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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-30

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

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

Monday, 30 May 2011 Issue No: 3799

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM in Kalavryta: Greece comes first
  • [02] Reforming public administration vital, PM stresses in Kalavryta
  • [03] Canadian PM begins official visit to Greece
  • [04] Visiting Canadian PM, accompanied by Greek counterpart, visit Kalavryta
  • [05] PM: effort for consensus will continue
  • [06] PM article on 30th anniversary of Greece's EU accession
  • [07] Samaras article on 30th anniversary of Greece's EU accession
  • [08] ND leader to brief party's MPs on Monday
  • [09] SYN Central Political Committee meeting
  • [10] SYRIZA's Tsipras calls for immediate elections
  • [11] Democratic Alliance party Founding Congress
  • [12] Xenoyiannakopoulou meets with Greek MEPs on EU funding issues
  • [13] Differences between main parties marginal, opinion polls show
  • [14] Thousands gather in Syntagma for 5th day
  • [15] PAME rallies in Athens, other Greek cities
  • [16] Finmin: fifth tranche not at risk
  • [17] FinMin on negotiations with EU/ECB/IMF troika
  • [18] IMF denies report
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [20] Environment and Volunteer Week in Athens
  • [21] Free spirometer tests in central Athens for World No Tobacco Day
  • [22] 'With Tray in Hand' race draws 200 waiters competing from all over Europe
  • [23] Two arrests in illegal migrant-smuggling ring
  • [24] Cannabis plantation discovered, one arrest
  • [25] Authorities intercept 65 kilos cannabis from Albania
  • [26] Elderly woman dies in house fire
  • [27] Cloudy, showery on Monday
  • [28] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance
  • [29] Christofias: Turkey will not join the EU if its does not change its stance Politics

  • [01] PM in Kalavryta: Greece comes first

    Greece comes first, prime minister George Papandreou said on Sunday, adding that he will do his duty in the face of the risk of Greece remaining years behind, during an address to local officials in Kalavryta.

    "At this time, the country comes first. Not myself, nor PASOK, nor the political parties. In the face of the risk of Greece remaining years behind, I will do my duty. I do not care about petty-party politics and the political cost," Papandreou said.

    The premier said that from the outset he had sought cooperation so that the country would exit the crisis more quickly while, on last week's meeting of the political party leaders chaired by the President of the Republic, he said that "we converge on many things".

    "Political will is needed to transcend the party interests, and this will be proven in action. We can be different, but not enemies," Papandreou said, urging that such a picture of seriousness on the party of the country would give a resounding reply to those who doubt Greece.

    Papandreou, who accompanied Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper on a visit to the historic city of Kalavryta, the site of a Nazi massacre of the entire male population on December 13, 1943, also addressed a gathering of local city and Western Greece Periphery officials and organisations.

    Addressing the officials, Papandreou said that the courage and sacrifice of the people of Kalavryta was proof that nothing can daunt the courage of the Greeks, adding that the Greek people need to call up the same courage for the country to exit from the deep political and institutional crisis it faces today, symptoms of which are the debt and deficits crisis.

    "It is a domestic crisis, but in an exceptionally adverse international climate," the premier said, stressing that, in such conditions, "we all need to once again realise our responsibilities."

    Faced with "those who are fighting in order for nothing to change, we are taking the situation in our hands and taking the country out of monitoring", he said, adding that now is the time for Greece to stand on its own strength.

    He said that the "old system of clientele relations, corruption and intransparency" is "resisting everywhere", adding that "the battle is in full swing", and urged that "despite the real dangers, we must have confidence in our strengths".

    Papandreou said that neither he nor anyone else in his government would back down on Greece standing on its own feet, adding that the struggles and sacrifices of the Greek people are not in vain and are producing results, and called on everyone to "shut their ears to the Sirens that say that our struggle is in vain".

    Greece, he said, is in the first year of a three-year effort, and last year the quandary was put forward of whether all the Greeks and the country's partners make an effort or the country goes bankrupt. The government, he continued, opted for the first choice, and added that Greece can have primary surpluses by 2012.

