HR-Net - Hellenic Resources Network Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (10 December 1948)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Sunday, 22 October 2017
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-05-31

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

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

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 Issue No: 3800

CONTENTS

  • [01] ND leader Samaras: 'Consensus only on the renegotiation of the memorandum terms'
  • [02] Gov't: ND insistence on Zappion II 'not helping'
  • [03] ND tables draft law proposal on 'source of wealth' statements submitted by politicians
  • [04] Papariga: Bankruptcy has already begun
  • [05] FM meets Ukrainian counterpart in Kiev
  • [06] FM: Hour of truth and responsibility has arrived
  • [07] Papoutsis meets with UNHCR European Bureau director
  • [08] Education ministry promoting reuse of school textbooks
  • [09] Gov't, troika talks in final stages
  • [10] FinMin optimistic on 5th tranche
  • [11] Oil exploration tenders to begin in 2012, minister says
  • [12] Hellenic Petroleum expresses interest in oil exploration contracts
  • [13] Rovlias at EU Competitiveness Council
  • [14] Deputy minister urges consensus on tourism sector
  • [15] Greece tops EU list in private tutorials
  • [16] Business Briefs
  • [17] Stocks end significantly lower
  • [18] Greek bond market closing report
  • [19] ADEX closing report
  • [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [21] First phase of Tempi tunnel project completed
  • [22] OPAP, INTRALOT executives face felony charges
  • [23] Police crack 2010 murders in Peristeri, Aharnon streets
  • [24] Ring of kidnappers dismantled in Athens
  • [25] Worker killed in trench collapse
  • [26] Two arrested with burglary tools, antiquities
  • [27] Brief showers and storms on Tuesday
  • [28] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [29] President: International conference not on July 7 agenda Politics

  • [01] ND leader Samaras: 'Consensus only on the renegotiation of the memorandum terms'

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday repeated that consensus can be achieved only on the renegotiation of the memorandum terms using as a basis his party's economic proposal for kick-starting the economy through the adoption of lower tax indices.

    Addressing ND's parliamentary group, Samaras ruled out "any thought of a consensus on the tax increases announced on Sunday by the prime minister", stressing that "an understanding on the taxation issue would have created the preconditions for a substantive discussion on a programme aimed at ensuring a rekindling of the Greek economy."

    Referring to the medium-term programme sponsored by the government, he stressed that his party could give its approval to individual articles if they are put to a vote separately.

    Samaras stressed that the pressures exerted raise an issue of democracy, pointing out that "we cannot consent to a policy that is wrong and leads to a dead end. Giving my approval when I disagree, while my criticism has been proved to be correct, would be equal to approving the abolition of political opposition and democracy. I will never sign the self-abolition of democracy and political opposition."

    On the movement of the "indignants", he said that "the protesting citizens that gather every day in city squares call for dignity and a change of policy," adding that "we should listen to what they are saying because their movement has no political party affiliation, is peaceful, unifying and nationwide."

    Samaras lashed out at the government for its tactic in the past two weeks, stressing that "the government is terrorizing the people with rumours about default and return to the old national currency, the drachma". He underlined that "anyone who speaks about an exit from the eurozone is committing a crime. The fear strategy should stop."

    Samaras also accused a part of the media of engaging in a misrepresentation of the ND positions.

    The ND leader referred to the pressures exerted on him lately to offer his consent, stressing that "it is strange that developments depend on the opposition and that our role is being highlighted by certain ones outside Greece. Those who call on the opposition to consent do not ask of the government to rule".

    He maintained that Greece can renegotiate and convince the troika that the policy followed so far is not working, that only the speculators invest in Greece's failure and that "we ask for nothing more than what the Irish and the Portuguese have negotiated and won".

    [02] Gov't: ND insistence on Zappion II 'not helping'

    Government spokesman George Petalotis on Monday again ruled out all prospect of accepting main opposition New Democracy's 'Zappion II' economic programme in full. At the same time, he insisted that there were still margins for reaching national consensus with the other parties.

