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Crete & Greece
August to December 2013
Smog from fireplaces in Greek cities causes political headache
23 December 2013 ekathimerini via

The smog created when unfavorable weather conditions meet an increased use of fireplaces to warm homes became a
political, as well as environmental, issue on Monday, with the government coming under pressure from its own MPs to
reduce the tax on heating oil.

Multiple warnings were issued over the past few days with regard to the high levels of air pollution in Athens, Thessaloniki
and other major Greek cities as a result of households burning wood to stay warm rather than using expensive heating oil.

In some places, air pollution briefly exceeded 150 mg/m3, which the government last week set as a the trigger level at
which it would offer free electricity to poor households.

The Athens Medical Association warned people to take care about what they burn in their fireplaces and called on the
government to create a more comprehensive policy to deal with the problems people have in heating their homes.

On Sunday, the Health Ministry warned the elderly and asthma sufferers that smog levels in Athens and other urban areas
were at dangerous levels due to weather conditions and the high number of people burning wood to stay warm. The
Health and Environment ministries had issued a statement on Saturday night asking households to limit the use of
fireplaces to prevent the buildup of smog.

House prices have fallen 37.6 percent
17 December 2013 ekathimerini
House prices in Greece have plummeted 37.6 percent in real terms since the beginning of the financial crisis five years ago,
according to the Bank of Greece’s Monetary Policy report issued on Tuesday.

The report also mentions that estate agencies have reported an even greater drop in prices.

Notably, the slide has been steeper in Athens and Thessaloniki, with large properties in the most expensive areas of the
country being the hardest hit.

The report comments that the property market continues to be dominated by excessive supply and a significant decline in
demand, which can be attributed to the dramatic increase in unemployment, the drop in households’ disposable, soaring
property taxes and the instability of the tax framework.

Given the very strict terms under which credit is issued by banks, the lack of cash flow is another major factor in the
shrinking demand for houses, the BoG notes.

Details of politicians' earnings, & wealth, published online
16 December 2013
The so-called origin of wealth forms (pothen esches in Greek) that some 694 politicians were obliged to submit in 2012
were published on parliament's website on Monday.

Among those obliged to file returns were all sitting MPs, MEPs, party treasurers, as well as their spouses and children.

The data will remain online until 16 January 2014.  Politicians are obliged to state their incomes, property holdings, share
interests, bank deposits (domestically and abroad) and all other business activities.  
read more

Grimaldi Launches New Ferry Service Between Italy and Greece
16 December 2013
talian shipping company Grimaldi Group has launched a new direct service to expand its coverage in the Adriatic routes
between Italy and Greece.

As of 19 December 2013 the new maritime service, dedicated to the transport of rolling freight and passengers, will be
launched between the ports of Ravenna, Igoumenitsa and Patras.

The vessel deployed on the line will be the Euroferry Olympia, a ro-pax ferry with a length of 183 meters and a beam of
28.50 meters, a loading capacity of 200 trailers and 600 passengers, accommodated in cabins and reclining seats.

Draft law seeks to improve rights of non-Greek speaking suspects
13 December 2013 ekathimerini
A draft law submitted to Parliament on Friday by the Justice Ministry aims to improve the rights of suspects by making it
obligatory for them to be provided with interpreters and translations of documents during the judicial process.

Anyone arrested will have to be given a document detailing their rights, with a translation of the text being made available
to suspects who do not know Greek.

2,000-year-old olive trees being turned to firewood in Crete
12 December 2013
Ancient olive trees, some 25 meters in circumference and over 2,000-years-old, are being felled in Crete for firewood
according to reporting in today’s
Kathimerini newspaper (link in Greek).

The report describes how enterprising loggers are illegally cutting down olive trees that were alive during the time of the
ancient Greeks, to the horror of local residents

Demand for firewood has increased dramatically in recent years due to price rises in heating oil, and olive wood is
particularly valued as it is a dense wood providing heat for many hours. Together with the greater financial incentive,
many also accuse authorities of turning a blind eye to loggers' destruction of Crete’s ancient olive trees with all of their
history and symbolism.

Greece seen as most corrupt country in EU, Transparency International finds
4 December 2013 ekathimerini
Greece scored 40 out of 100 points on the perception of corruption scale published by Berlin-based NGO Transparency
International on Tuesday, putting the crisis-hit nation on a par with China, but showing that it has made some progress
from last year when it scored 36 points.

