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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-04-05

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

April 5, 2005


  • [01] Greek gov't announces new generation of privatizations
  • [02] PM Karamanlis optimistic that deficits will decrease and economy will develop
  • [03] Government denies delayed response in removing tainted honey from the market
  • [04] Foreign minister and defense minister meet in view of upcoming US visit
  • [05] Greek foreign minister meets Russian special representative on Cyprus
  • [06] Greece acting as bridge between EU, Balkans
  • [07] PASOK leader chairs party's National Council
  • [08] Coalition (SYN) party sees fragmentation of Balkans in U.S. policy on Kosovo independence
  • [09] Ecumenical Patriarch's statement on death of Pope John Paul
  • [10] London mayor prohibits tourism advertisements of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus
  • [11] Survey shows Turks consider United States the greatest threat for their country
  • [12] European Commission's forecasts on Greek economy in 2005-06
  • [13] Eurodeputy holds briefing on EU finances
  • [14] Greece, Australia near agreement on transfer of Greek immigrants' retirement rights
  • [15] First compilation of Greek world competitiveness rankings
  • [16] No new rise in road tax in next two years
  • [17] Credit growth up in January, yr/yr
  • [18] Chinese trade board, Thessaloniki chamber in cooperation pact
  • [19] Agencies express opposition to commercialization of Olympic Games facilities
  • [20] Gov't urges shipowners to invest
  • [21] Tourism ministry announces measures to support rent room business
  • [22] TIM Hellas sold for 1.114 billion euros
  • [23] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying
  • [24] PM attends delivery of 52 vans for people facing walking problems
  • [25] Two illegal immigrants killed, one injured, after entering minefield
  • [26] Tsunami victim identified through DNA; she will be buried in Rhodes
  • [27] No positions to UN if Annan's intentions not clear, says Cyprus
  • [28] Cyprus-US continue talks on security initiative

  • [01] Greek gov't announces new generation of privatizations

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday announced a new generation of privatizations, envisaging the joint participation of both the public and private sectors in the construction of infrastructure projects "which the public sector cannot fund nor can manage by itself".

    Addressing a seminar on competitiveness, organized by Development ministry, the Greek minister said that a new draft legislation on this new generation of privatization would be unveiled in the next few days. Alogoskoufis also defined six points as the cause of low economic competitiveness in the country.

    First, a failure of economic policy, second, an old-fashioned and slow-moving legislative framework on labor market, third, an ineffective, slow-moving and bureaucratic public sector, fourth, a vague law framework on the use of land, fifth, corruption and breach of competition rules in public sector assignments and sixth, lack of long-term planning.

    Addressing the seminar, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas stressed that Greece ranked low on its competitiveness and noted that the government was working to restore the truth and improve economic performance.

    Lack of transparency, bureaucracy, corruption and hurdles in creating new enterprises were undermining competitiveness, the Greek minister said, adding that Greek enterprises could start submitting their investment plans for support from a new development law from Tuesday

    Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas noted that the present situation could not be maintained for long, adding that past years' high growth rates were attributed to domestic demand a trend that was not sustainable in the long-term. The central banker predicted that economic growth rate would slowdown in 2005 and noted that growth prospects were not clear in the medium-term. Garganas said that prices were rising faster in Greece, compared with other EU countries, noting that countries with high price levels could face low employment and growth levels.

    The Greek central banker urged for socially-costly structural reforms, saying these reforms were necessary to protecting large sections of the society. "It is wrong to call such measures as austerity measures," Garganas said.

    PASOK party deputy Mrs Anna Diamantopoulou, addressing the seminar, said steps were made in the last few years with the aim to improve the country's economic competitiveness, but not with the necessary speed because of lack of necessary consensus. Diamantopoulou urged the government to present specific proposals towards this direction and urged that 40 percent of a Fourth Community Support Framework should be earmarked for education, and training of human resources.

