|Monday, 11 December 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 12-03-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 12 March 2012 Issue No: 4019
 Evangelos Venizelos the sole candidate for PASOK's leadershipCurrent Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will be the one and only candidate for PASOK's leadership in the party's internal elections, according to a decision announced on Sunday by PASOK's National Council.
In statements after the decision was announced, Venizelos thanked the Council for honouring him with its decision and noted that "the entire democratic, progressive faction that was, is and will be expressed by PASOK is rallying around his candidacy".
He said that the crucial period for the country and the party had led a large number of PASOK members to support his bid for the leadership and added that he was "fully aware of the responsibility that I am taking on" while adding that this responsibility would be collective and the party's actions based on teamwork.
"Everyone will be at my side and I will be at their side. I especially refer to Christos Papoutsis," he added, referring to his would-be opponent for the leadership.
"I personally call on very Greek woman and every Greek man, I personally address all the officials, members, friends and voters at one time of PASOK and call on them to come back, here to their home, the great shore of the democratic progressive faction," he added.
"Next Sunday we must convert the election process for the new leader of PASOK into a great fete of democracy and participation," he said.
The decision to nominate Venizelos as the sole candidate in the process was criticised by Papoutsis, however, who earlier during the National Conference had also announced his own intention to run for the office.
"Today, unfortunately, processes prevailed over politics, procedural tricks over political essence," he said, adding that the result was a far cry from what thousands of PASOK members and Greek society had sought.
"At this most crucial time for the country and for PASOK, instead of the 'large' choice of multifacetedness, unity and a new progressive prospect we chose a small, phobic PASOK. I am sorry," he added.
The decision to make Venizelos the only candidate was reached after Venizelos submitted a proposal with 189 supporting signatures and Papoutsis submitted a proposal with no signatures, while Stefanos Tzoumakas submitted a proposal that was past the deadline and also had no signatures.
Papoutsis and Tzoumakas had voiced objections to the procedure adopted that required the collection of 94 signatures, stressing the practical difficulties involved and questioning whether this was in accordance with the party's constitution. He also raised issues concerning the composition of the National Council, since many members had departed or been expelled.
 Venizelos addresses PASOK National ConferenceFinance Minister and government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos, on Saturday evening stressed the need for a renewed PASOK based on a "new social alliance" in his address to the party's National Conference.
He said that PASOK must re-establish ties with the workers, farmers, unemployed, young scientists and small-scale manufacturers, "the people we disappointed and who are carrying the crisis on their backs".
At the same time, he emphasised that the party should clearly differentiate itself from both the conservative right and parties of the Left in the upcoming elections, which he said would determine the country's future in the next decade, noting that "consensus was not carte blanche".
"We must separate our position from that of the destructive and dangerous right-wing populism and of the equally dangerous left-leaning opportunism and those that express 'sympathetic evasion' by saying 'yes' to the euro but 'no' to the programme," Venizelos said.
"Our goal is victory, with PASOK as the first party, overturning the opinion polls," he added.
Referring to Friday's successful PSI debt restructuring, he said that it was historic not only because it had reduced Greece's debt burden but because it had changed Greece's image "and the entire planet started to talk about Greece positively again".
He also stressed, however, that avoiding default did not mark the end of the crisis but that the key for recovery was now in the hands of Greeks.
"On behalf of all of us, I address the Greek people and say a great 'thank-you' for the sacrifices, the effort, the resilience, even their tolerance, while now that the moment is positive we have an obligation to look each of our fellow citizens in the eye again and utter, with absolute sincerity, a deep apology for the great mistakes that burden our party," Venizelos added.
Stressing that the country's problem was "primarily political", he called for a "new national contract with a different view about democracy and politics - a "post-democracy" that was "more than representative democracy and depends, among others, on a radical redistribution of political influence".
"PASOK must not remain mired, betraying itself and its founder," Venizelos concluded, calling for a shift from a "party of the public sector to a movement of the society of citizens, a genuinely popular and patriotic party.