    "[ND's] obsession with the adoption of the entire Zappion II proposal does not help anyone and is only of concern to certain population groups," he said.

    He stressed that ND's call for lower taxes "sounded good" but challenged the main opposition to say where the money would be found and not dwell only on the good news.

    The spokesman pointed out that Greece had not yet secured the fifth tranche of the bailout loans and stressed that things were difficult, with negotiations with the EU-ECB-IMF troika at a "critical juncture".

    At the same time, he dismissed the latest reports in the Financial Times as 'science fiction'.

    On the issue of reaching consensus with the main opposition, Petalotis replied to ND leader Antonis Samaras that the government was not asking anyone for a "blank cheque".

    "We are asking that all sides have an awareness of their responsibility so that the country can change. There is a common ground of understanding for taking the necessary steps and many things in common with ND," the spokesman added, noting that it was time to step beyond party boundaries.

    Petalotis denied that a government reshuffle would be taking place over the next few days, pointing out that the government had a full work schedule in the near future with the passage of the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy through Parliament, as well as the upcoming Eurogroup and EU summits in June.

    He was also careful not to align himself with the opinions expressed by Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas concerning the political system and the role of MPs, noting that these were the minister's "personal opinions".

    [03] ND tables draft law proposal on 'source of wealth' statements submitted by politicians

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Monday tabled a proposed draft law on the establishment of a special committee that will undertake to crosscheck the "source of wealth" statements submitted in the period 1974-2010 by serving or former prime ministers, parliamentary group leaders, government ministers, alternate and deputy ministers. The committee will also undertake to crosscheck the "source of wealth" statements submitted by their spouses and underage children.

    The committee will check their assets not only during their term in office but two years before they took office and two years after their term ended. In case of unjustified wealth they could face seizure of assets.

    According to the ND proposal, the five-member committee will complete its task within a year and be made up of top ranking judges and prosecutors. It will have increased authority and the power to request information from any public or private sector authorities, agencies or organizations without the previous consent of the individual under investigation.

    [04] Papariga: Bankruptcy has already begun

    The problems are real, and Greece's bankruptcy has already begun, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said on Monday, speaking on private television.

    There was an issue regarding the bankruptcy that has not been resolved, she continued, namely the percentage of devaluation of the capital, what losses the corporate groups will suffer, how the losses will me divided, and how the losses they will suffer will be fewer and lost the shortest time until recovery comes, Papariga continued.

    She said that what was going on today was not danger-mongering but blackmail, "the dangers exist".

    Papariga outlined the reasons why she doesn't believe there is a risk of Greece returning to the drachma currency, noting that although her party is in general in favour of Greece's disengagement from the EU, a solution outside the euro and return to the drachma in the present circumstances would be catastrophic. Also, she saw no prospect of Greece voluntarily withdrawing from the eurozone or being kicked out of it.

    "This could happen in the future, when the crisis is even deeper and the powerful decide to reduce the size of the eurozone and the EU in general. But right now, we believe, there will be a controlled bankruptcy of the eurozone," the KKE leader opined.

    [05] FM meets Ukrainian counterpart in Kiev

    KIEV (ANA-MPA / Ch. Poulidou)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, who began a two-day visit here on Monday, met with his Ukrainian counterpart Kostyantyn Hryshchenko. The Greek minister expressed Athens' political will to broaden bilateral relations, especially in tourism and trade.

    "We are one step behind our two peoples," Droutsas said, adding that Greeks and Ukrainians have demonstrated their strong will to enhance bilateral relations, noting that the increase in the number of visas for Ukrainian citizens by 55 per cent was a tangible proof of this.

    In citing the previous problems in issuing visas for Ukrainian wishing to visit Greece, Droutsas noted that instructions were given to facilitate relevant procedures by abolishing bureaucratic obstacles. He also said Greece supports the abolition of visas for Ukrainian citizens, according to the system applied for certain western Balkan countries.

    On his part Hryshchenko noted that beyond tourism bilateral cooperation in the sectors of trade, energy - particularly in renewable energy sources - and transport should be reinforced.

