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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-12-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 21 December 2010 Issue No: 3673


  • [01] PM Papandreou chairs informal cabinet meeting
  • [02] Gov't: "Greece has regained international credibility"
  • [03] PM to chair cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon
  • [04] Minister to present draft bill on social economy to cabinet on Tuesday
  • [05] ND leader on large families issue
  • [06] ND leader presents book by Wilfred Martens
  • [07] Defence Ministry on NATO Summit and national positions
  • [08] OSCE PA president, Russian ambassador address symposium on NATO issues in Athens
  • [09] President Papoulias met with Regional Development Minister Chryssohoidis
  • [10] Plan targets 25 pct cut in social insurance contributions by 2013
  • [11] Health minister meets presidents of Pharmaceuticals Societies
  • [12] Brussels on reforms in labour relations in Greece
  • [13] Eurostat on agricultural income in Greece
  • [14] OSE personnel transfer process launched
  • [15] Public transport strikes continue in Athens
  • [16] EBEA, GSEBEE call for suspension of public transport strikes
  • [17] Athens public transport employees change stance partially
  • [18] OTE employees work stoppage on Wednesday
  • [19] Primary teachers' union work stoppage on Wednesday
  • [20] Unemployment up 2.96 pct in November, OAED reports
  • [21] PASOK MPs cosign question on bank practices toward over-indebted households
  • [22] Special weekend air offers by OA
  • [23] Stocks take dive on rating cut rumours
  • [24] ADEX closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [26] Police dismantle major ring of drug dealers
  • [27] Police discover illicit cannabis plantation
  • [28] Drug-dealing ring busted in Thessaloniki
  • [29] Weapons smuggling ring disbanded
  • [30] Fallen rock demolishes house in Tithorea village
  • [31] Iranian artists present their works in Athens
  • [32] Seven from Keratea released after appearing before magistrate
  • [33] Man fatally injured in skiiing accident
  • [34] Homeless man dies in fire
  • [35] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [36] Spokesman: Cyprus' sovereign rights do not concern any other state
  • [37] Government confers with UN to reschedule talks Politics

  • [01] PM Papandreou chairs informal cabinet meeting

    Prime Minister George Papandreou appeared optimistic that the repayment period for Greek loans will be extended while addressing the informal cabinet meeting on Monday. During his ministers unveiled their agenda for the upcoming period, as requested in a letter signed by the premier.

    According to sources, Papandreou said that the first major legislation to be sponsored by the government will be the new investment law, while he put an emphasis on developments in Europe, stressing that Greece should be present and have voice.

    He also underlined that the government ministries should act in coordination and MPs should have an active participation in the preparation of draft laws.

    The prime minister said that the possibility of an extension for the repayment of the loan for 110 billion euros was positive for the country. He mentioned that he discussed this issue at last week's European Union summit and ascertained that "all are positive" on this possibility.

    However, Papandreou expressed reservations on the summit's decision as well as on the eurobond issue. The prime minister termed the EU's decision and the support mechanism a big step but stressed that he himself is not "absolutely sure that it will also be adequate for the eurozone to be stabilised."

    On the question of the eurobond and the view supported by many EU officials that this will come inevitably sooner or later, he pointed out that he is not so sure about this because, as he said, "there are resistances from certain countries that want to pass along the problem and not to assume their political responsibilities."

    Papandreou attacked credit rating firms saying that it is they that graded the banks with 3A and which finally collapsed. He underlined as a major problem the fact that the rating of these firms has immediate consequences for the banking system, considering that the problem would be greater without the intervention of the European Central Bank.

    [02] Gov't: "Greece has regained international credibility"

    "Greece plays a leading role, provides solutions and ideas and nobody can criticize us anymore for we have regained international credibility," government spokesman George Petalotis stressed, commenting on Monday on the European Council decisions and the proposals submitted by Prime Minister George Papandreou on the Euro-bond and the stock exchange transactions tax.

    Petalotis added that the decisions reached by the EU leaders are positive and referring to 2011 he said that it will be a milestone year, as well as a year of major reforms for the country's development.

    Called to comment on the "occupation forces" reference included in a text that was distributed to churchgoers last Sunday, he stressed that some people do not realize the crucial decisions that are being made, adding that the text in question is out of touch with reality.

    Responding to questions, Petalotis stated that the draft law on the so-called "closed professions" will be voted following a detailed discussion aimed at benefiting the people.

