|Tuesday, 21 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Wednesday, 13 October 2010 Issue No: 3617
 FM briefs Parliamentary com't on relations with Turkey, fYRoM 'name issue'Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Tuesday briefed a Parliamentary committee on a wide gamut of defence and foreign affairs, especially in light of last month's UN General Assembly in New York, covering subjects ranging from Greek-Turkish relations to Cyprus.
Referring to neighbouring Turkey, Droutsas stressed that Greece's position is firm; adding that the way issues of mutual interest are being approached can be different.
"We should not wear blinders ... we have differences with Turkey, and we do not overlook the fact that there are annoying and provocative actions on its (Turkey) part. However, we should not forget that aside from the effort to solve certain differences we should see where we can benefit from our neighbour; a neighbour that has made significant steps forward in the economic sector."
Droutsas stated that "provocative action will be handled in an appropriate and decisive manner", adding that "progress will be made in certain issues if the Turkish political leadership sees things the right way and makes the necessary and right, for us, decisions. Perseverance and patience are necessary," he said.
Asked by MPs about issues affecting the Muslim minority in the extreme northeast province of Thrace (Greece's only land border with Turkey), Droutsas repeated that such issues are entirely a domestic matter and absolutely independent of Turkey.
"We focus on the needs of our fellow citizens and the state's obligations toward them. Any intervention in these issues will not be acceptable."
Asked about the nagging "name issue" involving the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), he repeated the government's known positions, stressed that "we are ready for a solution, but we have said what the solution will be."
He also expressed satisfaction over the fact that the success of this policy is recognised and that Greece's positions are convincing third parties, as seen at the recent UN General Assembly meeting. Droutsas said that all the contacts he held showed that the Greek stance has become understood and has support.
Regarding the same issue, Droutsas said the fYRoM prime minister's absence from the UN general assembly meetings "says it all."
"The Skopje government, with its decisions, keeps the neighbouring people far from their European future, a future we support," he emphasised. "It is widely accepted that Greece has done its share and now it is up to fYRoM to decide what path it wants to follow. Greece's position is a name with a geographic qualifier for all uses - erga omnes - and has the support of the majority of the political forces in the country. This is our strength and we do not what to lose it".
On the Cyprus issue, Droutsas stressed that this is a difficult conjuncture that demands extreme caution, cooperation and coordination between the Athens and Nicosia governments, confirming that the coordination and cooperation between the two sides is comprehensive and excellent.
Additionally, Droutsas issued an appeal to Cypriots for unity among them, stressing that it is necessary and imperative in order to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
 FM addresses con'f on human trafficking scourgeForeign Minister Dimitris Droutsas conveyed the message that "any action taken will never be enough for as long as the exploitation of human beings by fellow human beings continues" speaking on Tuesday at a conference entitled "European Union Policy and the National Action Plan for Fighting Human Trafficking".
He underlined that "the goal set is to make Greece a pioneer in the international campaign against human trafficking" and unveiled the anti-trafficking National Action Plan, stressing the collaboration underway on domestic and international level.
Droutsas also pointed out that the policy followed has yielded fruit, stressing that indictments increased 65 pct, convictions 52 pct and victim protection 60 pct.
The conference was hosted within the framework of the European Day against Human Trafficking, by the foreign ministry - in collaboration with co-competent ministries, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the International Organization for Migration.
 PM receives NCHR annual reportPrime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday received the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) annual report for 2009, presented to him by the commission's president Kostis Papaioannou and vice-president Linos-Alexandros Sicilianos.
Papandreou stressed that the work of the commission is "decisive for the quality of democracy", adding that it has contributed to the government's legislative initiatives concerning citizenship issues and voting rights for repatriated Greeks and migrants.
He agreed that in this difficult economic conjuncture citizens' rights should be protected, "the social rights in particular, allowing people to feel safe and secure".
On his part, the NCHR president stated that during the past year, the commission focused on the impact the economic crisis and the memorandum had on human and labour rights, as well as, on health and security issues at the workplace. He also requested the state's assistance on issues concerning the correctional system, the behaviour of certain law enforcement officers and the operation of the justice system.
 PM on memorandum loanPrime Minister George Papandreou referred, during a meeting with associates on Tuesday, to a possible extension of the time for the paying off of the 110 billiion euro loan to Greece by the "troika", reports said on Tuesday evening.
In light of current discussions on the issue, the prime minister has been quoted as saying that these discussions are taking place because "we are doing our job well" and because "the citizens' sacrifices, as we have said, are bearing fruit."
