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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-07-27

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 Issue No: 3848


  • [01] PM urges cabinet to make 'serious preparations' for Thessaloniki Fair (TIF)
  • [02] UEFA president meets PM, pledges expert help to end violence and corruption in Greek football
  • [03] FinMin addresses Peterson Institute
  • [04] FinMin in Washington: Backing from US government, IMF for Greece's efforts
  • [05] ND on taxi sector liberalisation
  • [06] Taxi owners march in central Athens
  • [07] Investigation of taxi owners' actions at road tolls
  • [08] KKE calls for parliamentary discussion on eurozone summit decisions
  • [09] SYRIZA's Tsipras on the economic crisis
  • [10] SYRIZA's Tsipras strongly condemns PPC privatisation
  • [11] Administrative Reform minister on drive to eliminate bureaucracy
  • [12] Municipalities receive economic assistance from interior ministry
  • [13] ASEP had a milestone year in 2010, according to its president
  • [14] NGO funding still 'frozen' due to ongoing transparency investigation
  • [15] Greek gov't, IIF to meet Thursday in Athens
  • [16] Government preparing new payment system for occasional workers
  • [17] Greek stocks end sharply lower
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [20] Verdi's 'Nabucco' opens at Herod Atticus Odeon Tuesday night
  • [21] EDEN awards presented in Delphi
  • [22] Greek Film Festival in Astoria dedicated to Thanassis Vegos, Elia Kazan
  • [23] Third gallery opens at Patras Archaeological Museum
  • [24] Bank robbery turns into car chase in Atalanti
  • [25] Civil aviation staff planning strike action in August
  • [26] Man shot dead in incident between foreign nationals
  • [27] Missing French tourists found, well in health
  • [28] Police arrest 89 foreign nationals in Patras 'sweep operation'
  • [29] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [30] Sarkozy condemns Erdogan?s statements, says President

  • [01] PM urges cabinet to make 'serious preparations' for Thessaloniki Fair (TIF)

    Addressing a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday, Prime Minister George Papandreou asked his ministers and government staff to make "serious preparations" for the Thessaloniki International Fair in September.

    The prime minister also called for a faster and more decisive pace in the implementation of his government's work, especially after a Eurozone summit decision by which Greece "has made an important step in tackling its huge debt."

    "We can use this opportunity for advancing reforms in a climate of greater certainty. After securing a protection shield, we can promote changes that consolidate security, good governance and justice and make Greece attractive to investments," Papandreou added.

    Papandreou said the government would take advantage of TIF to present its plans and the prospects created by the decisions of Eurozone leaders to support a second and more generous bailout package to Greece.

    He also urged all sides to ensure that their appearance at TIF was "modest" and simple, keeping all movements to and from Thessaloniki to a bare minimum, including those of support staff.

    Regarding his talks earlier in the day with UEFA President Michel Platini on the problems plaguing Greece's soccer championship, especially in the top divisions, Papandreou said that he discussed with the UEFA president Greece's "great effort to change things in the sports sector" adding that his government was determined to put order and consolidate transparency in the sports sector with the new legislation on "Tackling violence in stadiums, doping and fixed games".

    The prime minister also termed the legislation on referendums that his governmet was promoting an act of "confidence to the citizens".

    Referring to last Friday's tragic events in Norway, Papandreou expressed his abhorrence towards violence and fondamentalism which, as he said, undermine democratic institutions.

    He also reminded that Norway stood by the side of Greek democrats during the seven-year dictatorship.

    [02] UEFA president meets PM, pledges expert help to end violence and corruption in Greek football

    Prime Minister George Papandreou and UEFA President Michel Platini met in Athens on Tuesday to discuss the problems plaguing Greece's soccer championship, especially in the top divisions. Afterwards, they confirmed the willingness of both sides to put an end to phenomena of violence and corruption in Greek football, Tourism and Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos said.

    Besides Geroulanos, also present in the meeting were Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis and Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) President Sofoklis Pilavios.

    Geroulanos stressed that the prime minister and the UEFA president discussed practical ways for meeting the aforementioned goals, adding that "one of them is bringing UEFA know-how to Greek football stadiums".

    "Four teams of UEFA experts will be sent to Greece to offer their assistance in dealing with match-fixing, doping, violence in football stadiums and refereeing, offering necessary know-how to Greek authorities and EPO", Geroulanos said.

