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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-06-19

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 19 June 2009 Issue No: 3224


  • [01] PM attends EPP summit in Brussels
  • [02] European Socialists focus on economic crisis, illegal immigration
  • [03] PASOK spokesman on slaying of policeman, European Socialist Party session
  • [04] Gov't: PASOK engaging in petty politics vis-a-vis policeman's murder
  • [05] ANA-MPA interview with PASOK's Papaconstantinou
  • [06] Alavanos confirms his intention to resign
  • [07] Reactions to leftist leader's intent to resign MP seat
  • [08] Discussion on EU-Australian cooperation held in Athens
  • [09] European Affairs SG holds talks with Bosnia-Herzegovina envoy
  • [10] Gov't: Another 5% of OTE to DT
  • [11] Performance measurements for finance ministry
  • [12] Gov't, SEB memo on consumers' protection
  • [13] Development ministry to table bill revising competition regulations
  • [14] Parliamentary Economic Affairs Committee briefing
  • [15] Greek-Italian business meetings in June
  • [16] Greek merchant fleet stats
  • [17] Athens bourse up 0.91%
  • [18] ADEX closing report
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [20] Tour of the permanent collections of the New Acropolis Museum (part 2)
  • [21] Parliament president meets national anti-smoking committee
  • [22] Fulbright event on Tuesday
  • [23] Series of arrests for robberies, including EDOEAP
  • [24] ELA defendant Agapiou dies
  • [25] First new flu cases in Larissa confirmed
  • [26] Sofia authorities arrest three Bulgarians involved in ring 'selling' infants to Greeks through 'legal' procedures
  • [27] Arrest at Thessaloniki's Macedonia airport for heroin smuggling
  • [28] Woman found dead in her car
  • [29] Police nab Iraqi, 19, transporting illegals in Thessaloniki
  • [30] Free fruit in primary schools from September
  • [31] Cloudy, rainy on Friday
  • [32] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [33] Christofias: Turkey has no right to claim legitimacy over Cyprus
  • [34] US official: A Cyprus solution should not have to wait any longer Politics

  • [01] PM attends EPP summit in Brussels

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - M. Aroni)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed the need for immediate joint action by European countries to combat illegal immigration as he emerged from a European People's Party (EPP) summit held in Brussels on Thursday.

    "It is an issue of European dimensions, which doesn't concern only those countries that are directly affected and are now having to shoulder the greatest burden," he emphasised.

    European leaders have gathered in the Belgian capital for the EU summit taking place on Thursday and Friday, where illegal migration is expected to be one of the key issues on the agenda.

    According to the Greek premier, the issue of illegal immigration dominated Thursday's meeting of party leaders in the European Parliament's right-wing bloc, along with Jose Manuel Barroso's bid for re-election as European Commission president, preparations for the European Council and, of course, the EPP's very successful results in the European Parliament elections.

    He said that EPP members expressed support for Barroso's re-election for a second term, while the discussion had also focused on the global economic crisis, unemployment, and the crucial issue of climate change in view of preparations for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

    [02] European Socialists focus on economic crisis, illegal immigration

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The Party of European Socialists (PES) convened here on Thursday, with the participation of main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, and focused on the economic crisis and the issue of illegal immigration.

    Papandreou said in a statement that he had the opportunity during his address at the session to stress that "we are striving to change Europe".

    He pointed out that "we are striving to change economic policy and the Stability Pact, to enable us to invest in man, education, health and welfare services, social cohesion, the small and medium-size enterprise and the real economy and not only in banks."

    According to Papandreou, "we must also invest in green development, which will place us in a new growth model that will respect the environment."

    The PASOK leader further stressed that one must "invest in community solidarity regarding the issue of immigrants, guarding our borders, but also incorporating immigrants in our societies appropriately and always focusing on man."

    [03] PASOK spokesman on slaying of policeman, European Socialist Party session

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou referred on Thursday to what he called stagnation in investigations regarding the slaying of policeman Nektarios Savva, adding that "one is surprised by the way with which the government is handling the issue in question."

    Replying to Alternate Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis, who accused members of PASOK of "lying and of falsifying reality", the PASOK spokesman said that the minister's statements "are a cause for surprise".

    Papaconstantinou, referring to Thursday's European Socialist Party session and replying to a relevant question, stressed that PASOK's Eurodeputies at the European Parliament will vote against the candidacy of current EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's reelection.

    [04] Gov't: PASOK engaging in petty politics vis-a-vis policeman's murder

    Deputy Interior Minister Christos Markoyiannakis, who holds the law enforcement and public order portfolio, on Thursday called main opposition PASOK's statements, in the wake of the assassination of a counter-terrorism police officer a day earlier in central Athens, as merely an exercise in "petty party politics".