The reports added that Papandreou insisted that the steadfast course currently being followed for the salvation and the reformation of Greece should continue, and the continuation of this course "guarantees that we will have results".
 PM's meetings on WednesdayPrime Minister George Papandreou will be holding consecutive meetings in Parliament on Wednesday with Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, Employment and Social Security Minister Louka Katseli and Alternate Minister George Koutroumanis and then with Regional Development and Competitiveness Minister Mihalis Chryssohoidis.
 FinMin on 'corruption' comment: I did not point at Karamanlis, but it was not PapandreouFinance Minister George Papaconstantinou stressed that "we all know that there are phenomena of corruption in the country", charging that "during the Karamanlis (New Democracy) government corruption reached gigantic proportions", speaking in an interview on a private television station Monday night, and added that the current PASOK government is trying to tackle the problem.
The interview came on the heels of a furor that broke out in Greece over statements by Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday that EU officials had been aware for years of an impending financial crisis in Greece but had kept quiet about it, and that he himself had broached the problem with a Greek prime minister, who he did not name, but had received the reply that "I am governing a country of corruption".
Asked point-blank which prime minister Juncker had been referring to, Papaconstantinou clarified that "I did not say that the statement was made by Mr. Karamanlis, but that it was not made by the present prime minister (George Papandreou)".
Papaconstantinou has come under fire that an earlier statement he had made that the controversial comment had come from a "former prime minister" pointed the finger at preceding premier Costas Karamanlis.
"I don't know who exactly made that statement. Mr. Juncker knows who did," Papaconstantinou added.
The finance minister also said that the PASOK government has taken a series of steps and measures to contain corruption and tax evasion in Greece.
On press speculation that the duration of repayment of the EU-IMF support mechanism loans to Greece will be extended, Papaconstantinou said that Greece has not formally requested such a move, although a relevant discussion is underway.
The minister further stressed that Greece will not need to seek restructuring of its debt and, to another question on the spreads and reaction of the money markets, he said that the markets have over-estimated the risk with respect to Greece.
 Pangalos on corruption furorGovernment vice-president Theodoros Pangalos was the latest high-ranking official to comment on the scourge of corruption in the country, telling a local radio station on Tuesday that "in our country we experience corruption every day and night".
"... Isn't this the truth?" he said, referring to a cascade of mostly local reactions provoked by a statement by Eurogroup president Jean Claude Juncker.
"It's the corruption of the institutions that has led us to deficits and the situation we are facing today," he stressed, underlining that not only are politicians to blame, but citizens too. "Doesn't someone who goes to an MP's office and ask for a favour, either an appointment to the public sector or to serve his military service in Athens, support corruption?" he asked.
Pangalos also attacked main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, charging that the latter is a "populist of the worst kind".
Turning to the public sector, he said the government does not intend to fire civil servants but will not renew contracts. "Contracts are contracts. Contracts end. Civil servants holding permanent contracts will remain in their positions" he clarified.
 Gov't spokesman on NDGovernment spokesman Giorgos Petalotis called on main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Tuesday to apologize to the Greek people for its actions when it was in power, stressing that the present ND leader Antonis Samaras has a share of the responsibility. He underlined that ND also owes an apology for its unacceptable behaviour as the main opposition party.
Petalotis made the statement in response to a call by the ND leader requesting an apology from Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou for comments he made.
Asked to comment on whether the government agrees with the characterisation attributed to ND leader Samaras by the party's honorary president Constantinos Mitsotakis, who spoke of populist practices, Petalotis stated that the government has its own opinion on the ND stance.
As regards the alleged over-exposure of the FinMin to the media, Petalotis stressed that he handled the major crisis plaguing the country in the best possible way and underlined that his effort is "continuous, well-calculated, serious, and brings results".
 DM attends SEDM meeting in TiranaTIRANA (ANA-MPA / I. Patso)
A joint statement issued after a Southeast European Defence Ministerial (SEDM) process meeting here underlined the need for cooperation between the countries of the region, while noting that countries aspiring to become NATO members should be supported in their efforts.
Addressing the meeting, Greek Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos emphasised that a political evaluation of SEDM and the multinational brigade SEEBRIG should get underway, reminding that the SEEBRIG HQ will be based in Greece between 2011 and 2015.
Moreover, he said that the global economic crisis, developments in NATO and the EU are issues that will have to be taken under consideration.
On Monday, Venizelos had bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Albania, Montenegro, Turkey and Ukraine and other countries represented in the meeting.
 President receives Armenian parliament speakerPresident Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received visiting Armenian Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan at the Presidential Mansion in Athens.