The score of 40 also shows that Greece is seen as the most corrupt nation in the European Union, far below the best-
performing Denmark, which scored 91.

The ranking, which covers 177 countries, is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption on a scale from 0 (highly
corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Greece ranks in the 80th spot among the 177 countries, below Bulgaria, Senegal and Tunisia. It is on a par with China and
just one spot up from Swaziland.

Only one in two Greek firms paying employees on time
2 December 2013 ekathimerini
Only one in two Greek companies are paying their employees on time, leaving more than 1 million employees unpaid for at
least one month, according to research carried out by the General Confederation of Greek Workers’ (GSEE) Labor Institute.

“The phenomenon of unpaid workers started to gather pace in the fall of 2012,” the legal adviser to the Labor Ministry, G.
Melissaris told Sunday’s Kathimerini. “At the start it was one month, then two, three, even up to a year.”

There have also been reports of companies agreeing contracts with employees in which they agree to pay them every
three months rather then monthly.

“Unpaid workers are trapped because they have not been fired and cannot receive unemployment benefit but they are
not salaried either because they work without pay or for a small amount of what they are owed,” added Melissaris.

Woman dies during flooding in Peloponnesian town of Argos
2 December 2013 ekathimerini
A 55-year-old woman has died during flooding in the town of Argos in the Peloponnese.

The woman, who is thought to be Serbian, died in the basement flat she was living in when a wall collapsed amid flash

Dozens of firefighters were called to Argos after two rivers in the area broke their banks.

Other towns and villages also experienced problems with flooding. The fire service also received more than 100 calls to
pump water out of basements in Corinth and Kiato, west of Athens, due to the heavy rain.
Health Minister warns striking EOPYY doctors
28 November 2013 ekathimerini
Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis on Thursday warned protesting doctors of EOPYY, Greece's main healthcare provider,
against plans to continue their strike.

The union of EOPYY doctors, who have been striking in protest at cuts and dismissals in the country's healthcare system,
has decided to extend action until next Tuesday, the 3rd of December.

“I am not prepared to keep in the public sector people who are not necessary,” Georgiadis told Skai on Thursday. “I would
then have to cut from pensions, which I consider immoral,” he said.

“No one can blackmail the state,” said Georgiadis adding that the Health Ministry has already hammered out a plan B
“which doctors will not like.” He did not provide more details.

Project to expand the airport of Chania restarted - 25 November, 2013
25 November 2013
After a delay of two months, due to problems with subcontractors, the contractor company has started again from noon
last Saturday the expansion projects at the airport "G. Daskalogiannis" in Chania.

Works have been sped up in order to "win back" the lost time, so the first visitors of Spring will not find the airport as a
construction site.

The Airport Manager of Chania, Mr. Stavros Kastrinakis, told that the projects are now developing in the area where the
coaches were stationed, and where will be the eastern extension of the terminal building.

To overcome the problems, according to reports, the contractor company chartered a special vessel and transferred it to
Chania, with its own machines which now execute the project

Greece has fired or suspended 116 tax inspectors, deputy minister says
18 November 2013 ekathimerini
More than 110 tax inspectors have been suspended or fired as a result of a variety of offenses, Deputy Finance Minister
Giorgos Mavraganis told Parliament on Monday.

Responding to a question from an Independent Greeks MP, Mavraganis said that 111 have been suspended and 5 fired.
The timeframe in which this disciplinary action was taken is not clear.

Mavraganis also said that 897 tax office employees had retired. However, he added that 449 new tax inspectors had been
appointed last year and another 52 are in the process of being appointed.

Twelve drown off Greek coast after boat capsizes
15 November 2013 ekathimerini
Twelve immigrants, including four children, drowned on Friday after their boat capsized just off the Greek island of Lefkada
in the Ionian Sea, the coastguard said.

Greece is a major gateway for immigrants trying to make their way illegally from Africa and the Middle East into the
European Union.

"The immigrants called police on their mobile to say their boat was in distress," a coastguard official told Reuters.

"When we arrived we found fifteen people on the shore and picked up eight bodies, including four children."

The immigrants said there were more people on their six-meter long boat and a diver was looking for them.

