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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-08-02

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

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

Thursday, 2 August 2012 Issue No: 4137

CONTENTS

  • [01] Coalition leaders wrap up meeting, agree on necessity of spending cuts package
  • [02] SYRIZA on coalition leaders meeting
  • [03] Finance minister tables legislative acts on bank recapitalization
  • [04] Parliament endorses in principle bill on higher education
  • [05] KKE announcement warns of 'barbarous measures' to come
  • [06] Rapid Reaction Force exercise tests command and control system
  • [07] Online dialogue between citizens and police
  • [08] Labour ministry launches new drive to tighten national system for pensions
  • [09] Deposit and loan interest rates up in June
  • [10] State debt to private sector rose to 6.617 bln euros in June
  • [11] Competition Commission clears Carrefour-Marinopoulos deal
  • [12] Greece, Switzerland to sign protocol on taxation
  • [13] Forty nine to face trial for their role in share prices manipulation scandal
  • [14] ATEbank employees hold protests against its privatization
  • [15] Business Briefs
  • [16] Greek stocks end flat
  • [17] Greek bond market closing report
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Rhodes replies to the crisis by actions to extend its tourism season
  • [20] Official in General Accounting Office charged with leaking classified document
  • [21] Cyprus court orders eight-day detention of Greek suspects in multiple homicide
  • [22] Two arrests for arson in Viannos fire on Crete
  • [23] Film screenings at Greek Archaeologists' Association garden in August
  • [24] Golden Dawn organises food handouts in Syntagma Square
  • [25] Arrest for more than one million euro debt to IKA
  • [26] 136 kilos of hashish seized, one arrest
  • [27] Oldest Athonite monk dies
  • [28] Reliquary, chalice stolen from church in Halkidiki
  • [29] Child porn arrest in Rethymno on the island of Crete
  • [30] High temperatures claim thousands of fish in Strymonas River tributary
  • [31] Traffic resumes on Piraeus-Glyfada boulevard after safety island fire is extinguished
  • [32] Greece wins Olympic bronze medal in judo
  • [33] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Coalition leaders wrap up meeting, agree on necessity of spending cuts package

    Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the leaders of the two smaller parties supporting Greece's coalition government wrapped up yet another a meeting to discuss a package of measures amounting to 11.5-billion-euro on Wednesday.

    At the end of the meeting, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras announced that the coalition partners had accepted the prime minister's argument that Greece must agree to the spending cuts package in order to remain in the eurozone and have the option of negotiating at a later date. In the meantime, the government announced that the finance minister will have another meeting with EU-IMF troika inspectors on Thursday at 2:00 p.m.

    "Now we will begin negotiations with the troika," Stournaras told reporters and indicated that the decisions made will be announced toward the end of August. Asked whether these measures will include more 'horizontal cuts', the finance minister said he was not in a position to reveal anything yet and repeated that the government must present a credible package amounting to 11.5 billion euro.

    Sources from the prime minister's office said that Samaras had relayed the results of his talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Council President Herman van Rompuy and EU-IMF troika inspectors and underlined that Greece's options were clear.

    The prime minister emphasised that he preferred a choice with positive repercussions, which meant that Greece would remain in the euro and still having the option of extending fiscal adjustment at a later date, rather than the certainty of a negative report and a falling-out with its EU partners that would lead the country into dire dangers.

    Democratic Left (Dem.Ar) leader Fotis Kouvelis, when he emerged from the meeting, clarified that the talks had only covered "chapters and not specific figures" but had emphasised that all three leaders were determined to minimise the additional burden the measures will place on the weakest strata in Greek society.

    "We will not proceed with measures that add to the burden on society," he said.

    Kouvelis said that the Greek government's proposal concerning the troika report expected at the end of September did not mean that the effort to negotiate an extension in the period of fiscal adjustment was being given up and underlined that "the policy agreement of the three political forces supporting the government remains fully intact".

    PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, head of the larger of the two junior coalition partners, said he had been obliged to agree with the prime minister on the need to find 11.5-billion-euro in spending cuts, given Samaras' claim that he would otherwise be unable to discuss any extension of the fiscal adjustment programme with Greece's creditors and EU partners.

