|Wednesday, 17 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-09-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 14 September 2011 Issue No: 3889
 Finmin meets EU Commission task force chief ReichenbachVice-President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday had his first meeting with Horst Reichenbach, the head of a special task force set up by the European Commission to help Greece accelerate implementation of Community-financed projects and to speed up absorption of EU funds. No statements were made after the meeting.
Asked whether Greece will "make it" as he emerged from the meeting with Venizelos, Reichenbach replied that "the purpose of the task force is to help in this direction".
Another of the task force's goals is to support the implementation of the EU and IMF stabilisation programme, with actions focusing on competitiveness, growth and employment.
The Commission experts arrived on Tuesday and hope to speed up projects amounting to 7.7 billion euro, increase the rate of asborption of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds and promote reforms.
According to the AMNA correspondent in Brussels, Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said the assistance will focus on areas such as setting up electronic services in Greece's public sector, modernising the tax system in order to fight tax evasion and developing an electronic system for health-sector procurements.
Comprised of some 30-odd experts detached from Commission services and EU member-states, the team will report directly to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Commissioner for monetary affairs Olli Rehn.
It will be based in Brussels, with a support team in Athens and its first quarterly progress report is due to come out at the end of October.
Bailly underlined that the purpose of the task force was only to provide assistance and that the Commission had "no intention of placing Greece under stewardship".
The Commission said that the rate of asborption of some 20.2 billion euro of Community funds by Greece in 2007-2013 was 30 percent, roughly at the average Community rate. It noted that the proposal made in August for an increase of the Community contribution to co-financed projects from 85 percent to 95 percent will be submitted to the council of ministers for approval in September.
 Development minister holds talks with head of EU Task Force for GreeceDevelopment, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis held talks on Tuesday with Horst Reichenbach, the head of a special task force set up by the European Commission to help Greece accelerate implementation of Community-financed projects and to speed up absorption of EU funds.
The meeting focused on the technical assistance the task force can provide for the speeding up of the National Strategic Reference Framework (ESPA), with emphasis on the restarting of major projects and the implementation of projects in programmes presenting low absorption rates.
Chryssohoidis, after presenting Reichenbach with the operational plan the government is already implementing for ESPA as well as the results that it has produced regarding the release of funds, the exclusion of dead projects and the inclusion of new ones, said that "the Task Force can contribute decisively to us bringing even better results in the struggle we are waging for the utilisation of ESPA and the creation of a new growth model in the country."
 PM holds meeting with finance ministers, advisors and bankersPrime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday had a meeting in his offices in Parliament with Vice-president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Alternate Finance Minister Philippos Sahinidis, the general director of the Organisation of the Public Debt Management Petros Christodoulou and the chairman of the Economic Experts Council Giorgos Zanias. Other participants at the meeting were the board chairman of the National Bank of Greece Vassilis Rapanos and the bank's CEO Apostolos Tamvakakis.
The meeting was held to prepare the presentation that Venizelos will make at the ECOFIN Council on September 16-17 and during his discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy by teleconference on Wednesday.
 PM in teleconference with Sarkozy, Merkel; gov't meeting at 4:00 p.m.Prime Minister George Papandreou will chair a meeting of several government ministers on Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. in order to discuss progress in implementing the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy.
Afterward, the prime minister will take part in a teleconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
 Greek FinMin holds telephone conversation with French counterpartGovernment Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos held a telephone conversation on Tuesday with French Finance Minister Francois Baroin.
The conversation, according to Finance ministry officials, focused on the implementation of the decisions taken on July 21 and the new support plan for Greece, while the focus of Venizelos's telephone communication with his German counterpart Wolfgang Schaeuble was similar.
It was also revealed by the Finance ministry that during the Venizelos-Baroin communication also discussed was the expected for Wednesday teleconference between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.
 Trade unions protest at moves to send 3,500 public-sector staff to 'labour reserve'A coordinating body for trade unions in state organisations facing merger, abolition or large-scale lay-offs of staff as part of a government plan to 'downsize' the state sector on Tuesday announced that they would mobilise in protest against the measures. Participating unions include POSPERT, representing staff in the state broadcasting company and at least seven others.