Child removed from Roma camp in Thessaloniki
12 November 2013 ekathimerini
In a case similar to the one involving “Maria”, a Roma child taken last month from the Gypsy couple looking after her when
it was proved they were not her biolog-ical parents, a 4-year-old has been removed from a Roma camp in Thessaloniki fol-
lowing a check on records showed that the boy’s birth was declared only a few months after his supposed parents
registered another child.
Following the Maria case, Supreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani asked local prosecutors to check birth records
from the last five years for anything suspicious.
This led to the discovery in Thessaloniki.
The child was removed from the camp after DNA tests showed the couple looking after him were not his biological parents.
Another six suspicious cases are being investigated.

After 8 years of trying, Cretan couple get a surprise delivery
12 November 2013 ekathimerini
A 33-year-old Cretan woman who gave birth to a healthy baby boy on Monday said she had not realized that she was
pregnant despite her increase in weight.
The woman, who was not named, was rushed to the main hospital in Lasithi on Mon-day after complaining of stomach
pains and subsequently gave birth.
Speaking to a Cretan radio station on Tuesday, she said she and her husband had been trying for a child for the past
eight years.

Inmate found dead in cell in Hania Prison
9 November 2013 ekathimerini
A 67-year-old man was on Saturday found dead in his cell at Hania Prison on the island of Crete.
The man, who was being held in custody on drug trafficking charges, was discovered by a fellow inmate who notified
prison officials.
The cause of his death has not yet been confirmed.

Cretan Farmers Protest
5 November 2013 Enet English
Tensions flared outside Irakio courthouse on Crete on Monday afternoon when a group of farmers forced their way into
the building, demanding the acquittal of 92 farmers on trial for causing damage to public property during a sit-in at Iraklio
airport in 2009. The protesting farmers, who had earlier participated in a rally expressing opposition to the taxation of
farming land, a measure included in a government-sponsored draft law for real-estate taxation, kicked down the
courthouse door and entered the courtroom after the judges had withdrawn to deliberate on their ruling. A police officer
and two special guards were injured by flying glass.

Forms for 2014 road tax available from Taxisnet from November 11
4 November 2013 ekathimerini
Motorists will be able to obtain the document they need to pay their road tax for 2014 via the Taxisnet online system from
Monday, November 11, Finance Ministry official said.
The general secretary for revenues, Haris Theoharis, said that motorists will be able to take this forms to any bank to pay
their road tax, as happened last year.
Roads tax for 2014 will remain unchanged from this year, ranging from 22 euros for vehicles with an engine capacity for
under 300 cc to 1,320 for those with engines that are 4 liters or larger.
The only difference is that for 2014, owners of cars whose engines are 1,929 cc or more, will also have to pay a luxury tax
next year.

First Sunday opening ‘a success’
4 November ekathimerini
The government and the Development Ministry in particular appear to have passed the Sunday opening test, as consumer
traffic at stores in Greece last Sunday, at least in the main shopping areas, turned out to be greater than expected.
A key factor in the success of the first application of the Sunday opening law was the fact that it was a day that formed
part of the fall sales – also a new measure – while the favorable weather also helped.
“The picture of our cities changed. Consumers embraced both the idea of the 10-day sales periods and stores opening on
a Sunday,” stated Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Monday. “We have therefore done very well to ignore those
who expressed a fear of the new. We are just doing the same as most countries in Europe. Why shouldn’t we in Greece?”
the minister said.
However, it was again evident that retail commerce is a two-speed market in Greece, with those benefitting being the
major chains and enterprises with stores in malls, rather than small and medium-sized enterprizes.

General Strike Wednesday November 6th
Greece’s civil service union, ADEDY and the private sector union, GSEE, have announced a 24 hour strike for November 6.

Other than bringing the civil service and parts of the private sector to a standstill, the strike will also see all passenger and
cargo ferries remaining in port as the seamen’s union, PNO, has also said it will join the action.  

Police looking for Bulgarian couple said to have left 'Maria' at Farsala Roma camp
22 October 2013 ekathimerini
The Roma couple charged with abducting a young girl aged between 5 and 6 who has come to be known as "Maria" and
was taken by authorities from a Roma camp in Farsala, central Greece, after DNA tests confirmed that the couple are not
her real parents, told the investigating magistrate on Monday that the child had been left in their care by a Bulgarian Roma

The man, identified by authorities as Christos Salis, aged 39, told the magistrate that "Maria" had been left in his and his
wife's care in Farsala by a couple who are Bulgarian nationals. He claimed that he was not at the camp when the child was
left there and had later urged his wife to hand her over to authorities.

