|Friday, 19 January 2018|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 13-09-20
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Friday, 20 September 2013 Issue No: 4465
 PM Samaras: 'Democracy is a lot stronger than its enemies imagine'It is not a time for domestic fighting or tension and all political differences must be resolved with democratic dialogue rather than violence, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in a brief announcement on television on Thursday, in response to the murder of Pavlos Fyssas on Tuesday night by a man with ties to the Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party and the widespread reactions it engendered.
Calling the murder "ruthless", Samaras said his government was "determined to prevent the descendants of Nazis from poisoning our social life, perpetrating crimes, and terrorising and undermining the foundations of the country that gave birth to democracy."
"Any political differences are resolved with democratic dialogue," the premier said, "not with inflammatory disagreements or violence, wherever it comes from, and especially not in blood, which divides us and exposes us (to derision) abroad."
Violence destroys any chances Greece has to acquire what it deserves, he said, like growth, peace and prosperity. "Everyone should respect the people, their efforts and sacrifices," he noted.
"Democracy is a lot stronger than its enemies imagine," he concluded.
 Party reactions to PM's statement, Golden Dawn activityCommenting on statements made by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and government Vice President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) on Thursday stressed that the "self-evident condemnation of Golden Dawn's fascist activity and the murder of Pavlos Fyssas only acquires real content when accompanied by specific measures and policies."
"We called on the prime minister and Mr. Venizelos to denounce the dangerous views of Mr. Chrysanthos Lazaridis, about the theory of the two extremes, as well as the treating of SYRIZA as an unconstitutional party. The prime minister on the one hand chose the tactic of doubling back and sidestepping the issue, evidently in an effort to appease internal voices in his party, as well as to appease impressions about his government abroad. On the other hand, Mr. Venizelos retorted with an attack, attributing to SYRIZA a strategy of tension."
Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou, replying on his part to SYRIZA, said "SYRIZA chose to reply again with divisive speech to the prime minister's unifying and responsible speech".
"We deliver them to the citizens' judgement," he added.
Independent Greeks party leader Panos Kammenos launched a verbal attack on the prime minister on the occasion of his statement.
"In order to function, democracy requires respect for the Constitution, which has been flouted by the coalition government that has replaced the legislative work of Greek Parliament with legislative acts and Parliamentary control with the refusal of appointed ministers to reply to the opposition," Kammenos said.
He added that a functioning democracy needs "national sovereignty" and stressed that "at ministries today, orders are given by foreign commissioners of the troika; Reichenbach and Fuchtel give orders at the [government headquarters]".
Kammenos also said "democracy forgives, it does not use those who served its dissolution, as Mr. Samaras does".
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also said in an announcement that our people can see today more clearly and with a feeling of responsibility the criminal Nazi nature of Golden Dawn.
At the same time, they must not fall into the snare of those seeking to trap popular discontent, to halt and place obstacles for organised labour and popular mobilisations against the barbaric antipopular policy.
KKE calls on working people, the unemployed, young people to support the initiatives of the labour unions, the popular committees that condemn, isolate and can render useless decisively Golden Dawn's networks in every place of work and education, in every working class and popular neighbourhood. The exit is to be found in the organising of the popular struggle and alliance in the direction of the overthrowing the system that gives birth and fuels Golden Dawn.
 Criminal cases involving Golden Dawn to fall under counter-terrorism act, public order minister saysAll criminal cases involving the ultra-right-wing party Golden Dawn should be treated as coming under the statutes of the counter-terrorism act, Public Order and Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Dendias said in a letter sent to Supreme Court chief prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani on Thursday.
During an emergency press conference, Dendias also informed reporters that the letter to the prosecutor was accompanied by files on 13 incidents in Attica and 19 incidents throughout the rest of the country that occurred after the violence by GD supporters targeting vendors at a street market in Rafina, which was classed by the police as an "ongoing action" by a criminal organisation.
The minister said that he had asked for all the incidents to be treated as belonging to article 187 of the penal code on forming a criminal organisation, which automatically converts misdemeanours to criminal offences and ensures much harsher treatment.
In certain such cases involving MPs of the party, the process will proceed based on the provisions of the Constitution, he added.
Dendias noted that, in this way, the Golden Dawn party was not outlawed since this was not permitted by the Constitution but that "they will all go to court and the action of the specific party will be stopped".
The minister was questioned on his reasons for stopping further investigation of the murder of musician Pavlos Fyssas in Keratsini, which could have revealed more evidence. He replied that he decided to send the letter because he feared that the incidents like that in Keratsini might be repeated and because there might be a reaction from the other side that would create a very dangerous situation.
Dendias noted that his actions had been approved by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, whom he would brief immediately afterward.
 Golden Dawn party 'a criminal, neo-Nazi organisation', Deputy FM tells ParliamentGolden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party has "shown its true, repugnant face" and "is an enemy of democracy under the guise of a parliamentary party," Deputy Foreign Minister Akis Gerontopoulos charged on Thursday.
Gerontopoulos had been summoned to Parliament to respond to an ex-agenda question by the extreme-right party's deputy Christos Pappas related to statements by the Foreign minister on the FYROM naming issues and on Greek-Turkish relations, but the deputy told the institution he would be unable to attend.
"Golden Dawn was given an opportunity to prove that it renounces fascism; instead, however, events prove it is a criminal neo-Nazi organisation," Gerontopoulos said.
 'Barbaric policies give birth to nightmare of neo-Nazism', SYRIZA leader warnsBERLIN (ANA-MPA/F. Karaviti)
Main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras said here on Thursday that "social stability and cohesion are in danger in Greece" and warned that "European culture is being faced with the nightmare of neo-Nazism which is born by barbaric policies".
Speaking at an election rally of the German "Party of the Left" (Die Linke) in Frankfurt with the party's vice president Sahra Wagenknecht, Tsipras said: "Up to here. Europe will not turn back. Europe and its peoples will forge ahead".
Addressing the Germans, he said that of the money of the "so-called", as he said, bailout, "98 percent goes into the hands of bankers and oligarchs and to the payment of loan interest, while only 1.5 percent reaches the real economy."
"The supposed rescue of the Greek people is in reality the rescue of banks," he said and stressed that the division is not between the peoples but between the working people and the oligarchs.
Tsipras also expressed his support for the position of the German Left for a minimum salary of 10 euros an hour, pointing out that if the German working man lives in a dignified way, there is also hope for the Greek working man.
"If, however, the Greek working man lives in an undignified way, then there is the risk of the German working man following as well," he said and once again condemned austerity policies which, as he stressed, do not constitute a solution as German Chancellor Angela Merkel claims.
