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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-12-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

Friday, 2 December 2011 Issue No: 3945


  • [01] PM calls for optimism after Inner Cabinet meeting
  • [02] PM Papademos to meet BoG governor Provopoulos on Friday
  • [03] Eurogroup approves 6th tranche of bailout loan to Greece
  • [04] IMF to convene on Greece on December 5, troika in Athens on December 12
  • [05] PASOK leader Papandreou chairs meeting on budget
  • [06] Labour minister addresses EPSCO Council in Brussels
  • [07] Education minister proposes that EU debt-crisis countries cooperate to promote research
  • [08] Journalist Pantelis Kapsis named new minister of state and government spokesman
  • [09] Conversion of state-media journalists to 'civil servants' a major mistake, LAOS leader stresses
  • [10] Justice ministry rep attends ministerial con'f in Belgrade
  • [11] Interior minister on issue of crematoria sites
  • [12] Ukrainian, Polish embassy to host event on Friday for Euro 2012
  • [13] Three 24-hour strikes at AMNA on Fri., Sat. & Sun.
  • [14] Nationwide general strike on Thursday
  • [15] Two rallies held in Thessaloniki in framework of GSEE-ADEDY strike end peacefully
  • [16] Draft law on complete lifting of cabotage to be tabled
  • [17] Bank credit to private sector remains negative in Oct
  • [18] IKA denies trading in Greek bonds in 2011
  • [19] Business Briefs
  • [20] Stocks end significantly down
  • [21] Greek bond market closing report
  • [22] ADEX closing report
  • [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday
  • [24] President inaugurates exhibition on Nat'l Bank of Greece
  • [25] Exhibition on calculating machines in Athens
  • [26] Trial of former Aspis chairman Psomiadis begins
  • [27] Former minister George Souflias has kidney transplant
  • [28] Member of 'kalashnikov' armed robberies gang arrested
  • [29] Four arrested in operation busting major cocaine-smuggling outfit
  • [30] Charter flight returns 76 illegal migrants to country of origin
  • [31] Illegal migrant smugglers arrested at Athens int'l airport
  • [32] Major heroin bust, four arrested
  • [33] Drug dealer arrested in NE Greece
  • [34] Four migrant smugglers arrested, 88 non-legal migrants detained in Astakos
  • [35] President: We exchanged papers on foreign policy
  • [36] UN: Leader's meeting focuses on external relations Politics

  • [01] PM calls for optimism after Inner Cabinet meeting

    "Negotiations (in view of the EU Summit meeting) are in progress. We have our own positions and proposals. It is premature to say anything but we have to be optimistic," Prime Minister Lucas Papademos stressed during comments to reporters after an Inner Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

    According to reports, Cabinet membesr decided to bring a proposal to the Parliament president, suggesting the abolition of a second reading of draft laws in an effort to accelerate the legislative process.

    A meeting of PASOK's government ministers is currently underway, chaired by party president and former premier George Papandreou.

    [02] PM Papademos to meet BoG governor Provopoulos on Friday

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos will be having a meeting with Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos at the Maximos Mansion at noon on Friday.

    [03] Eurogroup approves 6th tranche of bailout loan to Greece

    BRUSSELS (AMNA/M. Aroni)

    The Eurogroup approved disbursement of an 8 billion euros 6th tranche of the 110 billion euro EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece, Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker announced in Brussels after a meeting of the group on Wednesday, adding that the disbursement will most likely be in mid-December.

    "We decided to release the sixth disbursement of the Greek programme now that prior actions have been met," Juncker told reporters after a meeting of the finance ministers of the 17 eurozone member countries.

    Juncker said that the letters received by the eurogroup from the leaders of the three political parties backing the new national unity government in Greece and also from transitional prime minister Lucas Papademos fully satisfied the eurogroup demand for written commitments on the implementation of the Memorandum and the decisions of the October 26-27 eurozone summit.

    The eurogroup chief also said that he will personally send a letter to Papademos stating his satisfaction with the Greek government's commitment to materialise the October 26 decisions.

