|Monday, 20 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-07-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>July 14, 2005
 UN secretary general congratulates FM Molyviatis for Greece's work as Security Council president
NEW YORK, 14/07/2005 (ANA/P. Panayiotou)UN Secretary General Kofi Annan congratulated Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Wednesday for the work being done by Greece as the Security Council's presiding country for the month of July.
The two men discussed a series of issues during their 30-minute meeting at the UN headquarters which concerned Greece, its region and the international situation in relation to the UN's role.
"We had a useful and constructive meeting; I would say a friendly and pleasant meeting as always, in any case, with the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. We were preoccupied by a whole series of issues of wider, as well as of particular interest for Greece," the foreign minister said.
After saying that Annan congratulated Greece for its performance as Security Council president so far, Molyviatis said various issues concerning the Security Council were discussed, such as the September summit when the Organization's reform issues will be discussed, adding that he will attend the summit and so will Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
"We discussed the Cyprus issue, of course. We examined its present state and its prospects for the future. We also discussed the issue of the name of Skopje (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), which we discussed earlier in a meeting with the secretary general's special envoy Matthew Nimetz. Lastly, we discussed Kosovo and the present situation and developments looming," Molyviatis further said.
Asked what exactly was said about the issue of Cyprus, the foreign minister said "we discussed the present situation, prospects appearing and the need for these efforts to be continued to enable suitable conditions to be created for the resumption of the process of finding a solution to the problem."
Responding to another question on whether the issue of the appointment of a new envoy for the Cyprus issue was discussed, as well as the possibility of a new mission in the region by a UN official, Molyviatis noted that "such detailed issues are not discussed at meetings of such a kind. However, the mood and the spirit are for us to continue the effort to enable suitable conditions to be created."
As regards the possibility of some new proposal being made on the issue of FYROM, he said "I do not think that there is an issue of a new proposal at the moment. We discussed what the present situation is and how developments are appearing."
Replying, lastly, to a question on whether a meeting will be held in New York on the issue of Cyprus in September, such as a form of quadripartite meeting for example, Molyviatis said "there is no such planning at the moment. But you know our views on a quadripartite meeting."
 Justice minister addresses EU's special Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers Council, deplores London terrorist attacks
BRUSSELS, 14/07/2005 (ANA/M.Spinthourakis)Justice Minister Anastassios Papaligouras, addressing the European Union's special Justice and Internal Affairs Ministers Council on Wednesday, deplored the "barbaric terrorist attacks" that occurred in London last week.
Papaligouras, who represented Greece at the meeting together with Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, stressed Greece's solidarity in the condemnation of terrorism as the "number one security problem in the post-coldwar world', adding that "a terrorist strike against one of the EU member-states is a strike against all 25 European partners."
Papaligouras referred to the enactment of an EU legal framework for the prevention and suppression of terrorism and stressed that the enactment of cooperation and information exchanging bodies, as well as of judicial and police contribution mechanisms, render the seeking and detection of culprits possible, with the discovery of the culprits involved in the terrorist strike in Madrid being a recent example.
The minister also proposed that the causes of this evil be tackled in a political manner, saying that "democratic Europe owes its own political response to the world on the modern-day scourge of terrorism."
Earlier in Athens, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos replied to a question on the issue currently being discussed at the Council of Ministers in the Belgian capital (on the recording of telephone calls, SMS messages and of e-mails and the keeping of archives for a year), saying that "the reasons invoked by the Presidency in its proposal will be judged during the Council's discussion and the relevant decision will be taken. The general principle (concerning respect for the Constitution and the rules of the Individual Data Protection Authority) applies and whatever decision will be judged on the basis of certain factors."
 Parliamentary Summer Recess Committee ratifies articles of higher education evaluation bill
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The first Parliamentary Summer Recess Committee on Wednesday ratified the articles of the higher education evaluation bill.
Addressing the debate, Deputy Education Minister Spyros Taliadouros said evaluation will be used as a guide for the objective assessment of weaknesses in third stage education and their remedying.
The deputy education minister also said that the demand for the reverse process to be applied is tantamount to referring the issue to the kalends.
