|Wednesday, 20 June 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-12-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 13 December 2008 Issue No: 3071
 PM hails EU deals on econ crisis, climate changeBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Spinthourakis)
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday said he was satisfied with the decisions reached by European leaders for dealing with the global economic crisis, during the summit meeting held here on Friday. On domestic issues, meanwhile, he again appealed for an end to "acts of blind violence that have recently rocked Greece".
He stressed that the Greek programme for dealing with the crisis was among the first approved by Brussels and that measures and actions for dealing with repercussions of the crisis would continue, chiefly in the direction of supporting small and medium-sized businesses.
At the same time, the prime minister underlined that short-term measures were not as important as continuing planned structural reforms based on a comprehensive plan.
Greece's greatest problem continued to be the huge public debt created over the last 30 years, the reduction of which required long-term policies, he added.
Karamanlis hailed the decisions taken at the European Council for combating climate change, adding that there had already been an in-depth discussion with the environment ministry on the Greek side, regarding the measures that will have to be adopted.
The Greek premier also welcomed a decision by Ireland to hold a new national referendum for the approval of the Lisbon Treaty within the coming year.
PM on rioting, demonstrations in Greece
Replying to reporters' questions about the unrest and demonstrations in Athens and other cities throughout Greece over the past six days, since the shooting of a 15-year-old boy by a police officer in Exarhia the previous Saturday, Karamanlis stressed the need to put an immediate end to "acts of blind violence".
He stressed that these were extremely dangerous, both for society and for democracy.
Noting that the government was aware of the pressures that young people had to contend with, the Greek premier nevertheless underlined that the "exploitation of their anxieties by extreme elements must stop"
The sympathy with which the government viewed the concerns of youth should not be confused with blind violence and the actions of extremist groups targeting democracy, he said.
Karamanlis called on all political forces in Greece to decisively condemn acts of violence and said that there should be no ideological backing for extreme elements turning against democracy.
Asked whether he still considered the government's mandate to be strong, in light of its slim majority and the recent events, the Greek premier underlined that he did not intend to step down or call early elections.
"The country has a strong government and its strength is not measured by the number of MPs but by the reforms that it carries out," he said, adding that Greece was now up against a great economic crisis that demanded consistency, a responsible policy and "a firm hand at the helm."
On questions regarding the suspect land swaps between the state and the Vatopedi Monastery, Karamanlis noted that on a major issue that had unfolded over the last 10 years, the state had obviously not worked in the way that it should.
"Objectively, the state bears responsibility," Karamanlis told reporters, adding that he would wait for the findings of the Parliamentary investigation committee to be released before stating his position.
 PASOK spokesman on PM's press conference in BrusselsMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papa-constantinou said on Friday that the country "has no government and prime minister" adding that the press conference given by the prime minister in Brussels "confirmed that the country is in a complete deadlock and that the government has lost contact with society and with reality," while noting that "the people give a solution with their vote."
Papaconstantinou further said that the issue remains of resorting to elections after the "speedy cleanup of pending issues" but stressed that there is an "urgent need for a political solution to the deadlock."
Asked to comment on the prime minister's remark that he will not quit the New Democracy party's leadership and on the existence of a strong government, Papaconstantinou said that "the more frequently the prime minister invokes the argument of a strong government, the weaker it is."
The spokesman also said that contrary to what the prime minister said about Greece's leading role in the European Union regarding the tackling of the economic crisis, Greece has moved "very slowly and hesitatingly" and that "the prime minister said nothing about the country's inability to borrow."
 Greek leadership expresses sorrow at death of PapadopoulosGreece's state and political leadership on Friday expressed deep sorrow and extended condolences for the death of former Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos, who died of lung cancer in a Nicosia hospital the same day.
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias expressed his deepest sorrow at learning of the former Cyprus president's death:
"He served the Cyprus Republic faithfully, which honoured him by giving him its highest office of president. He fought with passion and steadfastness for the future of Cypriot Hellenism and for his beliefs, always in the framework of democratic legality that he defended in difficult times. Under his presidency, Cyprus found the place it deserved as a member-state of the European Union. Unfortunately, he did not have time to see the just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem that we all fight for," Papoulias said in his message of condolence.
Speaking from Brussels, where he was attending the European Council, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said that Papadopoulos had been a "historic figure" of Cypriot Hellenism, which he had served with passion and dedication throughout his life.
"I had the opportunity to work closely with him in past years, during his presidential term. In a crucial time for Cypriot Hellenism and the course of its national issue. As president of the Cyprus Republic, he fought the difficult battle for his long-suffering country with consistency and patriotism," Karamanlis stressed, expressing his sincerest condolences to Cyprus and his family and adding that Greeks owed him a lot.
Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas said he "pays homage, on behalf of the Greek Parliament, to the late patriot," and said that all Greeks and all Cyprus had on Friday lost an unbending warrior, a fighter that had always passionately fought for the rights of his country.
"The legacies that he left behind will always be alive. His memory will be eternal," he added.
Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou sent a telegram of condolences in which he stressed that Papadopoulos had served Cyprus throughout his life, fighting for the island republic's freedom and in order to build a modern democracy.
"He was the politician, man and friend with whom we carried out the difficult task of bringing the Cyprus Republic into the European Union," he added.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga expressed her sorrow at the loss of an "experience and courageous politician that defended the interests of the Cypriot struggle from the position of President of the Cyprus Republic."
Deepest condolences over the death of a historic figure of the Cypriot state were expressed by the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party and the head of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party George Karatzaferis.
SYN said that Papadopopulos was "an important political personality throughout the entire historic course of the Cypriot state."
LAOS leader Karatzaferis said "we shall remember President Papadopoulos for his leadership and for the vision that he had for Cypriot Hellenism. He faced many difficult moments but this did not prevent him from trying always to turn his vision for a free and independent Cyprus into reality. We hope that his expectation and his dream will become a reality."
The ruling New Democracy party and the head of the ND Parliamentary group also expressed their sorrow at the late politician's death.
 Athens mayor on passing of former Cyprus President PapadopoulosAthens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis said in a message on Friday on the death of former Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos that Hellenism has lost a genuine representative of the ideals of freedom and democracy.
"We are participating in the mourning for the great Greek Cypriot fighter, who was present in all the crucial struggles regarding the Cyprus issue without exception. Tassos Papadopoulos sealed with his political stance all the modern history of Cyprus with the seal of dignity, bravery and national pride," Kaklamanis said.
 Minister apologises for boy's shooting by policeThe deputy minister in charge of police, Panagiotis Hinofotis, on Friday extended an apology to the family of the teenager shot by police in the Athens district of Exarchia six days earlier. Hinofotis made the apology in Parliament while announcing plans to rethink the rules governing use of police weapons, even as youths gathered outside the building in Syntagma Square were demonstrating over the boy's shooting for the sixth consecutive day.
"Because, unfortunately, this did not happen on the part of the accused, and without wanting to go into the legal part of the issue, I apologise myself, directly and in the strongest terms, for what has happened and this reflects my true feelings," Hinofotis said.
Replying to questions by main opposition PASOK MP for Attica Dinos Vrettos, the minister revealed that the ministry was rethinking the framework for using police weaponry and eyeing measures to ensure police officers underwent regular health examinations.
He said that a special working group will be set up to examine the issue of weapons use and that its conclusions would be submitted to various bodies interested in the issue.
Hinofotis also stressed the need for proper training of all police officers, as well as ensuring that all members of the police force complied with the requirements of the present law in terms of their physical and mental health and suitability.
He said that the ministry intends to propose an annual mandatory health inspection of Greek Police staff by appropriately qualified hospitals.
Vrettos, on his part, raised the issue of whether police needed to carry fire-arms at all during regular patrols or when policing demonstrations, noting that deaths like that of Alexis Grigoropoulos on Saturday would never have occurred at all.
He also said that the government appeared to "have lost control of the situation" and said that Hinofotis was personally responsible and should have insisted on his initial offer to resign.
The minister replied that he would not hesitate to shoulder his responsibility but stressed that he could not resign "in the midst of the struggle," adding that to do so would be "dishonourable" and "cowardly".
 Police make 176 arrests in disturbances in Athens since SundayA total of 176 people have been arrested during disturbances that occurred in Athens from last Sunday until Thursday, according to an announcement by the police.
Out of those people arrested, 100 are foreign nationals and the rest Greeks. The 131 were arrested for damage and thefts at shops, while 45 for participation in arson attacks, damage and violence against police.
Moreover, 24 of the people arrested have already been remanded in custody and various sentences have been handed down on 32.
In all, 258 people were taken for questioning, 56 of whom were foreign nationals.
 Attack on newspaper in Thessaloniki condemnedGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros strongly condemned an attack by hooded individuals against the offices of the Thessaloniki daily "Macedonia", stressing that it constitutes a direct attack on freedom of the press and democracy itself.
The Macedonia-Thrace Journalists' Union (ESIEM-TH) also condemned the attack and called on authorities to protect journalists, stressing that any attempt made to intimidate journalists will fail.
A handful of young protesters had raided the newspaper's offices on Thursday afternoon, causing limited damage to its reception area, bookkeeping office and radio station.
 Papandreou calls for new gov't mandateMain opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, speaking before his party's political council members Friday, blamed the ruling New Democracy (ND) government for the recent violent street protests in Athens and other parts of the country.
"The government is solely responsible for everything taking place in the country for the past few days to say the least," he stated.
He clarified that the government itself is the problem and called for early elections that will allow the Greek people to provide a clear mandate.
"PASOK wants a strong majority but at the same time is open to collaboration with all progressive forces," Papandreou stated.
"The country is in crisis, caused by a combination of the global economic crisis and the domestic economic, societal, institutional and value crisis. The latest incidents reflect its depth, while the causes of the unrest are much deeper than the teen's shooting death," he said.
Papandreou pointed to what he called the reasoning of "non violence" and characterised as justified the rage expressed against looters.
