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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-07-29

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

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

Friday, 29 July 2011 Issue No: 3850

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece's fiscal crisis not to be taken as national weakness, PM warns
  • [02] FM Lambrinidis: "diplomats should spearhead efforts for the country's recovery"
  • [03] PM chairs meetings on state sector reorganisation, tax issues
  • [04] PM Papandreou in Arta on Friday
  • [05] KKE leader Papariga on Samos
  • [06] SYRIZA criticises PM absence from Parliament during 'Question Time'
  • [07] Transport minister to meet with striking taxi owners on Friday
  • [08] Tourism Minister Geroulanos on taxi owners' mobilizations
  • [09] Admin Reform minister briefs PASOK MPs on proposed changes in the public sector
  • [10] Women's wing at Korydallos Prison to be demolished by October
  • [11] Tsohatzopoulos' bribery charges fall under statute of limitations
  • [12] Procedure opens for finalisation of PSI terms
  • [13] French banks reassure of participating in Greek support program
  • [14] FinMin: 'Window of opportunity'
  • [15] IKA-ETAM insurance fund unveils action to reduce bureaucracy
  • [16] Greek stocks extend decline for fourth consecutive session
  • [17] ADEX closing report
  • [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [19] Last farewell to Michael Cacoyannis
  • [20] Actor Kostas Voutsas in hospital
  • [21] "Kingdom of Alexander the Great" exhibition at the Louvre
  • [22] Elderly woman found murdered in Athens' Nea Ionia district
  • [23] Eight arrested, 160 kilos seized in Interpol-DEA operation
  • [24] Contraband cigarettes seized
  • [25] Fire destroyed leisure boat yard
  • [26] Eight tourists arrested for dangerous driving on Crete
  • [27] Patras residents concerned by cluster of minor earthquakes
  • [28] Tourist arrested for rape
  • [29] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [30] President Christofias: I am accountable to those who elected me

  • [01] Greece's fiscal crisis not to be taken as national weakness, PM warns

    Prime Minister George Papandreou warned on Thursday that the tackling of Greece's difficult fiscal situation "should not be taken as a more general national weakness". Addressing the Greek Ambassadors' Conference at the foreign ministry building in Athens, the prime minister said that his government's target was "upgrading the country's international prestige and highlighting Greece's new qualitative identity." He also noted that during last week's Eurozone summit Greece's partners "gave us a vote of confidence."

    Papandreou further referred to Greece's competitive advantages such as the merchant marine, tourism, qualitative agriculture, renewable energy sourcs, the crative manpower and the great possibilities for growth and investment opportunities, underlining the role and contribution of economic diplomacy.

    According to the Greek premier, the object of international relations has widened. The issues of climate change, migration, energy, Papandreou said, create "a new and more complex landscape" while they highlight the need for a serious global governance.

    "The Greek crisis broke out at a time when the European Union was reforming itself, putting it to test in its new role," Papandreou noted, adding that in the development of this process "the EU appears stronger, with a common political stance and voice." He referred to EU plans for the creation of an Economic Monetary Fund, of a European credit rating agency, the introduction of a eurobond for growth and of a tobin tax.

    The prime minister also insisted to the need for Greek foreign policy to maintain its extroversion while referring to the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish relations, the fYRoM issue, the Balkans etc.

    [02] FM Lambrinidis: "diplomats should spearhead efforts for the country's recovery"

    Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis on Thursday opened the Greek Ambassadors' Conference at the foreign ministry building in Athens, stressing that "we are amidst the most difficult battle our country has been called to give since the restoration of democracy".

    Speaking in the conference, which will be end with an address by Prime Minister George Papandreou later in the afternoon, Lambrinidis called on the senior diplomats attending to "spearhead efforts for the recovery of the Greek economy and the improvement of the country's image abroad".

    Referring to the current financial conjuncture in which the Greek diplomatic corps is called to work, he pointed out that he is well aware of the existing difficulties and pledged to do everything in his power so that they will be able to do their work with dignity.

