|Thursday, 13 December 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-06-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 1 June 2011 Issue No: 3801
 Government says "long road of negotiations" with the EC/ECB/IMF 'troika'Government spokesman George Petalotis on Tuesday spoke of a "long road of negotiations" with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika', stressing that nothing will be 'gifted' to Greece and that "the changes needed and strict devotion to the targets for better results are our own issue".
Replying to press questions during a regular briefing, Petalotis warned against "cultivating expectations" given that the negotiation was continuing, adding that "the fact that we are discussing the fifth tranche (of the EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece) means that, in having received the four previous tranches, we have achieved much".
On opposition criticism that the Memorandum policy has failed, Petalotis countered that "not only have we not failed, but the recession is receding and positive signs are appearing", adding that outside "they are saying that we have not failed but must go faster".
To another question, he said that the need for immediate results was the basic difference between main opposition New Democracy's (ND) proposal on taxation and the policy being followed by the government.
"We need immediate results and if ND's proposals (for reduction of tax rates) could bring about equivalent results we would accept them. But ND's proposals will not bring immediate results, and we cannot wait 2-3 years (for the measures proposed by ND to produce results)," the spokesman added.
To another question, he left open the prospect of a meeting between prime minister George Papandreou and ND leader Antonis Samaras, "when there are points for consensus", adding that what is being sought is for everyone to agree on an "axis of consensus" because that is what is demanded by the country's interests.
Petalotis further rejected as "ungrounded exaggerations" press speculation that "foreigners" will assume the task of the denationalisations, explaining that only technical assistance will be asked, adding that "neither will our tax bureau offices be managed by outsiders, nor will the denationalisations be decided by outsiders".
On speculation that some public utilities and organisations (DEKO) will be shut down, including the state radio and television foundation ERT, Petalotis passed them off as "science fiction scenarios" and something "between thriller and comedy".
 Interministerial Advisory Committee to convene on WednesdayThe Interministerial Advisory Committee will be convening under the chairmanship of government vice president Theodoros Pangalos on Wednesday morning and is expected to take important decisions on the abolition and merging of organisations and services.
Pangalos will also be making relevant announcements.
 Samaras reiterates need for renegotiation of memorandumMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday reiterated from Crete that the memorandum is "the wrong recipe that needs renegotiation".
Addressing an audience at local branch of the Technical Chamber of Greece, Samaras stressed that on the regional level the option of "extraordinary solutions" to specific problems is still available, adding that economic growth is necessary.
Samaras stressed that he is open to specific solutions targeting weaknesses and inefficiencies.
 Samaras tours CreteMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras was on a tour of Crete on Tuesday, during which he met with representatives of the tourism, health and commerce sectors, while in the afternoon he will attend a meeting at the local Technical Chamber.
Samaras also visited the tombs of Eleftherios and Sophocles Venizelos, where he laid a wreath.
"I believe that, in these difficult hours we are facing today, from here in Crete, the land of the great and heroic struggles, we must send a message of honor that, even under the present difficult conditions, and provided there is a plan, faith and persistence, we, too, will succeed," Samaras said.
Regarding the late statesman and several times prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos, the ND leader said that "he taught the entire world the art of negotiation".
"We are here today in a show of respect and gratitude to one of the greatest Greek leaders, Eleftherios Venizelos, who succeeded in combing the great vision with pure realism in the art of diplomacy, and who succeeded, under very adverse conditions, to teach the art of negotiation to the entire world".
 KKE leader addresses party event in ElefsinaCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, addressing a party event in Elefsina, Western Attica, on Tuesday evening, spoke of a "theatrical danger mongering performance" by the government, the big businessmen and the EU concerning the disbursement of the loan's fifth tranche.
Papariga added that their aim "was and is to intimidate the people so as to present the medium-term programe and the memorandum II as a salvation and the new disastrous measures for the people, the sellout of public property as necessary."
The KKE leader further said that "the more the crisis deepens the more the war against the people will escalate, along with extortions and intimidating dilemmas."