His wife - who has two police identity cards with different names and dates and places of birth, one naming her Eleftheria
Dimopoulou, aged 41, and the other naming her Selini Sali, aged 40 - backed her husband's statement, saying that she
refused to report the incident to authorities as she had grown attached to the young girl.

Authorities on Tuesday were trying to track down the man that Salis claims left the child in Farsala via a telephone number
he provided to authorities.

First ever Autumn sales start on November 1
21 October 2013 ekathimerini
Greece’s first ever fall sales are set to start on November 1, lasting for nine days including Sunday, November 3, when all
stores will also be open, as dictated by the new law on retail stores.

Retailers may get a desperately needed boost, having suffered severely from the drop in consumer spending, and will
have the chance to sell their fall stocks while promoting winter merchandise at lower prices.

The latest available data by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) on retail turnover, from July 2013, show a 14.4
percent decline from the same month in 2012. The latter half of July hosted the summer sales period.

The November sales period will be the first intermediary spell to come under the new law, while the next will come in the
first 10 days of May. The first Sunday of each sales period is a working day for all retailers, including shopping centers,
regardless of size.

Family of Albanian national, living in Crete, donates organs
19 October 2013 ekathimerini
The family of a 40-year-old Albanian national dying from a brain tumor agreed to donate his organs after his medical
condition was deemed irreversible by doctors at the Venizeleio Hospital in Iraklio, Crete, late on Friday.

The man’s kidneys were flown to Athens, his liver was flown to Thessaloniki and his corneas were transferred to another
hospital in Iraklio.

Quake of 6.4 magnitude in west of Crete
12 October 2013 Reuters
An earthquake of 6.4 magnitude was detected in the Mediterranean Sea west of the island of Crete on Saturday, but
there were no reports of casualties or damage, the Greek police and fire brigade said.

The center of the quake, which struck at 1311 GMT (16.11hrs local time) was 22.5 miles below the seabed 43 miles west of
Chania on Crete, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Greece is often rocked by earthquakes. Most cause no serious damage but a 5.9 magnitude quake in 1999 killed 143

Hiking Tragedy in Crete
2 October 2013 ekathimerini
A British woman was reported to have died on Tuesday after falling into a ravine while hiking on the southern Aegean
island of Crete.

The 55-year-old Briton was on a hike with her daughter in the oak forest of Rouva in the region of Iraklio on the northern
coast of Crete, when she lost her footing and fell into a ravine.

Rescue crews called to the scene of the accident found her body lying at the bottom of the ravine. They believe that she
died of injuries to her head as a result of the fall, the state-run Athens-Macedonia News Agency reported.

The 55-year-old woman's name was not made public.

58 year old Briton in  critical condition after falling from Malia hotel balcony
1 October 2013
An intoxicated British tourist, 58, fell from the balcony of the hotel where he was staying in Malia.

The tragic incident happened last night, while his wife slept, and reportedly after they had both drank a large quantity of

The man is in a critical condition in a Crete hospital.

Golden Dawn MPs knew about killing, calls show
1 October 2013 ekathimerini
Incriminating evidence against Golden Dawn mounted Monday, as six of its deputies prepared to face a magistrate on
criminal charges from Tuesday, with extracts of a leaked prosecutor’s report offering insights into GD’s modus operandi
and illicit activities while transcripts of wiretapped phone conversations between members of the extreme right-wing party
appeared to implicate the grouping in the murder of a leftist rapper last month.

The prosecutor’s report indicates that the party’s charter – which operates according to a strict structure and hierarchical
command resembling the Nazi Fuehrerprinzip – was enforced in the murder of 34-year-old Pavlos Fyssas last month.
Wiretapped phone calls between Golden Dawn officials suggest that the leadership of the party was briefed about the
Read more

EOPYY limits doctors’ choices of medicines
1 October 2013 ekathimerini
In the next step in the government’s efforts to limit waste and corruption with regard to prescription medicines, doctors
using the electronic prescription scheme will face a limited choice of drugs that they can recommend for certain ailments.