    History has shown that the Greeks have lost only when they were divided, and "the time has come to overcome the party walls", he said.

    "I have no taboo on accepting any proposal that leads to the achievement of our targets," the premier added.

    [02] Reforming public administration vital, PM stresses in Kalavryta

    Addressing local authority officials of Western Greece on Sunday, Prime Minister George Papandreou once again stressed the need to radically reform the country's ailing public administration, which he said was a key cause of Greece's problems.

    "We are obliged by events to move at two speeds, keeping the best of what there was and at the same time rejecting anything extraneous and changing the rest," he said in Kalavryta. He noted that the failures of public administration - such as lack of transparency, clientelist relations and bureaucracy - were one of the causes of the problems and unless they were removed the country would once again be faced with a debt and deficit crisis.

    Papandreou also stressed the need to actually implement laws and not just pass them, so that the citizens' faith in institutions might be restored.

    On the issue of taxation, the prime minister said that the margins for "experimentation" or major changes were limited, noting that at present the government was forced to increase taxes and reduce spending.

    Regarding state-owned enterprises, Papandreou said a question was now arising about whether these were really necessary and he pointed out that, 20 years ago when they were set up, they had been envisaged as profit-making. Enlisting the aid of a foreign company to help organise them was something that the people now demanded, he added.

    Commenting on the issues and problems raised by local authority officials, Papandreou said that the discussion with them had been constructive and that most of the issues raised were best dealt with at a local level, especially issues such as poverty.

    During the meeting with local officials, Infrastructure and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas announced that the Patras Port will be made part of a trans-European network and outlined the problems faced with the construction of the Ionian and Olympian highways.

    [03] Canadian PM begins official visit to Greece

    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper held talks with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, paid a visit to the Greek Parliament and attended a roundtable between Greek and Canadian business delegations in Athens on Saturday, during the first day of a two-day official visit to Greece.

    Papandreou and the Canadian prime minister, who arrived in Greece after attending the G8 summit in Deauville, discussed bilateral relations and global economic developments, including those in the Eurozone and the economic difficulties faced by Greece. They also signed a bilateral agreement for promoting the mobility of young people in the two countries.

    Arriving at the Greek Parliament on Saturday morning, Harper was received by Greek Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos. Noting that relations between Greece and Canada were good, he said that an effort will be made to make improve them further.

    Petsalnikos referred to the important role of the Greek expatriate community in Canada as a bridge between the two countries, noting that Canada had been a hospitable country for Greeks fleeing the seven-year military dictatorship of 1967-1974.

    The Canadian premier noted that there were roughly 250,000 people of Greek background living in Canada, including government minister Tony Clement and MP Costas Menegakis that had accompanied him on his visit to Greece.

    Petsalnikos presented Harper with the gold medal of Pericles, a symbol of Athens' Golden Age and of democracy.

    After visiting Parliament, the Canadian premier addressed a roundtable meeting of Greek and Canadian business people at the city's Hilton Hotel. At this, he stressed the need to develop bilateral trade and business relations between the two countries.

    He also underlined Canada's interest in concluding a free trade agreement with the European Union, now in the final stages of negotiation.

    [04] Visiting Canadian PM, accompanied by Greek counterpart, visit Kalavryta

    Visiting Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and his wife, accompanied by Greek prime minister George Papandreou, on Sunday visited the historic city of Kalavryta, site of a WWII Nazi massacre, where they laid wreaths at the monument to the Greeks slain by the 117th Commando Division on December 13, 1943.

    The two prime ministers also visited the Aghia Lavra monastery earlier, on the second day of a two-day official visit by the Canadian premier.

    The two officials were greeted on arrival by Kalavryta mayor George Lazouras, who said it was an honor to welcome the two prime ministers to Aghia Lavra, where the banner on which the freedom fighters of the 1821 revolution against Ottoman rule swore themselves to the struggle, which is also the site where the entire male population of the city was massacred on December 13, 1943.

