|Saturday, 25 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 11-11-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 1 November 2011 Issue No: 3921
 PM eyes referendum over new lending deal, requests confidence vote; heated opposition reactionPrime Minister George Papandreou on Monday announced an initiative to hold a referendum over the new lending agreement, while at the same time saying he will ask Parliament for a vote of confidence.
Speaking to his ruling PASOK party's Parliamentary group on Monday afternoon, Papandreou said it was "the time for the citizens to reply responsibly. Do they want us to implement it or reject it? If the people do not want it, then it shall not be implemented. If yes, we shall proceed ... we never resigned from our responsibilities."
Regarding what he referred to as a "road map" of his political initiatives, the prime minister added that he will call for a vote of confidence from Parliament, with the process to be activated on Wednesday.
Moreover, in a bid to dampen growing calls for a snap election, Papandreou said his government holds a mandate for another two years, time it will use to implement its commitments.
"We are not rejoicing, as the prophets of misery are claiming, but they shall not forbid us from being pleased, when conditions exist," he said, adding that the agreement at the European Union level means a reduction of debt and 4.5 billion euros less in interest payments every year.
"The bigger debts bring bigger austerity," he said, before referring to a "systematic effort of disinformation by certain media and political parties ... All political forces should give support and the citizens as soon as they are informed correctly."
He reiterated that with common shares the budget will contribute to the salvation of banks and, as he said, referring to the recapitalisation of banks, "if it is necessary, they should be nationalised, become state-owned."
Briefing his party's deputies on decisions taken at the EU summit last week on the Greek debt, Papandreou said decisions were "historic", and stressed that nothing would have been decided if PASOK's Parliamentary Group had not taken the "historic decisions" voting for the omnibus bill two weeks ago. "It defended the national interest," he said.
Debate will begin on Wednesday over Papandreou's bid for a vote of confidence and conclude on Friday at midnight via a roll call vote.
 FinMin Venizelos addresses PASOK parliamentary groupGovernment Vice President and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, speaking at the ruling PASOK party's Parliamentary Group meeting on Monday, said that following the support of PASOK's Parliamentary Group for all that is necessary, the citizen must decide "if we shall belong to the 'group' of Europe, the eurozone and the euro, or if we shall return to the drachma and to Greece of the '50s and the '60s."
He added that the citizen must also give corresponding replies to whether it is responsible for the country to owe 100 billion euros or to alleviate the public debt by this amount and also whether it is responsible and beneficial for the debt's trend to be towards 120 percent of GDP or towards 240 percent of GDP.
Venizelos said that the reply to whether all this will be maintained or reversed must be given, adding that in the elections the people will decide who guarantees the country's course.
Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis termed the prime minister's proposal as no less than a "constitutional and democratic deviation."
Speaking during a prime time television newscast, the ND spokesman referred to an "indirect national dissension, one that jeopardises the country's greatest achievement, namely, accession to the European Union.
Mihelakis charged that Papandreou took the surprise initiative "because he was not able to make ND an accomplice, now he wants to make the Greek people an accomplice."
Mihelakis repeated that the only solution is elections now, while he declined to state the reason why the ND president Antonis Samaras requested a meeting with President Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday.
The Communist Party (KKE), in an announcement, underlined that a "huge lever of coercion against the people is being set up, whereby the government and the EU will use all means, threats and provocations to bring the working classes and the popular classes to their knees, to seize the 'yes' for the new agreement."
"The working class and the popular classes must impose (snap) elections and welcome them with mass mobilisations throughout the country," the KKE announcement stated.
The Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) party, in an announcement, cited an "adventurist policy" by the prime minister and an "adventurist referendum." It also called on Papandreou to "dare" and request a secret ballot by MPs during the vote of confidence process.
Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group president Alexis Tsipras spoke of a "trick" by the government to "gain time in power", as he also repeated a call for snap elections, and with a proportional representational as well.
FinMin: Referendum after deal finalised
Government Vice President & Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, speaking to another private television station, essentially pointed to January for the holding of any referendum. Venizelos said such a referendum will be held after the finalisation of the loan agreement's details and completion of the exchange of the Greek bonds (PSI).
Also according to the minister, the people will be called on to reply with a "yes" or a "no" to the new loan contract's ratifying law.
Nevertheless, he rejected early elections, saying however, that if the government proposal is rejected in the referendum, "the country must be led to other developments", adding that: "elections will take place sooner or later."
No EU reaction
Meanwhile, in an AMNA dispatch from Brussels, EU spokeswoman Karolina Kottova, replying to a question over the Greek prime minister's sudden announcement, laconically replied "no comment on both issues (referendum and confidence vote). We are in contact and we are awaiting an official briefing from Greek authorities."