As of Tuesday, doctors were issued with “protocols” that inform them about which medicines they can prescribe for
diabetes, dyslipidemia, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and neurological disorders to patients who will be claiming the
money for these drugs from the country’s main healthcare provider, EOPYY.

The medicines prescribed for these illnesses account for about 50 percent of EOPYY’s total outlay on drugs each year. Last
month, it emerged that EOPYY would likely miss its overall spending target of 470 million euros for 2013 and that it owed
some 500 million euros to pharmacists and clinics.

Golden Dawn head, MPs arrested in unprecedented Greek crackdown
28 September 2013 ekathimerini
In an unprecedented crackdown over the weekend, police arrested the leader of the ultra-right Golden Dawn, Nikos
Michaloliakos, as well as several lawmakers and party officials following an investigation by a Supreme Court prosecutor
into criminal activities linked to the party, including the murder earlier this month of leftist hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas by a
supporter of Golden Dawn. The lawmakers faced a magistrate later in the day.

The arrests – the first such crackdown since the fall of Greece’s military junta in 1974 – followed rumors over the weekend
of mass resignations by deputies of the ultra-right party and speculation about the likely need to hold by-elections. There
was speculation about the intense political upheaval such a development could trigger, though senior government officials
ruled out the possibility of snap general elections.

General Strike Tues 23 September and Wed 24 September
ADEDY public sector workers and GSEE private sector workers in Greece have announced a new 48 hour strike for Tuesday
and Wednesday 23 and 24 September 2013. There are as yet no details on whether Air Traffic Controllers will join this
strike; note they did not take part in the
48hr strike last week. Should air traffic controllers decide to join the strike it is likely that they will strike for just a few
hours on one or both days. Any updated announcements will be published

Golden Dawn Pavlos Fyssas Stabbing: Greece 'Has Hit Red Line'
18 September 2013 ibtimes
Greek journalists and politicians have reacted strongly to the fatal stabbing of an anti-fascist hip-hop singer, allegedly by a
member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

Pavlos Fyssas, nicknamed Killah P, died after being stabbed outside a café in the Keratsini area west of Athens. Police
arrested a 45-year-old member of Golden Dawn and raided its headquarters in the Greek capital.

Some reports indicate that the suspect told his wife to throw away his Golden Dawn party card when he realised that
police were looking for him. Authorities found the evidence in a garbage bag outside the 45-year-old's residence in Nikaia,
south-eastern Attica.

Public order minister Nikos Dendias said the killing and recent violence involving the party "shows in the clearest possible
way the intentions of the neo-Nazi creation".

"I am shaken by the event," Dendias said.

Following the death of Fyssas, Nikos Xydakis argued in Greek newspaper Ekathimerini that the country has hit its "Red
Line" as far as Golden Dawn is concerned.

"September 18, 2013, must be seen as a wake-up call for Greek democracy, the country's institutions and its citizens," he
wrote. "The murder of 34-year-old musician Pavlos Fyssas in Keratsini by extremists is the culmination of a wave of violent
activities over the past few days which began with attacks on Greek Communist Party members in Perama, carried out by
alleged supporters of Golden Dawn."

Last week, 50 men wearing black T-shirts and bearing the Golden Dawn logo, attacked and beat up communist members
in Perama, south-west of Athens, who were putting up posters ahead of a planned youth festival.

Stinky stowaway taken off airplane
12 September 2013 ekathimerini
A skunk that somehow found its way into the Olympic Air cargo area at Iraklio’s international airport on Crete Wednesday
prompted an intervention by airport staff while rescue workers and the fire service were also summoned to the airport.

The skunk was eventually captured and handed over to the Iraklio Natural History Museum, local reports said without
determining whether the animal was alive when it was caught.

School's out from September 16 as rolling strike begins
EnetEnglish, ANA-MPA
Secondary school teachers have decided to start rolling, five-day strike from Monday 16 September, in protest at the
government's so-called mobility scheme that will see thousands of teachers sacked or transferred to other jobs in the
public service.

The decision the new school year will begin as scheduled on Wednesday 11 September.

In a statement issued on Monday night, the Federation of Secondary Schoolteachers (Olme) asked the government how
schools can be expected to operate with 16,000 fewer teachers and with classrooms with 27 to 30 pupils.

