|Sunday, 21 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-12-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 11 December 2008 Issue No: 3069
 PM announces measures for riot-stricken businessesPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday announced seven measures to support businesses hit by a four-day spree of youth and self-styled anarchist rioting in Athens and other Greek cities, stressing that the extensive damage was the result of a "destructive fury and raw violence by extremist groups."
"The rioters, through their actions, have once again proved that their only inspiration is destruction; that their target has always been social tranquillity, legality and Democracy itself. For this reason they are isolated," the prime minister said.
He underlined the government's determination to assist the victims of the violence, for the most part small and medium-sized enterprises that were already reeling from the impact of the global economic slowdown.
"We will not only entrench a feeling of security for all citizens but help all businesses that have suffered damages. Help them stand on their feet. Keep their staff. Work without problems during the upcoming holiday season," Karamanlis said.
The measures announced by the prime minister included an immediate relief payment of 10,000 euros for SMEs, a state grant of 50 percent of certified damages between 10,000 and 200,000 euros and subsidised 15-year loans for the remaining 50 percent of certified damage that will be guaranteed by the state and will also be available to firms that do not belong to the above two categories.
In addition to the above, he said that the government would arrange for 15-year loans on favourable terms to restore damaged buildings, five-year loans on favourable terms for working capital, a three-month suspension for stricken businesses of their outstanding debts to tax offices, social insurance funds and banks, in addition to other tax relief measures, and the payment of salaries, Christmas bonus payments and social insurance contributions for the employees of all businesses unable to operate until Dec. 20.
Karamanlis said that red tape for those seeking compensation would be kept to a bare minimum, while the applications would involve few supporting documents and have to go through a three-member committee made up of a member of the local chamber of commerce, the local merchants' association and the economy and finance ministry.
The prime minister stressed that the government was responding to the challenges of the times and the "cries and whispers of demagogues and populism" with acts of "responsibility and real substance" producing tangible results.
"We walk the path of national responsibility. We call all the political forces of the country to walk alongside us, all social bodies, all citizens," he said, concluding his statement.
On his part, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis later chaired a meeting of other relevant ministers to focus on implementation of the premier's announced measures, with representatives of chamber and professional groups also in attendance.
Labour Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said the annual holiday bonus and monthly salary will be paid directly to employees via the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED).
In also announcing tax breaks, Alogoskoufis promised a minimum of bureaucratic procedures for the affected business owners.
 Chamber: 50 mln euros in damagesFour days of unprecedented urban rioting sparked by a police shooting of a teenager last Saturday caused widespread destruction in downtown Athens, according to Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday, with a total of 435 businesses suffering damages of roughly 50 million euros.
Some 37 businesses were completely destroyed, with owners individually reporting damages ranging from 5.5 million euros to 500 euros.
Specifically, extensive damage was caused to 16 banks, two supermarkets, 40 large stores and department stores, along with 374 medium and small-sized stores, three movie cinemas and theatres.
Looters mostly targeted mobile phone shops, computer stores, and stores selling clothing and footwear, electronic products, jewelry, eyewear, etc.
Conclusions of the damage assessment conducted by the chamber were delivered to Economy & Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis for immediate compensation towards the businesses, something the chamber said will ensure that the 2,500 employees of the ransacked stores do not join the unemployment rolls.
 PASOK development rapporteur on government market measuresMain opposition PASOK party development sector rapporteur Mihalis Chrysohoidis, referring to measures announced on Wednesday to restore damage caused in the market, said that the prime minister tried to appear generous and to pretend to be responsible with the masures that he announced.
"However, what even the last Greek citizen realises is that it is a question of a government that is completely irresponsible, incompetent and dangerous to be holding the country's helm in its hands," he said.
"Unfortunately, however, not even these (measures) will restore the huge economic blow received by the commercial world of the capital and of other urban centres of the country in the past days. And this is so because the government may have done the self-evident regarding those businesses that experienced small or great damage due to the vandalisms but it is not saying a word, however, about the incalculable damage sustained by the commercial world in its entirety only a few days before the Christmas period," Chrysohoidis added.
 Premier Karamanlis meets with Athens mayor to discuss relief measuresPrime minister Costas Karamanlis met on Wednesday morning with Athens mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, following a request by the latter for meetings with the premier and the political party leaders to brief them on the destruction suffered by the capital in four consecutive nights of rioting sparked by the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy by police in the Exarhia district, and to seek specific measures for healing Athens' wounds.