 LA.O.S leader on national understandingOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) leader George Karatzaferis on Tuesday repeated his position on the need for national understanding, stressing that citizens will be faced with fewer painful measures if an understanding is reached between the political parties.
Speaking to an Athens private television station, Karatzaferis lashed out at the government and the prime minister, stressing that the government "has no unity and is non existent".
Karatzaferis maintained that June will be the worst month of all decades and that the Greek people are faced with "new taxes by the hour".
 FM continues Ukraine visit, received by YanukovychUkrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on Tuesday underlined the "considerable momentum" in forging a "closer cooperation" between Greece and Ukraine, speaking in the meeting in Kiev with visiting Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas.
Yanukovych stressed that Greece is an important partner of Ukraine and referred to the increase in the bilateral trade transactions noting that "last year they rose 35 pct while this year increased 90 pct compared to 2010".
In the meeting with Droutsas, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov expressed gratitude for Greece's support to his country's bid to become a non permanent member of the UN Security Council, as well as, for its 100,000-euro contribution to the construction of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant sarcophagus in spite of the economic crisis it is experiencing.
As regards Ukraine's European orientation, Azarov referred to certain difficulties focusing on the rules regulating the exports of Ukrainian products, the service market and the issue of the protected designation of origin (PDO) list of quality food products.
Referring to bilateral relations, Azarov underlined the importance of the diptych, liberalization of visa issuance and establishment of an Athens-Kiev direct flight.
The Ukrainian prime minister underlined the prospects of cooperation in the sector of energy - the renewable energy sources (RES), in particular - underlining that Ukraine is planning the construction of a liquefied natural gas station. He referred to the increased number of Ukrainian tourists visiting Greece and expressed interest in defence cooperation and in launching direct contacts between the Greek and the Ukrainian energy ministries.
 FM Droutsas addresses audience at Kiev Univ.Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas focused on the value of the European Union, "which, in essence, is a programme of peace, probably the most successful, we have experienced", addressing an audience at the International Relations Institute, Taras Shevchenko Kyiv University, on Tuesday.
Droutsas underlined that "Greece's goal is the accession of the Balkans into the EU", adding that "through the European prospect we will be able to solve problems that are still hurting us and seek peaceful settlements for ongoing problems".
As regards the Greek-Ukrainian relations, Droutsas underlined their importance, stressing that they are rooted back to the 8th century, pointing out that the Organization for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) favours broad cooperation on regional level.
Droutsas referred to the strong presence of Greek companies in Ukraine and to Greece's position as regards the Balkans, underlining that "respecting international law is the cornerstone of Greek foreign policy". He outlined Greece's position vis-?-vis the fYRoM "name issue" and stressed that Athens supports the European policy for a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina as well as the preservation of the Serbian monuments in Kosovo.
Referring to the "historic developments" in the Arab World, the foreign minister underlined that Greece supports a "Marshall Plan" type initiative.
Addressing the Ukrainian audience, Droutsas pointed out that "the EU sees Ukraine as a European state" citing the association agreement and free trade zone negotiations. He referred to the "impressive reforms promoted in the country in all sectors" and using Greece's example he stressed that, amidst the economic crisis, "our country gives a daily battle against corruption".
As regards energy issues, he said shaping a common European energy policy is among the EU priorities stressing, however, that each country has its own interests. He referred to the natural gas pipeline that will carry natural gas from Azerbaijan to Italy via Greece and Turkey and to Greece's contacts with Israel focusing on the exploitation of Israel's natural gas deposits.
Responding to a question by the audience on the issue of illegal migration, he said this is a major issue for the EU, particularly, for the countries that form its external borders. Referring to Greece, he said that 90 pct of the illegal migrants attempt to cross the EU borders via Greece, noting characteristically that roughly 900,000 illegal migrants have been arrested in the past few years.
As regards the visa issuance, Droutsas stressed that the process will be liberalized gradually.
 British House of Commons speaker addresses Parliament eventBritish Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow expressed his support for the efforts Greece is making to overcome the economic crisis it is experiencing, while also referring to a real economic crisis that is affecting the EU, as well as to the necessity of changes in member-states so that "the partners will be protected from the upsets of the market."
