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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-07-20
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Public buildings to remain open all day for relief from heatwaveA heatwave is expected to sweep all parts of the country on Wednesday with Athens, Thessaly, the eastern mainland and eastern Peloponnese likely to see maximum temperatures of 39C-40C.
State services were put on alert and civil protection authorities were on stand-by, urging the public to restrict travel and exposure to the sun's damaging rays, especially the elderly, the infirm and young children. Those who needed to be outside Wednesday were advised to wear hats and light-coloured clothing, sunscreen, and have water with them.
In addition, public buildings would also remain open throughout the day to provide respite from the scorching heat.
The Municipality of Athens also announced a series of measures aimed at protecting the city's residents from the heatwave predicted to sweep through the country on Wednesday, with temperatures in Athens expected to reach 40 degrees centigrade.
Specifically, the municipality announced that the 19 Friendship Societies and the 6 municipal health centres which operate throughout Athens and which are air-conditioned, will remain open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Wednesday and for as long as the heatwave persists.
The Athens Municipality Health Service also recommended that the elderly and those suffering from cardiovascular or respiratory problems stay out of the sun, in cool areas, avoid physical exertion and consume sufficient amounts of water.
It has also asked that citizens who have relatives with health problems or who know of elderly people living alone, check on them regularly throughout the day in order to ensure their well-being.
 Greek exports group launches new websiteThe Hellenic Exports Promotion Organisation (HEP0) SA on Tuesday launched a new website, saying it would become a key factor in communicating with the market.
HEPO's managing director, Panayiotis Drossos, underlined the importance of an outward-looking approach to business for Greek firms, backed by the trade group.
Among plans for 2005-2006 are conducting market research in target countries for Greek exporters; formulating sector policies for traditional Greek products; promoting products including olive oil in the US, Canada and Australia; and holding 45 trade fairs abroad.
The website, which includes a new e-xports club, is www.hepo.gr
 Current accounts deficit down in MayGreece's current accounts deficit totalled 575 million euros in May 2005, 138 million euros down compared with the same month 2004, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.
The central bank, in its monthly report on the country's trade figures, said the May figures reflected a significant increase in the transfers' surplus and to a widening of the services' balance, while the incomes' deficit rose while the trade deficit was largely unchanged in May.
Greece's trade deficit rose slightly, as a wider fuel deficit was counterbalanced by an increase in the vessels' surplus.
The country's current accounts deficit totalled 6.006 billion euros in the five month period from January to May 2005, up 1.646 billion euros from the same period last year, reflecting a widening trade deficit. The trade deficit rose by 1.047 billion euros over the same period. The central bank said the country's trade deficit, excluding fuel, recorded a net payment of 228 million euros for the purchase of vessels in January-May 2005, compared with net revenues of 300 million euros from the sale of vessels in the same period in 2004.
The trade deficit rose by 528 million euros, while the shortfall -excluding fuel and vessels- eased by 62 million euros with imports falling by 147 million euros and exports dropping by 85 million euros.
The services' surplus rose by 171 million euros reflecting higher revenues from transportation services, mainly shipping.
Net outflows (direct investments abroad) totalled 106 million euros in May 2005. In the portfolio investment category, net inflows totalled 1.167 billion euros (state bond buying), while the other investments category reported a significant capital outflow.
Foreign direct investments to Greece recorded a net outflow of 66 million euros in the January-May period (from a net inflow of 439 million euros last year), while the other investments category recorded a net outflow of 1.187 billion euros.
The country's foreign exchange reserves totalled 1.7 billion euros at the end of May, the central bank said.
 Debate on shopping hours bill begins amid protestsThe Greek Parliament opened a debate Tuesday afternoon a draft law on extending shopping hours in the country, amid protests by shop owners and small- and medium-sized craft manufacturers.
Unions began a series of symbolic blockages of major road networks around the country, including Nestos bridge, Korinth Canal, Rio-Antirrio bridge and the Promahona bridge.
On Monday, the parliament's scientific studies directorate published a report on the draft law underlining a series of recommendations aimed to improving a government-sponsored legislation.
The government will table on Wednesday to the parliament's Social Affairs Commission a draft law aiming to reform labour relations in the country. Trade unions and opposition political parties have expressed their disagreement with the new bill, while GSEE -the country's largest trade union umbrella- has annoucned a 24-hour panhellenic strike for July 27.
 KYSEA approves F-16s, Leopard tanks procurement, new command structure for Armed ForcesKYSEA approves F-16s, Leopard tanks procurement, new command structure for Armed Forces
The Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defence Council (KYSEA) on Tuesday approved the procurement of 30 US-made F-16 Block-52 fighter planes with the option of purchasing an additional 10 of this type to meet the Hellenic Air force's immediate operational needs, during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday. It also gave the go-ahead for the procurement of 333 German-made Leopard tanks. Further, the KYSEA approved a new commanded structure for the Hellenic Armed Forces, designed to make them more flexible and efficient, reduce operational costs, and enhance inter-branch cooperation.
The agreement for the purchase of the aircraft will be signed between the governments of Greece and the United States, while that for the tanks between the governments of Greece and Germany, the defence minister clarified.
The cost of the jet fighters, in current prices according to the minister, amounts to 1.1 billion euros but the final amount will depend on negotiations with the American side, while offset benefits will concern infrastructures and support for the rest of the F-16s belonging to the Greek air force.
As regards the procurement of new fighter aircraft, tentatively anticipated in 2009, the minister said the proposal by the defence ministry is for the purchase of 30 new aircraft with an option for the purchase of another 10. The minister clarified that the type of aircraft has not been decided.
KYSEA also okayed the new structure of forces and the new structure for the armed forces' administration to enable them to become more flexible and effective and to have a greater rapid reaction ability, as the minister said, while he also appointed the new leadership of military justice.
According to national defence ministry sources, the new structure is expected to increase the capacity for rapid reaction, enhance interbranch cooperation and lower operational cost.
The Armed Forces General Staff remains the only headquarters of all the branches of the armed forces on an operational and strategic level, while all the interbranch commands are converted to operational commands. In addition, a developing interbranch formation is created for rapid reaction on a brigade level on a tactical level, answerable directly to the armed forces chief.
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