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Crete rubbish dumps land Greece in EU court again.  

The European Commission said yesterday that it was taking Greece to court for its failure to make safe
two rubbish dumps in Crete and to find ways of disposing of hazardous waste other than in illegal

The Commission sent a final warning letter in April because it felt the government was endangering
human health and the environment by not clearing the defunct Kouroupitos landfill site near Hania and
the temporary waste storage site at Messomouri, which replaced it.

Brussels decided yesterday that Greece had not done enough to remedy the situation despite
reassurances from Athens earlier this year that programs to clean up both sites had been approved.
Greece's referral to court is the culmination of five years during which the EU has hounded the
government over its failure to do anything about the environmentally damaging effects of the
Kouroupitos dump.
In 2000, Greece became the first member state to be fined by the European Court of Justice for
ignoring EU legislation, by operating the Kouroupitos dump. Greece was fined a total of some 4.7 million

However, independent experts found in 2003 that, at the Kouroupitos dump, the soil used to cover the
site had been washed away by rain, while at the Messomouri site high levels of methane gas were
found and untreated liquid from the site was flowing into the sea.
The EC also referred Greece to court yesterday over its failure to come up with a system to deal with
hazardous waste, which Brussels said was being dumped untreated in almost 1,500 illegal landfills
around the country. The EC said the dumps offer no protection to humans or the environment and that
Greece has failed - at least over the last seven years - to take any action to improve the situation.

Cremation rights

An amendment to a legislative proposal to allow the right to cremation, which is forbidden by the
Orthodox Church in Greece, was submitted in parliament yesterday.
According to the amendment the non-existence of cremation centers in Greece violates citizens’
constitutionally protected right to religious freedoms.

Migrant Protests

Hundreds of migrants gathered in front of Athens City Hall on Saturday to ask for equal rights and to
protest against racism. Immigrant groups highlighted the problems facing their children, who are often
not granted birth certificates by Greek authorities, leaving their parents to obtain the documents from
their country of origin.  They were also protesting over the proposed 900 Euro fee for 5 year residence

Bank transfer costs too high

BRUSSELS - Greek consumers pay particularly high commission charges to banks when transferring
money compared to other Europeans, according to a European Commission survey completed last
Data show that money transfers in Greece cost a minimum of 12 euros, which is more than twice the
amount in 2001 and substantially higher than the rate in other eurozone countries. With Spain
excepted, the commission banks charge for money transfers does not exceed 5 euros and is often far
The EU’s executive body on Thursday submitted a proposal for the creation of a “Single Payments Area”
by 2010. The aim is to make cross-border payments, including credit cards, as easy, cheap and secure
as national payments within one member state. Currently each member state has its own rules on
This means that using a credit or debit card or any other form of money transfer within EU member
countries should not incur more charges than a similar transaction within the same country.

This will apply to the entire EU and not just the eurozone, where the proposed directive will apply the
rules for bank transfers to all payment methods. With the creation of the single payments area,
Brussels is expecting to save between 50 and 100 billion euros per year and to bolster competition
among credit institutions in favor of the consumer.

Thousands struggle in poverty

One in four Greeks has trouble paying for basic needs and one in five lives below the poverty line,
according to research by the National Center for Social Research (EKKE) made public in Sunday’s
Using guidelines on social exclusion set by the European Union, EKKE found that 25.3 percent of Greeks
have difficulty paying their utility bills, a week-long vacation or any meat, fish or vegetables to eat every
second day.
According to EKKE’s study, only 42 percent of Greeks are in a position to say they are not socially
excluded in some way.
The EU has 11 criteria for measuring social exclusion, including poverty, poor quality housing, low level
of education, difficult access to jobs and a polluted living environment.
Almost 18 percent of Greek men and 36 percent of women fall into three or more of these categories.
Although half of those who fulfill three or more criteria for social exclusion are unemployed, over 16
percent have steady jobs.
Meanwhile, about a tenth of Greeks live in polluted areas, EKKE found.

December Heat Wave
2nd December 2005

Temperatures in Crete have soared over the last three days, reaching 30oC in Chania  today. The
forecast is good but somewhat cooler over the weekend.

Two bank robberies in 24 hours
2nd December 2005

On Wednesday morning at 11am robbers at the National Bank in Vrisses, Apokorona got away with  
2,000 euros. The bank's safe containing 150,000 euros  was  protected by it's timer - safety mechanism.
Yesterday morning four masked gunmen held up a post office bank  in the village of Aghia Fotini near
Rethymnon and made  off with 60,000 euros in farmers’ pensions.  The men broke into the building
shortly after 7 a.m. and fired into the air once before forcing three employees to hand over sacks
containing pension money. The pickup truck in which they made their getaway was found later by

25th November 2005
A strong tremor at 11.30am this morning, south of Palaiohora, was felt in Western Crete. It measured  
5.4 on the Richter scale.