In statements to the press after the meeting, Kaklamanis explained that the wounds were two-fold. The first category concerned the material damages in the streets of Athens and building facilities, while the second cateogry was the financial devastation of the merchants of Athens' historical center but also its environs.
Regarding the city's infrastructures, Kaklamanis said that he was already in contact with interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, adding that the problems would be solved so as to make the city accessible once again.
Concerning the Athens merchant community, Kaklamanis said he requested of the prime minister the announcement, "as early as today, if possible", of economic relief measures and proposed "a substantial relief loan, interest-free, with a grace period of at least two years and a repayment period of at least 10 to 15 years, that would be comensurate with the destruction they have suffered" in the riots.
Asked whether the merchants would take judicial recourse against the State over the devastation, Kaklamanis said that this was a matter that concerned the merchants themselves and their unions, adding that "we, as the Municipality, have from the very first moment stood at their side and will continue to do so until all the shops reopen".
He appealed to all Athens residents, as well as the residents of the entire Attica prefecture, to help in this effort.
Kaklamanis further announced that the Municipality's holiday program would commence on Wednesday night with the lighting of the Runner sculpture in front of the Athens Hilton, while early next week Syntagma Square would be ready to begin its holiday events.
The holiday program, which was due to be launched last Sunday, was suspended by the municipality after the teen's shooting to after the funeral, which took place on Tuesday, but four consecutive nights of violence and vandalism by hooded troublemakers, including the burning of the city's traditional Christmas tree in Syntagma Square, caused a delay in the commencement of the events.
"Often, from such disasters, a flower of hope springs up. This city needs a smile, it wants hope. We will give it that, because that is the fate that Athens must have. We will safeguard its history, its cultural heritage, the properties of our fellow-citizens and, above all, the human lives," Kaklamanis said.
 Sixteen arrests in Athens on Tuesday, 25 foreign nationals arrested for possession of looted itemsSixteen people were arrested in Athens on Tuesday night, while a total of 55 persons were brought in for questioning by police, in ongoing incidents that continued for the fourth consecutive night.
Four of the detainees are charged with violence against police officers -- in which seven policemen were injured, and the other 12 are charged with looting damaged shops.
Further, 25 foreign nationals were arrested earlier Tuesday in police raids after quantities of items looted from shops in central Athens during Monday night's rioting were found in their possession.
 Eight charged for rioting, looting in ThessalonikiEight individuals arrested during incidents in Thessaloniki during the past 24 hours, three of them minors, appeared before a public prosecutor on Wednesday. They were charged for participating in rioting around the city's Aristotelian University or for looting. Five were are to stand trial before a Police Misdemeanours Court, while the rest will appear before a juvenile court.
One of those standing trial in the police court is a Greek accused of throwing stones at police, who was charged with attempting to cause grievous bodily harm and insurrection, while a 20-year-old Georgian national was accused of attempted theft, in addition to resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. The remaining three adults, one of them a woman, were also charged with attempted theft after they tried to remove mobile phones and accessories from a shop they had broken into.
The three minors, aged 12, 14 and 15, were also charged with theft for attempting to take phones from the same mobile phone shop.
Another 13 individuals arrested for looting during Monday's rioting in the city will be tried by a police court on Thursday afternoon.
 Officers that shot teen testify before magistrateThe two police officers that shot and killed 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos appeared before an examining magistrate on Wednesday. Their appearance at the Evelpidon courts was marked by unrest as a group of youths gathered outside and threw fire bombs, setting fire to an outdoor television transmitter set up outside.
One of the two 'special guards' involved in the incident, a 37-year-old father of three, faces charges of murder and illegal weapons use, while his 32-year-old partner has been charged as his accomplice.
Shortly before they began to give their testimony, their lawyer Alexis Kouyias leaked information to the press regarding the as-yet incomplete ballistics report on the bullet that killed the unlucky teen, claiming that this pointed to the shooting being accidental.
The lawyer said the initial findings of the ballistics examination showed the event was a "misunderstanding" and that "the tragedy was the result of the officer's action to shoot in the air". Kouyias told reporters that the bullet appeared to have ricocheted before hitting the highschool student.
"The bullet is flattened on one side and the point of entry into the student's body is from above going down," he said.