In welcoming the Armenian official, Papoulias expressed regret "because Turkey continues to refuse to apologise to the Armenian people, unlike Willy Brandt, when he visited Warsaw and offered his silent apology for the destruction inflicted on Poland by the Nazis."
Moreover, Papoulias stressed that Greek-Armenian relations are constantly evolving and expressed Athens' support to efforts made by the Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, underlining that Greece will recognise the outcome of the talks.
He also referred to the Armenians studying in military academies in Greece and the developmental assistance offered to the Caucasus country.
On his part, the Armenian parliament speaker underlined that the bilateral economic relations can improve even further.
The Armenian president is expected to arrive for a formal visit to Greece next January.
 Visit to Israel by Minister of State PamboukisThe mapping of fields of cooperation between Greece and Israel, whose relations have been upgraded recently in the fields of diplomacy, the economy and security, as well as planning for directions in future activities was the purpose of the two-day official visit to Israel by a Greek delegation headed by Minister of State Haris Pamboukis, according to a relevant announcement.
The visit, which was conclulded on Monday and took place following the contacts that had preceded between the prime ministers of the two countries, also included, apart from Pamboukis, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis and the secretary general of the ministry Ioannis-Alexios Zepos.
In this framework, the Greek delegation met with the Israeli prime minister, the Parliament president, the Industry, Trade and Employment minister and senior government officials with the aim of promoting plans being shaped.
 Tsipras meets with ESR presidentRadical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras met on Tuesday with National Council for Radio and Television (ESR) president Ioannis Laskaridis.
Tsipras underlined that "the private and public-run television channels alike, that broadcast on public frequencies have an obligation to respect the rules of equality, pluralism in information and ethics", demanding more air time for his leftist party.
ESR is an independent watchdog authority that supervises and regulates the broadcast sector in Greece.
 FinMin on 2011 draft budgetFinance Minister George Papaconstantinou, presenting in Parliament the draft budget for 2011, observed on Tuesday that "the state of the Greek economy is very serious for us to play games of impressions," and criticised the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party for its leader's statements on the annulment of the deficit in a year, speaking of the "continuation of the deception of the people."
Papaconstantinou added that "it is not a serious policy, a solution that the deficit is 9.9 percent and not over 14 percent and that the half can disappear painlessly. Because this is what you are telling us: a 18.5 billion deficit, can be annulled, if we take the sacrifices of the Greek citizen back."
The minister also rejected allegations of an "alternative solution" that is proposed by the minor opposition, wondering "what exactly is our alternative? Who will lend the 110 billion euros and with what terms?"
Papaconstantinou further stressed that "the budget wants to be the passport for the full restoration of our country's credibility. Its starting point, is the result of the policy that we exercised in 2010. By the end of the year, we will have decreased the general governance deficit from 32.7 billion euros to 18.5 billion euros and we set as a target the decrease of the deficit to 7 percent of GDP."
The minister further stressed that "on the basis of this development of the deficit that we predict next year, the first stage deficit will have been almost annulled at the end of 2011."
 Commission: Greece on track, no talk of extending loans' repaymentBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA / M. Aroni)
The European Commission on Tuesday played down prospects of extending the repayment period for loans offered to Greece by the Eurozone and the IMF.
"There is no such discussion," Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj told reporters, adding that "the Greek finance ministry clearly stated that there was no such request. It seems that the media are discussing a possibility not yet put on the table".
Altafaj stressed that the Commission has noted a significant improvement of investment climate towards Greece over the last few weeks, including a spectacular decline of Greek bond spreads.
"The Greek government is implementing effectively and with determination a stability program. We believe that Greece will be able to fully cover its borrowing needs from markets by 2012. Greece is on the right track and markets are responding positively. There is no case to envisage such an extension," the Commission spokesman said.
Meanwhile in Athens, the government spokesman merely noted, in response to questions about the same issue, that "...we have set no demand, at least for now. Our position is that we should observe our goals firmly because only then we have results. This is very important and everything points to that, namely that we have results when we work with consistency."
"Greece has not raised the issue of the extension of the repayment period for the loan it has received from the troika," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said, while adding, nevertheless, that a relevant discussion is underway.
Moreover, he said "no new measures will be imposed" and condemned any attempt to associate the discussion on any extension of the loan repayment with the adoption of new measures.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND), moreover, clarified that its response will be negative if new measures are hidden behind any extension and, in essence, a new memorandum.
ND spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos has made it clear, however, that an extension would be positive if it is being considered to facilitate payments.
Panagiotopoulos accused the prime minister of failing to negotiate the "cruel terms" of the memorandum.