 Diamantopoulou backs VenizelosIn a written statement issued shortly after Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos had concluded his speech at PASOK's National Conference on Saturday, recently appointed Development Minister Anna Diamantopoulou announced that she would support his bid for the party's leadership.
According to Diamantopoulou, PASOK needed leadership with "knowledge, experience, ability and a proven sense of responsibility toward the national debt."
Given his contribution at a difficult time for Greece, his speech at the National Conference and the text he had recently published concerning the need for a policy of deep reform in order to help Greece emerge from the crisis, Diamantopoulou said she would back him to become PASOK's new leader.
 Papoutsis addresses PASOK National ConferenceFormer minister Christos Papoutsis addressed PASOK's National Conference on Saturday, presenting the political platform upon which he intends to content for PASOK's leadership in the party's upcoming internal elections.
Papoutsis stressed that political life in Greece did not end with the memorandum and said that, if elected, he will "not accept the immobility that the troika is trying to impose".
He underlined that the unfair distribution of the burdens of the crisis and the abolition of social entitlements cannot continue.
"Several things can be done," Papoutsis noted, pointing out that the country was in a state of emergency that allowed it to implement other policies. He accused the troika of trying to take emergency measures simply for the sake of violating social contracts and unilaterally reducing incomes.
He also raised an issue concerning the method by the candidates for the party's leadership will be nominated, challenging the Political Council to answer whether the "unity of the party ensures only a single, ostensible unifying candidacy or many candidates".
Papoutsis stressed also, that the old-style PASOK with the 'baronies and client relations' was dead, saying he would no longer accept this style of PASOK, and called for a powerful, multifaceted, democratic and popular PASOK.
 PASOK National Conference begins; addresses by Swoboda, Ayala, PapandreouPASOK's National Conference began in Athens on Saturday, with an opening address by the head of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament Hannes Swoboda, followed by Socialist International Secretary General Luis Ayala.
Both Swoboda and Ayala expressed the full support and solidarity of socialists, in Europe and around the world, for Greece and for PASOK.
Swoboda spoke in Greek, sending a message of solidarity with the Greek people and PASOK in their great effort to overcome the crisis.
"Greece's future lies in Europe, we will prevail," he stressed, adding that Greece was a part of Europe and the Eurozone and would continue to be so.
He underlined that the new leader elected by PASOK will have the full support of both the party and of the entire socialist family in Europe.
Swoboda strongly criticised the austerity policies being imposed on Greece, stressing that the way forward was not by cutting wages and pensions, and that all of Europe was suffering as a result of the conservative insistence on austerity policies that intensified recession.
He noted that socialists were now fighting for a tax on financial transactions, noting that this was a proposal originating from PASOK in Greece.
Ayala, on his part, said that the SI had always taken a clear stance in favour of Greece and its citizens, who had borne the brunt of an international financial crisis and the repercussions of decisions taken by Europe's conservative leadership. He praised PASOK and its leader George Papandreou as "Greece's progressive face to the world".
The conference was later addressed by Papandreou himself, who called for an "international front for democracy".
Papandreou thanked Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos for the "decisive battles that he fought" with Finance Minister and government vice-president Evangelos Venizelos and other ministers of the present government in order to implement the decisions taken by European leaders on October 27.
He was less complimentary about main opposition New Democracy, PASOK's partner in the coalition government led by Papademos, noting that he "would like to be generous and thank ND for its contribution" but found it "difficult" given ND's reluctance.
Papandreou also asserted that PASOK was not responsible for "placing Greece under supervision and dependence" but had created conditions for ending its dependence.
In what is likely to be his last speech as PASOK's president, Papandreou seemed visibly moved when he referred to his abortive proposal for a national referendum on the austerity measures in Greece, which he said had cost him the prime minister's office.
He said he did not regret making the proposal, since it had led to the formation of a coalition government that had just succeeded in organising the biggest debt restructuring in the world.
Papandreou stressed that he did not regret calling for a referendum but for not having done so sooner. In his opinion, he added, no other decision except a referendum could absolutely ensure the country's course toward an exit from the crisis.
 ND's aim is 'clear mandate and majority', Samaras saysMain opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Sunday stressed that his party's aim in the upcoming general elections - which he said would take immediately after Easter - was a powerful, clear mandate and majority in Parliament.
