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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-06-12

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 Issue No: 4093


  • [01] Caretaker minister urges tourists to 'close their ears' to doomsayers and enjoy a vacation in Greece
  • [02] Samaras: Healthcare sector issues top priority for ND
  • [03] SYRIZA criticises ND tactics of 'mud-slinging and lies'
  • [04] SYRIZA leader pledges return of neighbourhood policeman as 'priority'
  • [05] PASOK leader Venizelos meets Italian PM Mario Monti
  • [06] PASOK calls on political powers to respond positively to nat'l unity gov't proposal
  • [07] Democratic Left party leader expresses support for country's stay in eurozone
  • [08] LAOS leader: Nobody will risk Greece's exit from the eurozone
  • [09] ND leader meets with caretaker Agriculture Minister
  • [10] Independent Greeks party leader visits defence ministry
  • [11] Elections expenditure 15 million euros less, according to Interior minister
  • [12] Kasidiaris trial postponed for Sept. 3
  • [13] Trial of Chryssi Avgi members in Veria postponed until Wed.
  • [14] Prosecutor orders probe in ND claims that 'web host' urged violence to overturn political system
  • [15] Finance ministry to investigate bankrupt state debtors for possible capital flight
  • [16] Caretaker FinMin holds meeting with bankers
  • [17] Development minister sends letter to French FinMin on exports credits issue
  • [18] Group of Chinese tour operators on Greece visit
  • [19] Business Briefs
  • [20] Stocks end moderately higher
  • [21] Greek bond market closing
  • [22] ADEX closing report
  • [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [24] Greek health system crisis cuts off access to vital meds, patients report
  • [25] Dassault family members visit great grandmother's manor in Thessaloniki
  • [26] Ozone levels hit alert levels in Athens
  • [27] Father and son drown in Lake Kerkini
  • [28] Tourist arrested on Kos for knifing local in rear
  • [29] Robbery at gas station
  • [30] Drug smugglers arrested in NW Greece
  • [31] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Caretaker minister urges tourists to 'close their ears' to doomsayers and enjoy a vacation in Greece

    Caretaker culture and tourism minister Tatiana Karapanagioti urged tourists to "close their ears to the all the speculation about a Greek exit from the euro" and to come to Greece to enjoy the warn welcome of the Greek people.

    "Greece will not exit the euro," Karapanagioti said in statements to AMNA on Monday, adding that this was not wanted either by the political world nor the Greek people.

    She explained that a caretaker government does not draft policy, but noted that, for the current caretaker government, tourism is a fundamental priority.

    Indeed, the culture and tourism ministry has been exempted from a Council of State decision freezing the hiring of seasonal personnel ahead of the upcoming repeat general elections on Sunday, she noted, adding that the ministry has already set in motion for the hiring of seasonal staff via the ASEP public sector hiring examinations board in order to reinforce security at museums and archaeological sites.

    Thus, the seasonal employees will be in place by the end of June, she added.

    Outlining the ministry's actions to reverse the negative image of Greece abroad, Karapanagioti particularly noted the "True Greece" section on the Greek tourism official website, which she said was a new tool of communicating positive news on the web and to the social networks.

    TRUE GREECE is an initiative by the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) to shed light on Greece as a travel destination by providing a platform, called "The true story about Greece", of official and reliable information through articles, official statements and real-life testimonials.

    The initiative is already supported by a number of state media and agencies, including the state television and radio broadcaster ERT, AMNA and the foreign ministry, with respect to the production and collection of visual and written material, and also through promotional actions in print and electronic media abroad and private media in Greece.

    As regards bookings from the markets abroad, Karapanagioti said that bookings from the Ukraine were up 50 percent compared to last year, from Russia up more than 10 percent, while in the main markets of tourism to Greece the last-minute reservations were sufficient to change the reduced level of bookings to date, such as a 20 percent decline from Germany and 10 percent decline from Britain.

    [02] Samaras: Healthcare sector issues top priority for ND

    New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday attributed recent high-profile problems in the healthcare sector to the previous PASOK government and the absence of proper management, for which, he added, political powers are responsible. He emphasised, moreover, that solutions to such problems in the crucial healthcare sector are a top priority for ND.

