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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-02-26

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

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

Saturday, 26 February 2011 Issue No: 3730

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: 'Greece relying on its own forces'
  • [02] FM Droutsas holds talks with Azeri counterpart
  • [03] Greece-Argentina ties the focus of Argentine Dep. FM's visit
  • [04] Intense efforts underway to evacuate remaining Greeks in Libya
  • [05] Planes carrying Libya evacuees return to Athens
  • [06] Meeting on reception of foreign nationals evacuated from Libya
  • [07] ND leader Samaras on situation in Libya
  • [08] DM in informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers
  • [09] Gov't on loan instalment
  • [10] KKE delegation visiting Egypt on Saturday
  • [11] LA.OS calls for FinMin's replacement
  • [12] FinMin holds meetings with several ministers
  • [13] Deputy Culture, Tourism minister in Vienna
  • [14] Hellenic Telecoms says profits down 90.4 pct in 2010
  • [15] Greek tobacco industry suffers from lower consumption
  • [16] Trastor to pay 0.10 euros per share dividend to shareholders
  • [17] Consumer group records 5.3 % annual rise in basket of goods in Jan. 2011
  • [18] Stocks end week 7.69% down
  • [19] Greek bond market closing report
  • [20] ADEX closing report
  • [21] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday
  • [22] Four Greeks killed, 3 injured in coach accident in Turkey
  • [23] Armed robber shot dead during police pursuit
  • [24] Two Belgian women accused of industrial espionage
  • [25] Cisse lawsuit against rival football club's president
  • [26] Rainy on Saturday
  • [27] Athens Newspaper Headlines
  • [28] Community leaders' meeting postponed for Monday Politics

  • [01] PM: 'Greece relying on its own forces'

    Greece hoped for a good outcome and the right decisions at the European Council on March 25 but would deal with the final result without fear, relying on its own forces, Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed in Parliament on Friday.

    Replying to a question posed by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis, he warned against succumbing to pessimism that "leads to resignation".

    Concerning developments in North Africa, including the violence in Libya, he underlined that Greece will be an active presence and a "pole of stability" in the efforts for the 'day after' in the region.

    The Greek prime minister stressed that the European Union must adopt a position concerning its presence in the region and its relations with the Arab world, while also preparing for the possibility of an energy crisis due to the uprisings erupting in the Middle East and North Africa.

    Concerning criticism voiced by Karatzaferis on economic issues, Papandreou stressed that the government was waging battles both within Greece and abroad against the accumulated debt and that it would be a "difficult transition but to a different Greece".

    The prime minister also confirmed the government's political willingness to support the domestic defence industry in reply to another question by Karatzaferis, who stressed the country's unusually high spending on defence procurements had made a large contribution to its excessive debt burden and highlighted the need to have a defence industry in order to also help Greece's diplomacy.

    Papandreou said the government's goal was to establish public control with full transparency of the defence industry and the required partnerships. While agreeing that the local defence industry had to be supported and modernised, he also pointed out that the need to make it competitive given its accumulated debts of two billion euro.

    The prime minister said the government was currently promoting Greece's defence industry and reported interest in Hellenic Defence Systems. He also stressed that the government wanted "growth and not parasitic prospects, without mediations and middle-men, with transparency and with each decision passing inspection by Parliament".

    [02] FM Droutsas holds talks with Azeri counterpart

    The meeting between Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas and his Azeri counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov confirmed the dynamic development of relations between the two countries, mainly in the sectors of energy and the economy.

    Speaking at the joint press conference that followed, the Azeri minister stressed that the natural gas from his country is already in the Greek market with a quantity of 700 million cubic metres and "at company level we are discussing an increase in this quantity."

    The Greek foreign minister reiterated Greece's strong commitment on the implementation of the ITGI (connecting pipeline between Turkey-Greece-Italy) natural gas pipeline, terming it a "mature project", while his Azeri counterpart praised the importance of Greece, as being the first country in the EU that procures natural gas directly from the Caspian, adding that from his contact with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, earlier in Friday, he has the conviction that in this relation there is a "future."

    Droutsas also mentioned as being indicative of the development of relations between the two countries the dense exchange of visits at high level and announced the visit by President Karolos Papoulias to Baku in early April.

