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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-01-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

Thursday, 20 January 2011 Issue No: 3699

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM chairs cabinet on closed professions
  • [02] PM chairs meeting on planned actions, interventions
  • [03] PM to announce major photovoltaics investment in Kozani on Thursday
  • [04] Environment minister defends biodiversity bill
  • [05] Gov't flatly rejects speculation of debt restructuring
  • [06] ND attacks financial crimes force chief as 'PASOK functionary'
  • [07] President hosts reception for visiting Armenian counterpart
  • [08] Droutsas and Sikorski discuss EU issues in Warsaw
  • [09] FM: Greece playing significant role in western Balkans' EU course
  • [10] Parliament ratifies bill on investments
  • [11] Changes in ministers' liability law discussed
  • [12] Athens' lawyers reject protest mobilisation
  • [13] Germany to stop returning asylum applicants to Greece
  • [14] Deputy health minister to visit New Zealand, Australia
  • [15] Special judicial council approves prosecutor's recommendation in Vatopedi case
  • [16] Extra tax charge on profits to bring 1.2 bln euros to state coffers
  • [17] Greece-Armenia business forum in Athens
  • [18] Economist Pissarides on Greek economy
  • [19] Industrial new orders up 6.5 pct in Nov.
  • [20] Gov't considers ending civil mobilisation of merchant seamen
  • [21] Stocks jump 4.46% on Wed.
  • [22] Greek bond market closing report
  • [23] ADEX closing report
  • [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday
  • [25] Ancient Feneos on Mt. Kyllini, mythical birthplace of the god Hermes
  • [26] Weapons/drugs arrest in Drama
  • [27] Drug arrest in Patras port
  • [28] Shootout in central Athens, man injured
  • [29] Three arrested in string of petrol station hold-ups
  • [30] Suspects charged with stealing PPC converters
  • [31] Raid on alleged 'black market' warehouse in central Athens
  • [32] The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [33] Spokesman: Turkish positions are problematic Politics

  • [01] PM chairs cabinet on closed professions

    Prime Minister George Papandreou termed as a "historic change" the reforms promoted by the government as regards the opening up of so-called closed professions.

    Chairing a cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the prime minister gave the green light to his ministers that are directly involved in the issue to proceed to the final drafting of a special bill and its tabling in Parliament.

    Premier Papandreou also referred to a bill concerning changes in the functioning of trade unions and the farmers' co-operative societies, which will be discussed during a new cabinet meeting on Thursday.

    Papandreou also said his government "dares in going ahead with reforms the country needs" and reiterated that "this Greece, Greece with these caracteristics, has finished."

    The prime minister referred to the country's opposition parties, expressing hope that they will respond positively to the reforms.

    Papandreou also categorically dismissed scenarios over any restructuring of Greece's debt, requesting at the same time from his ministers to be careful when referring to such issues.

    He also termed as "malicious" and "devious" a relevant German press report.

    Referring to discussions currently held on an European Union level, the Greek premier said developments in the Union are caracterised by "fluidity" and fo this reason Greece must be vigilant.

    "Greece's interest is identical to stability in Europe, "not fiscal stability but the broader stable political course as regards the deepening of the European undertaking," Papandreou added.

    [02] PM chairs meeting on planned actions, interventions

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday chaired a meeting in his office concerning the planning of his actions and interventions over the coming period. Participating in the meeting were Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis, Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, PASOK National Council Secretary Mihalis Karhimakis and PASOK Parliamentary spokesman Petros Efthymiou.

    [03] PM to announce major photovoltaics investment in Kozani on Thursday

    Prime minister George Papandreou will be in the northwestern city of Kozani on Thursday to announce a major investment for the creation of a 200MW photovoltaic electricity production park in the area of Ptolemaida.

    The announcement will be made in the afternoon during an event titled "The developmental course of Western Macedonia in the Energy Sector" co-organised by the Environment Ministry and the Kozani municipality.

    The event will also be addressed by Environment, Energy and Climate Change minister Tina Birbili, Kozani mayor Lazaros Maloutas and Public Power Corporation (PPC) president Arthouros Zervos.

    [04] Environment minister defends biodiversity bill

    Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili on Wednesday stressed that the key change made by her draft bill on biodiversity and construction within areas that are part of the Natura network was actually to abolish powers to divide land segments and legislate for "exceptions" to building restrictions.