    In statements he made after meeting with the Pharmacists Association of Greece, Samaras said the system is under collapse due to inadequate funding and multiple problems. He stressed that the recently established Unified Primary Healthcare Organisation (EOPYY), the social insurance funds and the hospitals will be supported through funding and spending control, adding that the demagogy adopted by the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) does not serve the needs of the people and the public health sector.

    He added that the state must pay off previous debts owed to all health sector suppliers, and called on pharmacists to realise that times are crucial and to be understanding.

    [03] SYRIZA criticises ND tactics of 'mud-slinging and lies'

    Attacking New Democracy's campaign tactics on Monday, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party spokesman Panos Skourletis said that ND leader Antonis Samaras and his party, through their use of mud-slinging and lies, were "driving the country's public life to the borders of the ridiculous".

    Cleaning up public life and tackling corruption and graft were major issues, Skourletis added, while the political debate was instead focusing on secondary issues instead of the burning problems highlighted at the EU or the dire repercussions of the austerity policies demanded by the bailout memorandum agreements.

    Skourletis accused ND of trying to focus discussion on the issues that it "uncovered" concerning migration etc, so as to conceal the fundamental point of its policies, which was the commitment made by ND and Samaras to the measures dictated in the bailout deals.

    According to the spokesman, ND was seeking to create a climate reminiscent of political debate in the era of two-party politics, through constant references to a series of issues that often had no basis in reality.

    He further attacked ND's stance on the issue of reunited the families of legal migrants, with Skourletis pointing out that this was an established European law based on an EU directive that had been transferred to Greek law by the ND government of Costas Karamanlis.

    Concerning a front-page article in the newspaper "Eleftheros Typos" depicting a supposed campaign poster of two Muslim candidates saying "the Turks are starting to take over Western Thrace", Skourletis said that there was no such poster and the image had been 'doctored'.

    He also stressed that SYRIZA's aim, if elected to power, was to clash with the establishment and the old political class and break its 'underground' ties with the media in order to establish the pluralistic media sector needed for democracy to function.

    Replying to questions, he said the party's aim was not to "criminalise" politics but to set up a legal framework that would fight corruption and bring those responsible for criminal acts to justice.

    [04] SYRIZA leader pledges return of neighbourhood policeman as 'priority'

    Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday underlined that restoring a sense of security and safety by returning police to neighbourhood beats and "reconciling" the police with the public were two priority issues for his party, following his visit to the Attical General Police Headquarters in Athens.

    "It is especially important that we ensure the conditions that will enable every citizen to walk about freely and without fear in every corner of the country, 24 hours a day," he emphasised.

    According to Tsipras, the 'bailout governments' had directed resources, manpower and energy into two goals that had nothing to do with the true aim and mission of the Greek police - using the force instead to repress the people's reaction to the "memorandum policies of destruction" and as free security to guard "highly influential persons". Ensuring the safety of ordinary citizens meant returning the police to neighbourhoods, he added.

    "That is where [a policeman's] work is. To protect the citizen and not to be at MPs and ministers' offices," Tsipras stressed.

    He also underlined the party's desire to restore a climate of trust between the public and police, as well as between police and executive authority, noting that he intended to work with the police commanders to carry out "institutional changes that they, themselves, prioritise as important".

    Asked whether police would patrol neighbourhoods armed or unarmed, Tsipras clarified that the officers would be bear arms "where crime is being generated" but would not be equipped to repress the reactions of the people, inspiring a sense of safety rather than fear.

    Asked about the charges he made during his recent visit to the citizen protection ministry and a file on anti-establishment rioters that he presented to the police, Tsipras noted that "we have shared views with the leadership of the police concerning the dangers that exist for enclaves, which might be created and hatched at the lowest level even in the police force," he said.

    He also noted that the police force had a very good track record of successfully combatting high-level crime but suffered greatly in its handling of petty and medium-level crime, while expressing his party's "complete confidence in those forces that occupy themselves with the exclusive goal of the Greek police, which is to fight crime".

    [05] PASOK leader Venizelos meets Italian PM Mario Monti

    ROME (AMNA/Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis)

    PASOK party president Evangelos Venizelos met here on Monday evening with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

    "We had a very crucial and substantive discussion. I briefed him on the situation in Greece. We discussed the point at which the crisis in the eurozone is in, after yesterday's (Sunday) decisions for Spain. I insisted very much on the need for a substantive discussion to be accepted on the revision of the unfavourable terms of the loan contract, because we must break the vicious circle of recession and unemployment," Venizelos told reporters after the meeting.