Lawyers to hold strike September 17-18
4 September 2013 ekathimerini
Greek lawyers were expected to stage a 48-year-hour strike on September 17-18 in protest to a series of reforms put
together by the coalition government.

The lawyers are reacting to a proposal that would see the abolition of a set minimum fee in their sector, leading them to
agree on their fees with clients on a case by case basis.

Supermarkets oppose initiative to sell expired goods
2September 2013 ekathimerini
The country's major supermarkets have said they will not sell expired foodstuffs at reduced prices, as recommended by a
government initiative aimed at providing products with a long shelf life to consumers on low incomes.

Supermarket representatives reportedly said that the initiative, which was announced last month by the Development
Ministry's general secretary for consumers, Giorgos Stergiou, and came into force on Monday, is not in keeping with their

Responding to criticism by consumer groups last month, Stergiou said last month that the directive had been
misinterpreted by media reports and does not represent a public health hazard. The official assured consumers that the
new directive does not concern expired food products, but those with a long shelf life that have passed their «sell-by»

Civil servants’ union calls walkout for Sept. 18-19
30 August 2013 ekathimerini
The civil servants’ union, ADEDY, on Friday called a two-day strike for September 18 and 19 to protest the government’s
plans for cutbacks and forced transfers in the public sector as part of the country’s commitment to its foreign creditors.

Athens has promised its creditors that it will put 12,500 civil servants in a so-called mobility scheme, where staff are put on
a reduced wage ahead of their transfer or dismissal, by the end of next month and another 12,500 by the end of the year.

Journalist faces trial for reporting near Nato base at Souda
29  August 2013 enet english
A journalist is expected to stand trial after police detained him after he recorded a report near the Nato military base at
Souda Bay on Crete on Wednesday.

Marios Dionellis, a reporter with Skai TV on Crete, had gone to a hill, near Mouzouras village, frequently used by journalists
as a backdrop when reporting about the base.

In a live broadcast for an afternoon news programme at 3.10pm, Dionellis reported on the reactions of local authorities,
business people and residents to reports that Souda could be used in any military intervention in Syria. (His report can be
viewed here, 14 minutes into the programme.)

Shortly before 4 pm, as the reporter and his cameraman were drove down from the hill, they were stopped by a Greek
airforce van.

A short time later, police arrived, who brought them to Chania police station, where they were kept until 8pm, when a
prosecutor ordered their release.

The pair where charged under a 1936 law for "breaching fortification positions" and now face trial.

Eleven charged with illegal camping on Crete
23 August 2013 ekathimerini
Police on Crete detained 11 people for free camping along the banks of the island’s Lake Preveli on Friday.

All 11 were charged with camping illegally while four of them face the additional charge of marijuana possession.

ADEDY decides on strike, rallies end of Aug.
22 August 2013 ANA-MPA
Civil sector umbrella labour union ADEDY will hold a strike and rally on August 29 as part of actions to protest layoffs and
shutdowns of public services, while state hospitals hold a work stoppage on Friday for the same reasons.

In an announcement on Thursday, ADEDY noted that "it will not remain inactive before the 'death' of civil services the mass

On Monday, its board will convene with federation representatives to decide on the escalation of their mobilisations that
are initially scheduled to peak on Saturday 7 September with a demonstration at the Thessaloniki International Fair.

Finally, on August 30, the ADEDY board will convene to decide on further mobilisations for September.

Crete police divert traffic from site of rock fall that injured motorist , Wednesday August 21 2013
Police on Crete on Wednesday diverted traffic between the port of Hania and Kissamo after a rock that fell onto a car from
a hillside near the Topolia tunnel left a 34-year-old female motorist with critical injuries on Sunday.
The rock, weighing about 5 kilos, rolled down a mountain and hit the car’s sun roof.
The diversion is to stay in place until authorities finish installing a rock fence along the road.

Gov't to lift ban on home foreclosures, FinMin insists
18 August 2013 ekathimerini
Greece will lift restrictions on home foreclosures to allow banks to recover bad loans, the finance minister said on
Saturday, adding fuel to a row that may test the cohesion of its fragile coalition government.

Cash-strapped banks are currently barred from auctioning most first homes owned by delinquent borrowers, under a
temporary measure introduced in 2010 to protect austerity-hit households.

