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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-02-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Tuesday, 8 February 2011 Issue No: 3715


  • [01] PM chairs meeting on illegal immigration
  • [02] Gov't: 'No special legalization of illegal migrants
  • [03] PM to meet with KKE leader on migration issue
  • [04] Gov't on 'competitiveness pact'
  • [05] ND criticises government
  • [06] Samaras confers with central bank chief
  • [07] ND leader Samaras to meet ECB president Trichet Wednesday
  • [08] Government spokesman on purchase of four submarines
  • [09] DM on German magazine's report
  • [10] LA.OS on doctors' strike; PM's cancelled trip to Egypt; Der Spiegel claims
  • [11] Bakoyannis on former PM; ND; migration problem
  • [12] Gov't: Troika did not request new measures in labour market
  • [13] Minister meets with 'troika' representatives
  • [14] ECB urges Greece to strictly adhere to economic convergence programme
  • [15] Culture & Tourism Minister on visit to Israel
  • [16] No issue of raising retirement ages in Greece
  • [17] Gov't announces drastic cuts in road toll fees
  • [18] Cyprus and Greece a favourable market for investment, says Greek minister
  • [19] Farmers' groups again threaten mobilisations
  • [20] Farmers arrested at Promahonas
  • [21] Foreign investors boost participation in ASE
  • [22] Stocks end down on Mon.
  • [23] Greek bond market closing report
  • [24] ADEX closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday
  • [26] 'Belle Epoque' exhibition at Athens National Gallery
  • [27] Hungarian Embassy event at Athens Concert Hall
  • [28] Loznitsa, Trestikova to be honored at Thessaloniki festival
  • [29] Off-duty special guard killed, passenger seriously injured, in shooting in Kallithea
  • [30] H1N1 victims reach 34
  • [31] Drug arrest
  • [32] Metro, tram, train stoppages on Tuesday
  • [33] Fair on Tuesday
  • [34] The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance
  • [35] Turkish Cypriots continue protests against Turkish policy towards occupied areas in Cyprus
  • [36] Spokesman: People of Cyprus will be benefited by a solution
  • [37] Government does not confirm tripartite meeting on Cyprus in Davos Politics

  • [01] PM chairs meeting on illegal immigration

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday chaired a meeting of several ministers in Parliament on the growing spectre of illegal immigration.

    The main issue, according to government assessments, is to retrieve illegal migrants from "obscurity", and arrive at a figure, while proposals were also made on the imposition of tougher sanctions on employers hiring illegal immigrants.

    The government's position is for the various categories and cases of immigrants to be evaluated, including those who are in a "state of tolerance" (residence over a brief period of time), while also taking into consideration the fact that several foreign embassies in Athens are not assisting transient illegal migrants, who are also nationals of the countries represented by those embassies.

    On the question of the repatriation of illegals to their home countries, the government's volition is for the law to be implemented.

    [02] Gov't: 'No special legalization of illegal migrants

    The government, through spokesman Giorgos Petalotis, on Monday rejected any ideas of group or individual legalisation of illegal migrants in violation of existing laws.

    "There will be no group or special term legalisation if the preconditions set by the legislation are not met, and we will not give way because no action can blackmail the Greek state and overturn the lawfulness of its actions," Petalotis stressed, speaking at a scheduled press briefing.

    He made the comment in response to a question on whether the government is seeking a formula to proceed with the adoption of a special regulation for illegal migrants who meet the criteria to become legal but were unable to collect the necessary work stamps to renew their residency permit.

    "The issues that arise are being studied always keeping public interest in mind," he said, adding that "laws will be observed".

    [03] PM to meet with KKE leader on migration issue

    Prime minister George Papandreou will meet on Tuesday afternoon with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga for a discussion on the migration problem.

    According to a KKE announcement, Papariga asked for the meeting with Papandreou, which has been scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) so as to set out her party's positions and proposals on the migration issue.

    [04] Gov't on 'competitiveness pact'

    "Intense efforts by the government and the struggles and sacrifices of the people had as a result to put our fiscal issues in order, regain our credibility and win the necessary time allowing us to promote the major reforms the country needs," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis stressed on Monday.

