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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-07-19

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

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

Tuesday, 19 July 2011 Issue No: 3841

CONTENTS

  • [01] Samaras details policy to Clinton
  • [02] FinMin derides use of term 'selective default'
  • [03] Greece and Cyprus Defence Ministers call for unity
  • [04] Greek FM meets with EU's Fule
  • [05] US Under Secretary Hormats in Athens
  • [06] Belgian ambassador in Chania
  • [07] ECB chief on Greek debt
  • [08] EU seeks to ease access to bank accounts
  • [09] Positive signs for tourism in Greece, minister reports
  • [10] Abolition of 27 public-sector agencies but without lost jobs
  • [11] Supreme Court: Seasonal hotel staff not entitled to compensation for 'off-season period' when fired
  • [12] Stocks extend decline
  • [13] Greek bond market closing report
  • [14] ADEX closing report
  • [15] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [16] Striking taxis depart from city centre, promise to be back
  • [17] Greek tanker pirated off Nigeria
  • [18] Noted Corfiote painter Alamanos dies at 64
  • [19] New archaeological findis unearthed on small Cyclades islets
  • [20] Econ crisis 'hits' divorces
  • [21] Four foreign nationals killed in northern Greece road accident
  • [22] Eight foreign nationals charged with rioting after death of fellow prisoner
  • [23] Suspect arrested for vandalising Thessaloniki Holocaust Memorial
  • [24] Jewelry shop burglar gang strikes again
  • [25] British tourists arrested for counterfeit currency
  • [26] Man arrested in Patras for drug dealing
  • [27] Drugs smuggled from Albania found in abandoned car
  • [28] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [29] National Council conveys condolences to families of blast victims
  • [30] Community leaders to meet on Tuesday

  • [01] Samaras details policy to Clinton

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met with visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday in Athens, where he again reiterated his absolute disagreement with what he claimed were government ideas for a "selective default" to deal with the ongoing debt crisis.

    "As I said to Ms Hillary Clinton, ND does not agree with the so-called participation of the private sector in state bond risk," Samaras said.

    The meeting with Clinton focused mainly on international economic developments and the handling of Greece's debt problem.

    Outlining the reasons for his objections to any such plan, Samaras noted that a selective default would make it more difficult for the European Central Bank to supply liquidity to Greek banks using Greek state bonds as collateral.

    He also noted that a selective default will be a psychological blow to Greece, with uncontrollable repercussions for the real economy, while it would trigger a debt restructuring that would have a negative impact on the banking system and insurance funds.

    Samaras accused the government of trying to "dress-up" a dire situation, which would actually make the recession even deeper. The main opposition noted that his objections were backed up by the ECB's refusal to agree to a selective default and its warnings that it will not accept the bonds of a state that has proceeded to either a partial or general cessation of payments.

    The ND leader said repercussions of a selective default in the Eurozone were unknown, since it had never been done before, and that there were no guarantees that its duration would be short.

    He pointed out that a reduction in the interest on Greek loans in March had not helped improve the state of the Greek economy but had instead made it worse.

    Samaras agreed that an improvement in the terms of the loans to Greece was essential but stressed that these terms must not lead the country into a deeper recession. "Such an improvement could arise in the short term with the right to buy back bonds from the secondary market and chiefly in the longterm with the issue of eurobonds," he added.

    "It is clear that the government did not negotiate on anything and condemned the country to a recession without precedent through the Memorandum," he asserted.

    He also pointed out that the government had passed the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy as a 'necessary evil' in order to avoid default and was now saying that 'selective default' was unavoidable, in spite of passing the Medium-term programme to make the debt sustainable.

    [02] FinMin derides use of term 'selective default'

    In a later reaction, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos subsequently accused Samaras of committing "three major improprieties in one strike", commenting on the latter's statements made after meeting with the US Secretary of State.

    Venizelos stressed that the ND president put Clinton in a difficult spot when he outlined his position as regards the negotiations currently in progress in the Eurozone while, at the same time, insisting in using the term "selective default" in an attempt to "panic the people". He also accused Samaras of presenting the private sector involvement in the long-term debt sustainability programme as being Greece's proposal or choice.

    The finance minister accused Samaras of engaging in "unproductive and old-fashioned demagogy" and called on him to "help in the national effort by joining the negotiations with our partners, creditors and the international banking system in the name of the Greek people and for the benefit of the country."

    Meanwhile, the ministry of infrastructures, transport and networks accused the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party of rank "populism" in response to statements made by the ND spokesman on the taxi owners' strike action.

