|Tuesday, 20 March 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Saturday, 4 December 2010 Issue No: 3661
 PM: Gov't has lots of work before end of yearThe government has a lot of work before thear and are to be discussed in meetings of the cabinet over the rest of this month.
Papandreou said that the government had to convince Greek society through these acts of legislation and the 2011 budget that it will guide the country safely out of the crisis and make all the necessary reforms.
Among others, he highlighted significant changes that had occurred since the last meeting of the government ministers, such as the eruption of the crisis in Ireland and the issue of extending the repayment period for Greece's 110-billion-euro loans from the European Union and the IMF.
Stressing that the country had prospects, Papandreou said that the government had met its commitments and demonstrated its reliability.
He also pointed out that, had the public deficit really been just 6 percent of GDP as originally claimed by the previous New Democracy government, this would have now been eradicated.
The premier termed 2011 the year of great reforms, expressing certainty that the government can achieve its goals next year as well, as it also did in 2010.
Papandreou said that "these days another difficult cycle closed for the country" and indeed "it closed with success and optimism for the future."
He referred to the country's recent evaluation, stressing that "it was positive" and proved that "we are not merely on the right path, but that we are fulfilling our targets one by one and even more so."
The prime ministerr called on ministers to contribute so that "this message will multiply" and be understood by the Greek people, so that the feeling of trust and confidence that they need will be consolidated.
Papandreou rejected crisiticism by certain international news agencies, that Greece did not achieve the target of reducing the deficit.
He said that, on the contrary, "we achieved it and even more so, since the target was its decrease by 5.5 units and we reduced it by 6 units."
Papandreou expressed his belief that the changes that will take place in the near future are "more accessible politically" since, as he said, "now, we no longer have the generalised decrease of salaries and pensions that, of course, was a very difficult decision politically."
 PM to meet with Commission president on Monday in BrusselsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
Prime minister George Papandreou will be in Brussels on Monday for a meeting with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, it was made known on Friday.
According to diplomatic sources, the meeting will take place at 17:00 Greek time and is expected to last at least an hour, with Barroso and Papandreou scheduled to make joint statements at 18:15.
The focus of the talks will be EU external policy issues and also matters relating to the European and Greek economies. According to the same sources, Barroso and Papandreou will discuss the measures taken by the Greek government in order to tackle the crisis, Greece's supervision by the EU-ECB-IMF troika, European support for Greece and preparations for the EU summit on December 16-17.
Other sources, meanwhile, revealed that the meeting had been requested by Barroso, who is expected to send a strong message that Greece is now on the right track after the measures that it has taken, while also stressing the seriousness of the situation.
The meeting will come a few days ahead of a crucial EU summit on December 17 that is slated to formally establish a permanent European Stabilisation Mechanism (ESM).
 Samaras to meet with Strauss-Kahn, Rehn next weekMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras will meet next week with International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn, who will be on visits to Athens.
Samaras met on Friday with the chairmen of the party's regional organisations, to whom he stressed that the organisations must emanate from, belong to and serve the society, especially in these critical times for the country.
 ND leader and LIBE delegation discuss migration issuesMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Friday met a delegation from the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) at ND party headquarters in Athens and was briefed on EU efforts and initiatives to restrict illegal migration on a Community level.
Samaras apparently asked the committee members to exert greater pressure on member-states to activate European policy on the issue and show solidarity toward Greece as a member of the Community by strengthening the role of the EU border agency Frontex and exerting pressure on Turkey to abide by the re-admission agreements it has signed with Greece. He also called for accelerating the process for the signature of a similar agreement between Turkey and the EU.
 ND party replies to PMThe main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Friday accused Prime Minister George Papandreou of "double talk", due to all that the prime minister said abroad in his capacity of President of the Socialist International.
ND spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos called on Papandreou to "decide when he is saying and doing what he really believes."
"When, while abroad he remembers his old socialist self, or when, inside the country he implements measures of extreme neoliberal inspiration, that push the people to despair?", he added.
 Israel thanks Greece for assistance in wildfire disasterIsrael on Friday thanked Greece for its assistance in tackling a massive wildfire in the north of the country that has claimed at least 40 lives and caused extensive destruction to the natural environment.
