|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-04-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>April 6, 2005
 EU seen approving Greek stability & growth plan, sources say
BRUSSELS 6/4/2005 (ANA/B Demiris, M Spinthourakis)The European Union is in overall agreement with Greece's revised stability and growth pact for 2004-2007, submitted to the Commission last month, and is expected to announce approval on Wednesday, EU sources said.
According to a draft recommendation the Commission is likely to make to the bloc's finance ministers on Wednesday, the Greek government has taken measures that meet requirements set by the ministers, the sources said.
"In the current phase, no additional steps are needed in the excessive deficit process," the draft reportedly says.
The assessment is based on the government's most pessimistic economic scenario, which anticipates GDP growth of 2.9% in 2005 and 3.0% in both 2006 and 2007. It also takes into account a package of supplementary tax measures announced by the government last week.
Without the tax package, Greece's fiscal deficit would have reached 4.5% of GDP in 2005 and 4.4% in 2006. Now the measures are in place, the Commission anticipates there will be spending cuts representing 0.8% of GDP in 2005 and 1.5% in 2006, bringing a fiscal deficit of 3.7% of GDP this year and 2.9% in the year after.
The EU ministers are expected to examine the recommendation on April 12.
The government has taken supplementary measures to lower the fiscal deficit, beyond pledging to adhere scrupulously to the 2005 budget.
Concerning 2006, the Commission believes that the government may have to take further measures to lower the deficit below the bloc's ceiling of 3.0% of gross domestic product. It restated Greece's commitment on March 29 to adopt additional measures in order to achieve the reduction target for 2006.
In addition, the Commission says that needed to lower the public debt, beyond net borrowing, are intensified efforts to pinpoint factors contributing to a swifter reduction to the reference level of 60% of GDP for the debt.
On the basis of these estimates, the Commission believes that no further measures are needed at present to lower the fiscal deficit, the sources said.
Finally, a fresh evaluation of Greece will be made by the end of the year, following the release of fiscal data by all EU member states in September; formulation of the EU budget for 2006; the Commission's economic forecasts for autumn 2005; and an updated report to be released by Greece in October.
 Commission forecasts for Greek economy differ from national forecasts, gov't says
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)The spring forecasts for the Greek economy released by the European Commission differed from national forecasts, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Tuesday. He was responding to questions concerning the low rate of GDP growth - just 2.9 per cent - predicted by the Commission for 2005.
"The Commission's estimates are made in Brussels and differences from national estimates are often seen," Antonaros said.
He also pointed out that the Commission's forecasts anticipated a rise in private investments following recent tax reforms and an increase in economic expansion above the EU average in the next two years, while they had not taken into account the latest batch of tax measures announced by the government.
The spokesman refused to comment on a prediction concerning a sharp rise in the number of unemployed in a Bank of Greece report.
"The government is certain that boosting enterprise, attracting new investments and creating a more favorable investment climate in the country will create opportunities that will give rise to new jobs," he said.
The EU forecasts released on Monday predicted 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. It said total investment growth was set to slow due to the government's fiscal adjustment plan, in spite of a rise in private investment.
 Athens' reply to EU over 'primary shareholder' law will be released when sent, gov't says
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)The Greek government's reply to the European Commission regarding the controversial 'primary shareholder' law for public-sector contracts and the media will be sent within the deadline and will be released to the media once it's sent, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Tuesday.
 European Court orders return of EU fines to Greece
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)The European Court of Justice has ruled that fines of about 50 million euros imposed on Greece by the EU over subsidies for arable land in 1994-1999 must be returned, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Evangelos Basiakos said on Tuesday.
Greece had contested the fine at the court, supported by Basiakos.
"This is the first time that the European Court has annulled this type of decision by the EU Commission," the minister told reporters.
The ruling means that Greece may seek return of other, similar fines.
 PM Karamanlis confers with OKE, SEPE chiefs
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday met separately with chairman of the Economic and Social Commission (OKE) Nikos Analytis and president of the Association of Information Technology and Communications Companies of Greece (SEPE) Spyros Vyzantios.