"This is a lie. Austerity has failed three times and we are heading for the fourth. Austerity recycles the crisis. There is no solution with loans upon loans," he concluded.
 Tsipras has meeting at ECB, points to Fyssas murder, social impact of austerityIn a meeting with European Central Bank (ECB) board member Joerg Asmussen in Frankfurt on Thursday, main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alexis Tsipras countered appeals to support the economic programme in Greece by pointing to the social repercussions of austerity, including the rise of fascism and the recent murder in Athens of left-wing musician Pavlos Fyssas by supporters of the ultra-right-wing Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party.
Asmussen had asked Tsipras to support the programme in Greece, stressing that if the reforms were carried out the country might achieve a primary surplus from the current year.
Tsipras, however, asserted that the programme followed was not sustainable and highlighted its social impact, referring to Fyssas' murder in Keratsini.
"A growth course is necessary, but this means growth that is based on a firm footing, not on a foundation of unemployment and social disintegration," he said.
SYRIZA's leader said that all Greek politicians that met with foreign officials had an obligation to sound the alarm over the rise of "an extremely painful phenomenon in Greece, that of fascism and the neo-Nazis."
In statements concerning Fyssas' murder, Tsipras said that this "exceptionally unpleasant event should shock us all and make us realise that the economy's repercussions on society can be multi-dimensional. We must all get to work so that this phenomenon can stop spreading in Greece, because it is a threat to European civilisation."
He also criticised the programme for Greece, saying that the country's debt was not sustainable and was "increasing, instead of decreasing," while repeating a proposal for an international conference along the lines of the 1953 conference for Germany's debt.
In joint statements with Tsipras after their meeting, Asmussen said this had been carried out in the framework of the ECB's dialogue with opposition leaders in Eurozone countries and was held in Frankfurt on the occasion of Tsipras' visit, because it had not been possible during Asmussen's recent visit to Athens.
He condemned the murder of Fyssas and stressed that the ECB "is not blind to the social situation in Greece," noting that unemployment rates, especially among the young, were unacceptable.
"We take this into account when we make proposals about how the programme can be designed," he said, adding that the ECB sees progress and considers that the programme is working, pointing to the latest figures concerning growth and employment in Greece as "encouraging".
"I know that there are methods, means and tools on which we disagree, but the general target, to restore sound fiscal policies, to create jobs and reform the banking system so that it can work and provide credit to the economy is a common one," he said.
The meeting with Tsipras was also attended by ECB board member Benoit C?ur? and the head of the ECB's troika mission in Athens Klaus Masuch.
 EPP chairman: 'We fully support Samaras and his government'"The family of the European Peoples Party (EPP) fully supports Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his government in all their efforts to get the country out of the economic crisis and its social repercussions", chairman of the EPP group in the European Parliament Joseph Daul stated on Thursday.
We are certain that Samaras and his government are doing their best to prepare a smooth and successful Greek Presidency of the EU, noted Daul, while he commented on the stabbing death of 34 year-old Pavlos Fyssas by an ultra-right Chryssi Avghi supporter on Wednesday, "We dissapprove of the reactions of other political leaders, who are using the death of person as a tool for their political campaign against the government".
According to Daul, "Fanatical actions and violence have no place in the modern and democratic societies of any EU country-member. Every crime is reprehensible but those of a political nature particularly are unacceptable within the EU framework. We condemn any act of violence. Those responsible for the murder must be sent to justice as soon as possible".
Concluding, Daul sent his condolences to Pavlos Fyssas' family and friends.
 Young man murdered by neo-Nazi follower buried Thursday; antifascist protesters arrested in Athens, ThessalonikiPavlos Fyssas, 34, who was murdered by a 45-year-old with ties to the extreme-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party in the Keratsini district of Piraeus, was buried at the Schistos cemetery on Thursday, with friends singing his songs and his family asking for donations to charity Chamogelo tou Pediou instead of wreaths.
The perpetrator, Giorgos Roupakias, 45, is under arrest and will be giving his deposition before a prosecutor in Piraeus at 9:00 am on Saturday, on charges of murder and violation of the law on arms.
Three more people arrested over the case will be led before a prosecutor in Piraeus at 3:00 pm Thursday to give their depositions - Roupakias' wife and a female relative (over charges of perjury and concealment of facts) and a representative of the local Golden Dawn office in Piraeus (over a charge of violation of the law on arms).
Meanwhile, police said that 34 people were arrested at antifascist rallies in the Piraeus districts of Keratsini and Nikea on Wednesday night - out of a total of 130 taken to the police station after incidents. The 34 were arrested for attacking police outside the Keratsini police station and will be led before the Piraeus magistrate probably today, Thursday.
In Thessaloniki, an antifascist rally resulted in police taking 37 people to the station. All except one were allowed to go. He is a 27-year-old arrested for possession of hashish, and violating the arms laws (he was carrying a penknife, a wooden club and an oxygen mask).
Earlier, police had clashed with participants in the rally, organised by main opposition SYRIZA and leftist groups, and dispersed them with flashbangs and chemicals.
 Police seeking individuals that made phone calls to stage Fyssas ambushAttica security police on Thursday said that they were on the trail of the individuals that made phone calls to members of the Golden Dawn party to organise the ambush on 34-year-old leftist musician Pavlos Fyssas, leading to his death from stab wounds inflicted by 45-year-old Giorgos Roupakias on Tuesday night in Keratsini, Piraeus.
Detectives investigating the case believe the phone call was probably made by one of two men that were in the same cafe as Fyssas and were seen to exchange hostile looks with the musician while watching a football match. When Fyssas left the cafe and went out into the street, about 20 people were waiting for him outside and started to attack him, at which point the 45-year-old murder suspect arrived on the scene and Fyssas fell knifed in the chest.
Police have requested that privacy rules on the phone records of the two men be lifted so that they can investigate any phone conversations made or messages exchanged on that night and lead them to justice.
They are certain, however, that Roupakias was notified by phone to go to the spot where the 34-year-old anti-fascist was attacked, based on the testimony of the suspect's wife, who said her husband had been watching the football match at home when he received a phone call and left in a hurry.
After the stabbing, the suspect's wife took a club and Golden Dawn pamphlets and other material to her cousin's house, for which both were later arrested.
Police have also confirmed reports that Roupakias had financial ties with Golden Dawn. Press reports quoting friends of the suspect said that the 45-year-old had supported another political party in the past but been recruited by GD about two years ago and that he made extra money by running a cafeteria in the party's local branch office, as well as helping in the distribution of food, while the party had also employed his wife and daughter.