The Israeli embassy in Athens, in an announcement on Friday, thanked the Greek government, prime minister George Papandreou and all the responsible ministers.
Greece immediately dispatched five fire-fighting aircraft to Israel to join the effort to contain and put out the blaze after a telephone call between Papandreou and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
Israeli ambassador in Athens Arye Mekel said in a statement that the direct contact between the two prime ministers and speedy decision to send help to Israel is in line with the new, very positive relations between Greece and Israel.
He said that the professionalism and experience of the Greek team in combating fires is well known and greatly respected in Israel.
The envoy also thanked all the Greek people who contacted the Israeli embassy to offer support and express their condolences.
"It is very important to have the help of our friends and neighbors in times of need," Mekel concluded.
 Alternate FM holds talks with Swiss Deputy FMAlternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou met on Friday with Swiss Deputy Foreign Minister Peter Maurer.
Issues of bilateral and European interest were discussed during the meeting, as well as issues of bilateral economic cooperation. Finance Ministry Secretary General Ilias Plasko-vitis also participated in the meeting.
 Iranian foreign minister due in Greece on MondayIranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki is due in Greece for a two-day visit this coming Monday and Tuesday.
During his stay in Athens, Mottaki is to meet Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday in order to discuss international and regional issues and bilateral cooperation. The two ministers will then make statements and Droutsas will host a dinner in Mottaki's honour at the foreign ministry.
The Iranian minister is also due to meet President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias early on Monday afternoon.
 Skopje requests Greek support for start of EU accession talksSKOPJE (ANA-MPA - N. Frangopoulos)
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki has sent a letter to his Greek counterpart Dimitris Droutsas, in which he asks Greece to support a decision for the start of EU accession negotiations with FYROM at the upcoming EU summit in mid December. The letter was published by the FYROM foreign ministry on Friday but has not yet been received by Droutsas, according to the Greek foreign ministry.
In the letter, Milososki referred to the European Commission's recommendation for the start of accession talks with FYROM, pointing out that this was the second consecutive year when FYROM had been judged ready to proceed to the next stage of the accession process and five years since it had become a candidate for EU entry.
"This situation is unbearable both for a candidate country that in the next month will establish full trade ties with the EU in the framework of the Association and Stabilisation Agreement and for the credibility of the EU and the enlargement policy," Milososki said.
The FYROM foreign minister noted that Greece could "contribute decisively to reviving the European integration of the region" by supporting the start of accession negotiations with his country.
"With such as step we will also give a boost, together, to the necessary positive climate of mutual trust in the relations between us for a final resolution of the final bilateral difference, a viable solution that is accepted by both countries and peoples for the benefit of regional and European stability and prosperity," Milososki added in his letter.
 Tsipras addresses European Left 3rd con'fPARIS (ANA-MPA)
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras, addressing the 3rd conference of the European Left here on Friday, assessed that "we are before a deep crisis of capitalism," adding that the extreme, as he termed it, neo-liberal model of uncontrolled markets "has given birth to a fiscal sector monster that is now devouring everything that it finds in front of it; even the hands feeding it."
 Dora Bakoyannis in Evros prefectureDemocratic Alliance president Dora Bakoyannis is in Evros, northern Greece, following the founding declaration of her party.
The purpose of the visit, as she said in the city of Alexandroupoli, is "the recording of all the problems of the Evros prefecture, after contacts with agencies but mainly citizens in the framework of the effort that the Democratic Alliance is starting to prepare a growth programme in each prefecture."
 Justice minister on war reparations issueJustice Minister Haris Kastanidis speaking in Parliament on Friday, left open the possibility of claiming reparations from Germany for the WWII occupation of Greece and, at the same time, rejected the German criticism as regards the country's economic situation.
Responding to a question tabled by opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) MP Adonis Georgiadis, he stressed that the justice ministry, in cooperation with the foreign ministry, is seriously considering legal grounds Greece can invoke to claim war reparations from Germany before the expiration a the Jan. 14, 2011 Distomo massacre case deadline at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
"The direction of the decision we will reach in a few days is obvious. The issue is being considered with great seriousness in order to have results," the justice minister underlined.