    He also stressed that PASOK will not "mimic ND" and lead the country to elections and added that the main concern at present was that there should be no further unjust and obviously horizontal measures, as well as a package of measures to boost liquidity and control prices.

    [02] SYRIZA on coalition leaders meeting

    The main opposition SYRIZA party, commenting on Wednesday evening on a meeting earlier of the party leaders supporting Greece's coalition government, said that "the government, for the past one and a half month is proceeding without any plan or strategy, guided only by the memorandum and its anxiety about not making the troika angry."

    In a statement issued after the meeting at Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' headquarters at the Maximos Mansion, SYRIZA added that the three leaders' "so-called differentiations regarding the way and the order of measures cannot hide this reality."

    "Unfortunately for the country, every option of the memorandum three-party government is yet another step towards bankraptcy and exit from the eurozone," the statement concluded.

    [03] Finance minister tables legislative acts on bank recapitalization

    Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Wednesday tabled in parliament for ratification the legislative acts for the recapitalization of the country's banks.

    The legislative acts were tabled in the form of a single draft law.

    [04] Parliament endorses in principle bill on higher education

    The Parliament's plenum on Wednesday evening endorsed in principle a draft bill modifying the framework law on higher education prepared by the former education minister Anna Diamantopoulou.

    163 deputies from New Democracy, Democratic Left and the majority of PASOK, meaning the parties that support the Antonis Samaras government, voted in favour of the bill, while 101 deputies from all opposition parties voted against.

    Among the six PASOK deputies that voted against the bill are former prime minister George Papandreou and former ministers Mihalis Chryssohoidis and Andreas Loverdos.

    [05] KKE announcement warns of 'barbarous measures' to come

    Any so-called renegotiation of the bailout measures within the European Union will result in the implementation of "barbarous measures and new memorandums," a Communist Party of Greece (KKE) announcement stressed on Wednesday, regardless of who tried to carry it out.

    In view of the a meeting of the three party leaders supporting the coalition government, it urged Greeks to "wash its hands of the dilemmas and blackmail cultivated by the parties of the EU".

    [06] Rapid Reaction Force exercise tests command and control system

    National Defence General Staff (GEETHA) Chief General Mihail Kostarakos on Wednesday ordered the activation of the Rapid Reaction Force, sources said.

    The purpose of the exercise was to test the military operations' command and control system. The force's activation was ordered within the framework of the military exercise, code-named "Pyrpolitis".

    According to information, the exercise was held in the region of Dokos, off the coasts of the island of Hydra, for the first time with the participation of Coastguard forces.

    The maneuvers were observed by the GEETHA chief who boarded a helicopter with members of the Rapid Reaction Force.

    [07] Online dialogue between citizens and police

    An online dialogue with the citizens, who will have the opportunity to make suggestions as regards the operation of the Greek Police (EL.AS), was launched on Wednesday by the ministry of public order and citizen protection.

    Citizens will submit their proposals at the ministry website (http://www.yptp.gr/) and the Greek Police website (http://www.hellenicpolice.gr/).

    Financial News

    [08] Labour ministry launches new drive to tighten national system for pensions

    In an urgent circular sent to all Greek social insurance funds on Wednesday, the minister for Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Yiannis Vroutsis launched a drive to collect all their files on state pensioners in order to cross-check the information these contain.

    The ministry's goal is to completely purge the pension system of 'fake' or fraudulent pensions by January 1, 2013 and stop further losses of funds. This includes uncovering all illegal pensions, or double or triple pensions that exceed the legal payment limits, make sure that all pensions are paid in a legal manner amd also ensure that all the sums received are declared to the tax office and due taxes are paid.

    "From now on, no social insurance benefits will be given without the Social Insurance Registry Number (AMKA) and the Tax Registry Number (AFM). These two unique numbers that concern the tax and social insurance obligations of every citizens will now be used in the best possible way," the ministry underlined.

    This is the first time that such an extensive cross-checking of pension payments is being attempted and is the first time that the entire pension system is being treated as a whole. Previously, the system was entirely fragmented, with each pension and social insurance fund unable to access information concerning the benefits and pensions given by other funds in the system to those that they covered. This led to a loss of resources in terms of benefits that should not have been paid and in terms of taxes and contributions that were not paid.