 ND leader requests meeting with President of the RepublicMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on Monday evening requested a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Samaras's request follows Prime Minister George Papandreou's announcement to call a referendum on a new EU aid package.
 SYRIZA leader visits President, urges initiative to trigger electionsCoalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) Parliamentary group leader Alexis Tsipras on Monday paid a visit to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, during which he urged the president to take action in his role as guardian of the Constitution that will trigger immediate general elections.
In statements to reporters after the meeting, Tsipras underlined said that there was a disharmony between the policies followed by the government and the people's will, noting that elections were the only way to safeguard regularity in the country. He called on the president to choose the method in order to bring elections about himself, if necessary by resigning.
According to Tsipras, the country was at a crucial turning point. The government's decisions undermined democracy and had been "proven criminal", he added. SYRIZA's leader stressed the need for an immediate resort to the polls and said that everyone had an obligation under the Constitution to undertake initiatives to preserve social cohesion and national integrity.
Asked whether he had asked Papoulias to resign, Tsipras said that he did not oppose such a prospect and stressed that the Constitution clearly stated that the role of the president was to preserve the Constitution and protect the country's national independence and integrity.
"It is the president's absolute prerogative and responsibility to choose how he will preserve these," he added.
At the time of his arrival for the meeting, Tsipras had underlined before the press the need for initiatives to "anticipate developments and avoid finding ourselves faced with unpleasant events that some times wrong people, institutions and our democracy".
He had also underlined that there was a "unprecedented disagreement" between the popular will and political decisions.
"Our people are angry. There is a sense of blatant injustice, humiliation and pillaging," he said.
President Papoulias made no comment on Tsipras' statements.
During the visit, Tsipras presented the president with a written memorandum outlining SYRIZA's complete argument in support of the need for elections, in which the party describes a "huge democratic deficit", cites cases of unconstitutional laws and refers to the responsibilities of politicians.
Among others, SYRIZA considers that any government arising from the present Parliament would be a deviation from the popular mandate.
Criticising a series of choices made by the government in economic policy, SYRIZA notes that the first victim of such choices was Parliamentary democracy, since Parliament was converted into a mere ratification body for decisions taken by the EU-IMF troika and supra-national organisations.
It also emphasises that the contract for the loans to Greece, on which both the original memorandum and the Medium-Term Fiscal Strategy were based, has not yet been presented to Parliament for ratification and yet the finance minister has been given powers to sign and ratify any new agreement, bypassing Parliament altogether.
Furthermore, the memorandum points to the published opinions of legal bodies and even Parliament's legal advisory body, according to which a number of draft bills that were subsequently made into law are either unconstitutional or bordering on illegality.
According to the party, elections were the only democratic way forward and the reasons for holding early elections were much more grave than those cited by the government for exhausting its full four-year term.
The memorandum urges Papoulias to convene an emergency Parliamentary session, a power given to him under the Constitution, and initiate a debate in his presence of the latest sensational developments and the decisions taken at the EU Summit.
"It is in your discretion to intervene using the prestige drawn from the institution of the Presidency of the Republic so as to restore social serenity, protect the power of the people and to prevent the taking or validity of further decisions that bind the next generations, without the people's will".
 Parliament's Greek-Russian Friendship group in MoscowMOSCOW (AMNA - T. Avgerinos)
The head of the Greek Parliament's Greek-Russian Friendship Group Simos Kedikoglou on Monday had a meeting with Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov and the chairman of the Russian Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachyov.
Kedikoglou said in statements to AMNA that his visit to Moscow formed part of an effort to attract investments and boost Greek exports.
"In this direction we found some very good, potential partners," Kedikoglou noted, reporting that Titov had expressed Russia's intention to further develop and intensify Greek-Russia relations that had lagged in recent years, especially to boost the confidence of Russian investors and business people that were interested in making investments in Greece but had been made wary of committing their capital in light of recent developments.
Kosachyov said that the Russian side intended to put emphasis on the friendship committee with Greece after the Duma elections on December 4. He said the committee was "particularly dynamic" and that there was Russian interest in several sectors of the Greek economy.
Kedikoglou also met the vice-president of the Russian Federation's Chamber of Commerce and Industry Georgi Petrov.
He noted that all the Russian officials that he met had welcomed the reactivation of the Greek-Russian Chamber, which has started to be active and was also represented in Russia, and promised to promote close communication with Greek business people in order to find joint opportunities and areas of cooperation.
