|Sunday, 18 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-11-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 3 November 2011 Issue No: 3923
 Debate on confidence vote begins in ParliamentAdministrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas opened a three-day debate on Wednesday over a vote of confidence requested by Prime Minister George Papandreou on Monday.
Reppas called for a vote of confidence to enable the government's negotiating ability to be strengthened, as he opined, within the framework of implementation of decisions taken at a crucial EU summit last week.
He also made extensive references to Papandreou's sudden and unprecedented decision to hold a referendum -- initially cited as a popular way to ratify a recent lending agreement -- with the country's position in the Eurozone.
Reppas termed the Oct. 27 summit's decision as "vindication for the effort and the toil of the prime minister and the negotiating team", stressing that "the new possibility being offered to the country must not be lost."
On his part, main opposition New Democracy party rapporteur Costas Markopoulos emphasised that "elections are the only democratic solution for the country", while he charged that the government does not have the political legality to continue what he called its failed policy.
Moreover, he called on ruling PASOK party MPs to "put an end to the country's downward trend."
Markopoulos spoke of divisive and tragic dilemmas that the prime minister caused with his decision over a referendum, saying Papandreou is also trying to blackmail society and his own deputies.
"Who gave you the right to throw the Greek people's dream for Europe in the garbage? You are an immature government, one that is blackmailing the people and society..." Markopoulos said.
Small opposition parties on vote of confidence for government
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Parliamentary repre-sentative Thanassis Pafilis speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, stressed that the referendum "is a crude extortion" and added that there shall be "ideological terrorism and all the mechanisms will be mobilised to extract the yes."
Pafilis, replying to the argument that some fear the referendum said "we do not fear the people. You fear them when they take to the streets, this however is also the hope for a better tomorrow."
Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party deputy Adonis Georgiadis called on the deputies of the ruling PASOK party not to offer their confidence on Friday as an indication of patriotic duty.
He also termed the prime minister "dangerous for the country" because of his proposal for the holding of a referendum.
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) deputy Dimitris Papadi-moulis, speaking in Parliament on behalf of the party during the debate, proposed the voting against the government and a "massive, popular militant no" to the referendum if it is held.
"When a government in two years calls for a vote of confidence, it owes an account in relation to what it promised," Papadimoulis said and noted that the obvious failure of the government leads to popular outcry.
 Cabinet unanimously backs PM's referendum proposalThe Greek Cabinet, chaired by prime minister George Papandreou, unanimously backed a proposal by the latter that a referendum be held on the new bailout agreement for Greece agreed on October 26 at an extraordinary eurozone summit, after a marathon 7-hour meeting that lasted into the early hours of Wednesday, according to an official announcement issued after the meeting.
The Cabinet agreed with the holding of the referendum and expressed 'full support' for the vote of confidence in the government called by Papandreou, debate on which begins Wednesday afternoon and ends with a roll-call vote at midnight Friday, as well as with the implementation of the October 26 decisions.
It further agreed that the referendum should be held "as soon as possible", which could bring it forward earlier than January as initially suggested by Papandreou, possibly in December, if the details of the second bailout loan are ironed out earlier than initially planned.
Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, government spokesman Elias Mossialos said a basic condition for holding the referendum as soon as possible is finalisation of the details agreed in the EU (Oct. 26 summit) on the Greek debt, so as to precisely stipulate the question that will be put to the Greek people in the referendum.
Mossialos further said that the technical procedures, the exact date of the referendum and the wording of the question to be put to the citizens will be worked out by a governmental committee and submitted to the Cabinet "in a relatively short time" so that the referendum may be held "by the end of the year, if possible".
The Cabinet further decided that a new meeting of the ruling PASOK parliamentary group will be convened to discuss the political initiatives that the government must take in the lead up to the referendum, based on proposals that will be submitted by the party MPs.
 Question on summit decision and loan contract in referendum, government officials sayRelevant government officials are making categorical assurances that the question that will be raised in the referendum will be on the loan contract and the recent decision of the summit of the eurozone leaders and not for the euro.
"Nobody doubts the European prospect of the country," said Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister Angelos Tolkas, speaking during the main news bulletin of the private Mega TV, while similar assurances were given earlier, through NET by Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyianakopoulou.
"This government has taken all the measures for Greece to remain strong in the euro," Tolkas said, who also said that after Friday's vote of confidence in Parliament the government will proceed with the road map announced by Prime Minister George Papandreou and includes the holding of the referendum for the will of the Greek people to be expressed.