Addressing his party's Political Committee, he cut short all discussion about a possible alliance or coalition government and emphasised that he wanted to "govern the country with my hands free," stressing that a majority government was absolutely essential in order to save the country.
"I want a strong mandate so that we can take the necessary decisions and I will have the required negotiating strength abroad," he added, noting that Greece did not only need good management but also major changes that would need strong governments in order to carry them out.
On the issue of consensus, he said that ND wanted and would seek "national understanding" with all parties but drew the line at joint government.
"Greece will not change with petty political bargains that sacrifice the nation's interest," he emphasised.
He promised a small and flexible government, while noting that the participation of a greater number of parties would prevent this. He also repeated his criticism of PASOK, saying that its members shared in the responsibility and made cooperation after the elections difficult.
At the same time, he defended his decision to join the current coalition government with PASOK and vote for the second Memorandum, saying that otherwise there would have been a risk that the country would have been ejected from the euro due to the "tragic initiative for a referendum".
Attacking the parties of the Left, he said that they acted as "prophets of doom".
"Some of them on half the days want the euro and the other half they don't want it. They are in confusion and despair. They have never governed the country but have supported all its tribulations. They imposed the privileged groups, turned away business, turned away investments, imposed market rigidity, did everything to prevent private universities, imposed privileges for the few, tolerated hood-wearing thugs. They will learn that they cannot shake their finger at us," Samaras underlined.
ND's leader said his party's three priorities would be to correct some of the injustices of the recent austerity policies, such as by raising pensions to a minimum of 700 euro and restoring the viability of pension funds, and taking measures to encourage economic growth, such as boosting the construction sector, and tackling illegal migration and lawlessness.
He stressed that ND was the only "force of certainty" that could guarantee the country's progress and again ruled out the prospect of cooperation with PASOK, stressing that "the country needs to be governed from the first moment".
"Greeks know what they will choose - they want the truth, hope and the person that will give these to them. We will either be saved together or all go down together," Samaras concluded.
 Left-wing parties accuse ND leader of anti-leftist 'lies'Left-wing parties on Sunday strongly criticised a speech given by main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras to his party's Political Committee, in which he launched a summary attack on the Left, accusing him of "lies," "anti-Communism", "civil war tactics" and "nationalism".
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) accused him of lying about the "popular movement" and slandering communism in order to terrorise workers, hiding what ND's policy had in store for them and trying to "grab" their vote.
The Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) said that in his attempt to conceal ND's responsibility for the second Memorandum passed with the party's support, Samaras was becoming the chief general of an anti-Leftist front "reminiscent of the days of civil war".
The party stressed that voters were already aware that Samaras and the vice-president of the current government Evangelos Venizelos had already decided on a new round of harsh austerity cuts in June that would in no way lead to growth, as Samaras hypocritically claimed.
According to the Democratic Left, meanwhile, Samaras was in "panic, bound by his ideological rigidities, dragging out symbols of nationalism and uberpatriotism."
 Infrastructure minister, ND leader at bridge foundation ceremony in PeloponneseInfrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Makis Voridis and main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras on Saturday attended a ceremony to mark the laying of foundations for a new bridge across the river Neda, on the planned ring road outside the city of Kalamata in the Peloponnese.
The ceremony was also attended by MPs from the Peloponnese, the mayor of Kalamata and local residents.
In statements at the ceremony, Samaras noted that the launching of the project was an "injection of optimism" that helped boost people's morale at a difficult time.
Voridis noted that the laying of the foundations would ensure the completion of the ring road, on which 695 million euro had been spent up to this time.
 Papariga: 'Measures don't have people's approval'"The elections are an opportunity to reply to Merkel, Sarkozy, Juncker etc that the measures do not have the people's approval. It is an opportunity to send a message at the elections that the people are determine to turn things upside down," Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said on Saturday, during a press conference in the northern Greek city of Komotini.
She stressed that a vote for KKE in the upcoming elections would make the difference, forecasting that the upcoming polls "will be the worst election procedures since 1984 because they will attempt to intimidate the people".