Storms bring sea and land problems
24 Nov 2005
A number of flights and ferry services were canceled in Athens and Thessaloniki yesterday as heavy
rainfall and high winds swept across the country, authorities said, forcing at least three large-scale sea
rescue operations.
Authorities said adverse weather conditions grounded some flights to islands in the Aegean while all
ferries remained anchored at Piraeus prefectural officials said yesterday

KTEL ticket prices to rise
Bus fares will have to increase due to recent petrol price rises, Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said
yesterday after representatives of the Intercity Road Transport Companies (KTEL) asked him for
increases of between 7 and 8 percent. Liapis did not say whether he would agree to these rises.
Meanwhile, a bill aimed at renewing KTEL’s fleet — at a cost of 20 million euros — has been submitted
to Parliament.

‘Buy Nothing Day
The Consumer Institute (INKA) yesterday called upon all consumers to boycott all stores and markets
on the occasion of World Buy Nothing Day on Saturday 26th November,  in protest at high prices and
profiteering. INKA appealed to consumers not to spend even 1 euro on goods or services to protest
rising prices.

Stores indicted over bad food
Four major supermarkets have been referred to prosecutors for dozens of health and safety violations
as well as operational breaches,.
Authorities took action against the Lidl, Carrefour-Marinopoulos, Dia and Kanakis chains after
inspections found goods unfit for human consumption and inadequate health and safety standards at
branches in Salamina.
At Dia, goods that had past their expiry date were found on the store shelves, inspectors said. Also at
Carrefour-Marinopoulos prices for products displayed on shelves were allegedly found to be different
from those at the checkout register.

Wind park 24/11/05

A new wind park of 9.35 megawatts (MW) capacity is to be inaugurated in the Kissamos district of
Hania in Crete on Saturday by a subsidiary of Electricite de France (EDF), which recently launched a
36MW facility near Kranidi, Peleponnese. EDF has announced a 500-million-euro program of investment
in renewable energy sources in Greece over three years, for which it has obtained the necessary

Earthquakes 21/11/05

An earthquake measuring 4.4 on the Richter scale shook Patras in western Greece at 7.56 p.m.
yesterday. No injuries or damage was reported. The quake’s epicenter was in Nafpaktos, northeast of
Patras, seismologists said. A 4.5-Richter quake also shook the town of Siteia in Crete at 7.26 p.m. on
Saturday. There were no injuries or damage there either

Red Tape Reduced.

It’s official! – time consuming red tape in Greece is being reduced says the Interior Ministry. Citizens
seeking different state-issued certificates in the last few months have been spared some 70,000
bureaucratic hurdles. In particular KEP offices (Citizens Service Centres) now take the strain out of a lot
of procedures

Olympic Airways Relaunch
Nov 19th 2005

It has just been announced that the Greek state owned carrier Olympic Airlines (OA) is set for a re-
launch in April 2006, with the majority to be owned by private investors. The airline will keep the word
“Olympic” in it’s title and will also keep the five ring logo. Current schedules will remain unchanged until
the new schedules are announced in April 2006.

Another round of Strikes
Friday11th November 2005

Flight disruptions, hospitals on emergency staff, school disruptions.
The Greek Civil Servants Unions (ADEDY) today staged a 24-hour strike, demanding higher increases in
wages and pensions. Local Self-Government organisations, hospitals, the Civil Aviation Authority and
teaching staff in primary and high schools are also participating in the strike.

In addition, due to the strike by air traffic controllers, all of today’s scheduled flights have been
cancelled, while hospitals, where the Association of Hospital Doctors of Athens and Piraeus (EINAP) has
also announced a 4-hour work stoppage for Friday, will operate with emergency staff.

ADEDY is demanding a new introductory wage scale of 1,200 euros, minimum wage and the
introduction of heavy and health hazardous work stamps (with the same criteria in force in IKA) in the
Public Sector.

The  Greek General Confederation of Labour Unions (GSEE) has announced a 24 hour all-workers strike
for December 14th.

Greek water is trickling away
Greece has one of the highest annual rainfall figures in the Mediterranean, but about a third of the
country is close to desertification as farming drains most of the nation’s water reserves, according to
data released yesterday.
A study prepared by WWF Greece in cooperation with the Agriculture University of Athens showed that
Greece benefits from some 800 millimeters of rainfall per year compared to 498mm in Cyprus and
636mm in Spain.
Rainfall varies across the country and this leads to different amounts of water available in many areas,
the study pointed out.
The agriculture sector seems to have an unquenchable thirst that is burdening water reserves.
Farmers use 86 percent of water available in Greece. Globally, about 70 percent of water goes to
agriculture on average.
Waste and bad management of water in the farming sector leads to a series of problems, such as the
polluting of surface water, said WWF’s Panagiota Maragou, who is responsible for protected area
About 35 percent of Greece is in danger — or already showing signs — of desertification. Another 49
percent of the country is at moderate risk of the phenomenon, which transforms arable or habitable
land into desert through climate change or destructive land use.
According to a United Nations report also released yesterday, in 2025 some 63 million people in
southern Mediterranean countries will lack the basic 500 cubic meters of water per inhabitant per year.
Greece has angered the EU over its failure to disclose information concerning its water resources, as
specified by an EU guideline. The matter is on course for a referral to the European Court of Justice.

Bank bait attracts watchdog
9th Nov 2005
Increased competition in the Greek banking market has some of the players in the sector resorting to
questionable marketing tactics, raising concerns at the country’s bank regulator, sources said
Bank of Greece sources told Kathimerini that the regulator is keeping a close eye on advertisements
that have been flooding the market recently by lenders pushing their mortgages and loans.
Increased competition and strong domestic credit growth has banks fighting it out for a part of a
growing industry. In a bid to increase market share, many banks are not charging for different home
loan expenses, such as legal fees.