    Speaking to reporters before his departure from Athens' "Eleftherios Venizelos" International Airport, Platini stressed that "our goal is to help EPO put Greek football on the right track". He also announced that UEFA experts will arrive in Greece next month to study the situation and suggest solutions.

    UEFA's president also announced that Pierluigi Collina (a former Italian football referee regarded as the best referee of all time) will be called in to assist Greece in improving refereeing.

    Government sources had said earlier that the UEFA president made no specific requests, clarifying that the meeting was not of a technical nature but held to reaffirm the willingness of both sides to cooperate in the reform of Greek football.

    According to the same government sources, the issue of the Greek football teams' participation in European tournaments was not raised.

    [03] FinMin addresses Peterson Institute

    Government vice president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday night addressed the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington on "The Greek Debt Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities".

    Venizelos sent a decisive and optimistic message about Greece overcoming the obstacles and efficiently dealing with the economic crisis, adding that there was strong US support that could take on a much more specific and practical form.

    The Greek minister outlined the more general problem that has arisen in the eurozone and the development of events after the support mechanism for the Greek economy, as well as the programmes for Portugal and Ireland that followed.

    In Greece's case, he said, the problem was more complex, since it was not only the excessive debt but also the excessive fiscal deficit and deficit in the current accounts balance which, he added, reflects a deficit in the competitiveness of the Greek economy and the excessive magnitude of consumption in relation to production.

    Venizelos went on to outline the government's policies and planning to deal with the crisis at all levels, such as the introduction of a modern taxation system, drastic reduction of the black economy and stamping out tax evasion, and the adoption of structural changes to render the Greek economy competitive.

    He also noted the lead to eliminate obstacles in order to made Greece investor-friendly.

    "This is a very ambitious task," he said, given that the fiscal deficit needs to be drastically reduced in the space of three years from 15.5 of GDP percent in 2009 to a primary surplus in 2012.

    Venizelos stressed that the Greek government is determined to fully take advantage of the opportunity provided by the recent eurozone summit decisions, the European 'Marshall Plan' for Greece, and activate all the forces inside and outside Greece, including the Greeks abroad and Greek merchant shipping, to give Greece a competitive place on the international market.

    [04] FinMin in Washington: Backing from US government, IMF for Greece's efforts

    Washington (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greek finance minister and government vice president Evangelos Venizelos noted the US government's and International Monetary Fund's (IMF) firm backing of Greece's efforts for fiscal consolidation and economic recovery, after meetings in Washington with top officials on Monday.

    Venizelos, who was on a one-day visit to Washington, was speaking to the press after meetings with the IMF's new managing director Christine Lagarde and US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner.

    He also had separate meetings with Institute of International Finance (IIF) managing director Charles Dallara and leading Congressional members Senator and chairman of the Senate standing Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Tim Johnson, and Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate's standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

    On Monday night he addressed the Peterson Institute for International Economics on "The Greek Debt Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities".

    After his talks, Venizelos told reporters that the US government is sending a "clear message" to the markets.

    As for the IMF, he said it has "a very positive stance", stressing at the same time that "everything depends on our own ability to implement the programme and achieve specific results".

    Venizelos said he had a "very good" meeting with Geithner, adding that the US government "supports Greece's new programme and will express its support both at bilateral level and via the IMF".

    "This is a very clear message to the markets, to the international community. It is an act of support of Greece and its citizens who are undergoing sacrifices in order to restructure the country," he said.

    Venizelos said he had an equally interesting and lengthy working meeting with IMF chief Lagarde and her staff with discussions covering all issues.

    "The IMF's stance is very positive. Of course, everything depends on us. Everything depends on our own ability to implement the programme and achieve specific results. If we apply the programme and present results, the IMF and the international community will back Greece until it restores its fiscal sovereignty and independence, until it attains the position deserving of its history and of the abilities of the Greek nation. In this respect, the meeting was particularly optimistic and supportive," he said.

    [05] ND on taxi sector liberalisation

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis on Tuesday lashed out again at Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis for his handling of the taxi sector liberalisation issue.