Papariga also repeated her prediction that the country's debt will have soared to 400 billion euro in two years time, warning that further harsh austerity measures targeting working-class incomes were coming in June.
Questioned about the 'Potato Movement' and the efforts to cut out middlemen in food, Papariga said that this was a "logical development in times of crisis" that was being supported by all in an effort to send the message that mobilisations and strikes were unnecessary.
"God forbid we should reach the stage of a barter economy - you give me two cucumbers and I'll give you two yoghurts," she added.
Concerning Greece's mineral reserves and other resources, Papariga said that she would like to see this exploited but not be taken over by private interests, whether Greek or foreign.
 Papariga: 'PSI a form of mockery of the Greek people'The country is heading toward elections "with very strong doses of intimidation" but also attempts to fool the electorate, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said on Saturday at a women's meeting in the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis.
"What working people must know is that we are heading toward elections with strong doses of intimidation of the people, but also attempts to fool and disorientate, in the hope that some will be fooled and some will be terrorised," she said.
Concerning the PSI debt restructuring announced on Friday, she said that this was another attempt to fool ordinary voters.
"They've supposedly written off the people's debt of 100 billion euro and added a new debt of 134 billion euro. We believe that by 2015 the country's debt will be 400 billion euro and the people will pay savagely for this. We have to be in time and resist so that we aren't soaked by the new storms that are coming," she added.
Papariga is on a weeked tour of northeastern Greece and was due to speak at a gathering in Komotini on Saturday night. On Sunday she will visit Kavala and Drama.
 LAOS attacks main parties for Memorandum, PSIThe right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party on Sunday strongly criticised the speech given by main opposition New Democracy's leader Antonis Samaras to his party's Political Committee, accusing him of misleading the electorate concerning PSI.
"Among the many things that Samaras adopted with a time-delay was the slogan 'Recovery'. Recovery of seriousness, recovery for truth, recovery of morality that ND appears to have lost long ago," a LAOS announcement said.
In statements on Saturday, LAOS leader George Karatzaferis attacked both PASOK and ND for celebrating the PSI debt restructuring and accused both Samaras and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos of being "either naive or extremely crafty".
"They are celebrating because we got rid of 100 billion in debt when we are being saddled with 130. You can appreciate what kind of arithmetic they know," he added.
Karatzaferis attacked the leadership of both main parties as "inadequate, inept and unreliable" and especially criticised their attempt to pass an amendment in Parliament that would have 'written off' political party debts.
Predicting that salaries in Greece would soon be at the same level as those in Bulgaria and Romania, he said the Memorandums signed by the present government were "giving us a drop of life and taking gallons of blood" and that this was the reason why he had pulled out of the coalition government.
 Papandreou speech 'mocks' Greek society, SYN spokesman saysIn a scathing statement concerning the speech given by PASOK leader George Papandreou at his party's National Conference on Saturday, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party spokesman accused him of "mocking Greek society".
"His speech proves that he is either completely out of touch with reality or else considers the people of this country to be cretins," SYN spokesman Panos Skourletis said, noting that the former premier had associated his name with the harshest social policy implemented in Greece for decades, the arrival of the International Monetary Fund and identified himself with the interests of international banking.
 Democratic Left party leader criticises PASOK party, FinMin VenizelosDemocratic Left party leader Fotis Kouvelis, addressing the party's Central Committee on Sunday, sharply criticised government members, the PASOK party and Government Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos personally, stressing that "the guilty are waving their finger at us and are accusing us" and that "with apologies and in high rhetorical fashions their actions are not written off".
Kouvelis added that "we are hearing from leading government members, who contributed catalytically to the shaping of the current deadlocked situation, who dissolved every sense of social state to be speaking again of the actuality of socialism. From the dilemma of socialism or barbarism, we have now passed to the declared target of the relaying of the foundations of socialism."