Replying to relevant questions by Greek deputies, on the occasion of his address, at the joint meeting of all the permanent committees of the Greek Parliament, on the theme of "Greece and Britain: Old Democracies, New Challenges", Bercow stressed that his country, although not being in the eurozone, is a member of the EU and cannot be indifferent over the existing economic crisis.
"The economic crisis all over the world is real and for this reason there must be priorities. We feel the situation in which your country is, which we are also facing, maybe not to the same degree. For this reason there must be fiscal restructuring and at the same time we must protect the sensitive groups," he said.
 Greece-Turkey cooperation on Evros River management, protectionA Greece-Turkey work group will hold its first meeting in the next two weeks in Edirne, Turkey to discuss issues that concern the collection, processing and exchange of qualitative and quantitative facts on the Evros River basin situated along the Greek-Turkish frontier, it was announced on Tuesday.
The decision to set up the work group was reached in a meeting of a 12-member joint committee that focuses on cooperation for the protection and management of Evros (Maritsa) River.
 'Indignados' go to old Athens University with TheodorakisThe "Indignados" of Athens's Syntagma Square moved on Tuesday afternoon to the old Athens University (Propylaia) to form a big peaceful demonstration.
Responding to the call by composer Mikis Theodorakis and other university professors, who decided "to join their vioice with the voice of society against the measures being taken without us", they walked down Panepistimiou avenue and flooded the surrounding streets.
The main speakers at Tuesday's event were Athens University rector Theodosis Pelegrinis and Mikis Theodorakis, while professors George Kasimatis, George Katrougalos, Notis Marias, Costas Beis and Costas Chrysogonos also addressed the "Indignados".
Tents remained in Syntagma Square and organising groups were increasing and improving. The food, cleanliness, legal support and medical attention groups were joined by guard groups that are functioning more effectively every day.
 PM Papandreou to address Bank of Greece event on WednesdayPrime Minister George Papandreou will be addressing a Bank of Greece event on Wednesday on the theme of "The environmental, economic and social repercussions of climatic change in Greece."
The event will be taking place at the Concert Hall at 12 noon.
 Commission: troika 'very close to an agreement' with GreeceBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)
The European Commission on Tuesday voiced its confidence that negotiations between the Greek government and EC-ECB-IMF "troika" officials will soon be completed. Speaking to reporters, Amadeu Altafaj, the spokesman for Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, said the troika's fourth assessment of a Greek economic programme was underway, while he added that he was confident negotiations would be completed soon.
"There has been good progress. We are very close to an agreement, within the next few days," he said.
 Austria denies reports on extraordinary eurozone meeting on Greek debtVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
The Austrian ministry of finance on Tuesday dismissed an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report claiming a summit of eurozone deputy finance ministers will be held here on Wednesday to discuss the Greek debt crisis.
Responding to a press question, a ministry spokesman stressed that this is a scheduled and "routine meeting" of the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), comprised of senior EU finance ministry officials, whereas Vienna was selected to host the meeting because Austria was the committee chair last year.
The Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) is an EU body that replaced the Monetary Committee.
 Fitch expresses concern over Greek financial programmeFitch Ratings on Tuesday expressed doubts over the ability of the Greek side to fully implement the necessary programme to restore the country's fiscal credibility.
In an announcement, the credit rating agency stressed that the range of challenges likely to be faced by Athens was wide, adding that these concerns explained Fitch's decision to cut the country's rating to B+.
Fitch noted that this credit rating was taken in view the possibility of additional support from the EU and the IMF. The credit rating agency warned that any extension of maturities of existing sovereign bonds would be treated as a default event by markets.
Fitch said it planned to conclude a fresh review of the rating when the EU and the IMF report on their ongoing review of Greece.
 Maritime Affairs minister on cruises, coastal shippingThe organisers of the "Posidonia" exhibition held a press conference in light of the congress on Sea Tourism, to be held on June 21-22 at the new Letters and Arts Home of the Onassis Foundation, at which reference was made to cruises, coastal shipping and recreation boats.
Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis stressed that this conference aims at the promotion of the dynamism of sea tourism and the great importance it has for the growth of the Greek economy and of all the Mediterranean with Greece as the focus.
