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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-21

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

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

Saturday, 21 May 2011 Issue No: 3792

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM chairs meeting with local authorities, agencies in Nafplio
  • [02] Finmin: privatisation going ahead
  • [03] KKE on possible dismissals in public sector
  • [04] FM: Put personal agendas aside
  • [05] ND leader addresses Greek Shipowners Union event
  • [06] Deputy Culture minister attends EU Culture, Sport ministers' session
  • [07] Red tape delays in the processing of asylum requests in Thessaloniki
  • [08] Urgent preliminary investigation into leak of exam questions
  • [09] Shadow economy expert Schneider warns against further tax increases in ANA-MPA interview
  • [10] Greek gov't reacts to Fitch's decision
  • [11] Fitch downgrades Greece to B+
  • [12] SEB General Assembly on Tuesday
  • [13] EOMMEX participated in technical assistance program in Azerbaijan
  • [14] Parliament celebrates European Maritime Day
  • [15] 5th Summer Holidays Expo opens
  • [16] Event on African immigrants' accession prospects
  • [17] Industrial new orders' index down 9.8 pct in March
  • [18] Industrial turnover index up 8.7 pct in March
  • [19] Greek yield spread jumps to new records
  • [20] Home building materials' price index up 2.7 pct in April
  • [21] ASE suspends trading in Klonatex
  • [22] Business Briefs
  • [23] ASE ends below 1,300 support level
  • [24] Greek bond market closing report
  • [25] ADEX closing report
  • [26] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [27] Symposium on the Acropolis Museum
  • [28] Turkish migrant smugglers open fire on Greek police, German FRONTEX officers, in Evros River
  • [29] Pefki shootout suspect linked to terror group, police claim
  • [30] Murder charge for Afghans accused of killing father
  • [31] Two defendants in Kantaris killing case to be brought before investigator on Saturday
  • [32] Businessman pays 320,000 euros for aluminum 'gold coins' - One arrest
  • [33] Financial crimes squad officers remanded in custody for takes bribes
  • [34] Supreme court prosecutor to seek action against 'umbrella sprawl' on beaches
  • [35] Four immigrant family members being treated for mycobacterium leprae infection
  • [36] Truck full of copper cables stolen from PPC worksite on Crete found abandoned
  • [37] PPC employee in critical condition after electrocution
  • [38] Fair on Saturday
  • [39] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM chairs meeting with local authorities, agencies in Nafplio

    Prime minister George Papandreou called for national rallying together while speaking in Nafplio on Friday, at a meeting with local authorities and agencies of Argolida prefecture.

    Papandreou stressed that everyone, including the opposition parties, local government, healthy private enterprise and each and every citizen must contribute to Greek society's demand to save the country. He also stressed that the country had to learn to rely on its own strength in order to defend its sovereign rights.

    "When the issue of our country's sovereign rights is raise, there is a wall. And this is why we repeat whenever needed that we have to rely on our own powers," he emphasised.

    Among issues stressed by the prime minister was the need to change attitudes toward the handling of local issues. He underlined that the central state should provide support but not directly manage local problems.

    Citizens often identified ministers with public administration and even ministers were not immune from falling into this trap, whereas the government's was to be a friend and ally of the people against a public administration that had to be changed, he said.

    Concerning banks, Papandreou said the government wanted to support the Greek character of banks.

    Replying to questions on unemployment and a shift toward more flexible labour relations, the prime minister expressed the opinion that flexible forms of employment or part-time work were not a problems in themselves. According to Papandreou, the problem actually lay with Greece's very inflexible labour laws that actually led to lawlessness.

    He said the government was making a great effort to support employment, even in the form of part-time work, on condition that everything was done legally and above board, referring to ideas such as subsidising insurance contributions. The prime minister pointed out that Greece could not compete with countries like China and India in terms of low labour costs, nor compress Greek wages to that level in order to make the Greek economy more competitive.

    Papandreou repeated his position that the competitiveness of the Greek economy will be based, in large part, on the quality of its products.

    The prime minister led a government team that included Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos, Deputy Interior Minister George Dolios, Deputy Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis, Deputy Health Minister Christos Aidonis and Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Yiannis Koutsoukos.