"The guilty are waving their finger at us and are accusing us of subterfuge and indeed sympathetic subterfuge," Kouvelis said, adding "we reply to them: there is no white map in politics. With apologies and high rhetorical fashions their actions are not written off. They are requesting from the citizens and the political forces to look ahead. They are speaking of a new policy. How can they believe that they can convince the Greek people, when the Memorandum 2 and the loan Contract that they have just signed, describe with accuracy all the next steps? When already at the latest cabinet meeting they discussed cutbacks amounting to 11 billion euros that will take place in June?"
 Panos Kammenos launches new 'Independent Greeks' party in DistomoIndependent MP Panos Kammenos, a former member of New Democracy, on Sunday presented the founding declaration of his new party "Independent Greeks" from the symbolic location of Distomo, the tragic scene of Nazi atrocities during WWII.
"We promise to fight relentlessly and with all the means we have in order for the dossier on the national tragedy to be opened and judged," Kammenos said during a speech outside the Distomo town hall, referring to the events that led up to Greece's economic crisis.
Kammenos said that only a committee that was above political parties, with emergency powers and authorities and made up of "unblemished Greeks above all suspicion" would be able to bring such a work to pass.
"Emergency situations are dealt with only through emergency measures," he noted, saying that this framework would include all that participated, either obviously or in the background, in handling power and operated for personal gain.
"First justice must be handed out, all those responsible for the tragedy that the Greek people are living and experiencing today must be punished, politically, penally and socially," he stressed, ruling out the possibility that justice might be done by Parliamentary examination committees serving party interests.
Addressing those that came out to Distomo to hear him, Kammenos called for a "national awakening and uprising" and talked about an "effective management of the debt problem".
He also termed the pressure exerted on Greece by the EU-IMF troika "raw blackmail" and underlined that the Greek tragedy was not just a financial and economic problem but a political problem that was fast turning into an issue of loss of national independence.
"Our country is up against a catastrophe equal to that of Asia Minor, is up against a national humiliation equal to the tragedy on Cyprus," he added.
He was scathing in his criticism of the post-junta period political parties that he said had failed to prepare the country and claimed that Greece had fallen victim to an "international conspiracy designed between the spring of 2009 until the spring of 2010."
A key element of his party's policy platform was to lift the immunity of ministers, MPs and officials against prosecution and seeking out those responsible for the current crisis and making them pay, possibly even impounding their property. He also called for protecting national sovereignty, seeking payment of German war reparations, cancellation of the "illegal memorandum" and an attempt to rebuild Greece anew.
Kammenos also invited the other independent MPs in Parliament to form a Parliamentary group, so that they could have a presence in the Parliament and the media.
 IIF head Dallara gives interview to newspaperInstitute of International Finance (IIF) Managing Director Charles Dallara, in a statement to the newspaper "Ethnos tis Kyriakis", said "I believe that the PSI is a big turning point for the Greek economy and the Greek people," adding that "it will take some time for the seeds planted today to sprout and the benefit to be visible for the Greek economy. It might also take a few months, but it shall happen."
Dallara further said "if the Greeks place their determination ahead and if they implement the reforms (that the programme anticipates), their efforts will not be in vain, nor will they see again the huge amount of the private debt returning."
He believes that "it is necessary for the capital to be transferred quickly to the banks, the market must start to move, it is necesasy for us to bring back trust and competitiveness to the Greek economy, it is necessary that we show that it is a place where people can invest in it."
The IIF head advises the Greek government and the Greek people "to remain on the programme" and if this happens "they will start to see the benefits of this programme earlier than expected."
He noted that "Greece is closely linked with Europe, at present and in the future. The future of Greece is united with the euro and the Eurozone. If it stays on the same course, this will strengthen trust and progress. And I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, much earlier than others can see it," Dallara concluded.
 University rectors to seek new talks with education ministry leadershipAfter a stormy meeting ending late on Saturday in the northwestern Greek city of Ioannina, Greek university rectors decided seek a new round of talks with the education ministry's new leadership on the problems plaguing tertiary education and the changes that need to be made.
During Saturday's session, the rectors' council found that the problems of universities have become more acute and blamed the leadership of the education ministry for failing to find the appropriate long-term solutions to help de-escalate tension that was leading tertiary education into an impasse.