    As regards information according to which the opposition sees general elections within the next six months, Petalotis reiterated that the government's term ends in three years and will proceed with the reforms that are necessary for the country.

    [03] PM to chair cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon

    Nine government initiatives of which five bills and a briefing on another four important issues will be on the table of the cabinet meeting that will be chaired by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday afternoon.

    They are crucial reforms that must be promoted in the next three months as they are anticipated by the memorandum and are linked with the payment of the next instalments of the loan that the troika is providing for Greece.

    More specifically, the cabinet meeting is expected to give its approval for the bill regarding the deregulation and restructuring of post services and of electronic communications (INTERNET), the social economy and social entrepreneurship, the investments law and the bill on the founding of the entrepreneurship and growth fund. Lastly, the bill regarding simplification in providing licences for environmental licensing.

    [04] Minister to present draft bill on social economy to cabinet on Tuesday

    Labour and Social Insurance Minister Louka Katseli announced in a press conference on Monday that she will present a draft bill on the "Social Economy" to the cabinet on Tuesday.

    The minister said the aim of the bill was to strengthen businesses involved in the 'social economy' and encourage economic activity and the production of goods and services that served the general good and social purposes. These included provision of care services, support for disadvantaged groups, public and domestic safety, improving the urban environment and services for the protection of cultural heritage.

    Katseli said that such companies or businesses would have a different structure from ordinary companies, with a more participatory spirit and democratic form of management in which priority was given to participation in labour rather than capital and profits were distributed according to the contribution of the members.

    The draft bill will also legislate for a Social Economy Fund that will be a tool for financing small loans on favourable terms for activities that support the inclusion in economic life of specific groups, such as young people, women, long-term unemployed, migrants and people at risk of social exclusion.

    [05] ND leader on large families issue

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras met at the party's offices on Monday with the directorate of the Large Family Union of Greece.

    The directorate expressed its grave concern to Samaras over the bill being promoted by the government that proceeds with cutbacks in the bonuses of people with large families.

    The main opposition leader stressed that for ND the issue of those having large families is a national issue and that he intends to request an off-the-agenda discussion in Parliament on the issue.

    "ND is by your side. We shall support the institution of the large family because it is of national importance, " Samaras said.

    [06] ND leader presents book by Wilfred Martens

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, presenting the book by former Belgian prime minister and European People's Party (EPP) president Wilfred Martens on Monday, expressed disagreement with a two-speed policy in the European Union, saying that "political unification must prevail over the economic distinctions in 'zones of different speeds'."

    Speaking during the presentation of the book titled "Europe: I struggle I prevail", the ND leader said that "Europe of unity and solidarity must defeat Europe of mutual distrust."

    Emphasising the economic crisis, Samaras said "the crisis is no longer Greek any more. It is touching more and more countries. It is already touching the heart of Europe."

    [07] Defence Ministry on NATO Summit and national positions

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos mostly focused on the national positions and Lisbon's NATO Summit decisions in his opening speech on Monday at the 19th International Symposium of the Greek Union for the Atlantic and European Cooperation. The symposium is on security and stability in the 21st century and is taking place at the foreign ministry in Athens.

    Venizelos said the decision to completely restructure NATO was a very important step the decision that will offer a "specific political character" to the new situation the Alliance now has to deal with.

    The minister said that the country is facing an active threat from neighbouring Turkey at the same time that Greece is the basic proponent of Turkey's European prospect.

    Referring to EU-NATO ties, Venizelos reiterated the need to safeguard institutional parity among all the EU's member-states and institutional parity between the two organisations.

    Concluding , the Greek defence minister underlined that in a period of a deep social and political crisis that is affecting the standard of living and putting long established entitlements in doubt, a country and a continent going through such a crisis must highlight the parameters of national power from the lessons of history.

    [08] OSCE PA president, Russian ambassador address symposium on NATO issues in Athens

    Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly President Petros Efthymiou was among speakers addressing a symposium in Athens on "Security and Stability in the 21st Century; NATO after Lisbon" held in Athens on Monday.

    During his address, Efthymiou emphasised Greece's active role on a regional and international level in support of cooperation, dialogue and a peaceful resolution of differences, such as the Corfu Process initiated by Greece when it held the OSCE chair in 2009.

    The symposium was also addressed by the Russian ambassador in Athens Vladimir Chkhikvishvili, who referred to the "new spirit" in NATO-Russian relations that emerged from the Lisbon summit and emphasised Greece's contribution to this spirit of cooperation.

