|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-07-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>July5, 2005
 Gov't comments on press reports concerning EU demands for 'primary shareholder' bill
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday stressed that a report appearing in the Greek newspaper "To Vima" concerning the European Commission's demands over the "primary shareholder" bill should not be "taken out of context".
He was referring to a letter from Commission official Dr. Alexander Schaub, director-general of Internal Markets and Services, that was reproduced in the newspaper article. In the letter, Schaub said that the Commission was not prepared to accept any law that executed the relevant articles in the Greek Constitution.
Roussopoulos said that the text formed part of the ongoing discussion between the Greek government and the Commission on the contents of the bill and that this was sometimes carried out in writing and sometimes through meetings of officials, such as a meeting of experts that took place on May 26-27.
"There is an effort to find a common ground. In a process of negotiation there are viewpoints from both the one side and the other side. To look at this text out of context would lead one to the wrong conclusions," the spokesman stressed.
"Until the negotiation process comes to an end, it will not be commented on by the Greek side," Roussopoulos added.
He also denied that the government was putting EU funds before national sovereignty.
"In no instance does one subjugate one's national independence or sovereignty to any kind of interest and this is a policy followed, fortunately, by all governments of this land," he under-lined.
At the same time, the spokesman said the government would make every effort to ensure that funds were not lost.
In answer to other questions, Roussopoulos said that the European Commission had asked to be informed about the government's intentions with respect to the previous law executing the Constitution passed by PASOK within five days.
He also rejected suggestions that the government was not "taking advantage of consensus offered by the main opposition" on this issue, saying that PASOK's proposals had been vague and general and did not address the heart of the matter.
The European Commission has raised objections to two acts of legislation, one passed by a PASOK government in 2002 and one passed by the present government in 2005, that implement an article of the Greek Constitution that limits the rights of owners of mass media enterprises to undertake public-sector contracts. These are designed to prevent the media from exerting undue influence on the award of state contracts and also extend to the next of kin of people owning up to 1 per cent of a media enterprise.
Both laws were judged incompatible with fundamental European directives and treaties by the European Commission, which has threatened to cut off EU funding in all cases where the law may have affected the outcome of tenders and to refer Greece to the European Court of Justice.
The government had temporarily postponed the implementation of the 2005 bill while it negotiates a "common ground" with the EU, leaving the previous PASOK law in force by default.
 Greece and Russia's Rosoboronexport sign amended contract for TOR-M1 missiles
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)The Greek state and Rosoboronexport, a Russian state exporter of defense equipment, on Monday signed an amended contract for offset benefits linked to the Russian-made TOR-M1 missiles and for linking the anti-aircraft missile system with the overall air defense system of the country.
Present at the signing of the amended contract were Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos, the general secretary of Economic Planning and Defense Investments General Secretariat and the Russian Ambassador to Athens.
An announcement put out by the defense ministry stressed that the present "contractual structure bears absolutely no relation to the contractual weaknesses of the initial contract, which resulted in matters remaining outstanding long term and in developments harmful for Greek interests."
It also notes that the amended agreement was necessary to settle the outstanding problems and was achieved after dogged negotiations, stressing that the Greek side retained all rights under the amended agreement and would also receive bank guarantees to ensure the Russian company fulfilled its own end of the deal.
According to earlier reports, Rosoboronexport will submit a letter of guarantee from the Russian Vnesheconombank bank worth 4.68 million dollars. It has also undertaken to complete the linking of the TOR-M1s with the country's Unified Air Defense System and make the system compatible with the S-300 PMU-1 system over a period of six moths.
Components and spare parts for this project, which have arrived at Athens airport months ago, will be received by the Greek side after the final signing of the main agreement's new amendments.
The credit value of offset benefits will increase from 857 million dollars to 1.33 billion dollars.
 Dates for PM Karamanlis' visit to Ankara to be set later
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will visit Ankara a date that would be announced later, government spokesman Theodoros Moutsopoulos said Monday.
Replying to questions during a regular press briefing, Roussopoulos also said that "nothing new arose" on the Cyprus issue during Karamanlis' discussion with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday in Evros, where the two prime inaugurated construction of the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline.