They plan to meet the new minister George Babiniotis on March 16 in order to discuss the problems faced by the country's universities.
 Lagarde to recommend 28-billion-euro IMF contribution to new Greek bailoutNEW YORK (AMNA - P. Panagiotou)
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde intends to recommend that the IMF contribute 28 billion euro over four years to a new loan agreement with Greece, according to a statement she made on Friday.
"Today I have consulted with the IMF' s Executive Board and on that basis, as discussed with the Greek government, I intend to recommend a ? 28 billion (about US$36.7 billion) arrangement under the Fund' s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) to support Greece' s ambitious economic program over the next four years.
"Restoring competitiveness and a sustainable fiscal position will require Greece to undertake sustained and deep structural reforms over a prolonged period. My decision to recommend to the IMF's Executive Board that the Fund should continue to assist Greece in this endeavor by providing substantial financial support over an extended period of time would be commensurate with the long-term nature of the challenges facing Greece and with the significant financial contributions provided by the private sector and by Euro Area member states. The scale and length of the Fund's support is a reflection of our determination to remain engaged," she said.
Lagarde also welcomed the private sector response to the debt exchange offered by Greece, noting that this will dramatically reduce Greece's medium-term financing needs and contribute to debt sustainability.
"The IMF's continued support would be part of an integrated package where all parties-the Greek government, its European partners, the private sector, and the Fund-would play their part to help the Greek people overcome this crisis and over time restore growth, thus contributing to broader global financial stability," she added.
Lagarde said that she would put the proposal to the IMF's Executive Board for review next week.
 Foreign Exchange rates - MondayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.338
Pound sterling 0.848
Danish kroner 7.546
Swedish kroner 9.041
Japanese yen 109.55
Swiss franc 1.223
Norwegian kroner 7.571
Canadian dollar 1.328
Australian dollar 1.260
 Greek singer Domna Samiou passes awayGreek singer Domna Samiou, one of the most important vocalists of the country's traditional music scene, died in an Athens hospital on Saturday at the age of 84.
Samiou was born on October 12, 1928 in the Athens district of Kaisariani into a family of Asia Minor Greeks that came over with the exchange of populations in 1922.
She first began studying Byzantine and traditional music at the age of 13, with Simonas Karas at the "Association for the Teaching of the National Music". As a member of the Simonas Karas choir, she also started to appear on the state radio station EIR, where she was later hired to the National Music Section in 1954 and came into contact with some of the country's greatest musicians in popular and demotic music.
While working for the radio she was also involved in the production of records, the music for theatre productions and films and, in 1963, began travelling around Greece to collect and record musical material for her own personal archives.
She resigned from EIR in 1971 and took up an invitation from song-writer Dionysis Savvopoulos, appearing and interpreting traditional songs before a young audience and bringing about a great shift in the popularity of traditional music among the young. She then went on to appear at the Bach Festival in London.
In 1974, she signed on with the record company Columbia and cut a number of records, while in 1976-77 she worked with directors Fotos Lambrinos and Andreas Thomopoulos on a series of 20 documentaries called "A Musical Journey" for the state television company ERT.
In 1981 she founded the "Artistic Association of Demotic Music - Domna Samiou" dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional music, including cutting records and organising events not dominated by commercial criteria.
For the space of roughly 40 years, she continued to perform in concerts both in Greece and abroad and in 1994 she started offering lessons in traditional singing for adults.
She won a number of prizes and awards for her work in Greece, including the Arion Award for her overall contribution to preserving traditional songs in 2006 and a medal presented to her by President Kostis Stephanopoulos in 2005.
PM Papademos on death of Domna Samiou-
Prime Minister Lucas Papademos in a statement expressed his "profound sadness" over the death of Domna Samiou "who for decades identified herself with the rescue and promotion of our musical tradition."
Papademos said that the deceased "brought to light hidden popular treasures and acquainted them with the younger generations, contributing in essence to the shaping of our modern cultural identity."
Lastly, he extended warm condolences to her family.
 Culture minister visits antiquities repatriated by Getty MuseumCulture and Tourism Pavlos Geroulanos on Saturday visited the National Archaeological Museum in Athens in order to view the two antiquities repatriated from the Getty Museum in California.