The meetings were held in the context of the prime minister's conferrals with representatives of agencies and with entrepreneurs aimed at the development of the economy.
No statements were made after the meetings.
PM to meet National Bank governor on Wednesday: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is scheduled to meet the governor of the National Bank of Greece Takis Arapoglou at 11:00 on Wednesday morning, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Tuesday.
Earlier on Wednesday morning, Karamanlis will visit the The Vatican's diplomatic representation in Athens to express his sorrow at the death of Pope John Paul II and sign the book of condolence.
On Wednesday afternoon the premier will continue a round of meetings with New Democracy MPs, having successive meetings with D. Galamatis, G. Diktakis, N. Dendias, St. Kalafatis, A. Dermetzopoulos and M. Tzimas.
 PASOK party leader ascertains climate of concern over economy in talks with labor union representatives
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou ascertained a ''climate of concern'' over the course of the economy among his interlocutors in meetings he had on Tuesday with representatives of the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) and the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB).
Papandreou said after these meetings that the conclusion he drew is that the state of the economy is very bad and the government is responsible for this.
Asked about the views of SEB, Papandreou said "I cannot say that I saw SEB satisfied with the economy of our country."
The PASOK leader said that what the economy needs to forge ahead is changes and reforms which in order to take place, however, require wider social consensus, adding that the present government ''is torpedoing every sense of social consensus with the unfair measures it is taking.''
Papandreou assessed that the government's measures ''are the first, and indeed ineffective,'' and predicted that ''just as in the case of the present measures those that will follow will not solve any problem and will create great problems for families, consumers and businesses and will also create a climate of generalized insecurity.''
Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, replying to these statements, said "the great responsibilities of PASOK, and of himself personally, for the state of the economy cannot be covered by the aggressive statements Mr. Papandreou repeats daily, to convince whom, I wonder."
PASOK party leader discusses labor issues with union leader: Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou held a meeting with General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) leader Christos Polyzogopoulos on Tuesday for talks on current labor issues.
Turning up for the meeting, Polyzogopoulos said "from (former prime minister) Mr. Mitsotakis and (Central Bank governor) Mr. Garganas we have heard the same things. They are on the same side of the hill for measures against working people."
Referring to the social security issue, the GSEE leader said fragmental statements cannot be made on this issue, adding that "this proposal (by Mitsotakis) could be discussed if it does not constitute the antechamber for a proposal on an increase in pensioning age limits."
Polyzogopoulos pointed out that it contrasts fully, however, with government options by which working people leave voluntarily at the ages of 50 and 55.
"Consequently, unemployment among young people cannot be handled by extending the active lives of older people, beyond the time of their pensioning," Polyzogopoulos said.
 Education minister announces plan for minimum university entrance pass mark
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Tuesday announced that minimum pass marks for entrance into universities will be established from the next academic year, after a meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
She said the current university entrance system would remain unchanged for this year but after the next academic year no students with marks below a pass would be able to get a place into university.
Yiannakou said the cabinet meeting had discussed the assessment of universities. Internal assessments will be carried out by the universities themselves based on a set of rules, while external assessments will be carried out on the basis of rules laid down by the European Union, she added.
She also announced plans to establish an independent body regulating education, whose president will be proposed by the government and appointed by Parliament.
The minister said that the recommendations of the National Council for Education had been for support of life-long education, upgrading technical schools and linking education with the real needs of society.
Yiannakou also revealed that the ministry will soon be announcing the number of university places that will be offered this year.
According to sources, there will be no reduction of university places on offer this year but there will be redistribution, with fewer places for 'saturated' professions like medicine and engineering and more for 'productive' schools, such as teaching colleges.
Communist Party criticizes education minister's statements on university evaluation: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), in an announcement on Tuesday, expressed its disagreement with statements made by the education minister earlier in the day, particularly regarding the evaluation of universities, saying that "the only evaluation that can take place under the present conditions is an evaluation of the policy of New Democracy and PASOK."
KKE added that the "evaluation" the education minister spoke of "is tailored to suit the request by businessmen to fully include the universities and other higher (educational) establishments in their policy for competitiveness and profit-making."
