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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-10-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Papandreou visits victims of Ag. Paraskevi attack
  • [02] Greece celebrates Oct. 28 national holiday
  • [03] Eight illegals drown off Lesvos
  • [04] Greek Press Review

  • [01] Papandreou visits victims of Ag. Paraskevi attack

    Prime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday briefly postponed his departure for Stockholm in order to visit Athens' Erythros Stavros hospital, where five of the six victims in Tuesday night's terrorist attack on a police station in Agia Paraskevi were being treated.

    The premier spoke with four of the injured officers that suffered lighter injuries and one civilian admitted with symptoms of shock, then paid a visit to the hospital's ICU and spoke with the father of the female cadet who was more seriously injured and had to undergo extensive surgery. Immediately afterward, the premier left for Stockholm in order to attend a conference of the Swedish Socialist Party.

    Greece's President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias also strongly condemned the attack as a "cowardly, terrorist action that put innocent lives in danger", during statements made on Wednesday in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, where he was attending the customary parade and events marking the October 28 national holiday.

    Accompanying Papandreou on his visit was Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, who once again stressed that he would not allow Greece to become "the domain of terror".

    "Democracy is not terrorised and the government does not negotiate with terrorists," the minister underlined in statements to reporters.

    According to the latest police update on the attack, given by Attica police chief Yiannis Rahovitsas, the terrorists had stolen the motorbikes used in the attack. The first was stolen in 2000, the second was stolen one month before the attack and the third just one day before.

    "This preparation shows that the terrorists had not been reacting to Tuesday's announcement of the 600,000 euros reward for three wanted, convicted fugitives," police stated.

    The minister promised to arrest the terrorists and bring them to justice, while stressing that police stations were areas for serving the public and could not be turned into "fortresses" by imposing emergency security measures.

    "The victims [of this attack] were young people with identities and faces, unlike the terrorists. They mowed 20-year-old young people with a hundred bullets and it is only through luck that we do not have any dead. All our measures and initiatives aim to bring us closer to citizens and to serve them. For this reason, we will not accept the concept of escalation or adopt a stance of inaction toward our duty," Chrysohoidis said.

    Police investigating the scene of the attack have so far recovered 99 gun shells, one cartridge, the pin of a hand grenade, flares and shrapnel.

    All the above evidence, along with three motorbikes found abandoned at Halandri metro station, have been sent to police forensics laboratories for further examination.

    The attack left five police officers and a woman cadet injured by gunfire, two of them in a serious condition, while one civilian suffered psychological shock after witnessing the attack.

    Condemnation has also been voiced by members of main opposition New Democracy, among them MP and candidate for the party's leadership Dora Bakoyannis.

    "Last night's horrific terrorist action must find us all united in a substantive answer. Greek society cannot and will not accept such actions," Bakoyannis underlined in a statement and stressed that she would support any effort that led to finally eradicating terrorism in Greece.

    Main opposition MP and former minister for public order issues Christos Markoyiannakis, however, criticised the government for leaving the Greek Police essentially leaderless for over a week prior to Tuesday's attack, "with all that this entails in terms of discipline and alertness."

    [02] Greece celebrates Oct. 28 national holiday

    President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday attended the military parade held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki to mark the October 28 national holiday - or Ochi Day - which commemorates Greece's decision to defy the Axis powers and join World War II on the side of the Allies.

    In statements immediately after the end of the parade, Papoulias referred to the present-day relevance of the messages of that time, the legacy of national resistance and the sacrifices of people that had laid down their lives to defend Greece's freedom.

    "The struggle continues today on many levels for the defence of the country and its territorial integrity, for a better future, for better health, for better education, for a new social conscience, a sense of solidarity with the weak and persecuted, for the creation of a country that embraces all of us and especially the young people that live with the dream of a better life," he said.

    National Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos said the day was a reminder that "we must be united, responsible, optimistic and proud," while stressing that this demanded a nationwide effort.

    "This is the effort the government is directing and it is in this effort that we invite all Greek men and women to participate, without any kind of political discrimination, in order to make our country stronger, more competitive and better for all of us," he said.