    Peloponnese Regional Authority chief Petros Tatoulis, on his part, highlighted the regional authority's goal for making the Peloponnese synonymous with sustainability and a strongly growing regional economy, with its human resources as its primary tool in this effort.

    He said that responsibility for a number of areas, including protection of forests and mountains, town planning and healthcare facilities, should be transferred to regional authorities, with central government setting the general policy guidelines that these should follow.

    Earlier, Papandreou was given a guided tour of the Archaeological Museum in Argos.

    [02] Finmin: privatisation going ahead

    The government is going ahead with the privatisations programme, initiating the sale of shares in listed companies and faster implementation of fiscal flows concerning public real estate, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed in Parliament on Friday.

    Replying to a question by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the minister noted that this was a complicated process but that time was running out and "everything has to be done now". He said the aim was to "jump-start the engine of the Greek economy, moving faster and more decisively".

    "We have by far the largest public debt in the European Union, which is still sustainable but in the future may not be, unless there is the right handling. The right handling is to create primary surpluses and return to a growth orbit," he added.

    The minister deflected KKE criticism of the privatisation plans, urging it to discriminate between public lands and state-owned private property.

    The KKE MPs, on their part, called for a "different kind of economy, orienting toward satisfying people's needs and not the need of capital to make profit".

    [03] KKE on possible dismissals in public sector

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Friday on the possibility of dismissals in the public sector, stressed that "the main target of the troika-high-profile businessmen, with which both (ruling) PASOK and (main opposition party) New Democracy (ND) agree, is for stable employment in the public sector to be dealt an even greater blow so that the demolition of whatever labour right has remained in the private sector can be facilitated."

    [04] FM: Put personal agendas aside

    No one is hiding behind their finger, problems and dysfunctions exist that the government wants to deal with in a frank way, foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said on private Real FM radio station on Friday, stressing that whoever has a personal agenda must leave it aside and that everyone must work together for the country's sake.

    He also said that Greece needs to send a clear message of responsibility and determination abroad.

    "And we need to stress, through this message we send abroad, our dedication to the programme we have decided to implement. And it is important that we not lose the credibility we have regained over the past year; credibility gained through the sacrifices of the Greek people. Now, beyond that, we have to look at what helps and what doesn't help, from what we hear from abroad," Droutsas added.

    He reiterated that "external intervention and advice that is not constructive, that does not help the effort we are making, simply does not help, even if this advice points out the obvious".

    To a question on national issues, Droutsas unequivocally stressed: "Agathonisi is Greek. As is the case with every last inch of Greek territory, there is no room for contention, and we do not accept any contentions."

    "Every statement made and action taken by Turkey immediately receives the appropriate response from Greece. Let this be clear. But again, let's not make our own lives more difficult. Let's not focus always on statements coming from abroad. We have to focus on what we ourselves are doing and trust what the Greek government itself says - particularly on national issues. Let's not be tempted to exploit national issues in political machinations that might damage the country's interests," the foreign minister added.

    ND on consensus; privatizations; public administration; Samaras' trips abroad; ND leader's communication with police chief

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on Friday stressed that the government had at no time been prevented from governing or exercising its policy.

    "By hiding behind the word consensus, the government is trying to conceal its ineffectiveness," he added.

    He accused the government of not proceeding with privatizations and characterized the different opinions expressed by government officials on the issue of public sector layoffs as a major blow to government effectiveness and coordination.

    ND leader Antonis Samaras' advisor Hrissanthos Lazaridis, who was present at the press briefing, clarified that ND says "no" to layoffs and suggested "freezing" of hirings for a period of 3 years, coupled with the implementation of the option of "reserve labour" for public organizations that will be abolished or merged. He warned of social problems atop of adverse economic consequences, resulting from reduced state revenues combined with increased spending.

    The ND spokesman referred to Samaras' trips abroad, announcing that he will visit Paris on June 7 and meet with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon. On June 22, he will meet with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels ahead of the European People's Party (EPP) Summit.

    ND's programme aimed at leading the country out of the crisis, which was presented earlier in the month, has already been forwarded to EU officials.

    The ND spokesman also announced that Samaras had a telephone communication with Greek Police (EL.AS) Chief Lefteris Economou to congratulate him on recent police successes.