    Police sergeant Nektarios Savvas was gunned down by three masked perpetrators believed to be part of a shadowy ultra-leftist terror gang.

    "... lies and distortion of the truth benefits no one. We will not follow PASOK's slippery path. Greek police are working systematically and methodically in order to send the perpetrators of these heinous crimes before justice," the minister said.

    [05] ANA-MPA interview with PASOK's Papaconstantinou

    In an exclusive interview with the ANA-MPA released on Thursday, main opposition PASOK spokesman George Papaconstantinou analysed the results of the recent EuroParliament polls and said that they pointed to the emergence of a PASOK government with an independent majority at the next general elections. He also appeared confident that the very high abstention rate in the Euro polls could be turned to PASOK's advantage.

    "It can prove the golden opportunity to expand the social majority that supports the demand for turning to a new page," he told the ANA-MPA's Vassilis Mourtis.

    PASOK was treating the election result as an unqualified success, Papaconstantinou said, in which it had achieved its goals and also received one of its highest ever percentages in a European Parliament election.

    "We had called on citizens to condemn New Democracy and its policies en masse. ND finally received its lowest percentage in a European Parliament election since 1981," he pointed out, stressing that there was no reason not to be satisfied with the result.

    "Obviously, there is still a long road ahead. We have an obligation to become even better, more convincing, and more specific. We have an obligation to approach the large reservoir of citizens that did not participate in the elections, listen to them more carefully and convince them to walk with us for a new start for the country," he added.

    Stressing that PASOK would continue to occupy the centre-left and address the middle and lower-income classes, Papaconstantinou said the EuroParliament election results had shown that the goal of an independent majority was feasible for PASOK, "especially if we take into account the fact that PASOK always gets a higher percentage in the national elections than in the European Parliament elections.

    According to PASOK's spokesman, ruling ND sudden preoccupation with the issue of illegal immigration in the wake of the election result was a tactical mistake.

    "I think the citizens have realised that the government's sudden preoccupation with the issue of illegal immigration is nothing but a panic reaction after a heavy election loss, another example of party-political opportunism that seeks to restrict the extent of ND's losses to the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS). This gives the impression that the entire government is chasing after the 3 percent of voters that shifted from ND to LAOS," Papaconstantinou said.

    This same panic was prompting ND to commit another grave strategic error, in its attempt to woo voters lost to far-right LAOS.

    "While it is clear that some section of its voters that moved to LAOS will return to ND in the national elections, the government is making the mistake of moving further to the right, thus reducing the distance with a political area that it has itself described as extreme. This cancels ND's effort to cultivate a centrist profile and will end up causing more problems than it solves. It will make ND appear even more unreliable," he said.

    PASOK spokesman appeared unconcerned about the impact of any possible cooperation between ND and LAOS, however, saying this was unlikely to prevent PASOK's victory in the elections.

    "The sum of ND and LAOS voters fell significantly during the European Parliament elections. This means that there was a substantial shift of voters to the centre-left and especially toward PASOK, he stressed. He also predicted that cooperation of any kind between LAOS and ND would actually shrink the combined total of their forces instead of increasing it.

    PASOK was not concerned about the prospect of ND-LAOS cooperation but about the ever-worsening problems of the country and the Greek people, he added.

    "These are the things we are occupied with, preparing for tomorrow and the radical change of course that the country needs," he stressed.

    [06] Alavanos confirms his intention to resign

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alekos Alavanos confirmed his intention of resigning during Thursday's special meeting of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology's (Synaspismos) Political Secretariat.

    Speaking during the discussion, Alavanos presented his assessments on the outcome of the Euroelections and the reasons leading him to his intention to resign.

    The Political Secretariat, according to an announcement, reached a majority decision to call on Alavanos not to insist in his intention to resign and to continue his work from the responsible position of SYRIZA Parliamentary Group president.

    Alavanos' resignation was declined by the party's secretariat.

    Responding to relevant press questions, Tsipras said SYRIZA's poor showing in the recent Euro-elections "was bad but not disastrous," pointing out that it is "unjustified to be managed as such."

    He also called for solidarity, calm and unity, while adding that no one is expendable. In the wake of rampant press speculation, Tsipras also said he does not intend to resign.

    [07] Reactions to leftist leader's intent to resign MP seat

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party president Alexis Tsipras on Thursday characterised Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alekos Alavanos' intent to resign from Parliament as an «unpleasant development", following the latter's surprise decision the previous evening.

    [08] Discussion on EU-Australian cooperation held in Athens

    Australia's cooperation with the European Union and its active participation in issues with a global impact - such as climate change, the world financial system, international, energy and regional security and its strategic role in Asia and the Pacific - were discussed during a public debate at a central Athens hotel on Thursday.

