|Sunday, 17 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 6 June 2009 Issue No: 3213
 PM Karamanlis: 'The economy the most urgent national issue'Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing a rally in Athens on Friday evening ahead of Sunday's Euroelections, stressed that the economy is currently the most urgent national issue and told citizens that "we shall lead Greece forward together."
Karamanlis also raised the dilemma of "responsibility or irresponsibility" and accused the main opposition PASOK party of "irresponsibility, populism, arrogance, levelling and lacking boldness and a plan to tackle the crisis."
Referring to the challenge attached to the elections, the prime minister said "the course of our country will be judged in the period that will follow, some are playing with institutions, they are playing with the economy, they are playing with the country's course."
Karamanlis further said that politics "are faced with two paths. The first is the path of responsibility that leads to collective, social and national interest. It means difficult decisions that produce real solutions. It means seriousness, determination and responsibility."
The prime minister referred at length to the Siemens case, placing the exclusive blame on the main opposition PASOK party and stressing his confidence in Justice. He added that the unprecedented Siemens case is a scandal for PASOK and the investigation being carried out by Justice is being awaited, while it is inconceivable for PASOK to appear as a critic in a scandal that occurred during its governance.
"Those who signed programme agreements cannot appear as criticis. Those, in other words, who signed the direct awarding of billions. Nobody can forget their practices. They never probed any scandal and they did not accept the creation of any Factfinding Committee," Karamanlis pointed out.
Outlining the government's work over the past five years, Karamanlis said that "during the five years that passed, we provided solutions for longlasting problems. We dared to take difficult decisions. We achieved considerable results."
Specifying the government's achievements, he said "we strengthened the Social State, we reduced public deficits considerably, we curbed unemployment drastically, we boosted security for the younger generations by reforming the Social Security System, we completed the Egnatia motorway, providing a new strategic importance for Northern Greece, we started the construction of big motorways, changing the country's road map, we dared to make international agreements, on oil and natural gas pipelines, that include our country in the international energy map, we applied a new energy policy that paved the way for 'green development' and we gave a final solution to the issue of Olympic Airlines, achieving a benefit amounting to one million euros a day. We also scheduled a solution to the problem of the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) that is leaving a daily loss of two million euros."
Karamanlis also referred to the upsurge in crime and made honourable reference to policeman Spyros Theodorou who died at noon on Friday, saying that "we are grateful to him for his sacrifice and his contribution. Those who exercise easy criticism against the Police, those who are overtly behaving in a populist manner must realise that this is the Police that performs its duty with self-sacrifice. It serves society and stands by the citizen."
Concluding his address, Karamanlis addressed his audience in a personal tone, stressing that "I believed and I believe in a Greece that will be an ally of all its citizens. We are together for this Greece. We are one. Support it with your vote. You are my strength. Im am aware of the difficulties. We shall face them together. I am aware of the problems on the path to the future. We shall achieve it together. We shall lead Greece ahead together. With confidence in our strength. With optimism over the result. All men and all women together. For Greece. For all the Greeks."
 PM's interview to Athens television stationPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday reiterated that he will "of course, be present in the coming (national) elections," appearing in a televised interview aired by a local Athens television station.
Speaking less than 48 hours before European Parliament elections are held in the east Mediterranean country, Karamanlis said a positive result for his ruling New Democracy party will be none other than a "win".
"...regardless, whatever the result, we'll see it, weigh it and judge it ... however, Euro-elections do not choose the government or the prime minister," he added, speaking on the television station "Star".
In reference to a question regarding main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's demand for early elections, Karamanlis said: "let him sit down and come up with a proper proposal and position, so that we may achieve a synthesis of views to deal with the issues faced by the country," he added.
 PM Karamanlis: Environmental policy requires action, not empty wordsEnvironmental policy is not carried out with grandiose but empty words, but with projects, persistence, political will, strategy and results, prime minister Costas Karamanlis stressed on Friday on the occasion of World Environment Day, during a visit to the Psytalleia sewage treatment plant, where he was accompanied by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works minister George Souflias and deputy minister Xanthopoulos.
"It requires political forces that see and recognise the problems where they exist, that speak the truth to the citizens, that dare to apply the policies that the country needs. And on the environment, there is only one choice, that between words and works, between barren nihilism and action, between responsibility and irresponsibility," the prime minister said.