 Two special guards involved in pupil killing remanded in custodyTwo special guards involved in the killing of 15-year-old pupil Alexis Grigoropoulos in the Athens district of Exarchia on Saturday night were remanded in custody pending trial, following their testimonies before the 9th regular investigator on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old accused of homicide claimed in his testimony that he "fired two warning shots in the air, being together with his colleague in a state of fear since they had been attacked with stones, pieces of wood and other items by a group of 30 anarchists."
 Thessaloniki Univ. faculty to consider extensive damage to campusThessaloniki's Aristotle University faculty senate, the higher education institution's supreme administrative body, will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday afternoon in response to the extensive damages caused by self-styled rioters over the past few days.
The university's campus and buildings have over the past few decades been used as a "sanctuary" and "assembly point" by self-styled anarchists and "anti-state" activists engaged in pitch battles with riot police.
The meeting will seek ways to protect the institution's facilities after the latest damages caused aby vandals targeting the buildings housing the law school and the philosophy and mathematics departments.
Other buildings also suffered extensive damage following an arson attack at daybreak.
 Police union refers to 'negative climate' for forceA Greek Police-affiliated union, POASY, on Wednesday publicly condemned what it called the "extremely negative climate" vis-à-vis the social standing of the country's police force, calling on police leadership to take immediate action to prevent "the irreparable disruption of the good relations between Greek Police (EL.AS) and the public".
In an announcement, the police union stressed that it had taken part in Wednesday's protest march and rally organised by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the civil servants' union ADEDY, saying it took part in all struggles by working people in support of greater labour rights and better living standards.
"For years we have also fought, often with painful repercussions for ourselves, to make the police force democratic and oust attitudes and beliefs reminiscent of other eras," the announcement added.
"Despite the disastrous blow that we also have suffered, as we also try to now pick up the pieces caused by the horrendous criminal action and the unjust loss of a 15-year-old student, we are obliged to continue our struggle for the democratisation, modernisation and re-orientation of Greek Police, as society itself demands with our youth at the forefront," the announcement concludes.
POASY is one of several unions representing police officers and law enforcement in the country.
 Papandreou addresses int'l media forumAn appeal for responsibility, self-restraint and an end to the violence that has crippled many cities across Greece was issued by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday, during his address at the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) underway in Athens since Sunday.
Speaking before an audience of 150 foreign media representatives, Papandreou said the country was going through difficult times, in reference to the police shooting death of a 15-year-old that sparked urban riots.
Papandreou told delegates that they should convey to their countries the will of the Greek people for democracy, justice, humanity and prosperity and not only the images of death and unacceptable violence.
He also stressed that Greece is ready for a developmental model based on the so-called "green economy" as well as the introduction of reforms in governance, adding that "we are ready to guarantee media independence and the separation of powers."
 PASOK spokesman on latest developments in countryMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papa-constantinou on Wednesday placed responsibility on the government for the events of the past days and accused it of being unable to guarantee the life, security and property of citizens.
Papaconstantinou also placed responsibility on the government "for the murder of the 15-year-old pupil, the indignation of citizens that has spilled over, its inability to protect them, the policies that have led to desperation and marginalisation and for policies that have fostered violence."
The spokesman also said that the measures announced by the prime minister to relieve businessmen harmed were the self-evident obligation of a law-abiding state, but noted that "the blow for the economy had already been great and it has become even bigger with the destruction in question."
 PASOK leader postpones visit to SerresAn announcement by the main opposition PASOK party on Wednesday said that the party leader George Papandreou would be making to the northern city of Serres on Thursday has been postponed due to the developments, adding that it will be made at a date to be announced in the near future.
 Papariga addresses KKE-affiliated union gatheringCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga on Wednesday spoke at a gathering of the party's affiliated union grouping (PAME), which held a separate rally for a 24-hour strike called by unions for the same day.
"These mass mobilisations, ones that are decisive and guarded, with a heightened neo-popular presence, show the path and content of the popular counter-attack for the rights of the working class, the popular strata and youth, against the attack by big capital, the EU and its political parties," she said.