    A survey presented during the seminar showed that Greece was at the bottom of a world list of competitiveness. Another survey by professor Spyros Makridakis showed that an 1.0 percent improvement of the Greek economy's world competitiveness index could lead to a 6.1 percent rise in per capita income in the country.

    [02] PM Karamanlis optimistic that deficits will decrease and economy will develop

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis attended a reception on Monday on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Central Union of Chambers of Greece, stating that he is optimistic that the target of decreasing deficits and developing the economy will be achieved.

    "We have a double difficult wager to achieve. On the one hand we must go ahead with a substantive reduction of the huge deficits we inherited from the past and to secure a new development policy," the prime minister said.

    Karamanlis in essence expressed his intention to go ahead with structural changes and privatizations, stressing that the citizens are demanding changes and reforms everywhere.

    He began a cycle of contacts with agency representatives and businessmen earlier in the day and said that the government's natural interlocutors are the agencies, creative forces and the people of production.

    Karamanlis also spoke of a new strong economy which will tread on strong foundations and added that this will be achieved.

    PM in round of contacts with businessmen: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday met with businessmen Vassilis Konstantakopoulos and Vardis Vardinoyiannis as part of a scheduled round of contacts with representatives from the business sector.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Mr Konstantakopoulos said he discussed with the Prime Minister investment and shipping issues. Konstantakopoulos said that country needed an investor reception office to offer full information over current legislation, promoting licensing and other services to investors.

    Mr Vardinoyiannis did not make any comments after his meeting with the Premier.

    PM asks shipowners to aid economy in difficult times: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday asked shipowers for their views on how they could assist the economy.

    "The premier wanted to hear views on how we will help the economy in the current difficult phase," the president of the Union of Greek Shipowners, Nikos Efthymios, told reporters.

    "He is well versed in shipping matters," Efthymios said after a meeting with Karamanlis on the economy, investment and shipping.

    He added that the country's greatest investment was the shipping sector, which brought 15.5 billion euros in foreign exchange last year.

    Gov't spokesman on PM's schedule, meetings with members of business community: Alternate Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Monday that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday morning at 9:00 will meet the chairman of the Economic and Social Commission (OKE) Nikos Analytis and at 9:30 the president of the Association of Information Technology and Communications Companies of Greece (SEPE) Spyros Vyzantios.

    In response to questions, Antonaros said the prime minister was making contact with the business community in order to better coordinate the government's efforts to boost the country's competitiveness, attract new investments and create more jobs.

    He stressed that the government's top priority was to attract new investments in view of a "particularly favorable investment climate emerging in the country, given that there was the phenomenon of investment plans becoming bogged down for 10 years".

    According to Antonaros, there would soon be specific results in this area.

    Regarding the particular members of the business community that Karamanlis had chosen to meet, the spokesman said that the premier "is meeting with the elected representatives of business and social classes" and noted that he had done the same while in the opposition.

    Commenting on a previous meeting between the finance, defense and development ministers and specific business people, Antonaros said that this had been a working meeting between the ministries and that the business people had attended without an appointment in order to provide specific clarifications deemed necessary.

    Merchants ask PM to take bolder measures: The government should take bolder measures and move faster to help boost competitiveness, the head of the Athens Chamber of Trade and Industry, Drakoulis Fountoukakos said on Monday.

    "We asked for more pressure, bolder steps and for the government to move faster to win the competitiveness bet," Fountoukakos told reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    "The government is moving in the direction of curbing state spending, is trying to privatize as many state enterprises as possible, and help to increase an outward-looking approach by companies," he added.

    [03] Government denies delayed response in removing tainted honey from the market

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Monday denied that there had been any delay in action to remove quantities of honey tainted with carcinogenic chlorobenzols from the market. Government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that government had acted promptly, even as the first batches of suspect honey were being withdrawn from supermarket shelves and opposition MPs lodged a question over the issue in Parliament.

    "If one examines the precise time when the specific [limits for chlorobenzols] were set by the European Union and the time that the specific measures were taken, it will become apparent that there was absolutely no delay. And this is not disputed by anyone," the spokesman said.