    Moreover, and in response press questions, the Ukrainian minister said his country "will fulfill its commitments regarding the safety of its nuclear plants," while declining to say whether Kiev will adopt nuclear tests that the European Union is planning to implement. Droutsas also said the Greece "will support Ukraine's European prospects".

    The two ministers earlier signed a Memorandum of Under-standing (MoU) between the state authorities of the two countries.

    Finally, met with Ukrainian Parliament president Volodymyr Lytvyn, and was scheduled to meet in the evening with representatives of the ethnic Greek community in the country.

    The Greek foreign minister is also scheduled to meet separately with Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov.

    While in Kiev, Droutsas will also deliver an address on the theme "Enhancing Greek-Ukrainian cooperation in the wider Black Sea area" at the Taras Shevchenko National University's Institute of International Relations.

    He will further visit the Hagia Sophia cathedral in Kiev, and the historic and cultural monument Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, the historic Orthodox Christian monastery that is also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves.

    [06] FM: Hour of truth and responsibility has arrived

    "The hour of truth and responsibility for everyone has arrived," Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said on Monday, during an interview on a morning show on private television.

    Conceding that dysfunctions exist in the government and delays in the government's work, Droutsas said that there is room for improvement.

    He said that prime minister George Papandreou is acting in the most democratic way, allowing the development of different views, but added that, from the moment that the governmental decisions are taken, they are binding for everyone.

    On negative speculation in recent days concerning the economic crisis in Greece, Droutsas reiterated that there is no problem concerning the fifth tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece.

    [07] Papoutsis meets with UNHCR European Bureau director

    Greece fully abides with the EU and Geneva Pact obligations on the rights of refugees and migrants, citizens' protection minister Christos Papoutsis said Monday, after a meeting with the director of the European Bureau of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Daniel Endres.

    Papoutsis also said that Greece, in the midst of the current economic and social conditions, was making a super-human effort to deal with the huge weight of asylum requests but also the large number of illegal migrants attempting, via Greece, to reach other European countries, and called this a national effort.

    Endres noted, in turn, that a very serious effort is being made in Greece, which has shown success.

    He said the High Commission appreciates the ministry's efforts for the establishment of a new asylum service and will back the issue of solidarity at European level, in the direction of equal distribution of the burden, so that the new asylum procedure may operate smoothly.

    [08] Education ministry promoting reuse of school textbooks

    In a letter sent to schools on Monday, Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou invited them to participate in a voluntary ministry programme to promote the reuse of school textbooks, urging them to collect and return any school books that were still in good condition on Monday, June 6.

    The minister noted that the action would be nationwide and seek to instill respect for public property, as well as to highlight the environmental, practical and sentimental value of books.

    The books that are still in good condition will be re-issued to new students in September 2011, while the rest will be recycled.

    In the last 10 days of that month, the school with the highest number of returned books will be awarded with extra teaching materials from the School Books Publication Organisation (OEDB). There will also be a prize for the school that creates the best poster for promoting the programme, which will be printed and sent to all schools.

    Until now, a complete set of free school textbooks for the year were issued to all children enrolled in Greek state schools, without any obligation that they be returned. The majority were thrown away at the end of the school year.

    Financial News

    [09] Gov't, troika talks in final stages

    The Greek government is entering the final stage of talks with the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" over drafting the closely watched Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy Programme, including additional fiscal interventions this year and an ambitious privatisation and state assets management plan.

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou has repeatedly said that talks are progressing satisfactorily and that they are expected to be completed in the next few days.

    Finance ministry sources told ANA-MPA on Monday that the two sides have reached a consensus over the necessary interventions for the current year, and particularly tax measures (raising the lowest tier VAT rates from 13 pct to 23 pct).

    The same sources said talks are not focusing on determining the legal form of a State Property Fund - which will manage whatever privatisations - and the participation of troika officials in its operations, ostensibly to offer know-how and technical support.