 Greece raises 1.17 billion euros from T-bill auctionGreece on Tuesday successfully auctioned a six-month Treasury bill issue raising 1.17 billion euros at a reduced interest rate, a positive test for the state's borrowing cost in capital markets.
A Finance ministry announcement said the Treasury bills issue's interest rate was set at 4.54 pct, down from 4.82 pct in the previous auction of similar securities in September 14. Bids submitted totaled 3.95 billion euros, 4.22 times more than the asked sum of 900 million euros, offering another sign of markets' improved confidence to the Greek economy.
 BSEC conference in NafplioThe Energy ministers of member-states of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation (BSEC) on Tuesday signed a proclamation on the Development of Green Energy in the region of the Black Sea and also proceeded with the creation of a Task Force for Green Development, in the framework of the BSEC's Energy Work Group.
The ministerial conference was held in Nafplio, Peloponnese, in the framework of the Greek presidency of the BSEC, with the focal message being "The Black Sea turns Green."
The inauguration of the works was carried out by Deputy Environment, Energy and Climatic Change Minister Yiannis Maniatis.
"The Energy challenge in its various environmental, development and geopolitical dimensions, is an issue that cannot be tackled by isolated countries, but underlines the imperative need for international cooperation," he said.
During the conference, the representatives of the BSEC's member-states discussed at length the need for the region to move on to a "low carbon tension" energy economy, through the strengthening of the use of natural gas and the utilisation of Renewable Energy Sources.
 National Bank raises 3.3 billion euros from share capital increase planNational Bank on Tuesday said its share capital increase plan was 1.83 times oversubscribed with bids submitted totaling 3,315,704,345 euros, from an asked sum of 1,815,054,306 euros.
The bank said existing shareholders paid a total of 620,371,138 euros for 119,302,142 new common nominal shares in a rights issue, for coverage rate of 98.3 pct. Additionally, National Bank's employers and pensioners participated in the rights issue asking for 158,795,114 additional new common nominal shares, 75.4 times oversubscribing the volume of remaining new shares.
Also, existing shareholders offered 1,157,807,648 euros to buy 222,655,317 convertible nominal bonds, covering 97.8 pct of the total convertible bond loan, with the bank's employers and pensioners asking for an additional 136,882,878 convertible nominal bonds, oversubscribing the issue by 27.5 times. The convertible bond issue was 1.6 times oversubscribed.
National Bank has completed the first phase of a capital boosting plan through a share capital increase scheme. The next step is selling an equity stake of up to 20 pct in its Turkish subsidiary Finansbank. The bank will hire a consultant to the sale, which it is expected to be completed in the January 15-February 15 period.
 Piraeus Bank buys 8.9% in Hellenic Seaways for 31 mln eurosSea Star Capital plc on Tuesday announced board approval for the sale of 6,910,490 shares of Hellenic Seaways to Piraeus Bank for 31,097,205 euros, or 8.9 pct of Hellenic Seaways' equity capital.
Sea Star Capital, in a letter to the Cyprus Stock Exchange, said the sale will be made in cash at a price of 4.50 euros per share. The main reason behind Sea Star Capital's decision to sell its equity stake in Hellenic Seaways was to raise capital to fund its strategic programme and to reduce debt.
 Hellenic Leadership Institute conference on 'Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in Egypt'A conference titled "Entrepreneurship and Economic Development in Egypt: The role of the Mass Media", was held in Cairo on Sunday organised by the Greek non-governmental organisation (NGO) Hellenic Leadership Institute (HLI), under the aegis of the Greek foreign ministry.
The aim of the conference was the creation of a public dialogue forum, enhancement of business relations between Greece and Egypt, and boosting investments between the two countries, with special emphasis placed on the role of the media in formulating an auspicious climate for the development of entrepreneurship.
Delegates examined the contribution of the mass media in fundamental aspects of business activity, such as the provision of information at national or local level, providing credible information, promotion of business plans, boosting SMEs and women's entrepreneurship, and international or local networking.
The keynote speaker at the conference was Greek Ambassador to Egypt Christodoulos Lazaris, while other high-level speakers included member of the board of the Middle East Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (MCSBE) and professor of entrepreneurship at the American University of Cairo Dr. Ashraf Sheta, Alternate Economics Director of Petro Amir of Egypt's Vegas Oil & Gas Group George Athanassopoulos, and journalist and political analyst Beshir Abdel Fattah, editor in chief of Al Ahram's publication Democracy Review.
The Greek ambassador noted that the program is an innovative initiative which, commencing from an academic direction moved on to the practical dimension, thus showing the way to key economic players.
