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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-07-03

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

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

Tuesday, 3 July 2012 Issue No: 4111

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Samaras discusses negotiating policy in light of troika arrival, government's policy statements
  • [02] Greek FM received by Cyprus President Christofias
  • [03] SYRIZA's Tsipras harshly critical of coalition, stresses austerity must end
  • [04] Democratic Left party on Tsipras statements on direct recapitalisation of Greek banks
  • [05] KKE comments on Tsipras address at Economist conference
  • [06] SYRIZA spokesman: Greece will not become guinea pig of Europe
  • [07] Defence minister visits army and air force centres in Larissa
  • [08] Greeks less pessimistic after election, according to survey
  • [09] ECB's Asmussen: First priority for new Greek gov't is getting programme back on track
  • [10] German Finance ministry spokesman says everything up to Greece
  • [11] Greece to return to econ growth soon, financial stability fund head says
  • [12] Re-establishment of Merchant Marine ministry discussed with Task Force head
  • [13] German ambassador visits Patra
  • [14] Tourism Minister inaugurates Cretan nutrition festival
  • [15] National Bank confirms talks with Credit Agricole over Emporiki Bank
  • [16] Stocks end moderately higher
  • [17] Greek bond market closing report
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [20] Reports for online child porn material up, according to INHOPE
  • [21] 13 'kalashnikov gang' members remanded in custody
  • [22] Police raid in Thessaloniki targets occupied properties
  • [23] Dozens caught attempting to travel without valid documents in Kalamata, Patras
  • [24] Chopper Riders' annual meeting
  • [25] Handgrenade found by swimmer
  • [26] Wildfire breaks out in Lagonissi
  • [27] Wildfire, fanned by strong winds, reported in Aigialeia, Peloponnese
  • [28] Chinese student champions in Nanjing sports event awarded trips to Greece
  • [29] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

  • [01] PM Samaras discusses negotiating policy in light of troika arrival, government's policy statements

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras concluded a meeting at his residence in the Athens suburb of Kifisia on Monday evening with PASOK party leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis.

    The party leaders discussed the negotiating policy in light of the arrival of the troika delegation in Greece and the government's policy statements. Speaking after the two party leaders' departure, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said that "an extensive and in depth discussion took place on the government's policy statements. The three leaders will continue to be in contact."

    Also present at the leaders' meeting were the government's economic staff members Yiannis Stournaras, Christos Staikouras, George Mavraganis and Kostis Hatzidakis, as well as Kouvelis's associate Hatzisokratis.

    Earlier the members of the economic staff had briefed Samaras on the interministerial meeting that took place at the Finance ministry. Stournaras and Staikouras stayed at Samaras's residence after the leaders' departure.

    According to reports, the debate on the government's policy statements will begin in Parliament on Thursday or Friday. The swearing in of Finance Minister Stournaras has been scheduled for Thursday, as well as of government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou in the post of Minister of State who will have the state-run media in his duties.

    [02] Greek FM received by Cyprus President Christofias

    NICOSIA (AMNA / A. Viketos)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met here on Monday with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and conveyed a message of support to the island republic.

    Avramopoulos, who is on a two-day visit to Cyprus, said Athens will be at the Cypriots' side and will support the Cypriot government in its effort for a solution to the Cyprus issue. Referring to the Turkish stance on the Cyprus issue, he said it is regrettable because the positions of Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu do not leave ground for optimism on the Cyprus issue.

    He mentioned that in the brief meeting he had with his Turkish counterpart in Istanbul recently, he conveyed to him Greece's position, namely, that Turkish actions must be such that will contribute positively to whatever concerns the Cyprus issue. The Greek government will proceed with Nicosia on the path leading to Cyprus' riddance from occupation.

    The Greek foreign minister said that apart from the Cyprus issue, on which he had a full briefing by Christofias, he discussed the priorities of the current Cypriot European Union presidency, developments in the Middle East and issues regarding energy since Greece is also making procedures on the probing of the existence of hydrocarbons, always in relation to Turkish threats against Cyprus regarding the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone.

