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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-01-05
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Athens eyes EU consensus for GazaGreek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Monday received the top Palestinian envoy in Greece, where she noted that the best and most effective coordination of Athens' humanitarian aid to Gaza was discussed during the meeting.
Bakoyannis also reiterated the fact that Greece was the first European country to offer humanitarian aid to ravaged Gaza.
The meeting came after Sunday's telephone contact between Bakoyannis and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
"After much effort trucks carrying Greek humanitarian aid to Gaza entered today (Monday)," she said, referring to shipments transported aboard two military planes on Saturday, including blood supplies.
"Our goal is to organise, in the best possible fashion, the dispatch of further aid; an order has already been given to purchase necessary pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs," Bakoyannis said, adding that another Hellenic Air Force C-130 plane is scheduled to deliver more aid in roughly a week, with a food-laden vessel set to depart for the region in 10 days.
Palestinian envoy Samir Abou Ghazaleh confirmed that Greece was the first European country to dispatch aid to Gaza, while he noted that discussions with the Greek FM focused on Athens' diplomatic initiatives within the framework of efforts to achieve a truce.
According to reports, Greek diplomacy is centring on efforts to achieve a consensus within the European Union, as Bakoyannis had a series of phone contacts on Monday with EU counterparts, including French FM Bernard Kouchner, Britain's David Miliband and Spanish Minister Miguel Moratinos.
"One of our biggest concerns is the lack of consensus, which appeared yesterday on the European level. This was the primary object of discussions that I had this morning with my European counterparts," Bakoyannis told reporters, adding: "We cannot tolerate a Europe with two or three voices, and we must clear this up as soon as possible."
 Reaction to officer's shootingGreek leadership and political parties on Monday emphasised that an early morning attack against three police officers in the Exarchia district directly targets the country's democracy and all that has been attained by the Greek people through sacrifices and struggles.
A three-man police squad guarding a culture ministry building in the Exarchia district of Athens was attacked at approximately 3:05 a.m. Monday by three assailants using a with a Kalashnikov-type assault rifle and at least one more firearm, an attack that resulted in the serious injury of 20-year-old police officer Diamantis Mantzounis, who suffered two gunshot wounds, to the chest and leg.
Mantzounis, who was rushed to a nearby hospital by his colleagues, was diagnosed upon arrival as in extremely critical condition and immediately taken to surgery, where multiple injuries of vital organs in the abdomen and chest area ascertained. A second wound from a bullet, which had exited the officer, was also detected in his thigh.
A medical bulletin stated that, following the operation, which was successfully completed at 9 a.m., and several blood transfusions, the patient was in a very serious but stable condition, and due to the severity of his condition was placed in the Erythros Stavros (Red Cross) Hospital's ICU.
Both President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sharply condemned the incident, reminiscent of past decades' urban attacks by once-active ultra-leftist terror groups, most notably the now defunct "November 17" gang.
Health Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, upon leaving the hospital, told reporters that the "dramatic incident is a blow against democracy, society and the institutions". At the hospital, Avramopoulos met with Mantzounis' parents and colleagues.
Both Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who holds the law enforcement and public order portfolio, as well as Deputy Minister Panagiotis Hinofotis rushed to the hospital shortly after the incident.
President Karolos Papoulias said the attempted murder of the three police officers aims to harm Greece's democratic stability, which has been attained with the sacrifices and struggles of the Greek people.
He stressed that the entire political world and the Greek people would "safeguard the country's democracy from such criminal actions", and expressed a hope that officer Mantzounis would quickly recover from his ordeal.
Greece has a strong democracy, and a just state isthe most powerful guarantee for every citizen, Premier Costas Karamanlis said on Monday, stressing that no one would be allowed to endanger what has been attained through the struggles and sacrifices of all Greek people, in a statement after visiting the hospital to be briefed on the officer's condition.
The prime minister expressed his abhorrence and grief over the dastardly attack against the police officers guarding the culture ministry building, adding that this reflects the sentiments of each and every Greek citizen.
Noting that the attack resulted in the serious injury of the 20-year-old policeman, the prime minister added: "Police are hard-working fellow citizens. They are social functionaries dedicated to the service of all of us. The bullets against them are a blow primarily against democracy, and society as a whole".
One of two Kalashnikov-type assault rifles used by perpetrators in an attack against a MAT riot police van in the Zographou district of Athens on Dec. 23 was also used in Monday's early morning attack, Greek Police (EL.AS) chief Vassilis Tsiatouras announced during a press conference shortly after noon at the police headquarters.
Tsiatouras said a total of 27 cartridges from the assault rifle and four cartridges from a 9mm handgun -- which was later identified as having been used in an April 2007 attack against a police station in the Nea Ionia district of northwest Athens that was claimed by the shadowy "Revolutionary Struggle" terror group -- have been collected from the site of the attack, while he further confirmed earlier reports that the assailants had also thrown a Greek-made hand-grenade.
Asked whether police believed that the perpetrators were members of a new group or of one of several urban terrorist groups active in recent years, the police chief initially stressed that "they are individuals who have lost their reason and who want to cause the death of working policemen", while he called the incident a "cowardly and criminal attack".
Based on his own experience and in his personal view, but without any evidence confirming this, the perpetrators did not "come out of the blue", Tsiatouras said, adding that "they had something on their minds, and found the occasion in the tragic shooting death of 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos to carry it out".
Regarding EL.AS stance, particularly with respect to the Exarchia district, Tsiatouras said "we will act appropriately, in accordance with the law".
Asked to comment on a statement by interior minister Pavlopoulos after the shooting death of Grigoropoulos by a police special guard in December that he wanted a "defensive police force", the EL.AS chief stressed that "there is no defensive police force, there is a police force that does its duty, in every instance, in accordance with the laws".
Main opposition PASOK press spokesman George Papaconstantinou said PASOK condemned "today's cowardly and murderous attack against police officers in the most categorical way", and wished the injured officer a speedy recovery.
He said that Monday's attack, "the second in a small space of time" against police, gave rise to may serious questions regarding the nature of those attacks and rendered absolutely necessary a speedy in-depth investigation, given that "we are facing new and unprecedented, for Greece, situations that demand clear, without shadows, replies.
Papaconstantinou said Greek citizens, following the young Grigoropoulos' killing, were living "in a climate of increasing insecurity", felt unprotected, and saw, beyond the crisis in their standard of living that rendered their future uncertain, that their everyday life has evolved into a field of tensions, acrimony and divisions.
He noted that PASOK has called for the resignations of the EL.AS departmental and political leadership, "but incompetence and irresponsibility are the elements that now characterize the present government in its entirety".
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said, in a statement, that the target was "the labour-popular movement and not democracy and so-called normality, nor the destabilisation of the country, as asserted by various sides".
It said the "provocations aim at terrorising and intimidating the popular strata, their subjugation, and at strengthening of the state's suppression measures".
Caption: Police officers block off the area where a terrorist-style attack targetted three police officers in the early morning hours on Wednesday in central Athens and outside the culture ministry, adjacent to the so-called "bohemian" district of Exarchia, ostensibly a hub of self-styled anarchists and anti-establishment elements in the Greek capital. One of the officers was seriously wounded in the shooting attack. ANA-MPA / SIMELA PANTZARTZI.
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