|Wednesday, 2 December 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-01-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 25 January 2011 Issue No: 3703
 PM: Greece has enough problems, no need to fabricate new onesPrime Minister George Papandreou underlined on Monday that Greece already has enough problems to deal with, "and there is no need to fabricate new, non-existent ones."
Addressing Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate on foreign policy requested by the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, Papandreou added that the country's foreign policy "should unite all Greeks."
"The (economic) crisis obliges us to think in a very different manner. It is not time for feigned opposition, to create internal enemies with mythical scenarios alleging conspiracies. What we need is to present ourselves firmly united, in order to build a new Greece, one inspired by a new patriotism," he said, adding:
"And the Greek people, united and showing an unprecedented maturity and determination are waging a day-to-day battle ... Citizens have understood what went wrong and they know that they have a government that is doing its duty, namely, everything in its power," the prime minister stressed.
Additionally, Papandreou underlined that his government, through its efforts to ensure that the country regain its reliability in the fiscal sector, "has managed to keep national issues out of the sphere of Greece's depreciation. This climate should not be undermined by non-existent spectres and chimeras ... Patriotism means to prevent your country from reaching the point where it stands today," he said.
Papandreou expressed his displeasure over what he called "pre-emptive criticism" regarding his recent visit to Turkey, reiterating that he has no problem addressing any kind of audience and in any circumstances since, as he said, "if you speak the truth you fear nothing." He was referring to his address to the Turkish diplomatic corps in the NE Turkish city of Erzurum earlier this month.
"We told Turkey that we are for peace, but war threats or violations of our national sovereignty have no place in the European Union. It is a useless practice, which secures no advantage for Turkey. The status quo in the Aegean does not change and our pilots stand, as always, ready," the prime minister noted.
"Turkey's future is in Europe but the road is not easy. In a few months we gave a new impetus to Greek-Turkish relations. We have signed 22 agreements. We will continue on the same path," he noted.
"The government's policy is to delimitate the maritime zones with all neighbouring countries and, of course, there remains the complex issue of the continental shelf, which we must handle with determination," Papandreou said.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, the premier said the idea by Turkey and by the Turkish Cypriot leadership for a loose confederation "is not viable, but divisive and not functional." "We support the efforts made by (Cyprus) President (Demetris) Christofias. The other side is trying to lead the process to a deadlock in order to provoke a solution imposed from the outside. But the international community and the EU will not legalise the occupation of Cyprus."
Regarding recent riots in Tirana, Papandreou invited all sides to show self-restraint.
 Samaras outlines ND policies on Aegean, CyprusMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday detailed what he called his party's "red lines" in terms of major foreign policy issues, speaking in Parliament during an off-the-agenda debate he requested.
Specifically, Samaras expressed stern opposition to any thought of "co-exploitation" in the Aegean basin, while rejecting what he called discussions on the Aegean continental shelf issue from "ground zero".
Moreover, the ND leader and early 1990s-era foreign minister called for the establishment of an "exclusive economic zone (EEZ)" in Greece's extended sea regions.
In terms of other foreign policy issues high on Athens' agenda, Samaras warned that his party would oppose any second "Annan peace plan" for Cyprus, while reminding of the previous ND government's success at the 2008 Bucharest NATO summit regarding the "name issue" with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM).
Additionally, he again criticised PM George Papandreou for conducting "secret diplomacy", as he claimed, charging that this "creates more suspicion in the country rather than goodwill with the opposite side".
Referring directly and at length to the EEZ issue, which has generated its share of local press attention of late, he said Cyprus has already concluded such agreements with Israel, Egypt and Lebanon, whereas Greece should immediately do the same with Cyprus, followed by Egypt and Libya.
Samaras said an agreement with Cyprus would also overcome the "non-existent", as he said, issue recently arisen in the press with the Greek isle of Kastellorizo.
Along these lines, he said he will not accept the Aegean Sea's characterisation as a "semi-enclosed" or "enclosed sea", something he said would overturn provisions foreseen in the International Law of the Sea and be considered as a resignation, on Greece's part, of its rights.
In touching on the timely problem of illegal immigration, Samaras called on Papandreou to show increased zeal on the issue of migrants' repatriation via Turkey, which has signed a relevant 2001 bilateral protocol with Greece that it does not fulfill, as he said.
