|Monday, 24 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 9, 2003
 Christodoulakis: Tax code reform, competitiveness the key to boosting SMEs
Athens, 09/06/2003 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Sunday underlined the government’s commitment to bolstering small- to medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) competitiveness – long the backbone of Greece’s economy -- in the wake of several high-profile bankruptcies and closings in the country over the past two months.
Christodoulakis pointed directly to reforms in the tax code and boosting competitiveness as the mainstays of the government’s strategy to reinvigorate the economy, citing, among others, a decrease in the tax rate for transferring a family-owned business; abolition of non-accounting methods to determine profits, and incentives for mergers of real estate firms.
“The key to tax reform will not come from either (tax rate) co-efficients or procedures, but from the way we’ll agree on conducting tax audits,” Christodoulakis told delegates at conference in Thessaloniki focusing on SMEs, and organized by the ruling PASOK party.
Along those lines, he referred to what he called an “amicable settlement” of tax disputes between businesses and the tax bureau, something he said will do away with much of the current tax bureau-related litigation.
Moreover, Christodoulakis promised a “rationalization” of various local taxes – 26 in all – with a goal of reducing the number by September as well as ensuring their reciprocity towards local government entities.
Regarding the controversial issue of store hours, he said he favored allowing a more elastic schedule, “until when will stores in Greece remain closed three afternoons each week?”
He said the government’s measures to stamp out “black market” commerce – a particularly worrisome problem in urban areas – include the mandatory use of cash registers for all trades, as well as requesting that local government entities curb the number of peddler licenses they issue.
Finally, regarding the issue of VAT returns from exported goods, he said businesses are now only required to present valid receipts for same-day reimbursement of the VAT taxes.
Tsohatzopoulos: On his part, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, in addressing the same conference, cited the government’s intention to create an “Ombudsman for consumers”, along the lines of the current Ombudsman’s office.
He also referred to a new electronic catalogue for businesses and firms, as well as reducing costs for legally establishing a new business to one-tenth of the current costs – from 800 euros to 80 euros was the figure he cited.
Finally, he said the government was interested in reforming and modernizing current bankruptcy laws.
Laliotis: PASOK Secretary Costas Laliotis, meanwhile, launched into a sharp attack against the main opposition New Democracy while addressing the same conference on SMEs.
Among others, Laliotis returned ND’s latest charges of massive corruption within the current government by pointing to what he claimed was corruption by the ND governments in 1989-1993.
He pointed to what he called ND’s stance over the issue of single-hulled tankers and the main opposition party’s role, as he said, in delaying a metro project for Thessaloniki.
In specifically referring to SMEs, he said:
“Comparisons with ND should not and will not comprise a continuing alibi. We, as PASOK, cannot just ascertain the problems. We have a social, political, institutional and moral obligation to provide real solutions and to open up horizons for SMEs,” he said, while noting that in a “free economy and society”, there will always be new enterprises and those that terminate operation, although the balance is important.
 Latest polls point to solid lead for ND over PASOK
Athens, 09/06/2003 (ANA)The latest round of opinion polls gauging voters’ preferences around the country were published over the weekend in Athens’ mass-circulation newspapers, with main opposition New Democracy (ND) retaining -- and in some cases increasing -- its lead over ruling PASOK.
The weekend publication of the opinion polls comes ahead of the looming summer season, when most pollsters avoid surveys due to vacations and traditional ebb in political developments.
According to a poll published in the Sunday edition of “To Vima”, 39.5 percent of respondents said they would vote for ND when asked which party they would vote for “if elections were held next Sunday.” Some 31.7 percent of respondents chose ruling PASOK.
The opinion poll, conducted between May 29 and June 4 by the Kapa Research firm, also apparently shows a wide lead for ND on the question of “which party will win the next general elections”, with the main opposition garnering 59.3 percent of respondents to 25.7 percent for PASOK.
Conversely, Prime Minister Costas Simitis retains a slight lead (37.3 percent to 36.2 percent) over ND president Costas Karamanlis on the question of suitability for the premiership.
Some 25 percent of respondents were undecided.
In terms of the other parties, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was preferred by 5.3 percent of respondents, followed by the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) with 3.2 percent. Two other small parties, DHKKI and the newly formed LA.OS., both garnered 1.6 percent, a figure that would leave them out of Parliament. Three percent of the general election tally is the cut-off for entering Parliament.
The economy appears to be the deciding factor for most of respondents in the Kapa poll ( 57.6 percent), followed by social policies (32.2 percent).