    The Greek minister also made special reference to the accident with the Athens-Thessaloniki-Istanbul bus, extending his warm condolences to the families of the victims and stressing that members of the Greek consular authorities are in the region to provide every assistance.

    [03] Greece-Argentina ties the focus of Argentine Dep. FM's visit

    The visit of Argentine Deputy Foreign Minister Alberto Pedro d'Alotto to Athens, coupled with ratification of a bilateral economic cooperation agreement by the Greek parliament, has broadened cooperation between the two countries and comes within the framework of an "opening" by Greek diplomacy in Latin America, Deputy FM Spyros Kouvelis stressed on Friday.

    During the meeting with his visiting Argentine counterpart, Kouvelis referred to "the lifting of obstacles in bilateral trade relations as being of major importance for Greece" considering last year's negative precedence of the cancellation of a large import of Greek peaches.

    Greek shipping is another important cooperation sector that connects Argentina with the EU and Greece, Kouvelis stressed.

    On his part, d'Alotto referred to the contribution of the ethnic Greek community in Argentina to rapprochement of two countries, underlining that they have many similarities. He also added that a joint ministerial committee meeting to take place later this year will boost commerce and other bilateral cooperation sectors.

    Tourism and energy are among the sectors the two sides intend to promote first.

    [04] Intense efforts underway to evacuate remaining Greeks in Libya

    The foreign ministry on Friday said that intense efforts were still underway to evacuate the remaining eight Greeks still in Libya, who were stranded at worksite at Gialo, deep in the desert. Though the site has its own private airstrip, Libyan authorities have so far refused planes permission to fly overhead or land.

    This is the last remaining pocket of Greeks needing to be evacuated following Thursday's successful operations by sea and air that brought 4,500 people out of strife-torn Libya, including 276 Greek nationals.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis, who has been in charge of coordinating the evacuation operations, said that he was in constant contact with the eight Greeks in Gialo, who are trapped there with 10 Cypriot nationals and more than 200 colleagues of other nationalities.

    "They are eight Greeks but it is as if they are 1,008. We attach as much importance to the eight as we did to the rest," Dollis underlined in an interview with NET television on Friday. Describing the efforts to extricate them from Gialo for the past three days, Dollis said the situation was comparable to that in Sarajevo in 1995, where there was complete chaos on all levels and intervention was extremely difficult.

    [05] Planes carrying Libya evacuees return to Athens

    All three C-130 military transport planes sent to Libya returned safely to Athens airport in the early hours of Friday, carrying upward of 200 Greeks and Cypriots evacuated from the strife-torn country. Among those brought back was a member of staff from the Greek embassy in Tripoli with gunshot wounds in the shoulder and leg.

    The first C-130 to return from Tripoli landed late on Thursday night with 88 Greeks on board, who described the situation in Libya as "tragic" and stressed their relief to be home. Foreign ministry general secretary Ioannis Zepos underlined the difficulties in the operation to ensure their safe return, including the difficulty they had boarding the planes.

    The second and third C-130 planes, carrying 83 evacuees from Tripoli and 45 evacuees from Surt, respectively, arrived shortly after midnight.

    The injured man, who had been shot on Wednesday afternoon, arrived in the second plane and was taken straight to hospital. Authorities said that his condition did not engender concern.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis, who had travelled out to Libya on the C-130s in order to coordinate the evacuation operation, spoke of harrowing scenes "not easy to describe" and warmly praised the Greek armed forces for their assistance in returning Greek nationals home.

    "It is not easy to describe the scenes we saw and the way in which our people managed to hold out these days. I am proud of my country," he said.

    Ten Greeks are still trapped in a location deep in the Libyan desert, along with a group of Cypriots and other EU citizens. The Greek government is currently making efforts in coordination with the governments of other countries to ensure their safe return.

    [06] Meeting on reception of foreign nationals evacuated from Libya

    The reception of Chinese citizens evacuated from Libya and their subsequent repatriation dominated in a meeting of local authorities held on Friday in the port city of Irakleio on the southern Aegean island of Crete.

    Greece has agreed to offer hospitality to Chinese evacuees arriving from Libya, who will stay on Crete until arrangements are made for their return to China.

    The meeting focused on the reception procedure implemented considering that the ferryboat "Eleftherios Venizelos" provided by "ANEK Lines" will arrive from Benghazi on Saturday carrying thousands of evacuees followed by other two ferryboats expected to arrive soon.