The Hellenic Leadership Institute's effort to combine new information techniques with practical matters of information and the creation of a communications platform between Greek and Egyptian partners, will facilitate a new flourishing in Greek-Egyptian communication, with very positive results for both sides, he added.
 PPC sets up subsidiary for electric power distribution networkThe Public Power Corporation on Tuesday approved the creation of a subsidiary company which will cover the operation and management of the utility's electric power distribution network.
The decision, taken by PPC's board, is in the framework of adjusting to an EU directive to liberalize the electricity markets in the European Union, while under the directive PPC will create another subsidiary to take over its electricity transportation network.
 Intracom Defense signs new contract with RaytheonIntracom Defense Electronics on Tuesday announced the signing of a contract, worth 4.8 million euros, with Raytheon for the supply of Patriot anti-missile system parts. It is the third such contract signed with Raytheon in one year, raising the total value of contracts to more than 85.5 million euros.
 Air Traffic Controllers strike on SundayAir traffic to and from Greece will grind to a halt on Sunday as Greek Air Traffic Controllers have called a nationwide 24-hour strike.
The strikers are protesting what they called the "unjustified silence and inertia" of the Infrastructure, Transports and Networks ministry to their repeated reports on the necessity of differentiating air traffic from the narrow margins of the public sector, an announcement said.
Controllers say they have repeatedly presented, with well-grounded arguments, their views to the ministry in order that the planned reorganisation of air transports will achieve their modernisation and boost competitiveness and productivity, "but the tendency in the ministry is to not upset the outdated balances that have been prevailing in the field for many years".
"For these reasons, and in order to awaken any possible innovative ideas in the ministry that are lying dormant, we are announcing a 24-hour strike for Sunday, October 17, and ask for understanding from the passengers and airlines for their inconvenience," the announcement concluded.
 Stocks ease at bourseStocks eased at the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, pushing the composite index of the market 0.39 pct lower at 1,542.62 points. Turnover was a low 103.874 million euros. National Bank (1.12 pct), Cyprus Bank (3.80 pct) and MIG (2.33 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Eurobank (2.53 pct), Ellaktor (2.47 pct) and OPAP (2.67 pct) were top losers.
The Big Cap index eased 0.26 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.55 pct and the Small Cap index fell 0.70 pct. Financial Services (2.14 pct) and Commerce (1.61 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Travel (2.32 pct) and Utilities (1.20 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 93 to 58 with another 64 issues unchanged.
Medicon (20 pct), Iktinos (18.46 pct) were top gainers, while Electroniki Athens (14.08 pct) and Klonatex (12.5 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.61%
Personal & Household: +0.72%
Raw Materials: -0.40%
Travel & Leisure: -2.32%
Food & Beverages: -1.06%
Financial Services: +2.14%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, Eurobank and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.30
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.42
HBC Coca Cola: 18.30
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.80
National Bank of Greece: 8.14
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.00
Bank of Piraeus: 3.96
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell below the 700 level for the first time in several months in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Tuesday, with the Greek bond yielding 9.11 pct from 9.33 pct on Monday. Turnover in the market totaled 101 million euros, of which 65 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 36 million were sell orders. The five-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 18 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.48 pct, the six-month rate was 1.21 pct, the three-month rate 0.98 pct and the one-month rate 0.77 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - WednesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.394
Pound sterling 0.880
Danish kroner 7.516
Swedish kroner 9.32
Japanese yen 114.26
Swiss franc 1.340
Norwegian kroner 8.189
Canadian dollar 1.413
Australian dollar 1.418
 Culture Minister to inaugurate exhibition in New YorkCulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos is due Tuesday in New York where, In the evening, he will inaugurate the exhibition: "Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece" hosted by the Alexandros Onassis Foundation in Manhattan. The exhibition, which was initially presented at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, opened to the public on October 5 and will run through January 3, 2011.
On Wednesday, Geroulanos will fly to Chicago where he will visit the international trade fair "Motivation Show" focusing on incentive and congress tourism.
 Spinalonga: The island no one wants to remember"Here, one feels that there is an invisible force that urges you to tell the story," says Thodoris Papadoulakis, the director of a television series just launched on a private Greek tv station based on British writer Victoria Hislop's best-seller "The Island" that recounts the fictional story of a family's ties to the now-unoccupied island of Spinalonga that served as a leper colony from 1903 to 1957.
"That must be how Victoria Hislop felt, who revives a stigmatised era in her book 'The Island'," adds Papadoulakis.
After 1957, when the last patient left the island, Spinalonga fell into abandonment, until it was re-discovered by tourists in recent years.