 Interview with SYRIZA parliamentary spokesman Yannis DragassakisThe State is hostile toward the citizens and alienated from society, Coalition of the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) parliamentary spokesman Yannis Dragassakis said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
Referring to the State budget, he stressed that the economic crisis will be more intense next year, underlining that the budget that has been drafted for 2009 is not dealing with the problems. He highlighted the absence of public investments and the unemployment risk and suggested the adoption of a new developmental model..
As regards the political developments, Dragassakis underlined that the rising popularity of main opposition PASOK party is due mostly to the damage suffered by the government, but added that PASOK is not regarded as trustworthy.
Commenting on the way police operates, he questioned the adequacy of the training of special guards.
He compared the recent rioting in Greece to similar phenomena witnessed a short while ago in Paris, pointing out that an entire generation was expressing its anger because it feels marginalized, with no future or employment opportunities.
"The global crisis has accelerated developments in Greece due to the existence of an already problematic economic model," Dragassakis said, adding that the state budget proposed will deepen and speed up the crisis because it does not include measures aimed at boosting investments and limiting layoffs and unemployment. He stressed that low incomes have to be supported and suggested the introduction of a special allowance in view of the Christmas holidays.
On the Vatopedi Monastery-state land swap scandal, Dragassakis stated that he had tabled the first relevant question in Parliament back in 2003 and stressed that the State does not protect state property. He said that institutions, rationale and mentality have to change, adding that SYRIZA, after evaluating all facts, will decide whether it will support a likely proposal by PASOK to set up a parliamentary preliminary examination committee on the case.
 Parliament's findings in Vatopedi probe on MondayThe Parliamentary investigation committee looking into the land swaps between the Vatopedi Monastery and the Greek state will release its final conclusions next Monday, according to a vote held during the committee's last session on Wednesday. According to the decision reached, the members of the committee would examine whether it was possible for the five parties in Parliament to issue a joint report on Sunday, otherwise the proposal of the majority party will be put to a vote on Monday morning.
The announcement said that the final text would also list the views of any party taking a different position from that reached by the majority.
During Wednesday's session, MPs discussed proposals by the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) to open the accounts of former minister George Voulgarakis and his wife Aikaterini Peleki - the notary that drew up the contracts for the land swap deals - to investigate rumoured transactions involving some 5.5 million euros during the time that the land swaps were taking place.
LAOS MP Athanassios Plevris specified, however, that he had no information that the transactions were linked to the affair.
The proposal was accepted by representatives of the other opposition parties, while the spokesman for ND Fevronia Patrianakou said that the former minister and his wife should be asked to clarify whether the monastery deposited sums in their accounts but disagreed with the proposal for an official request to open the accounts, saying that this would be "criminalising the political life of the country".
MPs also decided to send the Bank of Greece report on the movements of bank accounts belonging to the monastery and its companies to the authority against money-laundering.
 Justice minister, FinMin discuss justice issuesJustice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis and Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis discussed matters concerning Justice and the country's penitentiary system, as well as other issues of joint responsibility, during a special meeting held on Monday.
The two ministers agreed on the opening of the drug addict inmates rehabilitation centre in Kassandra, in Halkidiki, that had been founded in 1999 but had not yet opened due to the lack of staff.
The inclusion of all the medical and treatment staff of hospitals of the Justice ministry in the National Health System (ESY) for the upgrading of medical treatment for all inmates, with the provision of necessary credits.
The increase of necessary organic posts for judicial functionaries and posts of justices of the peace. The increase in the above posts can take place gradually and over a period of two years.
 Greece donates one million dollars for refugeesGENEVA (ANA-MPA)
Greece has donated one million US dollars as a contribution to the work carried out by the UN's High Commission on Refugees.
This was announced Tuesday by Greece's permanent representative at the UN, Amb. Frangiskos Verros, while addressing a special conference of donors to the High Commission.
Verros also underlined Greece's "particular sensitivity regarding the drama of refugees" expressing at the same time the country's full support to their relief and rehabilitation.
 Unions hold rally, 24-hour strikeGreece's two largest unions, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and ADEDY civil servants' union, on Wednesday went ahead with a 24-hour strike and corresponding rallies. According to reports, the biggest rally, in downtown Athens, was peaceful and, thankfully, without incident.
Addressing protesters, union leaders stressed that the government policy has to change, inviting wage-earners and civil servants to hold a rally outside Parliament on the day the state budget will be voted on.
The shooting death by police of the teenage boy in central Athens last Saturday was also roundly condemned.