    [09] Deposit and loan interest rates up in June

    The overall average interest rate on new deposits and the corresponding rate on new corporate loans in Greek banks increased in June, while the average interest rates on housing and consumer loans as well as on loans to sole proprietors decreased, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.

    The central bank, in a monthly report, said that the average interest rate on overnight deposits from households remained unchanged at 0.48% as did the corresponding rate on deposits from non-financial corporations which stood at 0.46%. On the contrary, the average interest rate on deposits from households with an agreed maturity of up to 1 year, increased by 10 basis points to 5.00%. The overall average interest rate on all new deposits slightly increased by 3 basis points to 2.94%.

    In the case of loans, the average interest rate on consumer loans without a defined maturity (a category which includes credit card debt, open account loans and debit balances on current accounts) decreased slightly by 5 basis points in June 2012, to 14.96%. The average interest rate on consumer loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year also decreased by 11 basis points to 8.16% in June 2012, from 8.27% in the previous month.

    The average interest rate on corporate loans without a defined maturity remained unchanged at 7.69% while the corresponding rate on loans to sole proprietors decreased by 5 basis points to 10.27%. The average interest rate on corporate loans with a defined maturity at a floating rate or with an initial rate fixation period of up to one year decreased by 5 basis points to 7.47% for loans up to EUR 250,000, decreased by 13 basis points to 6.55% for loans above EUR 250,000 and up to EUR 1 million but increased significantly by 71 basis points to 6.55% for loans above EUR 1 million. Finally, the average interest rate on housing loans at a floating rate or with an initial fixation period of up to one year decreased by 12 basis points to 3.42%. Given, however, the large increase in the average rate of corporate loans, the overall average interest rate on all new loans to households and corporations increased, in June 2012, by 9 basis points to 6.27%.

    In June 2012 the overall average interest rate on outstanding amounts of all deposits remained almost unchanged while the corresponding rate on all loans slightly, the Bank of Greece said in the report. In particular, in June 2012, the average interest rate on outstanding amounts of deposits from households with an agreed maturity of up to 2 years increased by 4 basis points to 4.71% while the corresponding rate on deposits from non-financial corporations remained unchanged at 4.49%. The average interest rate on outstanding amounts of loans with over five years' maturity remained unchanged at 3.47% for housing loans, decreased by 6 basis to 4.92% for corporate loans and increased by 3 basis points to 6.26% for loans to sole proprietors.

    The overall average interest rate on all deposits (including overnight deposits) remained almost unchanged at 2.80% while the corresponding rate on all loans slightly decreased by 3 basis points to 6.10%.

    [10] State debt to private sector rose to 6.617 bln euros in June

    The Greek state's debt to the private sector rose to 6.618 billion euros in June, from 6.445 billion a month earlier, the State's General Accounting Office said on Wednesday.

    In a report, the office said that social insurance organizations's debt totaled 2.982 billion euros, state hospitals' debt to suppliers totaled 1.630 billion euros, government ministries' debt totaled 907 million euros and local authorities' debt was 771 million euros.

    Meanwhile, Finance alternate minister Christos Staikouras, in a circular sent to all state financial services, requested all revenue estimates of a new state budget to be submitted with the General Accounting Office no later than August 20, in order to facilitate government efforts to draft next year's budget.

    [11] Competition Commission clears Carrefour-Marinopoulos deal

    Greece' s Competition Commission on Wednesday approved a transfer deal between Carrefour and Marinopoulos Group of Companies - which envisages that Marinopoulos Group takes over the full control of Carrefour-Marinopoulos supermarket chain - saying the deal does not raise serious questions over its compatibility with competition regulations in the Greek market. The market watchdog said the deal did not significantly change the structure of the market and current competition conditions in Greece.

    [12] Greece, Switzerland to sign protocol on taxation

    Greece and Switzerland will sign a supplementary protocol on Thursday to avoiding double taxation in tax incomes between the two countries.

    A Finance ministry statement said the supplementary protocol will be signed between Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Switzerland's ambassador to Greece Lorenzo Amberg.