Concerning allegations about the way police had handled the incident, based on witness claims that the first police officers arrived on the scene before the victim was stabbed but failed to intervene, Greek Police insisted on the version that the first DIAS motorcycle police patrol arrived just as Fyssas fell bleeding to the ground, which was why the suspect was arrested on the spot.
In the meantime, one other member of GD was led before the Piraeus public prosecutor on Thursday on charges of weapons possession unrelated to the Fyssas stabbing. The suspect, aged 26, was a former driver for GD leader Nikos Mihaloliakos and a member of the party's youth group in Piraeus. He was arrested after a raid on his home and his car revealed an air-gun, a flick knife and two large firecrackers. The 26-year-old had applied for a licence to carry a weapon as Mihaloliakos' driver but this was denied on March 5.
 Wife of Keratsini murder suspect and two more individuals released pending trialThe wife of the 45-year-old man arrested for the stabbing death of 34-year-old Pavlos Fyssas in Piraeus' Keratsini district was released without conditions pending trial for obstructing a police investigation, following her testimony before an examining judge, it was announced on Thursday.
Another woman, who allegedly told authorities that she has no involvement in the deadly attack and was just an acquaintance of the suspect's wife, as well as the secretary of the local Chryssi Avgi offices in Piraeus, were also released and will face only misdemeanour charges.
According to information, the wife of the 45-year-old said that she had no relation with the extreme-right-wing party and had only once attended a food distribution event organized by Chryssi Avgi.
The local Chryssi Avgi secretary allegedly said in his testimony that he was called by the police to open the offices and that the investigation revealed a broken down expandable baton. He also said that he did not know the man arrested for the murder.
 SYRIZA spokesman repeats demand that PM remove Lazaridis as advisorMain opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) spokesman Panos Skourletis on Thursday repeated the party's demand that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras remove Parliamentary deputy of state Chrysanthos Lazaridis as his advisor, as well as demanding that Samaras and government Vice-President Evangelos Venizelos officially state whether they consider SYRIZA to be "outside the democratic arc".
Speaking during a television programme broadcast by SKAI, Skourletis stressed that general statements about initiatives addressed to all parties in Parliament constituted a hypocrisy and "were undermining" when they said that SYRIZA was among parties that do not support democracy and had essentially fuelled the current climate, leading to the latest crime.
In this context, he also repeated his demand that Lazaridis be denounced or removed from his post as the premier's aide.
"If there is no statement denouncing him from Samaras and Venizelos, we will consider that there is a plan for destabilisation, where we don't know next step. The theory of the two extremes is being enlisted for one reason. First of all, in order to sow fear in society," Skourletis said.
According to Skourletis, the government had realised that it was becoming politically and socially isolated, was aware that things were going nowhere and, finding itself faced with immediate political disaster, was trying to gain time by terrorising voters.
"Essentially, doing the worst thing possible for a democracy, trying to equate the action of Nazis with the thousands of workers that were in Syntagma yesterday. This is the theory of the two extremes. This is what undermines democracy," he added.
SYRIZA's objections to Lazaridis were prompted by statements he made in Parliament, when he said that ultra-right-wing Golden Dawn was not alone in "making a mockery" of Parliament and equated GD's actions with the stance adopted by SYRIZA MP Zoi Constantopoulou in a recent Parliamentary session.
 ND MP Chrysanthos Lazaridis' response to SYRIZA MP Zoi ConstantopoulouNew Democracy (ND) MP Chryssanthos Lazaridis repeated his position that "apart from violence, there is also tension that leads to violence, possibly to a worse kind of violence," while addressing Parliament on Thursday.
Lazaridis, who is also the prime minister's advisor, made the comment in response to main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) MP Zoi Constantopoulou, who asked for answers vis-a-vis statements he had made a day earlier.
"I want to hear the government's position on the ongoing, incendiary, agent provocateur-style and provocative attack launched on SYRIZA by Mr. Lazaridis. When the prime minister's advisor adopts the position that the largest opposition party does not belong to the 'constitutional arc' of political forces, you can realize that this is not an issue of individual attitude or handling. Nobody can toy with democracy," Constantopoulou said.
She added that "Mr. Lazaridis' insistence on speaking about future losses of human lives, thus doing some sort of service, creates great concern".
Constantopoulou repeated that the government and the prime minister are equally responsible, underlining that "nobody has the right to pretend that they have no knowledge of the destabilisation plans that exist for our country - proved by criminal cases pending in courts - and to ignore what provocation means."
"Yes, I'm doing a service, when I warn that aside from violence, there is also tension that leads to violence, possibly to a worse kind of violence, and we have to prevent that from happening," Lazaridis responded.
"I have every right to criticize those who, in my opinion, foster such a tension. This shouldn't make me a human target. I have every right to warn that for the next incidents of violence, if they do not come exclusively from the side already known, also responsible will be those who have ignored this warning. What I want to do is to make us all in here more responsible. And when I say all I mean all."
Addressing SYRIZA MPs, Lazaridis underlined that "no one among you is above criticism. And you should break the bad habit of turning into a target anyone who tells you what the whole of society is talking about. You shouldn't turn into a target those who call on you to assume your share of responsibility, who speak the truth which you cannot deny. You are not above criticism. You will accept it, listen to it; without talking nonsense about agent provocateurs and provocation attacks."
Referring to Zoi Constantopoulou, he asked "what would your reaction have been if you were in my place? Why should I tone down my reaction? I am appealing to those among you who are prudent - of which there are many - and I'm telling you: if you were in my position, just because you exercised absolutely legitimate criticism - and may I say you have said much worse things - what would have been your reaction? I don't want an answer now, just think about it," he concluded.
In the beginning of his statement, Lazaridis had said that he does not have to answer for every conspiracy scenario invented by different people and repeated that he criticized and did not insult Constantopoulou when he said that often she trivializes parliament, adding that she herself used terms such as "violators of Democracy" and "falsifiers" with reference to Parliamentary deputies.
"These are heavy terms and are part of a practice for escalating tensions, and what's even worse is that you don't understand it or you pretend that you don't. Unfortunately, what you do is hurting the country and Democracy. What you say in here and out there - like in the schools when you talk about an overturning - create an underlay of violence which leads to confrontation, which leads to more violence - as has been the case many times until now - and even to bloody incidents and deaths," Lazaridis said.
 Venizelos lashes out at the 'anti-memorandum front'Government Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos in comments made on Thursday placed main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA), the Communist Party (KKE), the Independent Greeks (AN.EL) and Chryssi Avgi (GD) on the anti-memorandum side.
Speaking in Vima FM private radio, Venizelos said that they represent the public sector, the absence of movement and trade unionist vested interests.