    During his speech, the Russian envoy underlined that the seriousness of the situation on the Korean peninsula and said that his country had asked for the UN Security Council to convene and appoint an envoy to defuse the tension.

    The symposium, opened by Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, was organised by the non-governmental organisa-tion "Greek Union for Atlantic and European Cooperation" under the aegis of NATO's public diplomacy division.

    [09] President Papoulias met with Regional Development Minister Chryssohoidis

    President Karolos Papoulias on Monday was briefed on regional development and competitiveness issues by the regional development and competitiveness minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis.

    Exiting the Presidential Mansion, Chrysohoidis referred to initiatives undertaken by the government aimed at reducing the prices of consumer goods, stressing that this effort will continue and aimed to benefit both businesses and consumers.

    "It would be a mistake if major gaps and divisions are created within the Greek society. We need joint efforts focusing on common interest and social peace," he said characteristically, adding that "the effort will be continuous".

    The regional development and competitiveness minister also stressed that the cabinet has decided to proceed with draft laws that concern the country's development, such as the new investment law, the entrepreneurship and development fund law, the legislation simplifying procedures and the law on competitiveness.

    Financial News

    [10] Plan targets 25 pct cut in social insurance contributions by 2013

    Social insurance contributions are to be cut by up to 25 percent by the year 2013, Alternate Labour and Social Insurance Minister George Koutroumanis announced on Monday at the Economist's Second Social Security Conference in Athens.

    Koutroumanis said that the reduction will begin at 10 percent in the middle of 2011 and inclusion in the measure will be open to businesses that promptly pay their social insurance contributions and have joined the labour ministry's electronic control system for businesses. The system will link businesses up with the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA), the manpower employment agency OAED and the Labour Inspectors' Corps and go online on July 1, 2011, the date when payment of contributions must be made through banks.

    Employees will be recorded in the system using a card based on their social security number that will be used to check when they are in and out of work, their working hours and any other change relating to their work.

    The new system will allow authorities to cross-check information supplied by businesses, initially on a voluntary basis for larger businesses but gradually becoming mandatory for all businesses.

    Koutroumanis explained that the reduction in social insurance contributions will be progressive and linked to the degree with which companies are linked up to the new electronic system, reaching 25 percent in 2013. The reduction will be proportionally divided between the contributions paid by employees and those paid by employers.

    The minister stressed that the reduction will have an adverse effect on the financing of social insurance funds because the new system of electronic monitoring will allow control of undeclared employment that is estimated to cost funds up to 10 billion euros.

    Koutroumanis also reported a 2.5 percent increase in social insurance contributions collected in 2010, or 550 million euro against a target increase of 720 million euro. He stressed that the increase had been achieved in spite of a rise in unemployment and was mainly due to collection of previously uncollected contributions that were owed.

    He noted that the divergence from the target increase in collected contributions was offset by a reduction for the first time in 20 years of spending on health care. This had been reduced by 10 percent or 850 million euro, while there was also a 15 percent reduction in operating costs.

    The ministry budget envisaged a further reduction of 1.4 billion euro in pharmaceutical spending and general spending on health care in 2011, while targeting an increase in contributions by 1.2 billion euro, Koutroumanis added.

    [11] Health minister meets presidents of Pharmaceuticals Societies

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos met on Monday with the presidents of Pharmaceuticals Societies. The main topic of discussion was the opening of the pharmacists' profession. The minister raised another criterion that was also discussed at the cabinet meeting.

    Apart from the return of money from pharmacies to insurance funds, the new stumbling block between pharmacists and the ministry is the possibility of a pharmacist bequeathing the pharmacy's licence to his child, that has gradauated from the Pharmaceutical faculty.

    The ministry stresses that the licence belongs to the state when a pharmacist retires or passes away, while the representatives of the pharmacists reacted with the argument that about a third of them have children studying to become pharmacists with the aim of taking their parents' licence and exercising the profession of a pharmacist.

    However, the ministry intends to maintain what applies until now, meaning that a pahrmacist's widow keeps the pharmacy's licence for five years.

    [12] Brussels on reforms in labour relations in Greece

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA--V.Demiris)

    All elements of labour law in Greece are now in line with the dictates of the Memorandum for the bail-out loans, European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn stated on Monday in Brussels.

    According to the Commission spokesman Amadeo Altafaj, it is now important that the new legislation is implemented by all sides, a procedure that the Commission is watching closely.