    Venizelos added that "now we can really keep all the positive points of the loan contract, of the new programme, the decrease of the debt and proceed with settlements and agreements that will allow us to exit finally from the memorandum and the crisis with an extension of the fiscal adjustment period without new cutbacks in incomes, salaries and pensions."

    "The discussion with Mario Monti made me believe even more in the importance that our proposal has for a governance of national joint responsibility. Without the governance of national joint responsibility, without the participation in negotiating, the commitment and the signature of all the political forces which say that they believe in Europe and the euro, we shall not be able to cope," the PASOK leader also said.

    [06] PASOK calls on political powers to respond positively to nat'l unity gov't proposal

    PASOK party spokesperson Fofi Gennimata on Monday called on all political powers to respond positively to the proposal made by party leader Evangelos Venizelos, namely, to "form a government of national unity and responsibility, even at the last moment."

    She stressed that PASOK advocates cooperation and unity among citizens and politicians as opposed to what she called the "Cold War rhetoric" of New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and to "populism" adopted by Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras who tries to take advantage of the people's anger and indignation and transform them into votes for his party.

    In an informal press briefing, Gennimata stressed that "the big challenge is to go from anger, on which SYRIZA places its bet, and fear, on which ND counts, to a governance of shared national responsibility, as the only hope for the country in its effort to exit the crisis and remain in the eurozone."

    Gennimata also stressed that her party condemns violence, stressing that "we should leave behind the polarization that fans violence and trivializes political life."

    She underlined that the alliance of the south European countries should be strengthened and referred to the meetings Venizelos had with French President Francois Hollande and the socialist party leaders, stressing that "we fight where the battle takes place, proving who knows how to negotiate, has the ability, the connections and the credibility."

    [07] Democratic Left party leader expresses support for country's stay in eurozone

    Democratic Left party president Fotis Kouvelis, speaking in Hania on Monday on the last stop of his visit to the island of Crete, said that the Democratic Left will do all that it can for the country to be governed but added that this does not mean that it gives a blank cheque and a blank authorisation.

    Kouvelis once again expressed support for the country staying in the eurozone but in parallel stressed the need for disengagement from the memorandum's unfavourable terms.

    "Our proposal is specific, it has specific axes for the policy that serves the country's steadfast stay in the eurozone, but for the disengagement from the memorandum's unfavourable terms as well," he said.

    [08] LAOS leader: Nobody will risk Greece's exit from the eurozone

    "Tsipras for now, and a little while after urban democracy," said Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) president George Karatzaferis on Monday to private radio station RealFM, noting that if New Democracy leader Antonis

    Samaras becomes prime minister then SYRIZA party will come afterwards triumphantly.

    He referred to pseudo-dilemmas and blackmailings of the speculations of a Greece exit from the eurozone and estimated that "nobody will want to risk such an option, which would act as a domino for the euro with repercussions that will even impact US president Barack Obama's re-election".

    SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras with 20 or 22 percent as main opposition and "with the people out on the streets, we will have blood," said Karatzaferis.

    However, he ruled out the prospect of backing an ND-PASOK government because, as he stated, he has different ideas for an ecumenical government, with someone other than Samaras or Tsipras at the country's helm.

    [09] ND leader meets with caretaker Agriculture Minister

    New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met on Monday with caretaker Agriculture Minister Napoleon Maravegias. The meeting was held ahead of a meeting of EU ministers on the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), and Samaras presented his party's positions on the agricultural sector.

    The ND leader's aim is to prevent the farmers from being further hit by the economic crisis, to safeguard the Greek agricultural products, and for smooth continuation of the EU funding and subsidies.

    [10] Independent Greeks party leader visits defence ministry

    Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos on Monday visited the defence ministry in Athens, where he expressed his confidence in the country's armed forces, while stressing that the "dignity of the active members of the armed forces and veterans alike should be preserved."

    Kammenos, a one-time New Democracy MP, suggested that the 12-month mandatory military service be reinstated and that the military be reinforced with 10,000 professional NCOs in order to avoid possible personnel shortages.

    [11] Elections expenditure 15 million euros less, according to Interior minister

    The Interior ministry's election expenditure for the June 17 elections will be 30 percent less, meaning about 15 million eulros, compared to last May's elections, according to caretaker minister Antonis Manitakis during a meeting he held on Monday with the president of the Union of Regions of Greece and Attica regional governor and the president of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece and Kallithea mayor.