 Meeting with Athens mayorEarlier, Papandreou was briefed by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis on conditions in the Greek capital, in the wake of rioting in downtown Athens this past week, as well as the measures the municipality will take to repair damages and support affected businesspeople and hoteliers.
"I briefed PASOK president George Papandreou on the state of the city. Today (Friday) we have an update on the situation. Up until now we have assessed (damages to) 366 business establishments and five kiosks. We will continue our assessment this evening and expect this figure to approach 400," Kaklamanis said.
 Exclusive interview with KKE leader Papariga"The molotov cocktails (fire-bombs) and looting of the hooded individuals, whose steering center is linked with the state secret services and centers abroad, have absolutely no relationship with the mass rage of the pupils, the students, the people in general," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga stressed in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA, adding that the recent events were exploited in order to turn attention away from and disorient the mass moblisations of the youth and the people against authoritatiranism and the anti-popular policy.
Papariga reiterated her harsh criticism of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), stressing that the KKE has fundamental differences with that party in strategy, ideology and policy.
On the prospect of early general elections, the KKE leader stressed that it would be just "a hole in the water" if the disgruntlement with ruling New Democracy turned into a vote for main opposition PASOK, while, to a question on whether the KKE would vote for the establishment of a parliamentary preliminary investigation committee on the Vatopedi Monastery-State land transactions affair, Papariga explained that if presumptive evidence of criminal responsibility arose, her party would back the establishment of such a committee.
Replying to questions, Papariga said that the state suppression and the hooded troublemakers "are from the same side". They are connected, mutually fuel each other and their target is to terrorise the working people and the youth, to confront the organised labor and popular movement, Papariga said.
She attributed the killing of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos in the Exarhia district of Athens by a police bullet on Saturday night to the result of escalating authoritarianism, reinforcement of the suppression mechanisms and their action, the network of reactionary laws and the "Euro-terror laws" created by the governments of ND and PASOK. "The molotov cocktails (fire-bombs) and looting of the hooded individuals, whose steering center is linked with the state secret services and centers abroad, had nothing to do whatsoever with the mass rage of the pupils, the students, the people in general. On the contrary, they were exploited in order to turn attention away from and disorient the mass moblisations of the youth and the people against authoritatiranism and the anti-popular policy. An effort was made, and is being made, by the government, and not only, to intensify the suppression measures," she said.
The KKE, with its positions and action, found itself opposite them. "We obstructed and cancelled certain plans. And we are vigilant," Papariga said, adding that the "mass-turnout strike rallies by PAME throughout Greece and the demonstrations of the pupils, with their mass turnout and safeguarding, proved that mass organized action can confront suppression and terrorism, they proved that 'the spontaneous' can be converted into 'the conscientious and organized', that it cannot ruin the plans of the mechanisms".
To another question, Papariga said that the scandals, the suppression, the threats and blackmail faced daily by the working people in their places of work were various sides of the anti-popular pollicy, and the result of the "Euro-one-way path" served by ND and PASOK, of the strategy that serves capital profit and competitiveness and aggravates the problems of the working class, the yough, the popular strata.
She said that the people's rage and indignation, which intensified and was manifested, prompted by the murder of the 15-year-old, was not enought to halt the negative developments for the people. Nor, she continued, could any results arise from some struggles that simply exert pressure.
Papariga said that the measures taken in recent years, and the "much worse" measures being planned, such as a 70-hour work-week, the report on separation of spare time into active and inactive that was voted by ND, PASOK and SYN (Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology) in the EU, which was a vital need to capital.
The movement, in its current state, cannot face those problems, she said, adding that a re-structure of the labor movement was necessary, given that only through organised struggle, a popular alliance against the policy and the parties that serve the interests of the monopolies, couldhave positive results for the people, and this was why strengthening of the KKE -- which with its strategy and action was formulating the terms and opening the road for the expression of the people's counter-attack -- was needed.
To another question, Papariga said that the KKE firmly believed that the working class of the cities and the peripery has the power to change things, provided that they acted and fought for their rights in very place of work, and created their own anti-monopoly alliance.
The working people should not be afraid. Those who should be afraid are the capital, the EU and its parties, she said, because the crisis was a crisis of the capitalism they serve. The working class have for years been paying the price for increasing the profits of capital, she said, adding that they have no reason to now to also pay the price of its (capital's) crisis. The people must make use of their experience. The parties that lied to them about Maastricht, about the EMU, are lying to them now as well, Papariga said.
Whether it is the bankers who are boosted, as proposed by the government, or the industrialists, as proposed by PASOK, the outcome for the people is one and the same. The outdated or administrative proposals put forward by SYN are not the solution. The young people, the popular strata, must permanently turn their back on their policies and dogmatisms. Only in that way will they be able to confront the worst that is yet to come, Papariga stressed.
 Alavanos holds talks with police federation representativesRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alekos Alavanos held talks on Friday with representatives of the Panhellenic Federation of Police Employees and said afterwards that one of the big problems is that the state "looks upon the police as an army".