    [13] Eurostat on agricultural income in Greece

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/V. Demiris)

    The real agricultural income in Greece decreased by 4.3 percent in 2010 compared to 2009, while among the "27" an increase of 12.3 percent was ascertained, according to data publicised here on Monday by the EU Eurostat statistical service.

    According to the data, agricultural income in Greece in 2010 stands at 85.8 percent of the EU average compared to 2005 and among the "27" it is 110 percent. The most important decreases in agricultural income took place in Romania and Britain (-8.2 percent each), Greece (-4.3 percent) and Italy (-3.3 percent), while the most striking increases in agricultural income occurred in Denmark (+54.8 percent), Estonia (+48.8 percent) and Ireland (+39.1 percent). In general, in 2010 agricultural income increased in 21 member states and decreased in six member states.

    [14] OSE personnel transfer process launched

    The process of internal transfer between public sector agencies, affecting a total of 2,751 Hellenic Railways (OSE) personnel, was formally launched on Monday.

    According to the organization's reform and restructuring plan, the personnel in question are considered redundant to OSE's needs and will be transferred from the loss-making railway organisation to public sector agencies with job openings.

    The Panhellenic Federation of Rail Workers (POS) told ANA-MPA that only a very small number of employees are expected to apply for a transfer because such a decision would be tantamount to resigning from OSE and therefore, the trade union would have no say regarding their treatment.

    POS urged OSE employees not to apply for a transfer and make the process mandatory and involuntary, which will force the government to assume the political responsibility.

    Based on the schedule, the transfer process will have to be completed by Jan. 20, 2011.

    [15] Public transport strikes continue in Athens

    More public transport strikes were announced in Athens throughout the coming week as workers continue protest action against government plans for wage cuts and involuntary staff transfers.

    On Monday, all means of public transport will be on a 24-hour strike, except buses that will run on a reduced schedule until 9:00 pm.

    On Tuesday, Dec. 21 buses, trolleys and trams will be on a four-hour work stoppage between 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm, while the electric railway and the metro will stop running between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. Proastiakos employees will be on a 24-hour strike.

    All means of public transport will be on a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, Dec. 22, the day the state budget will be voted on in parliament.

    On Friday, Christmas Eve, bus service will stop between 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm, while the fixed track public transport means (trains and tram) will not run between 11:00 am and 4:00 pm.

    [16] EBEA, GSEBEE call for suspension of public transport strikes

    The business sector on Monday called for the suspension of public transport strikes over the 10 days of the Christmas and New Year's holiday season, allowing consumers easier access to Athens' commercial centre.

    "The country's businesses and the people are the collateral victims of the confrontation between the government and vested interests," Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) President Constantine Mihalos stressed.

    GSEBEE, the union of small- and medium-sized enterprises, in a letter addressed to the federations and trade unions of public transport employees also appealed for the suspension of the strikes at least for the next 10 days, pointing out that many small businesses are ready to shut down if their revenues do not increase during the holiday season.

    [17] Athens public transport employees change stance partially

    Athens public transport employees on Monday partially changed their stance, also following strong reactions by the commercial world and people relying on public transport.

    Consequently, on Thursday, December 23, all public transport means will operate as normal between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. to enable people to shop in downtown Athens. It is reminded that a four-hour work stoppage had been initially scheduled between 12 and 4 for buses, trolleys and the tram and a five-hour one for the metro and the electric railway between 11 and 4.

    As regards Friday, Christmas Eve, on what mobilisations will be taking place has not been announced officially.

    [18] OTE employees work stoppage on Wednesday

    Hellenic Telecommunication (OTE) employees announced a three-hour work stoppage on Wednesday in order to join protest rallies being organised by the two major trade unions umbrella groups, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) representing the private sector and civil servants' union federation ADED, during the last day of the debate on the 2011 state budget.

    The work stoppage has been scheduled to take place between 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. A protest rally will be held at 1:00 p.m. in Syntagma square, opposite the Greek Parliament.

    [19] Primary teachers' union work stoppage on Wednesday

    The primary school teachers union DOE on Monday announced a two-hour work stoppage on Wednesday, in both the morning and evening shifts in schools. The work stoppage was decided in order to allow DOE members to attend a protest rally being organised at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday by the umbrella trade union groups General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) representing the private sector and the civil servants' union federation ADEDY.