    [05] ND leader addresses Greek Shipowners Union event

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras assumed before Greek shipowners the commitment that he will upgrade shipping when he wins the elections.

    Addressing an event of the Maritime Chamber and the Union of Greek Shipowners, Samaras said "in the government that we shall create, shipping will be upgraded, its ministry will be equipped with duties and will be under the prime minister's immediate supervision."

    Appealing to the shipowners' world, he stressed that "shipping will have the position of a protagonist in our plan for the restarting of our economy and the recovery of the country."

    Samaras spoke of the shipowner world's contribution, saying that "the country and its people are grateful to you. I must also congratulate you because youy are making us all proud. You are that part of Hellenism that has achieved a global first place: The champions of international sea transport."

    [06] Deputy Culture minister attends EU Culture, Sport ministers' session

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Facilitating the mobility of artists in European Union countries and the impact from the development of the Internet wager in sport were the main issues discussed at the regular session of the EU's Culture and Sport ministers held in Brussels and in which Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis participated.

    Nikitiadis presented the initiatives that Greece has undertaken for the better serving of the mobility of artists and referred to the operation of the "Athina" system which constitutes an effort for cooperation between the state and a non-governmental agency with the aim of promoting the Greek theatre abroad.

    As regards the development of the Internet wager and its repercussions for sport, the deputy minister stressed in his address that "the internet companies are competing now directly with the Greek state lottery of OPAP SA restricting its profit-making considerably, resulting in the return of money from the receipts of chance games to sport and culture being restricted as well."

    [07] Red tape delays in the processing of asylum requests in Thessaloniki

    The waiting period for refugees, who have filed asylum request applications with the competent authorities in Thessaloniki, can last up to two years, according to a Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) report unveiled on Friday.

    Thessaloniki GCR branch researchers presented the report in a conference on "Political asylum and migration: Challenges for Greece and Europe" co-hosted with Aristotle University and underlined that the individuals seeking asylum are not adequately informed about the procedure followed.

    The report also referred to the lack of interpreters to help refugees go through the asylum request procedures, pointing out that there are only a few reception centers that can accommodate a limited number of refugees.

    [08] Urgent preliminary investigation into leak of exam questions

    First Instance Court Chief Prosecutor Eleni Raikou on Friday ordered an urgent preliminary investigation into the leak of university entrance exam papers reported in an Athens school.

    Raikou assigned the investigation to the Greek Police (EL.AS) electronic crimes squad following complaints that a pupil had received the exam questions on his computer two days ago.

    The investigation will determine if the complaints are valid and if such practices were repeated in the past focusing on the identification of the electronic trace of the individual that leaked the questions.

    Financial News

    [09] Shadow economy expert Schneider warns against further tax increases in ANA-MPA interview

    Any further increase in Greek taxes, either direct or indirect, would be a major mistake that would counteract efforts to bring Greece's public debt under control, according to Austrian expert Dr. Friedrich Schneider, a leading authority on the global informal economy.

    In an interview with the ANA-MPA released on Friday, during his visit to Thessaloniki, Scheider said that any tax increase would drive an even greater proportion of the population into the informal economy and decimate its real purchasing power, ultimately reducing public revenues.

    "Based on my calculations, the informal economy in Greece is forecast to reach 25.8 percent of the official GDP this year from 25.4 percent or 62.8 billion euro last year. This is the largest percentage among the 21 countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). If the recession continues, meanwhile, the informal economy will increase in size, especially if the Greek government is forced by the IMF and EU to proceed with another round of tax increases," Schneider warned.

    The Austrian academic cited the results of 12 studies showing that the effect of raising taxes and social insurance contributions on the informal economy reached up to 35-38 percent.

    "I think Greece has reached the point where there is no point in increasing taxes. If you increase taxes any more, people will start going to Skopje where taxation is much lower. From where we are, the Balkans are next door. In my opinion, all tax increases must stop," he added.

    In fact, he asserted that a reduction of some taxes would actually bring in higher revenues for the government by increasing the purchasing power of Greeks.

    According to Schneider, a return to growth could be achieved through privatisations, tax incentives and developing tourism.

    He appeared upbeat about Greece's prospects of emerging from the crisis, noting that Greek people were creative, hard-working and that labour productivity in several areas was at the right level, such as in tourism, though a series of benefits in the public sector were not sustainable.

