|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-07-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>July 8, 2005
 Greece sends condolences, condemns terrorist attacks in London
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis conveyed his condolences to British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday afternoon, hours after multiple bomb attacks struck a London underground train and several city buses.
"It was with sorrow and repulsion that I was informed of today's (Thursday) terrorist attacks in London. On the part of the government and the Greek people, I would like to express my deepest condolences.
"This act of blind violence also underlines the fact that the specter of international terrorism remains alive. Our commitment, however, to effectively deal with this common threat continues to remain strong.
"Our thoughts are with the families of the victims," the prime minister's message read.
President Papoulias and Parliament President express condolences over British attacks: President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias expressed his condolences to Queen Elizabeth II over the terrorist attacks that occurred in London earlier on Thursday.
"I would like to personally express my condolences to you and to convey the Greek people's support towards your country and towards the families of the victims," Papoulias said.
Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki expressed her condolences in a telegram sent to British House of Commons Speaker Michael J. Martin.
"On behalf of the Greek Parliament I would like to express my sincere condolences for the tragic loss caused by today's terrorist attacks in London, and would also like to express our solidarity to the British people," she wrote.
"Greek Parliament and the Greek people fully condemn these terrorist acts which aim to destabilize democratic institutions and to undermine our common human principles," she concluded.
FM expresses condolences over terrorist attacks in London: Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis sent a letter of condolence to his British counterpart Jack Straw over the blasts that rocked London earlier on Thursday.
"I feel devastated and deeply saddened by the abominable terrorist attacks that occurred in London today and which led to the loss of our innocent fellowmen," Molyviatis wrote.
"I would like to express my deepest sympathy and my sincere condolences to the families of the victims of these terrible acts.
As you know, we all condemn terrorism in every form, unequivocally, regardless of origin, reasons or motives," Molyviatis concluded.
The minister sent his telegram of condolence from Moscow where he is currently on a working visit.
Government spokesman, Athens mayor condemn London terrorist attacks: Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday condemned the terrorist attacks occurring in London earlier in the day.
"The government expresses its profound sorrow over the heinous terrorist attacks in London and its support to the families of the victims," he said.
Roussopoulos added that "fanaticism and blind force cannot and will not yield the determination of all of us to defend the principles and values on which democracy is built."
Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyiannis addressed a message of sympathy to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on hearing of the terrorist attacks in London.
"I condemn the heinous acts of terrorism in the centre of London, which shocked me as they did the entire Greek people. I am expressing to you my sincere support on behalf of the citizens of Athens," she said in her message.
"Having the experience of loss from a terrorist attack, I am sharing with you exactly the same feelings. I request from you to convey my sincere condolences to the families of the victims. The people of Athens are standing by you at these hours of trial and we are praying with you for the British nation," Bakoyiannis added.
The Athens mayor also addressed similar messages to London Mayor Ken Livingstone and to Alderman Michael Savory of London's City.
In another development, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party also condemned the terrorist attacks in London which hit unsuspecting and innocent citizens and expressed its undivided solidarity to the families of the victims, the injured and the British people.
"We condemn such acts unequivocally. They have nothing common with liberation visions and the struggles of peoples for their independence and rights. On the contrary, they strengthen the options of force and suppression of the dominant forces," the message said, among other things.
The Coalition party concluded its announcement by saying "we must intensify our struggles in a coordinated manner, all the peoples of Europe and of the world, to have the causes fuelling terrorism uprooted."
 Government on explosions in London buses, underground
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday said the government was not yet in a position to comment on the tragic events in London, since news and information concerning explosions in buses and the London underground early in the day were still pouring in.
Asked if the Greek government was considering the issue of a travel advisory for Greek citizens wishing to visit Britain, the spokesman referred reporters to the foreign ministry but pointed out that it was not a normal practice for Greece to issue such advisories.
Government officials also noted that Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis had contacted the Greek ambassador to London and that the General Secretariat of Information and Communication was in constant contact with the Greek Embassy's press office in London in order to ascertain whether any Greeks were among the injured or dead.
"This phase is premature for drawing reliable conclusions," an official noted, while adding that the majority of Greek students studying in London have already left the city in July.
The Greek foreign ministry announced that Greek diplomatic representations in Britain immediately contacted British authorities following the lethal bombings.
 PASOK party condemns heinous terrorist act in London
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)PASOK condemns the heinous and barbaric terrorist act in London, the main opposition party's leader George Papandreou said on Thursday.
The PASOK leader also expressed his support and grief to the families of the victims and to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Moreover, he expressed the support of both PASOK and himself personally for every effort to tackle the phenomenon of terrorism which harms innocent people.
