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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 December 2017
8 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 DECEMBER 2017 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Greece plans to extradite Russian cybercriminal to US Alexander Vinnik is accused of money-laundering using bitcoins Greece’s Supreme Court approved the extradition request by the US Justice Department for Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik on charges related to a US$4 billion money launder- ing scheme using the Bitcoin platform. Vinnik, 38, was arrested in July at a holiday resort in northern Greece and later tried in Thessaloniki. His fate now lies in the hands of Greece’s justice minister, who will ultimately decide on when Vinnik will be sent to the US or agree to Vinnik’s request to be extradited to Russia. Greek pensioners’ benefit to be slashed by 70 per cent Low-income pensioners in Greece are expecting a big hit in 2018, when their monthly bonus (EKAS) will be slashed, according to the provisions of the third bailout program. The measure includes the abolition of all intermediate bonus payments, which leaves low-income pensioners who paid into private pension funds receiving no more than €35 a month in additional payments. This will affect roughly 245,000 beneficiaries who, in 2017, received from €28.7 to €115 per month, in addition to their pension. No more free plastic grocery bags in Greece If you find yourself in a Greek supermarket and want a plastic bag to carry your groceries, get ready to pay up. A new waste reduction initiative to decrease the use of plastic bags will be put into place from January; it sees a three cent fee imposed on all plastic bags, which will rise to seven cents in 2019. This is limited to plastic bags thicker than 15 micrometres (μm), and excludes bags used for light sanitary products or bulk food produce. According to the new policy, all revenue from the fee will be used by the Greek Recycling Organization, in cooperation with municipalities, to provide alternative types of reusable or biodegradable plastic bags to consumers. One in three Greeks deprived of basic material goods The Greek economy may be on the mend, according to forecasts, but this has yet to reflect in the financial state of the Greek people. This is the outcome of the Eurostat report on ‘Material and Social Deprivation’ for 2016. According to the report, only Romania and Bulgaria among the EU countries fared worse than Greece, where 36 per cent of the population are unable to enjoy basic goods and social benefits. They cannot afford a week’s holiday; they have difficulty meeting payments of rent, mortgages, bills and other installments; they can’t face unexpected expenses; they can’t afford a meal with meat, chicken, fish or vegetables every other day; they can’t afford home heating; they cannot maintain a car; they cannot afford to replace wornout items of clothing or furniture with new ones; they can’t afford an internet connection. On top of that, they have next to no money to spend on personal and social activities, outings and leisure. Overall, 16 per cent of the Union’s population - roughly 75 million people - were recorded as being affected by material and social deprivation. In 2016, the highest percentage of material and social deprivation was recorded in Romania (50 per cent) and Bulgaria (48 per cent), followed by countries in which one in three people were affected: Greece (36 per cent), Hungary (32 per cent) and Lithuania (29 per cent). On the other hand, the Nordic member states and Luxembourg reported the lowest shares of material and social deprivation: three per cent in Sweden, four per cent in Finland, five per cent in Luxembourg and six per cent in Denmark. ND cements lead over Syriza in latest poll Leading opposition party Nea Dimokratiaa is leading the governing party SYRIZA by a margin of 9.4 per cent, in the latest poll survey conducted by MRB. According to the survey carried out between 1 and 8 December with a sample of 2,000 people, 30.7 per cent of voters would back ND if elections were held now compared to 21.3 per cent who would vote for SYRIZA. The Movement for Change (the country’s new centreleft alliance, led by PASOK) would get 10.1 per cent, neoNazi Golden Dawn would garner 6.8 per cent, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) would net 6.5 per cent, the survey shows. The level of the 'undecided' vote was listed at almost 13 per cent. Centre-right ND leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis also rose above PM Alexis Tsipras as 'best suited to be the prime minister', with 31.7 per cent of respondents picking the former, to 22.1 per cent choosing the latter. Nevertheless, the answer 'neither of the two' took first place, favoured by 40 per cent of respondents. PHOTO: CORFU GALLERY Greece's winning destinations for 2017 Which is your favourite Greek Island? THEODORA MAIOS According to official data released by Greek Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura at the Seventh Regional Conference for Productive Reconstruction, Crete and the Ionian islands, particularly Zakynthos, Kerkyra and Paxi are among Greece’s winning destinations for 2017. They are popular, they are attracting more tourists, and revenue is rising. “We have achieved a stronger demand for Greece, which is reflected in the increase in tourist traffic and connectivity. This has been attained through our contacts and negotiations with international tour operators and airlines and is a result of the excellent cooperation we have established with the Ionian Islands Region,” Minister Kountoura expanded while making reference to the Ionian islands’ continuously improving performance. The data confirms that the Ionian islands have recorded an impressive growth in international arrivals, with extended lengths of tourist stays, and increased tourism-related revenue, following on from 2016 which also saw arrivals increase by 13 per cent and the total number of international visitors exceed 2.4 million. A further ten per cent increase in 2017 can be directly attributed to the launch of 30 new connecting flights in the region. “As an occasional travelling journalist who has visited around 90 per cent of the Greek islands, I am asked ‘what is the best Greek island?’,” travel writer, interpreter and translator Paul Hellander told Neos Kosmos. “Kerkyra (Corfu) is an unquestionably beautiful and comfortable island and subjectively one of my favourites. There is a dreamy romantic quality to the place that is almost magical or even Disney-esque. “It is green and clean and things seem miniaturised in a cosy kind of way. It is one of the most unGreek islands if your model of a Greek island is stark, bleached, almost waterless and blindingly blue and white; Kerkyra is green and pastel and if you overlook the busy coastline resorts, its real beauties are hidden in its olive grovecovered hinterlands. “So I would definitely give Corfu a tick myself,” says Hellander. “Paxi and its satellite island Antipaxi, on the other hand, please visitors as many Italians and more adventurous Brits have discovered over the years. Its remoteness and lack of mainstream accessibility means that it is relatively undiscovered or at least not so spoiled. “Winding stone wall-lined roads thread seamlessly across hillsides that are smothered by olive trees while little beaches and pretty fishing ports dot its perimeter. It’s almost an ideal destination. “Paxi will appeal to people who like a quiet classy holiday away from the crowds and, yes, there is a certain snob element to its appeal,” says the travel writer who doesn’t share the same ideas about the island of Zakynthos. “Although it is hard to figure out why this particular island topped the list, I can only assume that perhaps it’s the vibe or just a sense that the tourist euro is just that much higher on the locals’ wish list than elsewhere in the Ionian chain,” says Hellander who goes on to describe the beach resort of Laganas as unpleasing in terms of “tackiness and lager lout excess." “That is a holiday I can do without, although its rugged northwest coast mollifies somewhat and of course the shipwreck bay and its iconic beach really do stun. However, I cannot say that Zakynthos appeals in the same way that Corfu and Paxi do." Local media reports also outlined that Minister Kountoura is currently assessing 20 investment proposals for several four- and five-star hotels, a tourism complex project, a regional theme park as well as investigating the options of establishing Corfu as a regional cruising hub.
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