    He underlined that "extroversion and initiatives are necessary", adding that "success for Greece is a one-way street".

    He made a special reference to the values of responsibility and solidarity, stressing that lately they were let slide within the framework of the EU, pointing out that "certain ones in Europe have betrayed the vision of its founders".

    He observed that "the soul of Europe has not been lost" as proven by the decisions on Greece reached in the recent European Council meeting and referring to Greece's stance, he said that by voting the medium-term fiscal strategy it was proved that it "respects the value of responsibility".

    FM Lambrinidis underlined that Europe has risen to the occasion and gave Greece a second chance.

    He stressed that in this effort "the Foreign Ministry is now being called upon to actively support the recovery of the Greek economy and do battle on the front line. We have to put even greater emphasis on economic diplomacy and stand by our internationalized and productive forces."

    He added that "we are in a difficult neighborhood" and clarified that "foreign policy is not a sprint, it's a marathon", stressing that "the challenges we need to confront in our environs require vigilance, preparedness, composure and clear-sightedness".

    Lambrinidis referred to the efforts made by Greece for the European integration of the Balkan states and noted Greece's intention to host a Summit meeting on the issue during the Greek EU Presidency in 2014.

    He observed that there are open issues in the Balkans, such as the fYRoM name issue, and reminded that Greece wants a name with a geographic qualifier for all uses. He said that Greece's proposal has been accepted by its partners and allies "proving who is responsible for the lack of progress in the issue".

    Lambrinidis referred to Albania, stressing that Greece is in favour of the normalization of the political situation in the country and supports its European prospect. He clarified, however, that this support depends on the behaviour of the Albanian side toward the ethnic Greek minority.

    Referring to the Cyprus issue, Lambrinidis said that it is entering a difficult phase and commenting on the provocative statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said that "we were not surprised", underlining that "it is now obvious who is responsible for the lack of progress".

    He underlined that the solution of the Cyprus problem is a basic precondition for the normalization of the Greek-Turkish relations and made a special reference to the Greece-Turkey Supreme Council for Cooperation, adding that "our positions are based on international law".

    On the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in Libya, he said that "since the first moment Greece was in favour of a political solution to the crisis, a position now adopted by the Contact Group on Libya". He also referred to the traditionally good relations between Greece, the Palestinians and the Arab countries and to the upgraded relations with Israel that "make Greece a reliable interlocutor in the efforts for a solution to the Middle East issue".

    [03] PM chairs meetings on state sector reorganisation, tax issues

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Thursday chaired a cabinet meeting that focused chiefly on a planned reorganisation of the state sector, which includes the merger and abolition of various public-sector agencies and the founding of new organisations.

    Sources said that the meeting did not go into the details of the reorganisation, which are to be discussed in subsequent meetings between Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and each minister involved. The government's aim is to avoid lay-offs as a result of the changes but the issue was not raised during the meeting since talks between Venizelos and ministers were still pending. The sources said that announcements concerning this issue will be made by August 5.

    The meeting also discussed the European Commission's decision to set up a working team to provide technical assistance to Greece in accelerating absorption of Community funds from the NSRF.

    On the issue of privatisations, it was confirmed that these will go ahead and that there will be a special session of the cabinet with a briefing by Venizelos on the conditions for privatisations.

    Concerning the state broadcasting organisation ERT, announcements concerning its restructuring that will also concern the entire media sector are to be made by the appropriate minister on August 15, with sources stressing that ERT's permanent staff will not be affected.

    Before chairing the cabinet meeting, Papandreou had also chaired a meeting of the government's financial team on speeding up collection of taxes and a reorganisation of tax offices and tax systems.

    [04] PM Papandreou in Arta on Friday

    Prime Minister George Papandreou will be in the city of Arta, north-western Greece, on Friday, it was announced on Thursday.