    In a written statement, the ministry accused ND leader Samaras of opting for irresponsible populism by fighting to prevent the taxi sector deregulation measure from being implemented.

    [03] Greece and Cyprus Defence Ministers call for unity

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA-A.Viketos/CNA)

    Visiting Greek Minister of National Defence Panayiotis Beglitis said here Monday that the Turkish threat against Cyprus "is not theoretical, it is real".

    Speaking after talks with Cypriot Minister of Defence Demetris Eliades, Beglitis said he felt proud after a briefing he had on the Cypriot National Guard's operational readiness and effectiveness.

    "I found officers with high prefessionalism, but above all with a brave soul and ready to confront, at any moment and whenever conditions of threat are created, the Turkish threat. This threat is not theoretical, it is real and we are experiencing this in the Aegean, and in Cyprus with the presence of the Turkish occupation forces, as a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion," Beglitis noted.

    Both minsiter have called for unity, following a visit to the Naval Base "Evaggelos Florakis", during which they were briefed by Navy Command, Police officers and French experts on the progress so far with regard to investigations into the cause of last Monday's fatal blast at the base which killed 13 persons.

    In statements he made after the visit, Beglitis conveyed the shock of Greek Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou, the Greek government and all political parties as well as their solidarity and support to the people of Cyprus and to the families of the victims.

    "It is with sincere emotion and anguish over this tragedy that I state here today that what is needed today, amidst this crisis, is national unity. We have to maintain our composure, find the widest possible consensus and understanding in order to overcome the problems we are faced with", he said.

    Both Cyprus and Greece are facing a wider fiscal and financial crisis, he said, adding that "with Greece's solidarity and the support of Greek people everywhere, we can overcome the problems and help overcome the problems Cyprus is faced with."

    On his part Eliades said that Greece and Cyprus will find the strength and the courage to join forces and move forward and face these difficult times in a serious and responsible manner.

    The two ministers also visited the "Sfalaggiotissa" cemetery in Limassol where Beglitis laid white flowers on the graves of Petty Officers Miltos and Christos Christoforou, Warrant Officer Kleanthis Kleanthous, Navy Commander Andreas Ioannides and Petty Officer Antonis Charalambous. They then visited the family of Navy Commander Andreas Ioannides, also killed in the blast.

    Thirteen people were killed, namely six firemen, five National Guard members and two sailors, by the huge blast which rocked nearby communities and caused extended damage. Mari village, in close proximity to the naval base, suffered most of the damage.

    The massive explosions occurred at the Naval Base "Evaggelos Florakis:, in Zygi, near Limassol, a few minutes before 0600 local time, on Monday, July 11th 2011.

    The blast occurred in containers, full of munitions, which Cyprus had confiscated from "Monchegorsk", a vessel sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009, in compliance with UN sanctions.

    Beglitis arrived in Cyprus on Monday for a three-day official visit, at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart Eliades.

    On Tuesday, Beglitis will be received by President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou, and will meet with leaders or representatives of parliamentary parties.

    He will also attend memorial prayers at the monument of the Greek Armed Forces and an event to condemn the 1974 coup and Turkish invasion, to be held at the Presidential Palace.

    On Wednesday, he will meet Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus Chrysostomos II and will attend memorial prayers at the Tomb of Makedonitissa and a memorial service for those who died during the invasion.

    [04] Greek FM meets with EU's Fule

    Greek Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis held talks in Brus-sels on Monday with European Commissioner for Enlargement Stefan F?le focusing on Turkey's European Union accession process and developments in Western Balkans and particularly in Albania.

    The meeting was held on the sidelines of an EU foreign ministers meeting.

    [05] US Under Secretary Hormats in Athens

    Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce President Yiannos Grammatidis held talks on Monday with US Under Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert D. Hormats.

    The high-ranking US State Department official accompanied US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her two-day visit to Athens on Sunday and Monday.

    Talks centred on possible participation of US businesses in the Greek privatisation programme and investments in the sectors of renewable energy sources and tourism.

    Grammatidis told reporters that the US side "still hopes for the activation of oversees Greeks regarding investments in Greece" and referred to a "declared decision by Washington to stand by the side of Greece in the present difficult period through continuous and combined interventions with the EU's political leaders and by offering know-how in reorganisation of the public administration and a reinforcing of our country's competitive-ness."