Referring to SYRIZA, he said that it fosters the strategy of tension, noting that the speeches delivered in Thessaloniki by its leader Alexis Tsipras included expressions that foster social and political hatred targeted on the government majority.
He also said that "KKE expresses its positions honestly. (AN.EL leader Panos) Kammenos became victim of the tension he attempted to create - and I'm very sorry for that- and, of course, we have Chryssi Avgi. All of them added they share the same vote. All of them jointly support political conspiracies".
Venizelos said that the problem lays with the fact that "in the so-called anti-memorandum front coexist powers that are extreme-right, nazist, traditional communist and supposedly neo-radical which in reality represent the public sector, the absence of movement and trade unionist vested interests."
He characterized Chryssi Avgi as "criminal organization" hidden behind a political party and said that he is in favour of adopting stricter legislation. He also called on the Supreme Court prosecutor to intervene saying that all crimes committed by Chryssi Avgi can be prosecuted.
 FinMin to meet with troika on Sunday, Sept. 22Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras will have his first meeting with the troika of Greece's creditors, who are returning to Athens for the next scheduled review of the economy, on Sunday, September 22.
According to information available to date, the negotiations between the government and the troika - representatives of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank - will be held in three stages.
The first stage is expected to focus on the course of the four prior actions for the next disbursement of the Greek loan amounting to 1 billion euros in October - they include the defence industries and Larco; the state's debt to Athens and Thessaloniki Sewage and Water Supply Companies; the lawyers code, and the civil servants' mobilisation scheme.
Moreover the rate of the recession this year is expected to be set - as eventhe lower percentage affects positively the debt and the deficit - and the creation of a primary surplus made final. According to Stournaras, there will be a primary surplus, even if a slight one.
The troika representatives will pay another visit to Greece on October 15 - in the second stage - in order to introduce issues related to the Mid-Term Programme, the fiscal gap and the updating of the memorandum.
Government sources said that the final stage is expected to take place in the last two months of the year, and is the most crucial one, as it will require negotiations over the fiscal gap and the sustainability of the public debt.
Meanwhile, Thursday, Stournaras met with Labour Minister Yannis Vroutsis at the Finance Ministry.
 Foreign ministry response to questions regarding Greece's EU PresidencyGreece is fully prepared to fulfill its obligations as the EU Presidency, foreign ministry spokesman Konstantinos Koutras said on Thursday, in response to journalists' questions on statements made by German MPs to German news media as regards Greece's assumption of the EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2014.
Koutras pointed out that the institutional workings of the European Union are governed by principles of law and rules contained in the treaties in force, noting that they are based on institutional equality of member-states and respect for the national sovereignty and dignity of each of those member-states.
"In this context, Greece is fully prepared to fulfill its obligations as the Presidency. Any further discussion is superfluous," Koutras noted.
 Foreign Minister Venizelos to attend 68th UN General AssemblyGovernment Vice-President and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos will have a number of bilateral and multilateral meetings with foreign officials and representatives of international organizations in the context of the 68th United Nations General Assembly.
Venizelos will be in New York City on September 21-28 to participate in the proceedings of the 68th United Nations General Assembly, heading the Greek delegation.
His itinerary in New York begins on the morning of Sunday, September 22, when he will meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and concludes on the evening of Friday, September 27, with his address before the Plenary of the 68th UN General Assembly.
During the UNGA Ministerial Week, Venizelos will have a number of bilateral and multilateral meetings with officials from other countries and representatives of international organizations.
According to the scheduling so far, he will meet - in chronological order - with the foreign ministers of Iran, Kosovo, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Albania, Switzerland, the Palestinian Authority, Russia, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Panama, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.
He will participate in a trilateral meeting with his counterparts from Cyprus and Egypt to discuss recent developments and ways to strengthen cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean, within the framework of the announcements made during his recent visit to Cairo.
He will also meet with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, as well as with Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides.
On a multilateral level, he will participate in the coordination discussion of EU Foreign Ministers with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, as well as in the meeting of foreign ministers on EU-U.S. Political Dialogue. He will also attend a working dinner for EU-NATO foreign ministers and take part in meetings of South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) and Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) member states. In light of the events in Syria, he will attend a working dinner on the situation in the Middle East hosted by the International Peace Institute.
In the framework of the General Assembly's proceedings, Venizelos will take part in and address the General Assembly High Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals and Persons with Disabilities, as well as, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. He will participate in the UN Secretary General's High Level Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals.
Venizelos is also scheduled to meet with Archbishop Demetrios of America and representatives of Greek-American community and Jewish organizations (WJC, AJC, ADL, B'nai B'rith).
 Administrative Reform minister receives protesting municipal policeIn a meeting with protesting municipal police on Thursday, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised that joint ministerial decisions outlining the terms and criteria for their transfer to new positions will be issued within days.
Municipal police from areas throughout Greece held a protest march in central Athens and demonstrated outside the administrative reform ministry on Thursday, in protest against their inclusion in a public-sector mobility scheme and the decision to abolish municipal police forces.
The minister received a delegation representing the protestors, led by the head of their union Apostolos Kosyvas, promising that the relevant ministerial decision was in the final stages of processing and would see their transfer to the ministries of public order, justice, labour inspectors corps and general secretariat for trade.
 Six lawsuits on racist crimes have been initiated by Athens prosecutorsData for pending lawsuits on racist crimes were tabled in parliament by Justice, Transparency and Human Rights Minister Haralambos Athanassiou on Thursday.
Six lawsuits have been initiated by the Athens First Instance Court, another six by the Thessaloniki court and 7 by the Heraklio, Crete, court. One of them was drawn up after the Union of Heraklio private employees posted on their website that a migrant worker was beaten at a recycling factory by a worker who was a member of the ultra-right Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn) party.
The data was presented in Parliament following a query by Democratic Left (DIMAR) deputy Maria Giannakaki on the fate of cases related to the antiracist law.
The Justice minister noted that the court authorities are practicing their duty independently and are exclusively responsible for assessing facts and initiating a case.
Referring to the Constitution's Article 26 on the principle of the separation of powers, Athanassiou noted that the Justice minister has no institutional authority either to request criminal prosecution of someone or its termination of someone.
 Charges for financial mismanagement at National Road Building Fund (TEO)A public prosecutor on Thursday pressed criminal charges against "all parties responsible" for financial mismanagement at the National Road-Building Fund (TEO) from 2006 until 2011. The prosecution includes two criminal charges and one misdemeanour charge over a series of financial and other irregularities in TEO's operation uncovered by a Public Administration Inspector's report.