    The premier will chair a meeting of representatives of local agencies.

    [05] KKE leader Papariga on Samos

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga arrived on the island of Samos on Thursday morning for a tour of the island.

    In an arrival statement, Papariga spoke of the island's developmental abilities, chiefly in the farming sector, with products "of interest" for all of Greece and even all of Europe.

    Despite that fact, she added, Samos' economy is on the decline, particularly with respect to the small-scale farmers and to workers in general.

    Greece, she said, has significant growth prospects, but growth and conforming with EU policy, growth and monopolies, growth and literal compromise with the demands of the big capital were two separate and opposite things.

    On the recent eurozone summit decisions for Greece, Papariga said it is "a temporary agreement with a small 'haircut' of 21 percent", but opined that "a bigger 'haircut' is imminent that will reach up to 50 percent".

    Papariga warned that not a single day must be lost for the people of all of Greece and for the residents of Samos.

    "Much worse is coming," she warned.

    Papariga will wind up her visit with an address to a rally on Thursday evening.

    [06] SYRIZA criticises PM absence from Parliament during 'Question Time'

    The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group on Thursday strongly criticised Prime Minister George Papandreou's decision to be absent during "Prime Minister's Question Time' on Friday, saying he had restricted his role to that of delivering "controlled victory speeches to disguise the paucity of his policies".

    Papandreou was scheduled to answer to a question tabled by SYRIZA Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras concerning the results of the Eurozone summit and its decision for a second bailout programme for Greece. Papandreou will be absent in order to carry out a tour of Epirus.

    [07] Transport minister to meet with striking taxi owners on Friday

    Infrastructures, transport and networks minister Yiannis Ragoussis is due hold separate meetings with striking taxi owners and drivers on Friday.

    The meeting comes after an appeal by prime minister George Papandreou to the strikers on Wednesday to enter into dialogue with the government.

    Ragoussis will first meet with the federation of taxi owners, followed by the unions of taxi drivers and with representatives of tourist coach owners.

    The minister is expected to present his own proposals for the deregulation of the taxi profession, which he said will be the basis for further discussions.

    Taxi owners have said that they will bring their own set of proposals to the meeting, which are based on a previous arrangement for deregulation of the profession that had been agreed with preceding transport minister Dimitris Reppas and was drafted into a Presidential Decree.

    Meanwhile, Ragoussis will brief the parliamentary standing committee on economics on Tuesday on the stand-off with the taxi owners.

    [08] Tourism Minister Geroulanos on taxi owners' mobilizations

    Culture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos on Thursday appealed to all sides in the dispute with striking taxi owners to keep their heads, stressing that the country's tourism sector could not be allowed to become a battlefield. His comments followed incidents at Piraeus port earlier the same morning, where striking taxi owners had gathered in protest against government plans to fully liberalise their sector.

    The minister underlined that the situation created at Piraeus on Thursday morning was extremely dangerous for tourism, one of the main engines driving the Greek economy.

    "The Greek family makes a living off tourism. It is a sector that each one of us should protect. This is not the time to turn the tourism sector into a 'battlefield'," he said, stressing that "in order to protect what we have we should work as a team".

    [09] Admin Reform minister briefs PASOK MPs on proposed changes in the public sector

    Administrative Reform and e-Governmance Minister Dimitris Reppas on Thursday briefed the MPs in ruling PASOK's Parliamentary working group for interior and public administration issues.

    The minister, assisted by his deputy ministers Dinos Rovlias and Pantelis Tzortzakis, outlined plans to greatly simplify state sector procedures in order to cut out bureaucracy and also changes to the wage scale and promotions system in the civil service.

    Sources within the ministry said that a draft bill on the civil service wage scale was close to completion and will soon be unveiled for a period of public consultation before it is tabled in Parliament.

    Under the new system, the entire current salary and benefits system is to be scrapped and dozens of benefits will be abolished, while the blatant differences in current take-home pay within the civil service will be eliminated and wages will tend to be more uniform across the public sector.