Asked whether he predicts the seeking of some new Iraq, due to Blair's statement that there had been a terrorist attack against Great Britain, Papandreou reserved comment because, as he said, he was unaware of Blair's statements.
Papandreou pointed out that the framework of the European Union to confront the phenomenon of terrorism is based on seeking the causes of the phenomenon and its roots, which are economic, social and other.
 Public Order minister expresses horror at London blasts, support for victims
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis expressed his horror at the carnage wrought by multiple explosions that ripped through London's transport system during the rush hour on Thursday, as well as his unstinting support for the injured and the families of the dead, contacting British Ambassador to Athens Simon Gass soon after being informed of the tragic incident.
Vougarakis also informed Gass that the public order ministry can provide expert staff and specialized equipment, if they were needed. The ambassador thanked Vougarakis and said he would convey his interest and support to the British government.
 Extra security measures in Greece unnecessary, Public Order Minister says
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis said there was no need for extra security measures to be taken in Greece following the explosions that occurred in London earlier on Thursday, since Greece is a safe place.
"Greece is an exceptionally safe place and all those wishing to visit must know that," he said during an emergency press conference he held after the events in the UK and in response to questions whether extra security measures would be taken in Athens.
"Emergency measures are not necessary, since the British Embassy as well as other official buildings are already categorized as high risk and are thus well protected," he added.
Asked whether there was any information regarding the attacks, Voulgarakis said that relevant information is not publicized since they concern each respective country.
He emphasized however, that international terrorism targets everyone everywhere, which is why cooperation on an international level is required.
Voulgarakis also referred to his meeting with British Ambassador to Athens Simon Gass earlier on Thursday, during which the minister expressed his ministry's willingness and readiness to send specialized personnel to London if the British government deems it necessary.
Finally, Voulgarakis announced that he will be traveling to London next week to meet with his British counterpart.
 Communist party comments on London blasts
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said it believes that 'imperialism' stands to gain from the terrorist attacks that occurred in London earlier on Thursday, in a statement it issued.
"With the pretense of fighting terrorism, new terrorism measures against peoples and countries will follow, by the same governments that attack people's rights regarding employment, wages, insurance and education," it said in its statement.
KKE called on citizens to 'stay alert and take action.'
 British ambassador voices gratitude to Greek government and political parties for expressions of support in wake of London terrorist attacks
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)British Ambassador to Athens Simon Gass on Thursday expressed his gratitude to the Greek government and to political parties for their expressions of support in the wake of terrorist attacks occurring in London earlier in the day.
"The exact number of victims remains unknown. Many lost their lives or were injured.
"I am grateful for the expressions of support which have overwhelmed the embassy by the Greek government, the parties and ordinary citizens.
"I believe that the democratic way of life, which is a lofty value both for Greece and Britain is stronger than the will of the terrorists to spread death and disaster," the British ambassador said in his statement.
 Numbers provided for information regarding attacks in London
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Greek diplomatic representations in Britain on Thursday, following contacts with the foreign ministry here, immediately contacted British authorities following a spate of lethal bombings that struck the London underground and buses earlier in the day.
The Greek embassy in London gave out the following numbers for individuals wishing to find out more information about victims of the terrorist strikes:
(0044) 207 727 7570
(0044) 207 313 5623
(0044) 207 313 5626
The ministry also noted that the mobile telephone network in the greater London area was experiencing problems following the terrorist strikes.
 Christodoulos' message for London victims
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos added his words of compassion on Thursday for the victims of the terrorist strikes hours earlier in London.
"The Church of Greece shares in your pain and is next to you in these difficult hours. We must all unite for the combating of terrorism and the prevalence of peace in the world," he said.
 UN Security Council condemns London blasts
NEW YORK, 08/07/2005 (ANA/P.Panagiotou)The UN Security Council, during an emergency meeting held here on Thursday, passed a resolution condemning the terrorist attacks in London.
According to the resolution, the Security Council confirms its previous resolutions - 1373 (2001) and 1566 (2004) - regarding the fight against terrorism.
It unequivocally condemns the terrorist attacks that occurred in London on Thursday morning and considers any terrorist act as a threat to peace and security.
Additionally, the Security Council expresses its deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to the victims and their families as well as to the people and the government of the United Kingdom.
It also calls on all member states to actively cooperate in finding those responsible for the attacks and bringing them to justice, in accordance with resolution 1373.
Finally, the Security Council expresses absolute determination in fighting terrorism in accordance with its responsibilities set out in the UN Charter.