    He pointed out that "we have entered the phase of the materialization of the major structural reforms that will change for ever the country's picture and the people's daily lives", adding that the reforms were "incorporated into the government's programme without any outside being pressured by outside factors."

    Petalotis stated it is premature for the government to take a stance as regards the "competitiveness pact" package of measures because they are still being processed at least until the next Summit meeting in March unless an extraordinary summit is held in the meantime.

    Responding to a relevant question, he ruled out the possibility of private sector employees losing their 13th and 14th salaries (half-salary Easter and summer vacation bonuses and full-salary Christmas bonus).

    Asked if the government has processed a proposal to constitutionally guarantee fiscal balance, Petalotis said that it is too soon, considering that the EU Summit meeting ended last Friday.

    Referring to the premier's intention to visit Egypt, Petalotis said EU partners were notified about the prime minister's visit and stressed that his trip was postponed and not cancelled. The exact time of his visit will be decided depending on the developments, he pointed out.

    [05] ND criticises government

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) severely criticized the government on Monday, during a regular briefing by its press spokesman Yiannis Michelakis.

    The ND press officer criticized deputy finance minister Filippos Sahinidis' recent invitation to the political parties to submit their proposals on the economy, and in particular the latter's statement that the parties do not have the correct figures at their disposal, and countered: "The figures that the parties have are the figures that have been officially released".

    Michelakis also reiterated that ND has already submitted "full and very specific" proposals.

    "PASOK cannot say that there are no proposals," he said, and charged that the prime minister is following a "policy of asphyxiation that is destroying the country's social fabric".

    [06] Samaras confers with central bank chief

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras met on Monday with Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos to discuss the Greek economy.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Samaras said that they discussed the problems faced by the Greek economy, as well as the stability and liquidity of the banking system.

    "The market is thirsting for liquidity," Samaras added.

    [07] ND leader Samaras to meet ECB president Trichet Wednesday

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras will be meeting European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet in Frankfurt on Wednesday.

    The ND leader will also visit Madrid next week where he will be holding talks with Spain's opposition Popular Party leader Mariano Rajoy.

    [08] Government spokesman on purchase of four submarines

    Government Spokesman George Petalotis, commenting on Monday on a report in the German "Spiegel" magazine concerning the purchase of four submarines, said "it is a very important issue for our country, becuase it has to do with 'black' money. Already, however, this case is being investigated by Justice, the Financial Crime Unit (SDOE) which is doing a very considerable job in depth, by the National Defence ministry in cooperatiopn with the Finance Ministry and all these actions have to do with the protection of national and public interest."

    The spokesman further said "nothing will remain, as far as we are concerned, that will not be revealed," adding that "of course when it is a matter of money of the Greek people we ensure that the truth will emerge."

    [09] DM on German magazine's report

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos, commenting on Monday on a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel on Navy submarine contracts, stressed that "provided that the Hellenic State's demands are substantiated for compensation due to punitive damages or wrongful action, they shall be raised as soon as possible."

    Ha added that with a recent law, firstly, the further participation of the Ferrostal company has been expressly ruled out due to the pending issues under investigation, secondly, the mechanism of offset benefits that possibly functioned as a corridor for untransparent payments has been abolished and thirdly, strict transparency clauses have been enacted that will operate throughout the contract's entire period and allow the Hellenic state to carry out all necessary checks regarding payments for subcontractorships, advisers' remuneration, etc.

    [10] LA.OS on doctors' strike; PM's cancelled trip to Egypt; Der Spiegel claims

    The opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) on Monday indirectly rejected an ongoing strike by physicians at state-run hospitals and funds, pointing out that the current crisis demands "joint response".

    Referring to the premier's cancelled trip to Egypt, the LA.OS statement mentioned that it was a mistake on behalf of the prime minister to announce his intention to visit the Mideast country.

    Finally, in reference to a "Der Spiegel" report alleging that kickbacks were received in Greece for the purchase of German submarines, the statement mentioned that party leader George Karatzaferis had referred to the issue addressing Parliament on July 2, 2010.

    [11] Bakoyannis on former PM; ND; migration problem

    Independent MP Dora Bakoyannis on Monday referred to a number of issues, speaking to reporters at her party's offices.