    Of the current benefits, only the family, studies and position of responsibility benefits will remain. The remainder will be replaced by a sum that will rise according to an employees pay grade.

    The current 'performance incentive' benefits will be converted into a "productivity bonus" that will be paid after the assessment of employees so that it acts as an incentive to provide better services to the public.

    The same sources confirmed that the government hopes to further reduce public sector payroll costs over the next three years by 16.5 billion euro and bring this below the current average of Eurozone countries, in accordance with the provisions of the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy programme. This reduction is envisaged arising chiefly through the departure of some 150,000 civil servants.

    [10] Women's wing at Korydallos Prison to be demolished by October

    The demolition of the women's wing in Athens' Korydallos Prison will be completed in October, freeing the space that will be handed over to the local community.

    Deputy Justice Minister George Petalotis visited the area on Wednesday and underlined that a precondition for the relocation of the prison facilities is the construction of four new correctional facilities, one of which will be located in the greater Athens region.

    According to the local mayor, the demolition of an active section of the prison complex constitutes an important step considering that the facilities are close to downtown Athens, while 11 schools, two nurseries and the city's Sports Center are located nearby.

    [11] Tsohatzopoulos' bribery charges fall under statute of limitations

    The passive bribery charges filed against former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos should be dropped because they fall under the statute of limitations, Supreme Court Judicial Council examining judge Vassilis Lambropoulos on Thursday underlined, adding that the former PASOK minister can be tried for money-laundering in regular courts and not before a tribunal.

    Lambropoulos came to the conclusion that the offence of passive bribery (accepting bribes) falls under the statute of limitations pursuant to the minister's liability law considering that it was committed two parliamentary sessions ago.

    The judicial council will issue a definitive ruling after considering the recommendations that will be presented by its prosecutor Nikolaos Mavros.

    For the record, parliament has voted in favour of Tsohatzopoulos being tried for passive bribery and money-laundering. The decision was based on the findings of a preliminary examination committee that investigated the German submarine case, focusing on whether Tsohatzopoulos had received kickbacks in order to back a controversial contract for the purchase of four German submarines for the Hellenic Navy while he was defence minister.

    Financial News

    [12] Procedure opens for finalisation of PSI terms

    Procedures formally opened on Thursday for the finalisation of the terms under which the private sector will take part in the cost of the second support package for the Greek economy.

    A meeting was held in Athens between Greece's Debt Management Organisation, representatives of the International Institute for Finance (IIF) and senior officials of the Greek and foreign banks that will be taking part in the process, who discussed the practical implementation of last week's eurozone summit decisions on the 109 billion euros second support package, with respect to the private sector.

    Under the eurozone decisions, the private sector will participate voluntarily in the package with approximately 50 billion euros via swaps of existing Greek state bonds maturing up to 2020 with bonds of a larger duration and mean value reduction of 21 percent. The swap process is expected to being in August, according to the Greek finance ministry.

    According to IIF data, by the beginning of the current week approximately 45 percent of Greece's bank creditors had responded positively to the arrangement, while the target set out is for 90 percent.

    On Wednesday, the Greek finance ministry appointed BNP-Paribas, Deutsche Bank and HSBC as the co-underwriters in the implementation of the PSI (private sector involvement in the voluntary bond swap scheme), an agreement to re-invest in Greek state bonds and a bond buyback program agreed at the eurozone summit. The finance ministry also appointed the Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP law firm as the Greek state's international legal advisor and Lazard Freres as the financial advisor of the Greek state in the PSI procedure.

    [13] French banks reassure of participating in Greek support program

    PARIS (ANA-MPA/O. Tsipira)

    French banks and insurance companies will propose their participation in a new Greek support program, covering all the Greek debt they hold up to 2020, worth 15 million euros, French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with the heads of France's largest bank and insurance companies, Baroin said: "The participants in the meeting offered reassurances that they will propose to their boards participating in a Greek support program, up to the totality of their Greek exposure maturing before 2020, around 15 billion euros".