Alavanos said that "if one side of the coin is the young man who can live with security, with freedom and with democratic rights, its other side is the policeman-citizen. The policeman who feels dignity, the policeman who is trained and the policeman who functions in society."
He further said that "we do not believe that all policemen are thugs, we believe, however, that from the government, and indeed following the new disciplinary regulations, there is a system that urges policemen to bring out the thuggish part, that each of us may be concealing in his soul, and the good aspects not to come out."
Alavanos also stressed that "SYRIZA's positions are being understood" and that "the target is the injustices of the system and not shop windows or cars."
 Tsipras holds talks with Athens Mayor KaklamanisCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Alexis Tsipras held talks on Friday with Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis and said about the destruction caused in downtown Athens that "the sight is indeed sad."
Tsipras said that a sector that had experienced great pressure throughout the entire previous period from the economic crisis, a sector that experienced the looting by banks, found itself over the past days at the centre of a great pressure.
The Coalition leader said that his party will be taking initiatives and that "we shall be meeting agencies and primarily will be promoting specific measures, specific proposals to handle the social phenomenon that we have before us."
 LAOS leader meets hospital doctors' union federationPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Friday received the Federation of Hospital Doctors of Greece at his party's offices and heard their request seeking support from LAOS and Parliament of a sector collective labour agreement agreed with the health minister.
After the meeting, Karatzaferis claimed that doctors in state hospitals were currently being paid almost the same as janitorial staff in municipalities, and stressed that they "deserved better treatment".
 Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece on recent tragic eventsArchibishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece referred to the recent sad events that took place in Athens and other major cities after the shooting death of teenager Alexis Grigoroupolos by a police officer, while speaking at a Standing Holy Synod meeting on Thursday.
"The Holy Synod considers that to take the life of a young boy, or any other human being, is no one's right but, on the contrary, it constitutes alienation from the will of God," Ieronymos, but added that "violence is not, and cannot, be the answer to the tragic event, because violence breeds violence in a vicious circle that continuously produces catastrophy and victims".
"We must all shoulder our responsibilities for the present situation, the causes of which are deeper. The Church prays to Jesus for everyone and hopes for cooperation among all the forces and agencies of the country, and places itself at the state's disposal for the prevalence of social cohesion and peace".
 Stronger measures against illegal migration by EUBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA)
The European Union has signed Readmission Agreements with a total of 11 countries that generate large numbers of illegal migrants, a development regarded as positive for Greece, which in recent years has been targetted as a "gateway" to Europe by thousands of illegal migrants.
Readmission Agreements have been signed with Albania, FYROM, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Macao SAR, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong, based on which, they will have to take back their nationals who enter the EU illegally if a request is made by an EU member state.
Measures promoted by the EU aimed at curbing illegal migration include a draft directive imposing sanctions on employers who hire illegal migrants, a directive on the adoption of harmonized and transparent rules in the EU as regards the return of third country nationals residing illegally in the EU, the establishment of the European organisation for management and operational cooperation at the external borders of member-states, known as FRONTEX and the formulation of the European system for the surveillance of external borders (EUROSUR).
 Greece signs deal with FrontexInterior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasis Papaligouras on Friday signed a declaration for the supply of equipment with the European agency Frontex, responsible for coordinating efforts to curb illegal immigration into Europe.
The declaration was signed at the former public order ministry with Frontex executive director Ilkka Laitinen, while the two ministers stressed its importance for Greece.
"This is an extremely important step, because it essentially makes the borders of Greece the same as the borders of Europe. Through Frontex, Greece will be reinforced by the necessary equipment on all levels, so that it can more efficiently guard the borders," Pavlopoulos noted.
The minister pointed out that the effort to involve the European Union in the guarding of Greek borders was an initiative begun by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, adding that Frontex could eventually evolve into an organisation like Europol for the guarding of European borders.
The interior minister said there was a common effort with Laitinen to ensure that the European Parliament approved a higher budget for Frontex that would give it greater operational capacity.
Papaligouras noted that the eastern borders of Greece were "a particular vulnerable point of entry" for all the EU, while Laitinen said that Greece was doing what it should but was faced with an exceptionally difficult task that had to be carried out in a difficult area and a difficult environment.
 Athens Bar Association deplores Kouyias for slandering the dead, defamation of colleaguesThe Athens Bar Association (DSA), in an announcement, deplored high-profile lawyer Alexis Kouyias, who has assumed the defense of the two special guards responsible for the shooting death of a 15-year-old teen in the Exarhia district of Athens on Saturday night that sparked four nights of unprecedenting rioting and vandalism in the capital and other cities throughout the country, for statements that are slanderous and counter to the lawyers' code of ethics. It also noted that a DSA First Degree Disciplinary Council decision for Kouyias' expulsion from the Athens Bar Association was currently pending before the Areios Paghos' (Greek Supreme Court) Supreme Disciplinary Council.
"The DSA Board unanimously deplores in the most categorical way the recent statements by its member, attorney Alexis Kouyias, in the framework of his defense of the defendant in the murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The defense functin is an absolute right, but is subject however to the rules of the deontology (code of ethics) in the practice of law," the announcement said.