The Communist Party further believes that the government's evaluation will lead to categorization and to the further degrading of education "with the children of popular families being the victims again."
Coalition party says education minister trying to give impression that measures announced had been discussed by National Education Council
The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party, in an announcement on Tuesday, accused the education minister of trying to give the impression that the specific measures she announced had been discussed by the National Education Council, whereas such a development had not taken place.
"The education minister is raising an issue of determining a grade basis for entry to third stage education, without such a thing having been discussed with the relevant educational agencies," the party's announcement said.
The Coalition party added that "with this circumstantial and fragmental arrangement, the government is once again following the 'beaten track' in aiming at the qualitative improvement of education with the strengthening of examination procedures."
 Greece expresses support for Bulgaria's EU accession, signs bilateral cooperation protocol
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Tuesday underlined the Greek government's support for Bulgaria's accession to the European Union at the start of 2007, during a meeting with Bulgaria's European Affairs Minister Meglena Kuneva.
"We will do everything possible for the ratification of Bulgaria's Accession Treaty by the Greek Parliament," Stylianidis said and stressed the extremely good bilateral relations between the two countries, noting that this should extend to governments, markets and society.
Kuneva thanked Greece for its assistance throughout the course of accession negotiations with the EU and asked for its support in ensuring the speedy ratification of Bulgaria accession.
They noted that cooperation will continue after Bulgaria's EU entry and reaffirmed joint plans for infrastructure projects in Bulgaria.
Also on Tuesday, a protocol for bilateral scientific cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria was signed in Sofia at the 16th meeting of the Mixed Greek-Bulgarian Committee for Cooperation in Science and Technology by Greek Ambassador to Bulgaria Prokopios Mantzouranis and Bulgarian Deputy Education Minister Kamen Belev.
This will include cooperation in researching seismic activity in the southern Balkans, the distribution of radioactive elements in Greek and Bulgarian forests, exchanges of oceanographic data and the use of biotechnology to improve crops.
 Deputy FM explains EU's positions on Middle East at Bahrain ministerial conference
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis explained the European Union's positions on the situation in the Middle East at the EU's 15th ministerial conference with the Cooperation Council of Persian Gulf countries held in Bahrain on Tuesday, according to a foreign ministry press release.
Referring to the Palestinian issue, Valinakis hailed the willingness of both sides to forge ahead to enable conditions to be created that will allow for the resumption of the peace process.
"We place great emphasis on the peace process. We once again express our commitment for a crystal-clear solution of two states. Namely, Israel and a viable and democratic Palestinian state, which will coexist peacefully and with security in the framework of an overall and effective pacification in the Middle East. The positive developments which followed the meeting of Sharm El Sheikh in February open a unique window to opportunity. Both sides must contribute to the return of a climate of trust which shall constitute a basis for mutual understanding and which shall lead to the desired agreement," he said.
Regarding the EU's contribution to the Middle East peace process, Valinakis said "overall pacification in the region not only depends on the volition of the two sides but also on support provided by the international community. Europe is ready to offer the necessary assistance and its expertise, as it has also done in the past. The European Union's contribution is considered very important for necessary reforms to be backed and for the Palestinian Authority to meet the obligations emanating from the Road Map."
Other issues discussed at the conference were the situation in Iran and Iraq and issues of common interest to the EU and the Gulf countries.
Valinakis had a meeting, on the sidelines of the conference, with Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Shaif Al Boynin and with the United Arab Emirates minister responsible for issues concerning the Gulf Countries' Cooperation Council, Sheikh Fahim Al Kasim.
 Deputy FM to visit Tel Aviv, Amman and Ramallah next week
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis will visit Tel Aviv, Amman and Ramallah next week for further consultations aimed at lifting the deadlock at the Patriarchate in Jerusalem, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.
The sources believe that in the framework of agreement on the issue between the Fanar and the Greek government, an initiative by Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos as well cannot be ruled out if he is "urged" by the Jerusalem Patriarchate.