The irregularities included illegal 'splitting' of tenders, covering for staff absent without leave, irregular salary payments to staff and legal advisors, fake overtime, sums paid for fake invoices and payments made on the basis of ministerial decisions having no legal basis, as well as staff taking home equipment from TEO installations without permission.
The cost to the fund in illegal or fake salary perks, bonuses, compensation etc is estimated at around 5.7 million euros.
The case has now been sent to an examining magistrate for further investigation and to determine which of the charges should be pressed against specific board members running TEO in that time.
In the item titled "President Papoulias in Slovakia for two-day official visit" in Tuesday's (17 Sept. 2013) issue on page 7, para. 2, line 4, incorrect reference is made to "Slovenians" instead of "Slovakians." We apologise to our readers.
 FinMin: Evidence points clearly to lower recession this yearThere is clear evidence that a recession in the Greek economy will be lower than initial estimates, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Thursday.
Addressing a conference, "Euromoney Greece Conference: Privatization and Investment Forum" with a speech on "Greece at the centre of international investment interest", the Greek Finance minister said that besides the fact that a recession in the second quarter of 2013 fell to 3.8 percent (lower that initial estimates), the country's Gross Domestic Product - based on seasonally corrected GDP figures - grew in the second quarter compared with the first quarter of the year, for the first time since the beginning of the crisis. "For the first time we have estimates that GDP grew on a quarterly basis," Stournaras said.
He sounded optimistic that Greece was on track towards economic recovery, helped by ensuring political and financial stabiity and fiscal consolidation. Stournaras noted that the government was expected to present a small primary budget surplus this year and stressed that a cyclically-corrected primary result has been improved by 20 pct of GDP since 2009.
Tourism is emerging as a determining factor for the country's real economy, with tourism revenues up 22 pct in the first seven months of the year, while cruiseship passenger traffic at the port of Piraeus jumped 43 pct in August - a new six-year record. The Finance minister also noted that wage employment flows in the private sector remained positive since March this year, while the country is expected to present a balanced current account this year and in 2014.
Stournaras said that the government's economic policy programme focused on speeding up a privatisation programe. He said the country has overcome past problems such as a complex regulatory framework or lack of political will, while a recapitalisation programe has fortified the country's financial system which will can now play a leading role towards development and becoming a strong catalyst for capital placement by international fund management companies.
He said the government will launch significant tenders later this year to privatise large infrastructural projects, such as the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki - along with regional ports - and the Egnatia Road, the Athens International Airport, Hellenic Post, new groups of marinas, and so on, while the government also intends to develop spa and health tourism.
The Finance minister said the government expected that exploitation of all assets included in a privatisation programe - referring to infrastructure and corporate portfolio - will be completed by the end of 2014.
 Greek unemployment eased to 27.1 pct in Q2Greece's unemployment rate eased slightly to 27.1 pct in the second quarter of 2013, from 27.4 pct in the first quarter, although it was up from 23.6 pct in the second quarter of 2012, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
The statistics service, in a report, said that almost six out of 10 young people remained unemployed (59 pct), while long-term unemployment totalled 66.8 pct of total unemployment in the country.
The number of unemployed people totalled 1,350,435 in the second quarter, down 0.4 pct from the previous quarter but up 15.5 pct compared with the second quarter of 2012.
Unemployment was mainly hitting women (31.1 pct), while unemployment among men was 24.1 pct. The 15-24 age group recorded the biggest unemployment rate (59 pct), followed by the 25-29 age group (44.4 pct), the 30-44 age group (25.5 pct), the 45-64 age group (18.9 pct) and the over 65 years old group (11.3 pct).
Western Macedonia recorded the highest unemployment rate (32.9 pct, from 30 pct last year), followed by Central Macedonia (30.1 pct from 25.1 pct), Western Greece (28.5 pct from 24.6 pct), Attica (28.1 pct from 23.8 pct), Epirus (27.7 pct from 22.1 pct), Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (26.9 pct from 24 pct), Thessaly (25.6 pct from 21.9 pct), Crete (23.7 pct from 22.6 pct), the Peloponese (22.2 pct from 19.9 pct), Southern Aegean (19.3 pct from 15.3 pct) and Ionian Islands (16.6 pct from 14.3 pct). Northern Aegean and Central Greece recorded declines in the unemployment rate on an annualized basis (21.6 pct from 21.7 pct and 26.7 pct from 28.4 pct, respectively).
A 36.5 pct of unemployed people seeking jobs were looking exclusively for full-time employment, while a 58.3 pct was ready to work part-time if necessary. A 4.4 pct of unemployed people declined job offers mainly because of the working hours (30.3 pct), location (26.7 pct) or unsatisfactory pay (22.2 pct).
Unemployment among foreign citizens was 38.3 pct, while among Greek citizens it was 26.1 pct.
The number of employed people was 3,632,184 in the second quarter, up 1.0 pct from the first quarter but down 4.2 pct from the same quarter in 2012.
Part-time jobs accounted for 8.2 pct of employed people. The rate of wage earners in Greece, 62.9 pct, was the lowest in the European Union, where the average rate is 83.4 pct.
 Rise in unemployment slowing, labour minister saysUnemployment is 'putting on the brakes' and the labour market stabilising, Labour, Social Insurance and Welfare Minister Yiannis Vroutsis said on Thursday in response to an announcement by Greece's statistics agency ELSTAT that the unemployment rate had fallen.
"The unemployment rate in the second half of 2013 appeared reduced, for the first time after 48 whole months, in other words since mid-2009 until today.
ELSTAT'S figures, in fact, are in step with the equivalent positive records of salaried employment flow in the same time period - as these were recorded in the IT system Ergani - thus confirming that unemployment is 'putting on the brakes' and the labour market appears to be stabilising.
No one doubts that unemployment in our country remains at particularly high levels. It is not just the numbers that count, however, but primarily people. For this reason, we are continuing our efforts as a government, more methodically and with greater intensity, to support the unemployed and boost social cohesion in order to build a competitive economy that will create even more new jobs," he said.
 Greek VAT revenue losses total 9.7 billion euros in 2011, studyBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA/Maria Aroni)
An estimated 193 billion euros in VAT revenues (1.5% of GDP) was lost due to non-compliance or non-collection in 2011, according to a new study on the VAT Gap in EU member states. The study, presented by the European Commission on Thursday, was funded by the Commission as part of its work to reform the VAT system in Europe, as well as its wider campaign to clamp down on tax evasion.