Sources said that some of the marketing campaigns set out to confuse potential customers by giving
the impression that a particular bank will settle for a smaller monthly payment. The fine print, however,
reveals that the attractive lower monthly installment applies only for an initial period.

There are also concerns as to whether banks have properly informed their customers about the impact
of a possible interest rate hike. The growing possibility of a rate hike in 2005 increases the risks for
mortgage holders who have obtained a loan with a floating interest rate to come under a heavier
financial burden.
Credit growth in Greece has been strong in the last few years as residents are still coming to terms
with a low interest rate landscape after the country’s entry into the eurozone in 2001.
In a move aimed at protecting borrowers, the Bank of Greece recently required banks to issue loans
that do not demand more than 30 to 40 percent of their customers’ monthly incomes.

Yacht fire
4th Nov 2005
A 38-year-old Polish laborer was burned to death on Wednesday night after trying to rescue his
passport from a flaming yacht moored at the marina in Rethymnon, Crete, police said yesterday. The
unnamed Pole and a fellow countryman — both homeless — had sought refuge on the yacht, which has
been moored at the marina for the past two years, according to police. The blaze was probably caused
by a candle lit on the yacht, according to firemen.

Tests fail to find bird flu in Greece
31/10/05      " Kathimerini"
The Greek government has started to pick up the pieces left behind by a false alarm over a suspected
case of bird flu appearing in the country after final tests confirmed that a sick turkey found on an
eastern Aegean island was not infected with the deadly strain of the disease.

The Agricultural Development Ministry said on Saturday that tests carried out at a European Union
certified laboratory in Weybridge, England were negative for the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Greece was quick to inform the EU’s agricultural services over the weekend and other international
bodies about the test results in a bid to reverse some of the damage suffered by its poultry sector.
Industry experts said that after a Greek laboratory supposedly located antibodies that belong to the
avian flu on a turkey on the islet of Oinouses a few weeks ago, demand for poultry products slumped
by up to 70 percent.

Saturday’s test results mean that the export ban imposed on Oinouses and the region will be lifted.

Government officials will be keen to close the book on the incident after reportedly confusing the
samples sent for confirmation tests in a mix up that even prompted a Supreme Court investigation into
the handling of the matter

Pressure mounts for more euro banknotes
As Greece continues to grapple with one of the highest inflation rates in the European Union, the
government yesterday repeated its call for the European Central Bank (ECB) to substitute 1- and 2-
euro coins with banknotes, saying that it would give consumers an improved sense of the currency’s

Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said he welcomed a resolution signed by 371 European deputies
— out of a total of 732 — calling for the changeover.

“The highlighting (of the issue) from such a large number of European deputies... is of particular
importance and we consider that it will create pressure on European bodies and the ECB,” Sioufas said.

The issue had been discussed before in July but was rejected by the ECB, which is responsible for the
eurozone’s monetary affairs

Cretan hotelier held hostage in Portugal
Lured to Portugal by the promise of a business deal, a Cretan hotel owner endured five days of
beatings after being held hostage by a gang which demanded a 100,000-euro ransom from his family,
officers said yesterday.

The unnamed 55-year-old businessman flew to Lisbon on Saturday to clinch a deal with a Portuguese
company that supposedly wanted to hire his small hotel for the next three months. The hotelier was
kidnapped by seven Romanians posing as the interested parties, officers said.

The man was allowed to call home to arrange for ransom payment. His family contacted the police in
Crete, who notified the Portuguese authorities. Three Romanian men and a woman were arrested
yesterday when they went to pick up the first 5,000 euros in ransom. Two more men were then
arrested when police raided a house in the Lisbon suburbs, where they also found the Cretan hotelier.

Two men arrested for allegedly selling smuggled women to bars
Two men, suspected of smuggling women into Greece and then selling them to bar owners, have been
arrested, police in the northern city of Kilkis said yesterday. A 67-year-old man and a foreign national,
aged 37, were caught after an officer posed as a prospective customer, offering 5,000 euros to buy two
women. The two women, aged 18 and 34, from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
were also arrested.
See also It is estimated that in Greece today there are some 20,000 women
forced into the sex industry.

Cave hides mass grave
Archaeologists probe 1,400-year-old tragedy that wiped out community
Sometime in the late sixth century AD, a group of at least 33 young men, women, and children sought
sanctuary from an unknown terror in a sprawling subterranean network of caves in the eastern
Peloponnese. Carrying supplies of food and water, oil lamps, a large Christian cross and their small
savings, the refugees apparently hunkered down to wait out the threat. But experts believe the
sanctuary became a tomb once supplies ran out.

