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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-11-09

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

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

Wednesday, 9 November 2011 Issue No: 3928

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: parties agree to Oct. 26 decisions
  • [02] PM tells Cabinet to have resignations ready, solution 'soon' on new prime minister
  • [03] PM meets Roumeliotis in Parliament
  • [04] Eurogroup wants letter with five signatures for 6th tranche of bailout money, FinMin tells cabinet
  • [05] Venizelos: decisions must be made today
  • [06] Samaras on demand he sign on for Eurozone decisions
  • [07] ND spokesman: New gov't to contain political personalities too
  • [08] Rehn: Greece needs to restore confidence between Eurozone partners
  • [09] Eurogroup asks for written commitment from new Greek government
  • [10] New 'unity' gov't 'doomed to fail' LAOS leader predicts
  • [11] LA.O.S head briefs party's MPs
  • [12] SYRIZA's Tsipras calls for broad-based front against memorandum political powers
  • [13] Environment minister holds meeting with China Investment Corp.
  • [14] Environment ministry lifts restrictions on use of biomass
  • [15] T-bills auction raises 1.3 bln euros
  • [16] Geniki Bank reports higher nine-month losses
  • [17] EU Globalisation Fund approves 2.9 million euro for laid-off Greek workers
  • [18] Tourist arrivals continued to rise in October
  • [19] Ministry demands 20%-reduction in rents paid by local gov't entities
  • [20] Foreign investors raise share in ASE capitalisation in Oct.
  • [21] Business Briefs
  • [22] Stocks end 2.44% higher
  • [23] Greek bond market closing report
  • [24] ADEX closing report
  • [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday
  • [26] Culture Minister to meet with British Com't for Restitution of Parthenon Marbles
  • [27] PRC-sponsored int'l forum in Athens on Tibet development prospects
  • [28] Four injured in six armed robberies throughout the night
  • [29] Powerful drug found during police raid
  • [30] Probe into coast guard officers' involvement in contraband cigarette ring
  • [31] Armed robbery at jewelry shop on Zakynthos
  • [32] Marshall Islands-flagged bulker runs aground near Skyros, crew safe
  • [33] Environment ministry officials fired for taking bribes
  • [34] Elderly woman burns to death in home
  • [35] Cloudy on Wednesday
  • [36] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance Politics

  • [01] PM: parties agree to Oct. 26 decisions

    A majority of the political parties in Parliament fully support the decisions taken by Eurozone leaders on October 26 for a new bailout package for Greece, Prime Minister George Papandreou informed a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday.

    Briefing the ministers on the progress of talks with the other parties on forming a national unity coalition government, Papandreou stressed that this support was a vindication for the government and the support of the parties was an "gain for the country".

    Papandreou reported that, in addition to the backing of main opposition New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras for the bailout agreement, he had also secured the support of two smaller parties in Parliament, the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party led by George Karatzaferis and the Democratic Alliance party led by Dora Bakoyannis.

    Referring to the negotiations underway, he noted that "one might imagine ideal situations but when discussing with political parties there were 'red lines' on both sides and then one had to try for the best possible".

    The new government that would be formed will be tasked with ensuring transparency, fighting corruption, lawlessness and tax evasion, implementing the agreement with Switzerland, fighting fuel fraud and other measures initiated by the present government, he added.

    If Greece managed to implement the decisions of October 26, "within the next two years and by 2014 we will have emerged from the crisis, we will have reached the opposite shore," he said.

    [02] PM tells Cabinet to have resignations ready, solution 'soon' on new prime minister

    Greek prime minister George Papandreou called on his ministers and deputy ministers to have their resignations ready, during an emergency Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that lasted approximately half an hour, while he also said that soon there will be a solution regarding who the new prime minister will be, government spokesman Elias Mossialos told a press briefing afterwards.

    Mossialos also said that the deliberations with main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras were continuing.

    The spokesman explained that Papandreou did not ask to be given the Cabinet members' resignations, but that the resignations should be at his disposal at whatever moment he will need them.