    [06] Belgian ambassador in Chania

    In a Europe that is being tried today, culture can serve as a bridge to bring the peoples closer and to overcome the existing problems, Belgian ambassador to Greece Marc Van den Reeck said on Monday during a visit to Chania prefecture, on the island of Crete.

    The purpose of the visit was to discuss the details of a cultural events programme to be organised by the Belgian Embassy on 18 September at the old port of Chania.

    The programme aims at the cultural promotion of Belgium in Greece, the envoy said, noting that the relations between the two countries are traditional and cultural, and run deep.

    He said that about 400,000 Belgians visit Greece each year for their holidays, and most of them "not for the sun but for the antiquities and the culture".

    The ambassador further said that some 30-40,000 Greeks live in Belgium, taking part in and contributing to the Belgian society, and who are doing well and are concerned about Greece, as is Belgium, at this time.

    "We want to send the message that beyond the economic problems we also have, as a country, a country of the same size as Greece, we are helping without a second thought, simply because Europe embraces, and does not reject," he said.

    Van den Reeck said that Greece and Belgium have common ties, stressing: "We have a shared past, we are in the same family that is called the European Union, and I believe that at this time we need to show that a Europe exists of friendship and humanity that goes beyond finances".

    The Belgian embassy is planning similar events in other cities of the Greek periphery, while a similar cultural event is being organised in Belgium by the municipality of Chania.

    Financial News

    [07] ECB chief on Greek debt

    European Central Bank (ECB) chief Jean-Claude Trichet warned in a newspaper interview that if the stance of the eurozone governments leads to partial or total default on payments by Greece, then "the governments must put themselves at the disposal of the euro system ensurances that it can accept, stressing that the euro system is co-comprised of the ECB and the 17 Central Banks of the eurozone countries.

    In his interview with Financial Times Deutschland (FTD), Trichet replies to solution scenarios calling for a "haircut" of the Greek debt, which could lead to partial or total default on payments, FTD writes. In such an eventuality, the ECB has announced that it will not accept Greek bonds as collateral for ensuring the liquidity of the Greek banks which, in turn, would result in a collapse of the Greek banking system.

    "The governments bear the responsibility for that," Trichet said. "The governments have been warned explicitly and with all means. I have stated it publicly. I have many times explained to the heads of state and government, in detail, that in the event of a default of payment by one country, we will no longer accept the state bonds as normal deeds of guarantee. The governments will, in such an eventuality, have to intervene and correct it. That is their duty," Trichet said.

    He clarified that, in such a case, the ECB will not make any compromise. "For us, it is not acceptable to risk our role as an anchor of stability and confidence in the eurozone and Europe," Trichet stressed. "If a country enters into default on payments, we cannot accept its state titles as collateral, because, in the view of the ECB Council, it would restrain our ability to act as an anchor of confidence and stability," he added.

    The ECB president further rejected the idea of introducing euro-bonds to deal with the crisis. The ECB Board has examined various proposals for euro-bonds, but "for the time being does not share them," Trichet said.

    He said that what comes first right now is to make use of "the excellent tools we have at our disposal", including a qualitative leap in the monitoring of the economic policies of the eurozone member countries. Also, the adjustment programmes for Greece, Ireland and Portugal need to be materialised decisively, while the EFSF (European Fiscal Stability Facility) must be utilised with the greatest possibly flexibility and efficiency, Trichet added.

    Despite the difficulties in the present situation, Trichet said he was optimistic on the future of the EU, adding that "of course the Europeans can manage this situation".

    The ECB chief also took distances from the criticism voiced against German chancellor Angela Merkel that due to the delays she is co-responsible for the escalation of the crisis. Asked if he shared this criticism, Trichet said "no, I believe that such a discussion in the present situation is totally wrong".

    [08] EU seeks to ease access to bank accounts

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)

    The European Commission on Monday asked member-states to adopt measures offering easier access to bank accounts to EU citizens.

    Access to a bank account has become a pre-condition for participating fully in the economic and social life of a modern society and the use of cash is rapidly decreasing, the EU's executive commission said in a report. "In today's world, not having access to a basic bank account makes everyday life difficult and more expensive. Everything from paying a utility bill, receiving income or benefits to purchasing goods and services becomes a challenge.

    Nevertheless, according to recent studies, around 30 million consumers over the age of 18 in the European Union do not have a bank account. Out of these 30 million 'unbanked' citizens, it is estimated that between 6 and 7 million do not have a bank account because they have been denied access to one. These individuals cannot currently benefit fully from the Single Market, the Commission said.