    [13] Forty nine to face trial for their role in share prices manipulation scandal

    Forty nine individuals will face justice 13 years after the share prices' manipulation scandal uncovered during the 1999-2000 "stock market bubble" in the Athens Stock Exchange, it was announced on Wednesday.

    Stockbrokers, businessmen and bank executives, who appear to have played a leading role in the scandal, are among the high-profile defendants.

    The Athens Stock Market case reopened in 2006, years after it was first investigated by convicted former examining magistrate Constantina Bourboulia (who received bribes to reduce criminal charges to misdemeanours) when First Instance Court Prosecutor Chr. Lakafosis ordered a criminal investigation into the actions of certain individuals.

    The defendants face multiple counts of fraud, money laundering and extortion amounting to 57 million euros.

    [14] ATEbank employees hold protests against its privatization

    Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATEbank) employees on Wednesday demonstrated against its privatization outside the bank's old headquarters in downtown Athens, while industrial action is underway with repeated 24-hour strikes.

    The union of bank employees OTOE called on its members to participate in the mobilizations, stressing that labour and social insurance rights should be safeguarded.

    A protest rally by ATEbank employees and members of the Communist Party-affiliated PAME trade union grouping is now underway in front of the finance ministry building in the presence of a strong police force.

    [15] Business Briefs

    -- Eurobank on Wednesday confirmed its interest to acquire Emporiki Bank, although it stressed it has not submitted a buy offer so far.

    -- Eurobank Securities topped the list of the most active securities firms in the Athens Stock Exchange in July, with a market share of 12.56 pct, followed by National Securities (12.43 pct), Investment Bank (9.87 pct), Euroxx (6.93 pct), Piraeus Securities (6.61 pct), HSBC (4.63 pct), Alpha Finance (3.90 pct), Dynamic Securities (2.72 pct), Solidus (2.55 pct) and Credit Agricole (3.44 pct).

    [16] Greek stocks end flat

    Greek stocks ended flat in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, unable to break through from its recent narrow fluctuations trend on lack of fresh incentives in the market. The composite index rose 0.09 pct to end at 599.22 points, off the day's highs of 602.93 points. Turnover was a low 24.679 million euros.

    The Big Cap index rose 0.41 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 0.37 pct higher. The Financial Services (3.47 pct), Travel (3.19 pct) and Technology (1.62 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Telecoms (3.96 pct), Utilities (2.32 pct) and Raw Materials (2.10 pct) suffered losses.

    MIG (4.40 pct), Alpha Bank (4.13 pct), OPAP (3.47 pct) and Piraeus Bank (1.35 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Cyprus Bank (4.09 pct), OTE (3.96 pct) and PPC (2.79 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 68 to 56 with another 25 issues unchanged. HOL (20 pct), Olympic Catering (20 pct) and Spider (19.48 pct) were top gainers, while Neorio (20 pct),

    Hellenic Fish Farms (20 pct) and Allatini Ceramics (19.85 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Industrials: -0.29%

    Commercial: +0.63%

    Construction: -0.88%

    Oil & Gas: +0.56%

    Personal & Household: +0.56%

    Raw Materials: -2.10%

    Travel & Leisure: +3.19%

    Technology: +1.62%

    Telecoms: -3.96%

    Banks: +0.35%

    Food & Beverages: +0.01%

    Health: +1.49%

    Utilities: -2.32%

    Financial Services: +3.47%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.26

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 2.09

    HBC Coca Cola: 13.91

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.36

    National Bank of Greece: 1.27

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.68

    OPAP: 5.07

    OTE: 1.94

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.23

    Titan: 12.84

    [17] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds eased further to 24 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 24.14 pct on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 25.59 pct and the German Bund 1.39 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 6.0 million euros, all sell orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates continued moving lower. The 12-month rate eased to 0.93 pct, the six-month rate fell to 0.66 pct, the three-month rate was 0.38 pct and the one-month rate was 0.14 pct.

    [18] ADEX closing report

    The September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover remaining a low 4.193 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 735 contracts worth 790,955 euros, with 23,449 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 23,757 contracts worth 3.402 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (12,859), followed by National Bank (3,395), Cyprus Bank (354), OTE (918), PPC (1,126), OPAP (1,669), Piraeus Bank (282), Cyprus Popular Bank (135), Hellenic Postbank (2,561), Intralot (140) and Mytilineos (63).