Diamantidis said the cruise, yachting and passenger shipping are constantly in the priorities of the Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries ministry policy, adding that Greece can become the growth catalyst for all the countries in the eastern Mediterranean.
 Bank credit to private sector remains negative in AprilThe annual growth rate of total credit granted to the domestic private sector slightly decelerated further to -0.5 percent in April 2011, from -0.4 percent in March 2011 and 0.0 percent in December 2010, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday. The central bank, in a report, said that net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative amounting to -377 million euros (April 2010: -146 million euros).
Net flow of credit to enterprises in April 2011 was positive, amounting to 212 million euros (27 million euros in April 2010) and the annual growth rate of credit slightly increased to 1.2 percent compared to 1.1 percent in March 2011 (December 2010: 1.1 percent).
The net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative, amounting to -191 million euros in April 2011, and the annual rate of change of credit decreased in comparison with the previous month (April 2011: -1.5 percent, March 2011: -0.4 percent, December 2010: 0.3 percent).
In April 2011, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to -399 million euros (-147 million euros in April 2010).
As a result, the annual growth rate of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions decreased further (April 2011: -2.2 percent, March 2011: -2.0 percent, December 2010: -1.3 percent).
 Decreases in household expenditures in Q1 of 2011 in Greece, Ireland and PortugalThe European Consumer Expenditure Barometer of Visa Europe is ascertaining decreases in households' expenditures in the first quarter of 2011 in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.
On the contrary, at European Union level, the consumer expenditure increased by 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011, compared to an increase of 0.3 percent during the fourth quarter in 2010. The increase was the highest to be recorded from mid-2006.
German households led this increase in consumer expenditure in the EU, since merchants in Germany took advantage of the healthy economy and the increased employment levels.
 Work stoppage in all Greek portsPort workers will be holding a work stoppage in all ports throughout Greece on Tuesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., in protest of the planned denationalisation of Greek ports.
Also, Piraeus Port Organisation (OLP) employees will hold a protest rally at Karaiskaki Square in central Piraeus, and from there march to the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries ministry.
A similar demonstration and march will be held in Thessaloniki.
Meanwhile, the board of the nationwide federation of port employees OMYLE will meet later Tuesday with union representatives of the other public utilities and state organisations (DEKO) that are affected by the government's privatisations program in order to discuss joint moblisations, while a 24-hour strike is also planned.
OMYLE president George Georgakopoulos, in a press conference on Monday, said that 51 percent of OLP and the corresponding Thessaloniki Port Organisation (OLTH) must remain under state control, adding that "the mother of all battles" will be waged in the event of privatisation of the organisation.
 Retail sales slump 17.7pct in MarchGreek retail trade slumped by 17.7 percent in March, compared with the same month in 2010, according to figures released by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on Tuesday.
More specifically, the Turnover Index in Retail Trade, excluding automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 15.5% in March 2011 compared with March 2010, while the Volume Index in Retail Trade, excluding automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 17.7% in March 2011 compared with March 2010.
According to provisional results, the turnover index in retail trade at current prices, excluding automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 15.5% in March 2011 compared with March 2010. The Index in March 2010 recorded an increase of 11.0% compared with March 2009.
The turnover index in retail trade, including automotive fuel, recorded a fall of 13.2% in March 2011 compared with March 2010. The Index in March 2010 recorded an increase of 14.5% compared with March 2009.
The volume of retail trade (i.e. turnover in retail trade at constant prices), excluding automotive fuel, decreased by 17.7% in March 2011, compared with March 2010. The Index in March 2010 recorded an increase of 10.6% compared with March 2009.
The retail trade volume index, including automotive fuel, decreased by 17.5% in March 2011 compared with March 2010. The Index in March 2010 recorded an increase of 9.7% compared with March 2009.
 ASE's 3rd annual Roadshow in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) will be holding its 3rd annual Roadshow in New York on June 2-3, with the participation of 17 listed companies.