    Avramopoulos also expressed certainty that Cyprus will respond to the requirements of the European Union's presidency, which he termed a historic challenge in a crucial conjuncture due to the crisis that the European economies are experiencing.

    [03] SYRIZA's Tsipras harshly critical of coalition, stresses austerity must end

    Addressing an Economist Conference taking place in Athens on Monday, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) party leader Alexis Tsipras repeated that Greece must immediately renounce the harsh austerity demanded by its European partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for bailout loans, stressing that the EU-IMF plan was simply not viable.

    "The longer the [Memorandum of Understanding] lasts, the faster the social and economic resilience of the country will be exhausted," he underlined, stressing that the programme must be abandoned in collaboration with Greece's EU partners.

    According to Tsipras, it was an insistence on the austerity policies of the Memorandum that would finally lead to Greece being pushed into a voluntary exit from the Eurozone, which was the only legal way for this to be effected and an outcome that all parties should strive to avoid.

    He was also harshly critical of the three-party coalition government under Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, which he accused of ensuring that Greece was excluded from the "initially positive" decisions of the lastest EU summit for the debt-burdened European south. In doing this, Tsipras argued, Samaras "had sent a clear message that he has given up on Europe before he has even started".

    The head of SYRIZA repeated that no discussion on any issue can begin with the troika before there is an express commitment to uphold the agreements made at the EU summit of 29 July 2011 concerning Greece.

    SYRIZA had also strongly criticised the government's stance in an announcement issued earlier on Monday, saying it was going back on its pre-election pledges and postponing renegotiation of the harsh bailout terms until after their implementation, unaffected by the election result and the message sent by the Greek people.

    It noted that Greek citizens were finding themselves "watching from the sidelines" as they became targets of new blackmail to speed up implementation of the memorandum measures, privatisations, the firing of public sector staff and the dismantling of the social state in a new vicious cycle of austerity and recession that led to ever harsher measures.

    [04] Democratic Left party on Tsipras statements on direct recapitalisation of Greek banks

    Democratic Left party spokesman A. Papadopoulos, commenting on the position of Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras on the direct recapitalisation of Greek banks by the support apparatus, said "we welcome SYRIZA to reality."

    Papadopoulos said that for "Greece's accession to the arrangement to be achieved now, as the Democratic Left is seeking, a mutually acceptable revision is necessary which necessitates the general strategy of renegotiating and not of the unilateral denouncement. It necessitates the policy of the Democratic Left and not the pre-election rhetoric of SYRIZA."

    [05] KKE comments on Tsipras address at Economist conference

    A statement by the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) Central Committee press office on the address by SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras at the Economist conference on Monday said that the position of the president of SYRIZA that "the vested right of the EU's summit on June 29 must be secured explicitly for our country as well" means "the implementation of all the antipopular measures of the memorandums and the signing of new even worse ones."

    It was added that "the direct loaning of banks by the EU's support mechanism will also bring this and this is in the interest of banks, not the peoples, because they will continue to pay for the crisis with harsh sacrifices."

    "In any case with the decisions of the latest EU Summit, that SYRIZA considers positive, (France's) Hollande, (Italy's) Monti and (Spain's) Rajoy returned to their countries announcing and implementing new harsh antipopular measures such as cutbacks of tens of billions of euros, dismissals of tens of thousands of employees from the public sector etc," the statement concluded.

    [06] SYRIZA spokesman: Greece will not become guinea pig of Europe

    Greece cannot be used as the bogey-man, in other words the guinea pig, so that the rest of Europe will not ask (for money). The Greek people cannot seek this role for themselves, and therefore it is necessary for the Greek government to raise a strong voice, and here SYRIZA will lend its support, SYRIZA press spokesman Panos Skourletis said on Monday, speaking on state NET radio station on the EU Summit decisions.

    Skourletis criticised the government on its stance and the Summit, calling it one of national subjugation.

    Explaining why SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras called on the government not to accept the Troika in Athens, he said that this was the least that the government could do at this time, in an effort to correct its stance of the previous days, which he called one of total absence from the discussion taking place in Europe, and its new submission of a disposition to full acceptance of the Memorandum policy.