    He also stressed that the state's priority was to protect the health of Greek consumers.

    In the meantime, batches of honey found to exceed the 10ppb limit for chlorobenzols were being withdrawn by producers and the Greek food control agency EFET, under the supervision of Consumer General Secretary Athanassios Skordas.

    EFET noted that the problem did not affect the entire Greek production but stressed that samples of all brands will be analyzed. The organization also advised honey packagers to carry out their own checks, particularly for the substance 1,4 dichlorobenzol.

    In a question tabled in Parliament for Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, 20 main opposition PASOK MPs demanded to be briefed on problems concerning widely-consumed foods, including honey and yoghurt.

    They said there had been "great and unjustified delays by the development ministry and EFET in informing the public".

    Questions on the issue were also lodged by PASOK MP Anna Diamantopoulou.

    An announcement by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), meanwhile, stressed that similar phenomena that undermined public health and the environment will continue to be the rule rather than the exception as long as "capitalist profit is the goal and criterion for the production of products and foods".

    The party also accused the government and the European Union of "seeking to cover up scandals to protect the interests of industry".

    Six tones of unsuitable pistachios confiscated by Piraeus prefecture

    The prefecture of Piraeus has confiscated and destroyed six tones of pistachio nuts, imported from Iran in 2004, which were considered unsuitable for human consumption.

    The confiscated nuts, according to the prefecture's scientific staff, contained the carcinogenic substance aflatoxin in quantities which were much higher than the normal content.

    The Piraeus prefecture, after blocking the quantities of nuts, sent samples to the state chemistry laboratory which ascertained that they were unsuitable for consumption.

    [04] Foreign minister and defense minister meet in view of upcoming US visit

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Monday had a meeting with Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos.

    According to diplomatic sources, Spiliotopoulos was briefed on the results of Molyviatis' recent visit to the United States, in view of his own upcoming U.S. trip.

    The two men also discussed issues concerning their two ministries.

    [05] Greek foreign minister meets Russian special representative on Cyprus

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Monday received the Russian foreign ministry's special representative on Cyprus Leonid Abramov.

    According to ministry sources, they ascertained the existence of a new impetus for re-launching talks on a solution to the Cyprus problem but agreed that, this time round, these must take place in conditions that would, to the extent possible, guarantee the procedure's success.

    The same sources said that Molyviatis and Abramov agreed on starting and stepping up talks between Greece and Russia in the framework of the Action Plan agreed during the last trip by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Moscow.

    The Action plan called for bilateral meetings between high-ranking diplomatic officials on the two sides, possibly up to the level of deputy foreign ministers.

    [06] Greece acting as bridge between EU, Balkans

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Greece is acting as a bridge between the European Union and the Balkans, Deputy Foreign Minister Euripides Stylianidis said on Monday.

    "The Greek government is determined to transfer its technical know-how in the market economy, management and education, and to employ development cooperation policy and economic diplomacy," Stylianidis told a meeting of the Union of Balkan Chambers, which Greece is currently chairing.

    The minister called on Balkan chambers of commerce to join forces and work with the Greek foreign ministry, in a bid to make the Balkans an inseparable part of the European Union.

    Greece is the top investor in Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, and the second largest in Romania, with investment rising in Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina; and it has 3,500 companies and 400 bank branches around the region.

    [07] PASOK leader chairs party's National Council

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou chaired his party's second National Council meeting on Monday, criticizing the government of launching a ''tax raid'' and terming its recent economic measures "measures of social injustice."

    Papandreou said the government's handling of issues concerning the high cost of living and of public health was unacceptable and accused it of inertia regarding foreign policy and Church issues.

    The PASOK leader further criticized the government of calling on Greek citizens to pay the bill for its own mistakes, adding that it is unprecedented for a European Union member-state for a budget to be revoked three months after its ratification.

    The government, Papandreou said, chose ''the most socially unjust way in imposing the new measures'' and that prime minister Costas Karamanlis ''recognized in this way the falsity of so-called mild adjustment''.

