|Friday, 17 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 28, 2003
 ND calls for early elections, gov't insists on polls in spring 2004
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday called for early general elections, saying that ''the national interest imposes elections, now'' while addressing a meeting of his party's parliamentary group, with the government replying shortly afterwards, via its spokesman Christos Protopapas, that elections ''will be held in the spring of 2004''.
Addressing the ND parliamentary group, and citing a recent statement by prime minister Costas Simitis that ''initiatives are necessary'', Karamanlis said that ''the only effective initiative is elections''.
''Greece cannot withstand an extended pre-election period or party-political games''.
Protopapas, speaking at a press briefing later, said that Karamanlis was ''altering his position and calling for early elections in order to satisfy a portion of his internal audience'', and ''resorting to pre-electoral fireworks in an effort to create impressions''.
''But elections will take place in spring 2004 and the government, with the achievements it has already presented, will develop new political initiatives and fulfill the commitments it has undertaken vis-a-vis the Greek people,'' Protopapas added.
Karamanlis claimed the government was in a deep crisis and had serious problems functioning that could neither be dragged out nor addressed by a mere change in faces, compromises or maneuvers of internal party politics.
He also slammed the government's policies, claiming the budgets did not reflect the true state of the economy and public finances, hiding a public debt of 105 per cent and huge hidden debts.
Karamanlis said the money lost by investors on the stock market after its peak in 2000 remained an open issue for his party and he accused ruling PASOK MPs of blocking a full investigation of what happened in Parliament.
He said the main opposition was making long-term plans looking beyond 2010 and had prepared a ''comprehensive reform program of government,'' while he pledged to produce measurable progress within the first four years of government.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), termed Karamanlis' speech, as ''out of limit demagogy”, 'adding that :''New Democracy is insolvent, when it promises better days for the people, since it is a plutocracy party''.
 Greek justice minister says EU-US Summit redefined transatlantic relations
NEW YORK 28/06/2003 (ANA - P. Panayiotou)Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos said here on Thursday (New York time) that the Washington EU-US Summit on 25 June had redefined transatlantic relations despite any variances in the philosophies of the two sides.
Petsalnikos, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, was addressing a local Greek community gathering at Astoria organized under the theme ''Greece in Europe, Greece in the World''.
''We are equal partners with the US and this is how we presented ourselves'', the Greek minister said referring to the Summit.
He elaborated on the policies pursued by his ministry within the framework of the Greek EU presidency and said the main axis was the ''complete safeguarding and protection of individual freedoms and the institutions of a just state''.
The minister stressed that the results of the Greek EU presidency's activities in the area of justice contributed to the reinforcement of security and at the same time to ensuring the freedoms of European citizens which he said created the framework for future European Union policy.
Referring to the EU-US judicial cooperation signed during the EU-US summit, he said negotiations had been completed under the Greek presidency and that the decision had been unanimous.
''The agreement establishes a contemporary, clear and efficient cooperation framework for combating international crime, with absolute respect to the institutional features of the European legal system.''
Finally, Petsalnikos said that US President George W. Bush and his aides viewed the handlings by the Greek presidency as ''especially successful'' and had congratulated Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the members of the European delegation at the Summit.
 Gov't on EU stance vis-a-vis 'Hamas'
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)The government on Friday merely noted that Europe’s policy vis-a-vis the “Hamas” group revolves around the “need for truce and disarmament in the Middle East.”
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas made the comment at his regular press briefing and in response to a question regarding reported pressure by Washington towards the EU to consider “Hamas” only as a terrorist group.
 7th European Ministers of Education Conference begins in Nicosia
NICOSIA 28/06/2003 (ANA/G.Leonidas-CNA)EU should concentrate on education in order to achieve its strategic goal, as set by the EU Council in Lisbon in 2000, to make the Union the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world, Petros Efthymiou, Greek Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, said here on Friday, addressing the 7th European Ministers of Education Conference that takes place in Nicosia.
The Conference, entitled ''Quality in Education and Active Citizens'', is co-organized by the Greek EU presidency, the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture and the EU Com-mission.
EU Commissioner for Education and Culture Viviane Reding, Ministers of Education from 20 European countries, as well as around 100 European representatives attend the two-day Conference.