Greece's UN Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, who holds the council's rotating presidency, emphasized that the council supports the families of the victims.
In a message addressed to those responsible for such acts, Vassilakis said that the international community will do everything in its power to face this serious threat and to protect peace and security throughout the world.
 Greece convenes emergency meeting of UN Security Council
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Greece, as President of the United Nations Security Council, has called for an emergency meeting to be held on Thursday following the terrorist attacks in London, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis said in a statement.
The purpose of the meeting, which was agreed upon after Greece communicated with all council members, is to condemn terrorism regardless of origin, in all its shapes and forms.
The meeting will be held in New York at 12 noon local time.
 FM satisfied with talks with Russian National Security Council secretary general, discusses Balkans and Middle East
MOSCOW, 08/07/2005 (ANA/F. Karaviti)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, currently on a two-day working visit to the Russian capital, was satisfied with the outcome of his meeting with Russian National Security Council Secretary General and former foreign minister Igor Ivanov on Thursday, according to diplomatic sources.
Reports said that talks focused on developments in the Balkans and in the Middle East and on the issue of international security, while a convergence of views and assessments between the two sides was ascertained to a great degree.
Events occurring in London earlier in the day, led to an exchange of views on the issue of international terrorism, particularly with regard to its more effective handling and with emphasis being placed on international cooperation.
Excellent bilateral relations existing between the two countries were confirmed during the talks, which were given a special impetus with the visit recently made to Moscow by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and with the participation of President Karolos Papoulias in events marking the 60th anniversary of the victory against the Nazis.
Immediately afterwards, Molyviatis met with representatives of the Greek community in Russia. According to the program of the foreign minister's visit, Molyviatis will be meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Friday morning and will be attending a working luncheon.
Later in the day, the foreign minister will meet the President of Russia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yevgeni Primakov and afterwards he will be giving a press conference for Russian and Greek reporters.
 Karamanlis tours interior ministry, calls for more state reforms
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday continued his policy of visiting individual ministries for a briefing by its leadership as he chaired a same-day meeting at the public administration and interior ministry.
Afterwards, Karamanlis reiterated that his government inherited a "problematic state, one far removed from the citizen and his needs; (a state) that acts as an obstacle to development; a state where petty political partisanship, bureaucracy and corruption dominated."
Following the two-hour meeting, Karamanlis said several initiatives have been implemented in the 15 months since his government assumed power, although more needs to be done.
"The state does not change from one moment to the next, because the necessary clashes don't just relate to structures and administrative functions, but to attitudes and syndromes of the past," he underlined.
 PM to meet Tourism minister, ND parliamentary group secretary on Friday
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday announced that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet the secretary of ruling New Democracy's Parliamentary group Apostolos Stavrou at 9:30 on Friday morning, followed by a meeting at 10:30 with Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and at 12:30 with Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos.
 Deputy FM holds series of meetings with ambassadors
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis met separately with the ambassadors of the Netherlands, Iran, Egypt, India and Romania on Thursday.
Exchange of know-how and better organization of Greek ports was the topic of focus during Styliandis' meeting with Dutch Ambassador to Greece Hans Forster.
Stylianidis and Iranian Ambassador Mehdi Mohtashami discussed further strengthening of bilateral economic ties.
With Egyptian Ambassador Magda Moustafa Shahin, Stylianidis focused on the creation of a Greek-Egyptian bi-ministerial committee and a business delegation which will visit Cairo in the fall.
Similar topics - the creation of a bi-ministerial committee and a visit to India by a Greek business delegation - were the focus of discussion during Stylianidis' meeting with Indian Ambassador Bhaskar Balakirshnan.
The purpose of the committee and the delegation's visit to India in 2006 is to further strengthen economic ties between the two countries, reinforce Greek exports, promote Greek-Indian joint ventures, and to encourage Greek companies to participate in the International Expo which will be held in New Delhi.
Finally, during his meeting with Romanian Ambassador Cains Traian Dragomir, Stylianidis discussed the new priorities of the Greek Plan for Economic Reconstruction in the Balkans and the latter's upcoming visit to Romania.
 Gov't denies EU intervention over '95 law on mass media shareholders
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday denied reports in the newspaper "Ta Nea", according to which the European Commission is preparing to take action against Greece over the implementation a 1995 law that calls for the owners of shares in the mass media to be named.
"There has been no written intervention from the European Commission to the Greek government, regarding the implementation of the law," Antonaros said in response to questions.
 Change of guard at NATO base in Hania
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Spanish Rear-Admiral Teodoro Lopez-Calderon on Thursday took over command of NATO facilities in Hania belonging to the Alliance's permanent naval force in the Mediterranean, taking over from the previous Greek commander Commodore Ioannis Karaiskos.