    Addressing what is apparently his Cabinet's last meeting, Papandreou outlined the global and European reality, as well as the role of the markets which, as a rule, operate independently and autonomously from the political system and democracy, he said.

    Papandreou further said that his ruling PASOK party is a force of stability and responsibility, adding that it will support with all its strength the country's exit from the crisis, adding that an increasingly larger section of the political system was realising the importance of the October 26 eurozone summit decisions.

    The procedure to be followed, as soon as Papandreou and Samaras reach an agreement on the prime minister and composition of the new coalition government, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will convene the Council of Political Party leaders, which will be attended by all party leaders desiring to do so. There, Papandreou will submit his resignation and the resignation of his government and announce the name of the new prime minister. After Papandreou, Samaras will announce his agreement with the new prime minister. After that, the new prime minister will set in motion the procedures for the formation of the new government and the swearing-in of the new government, and will seek a vote of confidence from parliament.

    [03] PM meets Roumeliotis in Parliament

    Prime Minister George Papandreou met Greece's representative at the International Monetary Fund Panagiotis Roumeliotis at his offices in Parliament on Tuesday evening.

    [04] Eurogroup wants letter with five signatures for 6th tranche of bailout money, FinMin tells cabinet

    The Eurogroup wants a letter bearing five signatures before the sixth tranche of the aid to Greece is disbursed, sources said on Tuesday.

    According to these, government vice-president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos informed Tuesday's cabinet meeting that Greece's European partners are demanding that they receive a letter signed by Prime Minister George Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, the new prime minister, the new finance minister and Bank of Greece (BoG) Governor George Provopoulos, in which they pledge that the Oct. 27 agreement concerning loans to Greece will be fulfilled before they disburse the sixth installment of the loan to Greece.

    Venizelos briefed the cabinet members that there is no other prerequisite for the government and no additional measures are required for the sixth tranche.

    The finance minister thanked Prime Minister George Papandreou for entrusting him with the ministry and finance and the government vice-presidency. He also thanked his colleagues in the government for their cooperation in handling the difficult state of the economy.

    [05] Venizelos: decisions must be made today

    "Everything has to finish today, saving the country comes first" Finance Minister and government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos stressed in statements to reporters on Tuesday after a meeting with PASOK MP Apostolos Kaklamanis, a former Parliament president.

    He warned that unless decisions concerning the 'unity' government and prime minister were reached later the same day, Greece might well find itself struggling to get the money already promised to it in a Europe that was in turmoil.

    Venizelos noted that both Italy and Spain were in danger from debt speculators, who were waiting in the wings for Spanish elections to be held before attacking.

    Concerning the stance adopted by main opposition New Democracy, Venizelos stressed that Samaras was "acting admirably" in shifting from his previous positions in order to save the country and, to this extent, had his own support in the effort.

    [06] Samaras on demand he sign on for Eurozone decisions

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Tuesday issued an official announcement in response to demands he sign a letter in support for the Oct. 26-27 EU summit agreements for Greece, as a condition for disbursing the 6th tranche of a bailout package for the country.

    "There is national dignity. I have already and repeatedly explained why, in order to protect the Greek economy and the euro, implementation of the Oct. 26 decisions has become inevitable. I will not allow anyone to doubt my word," he emphasised.

    In a later statement by ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis, following the same-day and controversial statements by EU Commissioner Olli Rehn, stressed that "the fact Europe has lost every vestige of trust vis-a-vis the PASOK government cannot offend our national dignity."

    [07] ND spokesman: New gov't to contain political personalities too

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Yiannis Michelakis said on private television n Tuesday morning that the new coalition government, which will possibly be announced later in the day, will also contain political personalities.

    "The issue of (who will be) the prime minister must close immediately...We are waiting for the announcements," Michelakis added.