    Mihelakis spoke about "irresponsibility" and called on Prime Minister George Papandreou to abandon the role of an "irresponsible observer" and proceed with the deregulation of the profession following the rules that are in effect in all European countries.

    The ND spokesman accused Ragoussis of "playing games to the detriment of society, economy and the tourist industry".

    [06] Taxi owners march in central Athens

    Striking taxi owners on Tuesday carried out a march in the centre of Athens to protest against government plans for the liberalisation of the taxi services sector.

    Thousands of owners from areas throughout Greece, from Crete to Corfu and northern Greece to Kalamata, gathered outside the offices of the taxi owners' federation SATA in Marni Street and set off shortly after 4:00 p.m. heading for Syntagma Square opposite Parliament.

    The march aims to arrive in Syntagma shortly before ruling PASOK's Parliamentary working group for labour issues is convened at 6:00 p.m. so that Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis can explain his policies concerning the taxi sector to MPs.

    [07] Investigation of taxi owners' actions at road tolls

    The head of the Athens first-instance court public prosecutors' office Eleni Raikou on Tuesday ordered an investigation to determine whether striking taxi owners staging demonstrations at road tolls were guilty of illegal violence.

    Taxi owners had lifted the bars at road tolls and allowed motorists to go through free of charge as a protest against government plans for the liberalisation of their sector.

    Raikou has asked police to investigate whether the taxi owners behind the process were guilty of illegally using violence and to find those responsible. Police will demand to see footage from video cameras installed at road tolls and will also examine witnesses.

    [08] KKE calls for parliamentary discussion on eurozone summit decisions

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday called for a discussion in parliament on the decisions taken on the Greek economy at last week's extraordinary eurozone summit in Brussels, independent of the prime minister's announced intention to hold separate meetings with the opposition party leaders to brief them on the summit.

    In a written statement issued Tuesday, the KKE said: "Independent of the prime minister's intention to meet with the political leaders, it is necessary that a briefing and discussion takes place in parliament on the agreement reached at the EU summit that mortgages the future of the people and the youth for 40 years with barbarous long-term measures."

    [09] SYRIZA's Tsipras on the economic crisis

    Opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday underlined that democracy should be safeguarded in this "cruel and brutal" period so that it "will not become the first and biggest victim of this dark economic and social crisis".

    In an interview on state-run NET television, Tsipras defended his stance to refuse to attend the annual event hosted by the president of the republic to celebrate the anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece, denying that it was a move designed to create impressions.

    Referring to the outcome of the Eurozone summit, he said that "we have a European systemic problem that calls for structural systemic reforms" but the EU leaders "are seeking piecemeal solutions to the problem by dealing only with the issue of Greece when the crisis is already knocking on the doors of Italy, Spain and Ireland".

    [10] SYRIZA's Tsipras strongly condemns PPC privatisation

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday strongly condemned the government's plans to further privatise the Public Power Corporation (PPC) by selling off its shares and warned that the prospect was a "nightmare" for consumers.

    According to Tsipras, the sale of the country's public wealth was a "bigger crime than even the Memorandum, the reduction of wages and pensions and the abolition of the welfare state".

    Tsipras made the statements during a meeting with the "Network of Energy Municipalities" consisting of areas where lignite coal is mined or PPC power plants are based.

    [11] Administrative Reform minister on drive to eliminate bureaucracy

    Administrative Reform and e-Governance Minister Dimitris Reppas on Tuesday held a meeting with department heads at the ministry and the agencies it oversees, in which he outlined the policy that the ministry's leadership intends to follow and urged them to have "an open mind, open doors and open processes".

    Reppas had held a similar meeting earlier in July with ministry general directors and managers.

    The minister underlined that public administration had to be made "extroverted" for the good of the citizens and the country and stressed the need for simplification and transparency in its processes so that it could fulfill its developmental role.

    "Our aim is not to computerise bureaucracy but to simplify procedures," he underlined.

    He also stressed, in relation to new staff assessment procedures, that the state wanted the best people in positions of responsibility but that the quality of their work must have an impact on promotions and pay.

    The minister noted that a reorganisation of the National Centre for Public Administration in collaboration with the equivalent French school was a step in this direction.

    [12] Municipalities receive economic assistance from interior ministry

    The country's municipalities will receive the sum of 12,404,737 euro as financial assistance, according to a decision by Interior Minister Haris Kastanidis issued on Tuesday.