    The recommendation made from the European Commission on access to a basic payment account will promote financial and social inclusion for consumers across Europe. The Commission invites Member States to ensure that such accounts become available at a reasonable charge to consumers, regardless of their country of residence in the EU or their financial situation. It will assess the situation in one year's time and propose any further measures as necessary, including legislative measures.

    Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier, commenting on the issue said: "Access to a basic bank account is one of the priorities of the Single Market Act. It has the potential to improve the lives of millions of Europeans. It is important to put an end to practices that exclude people from access to such a basic and essential service, and thus enable them to participate fully in the society they live in and to enjoy the benefits of the Single Market.

    Access to a suitable payment account: The Commission Recom-mendation to Member States clearly sets out the fundamental principles that should be put in place at national level to guarantee access to suitable payment services. It considers that any consumer residing in the Union, irrespective of his financial circumstances, should have the right to open and use a basic payment account, even in a Member State where he does not permanently reside.

    Characteristics of a basic payment account: The Recommen-dation specifies which payment services a basic payment account should and should not include. It should enable the holder to receive, deposit, transfer and withdraw funds. It should also allow the execution of direct debits and credit transfers, but does not include overdraft facilities.

    Reasonable Price: Ensuring access to basic payment services should not only be about granting a right. To guarantee adequate pricing conditions enabling consumers to actually access basic payment accounts, the Recommendation sets out the principle that, if the account is not provided for free, the charges requested by the payment service provider should be reasonable. Each Member State should determine what constitutes a reasonable charge, taking into consideration criteria such as the national income level, the average charges for payment accounts or the total costs of the provision of the basic payment account.

    Designated Payment Services Providers: Most payment services providers - mostly banks - provide payment accounts. This Recommendation does not specify which category of payment service provider or which particular payment service providers should make the product available to consumers at national level. It is indeed left to the discretion of each Member State to decide which provider(s) should offer the product within their jurisdiction. Member States are thus free to designate one, several or even all payment services providers as basic payment account providers.

    Finally, the Commission encourages Member States to launch campaigns raising public awareness of the availability of such basic payment accounts, their pricing conditions, the procedures to be followed in order to exercise the right to access basic payment accounts and the methods for having access to an out-of-court complaint and redress mechanism. It also asks Member States to compile reliable statistics related to basic payment accounts so as to ensure a better monitoring of the situation.

    [09] Positive signs for tourism in Greece, minister reports

    Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Monday spoke about hopeful signs in terms of the number of tourist arrivals from Russia, Ukraine, Israel and Turkey, the new tourist markets targeted by Greece.

    Referring to Russia, he said there was a 60 pct increase compared with last year, stressing that the 650,000 tourist arrivals set as a target this year will definitely be met. As regards tourist flow from Ukraine, it rose 50 pct, from Israel 30 pct, while tourist arrivals from Turkey also recorded a double digit increase. Many visitors from the Balkans chose camping sites in northern Greece which are easily accessible by car.

    Commenting on his recent trip to Russia, Geroulanos stressed that notable progress has been made in visa issuance and that ways are being considered to make the procedure even easier.

    Referring to the tourist residence venture, he stressed that the measure will be implemented in five star hotels, stressing that interest has already been expressed by Russian and Israeli tourists.

    [10] Abolition of 27 public-sector agencies but without lost jobs

    Unveiling plans for the abolition of 27 broader public-sector agencies and organisations on Monday, Administration Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas said the mergers and abolitions will be carried out without making any permanent public-sector staff redundant.

    The draft bill being prepared by the ministry calls for the transfer of all permanent employees in the 27 agencies either to the ministries responsible for their oversight or to new bodies that will be created within 15 days of the bill becoming law, at the same pay and under the same insurance regime.

    The only proviso is that staff employed with an indefinite contract or permanent civil servants accept their transfer within 15 days of this being posted, or they will be dismissed without compensation.

    Those employed on the basis of temporary contracts in the agencies being abolished or merged, as well as the societe anonyme companies being disbanded, will lose their jobs as soon as the legal entities employing them cease to exist.

    [11] Supreme Court: Seasonal hotel staff not entitled to compensation for 'off-season period' when fired

    A seasonal hotel staff member who is fired is not entitled to severance pay for the "off-season period" during which they were not being employed, the Supreme Court's labour relations section ruled on Monday.

    Supreme Court decision No. 305/2011 challenged labour ministry decision No. 11855/2007 and the hotel staff collective work contracts, according to which, hotel employees should be fully compensated even for the so-called "off-season period" in case they are fired.