In a circular sent out on Monday, the government announced that at least 3,500 employees from some 151 public utilities and state enterprises will enter a 'labour reserve' pool, in which they will no longer work and will receive a reduced level of pay that is just over the amount paid in unemployment benefit.
After one year, if no position has been found for those in the reserve pool in the public sector, they will be made redundant.
The coordinating body called on all public-sector staff to actively participate in a mobilisation on Wednesday at the finance ministry, as well as its next meeting on Thursday.
The circular activating the extension of the labour reserve measure was sent to 151 wider public-sector organisations, asking them to prepare a list of their excess staff, which must be at least 10 percent of the total, by September 26. The list is supposed to give preference to those who already have the right to retire, those that are at or already past the age of retirement and those with fewer qualifications.
Next on the list will be those employed for lower-level supporting work, such as clerks and secretaries and receptionists.
For organisations with more than 100 employees, there will follow a second phase in which all the staff will be assessed with the help of a team of external consultants hired by each company and supervised by the ASEP council for recruiting public-sector staff.
These outside consultants must be hired within the month and submit their conclusions in two months, based on which additional staff will enter the labour reserve pool.
The measure on Tuesday came under strong criticism from the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest umbrella trade union organisation, which said that such actions were "dead-end policies that will even further enlarge the lists of unemployed and the gap in social cohesion".
"The government, instead of taking measures that 'open' the window to lay-offs, should work to reorganise services and organisations in order to productively exploit all workers in the organisations and bodies of the broader public sector," it said.
 Strong reaction to labour reserve measure by minor opposition partiesThe minor opposition parties on Tuesday expressed strong objections to the labour reserve measure.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) underlined that "the measure that was first inspired by main opposition New Democracy (ND) and is now implemented by ruling PASOK will inflate unemployment even more and have negative consequences for the people who will be called to pay for the personnel shortages that will be created."
The KKE statement stressed that the inconvenience for ISAP electric rail passengers is just an example of what will follow.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) spokesman Costas Aivaliotis stressed that the abolition of NGO financing is a necessary precondition in order to reduce spending.
The "inhumane measure of labour reserve" was described as "a hallway to unemployment" by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) labour policy committee member Dimitris Stratoulis, who called on the employees in the 151 public sector organizations, in which the labour reserve measure will be implemented, to participate in coordinated resistance.
He underlined that Greece "should not be transformed into a graveyard for job positions and social rights".
The Democratic Alliance party characterized the labour reserve measure as a wrong decision.
Party spokesman Dimitris Zafiriadis accused the government of having no plan or direction for the labour reserve issue, stressing that "acting in a leveling way, it made the wrong decision having as a criterion the political cost instead of proceeding with a real evaluation" of employees.
The Democratic Left expressed opposition to the measure, suggesting that the redundancy problem should be solved with employee transfers.
 Infrastructures minister on deregulation of taxis, trucksThe government is going ahead with the complete deregulation of the public transport sector, but is also taking measures and security valves to prevent monopolies.
This appears from the address made by Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis, while briefing the members of the PASOK party's Parliamentary Work Sector on the terms of the new bill being promoted regarding the deregulation of the taxi profession.
Ragoussis briefed PASOK's members that n the bill being promoted there will also be, apart from taxis, terms concerning trucks as well, stressing that "the opening (of the profession) will be complete, integrated, immediate and with rules that will not allow the creation of cartels."
With this move the three-year transitional period for the deregulation of trucks and public use water trucks is in essence coming to an end.
 Taxi owners demonstrate outside parliamentStriking taxi owners from across the country will hold a demonstration outside the parliament on Tuesday afternoon while Infrastructures, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Ragoussis will brief ruling PASOK MPs on the definitive clauses in the draft law deregulating the taxi sector.
Ragoussis will outline the draft law regulations to convince objecting MPs that it must be implemented. The draft law, which got the cabinet's approval a week ago, is currently in a public debate process.