    "It is much easier and less painful to have some changes in relation to dealing with the case of Greece. If we do not put this (having the Summit decisions apply to Greece as well) forward now, what will we be? The fall guy of Europe? I do not understand this policy of national subjugation," he said.

    [07] Defence minister visits army and air force centres in Larissa

    Visiting the Headquarters of the 1st Army and the Hellenic Tactical Airforce Command in Larissa on Monday, Defence Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos stressed that the economic crisis afflicting the country must not be allowed to become a crisis of national sovereignty and national security.

    He was accompanied by the chief of the Hellenic Armed Forces General Staff General Mihail Kostarakos and the head of the Army General Staff Lieutenant General Konstantinos Ziazias, who briefed him on the mission and work of the two formations.

    In talks with military personnel during the visit, Panagiotopoulos stressed that the crisis must not be allowed to affect issues of national independence and national integrity. While sympathising with the problems they face as a result of pay cuts, he avoided giving a specific date by which their salaries will be restored to their previous levels, saying only that this will happen once the economy starts to improve, while stressing that these problems should on now account affect the military's performance of their duties.

    It is the state's duty to do what we can to make their daily lives less difficult and to offer them, to the extent possible, all the best once the Greek economy starts to improve," he added.

    [08] Greeks less pessimistic after election, according to survey

    People in Greece appear to be less pessimistic after the June 17 elections, according to a quantitative survey entitled "Economic Barometer", conducted by the Alco polling company on behalf of Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), it was announced on Monday.

    The pessimism index showed improvement as regards both public and private finances compared with the survey results of the last four months. A total of 84 pct of the respondents stated pessimistic as regards the course of the Greek economy, down 9 pct compared with the last two months. Eight percent are optimistic and other 8 pct chose not to respond.

    As regards their private/family finances, 85 pct stated pessimistic down 8 pct compared with the previous two months. Eight percent stated optimistic and 7 pct chose not to respond.

    The pessimism percentage records a notable decline combined with a small increase in the optimism percentage for the first time in a year since the ACCI Economic Barometer was first conducted.

    Responding to a question on how satisfied they are with the composition of the economic staff, public opinion appeared divided. According to the results, 19 pct of the respondents are very satisfied, 28 pct fairly satisfied, 25 pct little satisfied, 20 pct not satisfied and 8 pct did not respond.

    Forty seven percent responded positively to the question "how likely is the government to have positive results in the renegotiation of the memorandum". Thirty two percent responded negatively and 21 pct did not give a response.

    To the question "what should be the top priority for the new government, choosing between security, economy and institutional reforms", 38 pct said security, 36 pct chose economy and 22 pct were in favour of institutional reforms. The remaining 4 pct chose not to respond.

    The nationwide telephone survey concerned the third bimestrial of 2012 and was conducted on June 28-30 on a sample of 1,000 people over the age of 18.

    Financial News

    [09] ECB's Asmussen: First priority for new Greek gov't is getting programme back on track

    Greece should focus on implementation of its reform programme instead of wasting time trying to renegotiate the terms of the Memorandum, European Central Bank (ECB) high-ranking executive and international negotiator Joerg Asmussen said Monday, addressing an Economist conference at a central Athens hotel.

    "The first priority for the new Greek government should be getting the programme back on track, he told the "16th Round Table with the Government of Greece - Transforming uncertainty into stability, wisdom and growth", which began Monday.

    Application of the Memorandum has essentially stalled in the last two months (with the inconclusive April general elections and repeat elections in mid-June and the efforts to form a coalition government), said Asmussen, a member of the ECB's Executive Board.

    Further delay in achievement of the fiscal targets is dangerous, he said, warning that if the target for the debt/GDP is not achieved by 2020, Greece will require additional funding.

    Asmussen said that delay in the fiscal adjustment is dangerous as it would increase the country's debt to above the targeted 120 percent of GDP in 2020, which is the maximum percentage considered manageable for the country, and urged the new Greek government to implement the reforms contained in the fiscal adjustment programmed agreed with its creditors.

