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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-11-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Saturday, 28 November 2009 Issue No: 3361


  • [01] Greek PM announces tripartite agreement for Prespes Lake preservation
  • [02] Gov't: FYROM path to EU passes through name issue solution
  • [03] ND leadership candidates wind up campaigns
  • [04] Dimas briefs Parliament concerning Copenhagen aims
  • [05] Environment Commissioner briefs parliamentary committee
  • [06] Damanaki named new EU Commissioner for Fisheries, Maritime Affairs
  • [07] Gov't condemns attack on Katsifaras office
  • [08] Education minister in Brussels
  • [09] Tsipras addresses party con'f
  • [10] Lavrov in Athens for Greek-Russian Association's first event
  • [11] Alternate DM receives Italian envoy
  • [12] FinMin on economy, meeting with central bank chief
  • [13] Petalotis: we are battling to restore confidence in economy
  • [14] MIG, Marfin Popular Bank assure that Dubai developments do not affect their operating performances
  • [15] Working meetings for the revision of the 2007-2013 NSRF
  • [16] Gerekou: debts will not take priority over promoting Greece abroad
  • [17] Greek fiscal deficit up 75 pct in Jan-Oct
  • [18] Olympic Air awarded nine remote destinations for 5.2 mln euros
  • [19] Intralot reports lower 9-month results
  • [20] Producers' price index down 3.5% in Oct.
  • [21] Greece re-elected to top five in IMO Council
  • [22] Stocks end 1.44% higher
  • [23] ADEX closing report
  • [24] Greek bond market closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [26] Infrastructure Minister inspects Marathonas flood works
  • [27] Minister on double salaries to local government officials
  • [28] Justice minister addresses prison staff conference
  • [29] Data Protection Authority bans live transmission from cameras outside party offices on Internet
  • [30] Watchdog authority irked by city cameras in playgrounds
  • [31] EU Commission event on 'Social Europe' in Athens
  • [32] Foreign national arrested in major cannabis haul
  • [33] Major child porn trafficking ring dismantled
  • [34] Pierre Cardin in Athens
  • [35] 'Floga' charity to hold Christmas bazaar
  • [36] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] Greek PM announces tripartite agreement for Prespes Lake preservation

    The prime ministers of Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) and Albania on Friday sent a joint letter to the United Nations Secretary General, the European Union and the Danish prime minister regarding the environmental protection of the ecologically significant Prespes Lake region shared by all three countries, Greek premier George Papndreou told reporters after a tripartite meeting in a lake-side village on the Greek side.

    "We, the three premiers, sent a joint letter to the United Nations Secretary General, the European Union and the Danish prime minister regarding our volition for the three countries to officially sign an agreement for the development of Prespes in a way that will protect the environment and promote this region in a region of peace, cooperation and of mild and substantial development, something which is considered very important for such regions, for our country as well as for our cooperation in the Balkans," Papandreou told Greek reporters.

    The leaders of Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM) and Albania on Friday agreed to sign a tripartite agreement in early February for the greater environmental protection of the ecologically significant Prespes Lake region shared by all three countries.

    The announcement came after meetings in a lake-side villa on the Greek side by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and his counterparts from Albania and fYRoM, Sali Berisha and Nikola Gruevski, respectively.

    All three sides also promised to promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation in water management, the taking of anti-pollution and soil erosion prevention measures, as well as to promote the viable management of biodiversity in the verdant region.

    All three premiers also voiced their support for an international agreement at the upcoming Copenhagen summit.

    The agreement is expected to be signed on Feb. 2, 2010.

    The Greek premier also held separate talks with Gruevski and Berisha.

    "We have the sent the message to the Balkans and the EU that the current economic crisis can be handled if we change the model of growth and proceed to green development," Papandreou noted, adding that "Greece wants and takes an initiative, so that 2014 be a timeframe and a milestone for the accession of the Western Balkans into the European Union."

    The tripartite meeting, the premier said, also gave the opportunity for talks on important bilateral issues.