Among others, Kedikoglou was elected honorary president of the Foundation of St. John the Russian in Moscow, which is active in promoting an increase in religious tourism to Greece.
 Greece a candidate member of the Global Cultural Heritage CommitteeCulture and Tourism Minister Pavlos Geroulanos attended on Monday UNESCO's 36th General Conference which is taking place in Paris from October 25 to November 10.
At the conference, in which delegations from 190 countries participate, the vote will be held next week (November 7-9) for the members of the Committee of the Global Cultural Heritage, for which Grerece has submitted candidacy. Greece has been a member of the Committee twice in the past, over the periods of 1985-1991 and 1997-2003.
Geroulanos met on the sidelines of the conference with UNESCO's general director Irina Bokova, with whom he discussed proposals and ways that will further strengthen the protection of global cultural heritage and will contribute to its promotion in the framework of modern-day needs, possibilities and opportunities.
 Greek military chief attends Qatar con'f on LibyaNational defence general staff chief Gen. Ioannis Yiagkos on Wednesday represented Greece in a conference in Qatar, hosted by a multinational group of countries supporting the new Libyan administration.
The conference was attended by the chiefs of staffs of allied countries that took part in military air operations in Libya, the president and members of Libya's National Transitional Council and the country's new ministers of defence and interior.
Gen. Yiagkos repeated Athens' intention to continue its support of Libya on the bilateral and multilateral level. He also said facilities on Crete will continue to be used as transit hub for humanitarian aid, stressing that the Athens Multinational Sealift Coordination Center (ANSCC) will also be utilized.
Yiagkos was received by the heir to the throne of Qatar, who praised the upgraded role of Greece in the success of the Libyan operation.
The high-ranking military officer also met with the new Libyan defence minister, who thanked Athens and expressed a wish for further cooperation
The next conference is scheduled to take place in Tripoli, Libya.
 Palestinian Diplomatic Delegation in Athens on UNESCO votePalestine's Diplomatic Delegation in Athens on Monday issued an announcement thanking Greece for its stance during the vote held at UNESCO's General Assembly on the same day which resulted in the upgrading of Palestine from an observer to a full member of the UN's scientific and cultural organisation.
Greece is among the 107 countries that voted in favour of the Palestinian request.
"On behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas, the Organisation for the Liberation of Palestine, and all the Palestinian people, we extend a big thank you to Greece and the Greek people for today's stance of the Greek government in favour of Palestine at the vote at UNESCO," the announcement said.
 Budget deficit at 19.161 bln euros in Jan-SeptThe Greek state budget deficit totaled 19.161 billion euros in the January-September period, down from a revised budget target of 19.242 billion euros, but sharply up from a deficit of 16.650 billion euros in the corresponding period in 2010, a Finance ministry announcement showed on Monday.
Budget revenues surpassed a revised target by 5.0 million euros, while spending fell by 76 million euros. Net budget revenues totaled 34.980 billion euros in the nine-month period, for a decline of 4.2 pct compared with the same period last year, down from 5.3 pct decline in the January-August period, reflecting higher than expected economic recession and lower tax receipts.
The Public Investment Program's revenues grew 39.2 pct, or 529 million euros, compared with the same period in 2010. The ministry said a current shortfall in revenues was expected to be covered in the last quarter of the year with the yielding of new tax measures. The nine-month revenues are cash based.
Regular budget spending grew 7.0 pct in the January-September period, from the corresponding period last year, reflecting higher interest payments, higher subsidies to pension funds and unemployment benefits and higher financial support to state hospitals.
Primary spending grew 2.9 pct, or 1.05 billion euros. The Public Investment Program's spending fell 35.1 pct, or 1.9 billion euros in the nine-month period.
 KAPA Initiative for the exploitation of state-owned propertyProposals that will reduce the Greek debt and avert the country's default using as a basic tool the exploitation of state-owned real estate property were outlined by KAPA Initiative (State-owned Real Estate Property - Protection Exploitation) in a special event held on Monday.
According to KAPA Initiative's "Archimedes" Plan, movable and real estate property will be divided into three categories.
The plan provides for the establishment of a company that will undertake to manage the state-owned real estate property having an already existing European organization (European Investment Bank, an EFSF affiliate) as a primary shareholder or proceed with setting up a new European organization specifically for this purpose.
KAPA Initiative guaranteed the disbursement of 75 billion euros out of 150 billion euros estimated to be collected shortly after the proposal is implemented.
Former minister Stefanos Manos and Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE) director Yiannis Stournaras participate in the initiative.
 Minister: Bond swap terms finalised in next few weeksThe terms of a bond swap programme will be determined in the next few weeks, in order for the procedure to be completed by January 2012, Finance Deputy Minister Filippos Sahinidis said on Monday.