    General News

    [19] Rhodes replies to the crisis by actions to extend its tourism season

    A series of actions designed to extend the tourism season on Greece's signature holiday destination, the cosmopolitan island of Rhodes in the southeastern Aegean, has been proposed by the island's local hotel managers' association. Outlining their ideas to the AMNA on Wednesday, they said their proposals aimed to attract tourists to the island throughout the year.

    As 'specialists' in the area of tourism, of particular note is the hotel managers' suggestion for 'clusters' and cooperation not just on the level of procurements but also in marketing as a way to promote Rhodes' tourism product.

    "We need to preserve the 'sun and sea' product, constantly upgrading the quality and improving the price/quality ratio in all sectors and categories," the president of the Rhodes Hotel Managers' Association Giorgos Matsiggos said. At the same time, he added, there had to be promotion of all the alternative forms of tourism that Greece offers in each region.

    He noted that walking holidays, educational trips in collaboration with schools and universities, religious tourism (especially for the Russian market), water sports such as wind-surfing and diving, gastronomic tourism, agrotourism, sports tourism, spa tourism, honeymoons, weddings, cruises and conferences were all products that could potentially add value to Greece's tourism product.

    Especial mention was also made of the activity and operation of the island's local organisation for promoting tourism, which has served as a model for other areas of the country. Asked what made this special, Matsiggos replied: "Today we decide, tomorrow we implement, in a spirit of understanding and with flexibility of all the members that participate in the promotional body."

    Also interviewed by AMNA was the island's deputy mayor for infrastructure, IT and technical projects Manolis Savvis. Referring to the island's infrastructure, he noted that Rhodes was a 'flagship' for tourism in the country and had extremely good infrastructure, including a modern airport, an excellent port where both passenger ferries and cruise ships were able to dock and a constantly improving road network.

    Savvis pointed out that Rhodes was now the home port for cruise ships, underlining the importance of this development for Greek tourism.

    Regarding the figures for this year's tourism season on the 'island of the knights', Matsiggos underlined that the year will probably end with a 5 percent drop in tourist arrivals relative to the previous year. He emphasised, however, that the result will not be too disappointing for the local tourism industry because the previous year had been a 'bumper year' in which tourist arrivals soared 21 percent.

    He emphasised the island's history as a meeting point of three cultures, noting that Rhodes had known and been inhabited by many peoples over the centuries, each of which had left their mark in all aspects of the island's culture: in art, in the language and in architecture. Its strategic position also brought the island great wealth and made the city of Rhodes one of the outstanding cities of ancient Greece.

    The island is the largest of the Dodecanese island group. The island's capital is on its northernmost tip and includes the Medieval City of Rhodes, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Centre in 1988. The Medieval City is an ensemble of different architectural styles from different periods, in which the legacy of the Order of St John of Jerusalem that occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and those of the Ottoman Turks predominate. Today it is a living part of the contemporary city where trade, tourism and recreational activities still take place and also includes residential areas.

    [20] Official in General Accounting Office charged with leaking classified document

    A department chief at the State General Accounting Office was released on Wednesday afternoon, following his arrest on felony charges of "violation of state secrets" and transgression of the law on privacy of personal data and will appear before an examining magistrate, it was made known on Wednesday.

    The department chief, Lambros Liossis, is allegedly involved in the leak on the internet of a confidential non-paper that alternate finance minister Christos Staikouras intended to use in the negotiations with the EU/IMF Troika.

    According to sources, the high-ranking official was arrested on Friday following the appearance of classified documents on the internet.

    Liossis is a department director in the General State Accounts Office's Budget Division and is charged with the leak of a document drafted by a high-ranking Finance Ministry official that appeared on an internet blog the previous day (Thursday).

    The document was forwarded via e-mail to four people -- Staikouras, Liossis and two other employees.

    The leaked document was a photograph or photocopy of a print-out of the said e-mail apparently by Liossis, whose data appears on the top section of the e-mail.

    The accused has denied all involvement in the case, claiming that he would never leak a document that contained his personal details and his lawyers stressed that the leak was carried out by someone with political aims.