Kastanidis also referred to German criticism against Greece concerning its economic situation.
"I am aware of various accusations made by the German mass media. Those who refer to fiscal discipline, morals or the virtues that should dominate Europe should be the first to show that they respect them. Even more so, those who, for the sake of their export dominance, have shown no respect to virtue," he said.
 Papoulias receives Alt. culture ministerThe government's determination to help unemployed journalists within the framework of its institutional authority was expressed by Alternate Culture Minister Tilemachos Hytiris during a meeting on Friday with Republic President Karolos Papoulias.
Hytiris underlined the role of public and private television in ensuring that information will be safeguarded, characterising it as the "heart of democracy".
Papoulias expressed optimism that the crisis and all its consequences will be overcome.
 New round of Greece-Turkey exploratory talks on Mon.The 48th round of exploratory contacts between Greece and Turkey will take place on Monday in Athens.
Commenting on the course of such contacts, which focus on the continental shelf delineation issue, foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras stated recently that "we cannot announce specific progress, but we continue the efforts to this end".
He also said that "an emphasis should be given to the strengthening of the exploratory contacts process".
 New development bill to be unveiled TuesdayThe new draft development law will be unveiled at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, regional development and competiti-veness minister Michalis Chryssohoidis announced on Friday, addressing a CEO SUMMIT conference titled "Viable Hope - Creating the future, not predicting it".
The new law will be activated in the first quarter of 2011, and will combine a series of reinforcements such as tax exemptions, low-interest loans and subsidies of the initial capital, in accordance with the individual developmental targets.
The tax exemptions aim to boost viable investment plans with secure profit prospects, while there will be special provision for young entrepreneurship.
Chryssohoidis said the new law will introduce pioneer, for Greece, procedures of objective criteria and transparency in the assessment of the investment plans.
The national plan for development, which is based on encouraging both public and private investments, further provides for doubling of the absorption rate of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF, or ESPA in Greek) to 35 percent, the establishment of a National Entrepreneurship Development Fund (ETEAN) through which more than 2.5 billion euros will be allocated over the next two years, and utilisation of the Public and Private Sector Collaborations (SDIT) and European Investment Bank (EIB) knowhow for promoting small and medium size developmental projects in municipalities and peripheries.
The minister further stressed that only if some temporary and short-term privileges and benefits are put aside for the sake of a long-term economic growth and prosperity can there be viable hope in Greece.
 Environment minister attends EU energy ministers' councilEnvironment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Friday participated in the EU energy ministers' council taking place in Brussels, presenting Greece's positions on achieving 2020 emission targets and energy networks.
In an announcement concerning the Europe 2020 Energy Strategy, Birbili stressed the need to link this with 2050 targets for a low-carbon economy and asked the Commission to work on various scenarios with high participation of renewable energy sources (RES).
She noted that the strategy was trying to combine conflicting policies, promoting RES and energy conservation at the same time as increasing use of nuclear power and hydrocarbons. The minister supported a transition to a competitive low-carbon economy with enhanced policies seeking to balance a more efficient use of natural resources with protection for the environment.
Birbili stressed the Greek government's opposition to the use of nuclear power and its reservations concerning its further development and application.
"In terms of [nuclear power], we want to stress that we would not like to see a stronger role for nuclear energy. The EU has an obligation to concentrate on those areas where there is agreement. Nuclear energy is a national issue and divides European energy policy. Our basic tools must continue to be the binding targets for restricting gas emissions and increasing the percentage of RES in final energy consumption," she said.
On the issue of linking power networks, Birbili referred to the need to extend the EU electric power market to isolated areas, such as linking islands with the mainland systems and thus tapping into the rich wind and solar power potential islands in order promote RES.
She also supported the continuation of efforts to link Mediterranean countries to the power grid, creating a Mediterranean Ring, for the optimum utilisation of RES in the region.
Finally, she hailed the Commission's "balanced references" to the Turkey-Greece-Italy (TGI) natural gas pipeline and Nabucco pipeline in terms of the southern European natgas corridor.