    The event was organised by the Australian Embassy in Athens, the European Commission Representation in Athens and the Hellenic Centre for European Studies.

    It highlighted the importance of the EU's relations with Australia on a political and economic level, stressing that closer cooperation was an issue of major importance.

    Among the speakers were the Australian Ambassador to Athens Jeremy Newman, Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Kassimis, PASOK MEP and government spokesman George Papaconstantinou.

    [09] European Affairs SG holds talks with Bosnia-Herzegovina envoy

    European Affairs General Secretary Dimitris Katsoudas held talks in Athens on Thursday with the Ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina Mr. Blagojevic, at the latter's request.

    Blagojevic briefed the Secretary in detail on the position of both the Serbo-Bosnian and Croat-muslim entity regarding the institution and the role of the European Union's Special Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as on the course of the implementation of agreements signed between Greece and Bosnia-Herzegovina, following the relevant discussion held between Katsoudas and the country's Council of Ministers President Spiric in Sarajevo a few weeks ago.

    On his part, Katsoudas emphasised the need for respect for the role of the EU's Special Representative and the need to avoid any effort, from all sides, to undermine his position and role.

    Financial News

    [10] Gov't: Another 5% of OTE to DT

    The government intends to activate a provision of the strategic contract signed between Hellenic Telecoms (OTE S.A.) and Deutsche Telecom (DT) allowing the Greek state to sell-off another 5 pct of the utility to DT for the predetermined price of 27.5 euros per share.

    Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou announced the decision to DT CEO Rene Obermann on Thursday, during a meeting held at the ministry.

    Papathanassiou stated afterwards that the strategic agreement, signed last year and ratified in Parliament, provides that the German telecoms giant is obligated to purchase 5 pct of the OTE S.A. shares with the specific price per share if requested by the Greek government. The move will not affect the Greek state's rights as regards control over OTE.

    The OTE share price, based on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) closing prices on Wednesday, stands at 11.77 euros -- meaning that the Greek state will collect 674 million euros, compared to 288.5 million euros it would have received based on the current ASE share price (roughly 11.7 euros per share).

    The Greek state's extra gain will be 388.5 million euros, Papathanassiou concluded.

    PASOK reaction

    Conversely, a main opposition spokeswoman on economic policy sharply criticised the development, charging that the government is selling-off more of the state's shares in OTE simply to raise cash.

    [11] Performance measurements for finance ministry

    Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou and Deputy Interior Minister Christos Zois on Thursday signed a joint decision establishing performance indexes for measuring efficiency and effectiveness in the economy and finance ministry services.

    Similar performance measurements have also been introduced in various other ministries and public-sector organisations, in a bid to improve the quality of public-sector services to the public.

    [12] Gov't, SEB memo on consumers' protection

    The Federation of Greek Industries and Enterprises (SEB) and the development ministry announced on Wednesday that they will co-sign a memorandum of cooperation regarding consumers' issues, after a meeting at the ministry.

    The MoC will contain actions regarding the smooth operation of markets and consumers' protection and information.

    Answering press questions, Minister Costis Hatzidakis said food prices in the country mostly fell over the recent period.

    [13] Development ministry to table bill revising competition regulations

    The development ministry will next week table in parliament a bill revising the regulations concerning competition, according to an informational note submitted on Thursday by minister Costis Hatzidakis, who will also brief the relevant standing parliamentery committee on Tuesday.

    The purpose of the bill, according to the note, is to enhance the institutional role and independence of the Competition Commission, and more effective and speedy operation of the Commission, as well as its staffing based on meritocracy, and transparency in its operation.

    [14] Parliamentary Economic Affairs Committee briefing

    The state will guarantee 25 percent of the amount of loans used for the first home or for professional housing received by private individuals and businesses and is anticipated in measures announced for boosting construction and that are included in a relevant bill.

    Moreover, the capital of the TEMPME fund on loaning small and medium-size enterprises will increase by 1.5 billion euros, while commissions paid by them will be decreased.

    According to an announcement, the relevant Parliamentary Economic Affairs Committee was briefed on Thursday, on the bill to be submitted, by Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Antonis Bezas.

    [15] Greek-Italian business meetings in June

    The Hellenic-Italian Chamber of Commerce will organise business meetings in June between Greek and Italian businessmen for commercial cooperation.

    The Italian Giovanna Sbiroli company will be presenting high-quality bridal gowns on June 24. On June 24-25, Euromet, which produces plastic and metal components for musical instruments and audiovisual machinery, will come into contact with Greek businesses in the sector.

    Cantine Podere del Tirone will present high-quality wines from the region of Campania on June 26. Lastly, on June 29, the Sepa company, active in the implementation of electronic systems, will be meeting Greek businessmen from the same sector.