    Baroin expressed his satisfaction over their decision, which "confirmed the French financial sector's determination to fully participate in efforts to ensure financial stability in the Eurozone".

    [14] FinMin: 'Window of opportunity'

    Government vice president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos on Thursday described the situation arising following last week's eurozone summit decisions on Greece as a "window of opportunity", adding that the most important factor now was "our own efficiency and stability in implementing the decisions but also a climate of consensus at home".

    Briefing parliament's standing committee on economics, Venizelos said that this week, for the first time, deposits have "returned" to the Greek banks, and reiterated his call on Greek depositors and investors to deposit their money in Greek banks, either by repatriating them from banks abroad or by 'taking the money out from under the mattress', and giving reassurances that the Greek banking system is the safest in the EU.

    During a discussion of his ministry's omnibus bill in the committee, Venizelos took the opportunity to brief the MPs sitting on the committee on the results of the eurozone summit in detail, noting that "we reached a decision that radically changes the status quo, is bold, generous and groundbreaking".

    A new picture has arisen after the summit, he said. "There is momentum, a window of opportunity. If we take the decisions that must be taken, if we remain steadfast, we will emerge from the tunnel," Venizelos added.

    "This week, for the first time, we had a return of deposits to the Greek banks, which means that the market is reacting positively, and the Greek citizens as well," he said.

    [15] IKA-ETAM insurance fund unveils action to reduce bureaucracy

    IKA-ETAM, Greece's largest social insurance fund representing the majority of Greece's salaried workforce, on Thursday unveiled a raft of measures for cutting down on red tape and extending electronic communication with other organisations and bodies.

    The measures will use new technologies to simplify procedures and reduce the number of visits that those insured by IKA-ETAM need to make to IKA branches, while they boost productivity and efficiency but also promote transparency.

    Another aim is to enable cross-checking of supporting documentation to ensure it is genuine and eliminate cases of benefit fraud.

    IKA-ETAM is also planning a reorganisation with the creation of 13 regional headquarters and the merger of several sub-branches in order to cut costs and organise staff into efficient sub-branches.

    Some of measures already in effect include scrapping previously required supporting documentation in a number of transactions with other public sector agencies, such as IKA certificates demanded for unemployment benefits, family benefits, rent support and other types of welfare payments. Due to the electronic communication system, these agencies will now be able to check an applicant's social insurance records electronically.

    Since the requirement for these certificates was scrapped in June 2011, there have already been 61,500 fewer visits by members of the public to IKA-ETAM branches.

    When the online system is fully operational, IKA-ETAM services will also be able to obtain information and supporting documentation issued by the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) or the services of the interior ministry (birth, death, marriage certificates, family status certificates etc).

    It has also scrapped a system for issuing benefits based on employer certifications, first introduced in 2002 but now superseded by electronic systems and open to abuse by those supplying fake documents.

    A third change is allowing IKA insured to apply for compensation for health care costs covered by IKA-ETAM at any IKA branch, rather than going to exclusively to the branch for the area where they live or work. Payment of any health care benefits has been made directly into a bank account since June 6, 2011, cutting down on long waiting times.

    [16] Greek stocks extend decline for fourth consecutive session

    Greek stocks remained on a downward trend for the fourth consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, with selling activity focusing on bank shares. The composite index of the market fell 1.42 pct to end at 1,209.55 points, with turnover shrinking to a low 47.760 million euros.

    The Big Cap index dropped 2.08 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.54 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 0.19 pct. Motor Oil (2.48 pct), Viohalco (0.95 pct), OTE (0.87 pct) and Hellenic Petroleum (0.48 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (5.88 pct), Cyprus Bank (5.39 pct), National Bank (4.23 pct) and Piraeus Bank (3.23 pct) were top losers.