Meanwhile, in the opinion poll conducted by the Alco firm, ND is preferred by 39.5 percent of respondents to 31.1 percent for PASOK. KKE follows with 5.1 percent; 3.1 percent for Synaspismos; 2.3 for DH.KKI and 2 percent for LA.OS. Some 11 percent of respondents declined to answer.
Karamanlis, however, was judged as more suitable for the premier’s seat in this poll by a similarly slight margin -- 33.7 percent to 32.3 percent for PM Simitis.
Asked about which party will win the next elections, 55.6 percent of respondents in the Alco poll picked ND, as opposed to 24.4 percent for PASOK. Twenty percent of respondents declined to answer.
Reactions: In response to the published polls, former minister and current PASOK party secretary Costas Laliotis said that although the results comprise a “wake-up call” for his party, the actual election process is the true test of voters’ volition.
“Nothing has been decided yet. We have 10 months in front of us until the May 2004 elections; 10 months of creative effort with first-hand results … we can reverse the unfavorable results from the opinion polls” he said.
Laliotis’ reference to May 2004 elections points to the maximum period the current government can serve, namely, a few months before the Athens 2004 Olympic Games are hosted in the Greek capital.
Government spokesman and press minister Christos Protopapas, meanwhile, stressed that, “of course, the opinion polls do not scare us.”
In press release, Protopapas said the published results, as well as next week’s surveys, were conducted in the past, whereas the situation today has changed.
“We’ve again assumed the initiative in terms of (political) moves,” he said.
On his part, high-ranking ND deputy and former minister George Souflias said the polls confirm the fact that the main opposition party has cemented its lead over PASOK over the past two years in practically all sectors, “in terms of quality and quantity,” as he noted.
“These opinion polls have a particular significance, as they were conducted during a crucial period, during a time when PASOK is attempting a last-ditch effort to rebound. It (PASOK) is trying to exploit the ‘European Union presidency trump-card’, while at the same time the prime minister himself and other top cadres from his party are trying to polarize the political climate,” Souflias said.
 Cyprus FM tells ANA US has 'primary role' in efforts for Cyprus solution
NICOSIA 09/06/2003 (ANA/G.Leonidas)Cyprus Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou on Saturday called on the international community, and especially the United States, to work with the Turkish side in order to achieve a radical change in the latter's approach to the protracted Cyprus issue, something that will allow a resumption of intercommunal talks.
In an exclusive interview with the Athens News Agency (ANA), Iacovou, who departed Sunday for the United States for talks with high-ranking United Nations and American officials, stressed that Washington can play a primary role in efforts for finding a solution on Cyprus.
''Particularly in the present conjuncture, where what's needed is a change in the Turkish stance, we expect that the United States will exert the proper influence on Ankara,'' Iacovou added.
The Cypriot foreign minister underlined that Turkey must accept negotiations within the framework of the UN's secretary general good offices mission and also accept that the Annan plan is on the table.
Iacovou added that he was not in a position to say whether Turkey's stance would change soon, although he reiterated that the Greek side was ready at any moment to continue negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan for a solution based on UN Security Council resolutions.
He also pointed out that any solution to the problem should be viable and functional, otherwise, the future of the island republic, its European course as well as peace and security on Cyprus and the region would be at stake.
 CIA chief Tenet honored by Cypriot-American group inNYC NEW YORK 09/06/2003 (ANA)
CIA Director George Tenet was the guest of honor at a banquet here over the weekend organized by the Pancyprian Association of America, where he was also presented with the group’s “Freedom Award”.
Speaking before an audience of some 800 mostly Greek-Americans, Tenet referred to his agency activity as a tireless guardian of America’s security, particularly in light of the dastardly 9/11 attacks in the United States and the subsequent military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He also referred to the Middle East situation and Cyprus, where he noted that the principles of human rights must be followed in both cases.
In reference to his family’s roots in the ethnic Greek minority of Albania, Tenet noted that “we northern Epirots understand the Cypriots better,” he said during his brief address, attended by many of America’s most distinguished Greek-Americans and Cypriot-Americans, as well as his family.
The Greek permanent representative to the UN and Cypriot ambassador to the United States also attended the event.
 FM to receive Bulgarian opposition leader Stanishev on Monday
Athens, 09/06/2003 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Monday will receive the president of Bulgarian Socialist Party and the neighboring country’s main opposition leader Sergei Stanishev.