He explained that environmental protection was a lasting and daily battle, "and there is still much to do".
The UNEP-designated World Environment Day "underlines the pressing need to actively meet, with determination and effectiveness, the greatest challenge faced by humanity today, which is to preserve the planet's viability".
Protection of the environment, preservation of bio-diversity, a turn to green growth and renewable energy, tackling climate change, are causes that concern everyone collectively and individually, Karamanlis said, adding that it was everyone's duty join forces and contribute to a common, concerted effort.
"Greece, fully cognizant of the graveness of the situation, has in recent years been implementing a responsible, structured strategy on the environment," the prime minister continued.
"Our concern for the environment is measured in projects and calculable results," he said, noting that Greece, which accounts for two-thousandths (.2 percent) of the greenhouse phenomenon is today among the just four EU countries that are within the Kyoto targets," the prime minister stressed.
The government's institutional initiatives that establish a new framework for environmental protection through the national spatial planning framework, the tripling of installed power from renewable energy sources (RES), the advancement of major projects, the consolidation of 18 new protected regions and the incorporation of more than 20 percent of the country's territory in the Natura network, are measurable results, Karamanlis added.
The Psytalleia unit was "the most impressive and biggest example of an environmental project, not only on a national but also on a European scale, and comprises the best response to those who, on the crucial issue of the environment, choose the easy, but deeply irresponsible, path of populism, nihilism and lies," the premier said.
His government's response "is the construction and impeccable operation of the largest sewage sludge treatment plant in Europe...it is the transformation of a nightmarish landscape into an area of green and production of renewable thermal and electric energy from the sewage sludge's bio-gases, which supply the needs of the ultra-modern installations at Psyttaleia," Karamanlis concluded.
 Papandreou: 'On Sunday we shall change so as not to sink'Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, addressing a party rally in the city of Iraklio on the island of Crete on Friday evening ahead of Sunday's Euroelections, sent his message to Greeks that on Sunday "we shall change so as not to sink".
Papandreou said that the vote for PASOK "is a vote for the country to change course, to enter the path of green development, for the fair distribution of wealth, for social justice and cohesion, for a state that places the citizen first and a vote for hope."
The PASOK leader said once again that "we can change the course of the country together" and urged citizens to participate in Sunday's elections, stressing that "PASOK's victory will be the victory of all the forces of labour and of creation, of the forces of democracy, progress and the Left, a victory of the big social majority."
Papandreou further said that a vote for the ruling New Democracy (ND) party "will be a vote for those who plunged Greece into crisis, for those who invest in lies, polarisation and slander, for a government and a prime minister who deceive."
Referring to his policy, Papandreou said that he is determined to go ahead with big changes and to honour the citizens' confidence.
"I shall only serve you," he said and added that in the citizens' name he "is determined to clash with the big interests and with the corruption that is dissolving the country."
 Interview with PASOK leader PapandreouA main opposition PASOK victory in Sunday's European Parliament elections will be a major reversal of the correlation of political forces and the political landscape, which will accelerate the political developments, PASOK leader George Papandreou said in an interview with ANA-MPA just two days before the elections.
Papapandreou also said that national elections couldn't be held off for long, regardless of whether prime minister Costas Karamanlis wanted them or not. He intimated that the expiration date for the process would be the Presidential election, stressing that it would be better if President Karolos Papoulias' re-election came from a parliament with a "fresh popular mandate".
The main opposition leader spoke of a "complete failure" of the governance of New Democracy that was harmful to the country, adding that "the account of Mr. Karamanlis' term in office is particularly distressful for Greece and the Greek people", and as a consequence the Euroelections were compulsorily rendered a referendum for the rejection of the country's current course, in order to "open the door to hope" and to turn page.
Commenting on the government's accusations of "populism and irresponsibility" on his part, Papandreou countered that "irresponsibility is not fulfilling the promises you have made".
Regarding the measures he would take to confront the economy's problems, the PASOK leader said that "in the economy and politics, there are always choices", adding that he will fight for his choices, which will be 'painful' for those 'favored' by the present government.
Papandreou said that he put the public interests above everything else, adding that he was in a position to do this because he was not dependant on anyone, whereas Karamanlis acts like "a hostage of interests and anomies".