    Regarding green development, Papandreou said that changing the model of growth was a one-way path which would attract investments and national and foreign capital.

    Speaking on the Western Balkans, the premier said that Greece can bring back to the forefront the European prospect of the region, prospect which "has been lost due to the fear of an EU enlargement," adding that Balkan countries have adopted this initiative.

    Regarding bilateral talks between the Greek prime minister and his fYRoM counterpart Gruevski, Papandreou said they touched investment programmes, while Gruevski asked for the opening of two new check-points and the abolition of visas.

    The two premiers also discussed developments regarding the neighbouring country's "name issue". Papandreou said that such bilateral talks have thair "importance".

    "It is one thing to read one's positions and it is quite different to hear one's opinion," the Greek premier said, adding that new impetus should be given to ongoing talks for the resolution of the "name issue".

    Referring to Greece's positions on the issue, Papandreou said Greece "does not present them as a threat".

    "I hope that Mr. Gruevski understands our positions," the premier underlined, adding that if a solution is found regarding the "name issue" then Greece "can bare the weight of fYRoM's EU accession course."

    Papandreou nevertheless reiterated that negotiations between the two countries on the "name issue" are held under the UN auspices.

    Regarding his talks with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, Papandreou said they discussed economic relations, and minority and immigration issues.

    [02] Gov't: FYROM path to EU passes through name issue solution

    The path of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to Europe must necessarily pass through a solution of the name dispute, Greek government spokesman George Petalotis repeated on Friday.

    He had been asked to comment on a European Parliament resolution proposing that Skopje be given a date for the start of accession negotiations in December, irrespective of whether there was a solution to the name issue.

    Asked whether the name issue might be discussed by Prime Minister George Papandreou and FYROM Premier Nikola Gruevski during the meeting in Prespes, Petalotis noted that even if any discussion took place, the negotiations were strictly confined to the process underway at the United Nations.

    [03] ND leadership candidates wind up campaigns

    The three candidates for the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party's presidency wind up on Friday evening as the former ruling party prepares to elect its new leader on Sunday, with voting extended, for the first time, to all registered members.

    Organising committee chairman Dimitris Sioufas said that election of the ND president by the party's grass roots is "an important conquest of direct democracy", and called on members to turn out on Sunday to vote at the 1,039 voting centers set up throughout the country so as to "consolidate this (conquest) with the widest possible participation" in the election.

    He said that voting will begin at 7:00 a.m. Sunday and close at 7:00 in the evening, but clarified that the closing time may be extended in specific polling stations in the event that lines of voters were still waiting their turn to cast their ballot at closing time.

    The final campaign appearances by the three candidates are scheduled for Friday evening: former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis will address a rally at Kotzia Square in downtown Athens, former culture minister Antonis Samaras will make a last campaign appearance at the Zappeion Mansion in Athens, and Thessaloniki prefect Panagiotis Psomadis will address a gathering in Serres.

    [04] Dimas briefs Parliament concerning Copenhagen aims

    There needs to be a global effort to reduce carbon emissions in developed countries by 25-40 percent by the year 2020, and by 15-30 percent in developing countries, in order to avert an increase in average global temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius. This was asserted by outgoing European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas on Friday, while briefing the Greek Parliament's committees for environmental protection and for research and technology.

    "During the Copenhagen Conference [on Climate Change] the aim is for there to be a politically binding agreement, that will be made legally specific in the next three to six months. The goal is to restrict emissions of gaseous pollutants without creating additional economic and social problems," he said.

    Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili said that the European Union had an obligation to point out the right direction for the Copenhagen treaty and send out a message by taking clear, unambiguous and convincing decisions that had the required legal backing.

    [05] Environment Commissioner briefs parliamentary committee

    EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said Friday that he was opposed to the Acheloos River diversion, during a briefing of the relevant parliamentary committee in Athens ahead of the upcoming UN international conference on climate change in Copenhagen.