    Meanwhile, the Greek government is expected to meet with Deutsche Telekom officials on the heels of a government decision to immediately sell another 10 pct in the listed Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) to the German group.

    [10] FinMin optimistic on 5th tranche

    Finance minister George Papaconstantinou expressed optimism that agreement will be reached in the coming days on the new measures that will be taken in Greece, paving the way for approval of the disbursement of the 5th tranche of the 110 billion euros EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece, speaking on a private television station on Monday morning.

    He said that agreement with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' for disbursement of the 5th tranche was expected to be completed in the next few days, but stressed that decisions need to be taken for the smooth disbursement of the installment.

    In an interview on private Antenna television station, Papaconstantinou also defended the decisions that have been taken by the government "so that the country will not collapse", adding that, if it were not for those moves, "the state would not have been able to pay salaries and pensions".

    The finance minister acknowledged, however, that people who should not be paying were also paying.

    [11] Oil exploration tenders to begin in 2012, minister says

    The Greek government will launch tender procedures for oil exploration contracts in the Ionian Sea and southern Crete in 2012, after completion of seismic research in these regions, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Deputy Minister Yiannis Maniatis told a Mediterranean conference on oil and natural gas on Monday.

    The Greek minister also left the door open for possible synergies between the natural gas pipelines of Turkey-Greece-Italy and TAP (Turkey-Greece-Albania-Italy), while he mentioned the role of Russia in ensuring energy supplies for Europe, in the aftermath of a crisis in North African countries.

    Maniatis said procedures to set up a public agency, which will take over the management of state rights in exploration and exploitation of oil and natural gas fields, were under way, while he noted that the government was modernizing the country's institutional framework on exploration, based on the Norwegian framework.

    The Greek minister stressed that plans to build natural gas pipelines from the Caspian Sea to Europe should be based on viability and technical maturity criteria and not on political criteria.

    "The Turkey-Greece-Italy pipeline is more mature, financially affordable and with the right dimensions, minimizing geopolitical risks compared with other options," Maniatis said.

    He left the door open, however, for synergies with the TAP pipeline.

    Greece supports the construction of the South Stream pipeline, Maniatis said while he stressed that Russian energy exports immediately covered the gap left by North Africa in the last few months.

    Commenting on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the Greek minister expressed the hope that local societies and Bulgarian authorities will respond positively to a new environmental survey submitted by the operating company to the Bulgarian government

    [12] Hellenic Petroleum expresses interest in oil exploration contracts

    Hellenic Petroleum Group on Monday officially expressed interest in participating in oil and natural gas exploration projects in Greece. Yiannis Kostopoulos, the group's chief executive, addressing an energy conference in Athens, said Hellenic Petroleum was awaiting completion of a regulatory framework by the government to participate in on-shore and off-shore exploration.

    Kostopoulos said lower demand for liquid fuel, because of an economic crisis, was pressuring the European refinery industry and noted that several refineries have either been sold or closed down in the last few months. He noted, however, that there was increased demand in the Mediterranean from non-European countries, particularly for diesel oil ,and said that Hellenic Petroleum was focusing on raising production of diesel oil.

    Kostopoulos said the Greek market has recorded a 10-14 pct decline in demand and stressed that the group was boosting its export activities.

    H. Sahinis, chief executive of DEPA, said demand for natural gas in Greece was expected to rise to 4.0 billion cubic metres this year, from 3.6 billion in 2010, reflecting increased use of natural gas in electricity production.

    Al Cook, vice-chairman of BP Shah Deniz Development, said the company has asked from the three candidate natural gas pipelines (Turkey-Greece-Italy, TAP and Nabucco) to present the plans by October 1.

    Marcel Kramer, chief executive of South Stream, presented the benefits for Europe and Greece offered by the natural gas pipeline which will transport natural gas supplies to Europe.

    Kjetil Tungland, managing director of TAP, presented the benefits of the natural gas pipeline saying it was the cheapest and offered the shortest route.

