|Monday, 22 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-09-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 18 September 2012 Issue No: 4177
 PM chairs meeting on migration policyPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday chaired a meeting on migration policy, attended by the ministers for public order and citizen protection, defence and shipping. The meeting focused on a plan for tackling an anticipated wave of migration from strife-torn Syria, presented by the three ministries involved.
The Greek government has made no secret of its concern that the unrest in Syria will lead to a massive influx of immigrants into the country and is trying to prepare contingency plans to deal with the problems.
Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, Defence Minister Panos Panagioto-poulos and Shipping Minister Kostas Mousouroulis presented their proposals to the prime minister, while the meeting is set to continue at the national defence ministry later in the day.
The aim is to ensure that the country's borders are properly guarded but also ensure that there is necessary intervention on a European level to guard borders in Turkey and Cyprus, two countries that could act as a conduit for migrants arriving in Greece.
 Gov't reportedly eyes harsher sentences for illegal migrants convicted of 'willful crimes'The government is reportedly considering legislation to stiffen the penal code against illegal migrants convicted of "deliberate" or "willful" criminal acts, meaning that individuals who enter the country illegally and subsequently commit a felonious act will face harsher sentencing.
According to reports, harsher penalties will increase, correspondingly, based on the severity of the crime committed. The same sources clarified that harsher penalties will deal only with felonies -- rape, fraud, migrant smuggling etc -- and not misdemeanors, such as causing a traffic accident.
The reasoning given for the purported initiative is that individuals who have illegally entered the country cannot enjoy the same criminal justice treatment as citizens of the country and legal immigrants.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras himself reportedly ordered that the initiative, via the government's general secretariat, be forwarded to the justice ministry, so the latter can draft relevant legislation.
 Ministerial meeting at Defence ministry focuses on illegal immigrationA ministerial meeting was held at the Defence ministry on Monday afternoon during which joint management for the prevention of immigration waves was examined and the best way to coordinate action iln light of the expected increase in the number of illegal immigrants due to the situation in Syria.
The meeting was attended by Defence Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, Shipping and Aegean Minister Kostis Mousouroulis and Defence ministry officials.
"We are intensifying coordination between the jointly responsible ministries to handle the issue of illegal immigration," The Defence minister said after the meeting, while Dendias indicated that further discussion took place on the "ION" plan that has to do with the handling of possible refugee waves due to the crisis in Syria.
 KKE party on issue of immigration and protection of refugeesThe Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Monday on the issue of immigration and the protection of refugees, stressed that "those who have sown winds with their participation and support in every imperialist intervention, are taking measures to prevent the storms from the developing intervention in Syria and the hundreds of thousands of refugees it has already caused".
The announcement added that "the big issue of immigration and the drama of the victims of imperialism and of wars cannot be handled with measures of suppression" and that "whatever involvement of Greece in the imperialist intervention in Syria must stop now".
 PM briefed by finance and labour ministersPrime Minister Antonis Samaras on Monday had a meeting with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis. The meeting, described by Stournaras as 'routine', focused on issues concerning the labour ministry, the ongoing negotiations with the EU-IMF troika and the state of the Greek economy.
Vroutsis said that he had presented a series of initiatives that he intends to take in order to prevent contribution evasion and in relation to the 'work stamp', the minimum wage and to reduce the cost of labour by 5 percentage points.
There was also extensive discussion on the 'social dialogue' between employers and trade unions on the national collective labour agreement that is now underway.
 Finmin concludes meeting with troika; briefing of coalition gov't parties pendingA meeting between Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and the heads of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) troika mission in Athens ended after roughly two hours on Monday. No statements were made after the meeting.
The finance minister is now due to meet representatives of the three parties in Greece's coalition government at 8:30 p.m. so that they can be briefed on the progress of negotiations with Greece' creditors in order to finalise the measures that will make up a spending cuts package amounting to 11.9 billion euro.
According to a senior foreign ministry official, the meeting has resulted in further progress but no firm decisions and talks were still ongoing. Meetings with representatives of Greece's creditors will continue on a daily basis until the negotiations are complete, the same source added.