Furthermore, he sharply criticised the government for its agreement with the EU-ECB-IMF "troika", charging that "as a government, with the memorandum it acceded to the inspection (of Greek finances) by international organisations, something that was not done by countries with similar problems and ones that engaged in negotiations over terms, such as Ireland."
"We agree with structural reforms, but we do not dream of any sort of 'global governance' ... No country takes such outdated ideas seriously," he pointedly said.
Finally, he clarified that a souring of relations between Turkey and Israel presents a greater opportunity for closer ties with the latter, without, at the same time, deviating from the standing Greek positions regarding the Palestinian issue.
 Opposition parties during debate on foreign policy issuesCommunist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Monday emphasised that the government was doing what "its programme, and the interests it serves, are dictating," while addressing Parliament during an off-the-agenda Parliament debate on Greek foreign policy.
"You cannot do otherwise, but what you are doing has side-effects, namely, the country's sovereign rights and its borders," Papariga charged.
Regarding Prime Minister George Papandreou's recent visit to Turkey, Papariga said Greek political parties should have been briefed on the results of the visit.
She also questioned whether the notion of "state-nation" has been abolished and, along with it, borders and sovereign rights. "For us the notions of borders, continental shelf, sovereign rights and the Exclusive Economic Zone are still valid," she underlined.
Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis called on the government to immediately declare Greece's Exclusive Economic Zone, saying that a prospective link between Greece, Cyprus and Israel "will prevent Turkey from being a one-way avenue on energy issues."
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary leader Alexis Tsipras accused the prime minister of practicing a "personal diplomacy" and a "pro-Atlantic policy", noting that "diplomacy of personal contacts, trips and private behind-the-scenes talks is a policy worse than 'secret diplomacy'."
"It is a personal diplomacy with all the dangers that it entails," he said.
 FM on relations with TurkeyForeign minister Dimitris Droutsas reiterated that Greece wants "clear-cut" positions with Turkey, but also stressed that Athens leaves nothing unanswered, in an interview appearing Monday in the Athens daily "Ta Nea".
"We are taking all the necessary measures, both diplomatic and operational, to respond to the provocations and to consolidate our sovereign rights," Droutsas said.
During a parliamentary discussion among political party leaders on foreign policy issues, Droutsas warned that those who are playing political games with the national issues are putting at risk Greece's vital interests and will find themselves face-to-face with the government.
"The strategic goals of Greek foreign policy are timeless," he said, adding that "everyone should be struggling for the same goals", while he also stressed that he does not doubt anyone's patriotism.
 Government denies rumours of debt restructuring"We have a plan that we are following and, of course, we completely deny all scenarios of restructuring Greece's debt," government spokesman George Petalotis stressed on Monday.
He stressed that talk about debt restructuring was simply talk and that no such decision had been taken.
"Our position and that of the European Union is specific," he said and ruled out the possibility of a restructuring.
The spokesman emphasised that the only real scenario was that of sticking to the targets of the reform programme and that meeting the targets was helping the Greek economy do better.
He also emphasised that the only discussion entertained by the government at this time was that of extending repayment of the 110-euro loan from the EU and IMF.
Asked to comment on statements made by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos about the possibility of new horizontal measures, the spokesman repeated that "we have nothing to fear" if the targets of the government programme were met.
Petalotis noted that the government had set up a tax system that was as socially just as was possible and revealed that supplementary legislation was currently being prepared that would make amendments to tax inspection systems so that taxes were finally paid by the people that should pay them.
 Tsipras critical of 'irresponsible' gov't stance on restructuring debtThe government was handling the issue of restructuring Greece's debt "irresponsibly," Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras said on Monday during a meeting with staff unions at the Hellenic Vehicle Industry.
He urged prime minister George Papandreou "to stop hiding behind his finger and seek a renegotiation of the debt without painful terms, so that the Greek people have a chance to emerge from the crisis without everything being levelled".
Tsipras pointed out that both in the case of borrowing directly from the European Central Bank and that of issuing a eurobond, the government had finally adopted policies first proposed by the Left that it had initially dismissed as unrealistic.
"As was the case with the Memorandum, so now the restructuring will come with terms that our creditors impose on us and they will simply bring them to the prime minister to once again sign them," he added.