In a radio interview, the minister, when asked whether this procedure would also include private bond holders, such as former Olympic Airways employees, state hospital suppliers etc., said: "Everything is open, I do not want to make any public statement at this time".
In an unrelated development, he said Greek and Swiss authorities met in order to agree on a bilateral tax deal, such as the one signed between Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Germany.
According to the draft agreement, depositors who are Greek citizens will have two choices: to declare their real data, thus avoiding additional taxation, or to maintain their anonymity and risk prosecution for tax evasion, he said.
 Economic and Social Council delegation visits ChinaA mission sent by Greece's Economic and Social Council is currently in China at the invitation of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political advisory body in China with delegates from a range of political parties and organisations, as well as independent members. The mission, led by ESC President Christos Polyzogopoulos, began its visit in the city of Shanghai, an ESC announcement said on Monday.
The visit forms part of a framework of international actions to exchange views and establish practical forms of cooperation in areas such as exchanging information on socioeconomic developments on a national and international level, as well as a better understanding of the credit and debt crisis.
The Greek mission was met by the Vice-Chairman of the CPPCC Shanghai Municipal Committee Taitong Zhou. It paid a visit to the Huawei telecommunications company research and technology centre and visited Shanghai landmarks, such as the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.
During the meeting, Polyzogopoulos referred to the importance of enhancing bilateral trade relations and investments, as well as cooperation in shipping and joint actions in tourism. He also emphasised the importance of the Greek delegation's visit, coming almost immediately after that paid to Greece by CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin that resulted in the signature of a memorandum for bilateral economic cooperation.
The Greek official underlined the great potential for cooperation between Greece and China on many levels and in sectors other than trade, such as investments and services. He noted that the two port cities of Shanghai and Piraeus, which are already sister-cities, could further enhance their bilateral cooperation and play a leading role in developing Greek-Chinese economic and shipping ties.
He emphasised Piraeus' role as an economic, shipping and transportation hub for the Balkans, southeast Europe and the European continent as a whole, given its unique geopolitical position.
Greece's General Consul in Shanghai Maria Saranti welcomed the Greek mission, noting the bonds of friendship linking Greece and China. Among these, she referred to the assistance given by Greek authorities and Greek-owned ships for the evacuation of some 13,000 Chinese nationals from war-torn Libya and their repatriation from the island of Crete. She also noted an impressive rise in Greek exports to China in the last two years and the increasing activity by Greek companies in Shanghai.
The Greek delegation paid a visit to the site of the 2010 World Trade Exhibition EXPO before departing from Shanghai on Sunday in order to visit the city of Tianjin in northeast China, a major manufacturing centre that is due to host the upcoming EU-China Summit, and then Beijing.
 Eurozone unemployment rises to record 10.2% in Sept.BRUSSELS (AMNA)
Unemployment in the Eurozone rose to a record high of 10.2 pct in September this year, Eurostat said on Monday, with the unemployment rate in Greece rising to 17.6 pct in July (up from 12.6 pct in July 2010), recording the highest annual percentage increase in the EU-27. Spain's unemployment rate was the highest in the EU (22.6 pct).
The number of unemployed people totaled 16,198,000 in September, up 188,000 in a month, while unemployment in the EU-27 rose to 9.7 pct, or 23,264,000 unemployed.
Spain (22.6 pct), Greece (17.6 pct) and Latvia (16.1 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates, while Austria (3.9 pct), Holland (4.5 pct) and Luxembourg (4.8 pct) the lowest unemployment rates. The unemployment rate fell in 14 EU member-states and rose in 13. Spain (48 pct) and Greece (43.5 pct) recorded the highest unemployment rates among young people aged up to 25 years.
 Second special contribution instalment at post officesTaxpayers will be able to pay a second instalment of a so-called special contribution and profession duty at post offices (EL.TA), it was announced last week.
EL.TA clarified that taxpayers who have not received a second notice from the tax bureau and want to pay the second instalment can use the stub of the previous notice or the first receipt.
 Business Briefs-- Greek retail sales volume fell 1.5 pct in August this year, compared with the same month in 2010, the Hellenic Statistical Authority announced on Monday.
-- M.I.Maillis AEBE on Monday announced the completion of a share capital increase plan which raised its equity capital to 96,877,586 euros. The listed company said its voting rights totaled 249,748,542 ordinary shares of a nominal value of 0.30 euros each.