In his address at the opening ceremony Efthymiou, noted that the EU should seek for those strategies that would enable European scientists, who work abroad, to return back to Europe. ''The USA is more competitive than the EU as far as the knowledge-based economy is concerned, because they know how to make better use of education in economy'', Efthymiou said.
''EU should concentrate on education in order to achieve its strategic goal, as a set by the EU Council in Lisbon in 2000, to make the Union the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world'', he stressed. He named as ''Lisbon Two'' Europe's turn to its human resources that will enable the United Europe to become the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the whole world.
EU Commissioner for Education and Culture Viviane Reding told the Conference that the EU Commission aims to reduce the number of EU citizens who leave school earlier, who have only basic knowledge of writing and reading and added that pupils should become familiar with scientific phraseology.
Reding noted that the cooperation between European countries is necessary so that the education and especially the sustainable education is motivated and referred to the importance of the possibilities the new technology offers to education. She thanked the Greek EU presidency and the Cyprus Ministry for Education and Culture for the organization together with the EU Commission of the Conference.
Addressing the Conference, Cyprus Minister of Education and Culture Pefkios Georgiades said that the Lisbon EU Council's strategic goal depends on the quality of European education system. Georgiades said that the most important issues to be discussed at the Conference are security of high European quality standards and the active participation of citizens, teacher education, development of European identity and European dimension of education.
On Saturday, last day of the Conference, the European ministers will issue a final communique. A Memorandum of Understan-ding will also be signed by the Ministers of Education and Higher Education of South Eastern Europe.
 Greek deputy labor minister holds talks with Cyprus labor minister
NICOSIA 28/06/2003 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Greek Deputy Labor and Social Security Minister Eleftherios Tziolas, who is currently on a two-day visit to Cyprus at the invitation of the Confederation of Workers of Cyprus, discussed here on Friday with Cyprus Labor Minister Makis Keravnos ways for further strengthening Cyprus-Greece cooperation in the social sector in light of Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
Speaking after the meeting, Tziolas referred to the initiatives undertaken by Greece regarding the study of social issues, in the context of the EU's spring council meetings, as well as to the future three-year action plans for employment which the EU member-states will make.
On his part, Karavnos thanked Greece, and in particular the Greek Labor Ministry, for helping Cyprus during its harmonization course with the European acquis communautaire.
 Shift to state vocational training schools seen in 2003
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)A shift by pupils toward state-run Technical Vocational Training has been seen in 2003, according to figures collected by the Federation of Private Education Officials presented on Friday by Deputy Education Minister Nikos Gesoulis.
Gesoulis was addressing an event entitled "Technical Vocational Training in Europe and Greece prospects".
Based on the figures, 34 per cent of students in privately run vocational schools had quit them in favor of state schools, he said.
The minister said this reflected a substantial improvement in state-run TEE that had helped them regain prestige and credibility.
 Compensation to riot-damaged Thessaloniki businesses begins
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)The Macedonia-Thrace ministry on Friday announced the beginning of payments to store owners in downtown Thessaloniki whose businesses were damaged during EU Summit-related riots last week.
A few hundred rioters, mostly youths and self-styled anarchists, clashed with police on the same weekend when an EU Summit was taking place 80 kilometers to the east of the northern Greek port city, at the Porto Carras resort.
On Friday 7,000 euros was paid out to 10 merchants who suffered mostly insignificant damages. According to the local business chamber of commerce, more compensation to shop-keepers who suffered even greater damages will follow.
 Parliament's 1st summer session begins next week
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)Parliament's first summer session, in which only 100 of the 300 MPs that normally make up the house will participate, will begin next Tuesday and continue until July 24.
The session will kick off with the processing of a bill for the modernization of public health services by a parliamentary committee and a debate on a bill on the use of firearms by police by the full house.
Next on the agenda before the house is a bill on house pets and strays, while a debate on the agriculture ministry requested by main opposition New Democracy will take place on July 4.
 Karamanlis to speak at City Univ. of London event next week
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis will speak at an event in London next Tuesday sponsored by the City University of London.