The handover ceremony took place in the presence of the deputy chief of the Navy General Staff, Vice-Admiral Nikolaos Spilianakis, while NATO was presented by Vice-Admiral Roberto Casaretti.
The NATO force is made up of navy frigates from Greece, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Turkey. Serving on board the ships of the south Europe naval force are 1612 men and 59 women of the special forces.
 New Greek Ambassador to Belgrade presents credentials
BELGRADE, 08/07/2005 (ANA - N. Pelpas)The new Greek Ambassador to Belgrade Christos Panagopoulos on Thursday presented his credentials to Serbia and Montenegro President Svetozar Marovic.
The Greek ambassador stressed the need for Serbia and Montenegro to join Euro-Atlantic structures and promised that Greece would do its utmost to support this course. He also presented Marovic with an invitation from President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias to visit Greece on September 21, which was accepted.
Afterwards, there followed a private meeting between Marovic and the new ambassador to discuss bilateral relations between Greece and Serbia and Montenegro, while Marovic outlined Belgrade's positions on Kosovo.
 Yet another Italian publication sees possible visit by Pope to Ecumenical Patriarchate
ROME, 08/07/2005 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)Following reports in Italy's "La Stampa" two days ago, yet another Italian publication on Thursday mentioned the possibility that Pope Benedict XVI might visit the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul on the feast of St Andrew, which falls on November 30.
The report appears in "Avenire", a publication put out by the Catholic Bishop's Conference in Italy, and refers to the possibility of the visit in a report on the Pope's trip to Israel, which he will visit at the invitation of Israeli premier Ariel Sharon.
"Avenire" says news of the visit was leaked to the Turkish press, which said that it will take place in response to an invitation sent by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. A similar invitation had been sent by Bartholomew last year to the late Pope John Paul II, who had initially accepted but was later forced to cancel because of ill health.
The report has neither been confirmed nor denied by the Vatican.
 Greece determined to cut fiscal deficit below 2.0 pct in 2006, FinMin says
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)The Greek government is determined to cut the country's budget deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP in 2006, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, during a joint new conference with OECD's chief economist Jean-Philippe Cotis to present the Organization's report on the outlook of the Greek economy in 2005, Alogoskoufis said the government has already taken measures to contain spending and boost budget revenues.
The Greek minister stressed the government would continue, in the coming years, its efforts towards fiscal restructuring at a milder pace. "We will continue taking measures with the least possible side-effects to citizens," he noted adding that the government's intention was to promote structural changes in the economy aimed to boost competitiveness, to contain bureaucracy and to achieve a more effective functioning of labor markets.
The government's main policy choice to promote these changes is dialogue and consensus, Alogoskoufis said. He added that according to OECD's estimates, economic reforms could boost the country's GDP by 5-7 percentage points in the coming years and ensure a long-term rise in exports of up to 40 percent.
He underlined government measures so far, such as reducing direct taxation, simplifying the tax system, a new investment law and draft legislation on co-funded projects. The government is also promoting expanded shopping hours and moves towards liberalizing the country's energy market.
Alogoskoufis also announced a series of changes, due to be completed by autumn, such as a new operating framework for public enterprises and organizations, a new system to monitor public spending, and measures to combat tax evasion and smuggling in the domestic fuel market.
The government has taken an initiative to promote a national dialogue with the aim to solve the pension problem, which he described as a time bomb for the economy. "Our aim is to ensure a consensus on the long-term viability of the pension system," he said.
Commenting on the OECD's report, Alogoskoufis said the government did not demonize nor it adopted any reports.
Jean-Philippe Cotis, the Organization's chief economist, stressed the need for a fiscal adjustment of the Greek economy and improving living standards in the coming years in order to achieve economic convergence with the more developed European economies.
Greece is at a turning point and has not margins for errors in economic policy, Cotis stressed: The French economists noted that Greece was the second worst OECD member-state on its performance in competitiveness.
He noted, however, that a goal of reducing the budget deficit below 3.0 percent was a feasible target although he urged for measures to reduce public spending and stricter incomes policies. Cotis said the country needed to immediately solve its pension problem since pension spending was projected to reach 22 percent of GDP in 2050 from 12 percent currently. He recommended that pensions should be linked with social security contributions paid by each worker and urged for measures to boost part time jobs, more flexibility in lay offs, while he said that a minimum pay in Greece was very high.
 Workers' trade union accuses gov't and OECD of limiting workers' rights and benefits
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) criticized the government and a report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as promoting cuts in workers' rights and benefits as the answer to the problems facing the Greek economy.