    Replying to a call by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance leader that he take a stance on "this major environmental problem that remains open, despite negative rulings by the EU and Greece's Council of State", Dimas noted that he has already stated his position in writing, noting that diversions of rivers, and therefore also that of the Acheloos, "are contrary to protection of the environment".

    "Consequently, I am opposed to any (river) diversions in general," Greece's EU Commissioner stressed.

    On the Copenhagen summit, Dimas was optimistic that a comprehensive global pact will be reached on reducing greenhouse gases emissions, adding that the EU will seek the achievement of a political agreement aimed at speedy commencement of implementation of the pact and a reduction of pollutants in tandem with wiping out poverty.

    Both Dimas and Environment, Energy and Climate Change minister Tina Birbili, who also addressed the committee, stressed the need for a legally binding agreement over the next three to six months.

    Dimas further emphasised the necessity of green development which, he noted, concerns all the governments "in order to become more competitive with alternative forms of energy".

    He warned, however, that the "green taxes" must be "fiscally neutral" and should not be exploited by economy ministers to increase the revenues in their coffers, "which unfortunately is the case in many countries", thus discrediting the real goal, which is protection of the environment.

    "My proposal is that the green taxes be rechanelled to the low and medium income groups or be used for other environmental reasons," Dimas added.

    [06] Damanaki named new EU Commissioner for Fisheries, Maritime Affairs

    European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, officially releasing the composition of the new Commission on Friday, announced that Commissioner Maria Damanaki from Greece has been assigned the portfolio of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs.

    [07] Gov't condemns attack on Katsifaras office

    Government spokesman George Petalotis on Friday strongly condemned the attack using an incendiary device on the political office of Deputy Justice Minister Apostolos Katsifaras.

    "These actions turn against democracy and the responsible authorities will investigate the case in order to lead the perpetrators to justice," Petalotis said.

    [08] Education minister in Brussels


    Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou held talks here on Friday with EU officials regarding education issues.

    "I had numerous meetings, during which the need for initiatives to be taken was ascertained, initiatives regarding the control of formation and education structures based on quality," Diamantopoulou said.

    According to a ministry press release, Diamantopoulou met on the sidelines of an EU council, with Education Commissioner Maros Sefcovic and the Swedish president of the council of education ministers.

    [09] Tsipras addresses party con'f

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras issued an appeal on Friday for unity of leftist forces in the country, speaking during a national conference of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) grouping.

    Tsipras also accused the PASOK government of "double talk and hypocrisy", regarding its social policies.

    "While they (the government) talk of structural changes we are entitled to believe that they have in mind a transition to a capital-generating system," Tsipras said, calling for the creation of a "front of solidarity among social and political forces in support of the social security system."

    [10] Lavrov in Athens for Greek-Russian Association's first event

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be the central speaker at an event organised at the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Mousikis) next Wednesday afternoon, with which the Greek-Russian Association officially inaugurates its activities.

    The event, held under the auspices of Greek President Karolos Papoulias, kicks off at 14:00.

    Lavrov will speak on "The situation in the EuroAtlantic area and Russian-Greek ties", outlining Moscow's positions and priorities concerning the situation in the world and Europe, with emphasis on matters relating to the international security architecture in the EuroAtlantic area.

    The Greek-Russian Association was founded by prominent political and other members of Greek society in order to cultivate friendship and cooperation between the peoples of Greece and Russia in all areas of political, social, educational and cultural relations.

    [11] Alternate DM receives Italian envoy

    Alternate Defence Minister Panos Beglitis on Friday met with Italian ambassador to Athens Gianpaolo Scarante, with talks reportedly focusing on issues of common interest in the defence sector, including cooperation in Afghanistan and the Balkans.

    Financial News

    [12] FinMin on economy, meeting with central bank chief

    The turbulence on the markets is the result of the Greek economy's loss of credibility inherited from the preceding New Democracy (ND) government and acts of profiteering, finance minister George Papaconstantinou said on Friday, adding, however, that profiteering actions do not impact the Greek public sector since it does not have immediate borrowing needs, while the 2010 borrowing program is smaller than that of 2009.

