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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-12-22

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Monday, 22 December 2008 Issue No: 3078


  • [01] Parliament passes 2009 budget; PM sharply criticises opposition
  • [02] Opposition leaders sharply attack gov't, tabled budget
  • [03] Ministers' addresses ahead of vote on 2009 budget
  • [04] Voters want change of course, PASOK claims
  • [05] SYN leader lambasts gov't, PASOK, KKE
  • [06] New investigation at site of boy's shooting
  • [07] City of Athens holiday fairytales at nat'l gardens
  • [08] Anti-racism rally in Athens
  • [09] One shot, one killed in separate incidents on Sunday
  • [10] Panathinaikos supporters attacked in Piraeus
  • [11] Arrest for immigrant-trafficking in Ptolemaida
  • [12] Six police vehicles torched early on Sunday
  • [13] Two cars damaged in central Athens fire
  • [14] Two banks, car dealership torched in Iraklio
  • [15] Sharp drop in temperatures Monday
  • [16] The Sunday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance Politics

  • [01] Parliament passes 2009 budget; PM sharply criticises opposition

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Sunday evening launched a sharp counter-attack against the opposition in Parliament, especially against the main opposition leader, as the premier and ruling New Democracy party leader spearheaded the charge for the government's tabled 2009 draft budget amid a threatening global economic crisis and recent street violence in the country.

    Less than an hour after Karamanlis left the podium, a roll call vote produced 151 votes in favour, 146 against and one MP -- recently removed from ruling ND's parliamentary group -- declaring "present". Out of the 300 Parliament deputies, 298 participated in the roll call vote just after midnight in a nationally televised session.

    "In this very difficult juncture, certain individuals, and primarily the main opposition, merely ignore the real challenges faced by the country, sacrificing the collective national good in self-serving games ... Employing a wooden and condemnatory language, enormous inaccuracies, lies and empty promises they do not solve problems. The only thing they do is demonstrate their massive and dangerous irresponsibility," the prime minister charged from Parliament's podium.

    In referring to PASOK president George Papandreou by name, Karamanlis said the main opposition leader and former foreign minister maligned the country's image abroad with his published comments in international media last week, at the height of street violence following the shooting of teen in central Athens by a police officer.

    Moreover, he didn't mince his words in condemning "extremist groups who attack the economy, social peace and democracy."

    Karamanlis said these small and extreme groups, "taking advantage of the sorrow felt for the tragic loss of a child unleash violent and catastrophic attacks We will continue to speak with clear statements, not minced words. They are attacking society and democracy itself. They are indifferent to the toil of their fellow citizens, to the costs that burden taxpayers, to the desperation of wage-earners in affected businesses, to the damage done to the tourism sector. In violating every concept of university asylum, they have transformed our higher education institutes into firebombers' bases."

    Conversely, the premier said the struggles of working people and peaceful demonstrations had nothing to do with the firebombings and the "catastrophic mania of the extremists".

    In again turning his criticism to PASOK's Papandreou, the PM charged that "no one should act the part of a spreader of doom-saying slogans, not even the PASOK leader. Yet, he nevertheless reached the point, in an interview with an Italian magazine, of spreading the notion that the slogan in Athens is 'millions of dollars to the bankers and bullets for the pupils'."

    As per press speculation regarding "coalition government", which Papandreou also referred to, Karamanlis said these are the products of "scenario writers sitting next to you, right and left. We are strong and are doing our job."

    [02] Opposition leaders sharply attack gov't, tabled budget

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, speaking in Parliament on Sunday evening during debate on the 2009 state budget, stressed that the economic crisis will deepen for as long as New Democracy party remains in power, charging that five years were enough to prove the major differences existing between ND and PASOK.

    Papandreou stressed that those seeking an extension of the present crisis will find no helping hand from PASOK, while to those promoting scenarios of joint rule to "protect their privileges and their parasitical jobs, PASOK tells them outright to look elsewhere. Not to PASOK."