Greece recorded the second highs VAT revenue losses in the EU, the study showed. Italy (36 billion euros), France (32 billion), Germany (26.9 billion) and the UK (19 billion) recorded the highest amount in revenue losses from VAT in 2011, while Romania (10 billion euros), Greece (9.7 billion or 4.4 pct of GDP), Lithuania (4.4 billion) and Latvia (0.9 billion) recorded the highest VAT losses as a percentage of GDP in 2011. In the period 2000-2011, VAT revenue losses in Greece were an average 3.0 pct of GDP, while in 2011 this rate rose to 4.7 pct of GDP.
Several member-states, mainly Spain, Greece, Latvia, Ireland, Portugal and Slovakia recorded an increase in VAT revenue losses since 2008 when the crisis erupted, while VAT revenue losses in the EU grew by 5.0 pct in the 2008-2011 period.
VAT revenue losses are not exclusively related with fraud, but with bankruptcies, statistical errors, payment delays, etc. The Commission said that a multi-pronged approach was necessary to efficiently resolving the problem.
Algirdas ?emeta, Commissioner for Taxation, said: "The amount of VAT that is slipping through the net is unacceptable; particularly given the impact such sums could have in bolstering public finances. However, there is also a positive message to be drawn from today's findings. Our ambitious reform of the VAT system, the EU measures to combat tax evasion and our recommendations for national tax reforms, are all targeted in the right direction. We know the problem; we have identified solutions to it, and now it's time for Member States to act. Today's figures will serve as a baseline to assess their progress in improving VAT compliance in the years ahead."
The VAT Gap is the difference between the expected VAT revenue and VAT actually collected by national authorities.
 VAT on restaurants/tavernas will be 13 pct, ministry saysThe VAT on restaurants and tavernas will be 13 pct, even if their programme includes live music, but the VAT on nightclubs and bars will be 23 pct, the Finance Ministry clarified on Thursday.
In its announcement the ministry said, however, that a precondition for a lower VAT rate for restaurants and tavernas offering live music is that their sound systems is of limited power and that customers are sitting on their chairs and not dancing. In any other case, the business will be considered a nightclub and a 23 pct VAT rate will be imposed.
There was no clarification of what happens when people indulge in a favourite Greek custom of dancing on the tables.
 Shipping Minister Varvitsiotis meets with visiting Cypriot ministerShipping & Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis on Thursday met with visiting Cypriot Transport & Public Works Minister Tassos Mitsopoulos, focusing on bilateral issues.
Greece will continue to work closely with Cyprus to ensure that the European continent will continue to control global shipping and to avoid losing its importance to Asian countries, Varvitsiotis commented after the meeting.
The two ministers discussed issues concerning the search and rescue memorandum, cooperation in maritime education, the tactic to be adopted by Greece and Cyprus in the context of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and maritime zones' issues.
Varvitsiotis underlined that the Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014 is a major challenge for the country. He noted that the Shipping ministry wishes to adopt common positions with the Cyprus Republic, a considerable power in the shipping sector, and announced a tripartite meeting of the Shipping ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Malta by the end of the year.
On his part, the Cypriot minister referred to the excellent cooperation the two countries have on shipping issues, noting that the foundations have been laid for even closer cooperation.
He also referred to maritime education, underlining that Cypriot students are given the opportunity to study in merchant marine academies in Greece.
"We wish to boost the competitive advantages of the Greek and Cypriot shipping sector and upgrade the competitiveness both shipping registers that should operate in a complementary manner, considering that the merchant marine fleets of our countries are world leaders in the sector," Mitsopoulos said.
 Development Minister Hatzidakis meets with visiting Cypriot Transport Minister MitsopoulosDevelopment & Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis on Thursday met with visiting Cypriot Transport & Public Works Minister Tassos Mitsopoulos and held talks focusing on the Greek EU Presidency in the first half of 2014.
They discussed the coordination of the two ministries ahead of the forthcoming Greek EU Presidency and issues concerning Greek know-how that can be offered to Cyprus in the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) sector.
 National Bank lowers interest rates on business loansThe National Bank on Thursday announced it was lowering its interest rate on business loans by 1.5 percentage point, starting Monday, 23 September. In a statement, the bank said it was lowering its basic floating rate on moving capital to businesses and on funding of fixed assets and equipment. The new rates will be set as follows:
Moving capital 6.0 pct, overdraft 6.0 pct, fixed assets and equipment 6.25 pct, loans to professionals and small- and medium-sized enterprises 6.35 pct.
 Market watchdog discusses Viohalco's exit planGreece's Capital Market Commission on Thursday met with Viohalco officials to discuss a plan by the Greek metals group to exit the Greek stock market following its decision to move its base to Belgium. The meeting did not reach any decisions.
Under the plan presented by Viohalco, the group will list the sales of a new company Viohalco SA to the Euronext market in Brussels, exchanging its existing shares at a ratio of 1 to 1, with new ones to be listed in Brussels.
However, market sources said that the critical point of the plan is the need for obligatory public tenders for all of its six subsidiaries listed in the Greek stock market. Market authorities say these public tenders are necessary since the main shareholder is changing, but Viohalco rejects this view saying that the basic shareholder of its subsidiary in Belgium -which will absorb the Greek-listed company- remains the same.
 TAP agreement signed between DEPA and Shah Deniz in BakuAn agreement on natural gas supply from the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) was signed on Thursday in Baku, Azerbaijan between Hellenic Gas Company (DEPA) and the Shah Deniz construction joint venture, envisaged to boost Greece's domestic energy market growth.
"Today's signing of the DEPA-Shah Deniz agreement on natural gas supply from TAP is a real acknowledgement of the Greek government's dynamic activities to enhance the growth of the domestic energy market and create a competitive environment to help the national economy," Environment and Energy deputy minister Makis Papageorgiou stated on the occasion.
Speaking on the sidelines of an informal meeting of European Union Energy Ministers taking place in Vilnius, Lithuania, Papageorgiou said that Greece was now finalising its access to a new source of natural gas supply under competitive terms.
He added that "the direct benefits and the growth perspectives" associated with TAP are now obvious, in addition to "Greece's geopolitical upgrading in the global pipeline map."
 Russian Railways confirm interest for TrainOSE, Rosco and Thessaloniki PortMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Than. Avgerinos)
Russian Railways are interested in buying TrainOSE, Rosco and the Thessaloniki port, Vladimir Yakunin, the company's chairman said on Thursday.
Speaking to Interfax news agency here, Yakunin said Russian Railways have submitted an initial expression of interest in the framework of tender procedures launched by the Greek authorities, adding: "Now we will see the terms and developments there. From what I know, Greece was preparing to close this issue by the end of the year".
The Russian news agency said that candidates must express their interest by the end of September.
 Industrial new orders' index up 0.8 pct in JulyThe new orders' index in the industrial sector (measuring both the domestic and external markets), grew 0.8 pct in July this year, compared with the same month in 2012, after a 14.8 pct decline recorded in July last year, Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) said on Thursday.