 Greek stocks end lower on MondayGreek stocks ended slightly lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday as bank shares came under profit taking selling pressure following a sharp rise in the previous two sessions with investors waiting for technical details over a haircut of Greek state bonds and a bank recapitalization program. The composite index of the market fell 0.31 pct to end at 808.58 points, off the day's lows of 2.08 pct. Turnover was a low 69.52 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 1.39 pct, the Mid Cap index rose 0.92 pct and the Small Cap index dropped 1.78 pct. OPAP (7.69 pct), OTE (6.67 pct) and Ellaktor (6.25 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while Piraeus Bank (15.66 pct), Hellenic Postbank (15.09 pct) and Eurobank (10.53 pct) were top losers.
The Travel (7.53 pct) and Telecoms (6.67 pct) sectors scored gains, while Banks (9.96 pct) and Insurance (4.77 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 85 to 63 with another 22 issues unchanged. G.E.Dimitriou (29.69 pct), Spider (28.04 pct) and Moda Bagno (22.30 pct) were top gainers, while Ideal (29.03 pct), Hellenic Fish Farms (19.35 pct) and Edrasi (19.13 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.66%
Personal & Household: +2.11%
Raw Materials: +0.29%
Travel & Leisure: +7.53%
Food & Beverages: -0.39%
Financial Services: -2.46%
The stocks with the highest turnover were OPAP, National Bank and Coca Cola 3E.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 0.99
Public Power Corp (PPC): 6.21
HBC Coca Cola: 14.25
Hellenic Petroleum: 6.36
National Bank of Greece: 1.72
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 0.68
Bank of Piraeus: 0.21
 Greek bond market closing reportThe yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds was 15.97 pct in the domestic electronic secondary bond market on Monday, with the Greek bond yielding 18.0 pct and the German Bund 2.03 pct. There was no turnover in the market.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 2.12 pct, the six-month rate 1.78 pct, the three-month rate 1.58 pct and the one-month rate 1.36 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at a discount of 1.27 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover shrinking to 13.863 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 5,036 contracts worth 7.851 million euros, with 18,676 short positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 26,200 contracts worth 6.012 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (9,223), followed by Eurobank (1,334), MIG (563), OTE (1,431), PPC (1,345), OPAP (1,422), Piraeus Bank (4,266), Alpha Bank (2,112), Ellaktor (784), Mytilineos (573), Hellenic Postbank (444) and Cyprus Bank (330).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.421
Pound sterling 0.886
Danish kroner 7.553
Swedish kroner 9.144
Japanese yen 110.86
Swiss franc 1.237
Norwegian kroner 7.817
Canadian dollar 1.413
Australian dollar 1.342
 New opening times for pharmacies from TuesdayThe new deregulated opening times for pharmacies, which can now stay open on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings, will go into effect from Tuesday.
Pharmacists are opposed to the new opening times and their associations in Attica and Piraeus have responded with a mobilisation, while they will also refuse to give prescription drugs on credit to those insured by 15 social insurance funds.
A ministerial decree signed by Health Minister Andreas Loverdos last month allows all pharmacists to stay open on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday evening, provided that they have promptly informed their local association.
Pharmacists are prepared to draw up timetables where 30 percent of pharmacists' will be open on Monday evening, 30 percent on Wednesday evening and 30 percent on Saturday evening.
The nationwide pharmacists association has filed a suit with the Council of State, asking for the minister's decision to be revoked.
 Latsis Foundation announces funding of scientific research projects in 2012The John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation on Monday announced the 18 research projects selected for funding in 2012. The scientific community's response to the foundation's public call was notable with a total of 921 proposals submitted.
The 18 proposals selected cover a wide spectrum of scientific fields and involve 70 scientists and researchers from 30 academic foundations and research centres in Greece and abroad.
The research projects in the scientific field of Social Sciences and Humanities are: modern Greek history in the digital domain: preserving, displaying and teaching the past; the effects of the energy production and consumption mix and of environmental policies on renewable resources, on CO2 emissions for the EU-15 economies; learning culture through city soundscapes - an educational tool; natural hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] occurrence in potable waters of Greece - current situation and determination of exposed population; valuation of the Greek Gene Bank (GGB) and the chronicle of a long winter.
In the field of Mathematics, Physical Sciences, Engineering, Information and Communication, Universe and Earth Sciences they are: osmotic effects of hard spheres on star polymer glasses; is the Spili fault, Crete, responsible for the double destruction of the Minoan palace at Phaistos? dynamic brain connectivity mapping for virtual representation of prosthetic hand movement; liquid-crystal nanotechnology: functional targeting and superstructure development in anisotropic soft media; probing inside the dense molecular clouds in galaxies and modeling the Past: Digital Technologies and Excavations in Polis, Cyprus.