    [16] Greek merchant fleet stats

    The Greek merchant fleet numbered 2,100 vessels in April 2009 totaling 40,475,472 gross registered tons (GRT), according to figures released on Thursday by the National Statistics Service (NSS). Of those vessels, 624 are freighters (15,118,964 GRT), 540 tankers (23,670,195 GRT), and 936 passenger ships and other vessels (1,686,313 GRT).

    [17] Athens bourse up 0.91%

    The Athens Stock Exchange reversed a sharp two-day slide on Thursday, with the general share price index marginally up 0.91 percent to end at 2,182.07 points and turnover at 191.8 million euros, of which 3.1 million euros were block trades.

    Most individual sector indexes moved upwards, with the biggest gains posted in Health (3.50 percent), Mass Media (2.83 percent), and Utilities (2.72 percent).

    The FTSE/20 index ended 1.47 percent higher, the FTSE/40 index posted gains of 0.41 percent and the FTSE/80 closed 0.38 percent up.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 110 to 101 with another 47 issues unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.34%

    Industrials: +0.23%

    Commercial: +0.12%

    Construction: -1.57%

    Media: +2.83%

    Oil & Gas: -2.89%

    Personal & Household: -0.08%

    Raw Materials: +0.44%

    Travel & Leisure: +0.51%

    Technology: +0.38%

    Telecoms: -0.34%

    Banks: +2.50%

    Food & Beverages: +1.01%

    Health: +3.50%

    Utilities: +2.72%

    Chemicals: +0.25%

    Financial Services: +1.34%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Public Power Corporation (DEH) and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE).

    Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:

    Alpha Bank: 7.86

    ATEbank: 1.61

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 13.69

    HBC Coca Cola: 13.64

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.02

    National Bank of Greece: 18.01

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 7.39

    Intralot: 4.35

    OPAP: 20.00

    OTE: 11.73

    Bank of Piraeus: 7.19

    Titan Cement Company: 18.42

    [18] ADEX closing report

    The June contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a small premiup 0.13% in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover rising to 173.057 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 18,316 contracts worth 100.162 million euros, with 27,854 open positions in the market.

    Volume on futures contracts on equities totaled 98,617 contracts worth 72,895 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (13,514) followed by Hellenic Telecoms' contracts (11,625), National Bank (8,766), ELLAKTOR (7,802), Marfin Popular Bank (7,343), Alpha Bank (6,645), Marfin Investment Group (5,883), Bank of Cyprus (5,363), Eurobank (4,772), Piraeus Bank (4,862), Intracom (4,184) and Coca Cola (3,038).

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.403

    Pound sterling 0.865

    Danish kroner 7.503

    Swedish kroner 11.053

    Japanese yen 134.64

    Swiss franc 1.513

    Norwegian kroner 8.953

    Canadian dollar 1.588

    Australian dollar 1.766

    General News

    [20] Tour of the permanent collections of the New Acropolis Museum (part 2)

    With the inauguration of the New Acropolis Museum just two days away, ANA-MPA continues its three-part tour of the Museum's Permanent Collections. The Museum contains five Permanent Collections: The Acropolis Slopes, divided into sub-categories on The Settlement, and The Sanctuary; The Acropolis during the Archaic Period, with sub-categories on The Hekatompedon, The Ancient Temple, and The Votives; The Parthenon, with sub-categories on The Monument, The Metopes, The Pediments, and The Frieze; Other Monuments of the Classical Acropolis, with sub-categories on The Propylaia, The Temple of Athena Nike, and The Erechtheion; and Other Collections, with sub-categories on The Sanctuary of Artemis Vravronia, The Votives of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods, and The Votives of the Roman Period. The Museum opened its electronic gates ( on Monday.


    The main monuments that constitute the Classical Acropolis are the Propylaia, the Temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion. The Propylaia, the monumental entrance to the Acropolis, were built in 437-432 BC, following designs by the architect Mnesikles, in order to replace the earlier gateway. In 427-423 BC, the Temple of Athena Nike was built, perhaps by the architect Kallikrates, on the bastion southwest of the Propylaia, to replace an earlier small temple on the same site. The Erechtheion is the last of the Periclean buildings. Construction began during the Peace of Nicias (421-415 BC) and ended after 410 BC.

    The Propylaia

    In the Propylaia stood works of art made by great sculptors, like the statue of the Hermes Propylaios by Alkamenes.

    The building consisted of a central section flanked by two wings. The main building featured five openings. The central opening was the widest to accommodate the passing of the Panathenaic procession and sacrificial animals.