    Another issue that dominated in the meeting was the coordination of an airlift operation to be launched in the next two days in consultation with police, airport authorities and the Chinese embassy. Roughly 4-6 flights will take off from the island on a daily basis for a period of 10-15 days until all Chinese evacuees are back to their country.

    Hospitality issues for roughly 4,500 people from the Philippines to be evacuated from Libya shortly were also discussed.

    [07] ND leader Samaras on situation in Libya

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, in a statement on Friday evening, condemns "unequivocally the unprecedented force to which the (Muammar) Gaddafi regime is resorting in its futile effort to stay in power."

    Samaras also expresses his solidarity to the "struggles of the citizens of Libya for Democracy and Social Justice" and calls on the government to "develop an active role, in the framework of the UN and the Euroatlantic institutions, for an end to the bloodshed and to undertake coordinated initiatives, both for the protection of the life and property of the Greeks remaining trapped in Libya, and for the prevention of a new immigration wave towards our country."

    [08] DM in informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers

    Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos attended the informal meeting of EU defence ministers in Budapest on Friday, where he underlined Greece's readiness to offer its good services to all partners and third countries in order to facilitate operations underway for the protection of their citizens.

    The meeting focused on EU foreign policy issues and the latest developments in the Middle East and North Africa, particularly Libya, while EU peace operations and EU-NATO relations were also discussed.

    Venizelos suggested holding an international conference under the UN auspices for the coordination of all operations in the region. He also underlined the need for the EU to consider a single European policy for Africa, stressing that he "realizes its difficulty due to the special interests, historical and other, many EU countries have in the region".

    The defence minister also briefed his counterparts on the Greek armed forces' operation on Thursday for the repatriation of Greek nationals from Libya.

    During a discussion on the EU-NATO relations held in the presence of NATO SecGen Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the defence minister rejected an attempt to upset Turkey's EU accession course that takes place in accordance with the European acquis.

    Venizelos also met with his French counterpart Alain Juppe and discussed bilateral cooperation and the new NATO command structure-related developments.

    [09] Gov't on loan instalment

    "The release of the fourth loan instalment for Greece has proven wrong all those in the country and abroad who predicted the worst. It constitutes a clear message that we have nothing to fear of for as long as we are consistent, meet our goals and continue our efforts united," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis stressed on Friday, underlining that there will be no more salary and pension cuts.

    As regards the extension of the repayment period for the 110-billion-euro bailout, he referred to the decision reached in principle in the Eurogroup and the EU summit meeting, adding that "there are still a number of parameters that we are fighting for".

    He characterized the interest rate discussion as untimely and stressed that the snap election talk does not concern the government.

    Petalotis also underlined the great necessity for consensus on all levels and mostly within the Greek society.

    [10] KKE delegation visiting Egypt on Saturday

    A delegation of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) will leave for Egypt on Saturday, headed by George Toussas, a Central Committee member and party Eurodeputy, for a meeting with political parties and agencies in Egypt concerning the developments in this country.

    [11] LA.OS calls for FinMin's replacement

    Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) president George Karatzaferis on Friday accused Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou of "lacking experience and knowledge of the real market", calling on the prime minister to proceed with his replacement.

    Speaking to private television in Athens, Karatzaferis stated that under the present circumstances a finance minister should have "substantive knowledge of the market and its operation", stressing that "the decisions made so far were hasty".

    The LA.OS leader repeated that the country will be led to snap elections because the government is faced with a dead end.

    Financial News

    [12] FinMin holds meetings with several ministers

    Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Friday held consecutive meetings with government ministers to brief them on the medium-term fiscal framework and the 2012-2014 report on the medium-term fiscal strategy.

    Papaconstantinou met at noon with Agricultural Development & Foods Minister Costas Skandalidis and later in the afternoon he was scheduled to meet with Minister of State Haris Pampoukis and Environment, Energy & Climate Change Minister Tina Birbili.

    On Thursday, Papaconstantinou met with Interior Minister Yiannis Ragoussis and Education Minister Anna Diamanto-poulou.

    The medium-term fiscal strategy report will set the annual expenditures' ceilings for the government ministries and the general government fiscal balance goals until the year 2014.

    The report is expected to be presented for public debate before the end of March. In mid April it will be approved by the cabinet and by mid May it be passed in parliament.