    [08] Rehn: Greece needs to restore confidence between Eurozone partners

    BRUSSELS (AMNA M. Aroni)

    European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn on Tuesday stressed that Greece's political class had to accept its responsibilities, in statements after the end of the ECOFIN Council in Brussels.

    "Solidarity goes two ways," he said, repeating that the new 'national unity' government created by the two main Greek political parties must confirm in writing that they endorse the commitments arising from the agreement reached by Eurogroup leaders on October 27.

    Rehn repeated that the 6th tranche of bailout loans to Greece will be disbursed only when it is absolutely clear that the Greek side is committed to the goals and policies foreseen under the Oct. 27 agreement and backs the new EU-IMF economic programme for the country.

    Asked to comment on the latest statement made by main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras concerning the demand that he co-sign a letter agreeing to the terms of the bailout loan, Rehn repeated that the unilateral announcement of a referendum had damaged relations of confidence between Greece and the Eurozone, which now had to be restored.

    As a result, Greece's partners in Eurozone expected not just a written pledge from the new national unity government in Greece but also the actions that were a precondition for the 6th tranche, the start of negotiations to finalise the second programme and the participation of the private sector, Rehn said.

    [09] Eurogroup asks for written commitment from new Greek government

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Aroni)

    The Eurogroup on Monday evening asked for a written commitment by the new Greek coalition government that is due to be announced and also the political forces that will be backing it in order to disburse an 8 billion euros 6th tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to the country and for completion of the procedures for drafting a second bailout programme.

    Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker and European Commissioner for economic and monetary affairs Olli Rehn also told a press conference Monday night after a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels that immediately after the new government is formed, the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' will go to Athens to complete the drafting of the new (second) programme for Greece.

    Juncker insisted on the need for inter-party support for all aspects of the second programme, which should be put in writing. "We call on all the sides concerned to assume their responsibilities," he said.

    According to the two officials, the model that will be followed is the same as that for Portugal and Ireland, where the opposition parties backed the EU-IMF programme.

    Asked whether the demand for a written commitment could be construed as intervention in the country's internal affairs, Rehn said that the same happened with Ireland and Portugal without that being considered intervention in the domestic affairs of those countries.

    Juncker said that the October 21 eurogroup decision for disbursement of the 6th tranche has not been abandoned and remains in effect, and the disbursement will take place. He also clarified that approval of the disbursement could be decided via a tele-conference of the eurogroup rather than another meeting.

    Rehn also noted that the unilateral announcement of a referendum on the October 27 eurozone summit agreement delivered a blow to Greece's credibility, and "it is essential that the entire political class is now restoring the confidence that had been lost in the Greek commitment to the EU/IMF programme".

    [10] New 'unity' gov't 'doomed to fail' LAOS leader predicts

    The new coalition government now being hammered out between the two main parties was a "coexistence doomed to failure from the start", Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis predicted on Tuesday.

    He compared the effort underway to an arranged marriage desired by the two families but not by couple, which raised obstacles to justify their refusal.

    "This marriage has no luck. Why would you go for best man," he added in statements as he arrived in Parliament in order to chair a meeting of his Parliamentary group.

    [11] LA.O.S head briefs party's MPs

    The Parliamentary group of opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) met on Tuesday to focus on current and very fluid political developments.

    According to reports, LA.O.S president George Karatzaferis briefed MPs on the developments and underlined his heightened concern for the delay observed in forming a new coalition government.

    Karatzaferis stressed that the delay in announcing the name of the new prime minister intensifies insecurity and uncertainty in international markets as regards Greece, and as a result the country is exposed to unforeseen risks.

    [12] SYRIZA's Tsipras calls for broad-based front against memorandum political powers

    Opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday called on the Greek people to reconsider their stance toward the two major political parties, regardless of their political affiliations and join the Left.

    Tsipras also called on Democratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis to "set aside his flirtation with memorandum powers" and join a broad-based front that will overturn the present situation.

    Strongly attacking the forces that "back the current policy" and "corruption", Tsipras said that the new government will be anything but a caretaker government and that it will tie down the country for the next thirty years.