    Based on his own research, Greece will be the only OECD country that will see its informal economy grow in 2011 compared with the previous year. The average size of the informal economy in OECD countries is not expected to exceed 13.4 percent this year.

    In 2010, Greece shared 10th place with Poland among 31 European countries for the size of its informal economy relative to GDP (25.4 percent). Topping the list were Bulgaria (32.6 percent), with Romania and Croatia sharing second place (29.8 percent) and Lithuania third (29.7 percent).

    Hotel, restaurant and catering services accounted for 13.8 billion euro of Greece's informal economy in 2009-2010, or 22 percent of the total, followed by construction (20 percent), vehicles/machinery trade (19 percent) and various services (18 percent).

    Surprisingly, he suggested that the large shadow economy might even be acting as a stabilising factor for the Greek economy at present, since it was the only alternative for a large section of the population. He also played down the government's losses of revenue due to the shadow economy, since two thirds of the 'black' economy funds returned to the official economy through consumption.

    Another thing stressed by the economist was the need to make a more precise calculation of the shadow economy's size in order to discover how much added value the Greek economy generates.

    Macedonia University economists deplored a decision on Thursday to decline funding for precisely such a survey, supervised by Schneider, which would have had a budget of 450,000 euro over three years.

    The Austrian academic has researched the phenomenon of the informal economy for over 30 years in 145 countries, acting as an advisor to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Commission.

    [10] Greek gov't reacts to Fitch's decision

    The Greek Finance ministry on Friday reacted to a decision by Fitch Ratings to downgrade the country's credit rating by three notches to B+.

    In an announcement, the ministry said that Fitch's decision came in a period when the government's economic program was assessed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, while it stressed that the decision was affected by intense speculation in newspapers and internet news sites.

    "It failed to see additional commitments taken by the Greek government, to achieve its fiscal goal for 2011 and to accelerate a privatization program. Policies to implement these commitments will be announced following completion of the Greek program's assessment," the ministry said.

    [11] Fitch downgrades Greece to B+

    Fitch Ratings on Friday cut Greece's credit rating by three notches, to B+ from BB+. The credit rating agency said the outlook of the country's debt remained negative.

    [12] SEB General Assembly on Tuesday

    The Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEB) will hold its annual General Assembly on Tuesday, at the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall.

    Prime minister George Papandreou will address a brief greeting to the assembly on Tuesday afternoon, while finance minister George Papaconstantinou and SEB president Dimitris Daskalopoulos will address the afternoon session.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras will address the morning session.

    In tandem with the general assembly, an exhibition of the 21 awarded entries in this year's Applied Research and Innovation Competition "Greece Innovates', organised jointly by SEB and Eurobank, will be on display at the general assembly venue.

    [13] EOMMEX participated in technical assistance program in Azerbaijan

    The Hellenic Organization of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Handicraft (EOMMEX) S.A participated in an international consortium which was chosen and financed, after winning an EU international tender, to offer technical assistance services to Azerbaijan's Economic Development ministry with the aim to promoting and achieving economic development in sectors others than the oil sector.

    EOMMEX organised two workshops in Baku, on transportation of know-how on greenhouse farming and transportation of know-how on offering business training services.

    [14] Parliament celebrates European Maritime Day

    European Maritime Day was observed in parliament on Friday with speeches delivered by members of the government and political party MPs.

    Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos referred to the importance of a common European maritime policy and strategy on shipping, sea environment protection and illegal migration, stressing that a common European strategy is necessary to deal with the increased number of migrants seeking to cross Europe's external borders.

    May 20 is the day chosen by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Europe (CoE) to showcase the importance of the sea and oceans in everyday life.

    [15] 5th Summer Holidays Expo opens

    The 5th Summer Holidays Expo exhibition opens on Friday at the Helexpo Palace in Maroussi, Attica, and will run till May 22.

    The exhibition provides visitors with the opportunity to programme their summer vacations and make early and cheaper reservations.

    The exhibition will be open on Friday and Saturday from 12:00 to 20:00 and on Sunday from 11.00 to 18.00.