    "The boldness in the specific clause for building outside the town plan in Natura areas is in abolishing segmentation and exceptions, not in 4,000 or 10,000 square metres," she said in statements to the radio station Flash.

    The draft bill has come under fire from even ruling PASOK MPs, who strenuously object to measures that would forbid construction on parcels of land smaller than a hectare, instead of the previous rules allowing building on plots up to 4,000 square metres.

    Speaking on the radio, the minister noted that powers to carve up land or pass amendments exempting areas from building code rules had always served to allow suspect transactions between politicians and voters.

    Following opposition from within PASOK, Birbili has tabled a compromise proposal that will allow owners to build on pieces of land up to 4,000 square metres provided that they were owners before the bill becomes law. Once the land is sold, however, the new owners will need at least 10,000 square metres in order to build.

    Replying to criticism that the measure would not encourage growth, Birbili stressed that the economic crisis "cannot serve as an excuse for immobility or preserving things that are considered badly done."

    "If there is something that we must learn from the difficult situation our country is going through, this is that we need to change our way of thinking. In terms of the environment this means that we must open issues that we had not touched in all the previous years," she stressed.

    According to estimates, the new measures will affect large areas of Greece given that the 422 designated Natura areas in the country cover an estimated 25 percent of its expanse.

    [05] Gov't flatly rejects speculation of debt restructuring

    The government on Wednesday again categorically dismissed speculation over any restructuring of the country's entire debt.

    "There is no discussion over a debt restructuring," Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sahinidis told Reuters, and in response to an article by the German publication "Die Zeit", according to which Berlin was examining a plan to restructure the Greek debt.

    The report said the plan envisaged the re-purchase of bonds by Greece through funds offered by a European Support Fund. Reuters said a spokesman for Germany's finance ministry also dismissed the magazine report.

    [06] ND attacks financial crimes force chief as 'PASOK functionary'

    Main opposition New Democracy on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on the head of Greece's SDOE financial crimes force Yiannis Kapeleris, essentially accusing him of being a ruling PASOK party functionary serving the ends of petty party politics.

    "Instead of investigating financial crimes as he ought to, he chooses to systematically obscure things through statements and leaks to the press," said ND Political Committee Secretary Andreas Lykourentzos.

    According to ND, Kapeleris was not presenting specific evidence but cultivating damaging impressions.

    "In his attempt to expose, he is himself exposed," Lykourentzos added.

    The ND Parliamentary group was strongly displeased by articles appearing in the press and the Internet that the SDOE was investigating ND MPs, stressing that this was not the case.

    [07] President hosts reception for visiting Armenian counterpart

    President Karolos Papoulias, addressing his Armenian counterpart Serzh Sargsyan during an official reception hosted in the latter's honour, referred to the EU weaknesses that emerged from the fiscal crisis, Turkey's European prospects, the issue of Cyprus as well as the question of Nagorno-Karabakh.

    Referring to Cyprus, Papoulias again cited the fact the Cyprus problem is the result of invasion and occupation which, as he noted, constitutes a substantive obstacle in EU-Turkey relations.

    [08] Droutsas and Sikorski discuss EU issues in Warsaw

    WARSAW (ANA-MPA - Ch. Poulidou)

    Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski held talks here on Wednesday concerning matters that will occupy the upcoming Polish presidency of the European Union during the second half of 2011.

    The meeting centred on two different 'geographical' priorities and which of them should get precedence: Eastern Partnership or Western Balkans? According to future Polish presidency the answer, with Greece's support, is both.

    Warsaw attaches great importance to developing relations between the EU and east European countries due to its historic ties with that region, while Croatia's EU accession prospect during the term of its presidency also makes it sensitive to matters concerning the western Balkans.

    During the meeting, Droutsas discussed the Agenda 2014 being pushed by Greece for the accession of all western Balkan countries to the EU during that year and also the possibility of a EU-Western Balkans summit during Greece's presidency in the first half of 2014.

    The two sides also talked about Turkey's accession prospects and holding an EU-Turkey summit to examine these honestly and in depth, renew the prospect for full accession and reaffirm Turkey's obligations in order to qualify for full EU membership.