    [13] Deputy Culture, Tourism minister in Vienna

    VIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greek Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister George Nikitiadis received positive and optimistic messages on increasing trends in this year's tourist movement from Austria to Greece, during his contacts on Thursday evening with administrative officials of 240 Austrian travel agencies at an event on the promotion of tourism in Rhodes on a river boat on the Danube in Vienna.

    Speaking to the ANA-MPA in Vienna, Nikitiadis said that not only from Austria but from everywhere he is receiving messages that this year there shall be a very considerable increase in Greek tourism aith a considerable increase in revenues, which had presented a decrease of about 6 percent last year compared to 2009, while he believes that this year, with the very good work that is being done, last year's dfifference will be covered and there shall be an additional "plus."

    Her further stressed that Greece does not expect anything special from the crises in the Middle East region because, as he said, no crisis in the neighbourhood can ever be a good sign, "on the contrary we want peace in the region, we want there to be no problems and imbalances, we want the market to function smoothly, the tourist pie is very big all over the world, it is getting bigger continuously."

    [14] Hellenic Telecoms says profits down 90.4 pct in 2010

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE) on Friday said its consolidated turnover had declined 8.0 pct to 5.483 billion euros in 2010, hit by the consequences of an economic crisis in the country.

    Consolidated turnover fell 12.4 pct in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared with the same period in 2009, to 1.330 billion euros, while EBITDA fell 39.2 pct to 311 million euros and on an annual basis fell by 20.5 pct to 1.748 billion euros.

    OTE reported a loss of 91.7 million euros in the fourth quarter of 2010, hit by an extra charge of 129.8 million euros caused by a voluntary retirement scheme and a 77.6 pct burden of fixed-assets write off in RomTelecom. OTE reported a 90.4 pct decline in its 12-month net profits to 39.6 million euros, down from 410.9 million euros in 2009.

    In Greece, turnover from fixed-telephony operations fell by 10.1 pct to 2.17 billion euors in 2010, while turnover was down 15.8 pct in the fourth quarter of the year. OTE reported a quarterly loss of 79.3 million euros despite the fact that it managed to increase its customer base thanks to an aggressive advertising campaing.

    RomTelecom reported an 11.2 pct decline in its fourth quarter turnover to 170.1 million euros and a loss of 270.3 million euros.

    Cosmote improved its position in the Greek market and maintained its market shares in Bulgaria, Romania and Albania, with its customer base totaling 21 million in the fourth quarter, slightly down from the third quarter of 2010. Cosmote said its turnover fell 17 pct in Greece in the fourth quarter to 429.9 million euros and its customer base totaled 8.0 million, down 13.3 pct. Cosmote ranks first in the domestic mobile broadband internet market.

    Cosmote's subsidiaries in Albania and Bulgaria reported an 8.6 pct and a 2.5 pct decline in turnover, respectively, to 26.7 million euros in Albania and 10.7 million euros in Bulgaria in the fourth quarter. AMC's customer base rose 6.0 pct to around 2.0 million euros, while Globul's customer base grew 7.0 pct to 3.9 million.

    Cosmote's subsidiary in Romania reported an 1.8 pct increase in turnover to 121.5 million euros, with a customer base of 6.9 million euros and an EBITDA soaring 202.4 pct.

    Mihalis Tsamaz, OTE's chairman and chief executive, commenting on the results said the group managed to put a break on a decline in operating earnings and cash flow, although net profits were negatively affected by write offs in Romania and the cost of voluntary retirement program. "In 2011 we will make every effort to stop a decline in revenues and profitability, trying to ensure a long-term value for our shareholders," he said.

    [15] Greek tobacco industry suffers from lower consumption

    The Greek tobacco industry suffered a new, significant, decline in consumption in early 2011 after sustaining a 20-pct decline in its turnover last year.

    "Sales of tobacco products in January this year are estimated to fall by 13 pct," a senior official of the tobacco industry told ANA-MPA, adding that this decline will accelerate after the implementation of higher prices announced by enterprises as a result of a higher special consumption tax.

    Cigarette manufacturers and distributors have revised upwards their prices from the start of the year, but continue to supply the market with lower-priced inventories fearing any more loss of market shares. "This happened in 2010," the official of one of the four largest Greek tobacco industries said, noting that cheaper brands raised their market shares last year. He underlined that any further decline in consumption would be accompanied by further changes in market shares, with domestic companies losing more ground to multinational companies.

