|Wednesday, 17 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-05-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 17 May 2012 Issue No: 4073
 Pikrammenos sworn in as caretaker prime ministerCaretaker Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos and outgoing Prime Minister Lucas Papademos stressed the need "for conditions of calm and moderation to be shaped" during the pre-election period and traded compliments during the ceremony for the change in the government's leadership at the Maximos Mansion on Wednesday evening.
Pikrammenos was sworn in earlier in the evening, in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
"You are assuming the responsibility for the governance of the country in an extremely crucial period," Papademos said, adding that "I am certain that both you and the government you shall form will face the country's problems effectively."
On his part, the new caretaker prime minister stressed "the fact that the country is under special conditions" and that he is assuming "a difficult role in a very difficult period."
 New elections set for June 17, Council of State president slated for caretaker prime ministerNew general elections will take place in Greece on June 17, with Council of State president Panagiotis Pikramenos as the caretaker prime minister, it was announced on Wednesday.
It will be the second time in just over a month that Greeks take to the polls after the inconclusive elections of May 6 and following the failure of a series of exploratory mandates to the top three parties and subsequent efforts by the President to iron out agreement on a coalition government.
The political party leaders convened by President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday failed to reach agreement on the composition of a caretaker government to lead Greece to new elections next month.
Under the provisions of the Constitution (Article 37), in such an instance the President appoints a caretaker prime minister from among the president's of the country's three supreme courts: the Supreme Administrative Court, the Supreme Civil and Criminal Court, or the Court of Auditors.
 Top justice given mandate to form caretaker government until electionsCouncil of State President Panagiotis Pikramenos received a mandate to form a caretaker government that will govern the country until the next general elections on June 17 from President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday afternoon.
Talking to President Papoulias after receiving the mandate, Pikrammenos said he was aware that he was undertaking a great responsibility, even though he would be "strictly a caretaker prime minister" and hoped that he would prove worthy of the faith shown in him.
"It has not escaped me that the country is going through difficult times. With your guidance, Mr. President, we must evade the dangers and proceed to a smooth transition to a political government," he said.
 Background behind selection of caretaker PMThe meeting of the political party leaders under Republic President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday concluded with the appointment of Council of State (CoS) President Panagiotis Pikrammenos as caretaker prime minister, as he is the longest serving Supreme Court judge in the country.
Sources said Lucas Papademos was Papoulias' first choice as caretaker prime minister, a proposal that was accepted by New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos.
Gerassimos Arsenis was recommended by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) president Alexis Tsipra,s but when Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga disagreed, the SYRIZA leader accepted the Papademos option.
At this point, the rest political leaders raised objections with Democratic Left (DIM.AR) leader Fotis Kouvelis asking Tsipras: "Why are you with Papademos now?"
According to the same sources, Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos agreed with the appointment of a caretaker prime minister and suggested specific individuals to head the ministries of defence and foreign affairs.
The rest political leaders disagreed saying that the members of the government will be appointed by the new prime minister.
Given that no unanimous decision was reached by the political party leaders the procedure followed is that which is dictated by the constitution in such cases.
The President of the Republic appoints the CoS (the country's supreme administrative court) president as the prime minister who proceeds with the formation of a government.
 ND party leader Samaras says Greek people have two paths before them nowNew Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, in a statement on Wednesday, raised the dilemma of the elections on the part of his party, while terming the selection of the new caretaker prime minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos "excellent."
"The Greek people have two paths before them now: On the one hand, to change everything in Greece, with changes that can be done, in a Europe that is also changing. On the other hand, to experience the terrifying exit from the euro, the fear of isolation, outside Europe, and the collapse of all that we had achieved until today," Samaras said.
 Samaras talks with Bakoyannis to join forces in electionsNew Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras is holding talks with Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis in order to form an alliance and go to elections united, sources told AMNA on Wednesday.
The deliberations are at an advanced stage and according to some sources, a meeting between the two leaders has taken place.
However, the agreement should not yet be considered a 'done deal' and for that reason neither of the two sides has officially confirmed the information.
According to the sources, Samaras has proposed to Bakoyannis -- a former ND deputy and minister, that she head ND's State Deputies ticket but Bakoyannis is considering the possibility of not running for election at all.
 KKE: Caretaker govt should make no move in EU, NATOThe caretaker government should not make any move within the framework of the EU or NATO that will be binding for the people, Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday said while exiting the Presidential Mansion after the meeting of the political party leaders under President Karolos Papoulias.