 Gov't spokesman: PM had informed the European leaders on the referendum"Prime Minister George Papandreou had informed our European partners of his intentions, but he had not informed them on the exact date of their announcement. It lies with the Greek prime minister when and in what way a political initiative is announced. It's a part of our national sovereignty and our political initiatives," Greek government spokesman Elias Mossialos said on Wednesday, regarding the premier's proposal for a referendum.
Mossialos, speaking on private radio "VIMA", he accused some politicians and media of hypocrisy, accusing them of charging loss of sovereignty due to the government's decisions and discussions on the loan and the haircut on the one hand, but on the other criticising the government of not informing and not discussing the matter with our partners.
He also noted that in the past, political parties had asked for referendums on several issues.
"We must trust the Greek people and the power of our arguments. Let the people speak directly this time on issues that concern us all, our families and our children's future. It's a major issue that concerns the future of the Greek society and its position over the following years. We have nothing to fear. No political power and no media should fear the expression of the people's view, in no instance," he said.
Referring to ruling PASOK deputies' differing views, Mossialos noted that it is part of the democratic operation. "The power of dialogue is huge and will be expressed in the specific votes. The deputies, ministers and cadres of my party will state their positions with their votes and that is what we should look at," he added.
 Interior minister: Referendum will concern loan agreementThe referendum decided by prime minister George Papandreou and subsequently approved by the Cabinet will concern the second loan agreement to Greece, interior minister Haris Kastanidis said on state television on Wednesday morning, while he also did not rule out the prospect of the referendum being held in the current year, provided the procedures for the loan agreement have been completed by then.
"There is a possibility that the referendum will take place earlier (than January as initially planned), within December," he said.
Kastanidis also lashed out at the banking sector, as well as the opposition parties, on their stance.
He charged that very few banks "have put their hand in their pocket to confront the crisis" and that they are "confronting the crisis with state reinforcement".
 Barroso appeal for 'national and political unity in Greece'BRUSSELS (AMNA - V. Demiris)
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Wednesday made an "urgent, heartfelt appeal for national and political unity in Greece," in support of the bailout plan agreed by Eurozone leaders on October 27.
In a written statement issued before the G20 talks in Cannes, Barroso noted that the EU had agreed on long-term measures to support Greece but stressed that stability in the country was a condition for implementing these measures.
He warned that if Greece failed to support the package, the effect on the Greek people would be much worse than the austerity they are currently undergoing.
"Without agreement of Greece to the programme supported by the EU and IMF, conditions for Greek citizens will become much more painful, particularly for the most vulnerable," he said, adding that the repercussions were impossible to predict.
"For this reason I call on the government and political leaders of Greece to prove that they are ready to work for national and political unity in order to achieve the required support," the Commission president said.
He also noted that the European Commission had asked for this level of support for the measures since the start of the crisis, adding that this support was even more crucial now.
Barroso's appeal came after Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou surprised everyone at home and abroad by announcing a national referendum on the 130-billion-euro bailout package agreed by Eurozone leaders just days earlier.
 Austrian chancellor on Greek referendum issueVIENNA (ANA-MPA/D. Dimitrakoudis)
Austrian Chancellor and leader of the Austrian Socialdemocrats Werner Faymann said in a statement on Wednesday that the decision on the holding of a referendum is up to the Greek Parliament and "we must wait to see what it will be," stressing at the same time that the "latest developments were entirely unexpected and unfortunately they promote new uncertainty."
The Austrian chancellor added that at the same time it is becoming clear how important a mass support of the "protection umbrella" is for all the euro countries.
 EPP's Daul on developments in GreeceBRUSSELS (AMNA - M. Aroni)
The chairman of the European People's Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament, Joseph Daul, in a statement issued here on Wednesday, called on the Greek government to observe the Oct. 26 decisions -- pointing out, at the same time, that in the present circumstances snap elections in Greece could be the most appropriate solution.
"The Greek government's decision should not jeopardize the package of measures agreed in Brussels or the stability of the euro," Daul said.
The EPP Group chairman expressed regret for the fact that the decision of Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is also the president of the Socialist International (SI), to hold a national referendum on the 130-billion-euro bailout package agreed by the Eurozone leaders was not made in consultation with his partners and the European bodies.