    Both Droutsas and Sikorski agreed that Turkey's accession process was currently at a standstill and that this did not benefit either the EU nor Turkey's candidacy, while it had evident repercussions on the reform process within Turkey.

    During the meeting, the Greek minister outlined efforts being made by the Greek government in order to deal with the economic crisis and Sikorski said that his government was closely following the "successful effort of the Greek government to deal with the very difficult situation it had inherited from its predecessor".

    The two ministers examined bilateral economic cooperation in tourism, with Sikorski noting that Greece was a preferred destination for Polish tourists and Droutsas noting that the level of bilateral cooperation was very good though "there is always room for further improvement".

    Concerning illegal migration, the Greek minister thanked Poland for contributing to the Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABIT) sent by FRONTEX to patrol the Greek-Turkish border and presented the measures, actions and other initiatives taken by Greece to deal with migrants and refugees "in accordance with the obligations arising from international treaties". During his brief visit to Warsaw, Droutsas also met members of the Greek-Polish friendship Parliamentary group.

    [09] FM: Greece playing significant role in western Balkans' EU course

    BELGRADE (ANA-MPA / N. Pelpas)

    The European integration process of the western Balkans needs a new momentum, Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas pointed out in an interview in the newspaper Novosti.

    "Greece has promoted certain initiatives toward this direction. Agenda 2014 is the most important considering that it has created a new momentum in the EU in favor of the European integration of the Western Balkan region," he stressed.

    Droutsas pointed out that the "first important step was made with the decision of the Council of Ministers to seek the European Commission's opinion on Serbia's request to acquire an EU accession candidate status."

    Droutsas also said "Greece jointly with Bulgaria have assumed the responsibility for the EU accession of the neighboring states," and assured that both countries work intensively on the promotion of the idea and on the EU enlargement to include the western Balkan region.

    In the interview, Droutsas reiterated that Greece's position as regards Kosovo is unchanged. He also pointed out that the decisions of the Council of Ministers last December respect the fact that there are different positions among the EU states on the issue of Kosovo.

    [10] Parliament ratifies bill on investments

    A Parliament plenum on Wednesday ratified, in principle, a draft bill on the support of private investments and growth (Investment Law). Both ruling PASOK and main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputies voted in favour of the bill.

    Minister of Development Mihalis Chryssohoidis said the bill aims to improve the quality of investments, increase of productivity, support of businesses' extroversion, economic effectiveness and regional cohesion.

    [11] Changes in ministers' liability law discussed

    Changes in the controversial law regarding the liability of ministers were discussed by a ministerial council on Wednesday.

    Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis is expected to outline changes in the law, which prevents criminal prosecution of ministers, in several instances, of alleged cases wrongdoing within the course of exercising their duties.

    [12] Athens' lawyers reject protest mobilisation

    Attorneys in Athens will not participate in the three-day abstention from duties (Jan. 19, 20 and 21) called by Bar Associations across Greece, who are protesting against the government-sponsored liberalisation of their profession, the Athens Bar Association announced on Wednesday.

    According to a decision, consultations with the ministries of justice and finance will continue and the Athens Bar's future stance will depend on their outcome. The Athens Bar Association is, by far, the largest such association in Greece.

    [13] Germany to stop returning asylum applicants to Greece

    BERLIN (ANA-MPA - G. Pappas)

    A spokesman for German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere on Wednesday announced that Germany has stopped returning refugees to Greece and is now processing asylum applications itself.

    The decision is effective immediately and for one year, after which Greece is expected to have made significant improvements in its procedures for processing asylum applications. Similar decisions have been made by Sweden, the United Kingdom, Iceland and Norway.

    During the past year Germany returned 2458 refugees to other countries but only 55 of these were returned to Greece. In 1281 cases the asylum process was carried out in Germany while the rest took their case before German courts.

    [14] Deputy health minister to visit New Zealand, Australia

    Greece's deputy Health and Social Solidarity Minister Christos Aidonis, in charge of sports and diet issues, is to have a series of meetings during a visit to New Zealand and Australia. Aidonis is accompanying the Greek mission to the IPC Athletic World Championships during its stay in New Zealand.

    Among others, he will meet International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven and European Paralympic Committee President John Peterssen for talks focusing mainly on naming Patras as the seat of the International Paralympic Academy.

    Aidonis is also due to meet the political leadership of the New Zealand health ministry to discuss issues within his portfolio.