She clarified that any emergency can be dealt with in consultation with the political parties and the President of the Republic.
Papariga stated that her party did not recommend anybody as caretaker prime minister because there wouldn't be an agreement, adding that the government composition is the responsibility of the president.
 DIM.AR president on caretaker prime ministerDemocratic Left (DIM.AR) President Fotis Kouvelis on Wednesday commented on the nature of the caretaker government saying that it should be "purely caretaker and guarantee political impartiality. In this light, it is obvious that it should not proceed to issue normative acts and decrees on substantive political acts related with issues that should be handled by the government that will result from the new elections."
Speaking after the meeting of the political party leaders under Republic President Karolos Papoulias, he said that article 37 of the Constitution should be implemented allowing the President to select as caretaker prime minister one of the judges heading the three supreme courts in the country, the Council of State (CoS), the Areios Pagos Supreme Court and the Court of Audit.
In the interest of political neutrality which should characterise the caretaker government, Kouvelis made no recommendations for government ministers and said that he only asked for a government small in size.
As regards the caretaker prime minister, he said that he supported the position, which became accepted, that the caretaker prime minister should not be defined by political characteristics or political party affiliations.
In view of the new elections, Kouvelis called on the Greek people to multiply his party's showing, adding that "the power the Greek people gave us was used in a consistent manner in solving the problems of the country and society."
 Political party leaders' comments after meeting with Papoulias"The political game was not absent in the effort to form a caretaker government," Communist Party (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday said while exiting the Presidential Mansion, stressing that her party does not approach individuals to build bridges.
Speaking after the meeting of the political party leaders, PASOK president Evangelos Venizelos stressed that "populism, irresponsibility and trading in illusions cannot be repeated," characterizing them as "leftovers of the previous elections."
Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos suggested Council of State (CoS) President Panagiotis Pikrammenos as caretaker prime minister and rejected the Papademos option backed by Republic President Papoulias which had the approval of ND leader Samaras and PASOK leader Venizelos.
Commenting after the meeting of the political party leaders, Kammenos said he had suggested professor Panagiotis Ifestos as defence minister and stated that a caretaker government cannot make decisions on the selling of state property or sign decrees. He also said that a single national stance is necessary in case fYRoM's accession into NATO is discussed on May 21 and underlined that the Greek side should exercise its veto power on the footsteps of former PM Costas Karamanlis in Bucharest.
Reliable sources say that caretaker Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, who according to article 33 of the Constitution will receive a mandate from the Republic President to form a government, intends to form a government small in size.
Ultra-right leader turns down President's invitation to all-party meeting for designation of caretaker government
Ultra-right Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) leader Nikos Mihaloliakos, on Wednesday morning said that he will not attend the meeting of the leaders of the political parties elected to parliament in the recent inconclusive elections that will be convened by President Karolos Papoulias later in the day to decide on the composition of a caretaker government that will lead Greece to new elections next month after efforts to agree a coalition government failed.
Mihaloliakos said that he "refuses to legitimise the mockery, the marginalisation and the disdain of the 440,992 voters" who voted for his party in the May 6 elections, which gave Chryssi Avghi 7 percent of the vote and 21 seats in the 300-member parliament and making it the 6th of the 7 parties elected to the House.
This was the only invitation Mihaloliakos received to take part in the so-called Council of Political Leaders (leaders of the parliamentary parties) convened by the President in three days of deliberations aimed to break a deadlock and forge agreement on a coalition government.
Papoulias met one-on-one with Mihaloliakos on the first day of his effort, when he convened a joint meeting of the leaders of the first three parties -- New Democracy (ND), Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and PASOK -- that was followed by individual meetings with the leaders of the remaining four parties -- Independent Greeks, Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Chryssi Avghi and the Democratic Left (DIMAR).
The leaders of the other six elected parties have been adamant in their refusal to take part in any government that would include Chryssi Avghi.
Explaining his refusal, Mihaloliakos said that just the day before, the President of the Republic had excluded him from a crucial meeting of the party leaders to discuss a proposal for an exit from the crisis, whereas now he has been invited to a meeting whose purpose is to designate a caretaker prime minister that will deal only with procedural matters.
 LA.O.S on center-right unity scenariosPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) has adopted a "wait-and-see" stance in response to the likelihood of an invitation by New Democracy (ND) for a united center-right front in the upcoming elections, not saying whether it will accept or reject a proposal if made.