    The rally will take place in Syntagma Square opposite Parliament, on the last day of the debate on the 2011 budget.

    [20] Unemployment up 2.96 pct in November, OAED reports

    Unemployment increased by 2.96 percent in November 2010 relative to October 2010, according to figures released on Monday by the Greek Manpower Employment Agency OAED.

    In the same month, dismissals, expiry of temporary work contracts and voluntary departures from jobs increased 4.2 percent relative to November 2009 and new hirings decreased by 20.52 percent.

    The number of those registered as unemployed with OAED increased to 627,301 and subsidised unemployed numbered 206,779 in November 2010 (an increase of 23,618 or 12.89 percent relative to October 2010).

    According to OAED, the jump in subsidised unemployed was due to fluctuations caused by the firing of those employed in seasonal tourism-sector and the number of 'regular' subsidised unemployed actually decreased by 3.5 percent.

    [21] PASOK MPs cosign question on bank practices toward over-indebted households

    Sixteen ruling PASOK MPs have cosigned a question directed to the labour and finance ministers alleging that specific banks are engaged in practices that systematically violate the law allowing over-indebted Greek households to reschedule their debts with credit institutions.

    According to the General Secretariat for Consumer Affairs, only 5 of the thousands of applications processed so far have been approved.

    The MPs referred to the National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Eurobank and the ministers are called to answer how they intend to oblige credit institutions to observe the law intended to help thousands of over-indebted households and if stricter sanctions for violators will be introduced in supplementary legislation.

    [22] Special weekend air offers by OA

    Olympic Air has introduced a new product to the Greek market allowing its passengers to make last minute bookings with special fares.

    Every Friday, Olympic Air will post 9 selected destinations (3 international and 6 domestic) on its website featuring special weekend air fares.

    Those interested will have to book their flights from Friday until Sunday for travel in the next ten days.

    [23] Stocks take dive on rating cut rumours

    Stocks took a dive on Athens Stock Exchange on Monday as uneasy traders shed bank shares on rumours of that yet another cut in international agency credit ratings for the Greek economy and Greek banks was imminent. The ASE general share price index ended 3.22 percent lower at 1,449.79 points, with turnover at 73.708 million euro.

    The Big Cap index slumped 3.92 pct, with all hi-cap stocks posting losses, the Mid Cap index was lost 2.25 pct and the Small Cap index was down 2.66 pct.

    All sector indices moved lower, with the biggest losses during the session posted by Health (-8.09 pct), Banks (-5.03 pct) and Telecoms (-4.19 pct).

    Decliners led advancers by 135 to 32 with another 36 issues remaining unchanged.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: -1.73%

    Commercial: Unchanged

    Construction: -3.13%

    Media: -0.67%

    Oil & Gas: -1.05%

    Personal & Household: -1.55%

    Raw Materials: -3.20%

    Travel & Leisure: -2.91%

    Technology: -2.59%

    Telecoms: -4.19%

    Banks: -5.03%

    Food & Beverages: -1.28%

    Health: -8.09%

    Utilities: -1.62%

    Chemicals: -2.29%

    Financial Services: -4.72%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Eurobank and Piraeus Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.18

    ATEbank: 0.75

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.25

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.60

    Hellenic Petroleum: 5.78

    National Bank of Greece: 6.48

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.24

    OPAP: 12.60

    OTE: 6.40

    Bank of Piraeus: 3.70

    Titan: 15.82

    [24] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount 2.71 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover falling to 35.598 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,271 contracts worth 21.466 million euros, with 23,920 open positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 36,895 contracts worth 14.132 million euros, with investment interest focusing on GEK's contracts (24,310) followed by National Bank (3,269), Piraeus Bank (3,086), Eurobank (1,993), Alpha Bank (938) and Hellenic Postbank (867).

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.325

    Pound sterling 0.852

    Danish kroner 7.509

    Swedish kroner 9.057

    Japanese yen 110.98

    Swiss franc 1.28

    Norwegian kroner 7.923

    Canadian dollar 1.342

    Australian dollar 1.333

    General News

    [26] Police dismantle major ring of drug dealers

    The Attica drugs squad has dismantled one of the most organised rings of drug dealers operating in Greece, authorities announced on Monday. The ring, which traded in cocaine, hydroponic cannabis and ecstasy, was dismantled using information given to Greek authorities by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) via the U.S. Embassy in Athens.