During the visit, he said that the repatriation of the two ancient artifacts had both practical and symbolic significance.
"They are two wonderful pieces with great value but the symbolism of their return is even more important. It shows the tireless efforts that the State must make in order to ensure that the antiquities that leave this country illegal are returned in every case," he said.
Greece had been aware that the specific two antiquities were in the possession of the Getty Museum since 1975, the minister noted, and a huge effort lasting many years had resulted in their final return.
"I consider that this return sends the message that we will not stop the effort to recover every monument that has been exported from the country illegally, until we secure their return and the punishment of those that stole it," he added.
Geroulanos further pointed out that the deal with the Getty Museum allowed the two sides to exchange knowhow and cooperate in several other ways concerning the preservation of antiquities and their display. He particularly emphasised that the broken carved relief returned by the Getty would be reunited with a piece at the Kanellopoulos Museum in Athens and that the Getty Museum had also considered it very important for the work to be restored and made whole.
In return, the Getty Museum will display an ancient stele that is currently at the National Archaeological Museum depicting the heroes Hercules and Antiochus.
 Organised migrant-trafficking gang uncoveredAuthorities have announced the arrest of a suspected leader of an organised migrant-trafficking operation working in Greece for the past two years, as well as one of the gang members.
The arrest was carried out at Athens International Airport on Thursday morning, by officers of the Attica Aliens Department.
The two men arrested were a 29-year-old Afghan national and a 22-year-old accomplice from Bangladesh, who were discovered as they were trying to get seven Afghan nationals that they had provided with fake passports and electronic boarding cards onto a flight to a European Union country. A third member of the gang, an Algerian, is also being sought.
Investigating officers said that the role of the 29-year-old was to organise, coordinate and supervise the illegal trafficking of mainly Afghan migrants to EU countries for fees ranging from 1,500 to 3,000 euro per person.
The 22-year-old was responsible for providing shelter to the illegal migrants for short periods until the gang arranged for them to be moved. He also collected the fees demanded and ensured that they were supplied with passports and boarding cards and accompanied them to the airport.
The man being sought was the forger that supplied the fake European passports and documents.
Evidence found and confiscated by the police included six fake French passports, one fake Italian ID card, six boarding cards, 4,070 euro, three mobile phones and one car.
The two suspected migrant traffickers and the seven migrants were led before an Athens Misdemeanours Court prosecutor.
 Police warn of new malware on InternetThe Greek Police cyber crime unit on Saturday warned Internet users to beware a new malware circulating the Internet, especially on pornographic websites, that is being used to entrap unwary visitors.
When users visit infected sites, a message pops up telling them that the web-pages involved and their computer have been blocked by the police cyber-crime unit because they contain child porn. It then demands that they pay 100 euro via a pre-paid card (Paysafe or Ukash) in order for their computer to be restored.
If the user then fills in the number of the pre-paid card, this is sent to a specific electronic address and stored in a data base, available for use by those that came up with the scam.
The malware affects mainly windows operating systems and the electronic web-page has been traced to a server in Ukraine.
The police said that a file on the case has been drawn up and will be sent to an Athens first-instance court prosecutor.
Meanwhile, they advise users that come across the specific malware to avoid sending any money to unblock their computer and to inform the cyber crime police.
They also propose rebooting the computer in safe mode and then returning the system to a date prior to that when the message appeared.
Users can also call for information and technical details concerning the malicious software at the numbers 210 6467464 and 210 6476461 or contact the cyber crime unit at the e-mail email@example.com.
 Seventh suspect in major IKA fraud case arrestedThe seventh suspect wanted by financial police investigating a major case of fraud at the Kallithea branch of the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA) was arrested on Saturday.
The suspect was identified as Myrsine Thomakou, 66, a retired IKA employee living at Kotrona in Mani.
She is accused of participating in a criminal ring formed in order to defraud IKA by paying out fake benefits and healthcare compensation and will face charges of fraud, embezzlement, legalising income from criminal activity and forming a criminal organisation.