The taxi sector is on a 48-hour strike since Monday.
 Papariga in Thessaloniki for TIFCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga arrived in Thessaloniki on Tuesday for the 76th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), during which she will hold the customary press conference the following morning at the Vellidis conference center.
On Tuesday afternoon, Papariga will meet with the TIF and Helexpo administrations, while in the evening she will address a political gathering in the seaside suburb of Kalamaria.
 SYRIZA's Tsipras calls for overthrow of the governmentOpposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday called on the people to participate in an organized struggle to overthrow the government.
In a press conference within the framework of his visit to Thessaloniki's 76th International Trade Fair (TIF), he stressed "we are not saying that the government should leave by choosing a convenient for it election date but to be overthrown under the weight of social reaction".
"The government has an expiration date and George Papandreou is a prime minister on reserve. The successor is ready. This government will not be able to pass a state budget," he said.
"The government policy and the memorandum have failed and the government will have to answer to the Greek people," Tsipras stressed.
He characterized as false the dilemmas "memorandum or default" and "euro or drachma", underlining that they serve the government by terrorizing the people and allowing it to implement its anti-popular measures. He stressed that Greece's default is not possible without a Eurozone default.
Tsipras also maintained that there are plans for a shared government made up of PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) party.
Referring to the special surtax on buildings, Tsipras stated that it will be impossible to implement.
He was in favour of a coalition with the participation of all leftist and progressive powers without exemptions and exclusions and condemned the indiscriminate attacks by citizens on politicians.
 Democratic Alliance on labour reserveThe Democratic Alliance party on Tuesday characterized the labour reserve measure as a wrong decision.
Party spokesman Dimitris Zafiriadis accused the government of having no plan or direction for the labour reserve issue, stressing that "acting in a leveling way, it made the wrong decision having as a criterion the political cost instead of proceeding with a real evaluation" of the employees.
 Gov't approves fast track procedures for three photovoltaic investment plansAn interministerial commission of strategic investments, in a meeting headed by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, on Monday approved the inclusion of three investments in the photovoltaic sector -worth 1.0 billion euros- in the fast track status.
The three investment plans will be evaluated through rapid procedures, under the auspices of Invest in Greece, so that investors will be facilitated and to ensure the fastest possible development result. The meeting also included Development Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis, Foreign Minister Stavros Lambrinidis, Environment Minister George Papaconstantinou, Tranport Minister Yiannis Ragousis and Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos.
 Environment minister in Berlin on WednesdayEnvironment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister George Papaconstantinou will be travelling to Berlin on Wednesday to present to members of the German government and business agencies Greece's "Ilios" project on the utilisation of solar energy and its export to Europe.
Papaconstantinou will be meeting German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety Minister Norbert Roettgen and deputy economic minister Jochen Homann.
 Jouyet warns of great risks if Greece leaves euroPARIS (AMNA - Olympia Tsipira)
The head of the French Capital Market Commission, Jean-Pierre Jouyet on Tuesday said the scenario of Greece leaving the euro was "inconceivable" . In a television interview, Jouyet said: "One thing is inconceivable, Greece leaving the euro...because the EU Treaty will not allow it," adding that such a scenario could lead to an economic, financial and social crisis.
"If you want to deal with civil war and social turmoil in the heart of Europe then lead Greece out the euro. This is an irresponsible solution," the head of France's stock market regulator said, adding that an agreement must be reached between the EU-27 member states.
 President receives Alpha Bank chairmanGreece was at a "critical point" President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said on Tuesday during his meeting with Alpha Bank Chairman Yiannis Costopoulos.
"We must first cross to the other shore and then sort things out," he added.
Costopoulos referred to his bank's merger with Eurobank, explaining that the first big foreign investment in Greece had finally been made and expressed hope that this investment will soon be completed in spite of the difficulty of the time.
He pointed out that new bank will have a network of 2,500 branches and was strong in the Balkans, whereas National Bank of Greece had a strong presence in Turkey.