    After a guided tour of the Monastery, the two premiers also visited the Kalavryta Holocaust Museum, where Harper signed the official guest book.

    [05] PM: effort for consensus will continue

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Saturday stressed that he was determined to continue to strive for a national consensus, in reply to questions after his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who is on an official visit to Greece.

    Papandreou expressed hope that the other political powers in Greece will respond to this effort and show that all sides understood the critical nature of these times. He also sharply criticised those daily prophesying Greece's doom and dwelling on its problems, stressing that the country had already achieved many its targets though much remained to still be done.

    He underlined his determination to continue with the fiscal stabilisation programme, saying that this was the answer to the doom-sayers, and his faith that Greece will soon weather the crisis and enter a sustainable and competitive course.

    The Canadian prime minister, on his part, expressed conviction that Greeks would finally manage to solve their problems and succeed in emerging from the crisis with a thriving economy, benefiting the eurozone and the global economy.

    He said the Greek premier had briefed him on the measures already taken and planned by the Greek government, expressing his admiration for the determination showed by Papandreou in implementing the programme for exiting the crisis.

    [06] PM article on 30th anniversary of Greece's EU accession

    The crisis the country is going through has proved that bold decisions are necessary that advance the political and economic unification of the EU, without which the European Union will be simply a market that is subject to the whims of the international speculators, prime minister George Papandreou said in an article on the 30th anniversary of Greece's accession to the EU appearing in Kathimerini newspaper on Sunday.

    Greece will be a protagonist in that effort, he added.

    The quandary today, he continued, is between nationalistic introversion or a deeper integration.

    He said that the EU's lack of daring to proceed with the necessary institutional and political changes has created insecurity and introversion among a large section of the citizens in all the EU member states.

    Regarding Greece, he opined that, in the framework of the then EEC, the country succeeded in building strong democratic institutions, in benefiting developmentally and in reducing its social and economic inequalities with Europe but, despite all that, Greece's accession to the EU was not accompanied by the necessary institutional changes.

    Many long-standing problems, such as the clientele state, have survived instead of being uprooted, he said, adding that many of those problems grew in an environment of prosperity in which painful changes are avoided.

    [07] Samaras article on 30th anniversary of Greece's EU accession

    The crisis that Europe has been going through in recent years indicates a dual deficit of responsibility and solidarity, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said in an article on the 30th anniversary of Greece's accession to the EU appearing in Kathimerini newspaper on Sunday.

    It is a deficit of countries which, with a high deficit and unbearable debt, must manifest responsibility, and of countries with surpluses that need to remember that, if they believe in Europe, they have the obligation to manifest solidarity, Samaras wrote.

    He said that a Union is broken up either by the complaints of the weak or the arrogance of the powerful, adding that, in the case of the EU, "there is the danger of both happening", and called on Europe to overcome the separation between North and South, which is an internal separation and not imposed from outside.

    If Europe is saved, everyone will win, Samaras said, and warned that if it is further weakened this would chiefly hurt the "powerful of the North" because the "irresponsible of the South" have already been hurt.

    [08] ND leader to brief party's MPs on Monday

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras will be briefing his party's MPs on the latest developments and the results of the political leaders' council chaired by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias next Monday, at 12:30 p.m.

    On Tuesday, Samaras will begin a round of regional tours that will begin on the island of Crete in order to present his party's updated programme for an exit from the economic crisis.

    [09] SYN Central Political Committee meeting

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader Alexis Tsipras addressed the closing session of the party's Central Political Committee on Sunday.

    In both his addresses on Saturday and Sunday, Tsipras accused the government of danger-mongering, lying and extorting the people, and charged that prime minister George Papandreou and finance minister George Papaconstantinou were saying different things during the meeting of political party leaders chaired by President Papoulias on Friday and different things afterwards.

    On a proposal for setting up a government of technocrats, Tsipras said that it was not enough that the government has turned over the economy to the bankers, it was now preparing to turn over the people's mandate as well.