    In January, Philip Morris, owner of Papastratos, had a market share of 36.8 pct, down from 38 pct in January 2010; BAT's share was 19 pct - up from 16.9 pct last year; Japan Tobacco International's share was 15.0 pct - slightly down from 15.9 pct in 2010; Imperial Tobacco's share was 11.5 pct - unchanged from last year -- while Karelias saw its market share rise slightly to 9.4 pct this year from 9.3 pct in 2010. Finally, SEKAP fell to 8.3 pct from 8.6 pct over the same period, respectively.

    Turnover by Greek tobacco industries fell 20.6 pct in 2010, after losing 3.0 pct in 2009. Domestic production fell 17.5 pct to the lowest levels since 2005.

    [16] Trastor to pay 0.10 euros per share dividend to shareholders

    Trastor SA on Friday announced a regular general shareholders' decision to pay a 0.10-euro per share dividend to its shareholders.

    The company said its shares will be traded ex-dividend from Tuesday 1, March.

    [17] Consumer group records 5.3 % annual rise in basket of goods in Jan. 2011

    The cost of a 'basket of goods' for the average Greek household rose to 2,253.48 euro in January 2011 according to figures given by the Greek Consumers Centre ELKEKA on Friday. Based on figures collected by the consumer group, this represented a 5.2 percent increase relative to January 2010, when the same basket of goods cost 111.38 euros less, or 2,142.10 euro.

    The highest increases were for alcoholic drinks and tobacco products, which posted price hikes reaching 19.5 percent, followed by a 15 percent hike in transport costs and a 9.1 percent spike in housing costs.

    The figures given by ELKEKA were the following:

    Type of goods or services		Costs in euro
    
    January 2010		January 2011		Diff.
    Foods and non-alcoholic beverages 		344.42			352.69----------------------   2.4 %
    Alcoholic drinks and tobacco		69.48			83.00			19.5 %
    Clothing and footwear			165.82			162.08			2.3 %
    Housing costs				257.93			281.46			9.1 %
    Durable goods and services		147.83			151,45			2.5 %
    Health					144.53			143.62			0.90%
    Transport				299.95			344.94			15 %
    Communications				94.73			98.50			4 %
    Recreation, cultural activity		102.59			103.32			0.7 %
    Education				66.12			66.24			0.6 %
    Hotel, cafes, restaurants			232.68			240.15			3.2 %
    Other goods and services			216.04			226.03			4.6 %
    

    [18] Stocks end week 7.69% down

    Stocks remained under pressure in the last trading session of the Athens Stock Exchange pushing the composite index of the market further down. The index ended 1.05 pct lower at 1,583.20 points, for a net loss of 7.69 pct in the week. Turnover was a low 99.539 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 1.05 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.65 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.84 pct. Mytilineos (2.28 pct) and Titan (1.76 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Viohalco (3.98 pct), Ellaktor (3.25 pct), Alpha Bank (2.40 pct) and PPC (2.15 pct) were top gainers.

    The Raw Materials (0.96 pct) and Chemicals (0.64 pct) sectors scored gains, while Utilities (1.92 pct) and Travel (1.81 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 95 to 57 with another 52 issues unchanged. Hellenic Sugar Industry (19.05 pct), Tegopoulos (10 pct) and Druckfarben (9.52 pct) were top gainers, while Koumpas (15.79 pct), Unibios (12.5 pct) and Paperpack (10 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: -1.58%

    Industrials: -0.34%

    Commercial: -0.91%

    Construction: +0.05%

    Media: -0.23%

    Oil & Gas: +0.17%

    Personal & Household: -0.08%

    Raw Materials: +0.96%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.81%

    Technology: -1.54%

    Telecoms: -0.55%

    Banks: -1.21%

    Food & Beverages: -1.26%

    Health: -1.00%

    Utilities: -1.92%

    Chemicals: +0.64%

    Financial Services: +0.12%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, OPAP and DEH.