At the time, Greece, which was part of the Byzantine Empire, was reeling under a wave of invasions by
Slavs and Avars — a nomadic people of Eurasia — some of whom may have penetrated as far south as
the Peloponnese.The caves, near the modern village of Andritsa, some 170 kilometers (105 miles)
southwest of Athens, retained their dark secret until their discovery in 2004. Finds from the excavation
are currently on display at the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens.
Dimitris Hadzilazarou and fellow excavator Lina Kormazopoulou are still searching for clues to explain
the calamity.“We think something prevented these people from getting out. It may well have been
human action such as an enemy attack, or even a natural event,” Kormazopoulou said.“Future
investigation should help answer the riddle, but we may never learn the full truth.
”Digs in late 2004 and early 2005 revealed human remains — many huddled in what look like small
family clusters — 113 fired clay pots, a large bronze processional cross inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer
in Greek, cheap jewelry and over 200 coins, mainly low-denomination copper pieces.
The refugees — Greek-speaking Christians believed to have come from a nearby village — probably
entered the caves through a near-vertical, 14-meter (46-foot) shaft, down which they lowered several
large water jars and other pottery items before descending by rope or ladder.“They seem to have had
warning of an imminent danger, and fled to a hiding place they knew,” Kormazopoulou said.
The coins helped date the events to just after AD 575, some 40 years after Emperor Justinian built the
crowning achievement of Byzantine architecture, the church of Hagia Sophia, in the imperial capital of
Constantinople — modern Istanbul.A Byzantine chronicle mentions a Slav invasion of the Peloponnese
in AD 587, but so far no archaeological evidence has been found to back that up. Excavators believe
the victims succumbed to thirst, hunger and hypothermia.

Finds from  the Andritsa cave in southern Greece are on display at the Byzantine and Christian museum
in Athens until November 15.

Top prize for services in its class
Athens International Airport was yesterday voted top of its class at the 11th World Route Development
Forum in Copenhagen. Athens airport was ranked first for its airline support program and contribution
to route development in the category of airports servicing 10-25 million passengers per year.

Seven quakes strike in Ionian Islands and northern Greece but no damage or injuries
14th September 2005

Northern Greece and the Ionian Islands were shaken by seven earthquakes within a few hours,
reaching as high as 5 on the Richter scale, but no injuries or damage were reported, authorities said
yesterday. A 4.5 Richter quake struck 30 kilometers east of Thessaloniki at about 10 p.m. on Monday. It
was followed by another four smaller-sized quakes on the Volvis fault line, which caused a deadly
tremor in the area in 1978. Meanwhile, a 5 Richter quake with an underwater epicenter southwest of
the Paxoi Islands struck early yesterday morning, followed by another minor quake close to Cephalonia.
Experts said there was no cause for concern

Government says Olympic Airlines will keep flying regardless of EU decision
13th  September 2005
With a vital European Union decision on Olympic Airlines’ (OA) future expected tomorrow, the
government said yesterday that the national air carrier will continue to fly regardless of whether
Brussels rules the company has received illegal funding.
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that the state is looking into its options
regarding the airline, which may soon be required to pay back more than 500 million euros in state aid.
“The procedures being examined today — concerning either its sale or its liquidation in operation — are
time-consuming. During this period, Olympic will continue to fly,” he said.
The liquidation in operation would involve the government selling the company’s assets while
maintaining its services.
Tomorrow the EU is expected to release the findings of a probe into possible state aid provided to OA
by the previous government in 2003. EU laws ban state subsidies to airlines and companies that
received such funds are required to repay them.
If ordered to repay the aid, Olympic could be effectively forced to close down after 48 years of
operation. Greece has repeatedly tried to sell the airline but all four previous attempts have failed
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on the weekend that, regardless of the decision this week, the
8,000 workers at the airline will not find themselves on the street and will be transferred to other public
sector positions

Meanwhile, the company reassured travelers yesterday that flights will continue as scheduled

One in four school buses fails early test
13th September
Almost one in four buses transporting schoolchildren in Athens was found to have breached transport
safety regulations as the government conducted random tests on the first day of the school year
Inspection teams consisting of police and Athens prefecture officials found that out of a total of 369
buses checked, about 80 were found to be in breach of regulations.
Most drivers were guilty of driving buses that did not have seat belts, lacked the proper signs indicating
that schoolchildren were on board, drove on worn tires and did not have a fire extinguisher.
“Unfortunately, the first day of tests found that school buses have problems,” Athens Prefect Yiannis
Sgouros said.
“Some do not understand the importance of transporting small children in safety,” he added.
Fines of between 410 and 1,065 euros were imposed while the number plates from five vehicles were
Last year, some 7,000 checks on school buses revealed almost 600 infringements, according to police.

Iraklion fire
13th September
Firefighters managed to put out a blaze that had broken out yesterday morning at an electrical goods
store in the center of Iraklion, Crete, and threatened to spread to nearby buildings. There was concern
that the fire, which was probably caused by a short circuit at a Kotsovolos appliance store, could have
caused major damage to a busy area of the city. The fire brigade said it was one of the greatest
firefighting efforts ever seen in Iraklio.

Crete drug lords in police battle
20th August 2005 -
Cretan police trying to access a notorious belt of drug farms near the mountains of Rethymnon are
reconsidering their tactics after coming under fire by Kalashnikov-wielding guards earlier this week, a
local policeman has told Kathimerini.
The “Devil’s triangle,” traced out by the villages of Anogeia, Zoniana and Livadia, has become
“inaccessible,” according to the officer whose unit referred to a “state of complete lawlessness”
following the attacks.