In addition to Stournaras, members of the troika will also be having meetings with other ministers involved in the proposed spending cuts package in the next few days.
 Gov't spokesman: First liquidity, then extensionGovernment spokesman Simos Kedikoglou on Monday said that "our commitments are valid and we will implement them within the next four years, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said this during his speech in Thessaloniki," speaking to private radio station Real.
Kedikoglou underlined that first we will safeguard the liquidity and the next stage will be to table the extension issue.
Referring to the commitment of the three party leaders backing the coalition government on the horizontal cutbacks in salaries and pensions, Kedikoglou stressed that they are "the fairest possible way".
"I am aware that most of the cutbacks are escalated. The Prime Minister himself said in Thessaloniki that they are painful and some of them unjust, and our first priority, when the Greek economy starts to recover, is to remedy the injustice".
 Greece aiming for loan extension until 2016, Avramopoulos saysThe government's goal was to come away from the upcoming EU summit with an extension of the bailout loans until 2016, Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on the state television channel NET on Monday. If it succeeded, the government could then begin to implement a series of programmes that would include major changes to the operation of the Greek state, he added.
"I am more optimistic. I believe that this month will be definitive. If all goes well at the Summit, a new chapter will begin and then, with the right actions, with realism and sensitivity, we must continue to give priority to society and succeed in once again putting our country on the right course," he said.
According to Avramopoulos, one of the changes that had to be made was a sweeping revision of the Constitution.
"In Greece, it is the state itself that must change, because the Greek economy, if one views this through its historic development after WWII, one sees that it was and remains a flexible economy," Avramopoulos added.
Referring to the prospect of Greece declaring an Exclusive Economic Zone, he said this would require the delineation of maritime zones.
"Cooperation with our neighbouring countries is underway. An EEZ is the inalienable right of every coastal state. Greece is making preparations and when the time comes will make the relevant announcements. Channels of cooperation have already opened and there is collaboration with Albania, with Egypt for several years now and with Cyprus, of course. Turkey has its own opinions and its own objections, it disputes whether Kastellorizo has an EEZ. We have our own position. It is clear, the relevant maps have already been drawn up, the appropriate energy ministry services are currently studying [the issue] and what we can say is that the exploitation of our national wealth is among our aims," he added.
 President Papoulias holds talks with Italian counterpartROME (AMNA/Th. Andreadis-Syngelakis)
President of the Hellenic Karolos Papoulias met his Italian counterpart Giorgio Napolitano for talks at the Quirinale palace in Rome on Monday afternoon.
"I pointed out to President Napolitano that for the Greek economy to stand on its feet, a final end must be put to uncertainty regarding Greece's stay in the Eurozone. Only in this way will it be possible for the necessary confidence in the Greek economy to be regained and the path to open for the carrying out of investments," Papoulias told a joint press conference after the talks.
President Papoulias thanked the political and state leadership of Italy for its support and referred to the latest developments in the fiscal crisis.
"The recent decision by the European Central Bank is a positive step. However, it blunts and it does not solve the issue. The problem of the Eurozone is primarily political and requires a political solution. It requires that we reexamine its very architecture, how we shall overcome the fact that there is a monetary union, without fiscal and political union".
He also said that "Greece is attempting a violent decrease of the fiscal deficit with a heavy economic and social cost. The economy is sinking in a vicious circle of recession. Unemployment is approaching the unacceptable percentage of 25 percent, while unemployment among young people is moving on the nightmarish 54 percent".
President Napolitano referred to the close friendship and solidarity that joins him with President Papoulias "who struggled and together with his people sustained severe ordeals".
The Italian president stressed that "Italy was always convinced that Greece is a substantial and fundamental member of European history, an unbreakable part of the process of the completion and unification of Europe".
According to President Napolitano, "the crisis that Greece was obliged to face and due to mistakes of its leading class, led to tensions with the European institutions, the need for support and solidarity to be sought, providing painfull sacifices".