The following companies will be participating in the two-day presentation: National Bank, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank, Bank of Cyprus, Piraeus Bank, Marfin Popular Bank, Agricultural Bank of Greece, Coca Cola HBC, Frigoglass, Ellaktor, Hellenic Petroleum, Motor Oil, Mitilineos, EXAE, Intralot, OPAP and Folli Folie.
According to a relevant announcement by the organisers, "the purpose of the roadshow is to bring the listed companies closer to the capital managers of abroad, giving their boards the opportunity to present their strategy and their investment plans directly to a large number of foreign investors."
 Business Briefs-- Investments in Greek industry are projected to rise by 2.5 pct this year, a report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) stated on Tuesday. This prediction spectacularly revises a previous forecast made in October 2010 of a 9.8 pct decline in investments this year.
-- The Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday announced a board decision to temporarily suspend trading in Tegopoulos Publications' shares for a period of up to 10 days, after the company failed to publish first quarter results based on internatinal accounting standards.
-- The five Greek-listed largest newspaper and magazine publishing groups reported losses totaling 27.5 million euros in the first quarter of 2011, up 32.9 pct compared with the same period last year, while revenues were down around 31 pct during the same period.
-- Inform Lycos on Tuesday reported higher first quarter results, with consolidated pre-tax profits rising 2.4 pct to 1.1 million euros, while EBITDA rose 6.0 pct to 3.3 million euros.
-- Intralot on Tuesday reported a 53.7 pct decline in its after and tax and minorities profits to 7.0 million euros in the first quarter of 2011, negatively affected by foreign exchange changes worth 5.8 million euros.
-- Cargo transport production fell 13.6 pct in 2010 to 33.7 million euros, while the damage index soared to 36.8 pct from 18.4 pct in 2009, a report by the Association of Insurance Companies of Greece showed on Tuesday.
-- Athens Water on Tuesday reported a significant increase in its first quarter pre-tax profits to 7.14 million euros, from 2.235 million euros in the same period last year.
 Stocks soar 5.58%Stocks recovered spectacularly at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reflecting a rapid improvement of climate in the market on press reports of a European solution to the Greek debt crisis in June (with the approval of a new loan), and optimism over the release of a fifth tranche of an 110-bln-euro support loan to Greece as the government was nearing agreement with troika officials over a Medium-term Fiscal Strategy Program.
The composite index of the market surpassed the 1,300 level to end at 1,309.46 points, up 5.58 pct, accompanied by a strong rebound in turnover (160.840 million euros). The Big Cap index jumped 6.83 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 3.70 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 3.92 pct up. PPC (2.02 pct), Hellenic Petroleum (0.45 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end lower, while Cyprus Bank (17.35 pct), MIG (14.29 pct), Eurobank (10.80 pct), National Bank (10.61 pct), Alpha Bank (8.59 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (8.0 pct) were top gainers.
The Health (2.95 pct) and Utilities (0.73 pct) sectors suffered losses, while the Financial Services (13.16 pct), Banks (10.06 pct) and Raw Materials (6.78 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 131 to 39 with another 33 issues unchanged. Moda Bagno (18.52 pct), Cyprus Bank (17.35 pct) and Maillis (16.67 pct) were top gainers, while AXON Holdings (18.67 pct), Aegean Airlines (11.46 pct) and Entersoft (10 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.38%
Personal & Household: +3.79%
Raw Materials: +6.78%
Travel & Leisure: +4.22%
Food & Beverages: +5.07%
Financial Services: +13.16%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, Coca Cola 3E and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 3.16
Public Power Corp (PPC): 9.21
HBC Coca Cola: 18.10
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.66
National Bank of Greece: 4.90
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.18
Bank of Piraeus: 1.01
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 13.25 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 13.46 pct on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 16.26 pct and the German Bund 3.01 pct. Turnover in the market improved to 31 million euros, of which 14 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 17 million euros were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 17 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.13 pct, the six-month rate 1.71 pct, the three-month 1.43 pct and the one-month rate 1.22 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.26 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover rising to 54.628 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 14,990 contracts worth 43.043 million euros, with 34,061 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 31,380 contracts worth 11.585 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (9,741), followed by Eurobank (2,370), MIG (1,586), OTE (2,283), Piraeus Bank (4,605), Alpha Bank (3,361), Marfin Popular Bank (1,484), Cyprus Bank (2,049), Hellenic Postbank (996) and OPAP (717).