"Slandering the dead 15-year-old, either personally or through repetition of the views of his (Kouyias') client to the mass media, as well as the defamation of the lawyers who did not accept to undertake the defense, is a contravention of the rules of deontology in the practice of law and the duty of a direct manner of defense. It comprises a new - ethical - murder, that fuels the tension in these days when the entire Greek society is rising up and demonstrating, in tribute to his memory and against police arbitrariness," the announcement added.
"For this reason, disciplinary action has been taken, and the matter has been referred to the DSA's relevant Disciplinary Councils," the DSA announced.
"Let it be known that a decision for permanent expulsion (from the DSA) has already been issued by the DSA's First Degree Disciplinary Council, which was forwarded on May 30, 2008 to the Supreme Disciplinary Council, at the Areios Paghos, where it is pending," the announcement concluded.
 Attorneys slapped with blackmail charges in Vatopedi-related caseLawyers Michalis Koukovinos and his companion and colleague Stamatina Sotiropoulou are facing felony extortion charges in relation to the Vatopedi Monastery land swap furor.
First Instance Court Prosecutor Evangelos Mademlis proceeded with an indictment against the two attorneys after completing a preliminary investigation and following a DVD screening, in which Koukovinos is seen talking with businessman Markos Karaberis and threatening legal action on behalf of farmers in a township west of Thessaloniki to contest the monastery's ownership.
A legal challenge would have complicated a land exchange contract, Koukovinos is accused of saying, unless he was given certain tracts of land and money to ensure that their case was dropped.
The extortion charges concern a farmer who was allegedly bilked out of 30,000 euros by Koukovinos and Sotiropoulou.
 Commission to recover 528.5 million euros of CAP expenditure from EU member statesA total of 528.5 million euros of EU farm money unduly spent by 15 member states will be claimed back as a result of a decision adopted by the European Commission. Funds will be recovered from Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden.
Greece will have to return a total of 179 million euros, among them 83.6 millions charged for weaknesses in key and ancillary controls in the sector of olive oil production and 67.4 millions charged for insufficient controls and exceeding the eligible levels of production in the cotton sector.
The money returns to the Community budget because of inadequate control procedures or non-compliance with EU rules on agricultural expenditure. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that member states have made correct use of the funds.
 EIB, Greece sign cooperation Memorandum on JESSICA initiativeThe European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Greek economy and finance ministry on Friday signed in Athens a Memorandum of Cooperation on boosting their cooperation in the financing of investments that promote sustaniable urban development.
The Memorandum, signed by EIB vice president Plutarchos Sakellaris and deputy minister Yannis Papathanassiou, expresses intention to utilise the JESSICA (Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) initiative .
JESSICA is a joint initiative of the EIB and the European Commission, in cooperation with the Council of EUrope's Investment Bank aimed at promoting sustainable investments and the development of urban areas with the support of the EU's structural funds.
The Memorandum provides for the establishment of a central fund for the JESSICA.
 Parliament debate touches on PPC rates, operationThe country's deficit in electricity production sector and any hikes in power rates were directly attributed by Deputy Development Minister Stavros Kalafatis to policies followed by previous PASOK governments.
Responding on Friday to a tabled question by main opposition PASOK on what the opposition party referred to as the "deterioration of the Public Power Corp. SA (PPC), as well as the company's finances and the rising energy costs, Kalafatis reiterated that power rates will not increase in 2009, while he reminded that roughly 2.5 million households (43 percent of the PPC electric meters) were excluded from any envisioned hikes.
Responding to PASOK's accusations that power rates have increased 23.4 percent in 22 months, he stressed that this was unavoidable due to the rising fuel prices, considering that 55 percent of the power utility's revenues are directly exposed to international fuel price fluctuations. However, he maintained that in real value PPC's rates are among the lowest in the EU.
In response, several PASOK deputies charged that PPC sported pre-tax profits of 500 million euros when ruling New Democracy assumed power in 2004, whereas today the utility's losses reach 300 million euros, while accumulated debt is four billion euros.
"The argument of international increases in the price of oil has been discredited ... In 2004 when the first messages of trouble surfaced, the price of oil was at very low levels; in 2005 it was the same, in 2006 also," PASOK deputy Apostolos Katsifaras said, adding: "Indeed there was an increase, which we do not ignore, but today the price of oil has fallen to near 60 dollars."
In response, the deputy minister said that the profits cited by the PASOK MPs were "virtual and fake".
"Maintenance programmes for the production units and the grid had been completely abandoned," Kalafatis said.
 Greek stocks down 1.28%Greek stocks finished the week on the downside at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, succumbing to international trends. The composite index of the market ended 1.28 pct down to finish at 1,810.26 points, with turnover a low to moderate 135.2 million euros, of which 3.8 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with Oil/Gas (1.04 pct), Travel/Recreation (1.02 pct) and Mass Media (4.45 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Utilities (4.72 pct) and Commerce (0.76 pct) posting the biggest losses.