Birbili underlined, in closing, that the key priorities for achieving the 20-20-20 targets were to construct electrical power networks that would ensure maximum exploitation of RES and diversification of sources and routes of natural gas.
 DESFA supports natgas store at empty oil fieldGreece's Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator (DESFA) on Friday said it was in favour of a proposal to convert the exhausted South Kavala deposit in the Prinos oil field into a subterranean storage facility for natural gas.
The proposal for the subterranean storage facility was submitted to Greece's environment, energy and climate change ministry by Greece's Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) and the company Aegean Energy, which holds a licence from the Greek state to drill for oil at Prinos.
DESFA stressed, however, that the investment and management of the storage facility should be managed by itself, or by a consortium in which it holds a minimum 51 percent share so that European Union rules on competition are not flouted.
According to studies that have been carried out, the S. Kavala site can store up to one billion cubic metres of gas and supply up to four million cubic metres of gas to the network per day (or 40 percent of daily consumption in the country) for a period of 90 days.
According to DESFA, the storage facility will greatly contribute to energy security in Greece and in neighbouring countries linked to its gas network.
DESFA's positions on the proposed investment were that the South Kavala underground space was public property and its conversion into a natural gas storage facility created added value that belonged to the state and not the private company holding a concession to use the specific space for other purposes.
It also noted that DEPA was a commercial enterprise in the natgas market and its presence in the consortium without holding a tender by simply as an administrative decision of the state created conditions of discriminatory treatment against other companies operating in the natgas market by reinforcing its dominant position, in contravention of Community rules.
For this reason, the investment and subsequent management of the storage facility could be carried out either by DESFA on its own or by a consortium in which DESFA held a majority share. For the remaining members of any consortium thus formed, it said that these could include the company now holding the licence to drill and the rest private investors chosen through an international tender.
The environment ministry has set up a committee to examine the various alternative solutions proposed for the investment and make a recommendation to the ministry leadership.
 Greek ports to remain under state controlGreek ports will remain under state control, with the state maintaining a majority 51 pct equity stake, according to George Anomeritis, president of the Greek Ports Association and chairman of the Piraeus Port Authority.
Speaking in Thessaloniki, Anomeritis said announcements will be made in December over a new, single port system, which will include all Greek ports, noting that related studies have been completed.
He declined, however, to offer more details over the pro-gramme, and said that formal announcements will be made by Maritime Affairs Minister Yiannis Diamantidis this month.
Anomeritis said an international tender to build a sixth pier at the Thessaloniki Port will be launched this month.
The association he heads up brings together 12 national ports - all of whom operate as S.A.s: Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis, Kavala, Volos, Igoumenitsa, Corfu, Patras, Lavrio, Rafina, Elefsina and Irakleio.
 Gov't announces hiring of 3,000 nursing staffHealth Minister Andreas Loverdos on Friday called on managers of 30 major public hospitals in the country to immediately proceed with the hiring of 3,000 nursing staff, setting Dec. 31 as a deadline.
Loverdos stressed that beginning on Jan. 1, 2011, the 1/5 regulation will be in effect in the sector of health as well, namely, one hiring for every five retirements or resignations.
He also stated that Dec. 31, 2010 is the deadline for approval of hospital budgets and balance sheets, while hospital debts to suppliers dated between 2007 and 2009 will have to be paid off before that date.
Referring to the e-prescription system for public hospitals, he said that it will have to be completed in the first two months of 2011, adding that an inventory of their medical supplies will also have to be drawn up.
He also said that the use of generic drugs in public hospitals should increase 50 pct for money saving purposes.
 Pamboukis to declare closing of New York Stock ExchangeNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Greek Minister of State Haris Pamboukis was to declare the closing of negotiations at the New York Stock Exchange, on Friday night (Greek time).
He was to be flanked by members of his staff and repre-sentatives of Greek companies listed at the Stock Exchange.
 Greek-Turkish business event in ThessalonikiA one-day seminar on Greek-Turkish business ties will take place on Thursday in Thessaloniki, organised by th Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce in Northern Greece and Turkey's Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK).