A statement issued on Wednesday by LA.O.S underlined that it will not comment on scenarios, leaks, suppositions or intentions and warns that "Greece is facing the risk of a Stalinism," adding that "LA.O.S President George Karatzaferis has proved that it can serve as an effective barrier".
According to media reports, there has been no "feeler" yet on behalf of ND.
 EcoGreens call for extension of collective agreements, abolition of 50-seat bonus for first partyIn a letter to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias sent on Wednesday, the Ecologists Greens party has suggested that the present Parliament pass measures that extend the period for which collective labour agreements continue to be valid and also abolish the 50-seat bonus given to the first party in Parliament before the next elections.
The EcoGreens said that this could be done by a "special purpose" government created solely for these two tasks.
With regard to the collective labour agreements, whose validity has already lapsed, the party notes that the extensive pay cuts that may follow "pre-empt" the work of the next government, which must have the option to adopt a different policy.
Concerning the first-seat bonus, they claim the recent election results highlighted the problems that this might cause and that it can actually hamper the task of forming a government with a Parliamentary majority, as well as being questionable in terms of the Constitution.
 Two opinion polls show SYRIZA leading in respondents' preferencesTwo new opinion polls published in the newspaper "To Pontiki" and the magazine "Epikera" show the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leading in respondents' preferences.
According to the poll conducted by the Pulse company for "To Pontiki", SYRIZA leads with 22 percent and following are New Demcracy with 19.5, PASOK 14, Independent Greeks 7.5, Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Democratic Left and Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) 5.5. The Ecologists Greens, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, the Democratic Alliance, Drassi (Action) and Dimiourghia Xana (Creation Again) each have 1.5 percent.
The other poll carried out by the VPRC company for "Epikera" shows SYRIZA leading with 20.3 percent and followed by ND with 14.2, PASOK 10.9, Democratic Left 6.1, KKE 4.4, Independent Greeks 3.7, Chryssi Avghi 2.2, Dimiourghia Xana 1.6 and the Democratic Alliance 1.1, while 2.3 said they will vote for another party.
 Barroso: Greeks must make 'fully informed' decision on their futureBRUSSELS (AMNA - M. Aroni)
The Greek people are facing historic elections that will decide their future and must be fully aware of the consequences that their decisions will have, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday.
"On the country's future... it is important that the Greek people now take a decision fully informed about the consequences of their decision," Barroso told a news conference.
He also hinted that the European Commission might be prepared to recommend the "modification" of austerity policies in Greece, saying that this was possible "up to a degree", and pointing to statements in this direction made on Tuesday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.
Barroso praised efforts by Greek President Karolos Papoulias to broker a coalition in Greece, saying he had done everything humanly possible to form a government and avoid repeat elections but this had not proved possible.
The European official also underlined that Greece was a part of the European family and an important member-state of the EU, adding that the European Commission would work tirelessly so that Greece might "remain a member of the EU and the euro".
Barroso noted that the austerity programme Greece was being asked to implement was the least difficult of the available alternatives.
"The commitments must be kept because there is no other less painful alternative solution," Barroso said, noting that the adjustment programme offered financial support and called for structural reforms to boost growth, as well as demanding cutbacks and fiscal reform. While conceding that Greek citizens were being asked to make great sacrifices, he noted that this was the result of the policies followed by the country in the past.
He also referred to a telephone conversation held with the new French president, who had asked for an examination of all possible options to boost growth in Greece.
On the other hand, he underlined that the agreements between Eurozone countries and Greece would have to be respected and upheld, not just for the credibility of Greece but also that of the Eurozone as a whole. Barroso stressed that any backtracking on the agreements already made and ratified by the 17 eurozone member-states, including Greece itself, would not be accepted.
Barroso appeared convinced that a solution for Greece would be found and confidence restored but noted that this would require a "stable government that would respect the commitment undertaken by Greece and the other eurozone member-states," adding that it was up to the Greek people to decide whether they wanted to cooperate with the EU member-state and European bodies.
 European Parliament president Schulz in Athens on FridayEuropean Parliament president Martin Schulz, who has expressed himself in favour of Greece's stay in the eurozone, will be making a visit to Athens on Friday May 18.
Schulz will be received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and will be having meetings with party leaders, representatives of social groups and agencies and with pupils.
At 17:00 on the same day, he will be making an address at the Athens Concert Hall that will be open to the public and a press conference will follow on the same premises.