    Tsipras called Papandreou a panic-stricken prime minister who cannot and does not want to straighten his back and negotiate, adding that the same holds true for the "pathetic Mr. Papaconstantinou".

    Given that the country is going through a major political crisis due to the Memorandum policy, the SYN leader said that nothing can happen without the people's consensus, and the present government lacks that.

    He called on the forces of the Left to seek those things that unite them, and stressed the need to create a new SYRIZA (SYN-led Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary alliance) with its eyes turned to society for broader alliance and open to new movements, but also to PASOK voters.

    [10] SYRIZA's Tsipras calls for immediate elections

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras demanded an immediate resort to elections on Saturday, while addressing the Central Political Committee of his own Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party on Saturday.

    The voices saying that Greece's debt was impossible to service were multiplying and the country was going through an extremely critical time, SYN's leader noted stressed, predicting that a renegotiation of Greece's debt was unavoidable.

    Referring to the meeting of the political party leaders chaired by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Friday, Tsipras strongly criticised what he called contradictory statements made before and afterward by Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou regarding the release of the fifth tranche of loans to Greece.

    After threatening that the non-release of the fifth tranche would lead Greece to an immediate default and a possible exit from the eurozone, shortly after Papaconstantinou had stated that there was no problem, Tsipras pointed out.

    "It is therefore clear that the government's only strategy is to extort consensus to a plan to demolish society," he added.

    He accused the government of collectively blaming the Greek people and Greek workers and claiming that Greek laziness, wages and pensions were responsible for the crisis.

    "They imposed an unprecedented policy of social demolition and this is the result. The politics of recession and poverty, exacerbated to a frightening degree the problems that they were meant to solve," Tsipras stressed.

    He criticised the prime minister for only now remembering to seek political consensus, pointing out that Papandreou had not felt the need to inform the political parties when he was secretly meeting with the IMF 18 months earlier.

    SYN is the largest component party in the alliance of parties and movements within SYRIZA.

    [11] Democratic Alliance party Founding Congress

    Democratic Alliance party leader Dora Bakoyannis launched a scathing attack on all the Greek political parties and their leaders on Sunday, delivering the closing address at her party's Founding Congress.

    Addressing the closing session of the three-day Congress, Bakoyannis said that Greece's destiny is not identified with destruction and back-tracking but, rather, identifying with that choice are all those who are trying to build their careers on the prospect of a broken-up country, and those who aspire to becoming 'penny' prime ministers.

    She said that her party had been the first to speak of a national understanding. "Those of you who head the big, or formerly big, parties have a responsibility to all the Greeks in their entirety, and not only to your voters. You have a responsiblity to agree, to find the common points that will make Greece, not you, strong," Bakoyannis said.

    Bakoyannis, an Independent MP after she was expelled from main opposition New Democracy (ND) after defying the party line and voting in favor of the Memorandum, called on her colleagues in parliament to take a public stand on the need for national understanding, reminding that, regardless of what party they were elected with, they have all taken an oath to put the Constitution and the people above all else.

    She further reiterated her party's proposal for reducing the number of MPs from the present 300 to 200.

    Immediately after her address, the voting began for the election of the 200 members of the new party's first Central Committee and for Bakoyannis' election to the presidency of the party.

    [12] Xenoyiannakopoulou meets with Greek MEPs on EU funding issues

    Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou on Saturday had a meeting with Greek MEPs in order to prepare them in view of upcoming negotiations for the European Union's new budget framework after 2013.

    The meeting was essentially in preparation for the unveiling, at the end of June, of the European Commission's initial proposals for the EU's funding mechanisms once the package agreed for 2007-2013 comes to an end.

    The Commission's proposals will concern the Community budget, Common Agricultural Policy and cohesion policies in an exceptionally difficult framework given the broader crisis and the reluctance of countries to contribute and, chiefly, to increase their contributions.

    Xenoyiannakopoulou called the meeting in order to brief Greek MEPs on the country's priorities in view of a discussion to be held before the European Parliament on this issue in June.