    Replying to press questions on recent reports by international financial houses on the Greek economy, Papaconstantinou noted that there are both negative and positive reports regarding the problems of the economy, and stressed that the problems are not new, but long-standing ones. He added that the reports by certain financial firms do not objectively assess the problems existing in Greece's economy.

    The minister further noted that the efforts to solve those problems were beginning now, by the new government. He stressed that the efforts will be consistent, with a dual goal: first, to reduce the fiscal deficit and, second, to boost development.

    Questioned in the increase in the spreads of the Greek state bonds in recent days, Papaconstantinou explained that these spreads have increased in all countries similar to Greece.

    On the government's more general planning, Papaconstantinou said that the determination, as well as a plan, existed, while specific moves are being made to support growth and incomes, and to consolidate a healthy fiscal environment.

    In that framework, he continued, a dialogue has commenced on reforming the social security system, while a broad dialogue will open in the next few days on reforming the taxation system. In addition, Papaconstantinou said, all the ministries have commenced efforts to contain the public expenditures.

    Papaconstantinou also conferred on Friday with Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos as part of his regular meetings for exchanges of views on the Greek economy and the developments in and prospects for the Greek banking system.

    Provopoulos told reporters afterwards that the Greek banking system is healthy and stable, adding that the capital adequacy indices are high, improving, and higher than those of banks in other countries.

    He explained that the recent capital increases by many major banks were concluded successfully, noting that this reflects the confidence of the international markets in the Greek banking system.

    Provopoulos further said that the Greek banks are now able to disengage themselves from the liquidity-boosting plan for the economy as of next year.

    [13] Petalotis: we are battling to restore confidence in economy

    The government was fighting a daily battle to restore lost confidence in the country's economy, government spokesman George Petalotis said on Friday. He noted that conflicting scenarios about the Greek economy had appeared on Thursday and that the country was facing speculative attacks whose existence had been confirmed in the foreign media.

    "The extent of these games was made possible by the loss of credibility of our economy, for which the previous government is exclusively responsible and whose policies led us to the current state," he stressed.

    "Above all we must try to regain the country's lost credibility, try to create a climate of stability, a stable environment in fiscal and economic matters, by correcting past mistakes and creating reforms and changes that we have begun for the course of the country," he added.

    Asked to clarify the exact state of the Greek economy, in light of EU estimates and the reports of major international banks, Petalotis said that the current situation was "difficult, far more so than we could have imagined, but the situation is clearly not irreversible."

    [14] MIG, Marfin Popular Bank assure that Dubai developments do not affect their operating performances

    The recent developments in Dubai do not affect the operating performance of Marfin Investment Group or Margin Popular Bank, two carbon-copy announcements by MIG and the Bank said on Friday, prompted by "a number of (press) articles regarding the ownership of shares of our Company by 'Dubai Financial Group'."

    The announcements clarified respectively that:

    1. MIG does not have any common investment, common interest or co-operation at a corporate level with the State of Dubai nor with any company related or associated to the State of Dubai. (Marfin Popular Bank clarified that it "has not provided any credit facility, financing or loan of any form to the State of Dubai nor to any company related or associated to the State of Dubai"). Therefore, there can be no impact whatsoever to the financial results of MIG (Marfin Popular Bank) arising from any developments in Dubai.

    2. We have no official information regarding the full intentions of "Dubai Financial Group" regarding a full or partial disinvestment of their shares in MIG (Marfin Popular Bank).

    3. Other strategic shareholders of MIG (Marfin Popular Bank) have expressed their initial intentions to acquire the shares of "Dubai Financial Group" should the latter decide to proceed with a partial or full disinvestment of its stake in MIG (Marfin Popular Bank). These intentions have been already communicated to "Dubai Financial Group" and are awaiting its response.