    [16] Event on African immigrants' accession prospects

    A Business Plan Workshop, the first of its kind, probed possibilities and prospects for the accession of African immigrants to the Greek society, that can be achieved with the development of their individual business activity towards their countries of origin, as well as the linking of African immigrants with Greek businesses that are already active or that intend to activate themselves in Africa.

    The event was held in the framework of a research undertaking titled "Probing of Possibilities and Accession Prospects of African Immigrants to Greek Reception Society."

    The Business Worskshop constitutes part of a series of activities aimed at strengthening economic relations between Greece and Africa and its works were attended by African immigrants-graduates of Greek and other universities.

    [17] Industrial new orders' index down 9.8 pct in March

    The new orders' index in the industrial sector fell 9.8 pct in March this year, compared with the same period in 2010, after an increase of 17.4 pct recorded in March 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to a 26.2 pct decline in the domestic market index and a 14.1 pct increase in the external market index.

    [18] Industrial turnover index up 8.7 pct in March

    The turnover index in the industrial sector rose 8.7 pct in March this year, compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 16.2 pct recorded in March 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed this development to a 14.9 pct increase in the mining index and an 8.6 pct increase in the manufacturing index. The domestic turnover index was down 4.3 pct in March, while the external market index rose 41.2 pct.

    [19] Greek yield spread jumps to new records

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened sharply to a new record high of 13.03 pct in the domestic secondary bond market on Friday, reflecting market worries over developments in the Greek public debt. The Greek bond was yielding 16.12 pct in midday trading. Also, the Greek CDS jumped to 13.44 pct, while the two-year benchmark bond yielded 23.67 pct.

    [20] Home building materials' price index up 2.7 pct in April

    New home building materials' price index rose 2.7 pct in April, compared with the same month last year, after an increase of 3.5 pct recorded in April 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed the 2.7 pct to a 21.5 pct jump in the prices of diesel oil, a 13.1 pct rise in steel pipes and a 10 pct rise in iron. The index was down 0.1 pct in April from March, after an increase of 0.9 pct recorded in the corresponding period last year.

    [21] ASE suspends trading in Klonatex

    The Athens Stock Exchange on Friday announced the temporary suspension of trading in Klonatex shares following the listed company's failure to present its financial report for the first quarter of 2011 on time. An ASE statement said the measure was necessary in order to protect investors. Klonatex shares were trading every Monday in the "Weekly hourly trading" category.

    [22] Business Briefs

    -- Hellenic Petroleum on Friday said its net profits totaled 119 million euros in the first quarter of 2011, while comparable net earnings totaled 45 million euros, up 5.0 pct compared with the same period last year.

    -- Elval, a Greek-listed aluminium industry, on Friday announced the signing of an agreement to issue a 6.4 million euros bond loan with Alpha Bank.

    [23] ASE ends below 1,300 support level

    Greek stocks fell significantly in the last trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange, pushing the composite index of the market below the psychologically-critical level of 1,300 points to the lowest level since March 1997. Worsening conditions in the domestic bond market and speculation of a new downgrade of the Greek economy (Fitch Ratings announced it was cutting the country's rating by three notches after the market close) dampened sentiment in the market. The composite index dropped 1.88 pct to end at 1,297.36 points, for a net loss of 4.34 pct in the week. The index is down 8.25 pct so far this year. Turnover remained a low 78.271 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 2.10 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.83 pct and the Small Cap index ended 1.97 pct lower.

    PPC (0.59 pct) and Jumbo (0.20 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while OPAP (4.33 pct), Viohalco (3.73 pct), Cyprus Bank (3.14 pct), Mytilineos (3.07 pct0 and National Bank (2.30 pct) were major losers.

    Travel (3.96 pct), Raw Materials (2.72 pct) and Telecoms (2.63 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Insurance (3.44 pct), Health (3.51 pct) and Utilities (0.48 pct) scored gains. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 78 to 48 with another 52 issues unchanged. Unibios (20 pct), Athens Electronic (18.92 pct) and Neorio (11.11 pct) were top gainers, while Vovos (13.54 pct), Mouzakis (10.34 pct) and Moda Bagno (9.68 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +3.44%

    Industrials: -0.96%

    Commercial: -0.72%

    Construction: -1.80%

    Media: Unchanged

    Oil & Gas: -1.52%

    Personal & Household: -1.03%

    Raw Materials: -2.72%

    Travel & Leisure: -3.96%

    Technology: -2.93%

    Telecoms: -2.63%

    Banks: -1.84%

    Food & Beverages: -1.92%

    Health: +3.51%

    Utilities: +0.48%

    Chemicals: -2.37%

    Financial Services: -2.43%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and Coca Cola 3E.