 Greek employers pessimistic over employment prospects in Q4Greek employers remained pessimistic over employment outlook in the fourth quarter of 2011, a report by ManpowerGroup showed on Tuesday. The index of total employment prospects fell to -13 pct, down eight percentage points compared with the previous quarter, and down three percentage points compared with the same period in 2010.
Employers in all nine sectors of the Greek economy said that the number of their workers was expected to fall in the next three months, with tourism (-24 pct) and constructions (-23 pct) recording the most pessimistic views. However, almost two out of three employers in the survey said they intended to maintain their current job positions.
The survey showed that 9.9 pct of employers expected an increase in their workforce, a 22 pct expected a decline and a 64 pct did not expect any change in their workforce.
The wholesale and retail commerce sector also reported pessimistic prospects, with the relative employment index falling to -20 pct, while the financial sector index was -12 pct. The farm sector recorded the lowest pessimistic estimates with the index at -3.0 pct.
In the Attica and Northern Greece regions, employers reported lower prospect of new hirings.
 Registered unemployment down 0.90 pct in AugustThe number of registered unemployed totaled 693,329 in August, of which 282,935 were men (40.81 pct of total) and the remaining 410,394 were women (59.19 pct), the Workforce Employment Organization (OAED) announced on Tuesday. The Organization, in a monthly report, said that this number of 0.90 pct lower compared with July.
OAED said also said that lay-offs fell 8.51 pct in August, while new hirings eased 4.21 pct.
The percentage of unemployment in the 30-54 age group was 62.63 pct, in the below 30 age group 28.23 pct and in the above 55 age group it was 9.14 pct.
Greek citizens accounted for 93.42 pct of registered unemployed in August, third country citizens accounted for 5.35 pct and EU citizens 1.20 pct.
The number of unemployed people receiving unemployment benefits totaled 212,297 in August, up 3.29 pct form July. New hirings totaled 50,443 in the month, down 38.31 pct from July and 4.21 pct from August 2010, while lay-offs totaled 17,276, down 27.98 pct from July and off 5.21 pct from August last year.
 SEB holds talks with Environment minister on energy taxationThe Federation of Hellenic Enterprises (SEB) called for the withdrawal of tax burdens on industrial electric energy invoices that "deal a direct blow at the competitive functioning of enterprises jeopardising their very survival", at a meeting with Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday.
SEB was referring to the Special Consumption Tax that has been imposed on natural gas as of September 1 and on electric energy that is in force since last year.
The meeting between SEB's board and the minister focused mainly on environmental policy. In this framework, the Federation hailed the ratification with broad consensus of the law on environmental licensing, believing that it is moving in the right direction. It noted, however, that the completion and enactment of the relevant support framework is urgent.
 Low cost flights skyrocketed tourist arrivals in popular Greek destinationsThe increase in tourism this year, especially in certain islands of the Dodecanese complex, came from the 'air'. Low cost flights boosted the number of tourist arrivals mostly on the islands of Rhodes and Kos that marked a 23.77 increase on Rhodes and a 23.88 increase on Kos, in the first eight months of 2011.
Low cost flights were introduced in 2007 following agreements between the political leadership of the then autonomous Tourism Ministry and the local authorities of the target regions aiming to extend the tourism season in the most popular Greek destinations, mostly the Greek islands.
In 2011, Ryanair inaugurated 23 new flights, six for Kos, ten for Rhodes and seven for the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, while recently the company inaugurated a new airlink from London to Corfu.
Another low cost airline, easyJet, is carrying out in 2011, seven flights to Athens and six to Thessaloniki, while running through 31 October it will also be flying to Corfu, Mykonos, Rhodes, Zakynthos and Hania (Crete).
A total of 8,695,309 tourist arrivals were recorded in the 13 main airports of the country in the first eight months of 2011, posting a 10.1 increase in comparison with the same period in 2010, according to data released by the Greek Tourist Enterpises Association
 Kilkis local economy losing 4 million euros monthly from residents crossing border into FYROMThe local economy in Kilkis prefecture is losing an estimated four million euros monthly from residents crossing the border into FYROM for cheaper purchases and visits to the casinos in the neighbouring country, the Kilkis Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Tuesday.