    "In light of all the above, it is evident that the recent developments in Dubai do not affect the operating performance of MIG (Marfin Popular Bank)," the announcements concluded.

    [15] Working meetings for the revision of the 2007-2013 NSRF

    Economy, Competitiveness and Shipping Minister Louka Katseli has launched a series of contacts and working meetings with her colleagues in government aimed at the immediate activation of the 2007-2013 National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), a reference document for the programming of European Union Funds at national level.

    Katseli is scheduled to meet on Friday with Infrastructure, Transports and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas, Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili and Labour and Social Insurance Minister Andreas Loverdos. More working meetings with other cabinet members will be held next week.

    The contacts aim to avert any delays in carrying out the 2007-2013 NSRF and to use all available resources in an effective manner to ensure the productive restructuring of the country while supporting "green development".

    [16] Gerekou: debts will not take priority over promoting Greece abroad

    The debts of the Greek National Tourism Organisation will not be an obstacle to promoting the country abroad for the new tourist season, Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou stressed on Friday, while inaugurating the 41st Xenia 2009 tourism exhibition taking place at the Metropolitan Expo exhibition centre near Athens airport.

    The minister said the previous, poor administration had left the ministry saddled with significantly large debts but that the policy could not focus exclusively on paying off debts but also on ensuring promotion of the country.

    She did promise action to re-assess and tighten spending connected to tourism from a series of other, smaller initiatives, in which significant sums were being spent on projects of doubtful value and effectiveness.

    [17] Greek fiscal deficit up 75 pct in Jan-Oct

    Greece's fiscal deficit jumped 75 pct in the January-October period to 25.044 billion euros, from 14.277 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, the state accounting office said on Friday.

    A report attributed the sharp widening of the deficit to a 4.3 pct fall in net budget revenues to 39.5 billion euros (from 41.3 billion euros in 2008) and a 12.5 pct increase in budget spending to 57.949 billion euros (from 51.479 billion euros in 2008).

    Primary budget spending totaled 45.875 billion euros in the 10-month period, from 40.155 billion euros last year, while spending on interest totaled 12.074 billion euros, up from 11.324 billion euros in 2008.

    Proceeds from direct taxes fell significantly to 17.261 billion euros, compared with budget provisions for proceeds of 25.9 billion euros, while VAT proceeds fell to 14.145 billion euros, from a budget provision of 19.470 billion euros.

    [18] Olympic Air awarded nine remote destinations for 5.2 mln euros

    Greece's Civil Aviation Authority on Friday said it had awarded to Olympic Air the right of exclusive operations in nine state-subsidised remoter island destinations for the period from December 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010, at a price of 5,220,527 euros.

    The authority said Olympic Air cut its initial bid by 1.0 million euros. The nine remote destinations are: Athens-Astypalea, Athens-Milos, Rhodes-Karpathos-Kasos-Sitia, Athens-Naxos, Athens-Paros, Rhodes-Kos-Leros-Astypalea, Athens-Kalymnos and Rhodes-Kastelorizo.

    Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority launched a public consultation over a tender to award handling services in the country's 34 airports. The consultation procedure will be completed in December 4, 2009.

    [19] Intralot reports lower 9-month results

    Intralot on Friday reported a 22-pct decline in its nine-month EBITDA to 131 million euros, from 161.8 million euros in the corresponding period last year, while pre-tax profits dropped 48 pct to 97.3 million euros from 144.9 million euros over the same periods, respectively.

    The Greece-based company said consolidated turnover was 680.6 million euros in the January-September period, while turnover in the third quarter was 192.6 million euros, EBITDA totaled 39.9 million euros and pre-tax earnings were 22.7 million euros.

    After tax and minorities earnings totaled 15.8 million euros.

    Parent turnover was 118.2 million, EBITDA were 23.5 million and after tax profits totaled 15.3 million euros, in the nine-month period.

    [20] Producers' price index down 3.5% in Oct.