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.38

    ATEbank: 0.51

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.21

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.34

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.76

    National Bank of Greece: 4.67

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.22

    OPAP: 12.82

    OTE: 6.66

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.03

    Titan: 16.70

    [24] Greek bond market closing report

    Speculation over a debt restructuring and European Central Bank's confirmation of a report saying it would not accept Greek state bonds as collateral if Greece moved with an extension of the maturity of the bonds, created a very negative climate in the domestic electronic secondary bond market. The yield spread soared to a new record high of 13.57 pct on Friday, from 12.80 pct on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 16.62 pct and the German Bund 3.05 pct.

    Turnover in the market was an improved 68 million euros, of which 52 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 16 million euros were buy orders. The five-year benchmark bonds was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 31 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.15 pct, the six-month rate 1.71 pct, the three-month rate 1.43 pct and the one-month rate 1.24 pct.

    [25] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.49 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange, with turnover at 33.928 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 35,742 contracts, worth 28.180 million euros, with 35,742 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,542 contracts, worth 5.749 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,712), followed by Eurobank (837), MIG (616), OTE (1,124), PPC (760), Piraeus Bank (590), Alpha Bank (651), Marfin Popular Bank (786) and ATEbank (692).

    [26] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.445

    Pound sterling 0.890

    Danish kroner 7.568

    Swedish kroner 9.066

    Japanese yen 118.01

    Swiss franc 1.266

    Norwegian kroner 7.945

    Canadian dollar 1.400

    Australian dollar 1.356

    General News

    [27] Symposium on the Acropolis Museum

    "The Acropolis Museum in Athens is not only about the Parthenon Marbles. This is an incorrect viewpoint that has led to numerous misperceptions and strange situations. It has even led to an unprecedented international delirium," Aristotle University (AUTH) archaeology professor and Acropolis Museum president Dimitris Pantermalis on Friday underlined.

    Addressing a symposium at the Benaki Museum on "Museums '11: On the occasion of the Acropolis Museum: Ideology, Museology, Architecture", professor Pantermalis stressed that the Parthenon Marbles are not tradable adding that he cannot understand how an international museum like the British Museum raises an ownership issue.

    "There is no ownership. They are part of the world's cultural heritage," he emphasized in response to a comment by the British Museum director who said in an interview that the museum is willing to "lend" the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

    [28] Turkish migrant smugglers open fire on Greek police, German FRONTEX officers, in Evros River

    Two Turkish migrant smugglers in a boat on the Evros River carrying illegal migrants opened fire twice on a five-member team of Greek police and Frontex officers early Friday and sped back towards Turkey. No one was injured in the incident.

    According to police, a Frontex patrol plane electronically spotted, at 11:15 Thursday night, a group of approximately 50 non-legal migrants on the Turkish coast across from the islet of Antas in the Tycheros area of Evros prefecture, apparently waiting to be transported across to Greece.

    The police illegal migrants squad was immediately alerted, and three Greek police officers and two German frontex officers were dispatched to the southern and northern part of the islet, which on the Greek side is accessible by foot.

    Over the next few hours the Turkish migrant smugglers made no effort to cross the Evros, but at 10:30 on Friday morning an inflatable boat with the two smugglers headed to the islet and, when it reached a distance of 100 meters from the islet, the two smugglers opened fire on the two Greek policemen patrolling the northern part of Antas and returned to the Turkish coast.

    The police officers immediately alerted the Alexandroupolis police headquarters, which in turn contacted the Turkish police authorities in Edirne, while the coordinates of the site of the incident was provided in order for the Turkish authorities to take action.

    While the contacts between the Greek and Turkish authorities were underway, a second boat headed to the southern part of the islet and opened fire a second time against the third Greek police officer and two German frontex officers patrolling the area, and sped back to the Turkish coast.

    After the second incident, the five Greek and German officers on the islet were ordered to distance themselves from the site.