    Using drugs from Canada hidden inside luxury vehicles imported into Greece, the ring supplied dozens of high-profile clients, including several musicians and models, in Athens, Astros Kynouria and Crete. The DEA had supplied information that a 34-year-old Greek Canadian was involved in dealing cocaine.

    Based on the tip-off, Greek authorities set up a surveillance operation lasting several months. This culminated in a coordinated police operation on Friday that led to the arrest of the Greek-Canadian and eight other people suspected of being his accomplices. These included a Greek-American, six Greek nationals and a French national.

    Authorities have also located the contacts of the ring and the hideouts used for the drugs, which were mainly kept in four garages in Ano Glyfada and other areas of Attica where four private Porsches were also parked.

    Attica Security chief Yiannis Dikopoulos on Monday announced that the ring leader and his accomplices had laundered large sums of money derived from the sale of drugs through real estate deals and stock market transactions.

    The 34-year-old owned shares worth one million euro and police also confiscated the sums of 251,270 euro and 10,000 U.S. dollars in cash, bank books containing deposits of 38,500 euro, 56,500 Canadian dollars and 83,500 U.S. dollars and 18 credit cards.

    Also found and confiscated at the time of the suspects' arrest were 2.392 kilos cocaine, 15.5 kilos hydroponic cannabis, 6,895 ecstasy tablets, two kilos dynamite, two detonators, a slow fuse, an M16 assault rifle, two guns, 75 shells, seven precision scales, five cars, three motorbikes, fake passports and driving licences, fake IDs and 24 cell phones.

    Due to the large sums of money and other assets involved, authorities have also brought in the financial crimes squad to conduct a full financial investigation into the affair.

    The suspects were led before a public prosecutor on Sunday.

    [27] Police discover illicit cannabis plantation

    Two brothers aged 35 and 37 from Kalamata, southern Greece, are suspected to be the owners of a field planted with 510 cannabis plants located in a forest in Georgitsi, Lakonia prefecture, police said on Monday.

    Police found and confiscated 62 kilos of dried cannabis, believed to have come from the nearby plantation, hidden in a hole in a rock in the area.

    A search in the suspects' residence in Kalamata and Neohorio village in Arcadia prefecture, central Peloponnese revealed a gun and two 9mm cartridges, a precision scale, a knife, a stiletto and 72 fire crackers.

    Sparta police have forwarded the case file to the local prosecutor, who must decide whether to issue a warrant for the arrest of the two brothers.

    [28] Drug-dealing ring busted in Thessaloniki

    Thessaloniki police on Monday reported the arrest of five suspected members of a ring supplying drugs to Thessaloniki's drug user population.

    The suspected leader is a 27-year-old Bulgarian that travelled frequently to his country to bring back drugs and then sold them with the aid of his four accomplices, who are between the ages of 22 and 31 years old.

    At the time of their arrest, the five were in possession of 130 grammes of heroin, quantities of illegal narcotic pills, 13 cell phones and a large number of hand-written notes from their sales.

    Thessaloniki police are now also exchanging information with Bulgarian authorities, who have an outstanding European arrest warrant for the 31-year-old suspect for rape and robbery.

    [29] Weapons smuggling ring disbanded

    Attica Drug Squad police, in cooperation with the Antiquities Smuggling Department and the Ioannina Police Department, have disbanded a ring comprised of Albanians and Greeks who brought weapons into the country and used to sell to unidentified buyers.

    Following reports that the weapons were being brought into Greece in the region of Ioannina, three Albanians were detected and arrested and two Greeks, a man and a woman.

    The arrests took place in Ioannina and in Arhanes in the Attica prefecture.

    Altogether, four military rifles, with three magazines and a telescope. A machinegun with a magazine and a telescope, two Kalashnikovs, a double-barrel hunting rifle, 25 grenades, a smokebomb, 11 detonators and 297 cartridges of various calibres were confiscated.

    [30] Fallen rock demolishes house in Tithorea village

    A house was destroyed entirely while another sustained serious damages in the village of Tithorea, central Greece, when a huge rock became detached from Parnassos mountain and fell on them.

    The six people in the house at the time of the incident managed to escape before the rock fell.

    The incident occured a couple of minutes before nine on Sunday night. Scientists and experts are already on their way to the spot.

    A similar incident occured in 1999 at the same village at the feet of Mount Parnassos. Two houses were also destroyed at that time and local authorities, after examining the area, had confirmed the necessity for emergency interventions to stabilize the rocks in order to prevent a similar incident in the future. The expert reports remained on the shelf, however, and the work was never carried out.