    He also said that the disbursement will take place approximately in mid-December after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approves its part of the tranche.

    Juncker further appealed to the Greek authorities to speed up talks with Greece's private creditors on the Greek bond swaps, the so-called PSI, with the aim of completion of the process by the end of January.

    [04] IMF to convene on Greece on December 5, troika in Athens on December 12

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) administrative council will convene on Monday December 5 on the disbursement of the 6th tranche of an EC/ECB/IMF loan to Greece.

    Meanwhile, Poul Thomsen delivered on Tuesday night his report on Greece to the council's members. According to reports, Thomsen stresses the importance of the agreement reached on the 26th and 27th of October, underlining that the Greek government is working with dedication for its implementation.

    Lastly, the members of the EC/ECB/IMF troika are expected in Athens on December 12 to examine the situation on the spot and discuss the possibilities for the new programme.

    [05] PASOK leader Papandreou chairs meeting on budget

    PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Thursday chaired a meeting focusing on a discussion on the budget. The meeting attended by the ministers who are party members and its representatives in the relevant Parliamentary process.

    According to reports, it was assessed during the discussion that the New Democracy (ND) party will follow an opposition policy during the discussion on the budget which it will vote for despite all this.

    As regards the stance PASOK will observe during the discussion on the budget, it was decided that low tones must be followed and the discussion to focus on essence and a perspective to be given to the people since, as it was stressed, they are tired of high-tone confrontations.

    [06] Labour minister addresses EPSCO Council in Brussels


    "Greece is at a crucial turning point. The political solidarity of the Eurozone member-states is of definitive importance, both for overcoming the Greek crisis and for the future of our common currency," said Greece's Labour Minister George Koutroumanis in his address at the EU's Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council on Thursday.

    Koutroumanis referred to Greece's reform programme and stressed that Greece had succeeded in reducing the deficit from 15.7 percent of GDP in 2009 to 10.6 percent in 2010 and was continuing the effort, in spite of conditions of acute crisis and significant sacrifices by the Greek people.

    "Based on current forecasts, the fiscal deficit will be down to 9 percent of GDP this year," he said.

    He also asserted that short-term measures against unemploy-ment, such as reducing non-wage-related costs, subsidising social insurance contributions and others had helped stave off the worst repercussions of the economic crisis and helped protect an estimated 300,000 jobs.

    [07] Education minister proposes that EU debt-crisis countries cooperate to promote research

    Greece's Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou on Thursday announced that she has sent letters to her counterparts in four other EU countries caught up in the debt crisis, proposing a framework of cooperation and joint action to promote research and innovation.

    In the letters to her counterparts in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland, Diamatopoulou notes the negative impact of the fiscal crisis on research and innovation and the knock-on repercussions that their degradation will have on the competitiveness and growth prospects of the countries involved.

    She proposes that research centres in all five of the countries worst hit by the EU debt crisis should cooperate and that there be increased mobility of young researchers in the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme in order to attract funds for research and create conditions that will allow postgraduate students to stay in Europe, as well as making use of European Central Bank investment programmes.

    Diamantopoulou calls for the creation of a special working group that will process and submit specific policies for this purpose.

    [08] Journalist Pantelis Kapsis named new minister of state and government spokesman

    Journalist Pantelis Kapsis, former director of TA NEA and TO VIMA newspapers and managing director of the Lambrakis Publishing Group (DOL), has been named by transitional prime minister Lucas Papademos as the new minister of state and government spokesman.

    Papademos also appointed Gikas Hardouvelis, Professor in the Department of Banking and Financial Management at the University of Piraeus and former Eurobank Group chief economist, as the director of his economic office, and George Pagoulatos, Professor of European Politics and Economy in the Department of International and European Economic Studies at the Athens University of Economics and Business, as the director of his strategic planning office.

    [09] Conversion of state-media journalists to 'civil servants' a major mistake, LAOS leader stresses

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Thursday said he disagreed with the conversion of journalists into civil servants, in statements after meeting a delegation of journalists from the state broadcasting company ERT.