 PM to chair meetings of the cabinet on Tuesday
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will chair a meeting of the inner cabinet on Tuesday morning at 10:30 that will discuss issues concerning repatriated Greeks, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.
This will be followed by a meeting at noon of the entire cabinet, again chaired by Karamanlis, which will discuss proposals for energy policy presented by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and for proposals for promotions in the higher courts of the country by Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras.
 FM Molyviatis briefs President Papoulias on foreign policy matters
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Monday received foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, who briefed him on recent developments and prospects in the country's main foreign policy issues.
According to sources, among the topics discussed were Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' meeting Sunday evening with his Turkish counterpart Recept Tayyip Erdogan, and Greece's assumption of the rotating UN Security Council presidency for the month of July.
 PASOK party leader addresses Romanian Socialist Party's event
Bucharest, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Monday expressed support for the Socialist Party of Romania, addressing an event held by the party in Bucharest and calling on voters to bring the party of Mircea Geoana to power in the country so as to enable them, in view of European accession, to benefit "more from this possibility and from the new opportunities being provided."
Papandreou said "it is different when the government is a Social Democrat one and it is different when the government is a conservative one", adding that "it is different when you have a government wishing to modernize administration and it is different when you have a government wishing to have control over administration."
The PASOK party leader began his address by stressing the importance of Europe for peace in southeastern Europe, democracy, conditions of work, social welfare, education, solidarity and protection of the environment. But he pointed out, however, that work is necessary to achieve these targets and made an account of political conditions existing during Greece's accession to unified Europe.
 'No' in Cyprus Annan plan referendum did not lead to disaster, Communist Party leader says
NICOSIA, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said on Monday "that many are those who have realized that the 'no' by the Greek Cypriots (in the referendum held) to the Annan plan was not divisive, but a viable and workable solution to the issue of Cyprus was sought by this."
Papariga was speaking to the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation following talks with President Tassos Papadopoulos and House of Representatives Speaker Dimitris Christofias.
Talk of disaster prevailing the day after the referendum did not come true, Papariga said. She added that, on the contrary, the situation was better since the 'no' made "many people skeptical, while all this time an effort is being made to highlight all the problems contained in the Annan plan".
The Communist Party leader pointed out, however, that there are some who "are opposed to a just solution to the Cyprus issue and their position will in no way change."
Papariga is in Cyprus to address a conference on women's problems.
 No question of vested interests in awarding of projects, public works minister says
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias said on Monday, in reply to press reports giving specific interpretations to statements made in Parliament by main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, that there was no question of vested interests in awarding projects.
"I personally have no need to prove that I don't have the slightest relation with the serving of interests. However, I must state that there is no question of vested interests in the awarding of projects today at the ministry I am in charge of. It was the issue we raised with absolute priority as soon as we assumed our duties and we are proud of the results we have already achieved. Let Mr. Papandreou know that the public works ministry is not suitable today for his political tactic," Souflias said.
 Greek Bar Association president's plenum criticizes money laundering draft law
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)The plenum of Greek Bar Association presidents convened in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on July 2-3 and examined, among other matters, the draft law on "money laundering" with which the harmonization of Greek legislation with the European Union's 2nd directive is being attempted and expressed absolute opposition to both the directive and the draft law.
The plenum said they harm the fundamental rights of citizens, which are absolute and inviolable, and revoke the guaranteeing of a fair trial, the right of the defendant to choose his lawyer and the lawyer's corresponding obligation to provide "faith-fully" and "honorably" his services.
It added that with the "unprecedented and unbelievable arrangements proposed", the institutional role of the lawyer "is cancelled, as well as the traditions of the lawyers' function which wants lawyers to be the haven of every citizen".
 Greek MEP writes to BBC, asks that BBC's Greek service continue broadcasting
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Greek MEP Manolis Mavrommatis has written to BBC chairman Michael Grade to express concern over rumors that the BBC intends to scrap BBC world service in Greek, which has been going out for the past 60 years, it was reported on Monday.
Mavrommatis, a Euro-deputy for ruling New Democracy, noted that such a decision would be a "serious blow to Greeks everywhere, who have grown up with the free voice, particularly of the radio, in difficult times when news and information were a breath of hope in most countries of Europe."