Following the joint press conference held on Thursday by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and the Chief Economist and Head of the Economics Dept. of the OECD Jean-Philippe Cotis, during which the OECD Survey on the Greek Economy was presented, GSEE issued a statement saying: "Although Mr. Alogoskoufis said that he will not adopt these proposals, nevertheless through his policies he is implementing these exact measures (strict frugality, new tax burdens, reduction of insurance and pension benefits and deregulation of labor relations!)."
In reference to the upcoming meeting between GSEE and Labor and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos scheduled for Monday, GSEE said that "no dialogue can serve any purpose or be of any use if used as a pretense when decisions and commitments have already been made."
Government responds to criticism by PASOK party on OECD report: The main opposition PASOK party's economy sector chief Vasso Papandreou, referring on Thursday to the OECD's report officially presented by the government, said "it is evident that what awaits us is lower salaries and new taxes."
Responding to the criticism, the economy and finance ministry said in an announcement that "PASOK is once again proving the anxious effort being made by its cadres to mislead the Greek people and to create confusion among public opinion."
 OECD forecasts for Greece
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)A country report for Greece released by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Thursday contained the following forecasts:
GENERAL GOVERNMENT DEFICIT
 Gov't continues contacts with social partners to formulate draft law for labor market
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Labor and Social Securities Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos on Thursday met with representatives of Greek industries and small-to-medium sized manufacturers, part of the government's initiative to partially deregulate and make the labor market more flexible, especially in terms of unifying and extending store hours along with cutting the overtime pay rate.
Following the meeting, the minister said a crucial meeting with representatives of Greece's largest trade umbrella group, GSEE, has been scheduled for Monday. He added that talks with all interested parties and the views of each will be considered in the drafting of a relevant bill, as well as with the timing involved in tabling such legislation in Parliament.
In pointing to the government's strategic goal for seeking a partial deregulation of the domestic labor market, Panayiotopoulos said increased competitiveness and employment are issues that can wait no longer.
On his part, Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) president Odysseus Kyriakopoulos said the government has delayed in bring forth reforms to the labor market, reforms he said will increase competitiveness, employment and investments.
Kyriakopoulos added that Greek industrialists supported measures for more flexibility in annual working times, while he implied that flexibility in working time could not exceed 12 hours daily. He also urged for measures to improve hygiene and safety in work places and stressed that measures to boost competitiveness do not undermine employees' rights.
Representatives of small- and medium-sized enterprises said working time should not be less than 12 hours daily, while supporting moves to cut the cost of overtime.
PASOK party's Political Council examines social security and labor issues: Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou chaired a meeting of the party's Political Council on Thursday, which examined PASOK's positions on social security and labor issues.
Speaking after the meeting, Papandreou said that PASOK's framework of positions on the social security issue was unanimously approved and expressed concern over the way with which the government is handling such a serious matter.
The PASOK party leader added that the government handled the banks' social security issue "in the same irresponsible manner, transferring all burdens to the Social Security Foundation" (IKA).
 Gov't on effort to combat fuel smuggling, tax evasion
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)The government on Thursday reiterated that a comprehensive plan to combat fuel smuggling, mostly centering on the difference between cheaper heating oil and more expensive diesel, will be unveiled in a few weeks.
Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros emphasized that the government's dual goals are to combat tax evasion in the fuel sector -- estimated at between 1.5 to a whopping three billion euros every year -- without burdening consumers.
The development ministry this week announced that it would raise heating oil prices to the level of diesel as the first and most important step in stamping out smuggling and tax evasion in the sector.
 European Court accepts part of Greek petition on 2002 farm funding
BRUSSELS, 08/07/2005 (ANA/M Spinthourakis)The European Court of Justice on Wednesday accepted a petition from Greece that the EU Commission had wrongly rejected the country's control system for fruit and vegetables as unreliable and ineffective, which means that the spending should not have been excluded from EU funding.
Under the court ruling, the Commission should annul a 2002 decision barring 2.0% of spending in the sector from funding under the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantees Fund.
The ruling was issued for part of one of three petitions submitted by Greece against the Commission. The rest of Greece's argument was rejected in favor of the Commission.
 Commission begins infringement procedures against Greece over car taxation
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)The European Commission on Thursday has decided to send Greece and the Netherlands formal requests to amend their car registration taxation rules.
The requests to Greece and the Netherlands take the form of "reasoned opinions"; the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty, while the "letter of formal notice" sent to Poland constitutes the first stage of the said procedure. If the Commission does not receive satisfactory responses from the Member States, it may ultimately bring the cases before the Court of Justice.