 Papandreou tours fire-ravaged Mt. ParnithaMain opposition PASOK President George Papandreou visited Mt. Parnitha, to the north of the greater Athens, Friday on the occasion of World Environment Day, underlining that the government has a huge share of the responsibility for the extent of wildfire devastation in 2007, which he claimed is due to abandonment and lack of fire prevention planning.
Papandreou was briefed on the situation in the area by by volunteers and local authorities and accused the government of having completely abandoned all serious efforts to upgrade environment in the greater Athens area, underlining that new plans can be made to develop a "green" network that will encompass the entire region.
In response to Papandreou's statement, the government spokesman said that "main opposition PASOK party remains trapped in its own deadend argumentation and slogans, lacking policies and specific plans."
 Papariga meets Hilton hotel staffCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga met with staff at the Hotel Hilton in central Athens on Friday, urging them to cast their vote for KKE during the European Parliament elections on Sunday.
"Let's make a difference," she told hotel staff, stressing that KKE "does not play political games, does not play with your vote."
 Tsipras speaks in PatrasCoalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras spoke at a rally organised by SYRIZA (the SYN-led parliamentary coalition) in the major portal city of Patras, northwestern Peloponnese, on Thursday night.
Tsipras said that the solution for exiting the crisis is unity of the Left and ecology parties.
"Unity of the Left with Ecology is the only way to avert the big plan they are preparing, namely of passing the immense weight of the crisis exclusively to the working people and the environment," Tsipras warned. That unity, he continued, "is an urgent response to the crisis, with the focus on protection of workers' rights, protection of the envionment, expansion of the social state, the civil and social rights".
"We have called on the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Ecologists-Greens party, and also on (main opposition) PASOK's grass roots," he said, adding however that "we know it is difficult to receive a positive response from the political forces we addressed ourselves to ahead of the Euroelections".
The KKE, he continued, was "entrenching itself and exhausting its rhetoric in its effort to prove that it is the only Left in the country, while the Ecologists have opted to gather up votes of loose affinity or loose protest, but they can accomplish very little for the environmental cause in that way".
After the elections, Tsipras said, every issue must be put on the table "A big part of society is aware of the need for unity and now is the hour for the major reversal in order to change the landscape in Greece and Europe".
The SYN leader further stressed that the future belongs to the working classes and the youth, adding that no one can defeat that hope.
Referring to Sunday's Euroelections he said that there is no such thing as an indifferent vote because there is no such thing as an indifferent society.
 Tsipras visits pollution-ridden Asopos RiverCoalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alexis Tsipras visited on Friday the pollution-ridden Asopos River, a small but significant stream some 60 km north of Athens, underlining that "we are witnessing one of the biggest environmental crimes ever committed in the country."
Tsipras accused the governments that were in office in the past few years of "committing a crime against the environment, nature and the people," pointing out that "ecology more than anything else means confrontation with major economic interests that pollute having in mind only the financial gain."
 SYRIZA leader addresses rally in ThessalonikiRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos addressed a party rally in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday evening ahead of Sunday's Euroelections and called for support to the party to gain third place and for the re-election of Dimitris Papadimoulis in the European Parliament.
Alavanos appealed to the "democratic citizens who are close to (main opposition) PASOK to vote on Sunday, since there are not Parliamentary elections, for SYRIZA provided that they agree with its struggles."
He also referred to SYRIZA's "ecological sensitivities, to the struggles it waged, to clashes with interests and to the activities of Papadimoulis in the European Parliament on issues concerning environmental protection."
 LA.OS. leader speaks to ANA-MPAThe first target of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS.) in the European Parliament would be to have the European Union assuming the protection of Greece's external borders, the party's President George Karatzaferis told the ANA-MPA on Friday, in an interview ahead of Sunday's Euroelections.
"The borders must be protected in order to limit everyday inflow of illegal immigrants," Karatzaferis said, adding that his party's position on the issue was quotas.
"Those who cannot be absorbed must be repatriated. Greece, which is the target of attacks and insults on a daily basis, cannot stand such a big burden," the LA.OS. leader said.
Karatzaferis also assessed that Sunday's Euroelections offer to the Greek people the opportunity to "bury the first period following the return to democratic rule in 1974."
He also said his party was against Turkey's EU accession, pledging at the sam time that "as long as LA.OS. is in the Europarliament it will not let U.S. plans prevail in the region."