 Gov't on investigation committees; transparency in public life"We want and seek transparency in every aspect of public life and we prove it every day," government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis stressed on Monday, pointing out that "the government's effort to shed light on cases that have tormented and enraged the people is reflected in the parliamentary investigation committees set up."
He underlined that the "government will do everything and make specific steps to reverse the damage caused by the Siemens case as well," adding that the government's will is to have the damage caused to the Greek state reversed and this will be apparent soon through specific actions.
He reminded that since Feb. 2008, when the first proposal for an investigation committee on Siemens was made by PASOK, the present premier George Papandreou had told the then ruling New Democracy (ND) that it should take legal action against the parent company and its branch in Greece claiming compensation and, at the same time, instigate legal proceedings for the arrest of the perpetrators.
Petalotis also stated the government is shielding the political system so that "we will not be faced with similar situations ever again in the future".
"The allegations that the trail of political money to the political parties' funds has not been investigated, hopefully, will be answered by the investigation committee," he said, reminding that a specific parliamentary committee is assigned with the inspection of political party finances.
Petalotis also stated that a request for a parliamentary investigation committee on the economy has already been made.
 Gov't addresses letter to Siemens, cites 'past corrupt practices'The issue of compensation that multinational Siemens should pay to the Greek state and public utilities and organizations for economic damages caused by "past corrupt practices" was raised by Minister of State Haris Pamboukis, in a letter he addressed on Monday to the German company's management.
In the letter, Pamboukis leaves open the possibility of sanctions imposed on the company for violating the law on issues of competition and transparency, while requesting the company's assistance to accelerate the investigation, pointing out that this will be "greatly appreciated by the Greek government, political parties and the Greek people".
He underlined that the Greek government wants to "put an end to this unpleasant and infuriating case, and this cannot happen unless charges are faced by those who, beyond any doubt, were involved in it ... We are expecting your active support in this effort," Pamboukis said, while he did not rule out a meeting with Siemens Hellas CEO Panos Xinis, "if it is deemed useful".
 Karatzaferis addresses letter to Barroso over Siemens caseOpposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) leader George Karatzaferis on Monday addressed a letter to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso requesting the Commission's intervention to ensure that the Greek state will be compensated by the German multinational Siemens.
Karatzaferis requested the intervention for the economic damage, as he claims, "caused by the bribery practices implemented by Siemens in order to undertake the construction of major public works (in Greece) ? leading to tender tampering".
Speaking to a private radio in Athens, Karatzaferis urged the government to address a letter to Siemens -- requesting that all profits "made illegally through surcharges and overpricing" be returned to the Greek state, and referring to a Parliamentary investigation committee on Siemens, he characterised it as a "total failure".
 FM's extends condolences over bombing at Moscow airportGreek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas on Monday extended his condolences to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over the same-day explosion at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport, a suspected terrorist attack which left 31 people dead and more than 130 injured.
 Deputy FM in Sarajevo for Adriatic-Ionian Initiative meetingDeputy foreign minister Spyros Kouvelis will be in Sarajevo on Monday and Tuesday to take part in a meeting of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII), at the invitation of Bosnian Deputy Foreign Minister Ana Trisic Babic, a foreign ministry announcement said.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Kouvelis is to have bilateral talks with his counterparts from the countries participating in the AII (Italy, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro)
 Gov't to present new tax law on TuesdayA new tax code that will envisage stricter sanctions against tax evasion, a lower corporate earnings tax and facilities for VAT payments will be presented by the government on Tuesday.
The new draft law, expected to be presented during Tuesday's Cabinet meeting by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, foresees:
- immediate legal procedures for non-payment of VAT, establishing a tax arbitration body aimed to offer rapid resolutions in tax cases, establishing a financial crimes prosecutor at the finance ministry to cover serious financial crimes, stricter penalties for tax inspectors, reducing the tax rate on undistributed earnings from 24 pct to 20 pct and offering payment plans for VAT remittances.
The ministry also plans to introduce a tax-card as a part of a plan to boost transparency in all transactions made between consumers and enterprises.
 Talks for renegotiating road toll hikes 'difficult', minister saysThe government had begun talks with the consortiums holding concessions to exploit national highways to renegotiate road toll hikes but these were proving complex and difficult, Deputy Infrastructure, Transport and Networks Minister Yiannis Magriotis said on Monday.