He concluded that "Greece is an unbreakable part of the euro and the EU, Europe is an achievement of our countries and our peoples" and that he realises the social consequences of the sacrifices and efforts that Greece is making.
 SYRIZA spokesman reiterates his party's positionsMain opposition SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis reiterated on Monday that "if we do not freeze the new austerity measures, the layoffs and the cutbacks in salaries, then we cannot speak of a reversal of the course".
"The question of where we will find the money again requires that we relieve ourselves of the Memorandum, which means the cancellation of the measures and the renegotiation of our loan agreement," he said, speaking on public radio.
Skourletis pointed that, however, that "the crux of our proposal is a tax reform that must not only be announced but on which the political volition to support it exists".
 PASOK spokesperson: No formal proposal by government for layoffs, retirement age increasePASOK party spokesperson Fofi Gennimata said on state radio on Monday that "at this time we have no formal proposal, on the part of the government, for an increase in the retirement ages", adding that she thus declined to take a position in the issue "based on leaks".
Gennimata said that "there are two red lines", which are layoffs in the public sector and changes to the labor regime.
Independent Greeks launch signature campaign for establishment of parliamentary probe committee into Greek recourse to Memorandum
The minor opposition Independent Greeks party on Monday launched a signature collection campaign for the establishment of a parliamentary fact-finding commission to probe the conditions of Greece's recourse to the Memorandum.
The signatures collected will be turned over to the President of the Republic together with a petition for the establishment of the committee, party leader Panos Kammenos said as he placed the first signature on the petition at the Independent Greeks' stand in central Syntagma Square.
Kammenos was accompanied by his party's parliamentary group members, who also signed.
Similar stands have been set up in the capitals of every prefecture in Greece.
Kammenos said the Independent Greeks were petitioning for the establishment of the probe committee in order to investigate "who led the Greek people to destitution, who brought Mr. Thomsen (the head of the IMF team in the Troika) to be Greece's supra-governor, (thus) dissolving the country's national sovereignty".
Kammenos, who has sent 299 letters to all the members of the 300-seat Greek parliament with the exception of former prime minister George Papandreou asking for support of his petition, attacked the political parties that have not signed the demand for the fact-finding commission, noting that the signatures of 60 MPs required under the rules of Parliament were not amassed.
"Before the elections, most of the political parties, including the prime minister, promised the people on and only fact-finding commission. Now, in the context of the compromise -- the agreement of the co-governing parties' leaders to cover up each others' scandals, the prime minister and his New Democracy party are backing down, the same with DIMAR (Democratic Left party)," Kammenos said, adding: "The people now have the say. Since they (parties backing the coalition government) want to continue defrauding the people in parliament, the people will send to the Special Court those who led the country to destitution and the surrender of the national sovereignty".
"From the moment that parliament does not represent the will of the people, procedures of direct democracy must commence. The first is the collection of signatures, which will be given to the President of the Republic, and we will demand the establishment of the fact-finding commission," Kammenos added.
 Higher retirement age a 'premeditated crime', KKE saysAny increases in the retirement age planned by the government and the European Union is a 'premeditated crime', a Communist Party (KKE) statement charged on Monday.
"For decades the social insurance funds were being looted by the state and plutocracy and now they are being given the final shot by clearing employers from the obligation to pay contributions and the state of its own obligations," KKE said.
 Development minister receives Russian envoyDevelopment, Competitiveness & Transport Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Monday met with Russian ambassador to Greece Vladimir Chkhikvishvili, with talks concerning preparations for a Greece-Russia joint ministerial committee meeting to take place in November.
The committee will convene in Athens and focus on economic, social and scientific issues.
The senior diplomat repeated the interest of Russian companies in energy and transport sector privatisations.
 Parliament President receives US ambassadorThe Greek Parliament will decisively contribute to the strenuous efforts made by the Greek people and government to exit the economic crisis, Parliament President Evangelos Meimarakis said on Monday during a meeting with US ambassador Daniel B. Smith.