    In a categorical way, the PASOK leader ruled out any prospect of a governing coalition with ND and called for the immediate holding of early elections, saying the "the ruling party is part of the crisis and not of the solution to the problems."

    He further pointed out that "we are not interested in solutions that save ND in order to get some ministerial seats. We are interested in the future of Greece."

    Papandreou went on to say that "if everything is going so well, why is the changing of the finance minister at the epicentre of the reshuffle. I don't know if you will find anyone to become a laughing stock to serve your economic policy. The result will be the same: You will not deceive anyone."

    The PASOK leader also focused on the mobilisations of young people, saying that their voice "is in danger of being buried behind the clashes between the riot police and the hooded assailants."

    He promised to call on the leaderships of the remaining opposition parties "to do all that we can to guarantee the rostrum for young people, without any intention of mani-pulation or party exploitation."

    Lastly, Papandreou said "there is a mood for society to take its fate in its hands in the face of phenomena of violence. PASOK is here to define a new course. We shall shape new consensuses and with a treaty of confidence for the Greek man and the Greek woman we shall turn authoritarianism into dialogue."

    KKE's Papariga

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking in Parliament on Sunday during debate on the 2009 state budget, warned of the risk of "anti-popular" laws being adopted to tackle "troublemaking elements and phenomena," in reference to the recent unprecedented wave of street violence in Athens and a series of other Greek cities following the police shooting of a teen two weeks ago.

    Papariga expressed aversion for those who consider acts of vandalism as manifestations of "popular uprising", stressing that "what some parties call a 'popular uprising' is the ridiculing and vulgarisation of popular uprisings. A real uprising will have as its starting point the workers, wage-earners and youth. Not even one window will be smashed. It will have demands and goals, it will have a political purpose, and it will not merely be indignation."

    She went on to say that "they are speaking of 10,000 hooded assailants. Even if they are 50,000, what does it mean? Does the number make the movement? We have seen much more massive reactionary movements. See in Venezuela who is demonstrating against Chavez, even students."

    Papariga further underlined that "we fear for the people, whom at some time the government, with the assistance of degrading phenomena, will mobilise laws. For example, it will use the Euro-terror law. It may suspend articles of the constitution, there is also the possibility of the military getting involved in the event of strikes and takeovers of buildings."

    Lastly, Papariga pointed out that her party is not interested in the existence of intra-party government coalition solutions but in a decrease in the percentages of the major parties and the weakening of their governments.

    SYRIZA's Alavanos

    In turn, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary group leader President Alekos Alavanos said his party will not budge from its positions in support of the struggles of young people and their awakening and adherence to peaceful paths.

    Alavanos also criticised ruling ND party, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) as well as the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, citing an "unprecedented attack that they launched" against his party and referring to "an alibi that the government is seeking with the hooded assailants to transfer its responsibilities", while terming the education minister a "red cloth."

    He also noted that the budget is "a budget that has no life, even if this government has life."

    Alavanos stressed that "this budget is the same as the previous ones. There is no change, not even one euro more. We would expect the education minister to tell Mr. (George) Alogoskoufis that he wants one euro more. That he wants a commitment for tomorrow. Instead of this, we heard from the education minister that the murder of Alexis was carelessness."

    Moreover, he further said that "ND should realise, that is sleeping blissfully, that there is desperation among young people and give answers to their problems. The ministerial council must take lessons from the young people because their antennas are sensitive" and spoke, with regard to trouble-makers, of "the government's known tape of a bad game that is being played with provocateurs who infiltrate mobi-lisations."


    Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party leader George Karatzaferis tabled a proposal for national dialogue with the participation of the party leaders, former prime ministers and the former presidents.

    Karatzaferis said that national consensus is necessary and "the need stemming from developments necessitates us listening to all those having some experience."

    He criticised all parties for their stance towards the conjuncture being experienced by the country and the Parliamentary group of ruling New Democracy party, in particular, of "waiting for the cheese of a reshuffle and of not speaking," as well as charging that PASOK is "reaching the point of speaking to its former prime minister" and of expecting political benefits from the crisis as the left "squabbles among itself and of playing a cat and mouse game."