"We have begun the first round of renegotiations," he said but emphasised that these involved several banks and 20 Greek and foreign construction firms, each of which had its own approach.
Asked when the government would issue a list of seven locations where companies would give free passes to local residents that had no alternative access road, he said that this had to be first agreed with the concession-holders because they were responsible for collecting the tolls and they had to agree because such free passes would mean a loss of revenue.
The contractors-concession holders have announced a series of road toll hikes on national highways that go into effect as of midnight on Monday.
Concerning works on the metro, Magriotis said there were still outstanding issues concerning the tenders for signalling and remote management.
The tenders were held in 2008 and only Siemens had submitted a bid because the metro was built using Siemens technology, winning the contract by default. At that point, however, the Siemens kickbacks scandal had erupted and the entire process was suspended so that no contract was signed.
The minister said that the government had a plan for dealing with the issue that it would unveil in the next few days, after the findings of the Parliamentary inquiry into the Siemens scandal were published.
 Public transport fare hikes necessary, gov't saysGovernment spokesman George Petalotis on Monday said that the increases in public transport fares that will apply from next month were necessary so that the public transport organisations could "stand on their own feet" and announced that measures would be taken to control rampant fare-dodging.
The spokesman said that public transport would stay in the state sector but that the government would seek to end abuses that had existed, ensuring better services and low prices. If the previous government of Costas Karamanlis had taken the necessary measures, public transport would be healthy and no fare increase would be needed, he added.
 GSEE to hold 24-hr general strike on Feb. 23The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organisation representing the private sector, has decided to hold a 24-hour general strike on February 23, with a rally starting at 11:00 a.m. the same day at Pedion tou Areos in Athens.
The decision to hold the strike was made during a meeting of GSEE's Executive Committee on Monday, after a lengthy discussion of the problems faced by workers, pensioners and unemployed.
GSEE is holding the strike to demand the signing of sector collective labour agreements, prevent dismissals, prevent occasional and other forms of flexible employment, demand action against high prices and protest against the drastic reduction of purchasing power of workers and pensioners.
The union federation also wants to put a stop to special company agreements using the pretext of the crisis, prevent policies for further cutbacks in supplementary pensions and ensure that collective agreements are respected, as well as labour rights and the state-owned status of public utilities and companies.
 48-hour railway strike by OSE, ProastiakosGreek Railways (OSE) trains will be immobilized for another 48 hours after a new strike called by the Railway Workers Association for Jan. 26 and 27 in protest against the personnel transfers included in a relevant draft law.
OSE trains and Proastiakos Athens suburban railway will not be running on Jan. 26 and 27 as a result of the 48-hour strike announced.
OSE international destinations 334, 335, 336, 337, 460, 461 will not be cancelled. Passengers will be transported by bus to the Greek borders to board their trains.
The strike will affect train services throughout the country - including some services that depart on Tuesday, Jan. 25 and on Friday, Jan. 28.
The Athens Metro service will also be affected by the strike and as a result there will be no service from the Doukissis Plakentias station to Athens International Airport (AIA), as that particular section of track belongs to OSE.
 Stocks end 0.79% upStocks resumed their upward trend at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, after Friday's mild correction, reaffirming the market's positive momentum. The composite index of the market rose 0.79 pct to end at 1,548.65 points, after rising as much as 1.58 pct during the say. Turnover, however, fell to a disappointing 106.681 million euros.
The Big Cap index rose 0.84 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.35 pct lower and the Small Cap index edged 0.05 pct higher. Eurobank (3.94 pct), Alpha Bank (3.66 pct), Hellenic Postbank (3.86 pct) and Motor Oil (3.29 pct) were top gainers among blue chips, while Jumbo (4.21 pct), Marfin Popular Bank (3.57 pct) and MIG (2.78 pct) were top losers.