FYROM's casinos and cheaper car fuel, dairy products, clothing and other merchant goods but also cheaper medical services are attracting a large number of residents of Kilkis and neighboring prefectures, deeply impacting the local economy in the midst of the economic crisis in Greece.
The major attraction, according to the Chamber, is the casinos. More specifically, some 1,000-1,500 cars cross the border into FYROM daily, while on days where the FYROM casinos offer free accomodation, free food or lotteries for expensive gifts the number rises to 6,500 cars.
 Customs officers' strike creates traffic jams at border crossingsThe 48-hour strike called on Monday by customs officers, protesting against the government decision to include them in the single wage scale for civil servants, has resulted in major traffic jams at the country's border crossings, it was announced on Tuesday.
Trucks and other vehicles have formed a two-kilometer-long line at the border crossing of Kipi, northeast Greece, despite the fact that customs officers allow the trucks with perishable goods and private cars to cross the borders in turns.
 Construction production index down 39.9 pct in Q2The production index in the construction sector dropped 39.9 pct in the second quarter of 2011, compared with the same period last year, after a decline of 31.4 pct recorded in the second quarter of 2010, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Tuesday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that the index grew 0.5 pct in the April-June period, from the January-March period this year, after an increase of 12.4 pct recorded in the corresponding period in 2010
 Greek stocks ended slightly lower on TuesdayGreek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, with the composite index of the market losing 0.51 pct to end at 843.12 points. The index jumped 1.82 pct during the session on talk that the German and French leaders would make a joint comment on the Greek debt crisis. An official rejection of the information returned the market to a downward trend. Turnover rose slightly to 63.894 million euros.
PPC (4.84 pct), Piraeus Bank (3.57 pct), National Bank (3.14 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (3.03 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Coca-Cola 3E (4.83 pct), Ellaktor (4.19 pct) and Eurobank (2.59 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses.
The Big Cap index fell 0.10 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.97 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.08 pct. The Insurance (4.88 pct), Utilities (4.40 pct) and Financial Services (1.88 pct) sectors scored gains, while the Food (4.65 pct), Travel (2.16 pct) and Commerce (1.37 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 69 to 51 with another 52 issues unchanged. Spider (16.67 pct), Loulis Mills (10 pct) and Vioter (9.09 pct) were top gainers, while Dromeas (9.52 ct), FHL Mermeren (9.38 pct) and Alko (8.89 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.13%
Personal & Household: -0.05%
Raw Materials: -0.18%
Travel & Leisure: -2.16%
Food & Beverages: -4.65%
Financial Services: +1.88%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.58
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.85
HBC Coca Cola: 12.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.67
National Bank of Greece: 2.96
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 1.13
Bank of Piraeus: 0.58
 Greek bond market closing reportThe Greek electronic secondary bond market remained inactive for one more session on Tuesday, but yield spreads showed significant variations as shown in data released by the Bank of Greece and foreign news agencies. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 16 pct, from 16.12 pct on Monday, based on figures released by the central bank, although the yield spread soared to a record 21.4 pct, from 17.78 pct on Monday, based on a report by Bloomberg news agency.
In interbank markets, interest rates fell slightly. The 12-month rate was 2.05 pct, the six-month rate 1.73 pct, the three-month rate 1.52 pct and the one-month rate 1.34 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 88.390 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 35,872 contracts worth 63.169 million euros, with 26.490 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 117,155 contracts worth 25.221 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (49,600), followed by Eurobank (3,087), MIG (2,266), OTE (23,970), PPC (1,606), Piraeus Bank (4,584), National Bank (17,549), Alpha Bank (4,363), Marfin Popular Bank (1,576), Mytilineos (1,528), Cyprus Bank (1,217), Hellenic Postbank (1,672) and ATEbank (677).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.385
Pound sterling 0.876
Danish kroner 7.559
Swedish kroner 9.262
Japanese yen 106.59
Swiss franc 1.221
Norwegian kroner 7.843
Canadian dollar 1.374
Australian dollar 1.341
 Battle of Marathon re-enacted by history buffs from around the worldThe Marathon Tumulus, northeast of Athens, contains the remains of 192 Athenian warriors who died during the famous Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, when 100,000 Persians were defeated by 11,000 Greek soldiers.