The statistics service attributed this development to a 3.2 pct decline of the domestic market new orders' index and a 3.9 pct rise in the external market index.
The turnover index in the industrial sector grew 3.6 pct in July, after a 7.7 pct decline recorded in the same month last year. The statistics service said that turnover in the mining sector grew 14.8 pct, while in the manufacturing sector turnover rose by 3.5 pct. The domestic market index fell 4.2 pct in July, while the external market index jumped 16.8 pct in the month.
 Nafplio planning to construct waterwayThe town of Nafplio plans to construct a waterway that will further promote tourism growth in the area, according to Nafplio mayor Dimitris Kostouros on Thursday, speaking after his meeting with a representative of the Hellenic Sea Planes, which specialises in the sector in in Greece.
The mayor estimated that the operation of a waterway in the area will upgrade the quality of offered services to visitors. "An investment in the specific sector will help Nafplio to evolve into an area with quality tourism and will act cumulatively - with the correct operation of the port and the construction of a marina - in substantial development of the complex tourist flow".
Nafplio, the first capital of modern Greece and a city full of historic references, is within driving distance from the major archaeological sites of ancient Nemea, Mycanae and Tiryns in the Argolid.
 Public sector wraps up 48-hour strike called by ADEDY umbrella unionPublic sector services were shut down for a second day on Thursday, after a 48-hour strike was declared a day earlier by ADEDY, the umbrella union of civil sector employees, over layoffs and transfers.
Meanwhile, public secondary school teachers and those working at health and pension funds and the Manpower Organisation (OAED) have been on rolling strikes since Monday.
ADEDY's strike action includes primary school teachers, doctors and staff at state hospitals and court employees.
At 12 noon Thursday municipal police will hold a nation-wide rally at the premises of the local government employees' union (POE-OTA), on Aghiou Konstantinou street, and will then march to the Administrative Reform Ministry on Vassilissis Sofias.
 Hellenic Exchanges to offer services to Romanian Derivatives ExchangeHellenic Exchanges Group on Thursday announced it was in talks with Romania's Derivatives Exchange to offer services in trading settlement and technological upgrading and supporting new projects in the Romanian stock market.
This cooperation also aims to develop new products and services for participants in both markets, to reduce operating costs and to exploit scale economies from an homogenous technological and regulatory operating framework of the two markets.
The negotiations are expected to be completed soon, Hellenic Exchanges noted.
 Greek stocks jump to four-month highsGreek stocks ended at their highest level since May 28 supported by a rally in international markets following a decision by the Federal Reserve to maintain its bond buying programe. News that Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is expected to meet with Moody's officials sparked enthusiasm in the market which now expects an upgrading of the country's credit rating. Moody's maintains Greece to a default status (C), while S&P and Fitch have upgraded the Greek economy to B-.
The composite index of the market jumped 2.19 pct to end at 1,022.75 points, off the day's highs of 1,025.17 points. Turnover jumped to 86.58 million euros. The Large Cap index rose 1.63 pct and the Mid Cap index ended 1.55 pct higher. Frigoglass (7.07 pct, Titan (6.32 pct) and Viohalco (5.82 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Coca Cola HBC (1.88 pct) was the only blue chip stock to end lower. The Food (1.83 pct) and Health (0.15 pct) sectors suffered losses while Constructions (5.03 pct), Oil (4.67 pct) and Industrial Products (4.27 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 99 to 42 with another 20 issues unchanged. PC Systems (20 pct), Teletypos (19.57 pct) and Medicon (19.29 pct) were top gainers, while Motodynamic (27.88 pct), Shelman (20 pct) and Athina (19.70 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +4.67%
Personal & Household: +2.29%
Raw Materials: +2.17%
Travel & Leisure: +1.60%
Food & Beverages: -1.83%
Financial Services: +2.49%
The stocks with the highest turnover were Piraeus Bank, OTE, OPAP and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.594
Public Power Corp (PPC): 8.15
Coca Cola HBC: 22.96
Hellenic Petroleum: 8.03
National Bank of Greece: 3.18
Eurobank Properties : 7.15
Piraeus Bank: 1.35
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank further to 8.17 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Thursday, from 8.36 pct the previous day, with the Greek bond yielding 10.09 pct and the German Bund 1.92 pct. Turnover was a thin 3.0 million euros, of which 2.0 million were buy orders and the remaining 1.0 million euros was a sell order.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 0.55 pct, the nine-month rate was 0.45 pct, the six-month rate was 0.34 pct, the three-month rate was 0.225 pct and the one-month rate was 0.129 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE/ASE Large Cap index was trading at a premium of 0.50 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Thursday, with turnover remaining a high 71.001 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 28,498 contracts worth 50.048 million euros, with 64,494 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 71,976 contracts worth 20.953 million euros, with investment interest focusing on Alpha Bank's contracts (14,696), followed by National Bank (3,254), Eurobank (2,545), Piraeus Bank (12,066), MIG (11,457), OTE (4,908), PPC (3,334), OPAP (2,113), Hellenic Exchanges (1,230), Mytilineos (3,231), Hellenic Petroleum (2,963), GEK (2,844), Ellaktor (2,298), Intralot (1,529), Sidenor (842), Terna Energy (268) and Folli Follie (224).
 Foreign Exchange rates - FridayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.374
Pound sterling 0.854
Danish kroner 7.569
Swedish kroner 8.698
Japanese yen 136.1
Swiss franc 1.251
Norwegian kroner 7.959
Canadian dollar 1.403
Australian dollar 1.447
 U. of Aegean dean visits newly-opened minority school on Imvros islandUniversity of the Aegean Dean of the School of Humanistic Studies Kostas Vratsalis paid a visit to the newly-opened Greek minority school of Sts Theodore on the island of Imvros and met with its principal, Paraskevi Berberi.
Vratsalis donated a book to the school library ("Schools of the Dodecanese Islands") and met with residents of Sts Theodore at their cultural centre, where father Asterios Okomoussis briefed him on the life of the Orthodox residents of the island.
The dean committed to helping the community in their children's education, within the framework of the interstate agreements under which the school operates.
Imvros is under Turkish jurisdiction, and the newly reconstructed grade school opened this academic year with four students.
 Historic telescope operates again at National Observatory after 10-yr. hiatusThe Newall historic telescope, which contributed in major ways to the development of astronomy in Greece, resumed operation after ten years at the National Observatory of Athens visitors' centre on Mt. Penteli.
The telescope was not working due to repairs needed in the telescope, the surrounding dome and the visitors' building.