    The deputy minister will also visit Australia and hold talks in Sydney with Austrian Archbishop Stylianos and Greek community reporters. In Canberra he will meet the head of the Australian Sports Commission and he will be briefed by the Australian health ministry on issues of diet and food inspection.

    [15] Special judicial council approves prosecutor's recommendation in Vatopedi case

    A five-member special judicial council on Wednesday unanimously approved of a prosecutor's recommendation to throw out a breach of trust against the state charge against former New Democracy (ND) ministers Petros Doukas, Alexandros Kontos and Evangelos Basiakos in relation to the Vatopedi land swap case, written off under the statute of limitations, according to sources.

    The ruling will be formally issued in early February, citing that the Parliament should have checked if the offences with which the former ministers were charged fell under the statute of limitations before referring them to the judicial council.

    According to the council's decision, the offence with which they were charged has been written off after the Parliament dissolved on Sept. 7, 2009.

    The council also ruled that the questioning of alleged accomplices and non political figures should continue by examining magistrate Irini Kalou.

    Former premier Karamanlis denies article claiming that he will not run for Parliament

    Aides of former prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday strenuously denied claims posted on an Internet site, according to which Karamanlis has decided not to run for Parliament in the next elections.

    "This is all fiction and there has been no such discussion," Karamanlis' aides said.

    Financial News

    [16] Extra tax charge on profits to bring 1.2 bln euros to state coffers

    An extra tax charge on profit-making enterprises for 2010 will bring revenues totaling 1.21 billion euros to state coffers, with the first tranche of this "extraordinary" tax charge expected to be paid by Jan. 31, a finance ministry announcement stated on Wednesday.

    The extra tax charge will be paid by all enterprises with a net income or net profits more than 100,000 euros. The report said that a total of 20,010 companies met this criterion in 2010, while only 16,922 will have to pay this tax.

    The extra tax charge can be paid in 12 equal monthly payments of no less than 1,000 euros.

    The report showed that 11,904 companies reported net profits between 100,000 and 300,000 euros last year, another 3,571 companies reported net profits of between 300,000 and 1,000,000, while another 1,146 enterprises reported net profits of between 1.0 million and 5.0 million euros. Only 301 enterprises reported net profits of more than five million euros.

    [17] Greece-Armenia business forum in Athens

    The inaugural Greece-Armenia Business Forum, held within the framework of the Armenian president's visit to Athens this week, serves as a major opportunity to boost bilateral economic relations and promote Greece's rapprochement with the Black Sea region, Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis said on Wednesday.

    Opening the conference, hosted by Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), he said that "we are two countries that share political and cultural ties," underlining that bilateral economic relations can improve further. He also said that the business forum is an opportunity for Greek and Armenian entrepreneurs to forge closer cooperation in sectors such as energy, transports, trade and construction.

    Armenian Economy Minister Tigran Davtyan stressed that his country's economy is orientated toward the EU and that Greece serves as a "window" to the European Union. He also referred to the European Neighborhood Policy and the signing of a cooperation protocol, underlining that the target is macro-economic stability and the implementation of Maastricht criteria.

    [18] Economist Pissarides on Greek economy

    NICOSIA (ANA-MPA/A.Viketos)

    Cypriot Economist Christopher Pissarides, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2010, said here on Wednesday that Greece will succeed in overcoming its present economic crisis and enter a new path of growth.

    Speaking during a press conference held at the Cyprus University and responding to a relevant question by the ANA-MPA, Pissarides said:

    "As I can see there is determination on the part of the Greek government, which is advancing on the right path. I do not think that it (the country) will go through a new crisis, unless something unexpected happens which we can not see now."

    "A great deal of work is needed and mostly long-term reforms are necessary for an exit from the current crisis," Pissarides added.

    [19] Industrial new orders up 6.5 pct in Nov.

    Greece's industrial new orders composite index (measuring both the domestic and external markets) grew 6.5 pct in November 2010, compared with the same month in 2009, after a decline of 11.7 pct recorded in the previous 12-month period, Hellenic Statistical Authority said on Wednesday.

    The statistics service, in a report, attributed this positive development to a 6.7 pct decline in the domestic market index and a 26.6 pct jump in the external market index in November.