    Greece's producers' price composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) fell 3.5 pct in October this year, compared with the same month in 2008, after increases of 5.8 pct and 7.0 pct recorded in October 2008 and October 2007, respectively, the National Statistical Service announced on Friday.

    The statistics agency attributed the decline of the composite index in October to a 3.8-pct fall in the domestic market index and a 2.4-pct decline in the external market index.

    [21] Greece re-elected to top five in IMO Council

    Greece has been re-elected as one of the top five countries in category a of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council, getting the votes of 130 countries out of 154 taking part in the vote.

    [22] Stocks end 1.44% higher

    Stocks ended higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, recovering a small part of Thursday's sharp losses. The composite index of the market rose 1.44 pct to end at 2,257.43 points, with turnover a heavy 388.9 million euros.

    Most sectors moved upwards, with the Telecoms (3.88 pct), Media (3.16 pct) and Food/Beverage (2.84 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Insurance (2.94 pct), Technology (1.98 pct) and Travel (0.95 pct) suffered losses.

    The FTSE 20 index rose 1.79 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 1.58 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.80 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 124 to 80 with another 46 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -2.94%

    Industrials: +1.14%

    Commercial: +0.74%

    Construction: +0.44%

    Media: +3.16%

    Oil & Gas: -0.49%

    Personal & Household: +1.67%

    Raw Materials: +0.01%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.95%

    Technology: -1.98%

    Telecoms: +3.88%

    Banks: +2.48%

    Food & Beverages: +2.84%

    Health: +2.21%

    Utilities: +0.09%

    Chemicals: +0.41%

    Financial Services: -0.53%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OTE and EFG Eurobank Ergasias.

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

    Alpha Bank: 8.70

    ATEbank: 1.46

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.30

    HBC Coca Cola: 14.20

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.91

    National Bank of Greece: 20.11

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.60

    Intralot: 3.68

    OPAP: 16.00

    OTE: 10.70

    Bank of Piraeus: 9.59

    Titan: 19.59

    [23] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.16 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising to 156.205 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 21,276 contracts worth 123.932 million euros, with 25,112 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 34,492 contracts worth 32.273 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (6,966), followed by Eurobank (2,341), MIG (3,115), OTE (3,145), Piraeus Bank (2,192), GEK (897), Alpha Bank (3,709), Marfin Popular Bank (2,606), Cyprus Bank (1,274), Hellenic Postbank (1,533) and ATEbank (1,891).

    [24] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 193 basis points, after hitting an intra-day high of 215 bps, in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday.

    The Greek bond yielded 5.11 pct and the German Bund 3.18 pct. Turnover was a strong 2.0 billion euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.23 pct, the six-month rate 0.66 pct, the three-month rate 0.71 pct and the one-month rate 0.43 pct.

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.503

    Pound sterling 0.916

    Danish kroner 7.502

    Swedish kroner 10.515

    Japanese yen 130.23

    Swiss franc 1.518

    Norwegian kroner 8.559

    Canadian dollar 1.612

    Australian dollar 1.663

    General News

    [26] Infrastructure Minister inspects Marathonas flood works

    Infrastructure, Transports and Networks Minister Dimitris Reppas and Deputy Minister Yiannis Magriotis inspected Friday the anti-flood and soil erosion prevention projects under construction in the wider region of Marathonas, Athens devastated by last summer's catastrophic wildfires.

    The project is 90 pct ready and according to Reppas additional works will soon get underway.

    Currently under construction are works for the protection of Lake Marathonas from debris carried by flood waters, as well as special barriers that will keep toxic substances from the burned forests from polluting the lake.

    Reppas also visited the region of Timvos in Marathonas and chaired a meeting in the Eastern Attica Prefecture.

    [27] Minister on double salaries to local government officials

    A new plan for restructuring local authority public administration, "Kapodistrias 2", will address the issue of double salaries paid to some elected officials in local authorities, Deputy Interior Minister Dinos Rovlias said in Parliament on Friday.