 London does not change its position on FYROM name issue
SKOPJE 6/4/2005 (ANA/N. Frangopoulos)The British government does not intend to change its current policy regarding the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the Foreign Office announced on Tuesday. London's position is that in its bilateral contacts with FYROM and domestically, the country's constitutional name is used (Republic of Macedonia). However, in international circumstances it continues to use the temporary name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Specifically, an answer by Great Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding the report by the Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Committee for the Western Balkans (which among other things recommends to the British government to proceed in recognizing the constitutional name of FYROM), refers the following:
"The government takes into consideration the Committee's proposal. We recognize that the matter of the name remains sensitive for all the interested parties. Like other European partners of ours, the United Kingdom uses the constitutional name of Republic of Macedonia, bilaterally and domestically. However, in certain specific international circumstances, like in the framework of the United Nations, the European Union and NATO, we continue to use the temporary name, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We do not plan to change the current policy. We continue to encourage both sides to cooperate for the achievement of a mutually acceptable solution, soon."
 Justice minister asks for reopening of six disciplinary cases involving judicial corruption
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Tuesday asked that six cases that had been placed on file concerning alleged judicial corruption be reopened.
According to an announcement, the minister is empowered to make the request under article 99 of the Court and Court Functionaries Organization code and the request is addressed to the Supreme Court's Review Council, which will investigate the complaints made in the past and placed on file.
 President Papoulias' meeting with Bulgarian counterpart in Thessaloniki postponed due to attendance of Pope's funeral
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)A scheduled meeting between the Presidents of Greece and Bulgaria in Thessaloniki on Friday will not take place, due to Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias' departure for Rome to attend the Pope's funeral, it was announced on Tuesday.
According to diplomatic sources, Papoulias' meeting with Bulgarian president Georgi Purvanov -- who is also likely to attend the Pope's funeral -- has not been cancelled, but merely postponed, and will be rescheduled in the immediate future.
 Presidents of EU Regulating Authorities meeting on programs which incite racist or religious hatred
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)The presidents of the Regulating Authorities of the European Union met for the first time on March 17 following an invitation by EU Commissioner of Information Society and Media Viviane Reding, who responded to a relevant request by the Superior Radio and Television Council of France (CSA), in order for a discussion to be held on a European level on the issue of satellite programs which harm the nucleus of values and freedom of democracy due to the incitement of racist or religious hatred, according to what Greek Radio and Television Council (ESR) Vice-President Dimitris Haralambis, who represented Greece at the meeting, told journalists on Tuesday.
The reason for the CSA's request were the programs of the satellite television station of Hezbollah, Al Manar, whose program Al Shatat was "intensely racist, anti-semitic, aggressive and incited racist and religious hatred," Haralambis said.
The CSA had ceased the program, called for a hearing in early 2004 the president of the Executive Board of the Council of Eutelsat through which the station broadcast, and called for the intervention of the Paris Public Prosecutor and the Council of State of France, which gave a two-month extension to the station to change the programs.
"The two-month period was not adhered and finally in principle on the basis of the 1881 law on the freedom of expression and protection of individual rights which was completed with the provision of the 1986 law, the CSA prohibited the projection and abolished the broadcasting of the station," Haralambis said.
 Former premier Mitsotakis meets President Papoulias, comments on new taxes
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Former premier Constantine Mitsotakis, honorary president of ruling New Democracy, on Tuesday met the new President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias in order to congratulate him on his election and discuss the country's problems at home and abroad.
In statements after he emerged from the meeting, Mitsotakis referred to the new higher VAT rates imposed by the government and said the measures were absolutely necessary but not enough. According to the former premier, the problem was not with revenues but with spending and there had to be a reduction in spending by public-sector organizations.
He also stressed the need for structural changes to the labor market and real privatizations, expressing confidence that ND was up to the challenge.
Mitsotakis also revealed that he had submitted a proposal for social insurance - namely the passing of bill allowing the voluntary extension of retirement age - to the relevant ministries, saying that they had found it "interesting".