    The turnover index in the industrial sector grew 9.5 pct in November, compared with the same month in 2009, after a decline of 10.2 pct recorded in the previous 12-month period. The statistics service attributed this development to a 6.5 pct decline in turnover in the mining sector and a 9.7 pct increase in the manufacturing sector. Turnover in the domestic market was down 2.7 pct, while turnover in the external market soared 42.8 pct in November.

    [20] Gov't considers ending civil mobilisation of merchant seamen

    Maritime Affairs, Islands & Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis on Wednesday referred to merchant marine issues as well as to the issue of the ongoing civil mobilisation of merchant seamen, stressing that he is ready to propose an end to the measure if seamen and ship-owners reach an agreement.

    Addressing an event hosted by the Masters and Mates Union of the Greek Merchant Marine (PEPEN), he said the civil mobilisation of merchant seamen -- ordered on Nov. 29, 2010 -- was not an easy decision.

    The maritime affairs ministry on Nov. 29, 2010 announced the civil mobilisation of merchant seamen serving in the domestic coastal shipping sector. The announcement was made following a decision by the seamen's union, PNO, to continue their strike for an eighth day, disrupting vessel traffic in all Greek ports.

    PNO demanded the signing of a new collective bargaining agreement for seamen working in ferries and freighters up to 500 DWTs, as well as a guarantee for dockworkers' jobs, amongst others.

    [21] Stocks jump 4.46% on Wed.

    Stocks soared on Wednesday, pushing the composite index of the market above the 1,500 level at the Athens Stock Exchange.

    Market analysts attributed this advance to speculation - dismissed by the Greek government - over a restructuring of the Greek debt, and discussion of more favourable tax legislation for enterprises.

    The index jumped 4.46 pct to end at 1,507.40 points, with turnover rising to 123.130 million euros. The Big Cap index jumped 4.80 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 2.76 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 3.74 pct.

    All sector indices ended higher, with the Health (13.74 pct), Banks (5.81 pct) and Food/Beverage (5.72 pct) recording the biggest percentage gains of the day. Alapis (21.05 pct), Lavipharm (16.28 pct), Kreka (12.5 pct), Nafpaktos Spin Mills (10 pct) were major gainers, while Elsbisco (15.56 pct), Olympic Catering (9.68 pct) and Vioter (9.09 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +3.12%

    Industrials: +1.31%

    Commercial: +5.12%

    Construction: +3.44%

    Media: +2.13%

    Oil & Gas: +3.37%

    Personal & Household: +0.23%

    Raw Materials: +5.64%

    Travel & Leisure: +3.38%

    Technology: +3.08%

    Telecoms: +2.28%

    Banks: +5.81%

    Food & Beverages: +5.72%

    Health: +13.74%

    Utilities: +3.05%

    Chemicals: +3.95%

    Financial Services: +5.03%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 3.89

    ATEbank: 0.77

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.19

    HBC Coca Cola: 21.28

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.35

    National Bank of Greece: 6.70

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 3.89

    OPAP: 13.83

    OTE: 7.18

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.57

    Titan: 15.99

    [22] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened again to 837 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 821 bps on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.47 pct and the German Bund 3.10 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 52 million euros, of which 36 million were sell orders and the remaining 16 million euros were buy orders.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.55 pct, the six-month rate 1.25 pct, the three-month 1.01 pct and the one-month rate 0.78 pct.

    [23] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.67 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover rising to 57.808 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 13,897 contracts worth 47.344 million euros, with 30,491 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 22,506 contracts worth 10.464 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (7,377), followed by Eurobank (1,995), MIG (842), OTE (562), Piraeus Bank (4,713), Alpha Bank (2,216), Mytilineos (505), Cyprus Bank (1,072) and Hellenic Postbank (618).

    [24] Foreign Exchange rates - Thursday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.361

    Pound sterling 0.850

    Danish kroner 7.510

    Swedish kroner 9.004

    Japanese yen 111.74

    Swiss franc 1.306

    Norwegian kroner 7.888

    Canadian dollar 1.349

    Australian dollar 1.353

    General News

    [25] Ancient Feneos on Mt. Kyllini, mythical birthplace of the god Hermes

    The ancient city of Feneos lies next to the modern-day city of the same name in Corinth prefecture, and features the ruins of fortresses and a wall.