 Economic sentiment index slightly down in Nov.Greece's economic sentiment index fell slightly in November to 67 points, down from 67.3 points in October, the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) announced on Friday.
The report showed that the services sector recorded the biggest decline, while conditions in the manufacturing sector worsened further.
In the retail sector the decline was milder, while in the construction sector sentiment remained around October levels. Demand showed some improvement in November, after falling to record-lows in October with consumers remaining cautious over developments in the current crisis.
Business expectations in the manufacturing sector were slightly lower, while expectations over demand and new orders recorded the biggest decline and inventories fell further.
In the services sector, business expectations recorded a steep decline over the current level of business and short-term demand, while the decline was even bigger in expectations over the current trend of demand.
In the retail sector, expectations recovered helped by improved forecasts over current sales and a strong decline in inventories.
In the construction sector, business expectations improved over the level of works, although expectations over employment in the sector worsened further.
Consumer confidence recovered in November, after hitting a record low in the previous month, with households' expectations over their finances, intention to save in the next 12 months, forecasts over unemployment and expectations over the country's financial condition, improving.
 ADEDY calls work stoppage in Attica on MondayThe civil servant unions' umbrella federation ADEDY has declared a three-hour work stoppage in Attica prefecture on Monday, on the 2nd anniversary of the 2008 shooting death of a teenager in central Athens by police officers.
The 34th congress of ADEDY currently taking place, in a resolution, called a work-stoppage from noon to 3:00 p.m. on Monday, the anniversary of the December 6, 2008 shooting death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos in an incident that sparked unprecedented urban rioting in the country.
It also called on public sector employees to take part in a demonstration to take place at noon Monday at the Propylae in Athens.
 Labour Inspectors make suprise inspection at bank's administrative bldg.A six-member delegation of State Labour Inspectors carried out a surprise inspection at a Eurobank office building in the west Athens district of Nea Ionia on Thursday evening (19.00 local time), assisted by a small police force.
According to initial reports, roughly 150 employees were found to be employed illegally, with inspectors charging that employees should have left their workplace at 18:15 at the latest. Additionally, extensive contribution evasion was allegedly detected, apart from other labour law violations.
The Labour Inspectors' final report will be submitted in the coming days and following Eurobank's statement.
 Athens hotels report improved room occupancy figures in OctoberHotels in the Attica region on Friday reported an 11 pct decline in revenues and a 4.4 pct fall in room occupancy rates in October, compared with the same month last year. An announcement by the Association of Athens-Attica Hoteliers said hotel prices fell in October, while celebrations for the 2,500 years of the battle of Marathon and the Athens Marathon race helped Athens hotels to improving their performance.
Hotels in Athens-Attica, however, continued presenting the lowest occupancy rates compared with other rival cities (61.1 pct in the January-October period this year), along with the fourth cheapest average rate per room (106.83 euros) and the third lowest revenue per available room (65.27 euros) in Europe.
The association said it expected a lot in reversing this negative trend from a "Athens Every Week" program, currently promoted by the Tourism ministry.
 Car registrations down 34% in Jan-NovCar registrations (new and used ones) fell 34 pct in the January-November period compared with the same period last year, the Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Friday. The statistics agency, in a report, said car registrations totaled 178,456 new or used vehicles in the 11-month period, down from 270,554 in the same period in 2009.
The agency also said that motorcycle registrations fell 13.9 pct in the January-November period to 59,581 units, from 69,184 last year.
 Stocks up 3.47% during weekStocks ended higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday despite a decline in the bank index reflecting an 1.19 pct decline in National Bank's share price.
The composite index rose 0.84 pct to end at 1,486.50 points, for a net gain of 3.47 pct in the week. Turnover was a disappointing 87.808 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 0.40 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 1.40 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 2.66 pct. OPAP (4.76 pct), MIG (4.62 pct) and Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling (2.01 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while National Bank (2.19 pct), Alpha Bank (1.35 pct) and ATEbank (1.19 pct) were top losers.