    The sum will come from the municipalities' Central Independent Funds (KAP) and will cover operating and other general expenditures.

    [13] ASEP had a milestone year in 2010, according to its president

    The head of the Supreme Council for Civil Personnel Selection (ASEP) Giorgos Veis on Tuesday said 2010 was a "milestone year" for the independent authority.

    The main powers of ASEP include choosing the permanent staff of the wider public sector, ensuring the lawfulness of staff hiring procedures followed by agencies of the wider public sector and identifying cases of illegal hirings, through ASEP's Councillors-Inspectors who act as investigating officers.

    Unveiling ASEP's annual report, which was submitted earlier to Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos, Veis stressed that 2010 was probably the most important year in the authority's history. He stressed that it signaled the implementation of Law No. 3812/2009 that placed all staff hirings under ASEP including supervisor selection.

    Veis underlined that ASEP's role was notably upgraded with the participation of four of its members in the five-member Special Council for Selection of Supervisors (EISEP) chaired by an ASEP vice-president.

    [14] NGO funding still 'frozen' due to ongoing transparency investigation

    Funds destined for NGOs remain "frozen" until an investigation, launched in late 2010 and conducted by certified public accountants, is completed, it was announced on Tuesday.

    The investigation was ordered following an intervention by the parliamentary special committee on institutions and transparency that had traced transparency problems and had requested the reexamination of all developmental assistance programmes.

    Over 195 funding programmes in the period 2002-2010 are under investigation and are having their figures crosschecked by the foreign ministry Hellenic Aid programme, according to a letter by Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis addressed to the special committee chairman.

    Hellenic Aid has suspended all activities and its only priority is to settle all pending issues with NGOs.

    Financial News

    [15] Greek gov't, IIF to meet Thursday in Athens

    The Greek government and the Institute for International Finance (IIF) will have a first working meeting in Athens on Thursday in an effort to agree on the details of private sector's participation in a new Greek support deal, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Monday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with IIF's director general Charles Dallara in Washington, the Greek minister said Thursday's meeting signalled the beginning of a procedure towards implementing the decisions reached at an EU Summit over a new lending program for Greece.

    Philippos Sahinidis, deputy Finance Minister, said in a radio interview in Athens on Tuesday that a procedure for the swap of Greek state bonds held by private investors will begin in August. Sahinidis said the aim was for this procedure to be completed the soonest possible, while private investors in Greek state bonds will be offered four available options in the swap process.

    [16] Government preparing new payment system for occasional workers

    The government on Tuesday announced a new coupon-based system for paying those employed as domestic workers or farm hands, as well as anyone providing services on an informal, occasional basis, to be officially launched from August 20.

    The announcement was made by Labour and Social Insurance Minister George Koutroumanis in Parliament, while briefing a cross-party committee on the findings of a report on the problem of illegal migration.

    Under the new system, employers will not pay for such services in cash but in coupons they have paid for in advance, which the recipient will then be able to cash in. The coupons will be available at 600 sale points around the country, with the employer paying the price agreed with the worker for his or her services.

    Under the new system, the coupons will be the only legal way to pay for work done for households or individuals, as opposed to business concerns.

    The 'work coupons' will originally be supplied by banks and post offices, with plans to also extend distribution to super markets later on. Some super markets have even informed the labour ministry that they might include the new work coupons in their systems of special offers to consumers, based on consumption.

    The measure is chiefly designed to ensure that economic migrants, who often find informal employment in homes and farm work, can easily and simply pay social insurance contributions and thus qualify for health care and pensions. The measure is not restricted only to migrant workers but anyone providing work on a less formal basis.

    Giving examples, the minister said this form of payment will also be used for at-home calls by hairdressers, private lessons, gardeners or those working on a short-term, temporary basis, such as waiters or singers that appear for one or two nights.

    Koutroumanis said the measure was chosen because it would be convenient for both employers and workers, especially in agricultural work where there was extensive contribution-evasion and tax evasion.

    The only requirement would be a social insurance number (AMKA) of the employer and employed, with social insurance fund contributions withheld when employees cashed their coupons.

    The minister also announced that a draft bill incorporating Community regulations on illegal employment into national law will be ready by the end of August. This will include harsh penalties for those illegally employing migrants, including jail sentences of up to six months for repeat offenders.