 Samaras: PASOK gov't 'desperate and dangerous'Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras warned that the PASOK government was "desperate and dangerous", and pledged that an ND government would do everything necessary to attain Greece's fiscal targets but with a different policy that would give hope and prospects to the country, addressing a meeting of the ND parliamentary group on Wednesday.
Samaras also made a scathing personal attack on prime minister George Papandreou, and posed the question "what, finally is your goal, Mr. Papandreou, to break up Greece?"
The main opposition leader accused Papandreou of "putting Greece at the center of a global storm, for his own personal interests", and warned that ND's battle, both inside and outside Greece, will be "unyielding and unifying".
He described the vote of confidence from parliament asked by Papandreou, which will take place at midnight Friday after a three-day debate that opens Wednesday afternoon, as a "cry of agony by a prime minister who has lost every legitimacy in the society", and the referendum decided by the premier a "parody", proof of the "ultimate impasse", and "revelation of extreme irresponsibility".
Samaras further warned that as long as the new bailout loan agreement for Greece decided at the eurozone summit on October 26 was subject to approval or disapproval by the referendum it would not be finalised, and so long as it was not finalised it could not be put to a referendum, and also warned of turbulence on the markets and in Europe over the next two months.
"The government is coercing the people to approve the loan agreement and its (government's) wrong policy simultaneously, and runs the risk of the people rejecting the wrong policy and with it the loan agreement," Samaras said, adding that if one wants to bring the country out of the impasse he must separate the loan agreement from the accompanying policy and try to change that policy.
He accused Papandreou of "blatant blackmail" in saying: "Either you vote with a yes or a no on everything I am bringing to you, or take the responsibility of leaving Europe".
"But when you blackmail the people, you are not asking them to take a position, you are forcing them and risk receiving the opposite response of what you expect," he added, and also warned that if the outcome of the referendum was "yes", then it would be very difficult to improve the agreement in the future.
He further added that if ND had voted in favor of the Memorandum "we would now be implicated in Mr. Papandreou's opportunistic games", adding that his party was today in a position to offer an alternative policy because it had separated its position from the very beginning, noting that "we agreed on the positive aspects, but rejected the mistake...we did not promise the moon and the starts, the only promises we made were for the low pension earners and the large families".
Samaras also spoke at length on the decision he expressed earlier in the week to force elections, but did not elaborate on how this would be done. "Elections would be delivery for the country, the economy and for Europe, which panicked with Mr. Papandreou's antics, but also for many PASOK MPs who can't wait to see the day they will stop supporting this government," he added.
"Our duty is to pave the way for the genuine and safe referendum, which is elections," Samaras stressed.
Defending his party's repeated call for snap elections, he said: "When we demand elections, we do so not only because there is dis-harmony between the people and the government, nor because nothing is functioning in public administration and the state, but because there are greater dangers behind this situation, from the economy that is collapsing with businesses closing one after the other up to the non-recognition of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is a self-evident right of the country".
Samaras also announced a series of trips inside and outside Europe to seek allies for a "different policy concerning the European south".
In closing, Samaras said that everyone was now awaiting from ND to "not allow Mr. Papandreou to drag Greece with him over the precipice".
"We are the guarantor power of stability and responsibility. We are entering a battle for this government to leave, to take our fates into our own hands once again, and to give hope and prospect to the young generation," he said.
 Gov't challenges ND to 'lay open its cards' on referendumGovernment spokesman Ilias Mossialos on Wednesday challenged main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras to reveal how he would vote in a referendum on whether Greece should accept the decisions reached by EU leaders on October 27 concerning Greece's debt.
Commenting on the speech made by Samaras to ND's Parliamentary group, Mossialos said that Samaras had failed to give a clear reply to this simple question.
"He appeared inexplicably surprised by the referendum. And if he worries about its result, if he considers Greeks too immature to judge, why doesn't he try to convince them to act according to their own true interests," the spokesman said.
According to Mossialos, Samaras was loathe to give his backing to the agreement that the government had secured and admit that it was in the country's best interests because his own party and MPs had until now sought to denigrate this.
"Are Greek citizens sufficiently mature to pick their government but immature to decide whether an agreement is beneficial or not?" Mossialos asked.
 PASOK secretary Karhimakis accuses ND leader of gambling on the country's defaultRuling PASOK National Council Secretary Mihalis Karhimakis on Wednesday said that the terms used by main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras for Prime Minister George Papandreou were "directed right back at him" and stressed that it "is not dangerous and opportunistic to give citizens their say."