    Tsipras stated that there are "two paths to follow, namely, be subservient and accept the people's bankruptcy by accepting the loan agreement and ensuing measures or reject the loan agreement and take the future into our own hands."

    "Only the creation of a broad-based front can give hope and future prospects to the country," he stressed.

    Financial News

    [13] Environment minister holds meeting with China Investment Corp.

    Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday had meetings with China Investment Corporation (CIC) officials, during which he held talks on the Greek privatisation programme, action taken by Greece to encourage investment by simplifying bureaucratic procedures and the potential for investment in Greece, in programmes such as the "Helios" alternative energy programme or waste management infrastructure.

    This is the first time the CIC, the world's biggest state investment fund in charge of an investment portfolio of around 400 billion dollars, has held a meeting with a member of the Greek government.

    [14] Environment ministry lifts restrictions on use of biomass

    Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister George Papaconstantinou on Tuesday signed a ministerial order that lifted previous restrictions on using biomass, such as pellets, as fuel in central heating systems and water heaters in large urban centres.

    The decision also established a modern framework for monitoring and controlling levels of air pollutants emitted by such installations.

    Heating systems using biomass as fuel can now be used throughout Greece, while introducing rules concerning the maintenance and operation of such systems, modernising the regulatory framework to reflect changes in technology.

    A ministry announcement said the measure adopted the proposals of environmental organisations and aimed to reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels, protect the environment and achieve national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    [15] T-bills auction raises 1.3 bln euros

    Greece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bills issue raising 1.3 billion euros from the market with more favourable conditions. An announcement by the Public Debt Management Organization said that the average yield of the issue was set at 4.89 pct from 4.86 pct in the previous auction of same T-bills in October. Bids submitted totalled 2.910 billion euros, 2.91 times more than the asked sum. of 1.0 billion euros.

    The auction was made through the market's primary dealers with settlement date set for Friday, 11 November.

    The organization accepted bids up to 1.0 billion euros asked sum, along with non-competitive bids worth 300 million euros. The organization will also accept non-competitive bids up to 30 pct of the asked sum by noon Thursday, 10 November.

    [16] Geniki Bank reports higher nine-month losses

    Geniki Bank, a member of the Societe Generale Group, on Tuesday said net losses totaled 617.8 million euros in the January-September period, after a net loss of 304.1 million euros in the corresponding period last year, reflecting a write-off of Greek bonds in its portfolio.

    The bank said loans totaled 3.015 billion euros, down 14.03 pct, while saving deposits and repos totaled 1.824 billion euros at the end of September, down 22.74 pct from the start of the year.

    Geniki Bank Group said its position in Greek state bonds resulted in a loss of 230.1 million euros.

    Operating revenues totaled 97.3 million euros, down 22.91 pct from the same period in 2010, reflecting lower interest revenues.

    Operating spending totaled 102.8 million euros, down 11.4 pct from last year.

    [17] EU Globalisation Fund approves 2.9 million euro for laid-off Greek workers

    The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) will pay 2.9 million euro to support 642 workers laid off by ALDI Hellas when the supermarket chain closed its operations in Greece, based on a decision approved on Tuesday by the European Parliament's budget committee.

    This is the first time that Greece has applied for and received funds for unemployed Greek workers from the EGF.

    Most the laid-off workers receiving the fund's support live in areas with high unemployment, such as central Macedonia and Thrace.

    [18] Tourist arrivals continued to rise in October

    The number of tourists arriving in the 13 largest airports in Greece during October increased by 7.16 percent relative to October 2010, based on figures released by the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) on Tuesday. The increase for the year was even higher, with tourist arrivals between January-October up 9.57 percent relative to the same period in 2010.

    The top tourism destinations continued to be the islands of Rhodes and Kos, where tourist arrivals increased 22.54 percent and 22.6 percent, respectively, with more than two million visitors to the two islands in 2011.

