20] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -2.35 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover remaining a low 39.651 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,235 contracts, worth 32.412 million euros, with 30,570 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 13,664 contracts worth 7.239 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,246), followed by Eurobank (1,417), OTE (2,922), Piraeus Bank (738), Alpha Bank (1,173), Mytilineos (666), Cyprus Bank (734) and Hellenic Postbank (263).

    [21] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.500

    Pound sterling 0.910

    Danish kroner 7.568

    Swedish kroner 9.092

    Japanese yen 121.15

    Swiss franc 1.297

    Norwegian kroner 7.916

    Canadian dollar 1.430

    Australian dollar 1.380

    General News

    [22] Popular 'everyman' actor Thanasis Veggos passes away

    One of Greece's most loved and low-key comedians, Thanasis Veggos, died on Tuesday morning at the age of 84, after more than four months in intensive care at the Hellenic Red Cross Hospital.

    Veggos was born in Neo Faliro in May 1927, the only child of Vassilis and Evdokia Veggos. His father, a civil servant, was a resistance hero and after the war was fired from his job at the state electricity company due to his political beliefs and caused severe financial problems for the family, forcing young Thanasis to do various odd jobs to help out.

    Thanasis Veggos was also exiled himself from 1948-1950 for political reasons to Makronisos island, where he met director Nikos Koundouros, who was also exiled there and later gave Veggos his debut movie role in Magiki Polis (1955) after playing bit parts since 1952.

    He also worked with renowned Greek directors Theodore Angelopoulos and Pantelis Voulgaris.

    Veggos usually played the roles of everyday people struggling to make end meet, which endeared him to the Greek public, but also acted on stage in Aristophanes comedies.

    In 2000, Veggos survived an accident in which his car crashed into a train, and later did a series of relevant safety advertisements.

    In 2008, Veggos was made a Commander of the Order of the Phoenix by Greece's President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    He is survived by his wife Asimina and their two children.

    [23] President Papoulias, political parties express sadness over death of actor Thanasis Veggos

    President Karolos Papoulias, Prime Minister George Papan-dreou and party leaders expressed their sadness over the death of actor Thanasis Veggos, who died at an Athens hospital on Tuesday morning aged 84.

    "The news of the death of Thanasis Veggos provokes nationwide sadness and emotion. He was great, charismatic, full of rare kindness for people," President Papoulias said.

    Prime Minister George Papandreou expressed his sadness over the actor's passing, saying that "Thanasis Veggos gave all of us moments of great joy, as well as of philosophical scepticism."

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras spoke of Veggos's character, simpleness and inexhaustible talent, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) termed him a "genuine popular artist", the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party referred to "the classic figure of the Greek of the postwar era" and Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) president Alexis Tsipras said he was the most characteristic figure of popular civilisation and culture.

    Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos also extended his condolences to the family of the deceased.

    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, in a written statement issued in Nicosia, termed Veggos a "leading artist and a popular militant, who established art as a means of struggle for better life and more justice."

    [24] Apostolos Santas's funeral

    The funeral of Apostolos Santas will take place at the expense of the public, by decision of Interior, Decentralisation and Electronic Governance Minister Yiannis Ragoussis, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and Health and Social Solidarity Minister Andreas Loverdos.

    According to the same decision, flags will fly at half mast on Thursday, May 5, 2011, the day of his funeral, on the Acropolis, at all public buildings and branch offices of legal entities of public law and of local administration and public utilities.

    Tsantas was one of the two men who secretly climbed atop the emblematic Acropolis Hill in central Athens and took down the Swastika in the early morning hours of May 31, 1941 - a defiant and extraordinarily symbolic act of resistance at the beginning of the Axis occupation of Greece (1941-44).

    [25] Nostos literary contest winners announced

    The Hellenic Cultural Association 'Nostos' in Argentina has announced the winners of its 3rd international literary contest, with the theme this year being "The Parthenon Marbles: The history of a looting, or the looting of history?".