    The two local administration officials also assured the Interior minister that all the relevant services of the municipalities and regions are in full readiness in light of the June 17 elections.

    [12] Kasidiaris trial postponed for Sept. 3

    The trial of controversial Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris on complicity charges related to an assault and mugging of a college student in an Athens university housing complex in 2007 was postponed on Monday, with a new date set for Sept. 3, 2012.

    The latest trial continuance was given due to the absence of the defendant's attorney, who reportedly was away from the greater Athens area in relation to another case.

    Kasidiaris faces felony charges related to the incident, in which five unknown suspects assaulted a post-grad student at the Zografos university complex, taking the man's police ID in the process.

    The license plate of the car used in the suspects' getaway, according to testimony provided by a witness, matched a vehicle rented in the name of Kasidiaris. The latter denied any involvement in the incident.

    Meanwhile, in a related development, Kasidiaris on Monday filed a lawsuit against Communist Party (KKE) Liana Kanelli and a Radical Leftist Coalition (SYRIZA) MP, claiming he was verbally insulted by the pair during a live TV broadcast last week on a private Athens channel.

    Kasidiaris was shown on television throwing a glass-full of water at Rena Dourou of SYRIZA, before landing three open-handed swings against Kanelli.

    [13] Trial of Chryssi Avgi members in Veria postponed until Wed.

    The trial of eight members of the ultra-nationalist Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party, accused of assault and scuffling with a group of self-styled anarchists in a coffee-shop in the northern city of Veria, was postponed until Wednesday.

    One of the eight suspects is also a candidate for Parliament in the upcoming June 17 election from Pella prefecture, where Veria is located.

    The court accepted a continuance request made by the defendants, who were not jailed pending trial. They face charges of unprovoked physical assault and causing damages to private property.

    A 53-year-old man, a customer at the coffee-shop who was reportedly one of the "targets" of the attack, will also be tried on Wednesday, accused of assault and filing a false complaint, following a counter-suit filed against him by the members of Chryssi Avgi.

    [14] Prosecutor orders probe in ND claims that 'web host' urged violence to overturn political system

    Athens' first instance chief prosecutor on Monday ordered a preliminary investigation into allegations that a man who hosts a so-called "web news channel" urged citizens' to engage in an "armed uprising", complete with calls for "executions" and "firebombings" of public buildings, amongst others.

    The decision by prosecutor Eleni Raikou follows press reports and a New Democracy party announcement charging that the man was affiliated with the rival Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA).

    The man in question, identified as one Iphicratis Amyras, stated that he merely belongs to the "revolutionary left", and further described himself as unaffiliated with political parties. ND and SYRIZA have traded back-and-forth charges and counter-charges over the past few days on whether the specific individual was at any point a candidate on SYRIZA's MP list for the first Athens constituency.

    He was not on the final ballot for the May 6 election.

    Raikou ordered a junior prosecutor to investigate whether the act of inciting others in the commission of felonies -- such as armed robbery, homicide and abduction -- was committed by the man.

    The first witness to be called on Tuesday is ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis.

    Financial News

    [15] Finance ministry to investigate bankrupt state debtors for possible capital flight

    Finance Minister Georgios Zanias has instructed the finance ministry's general secretariat for information system to cross-check the records of tax-payers that have filed for bankruptcy under article 99, as well as tax office's 1,500 biggest debtors and then medium-category debtors to find out whether they have sent money abroad in the last two years.

    A finance ministry announcement issued on Monday said that the minister had asked for any money orders sent abroad in the last two years to be traced, as well as any property purchases in the United Kingdom or interest on deposits abroad.

    If the cross-checks turn up evidence of money being sent abroad, the ministry will activate the mutual support for the collection of debts between EU member-states and ask other EU authorities to either collect the sums due or take measures to ensure that debtors owning property or living abroad settle their debts to the Greek state.

    [16] Caretaker FinMin holds meeting with bankers

    Caretaker Finance Minister George Zannias chaired at his ministry on Monday the regular monthly Systemic Stability Council.

    The meeting was attended by the governor and deputy governor of the Bank of Greece George Provopoulos and Ioannis Papadakis, the head of the Fiscal Stability Fund Panagiotis Thomopoulos, the president of the Greek Bank Union Vassilis Rapanos and the representative of the Capital Market Committee Xenofon Avlonitis.