    [13] Rovlias at EU Competitiveness Council

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)

    Deputy Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Dinos Rovlias on Monday participated in the EU Competitiveness Council, which met here to discuss the Single Market Act.

    Rovlias supported Greece's positions, backing Portugal's proposal for an assessment of the impact of the SMA on remote regions, and noting that island areas should be included among them. This view was also supported by Cyprus.

    Internal Markets and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier assured the Greek side that the Commission will pay particular attention not only to periphery regions but also island regions.

    During a discussion over dinner, Rovlias also said that Greece had undertaken specific commitments on reducing administrative load, which it was implementing at a rapid pace. Specifically, he cited the General Commercial Register and the one-stop-shop services for founding a new company, which had already been used by 760 new business start-ups.

    [14] Deputy minister urges consensus on tourism sector

    Culture and Tourism deputy minister George Nikitiadis on Monday urged consensus among all the political forces of the country in the field of tourism, in statements to ANA-MPA.

    "I wish to believe that in the field of tourism, a sector that appears to be doing quite well, there will be at least there the necessary consensus...and that everyone will lend the helping hand need for Greece to succeed in doing well in tourism," he said.

    Nikitiadis said that Greek tourism is a point on which the large majority of the Greek people can agree, adding that it was said that there is no policy consensus on matters on which the entire Greek people should proceed in order to deal with the huge crisis.

    [15] Greece tops EU list in private tutorials

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)

    Greece tops the list of European Union member-states where school pupils receive private tutorials, according to a new report published by the European Commission on Monday.

    Greek parents spend more than ? 950 million per year, which is equivalent to 20 percent of government expenditure on primary and secondary education, in order to supplement their children's education.

    Tutoring is widespread in southern European countries, the report noted. Following Greece are Spain (? 450 million), Italy (? 420 million) and Cyprus (? 111 million).

    In the 27-nation Union, more than 50 per cent of school pupils receive private tutorials.

    [16] Business Briefs

    -- Hellas Online on Monday reported a 34.3-pct increase in its operating profits and a 15.8-pct rise in its turnover in the first quarter of 2011, reflecting healthy growth rates, as the company further strengthened its position in the domestic telecoms providers market.

    -- Marfin Investment Group (MIG) on Monday reported after tax losses of 4.6 million euros in the first quarter of 2011 and said consolidated after and minorities losses totaled 67.8 million euros in the January-March period, after losses of 89.5 million euros in the same period last year.

    -- Mihaniki Group on Monday reported after-tax and minorities losses of 2.18 million euros in the first quarter of 2011, after losses of 1.16 million euros in the same period last year.

    -- E.I. Papadopoulos, Greece's largest biscuit industry, on Monday reported lower 2010 results, with revenues falling 3.8 pct to 112.6 million euros, from 117 million euros in 2009.

    -- Hotel enterprises, operating some of the largest hotels in Athens, reported lower revenues and losses or lower profits in 2010. Based on an analysis of their annual financial reports, the Caravel Hotels enterprises said its revenues fell 14.5 pct last year to 27.41 million euros, while its pre-tax profits totaled 769,000 euros from pre-tax profits of 2.615 million euros in 2009.

    -- Viokarpet SA on Monday reported after tax losses totaling 1.25 million euros in the first quarter of 2011, from losses of 1.14 million euros in the corresponding period last year, while consolidated net losses after tax and minorities totaled 1.22 million euros after lossess of 1.12 million euros in 2010.

    [17] Stocks end significantly lower

    Stocks came under strong selling pressure at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, hit by market concern ahead of the announcement of a share capital increase plan by Alpha Bank (a decision is expected to be reached during a general shareholders' meeting in June 21). The composite index of the market ended 1.95 pct down at 1,240.25 points to new 14-year lows. Turnover was a disappointing low 66.901 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 2.41 pct, the Mid Cap index dropped 4.53 pct and the Small Cap index fell 1.50 pct. Coca-Cola 3E (2.14 pct), Viohalco (2.14 pct) and Jumbo (0.58 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (9.06 pct), Eurobank (6.21 pct), MIG (5.77 pct), Marfin Popular Bank (4.69 pct) and Motor Oil (4.76 pct) were top losers.