The suspect was led before an Athens first-instance court prosecutor on Saturday.
 Missing Swede skiers found unharmedThree missing skiers from Sweden were found unharmed early on Sunday morning after they first went missing near the Vasilitsa ski resort in Grevena on Saturday afternoon.
The three foreign nationals had lost their way and had asked for assistance via their mobile phones at a time when it was snowing in the area and visibility was low. Members of the Greek Rescue Team working with local services found in them in a remote, inaccessible area some five kilometres from the ski slopes and took them to Grevena.
All three were in good health.
 Woman arrested for 6.9 million euro debt to stateA 49-year-old woman was arrested by Attica Security police in Vyronas for outstanding debts to the state amounting to 6,931,755.77 euro.
The arrest was carried out on Friday and the woman led before an Athens Misdemeanours' Court prosecutor. The debts were built up by a company owned by the woman's husband, who has since passed away.
 Used disposable rocket-launcher found in KolonakiA disposable anti-tank rocket launcher, already used and therefore inactive, was discovered in a rubbish bin in the upmarket Athens district of Kolonaki at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Police said the rocket launcher was found at 27 Skoufa Street and has now been sent to the police forensics laboratory for examination. An investigation has been launched to find where it originated from and who threw it into the rubbish.
 Dimitris Hondrokoukis wins gold medal in high jump event in world indoor championshipsDimitris Hondrokoukis won the gold medal in the high jump event in the world indoor championships in Istanbul on Sunday, jumping 2.33 metres. The performance constitutes an individulal record for Hondrokoukis, since his previous record was 2.29 metres (he equalled it in the qualifying round).
 Super League resultsOlympiacos Piraeus beat Aris Thessaloniki 3-0 at home in games played for the Greek Super League over the weekend, while AEK Athens defeated Panathinaikos Athens 2-0 also at home and PAOK Thessaloniki lost from Asteras Tripoli 3-2 at home.
In other action:
OFI Crete-Panionios Athens 0-1
Atromitos Athens-Doxa Drama 2-0
PAS Yiannina-Levadiakos Livadia 2-0
Panetolikos Agrinio-Ergotelis Crete 2-0
Standings after 24 weeks of play:
1. Olympiacos 58 points
2. Panathinaikos 54
3. PAOK 42
4. AEK 41
5. Atromitos 40 (23 games)
6. Asteras 37
7. OFI 33
8. Aris 33
9. Xanthi 29
10. Panionios 26
11. Levadiakos 25 (23 games)
12. PAS Yiannina 24 (23 games)
13. Panetolikos 24
14. Kerkyra 24
15. Ergotelis 23
16. Doxa 15 (23 games)
 Rainy on MondayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 4-8 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 2C and 14C. Cloudy with local showers in Athens, with northerly 4-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 6C to 8C. Cloudy with sleet in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 1C to 4C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceThe day after PSI, speculation about early elections and internal developments in PASOK were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on Sunday.
AVGHI: "Double triumph for speculators!".
AVRIANI: "PASOK cleaned up from Georgakis' [George Papandreou] gang that robbed the country and deliberately led it to default".
DIMOKRATIA: "Life after PSI".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Five billion euro loot in the pockets of speculators".
EPOCHI: "They are celebrating default!"
ETHNOS: "The elections dilemma and the following day".
EXPRESS: "VAT returns temporarily frozen".
KATHIMERINI: "A race from PSI to the ballot boxes".
KERDOS: "The wager of growth".
LOGOS: "The constant reduction of pensions begins".
NIKI: "Protect your money in the post-PSI era"
PROTO THEMA: "Two e-mails about orgies in PASOK coffers".
REALNEWS: "They are 'trumping' them with ministers from abroad".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Organisation of the people's counter-attack. The haircut kills the people - feeds capital".
TO ARTHRO: "Venizelos' seal".
TO PARASKINIO: "Fuel tampering a national crime!"
TO PARON: "Debt to half a trillion!"
TO VIMA: "Elections are your right but honouring the agreement is your obligation".
VRADYNI: "How to secure your lump sum. What each fund will give".
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