    [08] Coalition (SYN) party sees fragmentation of Balkans in U.S. policy on Kosovo independence

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    United States' policy in favor of full independence for Kosovo was a step toward further fragmentation of the Balkans, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Alekos Alavanos said on Monday.

    Speaking during a seminar organized by his party in Athens, Alavanos said that U.S. insistence on full independence for Kosovo would have multiple negative repercussions on the Balkan region, citing Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and even Albania as examples.

    He accused former U.S. President Bill Clinton of using Kosovo as a way to further "America's dreams of empire" and stressed that United Nations resolution 1244 for Kosovo had never been implemented.

    Other speakers also stressed the need to adhere to UN resolution 1244 and criticized an apparent swing in favor of U.S. positions in Europe and Greece.

    [09] Ecumenical Patriarch's statement on death of Pope John Paul

    II ISTANBUL, 5/4/2005 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stressed the efforts and vision of the late Pope John Paul II to restore unity in the Christian Churches in his statement on the death of the Roman Catholic pontiff.

    The statement was released in Istanbul on Saturday, shortly after the Pope's death.

    "His Holiness Pope John Paul II, having fulfilled the duty of life, which is common to all humans, has fallen asleep in the Lord. May God give rest to his soul in the place of the living, where there is no sorrow, grief nor mourning.

    "Pope John Paul II envisioned the restoration of the unity of the Christians and he worked for its realization. Thus, and in order to give the mark of his papacy, he visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate only a year after his election, and together with Patriarch Demetrios declared the formation of the Joint Committee for the inception of the Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Roman Catholics. He did not hesitate before pains and sacrifices in order to bring the message of the Gospel to the entire world and to contribute to the establishment of peace. History will also recount his crucial contribution to the fall of atheistic communism. There are not many such brave men of vision, as the departed Pope. During his passage through the Hierarchy and especially through the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, he drew deep his traces on her and on the history of all humanity, and he has left behind the indelible imprint of his strong personality. Many of his initiatives have been inception of developments, which still advance today. He was a pioneer in many issues. For this reason, his death is a loss not only to his Church, but to all of Christianity as well, and to the international community in general, who desires peace and justice.

    "We express our deep personal sorrow and on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the resting of our beloved brother in Christ, and we share the mourning of the millions of our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters worldwide.

    "May his memory be eternal and may the Lord of life and death bring forth a most worthy successor, among the many personalities that adorn the hierarchy of the sister Church."

    [10] London mayor prohibits tourism advertisements of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus

    LONDON 5/4/2005 (ANA/L. Tsirigotakis)

    After strong protests by Britain's Greek Cypriot community regarding tourism advertisements of regions of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus on buses and in London's Underground stations, London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Greater London Assembly President Brian Coleman intervened and the advertisements were prohibited.

    However, such advertisements continue to appear in public areas in five local municipalities in the Great London area, namely in Harringay, Barnet, Islington, Camden and Lambeth, something which provoked the immediate reaction of National Cypriot Federation President Haris Sofoklides, who in a letter to the municipalities termed "unethical the advertising of the occupied areas" and noted that "the municipalities are accountable for the promotion of the exploitation of stolen property."

    A representative of the Cypriot High Commission in London told the "Evening Standard" newspaper that "the tourism advertisements of the Turkish Cypriots insult the thousands of Greek Cypriots who were forced to abandon their homes following the Turkish invasion."

    [11] Survey shows Turks consider United States the greatest threat for their country

    ISTANBUL 5/4/2005 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)

    A survey conducted in the country showed that 38.9 percent of Turks consider the United States to be the greatest threat for Turkey, while only 14.7 percent consider Greece to be a threat.

    For over 25 years relevant surveys had showed Greece as being steadily at the top of the list of the greatest threats for Turkey.

    The survey was carried out by the MetroPOLL Centre of Strategic and Social Research in March 2005, among a sample of 2,642 respondents from all over Turkey.

    The United States and Greece are followed on the threat list by Israel with 5.1 percent and France with 4.6.