 Ecumenical Patriarch, Greek Archbishop to attend funeral of Pope John Paul II
ISTANBUL 6/4/2005 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew will personally attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II, at the head of a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Istanbul, it was announced on Tuesday.
This is the first time in history that the Patriarch represents the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the funeral of a Roman Catholic prelate, the announcement added.
Bartholomew will be accompanied by bishops of Pergamus Ioannis, Imvros and Tenedos Cyrillus and deacon Dositheos Anagnostopoulos.
The Patriarchal delegation will depart for Rome on Thursday evening and stay at The Vatican for two nights, returning to Istanbul on Saturday.
In Greece, meanwhile, it was announced that Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, the head of the Autocephalous Church of Greece, will attend the Pope's funeral at the head of a five-member delegation from the Church of Greece.
Greek alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters on Tuesday that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will visit The Vatican's diplomatic representation in Athens on Wednesday morning at 10:30 in order to express his sorrow over the death of Pope John Paul II and sign the book of condolence.
 Budget revenues jumped 11.4 pct in March, yr/yr
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Budget revenues rose by 11.4 percent in March compared with the same month last year, Finance Deputy Minister Adam Regouzas said on Tuesday, while he expressed his optimism that the government would achieve its revenue goals for the year. Tax agencies' revenues rose 7.8 percent in March, customs' revenues jumped 18.6 percent, while VAT revenues rose compared with the same month in 2004. Improved figures in March helped first quarter revenue growth rise to 5.3 percent, down from a 7.2 percent growth rate for the year. Regouzas attributed this improved trend to positive results in tax agencies' activities and improved market conditions. The Greek minister said that raising public revenues were a priority for the ministry and announced stricter inspections in the market. Regouzas reiterated the government would introduce a VAT on new buildings from 2006 and announced that a capital repatriation program has resulted to the inflow of 555.3 million euros so far.
 Gov't tax measures necessary, Greek industrialist says
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)The inability of previous governments to cut public spending, a huge state and a public debt have led to a package of measures, which include tax rises and will affect inflation in the country, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, president of the Greek Industries' Union said on Tuesday.
Commenting on a package of tax measures announced by the government, the Greek industrialist said the media and some unions were over blowing the dimensions of the package creating inflationary expectations in the country. "We must define the state, the social benefits and the increases we want to determine the country's future," Kyriakopoulos told reporters.
Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Tuesday announced drastic cuts in spending by all organizations supervised by the ministry. Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Liapis said they agreed on "cutbacks" in all organizations' finances. The Greek minister said the meeting did not discuss the future of Olympic Airlines.
ND honorary president Constantinos Mitsotakis described the government measures as necessary but inadequate. Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Mitsotakis said the measures were of last resort but inadequate and added the problem was not to raise state revenues but to cut spending.
 Greek employers reject calls for renegotiating labor agreement
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Kyriakopoulos categorically rejected calls by GSEE, the country's largest union umbrella, for renegotiating a collective labor agreement following a government decision to raise VAT factors, saying the agreement was not reviewed even when the government raise tax-exempt levels for low incomes.
The Greek industrialist said the collective labor agreement was valid until the end of 2005 and that negotiations over next year's agreement would begin in autumn. He noted that negotiations would be tough and added that this year's wage increases were real, two percentage points above inflation and exceeding wage increases in the European Union.
Kyriakopoulos expressed doubts over an existing status of collective labor agreements in Greece, saying that an international trend was for each enterprise to opt for pay rises to its workers, while he noted that wage levels according to a collective agreement were high and that domestic companies often could not afford the burden.
He stressed that a collective labor agreement policy has ensured labor peace in the last 15 years in Greece. Kyriakopoulos urged that public sector enterprises, operating as monopolies, to absorb higher VAT factors.
The Greek industrialist said government measures were mild, noting they were "as mild as they can be", adding that the business world wanted a government with a clear strategy and ready to take action.
Dimitris Daskalopoulos, president of the Union of Greek Food Industries, admitted mistakes were made to timely brief consumers over food quality problems, although he stressed that quality of food products was inspected on a daily basis by both companies and a food inspection agency.