    He also informed the committee that the ministry had already commission a 'migrant map' for Attica and Thessaloniki in order to determine the "qualitative and quantitative" features of the migrant population and adopt the right policies.

    "It is very important for us to have a picture of what is happening in our country exactly, about how many and which migrants are here," he stressed.

    The minister also said that the migrants staying in Greece had to be given the right to work so that they would not turn to crime, prompting right-wing MPs to point out that this would be like extending an invitation to illegal migrants to come to Greece.

    [17] Greek stocks end sharply lower

    Greek stocks ended sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, defying analysts' forecasts of a return to an upward trend as investors showed concern over the final cost for Greek banks from their participation in a Greek state debt restructuring plan. The composite index of the market dropped 2.82 pct to end at 1,233.22 points, with turnover a low 75.380 million euro. The Big Cap index dropped 3.79 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.41 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 2.39 pct.

    OTE (0.84 pct) and PPC (0.75 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to move into positive territory, while Marfin Popular Bank (8.47 pct), Eurobank (7.84 pct), Cyprus Bank (7.57 pct), Apha Bank (7.69 pct) and Piraeus Bank (6.0 pct) suffered heavy losses.

    The Insurance (4.17 pct) and Media (2.17 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (6.30 pct) and Health (4.85 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 99 to 35 with another 39 issues unchanged.

    Tegopoulos (17.39 pct), Sato (14.29 pct), VIS (9.72 pct) and Naftemporiki (9.68 pct) were top gainers, while Lambrakis Press (13.33 pct), ATEbank (11.24 pct) and Zampa (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +4.17%

    Industrials: +0.55%

    Commercial: -1.54%

    Construction: -1.27%

    Media: +2.17%

    Oil & Gas: -2.40%

    Personal & Household: -0.50%

    Raw Materials: -2.88%

    Travel & Leisure: -3.88%

    Technology: -0.93%

    Telecoms: +0.84%

    Banks: -6.30%

    Food & Beverages: +0.12%

    Health: -4.85%

    Utilities: +0.12%

    Chemicals: +0.08%

    Financial Services: -1.85%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and EFG Eurobank Ergasias.

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.12

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.45

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.15

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.49

    National Bank of Greece: 4.88

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 2.82

    OPAP: 11.50

    OTE: 6.00

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.94

    Titan: 14.90

    [18] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 38.168 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 10,125 contracts worth 27.983 million euros, with 36,604 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 31,590 contracts worth 10.184 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (10,891), followed by Eurobank (3,015), OTE (842), PPC (456), Piraeus Bank (2,287), Alpha Bank (3,392), Marfin Popular Bank (717), Mytilineos (438), Hellenic Postbank (717), ATEbank (7,056) and MIG (334).

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.468

    Pound sterling 0.895

    Danish kroner 7.564

    Swedish kroner 9.208

    Japanese yen 114.72

    Swiss franc 1.180

    Norwegian kroner 7.873

    Canadian dollar 1.382

    Australian dollar 1.339

    General News

    [20] Verdi's 'Nabucco' opens at Herod Atticus Odeon Tuesday night

    The opening night of the Greek National Opera's production of Giuseppe Verdi's 'Nabucco' took place at the historic Herod Atticus Theatre beneath the Acropolis on Tuesday night. The performance began at 9:00 p.m. and ended a few minutes before midnight, while the opera will run for four nights, until July 29.

    'Nabucco' was Verdi's third opera and the one that helped establish his reputation as a composer, remaining very popular until the present day. Conducting the National Opera's orchestra and choir for the performance is Ilias Voudouris, while the director was Vassilis Nikolaidis and the costumes and sets were the work of Yiannis Metzikoff.

    Established Greek and foreign artists will interpret the leading parts in the opera.

    Metro timetable extended for 'Nabucco' audience

    In view of the ongoing taxi strike, meanwhile, the management of the Athens metro has announced that there will be extra late-night trains running until the early hours of Wednesday morning in order to assist people attending the opening night to get home.

    The decision was taken at the request of the National Opera and will apply to both metro lines, while there will also be enough time to change trains onto the ISAP electric railway.