    According to Karatzaferis, the conversion of journalists in the state media into "employees" was "the worst thing that could happen to free communication", a way of asserting control over the freedom of the media and a "major mistake" for the operation of ERT.

    Among others, he stressed that journalists did not have a fixed time table and might be called to be present at any time when news unfolded so that the bill equating journalists with the average civil servant was grossly unfair and wrong.

    In other statements on Thursday, he also criticised the timing of a visit by U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden on December 5, pointing out that this was just one day before the third anniversary of the shooting of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos in 2008.

    Karatzaferis predicted that Biden's presence would cause the affair to "flare up again" and said his agenda would be to exert heavy pressure on Athens to lift its veto to EU accession talks for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Biden will be meeting with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, PASOK president George Papandreou and ND leader Antonis Samaras.

    [10] Justice ministry rep attends ministerial con'f in Belgrade

    Combating organised crime is Greece's priority, justice ministry general secretary Yiannis Ioannidis underlined, addressing the 3rd ministerial conference in Belgrade, according to a justice ministry statement issued on Thursday.

    He stressed that regional state cooperation should be promoted within the framework of the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP) focusing on the reinforcement of relations in the sectors of justice and on efforts aimed at combating illegal activities while forging a climate of mutual trust, good neighbourly relations and stability.

    The conference was held with the participation of representatives of SE European countries and tackled the issues of corruption, drug trafficking and organized crime in general.

    [11] Interior minister on issue of crematoria sites

    Interior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Thursday referred to the issue of cremation in Greece, in response to a tabled question by a Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP, who requested information on the sites proposed for the construction of a crematorium, as well as the reasons for any delay in picking such a location.

    In a written response, Yiannitsis underlined that responsible government ministries will decide whether the necessary legal, environmental or other conditions are met, with relevant presidential decrees to be issued after specific proposals are presented by interested municipalities as regards available sites for crematoriums.

    Meanwhile, a document signed by city of Athens general secretary Theodoros Livanios underlines that the municipality is considering a solution in cooperation with greater Athens region municipalities, which have available locations.

    The municipality said the preceding city council had unanimously approved the creation of a crematorium in the Piraeus industrial district of Schistos, although approval was delayed because of "environmental reasons".

    [12] Ukrainian, Polish embassy to host event on Friday for Euro 2012

    The Ukrainian and Polish embassies in Athens will host a "draw ceremony" on Friday for the Euro 2012 finals, which will be jointly organised by the two countries in the summer of 2012.

    The draw for the tournament will take place in Kiev and will be broadcast around the world (18.00 Athens time)

    The 16 finalists have been divided into four seeding pots, using UEFA's national team coefficient ranking.

    As co-hosts, Poland and Ukraine were automatically placed in Pot 1, along with the Netherlands and the defending champions, Spain.

    The other 12 qualifiers have been placed in the remaining pots, according to their respective co-efficients.

    Pot 2: Germany, Italy, England, Russia

    Pot 3: Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Sweden

    Pot 4: Denmark, France, Czech Republic, Republic of Ireland

    [13] Three 24-hour strikes at AMNA on Fri., Sat. & Sun.

    Three 24-hour strikes have been called at the Athens News Agency (AMNA) by unions representing journalists and media sector administrative staff for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 through Dec. 4. The strikes come in protest to efforts by the government to institute a unified wage scale, initially foreseen for civil servants, on AMNA staff. During the industrial action, news items and information will not be broadcast by the Agency and the AMNA website will not be updated.

    Financial News

    [14] Nationwide general strike on Thursday

    A nationwide 24-hour strike is being staged on Thursday, called by the country's two largest labor federations GSEE (General Confederation of Workers of Greece) and ADEDY (the civil servants' supreme administrative council), repre-senting the private and public sectors respectively, in protest against economic policy and the measures contained in the 2012 state budget.