The site, located about 1 km from the village of Marathon, served as the starting point for twenty-five athletes competing in the Marathon Race during the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896.
The 2,500th anniversary of the September 490 BC battle was celebrated with a plethora of events last year.
Over the weekend, history buffs from all over the world staged a re-enactment of the Battle of Marathon with exact replicas of the ancient battle armor and weapons.
One of the most important battles in history, Marathon has been cited by historians as the battle that saved Western culture in its youngest days and allowed it to survive and flourish.
 Important archaeological findings unearthed in GortynaAn archaeological excavation currently in process at the Great Theatre of ancient Gortyna on Crete island has unearthed important findings, among them a life size male statue of the Roman era and fifty intact lamps of the same period as well as marble engraved scenes of battles, sexual acts, the Roman eagle and lions dated between the 1st and 2nd century BC.
According to archaeologists the portions of the monument that have been unearthed so far confirm that the ancient theatre is in very good condition, underlining that apart from the main theatre, which was built on a natural cavity, the finds indicate also indicate a later addition of seats on the eastern side, possibly to increase capacity.
The excavations in the Gortyna Theatre are expected to be completed at the end of 2011.
 Inconvenience for ISAP passengers to end on WednesdaySTASY S.A., the state-run company that manages rail-based transport infrastructure in the greater Athens area, on Tuesday promised that the inconvenience for passengers using the ISAP electric rail line will end on Wednesday.
Serious problems due to major delays in scheduled routes have been observed which, in combination with the ongoing 48-hour taxi strike, have resulted in overcrowding of ISAP trains.
Employees' representatives have attributed the problems in the operation of ISAP lines to a STASY S.A. management decision to transfer 144 workers.
In view of the football match of Piraeus-based Olympiacos FC vs. France's Olympique de Marseille FC for the UEFA Champions League scheduled for Tuesday, STASY has scheduled additional runs to service Piraeus-Omonia section.
 Robbers make away with 180,000 eurosArmed robbers late Monday attacked the 59-year-old owner of a store chain in the coastal Athens district of Alimos and made off with 180,000 euros in cash.
According to police, two hooded individuals were lying in wait for the businessman at the entrance of his residence and when he got out of his car, they hit him on the head with a gun handle and took a bag containing the money.
The two suspects fled and the victim was rushed to hospital for first aid where he remained until Tuesday morning.
 Cannabis plantation discovered near SpartaPolice located 1,013 cannabis plants in a forested area near a village in Sparta municipality during an organised operation.
The plantation area was under surveillance but the cultivator did not appear and police on Monday uprooted confiscated the cannabis plants.
Sparta police are conducting an investigation to locate and arrest the perpetrators.
 Four men arrested for dealing in cocaine on CretePolice in Hania, Crete have arrested four Albanian nationals, two 19-year-olds, one 21-year-old and one 34-year-old, that are to be charged with dealing in cocaine. The four were caught carrying large quantities of the drug during a raid on Monday night based on a tip-off.
At the time of their arrest, the four men were found to be carrying four equal-weight packages of cocaine, each weighing 200 grammes. They also had eight mobile phones used to conduct drug deals and were driving two cars that were used to sell the drugs.
All the evidence was confiscated, while in a raid on the homes of the four suspects police also found the sum of 5,130 euro that are believed to be proceeds from drug sales.
 Man torches mayor's car in protest of government's harsh economic measuresA 54-year-old doctor torched early Tuesday the car of Ierapetra mayor, Crete island, in protest of the government's economic policy.
The perpetrator early Tuesday doused the mayor's car with a flammable liquid and afterwards set fire.
Fire Brigade rushed to the spot and put out the fire.