Comments to the press will follow the 6 p.m. meeting at the foreign ministry in Athens.
 ND leader tours working-class Piraeus district
Athens, 09/06/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday toured the working-class Piraeus district of Nikaia, where he met with local government, business and labor leaders.
In a brief address, the ND president said the real level of unemployment in the country stands at 14 percent, with roughly one-third of that figure plaguing young people between the ages of 18 and 24.
He also charged that Athens is ranked by an international organization in 79th place out of 215 world capitals in terms of quality of life.
 Memorial service for slain British defense attache Saunders
Athens, 09/06/2003 (ANA)A memorial service for slain British defense attache Stephen Saunders was held at Anglican cathedral in a downtown Athens on Saturday morning, almost three years to the day since he was assassinated in morning rush-hour traffic by the notorious “November 17” terrorist group.
This year’s service, however, came amid the ongoing trial of 19 “N17” suspects, all arrested in the days and months following what apparently was the lethal ultra-leftist terror band’s final strike: a botched bombing in the port of Piraeus last June. Several of the 19 defendants are charged with felonies related to Saunders’ murder.
In exiting the St. Paul Anglican Cathedral, Greek Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis stressed that Brig. Saunders “was N17’s last victim”.
Saunders’ widow, Heather, thanked the individuals she said stood by her since her husband’s murder, and especially the Greek people. She also expressed her satisfaction with the ongoing trial of those accused of Saunders’ assassination.
US ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller, who also attended the service, said the situation today is dramatically different from three years ago due to the arrests of the suspected “N17” members, although he noted that nothing can bring back the victims of terrorism.
Finally, British ambassador Sir David Madden said the service was not just for Stephen Saunders but also for all the victims of terrorism.
“N17” had killed more than two dozen people, including foreign diplomats and military personnel, since it first appear in 1975. No action attributed to the lethal band has been recorded since the botched bombing attempt by the first N17-related apprehension in June 2002.
Saunders was gunned down by a pair of “N17” hitmen riding a motorcycle as he was driving to the British embassy in downtown Athens.
 Heroin discovered in seized Albanian-registered lorry
Athens, 09/06/2003 (ANA)An additional four and a half kilos of heroin were discovered in a pair of Albanian-registered trucks confiscated late last month after 150 kilos of hashish were initially found in the vehicles.
Two Albanian nationals were arrested in the incident, Climent Totosi, 52, and Fatmir Mouho, 32, while a third, Ferdinand Nicola, 43, is being sought in connection with the case. The two lorries had been intercepted just west of Athens.
Authorities said the heroin was discovered in a specially concealed engine compartment.
 CoS ruling blocking 'media village' published
Athens, 09/06/2003 (ANA)The Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, over the weekend published its unanimous decision declaring an inter-ministerial decision allowing for the construction of an Olympic “media village” in the Maroussi district as unconstitutional.
The CoS’ plenum has ruled that relevant zoning laws were violated by the government decision to build a ‘media village’ at the site. The interior, public works and labor ministries co-authored the relevant bill ruled unconstitutional.
The court ruled that a relevant building use code was changed – exclusively for housing -- to another type of use.
 German Turk found not guilty of espionage charges
Athens, 09/06/2003 (ANA)A German citizen of Turkish descent was found not guilty of espionage charges by a court on the east Aegean island of Lesvos over the weekend.
Fifty-five-year-old Murat Pekinel, 55, a self-described naturalist, was arrested last September after reportedly photographing a military airport on the north-east Aegean island of Limnos. Other photo negatives in his possession showed other sites that investigators believed contained images of military installations as well.
The court’s prosecutor also conceded that charges against Pekinel lacked substantive proof of guilt.
According to court records, the defendant has lived in Frankfurt Germany since 1966, while in 1970 he refused to enlist in the Turkish army, reportedly losing his Turkish citizenship in the process.
The court also ruled that Pekinel must also be reimbursed for his 258-day incarceration at 15 euros per day.
 Every port must operate under government supervision
LIMASSOL 09/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here on Saturday that every port of the island must operate under the total responsibility and supervision of the legal government of the Cyprus Republic.
''Clearly and categorically I state that no port can operate unless it is under the total responsibility and supervision of the legal government of the Cyprus Republic'', Papadopoulos underlined, replying to a question regarding recent speculation concerning the opening of the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta port.
Invited to say whether the government has made clear its views on the matter to the European Union, Papadopoulos said ''more than clear. It is neither a matter under discussion nor negotiable''.