Karamanlis will speak on the topic of “Greece within the new European framework.”
The ND president will depart for Britain on Monday and return to Athens on Wednesday, according to a party press release.
 EU Action Plan for Balkans approved at Thessaloniki conference
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)The European Union–Balkan States’ Action Plan in the fields of Research and Technology was adopted and approved on Friday during a ministerial conference in Thessaloniki, chaired by Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
The meeting was attended by representatives from all EU-25 member-states and Balkan nations.
The action plan stresses the need for close cooperation between all member-states and Balkan nations to promote the specific actions aimed at strengthening the research and technological potential in each one Balkan state and the entire region.
In a joint press conference, Tsohatzopoulos and EU Research Commission Filippe Busquin, who also attended the meeting, stressed that the implementation of the action plan was targeted not only to enhance the economic development of Balkan countries, but also to promote their incorporation into the European space research and innovation, to also speed up their accession path.
 Shipping foreign exchange up 5.9 pct in Jan-April
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)Shipping foreign exchange inflows rose 5.9 percent in the first four months of 2003 to 3.048 billion euros, from 2.877 billion euros in the same period last year, Greece's Merchant Marine Ministry said on Friday.
 Peloponnese is Greece's poorest region under new EU ranking
BRUSSELS 28/06/2003 (ANA/G.Daratos)The Peloponnese is Greece's poorest region, replacing Epirus, under a new ranking introduced by Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency.
The new calculation employs different criteria on income and, for the first time, includes the bloc's new recently approved member and candidate states, Eurostat said in a statement.
It includes income for inhabitants that accrues from state investments, including schools, hospitals and road. The former arrangement employed a simple per capita GDP calculation.
Under the new arrangement, Attica continues to rank top among Greek regions, but drops to 132rd place within Europe from 129th under the old calculation, Eurostat said.
 Greek weekly economic review
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)The Greek government hailed as significant a compromise deal reached in Luxembourg this week on the reform of the common agricultural policy, saying it would benefit Greek farmers. The main political opposition party ND, however, strongly criticized the government's position in CAP talks, saying it was "unacceptable that the Greek EU Presidency did not defend, as it should have, the biggest volume of our products, by adopting a neutral stance. The deal was criticized also by other left political parties.
In other headline news this week: Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas announced increases to farmers' pensions, while the finance ministry reported a spectacular 79.5 percent increase in its tax revenues in the first five months of the year compared with the same period in 2002 to 1.1 billion euros from 616.6 million euros, respectively.
A merger deal between Petrola and Hellenic Petroleum was progressing as scheduled and would be completed by the end of the year at the latest, Petrola's chief executive Ioannis Kostopoulos said in the week.
ICAP announced it was offering free access to all Greek embassies and consulates abroad in a move aimed to support efforts to promote Greek exports to international markets and to attract direct foreign investments in the country.
Greece's building material price index rose 3.0 percent in May from the same months last year, although it was unchanged from the previous month, the National Statistics Service said.
The Greek government approved a demand by shipowners for a 3.4 percent increase in shipping fares from July 1st.
 Code of ethics drafted for e-commerce in Greece
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)A code of ethics on promoting and sale of food-beverage, food supplements-medicines and cosmetics through the Internet is currently at its last stage of drafting.
The initiative belongs to the National Network of Research and Technology as part of an e-business forum.
The code refers to the way information were presented to consumers, user guides and security, return policy and all law preconditions on information and service of consumers.
The Greek Industries Union has said that the current legal framework is very complex and very demanding aiming to minimize any risks and to expand the use of electronic commerce.
 Heracles Group raises dividend by 100 percent
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)An AGET Heracles Cement general shareholders' meeting on Friday approved a board plan to pay a 0.30 euros per share dividend to shareholders, up 100 percent from the previous year.
Albert Corcos, the company's chief executive, stressed that the board's main target was to restructure the company through the reduction of production and operating spending.
Heracles Group of Companies said that sales in the first quarter of 2003 were negatively affected by very bad weather conditions in the country, resulting to lower volume of sales in the domestic market. The company noted, however, that volumes rose significantly in April and May.