 Citizen protection minister alarmed over polarised campaign environmentOutgoing Citizen Protection Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis on Wednesday warned that new elections will take place amid a polarised environment that could lead to dangerous situations.
Speaking to a private radio in Athens, he said there is a "concrete section of the electorate that is opposed to the policy followed so far" and another section that "wants mutual concessions and changes ushering in a new period for the country".
He also spoke about "a split in society" with tragic consequences, adding that there could be issues with individual freedoms. He stressed that "institutions could be abolished and anyone could form armed gangs leading to a civil war; and this is not an exaggeration."
 Recent attacks against EU Task Force head Reichenbach condemnedBRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Aroni)
European People's Party (EPP) Parliamentary Group president Joseph Daul, in an announcement he issued here on Wednesday, strongly codemns the recent attacks against the head of the EU's Task Force in Greece Horst Reichenbach.
It is reminded that an unknown group caling itself "Lukanikos", burnt the car of Reichenbach's wife and hurled red paint at their residence in Berlin.
"I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks of this kind. The head of the Task Force of the EU for Greece has the delicate mission of achieving in practice the solidarity of the Europeans for the benefit of the Greek people. We stand by his side and support his mission in Greece. I hope that those who are responsible for these attacks will be led to justice soon."
The PASOK europarliament group also condemned in a statement the attack.
 MPs will not receive compensationsThe 300 deputies who were elected in the parliamentary elections on May 6, and will be sworn in on Thursday morning at 11:00 will not receive salaries for the days they will be in parliament before its dissolution and the proclamation of new elections, was announced on Wednesday.
Parliament president Filippos Petsalnikos agreed with all the political leaders that given the economic condition prevailing in Greece, the deputies will not receive remuneration and the money will remain in the State coffers .
 Commission approves 680-mln-euro state support in acquisition of T-BankThe European Commission on Wednesday approved under EU state aid rules, for a period of six months, around 680 million euros of state support granted by the Hellenic Deposit and Investment Guarantee Fund ("HDIGF") to facilitate the acquisition of the economic activities of the Greek T Bank by Hellenic Postbank in the context of T Bank's resolution.
The Commission approved the measure in order to preserve financial stability in the Greek banking system, before it takes a final decision on the restructuring of Hellenic Postbank.
Commenting on the case, Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaqu?n Almunia said: "When a small bank is in difficulty, selling its good assets and liabilities to a larger bank is often an appropriate solution.. The Commission made sure that the aid granted in that context was restricted to the minimum necessary to compensate the buyer for the lower value of the assets transferred as compared to the transferred liabilities."
On 17 December 2011, the Bank of Greece ("BoG") proceeded with the resolution of T Bank through an auction, which resulted in the transfer of its assets and liabilities to Hellenic Postbank, and the withdrawal of T Bank's license, in accordance with the Greek resolution law. T Bank was put in liquidation. According to the BoG, the fair value of the liabilities transferred from T Bank to Hellenic Postbank amounted to approximately 2.16 billion euros and the fair value of the transferred assets amounted to approximately 1.48 billion euros. The difference between the two amounts of approximately ? 680 million was covered by the resolution branch of the HDIGF. The Commission concluded that this intervention constitutes State aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU.
The Commission found that the intervention by the HDIGF was necessary to maintain financial stability on the Greek banking markets, in accordance with Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) that allows to grant aid to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State. The Commission therefore approved the measure for a period of six months. If the Greek authorities submit to the Commission, within that six-month period, an updated restructuring plan for Hellenic Postbank which takes into account the integration of T Bank's activities into Hellenic Postbank, this temporary authorisation will be automatically prolonged until the Commission reaches a final decision on Hellenic Postbank's restructuring plan.
 Greek privatisation fund puts all work on hold until next electionsThe board of the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (TAIPED) on Wednesday decided to refrain from any actions or decisions that will be binding in the future during the period leading up to the elections and until a new government is formed.
The decision was taken by majority vote and in spite of efforts by the chairman to find a way to continue making decisions concerning invitations for offers, that are chiefly preparatory.
Observers appointed by the European Union and the Eurozone expressed concern at the Council's decision.
 Greek inflation lowest in Eurozone in April, EurostatBRUSSELS (AMNA / M. Aroni)
Greece recorded the lowest annual inflation rate in the Eurozone in April (1.5 pct), from 1.4 pct in March, Eurostat said on Wednesday. The EU executive's statistics arm, in a report, said the inflation rate in the Eurozone slowed to 2.6 pct in April, from 2.7 pct in March and 2.8 pct in April 2011. In the EU, the inflation rate slowed to 2.7 pct in April, from 2.9 pct in March and 3.3 pct in April 2011.