Karhimakis said that "the address delivered earlier in the day by the ND leader leaves no room for misinterpretations. Samaras chose to gamble on the country's default. The Greek people will not do him the favour."
The PASOK secretary stated that the stance adopted by Samaras and his party during the past two years is "dangerous and opportunistic" and lashed out at the main opposition party accusing it of "engaging in criminal policies that brought the country on the verge of bankruptcy."
"Instead of apologizing for its policies, ND targets the efforts made by PM Papandreou and his government in order to rescue the country," Karhimakis said.
 PM's blog blames 'organised interests' for reactions to governmentThe government was up against "organised reactions" from groups that had for years ravaged the country and were now trying to protect their interests and special privileges, Prime Minister George Papandreou wrote in a blog post posted on Wednesday.
The blog, entitled 'clearing the country of interests' and also accessible via a link from the PM's official twitter account, quoted excerpts from his speech to cabinet ministers on Tuesday night in which he outlined his reasons for calling a referendum on the deal agreed by Eurozone leaders on October 27 to manage Greek debt.
"I would like to point out that we have made decisions and have more decisions before us to take. And I do not speak about reactions at random, because even if some of these are well-meaning, they are nonetheless very organised reactions," he wrote.
"We are now showing that we mean business when we talk about the responsibility of banks and demand they face their responsibilities. For the first time we are proceeding with a process that will reform, wil bring transparency and a banking system that will invest in the real economy," he said.
Among the government's efforts at reform he cited arrests for fuel smuggling, attempts to clear up corruption in Greek football and the publication of lists of tax evaders and those smuggling illegally obtained money abroad, while he also referred to media enterprises that mysteriously continued to operate even though nominally bankrupt "though no one knows where they get the money".
"For the first time a government is trying to clean the country from the stench and the interests that for years want to ravage everything. And, of course, this is where there is a very great reaction," Papandreou concludes.
 DM Beglitis on the armed forces retirements, promotionsThe Armed Forces promotions and retirements had been scheduled since early October, were not extraordinary and were based on objective criteria, Defence Minister Panos Beglitis on Wednesday underlined in response to opposition party criticism.
Speaking to an Athens private radio station, Beglitis said that the army, navy and air force chiefs of staff and the National Defence General Staff Chief had completed their term in their individual posts.
He also underlined that the procedure could have taken place in August but was postponed as a result of the crisis in SE Mediterranean.
Commenting on the reactions of the parties of the opposition, he accused them of hypocrisy and small party politicking vis-?-vis the operation of the armed forces. He also referred to the armed forces promotions and retirements decided by the preceding government in August 2009, just before the Oct. 4 general elections, stressing that it was an unprecedented move in the country's postwar history.
 Greek PMI fell to 40.5 points in OctoberGreece's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 40.5 points in October, from 43.2 in September, recording the fourth largest decline in operating conditions ever recorded in Greek manufacturing products in the last 12-and-a-half years.
The Greek manufacturing sector continued worsening in October, at the highest rate in 18 months, with production and new orders recording a significant decline, while demand fell further. Enterprises in the sector continued their efforts to improve competitiveness by limiting inventories and cutting prices despite increased pressure on costs.
New orders fell in October, while production fell at the third fastest rate in history. Pending jobs fell with the fastest rate in more than two years and production volumes fell at the fastest rate since March 2009.
Manufacturing enterprises cut their workforce in October trying to cut costs and reduced their prices as they tried to attract more customers. Factory prices fell despite a strong increase in production costs.
The PMI is a composite index compiled by Markit, measuring business activity in the manufacturing sector. Readings above 50 indicate a growing sector, while readings below 50 a shrinking sector.
 ADEDY to hold demonstration; GSEE to reach decision depending on developmentsThe general council of the civil servants' union federation (ADEDY) on Wednesday decided to continue the mobilizations against the government's austerity measures, whereas, no specific decisions were reached in the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) General Council meeting.
ADEDY decided to hold a demonstration at Athens' Klathmonos Square on Thursday afternoon reaffirming the need to continue the mobilizations, while its board was assigned the task to agree on their form and dates depending on political developments.
On its part, the General Council of GSEE agreed on the need to continue protesting but chose not to announce the form of the mobilizations and specific dates taking under consideration political developments.
 Seamen demand overdue paymentsProtesting seamen at the port of Piraeus on Wednesday blocked the departure of two ferryboats owned by NEL coastal shipping company, demanding overdue payments, before departing from the port. The company with a statement denied the allegations.
The Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) has requested the intervention of the ministry of development, competitiveness and shipping on the issue.
 Business Briefs-- National Securities topped the list of most active securities firms at the Athens Stock Exchange in October 2011, accounting for 13.7 pct of total trading in the market, followed by Eurobank Securities (13.27 pct), Investment Bank (13.05 pct), Euroxx (6.25 pct), Piraeus Securities (6.11 pct), Citigroup (5.56 pct), Alpha Finance (4.25 pct), Cheuvreux (2.81 pct), HSBC (2.62 pct) and UBS (2.53 pct).
-- Tourist arrivals on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes rose by more than 30 pct in October, breaking a new all-time record, official figures showed on Wednesday.
 Greek stocks continued moving lowerGreek stocks continued losing ground in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, as an early recovery lost steam despite the fact that bank shares recorded strong gains. The composite index of the market fell 0.93 pct to end at 745.64 points, after rising as much as 1.0 pct during the session. Turnover was a low 47.407 million euros. The Big Cap index fell 0.16 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.77 pct and the Small Cap index rose 1.46 pct. National Bank (10.2 pct), MIG (8.94 pct), Piraeus Bank (7.54 pct), Hellenic Postbank (5.96 pct) and Alpha Bank (5.57 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while OTE (6.65 pct), Viohalco (3.85 pct), Coca-Cola 3E (2.74 pct) and Motor Oil (2.69 pct) were top losers.
The Bank (5.45 pct), Technology (4.13 pct) and Financial Services (4.10 pct) sectors scored gains, while Telecoms (6.65 pct), Food (2.67 pct) and Industrial Products (2.63 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 80 to 69 with another 18 issues unchanged. Akritas (30 pct), VIS (29.89 pct) and Kordellou Bros (29.56 pct) were top gainers, while Ideal (29 pct), Moda Bagno (23.53 pct) and NEL (19.19 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -1.73%
Personal & Household: +0.21%
Raw Materials: -1.39%
Travel & Leisure: -1.84%
Food & Beverages: -2.67%
Financial Services: +4.10%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, HBC Coca Cola, PPC and OTE.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.93
Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.55
HBC Coca Cola: 13.48
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.06
National Bank of Greece: 1.62
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.63
Bank of Piraeus: 0.21
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds widened slightly to 16.15 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Wednesday, from 15.97 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 17.96 pct and the German Bund 1.81 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.10 pct, the six-month rate 1.78 pct, the three-month 1.58 pct and the one-month rate 1.36 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.25 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover shrinking to 13.605 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,403 contracts worth 7.707 million euros, with 17,719 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 32,611 contracts worth 5.899 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (16,698), followed by Eurobank (1,298), MIG (2,733), OTE (1,162), OPAP (1,395), Alpha Bank (1,881), Cyprus Bank (899), Hellenic Postbank (2,947), Ellaktor (599) and Mytilineos (352).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.401
Pound sterling 0.874
Danish kroner 7.552
Swedish kroner 9.209
Japanese yen 109.4
Swiss franc 1.234
Norwegian kroner 7.874
Canadian dollar 1.418
Australian dollar 1.350
 Crisis forces boutique owner to turn robberThe ever-deepening economic crisis in Greece and the increasing dire financial straits of his own business prompted a 44-year-old Glyfada boutique owner to turn robber and start terrorising the suburbs of southeast Attica, all along the coast from Nea Smyrni to Voula, Alimos and Vari.
In his brief but busy career as an outlaw, the 44-year-old carried out a total of 26 armed robberies, of which five were carried out last Saturday in his own neighbourhood of Glyfada, all on the same day. His victims included corner shops, state lottery and football pool betting agencies, hotels, fastfood restaurants, souvlaki shops, supermarkets and even passers by.
He was finally caught on Tuesday afternoon in Glyfada by officers from the local police department, based on the report filed by a doctor that was held up in by the suspect in his surgery and robbed of 300 euro on Monday.
In statements to police, the suspect said that he turned to robbery after his shop ran into difficulties. During a search of the suspect's car and his shop in Glyfada, police found a replica handgun, eight CO2-powered pellets, four mobile phones, a full-face hood, three pairs of gloves, two screwdrivers, a pair of pliers and another person's ATM card.
The suspect was led before an Athens public prosecutor to be formally charged.