    More than 350 essays, tales and poems in the Greek, Spanish and English languages from five continents were entered into this year's contest, organised by Nostos under the aegis of the Greek Embassy in Buenos Aires and the Argentinean national senate.

    The first prize in the Greek language category went to Vayia Kapnia (Greece) for her work "Caryatid", while second place was shared by Sonia Zacharatou (Greece) for her work "Selene's Mourning" and Vassiliki Nevrokopli (Greece) for her work "Parthenon Marbles - The Petrified Fury", and third place was shared by Dimitris Despotakis (Greece) for his work "In the Heavens on a Blonde Day" (Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin) and by Paraskevi Kostopetrou and Victoria Makri (Greece their work "The Sacred Dance of the Caryatids".

    Honorable distinctions were also awarded to Antonia Georgedaki from Greece and Ioanna Georgikopoulou from France.

    Special prizes were also awarded to three minors from Greece: Manolis Dikaiakos, Andreas Horakis and Nikolaos Xifaras.

    The three top prizes in the Spanish language were awarded to Maria del Pilar Paz Manoso (Spain), Marta Silvia Dios Sanz (Greece) and Hector Manuel Taboada (Argentina).

    The award-winning works will be published in a special anthology, together with the works receiving honorable mentions, including a tale by ANA-MPA journalists Alexandra Gouta.

    The communications sponsor of the contest was ANA-MPA.

    This year's contest opened up collaboration, for the first time, with overseas agencies working for the spread of Hellenic civilisation and history, including the University of Chile's "Fotios Malleros Center for Hellenic and Byzantine Studies", the only such center in Latin America, established in 1968, and the Association of Writers of Argentina, as well as the Association of Greek Writers and Authors of the Five Continents, the Diaspora Literary Stoa from Australia, and the Greek Community of Lima, in Peru.

    "This year's contest aims to unite all Greeks and non-Greeks with one voice, in a written appeal to the world of Letters, so as to vindicate the just national demand of Greece for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, by the British Museum to the New Acropolis Museum," Nostos president Christina Tsardikos told ANA-MPA.

    [26] 8th International Book Exhibition opening on Thursday

    This year's 8th Thessaloniki International Book Exhibition will be taking place at HELLEXPO's installations from May 5-8 with the participation of almost all of the city's cultural agencies.

    The exhibition is part of the programme "Crossroads of cultures" of the Culture ministry (it concerns Thessaloniki exclusively) and will include a special dedication to the Middle East this year (with the title "When the ideas rise up").

    Participating in the dedication that through a "historic conjuncture" coincided with the ideological and political uprising in the countries of north Africa are people of literature and writers from Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia as well as Pakistan, Ethiopia, Turkey etc.

    The Book Exhibition will host 500 publishers and firms, 190 writers from Greece and 23 other countries, 170 scheduled book presentations, an international conference on the theme "Books and education" and the dedication to the Middle East.

    [27] Study: Fewer smokers in Greece

    The number of cigarette smokers in Greece has dropped considerably for the first time in years, according to three relevant reports that suggest a decline between 4 and 9 pct, the health ministry announced on Tuesday.

    Despite the fact that the implementation of the anti-smoking law is not regarded as successful it appears that tobacco users have realized the benefits of reducing or cutting smoking altogether, health ministry general secretary Antonis Dimopoulos pointed out.

    The number of smokers using hospital anti-smoking clinics has doubled, while 65 pct of the Greeks have responded that they do not smoke when they go out. The anti-smoking legislation is seen as positive development by 70 pct of res.

    Based on the available figures, one million euros in the anti-smoking fines have already been collected, while the anti-smoking law violations hotline (1142) has received 23,000 calls since its activation.