The Media (8.97 pct), Chemicals (2.61 pct) and Travel (2.56 pct) sectors scored gains, while Technology (2.58 pct) and Personal Products (2.01 pct) suffered losses. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 106 to 74 with another 48 issues unchanged. Imperio (19.23 pct), Mihaniki (18.52 pct) and Lambrakis Press (15.56 pct) were top gainers, while Altec (12.5 pct), Edrasi (11.11 pct) and Xylemporia (10.71 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.63%
Personal & Household: -2.01%
Raw Materials: +0.13
Travel & Leisure: +2.56%
Food & Beverages: +0.13%
Financial Services: -1.90%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, Bank of Piraeus and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index
closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.25
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.60
HBC Coca Cola: 20.92
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.43
National Bank of Greece: 7.01
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.22
Bank of Piraeus: 1.63
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 797 basis points in the Greek electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 11.12 pct and the German Bund 3.15 pct. Turnover in the market was a low 29 million euros, of which 13 million were buy orders and the remaining 16 million euros were sell orders.
The 30-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 12 million euros.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.55 pct, the six-month rate 1.25 pct, the three-month rate 1.01 pct and the one-month rate 0.78 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released
by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.368
Pound sterling 0.858
Danish kroner 7.512
Swedish kroner 9.024
Japanese yen 113.36
Swiss franc 1.309
Norwegian kroner 7.946
Canadian dollar 1.360
Australian dollar 1.38
 Government announces overhaul of Greek-language teaching abroadAlternate Education Minister Fofi Gennimata on Monday announced plans to radically overhaul the current system for state-assisted teaching of the Greek language abroad, whose cost to had jumped by 22 million euro between 2004 and 2009. The Greek state currently funds the teaching of Greek in 72 countries, 57 of which have Greek Studies departments at university level.
During an education ministry press conference, Gennimata said that an outline of the government proposals would be unveiled for the start of public dialogue in early March, leading to a draft bill to rationalise both funding and the detachment of teachers abroad in May. She stressed that there would be no surprise measures during the coming school year, since there was provision for a transitional period.
The proposed dialogue on a system to support the teaching and learning of Greek in foreign countries will focus on 10 main areas. These will include assessment of teaching, administrative reorganisation of Greek-expatriate schools, greater transparency, cooperation between expatriate communities and the teachers sent from Greece, promoting forms of Greek-language education that are part of the educational system of the host-country, developing cultural centres to promote Greek culture, social networking, developing the cross-cultural identity of expatriates, developing pre-school programmes and boosting Greek studies and research at foreign universities.
Gennimata also referred extensively to the problems with the current system, especially emphasising the way that clientist politics had dominated the appointment of teachers abroad, many of whom were not actually qualified to teach language courses but specialised in subjects such as music, art or sports. Others, meanwhile, had an inadequate grasp of the language used in the host-country.
She also highlighted the very high cost of the system, noting the payroll cost for teachers detached abroad had risen from 38 million euro for 1,650 teachers in 2004 to 46 million euro for 2,350 teachers in 2009. After factoring in the additional cost of supply teachers to replace those sent abroad, the total additional cost to the state rose to 22 million euro, she claimed.
The minister stressed problems such as inability to effectively monitor the running of schools abroad, leading to abuses of public money, or the fact that Greek-language schools often did not grant qualifications equivalent to those of the host-country and their students were only able to apply to universities in Greece in a special category.
Also at the press conference was Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou, who answered questions about suggested mergers of small, remote schools and emphasised that these would be based solely on educational criteria.
She also commented on the suspension of school sports competitions, saying that this was temporary in view of a complete overhaul of the way that sports will be taught in schools and that Technological Educational Institutes forced to close due to financial problems had received cash injections and were now operating as usual.
 Event in D.C. brings together Greek-American, Greek academicsWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA)
The Greek embassy here this month hosted an inaugural event bringing together several rectors of major universities in Greece and Greek-Americans who hold similar positions at US universities -- such as chancellors, deans and provosts -- for a conference sponsored by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation.
The event was organised by the embassy of Greece and hosted at Georgetown University.
Distinguished Greek-American academicians and university administrators hailed from some of America's finest higher education institutions, including USC-Davis, the University of South Carolina, Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, George Washington, Maryland, Temple, Fairfield and Chapman, and the Stevens Institute of Technology.
Conference participants expressed an interest and desire for a tangible and appropriate continuation of future cooperation between US and Greek universities, initially through small and realistic steps. Emerging as the most realistic potential areas of collaboration, in the initial phase, are student exchanges (with an emphasis on graduate studies and research), faculty exchanges during sabbaticals, the development of summer programmes in Greek universities for US students, joint study programmes and the inclusion of Greek institutions of higher learning in the international and global programme ambitions of US universities.