 Firebombs thrown against riot police in ExarchiaA group of youths attacked a MAT riot police squad at dawn Tuesday in the Exarchia district of central Athens.
The group threw home-made firebombs (molotov cocktails) at the riot police and fled.
The firebombs exploded in the street, without injuring anyone or causing any damage.
 Wildfire in Anarrachi in Ptolemaida under partial controlThe wildfire breaking out in the region of Anarrachi in Ptolemaida on Tuesday afternoon has been placed under partial control. The blaze is continuing to burn grassland and is being combatted by 22 firemen equipped with nine vehicles.
 Fair on WednesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 4-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 16C and 36C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 20C to 35C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 19C to 31C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe reserve labour status in Public Utilities and Organisations (DEKO) and speculation of a Greek default, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Ruling PASOK in turmoil over the new surtaxes...".
AVRIANI: "Germans, Americans and markets anticipating Greece's default".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "4,000 civil servants in reserve labour ".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Immediate layoffs under six criteria".
ESTIA: "Government is leading us to bankruptcy - PASOK persists with its disastrous policy".
ETHNOS: "151 public sector entities on reserve labour black list".
IMERISSIA: "Shady games against the country- Rumours of bankruptcy sink the markets".
KATHIMERINI: "Steps towards labour reserve status".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Grey scenarios of Greece's bankruptcy in a heavy climate of distrust".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Organised payment refusal of the new surtax".
TA NEA: "The 'massacre' of the civil servants".
VRADYNI: "Environment Ministry arrangements illegal buildings in protected areas".
 President: International community to address Turkey's threats on hydrocarbonsNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic Demetris Christofias on Tuesday called on the international community to respond "to any possible unlawful act" by Turkey regarding Cyprus' right to start oil and gas exploration in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
In a statement to the press following a ministerial meeting on the issue, President Christofias said that the Cyprus Republic will press ahead on gas drilling in Block 12 in its EEZ, in the framework of the agreement signed with Houston-based Noble Energy International.
Cyprus has signed a production-sharing contract with Noble. The company has a concession to explore for hydrocarbons in an offshore field in Cyprus' EEZ, known as Block 12.
"We have decided that Noble Energy will proceed in the forthcoming period with the exploratory drilling in order to find out the quantity and the quality of hydrocarbons", he said.
President Christofias noted that it is Cyprus' sovereign right, based on the international law and the law of sea, to start the gas exploration in its EEZ, underlining that "all our decisions and actions so far, stem from the international law and strictly fall into this parameter".
Cyprus President referred to Turkey's recent threats and statements, in an attempt to question the Republic's rights in its EEZ.
"Turkey is causing tension in the region, sending the message that it acts like a troublemaker and violates international norms", the president said, adding that "the Turkish Cypriot community will benefit from the exploitation in a reunified Cyprus".
He also clarified that during the UN-led direct talks for the solution of the Cyprus problem, the community leaders have agreed that the central government of federal Cyprus will deal with all the issues regarding the exploitation of natural gas.
President Christofias also said that the Cyprus government in cooperation and coordination with Greece closely follows the developments and keeps alert.
"We have taken action in the direction of the UN and the EU and on the possibility of Turkey committing an unlawful act, something which we hope will not happen, we will expect a strong and effective response from the international community", the president noted.
He also called on all political parties in Cyprus to remain in unity, announcing that right after his trip to New York for the UN General Assembly, the Informal Council of the leaders of the political parties will convene in order to discuss and assess the situation.
Turkish Premier Tayip Erdogan has criticized Cyprus' right in its EEZ saying that "as a guarantor of the rights of northern Cyprus (a breakaway territory recognized only by Turkey) had the right to monitor international waters in the eastern Mediterranean".
He also questioned the rights of Israel with whom Cyprus has signed an agreement regarding the EEZ, to explore for natural gas.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus and has said it will not talk to Nicosia, when it assumes the rotating six monthly EU Presidency in the second half of 2012.
The leaders of the two communities, namely President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, are currently engaged in UN-led talks, with an aim to reunify the island under a federal roof.
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