Greece calculates the depreciation on second hand cars imported into the country in a way that does not respect Article 90 of the Treaty. The Greek rules do not guarantee that the registration tax will not exceed the residual tax on a vehicle of a similar age that was registered in Greece when new.
"The case law of the Court of Justice has helped to resolve some of the problems of tax discrimination that European citizens face when they move cars from one country to another" said Taxation and Customs Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs.
Following the judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the case Commission v Hellenic Republic (C-375/95), Greece was obliged to amend its rules concerning the determination of the taxable value of second-hand cars for the purpose of the application of the registration tax due on cars registered for the first time in the Greek territory.
However, the Commission considers that the new Greek rules are still not in conformity with ECJ case law.
The Commission believes that, by adopting a system based on a single rule for depreciation which allows a depreciation of 7% for cars between six months and one year or 14% for a one-year old car, Greece infringes Article 90 of the EC Treaty. The Commission believes that this rule fails to guarantee that the amount of the registration tax due does not exceed the amount of the residual tax incorporated in the value of similar vehicles already registered in the Greek territory. The Court indicated in its judgment in the Gomes Valente Case (C-393/98) that a fixed scale of prices should reflect the true depreciation of vehicles with sufficient precision. The Court also held in that Case that discrimination between national and imported products is always prohibited under Article 90 of the EC Treaty, even if the discrimination arises in only a few cases.
Further aspects of the Greek legislation that the Commission contests concern the lack of transparency of the administrative procedure. The tax authorities do not disclose how they determine the taxable values of the cars. Furthermore, the taxpayer is obliged to pay a ¬ 300 fee for having the car inspected by a special Committee if he disagrees with the values determined by the tax authorities. The letter of formal notice and the complementary letter of formal notice that the Commission already sent to Greece.
 EIB has say on post-Olympic use of projects it funded, not entire bill, EU Commission says
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Responding to a question by Greek MEP for the Coalition (Synaspismos) party Dimitris Papadimoulis on Thursday, the European Commission clarified that the European Investment Bank (EIB) has not raised any objections to a government bill for the post-Olympic use of Athens Games infrastructure but should be consulted in cases where the bill affected projects funded by the EIB.
In its reply, the Commission pointed out that the EIB had participated in the funding of several projects constructed for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, such as the International Broadcasting Centre or improvements to the transport network.
In taking out these loans, the Greek State had made certain commitments concerning the construction and use of the infrastructure. The EIB should be informed and, if necessary, its agreement should be obtained when there were any deviations from these original agreements concerning their use, the Commission added.
On the other hand, the EIB could not raise objections to the bill itself because that also referred to a number of projects that were not funded by it, the Commission said.
 Greece ranks 50th among 58 countries on gender equality, World Economic Forum finds
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Greece was ranked 50th out of 58 countries for equality between the sexes, lower than many Eastern European countries or even Colombia, Bangladesh and Thailand, according to a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum and reproduced by the Union of Greek Industry (SEB) in its Competitiveness Report on Thursday.
Greece also lags significantly behind the average in the 15 older members of the European Union in this area, with a total score of 3.4 in the survey, while the overall EU average for the 15 is around 4.5. The biggest differences are noted in women's participation in politics and in education.
The survey attributes Greece's low position to factors such as:
The high level of unemployment among women in 2004 relative to unemployment overall, which was 16.1 per cent;
That the participation of women in the Greek labor force in 2004 was just 42.2 per cent, while that for men was 64.8 per cent;
That women's participation in Parliament, though higher in recent years, remains very low.
Those policies to support working mothers (state nurseries, legislation to protect mothers) are inadequate according to World Economic Forum studies.
According to the report, the Scandinavian countries are those that have succeeded in reducing the gap between the sexes the most, with Sweden at the top of the list. Next in line are New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, Germany and Australia, all of which have made significant progress over the past decades in eliminating obstacles for women's full and active participation in society.
 European Court rules against Greece over power-plant emissions
BRUSSELS, 08/07/2005 (ANA/V Demiris)The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled against Greece for allowing the operation of a power plant that breached EU environmental law on emissions from industry.
The government failed to modernize part of a power plant on the island of Crete that belongs to Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation, resulting in atmospheric pollution, the court said in its ruling.
Although some steps had been taken to control emissions, an overall strategy was lacking, it added.
 Gov't to fund innovative energy projects
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday approved funding for projects involving innovative energy technology totalling 5.5 million euros.
The projects will fall under the European Union's Third Community Support Framework package of funds.