    Ancient Feneos is situated on a plateau the foot of Mt. Kyllini, better known to locals as Mt. Zireia, the mythical birthplace of the god Hermes, and in antiquity was part of the Arcadian region.

    It served in antiquity as an important cult center for the god Hermes, particularly during the annual Hermaea festival.

    The region was inhabited since the Neolithic Age until the Roman Age. The history is present, everywhere. The ruins of Ancient Feneos are found next to the modern village of Feneos, which hosts a folk museum.

    Nestled between the peaks of Greater Zireia and Lesser Zireia is the Cave of Hermes, where Zeus and the nymph Maea, daughter of Atlas, found refuge from Zeus' wife Hera and where Maea gave birth to Hermes.

    The sloped cave is located at an altitude of 1,700 meters and comprises 8 chambers.

    The nearby valley of Flambouritsa is an idyllic biotope protected under the Natura 2000.

    [26] Weapons/drugs arrest in Drama

    A 30-year-old man was arrested in Drama on Tuesday night after he pulled a gun against a team of police officers conducting a search for drugs.

    The man is facing charges of illegal possession and use of weapons, drug trafficking, and resisting authority.

    During an ongoing investigation, it was revealed that the detainee had sold narcotic substances to an acquaintance, and drug squad police went to the Aghia Paraskevi village, together with a judicial functionary and a sniffer dog, to search the 30-year-old's house and to arrest him.

    The 30-year-old refused the search and loaded a gun, which he turned on the police officers. After repeated police call calls to surrender, the suspect pointed the pistol to his own head and threatened to commit suicide if he was not allowed to flee and moved quickly out of the door into the yard, where he was again asked to surrender.

    When police attempted to intercept him, the man once again turned the gun on them.

    Police fired warning shots in the air to convince him to surrender, but he pulled the gun on them again and one of the officers shot him in the leg to prevent him from opening fire.

    The suspect was taken to the Drama General Hospital with two bullet wounds in the legs and was reported in good condition.

    A search of the house revealed a loaded Tokarev 7.62mm pistol and ammunition, 3.1 grams of cannabis, a precision scale, 275 euros in cash in proceeds from drug sales, a cell phone, and a quantity of gun lubricants.

    [27] Drug arrest in Patras port

    A 36-year-old foreign national was arrested Wednesday in the western port of Patras on drug trafficking charges.

    The man was arrested by port police as he attempted to board an Italy-bound ferry after six packets containing cannabis, weighing a total 6.5 kilos, were found concealed in his suitcase.

    An investigation was underway to locate possible accomplices.

    [28] Shootout in central Athens, man injured

    Two unidentified individuals shot and injured an Albanian man sitting at a coffee shop in the Gyzi area of central Athens at around noon on Wednesday.The incident occurred at the junction of Panagiotarea and Lombardou streets in the city.

    According to the coffee shop owner, another Albanian national, he saw two people approach, open fire on the victim and then flee after they had injured him.

    The injured man left the coffee shop on his own and walked a few metres down the road before collapsing. Passers-by then picked him up and took him by taxi to Elpis Hospital where he is now being treated for his injuries.

    Police believe the incident was a settling of accounts with the victim and are now conducting an investigation to discover the motives for the attack and locate the culprits.

    [29] Three arrested in string of petrol station hold-ups

    Three Albanian nationals, aged 22 to 30, were arrested Tuesday night by Thessaloniki security police charged with a series of hold-ups at petrol stations.

    Two of the suspects were arrested as they attempted to hold up a petrol station at the 14th kilometer of the Thessaloniki-Edessa interstate highway, while the third Albanian was arrested later.

    The detainees are charged with at least four other armed robberies at petrol stations in the last three weeks.

    They will be taken before a public prosecutor, while the investigation was continuing for possible accomplices.

    [30] Suspects charged with stealing PPC converters

    Police on Wednesday announced the arrest of two people who allegedly destroyed Public Power Corp. (PPC) power converters to steal copper cables they sold for scrap.

    The two suspects, a 21-year-old local man and a 39-year-old Albanian national, as well as a third individual, who managed to flee during a police operation in a rural region in Viotia prefecture, south-central Greece, on Tuesday night, allegedly destroyed a total of 15 PPC power converters over the past 20 days.

    The damaged devices were used in the operation of Athens Water Supply and Sewerage Company (EYDAP SA) irrigation pumping stations serving local farmers.