The most tangible result of the conference was the decision by Greek-American academics to establish a non-profit organization, whose mission, among others, is to provide a structure for the enhancement of cooperation between the two sides; create a website in order to maintain and further develop networking, where interested parties can exchange ideas and views, as well as inform each other on programs and events of mutual interest; establish a fund in the United States and to conduct fund-raising for the financing of joint projects, which would otherwise not materialise.
"This initiative ... aims at a more comprehensive, systematic and coordinated effort, with long-term prospects, that will benefit both sides," said Greek ambassador to the United States, Vassilis Kaskarelis, adding:
"On the one hand, Greek universities have much to gain in sectors such as know-how, the search for alternative methods and approaches during periods of crisis, research projects and student exchanges. On the other hand, the potential of Greece's academic and scientific community can provide valuable human capital. Furthermore, in this era of globalisation, Greece's gateway geographic location can provide American educational and research institutions an alternative base to expand their activities to the Middle East and the western Balkans."
 Unique 'folk museum' cafe offers 'coffee and history'A unique folk museum where visitors can view rare artifacts from the Greek Revolution of 1821 and other important periods of Greek history while sipping their coffee is operating in Raxas municipality in Trikala prefecture.
The museum is, in actuality, a traditional cafe, where a trove of rare rifles used by the Greeks in the 1821 war of independence against Ottoman rule, photographic material and other artifacts from different periods in history are displayed.
The creator of this innovative exhibition is Nikos Verentziotis who remembers having a big interest in such memorabilia from a very young age. This interest, combined with a love for folk art, prompted him to become a collector or rare artifacts, most of which are related to the 1821 Revolution.
Verentziotis told ANA-MPA that "the youth must know and learn about our local tradition, the Hellenic civilisation and the struggles of the Greeks for liberty and independence".
The cafe is divided into two sections. One section displays rare costumes, while the second section hosts a folk museum. In both sections, visitors may enjoy a tour of history while sipping their coffee or drink, munching on snacks, and even watching a match with their favorite team on television.
Verentziotis is avidly continuing adding objects to his collection, and his dream is that a proper museum will be built in his village that will house his collection and other such objects.
 Migrants 'takeover' Athens law school, demand legalisationHundreds of third country nationals, presumably Third World illegal migrants, entered the Athens law school on Monday to demand that the Greek government grant them permanent residency cards, a development that generated heated criticism by at least two major party-affiliated student groups.
One grouping, PASOK-affiliated PASP, in an announcement, charged that the rival leftist grouping AP.En, affiliated with the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), essentially herded 250 migrants inside the building in order to demand their unconditional legalisation.
PASP said the AP.En student grouping provocatively ignored a decision by the school's faculty senate last week to reject a request to "host" the migrants inside the law school.
Meanwhile, the New Democracy-affiliated DAP students' group also expressed its opposition to the "takeover", as it said, adding:
"Those responsible for this situation are members of the AP.En student grouping and groups unaffiliated with the university, ones backed by Synaspismos, who barged into the building without any approval, breaking down the interior doors and taking over the Solonos (Street) building and placing mats and other items inside," the announcement read.
In a later development, a main opposition New Democracy MP, Thanasis Nakos, sharply criticised the citizens' protection ministry over what he called the school's "takeover", noting that "unfortunately, the events of the last few days, where scores of illegal immigrants travelled, unbothered, from Crete to Athens to break into the law school building, sends out this message: that our country is an 'unguarded vineyard' (using the Greek adage), where anyone does as he pleases."
Nakos, ND's shadow minister for the public order portfolio, called on the government to better tackle the spectre of illegal immigration, "which threatens to spiral out of control and undermine the country's security".
Internet postings by supporters of the initiative demand a full legalisation, with political and social rights, of all the third country nationals that sneaked into Greece over the years. The 250 or so individuals are listed as nationals of North African countries, most of whom are employed as farm held or construction workers on Crete.
 'Cells of Fire' trial adjourned to Monday amid tensionThe trial of nine suspects accused of participation in the "Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire" urban terror group was adjourned on Monday for Tuesday, after the nine defendants fired their defence lawyers and the court appointed new attorneys.
During the brief session on Monday, the nine suspects fired their attorneys, walked out of the proceedings and warned that they will launch a hunger strike if the court appointed new defence lawyers for them.