    According to later information, the Turkish authorities detained 99 non-legal migrants on the Turkish coast opposite the site of the incident, and were investigating whether one or more of the detainees are migrant smugglers.

    Over the past two months, and following the enhancement of patrols in the northern part of Evros prefecture (in the areas of Orestiada and Didimoticho) with Frontex teams, the migrant smugglers have turned their focus to the southern section of Evros prefecture, chiefly in the areas of Soufli, Tycheros and Ferres.

    [29] Pefki shootout suspect linked to terror group, police claim

    The Greek Police (EL.AS) on Friday released information about the identity of the 21-year-old man who was injured in last Wednesday's shootout in the northern Athens suburb of Pefki in which two police officers were also shot at.

    The suspect, who is currently hospitalized under guard, was identified as Theophilos Mavropoulos born in 1990 in the Athens' district of Maroussi and he is allegedly associated with the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" terrorist group.

    Police have linked him with the terrorist group after his fingerprints were matched with fingerprints retrieved from an apartment in the central city of Volos where three members of the group were arrested together with other two individuals. His fingerprints were also found in an apartment in Athens' Kallithea district during a police investigation.

    [30] Murder charge for Afghans accused of killing father

    A public prosecutor on Friday slapped criminal charges of murder, robbery and acting as an accomplice in murder on two Afghan nationals arrested for the killing of 44-year-old Manolis Kantaris. The unlucky father-to-be was stabbed to death in the street for his video camera while preparing to drive his pregnant wife to a maternity hospital to give birth to their second child.

    A third man involved in the incident, also an Afghan national, is now being sought by police.

    In addition to the three criminal charges, the two suspects face misdemeanour charges for carrying, using and illegal possession of weapons.

    The incident, which also involved a third Afghan national in addition to the two suspects in custody, occurred on the corner of Ipirou and 3rd Septemvriou Streets in central Athens. Kantaris had left his house in the early hours of the morning in order to fetch the family car and was stabbed repeatedly as he left the building carrying his camera.

    His lifeless body was discovered by his wife and mother-in-law when they came down to wait for him outside the building.

    [31] Two defendants in Kantaris killing case to be brought before investigator on Saturday

    The two Afghan nationals accused of killing 44-year-old Manolis Kantaris in downtown Athens to steal a videocamera from him, will be brought before an investigator on Saturday.

    The two defendants were brought before a prosecutor on Friday evening who filed the charges levelled against them. As to the killing, prosecution for willful homicide was launched, against one of the two, complicity in willful homicide, robbery from which death resulted and illegal carrying of weapons, use of weapons and possession of weapons.

    It is possible that a time limit will be provided for them tomorrow to make their testimonies so that a translator can be found and appointed, since the two defendants appear to speak no other language than their mother tongue.

    [32] Businessman pays 320,000 euros for aluminum 'gold coins' - One arrest

    One man was arrested and a second was wanted for defrauding a Thessaloniki businessman out of his lifetime savings of 320,000 euros in exchange for solid gold coins that turned up to be fake, security police said on Friday.

    The 69-year-old businessman, owner of a nightclub, who was seeking ways to secure his bank deposits, was approached by two men who sold him counterfeit gold coins that turned up to be gold-plated aluminum coins.

    One of the perpetrators, a 43-year-old man, was arrested and is being questioned by Thessaloniki security police, while his accomplice is wanted.

    The two approached the businessman and, citing the economic crisis, convinced him to convert his deposits into gold coins. They told the businessman that they had just found the gold coins while digging, and that was why the coins were of an old mint.

    Police said that the businessman made regular withdrawals from his bank account over the space of two months, with which he paid for 1,400 gold coins.

    When the businessman discovered the fraud, he informed police, who asked him to pretend that he was interested in buying more gold coins.

    The 43-year-old was arrested at the rendezvous spot with the businessman while taking another 40,000 euros in marked bills from the businessman. A search of the arrestee's house later turned up a revolver.

    [33] Financial crimes squad officers remanded in custody for takes bribes

    One of the three finance ministry financial crimes squad SDOE employees arrested on Tuesday for receiving bribes has admitted the charges filed against him, it was announced on Friday.

    The three will remand in custody facing felony charges for taking bribes.