    [13] Differences between main parties marginal, opinion polls show

    Greece's two main parties are head to head in voter preferences while their combined share of the vote is less than 50 percent, according to the results of opinion polls appearing in Greek Sunday newspapers.

    Main opposition New Democracy was just slightly ahead of PASOK in a Pulse-RC poll published by 'Typos tis Kyriakis', with 19.5 percent of the overall vote compared with 19 percent for PASOK. Their positions were reversed but the difference even smaller in an ALCO poll published by the Sunday paper 'Proto Thema', with PASOK at 20.7 percent and ND at 20.4 percent.

    Following the two leaders in the Pulse-RC poll were the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 9 percent, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) with 5.5 percent, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) with 4 percent. The Ecologists-Greens received 2.5 percent and the Democratic Left, Democratic Alliance and Arma Politon, each received 2 percent, which would exclude them from any future Parliament.

    A further 3.5 percent of voters expressed a preference for parties other than the above, 23.5 percent said they would cast a blank vote or abstain, while 7.5 percent is undecided.

    Current prime minister George Papandreou and main opposition leader Antonis Samaras tied on the question of who was most suitable for prime minister, with each getting 20.5 percent preference, while 56 percent of those asked chose neither.

    Roughly three-quarters of those asked (74 percent) believe that Greece should renegotiate the terms of the Memorandum, while 53 percent is against early elections.

    A further 76 percent believe that the measures proposed by the government will not bring the country out of the crisis and 52 percent agreed with Samaras' decision not to back most of the government's measures. Another 53 percent agree with the ND leader's proposals for reducing taxation.

    Finally 46 percent believe that the privatisations announced by the government will help the development of the economy.

    Based on the ALCO poll, KKE will get 7.9 percent of the vote, LAOS 5.6 percent, SYRIZA 3.2 percent, the Democratic Alliance 2.6 percent, the Democratic Left 2.3 percent, the Ecologists-Greens 2 percent and the Arma Politon 1.1 percent.

    At the same time, 43 percent agree with Samaras' refusal to back the PM's proposals and 40 percent disagree.

    On the issue of raising taxes to increase public revenues, 82 percent are opposed to paying new taxes and 62 percent fear that the country will default and will be unable to pay wages and pensions.

    A further 68 percent wants Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou replaced, while seven in 10 believe that the government's new measures are moving in the wrong direction. More than half, 54 percent, agree with the dismissal of excess public-sector workers and 60 percent agree with the privatisation of public utilities, 61 percent with the abolition of public-sector agencies while 68 percent completely disagrees with the sale of public land and buildings.

    [14] Thousands gather in Syntagma for 5th day

    In greater numbers than on any night since the protests began earlier this week, the 'Indigants' kept the date made via Facebook and other social networking sites on Sunday, descending upon Syntagma Square for yet another sit-down demonstration against severe austerity cuts. This night they were joined by others in Milan's Piazza del Duomo, Bastille in Paris and another 100 cities of Europe that held a simultaneous peaceful protest.

    People started arriving promptly at 6:00 p.m. and an hour later it was clear that Sunday's demonstration would be the largest of five consecutive protests that have taken place each night at Syntagma opposite Parliament since Wednesday.

    With their numbers in the tens of thousands, people have filled Syntagma and spilled out onto nearby Voukourestiou, Panepistimiou and Stadiou and Filellinon streets. Metro trains are no longer stopping at Syntagma, reaching only as far as Evangelismos, and access to the city centre is impossible.

    So far the demonstration has been entirely peaceful, without violent incidents as chants against parties and politicians alternate with booing, banging of pots, drum music and whistles.

    The demonstrations have drawn a kaleidoscope of people of all age groups and walks of life that have gathered to protest against unemployment, tax hikes and more cuts. Those in the square made a mismatched crowd, with school children and youths in rasta braids rubbing shoulders with chic 40-somethings in suits and old-age pensioners. Most of the people arriving had nothing more in common than facebook friends and shared anger at the politicians they hold responsible for the state of the country's economy.