Spinalonga boasts its own glorious pages of history. Located off Lassithi prefecture in eastern Crete, the island's name has its roots in the Venetian period, coming from Spina Longa meaning "Long Thorn".
Due to its position, the island was fortified from its earliest years to protect the entranceway of the port of Ancient Olous. Significant fortifications as well as buildings of architectural interest today were built later by the Venetians.
 2 arrests in bizarre hijacking of migrant-laden truckTwo Iraqis were arrested on Tuesday afternoon in connection with the bizarre same-day hijacking of a police-confiscated truck carrying illegal immigrants to a detention centre in central Athens.
The two foreign nationals are suspected of stopping and hijacking the truck at gunpoint near the west Attica industrial city of Aspropyrgos, hours after the migrant-laden vehicle was detected by law enforcement authorities on the Athens-Corinth national highway.
Some 50 illegal migrants, all from Third World countries, were hidden in the truck.
Police had set up a roadblock on after a tip-off that a truck carrying illegal migrants would be passing by the spot en route to Corinth.
The truck arrived at the designated point at about 11:20 p.m., but the driver, seeing the roadblock, abandoned the truck and ran off, disappearing. One of the police officers, accompanied by a colleague, took the wheel of the truck to drive it to the Aliens Bureau in downtown Athens, but when the truck reached Aspropyrgos it was cut off by two men in a car, who fired shots in the air, disarmed the officers and took their service guns. One of the gunmen drove off with the truck and the second gunman followed with a car.
The truck was also later located within Aspropyrgos municipality, with efforts concentrating on re-arresting the illegal migrants.
 Four armed robbers seize 231,000 euros from two banksArmed robbers struck simultaneously two bank branches in the city of Eginio, in the Pieria prefecture, Macedonia, located over a distance of 150 metres, and made their getaway with a total haul of 231,000 euros.
According to an announcement the perpetrators were four and were divided into two groups.
One group went to the National Bank branch and seized 206,000 euros from an open safe at gunpoint. At the same time, the other group grabbed 25,000 euros from the Agricultural Bank.
Upon completion of their robberies, the perpetrators boarded a car and a motorcycle, left their getaway vehicles near the exit of Eginio on the Thessaloniki-Athens motorway and fled in an unknown direction with other means.
 Greek tanker, Cypriot freighter collide off Amsterdam, crew safeA Greek tanker collided with a Cypriot freighter ship early Tuesday 20 nautical miles west of Amsterdam, causing a crack in the tanker, but its 24-member crew were all safe and well, according to the Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Ministry.
The Piraeus-registered tanker "Mindoro", which was carrying a load of kerosene, suffered a crack in one of its cargo tanks, resulting in a minor oil spill.
The crew comprises 5 Greeks and 19 Philippine nationals.
 Home-made explosive device at Thessaloniki Metro construction siteA home-made explosive device went off at dawn Tuesday at the construction site of the Thessaloniki Metro.
The 5:00 a.m. explosion caused minor damage but no injuries.
 Two Irish embassy-sponsored events this month in AthensThe Irish embassy in Athens will sponsor two cultural events in Athens this month, beginning on Thursday, Oct. 14, with a lecture by Dr Christa Lerm Hayes, entitled "How Joyce Plays into Contemporary Art".
The lecture will take place at the aboutt Exhibition centre (210.3314480) in the inner Athens district of Psyrri.
Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Clarke will present a lecture entitled "Inventing a Classical Past for Ireland", to be held at the Irish Institute for Hellenic Studies in Athens -- Notara 51a St. -- on Thursday Oct. 21. (210.8848074)
 US author Steven Hill in AthensNoted US author and political analyst Steven Hill will deliver a lecture entitled "The US Midterm Elections and the Challenge of Europe" in Athens on Saturday afternoon at the University of Indianapolis-affiliated cultural centre in the Greek capital.
Hill is completing a 12-nation, 18-city European tour amid the release of his new book, "Europe's Promise: Why the European Way Is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age".
The book argues that in the current era of global economic insecurity and climate change, European ideas on governance and society may be valid for America as well.
The event is sponsored by the Athens Chapter of Democrats Abroad Greece as part of their "get-out-the-vote" drive.
 Physician arrested for kickbackA private practice physician was arrested in Thessaloniki on Tuesday and charged with requesting a 600-euro kickback to mediate for a patient to have his surgery moved to an earlier date at the city's Aghios Demetrios Hospital.
The 41-year-old medical practitioner was arrested while receiving the bribe from the patient's daughter, who had notified the police.
 Rainy on WednesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Wednesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 15C and 32C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 18C to 28C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 15C to 19C.