    He said that the new government should not waste precious time trying to avoid, or ameliorate, the programme and instead focus on was to maximise the impact of the reforms.

    With or without the Memorandum, Asmussen said, any Greek government would have to follow a similar adjustment in order to bring the economy back to front state and restore the confidence of the money markets.

    He cited the example of Latvia, which implemented a strict adjustment programme to reduce its deficits, and the reforms in the labour market that were advanced by Germany in the early 2000s.

    In Germany, it was very difficult, with the unions opposed, he said, adding that now, years later, everyone acknowledges that the reforms in the labour market, which are contained in the Agenda 2010+, are one reason for today's powerful German economy, he added.

    [10] German Finance ministry spokesman says everything up to Greece

    BERLIN (AMNA/F. Karaviti)

    German Finance ministry spokesman Martin Kotthaus claimed that "everything is up to Greece" and stressed that the times and means of the Greek programme remain unchanged. He called on the new Greek government to observe the commitments of the previous governments and pointed out that "the issue is what can Greece do and is doing and less what the German government is doing."

    Asked to state his position on statements by European Central Bank high ranking official Joerg Asmussen on the possibility of the changing of isolated measures without the targets of the programme changing, Kotthaus said that "the Greek programme is what it is and must be implemented", but clarified that "a new government can, as occurred in Ireland and Portugal, say that it wants to implement austerity, but instead of measure A prefers measure B, with the result remaining the same."

    [11] Greece to return to econ growth soon, financial stability fund head says

    Panagiotis Thomopoulos, the head of the Greek Financial Stability Fund, on Monday expressed optimism that the country will return to positive GDP growth rates in the near future, while he noted that the Greek banking system would stabilise in the period 2013-2014.

    Addressing an Economist conference in Athens, Thomopoulos underlined the need for cooperation between banks in order to remain competitive and stressed that the financial stability fund has disbursed 18 billion euros to Greek banks as part of a bank recapitalization programe. Thomopoulos noted that Greek banks have already cut their operating costs, while he added that the Greek economy was dynamic but needed reforms.

    [12] Re-establishment of Merchant Marine ministry discussed with Task Force head

    The re-establishment of the Merchant Marine ministry and the privatisations of ports through assignments were among the issues examined during the meeting between minister Kostis Mousouroulis and the head of the European Commission's Task Force for Greece Horst Reichenbach in Piraeus.

    The strengthening of the ministry's structures in the direction of the preparation of projects and actions for financing by the European structural funds, the external borders fund, was also discussed.

    Island policy issues were also discussed as well as the national strategy and the new regulating framework of ports, the dynamic activation of the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, the issue of unemployment, the problems of the coastal shipping sector and maritime training.

    [13] German ambassador visits Patra

    The ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Athens Wolfgang Dolt expressed during his visit to the city of Patra on Monday the intention to examine possibilities of developing targeted joint actions between the Western Greeece Region and corresponding German Regions in the immediate future. Dolt also referred at length to the steadfast interest of the German side with the aim of deepening its relations with Western Greece.

    A presentation by local officials of Western Greece was made during the visit, the region's comparative advantages and its production profile. Mention was also made of the issue of illegal immigration that Western Greece is facing.

    During his stay in the city, Dolt also visited the Achaia Police Department.

    [14] Tourism Minister inaugurates Cretan nutrition festival

    Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyanni inaugurated on Monday the 1st Cretan nutrition festival in Rethymno. "As a country we have unique advantages and we can offer a very important tourist product which, with the support of the local entities and the State, may bring substantial benefit to Greek tourism" said Kefaloyanni in her address and called on the local authorities, the tourist agencies and the citizens to contribute each in his own way in order for Greek tourism to be promoted and the adverse picture of the country to change.

    [15] National Bank confirms talks with Credit Agricole over Emporiki Bank

    National Bank of Greece on Monday confirmed it was in talks with French banking giant Credit Agricole regarding the potential for future strategic alliances, although it stressed such talks were at an initial phase.

    In an announcement to the Athens Stock Exchange, National Bank reported that "there were discussions between the managements of National and Credit Agricole regarding the potential for future strategic alliances, which are at an initial phase," adding that it would inform investors over developments in the talks.