    The north wing had an anteroom and a spacious hall known as the Pinakotheke. This was probably a recreation area with paintings on the walls and couches with tables, where visitors could rest. The south wing had to be reduced due to the Temple of Athena Nike.

    The Temple of Athena Nike

    The Temple of Athena Nike is an exquisitely proportioned temple in the Ionic order, with four monolithic columns at the east and west fronts.

    As the epithet Nike (victory) implies, here Athena was worshipped as the goddess who stands by the Athenians in time of war. The Temple housed a wooden cult statue of the Goddess, who held a helmet in one hand, symbol of war, and a branch of pomegranate tree in the other, symbol of peace. The temple had sculptures on the pediments and the frieze. Only a few fragments of the pediment sculptures are preserved. The east frieze represents the Olympian Gods and the other three sides of the frieze picture battle scenes.

    The Erechtheion

    The area around the Erechtheion was considered the most sacred of the Acropolis. The Erechtheion was a complex marble building in the Ionic order, an exceptional artwork. The eastern part of the Temple was dedicated to Athena, whilst the western part was dedicated to local hero Boutes, Hephaistos and other gods and heroes. Thus, the Erechtheion was a temple with multiple functions, housing older and newer cults, and the site of the 'Sacred Tokens', the marks made by Poseidon's trident and the olive tree of Athena.

    A building inscription of the Erechtheion refers to the Caryatids simply as Korai (maidens), while the name Caryatids was assigned at a later time. The second Korai from the western section was removed by Lord Elgin in 1801 and is today located in the British Museum.


    The Other Collections of the Acropolis Museum include the Sanctuary of Artemis Vravronia, the votives of the Classical and Hellenistic Periods and the votives of the Roman Period.

    The Sanctuary of Artemis Vravronia

    Artemis Brauronia (Vravronia) was the goddess protecting expectant mothers and women in confinement. Her main sanctuary was located in Brauron, in Attica. The sanctuary on the Acropolis was founded at the time of the tyrant Peisistratos, who originated from Brauron (modern-day Vravronas). The cella housed the wooden statue (xoanon) of the Goddess, similar to the one in her Brauron temple. According to Pausanias, a second statue of Artemis, carved by Praxiteles, was added in 346 BC. The colossal head of that statue is on display in the Museum.

    The Votives of the Classical & Hellenistic Periods

    Exquisite sculptures of the Classical Period are mostly made out of copper. Most of the votives on the Acropolis of the Classical Period and of subsequent periods have disappeared. Several sculptures are identified with original works that were found on the Rock of the Acropolis. Amongst them stands the statue of Prokne and Itys, a work attributed to the famous sculptor Alkamenes. Other statues have survived in a fragmentary state, like the statue of Io or Kallisto, another work by Alkamenes, or the fragment of the statue of the so-called Aphrodite-Sosandra by Kalamis. Another exquisite work is the portrait of Alexander, possibly ascribed to the sculptor Leochares.

    The Votives of the Roman Period

    Throughout the Roman period, the Acropolis retained the appearance it had in its heyday. It also preserved most of its dedications, unlike other Greek cities and sanctuaries, whose artistic treasures were plundered and transferred to Italy, mostly in order to adorn public buildings. At the same time, a series of new dedications were added to the earlier ones. These were portraits of emperors, generals and other officials, portraits of philosophers, orators and priests, as well as images of individuals who benefited the city or distinguished themselves in athletic and other contests.

    [21] Parliament president meets national anti-smoking committee

    Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday met members of the National Coordinating Committee Against Smoking, who thanked him for his assistance in enforcing a law banning smoking in all indoor public places and in the workplace.

    Sioufas assured members of the committee that he will support their efforts.

    According to the head of the Hellenic Society Against Cancer Stavros Besbeas, official figures indicate that "the equivalent of a small town of 20,000 inhabitants is wiped out each year as a consequence of smoking, costing the public sector 2.5 billion euros for an estimated 700,000 days of hospital treatment for smoker patients".

    Sioufas noted that the anti-smoking laws passed by the government had enforced in the Greek Parliament from February 2.

    "I want to assure you that the MPs, Parliamentary correspondents and the employees in all 10 Parliament buildings - apart from the designated smoking areas - meticulously observe the decision I have taken," he said.

    [22] Fulbright event on Tuesday

    The Fulbright Foundation is organising its annual scholars and sponsors awards ceremony for 2009-10, which will be held at the US ambassador in Greece's residence in Athens on Tuesday.

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Deputy Education Minister Andreas Lykourentzos are expected to address the event.

    A total of 50 scholarships will be offered to Greek and US students, scholars, artists for the academic year 2009-10 in the fields of archaeology, architecture, environmental studies, journalism, law, fine arts, engineering, finance and others.