    Main opposition New Democracy Parliamentary group secretary Yiannis Tragakis, who represented ND leader Costas Karamanlis, stressed that the "heart of Greece today beat in Macedonia, in Thessaloniki" and underlined ND's pride in "our armed forces youth".

    "Let us all take as our example the sacrifices of the heroes of 1940. Let us today all say no to terrorism, say a big no to corruption and a big yes to democratic processes, a big yes to transparency and a big yes to the unity of Greeks," he added.

    Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) George Karatzaferis noted that, 69 years after 1940, Greece "must again say no, but this time to an enemy that lies within the gates. We must defeat terrorism. We must defeat that which seriously harms democracy."

    The parade in Thessaloniki was also attended by the candidates for main opposition ND's leadership, Antonis Samaras, Dora Bakoyannis, Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis and Dimitris Avramopoulos, in addition to the usual military leadership and local government officials.

    After the parade, Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos held an official luncheon in honour of President Papoulias, who expressed satisfaction that the Egnatia Highway now linked Thessaloniki directly with the northwestern Greek city of Ioannina, saying that this would greatly boost cooperation between the two cities.

    In Athens, as in every other municipality of Greece, the day was marked by parades of school children throughout the country. The parade in central Athens going past Syntagma Square was attended by Education, Lifelong Learning and Religions Minister Anna Diamantopoulou and had been preceded by a celebratory mass and the laying of wreaths at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier by Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis, other local government officials and representatives of the political parties.

    [03] Eight illegals drown off Lesvos

    The government will not allow Greece to become open to all comers nor a purgatory of souls, Citizens' Protection Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis stressed after yet another tragic incident involving illegal migrants on Tuesday, in which eight people lost their lives in an attempt to reach Greek shores.

    All eight illegal migrants, among them five children, were drowned after a speedboat carrying 17 people crashed into the rocky shores of Cape Korakas, on the northern part of Lesvos island early Tuesday.

    The minister stressed that the European Union also bore a share of responsibility for dealing with the migration crisis unfolding on its southeastern borders, with 300-400 illegal migrants daily attempting to enter Greece and from there carry on to the interior of the EU in any way possible.

    Chrysohoidis said that Greece will seek to make the EU shoulder some of this burden at the next European Council, asking its EU partners to contribute toward the effort to stop this daily tide of migrants, especially via the islands of the Aegean.

    Athens would also make efforts to secure Turkey's cooperation in the re-admission of the illegal migrants intercepted by Greece and their transportation back to their countries of origin.

    The minister underlined that Greece will respect the security of Greek citizens and their desire to live in peace with the migrants that are in the country, but also the rights of those people that enter Greek territory.

    According to reports on Tuesday's accident, the vessel was carrying 16 migrants and a 45-year-old Turkish migrant-smuggler, having set off from the opposite Turkish coast. The suspected migrant smuggler was amongst those rescued off the eastern Aegean island.

    Meanwhile, in an unrelated incident, a group of 45 illegal immigrants were spotted on Tuesday on the rocky islet of Makra, south of the Cyclades island of Anafi, by conscripts taking part in a military exercise.

    Coastguard vessels and two nearby barges headed to the area to pick up and transport the illegals to the small island of Syrna. The group had been dropped off on Makra by unidentified vessels that are now being sought in the central Aegean.

    [04] Greek Press Review

    The terrorist attack on a police station in the Athens suburb of Agia Paraskevi, developments within main opposition New Democracy and reducing the deficit were the main front-page items in Athens' newspapers on the October 28 national holiday in Greece.

    AVGHI: "The epic of flexicurity" [a reference to the entrenchment of flexible labour relations through a new Community directive on 'renting' employees].

    KATHIMERINI: "The aim is to reduce the deficit to 9.5 percent of GDP. In the 2010 budget".

    LOGOS: "Transparency and meritocracy...Papandreou promised".

    NIKI: "Seven riddles demand a solution. The answers in the 'crossword' of the social package"

    RIZOSPASTIS: "The people must show their strength by demanding their modern rights".

    TO PONTIKI: "The danse macabre" [refers to the leadership race in ND]

    TO VIMA: "Bloody terrorist attack on police station in Agia Paraskevi".

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