    The main protest rallies will take place in downtown Athens, with a joint GSEE-ADEDY rally starting at 11:00 a.m. at the Pedion tou Areos Park and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated PAME labor organisation's rally also starting at 11:00 a.m. at Omonia Square.

    Both rallies will stage marches later to the Finance Ministry and to Parliament in Syntagma Square.

    Commuter services are participating with work stoppages early in the morning and late at night, while the Athens Metro will be working as normal, in order to facilitate strikers to take part in the rallies and other demonstrations, according to employees' representatives.

    More specifically, the Athens Metro will be running as usual up to the Doukissis Plakentias station, while the Proastiakos suburban railway and OSE (Hellenic Railway), which runs the stretch from Doukissis Plakentias to Athens International Airport, will be on a 24-hour strike.

    However, the Metro stations at Syntagma and Panepistimio will be closed from 10:00 a.m. on.

    Commuter bus and ISAP train employees will hold work stoppages at the beginning and end of the working day, running normally from 9:00 in the morning to 9:00 at night, trolleys will run from 8:00 in the morning to 10:00 at night, and the tram will run from 6:00 in the morning to midnight.

    Ships will remain in port as the Panhellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO) is taking part in the 24-hour strike.

    The Federation of Civil Aviation Authority employees' unions will also be on strike the entire day, causing cancellations of domestic and international flights.

    Also taking part in the 24-hour strike are employees in the core and wider public sector, public utilities and organisations (DEKO), the health sector, the education sector, the justice sector, local governments, social security funds, private employees, and bank employees. The country's courts will also remain closed, as the federation of judicial employees of Greece is also taking part in the 24-hour strike.

    Further, all workers in the mass media will hold a four-hour work stoppage on Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with the exception of journalists covering the strike demonstrations and marches, according to an announcement by the Athens Union of Journalists (ESIEA).

    Also, three rolling 24-hour strikes have also been called at all the state media -- ERT public television and radio, AMNA, municipal radio stations and state press offices -- on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 2-4.

    The state media strikes and ongoing stoppages and other actions are in protest against the government's measures of reserve labour and uniform salary scale, which also affect them, and their designation as 'DEKO' (public utilities).

    [15] Two rallies held in Thessaloniki in framework of GSEE-ADEDY strike end peacefully

    Two rallies held in Thessaloniki on Thursday, in the framework of the strike called by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) ended peacefully.

    One rally was organised by the Workers and Employees Centre and the Union of Civil Servants Organisations and the other by the PAME labour group.

    All the marches reached the building of the Macedonia-Thrace General Secretariat, while one labour official termed them big and said he was pleased with the participation of the people.

    [16] Draft law on complete lifting of cabotage to be tabled

    Development, Competitiveness & Shipping minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis on Thursday announced that a draft law on sea tourism, which will also include a clause completing lifting cabotage restrictions for international cruise companies, will be tabled in Parliament next week.

    Chryssohoidis said that "while Greece is among the most popular cruise tourism destinations, we have virtually no disembarkations, which is translates into lost revenues. Furthermore, we end up sending tourists away because of clauses that essentially block the liberalisation of the cruise sector."

    The minister underlined that the complete lifting of cabotage in the cruise sector will lead to the creation of new infrastructure at ports and the mainland, bringing more revenues to tourism sector entrepreneurs.

    The draft law also includes clauses on maritime and fishing tourism.

    [17] Bank credit to private sector remains negative in Oct

    The annual growth rate of total credit granted to the domestic private sector remained unchanged at -2.2 percent in October 2011 (December 2010: 0.0 percent), the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.

    In a monthly report, the central bank said that the net flow of total credit to the domestic private sector was negative amounting to 510 million euros (October 2010: negative net flow of 491 million euros).

    The net flow of credit to enterprises in October 2011 was positive, amounting to 225 million euros (October 2010: negative net flow of 364 million) and the annual growth rate of credit stood at -0.4 percent from -0.9 percent in September 2011 (December 2010: 1.1 percent). More precisely, the annual growth rate of credit to non-financial enterprises decreased to -0.9 percent in October 2011 from -0.7 percent in the previous month, while the annual growth rate of credit to insurance corporations and other financial intermediaries, which includes significant intra-group transactions, increased to 7.6 percent in October 2011 from -4.7 percent in September 2011.