    The Food (2.01 pct) and Chemicals (0.43 pct) sectors scored gains, while Technology (5.12 pct), Travel (3.94 pct) and Banks (3.81 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 105 to 42 with another 37 issues unchanged. Unibios (16.67 pct), Vovos (7.92 pct) and Profile (7.5 pct) were top gainers, while Intralot (22.27 pct), Paperpack (11.11 pct) and Geniki Bank (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.04%

    Industrials: -1.08%

    Commercial: -0.78%

    Construction: -0.93%

    Media: Unchanged

    Oil & Gas: -1.72%

    Personal & Household: -0.56%

    Raw Materials: -1.89%

    Travel & Leisure: -3.94%

    Technology: -5.12%

    Telecoms: -2.75%

    Banks: -3.81%

    Food & Beverages: +2.01%

    Health: -2.40%

    Utilities: -2.18%

    Chemicals: +0.43

    Financial Services: -3.12%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, HBC Coca Cola and OPAP.

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

    Alpha Bank: 2.91

    ATEbank: 0.39

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.40

    HBC Coca Cola: 17.22

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.69

    National Bank of Greece: 4.43

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 2.87

    OPAP: 12.20

    OTE: 6.71

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.96

    Titan: 16.55

    [18] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell slightly to 13.46 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 16.44 pct and the German Bund 2.98 pct. Turnover in the market was a thin 9.0 million euros, of which 8.0 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 1.0 million euros were buy orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 2.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.14 pct, the six-month rate 1.71 pct, the three-month 1.43 pct and the one-month rate 1.24 pct.

    [19] ADEX closing report

    The June contracts on the FTSE 20 index were trading at a premium of 0.20 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a low 24.596 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,985 contracts worth 19.443 million euros, with 34,061 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 15,859 contracts worth 5.153 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,606), followed by Eurobank (1,066), MIG (521), OTE (483), PPC (396), Piraeus Bank (2,298), Hellenic Exchanges (1,066), Alpha Bank (3,137), Intralot (553), Cyprus Bank (669) and Hellenic Postbank (906).

    [20] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.448

    Pound sterling 0.880

    Danish kroner 7.567

    Swedish kroner 9.024

    Japanese yen 117.09

    Swiss franc 1.232

    Norwegian kroner 7.864

    Canadian dollar 1.413

    Australian dollar 1.355

    General News

    [21] First phase of Tempi tunnel project completed

    The first phase of the opening of the longest tunnel in Greece, six kilometres in length, was reported on Monday with an explosion at the underground worksite in the central Thessaly province.

    Works for the tunnel, which bypasses the winding and rockslide-plagued Tempi Valley on the main Athens-Thessaloniki highway, began in August 2008 in both directors -- the southern end at the mouth of the valley, and the northern end at the Omolio township.

    [22] OPAP, INTRALOT executives face felony charges

    Five executives working at OPAP S.A., the state-run betting and lottery pools agency, and INTRALOT Group in 2005-2007 are facing felony charges for the excessive cost of a contract awarded by OPAP to Intralot in order to upgrade its computer system, the First Instance Court Prosecutor's Office announced on Monday.

    The contract was assigned to INTRALOT directly after an international tender was declared void following the resignation of OPAP assessment committee members.

    The project in question has cost OPAP roughly 280 million euros instead of 96 million euros, as originally estimated.

    The defendants are faced with felony charges for breach of faith and moral instigation of breach of faith.

    [23] Police crack 2010 murders in Peristeri, Aharnon streets

    Two murders that occurred within hours of each other on the morning of July 10 last year were both linked and the result of an argument between two Albanian nationals that evolved into a bloody vendetta, police announced on Monday.

    The victims were a 24-year-old man shot in a car off Kifissos Avenue in Peristeri and the second a 40-year-old killed inside a kiosk on Aharnon Street.