Asked about the measures taken by the government in response to Turkish provocations in Strovilia, Papadopoulos noted that every possible action has been taken and all political means have been exhausted.
Turkey is violating the status quo ante in the Strovilia area, which is in the ceasefire line. Greek Cypriot residents in the area are facing problems with electricity and water supply and telephone connections.
Referring to the Cyprus government's package of measures towards the Turkish Cypriots, the president said that a lot more can be done provided everything takes place in the legal framework of the state and everything done is within the legal framework effective in the Republic.
Papadopoulos also noted that trading of Turkish Cypriots products is one of the measures announced by the Cyprus Republic and the EU is having consultations with the Republic to see how these measures can be applied without violating the EU law and regulations (acquis communautaire).
He also stressed the EU package of measures aiming to promote economic development of the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus and bringing it closer to the EU was decided in cooperation with the Cyprus government.
Papadopoulos dismissed once again Rauf Denktash's allegations that there is an embargo against Turkish Cypriots and noted that international organizations and a European court (Luxembourg) decision are prohibiting exchanges with the pseudostate.
''There can be no exports via non-legal ports, as the international law says that ports must be operated by an authority of a legally recognized government,'' he added.
Papadopoulos stressed ''we are not trying to be negative we do not want to oppress the Turkish Cypriots'' adding that the Cyprus Republic's sovereignty must at the same time be safeguarded.
He expressed the belief that Denktash's policy aims for the Turkish Cypriots to enjoy all benefits as ''citizens of a separate state'', being at the same time citizens of the legal state.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
 FM Iacovou to discuss Cyprus problem with UN and US officials
LARNACA 09/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou left today for the US where he will have meetings with US and UN high ranking officials.
Speaking to the press prior to his departure Iacovou said that during his meetings with US officials and the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan he will outline the Cyprus government's positions on the Cyprus problem and underline that in order to reach a Cyprus settlement the US and the UN should concentrate their efforts on persuading the
Turkish side to contribute to that end.
Iacovou said he would also exchange views with his interlocutors on the steps to be followed until Cyprus becomes a full member of the EU in May 2004.
As regards the issue of exports of Turkish Cypriot goods to the EU, Iacovou said that both him and the President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos have pointed out to European Union officials that for the Cyprus government there can be no exports through illegal ports in the Turkish occupied areas of the island, adding that the EU shares the same view.
During his stay at the US, Iacovou will, among others, meet with Annan, Deputy SG Sir Kieran Prendergast, President of the UN General Assembly Jan Kavan, while he will hold contacts with US senior officials as US Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert.
Referring to his high level contacts with US officials, Iacovou said that they reflect the US administration's high-level interest on Cyprus.
The Cypriot Minister said that during his visit to the US he will outline the views of the Cyprus government, underline the fact that the efforts to reunify Cyprus failed due to the well known Turkish intransigence and that the US and the UN should turn to the Turkish side, and exchange views with all his interlocutors on what must be done from now on until Cyprus' EU membership is completed, on May 1st 2004.
Asked whether he expects that pressure will be exerted on Turkey, after his visit to the US, Iacovou said this is our target, noting that ''Turkey currently goes through a very significant political and economic crisis''.
''There is a crisis between the military and political leadership and all these make our own efforts and the EU and US efforts much more difficult,'' he added.
Iacovou will also attend events in the framework of the World
Coordinating Committee, Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) annual meeting and will be honored by PSEKA and the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE). He returns home on June 17.
 Greek and Turkish Cypriots continue to cross the divide
NICOSIA 09/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)A total of 10,979 Cypriots, 4,957 Turkish Cypriots and 6,022 Greek Cypriots, crossed the divide on Saturday a police press release said.
As regards Turkish Cypriots, 1,945 crossed into the government controlled areas of the Republic through Ledra Palace checkpoint, 1,003 through Pergamos checkpoint, 412 through the Strovilia checkpoint and 1,597 through Agios Dometios checkpoint.
815 Greek Cypriots crossed into the Turkish occupied areas through Ledra Palace checkpoint, 998 through Pergamos checkpoint, 834 through Strovilia checkpoint and 3,375 through Agios Dometios checkpoint.
The Cypriot police did not allow entry into the free areas of the Republic to six persons who came from the occupied part because they failed to produce any evidence of their identity to prove they were of Cypriot origin.
Cypriots started crossing the divide after the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime eased restrictions on free movement which it had imposed nearly thirty years ago, when Turkish troops invaded Cyprus.