The defendants' move came in protest of courtroom security measures, specifically the requirement of individuals entering the court to view the proceedings to turn over their identity cards until they exit the proceedings.
Earlier, chaos erupted when six of the defendants attempted to break out of the court lock-up facility where they were waiting to be taken into the courtroom, but were intercepted and returned to the facility.
 Bulgaria, Greece to begin joint police patrols in BanskoA bilateral cooperation agreement was signed by Greece and Bulgaria on Monday for joint police patrols in the proximity of the well-known Bulgarian ski resort of Bansko. The agreement was signed following a proposal by Bulgarian authorities on the grounds that the specific resort is very popular among Greek tourists.
The agreement, effective until March 15, was signed in Bansko by Greek Police deputy chief Lt.-Gen. Yiannis Rahovitsas and Bulgarian Interior Ministry General Secretary Kalin Georgiev.
Two Greek police officers have been in Bansko since Jan. 16, conducting joint patrols with their Bulgarian colleagues. Their presence aims to assist Greek tourists in Bansko, ensuring their safety and security, while also helping to tackle organised crime. The joint patrols reflect the political will expressed by both countries to further reinforce police cooperation following a joint declaration signed by the Greek citizen protection minister and the Bulgarian interior minister in Boyana, Bulgaria in July 2010.
European Union rules allow joint patrols by the police forces of two neighbouring EU member-states for a radius of 10 kilometres on either side of the border, while the agreement between Greece and Bulgaria extends the jurisdiction of joint action further.
 Frontex-police team arrest migrant smuggler, illegal migrantsA migrant trafficker and eight illegal migrants were arrested by police in collaboration with FRONTEX officers in the region of Soufli as they wee disembarking from a boat on the Greek shore of Evros river lat Sunday.
A mixed team electronically traced the illegal migrants crossing the Evros river from the opposite Turkish shore in a plastic boat. The migrant-smuggler first crossed four of the illegals onto the Greek shore of the Evros from Turkey, where he returned and repeated the procedure with the other four illegals.
The police-Frontex team intervened as soon as the second transportation was completed. The migrant-runner attempted to escape back to Turkey by swimming, but was intercepted and arrested.
The boat and a cell phone were seized, while the nine detainees will be led before the Alexandroupolis prosecutor.
 Illegal migrants arrested in Ancona, returned to GreeceThirty six illegal migrants from third countries were returned to Greece by Italian authorities after being detected at the Adriatic port of Ancona on a ferryboat that had originated from the western Greek ports of Patras and Igoumenitsa, the Igoumenitsa port authority announced on Monday.
The illegal migrants were returned to Greece on board the same ferryboat and were arrested upon arrival in Igoumenitsa. (ANA-MPA)
 Greek pianist performs at special event commemorating Franz LisztVIENNA (ANA-MPA / D. Dimitrakoudis)
Greek pianist Christos Marantos performed works by Franz Liszt (1811-1886) during a special event here at the city's conservatory marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of the composer and pianist.
The event was held within the framework of the Viennese Lectures scientific-cultural circle and followed after a lecture on Franz Liszt's life and work.
 Two dead, 6 injured in road accident in EvrosTwo people were killed and six others were injured in a road accident late Sunday near the Ardani juncture in Evros.
The accident occurred when a car, driven by a 60-year-old man, rammed into four Bulgarian nationals who were pushing their stalled car and then into a second, parked, car.
Two of the Bulgarians were fatally injured, while the 60-year-old driver and a 57-year-old woman who was in his car, the 56-year-old Bulgarian driver of the second car and another Bulgarian man who was in the second car, were all injured.
The Alexandroupolis traffic police are investigating the circumstances of the accident.
 Man found murdered in family home, police point to older brotherA 20-year-old Greek Egyptian man was found murdered on Saturday evening in his home in Neo Faliro, near Piraeus, with multiple stab wounds, and police said on Monday the perpetrator was the victim's older brother.
The body, which was discovered by the victim's father, bore multiple stab wounds and police put the time of death at Saturday evening. The perpetrator was believed to have entered the home through the balcony of the 20-year-old's bedroom in the family home.
Police announced on Monday that the perpetrator was the victim's 26-year-old brother, with whom he had recently been having "intense arguments"
 US embassy Consular Section closed on WednesdayThe US Embassy's Consular Section in Athens will remain closed to the public on every last Wednesday of each month for internal reasons, according to an embassy press release.