 Drug dealing arrests on CorfuTwo coast guard officers and three Albanian nationals were arrested on Corfu early Wednesday charged with drug dealing.
An organised police operation took place in the sea region between Corfu and Albania, where coast guard frogmen uncovered and confiscated approximately 100 kilos of cannabis.
According to police, the two coast guard officers who were arrested had recently come under suspicion by their colleagues. A request to have the confidentially of the suspects' telephone calls was approved by judicial authorities, and the police operation was mounted on the basis of evidence revealed in the telephone discussions.
 Spate of robberies, burglaries in AthensTwo women, one in Pallini and one in Acharnes, were the victims of armed robbers in their homes overnight, as well as two OPAP state betting agencies that were robbed within 20 minutes of each other in central Athens.
The first incident occurred on Tuesday night when three individuals broke into the top floor of a Pallini two-storey residence while the owners were absent and stole jewellery and a hunting rifle. Armed with the rifle they had stolen, they then forced their way into the ground floor apartment of the same house, holding the elderly woman living there at gunpoint while they stole a gold chain and fled.
The second break-in occurred at 4:48 on Wendesday morning when two men wearing hoods entered a house and threatened the woman owner with a knife while they stole an unspecified amount of money and personal documents from her bag.
The first of the OPAP betting agency robberies occurred at 9:53 p.m. on Tuesday when two unidentified men stole a small amount of money from the tills of a betting agency on Laskareos Street at gunpoint. Just 20 minutes later, four unidentified men attacked another betting agency on Zoodohou Pigis Street, again holding the owner at gunpoint, and fled with an unknown quantity of money. Police have not ruled out the possibility that the two robberies may be linked.
 Two arrests for Athens Bar Association robberyTwo Albanian nationals, aged 33 and 34 years old, respectively, were arrested for an armed robbery at the Athens Bar Association offices last April, police announced on Wednesday. The two suspects and a third individual, still wanted, had made off with the sum of 404,500 euros.
According to police, the two went to the Athens Bar Association cashier on the office building's second floor and holding employees at gunpoint they made off with five bags filled with money. They fled the scene on a stolen motorcycle which they later abandoned to take off in a car driven by an accomplice.
The suspects are also accused of breaking into the office of a physician in Athens' Pangrati district last September and removing medical equipment and electronic devices worth 110,000 euros.
 Human traffickers and illegal migrants arrested in ThessalonikiTwo men aged 58 and 49 and a 55-year-old woman, all locals, were arrested at Thessaloniki, northern Greece early Wednesday, charged with migrant-smuggling. According to police the three suspects are members of an international ring that facilitates the entrance and transport of illegal migrants in Greece.
Police were lying in wait at Xyrokrini, near Thessaloniki, when the three suspects arrived to pick up and transport to Athens 15 Afghani illegal migrants, among them two women and two children.
The illegal migrants told police that they had paid 250 euros each for their transport from the Turkish borders to Thessaloniki.
 Man arrested while picking up heroin packageAttica narcotics squad officers on Wednesday announced the arrest of a 43-year-old Nigerian national as he accepted delivery of a postal package from India containing 440 grammes of heroin.
The heroin was first found in the package and police then set up a surveillance operation approved by a public prosecutor for its monitored delivery to the recipient, who was then arrested. The package looked like a wooden box containing golf clubs and arrived by air, via a courier firm. The box had a double lining and hidden compartments in which the heroin was hidden.
The suspect arrested was led before a public prosecutor on Wednesday.
 Extension of Athens metro line 3 to continue in 2012Work on extending line 3 of the Athens metro to the districts of Korydallos and the port of Piraeus will continue in early 2012 after the conclusion of a tender for a temporary contractor, Attiko Metro chief Christos Tsitouras announced on Wednesday. Also expected in December is the Court of Audit's signature of the contract.
In a meeting with Korydallos Mayor Stavros Kasimatis, Tsitouras also announced work to widen the pavements in front of shops at the Eleftherias Square station in order to minimise the impact on these businesses.
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 3C and 20C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 18C. Cloudy with possible showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 5C to 15C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe political landscape following Prime Minister George Papandreou's initiative for a referendum and the political world's and markets' reactions in Greece and worldwide, dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government and George Papandreou are counting hours".
AVGHI: "The people sealing the developments".
AVRIANI: "International speculators profited big time from Georgie's (PM Papandreou) decision for a referendum".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Ruling PASOK deputies are kicking him (Papandreou) out but he won't leave".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The Master of Chaos".