    On the stance adopted by former PM Costas Karamanlis, she stated that he will decide when he will speak about his term in office and that she respects his choice and won't comment on it.

    Bakoyannis characterized as a strategic political mistake by main opposition New Democracy (ND) the issue of former PM Costas Simitis' referral to a parliamentary preliminary investigation committee, adding that the trial of late PM Andreas Papandreou was also a historical mistake.

    Bakoyannis did not rule out a future cooperation with PASOK and announced that her party will vote in favour of the draft law on public transports with the exception of certain articles, adding that the draft law on the health sector will be voted down.

    On the illegal migration problem, she underlined that Greece must convince Europe that "the inflow of illegal migrants cannot be continued".

    Financial News

    [12] Gov't: Troika did not request new measures in labour market

    Troika experts on Monday urged greater flexibility in the Greek labour market, during a meeting with the political leadership of the labour and social insurances ministry.

    The representatives of the IMF, ECB and the European Commission asked for measures to promote work time and limited time contracts, which are commitments included in a memorandum signed between Greece and the troika. The ministry, conversely, views current regulations as adequate, with more negotiation is expected on the issue.

    The troika members did not ask for any new legislative initiatives, nor set timetables, although discussions were set to continue on a technical level and the troika could present more specific proposals during their next meeting in three months.

    Ministry officials stressed there was a "red line" covered by European labour laws, which was generally accepted by the troika delegation. Both sides confirmed their will to promote implementation of new legislation on signing business labour contracts. Ministry officials, however, noted that the government was determined to insist on safeguarding the collective representation of employees in negotiations over signing such contracts.

    They also said the troika representatives accepted reports on the viability of the pension system, which meant that there would be no changes in the basic pension rate.

    [13] Minister meets with 'troika' representatives

    The meeting of Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis with visiting troika (IMF-ECB-EU) representatives on Monday focused on actions that are being implemented and on initiatives aimed at improving the country's business environment.

    Among the issues highlighted by the troika as urgent were the simplification of procedures for business operation licensing currently in the process of being co-signed by the responsible ministries; the implementation of the one-stop-shop service (for new business licensing) no later than April and the establishment of a framework of operation for the Single Authority for Public Contracts which is expected to be ready soon.

    Chryssohoidis stressed that the first tenders within the framework of the 2.15-billion-euro new investment law, of which 650 million euros will be subsidies and the remaining amount tax exemptions, will be announced on March 15.

    As regards the national brand for Greek exports, he stressed that Greece's presence in foreign markets is being planned by Hellenic Foreign Trade Board (HEPO), Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) and Invest in Greece representatives.

    The price reduction agreement will be implemented in all sectors, Chryssohoidis stressed while the effort to eradicate monopolies in the Greek market continues. A relevant draft law aimed at reforming the Competition Commission will be submitted to Parliament next week.

    Before the end of the week, an invitation will be issued to the banks to participate in the National Entrepreneurship Development Fund (ETEAN) while referring to National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF), he said that the absorption rate has already been increased, adding that 11 instead of 10 projects, with an estimated budget of 4.65 billion euros, will be funded by NSRF.

    [14] ECB urges Greece to strictly adhere to economic convergence programme

    BRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / V. Demiris)

    European Central Bank (ECB) president Jean-Claude Trichet on Monday underlined the need for Greece to strictly adhere to an economic convergence programme agreed to with the so-called EU-ECB-IMF "troika".

    Addressing the European Parliament's economic affairs commission in his capacity as chairman of a newly created European Systemic Risk Council (ESRC), Trichet said that in order to restore confidence in the economy, it was necessary to fully implement the programme approved by the IMF, the ECB and the European Commission.

    The troika was monitoring progress of the Greek programme on a quarterly basis, while concrete answers are necessary, Trichet said.

    He said European authorities are examining, in depth, ideas on resolving Greece's debt crisis and stressed that what is at stake was the stability of the eurozone, as "contamination in one state could expand to others".

    [15] Culture & Tourism Minister on visit to Israel

    Culture & Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos will be on a two-day visit to Israel on Tuesday, focusing on the promotion of Greek tourist destinations, cruises and the "Thessaloniki crossroads of cultures" programme.

    On Tuesday Geroulanos will address the opening of the 17th International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) in Tel Aviv. In the afternoon of the same day, he will meet with his Israeli counterpart Stas Misezhnikov and afterwards he will give a radio interview.