Meimarakis expressed a belief that efforts made by the Greek people and the government will improve the country's image and standing, conditions necessary to again attract investments and increased tourism.
On another topic, Meimarakis expressed his abhorrence for the brutal killing of the US ambassador to Libya last week, while he extended his condolences to the family of Amb. Christopher Stevens.
On his part, the US ambassador expressed Washington's full support to the efforts made by Greece to exit the crisis.
Smith said that, hopefully, Greece will continue implementation of reforms and remain in the eurozone, adding that he is aware of the Greek prime minister's determination to do whatever necessary to ensure that Greece will continue being a member of the eurozone.
 Merkel says her heart 'bleeds' for suffering GreeksBERLIN (AMNA - F. Karaviti)
Referring to Greece's plight during her annual summer press conference on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that "our heart bleeds" for struggling Greeks demanded to make every greater sacrifices. At the same time, she said that Greeks who had left their country must consider how they might contribute.
She underlined that Germany wants Greece to remain in the euro but also insisted that tough reforms must be "carried through".
"We are helping Greece. We want Greece to succeed, because that is best for all of us. On the other hand, it is important that these difficult reforms are carried through. It is a difficult path for Greece but it does not help to resist measures that must in any case be taken," she said.
"Now, the issue is to implement the agreements," she added, noting that massive cuts have already been made and that not all the reforms amounted to an additional burden.
Concerning the future of the European Union, the Chancellor called for stronger political union and greater accountability of the member-states.
 Alt. FM: Athens cannot negotiate turnover of Swiss bank-linked CDs from GermanyA top government official on Monday said Swiss authorities have described a handful of CDs -- ostensibly carrying data listing foreign depositors in Swiss banks -- as the product of "industrial espionage", in answer to a question on why the relevant data cannot be the object of negotiations between Athens and Berlin.
Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis made the statement in the wake of a negative reply by the Swiss banking establishment on whether Greek Parliament deputies have deposits in the country, a traditional international banking power. The response, circulated by Parliament only last week, was sent months ago, and was only publicised following a press report by an Athens newspaper.
He was directly commenting on a tabled question by three SYRIZA MPs, who requested to learn what actions have been taken by the Greek government to receive information by German authorities regarding deposits by Greek taxpayers in Swiss banks. The question is linked to Berlin's active and pressing demand that Swiss authorities provide information on German taxpayers' deposits in Swiss banks.
 Parliamentary com't on Greeks abroad sets out prioritiesThe voting rights of the Greeks living abroad, reorganisation of the Wold Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) and activation of the ministry of education's "Logos" programme for Greek language teaching overseas were among the immediate priorities cited the Parliamentary Special Permanent Committee on Greeks Abroad, during its first first session on Monday.
Its chairman, New Democracy (ND) MP Adonis Georgiadis, told AMNA that the committee will play a leading role in all issues concerning expatriate Greeks.
The right to vote from abroad, for individuals still registered on Greek election rolls, has been a long-time demand by expatriate Greek communities around the world.
 Finance minister receives Australian ambassadorFinance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Monday had a meeting with the Australian Ambassador in Athens Jenny Bloomfield, to discuss economic issues in Greece and Australia. After the meeting, the Australian ambassador expressed her conviction that Greece will emerge from the current crisis stronger and noted the significant progress made by the country in carrying out reforms.
According to a finance ministry announcement, the meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the very good recent performance of the Australian economy, following a lengthy period of tight fiscal policy and a series of painful reforms, as well as the opening of the Australian economy to domestic and international competition.
The reforms significantly increased the productivity of Australians and led to 20 years of economic growth running at levels of around 4 percent a year. They also helped create one of the most open and transparent regulatory frameworks for foreign investments bringing in capital for growth and new jobs, encouraging the development of skills and innovation, and introducing new technologies promoting healthy competition.
Among others, Stournaras and the ambassador discussed a programme for reducing Australia's state spending in a number of areas, such as in defence and the public sector, since Australia's government has pledged to return to surplus budgets this year after running deficits in the previous four years.