 Interview with Ecologists-Greens MEP candidateThe Ecologists-Greens are not a part of the partisan clash, but a new political carrier that wants to bring the promotion of a 'green' perception on the economy, society and the environment to the core of the political discussion, party European Parliament candidate Nikos Chryssogelos said in an interview with ANA-MPA.
Chryssogelos, a chemist and environmentalist and founding member of the ecology movement in Greece, stressed that the Ecologists-Greens were not a simple part of the clash among political parties, but a party that submits proposals, adding that today, security issues are closely related to the environmental crisis and the climate crisis.
He opined that the people's values have changed substantially today.
The political system needs to change deeply, and the issues of the environment, the green economy and social solidarity have to be placed at the crux of policy in order to improve the people's lives.
Change is also necessary in the basic directions of policy on Europe, on Greece's relations with its neighboring countries, on creating more jobs, he added.
Chryssogelos stressed the importance of the political parties realising that they can no longer push environmental policies to the sidelines, which entails changes as well in the policies on the environment and society.
"We have been working for these issues, either as active politicians or as Ecologists-Greens, on a daily basis for more than a year," he said, adding: "Now is the time for the political parties, too, to realise that they need to make deep changes in their policies."
 Minister on World Environment Day"The effective protection of the environment constitutes not only the core of a balanced viable development but mostly is a matter of survival for the human race on the planet," Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos stressed in his message Friday on the occasion of the World Environment Day.
Referring to the policies on environmental protection and better quality of life implemented by the interior ministry, he pointed out that the "key-point of our efforts is the effective management of solid waste through the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee."
Pavlopoulos stated that the problem of illegal landfills is also being faced, pointing out that 87.9 pct of the 3,036 illegal landfills that existed in the country when the current government took office have been shutdown.
Pavlopoulos also referred to the "Theseus" developmental programme and the 2.5 billion euro projects underway within its framework aimed at upgrading environmental protection infrastructures, promoting alternative forms of energy, financing municipalities and communities to purchase natural gas-powered waste collection vehicles, boosting fire-prevention with more firefighters, modern infrastructure etc.
"The environment is European and international matter and not just national," he said, adding that it is a "precondition for our existence on the planet. The sooner we realize that the better for all of us and for the future of the next generations."
 Gov't on opinion poll resultsGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday denied there was concern within ruling New Democracy about opinion polls results or fears about a "climate of defeatism" among ND voters, saying that there was no such issue and that some parties were seeking to create false impressions.
"In an organised, coordinated way and with a specific policy platform and plan that we have worked on, we are addressing Greek citizens in these European Parliament elections so that they can judge the path we are following with a goal to Europe," he said, adding that it was ND that had placed Greece on the path toward Europe over the years.
He also refused to comment on opinion polls, noting that what counted was the time of elections and that many opinion poll results conducted a few days before the vote had been proved to be wide of the mark, both in Greece and in other European countries.
 Gov't on Siemens investigationGovernment spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday stated that the arguments presented by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis are well-founded, convincing and indisputable.
He stressed that this was in contrast to those that systematically attacked the institutions and processes because they wished to avoid naming those that were really guilty of the scandal, which happened under PASOK governments.
Asked to name those he considered guilty, Antonaros stated that he had mentioned their names a few days ago, adding that these are "names that are known to Greek society."
The government spokesman stated that he will not comment on the "behaviour" of Greek Justice when asked about the decision to proceed with the arrests of members of the family of one of the protagonists in the Siemens scandal.
He also added that the president of PASOK was a member of the governments that were in office in 1998-2003, the period currently under investigation, and never objected to the billions of euros of reprehensible, controversial and strange decisions.
 Authorities freeze assets of fugitive Siemens case suspectGreece's independent authority against money-laundering on Friday ordered the sequestration of all assets and accounts belonging to fugitive from justice Christos Karavelas, one of the key suspects in an ongoing investigation involving the giant German multinational Siemens and its Greek subsidiary.
Karavelas fled the country last week, just before a hearing when he was due to appear as a suspect facing charges of bribery and money-laundering linked to a 1997 contract between Siemens Greece and the then state-controlled telecom Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE).