Apart from providing a base for the island’s cannabis cultivation, the “triangle” is also believed to be a
hub for trade in illegal arms and drugs.
But cannabis is the focus, with special sprinklers set up to water the illegal plants and Albanians armed
and under orders to fire at any perceived trespassers, the officer said. He added that hand grenades
are often planted upon the steps leading to the cultivations to thwart police.
Police have often played down incidents in the area in their reports so they won’t have to face the drug
mavericks, the officer said.

Fires Across Greece
5th  August 2005
Soaring temperatures throughout Greece have caused fires across the country, fanned by strong
winds. In Crete
the area of Mesara, near Iraklion in Crete, a fire which burned some 50,000 olive trees as well as
irrigation systems and an as yet unspecified number of livestock . It was put out late on Wednesday
night.  Another fire broke out near Hania yesterday near the site of a blaze which was extinguished on
Wednesday after 30 hectares were burned.
A week after one of Attica’s most destructive forest fires, which authorities are convinced was the work
of arsonists, the government has offered a reward of up to 100,000 euros for anyone who comes
forward with information that could lead to arrests.  350 Hectares of forested area, and up to 100
homes were destroyed or partly destroyed by that blaze.

Vengeance wrought in Cretan vendetta?
5th August 2005
A 21-year-old Cretan vendetta seems to be behind the murder in Athens yesterday of a man who police
say served a jail sentence for being an accomplice to a three-person murder in Crete back in 1984.
Spyros Vomvolakis, 60, was shot eight times in the back a little after 7 a.m. yesterday as he was
leaving his home in Keratsini, near Piraeus. Police said that no witnesses have come forward in
connection with the incident.
Records show that Vomvolakis was jailed for seven years in 1982 for attempted homicide. However, he
managed to escape from prison six months later only to be arrested again in 1984 for his involvement
in the murder of three members of the Sartzetakis family in Crete.
He was then sentenced to three life terms after being found guilty of masterminding the attacks. The
killings were conducted by another person.
In 1994, Vomvolakis was conditionally released from prison for health reasons and never returned to
Crete, but police believe that somebody on Greece’s largest island had not forgot him.

MPs vote on labor bill - -  While workers Strike
26th July 2005
Todays  vote in Parliament on the labor reform bill will mark the last round in the government’s current
series of structural reforms, but the ruling conservatives have, according to sources, already started
planning the changes they want to introduce next year.
Among these proposed changes are more reforms of public companies and an overhaul of the
education system.

Meanwhile newspaper and printing employees, broadcasting media organisations employees, the
General Workers union and the Federation of Trade Associations all organised a 24 hour strike today to
protest against the reforms.

New store hours passed, flexible workday on way
24th July 2005
Major steps toward implementing two of the government’s key pieces of legislation for this term of
office were taken yesterday as Parliament approved a bill extending shopping hours while also giving
an initial nod to its draft law on labor reforms.
In a streamlined summer session of Parliament, a vote of 55 MPs in favor and 44 against paved the
way for shops to stay open until 9 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. on Saturdays. The ruling conservatives
believe the new law will help stimulate the market and reduce unemployment by creating more jobs.
“The change in opening hours is necessary as part of the modernization of the Greek market,” said
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. “It is being demanded by customers and trade, which cannot
survive with rules that were in effect during the last century.”
MPs voted in principle yesterday to pass the labor bill — another key tenet of the government’s
structural reforms policy — which seeks to introduce cheaper overtime and flexible work hours.

Probe in Iraklion after tens go down with stomach bug.
24th July 2005
Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis yesterday ordered local authorities in Crete to conduct an
investigation into how some 84 people who were patients, staff or visitors at the university hospital of
Iraklion ended up suffering from gastroenteritis. Hospital authorities have already begun checks within
the building and on food for any suspect bacteria.

Empty beaches
24th July 2005
There are no lifeguards at 186 of the 496 Greek beaches that are required to have them, said Merchant
Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis yesterday. He ordered the port police to investigate if the
authorities and organizations in charge of the beaches without lifeguards were living up to their legal
obligations to fill the positions.

Banks Still Striking
19th June 2005
Bank workers held two more 24hour strikes last week over new changes in their pensions. They are
due to hold more strikes next week.

14th June 2005
An earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale was recorded in the sea region south of the
prefecture of Chania in Crete at 10.31am today.  Its epicenter was in the sea between Sfakia,
Paleochora and Gavdos. The tremor was felt most strongly in the province of Sfakia, but it was also felt
in the prefecture of Chania and the neighboring prefecture of Rethymno, alarming the local residents.
No damages were reported.

Home made bomb explodes in Chania Town Centre
6th June -Haniotika Nea
It was a miracle there were no victims when a little after midnight on Saturday night a home made
bomb exploded on Smirni street, behind the bus station, causing only material damage.
A car driver threw an explosive device onto the 1st floor of a building, at an apartment belonging to a
dentist, as he drove by and then raced off. Windows were shattered by the explosion which was widely
heard in the area and caused panic among residents, however no one was injured.
Police are investigating the incident.