    The Council's purpose is to monitor the relation and momentum between the economy's systems, with special emphasis on liquidity, the public debt and state guarantees, as well as pre-emptive action against extreme situations, instabilities and crises.

    [17] Development minister sends letter to French FinMin on exports credits issue

    Development, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Yiannis Stournaras sent a letter to French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, stressing the possibility of insuring exports credits of products sold in Greece, with the French state being the guarantor.

    The aim of the letter is to overcome the problem that has been created wilth the decision by big private companies to proceed with an "embargo" on the insuring of exports credits to Greece.

    The minister stresses in his letter that the tool recently approved by the European Commission, to overcome the problem regarding the guarantees of exports credits concerning products directed to Greece's market, can be used by France as well as by other EU countries.

    [18] Group of Chinese tour operators on Greece visit

    The owners, directors and CEOs of some of south China's largest travel agencies, accompanied by journalists representing several major Chinese media outlets, visited Greece recently as guests of Travel Ef Zin S.A., the organizer of the nine-day trip.

    The 16-member group toured a total of 18 areas nationwide, including four islands, 14 hotels, seven archaeological sites and museums, as well as wineries, marinas and beaches.

    The destinations visited by the Chinese delegation included Athens, Santorini, Milos, Vouliagmeni, Loutraki, Nafplio, Pilos-Costa Navarino, Cephallonia, Lefkada, Preveza, Ioannina, Metsovo, Vergina, Thessaloniki, Iraklio, Rethymno, Hania and back again in Athens.

    Guests enjoyed the hospitality of local officials in Santorini, Milos, Nafplio, Cephalonia, Lefkada, Metsovo, Crete and Thessaloniki, tasted local cuisine.

    The initiative was assisted by the Greek culture ministry, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), the Greek consulates in Shanghai and Canton, as well as by municipalities and major hotels in Greece.

    [19] Business Briefs

    -- Greek exports to China soared by 262.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period last year, totaling 113.29 million euros, according to a report released by the Greek embassy in Beijing.

    -- Greek exports rose slightly in April, while imports continued falling hit by a shrinking domestic consumer demand, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    -- Foreign investors significantly raised their participation in the capitalization of the Athens Stock Exchange in May to 53.3 pct, from 52 pct in April and 51.2 pct in May 2011.

    -- Wholesale turnover dropped 17 pct in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the same period last year, after a decline of 13.3 pct recorded in the first quarter of 2011, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Monday.

    -- Turnover in the car and motorcycle markets plunged in the first quarter of 2012, covering both sales and repair/spare parts, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Monday.

    -- International arrivals at Greece's 13 main airports fell 5.1 pct in the first five months of the year, compared with 2011, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) said on Monday.

    [20] Stocks end moderately higher

    Stocks ended moderately higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, extending their rally for the fourth consecutive session.

    The composite index of the market rose 0.75 pct to end at 496.40 points, off the day's highs of 514.86 points, as investors took early profits in the aftermath of a Eurogroup decision to support Spanish banks with 100 billion euros. Turnover remained a low 36.022 million euros. The Big Cap index rose 1.73 pct and the Mid Cap index rose 0.96 pct. The Constructions (8.01 pct), Health (5.81 pct) and Raw Materials (5.02 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (4.96 pct) and Food (1.67 pct) suffered losses.

    Titan (9.74 pct), Alpha Bank (6.08 pct), Cyprus Popular Bank (5.26 pct), Cyprus Bank (5.22 pct) and Mytilineos (4.49 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while PPC (7.69 pct), Ellaktor (3.28 pct) and Coca Cola 3E (1.67 pct) lost ground.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 78 to 40 with another 25 issues unchanged. Kekrops (29.65 pct), Avenir (29.03 pct) and Elastron (28.95 pct) were top gainers, while Dias Aquaculture (18.37 pct), Sidma (17.81 pct) and Altec (16.67 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: +1.50%

    Commercial: -0.79%

    Construction: +8.01%

    Oil & Gas: +0.88%

    Personal & Household: +4.00%

    Raw Materials: +5.02%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.06%

    Technology: +3.65%

    Telecoms: Unchanged

    Banks: +2.75%

    Food & Beverages: -1.67%

    Health: +5.81%

    Utilities: -4.96%

    Financial Services: +1.69%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, OTE and HBC Coca Cola.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.84

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 1.32

    HBC Coca Cola: 12.39

    Hellenic Petroleum: 4.16

    National Bank of Greece: 1.00

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.45

    OPAP: 3.65

    OTE: 1.30

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.21

    Titan: 13.30

    [21] Greek bond market closing

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased further to 27.34 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 28.65 pct and the German Bund 1.31 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.22 pct, the six-month rate 0.94 pct, the three-month rate 0.66 pct and the one-month rate 0.38 pct.