In that context, the US Embassy's Consular Section in Athens will remain closed to the public on Wednesday, January 26.
This includes the non-immigrant visa section, immigrant visa section, pension section, US passports and naturalisation services, and services for US citizens section. and US passports section
In the event of an emergency on that day, please call 210-7212951 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and 210-7202490/1 after 5:00 p.m.
 Drug arrest in KalamataA 39-year-old man was arrested by narcotics squad police in Kalamata on Monday after a search of his residence turned up several packets of heroin totaling 73.5 grams, 28.3 grams of hashish, a precision scale and 2,920 euros in cash from drug sales, all of which were seized.
The detainee will be taken before a local prosecutor.
 Online consumer fraud ring detectedA ring that allegedly defrauded consumers through the Internet since 2006, reportedly earning hundreds of thousands of euros, was dismantled by the Greek Police (EL.AS) electronic crimes squad, which acted in response to hundreds of complaints, authorities announced on Monday.
An investigation on possible money-laundering is also underway.
A 31-year-old Bulgarian woman was arrested in connection to the case when she attempted to withdraw money from a bank ATM, while a 40-year-old local man and a 29-year-old Albanian woman are still wanted.
The three suspects were allegedly posting on the internet lists with animal products and services sold online, with many users responded by depositing money to bank accounts for goods they never received.
The suspects used their real names in order to be able to make the withdrawals, although the addresses they had given were false.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe bill on building activity in Natura areas and economic issues were the main front-page items in Athens' dailies on Monday.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "PASOK in chaos over the names of cadres implicated in Siemens scandal".
AVRIANI: "Simitis (PASOK former prime minister) to blame for everything and should go to jail".
ELEFTHEROS: "Trimming of debt and new measures bring early general elections closer".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Loans with Argentina terms".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "9 answers for real estate in Natura areas".
ESTIA: "Debt restructuring must be avoided at all cost".
ETHNOS: "Six changes to taxation system".
IMERISSIA: "New, harsh measures for salaries, auxiliary pensions".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Changes to tax regime 'locked in'."
TA NEA: "Auxiliary pensions - How the cutbacks will be made".
VRADYNI: "Restructuring of debt and revision of Constitution".
 Spokesman: We expect the Turkish side to show constructive stance in GenevaNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus expects the Turkish side to demonstrate a constructive stance at the Geneva meeting, to take place Wednesday between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus and the UN Secretary General.
Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said Monday that President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias will go to the Geneva meeting in a
constructive spirit and with good will, "showing the necessary realism, in order to serve our firm goal, which is the achievement of a solution to the Cyprus problem the soonest possible".
"We expect the other side to show the same stance and same consistency on the basis of the solution, so that we can achieve progress that would pave the way for the solution", he stressed.
Stephanou pledged that the Greek Cypriot side will continue its efforts for a solution despite any difficulties faced on the negotiating table.
"Despite the stance demonstrated by the other side, our side continues with the same consistency and commitment to the UN resolutions with an aim to reach a solution in Cyprus", he stressed.
The spokesman said that the solution of the Cyprus problem must be based on the relevant UN SC resolutions, the High Level Agreements of 1977 and 1979, which provide for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
Invited to comment on recent statements made by Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, the spokesman said that "the best reply we can give is President Christofias' consistency on the negotiating table for a solution based on what has been mutually agreed by the two sides, which is a solution based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation, which is also included in many UN resolutions".
"Of course we expect the other side to show consistency and respect towards the UN resolutions," he went on to stress.
The spokesman noted that the Turkish side "unfortunately often refers to the so called existence of two states and two peoples in Cyprus", underlining that such statements contravene the various UN resolutions.
He recalled that the UN resolutions have condemned Turkey's secessionist action of declaring a so-called state in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus. He also recalled that the UN resolutions consider Turkey's action as invalid and call upon the international community not to recognise this illegal entity.
The Republic of Cyprus, which became a full EU member state in May 2004, is divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and since then occupy 37% of Cyprus' territory. UN - led Cyprus talks are underway between President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu with a view to reunify the country.
The UNSG has invited both leaders at a meeting in Geneva on the 26th of January to review progress made so far at the Cyprus talks and decide on the next steps.
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