    Eight scholarships will be given to Greek professors/researchers from several local universities and 18 scholarships to honor students, allowing them to immediately begin their post-graduate studies at noted US universities, such as Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, etc.

    For further information on the Fulbright Institution you may visit its website:

    [23] Series of arrests for robberies, including EDOEAP

    Police in Athens on Thursday announced that they have a suspect charged in a total of 18 robbery cases, including the armed robbery of the press auxiliary and healthcare fund (EDOEAP) offices in central Athens on April 28.

    The development follows the arrest of a 43-year-old one-time motorcycle race driver in the Athens district of Patissia two days ago. During a chase that led to the suspect's arrest he had allegedly opened fire against pursuing officers. A subsequent ballistics test revealed that the weapon was used in a number of robberies, when a masked suspect fired the weapon to intimidate victims.

    The 43-year-old is accused of forming a criminal gang with two other individuals and committing nearly two dozen robberies since November, targetting supermarkets, a pizza parlor, a betting pools agency and the EDOEAP offices.

    In an unrelated development, a number of individuals were accused of robberies and thefts following arrests in the district of Keramikos of three of its alleged members, all local men aged 27, 28 and 31.

    Police found in their possession two assault-type rifles, two hand guns, two hand grenades, three bulletproof vests, a large number of cartridges, gloves, hoods, handcuffs, a small quantity of unprocessed cannabis and three stolen cars.

    Finally, in Thessaloniki, a 20-year-old Romanian national was charged with acting as a drug "mule" after he was arrested at dawn at Macedonia International Airport with 4.5 kilos of heroin were found hidden at the bottom of his suitcase.

    The man had arrived on board a flight from Istanbul where he allegedly had bought the drugs and he was planning to catch a flight to Zurich on his way to London.

    [24] ELA defendant Agapiou dies

    A convicted member of the now defunct Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) urban guerrilla group, Costas Agapiou, died early Thursday in an Athens hospital, after a bout with cancer.

    Agapiou had been sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in the ELA trial in 2004. Due to deteriorating health, he had been unable to attend the appeals hearings over the past three months.

    [25] First new flu cases in Larissa confirmed

    The first two instances of the new flu virus A(H1N1) outside the capital of Greece have been detected in Larissa, central Greece, it was announced on Thursday. The instances concern a 33-year-old local woman and her 25-month-old son, who have recently returned from the US.

    The National Health Operations Center confirmed the laboratory results on Wednesday, while the woman's relatives and colleagues were called for testing at the Larissa General Hospital, but tested negative for the virus.

    The woman and toddler were found to have a mild case of the virus, and would be following medical treatment at home.

    The woman and her child returned from a visit to the US on Sunday, with flu symptoms, and went to the Larissa hospital, where she and the toddler received preventive treatment and samples taken were found to be positive. The test results were confirmed Wednesday evening by the Pasteur Institute in Greece.

    A total of 30 new flu cases have been detected in Greece, all of them in mild form.

    [26] Sofia authorities arrest three Bulgarians involved in ring 'selling' infants to Greeks through 'legal' procedures

    SOFIA (ANA-MPA/B. Borisov)

    Three people were arrested on Thursday in Bulgaria for participation in an infant trafficking ring active in Greece.

    A lawyer, his female assistant and another woman, all Bulgarian nationals, were arrested on orders of the Sofia prosecutor bygents of the Bulgarian national security authority.

    The three suspects are charged with participation in a crime ring that located pregnant Bulgarian women with financial difficulties and convinced the women to sell the infants to them after they gave birth, for 1,500-2,500 euros per infant, and then sought "buyers".

    The infants were then sold to families in Greece for 30,000-40,000 euros each, with the ring members assuring the families that the 'adoptions' were legal and effected through the legal process of international adoptions, according to the Bulgarian police's organised crime unit.

    The ring scouted out candidate parents in Greece, then would seek the pregnant women. The Greek 'fathers' would formally recognise the infants as their own biological children through a legal process at the Bulgarian clinic where the births took place.

    The operation was completed with the issue of birth certificates and passports for the newborn infants, which were then taken back to Greece by the Greek parents.

    Bulgarian police said that the ring had sold 13 infants in Greece and two in Bulgaria in one year.

    [27] Arrest at Thessaloniki's Macedonia airport for heroin smuggling

    A 20-year-old Romanian man was arrested upon his arrival at 'Macedonia Airport' in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki at dawn on Thursday after roughly 4.5 kilos of heroin were found concealed in his luggage, which had a false bottom.

    The young man is believed to be a member of an international drug-smuggling ring and arrived on a flight from Istanbul, where he had picked up the drugs from a contact.