    [12] Stocks extend decline

    Stocks continued losing ground for the 11th consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, as the market quickly absorbed an initial buying activity spurred by the positive results of stress tests on Greek banks. The composite index of the market fell 0.44 pct to end at 1,171.70 points, after rising as much as 1.38 pct during the session. The index is now 10.45 pct down after the 11-day decline. Turnover remained a low 62.602 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.26 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.44 pct and the Small Cap index eased 0.73 pct. MIG (4.0 pct), Cyprus Bank (3.97 pct) and Ellaktor (3.08 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (4.70 pct), Piraeus Bank (3.45 pct) and OPAP (2.61 pct) were top losers.

    The Media (4.44 pct), Financial Services (2.14 pct) and Telecommunications (0.71 pct) scored gains, while Travel (2.4 pct), Chemicals (2.04 pct) and Constructions (1.12 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 84 to 53 with another 59 issues unchanged. Sanyo Hellas (12.5 pct), HOL (10 pct) and Vovos (8.82 pct) were top gainers, while Boutaris (11.11 pct), Koumbas (11.11 pct) and ELBE (8.47 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +0.56%

    Commercial: +0.45%

    Construction: -1.12%

    Media: +4.44%

    Oil & Gas: -0.98%

    Personal & Household: +0.01%

    Raw Materials: -0.32%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.40%

    Technology: -1.71%

    Telecoms: +0.71%

    Banks: +0.38%

    Food & Beverages: -0.84%

    Health: +0.17%

    Utilities: -0.87%

    Chemicals: -2.04%

    Financial Services: +2.14%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Coca Cola 3E, EFG Eurobank and Bank of Cyprus.

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

    Alpha Bank: 2.97

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.09

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.55

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.10

    National Bank of Greece: 4.25

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 2.59

    OPAP: 10.80

    OTE: 5.64

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.84

    Titan: 15.22

    [13] Greek bond market closing report

    Increasing concerns over a European solution to a Greek debt crisis continued pressuring regional bond spreads on Monday.

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 15.53 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market, from 14.67 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 18.17 pct and the German Bund 2.64 pct. The Spanish and Italian bonds yielded more than 6.0 pct.

    Turnover in the market was a low 11 million euros, all sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 3.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.16 pct, the six-month rate 1.81 pct, the three-month rate 1.60 pct and the one-month rate 1.46 pct.

    [14] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.82 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 19.705 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,052 contracts worth 15.426 million euros, with 29,913 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 12,973 contracts worth 4.279 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,748), followed by Eurobank (2,486), Piraeus Bank (551), Alpha Bank (1,624), Cyprus Bank (1,080), ATEbank (785), MIG (200), PPC (273) and Hellenic Postbank (159).

    [15] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.425

    Pound sterling 0.886

    Danish kroner 7.568

    Swedish kroner 9.392

    Japanese yen 112.77

    Swiss franc 1.165

    Norwegian kroner 7.985

    Canadian dollar 1.367

    Australian dollar 1.343

    General News

    [16] Striking taxis depart from city centre, promise to be back

    Striking taxis lifted a cordon that they had set up around central Athens and other key roads on Monday, restoring the normal flow of traffic around the capital.

    Earlier on, Syntagma Square in the heart of the city had been completely cut off and confusion reigned as taxis parked along the length of the road from Agios Sostis to Amalias Avenue and from the U.S. Embassy up to the Hilton Hotel had blocked all traffic along the city's central roads. Police intervened to prevent them driving down to the square itself.

    Taxi owners on Monday launched a 48-hour strike in protest at government plans to fully liberalise their profession and lift all restrictions on the number of taxi licences issued. They are demanding a meeting with the transport minister in order to present their own proposals and are planning to hold a meeting outside their association's offices at 17 Marni Street on Tuesday morning at 10:00, following by a motorised procession to Parliament.

    In earlier action by taxi owners on Monday, they had blocked access to both Athens International Airport and Piraeus Port. As they came off Attiki Odos exit ramps in Holargos, Katehaki and Messogion, meanwhile, they also caused severe traffic congestion in those areas.

    In a surprise move on Saturday night, taxi owners' unions called a 48-hour nationwide strike beginning at 5:00 a.m. Monday and lasting until 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, in the peak of the tourist season.

    Taxi cab owners have also warned that they are prepared to go on an indefinite strike if the government does not back down.

    The action by cab owners also caused a traffic jam in the central and side streets of Piraeus, including the main Akti Posidonos coastal road, obstructing buses and trams from carrying out their routes.