    Police that cracked the case said that the round of murders was sparked by an argument between a 26-year-old and 27-year-old Albanian in a bar, who set a date to meet at the end of Aharnon Street to settle their differences. Both men then enlisted the aid of friends to help them in the dispute.

    While the 26-year-old was on his way to the meeting with a 33-year-old accomplice, they spotted a car with three men inside that they knew were friends of the 27-year-old and opened fire on them, fatally injuring a 24-year-old man sitting next to the driver.

    On learning of the attack and the death of his friend, the 27-year-old decided on reprisals and carried out an attack on a kiosk where the 26-year-old's uncle worked, killing the 40-year-old man with one shot.

    The 27-year-old responsible for the second of the two murders has been in custody since October 2010 when he was arrested by Thessaloniki police based on an outstanding warrant for another homicide and attempted homicide committed with accomplices in December 2009.

    Police are now seeking the two suspects wanted for the murder of the 24-year-old in Peristeri.

    [24] Ring of kidnappers dismantled in Athens

    Athens Police on Monday reported dismantling a criminal ring made up of foreign nationals that was engaged in abductions of other foreign nationals who were kept hostage and brutally tortured until their relatives paid ransom for their release.

    A police raid in a downtown Athens apartment, used by the abductors to keep and torture their victims, led to the arrest of 14 foreign nationals, 10 Afghans and four Pakistanis aged between 16 and 31.

    Police were acting on information from a foreign national who reported to authorities that the ring were holding his brother and asking for ransom to release him.

    Meanwhile, a 41-year-old Afghan was also arrested in downtown Athens on Saturday on charges of being an accessory in the abduction of an Afghan boy in Italy. The suspect is allegedly the leader of an illegal migrant trafficking ring that transported illegal migrants from Greece to Europe.

    The 41-year-old had arranged the transportation of the minor from Greece to Italy for the sum of 3,800 euros but members of the ring in Italy held the boy hostage, asking for 10,000 euros to take him to his family in Switzerland.

    The young boy was released following an international police cooperation that led to the Rome apartment used by the abductors.

    [25] Worker killed in trench collapse

    A 45-year-old worker was killed on Monday when he was buried under loose soil that caved in during work to lay a drainage pipeline in Athens' Kifisia district.

    The victim, a foreign national, was working in a trench that was opened by a crew placing sewerage pipelines supervised by a private contractor.

    An investigation to determine if there were any safety code violations is underway.

    [26] Two arrested with burglary tools, antiquities

    Authorities on Monday reported the arrest of two foreign nationals caught with burglary tools and a large number of undeclared antiquities in their car.

    The two were arrested in the coastal city of Nafplio and had in their possession 26 Byzantine and Medieval-era coins, 11 coins of unknown origin, two Byzantine-era copper rings, two broken copper crosses, 10 copper clothing accessories, three sections of iron knives, one piece of silver jewellery, a brass miniature key, two metal fragments, a circular plate depicting the Virgin Mary and Jesus and two shells from a flash gun.

    The antiquities were examined by the local archaeological service, which found that they qualify for protection under the antiquities act.

    The two men will be led before a public prosecutor and the Nafplio police are continuing their inquiry into the case.

    Weather Forecast

    [27] Brief showers and storms on Tuesday

    Brief showers and storms, mainly from the afternoon, are forecast throughout Greece on Tuesday. Winds variable, 3-4 Beaufort. Temperatures will range from 11C to 28C. Initally sunny in Athens, clouding over from the afternoon, with temperatures between 14C and 28C. Cloudy and wet in Thessaloniki, with temperatures between 16C and 27C.

    [28] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The Troika's (EC, IMF, ECB) pressure for immediate measures in Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO), and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou's optimism on disbursement of the fifth tranche of the EU-IMF loan were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Monday

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Greeks withdrew 1.5 billion euros from their bank accounts in one day".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Secret and open flirt".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Government drove the people crazy and they hastened to withdraw 1 billion euros from their bank accounts".

    ESTIA: "Prime Minister George Papandreou's contradictions".