    The groups that came every day had started to organise, setting up committees to take charge of hygiene, food, legal support and medical care and there were more tents than in all previous days. Today, for the first time, there was also a stronger police presence than on previous days.

    As on other days, the Syntagma demonstration was matched by similar gatherings in other Greek towns, most notably the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, where heavy rain at around 6:00 p.m. proved unable to deter protestors.

    [15] PAME rallies in Athens, other Greek cities

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE)-affiliated trade union faction PAME on Saturday organised protest marches and rallies against the new round of austerity measures announced by the government in the centre of Athens and other Greek cities, chief among them the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.

    "It is not enough to condemn New Democracy and PASOK. In this struggle we must include the capitalist owners of the country's wealth, which is produced by workers," stressed KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga while addressing the PAME rally in Athens' Omonia Square.

    "We are starting from the economic field and we must complete the struggle by overturning the power of the monopolies," she stressed. The rally ended with a march to Parliament.

    Financial News

    [16] Finmin: fifth tranche not at risk

    The fifth tranche of the bailout loans to Greece was not at risk, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said during a weekend news programme broadcast by a nationwide private TV channel on Saturday.

    "The Greek government is doing the things it must do and it is obvious that if we do them - which we will - the release of the loan will continue. It is obvious that nothing is at risk," Papaconstantinou said, reassuring viewers that there was absolutely no reason to worry.

    "We have taken all the provisions needed so that there will be absolutely no problem," he emphasised, adding that a solution was always found when the time approached.

    "But in order to find this solutions, we must make sure the country is doing what has to be done. And we are doing what we must," he added.

    Concerning the meeting of the political leaders and the main opposition's insistence that the government adopt New Democracy's 'Zappion II' programme in its entirety, Papaconstantinou replied that the government was open to discussing elements of the plan but could not adopt it in full because in its present form it would raise the deficit once again.

    According to the finance minister, Prime Minister George Papandreou had said as much to New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and invited him to look at various elements of Zappion II with EU-IMF troika officials, stressing that he was prepared to discuss anything provided it resulted in a reduction of the deficit and not an increase.

    On the issue of state-run public utilities and other agencies, Papaconstantinou said that they had begun reform programmes, their deficits significantly reduce and some were headed for privatisation, adding that some would be abolished if this was necessary though it was not easy.

    He said the target set by the government was to reduce the workforce in the public sector in 2014 by 25 percent relative to that of 2009 and that it would achieve this by not replacing staff that left, ending contracts that were not permanent and closing entire agencies.

    [17] FinMin on negotiations with EU/ECB/IMF troika

    Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said Sunday that negotiations with EU/ECB/IMF representatives regarding Greece's Medium Fiscal Strategy Programme were proceeding satisfactorily.

    "Negotiations with the representatives of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary fund regarding the Medium Fiscal Strategy Programme, the necessary interventions for the year 2011 and the privatisation and exploitation of public property programme, are proceeding in a satisfactory manner and we estimate that they will be successfully concluded in the coming days," Papaconstantinou said in a written statement.

    [18] IMF denies report

    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Sunday denied reports that the report it is scheduled to present next week will say that Greece has not achieved any of its fiscal targets, in a spokeswoman's e-mailed statement to Reuters news agency.

    "Recent media reports claiming knowledge of the findings of the review mission are untrue," an IMF spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement to Reuters.

    "Our discussions with the authorities continue, are making good progress and are expected to conclude soon," she said.

    Weekly Spiegel magazine claimed on Saturday that the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank asserted in their report to be presented next week that Greece had missed all fiscal targets agreed under its bailout plan.

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.447

    Pound sterling 0.879

    Danish kroner 7.568

    Swedish kroner 9.044

    Japanese yen 117.44

    Swiss franc 1.240

    Norwegian kroner 7.885

    Canadian dollar 1.413

    Australian dollar 1.354

    General News

    [20] Environment and Volunteer Week in Athens

    City of Athens officials on Saturday officially declared the start of Environment and Volunteer Week in Greece's capital, with a series of events taking place in the framework of the Athens Flower Show that began last week.