Bloomfield expressed the Australian government's full support for Greece's efforts and said that the new Hellenic Australian Business Council established in Greece to promote trade and investments ties between Australia and the surrounding region provides an important framework for the exchange of knowhow and experiences that will benefit both countries.
 Tourism Minister Kefaloyanni receives Turkey's union of chambers presidentJoint exploitation by Greece and Turkey of tourism packages -- especially ones aimed at huge and emerging markets, such as China and India -- mostly dominated a Monday meeting between Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyanni and Union of
Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) president, Rifat Hisarciklioglu.
The meeting was held at the ministry of tourism in the presence of Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) president Constantinos Mihalos.
In statements made afterwards, Kefaloyanni said the tourism sector continues to play an important role in the recovery of the national economy, adding that "a strong and competitive tourism sector means strong and competitive economy. It translates into opportunities for overcoming the crisis in all economic sectors, including transport, commerce and catering services."
She said partnerships with the neighbouring country can be "mutually beneficial", adding that "the tourism flow from Turkey to Greece has increased in recent years."
On his part, the TOBB president stated there are many opportunities to further improve bilateral trade relations, adding that the tourism sector is very important for both Greece and Turkey.
"There are many tourists worldwide who have never visited Greece or Turkey, and bilateral cooperation is necessary in order to have a share in this market," Hisarciklioglu said.
 Judges, prosecutors launch industrial action against planned wage cutsRepresentatives of judges and prosecutors nationwide held a rally in Athens on Monday, protesting against intended salary cuts affecting their sector, while a walk-off from courtrooms between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. was also been launched until Sept. 30.
In a unanimously approved petition, the country's judges and prosecutors called on the state "to respect the constitutionally guaranteed equality of the executive, legislative and administrative powers by, at least, maintaining the existing wage scale," which they are "determined to defend".
They underlined that "the planned new drastic wage scale cuts will lead to further escalation of their reactions in an effort to protect their constitutionally guaranteed rights."
 Private school teachers' union protests wage cutsThe union representing private school teachers on Monday addressed letters to the prime minister and the political party leaders backing the government, protesting against wage cuts unionists say will reach up to 40 pct.
The Federation of Private School Teachers' (OIELE) board underlined that the minister of education broke a pledge he had made publicly by deciding to include them in a single wage scale for civil servants.
The federation called on the prime minister to intervene immediately and "prevent the most cynical and violent redistribution of wealth in favour of the few from taking place in the sector of private education."
 Business Briefs-- The majority of Greek enterprises suffered a dramatic deterioration of their financial results in 2011, a survey by Icap Databank stated on Monday. The survey, based on the balance sheets published by a total 22,573 enterprises -of which 4,458 in the manufacturing sector, 5,887 in the commercial, 7,143 the services sector (non-financial), 2,162 in the construction and 2,923 in the tourism sector.
-- Bounced checks fell by 5.50 pct in August (volume), but rose by 17.4 pct in value, compared with the same month last year, official figures showed on Monday.
 Stocks end 1.08 pct downStocks ended lower during the first trading session of the week at the Athens Stock Exchange, following a similar trend in other European markets, as sentiment was hit by rising bond yields in Spain and Italy.
The composite index of the market fell 1.08 pct to end at 734.99 points, after rising as much as 1.57 pct during the session. Turnover fell significantly to 47.215 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 1.92 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.71 pct lower.