The FTSE 20 index fell 1.28 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 2.09 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index eased 1.00 pct. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 145 to 58 with another 54 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.04%
Personal & Household: -1.92%
Raw Materials: -2.80%
Travel & Leisure: +1.02%
Food & Beverages: -1.04%
Financial Services: -0.53%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank, OTE and Bank of Piraeus.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 6.18
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.60
HBC Coca Cola: 10.80
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.76
National Bank of Greece: 13.32
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.76
Bank of Piraeus: 6.02
Titan Cement Company: 13.48
 ADEX closing reportGreek futures contract prices ended with a discount in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover amounting to 35.871 million euros. The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was traded at a discount of 0.80 pct, while the volume was 6,085 contracts worth 27.624 million euros, with 29,628 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 10,741 contracts worth 8.059 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Marfin Investment Group's contrasts (1,569), followed by National Bank (1,309), OPAP (1,184), OTE (1,079), Intrakom (1,060) and GEK (712).
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market eased to 383 million euros on Friday, of which 60 million were buy orders and the remaining 323 million euros were sell orders.
The 10-year benchmark bond (July 20, 2018) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 115 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds was 2,08 per cent, with the Greek bond yielding 5.32 pct and the German Bund 3.24 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates moved lower. The 12-month Euribor rate was 3.47 pct, the six-month rate 3.36 pct, the three-month rate 3.28 pct and the one-month rate 2.99 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates: Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.344
Pound sterling 0.899
Danish kroner 7.509
Swedish kroner 10.747
Japanese yen 121.17
Swiss franc 1.587
Norwegian kroner 9.284
Canadian dollar 1.673
Australian dollar 2.045
 Souflias inaugurates exhibition on enviromentEnviroment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias inaugurated on Thursday an exhibition titled "Enviroment- Action 2008" at the historical villa Kazouli in the Athens district of Kiffissia.
Souflias said in his address: "Today, noted scientists describe with black colors the future of our planet if we keep the same attitude in the future. All of us throughout the world are responsible to meditate on what we must do for our future and the future of our children."
He stressed that " It's not enought to call ourselves environmentally aware, we must also prove it with actions. This exhibition is, in my view, the most important meeting of people of culture for the enviroment that has ever been organised in Greece. The relationship between culture and enviroment is the human relationship with creation".
The minister also reffered to the recent riots that broke out in the country after the death of teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos, stating that the country is going through a major tribulation, and that it is imperative that an in-depth and objective study be conducted on its causes. We must, each one of us, calmly without exaggeration, ponder how important certain of the fundamental values are and how necessary it is to respect them. And, above all, respect of human life, which nothing else equals, and respect for everything each and every human being has created in his life, as well as respect for social peace".
"No one has the right to take the law into his own hands" he concluded.
The exhibition "Enviroment- Action 2008" is organised by the latter ministry .
 SAE president outlines expatriate group's prioritiesThe goals and actions undertaken by the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) aimed at strengthening the role and position of World Hellenism were underlined by its President Stefanos Tamvakis.
In an interview with ANA-MPA, Tamvakis, who is at the helm of the Greek expatriate organization for the past two years, referred to the significant efforts aimed at upgrading the institution and the actions undertaken since 2006 focusing on youth networking and activation, education, culture, world networking of Greek businessmen, SAE's economic independence, and its efforts in support of national issues.
The pilot programme "Speak Greek - Live Greek" teaching Greek to young expatriates through the use of new technologies will be inaugurated Saturday at the offices of SAE in Thessaloniki. The programme materializes through the organization's not-for-profit company "Desmos" under the auspices of UNESCO and with the support of Alexandros S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.
SAE's mobilization during last year's wildfires in Greece in support of the fire victims was considerable and the funds raised exceeded the one-million-dollar mark.
The promotion of national issues is among the main objectives of SAE, Tamvakis said, stressing that the organization offered its immediate support to Greece as regards the FYROM "name issue", while cooperation with Overseas Cypriot organizations POMAK and PSEKA is becoming stronger. SAE's support to the Ecumenical Patriarchate was also underlined.
Among the issues, the Greek expatriate group has focused on are the voting rights of Greek expatriates and the election of Greek expatriate deputies in the Greek national parliament.
 Athens pledges to again raise Christmas Tree, continue with holiday eventsPopular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis met on Friday with Athens Ìayor Nikitas Kaklamanis at the party's offices in Athens in the wake of the devastating rioting in the Greek capital this past week.
"Athens will remain stable and the ones that believe that we will be frightened and give up efforts to keep Athens stable are mistaken," Kaklamanis said.
He also thanked Karatzaferis for the party's moral support and said the municipality is not yet ready to assess the total riot-related damage to buildings, streets and sidewalks. Kaklamanis also called on LA.OS Euro-MP Georgiou to investigate the possibility of financial assistance from the European Union to restore damages in Athens.
Karatzaferis congratulated Kaklamanis on municipality's efforts to restore normalcy to Athens. He estimated that when "we exit from this crisis we will all be more powerful and wise, but we must be intensify our awareness and react more rapidly."
