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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-06-09
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 PM chairs extraordinary Cabinet meetingThe government's choice and decision is to change "everything that disappoints citizens and makes them bitter," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis underlined on Tuesday, addressing an extraordinary Cabinet meeting in the wake of ruling New Democracy party's lacklustre second-place in Sunday's European Parliament elections.
The premier called on his ministers and deputy ministers to proceed more quickly and decisively with their agendas and interventions, stressing that he will personally and systematically monitor the government's work in all sectors.
Referring to the outcome of Sunday's Euro-Parliament elections, Karamanlis said "we are to blame for the election defeat, and it is we who must correct ourselves ... Whatever makes citizens bitter must be changed," the premier said.
He also ruled out the prospect of collaborations with other parties, an indirect reference to press speculation, and accused main opposition PASOK of irresponsibility in yet again calling for early general elections, charging that "this is a pretext for escaping from problems".
 Karavelas' younger daughters before magistrateThe two younger daughters of fugitive from justice Christos Karavelas, a former Siemens executive who fled the country before he was due to testify as a suspect in an ongoing bribery and money-laundering investigation, visited the office of special examining magistrate Nikos Zagorianos on Tuesday, the final date for posting bail amounting to two million euros set by the magistrate.
The visit was largely a formality, since Zagorianos has already agreed to take no further action against them until the Misdemeanours court justices' council has reached a decision on their appeal to have the amount of bail reduced. The two women, both in their early 20s, claim inability to raise the sum demanded because all of the family's accounts have been frozen by Greek authorities.
In statements to reporters, they again stressed that they knew nothing absolutely nothing about their father's activities and that they were anxiously awaiting decisions for the release of their elder sister and mother, who have been remanded in custody. All Karavelas' family except his teenage son face charges of complicity in money-laundering, on the grounds that Karavelas transferred money from a Swiss bank account into joint bank accounts in Greece held with his wife, daughters and 17-year-old son.
Karavelas is one of seven people charged with bribery and money-laundering over a 1997 contract between Siemens Greece and the formerly state-run telecom Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) to digitalise its systems. He is also the second key suspect in the case to flee abroad to Germany, after former Siemens executive Mihalis Christoforakos, in hopes of benefiting from that country's more lenient laws for the offences he is charged with.
Earlier on Tuesday, the public prosecutor handling the Siemens case also issued orders barring seven people linked to the ongoing investigation from leaving the country, among them business owners and stock brokers. The prosecutor's move concerns contracts signed between Siemens Greece and the formerly state-run telecom Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) for digitalising its phone centres and for the supply and installation of the C-4I security system.
 Traffic cop driving without licence hits pedestrianA 33-year-old deputy sergeant in the traffic police was arrested for hitting a pedestrian while driving without a licence in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The woman had run over and seriously injured a 23-year-old man on Nikis Avenue in Thessaloniki.
The victim, who suffered multiple fractures in his upper and lower limbs, was admitted and underwent surgery at the city's Papanikolaou General Hospital , where doctors say that he is now out of danger.
During the investigation, it transpired that the 33-year-old did not have a driving licence and she was led before a Thessaloniki public prosecutor on Tuesday morning and charged with causing bodily harm through negligence and driving without a licence.
She was then released pending trial, while an internal inquiry has been launched by Thessaloniki traffic police headquarters.
 Migrant trafficking ring suspect arrestedA 33-year-old Iraqi national allegedly involved in an international illegal migrants trafficking ring active in Greece and European countries was arrested on Tuesday within the framework of collaboration between Greek and Italian authorities.
The suspect was apprehended pending a European arrest warrant, issued by Italian authorities.
Police found in his possession and seized a Georgian passport that belongs to a third person, a PC, a bank deposit book, passport photographs of seven individuals and two mobile phones allegedly used in illegal dealings.
Before facing extradition to Italy, the suspect will appear before a prosecutor in Athens.
 Shorter military service in 2009National Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis on Tuesday revealed the government's plans to reduce mandatory military service for young men in the Greek Army by three months, so that it lasts nine months in total.
Speaking during the day-time television programme "Proti Grammi" broadcast by the state channel NET, Meimarakis said the measure would go into effect for all those presenting themselves in August, while there would also be a shorter reductions for those that presented themselves for military service within 2009. Specifically, those who began their national military service last February will serve 11 months in total, while those that began in May will serve 10 months.
Previously, the length of mandatory military service had been exactly one year.
The minister also clarified that once the duration of national service in the Army was reduced to nine months, all conscripts will be posted in regional areas outside the capital.
The length of military service in the Greek Navy and Air Force will continue to be one year, while Meimarakis said he was in favour of eventually phasing out the use of conscripts in the navy and air force in favour of professional troops.
The minister said the reduction in military service was made possible by an increase in the number of professional troops, the use of information technology, the new layout of army bases and the gradual progress in setting up electronic security systems to guard military facilities.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photograph of Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.
 FinMin: Fiscal measures eyedBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Spinthourakis) -- The Greek government will unveil a package of measures this month aimed at cutting the country‚s fiscal deficit to 3.7 pct of GDP this year, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou here said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after a closely watched ECOFIN meeting in Brussels, the Greek minister said the government, after making a comprehensive estimate of trends in state proceeds and of the inflation rate, would reach decisions necessary for achieving its fiscal goals for the year.
Papathanassiou said the government will closely focus on public finances next year, with the aim of cutting the fiscal deficit to 3.0 pct through "structural measures", while he predicted that the European economy would recover in mid-2010.
The Greek minister said the fact that practically all European countries have started looking to the "day after" the current economic recession is positive, especially on the need to cut state deficits resulting from the crisis. He noted that public deficits were still hefty in Europe and stressed that, according to EU Monetary Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, 12 Eurozone member-states will be included in excessive deficit procedures by next year.
Commenting on Greece, Papathanassiou said state handouts to deal with the financial crisis were below other EU levels and that the challenge was to boost economic competitiveness so that the country can exit the crisis rapidly.
He added that the European Commission has appreciated Athens' efforts towards fiscal consolidation.
Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of FinMin Yiannis Papathanassiou.
 New OA crew uniformsThe new Olympic Airways cabin crew uniforms will be designed by Celia and Nikos Krithariotis, the winners of an online competition that concluded on Monday, Marfin Investment Group (MIG) -- which purchased Greece's national carrier -- announced on Tuesday.
A total of 94,168 users visited the website www.oafashion.gr and 43,925 chose between three proposals submitted by the Krithariotis fashion designers, P2 Group and the Akto art and design school.
An online vote for the selection of a new logo for the air carrier will soon get underway, MIG added.
 Stocks end 2.22% downGreek stocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market down 2.22 pct to end at 2,319.69 points. Turnover was a moderate 225.2 million euros, of which 8.2 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Media (5.12 pct), Utilities (4.44 pct) and Telecommunications (3.73 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Oils (0.40 pct) and Health (0.36 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index fell 2.50 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.74 pct down and the FTSE 80 index dropped 2.58 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 173 to 58 with another 29 issues unchanged.
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