    He was answering a question raised by New Democracy MP Fotini Pipili, who said the government should finally enact legislation that required elected officials to choose between the salary that came with their elected office and any salary they may be receiving from their previous position in the public sector. She stressed that at a time when the country was in difficult financial straits, such as move would be beneficial and should not wait until the Kapodistrias plan was in force.

    Pipili noted that the law stipulating this requirement had been passed several years ago but its enactment was constantly deferred until the issue of a presidential decree that had yet to be issued, so that some local government officials were continuing to draw two salaries. She also pointed out that this discriminated strongly against those elected officials employed in the private sector, who could not continue earning their salaries while heading large local authorities.

    [28] Justice minister addresses prison staff conference

    Justice and Human Rights Minister Haris Kastanidis on Friday announced changes and progressive reforms to the country's correctional system, which addressing a conference of prison staff.

    "The government will work in the direction of changing the operation of the correctional system in the long term. The changes will not be easy, nor can they take place from one day to the next, but it is important that they take place step by step," he said.

    [29] Data Protection Authority bans live transmission from cameras outside party offices on Internet

    Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA) president Christos Geraris has issued a temporary order that forbids the installation outside the entrances of political party offices and headquarters of cameras transmitting continuous stream images on the Internet.

    Geraris noted that the transmission of images on the Internet was legal but not when it was continuous live transmission over long periods, which allowed the recognition of all persons passing through public spaces like roads and pavements in front of the central offices of the two largest political parties.

    Such images of passers-by, or all those entering and exiting party premises, exceeded and were not justified by the need to inform the public about political developments during a pre-election period, he added.

    [30] Watchdog authority irked by city cameras in playgrounds

    The autonomous Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA) has rejected a bid by the City of Athens to install non-audio surveillance cameras in its 147 playgrounds that operate on a 24-hour basis.

    The independent watchdog for the protection of personal data had given permission for the installation of cameras on a trial basis in 10 of the playgrounds to operate only during nighttime, under the precondition that the municipality would proceed with maintenance work on fences, provide adequate lighting and sufficient security. The independent authority will issue a new ruling after a comparative study is submitted by the municipality.

    HDPA members conveyed an opinion claiming that the operation of cameras in playgrounds violates the right to privacy and "can have a negative effect on children by imposing on them the belief that camera surveillance is an acceptable practice."

    [31] EU Commission event on 'Social Europe' in Athens

    An event briefing the public on 'Social Europe' has been organised in Syntagma Square, in central Athens, on Friday and Saturday by the European Commission's Representation in Greece.

    At a pavilion set up in the square, passers by can obtain information on various aspects of 'Social Europe' between 10:00 in the morning and 21:00 on Friday, and 10:00 to 18:00 on Saturday.

    The event forms part of an EU Commission campaign called "Do you know what Social Europe can do for you?".

    [32] Foreign national arrested in major cannabis haul

    An Albanian national was arrested on Friday when police officers found hidden in the van he was driving 148 packets of cannabis totalling 159 kilos.

    Narcotics squad officers of Igoumenitsa, northwestern Greece, spotted the suspect in the region of Mavroneri, Filiata, driving a van which had been reported stolen from Patras on November 11, and stopped the vehicle for a search. The officers found the packets of cannabis in the car's boot and arrested the man.

    The suspect, who was prohibited from entering the country due to an expulsion in the past, was sent before the local prosecutor.

    [33] Major child porn trafficking ring dismantled

    The police electronic crimes squad in Greece broke up a major child pornography ring on Thursday following a four-month investigation codenamed "Charlie" conducted in Athens, Thessaloniki and 14 other cities throughout the country. Seventeen people were arrested, 16 Greek nationals and a foreigner, who were charged with multiple counts of child pornography trafficking on the internet, while charges have been filed against a total of 55 people.

    Among the accused are a university professor, a lawyer from Kilkis, a physical education professor, businessmen, a university student, and a state Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT SA) cameraman, assigned since April 3, 2008 the Greek Parliament's television station.