The Athens mayor also announced that the city's centre-piece Christmas tree in Syntagma Square, across from Parliament, will again be erected and decorated. One of the most vivid images of the past week's rioting in Athens was of the Christmas Tree in Syntagma Square being firebombed and burning like a torch in front of Parliament and with the Acropolis in the background.
Kaklamanis also pledged that a series of holiday events and festivities will commence next week.
 Rain causes damage in fire-ravaged PeloponneseHeavy rain on Thursday night and Friday morning caused extensive damage in fire-ravaged regions of the Peloponnese.
Flooding, strong winds and high seas caused damage to ports, shops and crops in the towns of Methoni, Koroni and Finikounta, while similar damage was reported in Lakonia and Arcadia and basements flooded in the towns of Sparti and Mystras.
Similar flooding occurred in Corinth and Nemea, where there was also extensive damage to the local road network, while a section of the Sparti-Tripolis national road subsided near Klada without impeding through traffic.
 Nakos on landfillsDeputy interior minister Athanasios Nakos expressed his belief, during a conference on solid waste management in Thessaloniki on Friday, that the "unpleasant prospect" of fines being imposed on Greece by the European Court over the country's landfills was becoming more remote, "since our partners have seen that steps have been made".
Nakos also said that Greece currently produces 4.6 million tons of urban waste annually, while the forecast for 2016 is 5.2 million tons.
 Convictions handed down in hooligan-related homicideOne of 27 defendants in a high-profile murder trial related to a deadly "rumble" between rival football club supporters that left a 25-year-old man stabbed to death, was found guilty on Friday of first degree murder and handed down a life sentence.
An Athens criminal appeals court issued its verdict after a lengthy trial, finding Christos Sakatis guilty without extenuating circumstances.
Two of the defendants, Nikos Vogiopoulos and Vassilis Psikakos, were sentenced to 10 years in prison for complicity to commit homicide.
Sentences between 3 and 6 months were handed down to eight defendants for illegal arms possession. The remaining defendants were found not guilty.
Several hooded individuals, who had gathered outside the courthouse, caused limited incidents after the ruling was issued, before being repelled by riot police.
Filopoulos, a Panathinaikos Athens supporter, was stabbed to death in March 2007 during the "rumble" between hooligans from Olympiakos Piraeus and Panathinaikos.
 Symbolic takeover of radio station by pupilsA group of about 40 pupils staged a symbolic take-over on Friday of the offices of the private radio station FLASH.
The pupils remained at the station for about half an hour, and departed peacefully after reading out live on the air a statement on the shooting death of 15-year-old teen Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police bullet in the Exarhia district of Athens on Saturday night.
 Fine Arts School cancels Dec. events after sit-inThe School of Fine Arts in Athens on Friday announced that it was suspending all planned activities for this month, including the 2006-2007 graduates' show, due to a sit-in at its premises by protestors.
 Athens TEI cancels Monday classesThe Athens Technological Education Institute, in a last-minute decision on Friday, has decided to cancel all classes taking place on Monday, December 15 in response to the "current situation in education". All other services will operate as normal.
 Armed robbery in ArgyrouppolisAn armed robbery to an armored car money shipment took place on Friday morning in the Athens suburb of Argyroupolis. Three hooded individuals holding guns blocked the armoured car that had just picked up a large sum of money from a local National Bank of Greece branch and forced the security guards to abandon the armored vehicle, which the perpetrators fled with.
The armored vehicle was found abandoned a short while later but the money and the robbers had dissapeared.
Attica Police is investigating the incident.
 Two women drowned in car accident on CephalloniaÁ 38-year old woman from Albania and her 18 year-old daughter were trapped in a car and drowned when it fell into the sea. The driver of the car, the woman's 16-year-old son who didn't have a driver's licence, managed to escape the sunken car and swim safely to shore.
According to the Coast Guard, the 16-year-old Albanian lost control of the car in the midst of a storm.
 European sports ministers conference endsThe 11th conference of sports ministers of Europe ended on Friday at Vouliagmeni, a seaside Athens resort, on sports ethics and autonomy.
The conference, organised by the Council of Europe in collaboration with the Greek Sports Secretariat, took place with the participation of ministers of sports and sports delegations from 49 countries belonging to the European Cultural Treaty.
 Cloudy on SaturdayCloudy and showery weather and southwesterly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 2C and 19C. Fair with light cloud in Athens, with southwesterly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 17C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 3C to 12C.
 The Friday edition of Athens dailies at a glanceÔhe siege of police stations by teen demonstrators and the taking stock of damages by Athens and other major cities after the violence that broke out after the shooting death of teenager Alexis Grigoropoulos by a police officer in Athens, dominated the headlines on Friday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Police stations under siege - Friday's rallies are equally crucial".
APOGEVMATINI: "Lawyers' war - Major disputes erupted among lawyers over the case that shocked Greece(Alexis Grigoropoulos's death)".
AVGHI: "Students, pupils and teachers rally on Friday in Athens".
AVRIANI: "Americans want to topple prime minister Costas Karamanlis - They want to annul the contracts he signed with (then Russian president Vladimir) Putin for the natural gas pipelines".
