BC-AP--AP Europe News Digest at 0830 GMT, AP
EXPECTED FOR THURSDAY, DEC. 19:
MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin holds his annual marathon news conference in which he takes questions from Russian and foreign journalists for several hours without a break. Scheduled for 0800 GMT. UPCOMING: 300 words by 0900 GMT.
GENEVA — A U.N. panel probing war crimes in Syria says people around the country are systematically vanishing without a trace as part of a widespread government campaign of terror against civilians that would be a crime against humanity. The expert panel says armed opposition groups also have begun seizing people and denying what happened to them. Also Thursday, Syria humanitarian briefing with U.S. Asst. Secretary of State Anne Richard. By John Heilprin. 130 words by 1100 GMT; 500 words by 1600 GMT. Photos.
BRUSSELS — Leaders of the 28 European Union countries meet for the first day of a two-day summit, with an agenda including Ukraine, the Central African Republic, common defense policy, the banking union and what they can do to stimulate Europe’s still anemic economy. There could be widespread street protests in the morning. UPCOMING: 130 words by 1100GMT.
GREECE OLIVE OIL-PHOTO ESSAY
KALO PEDI, Greece — It was used to groom ancient Olympic athletes and remains a widely used modern staple in Greece’s diet. But olive oil could be the latest victim of the country’s grueling financial crisis. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development is advising Greece allow the sale of olive oil blended with cheaper vegetable oils to make it more affordable — part of series of recommendations to boost competition and pull the country out of recession in 2014. AP photos by Petros Giannakouris.
BERLIN — The European Space Agency launches its star-surveying satellite Gaia from French Guiana. The satellite will create the most precise 3D map of about a billion stars in our galaxy and its immediate neighborhood. Scientists hope it will also find thousands of planets outside our Solar System. UPCOMING: 130 words by 1000 GMT, photos, video.
WARSAW — Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets his Polish counterpart Radek Sikorski to discuss future cooperation in the economy and other areas at a time when Moscow’s economic pressure has made Ukraine shelve indefinitely a key cooperation agreement with the European Union. By Monika Scislowska. UPCOMING: 130 words by 1300GMT; 350 words by 1430GMT.
FRANKFURT, Germany — Europe’s financial stability watchdog, the European Systemic Risk Board, holds a regular quarterly meeting.
STOCKHOLM — Scandinavian airline group SAS AB releases full-year report.