    In a bid to raise environmental awareness among Athens residents, especially students, the muncipality has organised a series of events and volunteer programmes throughout its seven districts in order increase greenspaces and make the city friendlier to people and the environment.

    After the inauguration, there was a presentation of innovative composting methods to create fertiliser using domestic and garden wastes, which was followed by a concert by the municipality orchestra.

    Throughout Environment Week, there will be a pavilion at Kotzia Square run by the municipality's animal shelter, where visitors can learn about issues relating to the protection of strays and pets, as well as adopt stray puppies that will be kept on site.

    [21] Free spirometer tests in central Athens for World No Tobacco Day

    Greece's Pneumonological Society will offer free lung function tests with the aid of a mobile spirometer on Monday and Tuesday mornings at Klafthmonos Square in central Athens, in order to mark World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

    The testing will be conducted between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on both days.

    A spirometry test essentially measures how well one breathes and can help in the diagnosis of various respiratory ailments, such as asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and others. The test is painless and usually lasts about five minutes.

    [22] 'With Tray in Hand' race draws 200 waiters competing from all over Europe

    More than 200 waiters from all over Europe competed on Sunday in a novel race against time...and gravity!

    Contestants from 40 European countries vied for the title of fastest and steadiest waiter in the international "With Tray in Hand" race from the Archaeological Museum on Athens' central Patission street to the Acropolis.

    The competing waiters set off at 10:00 in the morning from outside the Archaeological Museum, and quickly covered the distance along Stadiou, Filellinon and Vassilissis Amalias streets to the finish line at the Dionyssiou Areopagitou pedestrian walk at the foot of the Acropolis, all carrying a tray holding a bottle and four glasses.

    The best and fastest were awarded, while spectators were treated to a concert and other artistic happenings after the race.

    The contest was held under the aegis of the Greek ministry of culture and tourism, the Greek national tourism organisation (GNTO), the City of Athens and the association of Plaka shop owners.

    [23] Two arrests in illegal migrant-smuggling ring

    Two migrants aged 26 and 23, believed to be members of an illegal migrant smuggling ring, were arrested on Sunday in Thessaloniki.

    According to the Thessaloniki police headquarters, the two were arrested on Sunday morning in the Thessaloniki suburb of Menemeni as they were waiting, with two cars, to pick up 23 illegal migrants, including 8 minors, to transport them to Athens. The illegal migrants had paid the ring 400 euros each.

    [24] Cannabis plantation discovered, one arrest

    Eastern Thessaloniki drugs squad officers have arrested a 34-year-old man on charges of cultivating cannabis after discovering a field with 235 cannabis plants at Strymonochori, Serres on Friday. The suspect will be led before a Serres prosecutor on Saturday.

    [25] Authorities intercept 65 kilos cannabis from Albania

    The Igoumenitsa drugs squad on Sunday intercepted a load of 65 kilos of cannabis sent from neighbouring Albania, in an arrest at Sagiada in Thesprotia.

    Unlike similar arrests made in the past, the driver of this load was a 55-year-old Egyptian that had been sent by a drug-dealing ring in Athens.

    After pulling over the car he was driving, police discovered 65 packages hidden in the interior, containing a total of 65 kilos cannabis.

    The Egyptian was arrested and led before an Igoumenitsa public prosecutor, while police have launched an investigation to locate his accomplices.

    [26] Elderly woman dies in house fire

    An 80-year-old woman was killed at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday after a fire broke out in her house on the junction of Achilleos and Kythera streets in the seaside town of Artemida in Attica. According to the fire department, the fire was put out promptly but the woman died as a result of smoke inhalation.

    Weather Forecast

    [27] Cloudy, showery on Monday

    Cloudy weather with brief thunderstorms from the afternoon is forecast in most parts of the country on Monday. Winds from mostly northern directions, 3-5 Beaufort. Temperatures between 11C and 29C. Scattered cloud and later brief showers in Athens, with temperatures from 16C to 28C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 16C to 27C.