CHORA: "The revolution of the 16-year-olds - Police stations in pupils' tight grip".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "........They tore off the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary group's political hood - 'MP Psarianos a strong supporter of terrorism', Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis charges in a newspaper article ".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Pupils 'ntifada' - 15-year-old river of rage with rallies, take-overs and raids on police stations - The Greek uprising inspires the youth internationally".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Lesson no 1: Raid on police stations - Pupils' movements with rallies, demonstrations, take-overs and stone-throwing war".
ESTIA: The political parties historical responsibilities - Why main opposition PASOK and ruling New Democracy failed".
ETHNOS: "The government under siege - The movements in the education sector escalating".
KATHIMERINI: "The riots intensify the crisis - Greece's cost of borrowing increases".
LOGOS: "Schools 'on fire' -Tension and street battles outside police stations.".
NIKI: " The 16-years-olds rise up - Pupils' rage intensifies".
RIZOSPASTIS: "New rally on Wednesday 17 December - We continue and escalate the working class' struggle".
TA NEA: "The warning bell sounds for Karamanlis - The governent at an impasse in Greece and internationally".
TO VIMA: "Karamanlis is troubled - The dilemmas and the impasses - He will speak on Friday on the succession scenarios".
VRADYNI: "350,000 euros liquidity breather for small and medium enterprises".
 President Christofias expresses deep sorrow for Papadopoulos' deathBRUSSELS (CNA/ANA-MPA)
President of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, has expressed deep sorrow for the death of former Cyprus President Tassos Papadoulos, who passed away Friday at the age of 74.
''I would like to express my deep sorrow and the sorrow of all the people of Cyprus for the loss of former President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos", President Christofias said from Brussels where he attended the deliberations of the European Council.
Noting that Tassos Papadopoulos has devoted his whole life in matters concerning the society since he was young, President Christofias said that the former President took part in the national struggle of the people of Cyprus for independence and played a leading role in the Cyprus Republic's affairs, as Minister who served in various Ministries, as interlocutor and very close collaborator of the late Archbishop Makarios III.
The Cypriot President talked about the "close friendship" he had with Tassos Papadopoulos saying: "we cooperated, we gave struggles together for the cause of Cyprus", expressing his "deep appreciation for the man who departed".
President Christofias expressed his condolences to the family and the people of Cyprus, noting that "Tassos Papadopoulos will remain in history as one of the leaders of the modern history of our country".
Papadopoulos' death was announced by Director of the Intensive Care Unit of the Nicosia General Hospital Theodoros Kyprianou.
The former President was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the Nicosia General Hospital on November 22nd, suffering from small cell lung cancer.
Papadopoulos was elected President of the Republic in February 2003 for a five years term. In April 2003, he signed the EU-Cyprus Accession Treaty.
During his presidency, Cyprus became full member of the EU and adopted the single European currency, the euro.
In April 2004, he called upon the people of Cyprus to reject the UN brokered Annan plan for a solution of the Cyprus problem, saying that the Annan plan did not lead to the reunification of the island but in fact made the division permanent.
Tassos Papadopoulos ran unsuccessfully for re-election in the 2008 presidential elections.
Born in January 1934, Papadopoulos was married to Fotini Michaelides, of the family of Anastassios Leventis. They had four children: Constantinos, Maria, Nicholas and Anastasia.
 Cabinet announces three-day official mourningNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Council of Ministers decided Friday to declare a three-day official mourning in memory of the late Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos who died Friday of lung cancer.
The Cabinet observed a minute's silence in memory of the late President.
"Flags at all public buildings and schools will fly at half mast between today (Friday) and Monday, when the late President will be laid to rest," Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said after an extraordinary Cabinet meeting, following the announcement of Papadopoulos' death.
A book of condolences will open at the Foreign Ministry and all the embassies of the Republic abroad. Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and the members of the Cabinet as well as the Spokesman and the Under-Secretary to the President will all sign the book.
The Cabinet also decided, the spokesman said, to attend the funeral which will take place on Monday morning at the state's expense. The head of the Cyprus Orthodox Church Archbishop Chrysostomos II will officiate the funeral service.
The spokesman announced that all official events and public engagements of members of the government have been postponed.
The Cabinet decided on the wording of the text to be inscribed in the book of condolences: "It is with deep sorrow that we say goodbye to the late President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and we honour his contribution to his country Cyprus from various posts he has served, as a member of parliament, President of the House of Representatives, Minister, negotiator and President of the Republic."
House President Marios Garoyian, who chaired the extraordinary Cabinet meeting, (President Christofias was on his way back from the EU summit), said he was assigned the "sad privilege to chair this meeting", having consulted with President Christofias.
"I know that you are all shocked at his untimely death. You all knew him as President and as a human being as well. Many of you have served in his Cabinet and others have been his close associates and friends," Garoyian said at Friday's meeting.
Papadopoulos, he added, offered a lot to his country and was always present in all the struggles it had to fight, he served the Republic in an unselfish manner and marked the country's modern history with his presence.
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