 The Tuesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceSpeculation of extension of Greece's loan repayment to EU-IMF), National Bank of Greece's capital increase, and ruling PASOK's and main opposition New Democracy's (ND) clash over Eurogroup president Jean Claude Juncker's statements, mostly dominated the headlines on Tuesday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Eurobarometer survey: Greece despondent!- 75 percent of citizens experience increasingly negative emotions".
APOGEVMATINI: "George Papandreou is the prime minister who calls himself the "Prime minister of a country of corruption".
AVGHI: "Surveillance (of economy) extended - Bad news for state revenues, industrial production and building activity".
AVRIANI: "Former prime minister and honorary president of New Democracy (ND) Constantine Mitsotakis has become ruling PASOK's 'Trojan Horse'."
ELEFTHEROS: "Eurogroup president Jean Claude Junker and two foreign newspaper articles burn the liar and saboteur prime minister (Papandreou)".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Papandreou's waterloo with Greece as the victim - He slandered the country and fell into the trap he attempted to set for New Democracy and former prime minister Costas Karamanlis".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Greece, IMF, EU and ECB appear to agree to extension of the repayment period but German Chancellor Angela Merkel is opposed".
ESTIA: "A decade of taxes ahead".
ETHNOS: "Fuel mafia's 'golden' tricks".
IMERISSIA: "National Bank of Greece unlocks door to the interbank market".
KATHIMERINI: "IMF gives the green light for extension of the repayment period".
LOGOS: "The extension of the loan repayment period remains open - Revenues collection and containment of expenses below the target".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "National Bank of Greece's successful capital increase changes the climate".
NIKI: "IMF loosens the noose".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Dynamic mobilisations in many cities of Greece demanding cheap electricity for the people".
TA NEA: "Triple breather for the economy".
TO VIMA: EU, ECB and IMF offer extension of repayment period - Vote of confidence in Greek economy".
VRADYNI: "Unemployment benefit only for a 'select' few - 500 million euros reduction in funding to OAED (Manpower Employment Organisation)".
 Slovenian President: Occupation has to end, Turkey must fulfill EU criteriaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Slovenian President Danilo Turk has said that the occupation of Cyprus by Turkish troops has to end, noting that Slovenia supports Turkey's efforts for EU membership as long as Ankara fulfills, as all other candidate countries, criteria for membership.
In statements after talks on Tuesday with President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, Turk, who is paying a state visit to Cyprus, expressed support to President Christofias' efforts to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem and to the UN-led negotiations to this end.
Christofias and Turk discussed the Cyprus issue, bilateral relations, EU as well as international issues.
President Christofias expressed Cyprus' support to Turkey's accession course, noting that this does not mean that the obligations that Turkey has undertaken towards Cyprus and the EU are erased. He noted that Turkey has to contribute with deeds and not words to the settlement of the Cyprus problem.
He also assured that ''from our side we will continue to struggle for a mutually accepted, permanent, viable and functional settlement, in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality, as provided by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.''
After the talks, Minister of Finance Charilaos Stavrakis and his Slovenian counterpart Franc Krizanic signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of tax evasion between the two countries.
 Downer: No plans to hold an international conference on CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
UN Secretary General's Special Advisor for Cyprus, Alexander Downer, has stressed that the UN do not have any plans to hold an international conference on the Cyprus issue.
In statements after a meeting with President Demetris Christofias Tuesday, Downer said that nothing is agreed at the Cyprus talks unless everything is agreed, noting that there are no deadlines to the process.
The UN official said he had a good meeting with the Cypriot President during which they reviewed the course of the negotiations.
The leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, he said, will meet Wednesday, their representatives will meet Friday afternoon, "so it is good to see the process moving forward".
Asked if there is any haste to the process, he replied "I think we have said this on many occasions, it is important that there is a good momentum in the process", noting that the two leaders have been abroad recently and talks don't take place during such time. "But there have been representatives' meetings and the leaders are getting together tomorrow (Wednesday) and this is very welcomed", he noted.
Asked what the UN expect from the meetings to come, he said "we want them to keep working on the property issue".
He recalled that the two sides have put forward proposals on the property issue, saying that they need to keep working and reconciling those two proposals into one agreed position.
"This obviously is going to take a bit of work but that is what the meetings all focus on, that's our expectation. Property is a difficult issue and it is good that they are addressing a difficult issue", he stressed.
Replying to questions, Downer said that the two sides "need to concentrate on the property issue", adding that during the Cyprus talks held between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat there have been "good meetings" since they "reached some important convergences on the chapter of government and power sharing and they discussed the economy and the EU issues".