    The friendliest country for Turkey, according to the survey, is Germany with 7.8 percent, followed by Azerbaijan with 7.7, while Greece is in 10th place with 1.2 percent.

    The survey confirms the upsurge in anti-Americanism characterizing Turkish public opinion, since 28.7 percent of respondents believe that the United States is the greatest threat for world peace, followed by terrorism with 14.5 and war with 11.8.

    [12] European Commission's forecasts on Greek economy in 2005-06

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    The planned fiscal withdrawal in 2005 and the petering out of the "Olympic bonus" are expected to shape the economic performance of Greece over the next two years, the European Commission said in its economic forecasts report published on Monday.

    The EU's executive forecasts that Greek GDP growth was likely to ease from 4.2 percent in 2004 to slightly below 3.0 percent this year, before rebounding somewhat in 2006. As a result, the Commission said, the output gap was set to narrow but to stay positive over the forecast period. In 2005, the planned fiscal adjustment outlined in the government budget -mainly lower government investment and consumption expenditure- affects aggregate demand by more than one percentage point. Although private investment is expected to step in, taking advantage inter alia of the recently approved business tax reform, total investment growth is set to slow markedly in Greece. Private consumption growth is also projected to weaken, reflecting the drop in confidence recorded at the end of 2004 and the onset of 2005.

    However, the Commission noted, the planned income tax relief planned was likely to mitigate the easing. The negative contribution from the external side is expected to decline of the forecast horizon as manufacturing firms are likely to gain ground on the still expanding export markets. Nevertheless, net exports are likely to continue to act as a drag on real GDP growth. The healthy pace of economic expansion projected in 2005 and 2006, outpacing the euro-area average, will go along with an increase in employment. However, in view of the projected deceleration of economic growth, the rate of job creation, while staying positive, is expected to drop significantly from 2004, particularly in the services sector. The rate of unemployment is projected to increase in 2005 before edging down again in 2006.

    The Commission forecasts that wages per head were set to rise at a rate of more than 5.0 percent in 2005, well above projected productivity growth, and the trend was likely to continue next year. Inflation is projected to increase to 3.1 percent. Greece's fiscal deficit is projected to ease to 4.5 percent of GDP this year on the back of the fiscal adjustment presented in the government budget. These projections, however, did not take account of the additional fiscal package announced by the Greek government in late March. The improvement is expected to chiefly result from lower investment expenditure, and from a series of other expenditure curbing measures. In cyclically-adjusted terms the 2005 deficit is estimated to be above 5.0 percent of GDP. The deficit projection for 2006 of 4.4 percent of GDP is based on unchanged legislation.

    The marginal improvement compared to 2005 reflects the moderate acceleration of economic growth. The Commission said that general government debt reached 110.5 percent of GDP in 2004, up from 109.3% in 2003 on the back of a primary deficit and sizeable debt increasing below-the-line operations. The Commission said an expected improvement of the primary balance in 2005 would suffice to broadly stabilize the debt-to-GDP ratio and expected a slight decline in the debt ratio in 2006 to 108.9 percent of GDP.

    [13] Eurodeputy holds briefing on EU finances

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    A eurodeputy of the ruling New Democracy party, Kostis Hatzidakis, said on Monday that the European Parliament would not accept reduction of a figure of 0.41% of EU gross national income that has been proposed by the bloc's Commission in a draft ruling on regional policy.

    Hatzidakis was briefing reporters at the Europarliament's Athens office on the proposal for regional policy in 2007-2013.

    [14] Greece, Australia near agreement on transfer of Greek immigrants' retirement rights

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    The governments of Greece and Australia have reached the final stretch towards reaching an agreement between the two countries for the transfer of the retirement rights of hundreds of thousands of Greek immigrants who have lived and worked in Australia.

    This development, according to reports on Monday by the Labor and Social Protection Ministry, is the result of the successive meetings which the Labor and Social Protection Ministers of the two countries, Panos Panayiotopoulos and Kay Patterson, respectively, had in Paris on the sidelines of the sessions of the conference of the Social Protection ministers of the member-countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which was held in the French capital at the end of last week.