Acting in consultation with the special examining magistrate in charge of the case, Nikos Zagorianos, the authority has forbidden the sale or transfer of properties owned by Karavelas in the plush north Athens suburb of Ekali, as well as real estate on the Greek islands of Mykonos, Santorini, Paros and Antiparos and the well-known ski resort Arachova. Notification of the authority's decision will be sent to title deed repositories throughout the country.
The authority has additionally issued sequestration orders for 200,000 euros found in a bank account belonging to Karavelas in Athens and any valuables kept by the family in safety deposit boxes.
Similar measures will be taken during the coming week for the assets of the other seven defendants in the case, even if they have transferred their property and assets to their relatives.
In the meantime, Karavelas' lawyer Yiannis Markoulakos denied rumours that his client was currently negotiating with Greek authorities for his surrender.
The lawyer had earlier met Zagorianos and received assurances that the magistrate would take no further action in relation to detained members of Karavelas' family, until there was a decision on their requests for a substantial reduction of the two-million-euros bail set for their release.
The magistrate had ordered the arrest of Karavelas' daughters and wife earlier this week for complicity in money-laundering, on the grounds that their father had transferred substantial sums from a bank account in Switzerland into joint accounts held with his daughters. Regarding Karavelas' 17-year-old son, the lawyer said that any action against him was unlikely, though he might be summoned as a witness in the case.
Late on Thursday, Zagorianos had ordered the blocking of joint bank accounts held by the former Siemens Greece executive with his three daughters and his son.
Meanwhile, Appeals Court prosecuting authorities have filed for the reversal of a Misdemeanour Court justices council ruling calling for the release of all documents in the case file to the defendants.
Still pending is a decision by the Misdemeanour Court Justices Council on a request filed by the lawyers of Siemens case suspects Ilias Georgiou and Georgios Skarpelis, asking that the magistrate Zagorianos be recused.
The flight abroad of the two main suspects in the case, Karavelas and former Siemens executive Mihalis Christoforakos, has also sparked a political storm, with PASOK demanding the resignation of ministers for allowing them to leave the country and ruling New Democracy pointing out that the questionable contracts had been signed when PASOK was in power.
Another five people in addition to Karavelas and Christoforakos have been charged as suspects in the case. Four of them have been detained pending trial, including former senior Siemens Greece executives Prodromos Mavridis, Manolis Stavrianos, Ilias Georgiou and a former OTE board member Georgios Skarpelis. Also a suspect is a one-time head of Siemens AG's Communications unit Volker Jung, who served as head of the Greek subsidiary's supervisory board at the time. Jung was released on his own recognizance after appearing before the magistrate on Thursday.
The case was first uncovered in the course of an international investigation into Siemens slush funds and bribes given by the multinational to secure state contracts, during which witnesses claimed that both the main political parties in Greece been given large sums. The Greek investigation concerns a 1997 contract to digitalise OTE phone centres.
 Patriarch Vartholomeos comments on Turkish PM's recent statementsISTANBUL (ANA-MPA/A. Kourkoulas)
Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos once again termed recent statements by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, that the mentailty which had prevailed for decades in Turkey and had led to the uprooting and eviction of minorities was "fascistlike", as being "historic self-criticism" of Turkey's stance towards minorities.
The Patriarch said that Erdogan had the "political courage" to express his views about the historic reality.
Vartholomeos thanked the Turkish prime minister again for his "commendable words" and added that there should be a practical continuation to enable injustices done to the inhabitants of Imbros and to minorities in general to be remedied.
"We hope and expect that what he said, the repentance of the state for all it did to us will not be words alone, but that there shall be actions as well, there shall be a practical continuation meaning that the mistakes and injustices which had taken place will be put right by those who did the injustices, (the Orthodoc Seminry of) Halki will open, the Orthodox Foundations will be returned, that is the benevolent foundations that are occupied," the Patriarch said.
 Kalamata airport presenting spectacular increase in arrivalsThe prefect of Messinia, in the Peloponnese, Dimitris Drakos held talks on Friday on issues concerning tourism with the president of the Prefectural Tourism Committee Antonia Bouza and the Kalamata airport chief Dimitris Mandilaris.
Speaking after the talks, Drakos said "initial data that we have up to May 2009, compared to May 2008 is encouraging, since at the Kalamata airport arrivals from abroad are presenting an increase in the region of 5 percent and from inland an increase in the region of 13 percent, and in aircraft flights as well or others (air taxis, charters, etc) that use the airport of Kalamata we have a spectacular improvement that exceeds 85 percent."