    [22] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.22 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover rising to 20.909 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 15,292 contracts worth 14.090 million euros, with 23,208 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 83,137 contracts worth 6.819 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (20,602), followed by Alpha Bank (14,884), Cyprus Bank (6,722), OTE (4,490), MIG (823), PPC (1,623), OPAP (960), Piraeus Bank (11,225), Cyprus Popular Bank (2,326), Mytilineos (703), ATEbank (984) and GEK (16,088).

    [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.273

    Pound sterling 0.819

    Danish kroner 7.544

    Swedish kroner 8.997

    Japanese yen 101.09

    Swiss franc 1.219

    Norwegian kroner 7.669

    Canadian dollar 1.304

    Australian dollar 1.279

    General News

    [24] Greek health system crisis cuts off access to vital meds, patients report

    Lack of funding to Greece's health system and social insurance funds due to the economic crisis has deprived many severely ill patients of access to vital medication needed to preserve their life or prevent their condition deteriorating. Cash-strapped social insurance funds are unable to provide these patients with services or the money to buy expensive medication, condemning them to suffer and hastening the course of their illness. The stark choices faced by patients were outlined by associations of patients suffering from various chronic ailments during a press conference on "The barbarity of the economic crisis and the devaluation of human life" held on Monday.

    According to Mihalis Tsakantonis, an unemployed cancer patient that also suffers from diabetes and a weak heart, things are now so bad that he "just wants to die like a human being, where I sit". Unable to get a pension because he is short 99 days of work, Tsakantonis cannot afford to buy the drugs he needs or even to breathe properly, since the electricity company cut off his power and he can no longer operate the assisted-breathing device that he needs.

    Multiple sclerosis patient Panagiotis Papastolakos had to stop taking the medication that slows the progression of the disease because he did not have enough money but also lacked the stamina to put up with the hardship patients now have to endure in order to secure the drugs they need.

    "Our basic medication costs up to 1,000 euro a month, apart from the other drugs that we got for free. Now you have to begin a marathon in order to get one box of drugs and, as soon as you find them, you're filled with anxiety about whether you can get the next box," said the general secretary of the Greek Society for MS patients Dimitra Kontogianni.

    "The worst thing is that you don't die but deteriorate on a daily basis and new health problems constantly arise," she added.

    The head of the Kidney Patients Association of Northern Greece Christos Karagiozis noted that patients were having to lend each other vital drugs and stressed that the problem would take months to resolve, during which time there would unavoidably be casualties.

    He reported a number of problems, from a lack of filters for kidney dialysis machines to pharmacists' refusal to supply drugs on credit, even charging that a hospital was discriminating between uninsured kidney transplant patients, who were given generic medication with inferior specifications, leaving them open to the risk of their transplant being rejected, and insured patients that were given the original.

    Problems with lack of basic supplies, such as bags to collect blood donations, were reported by the association of children with thalassaemia, young people with type I diabetes, while cancer patients highlighted their inability to afford prescription medication whose cost ranges from 200 euro to 4,000 euro a month.

    [25] Dassault family members visit great grandmother's manor in Thessaloniki

    Four members of the well-known Dassault family of the eponymous French industrial and media group, Laurent, Thierry and Marie-Helene, accompanied by the mother Nicole, on Monday toured the Villa Allatini residence in Thessaloniki, the stately manor once owned by Noemi Allatini, their great-grandmother.

    The grand residence was built in 1888 and today houses the region of Central Macedonia's administration offices.

    "We came to learn as much as we can. We hope to know as much as we can about our past because to build the future you have to know who your ancestors were," Laurent Dassault, the son of French tycoon Serge Dassault (chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation and owner of Le Figaro), stressed.