The selected research projects in the field of Sciences are: a quest for predictive factors for the anti-angiogenic therapy of colorectal cancer; magnetically assisted hemodialysis: ferromagnetic nanoparticles employed for toxins removal; Activin-A mediated protection from allergic asthma; development of a novel, environmentally friendly method for the control of Bactrocera oleae; species on the brink of extinction; microRNAs studies in normal and thalassaemic human erythroid progenitors to investigate modifiers of globin expression and potential therapeutic pathways for thalassaemia syndromes.
 Police officer charged in girlfriend's murderA police officer serving in Parliament's security detail is the alleged perpetrator in the murder case involving a 49-year-old foreign national.
According to authorities, the suspect killed the woman, cited as his girlfriend, and dumped her body off a remote road in order to portray the homicide as an unintentional traffic accident.
Police said the man confessed to the crime on Sunday. The 32-year-old police officer said he used a windbreaker to asphyxiate the victim on Thursday, following a quarrel in his vehicle.
The victim was identified as an Albanian national, the mother of four.
 Mykonos' corruption case probe launchedCourt of Appeals examining magistrate Maria Arhontaki has been assigned the task of investigating a corruption case allegedly involving police officers, town planning department employees and local authorities on a number of Aegean islands, including Mykonos, it was announced on Monday.
Last May, Supreme Court Prosecutor Ioannis Tentes had called on the Aegean Court of Appeals Plenum to proceed with the appointment of an examining magistrate to the case due to its gravity and complexity and because of the delays observed in the investigation.
According to evidence included in two case files, a ring comprising municipal employees and police officers, as well as Cyclades' town planning department employees, pocketed huge amounts of money to spare illegally erected buildings from demolition, most of them on the island of Mykonos.
Numerous owners of private houses and hotels paid between 15,000 euros and 20,000 euro to the suspects to save their illegally buildings by having them falsely declared as demolished by the town planning department.
Based on the case files, the lists with the fines imposed for the illegally built constructions remained in the town planning department under investigation and were never forwarded to the local tax office in order to be collected because the responsible town planning department employee was on sick leave.
The losses for the Greek state as a result of the uncollected fines are estimated to run into millions of euros.
Those involved in the case face felony and misdemeanour charges for breach of faith, abuse of office, embezzlement, forgery, issuing false certificates and document forgery, among others.
 Four injured in ambulance, taxi crashFour people were injured early Monday when a taxi crashed into an ambulance in downtown Athens.
The ambulance, which was transferring a 2 year-old girl to the hospital, had run a red light in its bid to speed to the hospital. A taxi coming from the opposite direction failed to heed the right-of-way to the ambulance and struck the vehicle.
The driver and co-driver of the ambulance, the father of the child and the taxi driver were injured and were hospitalised, out of danger.
The two-year-old child was loaded onto another ambulance and transferred to the hospital, where it was declared dead on arrival. According to reports, the death occurred before the collision.
 Int'l operation resutts in worldwide child porn arrestsSix people were arrested in several cities across Greece for their alleged involvement in a major child porn internet trafficking ring, police announced on Monday. The arrests were made within the framework of a two-month operation, code-named "Angels", conducted by Greek Police's electronic crime squad.
Two local men and four foreign nationals were arrested in Athens, Salamina, Hania, Patras, Lefkada, Didimoticho and the island of Mytilene on multiple counts of child porn trafficking via the internet. Other four people, members of the same trafficking ring face similar charges.
Among the defendants are a German importer, a father of six, a US army officer, an Austrian shipowner, a Ukrainian private company employee and three Greek nationals, a mechanical engineer and two businessmen.
The child porn material they were trafficking is characterised as "hardcore", showing small children, some of them a few months old, being abused and tortured.
Most of the confiscated material was apparently taped in Latin America but there is also video with children with European features.
Police have searched 10 houses and confiscated tens of thousands of child porn files totaling 11,000 GB.
In certain cases, alleged members of the ring had activated special software in their computers to download child porn material even while not at home.
 Police dismantle migrant-smuggling ringSix members of an organised migrant-smuggling ring were arrested on Sunday night at the Elefsina tollgate, while carrying 65 illegal immigrants whose final destination was Italy.
All the arrested people are of Iranian nationality and, according to the police, they have been involved for some time in migrant-smuggling in return for a fee and making large profits.
Two vans were stopped at the Elefsina tollgate and the 65 illegal immigrants were found packed in the back of the vehicles (55 Afghans, 4 Iranians, 2 Pakistanis, 2 Bangladeshis and 2 Sri Lankans).