He also pointed out that the rumors were causing great concern among the Greek service's staff and asked Grade to both continue the Greek service broadcasts and to inform staff of this decision.
 Gov't to rapidly proceed with economic structural reforms
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)The Greek government is poised to proceed rapidly with needed structural reforms in the economy. Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, this week, is expected to send a letter to all interested parties seeking to begin a dialogue over labor relations, while Development ministry on Thursday will table a draft law envisaging the extension of shopping hours around the country.
ND former leader Miltiades Evert, in an interview to an Athens daily newspaper on Monday, expressed his opposition to a planned reform of the pension system and stressed this was not an immediate problem.
Workers in Thessaloniki's retail shops will stage a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, 6 July, and a protest rally in Thessaloniki centre, protesting against a government-sponsored draft legislation seeking to expand shopping hours. Workers' demand include a single shopping hours system with a working week no more than 48 hours, with three afternoons closed, and the withdrawal of the draft legislation.
 Gov't sees private initiative as tool for growth
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday that private initiative was the tool for healthy growth in the economy, which, in turn, would help to create jobs and solve social problems.
The government's model for growth centered on business activity, an outward-looking approach and competitiveness, the minister told an awards ceremony of the Athens Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
Aiding conditions for growth were laws aimed at spurring investment and joint ventures between the private and public sectors, and improving the tax system, he said.
"The new investment law has gained acceptance from enterprises as it is simple, intelligible and functional, and it lays great emphasis on investment plans that made use of the economy's relative advantages and the new technology," Alogoskoufis noted.
By July 1, his ministry had received 229 investment plans totalling 518.8 million euros of which 60 had so far been approved worth 109.2 million euros.
Also involved were speeding up work under the European Union's Third Community Support Framework package of funds and the national growth plan for 2007-2013, the minister added.
 Government insists on observation of current budget, government spokesman says
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday referred to the presentation of a report by the OECD on Thursday, in reply to a question on a press report regarding information on the Greek economy contained in the OECD's report.
"The government is focusing its attention with insistence and stability on the observation of the current budget and the implementation of the stability program, which anticipates a reduction in the deficit to below 3 percent at the end of 2006. The government's basic option for the reduction of the deficit is the rationalization of expenditures and a decrease in extravagance in the wider public sector," Roussopoulos said.
 Main opposition sees new gov't tax offensive starting soon
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PA-SOK) forecast on Monday that the government was preparing to launch a new tax offensive on wages.
PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanasakis said in a statement that revenue was down while spending had not been contained.
In addition, the government had declined to state whether new economic measures would be taken in the autumn but appeared to be paving the way for such moves, which it would misleadingly call "adjustment", Athanasakis said.
The country's borrowing totalled 28 billion euros in the first half of 2005, and the public debt had soared, he noted.
In addition, borrowing for the whole of 2005 was continually being revised, the spokesman added.
 Tourism minister optimistic Greek tourism has overcome stabilization stage
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Tourist Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos appeared optimistic that Greek tourism has overcome the difficult stabilization stage and is entering the stage of development, both during the National Tourism Council's 2nd meeting held in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, and during the ensuing press conference.
Invoking predictions by the National Bank of Greece and the World Tourism Council, he said that this year an increase of tourism in the region of 7 to 11 percent is expected. As regards charter flights, a 40 percent increase has been estimated, while the number of cruises is expected to more than double.
The minister further said that messages coming from both traditional and new markets are positive and made the assessment that the increase in the number of tourists from the United States, as well as from Russia, will be particularly great and the number of tourists from China is expected to be considerable as from the next tourist period.
 Gov't says longer shopping hours to create new jobs
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Monday that longer shopping hours would create new jobs, beyond benefiting business and consumers.
Countering criticism by trade groups, Papathanasiou also noted that smaller retail outlets traditionally maintaining longer opening hours had stayed in business.
As examples, he cited neighborhood kiosks, flower shops, and small goods stores.
The Federation of Private Employees of Greece and the Athens Labor Centre each announced on Monday that their members would stage a 24-hour strike in the commerce sector on Wednesday, saying the government's plans would hurt small- and medium-sized enterprises.