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

    Alpha Bank: 4.89

    ATEbank: 0.79

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.36

    HBC Coca Cola: 19.36

    Hellenic Petroleum: 7.43

    National Bank of Greece: 6.89

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.68

    OPAP: 14.75

    OTE: 7.21

    Bank of Piraeus: 1.63

    Titan: 16.18

    [19] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 868 basis points, from 866 bps on Thursday, in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Friday. The Greek bond yielded 11.79 pct and the German Bund 3.15 pct. Turnover in the market totaled 22 million euros, of which 12 million were buy orders and the remaining 10 million were sell orders. The five-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 rose to 1.75 pct, the six-month was 1.37 pct, the three-month at 1.08 pct and the one-month rate at 0.86 pct.

    [20] ADEX closing report

    The March contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -0.78 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Friday, with turnover shrinking to 41.731 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 9,075 contracts worth 33.575 million euros, with 29,581 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contract on equities totaled 16,454 contracts worth 8.156 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Piraeus Bank's contracts (2,721), followed by Eurobank (1,317), MIG (582), OTE (596), PPC (572), National Bank (2,702), Alpha Bank (2,252), Marfin Popular Bank (754), Ellaktor (654), Mytilineos (618), Cyprus Bank (856), Hellenic Postbank (1,041).

    [21] Foreign Exchange rates - Saturday/Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.387

    Pound sterling 0.862

    Danish kroner 7.514

    Swedish kroner 8.902

    Japanese yen 113.42

    Swiss franc 1.290

    Norwegian kroner 7.826

    Canadian dollar 1.359

    Australian dollar 1.368

    General News

    [22] Four Greeks killed, 3 injured in coach accident in Turkey

    Four Greeks were killed and another three injured in a road accident in Turkey early on Friday morning, when a coach came off the highway and capsized. The coach, owned by the Turkish company 'Metro', was carrying a total of nine passengers, two drivers and one steward at the time of the accident, which took place on the 25th kilometre of the Malkara-Tekirdag road at 4:50 a.m.

    Those killed were identified as the Greek citizens Sofia Mariadi, Minas Solakidis, Arkadios Moysidis and Foto Mytakidi, who had Greek and Turkish dual nationality, as well as one Turkish man. The bodies have been taken to Malkara General Hospital and the injured to a state hospital in Tekirdag.

    The Greek nationals injured were named as Panagiotis Paletidis, Maria Mariadi and Vassilis Naris.

    Turkish authorities sought the assistance of Greek consular authorities to help identify the dead after the accident, since some of the bodies had been crushed under the fallen coach.

    The accident was blamed on poor weather and icy conditions on the road, which caused the bus to veer off course and spin out of control.

    Condolences to the families of the victims were expressed by main opposition New Democracy spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis, who also wished the injured a speedy recovery.

    [23] Armed robber shot dead during police pursuit

    One of five armed robbers that struck a post office and a branch of Agricultural Bank of Greece (ATE) in Molos, Fthiotida was shot dead by police on Friday morning. The man was fatally injured in an exchange of fire at a police roadblock and died before he reached hospital.

    Police were lying in wait for the Volvo S40 carrying the five Albanians on an access road alongside the 87th kilometre of the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway, heading toward Athens. When the suspects sighted the police road block they opened fire with Kalashnikov rifles and the police officers returned fire, injuring two of the men in the car.

    The five suspects had already managed to get past a police roadblock further up on the national highway near the junction of Akraifnio.

    Earlier, at 9:40 a.m. on Friday, they had attacked a post office branch at Molos in Fthiotida armed with Kalashnikovs and hoods to conceal their faces, taking just over 2,000 euros. Immediately afterward, they headed for an ATEBank branch in the central square, where they were seen by several witnesses, and intercepted an armoured van as it was making a delivery of some 20,000 euro in cash, which they forced the security guards to hand over at gunpoint.

    They then climbed into cars that were parked on the square and fled toward the national highway.

    Police immediately launched a chase, identifying one of the cars as a Honda stolen three days earlier in Ilion, Attica. Shortly afterward, they were spotted in a Volvo S40 driving toward Athens from Kammena Vourla and police in the Atalanti region began a high-speed pursuit down the national highway.

    The car's progress was tracked all through Fthiotida and police road blocks set up a various points along its path, at Akraifnio and Kastro. The suspects managed to get through the Akraifnio road block by shooting at police then left the national highway and entered an access road three kilometres before the second road block near Thiva.

    Police succeed in blocking all routes ahead of them, however, and a full-scale shootout began that ended with one of the robbers fatally injured and the arrest of the remaining four, one of whom was shot in the leg. Despite efforts to get the seriously injured man to the nearest hospital in Thiva, he died before arriving.