The funding floor is 70,000 euros per project, with a ceiling of 880,000 euros, the ministry said in a statement.
 Companies expect stagnation, survey shows
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)The country's major companies anticipate economic stagnation over the next two years and an adverse business climate, according to a market survey released on Thursday.
Of the firms polled by Data RC and Stat Bank, 43% saw the economic outlook as neither favorable nor adverse; 36% had a negative outlook; and 19% expected favorable conditions.
Industrial corporations were more dismal, with 52.4% forecasting a gloomy outlook, the survey showed.
The main challenges over the next two years would be tough competition from abroad (86.4% of respondents); high borrowing costs (55.9%); and lower demand (52.4%).
Other problems were likely to be high labor costs, the statutory and political climate, and a lack of innovation, according to the survey.
 PM tours development ministry exhibition at Zappion
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday conducted a tour of an "Innovative Products and Services" exhibition organized by the development ministry at Zappion, where he noted the country's great potential in research and business.
"The achievements presented here confirm the country's great potential and prove that if we cooperate effectively, we can ensure a better future with high developmental and social benefits for all," he said.
We are working intensively in this direction, Karamanlis said, while adding that a new legislative framework for research and technology was now ready and that the government was proceeding to establish new research centers.
 Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corp. launches new program in Patra
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)The Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation (HERRCO) on Thursday announced the launch of a new program in the municipality of Patra.
The recycling program, which has a budget of ¬ 300,000, will serve six communities in the municipality and roughly 65,000 residents.
The recyclable material - paper, plastic, metal and glass packaging - will be disposed of at the Centre of Recyclable Materials which has been operating since 1999 at Patra's landfill site.
In order to raise public awareness, a relevant campaign involving the distribution of leaflets and bags for the disposal of recyclables will also be launched.
HERRCO expects that more than 1,200 tons of recyclable material will be collected annually as a result of this program, which it is launching in cooperation with local authorities.
 Slight rise in Athens bourse placements from abroad
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Investors from abroad increased their placements in the Athens Stock Exchange to 37.66% in June from 37.58% a month earlier, the Central Securities Depository said in a monthly statement on Thursday.
The equivalent for the FTSE/ASE-20 for high-capitalization paper was 44.11%, up from 43.93% in May, the depository said in a statement.
At the same time, foreign investment in the FTSE/ASE-40 for mid-cap stocks fell to 20.26% in June from 23.18% a month earlier; and in the FTSE/ASE-80 for small-cap shares placements rose to 22.4% from 20.72% in May, the statement added.
 Stocks drop, tracking European slump after London blasts
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished lower with players tracking adverse sentiment in European markets in the wake of a spate of bomb attacks in London earlier in the day. Sharp early losses were partly recouped towards the end of the session, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,062.37 points, marking a decline of 1.28%. Turnover was 212.0 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.34% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.06% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.33% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 224 to 60 with 47 remaining unchanged.
 Parliament passes bill envisioning tougher measures against hooliganism
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)A stricter legal framework for combating football hooliganism and overall sports-related violence was ratified by the first summer session of Parliament on Thursday, with tougher provisions including a five-match closed-doors sanction and a hefty fine against teams whose fans cause a game's interruption or postponement.
Playing without fans for two home games and a 50,000-euro fine is foreseen in cases of stepped up violence or incidents where athletes and officials are injured. The same sanction will be slapped for a temporary interruption of a match as well as for racist or insulting chants by fans.
Violence between opposing teams' fans or even club officials will be punished by a one-game ban and a 50,000-euro fine.
According to Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos, the stiffer measures are effective for coming season.
 PM's congratulations to UK's Blair over 2012 preceded dastardly attacks in London
Athens, 08/07/2005 (ANA)A spate of terrorist strikes in London's underground and against city buses late Thursday morning expectedly shocked the international community only a day after the IOC announced that the British capital would host the 2012 Olympic Games, more-or-less extinguishing the euphoria evident on London's streets 24 hours earlier.
Prior to the terrorist strikes, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had conveyed his congratulations to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
"The challenge that your country has assumed is enormous. Additionally, it is an honor and an invaluable opportunity that will leave a permanent legacy for the city of London, and in general, the United Kingdom. I am certain that the Olympic Games of London in 2012 will be a unique sports and cultural event," Karamanlis' telegram reads.
 Cyprus president sends message of condolence to Blair over London blasts
NICOSIA, 08/07/2005 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Thursday sent a message of condolence to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, expressing Nicosia's condemnation of the four bomb blasts that wrought havoc in central London, with dozens killed and injured while commuting to work.