    [21] Cyprus court orders eight-day detention of Greek suspects in multiple homicide

    NICOSIA (AMNA - A. Viketos)

    A Cyprus court on Wednesday ordered the detention in jail for eight days of two Greek suspects deported to the country on Tuesday to stand trial for the execution-style murders of five body guards in Agia Napa, Cyprus in June.

    The hearing was held under stringent security measures, with the two suspects aged 29 and 41 years old, respectively, wearing bullet-proof vests.

    The two Greek men accused of the murders in Cyprus from Athens on Tuesday night, along with evidence collected by Greek authorities.

    The case concerns the mafia-style executions of a team of bodyguards hired as private security by a Cyprus business man in Agia Napa, who were all killed in the space of six seconds by a man using a gun.

    [22] Two arrests for arson in Viannos fire on Crete

    Two people have been arrested on felony charges of deliberate arson in the major wildfire that broke out Monday in the Viannos area in southern Rethymno, Crete island, causing massive destruction before being contained late Tuesday. Strong firefighting forces remain in the area as gusty winds keep rekindling the flames on several fronts.

    A 32-year-old livestock breeder and an undocumented Pakistani man working for him are accused of deliberate arson in the Hondros region of Viannos.

    The two were arrested on Tuesday after the crew of a water-dropping helicopter spotted from the air a black automobile leaving the spot where a fire had just broken out. The pilot brought the helicopter to a lower altitude and the crew took the vehicle's details. The license plate was traced to the livestock breeder by police.

    The suspected arsonists will appear before a local prosecutor on Wednesday.

    [23] Film screenings at Greek Archaeologists' Association garden in August

    The Greek Archaeologists Association will open its garden to the public for outdoor summer film screenings throughout August, starting on the night of the full moon on Thursday. The summer cinema was set up at the association's premises on the border of the Thissio and Kerameikos districts in Athens (134-136 Ermou Street) and entry will be free of charge.

    Screenings, organised by the association's Cinema Group and the Greek Directors' Society will be on Tuesdays and Thursday, except on the week of the August 15 bank holiday, and will kick off with Ken Loach's "Ae Fond Kiss" on August 2.

    The rest of the programme is as follows:

    August 7 - 'Tsiou' by Makis Papadimitratos

    August 9 - 'Love and Anarchy' by Lina Wertmuller

    August 21 - 'Ores Koinis Isichias' (siesta time) by Katerina Evangelakou

    August 23 - 'Match Point' by Woody Allen

    August 28 - 'Ti ekanes sto polemo Thanassi?' (What did you do in the war, Thanassi) by Dinos Katsouridis

    August 30 - 'The Voice of the Moon' by Federico Fellini.

    [24] Golden Dawn organises food handouts in Syntagma Square

    The far-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party on Wednesday organised free handouts of food in Syntagma Square opposite Parliament, distributing pasta, vegetable oil, potatoes, milk and baby food. Only Greek citizens were eligible to receive the free food, with priority given to the poor, unemployed and those with families with four or more children.

    The food distribution was carried out in spite of the fact that the Athens municipality had refused permission for the use of Syntagma Square and had proposed alternative venues in the city.

    The municipality's position was that the "the issue of social solidarity is not one for public display. Soup kitchens in the country's central square convey an image of a city in a state of complete collapse," the Athens municipality press office director George Stamatopoulos stressed. He said the municipality would issue an announcement condemning the unauthorised use of the square.

    [25] Arrest for more than one million euro debt to IKA

    The 38-year-old owner of a company supplying restaurant equipment was arrested in Thessaloniki for non-payment of social security dues (employer contributions) of more than one million euros to the state Social Security Foundation (IKA).

    The man was arrested for debts to IKA totaling 1,148,924 million euros between December 2009 and May 2012.

    [26] 136 kilos of hashish seized, one arrest

    A 35-year-old man was arrested and 136 kilos of hashish destined for the streets of Athens were seized on Wednesday by Nafpaktos police in the area of Makynia, while an investigation was ongoing for more suspects implicated in a drug trafficking ring operating in Athens and other large cities throughout Greece.