    The biggest problem was at Akti Xaveriou, where thousands of passengers were unable to board tour buses for visits to sites in Athens.

    Athens chief prosecutor Eleni Raikou has ordered case files to be drawn up immediately for taxi drivers for offences that are prosecutable ex officio, such as obstructing traffic.

    Athens' 'Eleftherios Venizelos' International Airport (AIA) and the port of Piraeus are the main gateways in and out of the country, from where thousands of tourists head daily to the Greek islands and the periphery.

    The president of the federation of Attica taxi owners' unions (SATA) Thymios Lymberopoulos warned that the mobilisations will continue and be stepped up, and once again called on the transport minister to take back his decision and commence dialogue with cab owners on the basis of the draft Presidential Decree prepared by his predecessor.

    Meanwhile, taxi owners from Tripolis, Sparta, Argos and Nafplio raided the bars at the toll station at Nestani on the Corinth-Tripolis stretch of the national highway, allowing cars to pass without paying tolls, while some 200 taxi cabs have queued up along the sides of the highway.

    In Serres, taxi owners staged a symbolic takeover at the Promachonas border station.

    Transport ministry denies problems at airports due to taxi strike

    The Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Ministry on Monday denied that the taxi strike had disrupted the smooth running of any regional airports around the country, except for the 'Nikos Kazantzakis' international airport in Iraklion, Crete where the entrance had been blocked by taxi drivers for a short space of time late in the afternoon.

    [17] Greek tanker pirated off Nigeria

    A Greek tanker, with a 20-member crew on board, was pirated some 30 nautical miles off Nigeria, it was announced on Monday.

    The Greek-owned "Aegean Star" was pirated as it was sailing with a load of petrol from Ghana to Benin.'

    According to early information, 10 armed men boarded the tanker.

    There was no news yet on the condition of the 20-member crew, which includes three Greeks -- the Captain and the first and second engineers.

    [18] Noted Corfiote painter Alamanos dies at 64

    Noted local painter Spyros Alamanos died on Monday at his home on the island of Corfu, at the age of 64.

    Alamanos was born on Corfu in 1947, and studied graphic arts at the Athens Technological Institute.

    He taught at the Corfu School of Art from 1984 to 1991 and has presented his paintings, engravings and photographs in 13 one-man shows and in a large number of group exhibitions in major Greek cities.

    Alamanos first appeared as a painter in 1971, and that same year was awarded first prize for designing the poster for the Thessaloniki International Fair, while he was also a founding member of the Corfu Art Hall.

    In 1994 he designed the three medals for the EU summit on Corfu, on behalf of the Municipality of Corfu.

    [19] New archaeological findis unearthed on small Cyclades islets

    Archaeological excavations at the Mandra site on the uninhabited islet of Despotiko, southwest of the small island of Antiparos in the Cyclades, unearthed the northern wall of an archaic building, it was announced on Monday.

    The excavation works, which began on June 2 and were completed on July 8, also brought to light the headless upper torso of an archaic period male youth statue ("kouros"), the third sculpture that belongs to the specific "kouros" category ever unearthed.

    The second half of the statue, namely, the lower torso, was unearthed during earlier excavations in 2005, while its missing head is possible to be the one unearthed in 2010.

    The statue, that was found safely placed upside down in the ground supported by marble stones, has the left arm bend over the chest, indicative of the style characterizing the 6th century BC sculpture workshops on the island of Paros.

    The fragments, preserved in excellent condition, mirror the unparalleled quality of the local sculptures. Three fingers of the right foot of another "kouros" were found near the sea placed on a brick base.

    This year's excavation also brought to light a plethora of archaic and geometric period ceramics proving the existence of a temple.

    Excavation works on the nearby Tsimintiri islet have revealed five large constructions. In antiquity, Despotiko and Tsimintiri were joined through an isthmus.

    Excavations at the Madra site on Despotiko were sponsored by the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation and Paul and Alexandra Canellopoulos Foundation.

    [20] Econ crisis 'hits' divorces

    The economic crisis in Greece has apparently hit the divorce "market", which has marked a large decline due to the financial cost of a legal separation.

    According to figures from the City of Athens registry service, divorces have declined by 25 percent in recent years.

    More specifically, from a total of 1,579 divorces registered in Athens in 2006, the number started to decline in 2009 after the outbreak of the economic crisis, falling to 1,149 in 2010.