 Armed robbery of ATM off nat'l highwayA gang of armed robbers early Monday entered a fast food outlet on the Athens-Corinth national highway, near Megara, and stole an ATM, using truck to transport the cash machine. Police believe that the gang, either seven or eight perpetrators, is the same one which made off with ATM from a clinic at the western Athens district of Egaleo last week.
 Attica Region earmarks 10 million euro for Athens' historic centreAttica Region Authority chief Yiannis Sgouros on Monday announced plans to spend 10 million euro on projects to improve Athens' 'historic centre' after signing a decision to include projects for the city centre in the Attica Regional Operational Programme for 2007-2013.
The projects include those for improving Attica Square, Agios Panteleimonas Square and Agorakritou Street, which links the two squares, as well as Theatrou Square off Athinas Street.
 Migratory birds return to endangered lakePelicans and cormorans have reportedly returned to endangered Lake Koronia, east of Thessaloniki in northern Greece, during the ongoing autumn migration this month, scientists announced this week.
More than 700 pelican and other avian species reappeared after many years in Lake Koronia this past month.
Lake Koronia faced an extremely serious ecological crisis over previous years, including pollution from agricultural and stockbreeding run-off and and industrial wastewaters.
The greatest depth of the lake fell from 8.5 metres in 1977 fell to 4.5 metres in 1987. In the summer of 2002 the spot where the lake was located was only a dried lake bed.
Efforts to restore the lake are currently focusing on persuading surrounding farmers to shut down some 2,200 illegal wells and funneling waters into a rejuventated wetlands.
Experts, meanwhile, have reported that the new irrigatiion network has resulted in an improvement in the qualitative characteristics of the lake's water.
 Cloudy on TuesdayCloudy weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-5 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 2C and 21C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 9C to 19C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 6C to 16C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe reserve labour measure in the wider public sector and reprecussions on pensioners and individual investors from a decision last week allowing for a 50-percent 'haircut' of the Greek debt as well as pressure on Prime Minister George Papandreou to undertake whatever political initiatives mostly dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Ruling PASOK Parliamentary group a timebomb ready to explode".
AVRIANI: "(Protesting) People expressed themselves as in 1940".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "Elections now before country dissolves".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The seven wounds of the next day".
ESTIA: "Government gloats over bankruptcy".
ETHNOS: "24,000 civil servants at the exit".
IMERISSIA: "Banks' defence in three moves".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "Nine out of 10 banks disagree with haircut".
TA NEA: "Hour for decisions on shade of 'black' parades".
VRADYNI: "The cutbacks in pensions".
 UN describe Cyprus discussions in New York as productive and vigorousNEW YORK (CNA)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon instituted substantive discussions on four core issues of the Cyprus talks, namely governance and power-sharing, the issue of property, the issue of territory and the issue of citizenship during a meeting he had on Sunday with Cyprus President Demetris Chritofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu at Greentree Estate, in Manhasset, New York on Long Island, UN Secretary General Special Adviser on Cyprus Alexander Downer has said.
After the meeting, which lasted two hours, Downer, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe and other UN officials met with the leaders of the two communities and had extensive discussions concerning the four issues. Downer said that the UN have not been submitting bridging proposals but have been talking to the two sides extensively about the positions they have as well as discussing the other side's positions so there is a full understanding of the positions, noting that it is the two sides that have to make their own convergences. "The United Nations cannot impose anything on them and we have no intention of doing so," he stressed.
"I think it is fair to say, and I am quoting the two sides here, rather than using my own words, but it certainly reflects the United Nations' own view, that these discussions have been positive, productive and vigorous -- appropriately vigorous and certainly positive and productive,'' Donwer noted.
He added that "from our point of view, the United Nations is pleased with the way it is going. We like the venue very much. It is a nice place for the leaders to come to and their teams. I hope they are being appropriately looked after here and I think they are," he noted.
Downer noted that the Secretary-General instituted substantive discussions on four core issues of the Cyprus talks. First of all, on governance and power-sharing, in particular focusing on the issue of the executive, that is, the presidency. Secondly, on the issue of property. Thirdly, on the issue of territory. Fourthly, on the issue of citizenship.
Discussions continued over dinner on Sunday evening. Donwer said that on Monday the Secretary General would return. "Our expectation is the
Secretary-General will be here for about six hours. He will arrive at about three-o-clock in the afternoon which is when the session will begin with the Secretary-General and the leaders. And the Secretary-General will later host a dinner that will be a working dinner. And that will bring the meeting here to a conclusion," he noted, adding that the Secretary General will talk to the media on Tuesday morning.