    PPC and EYDAP damages totaled 150,000 euros and 200,000 euros respectively.

    [31] Raid on alleged 'black market' warehouse in central Athens

    A major police operation was underway at noon (local time) in central Athens following a raid on an eight-storey building reportedly serving as a warehouse and transport hub for fake brand name products and items peddled by illegal migrant street hawkers.

    A municipal crew from the City of Athens and officials from the financial crimes squad (SDOE) were also part of the raid.

    An initial report cites a massive quantity of bootleg goods stored in the building, which is located on Pireos street.

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

    The new income tax statement form, the economy and an environment ministry bill on biodiversity were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Wednesday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "What will be in force for the receipts".

    AVGHI: "Votes by the...acre".

    AVRIANI: "Parliamentary fact-finding commission on Siemens scandal preparing to issue report/farce".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New 'rocket' by Pangalos turns wreaks havoc in government and on spreads".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The 78 changes to the income tax statement".

    ESTIA: "Output in public sector declining".

    ETHNOS: "The secrets to filling out the income tax statement".

    IMERISSIA: "The traps of the new income tax statement".

    KATHIMERINI: "Opposition from inside ruling PASOK to the Birbili (environment minister) bill".

    LOGOS: "Hour of judgment for Siemens".

    NIKI: "Who are putting up obstacles to the salvation and why".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "Package solution being prepared for eurozone and Greece".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Heavy 'iron boot' making the people poorer".

    TA NEA: "IKA-insured workers may also go to private doctors (who enter into a relevant agreement) with IKA".

    VRADYNI: "The social security funds collapsing".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [33] Spokesman: Turkish positions are problematic

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The positions submitted by the Turkish Cypriot side on the Cyprus problem are problematic, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said on Wednesday, and expressed hope that during the meeting between the leaders of the two communities on Friday there would be a revisal of the stance and behaviour of the Turkish Cypriot side at the talks for a settlement.

    After Wednesday's meeting of the National Council, which is the top advisory body to the President of the Republic on the handling of the Cyprus problem and comprises parliamentary party leaders and representatives, Stephanou read out a Council statement, saying that President Demetris Christofias briefed the members of the Council on developments since November 18, 2010, when the leaders of the two communities met in New York with the UN Secretary General.

    Emphasis was given to recent developments at the negotiations between President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, and especially the proposals submitted by the Turkish Cypriot side, and an exchange of views followed.

    Asked if a joint stance was agreed on during the meeting, in view of the meeting in Geneva on January 26 between the leaders of the two communities and the UN Secretary General, Stephanou said that the positions submitted by the Turkish Cypriot side were problematic.

    ''We hope that during the meeting on Friday there will be a revisal of this stance and behaviour of the Turkish Cypriot side at the negotiations, because the Greek Cypriot side is working to meet the call of the Secretary General, as defined in the New York statement, to reach convergences at the negotiating table. The President of the Republic is working very decisively and very constructively to make this happen,'' he added.

    Replying to other questions, Stephanou said that ''the basis of negotiations is there, it has been reaffirmed and agreed on since the beginning of the direct negotiations, and this basis of a solution is in UN resolutions.''

    Regarding the issue of the fenced-off town of Famagusta, Stephanou said the Government's position was well-known on the issue and that ''Famagusta is included in the triptych of proposals the President of the Republic has submitted, whish is a proposal based on UN resolutions and decisions concerning Famagusta.''

    He also pointed out that the issue of Famagusta was also included in the high level agreement of 1979 between the then leaders of the two communities, President Spyros Kyprianou and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    ''This proposal has particular specifications and we are working for their implementation,'' he said, adding that this issue was also placed before Turkey, since the resolutions were before Turkey, in order to create, under UN auspices, the preconditions for the return of the legitimate citizens of Famagusta.

    Stephanou said that ''we included in our proposal the issue of the port in such a manner that the EU could implement that, which it wants, without violating the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, meaning the development of the relations of the Turkish Cypriots with the EU and at the same time, as long as Turkey responds to this totally fair and reasonable position, it can pursue the opening of chapters.''

    Cyprus, which joined the EU in 2004, has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    President Christofias and Eroglu are currently engaged in UN-led negotiations with an aim to reunify the island.

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