    Karatzaferis termed the government "degraded in the eyes of public opinion" and warned the prime minister that "the future is not by his side but opposite him", while proposing that the best from all parties should get together to create an economic programme to enable the country to rid itself of the social crisis.

    [03] Ministers' addresses ahead of vote on 2009 budget

    Several ministers spoke in Parliament on Sunday evening on the occasion of the vote for the 2009 state budget, which essentially serves as a vote of confidence for the government.

    On her part, referring to latest developments in the country, and especially to an interview given to a foreign newspaper by PASOK leader Papandreou, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said the government is determined to wage a battle to limit whatever harm to the country's international image.

    Bakoyannis said the government has decided to increase funds for promoting Greek tourism in the international mass media.

    "However, no matter how many funds we spend we cannot remedy the international harm caused by the photo of the Acropolis with a hanging banner, which was broadcast all over the world; activism might excite some, either they may be in this hall or not. But it does not serve the homeland, it does not serve the people, it does not serve the country," she said.

    "The fact that Mr. Papandreou, in an interview with a foreign newspaper, chose to deal a blow at the country's international image does not benefit Greece. For his own petty political reasons, he (Papandreou) consciously undermined the prestige and the development prospects of our country and degraded our very homeland abroad. Mr. Papandreou, if he does not realise it, is not a mass media commentator, but a responsible politician and state official. And what he did is not an action by a responsible political leader," Bakoyannis added.

    Focusing on foreign policy, Bakoyannis said the government's policy has produced results and that "our country is recognised by all as being a solvent regional power of stability and development for its entire region."

    On the question of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), she expressed a hope that Skopje "will soon realise that the solution to the name issue is mainly in their own interest and abandon delaying policies and antiquated logic, since they now need Greece's support in their course towards the European Union and NATO.

    As regards Turkey, she noted that "until now, for various reasons Turkey, either because it was unable or because it lacked an adequately strong will, has not turned into tangible actions the initial positive momentum. Our relations are not forging ahead as we would have liked. We have taken steps of goodwill and we are now expecting Turkey to act accordingly. The key is to be found in Ankara today."

    Focusing on the Cyprus issue, Bakoyannis reiterated Athens' aim of a solution that will function for the benefit of all the residents of the island.

    "We are all supporting President (Demetris) Christofias and the Cypriot political leadership in the effort that they have assumed for an end to an injustice, an unacceptable situation that has been continuing for 34 whole years. I would like to hope that Turkey itself will realise that the solution to the issue of Cyprus is also in the interest of the Turkish people," Bakoyannis concluded.


    In touching on issues related to his portfolio, Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis referred directly to mass transit systems and so-called "green transports", while he also cited the latest developments with debt-plagued Olympic Airways (OA) and loss-making Hellenic Railways (OSE), both state-run.

    "As far as Olympic is concerned, we are proceeding well with the (international) tender, despite the particularly negative international juncture. We have a good investment base and numerous bids, and we will have quite a few in the second round, so that we will be able to say that we'll securely proceed with the tender," Hatzidakis said from Parliament's podium.

    The minister emphasised that the Greek government's goal is a privatised OA able to generate 100 million euros in profits per year, as opposed from the roughly 300 million euros in debt it records today per annum.

    Regarding OSE, which he called the "most problematic railway operation in Europe", Hatzidakis said the target is to contain expenditures and increase revenues.

    "We are preparing an early retirement plan, but we are not neglecting the development of the rail network," he said.

    In other sectors, the transport minister cited an extension of the tram network in greater Athens to the port of Piraeus by 2010, an additional three electric rail stations, also in Athens, and the procurement of electric-powered buses.

    Finally, he said that Greece still lags behind other EU countries in terms of broadband access, although the figure is rapidly expanding.