    On Wednesday he is scheduled to meet with representatives of major mass media and tour operators in Israel.

    At noon, the minister will visit Jerusalem and meet with Patriarch Theophilos III.

    [16] No issue of raising retirement ages in Greece

    There is no issue or raising the retirement ages, alternate labor minister George Koutroumanis assured on Monday, referring to press information that Germany is pressuring the EU countries in that direction in the context of the proposal for a "competitiveness pact".

    Speaking on a private radio station, Koutroumanis explained that the measures being asked of other countries have, to a very great degree, already been incorporated in Greece in the new social security law passed in the summer of 2010, and consequently there is no issue for Greece regarding retirement ages.

    [17] Gov't announces drastic cuts in road toll fees

    The road toll fees for under-construction stretches of highways will be drastically cut, Deputy Infrastructure, Transport & Networks Minister Yiannis Magriotis announced on Monday, stressing that reductions could be as a high as 50 pct in certain cases.

    Magriotis said the second phase of negotiations with consortia holding national motorway concessions, as well as financing banks, will be completed by the end of the week, while only certain technical issues remain to be discussed. The two sides also examine the introduction of discounts for frequent users and special discounts for residents of local communities along toll way routes.

    The deputy minister underlined that consortia acknowledge the problem and have even suggested solutions as opposed to their stance a short while ago.

    Referring to a ministry-sponsored legislative regulation, he said it will not be punitive in nature but will function as a deterrent for those refusing to pay road tolls.

    A press conference of the concessionaires that have undertaken the construction of five national motorways will be held on Tuesday.

    [18] Cyprus and Greece a favourable market for investment, says Greek minister


    GreeK Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis has described as especially positive the prospects of investment and business ventures between Cyprus and Greece, despite the slight decline due to the lagging economy.

    Addressing Monday a business forum in Cyprus entitled "Cyprus: A bridge between the EU and Arab countries", Kouvelis said that Greece, just as Cyprus, can enable one to become active in the Balkans, the Black Sea and Western Europe.

    He said since its accession to the EU and the Eurozone, Cyprus has a strategic position and its role, as a developed Mediterranean economy, is strengthened as it becomes a business bridge between the EU, Asia and Africa.

    Kouvelis said that it is clear in this course, the solution to the Cyprus issue could play a key role and this is an added reason why Greece actively supports the efforts of the government of Cyprus.

    "The aim is for Cyprus to become an island of stability, peace and progress, for all communities", he added.

    Referring to the economic and business relations of the two countries, Kouvelis said that they are on a upward course and this is reflected in bilateral commerce, as well as investments and tourism.

    He noted that there are excellent prospects for cooperation with Cyprus in the energy field, adding that the search for new international cooperation in the sector is of strategic significance for Greece while cooperation with Cyprus will lay the foundations for the creation of a united framework for additional policies and actions in the energy field.

    Kouvelis said that bilateral commercial exchanges surpass one billion euro. The Cypriot market ranks third in importance for Greek products (after Germany and Italy) while Greek exports to Cyprus constitute a quarter of the total Cypriot imports while as far as Cypriot exports to Greece are concerned, in 2009, Greece was first amongst customers, absorbing 18% of Cypriot exports.

    Greek direct investments to Cyprus rose to 710.2 million euros in 2009, Kouvelis said, adding that the largest concentration of Greek investments can be witnessed in the financial sector, granting consultation services, commerce and construction.

    "It is clear that prospect for investments and business cooperation between Greece and Cyprus are especially positive, despite the slight decrease that was evident in 2009 and we have every reason to believe there is a dynamic to further develop them", he concluded.

    [19] Farmers' groups again threaten mobilisations

    Farmers' groups, mostly in the northern Greece provinces of Macedonia and Thrace, but also in agriculture-dependent Thessal, on Monday appeared ready to block major highway intersections, practically an "annual rite" that materialises in late January and February -- the least intensive period in the east Mediterranean country's agricultural sector.

    The most ominous threat is related to the blocking of a major border crossing with Bulgaria (Promachonas), with dissatisfied farmers there joined by unpaid employees of a northern Greece textile mill.