    Press reports over the previous days alleged that Credit Agricole was in talks with potential buyers to sell its Greek unit, Emporiki Bank. Another Greek institution, Alpha Bank, dismissed these reports, saying it was not in talks to buy all or part of any other financial institution. Alain Strub, Emporiki Bank's chief executive, speaking to AMNA two weeks ago had said: "It is obvious that the Greek economy passes through a very unstable period, while inevitably will lead to changes in the structure of the banking system in the country."

    Emporiki Bank was founded in 1907.

    Credit Agricole gradually acquired 100 pct of the Athens-based bank, which operates a branch network of 340 units in Greece.

    Later on Monday, Emporiki Bank confirmed that it has engaged in discussions with Greek banking organisations and competent regulatory authorities.

    Preliminary discussions are not yet at a stage where a decision can be taken. Discussions take place within the context of the process for the consolidation and restructuring of the Greek financial sector, the bank stated.

    [16] Stocks end moderately higher

    Stocks ended moderately higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, as the market easily absorbed a wave of profit taking selling in bank shares.

    Buying activity focused on blue chip stocks, such as PPC, OPAP and Hellenic Petroleum. The composite index of the market rose 0.71 pct to end at 615.47 points, off the day's highs of 621.73 points. Turnover remained a low 35.618 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.22 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.60 pct higher. The Technology (8.32 pct), Utilities (6.46 pct) and Travel (4.69 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Financial Services (2.81 pct), Health (2.35 pct) and Banks (2.29 pct) were top losers.

    PPC (8.56 pct), OPAP (5.05 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (3.39 pct) and Viohalco (1.74 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Alpha Bank (4.76 pct), Cyprus Popular Bank (4.71 pct), Eurobank (4.38 pct) and MIG (3.78 pct) were top losers.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 69 to 50 with another 20 issues unchanged. Hellenic Sugar (29.96 pct), Spider (20 pct) and 3A (20 pct) were top gainers, while PC Systems (19.57 pct), Naftemporiki (9.76 pct) and Xylemporia (9.57 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -0.03%

    Commercial: -0.79%

    Construction: +0.90%

    Oil & Gas: +0.49%

    Personal & Household: +1.07%

    Raw Materials: -1.54%

    Travel & Leisure: +4.69%

    Technology: +8.32%

    Telecoms: Unchanged

    Banks: -2.29%

    Food & Beverages: +0.78%

    Health: -2.35%

    Utilities: +6.46%

    Financial Services: -2.81%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Alpha Bank and OTE.

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

    Alpha Bank: 01/01/20

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 02/03/12

    HBC Coca Cola: 14/10/12

    Hellenic Petroleum: 01/04/88

    National Bank of Greece: 01/01/41

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.72

    OPAP: 01/05/20

    OTE: 01/02/00

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.25

    Titan: 14/10/12

    [17] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 25.81 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 24.83 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 25.81 pct and the German Bund 1.50 pct. Turnover was a thin 1.0 million euros, one buy order.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.21 pct, the six-month rate 0.92 pct, the three-month rate 0.65 pct and the one-month rate 0.37 pct.

    [18] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.83 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover remaining a low 8.934 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 3,457 contracts worth 3.935 million euros, with 20,800 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 33,913 contracts worth 4.999 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (14,499), followed by National Bank (8,731), OTE (1,178), PPC (1,800), OPAP (1,584), Piraeus Bank (863), Cyprus Bank (1,407), Cyprus Popular Bank (2,406), Intralot (292), Hellenic Postbank (114), Mytilineos (113), MIG (121) and Eurobank (169).

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. Dollar 1278

    Pound sterling 816

    Danish kroner 7545

    Swedish kroner 8875

    Japanese yen 102.02

    Swiss franc 1219

    Norwegian kroner 7638

    Canadian dollar 01/03/12

    Australian dollar 1246

    General News

    [20] Reports for online child porn material up, according to INHOPE

    Greece's SafeLine hotline for illegal internet content received a total of 3,635 reports in 2011, it was announced on Monday.