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.460
Pound sterling 0.885
Danish kroner 7.567
Swedish kroner 9.026
Japanese yen 118.98
Swiss franc 1.245
Norwegian kroner 7.875
Canadian dollar 1.419
Australian dollar 1.370
 Con'f on Mediterranean diet in Koroni, MessiniaA conference on "Greece and the Mediterranean Diet: Innovative Actions-Optimum Practices" will take place on June 3 in the harbour town of Koroni, in the southern Peloponnese's Messinia prefecture.
The conference will three-day events marking the recognition of the Mediterranean Diet by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage of humanity following a joint initiative by Greece, Spain, Italy and Morocco last year.
According to UNESCO, the Mediterranean diet constitutes a set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table, including the crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food.
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a nutritional model that has remained constant over time and space, consisting mainly of olive oil, cereals, fresh or dried fruit and vegetables, a moderate amount of fish, dairy and meat, and many condiments and spices, all accompanied by wine or infusions, always respecting beliefs of each community.
However, the Mediterranean diet (from the Greek diaita, or way of life) encompasses more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since communal meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events. It has given rise to a considerable body of knowledge, songs, maxims, tales and legends.
The system is rooted in respect for the territory and biodiversity, and ensures the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts linked to fishing and farming in the Mediterranean communities which Soria in Spain, Koroni in Greece, Cilento in Italy and Chefchaouen in Morocco are examples.
 The 10th century Castle of PlatamonasThe 10th century AD venetian Castle of Platamonas, one of the most significant tourist destinations in Pieria prefecture, is a fortress-town of the middle Byzantine period at the southeastern foot of Mt. Olympus, nestled on a hill beside the sea in a strategic position above the shortest route between Macedonia and Thessaly.
The Castle, a walled medieval settlement, is one of the most beautiful and best preserved castles in Greece and, given its position, controlled the road to the entrance of the Valley of Tempe, the strategic passage to southern Greece.
Built on the site of the ancient city of Herakleia, named after the demi-god Heracles (Hercules), Platamon (Platamonas) Castle recently underwent restoration work and is now not only fully accessible to visitors, but also hosts concerts and other cultural events during the summer.
An imposing site by day, the Castle takes on a breathtaking charm at night when the newly-installed floodlights are turned on.
 'Antigone' staged in BeijingBEIJING (ANA-MPA)
Sophocles "Antigone" will be performed here in the Chinese language by students of the renowned Beijing Academy of Drama, under the direction of noted theatrical director Theodore Terzopoulos.
"Antigone" has been translated into Chinese by well-known Hellenist and academic Luo Niansheng, whose body of work includes translations of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Homer, Aesop and Lucian, amongst others.
Terzopoulos has established a theatrical troupe at the Beijing Drama Academy that focuses on themes and techniques of ancient Greek drama, cooperation that dates to 1984, according to a press report here.
The premiere of the 10-performance run of "Antigone" at the Beijing Drama Academy's new theatre was scheduled for Tuesday.
 Rescued Chilean miners arrive in Athens with their familiesThirty-three miners that were rescued after being trapped underground in a Chilean mine for more than two months last year, arrived with their families in Athens on Tuesday afternoon.
The miners are visiting Greece at the invitation of the Greek Mining Company (ELMIN), employees of which gave them a warm welcome at Athens airport.
"Faith in God was what kept me alive all those difficult days," said one of the miners on arrival.
"I was praying continuously and what kept us alive was that we remained united, while with our faith we supported each other spiritually," said another, adding that "it is not worth one dealing with petty problems, while what one should appreciate is life itself."
The miners will visit the New Acropolis Museum on Wednesday following an invitation by Culture & Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos.
After touring the museum they will attend a luncheon hosted in their honor.
The miners, whose ordeal captivated television audiences worldwide for 69 days, are visiting Athens with their families, accompanied by television crews of the three major TV channels in Chile.