    The man ignored a signal by police to stop for a spot-check along the Antirrio-Ioannina stretch of the national highway, and police after a chase, stopped him about one kilometer away. A subsequent search of his car turned up 136 kilos of hashish separated into 121 packets.

    Police said the man had gotten the narcotics from Albanian drug traffickers in the village of Mavromati, Thesprotia prefecture, and was transporting it to Athens in a rented car.

    [27] Oldest Athonite monk dies

    The oldest living monk in the monastic community of Mount Athos in Halkidiki, northern Greece, died last Sunday at the age of 105. His funeral was held on Wednesday morning.

    Fr. Ioannis Hilandarinos, who had joined the Serbian Monastery of Hilandar, was a Serb and his secular name was V. Radojic.

    He was a prolific writer and devoted most of his time to prayer.

    [28] Reliquary, chalice stolen from church in Halkidiki

    A reliquary containing the relics of four Saints were stolen from the Saint Euphemia church in Tenedos, Halkidiki prefecture, it was reported on Wednesday.

    Police told AMNA that unknown thieves broke into the church sometime between 29 and 30 July, busting the lock on the door, and took a reliquary containing relics of Saint Justine, Saint Lavrentios, Saint Prosdokimos and Saint Paolina.

    They also took a silver chalice and paten, and a silver ecclesiastical zeon and paten.

    Halkidiki police are investigating the theft.

    [29] Child porn arrest in Rethymno on the island of Crete

    A 47-year-old local man was arrested in Rethymno, on the south Aegean island of Crete, after police found in his possession hardcore child porn material, it was announced on Wednesday.

    Acting on a tip-off, police searched the suspect's home and confiscated three laptops and nine computer hard drives with child porn.

    The hard drives were sent to the Greek Police (EL.AS) crime lab in Athens to be further examined, while the suspect is scheduled to appear before a prosecutor in Rethymno.

    [30] High temperatures claim thousands of fish in Strymonas River tributary

    Thousands of fish have turned belly up in the Kerkinitis River, a small tributary of the larger Strymonas River flowing near the shores of Lake Kerkini. The fish are victims of an unprecedented phenomenon in the area, caused by recent drought and high temperatures that have swept over the country, which suddenly reduced the amount of water in the stream and also the nearby lake to dangerously low levels.

    The Serres Veterinary service said that samples of the dead fish had been sent for analysis but ruled out any public health issues, through local residents are complaining fiercely about the stench of the dead fish that the local authorities have so far failed to collect.

    [31] Traffic resumes on Piraeus-Glyfada boulevard after safety island fire is extinguished

    Traffic on the Piraeus-Glyfada boulevard was briefly diverted on Wednesday to prevent accidents when dry grass caught fire on a traffic island in the Falir? Delta district.

    Traffic resumed soon after the fire was extinguished by firefighters.

    Olympic Games

    [32] Greece wins Olympic bronze medal in judo

    Greece won its first medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games on Wednesday.

    Greek judoka Ilias Iliadis won the bronze medal after defeating Brazil's Tiago Camilo (-90kg).

    [33] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    Wednesday afternoon's meeting of the leaders of the three coalition government parties, increased pressure from the Troika, the commencement of privatizations and the near depletion of the state coffers were the main items in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "First clash in the governmental alliance".

    AVGHI: "Hide-and-Seek with the measures".

    AVRIANI: "FM of bankrupt Belgium demands Greece be put under guardianship for an entire generation".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Silence, or we'll go to jail - Omerta - Papandreou (former prime minister George) and Roumeliotis (former Greek representative to IMF) agreed to stop the revelations on the memorandum".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Provocation in Thrace on 6th grade history book - Moslems demand 'rewriting' of Greek history in chapter on Asia Minor destruction".

    ESTIA: "The Kirchhof proposal on taxation".

    ETHNOS: "Sudden complication in government over measures".

    IMERISSIA: "Privatization-express for OPAP, T-Bank".

    KATHIMERINI: "Cracks in the government".

    LOGOS: "Heavy shadow over the three leaders' meeting".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Troika pressure escalating for new measures".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Government speedily advancing University S.A."

    TA NEA: "The leaders' big hour".

    VRADYNI: "New reduction of fines and facilitation for arrangement of buildings lacking permits being mulled".

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