    According to the 2011 annual report by the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) all of the reports submitted concerned foreign websites. The majority of them, 57 pct, originated in the United States, 13 pct in the Netherlands and 10 pct in Russia and the Czech Republic followed by the UK, Cyprus, Hungary, Luxembourg, Switzerland, India and Panama.

    The reports submitted to INHOPE for websites with child sexual abuse material increased 24 pct and the time needed to remove the illegal content has been reduced (58 pct was removed in two days and 82 pct in seven days).

    Reports in respect to illegal content seen online can be submitted by filling in the online form; by email, sending a message to report@safeline.gr and by using SafeLine's Android Application.

    SafeLine is Greece's formal representative to INHOPE hotline network that numbers 41 members in 36 countries. INHOPE coordinates a network of Internet Hotlines all over the world offering the public a way of anonymously reporting Internet material including child sexual abuse material they suspect to be illegal.

    [21] 13 'kalashnikov gang' members remanded in custody

    Thirteen of 23 persons arrested for membership in the so-called 'kalashnikov gang' of robbers were remanded in custody pending trial after completion of the 23 suspects' testimonies before an examining magistrate on Sunday evening.

    By agreement of magistrate and public prosecutor, the 13 were remanded, nine were released on restrictive conditions and one was released without restrictions.

    The 13 were remanded on felony charges of participation in a criminal organisation.

    The remanded suspects are temporarily being held at the lock-up facility of the Kavala police headquarters and together with the nine released with restrictions will be sent back to the examining magistrate to testify separately on specific charges.

    Police are still searching for another alleged gang members, eight of whom have police records.

    New arrests are expected in the immediate future, police sources told AMNA.

    [22] Police raid in Thessaloniki targets occupied properties

    Twenty-five people were arrested and another nine were detained for questioning on Monday morning after police in Thessaloniki raided several occupied properties and hang-outs frequented by self-styled anti-state and anarchist activists.

    Those arrested are charged with forming a criminal ring, aggravated assault and grand larceny in relation to recent disputes between rival anti-state gangs.

    [23] Dozens caught attempting to travel without valid documents in Kalamata, Patras

    Six foreign nationals were arrested in Kalamata airport on Monday when they were caught trying to board a plane going to Vienna using fake passports and ID cards. Meanwhile, authorities in Patras reported that another 30 migrants were stopped in the city's port and nearby Araxos airport over the last few days as they attempted to travel to Italy without valid papers.

    Those arrested in Kalamata were three Afghan men aged 26, 19 and 24 years old, respectively, one Afghan woman aged 26 and two Nigerian women aged 26 and 19 years old.

    The four Afghans had presented fake Japanese passports and the two Nigerians had one fake Swedish ID card and one fake Belgian ID card.

    The fake documents were confiscated and the six arrested were taken before a Kalamata public prosecutor.

    The 30 illegal migrants caught in Patras, nine of whom were minors, were caught while attempting to get aboard ferries heading for Italy as stowaways hidden in trucks or by displaying fake travel documents. Also arrested was one 28-year-old truck driver that had four illegal migrants hidden among crates of watermelon in his truck.

    Three foreign nationals were caught when they attempted to board an Italy-bound ferry with forged travel documents and another 13, of which nine were minors, were found hidden in two trucks at the port. A short while later, another seven foreign nationals again attempted to board a ferry using fake documents and were caught.

    All nine minors were later released from custody by order of a public prosecutor.

    Meanwhile, four migrants were intercepted at Araxos airport when they also tried to board a plane heading for Bergamo in Italy using fake passports. Three of those arrested were Syrian nationals, a man and two women, who presented fake Egyptian passports and one was a 39-year-old Nigerian man with a fake Sierra Leone passport.

    Immigration authorities say the latest arrests confirm that migrant trafficking gangs are chiefly using fake travel documents to move illegal migrants and also indicate a return to the old method of hiding migrants among freight in trucks. They also report that measures taken by authorities around the new port in Patras are deterring migrants from 'storming' passing trucks in order to get aboard and estimate that recent training received by coast guard and police officers in identifying fake passports and IDs is starting to pay dividends based on the number of arrests.