    The net flow of credit to sole proprietors and unincorporated partnerships was negative, amounting to 180 million euros in October 2011 (October 2010: negative net flow of 44 million) and the annual rate of change of credit decreased to -5.7 percent in October 2011 (September 2011: -5.1 percent, December 2010: 0.3 percent).

    In October 2011, the net flow of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions was negative, amounting to 554 million euros (October 2010: negative net flow of 83 million). As a result, the annual growth rate of credit to individuals and private non-profit institutions decreased further (October 2011: -3.6 percent, September 2011: -3.1 percent, December 2010: -1.2 percent).

    [18] IKA denies trading in Greek bonds in 2011

    The Social Insurance Foundation (IKA-ETAM) on Thursday denied that it had either bought or sold Greek state bonds in 2011, stressing that the fund holds bonds until they mature.

    An IKA announcement said that the bonds in the fund's portfolio were acquired either through direct transfer from the Greek state in order to pay off debts to IKA or from mergers with other social insurance funds.

    [19] Business Briefs

    -- Investment Bank of Greece topped the list of the most active securities firms in the Athens Stock Exchange in November with a market share of 13.69 pct, followed by Eurobank Equities (13.05 pct), National Securities (11.25 pct), Citigroup (7.2 pct), Euroxx (6.85 pct), Alpha Finance (4.91 pct), Piraeus Securities (4.86 pct), Credit Agricole (4.01 pct), HSBC (2.9 pct) and UBS (2.03 pct).

    -- The Greek manufacturing sector remained in a recession in November despite a slight improvement shown by the sector's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI). The index rose to 40.9 points in November, up from 40.5 points in October, but was the fifth worse record on history as the sector remained in a recession for the 27 consecutive month.

    [20] Stocks end significantly down

    Stocks ended significantly lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as sellers regained control of the market after Wednesday's respite, putting more pressure on bank shares.

    The composite index of the market fell 1.58 pct to end at 671.43 points, with turnover a low 50.977 million euros.

    The Big Cap index fell 2.37 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.67 pct lower and the Small Cap index eased 0.42 pct. PPC (4.96 pct) and Hellenic Postbank (0.35 pct) were the only blue chip stocks to end higher, while Eurobank (8.56 pct), Alpha Bank (7.59 pct), National Bank (5.53 pct) and Marfin Popular Bank (4.96 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    Utilities (4.03 pct) and Health (1.90 pct) were top gainers, while Chemicals (7.01 pct), Banks (4.96 pct) and Personal Products (3.67 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 80 to 73 with another 32 issues unchanged. FHL Kyriakides (29.67 pct), Attikat (19.51 pct) and Daios Plastics (17.39 pct) were top gainers, while Ippotour (19.97 pct), Euroholdings (19.05 pct) and Sprider (14.64 pct) were top losers.

    Sector indices ended as follows:

    Insurance: Unchanged

    Industrials: -3.01%

    Commercial: -1.36%

    Construction: -2.28%

    Oil & Gas: -2.14%

    Personal & Household: -3.67%

    Raw Materials: -0.67%

    Travel & Leisure: -1.12%

    Technology: -0.96%

    Telecoms: -1.27%

    Banks: -4.96%

    Food & Beverages: -0.48%

    Health: +1.90%

    Utilities: +4.03%

    Chemicals: -7.01%

    Financial Services: -0.98%

    The stocks with the highest turnover were DEH, Coca Cola 3E and National Bank.

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

    Alpha Bank: 0.63

    Public Power Corp (PPC): 4.44

    HBC Coca Cola: 11.34

    Hellenic Petroleum: 6.24

    National Bank of Greece: 1.88

    EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.44

    OPAP: 6.59

    OTE: 3.10

    Bank of Piraeus: 0.28

    Titan: 11.00

    [21] Greek bond market closing report

    The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was unchanged at 25.93 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday with the Greek bond yielding 28.18 pct and the German Bund 2.62 pct. There was no turnover in the market.

    In interbank markets, interest rates moved down. The 12-month rate was 2.03 pct, the six-month rate 1.69 pct, the three-month rate 1.46 pct and the one-month rate 1.20 pct.

    [22] ADEX closing report

    The December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a premium of 0.28 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover shrinking to a low 11.377 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,465 contracts worth 5.967 million euros, with 20,385 short positions in the market.

    Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 37,974 contracts worth 5.410 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (9,474), followed by Eurobank (2,376), OTE (850), PPC (4,562), Piraeus Bank (5,553), National Bank (4,931), Cyprus Bank (6,187), GEK (733), Hellenic Postbank (1,281), OPAP (404) and Hellenic Petroleum (271).

    [23] Foreign Exchange rates - Friday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.369

    Pound sterling 0.871

    Danish kroner 7.544

    Swedish kroner 9.262

    Japanese yen 106.41

    Swiss franc 1.244

    Norwegian kroner 7.899

    Canadian dollar 1.394

    Australian dollar 1.338

    General News

    [24] President inaugurates exhibition on Nat'l Bank of Greece

    President Karolos Papoulias inaugurated the exhibition of historical documents entitled "170 years National Bank: 1841-2011," hosted at the Benaki Museum of Athens.

    The inauguration of the exhibition, which highlights the long history of the oldest bank in operation in Greece, was held on Wednesday in the presence of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and Bank of Greece Gov. George Provopoulos.

    The exhibition will be open to the public until Jan. 22, 2012. On display are banknotes, coins of historical and artistic interest, stocks, rare documents, photographic documents and mechanical equipment used by the bank, as well as, architectural designs and photographs of National Bank of Greece buildings. The bank's contribution to the sectors of culture, science and is also being highlighted.

    [25] Exhibition on calculating machines in Athens

    A special exhibition focusing on the various aspects of the history of calculating machines with an emphasis on Greece will be held at the National Hellenic Research Foundation (NHRF) in Athens in December 2011 and January 2012.

    The exhibition will feature scientific presentations and educational programmes for schoolchildren to be launched on Dec. 6 placed within the second circle of NHRF's "Science Society" educational events.

    [26] Trial of former Aspis chairman Psomiadis begins

    The trial of former Aspis group president and board chairman Pavlos Psomiadis for submitting a fake letter of guarantee for the amount of 550 million euro in September 2009 began before an Athens criminal appeals court on Thursday.

    Psomiadis had presented the fake bank guarantee to the Private Insurance Supervision Commission in order to present an increase in his group's share capital so that the Aspis Pronoia insurance firm belonging to the Aspis group could continue operating.

    The trial began on Thursday morning with the various sides involved in the trial presenting their objections to aspects of the proceedings. The court rejected a request by investors that have pressed civil suits against Psomiadis to participate in the trial, finding that the trial about the letter of guarantee had no bearing on their interests.

    Psomiadis, who is currently being held on remand for defrauding investors, is facing criminal charges of forgery and using forged documents. Based on the charges against him, he was attempting to gain time in order to cover an increase in share capital of 203 million euro in the hope that new insurance contracts would ensure the required capital liquidity.

    The indictment notes that his tactics were "deliberate and pre-decided" and aimed to deceive new potential insurance clients since he was aware that he would harm their financial interests since the net position of the company was negative and it could have no possibility of meeting its commitments.

    [27] Former minister George Souflias has kidney transplant

    Former minister George Souflias had a successful kidney transplant at an Athens hospital on Thursday morning, with his sister being the organ's donor.

    Health Minister Andreas Loverdos visited Souflias in the afternoon and wished him a speedy recovery.

    [28] Member of 'kalashnikov' armed robberies gang arrested

    Police arrested on Thursday another member of the so-called "gang with the kalashnikovs" in the Athens district of Neos Kosmos.

    The gang, which was dismantled in October, is charged with armed robberies and molesting women.

    The 19-year-old Albanian suspect arrested on Thursday was sent before an Athens prosecutor.

    Moreover, police have solved 18 more robberies attributed to the gang.

    [29] Four arrested in operation busting major cocaine-smuggling outfit

    The Attica Security Police Organised Crime unit on Thursday announced that it has cracked a major drug-smuggling case involving large quantities of cocaine shipped from South America and operations laundering millions of euros.

    The investigation was ordered by a public prosecutor and occurred at the same time as a parallel investigation by the financial crimes squad (SDOE) drugs and narcotics section that has been working on the case for the past two years.

    In an operation carried out in Voula on Tuesday, police arrested four Montenegrin nationals, three men and one woman, as suspected members of an international criminal organisation that chartered ships to transport large quantities of cocaine to Europe, including Greece. Another three Montenegrins were also charged as the alleged captains of the organisation.

    The four arrested in Voula were all students at various private colleges in Athens, did not work and were in charge of laundering the organisation's profits by moving large sums through banks and offshore companies, placing money in bank safe deposit boxes and buying luxury real estate in Athens' southern suburbs.

    In a raid on two luxury villas owned by the organisation in Voula, police found receipts for cash transfers amounting to 20 million euro and confiscated a number of documents proving that money laundering was taking place, as well as 65,000 euro in cash. They also found two luxury cars and a motorbike that were confiscated as goods arising from the legalisation of income from illegal activities.

    The four suspects arrested were led before an Athens public prosecutor on Wednesday.

    Two years ago, in December 2009, the SDOE working with authorities in Peru and the US Drug Enforcement Agency had successfully intercepted and confiscated 20 kilos of cocaine smuggled to Europe by the same organisation.

    The Athens public prosecutor decided to release photographs and the identities of the seven suspects accused in connection with the case "for the protection of society". Currently in custody are Duro Kapetanovic, Damian Dudic, Sasha Samardic, Srdana Dudic, while the three men wanted and still at large are Darko Saric, Rodjulub Radulovic and Goran Sokovic.

    [30] Charter flight returns 76 illegal migrants to country of origin

    Seventy-six illegal migrants were deported from Greece on Thursday in a special charter flight from Athens international airport bound for Kabul and Lahore. The costs of the flight was covered by the European Returns Fund.

    The migrants on board the flight were 33 Pakistani nationals and 43 Afghan nationals that had entered Greece illegally and for which orders for their repatriation had been issued.

    Since the start of the year, a total of 1,529 foreign migrants without travel documents have participated in the voluntary repatriation programme and returned to their country of origin using either commercial or special charter flights.

    [31] Illegal migrant smugglers arrested at Athens int'l airport

    Three members of an alleged illegal migrant smuggling ring were arrested at Athens' International Airport while another four individuals are wanted, it was announced on Thursday.

    The suspects, a man and a woman, both Greek nationals, aged 37 and 26, respectively, and an Iranian, 29, were spotted by police, acting on tip-off information, while issuing boarding cards for Paris on behalf of other individuals through the self check-in process.

    They were arrested after picking up five foreign nationals (four Afghans and a Palestinian) whom they escorted to passenger boarding gates.

    The arrests were made on Wednesday, and according to police, the ring was trafficking illegal migrants into France and other EU countries for a fee ranging between 5,000 euros and 10,000 euros.

    [32] Major heroin bust, four arrested

    Police arrested on Wednesday four members of an international drug trafficking ring in Orestiada.

    Orestiada police, acting on a tip-off and after a surveillance, arrested a Turkish national, two Bulgarians and one local man after they found in their possession forty packages containing 21 kilos and 183 grams of heroin.

    The operation started on Monday and was concluded late Wednesday. According to police the drugs were destined for Italy.

    The four suspects will be sent before an Orestiada prosecutor.