    Labour & social insurances minister

    Employment Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, speaking in Parlia-ment on Sunday during the discussion on the 2009 state budget, sent a message to the country's political forces "to show seriousness" if they do not believe that "the big crisis is an amazing opportunity to comment on events" and it is not "a fictitious alarm for psychological reactions to be gauged."

    The minister went on to say that "if what we are proposing is overbidding in supposed sensitivity, then let us tell the citizens openly that they are alone, otherwise let us show seriousness at least."

    Addressing the main opposition party, she said that despite the fact that they are well aware of the truth, the country's possi-bilities and the present wagers, "it is really alarming that it appears that you are acting as if you are expecting benefit. As if you are hoping that the system of self-confirming prophecy will operate in your favour."

    Education minister on youth anger, rioting

    Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis focused on the recent youth riots with high school students as the main protagonists during his address in Parliament in the debate on the draft budget.

    Speaking on Saturday evening, Stylianidis said that they had been a spontaneous and justified explosion of anger by young people over the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos, who was shot down by a policeman in Exarhia, which others had tried to use for their own ends.

    "Our students, completely justifiably, turned out onto the streets. They weren't doing politics. They were not serving any ends. They acted out, cried for the lost fellow student, condemned the reckless special guard and made demands. Behind them, however, some were looting. Certain others sought to recruit them, making them 'pushers' for foreign ideas that are rejected by democratic Greek society. Still others, with their behaviour, sought to drag Greece's international image through the mire, showing it not as a country that gave birth to democracy but as a country of disarray, nihilism and denial," he said.

    The minister went on to urge young people to "take off the hoods" and "express themselves freely".

    "No one has the right to hide your faces. We live in a real democracy. No one has the right to arm your hands with stones so that you can smash up the small shop owned by your father, who struggles to make a living," Stylianidis urged.

    The minister went on to say that the improvement in the day-to-day running of universities in the current year, brought about through last year's educational reforms, was the "barricade" that prevented the explosion on the streets from transferring itself into schools.

    Among these improvements he listed the construction of 580 new schools and another 1,233 on the way, reduction in double shifts from 6 percent in 2004 to 2.1 percent at present, an increase in teaching staff and prompt filling of empty positions, as well as the early distribution of school text books. All this had contributed to the smallest number of school sit-ins, strikes, lost class hours and university examinations in the past 15 years, he added.

    Support for islands, shipping

    The government will not to allow the international economic crisis to stunt the growth of the Greek economy's two main 'powerhouses', the tourism industry of the Greek islands and shipping, Merchant Marine, Aegean and Island Policy Minister Anastasios Papaligouras stressed in Parliament on Sunday.

    Speaking during the budget debate that ends with a vote late on Sunday night, Papaligouras said the ministry's budget for island policy had increased 17 percent in 2009, in spite of fiscal restrictions.

    He went on to underline the serious problems faced by Greek cargo shippers, especially, as a result of a sudden decline in worldwide demand for products and and raw materials. The government first priority was to help the shipping industry remain competitive while keeping jobs in the sector at present levels, maintaining quality and ensuring adherence to international and European maritime regulations, the minister said.

    Papaligouras noted that more funds were allocated to human resources management in shipping, to be used to subsidise social insurance for seamen, their training and wages for new members of the coast guard.

    He also listed a number of welfare measures targeting unemployed and retired seamen in view of the current economic crisis, such as an increase in unemployment benefit by the seamen's pension fund NAT and a 5 percent increase in the EKAS income supplement for pensioners.

    Real convergence continuing, Deputy FinMin says

    Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, addressing Parliament on Sunday during discussion on the 2009 state budget, criticised main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou and former prime minister Costas Simitis of, in essence, undermining the Greek economy with their statements.

    "We do not need a main opposition party leader who, on the occasion of the tragic events that occurred with the unjustified murder of a 15-year-old pupil, giving interviews to the international mass media and 'shooting down' his own country, nor a former prime minister officially but inaccurately claiming that Greece will resort to the International Monetary Fund," he said.

    Referring to OECD predictions on the course of the Greek economy in the years to come, Papathanasiou said the course of real convergence (with advanced EU economies) is continuing, despite the international crisis.