    The cameraman was immediately removed from the post following a decision signed by Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos on Thursday.

    The Greek Police were notified of the illicit activity after an international investigation led to the electronic traces of 158 Greek internet users.

    The 55 electronic traces identified led to specific internet users who were trafficking hardcore child pornography material depicting very young children in sexual activity with adults. The cruelty of the scenes in certain instances was "unprecedented", according to police.

    Certain of the individuals involved had activated special software enabling their computers to operate on their own and exchange child porn material files with other paedophiles throughout the world.

    Police raids on private residences in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Iraklio, Kavala, Farsala, Alexandroupolis, Katerini, Nea Kalikratia, Neos Marmaras, Kilkis Igoumenitsa, Ioannina, Argos, Rhodes and Chania led to the confiscation of 88 computer hard-drives, 8 portable pcs and a large number of cds and dvds with a total capacity of 50,000 GBs. In Attica region alone, police conducted a total of 32 prosecutor-supervised house investigations.

    [34] Pierre Cardin in Athens

    Īn the occasion of World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), the Greek Action in Africa foundation has organised a charity evening in support of HIV-positive AIDS orphans, to be held on Monday at the French embassy.

    Legendary French fashion designer and Institute of France member Pierre Cardin will attend the event and present his latest collection for men and women, featuring international models.

    The event is being held under the auspices of the French embassy in Athens (Amb. Christophe Farnaud), the City of Athens (Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis) and the Ivory Coast general consulate in Greece (Foundation chairman Mero Kesesioglou).

    [35] 'Floga' charity to hold Christmas bazaar

    The Greek charity 'Floga' has once again organised a Christmas bazaar at the Athens municipality cultural centre at 50 Akadimias Street. The bazaar began on Friday and will carry on until this Sunday, between the hours of 10:00-21:00 on Friday and Saturday and at 10:00-18:00 on Sunday.

    The 'Floga' group provides support to children with cancer and their families, running a hostel where children from outside Athens and their families can stay while receiving treatment at oncological wards in Athens childrens' hospitals.

    [36] The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The increase in the Greek state bonds' spreads, the debt crisis in Dubai and its effect on the Athens Stock Exchange, the dialogue on social security, and the candidates' campaigning for the main opposition New Democracy leadership ahead of Sunday's election, dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Major changes in pensions".

    APOGEVMATINI: "17 'respectable' citizens caught in the trap - They were arrested for child pornography trafficking via Internet".

    AVGHI: "Rigged dialogue on social security".

    AVRIANI: "The tax storm and the government's fear of making the structural changes necessary to avoid bankruptcy are disastrous for the country".

    CHORA: "Financial Times calls Greece 'An Iceland in the Aegean'."

    ELEFTHEROS: "Shock! According to the president of the National Committee on the new flu, 800,000 Greeks have been infected by the H1N1 virus".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Brussels are putting on the pressure - Punishment by the markets - In Europe, they are calling us the 'Iceland of the Aegean'."

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Dubai virus strikes Greece - Plunge on Athens Stock Exchange - Rise in state bonds' spread".

    ESTIA: "The 'morning after' in New Democracy - Radical reconstitution of the party".

    ETHNOS: "Mini-crash in the midst of the international storm - Dubai's crash completed the tragedy".

    IMERISSIA: "New crisis on the horizon - Market, economy out of control".

    KATHIMERINI: "Turmoil in international markets - Substantial losses on Athens Stock Exchange and increase in spreads".

    LOGOS: "The dialogue on social security finally began".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Free-fall in European stock markets".

    NIKI: "Plunge off the cliff - Friends and enemies destroy Greece".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Social security for the working classes - All united in the battle".

    TA NEA: "Extreme profiteering at economy's expense - Fears of new increase in interest rates".

    TO VIMA: "Greece is facing an unprecedented profiteering attack".

    VRADYNI: "Lost in .....deliberation - Social security issues: Decisions in April'.

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