Head of Athens Stock Exchange steps down, without citing reason Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) President Panayiotis Alexakis yesterday announced his resignation at the company’s general meeting. Alexakis did not cite a reason. A successor is expected to be named by the end of the month. Iakovos Georganas, chairman of Hellenic Stock Exchanges SA of which the ASE is a subsidiary, will be acting president of the bourse. CYPRUS FM says solution is a priority for Athens Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, briefing Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee yesterday, stressed that Cyprus remained a priority for Greece, adding that Athens backed Turkey becoming a member of the EU. «The Cyprus issue always was and continues to be at the center of our foreign policy and our target remains the reunification of the island on the basis of the Annan plan after the European framework and the acquis communautaire have been taken into account,» Molyviatis said. He added that any negative consequences for Greek Cypriots, after they voted down UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s reunification plan in April will fade over time. EURO 2004 National team to share 2.3 mln Greece’s European Soccer Championship squad will share a bonus of 2.3 million euros for having got to the quarterfinals of the championship in Portugal, Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Orfanos, who is in charge of sports, said yesterday. As there are 23 players on the squad, this comes to 100,000 euros each. Orfanos spoke to reporters after a 90-minute meeting with PM Costas Karamanlis. Sex gang Police in northern Greece yesterday said they were on the track of a major international sex-trafficking ring after arresting two Russian women on suspicion of having held an 18-year-old Romanian captive in a Thessaloniki flat on behalf of the gang. Police were also seeking a Greek man and a 19-year-old Romanian woman believed to have been part of the gang. The ring was broken after the 18-year-old, who had been lured to Greece to work as a waitress and then forced to work as a prostitute, escaped her guards – aged 21 and 22 – and went to the police. A new law against sex-trafficking provides substantial protection for witnesses in such cases. Forgers Attica security police have broken a racket involving Greeks and Albanians who allegedly used forged documents to issue real Greek passports from Athens provincial government offices. Four Albanians and two Greeks were arrested and a fifth Albanian is sought. The suspects were found with seven passports that had been issued in this way, stamps from various government departments, a large number of fake documents and tools for making car license plates. Owls for Athens To bring owls to Athens is the mission of German Art Professor Ottmar Hoerl, pictured with a blue plastic owl. Hoerl plans to bring 10,000 plastic owls to Greece and set them up near Olympic venues during the Games in August. Hoerl has become known for his art projects in open spaces such as a field full of «Duerer Hasen,» or «Duerer rabbits.» The ancient Greek expression «to bring owls to Athens» was the equivalent of «carrying coals to Newcastle.» (EPA) Lethal hail Walnut-sized hailstones that fell on the Halkidiki peninsula in northeastern Greece yesterday killed 20 goats on a mountain and destroyed 100 hectares of wheat and 40 hectares of tobacco. Mayor Athanassios Gerantzis of Doubia said that it had rained heavily for three hours and then large hailstones began to fall, killing the goats on a mountainside. Houses and warehouses were flooded.