Statue return
30 May 2005
An important sixth-century BC statuette, stolen during World War II from a museum on Samos, is to be
returned to Greece after being identified in Britain, the Greek Embassy in London said yesterday.
Valued at 30,000 pounds sterling (43,500 euros), the 11.4-centimeter-high bronze miniature kouros —
a nude statue of a young man — was yesterday given to embassy officials in London by its last owner,
antiquities dealer James Ede.

Government to act on spiraling consumer costs
19th May
The deputy development minister will meet today with dairy industry representatives — producers,
manufacturers and supermarkets — to find out why milk is so expensive in Greece.
At the same time, the Competitiveness Commission will announce final decisions about the fines it will
impose on supermarkets for “coordinated practices,” or setting common prices behind the scenes.The
message from the government is clear: Punish every attempt to undermine free competition while
simultaneously fighting all acts of profiteering.The Competitiveness Commission announced recently
that it will soon start examining the prices of detergents, bottled water, soft drinks and other products.
This makes it clear that the government intends to seriously approach the huge problems caused by
spiraling consumer costs.The government is acting as a result of pressure from the media, but also
because of the outcry from sectors of the public who have watched their purchasing power steadily
The introduction of the euro  was the springboard for a series of price increases of a profiteering nature.
In many cases these increases affected cheap products in daily use whose prices rose by up to 100
percent or more, with the grotesque result that Greece is now more expensive than, say, Germany,
where wages are double or even triple those in Greece. Wage earners and the middle classes have
seen their purchasing power diminish drastically and with it their standard of living. kathimerini

More Strikes Across the Country
18th May
Public services across the country will be subject to disruption today as employees join a 24-hour strike
by the main civil servant's union (ADEDY). Workers are to stage a rally in Korai Square, in central
Athens, from 11 a.m. They are demanding a minimum wage of 1,200 euros, improved social security
benefits for hazardous professions and collective labor contracts. Yesterday, the union representing
state high school teachers (OLME) called upon its members to join the ADEDY strike. Teachers want a
25 percent wage increase. kathimerini

Attempt to Reform social Security
26th April 2005

A first tentative step toward attempting to reform Greece's creaking social security system was taken
yesterday as the government assigned the task of coming up with new ideas and a framework for
discussion to a panel of employer and labor representatives

Earlier this month, the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), the country's largest umbrella
union, warned that the financial resources of Greece's main social security fund, IKA, would dry up in 20
years' time. Industrialists and the governor of the Bank of Greece, Nicholas Garganas, in his annual
report on Monday, also urged the government to forge ahead with social security reforms.

Probe into killer steam irons
An investigation was launched by the Greek government yesterday into why authorities had waited
until late Wednesday before informing consumers about a brand of steam iron held responsible for the
electrocution of at least two people last year.

The Development Ministry issued a statement on Wednesday night saying that a batch of Chinese-
made, 1,800-Watt Perla steam irons were “particularly dangerous” to use. The ministry said that 338 of
the 816 irons sold in Greece had yet to be returned to electrical retailers and advised consumers who
still had them not to use them.
Two people have been killed while using the brand of steam iron in question. An engineer at the Kavala-
based company which imported the irons was killed last March after suffering an electric shock as he
was about to repair one of the irons. Also, a Kavala court recently awarded 300,000 euros in
compensation to the family of a Karditsa housewife who died in a similar fashion last February.

Samaria Gorge Opens
Monday 18th April 2005

Samaria Gorge opens early again this year, 12 days ahead of schedule (officially 1st May is the opening
date), but strong winds in  the south caused the  cancellation of ferries from Agia Roumeli at the exit of
the gorge.

Thick Cloud of Saharan Dust over Crete
17th April 2005

A thick cloud of dust brought by gale-force (warm)  southerly winds from North Africa  enveloped the
island of Crete today  severely reducing visibility. Wind gusts of up to 93km p.h were recorded in
Chania. Weather experts say it is a normal phenomenon for this time of year.  See archive pictures at:

Refugee’s body washed ashore
9th April 2005

On Saturday night the body of a man was found on the rocks in Gianiskari, 4km from Paleochora. The
unidentified man is believed to have been on the boat ‘Mustafa Ali’ which was discovered by the
authorities just off the coast of this area on April 1st with 100 Arab refugees aboard. Residents of the
area who spoke to the refugees say that they were told that 10 people had drowned and they are
now certain that more bodies will be washed ashore.
Authorities say the body is that of a man aged over 30  who had been in the water for a number of
days, but that the exact cause of death has not yet been established.

VAT Increase 1st April 2005

Greece's conservative government decided to raise value added taxes and levies on most alcohol and
tobacco products as part of a plan to slash the European Union's largest budget deficit. The main VAT
rate will increase from 18 percent to 19 percent on April 1. The 8 percent rate on food, medicines and
many services will rise to 9 percent.

Tax on most bottled spirits will be raised by 20 percent on the same date, while the minimum price for
the cheapest cigarettes on sale will go up to euro 1.40  from 80 euro cents  -  most name brands sell
for at least euro2.70. Taxes on ouzo and other traditional bottled Greek spirits will go up 10 percent.
The increased taxes and euro3.5 billion worth of cuts in public spending are expected to lower Greece's
budget deficit from 6.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2004 to 3.5 percent in 2003 and 2.8
percent in 2006. The EU has a 3 percent deficit cap on countries that use the euro and has given
Greece until the end of 2006 to comply.