ESTIA: "The pinnacle of irresponsibility".
ETHNOS: "Government and country in nervous breakdown".
IMERISSIA: "Everything up in the air - The economy a political hostage".
KATHIMERINI: "Government teetering, everything fluid".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Greece at the epicentre of an international 'storm'."
RIZOSPASTIS: "All at Syntagma Square (downtown Athens, in front of the Greek parliament) on Friday".
TA NEA: "Greece in a vortex".
VRADYNI: "The referendum toppling Papandreou".
 Greek Cypriot side satisfied with UNSG statement on Greentree talksNEW YORK (CNA/AMNA)
Greek Cypriot side has expressed satisfaction over the contents of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's statement following the end of the two-day talks in New York for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue, according to reliable sources.
The same sources also describing the statement the best for the Greek Cypriot side, compared to the statements the UN chief had made at the end of his previous three meetings with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turksih Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu.
The sources note that the Turkish Cypriot leader's negative stance in the SG and his aides' efforts left no other alternative.
According to diplomatic sources, the SG's statement indicates that the UN wants to test the effectiveness of a new mixed procedure of shuttle talks by its officials and other international players, which, to some extent, was applied in the Greentree talks and showed encouraging signs.
A Greek Cypriot source said that Ban Ki-moon's statement had an optimistic tone, rather than depicting what really happened at Greentree, in an effort to justify the new invitation he extended.
The source said that Ban's reference to "some encouraging progress" made at the Greentree talks, referred to each side appreciating the positions of the other as well as the improved understanding on the part of the SG of each side's positions as well as the good climate that prevailed during the talks.
According to the source, Ban's reference to "the end game of negotiations" means that at some point in 2012, the procedure that began in September 2008 will reach a crossroads. Either one path will lead to a solution, another perhaps a break until the Cyprus EU presidency is concluded and the Presidential elections in the government controlled areas of the Republic are held in early 2013 or the UN might declare a deadlock.
Even though the international factor is favouring a break of the procedure until the presidential elections, a Greek Cypriot source said the third alternative could not be ruled out. The fact that "we are reaching the end does not necessarily mean a solution to the Cyprus issue that is not agreed. The end might also mean deadlock."
An official who was present at the Greentree negotiations noted that the UN SG clarified that if until the January meeting there is no substantial progress, most likely Ban will announce a break until the presidential elections in Cyprus.
Regarding the procedure, a Greek Cypriot source indicated that the idea of shuttle talks was suggested by the Greek Cypriot side and from what it seems it will be adopted during the negotiations in Cyprus.
"This is helping us", the source said, reminding that during the last intensive round of negotiations, after each leader outlined his positions, the procedure was more relaxed as the aides were meeting in between. "This surely is a lot different than having direct talks", the source added.
The SG's aides will formulate the details of the negotiating procedure that will be followed until the January meeting, when the leaders will return to New York.
UN Special Adviser Alexander Downer already started informing permanent members of the Security Council on what happened at Greentree. He already met the permanent representatives of Greece and Turkey.
In his statement after the end of the Greentree talks, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had said that President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Eroglu have agreed that efforts are essential over the next two months to move to the end game of the negotiations for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue.
He also said that the leaders assured him that they can finalize a deal, acknowledging that there is still work to be done and that by January, when they will meet again with the SG, Ban expects that the internal aspects of the Cyprus problem will have been resolved so that they can move to the multilateral conference shortly thereafter.
This was the fourth meeting of the leaders with the UNSG. The first took place in November 2010, followed by two more meetings held in
Geneva on January 26 and July 7, 2011, during which both sides reaffirmed their commitment to finding a comprehensive solution as soon as possible, while in Geneva, on 26 January 2011, the sides agreed to intensify the negotiations.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Since 1974, Turkey occupies 37% of Cyprus' territory in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, European Parliament decisions and resolutions, European Council decisions and other resolutions of international fora, which condemn the Turkish invasion and occupation. Ankara has proclaimed a so called 'state' in the occupied areas of Cyprus, which the UN have called illegal and asked the international community not to recognise it. The illegal state is only recognised by Ankara.
UN - led negotiations have been underway since 2008 between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus with an aim to reunify the island under a federal roof.
The Republic of Cyprus is a full EU member state since May 2004. Turkey aspires to join the EU but said it would not talk to Cyprus when Nicosia assumes the rotating EU presidency in the second half of 2012.
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