 Aspis Group cancels capital increase, announces bond loan
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)An Aspis Group general shareholders' meeting on Friday approved a board plan to transfer a block of shares, worth 30 mil-lion euros, from Aspis Insurance to the parent company and to issue a seven-year bond loan paying an annual coupon of 5.0 percent.
The shareholders' meeting also cancelled a board plan for a share capital increase through cash payment. The company said it wanted to assess any positive reactions to new favorable regula-tions announced by the Greek government on investment procedures.
 Hyatt Regency shareholders approve 0.30 euro dividend for 2002
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)Shareholders of Hyatt Regency Hotels & Tourism (Thessaloniki) SA on Friday approved management's proposal of a dividend per share of 0.30 euro on 2002 earnings.
In addition, shareholders endorsed the removal of ''Thessaloniki'' from the company's name to be replaced by ''Hellas'' as the firm has widened the scope of its activities beyond the northern port city, Hyatt said in a statement.
 Court asked to appoint auditors for probe into Interest’s books
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)The capital market commission on Friday asked a court to appoint auditors to investigate the finances of Intersat SA and members of its group.
The court-appointed auditors will follow up the findings of a report by the government's financial crimes squad, which saw irre-gularities in Intersat's finances, the commission said in a statement
 Greek stocks end week 0.23 percent down
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended the last trading session of an uneventful week with small losses in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, reflecting lack of fresh incentives and directions in the market.
The general index eased 0.26 percent to end at 1,901.48 points, with turnover a moderate 128.8 million euros. The index ended the week with a net loss of 0.23 percent.
The Insurance, Food-Beverage and Construction sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (3.99 percent, 1.70 percent and 0.88 percent, respectively), while the Metals (1.33 percent), Holding (1.15 percent) and Textile (0.75 percent) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.35 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.29 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.53 percent down and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index eased 0.36 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 203 to 100 with another 58 issues unchanged.
 Gov't share of Olympic overlays to be decided soon
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)The allocation of spending overlays to the government and organizers of the Athens 2004 Olympics will be decided in the near future, officials said on Friday.
Announcement will be made following the next meeting of a ministerial committee on the Olympics, the officials said.
 Athens organizers: Preparations for Paralympics 'on course'
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)The International Paralympic Committee is particularly satisfied with the progress of preparations for the 2004 Paralympic Games , following a three-day visit by an IPC delegation here and briefings by Athens organizers.
According to ATHOC Managing Director Ioannis Spanudakis, the IPC delegation ascertained the progress in preparations for the 2004 Paralympic Games.
"I especially want to emphasize that we have already received applications from 139 participant countries for the 2004 Paralympic Games. This is a record that exceeds the 123 countries that participated at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. We also have positive comments for our 'ERMIS' program, which is being promoted by ATHOC in cooperation with various chambers of commerce in the country..." Spanudakis said, in reference to an initiative that subsidizes businesses to improve infrastructure and access for individuals with special needs or impaired movement.
 Witnesses for Karat Solis, Kostakis and Serifis testify in N17 trial
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)The trial of 19 suspected members of the terrorist group "November 17" continued on Friday with the testimony of defense witnesses for the accused Costas Karatsolis, Iraklis Kostaris and Thomas Serifis.
The witnesses for Karatsolis were mostly friends and family members, who expressed certainty that he could not be involved with the terror group.
Kostaris' wife Ioanna, meanwhile, told the court that her husband had never given her any reason to believe he might be involved with N17 and that on the day that MP Pavlos Bako-yiannis was murdered her husband had been at work, where she had called him immediately after hearing the news of the murder.
The murder of Bakoyiannis is among the charges against Kostaris.
Friends of the accused described him as "politically aware" but non-violent and ruled out the possibility of his joining the terror band.
The court also heard testimony from a cousin of Thomas Serifis, Marianna Serifi, who again ruled out the possibility of his participation in N17.
 12 defendants in Ocalan arrival case acquitted
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)All 12 defendants involved with Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan’s controversial and unscheduled arrival in Greece more than four years ago were acquitted in a split decision by an Athens court on Friday.