In Crete the Hotel Owners Association say that hotel owners will be particularly hard hit this year as
they were under pressure from Tour Operators to lower their prices after record low bookings over the
last four years, so many have already negotiated lower rates and will now be hit with the added VAT

Holiday Vouchers (Deltia Koinonismou Tourismou) for IKA  Contributors

Holiday vouchers are available for qualifying IKA contributors for greatly reduced price hotel
accommodation at the many participating hotels throughout Greece and the islands.
Vouchers for 2005 holidays are available from the end of March through April from OEE offices. They are
issued alphabetically according to surname, and start with 'A' on 28th March.
Every other year workers with 100 days IKA , 50 days for unmarried mothers, plus stamps for the
previous year, are entitled to holiday vouchers or theatre/cinema tickets and book  tokens through the
OEE for themselves and any dependents (spouse and children aged 5 to 18 years).
This programme is also income-related and declared earnings (for 2005  - last year’s tax return, filed in
2004 for the year 2003 is required) must be below the specified amounts below to qualify:
Single Person                               14,385 Euros
Married Couple                            23,940 Euros
Married Couple with 2 children   28,035 Euros
Vouchers are issued along with an information booklet giving details of participating hotels. You can
choose  where and when you wish to go and then phone the hotel direct to book ahead.
Contact your local OEE office (Organismos Ergatikis Estias – Workers Social Benefits Organisation) for
Chania: Papandreou 95. Tel. 28210 94454
Rethymnon: Giampoudaki & Psarron. Tel. 28310 29124
Heraklion: L. Dimokratias, 71306 Heraklion. Tel. 2810 282 997
Agios Nikolaos: Leukon Oreon 7 Tel.28410 24584  

Shopworkers Strike - Monday 28th March

More strikes across the country today; this time it's the shop keepers and workers who are protesting
over government plans to extend shop hours. Some shops will also remain closed on Tuesday.

Clamp-down on Underage Drinking -  27th March

Over the last few months the Ministry of Public Order has ordered the police to crack-down on
underage drinking across Greece. It is illegal for minors under the age of 17 to enter bars and consume
alcohol. Until recently this law has rarely been enforced and minors throughout Greece would be
admitted to bars and clubs and served alcohol.  The police are now enforcing this law  throughout the
country with regular checks on bars, and arrests of bar owners who serve under-age drinkers.
In Heraklion yesterday two bar owners were arrested for allowing 25 under-age drinkers into their bars
and serving them alcohol. The police had issued previous warnings to all bar owners to be particularly
vigilant over the holiday periods when students traditionally celebrate in bars.
Bars and clubs are required to have a sign outside stating
"Entry is forbidden and is illegal for any person under 17, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian "

Two unexploded  shells from WW2 found in Rethymnon Harbour
10th  March 2005
During improvement works being carried out in the area of Rethymnon  harbour workers yesterday  
uncovered  two shells in the harbour area and immediately notified the Port Authorities who called in
Navy explosives experts and divers  from Athens and Chania.  Around midday an explosion was heard
as the shells were  blown up  in a controlled explosion while  the harbour and marina areas were
sealed off by port authorities.
A few months ago other explosives from WW2 were discovered  in sea areas and  the Navy has since
been investigating.. The pieces of the detonated shells will be tested at a Naval laboratory to
determine the type of explosive, and the results will be known in a few days.

Guns, Hashish and Cocaine
10th March
Over seven kilos of Hashish, four grams of cocaine and three guns were found yesterday when police
arrested two brothers aged 30 and 23 in Chania.  According to the Chania Chief of Police, this is one of
the biggest hauls of hashish in the Chania region.

Animal Welfare - Outrage in Athens!
28th February 2005
Unjustified seizure of dogs from Crete, at the port of Pirδus near Athens: 58 dogs, property of the
Arche Noah Kreta were illegally detained this morning, and transported to an unknown location, by
opponents of animal welfare organisations. Main activist: Mrs. J. Karagkouni…
More on this story  and UPDATES

Strikes across Greece
28th February 2005
Banks go on a 24 hour strike today over workers social insurance and pensions. Also closed today are
Universities and TEI across the country as professors and teachers call for the government to address
the major education issues. Students and teachers hold demonstrations throughout the country.
Primary and high school teachers are also set to strike on the 10th March.

On 17TH March the General Workers Union is calling for a 24hour strike which will involve banks, postal
services and DEH (Electrical company), amongst others.

Kolimbari (West Crete) Harbour in need of major repairs.
Winter storms have caused major damage to the harbour and beach area at Kolimbari. Parts of the
harbour and beach road and wall have collapsed, threatening houses and property.  The local council
are still waiting for a grant of 150,000 Euros to start repairs.

Unemployment in Greece
24th February 2005
Unemployment in Greece in the third quarter of 2004 stood at 10.1% according to figures announced
this week. In particular the young, 15 - 29 age group are affected with umemployment rising to 19.9%
in this group.
The lowest unemployment rates in the country are in the Ionian  Islands (4.7%) and in Crete (5.8%),
while the highest are in West Macedonia (16.4%)
The number of  young unemployed, those coming into the job market for the first time, make up 42.4%
of the total unemployed,

Blue Star Ferries Confirm Withdrawal
16th February 2005
Following yesterday's  news in the Haniotika Nea, Blue Star Ferries later  announced that they will be
withdrawing from the Chania(Souda)/Piraeus route on the 3rd March. The ship Blue Star 2 will be
moved to the Piraeus – Igoumenitsa – Bari (Italy) route.