    [28] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    Political developments and the EU-IMF 'troika's' pressure for consensus, and the state of the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.

    AVRIANI: "Samaras being blatantly coerced (by the Troika freeloaders, bankers, big-time businessmen and middlemen) to sign the country's sell-out to the troika".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "ND takes the lead - PASOK collapsing".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The 5 moves after the shipwreck (of the meeting of political party leaders)".

    EPOCHI: "People take to the streets throughout Europe - Reply to the blackmail of the 'only way'."

    ETHNOS: "Surprise faces for restarting the economy".

    KATHIMERINI: "Uncertainty and rapid developments".

    LOGOS: "What the new and old pensioners will lose".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Subjugation, or counter-attack with popular front and strong KKE, is the real quandary".

    TO PARON: "A hostage of the troika - Prime minister Papandreou did not dare to consent to renegotiation of the Memorandum that has sunk us".

    TO VIMA: "26-day thriller after the party leaders'...poker game".

    VRADYNI: "New reductions to pensions - How much is being cut, and from whom".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [29] Christofias: Turkey will not join the EU if its does not change its stance

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    If Turkey does not change its stance and does not fulfill its obligations, by recognising the Republic of Cyprus and withdrawing its troops from the island, it will never join the EU, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias said on Saturday, speaking at the Cypriot community premises in Sydney, Australia.

    President Christofias, who attended a dinner hosted by the Cypriot community in Sydney, expressed the conviction that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be the winner of the forthcoming elections in Turkey, noting that he hopes that elections will give Erdogan the chance to change his stance, respect the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus and the Cypriots.

    The president noted that there is an expectation both from the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots for a settlement of the Cyprus problem soon but the illegal settling which continues is detrimental first of all for the Turkish Cypriots.

    ''There is a major change of the demographic character of the Turkish Cypriot community. This is a war crime and we must denounce the presence of thousands of Turks that occupy the properties of Greek Cypriot refugees. This is illegal, a crime and I thank you for taking such a clear position on these illegal actions from the Turkish authorities,'' he noted.

    He noted that Erdogan behaved arrogantly, with cynicism and in an offensive way against Turkish Cypriots who demonstrated against illegal settling and the oppressive financial measures of Turkey against them.

    President Christofias noted that if Turkey wants to become a more civilized and democratic state, to be able to join the EU as a full member, it needs to implement reforms in the country and change radically its policy and show this in practice with its neighbours, such as the Republic of Cyprus, which it ignores.

    ''If they don't change their stance and fulfill their obligations, by recognising the Republic of Cyprus, withdrawing their troops, they will never join the EU. And they are getting this message not only from outside but also from many other EU member states. We support Turkey's full membership to the EU, but this is not a blank cheque,'' he added.

    President Christofias reiterated his commitment for the evolution of the united state to a bizonal, bicommunal federal state, in the framework of a settlement of the Cyprus problem, noting that he has undertaken initiatives to convince Turkey that for the Cypriot government Turkish Cypriots are equal citizens of the Republic of Cyprus as are the Greek Cypriots, the Maronites, the Armenians and the Latins.

    ''I tried to convince (Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis) Eroglu but he has a different vision. My vision is for a federal state with political equality as described by UN resolutions, with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single personality and with the effective participation of both communities in the power institutions,'' he noted.

    ''Unfortunately I must say that Eroglu's vision is the same as (Rauf) Denktash's vision for the division of Cyprus, for two states with a loose central government, like a confederation, something which is absolutely unacceptable for us. But the key is not in Nicosia, it is in Turkey's hands. I hope that after the elections we will have a new Turkish policy for a neighbourhood of friendship with Cyprus,'' he concluded.

    Cyprus has been divided since the Turkish invasion in 1974. UN led negotiations are underway between President Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader in an effort to reunify the island under a federal roof.

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