 Education minister sums up conclusions reached at informal EU education ministers' meeting
LONDON, 14/07/2005 (ANA/L. Tsirigotakis)Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou, summing up conclusions reached during the European Union's informal meeting of education ministers on Wednesday, said the two basic pylons in the EU's new programs regarding education is lifetime learning and the formation of levels of education and the learning of many languages.
Yiannakou said it has been proved that the English language is the best way of communication in the world, but it leaves issues related to culture unexploited and there is a huge loss of knowledge concerning culture.
Consequently, the new model in the EU's programs is based on the learning of many languages.
The minister said vital issues concerning lifetime learning were discussed during the meeting and the monitoring of Lisbon guidelines, since it has been proved that targets set in the year 2000 have not been achieved.
 Deputy FM attends memorial service for London terrorist attack victims at Saint Paul's Anglican Church
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis attended a memorial service held for the victims of last week's terrorist attacks in London at Saint Paul's Anglican Church in Athens on Wednesday morning.
Speaking on his departure from the Church, Valynakis said it was "a very moving moment which brought to the minds of all the innocent victims of tragedies, of terrorist attacks, not only of London recently but also of those which had occurred in the faraway past as well."
"Terrorism knows no boundaries, it does not distinguish religions, and it does not distinguish peoples. It is an attack against democracy, against our way of life. For this reason, therefore, we must continue the struggle against terrorism united and determined, always respecting the democratic freedoms and the values in which we believe," the deputy foreign minister added.
 Gov't dismisses PASOK criticism over Malliakos highway upgrades, returns volley
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The government on Wednesday termed criticism by main opposition PASOK over delays in urgent road works on a stretch of national highway circumventing the Gulf of Malliakos as nothing more than "hot air".
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, in fact, charged that PASOK's arguments were simply based with its "familiarization with the policy of vested interests with big business".
His comments came after Tuesday's allegations by PASOK deputies that ND, when it served as the main opposition and while PASOK was in government, supported legal challenges a "certain businessman" to European Union courts, a practice that ostensibly blocked work on the stretch of highway -- now considered as one of the most dangerous on the national system.
Roussopoulos simply called on PASOK to prove its allegations.
Regarding the actual road projects, the spokesman referred to stepped up planning and procedures since ND assumed the government's reins in March 2004, as well as stepped up police patrols.
"PASOK is used to the reasoning of playing games with business interests, something that was evident by certain laws it passed with intertwined interests, and ones that we have condemned; it (PASOK) believes that this reasoning continues to exist. It doesn't," Roussopoulos said.
The issue of traffic safety on the Malliakos stretch of the national highway shot back onto the national limelight after a total of nine people, including three children, were killed in a two-car collision on Sunday.
PASOK: In a later response, a PASOK spokesman said the evidence can be found in a series of Parliament questions tabled by ND deputies over the years, ones he said were supportive of the contractor, identified by the party on Tuesday as Mechaniki founder and President Prodromos Emfietzoglou.
Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis added that although the latter's legal actions blocked work on the highway none were ever upheld.
 Government spokesman comments on travel advisories, says no similar legislative framework exists in Greece
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, asked on Wednesday to comment on why the government has not issued a travel advisory for Britain, said "travel advisories, according to the practice of many countries, are issued primarily as the implementation of internal legal order so that, in other words, compensation is not paid by the state to their citizens. There is no similar legislative framework in Greece."
Replying to other questions by the press, Roussopoulos said "terrorism is an issue which has been preoccupying the world community in past years. It also preoccupied us (with the case of '17N'), it preoccupied us during the pre-Olympic Games period and it is still preoccupying us as a phenomenon. However, one cannot create or encourage phobic syndromes because this will be against the freedom of the citizen."
 Combatting terrorism cannot be carried out with pre-emptive wars against countries, PASOK says
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Combatting terrorism cannot be carried out with pre-emptive wars against countries or with pre-emptive attacks on the rights of citizens, main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said on Wednesday, referring to discussions taking place at the Council of relevant European Union Ministers on the issue of cracking down on terrorism.
Athanassakis said societies must find ways of defense against the phenomenon of terrorism, but at the same time the field of individual rights and freedoms must not be ignored.
The spokesman further pointed out that a red line exists for every country which must always be observed and applied.