    Farmers' groups this year are mostly demanding tax-free petrol for all agricultural uses and swifter payment of crop damages, particularly cotton.

    Past protests have involved the stationing of large farm equipment on roadways.

    [20] Farmers arrested at Promahonas

    Serres police arrested members of the independent farmers' group who crossed the riot police roadblock near the Petritsi intersection, near the Greek-Bulgarian borders.

    The farmers arrested had succeeded, through detours, to cross the riot police "barricade" a short way from the Petritsi bridge and reach the Promahonas border station through Angistri.

    The arrests of six farmers followed.

    At the same time, tension was created between police, farmers and passing motorists, when riot police prevented the passing of all vehicles to and from the Promahonas border station, shortly before the Petritsi bridge.

    [21] Foreign investors boost participation in ASE

    Foreign investors raised their participation in the capitalisation of the Athens Stock Exchange to 51.6 pct in January, up from 50.4 pct in December and 48.9 pct in January 2010, while Greek investors' participation fell to 47.2 pct from 48.2 pct in December, figures showed on Monday.

    Foreign investors were net buyers in January with inflows totaling 103.3 million euros, while Greek investors were sellers with capital outflows totaling 90.33 million euros. Foreign investors accounted for 48 pct of total transactions, up from 46.5 pct in December, but down from 55 pct in January 2010, leaving Greek private investors with a 28.4 pct share of transactions.

    The market's capitalization totaled 59.5 billion euros, up from 54.3 billion euros in December, for an increase of 9.5 pct, although the figure was down 24 pct compared with January 2010. Average daily turnover was 112.3 million euros in January, up from 75.4 million euros in December and down from 230.4 million in January 2010.

    [22] Stocks end down on Mon.

    Stocks ended Monday's session moderately lower, remaining on a downward trend for the second consecutive session at the Athens Stock Exchange. The composite index of the market fell 0.48 pct to end at 1,653.63 points, with turnover falling to 113.159 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 0.88 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.67 pct and the Small Cap index ended 0.34 pct higher.

    Viohalco (2.6 pct), Piraeus Bank (1.86 pct) and OTE (1.29 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (3.93 pct), Marfin Popular Bank (3.64 pct) and MIG (2.74 pct) were major losers.

    The Technology (4.83 pct), Insurance (1.51 pct) and Chemicals (1.47 pct) sectors scored gains, while Media (3.50 pct) and Banks (1.46 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 89 to 79 with another 54 issues unchanged. Intrakat (19.42 pct), Koumbas (17.65 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (13.33 pct) were top gainers, while Attica Publications (19.57 pct), Paperpack (18.75 pct) and Atti-kat (12.5 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +1.51%

    Industrials: +1.31%

    Commercial: +0.19%

    Construction: -0.09%

    Media: -3.50%

    Oil & Gas: +0.88%

    Personal & Household: +0.56%

    Raw Materials: -1.09%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.38%

    Technology: +4.83%

    Telecoms: +1.29%

    Banks: -1.46%

    Food & Beverages: -0.84%

    Health: -0.18%

    Utilities: -1.32%

    Chemicals: +1.47%

    Financial Services: -1.02%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.59

    ATEbank: 0.80

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.80

    HBC Coca Cola: 21.92

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.40

    National Bank of Greece: 7.50

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.65

    OPAP: 15.90

    OTE: 7.85

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.64

    Titan: 15.68

    [23] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened to 772 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, up from 760 bps on Friday, with the Greek bond yielding 10.97 pct and the German Bund 3.25 pct.

    Turnover in the market was a low 17 million euros, of which 14 million euros were sell orders and the remaining 3.0 million were buy orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 6.0 million euros.

    In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.68 pct, the six-month rate 1.33 pct, the three-month rate 1.08 pct and the one-month rate 0.91 pct.

    [24] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading around its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a low 37.417 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 7,014 contracts worth 26.993 million euros, with 7,014 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 22,838 contracs worth 10.424 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (4,744), followed by Eurobank (1,526), OTE (884), Piraeus Bank (4,005), Alpha Bank (3,429), Intracom (1,960), Marfin Popular Bank (1,804), Mytilineos (788) and Hellenic Postbank (594).