"It was a matter of priority for us to bring the telescope back to operation and the 'battle' of observation," the president of the National Observatory Kanaris Tsiganos told ANA-MPA .
The Newall telescope was named after Rober Stirling Newall (1812-1889), who started as an amateur astronomer and envisaged and financed its construction. It was donated to Observatory by Cambridge University in 1955. The government financed the contruction of the dome and it was finally installed in 1959 on Mt. Penteli. Its use offered Greek astronomers access to the methods of astrophysics.
Today, Newall telescope is used for educational reasons while the research observation of the National Observatory is carried out by Aristarhos telescope on Mount. Helmos.
An event on the occasion of Newall's re-operation will be held on Saturday, September 21, at 7:30 pm at Penteli Observatory. Visitors will have access to Penteli Observatory according to the tour schedule, which is posted on the Observatory's website, http://www.astro.noa.gr/VisCentre/vis_centre_gr.htm
 Athens Bike festival atTechnopolis in AthensA bicycle festival with events, exhibition, and competitions for bicycle aficionados will be held at the Athens Technopolis Park (Keramikos stop on the Metro) from September 20 to 22.
The Athens Bike Festival is being held for the fourth consecutive year at the same location by MBIKE Events and Digital in the framework of the European Week of Mobility.
Entrance to the festival will be free to public.
 Archaeological sites in Argolida closed due to strike actionWorld famous archaeological sites in the prefecture of Argolida, southern Greece, including the ancient Palace of Mycenae and the Theater of Epidaurus, remained closed on Thursday, on the second day of a culture ministry employees' strike in which participation was close to 100 pct.
The industrial action caused discontent among visitors who were unable to enter the sites as there was no prior notice of the mobilizations.
The striking guards at the archaeological sites held a protest demonstration in Nafplion, outside the Fortress of Palamidi, where they hung a banner denouncing the "mobility scheme" affecting public sector employees and distributed leaflets to the disappointed tourists.
 Hefty sentences for ring illegally trading in antiquitiesA Thessaloniki criminal court on Thursday passed down heavy sentences on a ring of antiquities smugglers operating in north and central Greece, including a jail sentence of 22 years and fine of 50,000 euros on a 67-year-old retired customs official considered to be the mastermind of the outfit.
Also sentenced were another 43 individuals accused of participating in the same network, which also had links abroad, each receiving sentences ranging from nine months to two years in prison. Another nine individuals accused in connection with the same case were acquitted.
Two of those sentenced by the court were sent directly to prison on Thursday - including the 67-year-old retired customs officer and an antiquities appraiser working with him. The court opted to suspend the sentences for the rest pending appeal, or to convert the prison sentences to fines so they might be released.
The sentences are the culmination of a giant police operation leading to the arrest of the ring last March, which revealed a treasure trove of 9,200 ancient coins and other undeclared ancient artifacts in their possession.
 Sex-trafficking operation busted, four arrestsA human-trafficking operation that was sexually exploiting women was busted based on a report filed by a 23-year-old Moldavian woman, and four of its suspected members placed under arrest, police reported on Thursday.
The group was involved of luring foreign women to Greece with the promise of employment and then forcing them into prostitution at brothels, often withholding all their earnings. In raids carried out by police in Athens and Argos, police arrested a 32-year-old Romanian man, a 31-year-old woman from Moldova, a 52-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman. Another two suspects are being sought.
A 27-year-old Romanian that is currently in custody at Korydallos prison in Athens is also considered a member of the specific gang.
During a raid on a brothel in Argos, two Moldovan women believed to be victims of the organisation were also taken into custody and sent to a shelter run by the National Centre for Social Solidarity, with a request sent to the public prosecutor to have them classed as human trafficking victims.
 Italian national receives suspended sentence for training a gun on protestors in PatrasA court in Patras on Thursday handed down a 8-month suspended sentence to a 38-year-old Italian man arrested in the centre of the port city on Wednesday, after eyewitnesses reported seeing him training a gun on a group of protestors taking part in an anti-austerity demonstration.
The defendant was found guilty as charged for illegal gun use and possession.
He told the court that he took out the handgun, which was not loaded, out of panic because he feared for his pregnant wife who was with him in their car.
A police search in his residences in Poros and Patras revealed guns and ammunition, including a wooden bow and aluminum arrows, a hunting rifle, cartridges and pepper spray canisters.
 Man arrested at Kalpaki with 203 kg of hashishA quantity of hashish weighing 203 kilos was found in a car driven by a 29-year-old unemployed man from the city of Trikala, who was arrested by police at Kalpaki in Ioannina, north-western Greece, on Thursday afternoon.
The hashish was contained in 192 packets that, according to police sources, he had loaded in a region close to the Greek-Albanian border, while the car he was driving belongs to his mother.
An ensuing search by police of the family's country house revealed quantities of cocaine and hashish.
 Saudi Arabian C-130 returns to Crete for emergency landingA C-130 aircraft of Saudi Arabia made an emergency landing soon after 1:00 pm on Thursday, at the Nikos Kazantzakis airport of Crete's main city Heraklio.
The airplane lifted off from the same airport but presented mechanical trouble and loss of fuel, so it returned to the airport, which was on standby with fire brigade and ambulance personnel for the emergency. The landing was successful and there were no injuries.
 Riot police attacked with firebombs in Harilaou Trikoupi streetA riot police unit located outside the offices of the PASOK party in Harilaou Trikoupi street, central Athens was attacked with firebombs on Thursday night. Police were maintaining a strong presence in the wider district of Exarchia as the night progressed.
 Rainy on FridayRainy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Friday. Winds 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures between 10C and 31C. Slightly cloudy in Athens with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures between 17C and 30C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures between 15C and 26C.
 The Thursday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceAVGHI: Stab wounds on Democracy.
DIMOKRATIA: Fear that worse will come.
EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON: "We're not afraid" (quoting a song performed Pavlos Fyssas, the man stabbed to death by an ultra-right Golden Dawn supporter
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: Pavlos Fyssas on blog: "Most of those who are not sleeping are frightened."
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: Greece before the madhouse's door.
ESTIA: The new extremeley burdensome property tax.
ETHNOS: Resist the neo-Nazi monster!
IMERISSIA: Optimistic signs.
KATHIMERINI: Shocking murder by neo-Nazi!
LOGOS: Intolerance kills - Political crime with Pavlos Fyssas as victim.
NAFTEMPORIKI: Tension and turmoil keeps away new austerity measures.
RIZOSPASTIS: Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) murderers, the people will punish you.
TA NEA: Enough! Shock over Golden Dawn's crime.
TO PONTIKI: Neo-Nazi attack.
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