 Greek honey production free of any problems in 2005
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Greek honey production this year will be free of any problems with a chemical substance found in previous years, honey producers told Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou in a meeting on Tuesday and stressed that honey production from 2004 experienced minor problems with chemical substances.
Representatives of honey producers' unions said producers around the country were withdrawing all honey quantities found with chemical substances exceeding accepted levels, along with processing companies and supermarkets.
The Greek minister said that Greek honey maintained its high quality and urged for actions to protecting Greek honey production.
Greece and Bulgaria sign scientific cooperation protocol SOFIA 6/4/2005 (M.Borisov)
The two-day 16th conference of the Joint Greek-Bulgarian Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation came to a close here on Tuesday with the signing of a Cooperation Protocol.
The bilateral cooperation agreement was signed by Greek Ambassador Prokopios Mantzouranis and Bulgarian Deputy Education and Religious Affairs Minister Kamen Velev.
The mutual influence of the seismogenic centers in the southern Balkans, the distribution of radioactive kesium in the forestry systems of Greece and Bulgaria and the exchange of oceanographic data on the eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea are some of the issues which the Greek and Bulgarian scientists will cooperate in during the period 2005-2007.
Included in the two-year cooperation program will be the implementation of advanced biotechnologies for the improvement of the quality of pepper, vineyards and various other agricultural produce, joint research in the sector of new materials, of transport and telecommunications.
 Aegean minister holds talks with representatives of Malta and Cyprus on Structural Funds
BRUSSELS 6/4/2005 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis held talks here on Tuesday with representatives of Malta and Cyprus aimed at planning coordinated moves on the regulations of the Structural Funds.
In statements, Pavlidis said that the aim of the Greek authorities is on the one hand for the islands to constitute a criterion of the Structural Funds for the period 2007-2013 and on the other, for the member-states to have the right to give to the island regions higher state support than those given to the remaining regions of the country.
Furthermore, the Aegean and Island Policy minister stressed that the recognition should be strengthened of the particularity of the island regions, both in the European Constitution as well as in the plans of the regulations of the Structural Funds. He noted that the inhabitants of Europe's island regions reach 11.5 million.
 Greek consumers favor shopping centers
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)One in two Greek consumers opts for new larger shopping centers, a survey by Prognosis over consumers' views on shopping malls showed on Tuesday. According to the survey, one in two consumers (50%) said it was necessary to build more shopping centers in the country, with the rate higher in Thessaloniki (54%). Security and protection for visitors are the main preconditions for the "ideal" shopping centre, followed by easy access and weatherproof conditions. The vast majority of Greek consumers (84%) agreed that a large shopping and entertainment centre was a good destination for coffee, drink, food and shopping for families and friends, while 77 percent of surveyed people said large shopping malls offered a nice environment and a more effective use of time for consumers. A 76 percent of consumers said shopping centers offered a wide range of products with good prices, while 52 percent said shopping centers promoted competition in prices. Greek consumers said multi-purpose stores, coffee, drink, food, were necessary for a large shopping centre (70%), followed by cinema theatres (44%), restaurants (35%), fast-foods (27%), self-service restaurants (26%), bowling, billiards and electronic games (22%), beer bars (21%), bars and clubs (20%).
 Two Greek companies win the gold at European media conference
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Multichoice Hellas SA, pay TV services provider and Mega TV, one of the major television networks in the country, were the two Greek companies to win distinctions at the 9th Annual Promax & BDA Europe conference, which represents the best in promotion, marketing and broadcast design campaigns.
In a special awards ceremony, held in Athens on Tuesday, the winners - out of a total of 1,800 submissions in 44 categories -were announced.
Specifically, Multichoice Hellas SA won the gold in the Best Subscription Promo category for its Nova Subscription Promo Runaway TV.
In the PSA (Public Service Announcement) Challenge, a distinction that is separate from the 44 categories, three companies - Mega TV, Zone Vision Network of the UK and Multicanal of Spain - were called upon by conference organizers to produce a spot on behalf of ActionAid, the charity organization dedicated to fighting poverty in Africa.