 Car sales up 5.0 pct in MayCar sales rose by 5.0 pct in May, compared with the same month last year, totaling 25,997 units, the first sign of recovery after several months of decline, the Federation of Car Importers and Dealers said on Friday.
In a report, the Federation said the May figures halted shrinking activity in a market with 3,000 enterprises and more than 25,000 workers. The Federation, however, said that car sales in the five-month period from January to May exceeded 30 pct, compared with the same period last year.
Toyota was at the top of the market with 2,446 sales in May, followed by VW with 2,147 and Opel with 1,634.
 Stocks end 1.43% upGreek stocks ended higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, following a similar trend prevailing in other European markets. The composite index rose 1.43 pct to end at 2,372.26 points, with turnover a moderate 198.1 million euros, of which 8.9 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved upwards, with the Raw Materials (9.57 pct), Personal/Home Products (6.52 pct) and Health (4.74 pct) scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Media (2.96 pct), Oils (2.69 pct) and Food/Beverage (1.34 pct) suffered losses.
The FTSE 20 index rose 1.21 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 3.80 pct higher and the FTSE 80 index rose 0.71 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 133 to 92 with another 49 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -2.69%
Personal & Household: +6.52%
Raw Materials: +9.57%
Travel & Leisure: +4.73%
Food & Beverages: -1.34%
Financial Services: +0.59%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cypus, Alpha Bank and OPAP.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 8.45
Public Power Corp (PPC): 16.59
HBC Coca Cola: 15.08
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.32
National Bank of Greece: 19.61
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 8.25
Bank of Piraeus: 7.56
Titan Cement Company: 21.00
 ADEX closing reportThe June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.48 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover at 72.810 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 8,935 contracts worth 54.371 million euros, with 27,001 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 21,055 contracts worth 18.439 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,486), followed by Eurobank (1,281), OTE (1,950), Piraeus Bank (1,601), Alpha Bank (1,264), Marfin Popular Bank (3,202), Mytilineos (1.221) and Cyprus Bank (3,086).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.429
Pound sterling 0.886
Danish kroner 7.506
Swedish kroner 11.012
Japanese yen 138.58
Swiss franc 1.531
Norwegian kroner 9.041
Canadian dollar 1.578
Australian dollar 1.774
 Policeman seriously injured in April shootout diesŃ 30-year-old police officer seriously injured during a shootout with a pair of armed suspects two months ago died on Friday from his wounds.
The policeman, Spyros Theodorou, was shot by at least one man during a routine check on what turned out to be the former's accomplice, an incident that occurred in the central Kypseli district.
Theodorou remained hospitalised in an Athens hospital's ICU since the shooting on April 3.
On his part, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis expressed his regret and offered his condolences to the family of the special police guard.
"We are grateful for the sacrifice and the contribution of the deceased. His name will be a loud response to all those who irresponsibly engage in populist practices, indiscriminately targeting Greek Police and ignoring and suppressing the important work made daily by its members," the prime minister emphasised in his statement.
"I would like to express my sincerest grief and condolences to the family of the slain officer, Spyros Theodorou, who fell in the line of duty," Deputy Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis said upon being informed of the officer's passing.
 UN High Commission delegation holds talks with Dodecannese prefectA delegation of the UN High Commission for refugees held prolonged talks on Friday with the Prefect of the Dodecannese, Yiannis Maheridis, after touring islands in the prefecture that are experiencing the weight of illegal immigration.
The members of the delegation discussed with the prefect their impressions of what they saw, expressing concern over the dimensions of the phenomenon and speaking of "a problem having characteristics of permanence and of increasing trends."
The concern of the UN High Commission is focused on the political refugees, while the members of the delegation raised certain issues with the prefect regarding the reception, housing, feeding and the granting of work permits to those entitled to them.
A basic topic of discussion was also the need for the creation of an organised structure that will replace the status concerning the hosting of illegal immigrants at hotels and lodgings.
 Minor explosion at Tax Bureau office in Psychico claimed by ENEDRA groupA minor explosion occurred in the first hours of Friday at the entrance of the Tax Bureau (DOY) office in the municipality of Psychico, north of Athens, while a warning call to a daily newspaper had preceded, claiming the attack on behalf of a group calling itself the "Armed Revolutionary Action" (Enopli Epanastatiki Drassi, ENEDRA, the acronym of which is also the Greek word for ambush).