 EU action to protect savings depositsIndividual savings of up to 100,000 euros are fully guaranteed in all EU member states, according to a response issued by the EU Council and the French EU Presidency, in reply to a tabled question by Greek MEP Manolis Angelakas, who represents the New Democracy (ND) party in the European Parliament.
Savings deposits in European banks are guaranteed by Directive 94/19/EC, which is aimed at ensuring banking sector stability by introducing a harmonised 20,000-euro minimum pan-European deposit guarantee.
The EU Council also referred to coordinated efforts made to restore confidence in Europe's banking sector and to ensure the smooth operation of the financial sector to avoid a more widespread crisis.
 EU Commission to probe Cassandra mines sale in 2003BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
The European Commission on Wednesday said that it has opened an in-depth inquiry into the sale of the state-owned Cassandra Mines to the company Ellinikos Xrysos in 2003 for the sum of 11 million euros.
The investigation into the terms of the sale was begun under EC Treaty state aid rules, namely to decide whether the sale constitutes illegal state aid, after an international minerals industry consultant estimated the market value of the mines at 408 million euros, or 35 times the price of the sale, in June 2004.
"We have to make sure that no hidden advantage was granted to Ellinikos Xrysos at the expense of Greek taxpayers and that Greece acted like any private vendor would have when selling these public assets," said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes regarding the investigation.
The Commission is acting on a complaint that the sale of the mines amounted to illegal state aid, received in July 2007.
An announcement by the Commission said that it had reached a preliminary conclusion that Greece sold the Cassandra mines, which quarry gold and copper, without an open, transparent and unconditional tender for a price far below its market value. There are also questions regarding a tax waiver involved in the sales contract and a reduction of applicable legal fees in favour of Ellinikos Xrysos.
The Commission notes that EU state aid rules require that interventions by public authorities in companies carrying out economic activities can be considered free of aid if they are made on terms that a private player operating under market conditions would have accepted (the market economy investor principle). It adds that its investigation will seek to check whether the state acted as a market economy vendor when selling the mines.
 Greek exports up in Oct., imports slideGreek exports increased in October 2008 to 1.639 billion euros from 1.517 billion in the corresponding month of 2007, an 8-percent increase. Exports, on the other hand, reached 4.925 billion euros in the same month, down from 5.105 billion euros in October 2007, a decrease of 3.5 percent.
According to figures released by the National Statistical Service (NSS) on Wednesday, total exports in the 12-month period between November 2007 and October 2008 increased by 2.6 percent, in comparison with the corresponding period between November 2006 and October 2007.
In terms of imports, the figures for the same time period showed a 1.9-percent decrease.
 Statistics released on wholesale, industrial production, vehicle trade turnoverThe wholesale turnover index rose by 13.9 percent in the third quarter of 2008 over the corresponding quarter in 2007, against a 5.8 percent increase in the corresponding comparison between the third quarters of 2007 over 2006, according to figures released on Wednesday by the national statistics service ESYE.
ESYE said that the turnover index for wholesale in the third quarter of 2008 against the second quarter of 2008 declined by 8.4 percent, compared with a 9.3 percent reduction in the third quarter of 2007 over the second quarter of 2007.
Also, the car and motorcycle trade, maintenance and repair turnover index and retail trade of fuels and lubricants fell by 1,8 percent in the third quarter of 2008 over the correspnding quarter of 2007.
Further, the general industrial production index posted a 4.5 percent decline in October 2008 against the corresponding month in 2007, compared with a 0.3 percent increase in October 2007 against October 2006.
 Coca Cola Greek Bottling Company announces bond issuingThe Coca Cola Greek Bottling Company SA has announced the successful issuing of a bond amounting to 500 million euros. According to a relevant announcement, the revenues from the issuing of the bond will allow Coca Cola Tria Epsilon to extend the duration of the time width of its loan holding.
The bond, that offers a 7.875 percent performance bond, has attracted about two billion euros in bids by interested investors and has been distributed among an extensive and differentiated span of them.
The bond will be issued by Coca Cola HBC Finance BV and Coca Cola Tria Epsilon and Coca Cola HBC Finance plc will be placed as guarantors. The bond will be submitted for negotiating at the London Stock Exchange.