    A sharp rise in tourist arrivals was also recorded in Thessaloniki, with tourist arrivals increasing 11.4 percent relative to 2010 to top one million.

    Arrivals to the country's largest airport, by contrast, fell by 1.63 percent year to year.

    [19] Ministry demands 20%-reduction in rents paid by local gov't entities

    Rents paid by local government organisations (OTA) and entities to house their services must be reduced 20 pct in response to the current economic conditions, according to an interior ministry circular made public on Tuesday, which also underlined that no upward rent readjustment will be allowed before June 30, 2013.

    The circular specified that rents paid until June 30, 2013 will undergo no change and remain equal to rents paid in July 2010, and reduced by 20 pct.

    Rent reductions that are smaller must be readjusted to 20 pct and the resulting difference will be subtracted from future payments.

    According to the circular, lessors have the right to legal recourse to contest additional rent reduction.

    [20] Foreign investors raise share in ASE capitalisation in Oct.

    Foreign investors slightly raised their participation in the Greek market's capitalisation in October to 51.4 pct, from 50.8 pct in September and 48.6 pct in October 2010. Greek investors' participation eased to 47.5 pct in October, from 48 pct in the previous month. Foreign investors were net buyers in the month with capital inflows totaling 28.14 million euros, while Greek investors were net sellers, with capital outflows totaling 27.76 million euros.

    The value of transactions in the market totaled 997.39 million euros in October, down 23.6 pct from September and sharply down (-61.5 pct) compared with October 2010. The number of active investor codes, however, rose to 43,252 in October, from 39,517 in September, although it was down from 64,051 in October last year.

    The Athens Stock Exchange's capitalisation totaled 30.69 billion euros at the end of October, down 4.9 pct from the previous month and down 48.3 pct from October 2010.

    [21] Business Briefs

    -- Banks suffered more withdrawals of savings deposits, both by households and enterprises, in September, the Bank of Greece announced on Tuesday. The central bank, in a report, said savings withdrawals totaled around 5.0 billion euros in September, with total reserves down 14 pct compared with the corresponding month last year.

    -- Coca Cola Hellenic Bottling on Tuesday said its comparable net profits totaled 302 million euros in the January-September period this year, from 419 million euros in the corresponding period in 2010, while comparable operating earnings fell 25 pct to 468 million euros from 623 million euros over the same periods, respectively.

    [22] Stocks end 2.44% higher

    Stocks ended significantly higher at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, as the market apparently banked on Lucas Papademos - a former ECB vice-president - being tapped to assume the premiership.

    A positive trend in other European markets, despite concern over Italy, also boosted sentiment in the market. The composite index rose 2.44 pct to end at 779.63 points, with turnover rising to 68.983 million euros. The Big Cap index jumped 3.51 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.57 pct higher and the Small Cap index rose 0.90 pct. Hellenic Postbank (13.41 pct), Eurobank (12.16 pct), Alpha Bank (11.93 pct) and National Bank (11.86 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Marfin Popular Bank (3.06 pct) and Folli Follie (2.38 pct) were top losers.

    The Bank (8.02 pct), Insurance (5.33 pct) and Health (4.07 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Commerce (2.34 pct) and Travel (0.87 pct) suffered losses.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 107 to 50 with another 22 issues unchanged. Medicon (29.51 pct), T Bank (28.57 pct) and Vioter (26.67 pct) were top gainers, while Alpha Grissin (19.35 pct), HOL (19.32 pct) and Varvaressos (18.57 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: +5.33%

    Industrials: +0.41%

    Commercial: -2.34%

    Construction: +4.61%

    Oil & Gas: +1.22%

    Personal & Household: +1.24%

    Raw Materials: +3.17%

    Travel & Leisure: -0.87%

    Technology: +1.21%

    Telecoms: +3.03%

    Banks: +8.02%

    Food & Beverages: +0.43%

    Health: +4.07%

    Utilities: +1.56%

    Chemicals: +2.56%

    Financial Services: +2.41%

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

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

    Alpha Bank: 1.22

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 5.75

    HBC Coca Cola: 13.05

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.51

    National Bank of Greece: 2.17

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.83

    OPAP: 7.22

    OTE: 3.40

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.27

    Titan: 15.00

    [23] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell slightly to 16.09 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, from 16.13 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 17.88 pct and the German Bund 1.79 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved mostly lower. The 12-month rate fell to 2.03 pct, the six-month rate dropped to 1.69 pct, the three-month rate fell to 1.47 pct and the one-month rate was unchanged at 1.36 pct.