The three spots were shown to conference attendees during Tuesday's morning session, who then voted, choosing Mega TV as the gold winner.
Speaking about the campaign and ActionAid's work, Panos Kokkidis Head of Mega TV's On-Air Promotion, said: "Poverty is not just a problem of Western civilization." According to Kokkidis, colonolisation is what brought poverty to the African continent. "It is difficult for them to develop their own civilization after only about 50 years of independence, so they try to solve their problems as best they can and whichever way they know how. (...) We feel guilty and that's why we try to help them. We feel responsible for their pain," he added. "It is our hope this spot will help educate people to the issues and be a big help to create awareness and move people to action," Kokkidis concluded.
The spot itself sends a strong message. The PSA opens resembling the beginning of the reality show "Survivor" but then shows the problems people in Africa deal with on a daily basis, underscoring the fact that the reality show in the Western world is the real-life reality in Africa.
"We hold the PSA Challenge every year, it is very important for us. It is a statement," Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Promax & BDA EMEA Carmen Alzner said. The objective is to help charity organizations in two ways: by producing a spot they cannot afford to do themselves and to distribute it to Promax & BDA members in order to generate as much air time as possible, she explained.
The three spots will be made available to broadcasters to air worldwide.
Other winners at the Promax & BDA Europe Awards, included AETN International from the US, which won the gold for Best Television Image Campaign ("Know Where You Stand"), while TVE in Spain collected the gold for Best Television Image Promo ("Reality TV-Shoot Out"). Also from Spain, AXN won two gold awards for its "The Rhythym of Action" in two categories: Best Use of Custom-Made/Composed Music/Sound Design and Best Editing.
BBC Broadcast won a total of 13 awards (10 gold and 3 silver) in various categories, while BskyB picked up nine awards (5 gold and 4 silver).
According to Alzner, Promax & BDA have noticed that hosting a conference in a particular city tends to increase the number of participants from that country in following conferences. Asked whether she expected the same to hold true in the case of Greece, her response was, "I hope so. That is my wish."
 Greece lagging in infotech, sector firms say
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)The Association of Infotech and Communications Enterprises of Greece (SEPE) said on Tuesday that Greece was lagging in the use of information and communications technology, calling on the government to accelerate its information society program.
In a statement released after a meeting with the prime minister, SEPE president Spyros Byzantios said that a national strategy was needed for the sector, including concrete commitments and a timescale.
 Supermarket trade group to appeal cartel fine from regulatory authorities
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)The SESME supermarket trade group said on Tuesday that it would seek in an administrative appeals court reversal of a ruling by regulatory authorities imposing a fine for concerting retail prices in a cartel arrangement.
On Friday, the competition commission charged SESME and seven of its members with joining forces to concert pricing in 2001.
The commission named the offenders as Athens-quoted Atlantik, Veropoulos, Masoutis, Metro, Sklavenitis, Trofino and Athens-listed AB Vassilopoulos.
SESME said in a statement that the commission's decision failed to take into account evidence supplied by the trade group that no wrongdoing had been committed.
It also complained that the commission had announced its decision in a press release, without first informing the parties involved.
 Greek mutual funds' assets fell 2.2 percent in March
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Greece's mutual funds market's assets totalled 31.15 billion euros at the end of March, down 691 million euros or 2.2 percent from the previous month, for a drop of 467 million euros or 1.5 percent since the start of the year, official figures showed on Tuesday.
A monthly report by the Union of Institutional Investors said that the number of mutual funds operating in the country rose to 258 in March, from 257 in February.
The sector recorded a net outflow of 152 million euros in March. The foreign bond, domestic bond and foreign money market categories recorded significant cash inflows in March, while the domestic money market and domestic equity categories recorded the biggest monthly cash outflows.
 Stocks surge in blue-chip buying
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher with players buying heavily into high capitalization paper, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,961.66 points, marking a rise of 1.77%. Turnover was 191.1 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 2.08% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.24% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.22% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 171 to 95 with 70 remaining unchanged.