The explosion, which was minor in intensity, occurred at 3:00 a.m. at the entrance to the DOY on central Kifissias Avenue.
Ten minutes earlier, an anonymous caller phoned the Eleftherotypia daily, claiming the attack on behalf of ENEDRA and warning that a bomb had been planted at the entrance to the DOY.
Police were unable to cordon off the area in time, as the call to the newspaper had come just minutes before the explosion, but managed to halt traffic along Kifissias Avenue.
The blast caused minor material damage outside the DOY.
Police counter-terrorism squad members, who collected debris and remnants from the explosion, said later that the bomb comprised approximately half a kilo of explosive material, of which only 100-150 grams exploded, a detonator, a battery and a time switch, placed in a cooking pot.
The syndesmology of the bomb is reminiscent of that used by ENEDRA in its first attack, again against a DOY office in the southern suburb of Argyroupolis on January 23, 2007. The Argyroupolis bomb had been hidden in a pressure cooker placed in a bag, and a warning call had again preceded the explosion.
The group re-emerged on March 3, 2008 when it claimed a failed bomb attack against a building belonging to the Attica Region Forests Directorate on central Messogion Avenue in Neo Psychico in a warning call to a newspaper. The Messogion bomb half a kilo of gel dynamite, a detonator, battery and clock. But only the detonator exploded in that attack. The dynamite did not go off because it had become damp.
Counter-terrorism squad officers believe that ENEDRA is the continuation of the Popular Revolutionary Action (Laiki Epanastatiki Drassi-LED) group that emerged after the 'November 17' terrorist group and has been defunct since end-2006.
 US warship 'Bataan' in Thessaloniki, warship 'Fort McHenry' arriving on SaturdayThe United States warship "Bataan" has been anchored in the port of Thessaloniki, Macedonia, since Thursday. The vessel is visiting Greece as part of its operational role in the sector of responsibility of the US Sixth fleet, while its staff is participating in training exercises in the country, in cooperation with the Greek Armed Forces.
The "USS Bataan", that bears the name of the peninsula in the Philippines where the historic battle took place, is one of the three ships that are participating in the American Navy's wider formation titled "Amphibious Readiness Group." The smaller of the other two, the warship "Fort McHenry" will also be arriving in Thessaloniki on Saturday.
The Party Organisation of Thessaloniki of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) issued an announcement denouncing the presence of the US warship in the port, claiming that "its stay offends the anti-imperialist and peaceloving sentiments of the people of Thessaloniki."
 'Italia in Piazza 2009' in AthensThe "Italia in Piazza 2009" event continued at Athens' Technopolis venue this week, with the country's regions showcased, along with scientific seminars in tandem with technology and art exhibitions.
The regions of Puglia, Molise and Lazio will be on display as of Friday, with region of Campania already showcased at the event.
A research conference on Friday, focusing on seismology and buildings' heightened quake protection, will be co-organised by the Italian embassy in Athens, the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE), Greece's Anti-Seismic Planning and Protection Organisation (OASP) as well as the Italy-based Pnykart Foundation.
Several commercial exhibitions, including the presentation of new Italian-made cars, as well as concerts were held during the event.
 Arrest for possession of sexually explicit material involving minorsA 39-year-old man was arrested Friday and led before a prosecutor in Edessa, northern Greece, after police found pornographic material featuring minors in his possession. A police search in his house revealed two PCs, a computer hard drive, 50 DVDs and seven videotapes with pornographic material, all confiscated as evidence.
 Drug arrests in southern GreeceA 47-year-old man was arrested Friday in Kalamata, southern Greece, after police found 34 grams of heroin in his possession. Later in the day he will appear before a prosecutor.
Meanwhile, a man and a woman were arrested at dawn in Megalopolis, also in southern Greece, after a police search in their car revealed a small quantity of heroin and narcotic pills.
Both suspects will be led before a prosecutor in Tripolis.
 Fair on SaturdayFair weather, and variable winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 13C and 34C. Fair in Athens, with variable 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 17C to 33C. Slightly cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 17C to 31C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glanceMain opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou's speech at the party's main campaign rally in Athens and the SIEMENS case mostly dominated the headlines on Friday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Interview with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis: The scandal-mongering must stop!".