The Technology (8.88 pct), Travel (4.46 pct) and Health (3.58 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Banks fell 1.01 pct. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 119 to 54 with another 41 issues unchanged. Forthnet (23.91 pct), Ikona-Ihos (16.67 pct) and Intrakat (11.86 pct) were top gainers, while NEL (26.67 pct), Elfico (13.33 pct) and Pairis (10 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.64%
Personal & Household: +0.36%
Raw Materials: +1.65%
Travel & Leisure: +4.46%
Food & Beverages: +2.09%
Financial Services: +3.13%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Piraeus Bank, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.40
Public Power Corp (PPC): 10.93
HBC Coca Cola: 20.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.72
National Bank of Greece: 6.71
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.18
Bank of Piraeus: 3.01
 Greek bond market closing reportA warning by Standard & Poor's over a possible new downgrading of the country's credit rating did not affect the Greek bond market on Friday. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bond eased to 880 basis points from 886 bps on Thursday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.68 pct and the German Bund 2.88 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 21 million euros of which 16 million were buy orders and the remaining 5.0 million euros were sell orders. The three-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 11 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.52 pct, the six-month rate was 1.25 pct, the three-month 1.02 pct and the one-month rate 0.81 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.11 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover rising to 56.718 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,805 contracts worth 48.228 million euros, with 32,346 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 16,742 contracts worth 8.490 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,975), followed by Eurobank (450), MIG (2,063), OTE (1,334), Piraeus Bank (2,600), Alpha Bank (1,540), Hellenic Postbank (1,065) and ATEbank (437).
 Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.335
Pound sterling 0.854
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.199
Japanese yen 111.75
Swiss franc 1.324
Norwegian kroner 8.069
Canadian dollar 1.337
Australian dollar 1.361
 Arrests in women-trafficking case reach 51Greek authorities had by Friday arrested 51 people, among them two police officers, in connection with a women-trafficking case exposed by the Attica Security Police organised crime squad. The ring, uncovered through a gigantic police operation spanning several months and carried out with the assistance of Russian authorities, was involved in the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women from Russia.
Of those arrested, 19 are accused as members of the trafficking ring itself and the rest face various other related charges. A further 11 people in Greece and abroad are also charged in connection with the case, including the two police officers that were not arrested because the 48-hour period for automatic detention and trial in a police court had elapsed.
The two have been charged with dereliction of duty for facilitating the issue of work permits to the women being exploited by the traffickers.
During the police operation code-named 'Siberia' authorities examined more than 180 witnesses and also freed four women from Russia who said they were victims of the traffickers. They were placed under protection and given support as human-trafficking victims.
According to a police announcement on Friday, the ring had been in business for the past three years and controlled 80 percent of women involved in illegal prostitution in Greece. It was organised into three separate cells, each having a distinct role and members.
It operated by locating women in Eastern Europe that might serve as potential victims and promising them jobs as dancers in Greek night clubs. Once they were in Greece, they worked at clubs where they were forced to offer sexual services to customers in exchange for money.
The profits from the clubs were then laundered through a chain of bakeries owned by the mastermind of the ring, who was among those arrested, as well as the property market and other night clubs. Large sums of money were also sent abroad.
In the course of their investigation, Greek police confiscated four luxury cars, 12,400 euro and a large number of mobile phones as evidence.
The 51 people now under arrest will be led before a public prosecutor on Friday afternoon and the two police men accused of assisting the ring have been suspended from duty, while their involvement will be the subject of an internal police investigation.
 Italy-bound truck loaded with bootleg cigarettes intercepted in PatrasThousands of bootleg packs of cigarettes were discovered in a truck driven by a 58-year-old man, who was arrested at the port of Patras, western Greece, on Thursday.
The lorry was in line to board an Italy-bound ferry boat from the port. The total cargo of bootleg cigarette packs exceeded 274,000 packs, including well-known brand names.
Port authorities said the cigarettes were hidden in pallets and beneath a declared cargo of plastic vases, all packaged in plastic.
 Truck drivers, migrants arrested at port of PatrasTwo truck drivers, aged 45 and 46, were arrested at the port of Patras, western Greece, in two separate incidents after port authority officers found illegal migrants hidden in their vehicles, it was announced on Friday.