 Gov't simplifies red tape for farm investment
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said on Monday that a simplification of procedures for farm investment had been endorsed by the government, sharply reducing the timed needed to secure approval.
The move, which focuses on agricultural improvement plans, includes abolition of a 120-day preliminary approval stage, the minister said.
 PASOK party spokesman calls for removal of Public Power Corporation's president
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Monday called for the removal of the Public Power Corporation's (DEH) president Ioannis Paleokrassas, following a court ruling acquitting the corporation's previous administration against which Paleokrassas had turned.
Athanassakis said all the members of DEH's current administration placed themselves against Paleokrassas's case in court, while the arguments of the development ministry were contrary to those of Paleokrassas.
The PASOK party's spokesman said that Paleokrassas should have resigned as of last Thursday, when the decision was issued, or he should have been replaced by the government.
 Greek apparel prices slightly down on European average in 2003
BRUSSELS, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Greek apparel and footwear prices were slightly lower than the European average in 2003, the EU's statistics agency said in a sector report on Monday.
The Eurostat survey covered 285 products in 31 countries - the EU's 25 members, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, which are members of the free trade zone.
The most inexpensive item in Greece was menswear; and the most expensive, children's clothes and footwear.
Greece, Portugal and Slovenia were at 95% of the EU price average, above France (93%), the United Kingdom (90%) and the Netherlands (89%).
Among EU members, the lowest prices were found in Poland (78%) and the highest in Sweden (114%), according to the survey.
 FYROM gov't annuls tender won by Veropoulos
SKOPJE, 5/7/2005 (ANA/N Frangopoulos)The government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Monday annulled a tender for the sale of a piece of land that was won by Greece's Veropoulos supermarket chain.
The tender will be called afresh due to irregularities in the way it was conducted that may have led to an unfair tender outcome, FYROM's cabinet said.
 Greek stocks ease 0.33 pct on Monday
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Greek stocks eased on Monday as investors found little new reasons to buy in the market. The composite index fell 0.33 percent to end at 3,063.45 points with turnover a moderate 168 million euros.
The Textiles (4.05 pct), Construction (2.22 pct), Publications (1.66 pct) and IT (1.22 pct) indices suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while the IT Solutions (2.45 pct), Minerals-Cement (0.59 pct), Wholesale (0.30 pct) and Investment (0.22 pct) indices scored the biggest percentage gains.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.17 pct, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 2.06 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 1.01 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 190 to 79 with another 57 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Alpha Bank top in stock futures trade
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers
Foreign Exchange Rates: Tuesday
U.S. dollar 1.198
 Doctors making superhuman effort to save girl found almost dead in swimming pool
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Doctors are making a superhuman effort to keep at least one of two little girls found half dead in a swimming pool in a home at Ano Liosia, north of Athens, at 4 p.m. on Monday alive.
According to reports from the Thriasios Hospital where the two girls, aged about 10, were taken their vital organs were not functioning on arrival at the hospital.
Doctors, who were awaiting the arrival of the ambulance bringing the girls, set about immediately to revive their cardiac and respiratory revitalization, but did not succeed in reviving one of them.
The second girl, according to reports, resumed cardiac activity but was reported in a critical condition. It was attached to a life support machine and taken to an intensive care ward at a children's hospital where the struggle to keep it alive will continue.
The accident occurred when the two girls, together with a third little girl, were playing at a fountain near the house and then decided to continue playing in the swimming pool. The house belongs to a couple of lawyers who are away on holiday and have left their home locked.
 Athens tops list of European cities using "clean buses"
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)OASA, the Athens Bus Transport Organization, on Monday received 121 new so-called "clean buses" using natural gas as fuel, raising the total number of this category of buses to 416 currently in use in Athens, ranking the Greek capital to the top of European cities using natural gas buses.
Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis, attending the delivery ceremony, announced a plan to supply OASA with 520 new buses using low-emission technology Euro 3 and 4, raising its fleet to 2,600 new buses. The ministry also plans upgrading the organization's infrastructure, with the building of new depot stations around Attica.