    ETHNOS: "Troika: Shut down a DEKO now".

    IMERISSIA: "Everything will be determined in the next 7 days - Hopes for the 5th installment".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Euro pressure escalates over the disbursement of the fifth installment".

    TA NEA: "The great feast of democracy".

    VRADYNI: "Social security funds freeze pension applications".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [29] President: International conference not on July 7 agenda

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has said that the UN Secretary General did not intend to raise the issue of an international conference on the Cyprus problem during his meeting in Geneva on July 7 with the leaders of the two communities.

    Speaking at a press conference in Sidney, after concluding his official visit to Australia, President Christofias said that unfortunately he was not in a position to announce anything optimistic concerning developments in the Cyprus problem but at the same time did not want to appear pessimistic.

    He said Turkey did not seem to be moving towards any shift in stance prior to Turkish elections, and described Turkey's behaviour of the past few months as arrogant.

    President Christofias said Turkey, through the Turkish Cypriot community, insists on the creation of two states in Cyprus, which the Greek Cypriot side could not accept, adding that the Greek Cypriot side is pursuing a solution providing for a bizonal bicommunal federation with political equality, in line with UN resolutions, with a single sovereignty, a single citizenship and a single international identity.

    Referring to talks to solve the Cyprus problem, President Christofias said the Turkish side's good will is questionable, adding that the course of the talks would be reviewed on July 7 in Geneva and the further steps would be determined.

    ''We are making clear that we insist on our agreement with the Secretary General that there will be no strict timetables for the talks, that there will be no arbitration, as in the past, and that the role of the UN is to facilitate,'' he said.

    President Christofias noted that the Turkish government was promoting a conference on the Cyprus problem with the participation of the three guarantor powers, namely the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey, and even the EU, to discuss all pending issues.

    He said the Greek Cypriot side was in favour of a conference that would be convened by the UN Security Council, with the participation of its permanent members, the guarantor powers, the two communities, and the Republic of Cyprus, to discuss international aspects of the Cyprus issue, such as the guarantees, the withdrawal of troops and the issue of settlers.

    President Christofias said that on July 7 the UN Secretary General did not intend to raise the issue of an international conference.

    Referring to the issue of properties, President Christofias said the so-called compensation committee in the Turkish occupied areas was giving compensation to Greek Cypriot refugees for their properties that was much lower than their actual value, and that interstate appeals provide the Republic of Cyprus with many arguments.

    ''Our side insists on the fundamental principle that the issue of properties should take into consideration the wishes of the owner,'' he said, adding that ''we have differences with the Turkish Cypriot side that attributes great importance to compensation.''

    Referring to the destruction of cultural heritage in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic, President Christofias said the actions of the Turkish occupation army have been reported to the UN and UNESCO, as well as other organisations, and the Vatican.

    Asked about the 2013 presidential elections, President Christofias said that ''the solution of the Cyprus problem is my life's aim, otherwise I would not have run for the presidency of the Republic of Cyprus,'' adding that running for a second term would depend on developments in the Cyprus problem.

    To questions regarding the demonstrations of the Turkish Cypriots, President Christofias welcomed them and said ''many Turkish Cypriots do not want Turkey, do not want the settlers, and want the independence of the Republic of Cyprus, to live together with the Greek Cypriots in conditions of peace and cooperation, in the framework of a federation.''

    Asked about the role of the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer, President Christofias said Downer should play ''a facilitating role, without proposals or interventions.''

    Referring to his contacts in Australia, President Christofias said relations between the two countries are traditionally friendly, adding that there is mutual support and that Australia still maintains a police contingent in the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

    He also pointed out the large Greek and Cypriot community in Australia, and the opportunity he had to reassure them of Cyprus' continuous support.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN-led talks are currently underway between the leaders of the two communities with an aim to reunify the island.

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


    Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
    Back to Top
    Copyright 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
    All Rights Reserved.

    HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
    ana2html v2.01 run on Tuesday, 31 May 2011 - 20:33:23 UTC