The Health (2.77 pct), Oil (2.16 pct) and Commerce (1.33 pct) sectors scored gains, while Financial Services (5.71 pct), Technology (5.29 pct), Constructions (5.13 pct) and Banks (4.06 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Motor Oil (3.78 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (1.34 pct) and Folli Follie (1.30 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG (8.19 pct), Eurobank (6.0 pct), Titan (5.92 pct), Piraeus Bank (5.50 pct) and Viohalco (5.41 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 80 to 54 with another 22 issues unchanged. AAA (20 pct), NEL (18.18 pct) and Nutriart (17.57 pct) were top gainers, while Zampa (19.64 pct), PC Systems (19.27 pct) and Alpha Property (18.44 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +2.16%
Personal & Household: -0.46%
Raw Materials: -0.50%
Travel & Leisure: +0.09%
Food & Beverages: +0.41%
Financial Services: -5.71%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, Bank of Piraeus and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 1.56
Public Power Corp (PPC): 3.46
HBC Coca Cola: 14.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.79
National Bank of Greece: 1.91
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.99
Bank of Piraeus: 0.38
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 18.57 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, from 19.14 pct on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 20.25 pct and the German Bund 1.68 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were almost unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.74 pct, the six-month rate was 0.48 pct, the three-month rate eased to 0.24 pct and the one-month rate was 0.12 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.66 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover falling to 29.055 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,465 contracts worth 17.329 million euros, with 29,405 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 76,901 contracts worth 11.726 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (18,761), followed by Cyprus Bank (17,634), Alpha Bank (6,384), MIG (2,029), OTE (3,801), PPC (2,206), OPAP (3,058), Piraeus Bank (2,241), Cyprus Popular Bank (14,673), Hellenic Petroleum (1,072), Eurobank (1,659), GEK (1,354) and Mytilineos (606).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.328
Pound sterling 0.819
Danish kroner 7.567
Swedish kroner 8.753
Japanese yen 104.15
Swiss franc 1.234
Norwegian kroner 7.584
Canadian dollar 1.292
Australian dollar 1.263
 Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy performance in Greek sign language at ThisseioAncient Greek tragedian Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy (Agamemnon, Choephori and Eumenidis) will be presented in the Greek sign language on September 27 in the garden of the Association of Greek archaeologists in Thisseio.
The trilogy has been 'translated' into the Greek sign language b pupils at the Highschool for Hearing Impaired Pupils in the northern Athens suburb of Aghia Paraskevi, and was staged for the first time in the context of cultural events held marking the end of the 2011-2012 academic year.
This is the first time in Greek educational history that a school has undertaken the presentation of this demanding trilogy by Aeschylus.
The rendition in sign language enhances the tragic elements of the trilogy, giving a new dimension to the theatrical approach to this classical tragedy.
September 27 has been designated as the European Day of Languages, and the Association of Greek Archaeologists is taking the opportunity to show this Endeavour by hearing impaired pupils.
The performance will be staged in the garden of the Association of Greek archaeologists in Thisseio, 134-136 Ermou street, at 8:00 p.m.
 Second review whittles Zakynthos 'blind' down to 34 from 388The number of people genuinely qualifying for Social Insurances Foundation (IKA) blindness benefits has been whittled down to just 34 from 388, following an IKA review of claimants conducted between September 11-13. According to the review board's findings released on Monday, 82.35 percent of those originally receiving the benefits were not actually blind.
The review of the cases was carried out by IKA in collaboration with the Greek Police internal affairs department executing an order issued by a public prosecutor.
Of the 388 claimants asked to present themselves before Disability Certification Centre boards for a review of their case, only 221 responded and only 34 (17.6 percent) were found eligible to receive a disability benefit.
Of the 221 cases that presented themselves for review, 34 were judged blind for life, five were found to be temporarily blind for about a year and the remaining 182 were classed as not blind.
IKA's management said that the high percentage of non-eligible benefit recipients confirmed the necessity of an immediate review of all claimants in areas where the reported incidence of blindness was higher than the national average. It indicated that such reviews will be arranged in the future, as part of an effort to clamp down on benefit fraud.
 Heavy rain causes problems in greater Athens areaHeavy rainfall in the greater Athens area on Monday afternoon caused serious problems, particularly for traffic.
Problems abated later in the day. The fire brigade received 25 calls for flooding in basement apartments and stores, most in the northern Athens district of Halandri.
 Six arrested for series of church robberiesFour individuals, all described as repatriated Greeks from the former Soviet Union and members of the same family, along with two other people, are accused of a series of break-ins targeting churches in northern Greece to remove votive offerings and religious objects, it was announced by police on Monday.