    [24] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 0.81 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Tuesday, with turnover a low 27.023 million euros.

    Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 12,157 contracts worth 18.536 million euros, with 18,747 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 43,237 contracts worth 8.487 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (26,281), followed by Eurobank (1,595), MIG (683), OTE (781), OPAP (596), Piraeus Bank (1,131), Alpha Bank (6,771), Mytilineos (572), Cyprus Bank (1,030), Hellenic Postbank (1,412) and ATEbank (234).

    [25] Foreign Exchange rates - Wednesday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.399

    Pound sterling 0.870

    Danish kroner 7.556

    Swedish kroner 9.171

    Japanese yen 109.12

    Swiss franc 1.256

    Norwegian kroner 7.840

    Canadian dollar 1.418

    Australian dollar 1.353

    General News

    [26] Culture Minister to meet with British Com't for Restitution of Parthenon Marbles

    LONDON (AMNA)

    Culture & Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos was to meet here on Tuesday with representatives of the British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.

    The meeting was to be attended by Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George, a strong supporter of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.

    The British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles has undertaken a campaign calling for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece on the occasion of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

    Geroulanos is visiting the British capital for the World Travel Market 2011 exhibition.

    [27] PRC-sponsored int'l forum in Athens on Tibet development prospects

    Prospects of cooperation in Tibet between Greece and China will be the focus of an international forum in Athens on Nov. 10-11, with the participation of high-ranking PRC officials, academics, researchers and entrepreneurs from the two countries as well as from Germany and France.

    The 3rd forum on the development of Tibet, entitled "Tibet: New Perspectives in the Hellenic-Chinese Cultural and Economic Cooperation", is hosted by the Hellenic Chinese Chamber (HCC), the Information Office of the State Council of People's Republic of China and the Chinese embassy in Greece, with the support of the Greece China Association.

    [28] Four injured in six armed robberies throughout the night

    Six armed robberies, in which four people were injured, took place throughout Monday night in various parts of Athens.

    A man broke into the home of a 53-year-old Italian woman in the seaside suburb of Nea Makri to rob her, but the woman resisted and called for help. The burglar shot at the woman, injuring her in the leg, and fled.

    In a second incident in the Aghios Panteleimonas district, a man approached an elderly man as he entered his apartment building, injured him in the face with a with a taser, and fled with the money the elderly man had on him.

    In a third incident, three armed burglars broke into an apartment tenanted by an Indian couple in the Kypseli district, hit the couple on the heads with a hammer, and fled with an as yet unknown sum of money.

    In a fourth incident, three armed robbers stormed a cafe in Kolonos and grabbed an unknown sum of money before fleeing with the cafe owner's car.

    In all cases the injured people were taken to hospital for first aid.

    Two more armed robberies, but without injuries, also took place at a mini market in Glyfada and an OPAP football pool agency in Ambelokipi.

    [29] Powerful drug found during police raid

    The powerful and relatively rare synthetic drug Fentanyl, which is considered 100 times more potent than morphine, purer than heroin and numerous dangerous side effects, was found on a 29-year-old Bulgarian woman arrested by police during a raid for illegal narcotics on Tuesday.

    The drug's effects mimic those of heroin while those addicted to it lose weight rapidly, develop high blood pressure and greatly increase their chances of a heart attack.