 Athens News Agency to observe two-minute silence on Thursday for London terrorist attack victims
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The Athens News Agency (ANA), responding to the call by Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, will observe a two-minute silence at 14.00 on Thursday to pay tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in London on July 7.
The event was proposed by the European Union Troika (Luxembourg, Britain and Austria) and will take place simultaneously in all EU member-states.
Pavlopoulos calls on all the staff of public services and of legal entities of public law of all kinds in the wider public sector to observe a two-minute silence and expressed the wish that the same position will also be observed during this symbolic event by both employers and employees in the private sector.
 EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas and Turkish negotiating delegation chief discuss Turkey's European prospects
BRUSSELS, 14/07/2005 (ANA/V. Demiris)European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas and the chief of the Turkish negotiating delegation Ali Babacan held talks here on Wednesday on Turkey's European prospects in light of the beginning of accession negotiations with the EU on October 3.
According to EU sources, the Greek commissioner expressed his support for Turkey's accession to the EU on condition that Ankara will observe the commitments it has undertaken towards the EU.
Referring to the issue of the signing of the customs union expansion protocol with the EU's 10 new member-states, including Cyprus, Dimas told Babacan that he was pleased to learn that Turkey intends to sign it, but insisted on the need for this to take place as soon as possible.
According to the same sources, Dimas conveyed to his Turkish interlocutor the skepticism existing in many EU capitals, following the referendums in France and the Netherlands, on the continuation of the EU's expansion process which, as he said, must make Turkey very careful.
 Palestinian Authority Presidential Decree on Patriarch of Jerusalem's removal publicized
JERUSALEM, 14/07/2005 (ANA/P. Haritou)The Palestinian Authority's Presidential Decree on the Patriarch of Jerusalem Irineos's official removal was publicized late on Wednesday afternoon.
The Presidential Decree had been expected for some time, since it was known that it had been signed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. However, members of the Palestinian Authority were trying to prevent its publication.
The publication of the Presidential Decree also paves the way, on the Palestinian side, for the holding of elections aimed at selecting a new Patriarch.
 Deputy FM receives Kuwaiti ambassador
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Wednesday met with Kuwait's Ambassador to Athens Monther Bader Al-Eissa.
Talks during the meeting focused on further development of economic relations between the two countries.
 U.S. State Department denies delay in accreditation of new Greek ambassador to Washington
WASHINGTON, 14/07/2005 (ANA/T. Ellis)The U.S. State Department on Wednesday denied any delay in the accreditation of Greece's new Ambassador to Washington Alexandros Mallias.
Replying to a questioner, the State Department's alternate spokesman said "I do not believe that we are delaying the appointment of someone. Of course, an ambassadorial appointment from whatever country follows a regular examination and acceptance process. I am certain that this is also happening in this case as well."
Asked whether there is a problem in the case of Mallias, the spokesman said "as far as I know no."
 Synaspismos leader meets with new Cyprus envoy
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday met with Cyprus' new ambassador to Athens Giorgos Georgis.
In a statement afterwards, Alavanos reiterated his party's solid support for efforts to reunite the island and solve the long-standing problem based on UN resolutions.
 IMF sees flaws in Greek budget, tax methods
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Economists of the International Monetary Fund visiting Athens have spotted structural weaknesses in how the Greek budget is formulated and how the taxation system is organized, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, Alogoskoufis said the IMF economists had submitted their recommendations in the two areas.
"We will set up working groups to put the recommendations into practice," the minister said.
Certain steps would be taken immediately, with action on more structural aspects of the problems to take more time, he added.
 Work on three major projects in Thessaloniki to begin this year, public works minister Souflias announces
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Work on the three major public works projects in Thessaloniki, pertaining to the construction of the Thessaloniki Metro, the underwater road artery, and the expansion of the landing and take-off runway at Macedonia Airport will commence within 2005, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works minister George Souflias announced late Tuesday night, at an extraordinary meeting of the Thessaloniki Municipal Council in the northern Greek capital.
Souflias said that the budget for the three major projects -- construction of which was expected to begin in autumn this year -- had an overall budget of 1.7 billion euros: one billion euros for the Metro, 400 million euros for the underwater road artery, and more than 200 million euros for the airport runway expansion.
He said that the projects would be built through the method of concession, adding that construction would take five to six years.
