Greece

Greece launches anti-smoking campaign ahead of July ban

anti-smoking campaignAthens - Greece, one of Europe's heaviest smoking nations, on Wednesday launched a six month anti-smoking campaign ahead of a ban outlawing smoking in most public places from July 1. The new ban should have a big impact in a nation where nearly 45 per cent of the adult population smokes, and where smoking in offices and cafes is seen as both traditional and acceptable.

"With the drafting of a national action plan against smoking, our country has acquired a targeted and strategic policy for the promotion and safeguarding of public health," said Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Tourism slump puts thousands of jobs in Greek hotel industry at risk

Tourism slump puts thousands of jobs in Greek hotel industry at risk Athens - More than 14,000 hotel jobs are at risk of being lost as the vital tourism sector heads for a difficult season in Greece due to the global crisis, officials said Tuesday. The Association for Hoteliers in Athens estimated that thousands of workers could be laid off as holiday package bookings have fallen by 20 to 30 per cent this year.

The losses could exceed 500 million euros (660 million dollars), officials said.

Europe seeks to put stop to loss of biodiversity by 2010

Europe seeks to put stop to loss of biodiversity by 2010 Athens - The European Commission will seek to put a stop to the loss of biodiversity in Europe by 2010, EC President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the start of a biodiversity conference in Athens Monday.

The two days of talks in Athens attended by 230 environmental chiefs, trade associations, non-governmental organizations and lobby groups, have found a new momentum following a G8-Plus charter to protect biodiversity adopted on April 24 by environmental ministers from Group of Eight members Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Greek authorities detained 146,000 migrants in 2008

Greek authorities detained 146,000 migrants in 2008 Athens - Authorities in Greece detained 146,000 illegal immigrants, most of whome came from Turkey, altogether in 2008, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

In addition, 2,211 people traffickers were arrested and brought before the courts.

The issue of illegal immigration is a priority for Greece, according to the Foreign Ministry in Athens.

Foreign Minister Dora Bakogianni earlier announced that the government wanted to see the issue of illegal migration on the agenda at the next European Union summit.

Police deactivate explosive devices in three churches across Greece

Police deactivate explosive devices in three churches across Greece Athens  - Explosive devices were deactivated at three churches, including Athens' main Orthodox cathedral, on Thursday, police reported.

Local news media received a telephone call warning of the bombs and informed the police, who sent bomb experts to disarm the devices located in Athens' busy Plaka district, the main church of Saint Triadas in the port city of Pireaus, and at Saint Sophia in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Greece conducts Aegean search-and-rescue operation for immigrants

Greece conducts Aegean search-and-rescue operation for immigrants Athens - Greek rescuers scoured the eastern Aegean Sea on Thursday for signs of survivors after a vessel carrying dozens of illegal immigrants capsized, the Ministry of Merchant Marine said.

The search-and-rescue operation was reportedly under way northeast of the island of Samos after an immigrant contacted authorities saying the vessel carrying him and another 25 people was in trouble.

Officials at the ministry said they immidiately dispatched a super-Puma helicopter and coastguard vessels to the area.

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