    The two ministers agreed to continue the procedure and to settle the last details with the exchange of official documents and letters in the coming weeks in order for the final text of the agreement to be formulated which in continuation must be signed.

    [15] First compilation of Greek world competitiveness rankings

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    A study released on Monday at a development ministry seminar for the first time showed a compilation of Greece's rankings in world competitiveness indices.

    In 17 global rankings covered, Greece came last or at the bottom end of the scale in the 25-member European Union, showing a lower performance than many of the EU enlargement countries. Performance globally also was weak, according to the compilation.

    The study contains research by Professor S Makrydakis on the impact of low competitiveness on the public's income that was given to the prime minister in February.

    According to Makrydakis' research, an improvement by 1.0% for Greece in a range of indices including competitiveness, corruption and risk, would bring a spectacular rise in per capita GDP and the public's purchasing power.

    [16] No new rise in road tax in next two years

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek government will not approve any increase in car circulation duties for the next two years, Finance Deputy Minister Adam Regouzas said on Monday.

    Speaking in television, Regouzas said that road taxes rose this year and the government did not plan another raise for the next two years. "This is clear".

    The Greek minister also said the government would seek the drafting of a survey on the creation of an electronic monitoring system of fuel distribution network in the country, covering the whole spectrum of the industry, from the refinery to the petrol station. "Nothing could escape this system," Regouzas said.

    [17] Credit growth up in January, yr/yr

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Greek households and enterprises continued borrowing at high levels with loans rising by 15.2 percent in January, compared with the same month last year, the Bank of Greece said on Monday. Total debt rose to 118.387 billion euros in the first month of 2005, from 117.201 billion euros last year, the central bank said in its monthly report on the country's credit system.

    Greek enterprises' debt totalled 65.985 billion euros in January, up 6.5 percent from the same month in 2004, but down from a 7.5 percent growth rate in December. Households' debt totalled 52.401 billion euros, with growth rate easing to 28.4 pct from 28.5 pct over the same period, respectively. Housing loans grew 25.2 percent in January, up from 24.8 percent in December, with total debt at 33.672 billion euros. Consumer credit growth eased to 36.1 percent in January from 37.4 percent in December, to 17.275 billion euros, while credit card debt exceeded 7.2 billion euros or 30 percent of total household debt. Credit card debt growth eased to 22.4 percent in January from 23.2 percent in December. The agricultural and shipping sectors were the only ones to record credit growth in January, while industry recorded a -2.2 percent change. Commerce and tourism recorded the highest growth rates (12.5 pct and 15.3 pct, respectively), with total debts at 18.921 billion and 4.073 billion euros, respectively. Real estate prices rose by 0.3 percent in Athens in September and by 4.0 percent in other urban areas around the country in the fourth quarter of 2004, the central bank said.

    [18] Chinese trade board, Thessaloniki chamber in cooperation pact

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    The Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Monday that it had signed a cooperation protocol in Beijing with the Chinese Trade Promotion Council.

    A delegation is currently in China for visits to Beijing and Shanghai aimed at boosting business ties between firms of the two countries, the chamber said in a statement.

    Among companies taking part in the delegation is Athens-quoted baker Katselis SA.

    [19] Agencies express opposition to commercialization of Olympic Games facilities

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Agency representatives held a discussion at the Technical Chamber of Greece on Monday night, on the occasion of the bill on the "Licensing, use and functions of Olympic Games facilities", expressing opposition to their commercialization and utilization.

    The event was held as part of public dialogue on the issue and to coordinate the struggle against the bill, while relevant events have also been scheduled for the next two Thursdays in the Athens districts of Glyfada and Kallithea.

    Monday's event was attended by the Cooperating Social Agencies of Southeastern Athens, the Coordinating Committees for the Salvation of the Saronic Gulf and the Protection of Open Spaces in Athens and the Initiative "for the right to the city."