The father, mother and two sons, and other two alleged accomplices, are in custody, charged with committing at least 10 break-ins during the summer. They mainly targeted churches in the northern prefectures of Halkidiki, Serres, Kilkis, Drama and Thessalolniki.
A search in one of the suspects' houses and in a store owned by the family of four allegedly revealed a gold bar weighing 240 grams, 65 gold sovereigns, a number of votive offerings, two assault knives and roughly 96,000 euros in cash.
All suspects will be led before a prosecutor.
 Illegal migrants, traffickers arrested in Patras portThree human traffickers -- two Romanians and one Albanian -- were arrested within the last week at Patras port.
Moreover in the same period twenty illegal migrants from Iraq, Bangladesh, Syria, Ivory Coast, Albania, Togo, Serbia, Pakistan and Gabon aged from 18-35 were arrested for attempting to board ships with destination Italian ports using forged travel documents.
Another Albanian national wanted on an international warrant by the Italian authorities was arrested in Patras.
At Araxos civil airport two twenty-year-old Afghani nationals, one 25 year-old Pakistani and a 36-year-old woman from Afghanistan were arrested because they possessed forged travel documents.
 Non-legal migrant fatally injured in road accidentA 30-year-old non-legal migrant from Eritrea was fatally injured near Alexandroupolis on Monday when the car he was in -- with 5 other illegal migrants on board -- veered off course and overturned on the Egnatia Highway.
The car had previously overrun a signal by police to stop for a check, and the driver sped off at excessive speed, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.
Police found the six illegal migrants, one of which was fatally injured, at the scene of the accident, while the 43-year-old migrant smuggler and driver of the car was found and arrested later in the vicinity together with another non-legal migrant as they attempted to escape.
The investigation turned up second car near the Alexandroupolis industrial zone and its 39-year-old Greek driver and a 40-year-old foreign national aboard were both arrested, while police spotted and arrested in a farm region in Ferres and the 30-year-old migrant trafficker who had smuggled the illegal migrants into Greece from Turkey.
A third car in the convoy, which managed to escape, was wanted.
Meanwhile, the body of another non-legal migrant found in a state of decomposition in the area of Lykofos along the Evros River was transferred to Alexandroupolis Hospital for a post-mortem. According to police a preliminary examination showed no signs of criminal action and it is believed the man drowned while attempting to swim across the Evros River to Greece.
 Four foreign nationals arrested for attempting to travel with forged documentsFour foreign nationals have been arrested at the Aktio civilian airport, in western Greece, after attempting to travel with forged documents.
According to the police, the four, two Pakistanis aged 34 and 27, a 29-year-old Syrian and a 38-year-old from the Congo attempted to pass through the passport control, showing forged passports and identity cards of Pakistani, Egyptian and French authorities.
 'Black market' warehouse in downtown AthensPolice (EL.AS) along with Athens municipal crews and financial crimes squad (SDOE) officials raided a large "black market" warehouse in downtown Athens on Monday, confiscating thousands of counterfeit brand name items.
The warehouse was discovered in the gritty Athens district of Academia Platonos.
An investigation is underway to arrest the individuals that stored the items in the warehouse.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday. Winds 2-5 beauforte. Temperatures between 15C and 28C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens with northerly 3-4 beauforte winds and temperatures between 18C and 26C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 17C and 26C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe imminent extension of the fiscal adjustment programme, the prospective of an increase in the retirement age and changes to the taxation system, mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Citizen Service Centres (KEP) collapse".
DIMOKRATIA: "Bomb to pensions".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Who are excluded from retirement at the age of 67 and how".
ESTIA: "The new tax on real estate properties".
ETHNOS: "Who are keeping 15 billion euros in (NSRF) funds in the drawer".
IMERISSIA: "New taxes on the brink - Reversals for 2 billion euros in additional revenues".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "They are seeking funding for the extension plan".
TA NEA: "Retirement at 67 the key to the agreement ".
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS