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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-02-06

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

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

Monday, 6 February 2012 Issue No: 3990

CONTENTS

  • [01] No agreement at party leaders' meeting with Papademos
  • [02] PASOK Political Council holds meeting on troika proposals
  • [03] ND leader pledges to fight further recessionary measures
  • [04] LAOS leader calls emergency party meeting
  • [05] PM holds meeting with IIF officials; troika meeting to follow
  • [06] Meeting with troika completed - Party leaders gathering for crucial meeting with PM
  • [07] PM new round of talks with troika on Sunday, ahead of meeting with party leaders for final decisions
  • [08] Finmin briefs Eurogroup counterparts on progress of PSI, new bailout talks
  • [09] Finmin chairs ministerial meeting on EU-IMF troika's demands, says many issues remain unresolved
  • [10] ND spokesman: Country needs strong, self-sufficient government
  • [11] ND mulling party discipline to ensure backing for painful measures
  • [12] LAOS leader: I will not accept ultimatums
  • [13] Tsipras: gov't taking decisions without democratic legitimacy
  • [14] Tsipras: Greece deserves different future
  • [15] Defence minister proposes reshuffle for more flexible government
  • [16] Yiannitsis: Greek political scene needs new party
  • [17] PAME protest outside premier's offices
  • [18] Forum on tourism to be held in Berlin
  • [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday
  • [20] Woman dies, Pyrgos Hospital evacuated, in heavy rainflall and flooding in Ileia prefecture - State of emergency in Pyrgos, Ancient
  • [21] Incidents at Syrian Embassy in Athens early on Saturday
  • [22] Unidentified gang thow stones at president's home in central Athens
  • [23] Robbers steal 60,000 euro in ATM heist on Zakynthos
  • [24] Drug dealer arrested at Promachonas border post
  • [25] Migrant smuggler, illegal immigrants detained on Samos
  • [26] Wanted foreign national arrested at AIA
  • [27] Drugs hidden in mini-refrigerator delivered to Korydallos prison for inmate, man wanted
  • [28] Eight arrests as migrant-smuggling ring disbanded
  • [29] Two nabbed in ATM card skimming scam
  • [30] Greek Superleague Results
  • [31] Rain and storms on Monday
  • [32] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

  • [01] No agreement at party leaders' meeting with Papademos

    A five-hour meeting between Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the leaders of the three parties supporting the government ended without agreement on Sunday.

    PASOK leader George Papandreou, main opposition New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis failed to reach agreement with Papademos concerning the demands of the EU-IMF troika concerning private-sector wage cuts, further pension cuts, large-scale firing of public-sector staff and major downsizing of the public sector.

    In statements after he emerged from the meeting, Karatzaferis indicated that it will most likely continue on Monday and said he did not want to contribute to the start of "a revolution caused by pauperisation" that would then sweep all of Europe.

    Main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras made no statements as he left the meeting but indicated the deadlock reached during the meeting during a brief statement to television cameras when he returned to ND's headquarters.

    "For the first time, a negotiation is taking place. The country cannot stand more recession. I am fighting with every means to prevent this," he said, confirming that the negotiations will continue on Monday.

    According to sources, meanwhile, the PASOK Political Council is on standby to begin a meeting chaired by Papandreou at 9:30 p.m. in order to discuss what happened at the meeting and the course of negotiations with the troika.

    An announcement issued by the prime minister's press office later on Sunday night also confirmed that his talks with the party leaders will continue on the following day.

    The announcement claimed there was agreement on a series of fundamental issues concerning the deal on a new economic programme demanded by the troika in order to release any further financial assistance to Greece.

    Among these it listed further measures within 2012 to reduce public spending by 1.5 percent of GDP, action to ensure the viability of supplementary pension funds, measures in various areas to tackle a lack of competitiveness, such as the reduction of salaries and non-wage costs in order to boost employment and economic activity and, finally, the recapitalisation of banks combined with measures to ensure the promotion of public interest and their business autonomy.

    Papademos and the party leaders will meet again on Monday to complete talks on the content of the programme, the announcement added.

    [02] PASOK Political Council holds meeting on troika proposals

    PASOK's Political Council held an emergency meeting late on Sunday night to discuss the proposals of the EU-IMF troika concerning a new economic programme, which Greece's creditors consider a prerequisite for further bailout loans.

    PASOK spokesman Panos Beglitis said the members of the Council were briefed on the discussion held between Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the leaders of the three political parties supporting the government by PASOK leader George Papandreou.

    Beglitis said that Papandreou had reservations concerning two of the troika's demands: those on labour relations and the method by which Greek banks will be recapitalised.

    He repeated PASOK's positions in favour of assisting banks via the issue of common shares and the party's opposition to scrapping the 13th and 14th wages or reducing the minimum wage in the private sector.

    Beglitis said an effort will be made to convene PASOK's Parliamentary group on Monday but warned that this seemed difficult to arrange at this time.

    [03] ND leader pledges to fight further recessionary measures

    Following Sunday's meeting between Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the leaders of the three political parties supporting his interim government, main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras pledged to fight to prevent measures that will further deepen the recession in Greece.

    Samaras made no statements as he left the meeting but indicated the deadlock reached during the meeting during a brief statement to television cameras when he returned to ND's headquarters.

    "For the first time, a negotiation is taking place. The country cannot stand more recession. I am fighting with every means to prevent this," he said, confirming that the meeting between Papademos and the party leaders will continue on Monday.

    According to AMNA sources within ND, Samaras laid out his negotiating framework during the meeting and was fighting against measures he considered recessionary.

    "Samaras is fighting for the 13th and 14th wage, he is also waging a battle to prevent an increase in tax-assessed property values and is not agreeing with most of what they are asking for supplementary pensions, while he is discussing the issue of the minimum wage," the ND leader's aides said.

    There followed a meeting at ND's headquarters between Samaras and his closest aides, during which he summarised the results of the meeting chaired by Papademos. Among those present were members of the party's economic team and National Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, ND's vice-president.

    [04] LAOS leader calls emergency party meeting

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis on Sunday called an emergency party meeting of his closest aides and the members of his party in the government, following the end of a meeting of the three party leaders supporting the interim government with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.

    The LAOS party meeting is scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m. and will discuss the EU-IMF troika's proposal concerning the measures that must be taken by Greece.

    According to an AMNA source occupying a senior position within LAOS, Karatzaferis refused "carte-blanche" agreement on the proposals during the meeting and demanded a reshuffle after PSI was concluded, calling the current cabinet "a failed PASOK government". The same AMNA source claimed the prime minister was authorised to proceed with a reshuffle to create a new government with the participation of technocrats.

    [05] PM holds meeting with IIF officials; troika meeting to follow

    Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Sunday had a second meeting with the head of the Institute for International Finance (IIF) Charles Dallara and IIF official Jean Lemierre, who together with Dallara are the steering committee of the Private Creditor-Investor Committee for Greece, immediately after an inconclusive five-hour meeting with the leaders of the three political parties supporting his government.

    The premier is then scheduled to have a follow-up meeting with members of the EU-IMF troika mission in Athens at 10:00 p.m.

    Also attending the meeting with Dallara and Lemierre at the premier's offices are government vice-president and finance minister Evangelos Venizelos and Labour and Social Insurance Minister George Koutroumanis.

    The two IIF officials arrived at the premier's offices at around 7:00 p.m. while the meeting with the political party leaders was still underway.

    Dallara and Lemierre are in Athens for the finalisation of the agreement on reducing the Greek debt (PSI).

    [06] Meeting with troika completed - Party leaders gathering for crucial meeting with PM

    Prime minister Lucas Papadremos', finance minister Evangelos Venizelos' and labour and social security minister George Koutroumanis' meeting with the heads of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' concluded at about 3:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, and the leaders of the three political parties backing Papademos' interim government -- PASOK leader and former prime minister George Papandreou, New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis were gathering at the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) for a critical meeting chaired by the premier to take the final decisions on the PSI and a second EU-IMF bailout loan to Greece.

    [07] PM new round of talks with troika on Sunday, ahead of meeting with party leaders for final decisions

    Greek prime minister Lucas Papademos was due to resume negotiations on Sunday with the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' chiefs, ahead of the premier's joint meeting with the leaders of the three political parties backing his interim government where final decisions will be taken on the PSI and a second EU-IMF bailout loan for the country.

    The meeting with PASOK leader and former prime minister George Papandreou, New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis, originally scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Sunday, was postponed for a few hours -- tentatively to 3:00 -- to enable Papademos to resume talks with the troika heads, which lasted to nearly 11:00 Saturday night, while the prospect of meeting by the prime minister with Institute for International Finance (IIF) managing director Charles Dallara and IIF Chairman of the Board Josef Ackermann on the PSI remained open.

    "The agreement with the party leaders is not self-evident, but it is necessary. The questions to be put forward to the party leaders are very specific, very difficult and absolutely existential. There are no impasses, however there are difficulties and it is up to us to manage the issues and how we will discuss them again with our partners," a high-ranking government official directly involved in the negotiations with the troika told AMNA in the early hours of Sunday, after six-hour talks by Papademos, finance minister Evangelos Venizelos and labour and social security minister George Koutroumanis with the troika. The official stressed the difficulty of the negotiations given what he said constantly increasing demands by the troika, but also expressed optimism on the outcome.

    He said that the party leaders must also help in the negotiations. "In fact, there is the possibility that tomorrow the leaders will themselves continue, if they wish to, the negotiations with the troika. The leaders too can meet with the troika. I don't understand why they don't talk to the troika themselves and suffice themselves with what the prime minister or the finance minister will tell them," the official added.

    Also present at the prime minister's meeting with the three leaders who are backing and participating in the interim government will be finance minister Venizelos, to brief them on the issues of the negotiation with the troika chiefs handled by himself and his economic staff.

    The official further said that "in the negotiations, we have improved many things, we have greatly contained the field in our benefit", adding that "the troika focuses on everything. And we tried to exclude some things, and improve some others".

    He noted that the biggest "thorn" is the entire package of labour relations, while a corresponding problem also exists with the fiscal measures which "if they depended only on the needs of the budget it would be a small problem, because there was a very good execution of the 2011 budget with respect to the figures contained in the 2012 budget".

    "We see the deficit at a 'dignified' level, but the deficit also depends on the repercussions that every labour measure will have on the fiscal figures".

    On the troika's stance, the official noted that "there prevails in the troika an overall perception on how economic policies should be formulated in order to ensure the highest possible level of competitiveness...This is a complex scientific, political and ideological discussion that prevails today in Europe and the entire western world".

    Asked whether the additional measures, especially in the labour sector, will help Greece become more competitive, the government official said that "they (the troika) do this in a specific way, as they perceive it themselves, and not the way it is perceived by us, who know the idiosyncrasies, conditions and abilities. This clash occurs on the basis of the correlation of powers, which is very well known. The member-states themselves have specific priorities. The AAA states discussed this a few days ago and have a specific perception. And as you are aware the AAA states have been reduced from six to four. This perception is widely held. There is no one formulating a different perception other than us. There are no states, no fronts, no allies in this".

    "We are discussing the entire labour package on the table. We have made an effort to take some things off the table, but we need to consider as satisfactory the package that finally remains," the government official said.

    Another government source told AMNA that many difficulties arose in the negotiations with the troika, stressing that resolution of the issues put forward by the troika depends on the way that Greece will handle them and adding that at Papademos' meeting on Sunday with the party leaders the need will be put to them to take very specific and very tough decisions.

    The source said that the government's "superhuman" negotiation efforts have greatly improved the course of resolution of a series of matters.

    He said that the troika representatives want to help the Greek economy's competitiveness, but in accordance with their own perception.

    [08] Finmin briefs Eurogroup counterparts on progress of PSI, new bailout talks

    Participating in a conference call of Euro-area ministers on Saturday, Greece's government vice-president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos briefed his Eurogroup counterparts on the progress made in talks for PSI bond swaps and a haircut of Greek debt, as well as negotiations for a second bailout package for Greece.

    A meeting of the Eurogroup originally scheduled to take place on Monday has now been postponed until Wednesday.

    Roughly half an hour after the end of the conference call, Venizelos will head for the premier's offices at Maximos Mansion in Athens in order to participate in a meeting between Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the head of the Institute of International Finance (IIF) Charles Dallara to discuss PSI.

    In statements summarising the results of the conference call to reporters, Venizelos said that that everthing was now standing "on a knife-edge" and stressed that all issues must be finalised by Sunday night.

    He said that the negotiations with the EU-IMF troika mission were both "tough" and "delicate" and that the major open issues that remained to be resolved concerned labour relations and salaries in the private sector, as well as the fiscal measures that must be taken.

    The finance minister also announced an upcoming meeting between members of the troika mission and the prime minister and added that final decisions will be taken at Sunday's meeting between Papademos and the leaders of the three parties in the government.

    [09] Finmin chairs ministerial meeting on EU-IMF troika's demands, says many issues remain unresolved

    Government vice-president and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Saturday chaired a ministerial meeting attended by Labour and Social Insurance Minister George Koutroumanis, Health Minister Andreas Loverdos, Interior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis and Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.

    The meeting was held to discuss the demands being made by the EU-IMF troika in order to approve a new package of loans for Greece, including their insistence on reducing private-sector wages, cutting down public spending on social insurance, health and defence and significantly downsizing the public sector, along with the firing of public sector employees.

    After the meeting, Venizelos is due to meet with representatives of Greece's creditors once again while there will also be a Eurogroup meeting via a conference call at 2:30 p.m. The Eurogroup meeting originally scheduled to take place on Monday has now been postponed until next Wednesday.

    The meeting with the ministers came in the wake of an 11-hour session between government ministers and members of the troika mission on Friday, after which Venizelos had announced that a number of crucial issues remained unresolved.

    "Now is the moment of truth for the political leaders and the political parties, when they decide about the saving the country," he said.

    Commenting on the gruelling negotiations with Greece's creditors, Venizelos noted in statements to reporters that the talks for PSI were "the easiest part".

    The Friday talks covered a number of controversial issues, such as the abolition and mergers of public sector organisations, rapid dismissal of public-sector staff and the ways in which bank recapitalisation will take place. That meeting was later joined by Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos and the head of the Organisation for Managing Public Debt Petros Christodoulou, brought in to discuss the recapitalisation of banks, while Administrative Reform Minister Dimitris Reppas arrived at 4:00 p.m.

    According to government officials that attended the ministerial meeting on Saturday, the heads of the troika mission are not prepared to back down on demands for radical changes in private-sector labour relations, including the reduction of the minimum wage and the abolition of the 13th and 14th salaries at all wage levels and essentially abolishing sectoral collective agreements.

    During the ministers' meeting, it was decided that no personnel will be fired from the health system but there will be further spending cuts amounting to 1.1 billion euro, of which one billion will be reductions in spending on pharmaceuticals. A further 400 million euro will be cut in the next two years in the defence sector, though the government is insisting that armed forces personnel should not be go onto the uniform public-sector salary scale and that no armed forces personnel will be dismissed.

    A meeting between Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the leaders of the three political parties supporting his government, originally scheduled to take place on Saturday, has now been postponed until Sunday.

    [10] ND spokesman: Country needs strong, self-sufficient government

    The need for taking measures to re-start the Greek economy that aim at growth and recovery was stressed by New Democracy (ND) press spokesman Yiannis Michelakis in an interview with a Sunday newspaper, who added that the Greek economy and society cannot endure more harsh austerity measures.

    In an interview with RealNews appearing on Sunday, Michelakis said that the only hope for Greece is a strong and self-sufficient government, while he also said that former ruling party PASOK was fully collapsing.

    "The attitudes and decisions by PASOK ministers (serving in prime minister Lucas Papademos' interim government) indicate that the country can be government efficiently only by a strong, self-sufficient government, and our own struggle is in that direction," Michelakis said.

    As for the new measures anticipated, the ND spokesman said that room exists for negotiations by the new government that will arise from the next elections, and strongly accused the preceding PASOK government that "it never negotiated".

    "They found an easy solution, by cutting salaries and introducing new taxes," he said, adding that "we can renegotiate when we have specific counter-proposals and convince the people on our determination to achieve the targets, which are reduction of the country's deficit and debt."

    [11] ND mulling party discipline to ensure backing for painful measures

    Main opposition New Democracy has not ruled out the enforcement of party discipline on members of its Parliamentary group to ensure that they back measures agreed on by the party leaders in the government, ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis indicated in an interview with the newspaper 'Real News'.

    Mihelakis stressed that the country's only hope was a strong, majority government, while he referred to a "complete collapse" of the PASOK party.

    "The behaviour and decisions of PASOK ministers show that the country cannot be governed effectively unless there is a strong, majority government and our struggle is unfolding in this direction," he added.

    Concerning the new measures that will be imposed, ND supports that a new government will have margins to negotiate and Mihelakis accused PASOK of never having negotiated effectively.

    "They found the solution that was easy for them, cutting wages and raising taxes," he stressed, adding that ND would be able to negotiate once it was able to present specific counter-proposals and in a position to convince Greece's EU partners that it would achieve the goals set, which was to reduce the deficit and debt.

    [12] LAOS leader: I will not accept ultimatums

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis warned that he will not accept "ultimatums of the type 'either you take it (the new package for Greece) or we won't give you the money'," speaking at a party gathering in Thessaloniki on Saturday night.

    "I will examine the very last letter and the very last note. If something is not good for us and the troika is uncompromising, we will not take the package. We will not be fearful in the face of extortionist quandaries," he said, targeting German chancellor Angela Merkel.

    "Do you think that on Sunday that only the acceptance of some conditions put forward by the troika will be decided? Wrong. Let's all realise that the issue is not the PSI or the 130 billion euros (second EU-IMF bailout loan)...The deeper issue is that we are called on to decide whether we will be 'good children' and obey and 'behave' or counter with convictions".

    Karatzaferis said he will not restrict himself to "what the troika tells us, I will look deeper", into "who is coming to impose them: Is it the European Union or the plans and choices of Ms. Merkel".

    "I therefore call on the EU to comprehend its institutional role and escape from the orders of a new Reich. Because Ms. Merkel is walking, with a democratic guise, on the footsteps of her predecessor 75 years ago, insulting the other peoples in the same idiotic way. Today, the peoples of Europe must react to that which is coming," he added.

    Karatzaferis also reiterated that he has no intention of undertaking written commitments, saying: "Just as I didn't co-sign the first time, so again I will not co-sign now. We have given our support to the prime minister. There is the decision we took in parliament. Greece has institutions and respects them. I will not concede my dignity".

    [13] Tsipras: gov't taking decisions without democratic legitimacy

    In a speech strongly critical of the present government, Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Saturday accused it of taking decisions without having any democratic legitimacy.

    "Unfortunately, those governing us are prepared, once again, in the name of saving the country, to take decision that will mortgage the country's future in the name of all Greeks, without going to the trouble to asking the people's opinion, without having any legitimacy," he said during an event organised by SYRIZA in Thessaloniki on agricultural policy.

    "From where do they get this right? In the name of not letting the country go bankrupt? But what is bankruptcy for them? Is it when banks don't have money or is it the destruction of social insurance funds and when pensioners' are unable to have a pension?" he asked.

    Tsipras also disputed whether the government was in fact negotiating with its creditors, claiming that the representatives of the previous and present government were prepared to do anything asked of them, often before it was even asked.

    Concerning the agricultural sector, SYRIZA's leader said that this was on the verge of collapse due to policies that preceded the Memorandum and the debt crisis, noting that farmer incomes had fallen by 23 percentage points in the last six years at a time when exactly the opposite had occurred in EU countries as a whole.

    [14] Tsipras: Greece deserves different future

    "Greece deserves a different future. The Left must unite," Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA parliamentary alliance) leader Alexis Tsipras said in an interview with the Italian newspaper l'Unita appearing on Sunday, adding the Left must seek the governance of Greece because the country needs a radical turn-about and the parties of the 'political establishment' are sinking together with the failure of the Memorandums.

    Asked what are the reasons that have led Greece to the present crisis, Tsipras cited the "looting of the public interests" through the "Olympics contracts, the defence expenditures, the tax asylum of the big capital and the insufficient absorption of the European resources, which were not used for plans for production restructure".

    On the austerity measures and the troika's new demands, Tsipras said this was an "organised plan that has little to do with the problems of the debt and the deficits".

    "What they want is to demolish the job market and the social state and sell to private concerns -- in other words, to themselves -- every wealth-producing ability of the country. In that direction, the recession is exceptionally useful to them. That is why they are reproducing it with the austerity measures. And that is why the are leading their policy to one failure after the other. When they will have nothing more to take from us, they will lead us to bankruptcy," Tsipras warned.

    [15] Defence minister proposes reshuffle for more flexible government

    In an interview with the financial paper "Imerissia" on Saturday, Defence Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos proposed that Prime Minister Lucas Papademos make changes to the current government in order to make it more flexible and efficient.

    He repeated the need for national understanding and stressed that in times of crisis "we must all place the collective national goal above our personal survival".

    The minister noted that the present government must succeed in the tasks assisgned to it but also in order to leave a legacy of national understanding that Greece will need in the future.

    Avramopoulos added that the next elections will be decisive for the political system and will give the new government a greater prestige and negotiating strength, presenting his opinion that Greece was on the verge of a political reformation.

    According to the minister, main opposition New Democracy was aiming for a Parliamentary majority in the next elections but, in the case that this did not happen, the party would seek cooperation with other parties in a spirit of national responsibility and unity.

    Concerning the impact of budget cuts on the armed forces, the minister stressed that their combat readiness had not been affected and would not be affected.

    [16] Yiannitsis: Greek political scene needs new party

    The need for a new party in Greece was stressed by Interior Minister Tassos Yiannitsis in an interview to be run in the Sunday edition of the paper "Ethnos".

    According to Yiannitsis, unless a new party emerges soon the 'blockage' of Greece's political life will simply drag on.

    He stated that elections before a new loan agreement is signed will lead Greece to default and he described the political scene as a "minefield full of surprises", warning of the dangers for political parties and society.

    "Above all, I believe that we ourselves must know where we want to get to, what we want to change and what strategy we will follow - how the road to growth will be opened. If we continue as we are we will simply add another link onto our chain of fatal errors," he added.

    Noting that a new Memorandum was necessary for Greece to remain in the euro, the interior minister said that there must be a climate of trust and stability for the weaker classes during the crisis and predicted that 120,000 people will find jobs and an income through the new programmes planned by municipalities over the next three years.

    [17] PAME protest outside premier's offices

    Members of the PAME trade union faction, which is affiliated to the Communist Party of Greece, on Saturday held a protest outside the prime minister's offices at the Maximos Mansion.

    The protest was originally planned to coincide with a meeting between Prime Minister Lucas Papademos and the leaders of the three political parties supporting the government, which has been postponed for Sunday.

    A PAME official noted that the protest was held because "we have a government hostile to the people and we call on the citizens to rise up" against what he called an attempt to eradicate all remnants of labour rights.

    He called on all citizens to actively participate in rallies that will be organised by PAME throughout Greece on February 9 and announced that the Athens rally on that day will be held at Pedion tou Areos at 5:30 p.m.

    Financial News

    [18] Forum on tourism to be held in Berlin

    BERLIN (AMNA/F.Karaviti)

    A Greek-German forum on tourism will be held at the German Bundestag on Monday.

    The forum is jointly organised by the Buntestag's Tourism Committee and Greece's embassy in Berlin, in the framework of the Greek-German partnership relation, and is being held under the auspices of Greek Parliament President Filippos Petsalnikos and president of the German Bundestag Norbert Lamert.

    [19] Foreign Exchange rates - Monday

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

    U.S. dollar 1.335

    Pound sterling 0.844

    Danish kroner 7.544

    Swedish kroner 8.980

    Japanese yen 101.8

    Swiss franc 1.223

    Norwegian kroner 7.758

    Canadian dollar 1.338

    Australian dollar 1.249

    General News

    [20] Woman dies, Pyrgos Hospital evacuated, in heavy rainflall and flooding in Ileia prefecture - State of emergency in Pyrgos, Ancient Olympia

    One person drowned in flooding caused by heavy rainfall in Ileia prefecture throughout the night, while the local hospital was being evacuated on Sunday and a state of emergency has been declared in the towns of Pyrgos and Ancient Olympia.

    The body of an elderly woman was found in the area of Lithari, near Pyrgos, as the entire prefecture has been hard hit to heavy and constant rainfall, and authorities believe the woman fried to save herself from a torrent but was unsuccessful.

    Eleven other people stranded in the floods were rescued by EMAK emergency teams, including a man who was airlifted to safety by a military Super Puma all-weather helicopter near the Alfeios River and families with small children.

    The heavy rainfall also flooded the Ileia police precinct building, although police operations continued to function normally. The Fire Department was also called in to pump water from flooded homes and shops.

    The Pyrgos hospital was also being evacuated, after its basement flooded.

    Authorities ordered the evacuation of the hospital's medical and nursing staff and its 85 patients, who will be transferred to hospitals in Patras, Amaliada and Krestena, as well as to local Health Centres.

    [21] Incidents at Syrian Embassy in Athens early on Saturday

    Some 50 Syrians protesting against the massacres of civilians in their country gathered outside Syria's embassy in the Paleo Psychiko district at around 2:30 a.m. on Saturday and broke into the embassy's perimeter, vandalising a sentry box, a motorbike and breaking two windows on the first storey with sticks and stones.

    Police intervened and detained 13 people, who were taken to Attica police headquarters.

    [22] Unidentified gang thow stones at president's home in central Athens

    A group of about 30 unidentified people armed with stones attacked the private home of Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Asklipiou Street in central Athens late on Saturday night.

    Passing outside Papoulias' privately-owned home, the group threw stones at the house and caused damage to the entrance and cars parked outside and then immediately fled.

    A police search has been launced to locate and arrest the culprits but no one has been caught so far.

    [23] Robbers steal 60,000 euro in ATM heist on Zakynthos

    Unidentified culprits managed to get away with 60,000 euro in cash after they robbed an entire ATM on the Ionian island of Zakynthos early on Saturday morning.

    The robbers ripped out the cash dispenser, which was installed next to the entrance of a local supermarket.

    Police said the culprits had first closed the road with a truck so that they would not be disturbed, then ripped the ATM out of the wall using heavy machinery. They then loaded it onto a pick-up truck and drove to an abandoned house, where they removed the cash at their leisure using an electric saw.

    A search is on throughout the island to find the culprits.

    [24] Drug dealer arrested at Promachonas border post

    A 31-year-old man was arrested on Sunday by police in Serres charged with smuggling narcotic substances into Greece from Bulgaria.

    According to the Central Macedonia Police Directorate, authorities had information about a man who was smuggling large quantities of narcotic substances from Bulgaria into Greece.

    The said the man was located at the Promachonas border station in Serres where, with the aid of a sniffer dog, a package containing 500 grams of heroin was found hidden in his car's gas tank.

    The drug and car were seized, and the arrestee will appear before a Serres prosecutor.

    [25] Migrant smuggler, illegal immigrants detained on Samos

    A migrant-smuggler was arrested and 17 non-legal immigrants, including three children, were detained in Aghia Paraskevi, on the northeastern coast of Samos island, by port authorities on Sunday.

    The immigrants -- 8 men, 3 women and 3 children -- told authorities that they were transported to Samos from the opposite shores of Turkey by a speedboat, which was destroyed after they disembarked on the island.

    The immigrants identified an 18th person among them, a 30-year-old man, as the migrant smuggler.

    The non-legal immigrants were taken to the Samos General Hospital for first aid, while the alleged smuggler will appear before a Samos prosecutor.

    [26] Wanted foreign national arrested at AIA

    A 36-year-old Albanian national wanted in Amaliada for theft, bodily harm, illegal weapons possession and use and for complicity in homicide in Naoussa, was arrested on Sunday at Athens' International "Eleftherios Venizelos" Airport (AIA) by police security as he attempted to board a plane for Milan, Italy, using a fake Italian ID.

    [27] Drugs hidden in mini-refrigerator delivered to Korydallos prison for inmate, man wanted

    Police were looking for a foreign national who on Saturday turned over to guards at Korydallos prison a small refrigerator that was later found to contain drugs, for a 33-year-old Romanian inmate being held for theft.

    The wanted man went to the prison during Saturday morning's visiting hours.

    A search of the small refrigerator turned up four makeshift plastic packets containing 415.7 grams of heroin and two packets containing 212.1 grams of hashish, as well as six cell phones, prepaid phone cards, insulation tape, screws and sandpaper hidden in secret compartments in the refrigerator door.

    [28] Eight arrests as migrant-smuggling ring disbanded

    An organised ring smuggling large numbers of non-legal immigrants from Greece to other countries of western Europe was disbanded by Greek police on Saturday and eight suspects were arrested while 113 non-legal migrants were detained.

    Police, after investigations, arrested eight members of the ring as well as 113 non-legal immigrants, while an abandoned warehouse across the central vegetable market in Rentis, near Piraeus, where the smugglers used to hide the illegal migrants was also uncovered.

    The gang had been active for a while in Greece and was conveying illegal migrants to Italy, for a sizeable fee, with boats from the coastal area of Astakos in Aetoloakarnania prefecture. The migrants were transported to Astakos from the warehouse in Renti with trucks.

    During a police operation Saturday morning at the Elefsina toll post, police stopped a truck that had picked up 89 migrants from the REnti warehouse, as well as a car that was serving as a lookout ahead of the truck.

    A simultaneous raid was made on the Renti warehouse, where another 24 migrants were found. The 24 migrants were initially being transported by a second truck, but returned to the warehouse after the truck suffered engine problems.

    In the two operations, police arrested eight members of the ring --- two Greeks and six foreign nationals -- while two more accomplices were being sought.

    The ring members would receive 4,000 euros per migrant, paid by their relatives in their countries of origin or in the country of destination.

    Both trucks were seized, as well as 2,585 euros in cash and seven cell phones.

    The arrestees were due to appear before an Athens prosecutor.

    [29] Two nabbed in ATM card skimming scam

    Two Romanian nationals were arrested Saturday in Piraeus for looting money from bank deposits with "cloned" ATM cards, after a search of their car revealed an ATM skimming device.

    Attica security police said that the two suspects would place the skimming devices at bank ATMs, enabling them to copy personal data from the genuine ATM cards as the card-holders made their transactions, and afterwards created clone cards with which they made withdrawals from the owners' bank accounts.

    Police said that between November 15, 2011 and January 4, 2012, the suspects had 'cloned' 126 cards from just one bank, withdrawing nearly 15,000 euros from the rightful owners' bank accounts.

    Police are continuing their investigation in other banks.

    Sports

    [30] Greek Superleague Results

    Panathinaikos Athens lost 0-1 with Levadiakos away, while Olympiacos Piraeus beat 0-2 PAOK Thessaloniki away, in games played for the Greek Super League over the weekend. AEK Athens beat Panionios Athens 1-0 at home.

    In other action:

    Ergotelis Crete - OFI Crete 0-1

    Kerkyra - PAS Yannina 1-2

    Asteras Tripoli - Doxa Dramas 1-0

    Panetolikos - Atromitos Athens 1-1

    Xanthi - Aris Thessaloniki 0-2

    Standings after 20 weeks of play

    Panathinaikos 48

    Olympiakos 46

    AEK 37

    PAOK 35

    OFI 32

    Xanthi 29

    Atromitos 28 (19)

    Aris 28

    Asteras Tripolis 25 (19)

    Panionios 22

    Ergotelis 22

    Panetolikos 18 (18)

    PAS Yannina 17 (18)

    Levadiakos 13 (16)

    Kerkyra 12 (18)

    Doxa Dramas 6 (16)

    Weather forecast

    [31] Rain and storms on Monday

    Rain and storms with snow at higher altitudes are forecast on Monday, starting in the west and moving across the rest of the country. Strong southeasterly winds will blow in most regions, ranging from 6 to 9 Beaufort and reaching gale force at sea. Temperatures will range between -2C in parts of central Macedonia to highs of 18C on the Aegean islands and Crete. Rain and storms in Attica, with strong winds and temperatures from 12C to 15C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 3C to 7C.

    [32] Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glance

    The EU/IMF troika's ultimatum on salaries, pensions and layoffs, the 'red lines' of the political party leaders supporting prime minister Lucas Papademos' interim government, and the climate in the EU regarding Greece were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.

    AVGHI: "The second mistake is a crime".

    DEMOKRATIA: "Elections, urgently!".

    ELEFTHERI ORA: "The elections are dragging to summer".

    ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "In a default noose with or without the (second) loan agreement".

    EPOCHI: "They're signing the looting of our lives".

    ETHNOS: "Shock-decisions at gunpoint".

    KATHIMERINI: "Critical negotiation at the last minute".

    KERDOS: "Complications in the negotiations due to the...red lines".

    LOGOS: "The troika destroying the labour legislation in tranches".

    NIKI: "How much money the salaried are losing".

    PROTO THEMA: "The troika will be laying off civil servants".

    REALNEWS: "She sold you off for...votes - Now the Germans are also accusing Angela Merkel".

    RIZOSPASTIS: "Everyone turn out for the PAME demonstration rallies throughout the country on February 9".

    TO ARTHRO: "Papandreou turning over PASOK helm to Venizelos, due to lack of alternatives".

    TO VIMA: "War over the salaries, under the risk of default".

    VRADYNI: "The salaries in the DEKO (public utilities and organisations) and private sector".

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


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