    The defendants were arrested on May 17 and initially maintained that they were themselves victims of the businessman who reported them to the police, alleging that he wanted to take advantage of the taxation immunity offered by law to those who bring corrupt civil servants to justice.

    [34] Supreme court prosecutor to seek action against 'umbrella sprawl' on beaches

    Supreme Court Public Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes on Friday announced his intention to seek action this summer against the overly aggressive habits of those hiring beach umbrellas, sunbeds or offering water sports and other leisure activities on Greece's public beaches.

    Tentes said the move would aim to restrict the virtual "take-over" of beaches by individuals exploited the space for profit so that members of the public not wishing to make use of the services for hire were effectively prevented from visiting the beach.

    The supreme court prosecutor stressed that the occupation of the entire length and breadth of a beach by private individuals or even municipal authorities that then 'leased' areas on beaches were illegal.

    "We are all aware of the trend for the renter to occupy the entire beach in advance and, in fact, with largely permanent facilities - beach umbrellas, sunbeds, boats etc - in such as way as to entirely exclude a section of the public that does not wish to make use of the services of the concessionaire for a fee from the use of a publicly owned good," he said.

    Such practices were "of course illegal," he added, noting that the supreme court prosecutors' office intended to take action to control such behaviour by both private individuals and by municipal authorities if they fail to carry out required inspections.

    [35] Four immigrant family members being treated for mycobacterium leprae infection

    Four members of an immigrants family are being treated at the university General Hospital of Rio, in the Achaia prefecture in the Peloponnese, for an infection from mycobacterium leprae (mycobacterium from which the Hansen disease is caused), according to an informatory bulletin by the Diseases Control and Prevention Centre.

    A delegation of scientists from the Centre went to the hospital on Friday, where its members were briefed on the course of the cases by the group of attending doctors.

    The Centre discloses that the disease from mycobacterium leprae is transmitted from man to man with great difficulty and becomes non-contageous immediately after the starting of a special therapy.

    [36] Truck full of copper cables stolen from PPC worksite on Crete found abandoned

    A Public Power Corporation (PPC) truck filled with copper cables was stolen at gunpoint from a PPC construction site in Mournies, Chania, on the island of Crete in the early hours of Friday, and police later found the truck abandoned.

    Four gunmen, wearing hoods, went to the construction site and, at gunpoint, tied up the guard and disappeared with the truck, which was loaded with 10 tons of copper cables.

    Police are investigating the case and have launched a search for the gunmen.

    [37] PPC employee in critical condition after electrocution

    A 30-year-old Public Power Corporation (PPC) employee was reported in extremely critical condition on Friday in Rethymno Hospital on the island of Crete, where he was admitted the previous night to the intensive care unit after he was electrocuted while carrying out work on an electricity pole in Dafnes, Heraklion.

    The hospital director told ANA-MPA that the man was in extremely critical condition, with severe burns to 50 percent of his body and serous damage to organs, including extensive damage to his muscular system, and would be transferred to a burn unit in Athens.

    The PPC is conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the accident, given that the injured employee is a driver and not an aerial cable technician.

    Weather Forecast

    [38] Fair on Saturday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 12C and 28C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 27C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 14C to 26C.

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

    Disagreement in the government over the possibility of layoffs in the public sector, the tragic condition of social security funds, and the clash between European bankers and politicians over the management of the Greek debt, mostly dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Main opposition New Democracy (ND) against layoffs in public sector".

    AVGHI: "Crisis in ruling PASOK over the layoffs and the extreme austerity".

    AVRIANI: "We made a bloody mess of the European Union as well".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "14 percent cut in salaries, 8-hour work-week and half overtime".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Tax frenzy".

    ETHNOS: "Lump sum retirement superannuity with 'haircut' in public sector".

    IMERISSIA: "Agreement/breather until 2013 - 60 billion euros loan in exchange for harsher measures".

    KATHIMERINI: "Rift over the layoffs".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Greek state opens up severe 'eurobattle'."

    RIZOSPASTIS: "They are sending salaries, labour relations and social security rights to the firing squad yet again".

    TA NEA: "The Ultimatum According to Loukas (Papademos, former ECB vice president)".

    VRADYNI: "Social security funds are collapsing".

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