    The damaged houses rest on the south side of the village and are right under a complex of rocks which are a constant threat for the village.

    [31] Iranian artists present their works in Athens

    Eight Iranian artists, seven women and one man, will present their works in Athens in an exhibition hosted by the ICCA, an arts-architecture-city planning research company.

    The exhibition entitled "Speak Farsi Greek: Sketching through The Walls" focuses on the evolution of the modern Iranian identity and will run until Feb. 10, 2011.

    The twenty works on display include photographs, paintings and video-art.

    [32] Seven from Keratea released after appearing before magistrate

    Seven people arrested during violent protests opposing plans to build a landfill site in the Athens district of Keratea were released after appearing before an examining magistrate on Monday.

    The seven face felony charges for possession of explosives and causing explosions for their attacks on riot police during the protests. For some the charges are aggravated because their faces were concealed at the time of the attack.

    All seven, among them four brothers, have denied the charges against them.

    The magistrate ordered their release pending trial but ordered them to report to a police station once a month.

    [33] Man fatally injured in skiiing accident

    A 25-year-old man was fatally injured while skiing at the Tria-Pente Pigadia ski resort, police reported on Monday.

    The unlucky skier apparently went off piste and collided with a rock while skiing. He was rushed to the Naoussa hospital by ski resort doctors, where he died shortly afterward.

    [34] Homeless man dies in fire

    A 71-year-old homeless man died late Sunday in a fire that broke out in an Hellenic Railway old warehouse in Xylokastro, northern Peloponnese. Fire Brigade found the man charred after giving a three hour battle with the blaze

    The fire brigade is investigating the causes of the fire.

    [35] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The scheduled opening of a series of closed professions, the continuing mobilisations in public transport, the possibility of new additional austerity measures and new cutbacks in civil servants' salaries, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Another week of hell".

    AVRIANI: "Back to the drachma or else we collapse".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Former prime minister and New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis "bombs" upset ND leader Antonis Samaras".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: " New cuts in benefits".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New income cuts - 25 percent cutbacks in public sector and Public Utilities and Organisations".

    ESTIA: "Society unready for radical changes".

    ETHNOS: "Six burning fronts for the closed professions".

    IMERISSIA: "Final stroke to the market ".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Closed professions on target".

    TA NEA: "Chaos in closed professions".

    VRADYNI: "Government and IMF strangling households and market".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [36] Spokesman: Cyprus' sovereign rights do not concern any other state


    Issues concerning the Republic of Cyprus and its sovereign rights do not fall within the competences of any other state, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou stressed here Monday.

    The spokesman was replying to a question regarding Turkey's adverse reaction to an agreement Cyprus and Israel signed last week to delineate the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between the two countries.

    "The government of Cyprus has been working on this issue methodically and in a concrete way", he said.

    Stephanou stressed that the government works in a way that would safeguard the Republic of Cyprus' sovereign rights in order to conclude agreements that would reinforce those rights. "We are also working to make the most of the advantages that emanate from our sovereign rights," he added.

    He furthermore underlined that "relations between two states concern those two states only".

    Concluding, he welcomed an announcement issued by the Israeli Foreign Ministry regarding Turkey's reaction to the agreement.

    Cyprus has already signed a similar agreement with Egypt with a view to exploit any possible natural gas and oil reserves in its EEZ.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Turkey is the only state in the world which does not recognise the Republic of Cyprus.

    [37] Government confers with UN to reschedule talks


    The government of the Republic of Cyprus is in contact with the United Nations, Government Spokesman has said, referring to the schedule of meetings in the framework of the ongoing UN-led direct negotiations between the leaders of the two communities.

    The meetings, which had been agreed on to take place on specific dates in December, need to be rescheduled, after the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Dervis Eroglu underwent open heart surgery in Ankara on Sunday.

    Asked here Monday if the schedule of the meetings is affected by this development, Stephanou said: "We are not in position to say anything at the moment. We are in contact with the United Nations. If there is specific information and decisions, we will announce them", he said, adding that Tuesday's meeting between President Demetris Christofias and Eroglu has been cancelled.

    However, Stephanou said that meetings between the advisors of the two leaders, George Iacovou and Kudret Ozersay, will take place, as scheduled.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    Peace talks began in September 2008 between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Talks continue now with Eroglu, who succeeded Talat in April this year.

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