    The 29-year-old Bulgarian was arrested on the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway near Larisa, while boarding a bus heading for Bulgaria. At the time of her arrest she was in possession of a package of Fentanyl weighing 230 grammes and a 125-gramme package of heroin.

    The woman travelled frequently between Bulgaria and Greece, transporting drugs.

    Fentanyl has recently become increasingly popular among heroin users in neighbouring Bulgaria. Experts say that it is considered 'purer' than heroin because it is not cut with the substances traditionally used to 'cut' heroin.

    The drug also has legitimate medicinal uses as a powerful pre-operative analgesic substance.

    [30] Probe into coast guard officers' involvement in contraband cigarette ring

    A total of 17 people, alleged members of a contraband cigarette trafficking ring, have been arrested within the framework of a police operation in the greater Athens area, as well as in the provincial cities of Patras and Ioannina, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Authorities seized thousands of contraband cigarette cartons found in a warehouse in Aspropyrgos, an industrial district west of Athens proper.

    A handful of coastguard officers are allegedly involved in the ring and based on available evidence, a total of four criminal gangs cooperated to smuggle and distribute contraband cigarettes in Greece and other European countries.

    [31] Armed robbery at jewelry shop on Zakynthos

    Four armed robbers on Monday evening stormed in a jewelry shop in the capital city of the island of Zakynthos and made off with expensive jewelry of unknown value. The robbers, wearing hoods and helmets, threatened the two owners with a handgun and a machine gun, and hit them with a crowbar before grabbing the jewelry and fleeing with two motorcycles.

    One of the owners, a woman, was taken to hospital.

    Police are conducting an investigation on the island and according to information the two motorcycles have been spotted in a farming area, outside the city of Zakynthos.

    [32] Marshall Islands-flagged bulker runs aground near Skyros, crew safe

    A Marshall Islands-flagged freighter ship loaded with containers ran aground in the first hours of Tuesday on a rocky outcropping southeast of the island of Syros, but no inflow of water or injuries were reported.

    The dry cargo bulker "Cafer Dede", with a crew of 19 foreign nationals, was en route from Aliaga, Turkey to the port of Salerno in Italy. The crew was reported to be safe and well.

    Port authority vessels have rushed to the area, while a tugboat was also due to arrive soon.

    The causes of the accident, which took place in conditions of fine weather, were as yet unknown.

    [33] Environment ministry officials fired for taking bribes

    Two environment ministry officials were fired by the ministry on Tuesday after they were caught in the act of taking bribes. The arrest was made following a complaint filed a restaurant owner, whose premises they had gone to inspect.

    [34] Elderly woman burns to death in home

    A 76-year-old woman with impaired mobility was burnt to death in her home when a fire broke out in her apartment, in the coastal town of Xylokastro in the Peloponnese. Fire fighters quickly put out the fire before this spread to other apartments in the same building but found the unlucky woman completely burned.

    An investigation into the cause of the fire is now underway.

    Weather Forecast

    [35] Cloudy on Wednesday

    Cloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 4C and 21C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 10C to 21C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 16C.

    [36] The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glance

    The Eurogroup's demand for a written commitment from the political powers that will support the coalition government for fulfillment of the conditions of the Oct.26 eurozone summit agreement and the ongoing deliberations for the prime minister of the new government, dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.

    ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Snag in the formation of the transitional government".

    AVGHI: "They are hiding their nudity".

    AVRIANI: "The humiliating blackmail must stop".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Long term...transitional government".

    ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Brussels demands memorandum of 'beliefs'."

    ESTIA: "Irreversible national damage".

    ETHNOS: "National Unity Government right now".

    IMERISSIA: "The crucial step".

    KATHIMERINI: "Snail's pace while the EU presses".

    NAFTEMPORIKI: "European partners ask for a written statement of consensus".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Popular reversal front against the monopolies' authority".

    TA NEA: "Both of you (Prime Minister George Papandreou and main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras) sign in order to receive the 8 billion euros".

    VRADYNI: "Ad hoc cooperation government".

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