    A Thessaloniki General Police Headquarters announcement said the suspect confessed in a statement that he was originally bound for Zurich and would then fly to London, where he would arrange a meeting with an unknown man in order to deliver the heroin.

    The Romanian was led before a Thessaloniki public prosecutor to be charged on Thursday and received a date to appear before an examining magistrate.

    [28] Woman found dead in her car

    A 48-year-old woman was found dead with blood on her face in the driver's seat of her car at 8:00 on Thursday morning in the Athens district of Daphni.

    According to police, the car's doors were locked and the policemen had to break the windshield.

    The keys of the car were missing.

    Police are investigating the incident.

    [29] Police nab Iraqi, 19, transporting illegals in Thessaloniki

    A 19-year-old Iraqi national, an alleged member of an international people trafficking ring, was arrested in Thessaloniki on Wednesday following a police operation in the northeastern prefecture of Evros.

    A total of 11 minors and another 20 illegal migrants had been transported from Turkey to Greece, with Thessaloniki as the final destination.

    The teen suspect was arrested after being reportedly being spotted near the city's railway station in the process of transporting the 11 minors with their parents and other adults -- the majority of them Iraqis.

    [30] Free fruit in primary schools from September

    Free fruit will be distributed to children in Greek primary schools from next September, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis announced on Thursday.

    The minister said that 3.5 million euros had been allocated to cover the cost of the measure, which aims to combat child obesity and promote healthy eating habits among the young, as well as support the Greek fruit market.

    The programme is scheduled to last three years and will be carried out in cooperation with the education ministry.

    Weather Forecast

    [31] Cloudy, rainy on Friday

    Cloudy weather and possible local showers, and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 13C and 34C. Fair in Athens, with northeasterly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 19C to 32C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 18C to 29C.

    [32] The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The murder of a counter-terrorism police officer by the Revolutionaries Sect urban guerrilla group and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) leader Alekos Alavanos' resignation from the alliance's helm and from his seat in parliament dominated the headlines on Thursday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Terrorism returns more savage - They assassinated a 41-year-old policeman".

    APOGEVMATINI: "Terrorists assassinate democracy - Political leadership condemns the policeman's murder in cold blood".

    AVGHI: "Nobody is redundant - Alavanos' resignation made impressions".

    AVRIANI: "Synaspismos party (SYN, which heads the SYRIZA alliance) in danger of splitting after Alavanos' resignation".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "Murderers'....sect".

    ELEFTHEROS : "Karamanlis (Costas, Prime Minister), expel the 'crime leadership' - Outcry over the third policeman's murder".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Hatred, blood and lots of questions......Policeman's cold-blooded murder with 24 bullets".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Terror messages in cold blood ".

    ESTIA: "The state is collapsing - Government bears major responsibilities".

    ETHNOS: "Rage and worry...Policemen at terrorists' mercy"

    KATHIMERINI: "Ruthless terrorist attack against police officer".

    LOGOS: "Shock over the new terroristic attack - Police investigations point at Revolutionaries Sect".

    NIKI: "Inexperienced policemen serve in the Witness Protection Programme".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Alert and uprise against the EU's new anti-labour measures".

    TA NEA: "Government destroyed Greek Police (ELAS) and brought back the terror - Scotland Yard's recommendations went to waste".

    TO VIMA: "Concern over the new terroristic attack".

    VRADYNI: "Psycho - Revolutionaries Sect's attack of unprecedented ferocity".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [33] Christofias: Turkey has no right to claim legitimacy over Cyprus


    Turkey's claims that it can fly over Cyprus' sovereign air space is an utter deceit, absolutely illegal and a violation of international conventions and international law, President Demetris Christofias stressed here Tuesday.

    Invited to comment on statements by a representative of the Turkish Foreign Ministry that Turkey has legitimate rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, which are safeguarded by the UN, President Christofias replied: "I have seen no Security Council resolution which establishes legitimate rights for Turkey that are related to the occupation of 37 percent of Cypriot territory and the violation of the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus".

    Speaking to reporters before departing for Brussels to attend the European Council, President Christofias further questioned the existence of UN decision that justifies the occupation and presence of 40,000 Turkish troops, the uprooting of one third of Greek Cypriots from their homes and properties, the transfer of one third of Turkish Cypriots to the northern Turkish occupied areas and the exploitation of property.

    "All these are condemned in numerous UN Security Council resolutions and many other international and regional organisations", he pointed out.

    President Christofias acknowledged that Turkey has legitimate rights in Eastern Mediterranean, adding however that Turkey has not even ratified those international conventions which define how each state can claim its legitimate rights, referring to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982. "Turkey has neither accepted it nor ratified it", he added.