Asked if the UN submitted proposals to bridge the gaps between the sides, Downer said they have not.
"We are not going to be arbitrators in this process. We have repeatedly said that. We have said all along we won't be arbitrators or mediators in this process. But we are happy to be as helpful as we possibly can be," he noted.
Asked why proximity talks are taking place now, Downer said that "we have done both things. In a joint meeting with the Secretary-General in the course of the morning we got to spend something like six hours with the Secretary-General. We have also mixed that up with separate meetings of Mr. Pascoe and me with the two sides. And I think there is a mix that seems to be working pretty well. We are always trying to think of something different. We are always thinking of creative and constructive ways of pushing a process forward. We need to fulfill our obligations to the Security Council."
Asked if proximity talks imply that the UN is making bridging proposals, Downer said that "we are listening to what they are saying and discussing with them their thoughts. We are having extensive discussions with them. That is not the same thing as making bridging proposals."
Responding to a question if there is any progress on governance and power-sharing and whether the give-and-take started, Downer said that "it is a sort of semantic issue. Obviously, the leaders look at the different positions. The two sides have tried to work out ways of navigating through those positions," he said.
He noted that "we would try to avoid getting into a semantic debate" noting that he cannot go into details of what they have been discussing.
"I did say that the discussions have been positive, productive and vigorous. They are not just my words, but they are the words used by the sides themselves. I think they have found it very positive and useful during the course of today and there is still tomorrow ahead of us. And part of that discussion has been on the question of the executive," Donwer added.
Asked if the UN expect any roadmap after these talks, Downer said that the Secretary General will announce what will happen at the end of the discussions.
Asked if the discussions have been promising, Downer stated that "it has been positive and productive so far. It has been very good."
Regarding the format of the talks, Downer said that the Secretary-General began his meetings with them around the breakfast table. Afterwards the meeting continued in a more formal setting.
The Secretary-General had a discussion with them, with the two leaders sitting side by side and the Secretary-General and his team sitting opposite them. The leaders had with them their representatives Kudret Ozersay and George Iacovou were in the room, note takers and so on.
"After the Secretary-General left, Mr. Pascoe and I and our people have gone to see the leaders. We spent a good deal of time with Mr. Christofias, talking about the issues with him. We then spent time in the afternoon with Mr. Eroglu and his team. And also our United Nations officials, the experts have been going and talking to the Greek Cypriot and also to the Turkish Cypriot experts. It has been a good exchange of views throughout the course of the day," Donwer said.
Responding to another question, the UN official said that the Secretary General has many issues to focus on and the two leaders have a lot of issues and a lot of work to do.
"They are away from home and they obviously don't want to spend too much time away from home. So the point I make is, I think it is giving the whole Cyprus question a pretty good airing spending the two days here, two days here entirely focused on this issue, not focused on other things," he said, adding that "the atmosphere has been very positive. The discussions have been productive. It is vigorous discussion, and that is what you need in this type of negotiations".
According to information, speaking at the beginning of the talks, UN Secretary General asked the two leaders to make a genuine effort to overcome substantive obstacles on fundamental chapters, while President Christofias noted that intensive talks in Cyprus have not yielded the expected results. On his part Eroglu insisted that meetings between the two leaders can be concluded by the end of the year and then hold a give and take process during a five-party conference.
A Greek Cypriot source has said that the Greek Cypriot side has explicitly outlined its positions and assessments as regards the course of the talks.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Since 1974 Turkey occupies 37% of Cyprus' territory in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, European Parliament decisions and resolutions, European Council decisions and other resolutions of international fora, which condemn the Turkish invasion and occupation. Ankara has proclaimed a so called 'state' in the occupied areas of Cyprus, which the UN have called illegal and asked the international community not to recognise it. The illegal state is only recognised by Ankara.
UN-led negotiations have been underway since 2008 between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus with an aim to reunify the island under a federal roof.
Talks on Cyprus in US conclude on Monday
The two-day meeting between UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu concludes on Monday at Greentree, Long Island, with a dinner hosted by the UN chief.
A statement by the UN Secretary General is expected on Tuesday, at UN headquarters. Although it is not yet clear, it is most probable that the UN chief will be making a statement alone and may take some questions.
The talks continued on Monday on governance, property, territory and citizenship. Commenting on Turkish Cypriot press reports that an agreement had been achieved on the economy, the EU and internal security, a Greek Cypriot source said that no talks were held on those three chapters, since the talks were focusing on the other four issues.
UN Spokesman Martin Nezirski said the UN chief was meeting with the leaders of the two communities and would be making a statement on Tuesday at UN headquarters.
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