 Greek stocks end slightly lowerGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with the composite index of the market falling 0.76 pct to end at 1,833.04 points. Turnover was a low 161.1 million euros, of which 7.2 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with Mass Media (2.80 pct), Utilities (2.57 pct) and Constructions (2.26 pct) posting the biggest gains of the day, while Chemicals (4.39 pct), Banks (3.82 pct) and Healthcare (2.87 pct) recording losses.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.43 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.55 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 1.09 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 120 to 81 with another 45 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.84%
Personal & Household: -0.80%
Raw Materials: +0.90%
Travel & Leisure: +0.76%
Food & Beverages: +1.67%
Financial Services: -2.14%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, OTE and PPC.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 6.28
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.50
HBC Coca Cola: 11.42
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.48
National Bank of Greece: 13.40
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.70
Bank of Piraeus: 6.40
Titan Cement Company: 13.08
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover amounting to 32.221 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.30 pct, while the volume was 4,936 contracts worth 23.035 million euros, with 29,368 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,204 contracts worth 8.836 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (1,895) followed by OPAP (1,031), Marfin Popular Bank (1,008), PPC (827), Marfin Investment Group (789), Alpha Bank (607) and Eurobank (601).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market increased to 308 million euros on Wednesday, of which 65 million were buy orders and the remaining 243 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 133 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 1,66 per cent, with the Greek bond yielding 4.92 pct and the German Bund 3.26 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 3.56 pct, the six-month rate 3.46 pct, the three-month rate 3.37 pct and the one-month rate 3.06 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.302
Pound sterling 0.880
Danish kroner 7.509
Swedish kroner 10.651
Japanese yen 120.73
Swiss franc 1.571
Norwegian kroner 9.201
Canadian dollar 1.642
Australian dollar 1.982
 Human Rights Day message by Interior Minister Pavlopoulos"This year's Human Rights Day coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and global economic instability that puts at risk social cohesion creating negative conditions for the unhampered exercise of human rights," Interior & Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed in a message on the occasion of the Human Rights Day, celebrated on Dec. 10.
"True democracy can face its enemies only by guaranteeing human rights and not through the imposition of restrictions," he stressed.
 Greek frigate sets sail for EU's Somalia missionThe Hellenic Navy frigate "Psara" set sail on Wednesday afternoon for the waters off the Somalia coast, commencing Greece's active participation in the European Union's anti-piracy operation (EU NAVFOR), code-named "Atalanta".
The Greek warship will be accompanied by three naval support aircraft.
The Hellenic Navy will assume command of the Euro force on Dec. 13, following the frigate's expected arrival in Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
Hellenic Navy Cmd. Antonios Papaioannou, who held a press conference aboard the frigate on Wednesday morning in the port of Piraeus, is the EU Force commander. The operation is commanded by British Navy Rear Adm. Phillip Jones. The mission's operations command centre is located in northern London.
 Illegals intercepted aboard Italy-bound lorriesEleven illegal migrants and three truck drivers were arrested in a same-number of separate incidents on Tuesday, two in the extreme northwest port of Igoumenitsa and one in the major western port city of Patras. In all three instances, the illegals were hidden aboard trucks ready to board Italy-bound ferry boats.
Coast guard and harbour corps officials are continuing investigations.
 Rain on ThursdayCloudy and showery weather and southeasterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 5-10 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -1C and 18C. Cloudy and showery in Athens, with southeasterly 6-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 6C to 16C. Same in Thessaloniki and snowfall in mountainous regions, with temperatures ranging from 3C to 12C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe ongoing unrest in Athens and other major cities and four consecutive nights of rioting after Saturday's shooting death of a 15-year-old tean by police in the Exarhia district of the capital, with main opposition PASOK's demand for early general elections and the government's call for 'national unity' and postponement of a major demon-stration called by the country's two main umbrella union federations GSEE and ADEDY outside parliament on Wednesday in order to avert new incidents dominated the front-pages in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Hard-core hooded troublemakers executing orders - Explosive statement by Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga" after being briefed by prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday on the situation prevailing.
APOGEVMATINI: "Enemies of democracy - Prime minister directly accuses those causing violence and vandalism".
AVGHI: "Radical change, with the youths and the working people - Alavanos (SYRIZA Coalition of the Radical Left parliamentary alliance leader, after being briefed on the situation by Karamanlis) intervention on the political impasse".