    The Dassault group was launched by Marcel, the son of Noemi and Adolphe Bloch, who changed his last name to Dassault during WWII, adopting an alias given to him by his brother Darius. Marcel's son, Serge, now 87, succeeded him as the head of the influential industrial group.

    Serge Dassault's wife and children were received by Deputy Regional Governor Apostolos Tzitzikostas, who noted that "we are welcoming you to your home".

    Referring to the family's origin, he addressed his guests as "half Greeks" and suggested the establishment of a cultural foundation bearing the Dassault name, in cooperation with the French consulate in Thessaloniki.

    On her part, Nicole Dassault stressed that she was not fortunate to have known the mother of her father-in-law and responded to the regional governor's greeting with a statement of appreciation in Greek.

    The Dassault family is in Thessaloniki for the inauguration of a culture hall at the city's French Institute.

    The matriarch of the family left Thessaloniki in 1909 just before the outbreak of the 1911 Turkish-Italian war and soon after Villa Allatini became the residence of Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid, who was placed in house arrest by members of the Young Turks movement. In 1912 Villa Allatini was used as a military hospital and in 1926 the building was used by the newly established University of Thessaloniki. During WWII it was again used as a hospital and in 1977 it was declared a cultural heritage monument.

    In 1978 the building was transferred to the Thessaloniki prefecture authority.

    [26] Ozone levels hit alert levels in Athens

    Ozone levels in Athens exceeded levels for alerting the public on Monday, according to the Atmospheric Monitoring Network in the city.

    Levels in the Thrakomakedones area at 2:00 p.m. were 205 microgrammes per cubic metre of air, which dropped to 187 mg at 3:00 p.m.

    The level for informing the public is 180 microgrammes per cubic metre, while the alarm levels is 240 microgrammes.

    At alert levels, the health ministry advises those with respiratory or heart conditions or other sensitivity to air pollution to remain indoors and avoid intense physical activity.

    [27] Father and son drown in Lake Kerkini

    Two men, a father and son aged 73 and 37 respectively, drowned in Lake Kerkini on Sunday evening. The two men left from their house to go fishing on the Lake on Sunday morning but by late afternoon had not returned and the authorities were alerted.

    The bodies of the two men were found at a spot where the depth of the lake was approximately 2.5 metres, and their boat was found capsized.

    According to early information the two men did not know how to swim. An investigation is underway into the circumstances of the accident.

    [28] Tourist arrested on Kos for knifing local in rear

    A 37-year-old UK national was arrested on the Dodecanese holiday island of Kos on Monday and was charged with knifing a 47-year-old local man in the buttocks.

    The incident occurred in the town of Kos at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, following an argument between the Briton and the island resident, which resulted in the former injuring the latter using a sharp object, presumed to be a knife. The 47-year-old was taken to a hospital on the island, where he was admitted for treatment. According to doctors, his condition gives no cause for concern.

    Police launched a search and located the Briton, who was identified by the victim, according to reports. He was arrested and brought before a public prosecutor, who charged him with causing dangerous bodily harm.

    [29] Robbery at gas station

    A robbery with the use of a fire extinguisher as the weapon was reported late Sunday at a gas station in the Piraeus district of Nikaia. Three unknown individuals entered the gas station and quarreled with the two employees and afterwards injured them with a fire extinguisher, took an unknown amount of money from the cash register and fled in a car.

    [30] Drug smugglers arrested in NW Greece

    Three Albanian nationals aged 27, 26 and 22 were arrested in Filiata, northwestern Greece on Monday for smuggling a large quantity of hashish into Greece from Albania, while three accomplices were wanted.

    On their possession police confiscated four travel bags in which were hidden eleven packets containing a total 117 kilos of hashish. Three other individuals who managed to escape and hide in a nearby forest area are wanted by police.

    The suspects will be sent before a local prosecutor.

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

    The parties' campaigns ahead of Sunday's repeat elections and the 100 billion euros support package for the rescue of the Spanish banks, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Urban warfare and murders even with axes!".

    AVRIANI: "Spanish prime minister Rajoy received 100 billion euros".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Spanish window to renegotiation".

    ESTIA: "Final stretch to elections".

    ETHNOS: "All weapons in the six days war".

    IMERISSIA: "Breather in markets - Hope for solution in Spain".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "100 billion euros 'package' for Spain's rescue".

    TA NEA: "PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos' plea to political leaders for national co-responsibility agreement".

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

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