    [21] EDEN awards presented in Delphi

    The winners in the European Commission's European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) competition were honored in a special event at the European Cultural Centre of Delphi (ECCD).

    A total of eight municipalities and administrative regions took part in this year's competition under the theme "Tourism and Regeneration of Physical Sites", rewarding those destinations that have regenerated a physical site of their local heritage and converted it into a tourism attraction to be used as a catalyst for wider local regeneration.

    Tourism General Secretary Dina Bei on Monday presented the first prize to Delphi Mayor Nikolaos Foussekis for the regeneration project in the old quarter district of Harmena in the coastal town of Amfissa, south-central Greece.

    Prizes were also presented to the four runner-up destinations, namely, the Attica (greater Athens) Region, the municipalities of Minoa and Aghios Nikolaos on Crete and the regional entity of Thesprotia, extreme northwest Greece

    The "European Destinations of Excellence" - EDEN project, launched in 2007, promotes sustainable tourism development models across the European Union. The project is based on national competitions that take place every year and result in the selection of a tourist "destination of excellence" for each participating country.

    [22] Greek Film Festival in Astoria dedicated to Thanassis Vegos, Elia Kazan

    The Greek Cultural Center in Astoria, New York will pay tribute to two legends of the Greek cinema, actor Thanassis Veggos and stage and film director Elia Kazan, within the framework of the annual Greek Film Festival that opens on July 29 and runs until Sept. 4.

    Screenings will take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

    The last day of the festival will be dedicated to Greek-American filmmakers. Admission will be free.

    [23] Third gallery opens at Patras Archaeological Museum

    The Patras Archaeological Museum on Tuesday opened up a third gallery to visitors, in which it presents artifacts related to public life in the port city from Mycenaean times until the period of Byzantine empire.

    The objects on display illustrate customs and activities dating back to the earliest Bronze-Age settlements of Mycenaean Greece to the Hellenistic and Roman eras, ranging from statues and coins to musical instruments and mosaics.

    As befits a thriving seaport, many of the artifacts in the gallery are thought to be imported from abroad. These are not just coins, jewellery, swords and other such items but also statues of foreign deities, such as the Egyptian gods Isis and Serapis, that indicate the presence of foreign influences on the city or even the existence of population groups from other areas.

    [24] Bank robbery turns into car chase in Atalanti

    A bank robbery targeting a branch of Eurobank in Atalanti, Fthiotida on Tuesday afternoon evolved into a full-scale car chase between robbers and police.

    The robbery took place at little after 2:00 p.m. when the robbers held up the bank branch at gunpoint, taking roughly 8,000 euro in the cashiers' tills and a portable safe that later proved to contain no cash.

    After the robbery they set off at speed in the direction of Athens using side roads, dumping a Kalashnikov rifle, the empty safe and a hood in the region of Tragana.

    In their effort to get back onto the national highway heading for Athens, the robbers found themselves passing through the central square of the village Proskyna, where the head of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party George Karatzaferis was at that moment talking with local residents.

    According to police, the robbers suddenly found themselves trapped behind an agricultural vehicle moving extremely slowly and, in an attempt to make the driver speed up and make way for them to pass, they fired a warning shot into the air.

    Though they managed to get out of the square, a police pursuit caught up with them and there was an exchange of fire.

    The robbers finally succeeded in getting away heading for Athens and their car was later found in the region of Thiva, with no sign of its occupants, who are now being sought by police.

    [25] Civil aviation staff planning strike action in August

    The Civil Aviation Service Union Federation OSYPA, which also represents Greece's air-traffic controllers, on Tuesday announced plans for daily strike action throughout August in order to demand payment of backpay.

    The union has called daily work stoppages between 11:00 p.m. at night until 7:30 a.m. the following morning from August 3 until August 31, as well as 24-hour strikes on all Sundays and the August 15 bank holiday during that time.

    The action is expected to disrupt flights to the country's peripheral airports.

    OSYPA announced that its members have not been paid for four months for work done at night, Sundays and holidays but had avoided taking action until now so as not to harm the tourism sector. The union decided to begin labour action after being informed by the finance ministry that its members would not be paid until the end of the year.

    [26] Man shot dead in incident between foreign nationals

    A man was killed and a woman was injured in a late night shooting between Polish nationals in the heavily migrant-populated area of Aghios Panteleimonas in central Athens.