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Tuesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.366

    Pound sterling 0.846

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 8.875

    Japanese yen 112.41

    Swiss franc 1.305

    Norwegian kroner 7.901

    Canadian dollar 1.348

    Australian dollar 1.346

    General News

    [26] 'Belle Epoque' exhibition at Athens National Gallery

    "Art Nouveau and Modernism: Treasures from the Petite Palais-Paris Museum of Fine Arts" is the title of an exhibition at the National Gallery in Athens, reminiscent of the Paris of the Belle Epoque.

    More than 150 paintings, furniture pieces, posters, jewelry designs and other objects are on display, a reminder of the flourishing era of artistic and cultural refinement in Europe, and especially in France, that began during the late 19th century and lasted until World War I, that has come to be known as The Belle Epoque. The exhibition will run until 28th February

    [27] Hungarian Embassy event at Athens Concert Hall

    The Hungarian Embassy organised a musical event at the Megaron-Athens Concert Hall on Friday night with works by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, to mark the country's EU presidency in the first half of 2011, which coincides with the 200th anniversary of the composer's birth.

    Hungarian ambassador in Athens Jozsef Toth, the host of the event, underlined that "human contact and solidarity", which are needed especially at this time when Europe is going through an economic crisis, are a message that Hungary wishes to send to the European peoples.

    Excerpts of Liszt's famed Hungarian Rhapsodies and sonatas were performed by pianist and recipient of the 2004 Kossuth Prize Gergely Boganyi.

    [28] Loznitsa, Trestikova to be honored at Thessaloniki festival

    Ukrainian documentary-maker Sergei Loznitsa and Czech filmmaker Helena TYeat?kov? will be the honored dignitaries at this year's 13th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, between March 11 and March 20.

    Eleven short films by Loznitsa, who is scheduled to attend the festival, will be screened, along with aonther 10 documentaries by TYeat?kov?.

    [29] Off-duty special guard killed, passenger seriously injured, in shooting in Kallithea

    An off-duty special guard was killed and an Albanian national was injured in the early hours of Monday in the Athens district of Kallithea when two unidentified gunmen possibly riding a motorcycle opened fire on them in a stopped car.

    The gunmen opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle at 3:30 a.m. against a stopped car driven by the 30-year-old special guard, who was off-duty at the time, and a 26-year-old Albanian passenger.

    The car was riddled with more than 20 bullets, killing the special guard on the spot and seriously injuring the passenger, who was undergoing surgery on Monday morning at an Athens hospital.

    The motive of the shooting was being investigated by Attica security police.

    [30] H1N1 victims reach 34

    Health services in the country are in a state of alert since 34 people have lost their lives so far from the H1N1 flu virus, while only 5.9 percent of the population have had the anti-flu vaccine this year, when in past years 10.5 percent of the population were vaccinated every year and last year 7.5 percent with the pandemic vaccine.

    According to data by the Special Infections Control Centre, 15 new cases were announced on Monday, 77 patients are being treated in intensive care units, while a total of 146 people have been admitted to hospitals for treatment since the beginning of the year.

    [31] Drug arrest

    A 45-year-old foreign national was arrested by Ioannina narcotics squad police on Monday along the Ioannna-Kakavia stretch of the national highway for driving a look-out vehicle for a second, stolen, vehicle carrying nearly 100 kilos of cannabis.

    The driver of the second car ignored a call by police to stop, and sped off, finally abandoning the vehicle in a forested area and fleeing. Police found 98 kilos of cannabis in the abandoned car, which had been reported as stolen in the Athens district of Pangrati.

    Police seized the two cars and the drug, as well as 7,400 euros in cash found in the Albanian's possession. The detainee was led before an Ioannina prosecutor.

    [32] Metro, tram, train stoppages on Tuesday

    The Athens Metro, ISAP trains and Tram employees have called four-hour work stoppages on Tuesday so as to attend their union's general assemblies to decide their further mobilisations.

    The Metro and ISAP trains will not be operating from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., while the Tram will not be running from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.

    Weather Forecast

    [33] Fair on Tuesday

    Fair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -1C and 19C. Fair in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 4C to 18C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 1C to 16C.

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

    Greek and European Union economic issues were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Monday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Depression threatening the planet".