    [28] Athens Fun Run

    The City of Athens and its Youth and Sport Organisation (ONA) will stage the 28th Athens Fun Run, the biggest mass sporting event organised at local government level and a city institution, on Sunday, May 15, 2011, at 10:00, with athletes ready to depart from the Panathenian (Kalimarmaro) Stadium.

    This year's Athens Fun Run is dedicated to the Special Olympics World Summer Games Athens 2011 and aims to spread a message of participation, brotherhood, social solidarity and the acceptance of individuals with special skills who will take part in the Fun Run.

    [29] Igoumenitsa port blockaded in protest over acute immigration problem

    Agencies and inhabitants of the city of Igoumenitsa, north western Greece, blockaded the port's central gate at 17:00 on Tuesday, protesting over the acute immigration problem they are facing in their region and having as their main slogan "We are demanding a solution for the inhabitants and the illegal immigrants."

    Igoumenitsa Mayor George Katsinos, speaking to the ANA-MPA, said "we want the government to deal with the problem and schedule a solution, because the people have reached their limits and have exhausted their endurances."

    [30] Burglars smash into jewelry shop with stolen car, escape with goods

    Burglars smashed into a jewelry shop with a car in the coastal Ellinikon area of Athens at dawn Thursday and made off with a stash of jewelry the value of which was unknown.

    The thieves crashed a stolen Audi car into the shop's glass facade at around 5:30 a.m. and grabbed all the valuables in sight before escaping in a second car, abandoning the first car at the scene.

    The stolen car has been transported to the police crime lab for investigation.

    [31] Police arrest figures for western Greece

    Roughly 600 individuals were arrested in Achaia prefecture, western Greece, during police operations in April aimed at drug trafficking and other felonious acts, was announced on Tuesday.

    One suspect was arrested for manslaughter, 29 on drug charges, three for robberies and 54 for thefts and break-ins. Among those arrested were 355 illegal migrants and 43 panhandlers.

    Police said they solved a manslaughter case, five robberies and 48 thefts and break-ins.

    [32] 'Red tide' phenomenon in Thermaikos Bay

    A reddish "blanket", known as the "red tide" phenomenon -- created by minute marine protozoans that are chief constituents of plankton -- has covered most of the Thermaikos Bay bordering Thessaloniki, in northern Greece.

    "The specific phenomenon appears every spring and fall and lasts 3-4 weeks", Aristotle University of Thessaloniki chemistry professor Konstantinos Fitianos told ANA-MPA. Among the negative consequences of the phenomenon is an intense foul smell.

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Rainy on Wednesday

    Rainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 6C and 24C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with westerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 11C to 19C.

    [34] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The course of the economy and other economic issues, and bickering in the government were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government preparing new Memorandum for us".

    AVGHI: "10 days of crisis for the government".

    AVRIANI: "The government a nightmare, even for its lenders".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Theft at maximum security Navy base in Spata".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Torpedoes against government, ministers, from Androulakis, Venizelos, Reppas".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Androulakis (veteran Left politician) sets fire to PASOK".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Germany's behind-the-scenes pressure on the EU to block the agreement cancelled the plans for exploitation of Ellinikon (the former international airport site) by Qatar".

    ESTIA: "Tax evasion cannot be tackled with police-like measures, but only by targeting the causes".

    ETHNOS: "Mitsotakis (ND honorary president) messages to government and ND".

    IMERISSIA: "Last-minute decisions - They're rushing to avert veto (for next tranche of EU-IMF bailout loan) by the troika".

    KATHIMERINI: "Greece under surveillance for Schengen issues, too".

    LOGOS: "Worry in government due to new measures".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Plan against tax evasion, with 'prize' of 11.8 billion euros".

    NIKI: "Chaos in the nationwide university entrance exams".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Thousands demonstrated on May Day".

    TA NEA: "The CIA's revenge - 10 years after the terror attacks on the Twin Towers"

    VRADYNI: "Tax-terrorism for collection of 12 billion euros in revenues".

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS

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