    For this reason, said the president, "it is deceitful for them to say that Turkish warplanes have a legitimate right to fly over the Republic of Cyprus territory. It is purely illegal, a violation of international conventions, international law and surely a violation of the air and sea territory of the Republic of Cyprus", he concluded.

    President Christofias also dismissed as inaccurate, uncorroborated and unsubstantiated press reports that present him and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat as two people who are unaware of the legal aspects of the Cyprus issue.

    The president was reacting to a report by Reuters Blogs on Tuesday 16 June which said that "both of them (Christofias and Talat) have trouble grappling with the language and terms. They are not lawyers like Clerides and Denktash, said a senior Western diplomat."

    "No foreign diplomat participates in the talks," currently underway, the president stressed.

    The substance of the Cyprus issue, he pointed out, is not whether he and Talat have a legal background. "So many years in politics, we have become accustomed to the legal terms and we have very capable legal advisors," he added.

    "The substance of the problem is political. It is violation of international law, violation of all conventions on human rights that have been approved by international organisations and as such political decisions must first be taken on the evolution of the unitary state into a federal state. It is not a legal matter", he explained.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. President Christofias and Talat entered UN-led direct negotiations for an agreed settlement to the Cyprus problem on September 2008 and have held 32 meetings so far.

    [34] US official: A Cyprus solution should not have to wait any longer


    US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon believes that a solution to the Cyprus issue should not have to wait any longer and this year would be a good time to have a settlement.

    Answering questions before the Sub-Committee for Europe of the US Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, Gordon said at present the two sides on the island have been talking directly to each other since last September under U.N. auspices.

    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat have been engaged in direct negotiations since September 2008 with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    Gordon said his Administration "will support that process" adding that if a more direct role would ultimately be useful, "we would be prepared to consider that. And we have directly engaged with both sides, including the Turkish government, to make clear that that is our view. The outcome should be a bizonal, bicommunal federation with a single sovereignty, and we make that clear to our Turkish counterparts consistently when we talk about the issue", he underlined.

    The US official said a "Cyprus settlement would also be win-win. Both sides would significantly benefit from a political settlement. And we'll be actively engaged to achieve it".

    Asked how the U.S. can use its close relationship with Turkey to convince it to remove the number of troops from Cyprus, Gordon said that in any imaginable Cyprus plan that the parties are discussing it would also involve a significant reduction in outside forces on the island, including Turkish forces.

    To a remark that Ankara should hear from the US Administration that a solution to the Cyprus issue is a step for the US to say "get Turkey into the EU", Gordon replied "Absolutely...This Administration is strongly engaged towards just that goal. The Secretary has had this discussion with her counterparts, with the Cypriot Foreign Minister, with her Turkish counterparts. She and the president have both traveled to Turkey, and they have made clear that we see real opportunities in Cyprus this year with the parties talking directly to each other, and that it's a strong United States interest to get a deal on Cyprus done as soon as possible".

    He agreed that a non-solution is an obstacle to Turkey's accession to the EU. A Cyprus settlement would be a major step forward in opening up the door -- the EU door to Turkey. That's a further reason that we support it. That's why the Greek government supports it. It would be good for Turkey, good for Cyprus and good for the EU, he remarked.

    Gordon noted that his country will be very closely engaged, and the Secretary is personally very interested in this. "And it's been too long. It shouldn't wait any longer. This year would be a good time to have a Cyprus settlement", he noted.

    Asked how he would assess Turkey's role in this talks process, Gordon replied that Turkey has an interest in a Cyprus settlement, and the Turkish government realizes that it has interest in a Cyprus settlement. "All of the parties in the Cyprus dispute are tough negotiators, and Turkey, while not a direct party, is included in that category", he said.

    "They, like everyone, will have to make some compromises if there is going to be a settlement. We have this discussion with them on a regular basis. And I will continue to have it and to make clear that all sides are going to have to compromise for there to be a settlement, but if there is a settlement, all sides would benefit, including in the case of Turkey, where a big obstacle to Turkey's E.U. aspirations would be removed", he noted.

    Regarding Turkey's accession to the EU and the fact that some countries, such as Germany and France, are not thrilled at the prospect of Turkey's possible membership, Gordon said that Turkey's EU course is a real challenge. He said it is "fair to say there is enlargement fatigue in the European Union, not just towards Turkey, but especially in the context of an economic crisis. It's a particular challenge towards Turkey which is a country of some 70 million, geographically further away, a majority Muslim country that faces some skepticism among European populations".

    However, he said the US continue to "make the case that the incentive of European Union membership for Turkey has been an enormous incentive towards the type of Turkey that Europe would like to have as a neighbor and ultimately as a member -- a more democratic Turkey, a freer Turkey, a more stable Turkey and one that could contribute strategically, economically, culturally in so many ways to the European Union".

    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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