 Greek pianist Dora Bakopoulou a hit at Lugano Festival playing Hatzidakis
Lugano , 5/7/2005 (ANA)Greek pianist Dora Bakopoulou, considered one of the foremost pianists in the country, took the Lugano Festival in Switzerland by storm with her rendition of Manos Hatzidakis' "Alexander the Great and the Serpent".
Appearing on Saturday, considered the most prestigious day of the festival, Bakopoulou was well received during performances of classical music by Mozart, Schumann, and Chopin. But it was only when she launched into the lyrical music of Hatzidakis, the words of which were also available in translation, that she really grabbed the attention of the audience and closed to warm applause.
Her performance was well reviewed by the Swiss press, who praised it as "rare music of sensitivity".
 Over 18 air forces to participate in Greek Air Force's first international air show in September
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)Visitors to the Greek Air Force General Staff's first international air show, to be held between September 6-18 in honor of its Patron Saint Archangel Michael, will have the opportunity of admiring the latest technology in the sector of aerospace.
A total of 18 foreign air forces and 12 companies have already declared participation in the show, titled "Archangel", while a total of 170 Greek and foreign aircraft and helicopters are expected to participate in the event.
Celebrations will begin on September 6 with a display by the British Royal Air Force's acrobatic squadron, known as the Red Arrows, at the Flisvos beach in the municipality of Paleo Faliro. The Red Arrows will also be flying over Athens.
 Interior ministry circular increases public-sector transactions processed by KEP centers
Athens, 5/7/2005 (ANA)A circular issued by the interior ministry on Monday cleared up previous ambiguities concerning the number and type of public-sector transactions that can be carried out by Citizens Service Centers (KEP) and alerted ministries, regional authorities and KEP centers to changes in the law.
In addition, it abolishes the need for redundant documents certifying that a signature is genuine when the party appears in person to carry out transactions and, for the first time ever, it gives public sector services the right to certify as genuine copies of private documents or documents issued by foreign authorities. This right also extends to copies made from other copies of original documents, provided the latter have been certified as genuine by either a lawyer or a foreign issuing authority.
The ministry also notes that all public services are obliged to carry out the above transactions and that they can all be carried out at all KEP centers.
The circular notes that an amendment passed with bill 3345/2005 adds the phrase "or KEP centers" to the previous bill of 1999 has cleared up previous ambiguities, which had led certain public sector services to refuse to accept documents certifying the genuineness of signatures issued by KEP centers. Effectively, this confirms that KEP centers are empowered to carry out all the above transactions, greatly reducing inconvenience for the public and the time needed to issue state documents.
Finally, it instructs ministries and regional authorities to notify all public sector bodies of the circular, including all levels of local government.
 Cyprus President signs law ratifying EU Constitutional Treaty
NICOSIA, 5/7/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has signed the law ratifying the EU Constitutional Treaty, approved last week by the Cyprus House of Representatives.
Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said President Papadopoulos has already sent letters to all EU heads of states and governments and to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliament President Josep Borrell and EU High Commissioner for Common Foreign Policy and Security Policy Xavier Solana.
 Government says changes to Annan Plan during negotiations
NICOSIA, 5/7/2005 (CNA/ANA)Changes to the Cyprus settlement plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will take place during the negotiations on the Cyprus problem, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Monday, noting that the Greek Cypriot side's policy regarding the Cyprus problem has not changed.
Responding to questions on a statement made by President Tassos Papadopoulos that the Annan Plan may provide the basis for a new round of talks, after it has been substantially improved and amended, the spokesman said that the UN sponsored solution plan is the basis for negotiations as long as the right preparations are made.
 British EU presidency to be impartial, says High Commissioner
NICOSIA, 5/7/2005 (CNA/ANA)Britain, which holds the European Union's rotating Presidency as of July 1, is willing to play every role supporting the United Nations efforts to bring about a solution to the Cyprus problem, new British High Commissioner to Cyprus Peter Millett has said, adding that the British Presidency will be impartial.
Speaking to a press briefing on the British Presidency's priorities, Millett expressed hope that both in the framework of the presidency and with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos' visit to London at the end of the month there will a fresh start in the bilateral relations of the two countries on a positive and constructive basis, adding that this is the purpose of his term as the British High Commissioner to Cyprus.