    The Media (8.51 pct), Financial Services (4.18 pct) and Banks (3.72 pct) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Oil (1.19 pct) and Industrial Products (0.98 pct) scored gains. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 65 to 54 with another 45 issues unchanged. Sato (12.5 pct), Evrofarma (9.09 pct) and Entersoft (8.99 pct) were top gainers, while Eurobrokers (11.11 pct), Imperio (10.53 pct) and Sanyo Hellas (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: +0.98%

    Commercial: -1.24%

    Construction: -0.83%

    Media: -8.51%

    Oil & Gas: +1.19%

    Personal & Household: +0.01%

    Raw Materials: +0.01%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.66%

    Technology: -2.77%

    Telecoms: +0.86%

    Banks: -3.72%

    Food & Beverages: -0.67%

    Health: -0.78%

    Utilities: -1.76%

    Chemicals: -0.61%

    Financial Services: -4.18%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, PPC, Bank of Cyprus and Alpha Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.10

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 8.70

    HBC Coca Cola: 18.30

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.30

    National Bank of Greece: 4.75

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 2.75

    OPAP: 11.16

    OTE: 5.83

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.90

    Titan: 14.60

    [17] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.98 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to 20.906 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,585 contracts worth 14.858 million euros, with 30,733 short positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,615 contracts worth 6.084 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (5,978), followed by Eurobank (1,445), PPC (884), Piraeus Bank (1,845), Alpha Bank (2,130), ATEbank (1,509), Cyprus Bank (511), OPAP (481) and Mytilineos (352).

    [18] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.447

    Pound sterling 0.887

    Danish kroner 7.561

    Swedish kroner 9.209

    Japanese yen 112.52

    Swiss franc 1.160

    Norwegian kroner 7.840

    Canadian dollar 1.372

    Australian dollar 1.312

    General News

    [19] Last farewell to Michael Cacoyannis

    Friends, family and colleagues of Michael Cacoyannis on Thursday gathered to bid their last farewell to the acclaimed Greek film maker, who was buried in the courtyard of the 'Michael Cacoyannis' Foundation after a funeral service held in central Athens.

    The government was represented by Education, Lifelong Learning and Religions Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and culture ministry general secretary Lina Mendoni.

    "Today we say goodbye one of the great artists of the globe, a man who broke away from the borders of the country and brought Greek culture to the ends of the earth through his work in film, the theatre and opera," Diamantopoulou said at the funeral.

    In her funeral address, Mendoni spoke of a "friend" and "wise advisor" and a man with an "explosive temperament, abundance of energy, a restless and wakeful mind".

    Also among those gathered to pay their last respects to Cacoyannis was Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Deputy Minister George Petalotis, who stressed that he felt honoured to get to know Cacoyannis in person.

    Others attending the funeral included Democratic Alliance party leader Dora Bakoyannis, former minister Vasso Papandreou, Grigoris Psarianos, Mikis Theodorakis, Grigoris Valtinos, Katia Dandoulaki, Manousos Manousakis and Dimitris Papaioannou.

    The Cyprus-born film maker is best known abroad for the 1960s classic film "Zorba the Greek" starring Anthony Quinn. He died on Monday at the age of 89.

    He was nominated five times for an Academy Award (Oscar), receiving the Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film nominations for 'Zorba the Greek' and two nominations in the Foreign Language Film category for 'Electra' and 'Iphigenia'.

    Another of his major hits was the film "Stella" starring Melina Mercouri, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and is considered one of the five greatest Greek films of all time.

    Cacoyannis worked on many occasions with renowned Greek actress Irene Papas, teaming up with her in 1971 for the film 'The Trojan Women' starring Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn, and was a close friend of Darryl F. Zanuck and George Cukor.

    A pioneer of post-war Greek cinema and director of international hits, Cacoyannis refused a career in Hollywood, opting for quality theater. He also founded the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation for the study and support of the film and theater arts.