"The government and people of Cyprus strenuously condemn such horrifying terrorist acts and we stand in solidarity with the British people and the rest of the international community in the struggle against terrorism of every sort," he said.
"It is with deep sorrow that I heard the shocking news of today's terrorist attacks on London, which have led to the loss of many innocent lives and the injury of many others," Papadopoulos added, noting that "our thoughts are with the families of the victims and the British people".
 Increased security measures taken by Cyprus police
NICOSIA, 08/07/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus Police has taken additional security measures to protect British interests on the island, following Thursday's series of terrorist attacks in London.
Police Spokesman Demetris Demetriou told CNA that additional security measures have been taken in Nicosia and other towns and the islands
airports to protect, mainly, British interests.
Additional measures have also been taken to protect the interests of other countries, he added.
Meanwhile, British Bases Deputy Spokesman Peter Thacker told CNA that the measures taken by the British Bases following today's terrorist
attacks in London will not be made public.
He added that the measures are being formed according to the circumstances and as provided by regulations.
 Cyprus regrets progressive erosion of solution basis by Turkey
NICOSIA, 08/07/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Republic of Cyprus is determined to continue work towards a solution that will meet the hopes and expectations of both communities, for a common future for all Cypriots, free of outside interference, stressed Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations Andreas Mavroyiannis in a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The Ambassador's letter dated 29 June, which circulated as a document of the General Assembly, refers to a letter dated 31 May 2005 from the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the United Nations Umit Pamir addressed to the UN SG, containing Ankara's proposals.
In his letter, upon instructions from the Cyprus Government, Mavroyiannis expresses regret that ''this long-standing agreed basis for a Cyprus settlement is progressively being eroded by Turkey's consistent aim of promoting a secessionist entity in the occupied part of Cyprus, consolidating the faits accomplis and disclaiming all responsibility for the ongoing violations of human rights in Cyprus emanating from the de facto partition of the island''.
He notes that the assumption presented in the letter, that the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriot community and the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union have created an entirely new situation, ''is not an honest assessment of the existing reality, but rather is a selective and misleading interpretation, serving a political agenda''.
Cyprus Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said in Nicosia that the positions expressed in Pamir's letter prove Ankara's insistence on a divisionism policy on Cyprus and on two separate states and governments, a stance which damages the efforts for a comprehensive solution and reunification of the island.
Mavroyiannis also notes in his letter to the UN chief that the Turkish positions ''explicitly deviate in letter and spirit from the reunification goal, as provided for by Security Council resolutions, and suggest a parallel coexistence of two sovereign entities functioning independently side by side, to which Turkey has aspired since long before 1974''.
''Cyprus remains committed to a fair and sustainable resolution of the Cyprus problem, which will be mutually and freely agreed by both
communities'', Mavroyiannis stresses, indicating UN Security Council Resolution 939 which notes that a solution must be based ''on a State of Cyprus with a single sovereignty and international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded''.
He further describes as disturbing, Turkey's attempt to use as a pretext the need to improve the economic situation of the Turkish Cypriot community, ''which is strongly supported and pursued both by the international community and the Government of Cyprus'', in order to upgrade an illegal secessionist entity and secure its military presence on the island.
''The argument put forward by the Turkish side, that Turkish Cypriots continue to face difficulties arising from the ongoing so-called political, economic, cultural and social 'isolation', although they have fulfilled their responsibilities by voting in favor of the Annan Plan, is baseless'', he said, adding that ''both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots fulfilled their responsibilities by freely and democratically expressing their views on the specific plan''.
Moreover, what is erroneously described as ''isolation'' of the Turkish Cypriots is nothing more than the consequence of the illegal occupation of Cyprus and its subsequent division, which is, to this day, sustained by military means, and the refusal of the Turkish leadership to comply with principles of international law, established rules and procedures and decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Communities.
As regards Turkey's so called ''concrete initiative for paving the way to reaching a just, durable and comprehensive solution'', Mavroyiannis says: ''At a time when utmost restraint and caution are required in order to reach common ground on maintaining efforts to achieve a solution, the pursuit of such views reveals Turkey's insistence on its well-known separatist positions and its refusal to cooperate for the benefit of all Cypriots''.
He adds that the Republic of Cyprus also remains committed to striving for the economic development, the welfare and the respect of the human rights of all its citizens, in all areas, without discrimination.
''Despite the difficulties faced by the de facto division of the island, the Government of Cyprus spares no effort in facilitating for Turkish Cypriots their benefit of all services of the Republic, as well as all benefits that Cypriots are entitled to as a result of Cyprus' accession to the European Union'', Mavroyiannis concludes.