Blue Star Ferries to pull out of  Souda – Piraeus?
15th February – Haniotika Nea
There are rumours that Blue Star Ferries are to withdraw their Souda -  Piraeus service . Blue Star
currently run a year-round daily ‘high speed’ service on this route, with a crossing time of 5 hours
Hellenic Sea Ways (ex Hellas Flying Dolphins), partly owned by Minoan Lines,  are planning to run a
summer-only high speed daily service on this route, in July, August and part of September, with a
journey time of just 4 hours 45minutes.
ANEK Lines also run daily on the Souda - Piraeus route with an overnight crossing, in both directions, of
nine and a half hours.
Blue Star Ferries have refused to confirm or deny the rumour.

Taxi Fares Increase
15th February 2005

From today taxi fares increase by an average 8%.
Single tariff rises from 28 cents to 30 cents per kilometer.
Double tariff rises from 53 cents to 56 cents per kilometer.
Minimum fare rises from 1.60 Euros to 1.75 Euros.

Avalanche kills 5
13th February 2005
Five climbers were killed by an avalanche on Sunday near the ski centre of Mainalo in the Peloponnese;
another 23 climbers survived. The party of 28 had set off from Athens in the morning to climb the Profit
Ilia peak. A helicopter, special rescue team and firemen  were involved in the rescue and recovery of
the bodies It is unknown what caused the avalanche.

Bad weather in Crete  - 5th February
Rain, hail, thunderstorms, high winds and low temperatures, down to 3oC, have hit Crete over the last
few days. Ferries were cancelled and main roads strewn with fallen rocks in places after heavy storms.
Mountain villages have seen heavy snow fall…. Omalos had more than 30cm of snow.  The bad weather
is forecast to continue until at least Wednesday 9th Feb.

Supermarkets under attack again -  4th February 2005
The Consumer Protection Centre, KEPKA, accuses supermarket owners of continuing to operate illegal
practices by:

- Advertising low price offers on products yet charging higher prices at the checkout. The usual ‘excuse’
by supermarket owners for this is that the prices are programmed into computerised tills by the
companies’ head offices and so is not the responsibility of the branch.

- Products are no longer individually marked and prices are only displayed on the shelves. But the
shelves contain the same products, of different brands in different packaging and weights and not all
products are priced, leading to confusion for consumers.

- Price at the checkout is often higher than the shelf–marked price. Price increases are first programmed
into computers and later changed on the shelves.

KEPAK ask that consumers report any of these practices, however small or insignificant the amount may
seem. Tel . 2310 233333.
In the last three years since the introduction of the Euro supermarket prices have risen annually on
average 10 - 12 %. This is 3 to 4 times higher than the rate of inflation of around 3%.

Sales - 1st February 2005
The winter sales start 1st February in Greece and Crete. If you are thinking of making a large purchase,
February is the time for bargain prices!

Free Greek Lessons in Chania
The Nomarxio Xanion are running free Greek classes for EU residents and legal immigrants in Chania.
Classes are in the evenings and are split into 4 groups, from Beginners to Advanced. Current classes
are now full (90 places), but a new series of lessons will be starting in March 2005.
Tel. N.E.L.E (Nomarxio) 28210 30149 for details and enrollment February/March.

Call for Education Reform - 22nd January 2005
High school students and teachers took to the streets to stage protests across Greece Friday, calling
for reforms to the education system.  Old and unsuitable buildings, lack of teachers, books and  lack of
a full programme of lessons which force students to attend frontistiria (private school lessons)  
meaning  parents must  pay for the childrens education, are some of the problems. There are calls for
free public education for all, a 15% increase in education funding and the abolishment of frontistiria.
Related article in Kathimerini newspaper.

Improvements needed in Infrastructure in Western Crete - 19th January 2005

A local work group comprising of members of the tourism council, economic studies, Hotel Association of
Chania, and others, set up to study local infrastructure for tourism needs reports that a series of works
for improvements in Western Crete are required:

- The immediate completion of the biological waste programme.
- Tighter controls on planning permission; the use of land and building.
- Major improvements of the roads to the south coast to improve south Crete’s economy and tourism.
- Major improvements of the National Road, including extra lanes, safer junctions and intersections.
- Improvements to the Airport-Chania and Airport-Souda roads.
- A bus service from Chania airport to Western Crete.
- Extra parking in Chania
- A second golf course in Crete, in the West. Suggested for the region of Georgioupoli,  mid-way
between Chania and Rethymnon.

Committee Against Illegal Gun Use in Crete

A committee headed by Mikis Theodorakis, the famous Greek composer,  has been set up by the Greek
ministry to try to stop the widespread illegal and dangerous use of guns in Crete. There will be a
meeting in Chania with the aim of encouraging teachers, professors and priests, those who are in daily
contact with the Cretan people, to take part and  help to reach this goal.
News Archive
Crete & Greece
January to December 2005