    [20] Actor Kostas Voutsas in hospital

    Popular Greek actor, director and writer Kostas Voutsas, counted among Greece's best and best-loved comic actors of his generation, was admitted to Ippokration Hospital in Thessaloniki late on Wednesday night. According to doctors his condition engenders no cause for concern.

    The elderly actor, who is now entering his ninth decade with a career dating back to the early 1950s, began to feel unwell shortly before he was due to go on stage at the ancient theatre of Dion, where he is starring in a production of the comedy "Lysistrate".

    Voutsas was at first taken to a hospital in Katerini and then transferred to the neurological clinic at Ippokration Hospital.

    A hospital announcement on Thursday said the actor was admitted after suffering a mild blow to the head and remains in hospital for tests but is otherwise in good health.

    Due to his admission in hospital, Thursday's performance of Lysistrate at Dion has also been cancelled.

    [21] "Kingdom of Alexander the Great" exhibition at the Louvre

    The history of ancient Macedonia from the Mycenaean era in the Bronze Age up until late antiquity will be on display in the exhibition entitled "Ancient Macedonia: In the Kingdom of Alexander the Great" to be hosted at the Louvre Museum from Oct. 13, 2011 until Jan. 16, 2012.

    The exhibition will include more than 600 artifacts and is the product of cooperation between Greek and French experts. Its main purpose is to introduce the archaeological wealth of northern Greece to the French and international visitors of one of the greatest museums in the world.

    The artifacts to be exhibited are findings of archaeological excavations in the province of Macedonia in northern Greece over the past 30 years.

    The exhibits will include artifacts that will be loaned by the Greek ministry of culture as well as Macedonian antiquities that belong to Louvre collections since the 19th century. In return, the Louvre will loan to the northern city of Thessaloniki a number of extraordinary masterpieces that belong to its collections, to be exhibited in the city's five museums in 2012.

    [22] Elderly woman found murdered in Athens' Nea Ionia district

    A 74-year-old woman was found murdered in her home in the Athens district of Nea Ionia on Thursday afternoon, police authorities announced.

    The 74-year-old, who lived alone on the ground floor of a two-storey residence shared with her daughter and her family, was found dead by her grandchildren.

    Her flat showed signs of a break-in and was in a shambles, while the dead woman was lying bound and gagged in her bed, without any sign of external injuries. Police say the probable cause of death was suffocation and the motive was robbery.

    An investigation has been launched by Attica Security police.

    [23] Eight arrested, 160 kilos seized in Interpol-DEA operation

    Eight foreign nationals were arrested and more than 160 kilos of cocaine were seized in a container in the port of Thessaloniki on Thursday by a mixed team of Interpol, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Serbian police officials, assisted by Greek authorities.

    The combined forces blocked the illegal shipment, which had set off from Bolivia with Serbia as the final destination. According to the accompanying documents the container was supposedly loaded with machinery for soy processing.

    Five of the detainees are Serbian nationals and the other three FYROM nationals.

    [24] Contraband cigarettes seized

    Thessaloniki customs authorities on Thursday seized a container with 471,500 cartons of contraband cigarettes in the northern Greek port.

    Police said the shipment had set off from Egypt, with FYROM as its final destination.

    According to accompanying documents, the container was supposedly transporting furniture.

    Customs authorities estimated the evaded taxes of the contraband at 2.3 million euros.

    [25] Fire destroyed leisure boat yard

    Fire broke out at a leisure boat yard in Athens' Vari district on Thursday afternoon.

    Thirty firemen and 10 fire engines are battling the blaze that has destroyed a number of vessels on display.

    The causes of the fire are under investigation.

    [26] Eight tourists arrested for dangerous driving on Crete

    Eight British nationals were arrested by police in Hersonissos, on the island of Crete, for reckless driving of four-wheel motorcycles, thus endangering pedestrians and other vehicles.