    Meanwhile, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) has recorded a drop in marriages as well, which fell from 63,997 in 1995 nationwide to 59,512 in 2009. The ration of marriages per 1,000 residents fell to 5.3 in 2009 from 7.3 in 1980 and from 9.0 in 1960.

    Also, 41.9 percent of couples prefer civil weddings from just 10.5 percent in 1995.

    [21] Four foreign nationals killed in northern Greece road accident

    Four people were killed, including three Serb tourists heading to Pieria on holiday and one Albanian man, in a car crash on the Athens-Evzones highway near the Kilkis wetlands and the border of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Monday.

    The accident occurred at around 11:00 a.m. when the car driven by a Serb family, comprising of a man and a woman, their 11-year-old son and the woman's father, collided head-on with a car driven by an Albanian national. The crash resulted in the deaths of the woman, her father, the young boy and the Albanian man in the second car. The Serb driver of the first car was injured and rushed to hospital.

    So far, the cause of the accident remains unknown and is being investigated by the Polykastro traffic police. The names of those killed had not been released late on Monday afternoon.

    [22] Eight foreign nationals charged with rioting after death of fellow prisoner

    Eight foreign nationals held at a migrant reception centre in a renovated former airbase at the Helliniko site, southern Athens, will be led before an examining magistrate on Tuesday after a prosecutor filed charges against them for rioting a day earlier.

    The rioting occurred after news that another prisoner, held for illegally entering the country, died suddenly at the facility days earlier.

    A 27-year-old man held at the centre died of natural causes last Friday. Soon after the news of his death was out, roughly 98 inmates began shouting and banging against the doors of their holding cells. Eight of them were led before a prosecutor, who charged them with inmate rioting, arson, attempted escape and causing material damages.

    The incident prompted the strong reaction of the local community that has been opposing the creation of a migrant reception centre in Helliniko facilities, which are adjacent to the old Athens airport.

    [23] Suspect arrested for vandalising Thessaloniki Holocaust Memorial

    A local man was arrested on Saturday evening for vandalising the Holocaust Memorial in downtown Thessaloniki, the second such incident against the landmark monument in Greece's second biggest city within a month.

    According to reports, the alleged vandal spray-painted graffiti and anti-Semitic symbols on the monuments before being accosted by a group of French Jewish tourists visiting the site. The suspect was arrested at the scene and will face a judge on Tuesday.

    In a statement condemning the incident, the head of Thessaloniki's Jewish community, David Saltiel, called for the punishment of those found guilty of such actions and additional measures to protect the city's Holocaust Memorial.

    More than 50,000 Greek Jews of Thessaloniki were rounded up and sent to death camps by the Nazi occupiers of the country during WWII.

    Thessaloniki itself hosted the world's largest Sephardic community up until WWI.

    [24] Jewelry shop burglar gang strikes again

    A gang of jewelry shop burglars made a new appearance early Monday in the Athens suburb of Neo Iraklio.

    Four unidentified individuals crashed into a jewelry shop's display window with a stolen car, took all the valuables on display and fled with two motorcycles after abandoning the car.

    Police are conducting an investigation.

    [25] British tourists arrested for counterfeit currency

    Four 20-year-old British tourists were arrested on Monday in the popular summer resort of Malia, on the island of Crete, when police found in their possession nine counterfeit 50 euros banknotes.

    [26] Man arrested in Patras for drug dealing

    ? 25-year-old man was arrested on Monday in the western port city of Patras, charged with drug dealing. Police, acting on a tip-off, had placed the man under surveillance and on Monday stopped the car he was driving to conduct a check. Police found approximately 10 grams of cocaine and eight vials with anabolic steroids in the car.

    A search of the suspect's residence revealed another 200 grams of cocaine and a precision scale.

    Police are conducting an investigation to locate the individuals who supplied the drugs to the 25-year-old.

    [27] Drugs smuggled from Albania found in abandoned car

    Police confiscated nearly 56 kilos of cannabis from Albania found in a private car that was abandoned by its 27-year-old driver, an Albanian national, following a car chase on Ioannina-Kakavia motorway in the northwest, close to the Greek-Albanian frontier, authorities said on Monday.

    The driver of the car failed to stop for a routine police check and sped off leading to a car chase. A search is underway for the arrest of the 27-year-old.

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

    The extraordinary eurozone Summit on Thursday and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Greece and US support for Greece, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "One day full of Hillary".

    AVRIANI: "Early elections with whatever solution for the debt problem".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Clearance with 300 euros for 500,000 professionals and enterprises".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Breather without strength from Rome"

    ESTIA: "The state is the economy's enemy".