    [33] Drug dealer arrested in NE Greece

    A 40-year-old man was arrested in Didymotiho, near the border with Turkey, on Thursday when police, acting on a tip-off and with the help of a sniffer dog, conducted a search in the suspect's residence and revealed 31 packages containing approximately 11.5 kilos of hashish.

    Moreover, police officers found and confiscated cannabis seeds and a precision scale. The suspect will be sent before a local prosecutor.

    [34] Four migrant smugglers arrested, 88 non-legal migrants detained in Astakos

    Four people were arrested by police and coastguards in Aetoloakarnania prefecture, charged with illegal migrant-smuggling, while 88 illegal migrants were also detained, who were to be smuggled to Italy on a boat.

    Messolonghi police, acting on a tip-off about a 43-year-old man transporting illegal migrants, spotted the man's truck and an ensuing investigation revealed that the man had agreed with an Iraqi national, who is wanted, to transport him from Athens to Astakos, where the latter was to board a boat headed for Italy.

    Police said that the transportation of the Iraqi took place as planned, while on the way to Astakos the truck driver picked up another six non-legal migrants also headed for Astakos.

    Meanwhile, port authorities in Messolonghi spotted a boat anchored off Astakos and arrested three migrant-smugglers and 88 illegal migrants.

    The 43-year-old was turned over to the local authorities in Astakos to investigate possible implication in the case.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [35] President: We exchanged papers on foreign policy


    President of the Cyprus Republic Demetris Christofias said Thursday that the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides exchanged papers on the issue of foreign policy, in the framework of UN-led direct talks for a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    In statements to journalists on his return to the Presidential Palace after the conclusion of his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, President Christofias said that talks continued on the chapter on governance and power sharing.

    ''We exchanged papers on issues concerning foreign policy. A meeting will take place between our special advisors in an effort to reach more convergences'', he noted.

    Invited to comment on press reports on the draft report of the UN Secretary General on the renewal of UNFICYP's (UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) mandate, the president refrained from commenting, urging journalists to wait for the official report.

    ''I will comment on the official report when it is published'', he said, adding that the government will do its utmost to change any negative references that may be included in the report.

    According to diplomatic sources, the government of Cyprus has made a series of representations with regard to omissions in the UNSG's report, which was unofficially distributed to the members of the Security Council on Wednesday.

    The resolution on the report will be adopted either on the 13th or 14th December.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, President Christofias and Eroglu are currently engaged in UN-led negotiations with an aim to reunify the island.

    [36] UN: Leader's meeting focuses on external relations

    President of the Republic Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu discussed Thursday governance and power sharing, focusing on external relations, in the context of UN-led talks to solve the Cyprus problem.

    "The leaders met for around an hour and a half today (Thursday) in a very constructive spirit and a positive frame of mind. They concentrated their discussion on governance and power sharing with a particular, but not exclusive focus on external relations", UN General Secretary's Special Adviser Alexander Downer told reporters after the meeting.

    The next meeting of the two leaders is set for next Monday. As a follow up from Thursday's discussion there will be some discussion by the representatives and their expert teams in the next few days.

    The Special Representative also announced that the next meeting between the leaders of two sides and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will most likely take place between the 22nd and the 24th of January.

    Asked whether the UN is losing patience with the process, Downer said that they are not losing patience, but they are just doing what they can to make sure that their contribution is effective without being mediators and arbitrators.

    "It's not about patience or impatience, we haven't lost patience with the process but it's about making sure that we get good results and we, for our part are only here to help, it's a Cypriot-own and Cypriot-let process", he said, adding that the UN are providing the best support they possibly can, with lot of very high quality people working there.

    He expressed the hope that this phase of the talks that will lead up to the Green Tree II meeting and will be really constructive.

    He also said that the UN hope that by the end of the Green Tree meeting, namely over the next couple of months and through the days in Green Tree, there will be some really good results.

    "That's what our ambitions and targets are here and we will obviously have to see by the time we get to the end of the Green Tree meeting, what the Secretary General wishes to do and how he wishes to take the progress forward, but that's a hypothetical situation at the moment", he added.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: ILIAS MATSIKAS

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