    The eight detainees, who had rented the four-wheel motorcycles in Malia, are charged of breaking transport safety regulations.

    [27] Patras residents concerned by cluster of minor earthquakes

    More than 30 minor earthquakes have been recorded along a fault in the seabed near the village of Rio, close to the port city of Patras, Geodynamic Institute seismologist Mihalis Ganas informed the ANA-MPA on Thursday.

    The latest and strongest of the quakes was the 4.2 Richter quake that shook the city at 12:18 p.m. on Thursday.

    Ganas said Patras residents were alarmed by this latest tremor but it did not cause any damage, adding that the pattern of quakes was being studied by seismologists.

    The epicentre of the cluster of quakes that began last Sunday is west of the Rio-Antirrio bridge and most of the earthquakes have been superficial, with a depth ranging from four to 17 kilometres. Because of this shallow depth, this means they are more strongly felt in the surrounding settlements of Patras, Rio, Nafpaktos and other regions of Achaia and Aitoloakarnania.

    According to local residents, the frequent earthquakes began last Friday.

    [28] Tourist arrested for rape

    A 25-year-old Swede was arrested on the SE Aegean island of Rhodes accused of raping a 16-year-old girl, also from Sweden, Greek authorities announced on Thursday.

    The two were partying at a local bar in the city of Rhodes before ending up in the suspect's room where the rape allegedly took place.

    The young girl reported the incident to police leading to the suspect's arrest.

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

    Economic issues and statements by premier George Papandreou to ministers and the ruling PASOK parliamentary group mostly dominated the headlines in Athens' dailies on Thursday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "He (prime minister George Papandreou) declared himself...'Savior of Greece'!"

    AVGHI: "Soverignty, kaputt".

    AVRIANI: "(Nobel-winning economist Nouriel) Roubini toying with the drachma".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Storm of contributions from workers and pensioners as of August 1".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Schauble (German finance minister) attacks Greece - Papandreou attacks Samaras - Schauble: Member states with economic problems and receiving aid must concede part of their sovereignty to the EU in exchange".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Tax-card with anonymity".

    ESTIA: "What tomorrow will bring".

    ETHNOS: "Appointments to public schools with the droplet".

    IMERISSIA: "Frenzy in the banks - They're counting the cost of the solution on the bonds".

    KATHIMERINI: "German interest for investments".

    LOGOS: "August of work-therapy".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Crucial negotiation on the bond swaps".

    NIKI: "Operation: Shielding of deposits and banks".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Energy at the mercy of profits, and increase in energy dependence".

    TA NEA: "35-day ministerial 'heatwave' - PM's written orders to ministers for acceleration of government work over next 35 days".

    VRADYNI: "Subjugation or exit from the euro".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [30] President Christofias: I am accountable to those who elected me

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    "The people have elected me, and I am accountable to those who have elected me," Cyprus President Demetris Christofias stressed here on Thursday, invited by journalists to say if he would remain in his post.

    Earlier Thursday the members of the Council of Ministers submitted their resignations to the President, amid increasing speculation that a government reshuffle is on the cards.

    The president's statement came in the wake of public demand for his resignation, following a deadly blast at a naval base which killed 13 people and injured dozens for which, various circles including the main opposition party, demanded his resignation.

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said after Thursday's extraordinary cabinet meeting that President Christofias informed his ministers about his intention to proceed to a government reshuffle and asked them to hand in their resignations, which they did.

    President Christofias met after the Council's meeting with government coalition partner Democratic Party (DIKO) President Marios Garoyian.

    On Wednesday two ministers, belonging to the DIKO, Ministers of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Paschalides and Health Christos Patsalides, handed in their resignations, following a party decision.

    In statements after Thursday's meeting, Garoyian said this is a time for responsibility and a time for reflection, adding that the discussion will continue.

    Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said he agreed with what Garoyian had said, that they had a discussion in a constructive climate and that discussions will continue.

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


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