    [04] Voters want change of course, PASOK claims

    The present government and prime minister were fast losing the confidence of Greek voters seeking a change of course, main opposition PASOK has said.

    "We are watching the collapse of the citizens' trust in the government and in [Prime Minister] Costas Karamanlis personally," PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou said in a statement on Saturday evening.

    "Ever more urgently, citizens are seeking a change of course. Elections, for a new government with a strong popular mandate. A PASOK government that will restore a state of law in Greece. that will once again give hope to young people, begin a plan for reorganising the Greek economy, give hope and prospects to our country once more," he said.

    Replying to PASOK soon afterwards, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that the main opposition had finally revealed itself and its true motives but stressed that "they will have to wait a long time".

    "The masks have now fallen. PASOK has only one thing in mind. How to regain power - in any way it can. Even by fishing in murky waters," Antonaros said.

    "Greeks continue to trust the responsible stance of Costas Karamanlis and reject the irresponsibility of PASOK's leader, who does not hesitate even to malign the country abroad," he added.

    [05] SYN leader lambasts gov't, PASOK, KKE

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras on Saturday spoke of an "immense social explosion", with youth and pupils as the spearhead that rocked the nation and will go down in history, in an address to his leftist party's central political committee.

    He also criticised the government for slandering the "neo-popular" movement, as he called it, and using the "mechanisms of police arbitrariness" against them, as well as main opposition PASOK party of "holing up", and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) of adopting the "tried and true rationale of provocateurs and enemies of the people".

    Tsipras also spoke of scenarios for "salvation of the system" through recipes such as either co-governance by ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK, or an "ecumenical" economy minister, "with the left in its own world and the youth on the couches".

    "The co-governance plans will not be able to proceed, we can cancel out those plans," the Synaspismos leader said, adding that "perhaps they can find a Left that does not bother them and will be in its own world in Perissos (the KKE headquarters), but not in our Left of the movements and struggles," Tsipras stressed.

    "We are on the opposite side of the hooded individuals and violence," Tsipras said, adding that "what they wanted was for us to stop speaking to the young people and to allow the pupils' movement to degenerate and be lost, to condemn the struggles of the young generation to disrepute, but we will not do them the favor, and we are proud of that, now and in the future".

    Addressing himself to interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Tsipras said there were many isolated incidents in a short period of time, such as the problem with the "rambo police officers, the penetration of ultra-right elements and the praetorian perception within the police".

    SYN was not in opposition to the ordinary police officer, but to their leadership and to the perceptions that want to turn the ordinary policeman into a "rambo and praetorian guard", with the aim of overturning democratic legality, Tsipras said, and posed the question of "which police task force wears hoods and wields crowbars".

    Tsipras stipulated three specific issues that Synaspismos and SYRIZA (the Radical Left Coalition, the SYN-led parlia-mentary alliance) placed at the centre of the demands: an end to suppression, authoritarianism and uncontrolled police arbitrariness; a deep-rooted change in the education system with free access to Universities as the prominent theme, and substantial support measures for the young generation against unemployment and the spectre of uninsured and uncertain employment.

    [06] New investigation at site of boy's shooting

    Police experts on Sunday carried out an on-site forensic investigation at the spot where 15-year-old Alexis Grigoro-poulos was shot dead by a police force special guard on the night of December 6, trying to gather more evidence related to the case.

    The investigation lasted about two-three hours and was conducted in the presence of the 9th examining magistrate who is in charge of the case.

    Also present were the first-instance court public prosecutor in the case, members of the police, representatives for the defence and the boy's family, who have filed a civil suit in the case, as well as their respective technical advisors.

    The additional specialised investigation, which seeks to find evidence to complement the findings of the ballistic report in light of eye-witness accounts claiming that the officer was aiming directly at the group of youths, was requested by lawyers representing the family.