 Greek motorship 'Philippos K.' and eight-member Greek crew finally located
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)The Greek motorship "Philippos K.", manned by an eight-member Greek crew, which was reported missing to the Merchant Marine Ministry by the Piraeus-based shipping company Litmar Shipping on Tuesday morning, was finally located late afternoon. It is sailing in the sea region of Ierapetra in Crete and all is well.
The captain of the small motorship communicated late afternoon with the Operations Chamber of the Merchant Marine Ministry and assured its officers that all the crew are well in health and that the vessel was sailing safely towards its final destination which is Zakynthos island.
The ship was bound for Zakynthos carrying a cargo of 1,450 tones of loose concrete and sailing 95 nautical miles northwest of Alexandria when last heard from on Sunday, April 3.
It was last seen when it crossed paths with the motorship "Alpha Gemini" off the shores of Alexandria and asked to be informed about prevailing weather conditions.
According to the skipper of the "Alpha Gemini", however, the motorship appeared to be sailing in the wrong direction - heading back toward Alexandria instead of its destination in Greece - at the time when the two ships intersected.
The ship owner said the "Philippos K." reported its position to the central offices in Piraeus every two days and has failed to report in since Sunday afternoon.
 New York's 'National Herald' celebrates 90th anniversary as Greek-American daily
NEW YORK 6/4/2005 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)New York City's Greek-American community newspaper 'The National Herald' celebrated its 90th anniversary as the Greek community's daily during the last weekend. Messages from political and religious leaders praising the newspaper valuable role in preserving the Greek community's language, culture and historical identity poured in from Greece, Cyprus but also from New York itself.
Among them were messages from Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, the leader of the Greek main opposition party PASOK, George Papandreou, New York Governor George Pataki and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg also declared April 2, 2005 as "National Herald Day" in NYC.
The 'National Herald' - or 'Ethnikos Kyrikas' in Greek - is published as a daily in Greek and as a weekly in English. It was established in 1915 and is the oldest Greek-American daily newspaper in the United States.
 New York Mayor holds reception for Greek Independence Day anniversary, praises Athens
NEW YORK 6/4/2005 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg held a reception at the NYC mayor's residence in honor of the March 25 Greek Independence Day anniversary.
During the reception, which was held on Monday night, Bloomberg said he had been impressed by Athens and its beautiful vistas of the Acropolis when he had visited the city in the summer of 2004, during the Olympic Games.
Also present at the reception were the permanent representatives of Greece and Cyprus at the United Nations, ambassadors Adamantios Vasilakis and Andreas Mavrogiannis, respectively, as well as the general consuls Ekaterini Boura and Martha Mavrommati, municipal and state officials and members of the Greek-American expatriate community.
New York's big Greek parade will take place next Sunday, April 10, down Manhattan's 5th Avenue.
 Attica bishop appears before Holy Synod to answer over offshore holdings, deposits
Athens, 6/4/2005 (ANA)The Church of Greece Permanent Holy Synod has been in session since early on Tuesday morning, hearing testimony from Attica Metropolitan Panteleimon concerning allegations of unusually large bank deposits in his name and his participation in an offshore company.
A metropolitan is a rank in Orthodox church roughly equivalent to that of a bishop.
 Signing of protocol also means implementation, says Cyprus government
NICOSIA 6/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)The signing by Turkey of the protocol expanding its customs union agreement with the ten new EU member-states, including Cyprus, also provides for implementation of the protocol and this has been confirmed by the European Commission officials, said here Tuesday Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.
The spokesman was invited to comment press reports suggesting that Germany is promoting a formula providing for an extension of at least one year of the protocol's implementation after Turkey signs it.
Chrysostomides repeated the government position that ''the signing of the protocol also means implementation'', adding ''this was confirmed by the European Commission with statements by its officials''.
The Cypriot official said he did not want to further discuss the issue, in anticipation of further developments. ''Turkey has yet to sign the protocol'', he noted.
Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus' northern part since they invaded in 1974, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus and has said that its announcement that it will sign the protocol extending its customs union agreement to all ten new EU members, including Cyprus, does not signify recognition of the Cyprus Republic.