The freeze on forced auctions, which has already been extended three times and is set to expire on December 31, should
not be extended any further, technocrat finance minister Yannis Stournaras said.

"If auctions aren't liberalised, then banks will collapse,» he was quoted as saying by weekly newspaper Realnews.

The European Union and the International Monetary Fund, which have spent about 38 billion euros ($50.67 billion)
between them to rescue Greek banks, are pressuring Athens to take measures to clean up lenders' balance sheets.

But several lawmakers from the country's two-party ruling coalition oppose foreclosures, fearing a backlash from home-
owners amid record joblessness and plunging wages.

Kefalonia Fire Under Partial Control
18 August 2013 Greek Reporter
A big fire that broke out in the afternoon of Aug. 17 in the region of Kouroupata on Kefalonia, the largest of the Ionian
Islands in western Greece, was said to be contained by firefighters. It was burning near villages but it didn’t threaten

Many units of the Fire Brigade are still operating in the region in order to put the fire under control.

On another island, Thasos, firefighters there pushed back a conflagration with the help of the Greek Army and other units.
Fire Brigade units were still on the island in order to deal with potential revivals of the fire.

Student's death touches nerve in austerity-hit Greece
16 August 2013 Reuters
A 19-year-old Greek student who died after an argument with a bus ticket inspector has come to symbolize the plight of a
population ground down by worsening poverty and unemployment.

Thanassis Kanaoutis suffered a fatal head injury when he fell or jumped from a moving bus as it passed through a middle-
class neighborhood of Athens late on Tuesday.

Prosecutors have not yet established how Kanaoutis died.

Witnesses said they saw him brawl with the ticket inspector. The bus company said he pulled the emergency brake to
jump out, but the family's lawyer said Kanaoutis might have been pushed during the altercation.

The incident quickly touched a nerve in Greece, where the government is using increasingly tough methods to collect
revenue under pressure from its international lenders to fix its finances.

The main opposition party and several media commentators were quick to blame the government's austerity policies for
his death.

"Kanaoutis died because he didn't have a ticket worth 1.20 euros" said the main opposition Syriza party in a statement.
"This highlights in the most tragic way the desperate situation into which bailout policies have plunged large parts of
Greek society," Syriza added.

It demanded free public transport for the unemployed, low-income pensioners and students.

Skeletons found on Gavdos
9 August 2013  / Flashnews
Police were asked to solve the mystery of the bones of three skeletons that were found on the border island of Gavdos.
They rushed to the island along with the Coroner Mr. Stamatis Belivanis.

Reportedly, the skeletons were identified by visitors of Gavdos, who informed the authorities.

This morning they went by a Coastal Police boat to Gavdos. However, according to the same information, the bones were
dating back to long ago. Residents of Gavdos refer to the period of the German occupation, while others talk about even
earlier, something that will engage the archaeological services.

Civil aviation unions call off strike
6 August 2013 ekathimerini
The Federation of Civil Aviation Authority Unions (OSYPA) has called off a series of 24-hour rolling strikes originally
scheduled on August 9, 10 and 11.

The move came after union representatives met with Transport Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis on Tuesday.

According to OSYPA officials the stike had been planned in protest at the government’s decision to place 300 civil aviation
workers in the public sector mobility scheme.

Greece cuts VAT on meals to encourage tourism
1 August 2013 Euronews
Greece may be trapped in recession and on a drip feed of international aid, but eating out just got cheaper.
The VAT sales tax on restaurant meals, take-aways and catered food has been cut from 23 percent to 13 percent. The
move by the government was intended to boost tourism, a crucial industry for the economy. The Finance Ministry expects
the move to bring down prices by an average eight percent.

Economist Panagiotis Petrakis told euronews this was a rare opportunity that should not be squandered: “It is crucial to
the success of this measure that restaurant owners genuinely reduce their prices, as this is the first time in the last three
years that we have a substantial tax reduction in Greece.”

But some restaurateurs protested they had already cut as much as they can afford and they doubted the usefulness of

“Reduced VAT” signs in both Greek and in English have popped in many eateries.

VAT will only stay down if customers benefit: “If the prices are not reduced, the government has said it will revise its policy
and put VAT back up to 23 percent at the end of this year,” said correspondent Stamatis Giannisis