    General News

    [07] City of Athens holiday fairytales at nat'l gardens

    The National Gardens, adjacent to the Parliament building in downtown Athens, inaugurated its Christmas and New Year's attractions and series of events on Saturday, all centred on the theme of "Greek and international fairytales come alive".

    At the main gates, "elves" hand young visitors a map and "passport" to discover the gardens' secrets in the "Forest of Fairytales". The elves will inform youngsters that they should visit all sites. After completing their tour of the gardens and receiving all stamps, children will be given a "storyteller's stamp". The map of stamps will serve as a memento of their participation in city of Athens' Christmas events.

    Specific fairytale themes include the "The Cookie House and the Cookie Men"; "The House of Santa Claus", "Let's tell a Story", "The Wish Workshop", "The Snowman and the Girl", "The House of the Storyteller", "Be part of a Fairytale"; "The Little Drummer Boy's Hut", and "The Elves of the Mill".

    [08] Anti-racism rally in Athens

    An anti-racism rally was held on Sunday in downtown Athens, organized by a group opposing the European Union's Immigration and Asylum Pact.

    Migrants and members of other organizations gathered in the early afternoon to demonstrate for abolition of the pact, and to demand legalisation of all refugees and undocumented foreign nationals.

    Earlier, a separate group of demonstrators blocked off the street in front of Parliament, where they staged a silent protest, remaining immobile for five minutes.

    Tension ensued, however, when a small group of the protesters headed for the main Christmas tree erected by the city of Athens in Syntagma Square, throwing garbage bags beneath it. Riot police immediately surrounded the tree and used tear gas to disperse them.

    [09] One shot, one killed in separate incidents on Sunday

    A man was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to his leg and a second was stabbed to death during separate incidents involving violent confrontations in Athens and Thessaloniki between Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday morning.

    The shooting incident occurred at around 1:00 in the morning in the well-known Athens district of Psyrri, a busy neighbourhood full of bars and clubs, following an argument between the victim and two foreign nationals.

    The incident in Thessaloniki was the result of an argument that broke out between a 46-year-old foreign national and one of his compatriots at around 22:50 on Saturday night, on the corners of Aesopou and Santarosa streets. The suspect was pursued and caught by a police patrol, while the knife that he attempted to discard was recovered. An investigation into the incident has been launched by the Thessaloniki Police Crimes Against Life department and the suspect led before a public prosecutor.

    [10] Panathinaikos supporters attacked in Piraeus

    A clash between Panathinaikos football club supporters and a group of youths in Piraeus - where most people support Panathinaikos' arch-rival Olympiakos - was prevented from turning into a full-scale battle by prompt police intervention.

    The incident occurred on Saturday night as a group of Panathinaikos supporters arrived to board a ship for Crete, in order to attend an away game between their team and Crete's OFI. They were attacked by a group of youths armed with stones and flares, who emerged from side-streets around the port.

    Two contingents of riot police alerted by the coast guard quickly stepped in, however, and the incident was over within the space of 15 minutes.

    [11] Arrest for immigrant-trafficking in Ptolemaida

    A 27-year-old Albanian national has been arrested on an immigrant-trafficking charge after three Albanian nationals lacking valid travel documents and residence permits were found riding in his car.

    The man was intercepted on Saturday evening when a police road block set up in Ptolemaida pulled him over for a routine inspection.

    The car was confiscated and the driver will appear before a Kozani misdemeanours court prosecutor to be charged, while the three illegals will be deported.

    [12] Six police vehicles torched early on Sunday

    Six police vehicles were torched by unidentified hood-wearing assailants wielding petrol bombs in the west Athens district of Nea Philadelphia in the early hours of Sunday morning. The vehicles were parked outside the building of the police accounting department at Patriarchou Constantinou street, which also suffered damage in the attack.

    At around the same time, rioting and clashes with riot police continued in the area around the Athens Polytechnic (National Technical University of Athens), with protestors again lobbing petrol bombs at police.

    Earlier, a anti-racism rally in Syntagma Square had led to another violent confrontation between protestors and riot police when a group tried to deposit bags of rubbish at the foot of the new Christmas Tree set up in the square by the Athens municipality, replacing the tree torched on the first day of rioting triggered by the death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos at the hands of police. Police used tear gas to disperse the protestors.