Seven illegal migrants were found in the first vehicle and two in the second vehicle, which was searched just before boarding a ferry boat bound for Italy. All of the would-be migrants were detained.
 One injured in Athens shootoutA shootout ensued at noon on Friday in Athens' Kallithea district after members of a motocycle police unit attempted to check the identity of three men reportedly loitering in a main square. One of the suspects was injured in the shootout, whereas the other two were arrested.
According to early reports, the trio of suspects hail from former Soviet republics.
 Group to construct replicas of ancient Greek musical instrumentsAncient Greek music is one of the lesser known chapters in the wide field of study of Hellenic civilisation.
Although much has been said and written about its major role in everyday life, there is still very much to be investigated in this area of the arts in Ancient Greece.
The absence of written remains of Ancient Greek music has, for centuries, created the impression that music was not a very advanced chapter of the arts in Ancient Greece, musician Panagiotis Stefos told ANA-MPA.
However, our knowledge on the role and position of music in Ancient Greece has been enriched by systematic research and from literary sources, which contain a plethora of direct and indirect references, Stefos added.
Stefos has set up a group, called Lyravlos, that has undertaken the task of reconstructing the Ancient Greek musical instruments. The purpose of this endeavor is to construct precise, working replicas of the instruments that will give true renditions of the 'sheet music' from the long past that have been discovered.
 Greek doctors' international conference in New YorkNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Doctors of Greek origin from all over the world have gathered in New York, where the sessions of the annual conference of the International Network of Greek Doctors and Bioscientists began on Friday. The conference is taking place for the first time outside Greece and Cyprus.
During the opening session of the conference, addresses were made by Archbishop of America Demetrius, the general consuls of Greece and Cyprus Agis Baltas and Koula Sofianou, as well as local officials of the Greek American community.
The International Network of Greek Doctors and Bioscientists was created in June 2007 during the founding conference on Kos, that was under the auspices of Greek President Karolos Papoulias.
 Statue placement controversy in ThessalonikiControversy again flared up in the northern port city of Thessaloniki over the placement of a statue of the late president and prime minister Constantine Karamanlis near the city's seafront promenade, following a statement on Friday by the outgoing mayor announcing the signing of a relevant contract.
In a written statement issued in response, newly elected mayor Yiannis Boutaris, who assumes the office on Jan. 1, 2011, expressed surprise and objected to the decision, stressing that it was hastily made.
 Rally for disabled persons in SyntagmaGreece's National Confederation of Persons with Disabilities organised a protest rally in Syntagma Square opposite Parliament on Friday to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The group's main demand was that the state take measures that would allow disabled persons to survive with dignity during the economic crisis.
The rally began on Friday morning with an address by the group's president Ioannis Vardakastanis and ended at around 14:00 when a resolution was delivered to Parliament.
 Rainy on SaturdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 4-9 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 8C and 25C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with southerly 5-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 13C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 14C to 15C.
 The Friday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceLabor relations, changes to the new tax law and the economy were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Friday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Chaos with salary reductions in the private sector".
AVGHI: "Uproar over GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece) leader's secret negotiation with SEB (Federation of Hellenic Enterprises)".
AVRIANI: "The 'port gang' to face felony charges".
ELEFTHERI ORA: "British gang of blackmarketeers in the center of Athens".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Manifesto of foolery".
ESTIA: "The economy's 'cushion'."
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "2 additional conditions on SEB (Federation of Hellenic Enterprises) from GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece)".
ETHNOS: "Thriller with the 'haircut' of public sector salaries".
IMERISSIA: "The bill on the new contracts - As of January 1, salaries to be set by each enterprise".
KATHIMERINI: "Everyone seeking a good transfer".
LOGOS: "Reduction of salaries in the private sector the next 'target'."
NAFTEMPORIKI: "New type of subsidies from the developmental law".
NIKI: "The game being played with the German war reparations".
PARASKEVI+13: "Greeks, work for free".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Hell for workers".
TA NEA: "The six changes regarding contracts, salaries".
VRADYNI: "Full-speed backwards".
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