    [24] Two Belgian women accused of industrial espionage

    Two Belgian women have been charged with industrial espionage based on complaints by a firm based in Attica, the Greek police electronic crime unit revealed on Friday. The two women, aged 60 and 48 years old, respectively, are accused of breaking into the company's computer systems and stealing data concerning its clients and activities.

    The 60-year-old was a former employee of the company, which generated codes for the products of other firms, and is accused of illegally keeping possession of the data on its computers (software packages, programmes, data base, client lists etc) and passing them along to her 48-year-old accomplice in order to steal the company's clients.

    Acting on a complaint filed by the company, police officers with the electronic crime squad raided the home of the younger Belgian woman and found a large number of files relating to the company filing the complaint stored in her laptop, including the client database and files of codes.

    They also confiscated an external storage device and a laptop as evidence, sending them to the police forensics laboratory for analysis.

    The two women have been charged with illegally breaking into computer systems and violating laws on personal data.

    Soccer

    [25] Cisse lawsuit against rival football club's president

    French international and Panathinaikos Athens star striker Djibril Ciss? on Friday filed a lawsuit against the president of rival Olympiacos Piraeus Vangelis Marinakis, nearly a week after a controversial and hooligan-marred game between the two football clubs at Olympiacos' stadium.

    Ciss? filed the lawsuit at the Athens first instance court prosecutor's office, alleging that Marinakis, who is also the president of the first division pro Greek Super League, slandered, verbally abused and threatened him.

    Following league-leading Olympiacos' 2-1 victory over Panathinaikos dozens of Olympiacos fans entered the pitch, many of whom surrounded fleeing Panathinaikos players and coaching staff. The Athens team also bitterly pointed to several sloppy referee calls during the match, including an off-sides call negating a goal that prevented it from going up 1-2 in the 82nd minute. (???-?PA)

    Weather Forecast

    [26] Rainy on Saturday

    Rainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Saturday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between -2C and 15C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 5C to 9C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 4C to 7C.

    [27] Athens Newspaper Headlines

    Further wage cuts and austerity measures demanded under the updated Memorandum for the loans to Greece and events in Libya were the main front-page items in Athens dailies on Friday.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Libya plunged in 'blood bath' by Gaddafi".

    AVGHI: "A noose of 50+27 billion euro by 2015".

    AVRIANI: "State attempted to 'snatch' country's strongest private bank by extortion".

    DIMOKRATIA: "Search for Gaddafi's treasure in Athens".

    ELEFTHEROS: "Merkel literally 'shredded' George".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "New cuts in public sector to benefits and basic pensions".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "A 'No. 4 axe' to wages, pensions, health care. The memorandum's targets for the next three months".

    ESTIA: "We are reduced to Euro-beggars".

    ETHNOS: "Ten 'commandments' for the 25 billion in 'Memorandum No. 4'".

    IMERISSIA: "Threat of a oil depression. Fears of an explosion of inflation in Greece"

    KATHIMERINI: "Additional measures of 1.8 billion euro during 2011".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "EU Commission demanding the planning of a new harsh policy"

    NIKI: "European Commission doesn't back up 'czar' over 50 billion" (articles claims Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou was forced to admit the failure of the memorandum on Thursday.

    LOGOS: "Additional measures to satisfy the 'Troika'".

    PARASKEVI+13 (weekly): "Government policy 'torn down'"

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Sea of striking masses. All the country with PAME"

    TA NEA: "Austerity extended. Memorandum 4 marks continued austerity until 2015 at least".

    VRADYNI: "'We failed' but the fault lies with ...Hatzipetris". (reference to Greek saying, which means to seek to lay blame for problems on unspecified others, rather than named individuals.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [28] Community leaders' meeting postponed for Monday

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    Friday's meeting between the President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and the Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis

    Eroglu, in the framework of direct negotiations for solution of the Cyprus problem, has been postponed to Monday morning, the UN has said.

    On Thursday, UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer met with President Christofias at the Presidential Palace.

    He said that the basis of the negotiations in Cyprus remains the same, as far as the UN is concerned, as defined by Security Council resolutions and agreements reached between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    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 are currently engaged in UN-led negotiations, with an aim to reunify the island, under a federal roof.

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