    Protests over the events in Greece were also reported from abroad. Dozens were arrested and four police officers were injured in Hamburg on Saturday during clashes that broke out on the margins of a rally in support of the protest movement in Greek high schools.

    There was also a small protest by some 15 demonstrators who picketed the Greek Consulate in New York to protest against police brutality worldwide.

    [13] Two cars damaged in central Athens fire

    Two cars were damaged by a fire that broke out on the first floor of a building in central Athens, on the corner of Massalias and Solonos streets.

    The fire broke out on Saturday night and was eventually put out by a strong fire-fighting force.

    [14] Two banks, car dealership torched in Iraklio

    Arson attacks against two banks and a luxury car dealership were carried out in the city of Iraklio on Crete in the early hours of Sunday morning.

    The culprits were not identified and used petrol bombs, acting at around 3:00 a.m.

    Weather forecast

    [15] Sharp drop in temperatures Monday

    Cloudy weather with some sleet and snow and a sharp drop in temperatures are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with northerly winds reaching 9-10 beaufort at sea. Temperatures will range between 0C and 15C. Cloudy with rain or sleet and snow in Athens, with north northeasterly 6-9 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 01C to 09C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 2C to 8C.

    [16] The Sunday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glance

    The economy, political developments and rampant speculation about an imminent government reshuffle, as well as three new opinion polls, dominated the headlines in the Sunday editions of Athens' dailies.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Reshuffle without compromises."

    APOGEVMATINI: "New measures for the financially worse off. Government considering boost to package if [economic] crisis escalates".

    AVGHI: "[Ruling] New Democracy - [main opposition] PASOK setting up consensus because of economy."

    AVRIANI: "Bankers, industrialists, editors....pushing for cross-party government using crisis as ruse".

    CHORA: "Dramatic changes in government. The chess board of the reshuffle. [Prime Minister Costas] Karamanlis preparing for one after holidays to avoid getting 'burned' by the...Molotovs."

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Molotov society. Explosive cocktail of economy, politics and rage."

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "'Flash-and-bang Maximos. Government in despair, votes for firework budget in midst of social explosion and economic storm. [Puns by comparing 'flash and bang' stun grenades used against rioters with present government [with PM's offices at Maximos Mansion] and the Greek derogatory expression describing something gimmicky and lacking staying power as a 'firework']."

    ETHNOS: "Prime minister's elsewhere, scanning opinion polls and looking for reshuffle. MAT [riot police], hood-wearers and 'inner-state' right are governing in his place."

    EPOCHI: "ND-PASOK joint government being promoted. Now they are lowering the masks."

    KATHIMERINI: "Country on the wrong path says 86 percent of citizens asked. Voter ultimatum for changes - Public Issue barometer poll".

    LOGOS: "The prime minister's last political and communications 'weapon'. Reshuffle ante portas. The scenarios for the changes."

    NIKI: "Christmas in a numbed atmosphere. Karamanlis government has demolished the fabric of the country. The 'reforms' have brought citizens out onto the streets."

    PARON: "Pangalos, Verelis statements don't come out of the blue. Colleges brewing." [claims the existence of a secret drive to set up a 'grand coalition' government between two main parties].

    PROTO THEMA: "Mea culpa...with universities and army service. Desperate bid by Karamanlis to wash away the blood." [claims measures by government for universities and army service an attempt to assuage youth anger over teen killing and social discontent]

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Powerful struggle now by workers, farmers, self-employed, youth. All parts of the movement unified against the anti-working class policy."

    TO VIMA: "Greece split in two...crisis divides the citizens." [runs feature on opinion poll showing almost even split between those who want present government to remain and those who don't]

    VRADYNI: "30,000 to be hired outside [Supreme Council for Staff Selection] procedures. The terms and requirements for getting a job. Hope-giving programme to counter spectre of unemployment."

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS

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