    [20] Gov't urges shipowners to invest

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    The government is urging shipowners to make investments and take large-scale business initiatives that would help to boost growth, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Monday.

    "The government finds itself before a two-pronged and difficult wager. On the one hand to attain fiscal revitalization and adaptation to limits set in the stability pact. And on the other hand, to ensure a new growth angle," Sioufas told the Piraeus Shipping Club.

    Under study by the government were proposals to introduce legal changes that would favor the introduction of foreign exchange from shipping, he added.

    The minister also welcomed the shipping sector's contribution to the economy, with shipping exchange rising by 40% in 2004 against a year earlier.

    [21] Tourism ministry announces measures to support rent room business

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Tourism Deputy Minister Anastasios Liaskos on Monday announced a package of measures aimed to facilitate licensing and operation of rent room and apartment businesses in the country.

    Presenting the measures, during the annual congress of the Association of Rent Room Enterprises of Greece, Liaskos said the measures aimed to reduce the number of paperwork needed for licensing procedures, simplifying an environmental implication study, promoting new legislation on the supply of price lists and inclusion of sector businessmen to a single main pension fund.

    The Greek minister said that absorption rate of EU funds for the tourism sector reached 36 percent at the end of 2004, from 12 percent in the first quarter of 2004 and said the ministry was increasingly raising a budget on tourism development programs.

    [22] TIM Hellas sold for 1.114 billion euros

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    TIM International NV, a subsidiary of TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile), on Monday announced the sale of 80.87 percent in TIM Hellas to Apax Partners and Texas Pacific Group (TPG) for 1.114 billion euros, or 16.43 euros per share.

    The deal, valuing TIM Hellas at 1.6 billion euros, is expected to register an unearned increment of 432 million euros to TIM Group's consolidated balance sheet. The deal is expected to be completed by July 2005.

    Apax Partners is a private capital investment group, with activities in the US, Europe and Israel and focusing on telecommunications, IT, retail and consumer goods, media, healthcare services and financial services.

    Texas Pacific Group (TPG) is an international private capital investment company, with more than 15 billion US dollars under management. TPG was one of the first US-based companies to begin activities in Europe and in particular in the IT and telecommunications sectors.

    [23] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with players buying mainly into high capitalization paper, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,910.12 points, marking a rise of 0.59%. Turnover was 103.1 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.81% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.09% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.47% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 208 to 76 with 51 remaining unchanged.

    [24] PM attends delivery of 52 vans for people facing walking problems

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday attended the delivery of 52 vans for people facing walking problems at the Olympic Sailing Centre at Agios Kosmas, which are part of the mobile property of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    "The Olympic and Paralympic Games left us a huge material and immaterial heritage. It is our duty to utilize it to the greatest possible degree," Karamanlis said in an address.

    "Olympic real estate will become a lever of development for the regions in which they are located, but it will also improve the daily lives of citizens. Mobile property is being distributed to social agencies, while the cost is 120 million euros. 450 nine-seater vans are being distributed to municipalities, communities, clinics and schools in all the regions of the country. It is one of the measures we owe to people with disabilities. We are working to combat social prejudice," the prime minister said, adding that "it is necessary that we utilize this property. We must provide a continuation to attitudes emanating from culture. In the summer of 2004 it left greater expectations for society and greater responsibilities for the state. Much remains to be done still, but we are proceeding on the path of responsibility."

    [25] Two illegal immigrants killed, one injured, after entering minefield

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    Two illegal immigrants were killed and one was injured Sunday night when they entered a well-designated minefield in the Kastanies area on the Evros border region, the Army General Staff (GES) said Monday.

    They said two of the illegal immigrants -- one Mauritanian, the other has yet to be identified -- were fatally injured, while the third illegal immigrant, an Iraqi, was hurt in the incident, which occurred at 9:20 p.m..

    The Iraqi was hospitalized in nearby Didimotichos hospital.

    A GES announcement said the local military administration and experts of the mine-sweeping squad rescued the injured man and recovered the bodies of the other two immigrants.