Sweden (1.0 pct), Greece, (1.5 pct), Ireland and Romania (1.9 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in the EU, while Hungary (5.6 pct), Estonia (4.3 pct), Czech Republic and Poland (4.0 pct) the lowest rates.
Greek inflation rate was 2.3 pct on a 12-month basis.
 Ukrainian delegation to visit CreteA Ukrainian delegation headed by the governor of the Kyiv region, Anatoliy Prysiazhniuk, will visit Crete this week.
During meetings with regional and local officials, talks will focus on cooperation between the Kyiv region and Crete-based entities and enterprises in the sectors of trade, investment, tourism and culture.
A relevant agreement on trade-economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation between the two regions will be signed during the visit.
 New York-Athens direct airlink in summerDelta Airlines announced that it will carry out a daily direct Athens-New York airlink for the summer season. According to the airline this itinerary will be offered because Greece is a very popular summer tourist destination for American citizens.
The airlink will run until October 27 and will offer more than 4,000 seats every day.
The flight will leave from Athens International airport at 12:25 (local time) and from JFK airport in New York at 16:25 (NY time).
 Bussiness Briefs-- Greek enterprises and households withdrew around 700 million euros from their bank deposits in the period after the May 6 general elections in the country, a trend believed linked with concerns over political instability in the country, and thus placing even more pressure on the country's banking system.
-- Greek enterprises are suffering from a credit crunch in the domestic financial market as their access to bank funding became even more difficult because of lack of liquidity in the market, an Icap Group survey showed on Wednesday.
-- Petros Petropoulos AEBE on Wednesday reported wider losses and a decline in sales in the first quarter of 2012. Sales fell by 22 pct to 11.2 million euros in the January-March period, from 14.4 million euros in the same period last year, while consolidated sales fell 22 pct to 11.3 million euros.
 Stocks extend fall for 4th dayStocks ended significantly lower for the fourth consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, as an initial recovery effort quickly evaporated. The composite index of the market fell 1.33 pct to end at 555.42 points, after rising as much as 2.76 pct during the session. The index is now 13.34 pct lower in the last four sessions. Turnover remained a low 49.038 million euros.
Share prices of National Bank and OTE suffered heavily after Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) announced it was removing the two shares from its MSCI Standard Greece Idnex.
The Big Cap index fell 2.92 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.82 pct lower and the Small Cap index fell 1.09 pct. The Food (5.89 pct), Health (1.92 pct) and Industrial Production (1.72 pct) sectors scored gains, while Telecoms (15.62 pct), Commerce (14.07 pct) and Banks (7.09 pct) suffered losses.
Coca Cola 3E (6.08 pct), Viohalco (3.9 pct) and Titan (1.07 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OTE (15.62 pct), Folli Follie (14.14 pct) and National Bank (13.48 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 70 to 42 with another 22 issues unchanged. Varvaressos (19.6 pct), HOL (19.57 pct) and Logismos (18.52 pct) were top gainers, while Flexopack (29.71 pct), 3A (20 pct) and Selman (20 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.11%
Personal & Household: +0.22%
Raw Materials: -2.10%
Travel & Leisure: -3.68%
Food & Beverages: +5.89%
Financial Services: -0.82%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OTE, OPAP and HBC Coca Cola.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.71
Public Power Corp (PPC): 1.58
HBC Coca Cola: 12.73
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.06
National Bank of Greece: 1.22
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.46
Bank of Piraeus: 0.21
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened further to 28.65 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 27.02 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 30.14 pct and the German Bund 1.49 pct. Turnover in the market was 9.0 million euros, of which 6.0 million were sell orders and 3.0 million euros were buy orders.
In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 1.26 pct, the six-month rate was 0.97 pct, the three-month rate was 0.68 pct and the one-month rate remained at 0.39 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 12.134 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,946 contracts worth 7.261 million euros, with 20,599 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 56,194 contracts worth 4.874 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (21,993), followed by Alpha Bank (13,548), OTE (2,117), PPC (664), OPAP (456), Piraeus Bank (859), Cyprus Bank (3,953), Marfin Popular Bank (11,710), Mytilineos (191), Hellenic Postbank (101), GEK (130) and MIG (96).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.292
Pound sterling 0.811
Danish kroner 7.544
Swedish kroner 9.233
Japanese yen 104.07
Swiss franc 1.219
Norwegian kroner 7.735
Canadian dollar 1.302
Australian dollar 1.300
 Competition for reconstruction of downtown Athens launched on May 21The architectural design competition for the reconstruction of downtown Athens centered around Panepistimiou Boulevard, will be launched on Monday, May 21.