APOGEVMATINI: "Karamanlis reassures the Greeks: Greece is changing with major infrastructure works that the government plans and implements".
AVGHI: "Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) in the hearts and in the ballot box".
CHORA: "Karamanlis' main campaign rally on Friday in Athens".
ELEFTHEROS: "FinMin Yannis Papathanassiou's interview to newspaper on scandal mongering".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Last opinion polls indicate that PASOK is leading in voters' preference".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Karamanlis shouldered FM Dora Bakoyannis' responsibilities and covers her".
ETHNOS: "According to new polls ruling New Democracy is sinking ".
ESTIA: "The results of the last six Euroelections".
KATHIMERINI: "US president Barack Obama makes historical overture to Islam - He condemned colonialism and spoke about the suffering of the Palestinian people".
LOGOS: "PM covers Bakoyannis".
NIKI: "Athens cast its vote - Papandreou's rally in Athens sent the message of victory throughout Greece".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Strong Communist Party for a better future".
TA NEA: "Polls indicate ND is sinking in the final hour before the elections - The difference (with PASOK) is widening".
TO VIMA: "Euphoria prevails in PASOK and gloom in ruling New Democracy - Polls indicate government's defeat in Euroelections".
VRADYNI: "The campaign period closes the same way as it opened, with scandals and mud-slinging".
 Turkey will find Cyprus in front of her in its EU progress, says PresidentNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
At every step it makes, Turkey will find us in front of it, President of the Republic Demetris Christofias stated here Friday, invited to comment on statements by Egemen Bagis, Minister for EU Affairs and the Chief Negotiator of Turkey, who said that he feels strongly the shadow of Cyprus in Turkey's EU course.
Speaking during a press conference on the occasion of the World Environment Day, President Christofias said that "this is our answer to all those who claim we are letting Turkey continue its EU course unimpeded".
"That has nothing to do with the truth. Surely, at every step Turkey will find us in front of it", the president said, adding that Turkey must end the occupation of Cyprus. "Otherwise it will find us before it in its course and surely in December", he added.
The president said it is high time for the National Council to convene for an overall analysis of the developments concerning the Cyprus issue and an initial exchange of views.
"After that, I will meet the party leaders for an exchange of views on issues and on Turkey's EU course and possible reaction", he added.
During the the 47th meeting of the EC-Turkey Association Council in May, the EU noted with regret that Turkey has not yet fulfilled its obligation of full non-discriminatory implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not made progress towards normalization of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus. It said the EU will continue to closely follow and review progress made on the issues covered by the declaration of the European Community and its member states of 21 September 2005, in accordance with its conclusions of 11 December 2006. Progress is now urgently awaited.
Cyprus, which entered the EU in May 2004, has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied Cyprus‘ northern territory.
Turkey, is the only country in the world which does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with an aim to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem and reunite the island.
 Five accused in Helios air crash case referred to criminal courtNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Nicosia District Court has referred the five suspects in connection with the 2005 Helios air crash to a direct trial before the Criminal Court.
The trial of Helios Executive Chairman Andreas Drakos, Helios company as a legal person, Helios Managing Advisor Demetris Pantazis, Director of Flight Operations George Kikkides and Helios head pilot Yiangos Stoymenov, has been set for September 17.
An Helios aircraft, heading to Prague via Athens, crashed on the mountain of Grammatiko, north of the Greek capital, killing all 121 passengers and crew on board. After a pain-staking investigation, and reports by two commissions of inquiry, the Law Office of the Republic decided to bring before the court five persons, charged with a total of 1.190 charges, each facing 238 charges, including manslaughter, negligence to perform their duty to ensure the safety of the flight.
They also face charges of negligence to prevent or act in a way that would have stopped the aircraft to be flown by "inadequate or inappropriate" head crew (captain and co-captain), noting that the accused should have known about the inadequacy of these two persons.
Speaking on Thursday after the decision to refer the trial to the Criminal Court, Chairman of the Committee of Relatives of the Victims Nicholas Yiasoumis said that this was a positive development, which they had anticipated.
"We hope that justice will be done," he added.
Judge Stavros Stavrou said there was enough evidence to refer the defendants to a direct trial before the Criminal Court.
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