    [24] Chopper Riders' annual meeting

    The most beautiful, the ugliest and the noisiest motorcycle were awarded by members and fans of the international "Chopper Riders" club that gathered for their annual meeting in the village of Litohoro, central Greece over the weekend.

    The motorcycle riders from Greece, Germany, Bosnia and other countries gathered at a camping ground near Litohoro and provided a spectacular show to visitors and fans during their expeditions in the area. Rodeo events, concerts and other 'happenings' took place during the 14th Chopper Riders' meeting, that also included acrobatics and motorcycle riding skills shows as well as a motorcycle 'beauty contest'.

    A 63 year-old rider won the title of the oldest rider as well as of the ugliest motorcycle.

    "Our motorcycles are neither the quickest nor the most modern technologically, however they have something special because their owners fix them and paint them by themselves," explained the President of the Chopper Riders of Thessaloniki, who was responsible for the organisation of the event.

    [25] Handgrenade found by swimmer

    A man who was swimming in Agiokampos beach near Larissa, central Greece, found a handgrenade in the sea a few metres from the beach.

    According to authorities the handgrenade was not active.

    [26] Wildfire breaks out in Lagonissi

    A wildfire broke out shortly after 9 on Monday evening in Lagonissi, southeast Attica. According to the fire brigade, the fire is burning pine trees on a hill at the 38th milestone of the Sounio coastal motorway and is close to buildings, while a strong wind is blowing in the area. The fire is being tackled by 30 firemen equipped with 15 vehicles.

    Another wildfire at Lykorema in Karystos, on Evia, is also under way, that broke out in the afternoon, and is laying waste an expanse of farm and forestland. Winds of up to 8 beauforte force are blowing in the region but no residential is in danger. Sixteen firemen backed by 12 vehicles are participating in the effort to extinguish the blaze while a firefighting helicopter was also taking part until nightfall.

    [27] Wildfire, fanned by strong winds, reported in Aigialeia, Peloponnese

    A wildfire fanned by strong winds has broken out in an area of woods and farmland near the Tsagri bridge in Aigialeia, in the northwest Peloponnese.

    A strong fire-fighting force made up of 22 firemen, 11 fire engines and a team of 24 men on foot was sent to put out the blaze from the ground, assisted by a helicopter and two water-bombing aircraft from the air. Firefighters said that the high winds were hampering efforts to control the flames.

    Sports

    [28] Chinese student champions in Nanjing sports event awarded trips to Greece

    Secondary education students in the city of Nanjing participated in a one-day track and field event on July 1 co-hosted by the Greek general consulate in Shanghai and local authorities to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the commencement of Sino-Greek diplomatic relations.

    The purpose of the sporting event was to promote the Hellenic culture in Nanjing, the capital city of Jiangsu province, which occupies a high standing in China in terms of economic growth and direct investments. The city of Nanjing will be the host of the 2nd Summer Youth Olympic Games to take place on Aug. 16-28, 2014 under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

    A total of 360 students, representing 30 schools, competed in four track and field sports. Twelve winners (the top three in all four events) will be awarded a seven-day holiday to Greece in August.

    Addressing the opening ceremony, Greece's consul general in Shanghai, Evgenios-Dimitrios Kalpyris, underlined the excellent relations enjoyed by Greece and China and the two countries' special place in the western and eastern civilisations.

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

    The new Troika inspection and talks with the new Greek government that begin this week dominated the headlines in Athens' newspapers on Monday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Reduction of salaries, benefits is unconstitutional".

    AVRIANI: "Germans blackmailing in order to block revision of Memorandum".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Tough July".

    ETHNOS: "Pupils with bogus dyslexia certificates".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Retirement up to 7 years earlier".

    ESTIA: "Why the European funds are being lost".

    IMERISSIA: "Battle on 3 fronts".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "No 'gift' to Greece if programme does not run".

    TA NEA: "What we're giving (again) to the Troika - What we are asking".

    VRADYNI: "Salary reductions in public sector illegal, according to Athens court ruling".

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