The "Re-think-Athens" project will focus on the creation of a renewed city centre, a multifaceted intervention extending from Amalias Avenue to Patission Street and ending at an upgraded Omonoia Square. It includes the extension of the tram line and allows for the roadside circulation of private cars and public means of transportation, while the centre becomes pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
The competition, placed within the framework of the Athens urban reconstruction programme decided by the ministries of environment and infrastructures and the Attiko Metro S.A., is organised and funded by the Onassis Foundation.
The public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite design by visiting the website http://www.rethinkathens.org
 Naplio city museums and art venues celebrate European Night of Museums on SaturdayNafplio, the first capital of Greece after the end of the Ottoman rule, will participate in the celebrations of the European Night of Museums on Saturday 19 May.
The municipality will open all the city's museums and art venues from 9:00 p.m. to midnight and invites everyone to have a glass of wine to the backdrop of live music and other events.
The National Gallery, the Archaeological Museum and the 'Stathmos' Children's Museum are among a large number of sites that will be open to public on Saturday night.
 85-year-old student at University of CreteAn octogenarian farmer from Crete is among the students at the Open University of Crete. Mihalis Fanourakis, at the age of 85, made his dream come true. In his youth he was deprived of the opportunity to study, however his dream remained alive and he decided to abandon the tractor and return to the books.
Fanourakis on Tuesday was presented with the municipal Diploma of Honour by Hersonissos Mayor Zacharias Doxastakis in acknowledgement of his efforts,
"Active citizens such as Mr. Fanourakis are a source of inspiration and encouragement for the local society," said the Mayor.
 Crackdown on illegal immigration in Laconia, SpartaA police sweep was underway on Wednesday in the wider area of Skala, Laconia prefecture, in a crackdown on illegal immigration.
Checks were conducted in a large number of residences and vehicles and a total of 56 people were arrested, among them 54 Pakistani illegal migrants for illegally residing in the country, who will be deported.
Also, a 52-year-old local man was arrested for renting a house to three illegal migrants from Pakistan for 50 euros each, and another 50-year-old local man for transporting 17 illegal migrants.
Case files were further opened for two more local men, who are wanted, for renting residences to illegal immigrants.
The arrestees will all appear before a Sparta prosecutor.
Meanwhile, two men were arrested in Messolonghi and Egio for transporting and illegally employing undocumented foreign nationals, respectively.
A check on a vehicle in Messolonghi turned up 12 Afghani illegal migrants aged 18-32 and a 24-year-old Albanian, and its 51-year-old driver was arrested for illegal employment of the 13 migrants in his company.
A similar check on a car outside Egio turned up four illegal migrants from Bangladesh, and the driver, also a migrant from Bangladesh, was arrested for illegal transportation of the other four for pay.
 Super League playoffsAEK Athens beat PAOK Thessaloniki 2-0 at home and Panathinaikos Athens defeated Atromitos Athens 1-0 away in Super League playoffs played on Wednesday.
Panathinaikos 11 points
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe failure in the efforts for the formation of a government and the new elections due next month, as well as speculations on a possible Greek exit from the eurozone, mostly dominated the headlines in Wednesday's newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Elections...after the final failure".
AVGHI: "Let's finish what we have started".
AVRIANI: "Elections a referendum".
DIMOKRATIA: "The death...round!".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Ballot of risk and historic responsibility".
ESTIA: "Major responsibilities for the failure".
ETHNOS: "Elections in a minefield".
IMERISSIA: "The huge ordeal - Economy in marginal condition".
KATHIMERINI: "New elections with the country in the 'red'."
LOGOS: "The political agreement 'sank'."
NAFTEMPORIKI: "New recourse to ballots as the economy is sinking".
NIKI: "We have withdrawn 1 billion euros from our bank deposits in the last three days".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Now give strength to the Communist Party - New Democracy (ND) and PASOK are blackmailing and SYRIZA misleads".
TA NEA: "President's (of Democracy, Karolos Papoulias) outburst".
VRADYNI: "New elections put the petty politics above the national interest".
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