    ETHNOS: "US support in Thursday's battle".

    IMERISSIA: "Agony over the solution - Everything will be judged in Brussels on Thursday".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Summit with all scenarios open for Greece".

    TA NEA: "Here and now, solution for Greece".

    VRADYNI: "Illegal buildings: Arrangement per case".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [29] National Council conveys condolences to families of blast victims

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The National Council convened on Monday, under President Demetris Christofias, following the deadly blast at the naval base "Evangelos Florakis" in Mari, on July 11, which killed 13 persons.

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou expressed the Council's condolences to the families of the victims.

    He added that the Council members - parliamentary parties - observed a minute's silence in memory of the victims, before the start of the meeting.

    The National Council is the top advisory body to the President of the Republic on the handling of the Cyprus question.

    According to Stephanou, during the meeting President Christofias briefed the members of the National Council on the efforts to deal with outstanding problems, following the energy crisis in the aftermath of the blast.

    Political parties, he added, have expressed their thoughts and reservations, especially concerning the independent nature of the inquiry into the blast. The President pledged to take these concerns under consideration, Stephanou noted.

    Moreover, Stephanou said the president briefed Council members on the outcome of the meeting he had with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, concerning the Cyprus issue, in Geneva, on July 7.

    The National Council will convene again on Friday, July 22, to continue discussing the Geneva meeting, the Government Spokesman said.

    Moreover, Stephanou confirmed that Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou has already stated to the President, earlier Monday morning, his intention to resign, in relation with the events at Mari.

    Asked if the resignation is heralding the withdrawal of co-governing DIKO party from the government, Stephanou noted that the time is not ripe for such a discussion, adding that for the time being, there is only the intention of the Foreign Minister to resign. On the resignation, Stephanou said that "we will comment on it later".

    On the issue of assuring that the inquiry process over the blast will remain independent, Stephanou said that some decisions have been taken after consulting with the Republic's Attorney General Petros Clerides.

    On reaction concerning power supply from the northern Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, the Government Spokesman said that most political parties had been briefed on the issue, except EVROKO and the Cyprus Green Party.

    Some political parties, he continued, proposed to delay decisions until after the National Council's session, but he added that the issue was a pressing one. Arrangements for power supply from the occupied areas, he pointed, were made so as not to entail the upgrading of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime, since the issue concerns a private initiative to buy electricity and re-sell it to the Electricity Authority of Cyprus.

    He said moreover that coordinated efforts are being made to solve pressing energy issues, in collaboration with all relevant authorities and the Ministries involved, with a view of coming up with solutions very soon.

    Stephanou was asked finally on events that will take place on Tuesday, both in relation to the condemnation of the 1974 Turkish invasion, as well as with regard to people's protests over the blast incident, last Monday.

    The spokesman said that the issue was brought up during the session and added that both events could take place in separate places. The annual commemorative event at the Presidential Palace, condemning Turkey's invasion and subsequent occupation of Cyprus, will be open to the public, as it is every year, Stephanou concluded.

    Thirteen people were killed by a huge blast, following a massive explosion at the Naval Base "Evaggelos Florakis", near Limassol, on Monday, July 11.

    The blast rocked caused extensive damage to nearby Vassiliko power plant, leading to power shortage all over Cyprus. Communities in close proximity where also hit, while Mari village suffered most of the damage.

    The blast occurred after containers, full of munitions, exploded. Cyprus had confiscated the containers from "Monchegorsk", a vessel sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009, in compliance with UN sanctions.

    Following the incident, the government appointed a single-member commission of inquiry, headed by lawyer Polis Polyviou, to investigate events which led to the deadly explosion.

    Cyprus has been divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion. Peace talks are currently underway to find a negotiated settlement that will reunite the country, under a federal roof.

    [30] Community leaders to meet on Tuesday

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu will hold their first meeting on Tuesday, after a meeting they had in Geneva with UNSG, Ban Ki moon.

    The meeting, in the context of UN-led direct talks to solve the Cyprus problem, will take place in the morning at the residence of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Liza Buttenheim, in the UN-protected area of Nicosia airport.

    Cyprus was divided when Turkey invaded in 1974. UN led negotiations have been ongoing since 2008 between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, in an effort to reunite the island under a federal roof.

    President Christofias and Eroglu met with UN SG Ban Ki-moon on July 7th in Geneva and according to Ban's statement after the meeting they agreed to enter into an intensive period of negotiations on the core issues of the Cyprus problem when they return to the island.

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