"But in the end", he noted, the two sides need to get a greater degree of convergence on the "hard issue" of property, saying "we look forward to them doing that, that is the point of their meetings".
Replying to questions, he said there can be reconciliation of the two positions, saying "of course it is possible, these are really political questions, it is possible to do it, it is possible to find ways through, and there has to be a determination by both sides to do that".
"Of course if they can't, the negotiations will fail, so it is important to the whole process into the future of this island that they find a way through", he noted.
Replying to questions, he said that at the Cyprus talks the two sides can talk about other issues, noting that "but the issue before them is the property issue".
"You can start negotiating other issues but in the end if you can never agree on what is going to happen to property in Cyprus you can never have a comprehensive agreement in Cyprus, everybody knows that. That is perfectly clear", he stressed.
The UN official pointed out that all other chapters are important ''but if you do not agree on one chapter, then you might agree on all the others but if you cannot agree on one you haven't got a comprehensive agreement, nothing is agreed here unless everything is agreed, so that is important to remember".
Replying to questions, Downer said that there are no deadlines to the process but noted that the two sides need to find a way through their differences.
"There are no deadlines but it is just important that the process has a real momentum and that they move forward as fast as they can, not so fast that they don't do the job properly but on the other hand not drag their feet and do it slowly either", he pointed out.
Downer said that the two sides need to find a way through the differences they have, adding "they need to think about if they can't agree, how else are they going to deal with this?"
"They have to work out this sort of questions, at the end of the day they are going to have to work these things out themselves. What we think or the international community thinks that is not the issue, it is what the two sides in Cyprus think that is the issue", he went on to add.
Replying to another question, Downer said that during Wednesday's meeting the two sides will talk about future meetings.
Concluding Downer said the UN do not have any plans to hold an international conference on the Cyprus issue.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of Cyprus' territory. The UN led Cyprus talks began in September 2008 with an aim to reunify the country under one federal roof.
 English Court of Appeals dismisses direct flights appealNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
England's Court of Appeals dismissed on Tuesday all allegations by companies Kibris Turk Hava Yollari and CTA Holidays Limited, which had appealed against the decision of the Court of First Instance, dated 29 July 2009. The Court of First Instance had dismissed the appeal of the same companies against the rejection by the British Ministry of Transport of an application to be granted permission to carry out direct flights between British airports and the illegal airport of Tympou in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.
According to a press release issued by the Law Office of the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic, which had intervened in the case as an interested party, had suffered a direct attack against its sovereignty. It also notes that Tuesday's decision constitutes a significant legal milestone, which safeguards in the most emphatic way the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus regarding its air space.
The companies, arguing that the Republic of Cyprus did not exercise effective control over the whole of the island, said its sovereign rights should be suspended regarding the Turkish occupied areas, that those rights have been transferred and can be used by the puppet regime in the occupied areas, and that the suspension was an expression of the general principle of effectiveness, which says that rights are gained only if they can be effectively exercised.
In order to support their positions, they mentioned the case of Taiwan, saying that flights between airports in Taiwan and other countries were being carried out, which indicates, in their opinion, that the rights of the People's Republic of China had been suspended concerning Taiwan.
The Court of Appeals dismissed all allegations and furthermore recalled UN Security Council resolutions concerning Cyprus.
It said that flights to the ground of a participating state in the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation could not be carried out without the permission of that state, and that allegations regarding the suspension of those rights were unfounded.
The Court did not recognise any general principle by which rights are automatically suspended in areas over which the sovereign state did not exercise effective control. Furthermore it noted that wherever illegal behaviour on behalf of a state is determined, there could be no reference to such a principle in a way that would legalise de facto situations, especially where, in the case of Cyprus, there were UN Security Council resolutions in effect, by which the states are committed not to recognise the illegality.
Regarding the case of Taiwan, the Court of Appeals did not accept that any general conclusion could be drawn from that example and that, with the exception of Turkey, no state had yet allowed direct flights to the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.
Furthermore, the Court of Appeals said that the Republic of Cyprus was in a position to effectively exercise its rights in the case of flights because, although it could not effectively exercise control on the ground, it could deny permission and impose restrictions on flights over the areas not under its control or towards that area, and was entitled to expect other states to respect such decisions.
The Court also said that the puppet regime did not claim to be the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus but a different ''state'' which was not a signatory to the Chicago Convention and thus could not assume such a capacity.
The companies supported that the actions of the puppet regime could be recognised in the context of the so-called Namibia exception, an allegation that the Court of Appeals dismissed.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
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