The miners had remained trapped last August 700 metres underground at the San Jose mine in Chile.
 Jewelry shop owner fatally shot in apparent robberyA jewelry shop owner was fatally shot during an apparent hold-up on Tuesday in Lykovrissi.
Police believe that robbery was the incentive for the attack, but no witnesses have yet been found to confirm whether anything has been taken.
According to police, neighbors heard a sound coming from the shop at about 9:20 a.m., and saw two people running away from the scene.
The neighbors ran to the shop, where they found the 34-year-old owner fallen in a pool of blood.
The jeweler was rushed by ambulance to hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds shortly afterwards.
Police investigating the incident said that the jewelry shop was in disarray, which lends credence to the robbery theory.
 Fixed matches suspects testify before prosecutorThe fifteen suspects under investigation in a fixed football games scam testified before an Athens prosecutor on Tuesday, The suspects, 14 men and one woman, face charges of money-laundering and fraud against OPAP S.A., the state-run betting and lottery pools group.
Based on OPAP claims, most of the suspects have won large amounts, up to 90,000 euros, by wagering on fixed games.
According to the prosecutor's office, the suspects allegedly placed their bets into predictions for more than five fixed games in 2010.
Case files for "suspicious" matches are expected to be put together by prosecutors in other cities as well, including Thessaloniki, where similar instances of "super winners" have been reported.
 Violence between illegal migrants in IgoumenitsaSeveral illegal migrants from Iraq are wanted for their alleged part in the attack and robbery of rival Afghan nationals near the port city of Igoumenitsa, extreme NW Greece, authorities said on Tuesday.
Two Iraqi men were arrested and another eight are wanted by police following the mugging of the four Afghans.
Scores of illegal migrants from mostly Third World countries have recently camped out on the foothills overlooking to Igoumenitsa in their bid to clandestinely board Italy-bound ferryboats.
 Muslim place of worship attacked by arsonistsArsonists early Tuesday attacked a hall used as a Muslim place of worship in the Athens district of Kallithea, endangering tenants.
Unidentified persons broke the glass front of the hall and doused it with flammable liquid, to which they set fire.
The fire did not spread because people who were sleeping in the hall at nights were woken up by the noise and quickly extinguished the fire, which caused minor material damage.
Attica security police were investigating the incident.
 Road accident deaths, injuries down in MarchRoad accidents throughout Greece involving death or injury fell by 25.8 percent in March against the corresponding month in 2010, according to figures released on Tuesday by the independent Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
More specifically, a total of 973 road accidents involving death or injury were recorded throughout the country in March 2010, down by 25.8 percent against the corresponding month in 2010.
A total of 83 people were killed in road accidents in March, down 26.5 percent over March 2010, 117 people were seriously injured (down 5.6 percent over March 2010), and 1,057 people suffered lighter injuries (down 29.3 percent over March 2010).
 Fair on WednesdayFair weather and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 14C and 29C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 16C to 29C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 28C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe government's negotiations with the Troika (EC, IMF, ECB) for the disbursement of the fifth installment of the EU-IMF bailout loan, the new tax package, the rapid privatisations beginning with Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), turmoil in ruling PASOK and the cuts in civil servants' lump sum retirement superannuity and benefits, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "One billion euros will be channeled to small and medium sized enterprises".
AVGHI: "The auction begins".
AVRIANI: "Our taxes will go to the Troika".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Layoffs and cutbacks in salaries 'sealed'."
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Venomous installment - Painful and rapid privatisations agreed before the disbursement".
ESTIA: "Additional taxes a huge mistake".
ETHNOS: "Discounts in the new tax package".
IMERISSIA: "Agreement with the Troika - The mid-term programme to be 'sealed' within the next days".
KATHIMERINI: "Wave of 'indignants' in ruling PASOK".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "The fifth installment to be judged by the end of the week".
RIZOSPASTIS: "June 3, day of action with PAME (labour union affiliated to Communist Party of Greece) against the new measures".
TA NEA: "Cuts to retirement superannuity and benefits".
VRADYNI: "70,000 unemployed to be hired in tourism sector".
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