AVRIANI: "Citizens take matters into their own hands in Patras and Larissa - They chased off the hooded troublemakers and saved their properties, taking the place of the police".
CHORA: "Burnt souls - Unprecedented lack of authority in Greece".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "Terror hits maximum - Dark present, black future for the country".
ELEFTHEROS: "SYRIA 'caressing the hooded indivudials' - KKE leader openly 'fingers' Alavanos".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Our democracy is self-destructing, because it abused the right of freedom and equality, because it taught the citizens to see audacity as a right, illegality as a freedom, the people's audacity of speech as equality, and anarchy as bliss (Isocrates, 436-338 BC)".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis called for consensus from the political leaders but...they pointed him to early general elections".
ESTIA: "Political irresponsibility - Everyone looking to party benefit".
ETHNOS: "Resignation (of the government) and solution with (early general) elections - PASOK, SYRIZA point the way, with elections".
KATHIMERINI: "The country at an impasse - Disagreements inside the government as well".
NIKI: "Greece hits rock bottom - Prime minister and government are non-existent".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Intensification of the popular action, through organization and safeguarding of the struggles - Militant call to people and youth".
TA NEA: "Government and ELAS (Greek Police) on verge of collapse - Fourth night of molotov cocktails (home-made fire bombs) and destruction".
TO VIMA: "The 36 critical hours - Clashes and destruction continued for fourth day throughout the country - Defusion (of the tension), or extreme police measures".
VRADYNI: "They are enemies of democracy - Message of national unity and isolation of the hooded troublemakers, from the prime minister".
 President: EU experts team on Cyprus under Barroso's responsibilityNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias said on Wednesday that the EU team which will be created to give its expertise on issues of a Cyprus solution concerning the EU acquis communautaire will be under EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's responsibility.
President Christofias and Barosso agreed, during a meeting they had in Brussels last September, that before the talks on a Cyprus solution enter discussions on EU issues concerning the implementation of the EU acquis communautaire in the area which is now occupied by Turkish troops, EU expertise will be requested.
Replying to a question, before his departure for Brussels, whether there is a possibility for Commissioner Rehn to be appointed as an EU Coordinator on the Cyprus problem, Christofias said that no such reference was made in a letter he received from Barroso.
''The letter I received after my request to the Commission President Barroso does not say such a thing,'' the President said.
He noted that ''Barroso required Rehn's assistance to create a team which, when necessary, will give its expertise on EU issues relating to the solution of the Cyprus problem,'' adding that "the team will be under Barroso's responsibility and none other.''
Cyprus, an EU member-state since 1974, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN-led talks between President Christofias and Talat started on September 3 with a view to find a mutually agreed settlement of the problem.
 Christofias: Talat's stance does not promote a Cyprus settlementLARNACA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus President Demetris Christoifas has said that as long as Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat is handling issues concerning the Cyprus question awkwardly, without respecting the Republic of Cyprus and the basis on which the Cyprus question can and should be solved, he does not gain anything.
He added that it is Talat's right to be tough and intransigent, adding however, that Talat's stance does not promote a settlement of the Cyprus question.
In statements Wednesday at Larnaca airport, before leaving for Brussels where he will attend the European Council meeting, and invited to comment on the meetings Talat had in Brussels with EU officials, Christofias said he had no information about what issues Talat might have raised during his meetings.
He added that "as long as Talat handles things awkwardly, without respecting the Republic of Cyprus, an EU member state, without respecting the basis on which the Cyprus problem can and must be solved, he does not gain anything."
He said that the only thing, which Talat has gained from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and his other EU interlocutors, is their reserved stance towards him and their positive feelings towards the Republic of Cyprus. He added that Talat does not create positive impressions about himself or his community.
Recalling a speech, which Talat delivered on October 1 before the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, Christofias said that Talat referred to the past and what he said was unacceptable.
He added that "we on our part want to look ahead. I called on Talat to look ahead, to be constructive as we are, because I don't consider him as an enemy or as an opponent with whom we will fight," he added.
He noted that "as compatriots we represent the two communities of our country", adding that the expectation, wish and will of every decent
Cypriot who lives on the island and abroad, either Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot is the settlement of the Cyprus question.
Referring to his visit to Brussels, Christofias said that among the issues to be discussed are the issue of energy, the ongoing financial crisis and the measures, which the Commission has promoted, as well as issues of defence and security.
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