    AVRIANI: "Papandreou preparing electoral 'blackmail' in March".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Immense Papaconstantinou scandal".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Burning evidence on how the speculators sank the Greek economy".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "55 million euros in 'green' (PASOK) kickbacks for the German submarines".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Solution for the pension superannuation".

    ESTIA: "Single policy in the eurozone".

    ETHNOS: "350,000 appointments with IKA doctors up in the air".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "The changes arising from the taxation harmonisation".

    TA NEA: "Who is paying the price?"

    VRADYNI: "Pact for lasting austerity".

    Cyprus Affairs

    [35] Turkish Cypriots continue protests against Turkish policy towards occupied areas in Cyprus


    Turkish Cypriot unionists were asked to send via post a letter addressed to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan, following a protest outside the so called Turkish embassy in the occupied part of Nicosia, against the economic policy imposed to Turkish Cypriots by Turkey.

    The protest was organized by the platform of Turkish Cypriot Trade Unions comprising approximately 30 trade unions, organizations and political parties opposing the policy followed by Dervis Eroglu's illegal government. During Monday's protest, the Turkish Cypriot leader was briefing the so called parliament, situated opposite the "embassy", on the latest developments on Cyprus.

    Turkish Cypriots held a mass rally on January 28 against the economic policy of the so called government in the occupied areas of Cyprus, in line with Ankara's directions.

    The rally was organized by the Platform which is also demanding civil and labour rights and the re-unification of Cyprus. The demonstrators protested against the package of financial measures the illegal government, following Turkey's instructions, is trying to implement in the occupied areas of Cyprus.

    The so called police had blocked the road leading to the two buildings and the unionists participating in the Platform asked to meet an official from the Turkish "embassy" to receive the letter, only to be told to send the letter by post.

    DEV-IS union representative Mehmet Seiz in statements talked about an "unbelievable blackout in the Turkish public view and misleading statements made by Erdogan" adding that "they are trying to prevent our voice from being heard (in Turkey)". He pledged that protests will continue.

    President of the "Cyprus Turkish Secondary Education Teachers' Union" in the occupied north, Adnan Eraslan, condemned Erdogan's statements, adding the letter explains the reasons why.

    The KTOEOS secretary told reporters "we do not want to be slaves; we want peace, a united Cyprus" and rejected accusations that Turkish

    Cypriots organized the rally with Greek Cypriots and that most people at the rally were Greek Cypriots.

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

    The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, namely President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu, are currently engaged in UN-led negotiations with an aim to reunify the island.

    [36] Spokesman: People of Cyprus will be benefited by a solution

    The people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will be benefited by a solution of the Cyprus problem, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou has stressed.

    Speaking here Monday, Stephanou noted that that the Republic of Cyprus has no involvement with the demonstrations in the occupied areas of the island, which are linked to the Turkey's economic policy.

    Stephanou said that the Turkish Cypriots with the demon-strations are expressing their emotions and their feelings. He added that the Turkish Cypriots, as Cypriots, have dignity.

    He also stressed that the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, will be benefited by a solution of the Cyprus problem that will end the Turkish occupation, reunite the island and its people, and will be in favour of the interests of the Cypriots, and not the foreigners.

    [37] Government does not confirm tripartite meeting on Cyprus in Davos


    No proposal has been made to Cyprus President Demetris Christofias for a tripartite meeting in the Swiss city of Davos, along with the Turkish Cypriot leader and the President of the European Commission, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said Monday.

    While speaking to the press, in the margins of the Cyprus Exports Award ceremony, in Nicosia, Stephanou did not confirm relevant articles in the press, stating that as far as he is concerned, no such request was forwarded in 2011 to the European Commission either.

    The Government spokesman noted, however, that the Greek Cypriot side is in favour of further EU engagement, particularly when it comes to aspects of the Cyprus problem in direct relation with the EU.

    Stephanou added that the position of the EU itself refers both to engaging at this level as well as to technocratic assistance in the negotiation talks, and noted that the Greek Cypriot side has already welcomed this.

    Finally, Stephanou said that the position of the President of the Republic, to further utilize Turkey's accession process in the EU, is well-known.

    Thus, he noted, Turkey will be persuaded to change its position on the Cyprus problem and contribute in opening the way for a solution.

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