    According to Police, two Polish nationals attacked the man and the woman, also from Poland, on the street, firing two shots at them, apparently for personal differences.

    The man was fatally injured by one of the bullets and the woman was injured in the back by the second bullet.

    The woman managed to flee and was picked up by a passing motorcycle. The motorcycle left her off at a distance from the scene of the shooting, where she was picked up by an ambulance and taken to Athens' Red Cross hospital.

    Attica security police launched an investigation and were searching for the perpetrators.

    [27] Missing French tourists found, well in health

    A French couple that had been missing since Monday noon while hiking in western Kissamos, on the island of Crete, was found by rescuers early Tuesday and were reported well in health.

    The 55-year-old French man and 53-year-old French woman on Monday set out on foot from Falasarna for Balou, but after they failed to show up their friends alerted authorities.

    Police, firemen and a team from the Hellenic Red Cross launched a search, and the couple was finally found early Tuesday morning, after a local animal breeder told authorities that he had spotted two people late Monday night.

    The two tourists apparently took a wrong footpath that was headed in a different direction, and had no cell phones with them to seek assistance.

    [28] Police arrest 89 foreign nationals in Patras 'sweep operation'

    A total of 114 foreign nationals were detained and 89 arrested as illegal immigrants in the port city of Patras on Tuesday. The arrests were made during a 'sweep operation' conducted by police around the railway depot in the city's Agios Andreas district.

    Dozens of illegal migrants had been living in the area in makeshift dwellings and old carriages. Police said that those under arrest were being held and processes have been launched to deport them from Greece.

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

    The new list of 'heavy and hazardous' occupations, the bill on reform of the university system and the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Tuesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Upsets in 'heavy and hazardous' occupations list".

    AVGHI: "The university Rectors on the bill: It'll kill the universities".

    AVRIANI: "American-German war breaks out over the DEKO (Greek public utilities and organisations)".

    ELEFTHEROS: "The occupations that are being cut from the 'heavy and hazardous' list".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Ragoussis (transport minister) 'haircut' by ministers, government headquarters".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Change of life for 150,000 people in 'heavy and hazardous' occupations to be removed from the category".

    ESTIA: "Need for reversal of negative climate".

    ETHNOS: "What occupations will remain on the 'heavy and hazardous' list".

    IMERISSIA: "Call from Tax Bureau to 900,000 debtors".

    KATHIMERINI: "The exchange of bonds being accelerated".

    LOGOS: "100,000 workers off the 'heavy and hazardous' occupations list".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Agreement with private sector on the debt imminent".

    NIKI: "The Tax Bureau gook out its gun".

    TA NEA: "Tax Bureau: Pay or go to jail".

    VRADYNI: "Debtors to state to be referred to court".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [30] Sarkozy condemns Erdogan?s statements, says President


    Cyprus President Demetris Christofias said on Tuesday that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has condemned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statements and stance during his recent illegal visit to Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas.

    In a statement after his meeting here with Sarkozy, the president said they discussed about Erdogan's stance during his visit to occupied Cyprus.

    ''We both believe that Turkey's and Erdogan's behaviour is unacceptable, provocative and insulting to the EU and cannot be tolerated,'' Christofias said.

    He also thanked the French President for his ''crystal clear'' positions on the Cyprus issue.

    ''These positions of principle are very important for us, because France is a steadfast friend of Cyprus, a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations and a country that plays a key role in the EU affairs'' he added.

    President Christofias added that he briefed the French President on his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglou in Geneva on 7 July, and the launching of intensified talks to solve the Cyprus problem.

    President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu are engaged in direct talks, under the UN auspices, with a view to finding a negotiated settlement that will reunite the country under a federal roof.

    The president also said that he informed the French President about the explosion at the naval base in Mari, near Limassol, and that the French President expressed the intention to support the Republic of Cyprus with technical experts.

    A massive explosion occurred on July 11th, at the Naval Base ''Evaggelos Florakis'' in containers, full of munitions, which Cyprus had confiscated from "Monchegorsk", a vessel sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009. Nicosia was acting in accordance with UN sanctions against Teheran.

    The explosion killed 13 people and caused huge damage to the island's main electricity power plant at Vasiliko, which resulted in regular power cuts.

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