Four jurors opted for acquittal, while three justices on the court voted in favor of a guilty verdict for three individuals charged with felony injury to the country’s international standing and peaceful relations. The trio included retired naval officer Antonis Naxakis, an outspoken and long-time proponent of the Kurdish cause in the neighboring country, as well as two female companions of Ocalan.
The other acquitted defendants were airport, police and aviation staff and officials, as well as a mother and daughter that hosted the outlaw Kurdish leader in their residence for a night.
The 13th defendant in the case, PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan himself, was also acquitted, a very minor development for the latter though, as he remains in the custody of Turkish authorities on a tiny prison island in the Sea of Marmara.
Ocalan’s brief stay over in Greece, his subsequent flight to Nairobi and his eventual detention by Kenyan authorities before being handed to Turkish agents sparked a furor in the country that resulted in the resignation of three Greek ministers.
Finally, the first instance court accepted Naxakis’ request that the case’s transcripts be conveyed to a chief prosecutor for review.
 Navy to send frigate 'Psara' to Hydra celebrations for 1821 war hero
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)The Greek Navy on Friday announced that it will send the Navy frigate ''Psara'' to participate in events marking the 168th anniversary since the death of Admiral Andreas Miaoulis - a hero of the 1821 war of Independence.
The celebrations will take place on the Aegean island of Hydra on Saturday and Sunday.
 Bulgarian, Albanian burn Greek flag in Athens
Athens 28/06/2003 (ANA)A Bulgarian and an Albanian pulled down a Greek flag from its flight poll, tore it and then burnt it in Athens on Friday.
The incident took place at 4:30 p.m. at the stadium of Amarousio, near the Athens Olympic Stadium.
A passerby who saw the incident informed police who shortly later arrested the Bulgarian who is being questioned at the Northeastern Attica Police Division.
The Albanian managed to escape and is still at large.
The identitity of the two foreign men has not been disclosed.
 Overpopulation main problem of Central Prisons, Robles says
NICOSIA 28/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Alvaro Gil Robles has said that overpopulation is one of the most serious problems of the Central Prisons in Cyprus.
Robles, who is visiting Cyprus to draft a report for CoE regarding the implementation of human rights on the island, was received on Friday by President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias.
Speaking through an interpreter after the meeting, Robles noted that the issues to be examined concern the reasons for which people are imprisoned, the imprisonment of persons for economic debts, as well as works on the Central Prison's new premises.
Christofias expressed certainty that Robles' report to be presented to CoE in September would be objective.
He pledged that the House would study the report and that any criticism would be taken into consideration in order to solve problems.
Robles noted that he traced the main problems regarding the implementation of human rights in Cyprus, as well as the work needed for their solution. He also described the cooperation he had with the Cypriot authorities as excellent.
 Finance Minister Kyprianou addresses EU-Balkans research conference
NICOSIA 28/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Finance Minister Markos Kyprianou said on Friday that research and development activities could contribute to the effective utilization of production means, improved productivity and reaching higher rates of sustainable development, as well as improving quality standards.
Speaking at a conference in Thessaloniki on the Promotion of Research and Technological Development between the European Union and the Balkans, Kyprianou noted that all possibilities for the total exploitation of knowledge reserves and research infrastructure in the Balkans should be exhausted and said Cyprus would contribute within its capabilities to the upgrading of scientific cooperation.
The Conference, which was attended by Ministers from EU member states as well as Ministers from Balkan states, adopted a policy paper outlining the Common Vision for sincere cooperation in the field of Research and Technological Development, as well a preliminary action program, on which the cooperation would be built.
 Greek Merchant Marine Minister Anomeritis to visit Cyprus
NICOSIA 28/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Greek Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis arrives in Cyprus on June 30 for a two-day visit, to attend the signing of the agreement between Cyprus and Greece on matters of Merchant Shipping.
During his stay on the island, Anomeritis will be received by Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and will meet with Commu-nications and Works Minister Kyriakos Kazamias.
After his meeting with Kazamias, Anomeritis will attend a ceremony at the Ministry of Communications for the signing of the Merchant Shipping agreement between Cyprus and Greece.
Anomeritis will also tour the ceasefire line in Nicosia, accompanied by the capital's Mayor Michalakis Zambellas.