    The rescue operation lasted until 1:15 Monday morning.

    The minefield is marked off with phosphorescent signs in Greek and English, and is enclosed by a double fence.

    [26] Tsunami victim identified through DNA; she will be buried in Rhodes

    Athens, 5/4/2005 (ANA)

    The body of 38-year-old Anna Mayia Espo Hatzialexiou, who was a victim of the tsunami which occurred in Southeast Asia on December 26, was identified through the method of DNA examination.

    The 38-year-old woman originated from Finland but lived on the island of Rhodes in the Dodecanese where she was married to Antonis Hatzialexiou. She had gone to the islands of Puket with her husband, nine-year-old son and her mother. The husband and child survived but not her and her mother.

    The body of Anna Mayia Hatzialexiou was finally located in a refrigerated chamber where she was transferred and her funeral will be held in Rhodes on Saturday. A few days ago the body of her mother was identified through the same method and her body was transported to Finland.

    [27] No positions to UN if Annan's intentions not clear, says Cyprus

    FM NICOSIA 5/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou stressed on Monday that the Greek Cypriot side cannot be expected to submit its positions with regard to changes it wants to a UN solution plan, as long as the intentions of the UN Secretary General on how he will deal with them remain unclear.

    The Greek Cypriot side, he added, believes that the Secretary General must consult both sides on the island in order to formulate the framework within which any future negotiations will take place.

    ''The role of arbitrator which Kofi Annan had was terminated on April 24. Now we are entering a new phase with regard to the solution effort and we have expressed our willingness to negotiate on the basis of the Annan plan,'' Iacovou said.

    ''We cannot accept the demand to table written and detailed changes to the Annan plan because we do not know how the Secretary General intends to handle this. Will he communicate them to the Turkish Cypriots for comment,'' the minister added.

    The minister's comments come as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Kennedy renewed Washington's call, backing a UN call, to the Greek Cypriot side to communicate to Kofi Annan the changes which it wants to have introduced to his solution plan.

    The Greek Cypriot side rejected by an overwhelming majority the plan in a referendum in April 2004, saying it was unfair, met most of Turkey's demands and included provisions that would not serve the reunification of the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

    He pointed out that a negotiating framework and certain rules on how negotiations should be conducted must be agreed on.

    ''The Secretary General must consult with the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides to agree on this framework and these rules,'' he said.

    Iacovou reiterated the wish of the Greek Cypriot side for a process that would lead to a solution and not to failure and concluded ''this can only be achieved once there is an agreed framework and a methodology for the talks.''

    Speaking on the same issue, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Monday that the National Council, the top advisory body to the President, will decide on whether or not and how the Greek Cypriot side will respond to this demand.

    The Council, comprising all parliamentary parties, will meet on April 12 and this issue is on its agenda.

    The spokesman said there is no official information at this stage about a visit to Cyprus by a representative of the Secretary General to press on with a fresh round of talks.

    Responding to Turkish suggestions that Cyprus could be turned into Taiwan, Chrysostomides said that the Republic of Cyprus is a full member of the European Union and no unilateral moves or decisions by any other state can establish a Taiwan-type of nation on the island, which is a sovereign nation, recognized by the international community and UN member.

    [28] Cyprus-US continue talks on security initiative

    NICOSIA 5/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus and the US will continue this week their dialogue on efforts to restrict the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

    An official press release said here on Monday that a US delegation will be on the island on April 6-7 for the second round of talks with the government of the Republic with a view at reaching a bilateral agreement on the Proliferation Security Initiative.

    Talks will be held at the Foreign Ministry, beginning Wednesday morning. The Cypriot delegation will be headed by Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Ambassador Sotos Zakhaios, and the American delegation by the charge d'affaires of the US embassy here, Ned Nolan.

    The agreement will include provisions on the terms and conditions which will govern the boarding on vessels by officials of each side for the purposes of the agreement.

    ''The agreement is part of the active participation of Cyprus in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism at large,'' the official press release said.

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