Referring to objections submitted to the Council of State, and new recourses that would prospectively be filed, Souflias opined that all the legal procedures would be overcome soon, enabling construction on the three projects to begin this year.
"Objections may be filed, but the recourses cannot stop the projects," the minister said, noting that "I am obliged to implement the decisions of the Council of State, but I want to point out the delays incurred that affect the financing from the EU".
Souflias said that the Metro would solve Thessaloniki's traffic problems. He said the project would extend from Stavroupolis to Kalamaria, budgeted at one billion euros, and the underwriter of the project would be selected by late July or early August, while the project would take 6 1/2 years to be completed. The first phase of the project, 9.6 kilometer section running from the Railway Station to Nea Elvetia -- comprising 13 stations and 18 automated trains running in two separate tunnels -- has already been tendered.
The minister further rejected objections over the usefulness of the underwater road artery, stressing that it was an important project that would de-congest central Thessaloniki.
"According to a study, some 90,000 cars will be commuting in Thessaloniki in 2011-2012. Imagine all these cars passing through the centre of the city," he said. "I want to believe that this issue will have been settled by autumn so that we can proceed with the signing of the contract and its ratification in parliament in 2-21/2 months. The project must begin in 2005," the minister added.
The underwater road artery project is budgeted at 410-420 million euros, of which 25 percent will be covered by the State (100 million euros). The toll fees will not exceed one euro, Souflias said, but added that the feel will be re-determined when the project reverts to the State. He clarified that the toll fee will be shouldered by the commuters.
Turning to the airport runway project, Souflias said that the underwriter for the project has already been selected through tendering, and construction, which would take 5 1/2 years for completion, was set to begin this year. The minister added that a proposal for the construction of a second terminal facility has been abandoned, due to lack of funds.
 Gov't, civil workers begin negotiations over new pay agreement
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The government and civil workers' union ADEDY on Wednesday began a round of negotiations aimed to reach a new collective labor agreement in the public sector for 2005.
The first meeting was held between Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and ADEDY's presidency.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Alogoskoufis said a commission would be set up to write down pay increase demands by the end of August. Pavlopoulos urged for a single payroll in the public sector from 2006 and reiterated that the government did not plan cuts in benefit payments. ADEDY president Spyros Papaspyrou called for a minimum wage of 1,300 euros.
Gov't to accept only technical improvement in working hours' draft law: The government is open to a debate in parliament over any technical improvement in a draft legislation aimed to introduce extended shopping hours in the country, but not changing the main core of the law's philosophy, governing ND party secretary Evangelos Meimarakis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with representatives of Greek commerce, Meimarakis defended the government's draft legislation while he categorically dismissed talk that a new law would allow businessmen to decide on working hours in the country. "This is not in the government's intentions or thoughts," he said.
Meimarakis said that government efforts to resolve problems did not mean that it was opening new fronts with its social partners.
GSEE still adamantly opposed to more flexible labor regime: The leadership of Greece's largest trade umbrella union, GSEE, on Wednesday reiterated its opposition to government plans for liberalizing labor relations and unifying store hours around the country.
Days after GSEE's board flatly rejected any dialogue with the government over the latter's intent to make work schedules more elastic over the course of a year -- a measure expected to mostly benefit tourism-related businesses and seasonal work -- the union's top leadership warned of stepped up strike actions over the summer if Parliament passes the proposed changes.
GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos again said that his union will not discuss proposed changes under a "pre-determined agenda", but rather within a framework where each side -- the government, unions, employers' federations and other social partners -- tables its proposals.
He also called for more time for negotiations, especially on the issues of flexibility and the cost of overtime, which under a government proposal would be cut.
"The country is not in a state of emergency," he said, an indirect reply to previous government charges against the union that its intentions have been known since last February.
Finally, Polyzogopoulos presented results from a nationwide opinion poll commissioned by his union, which reported that 77.7 percent of wage-earners disagreed with any decrease in salaries; 63.4 percent also disagreed with the idea that staff cuts can contribute to reforming state-run utilities and enterprises.
Conversely, 49 percent of wage-earners polled by the Metron Analysis firm said they agreed with the idea that privatizations can contribute to state-run firms' restructuring.
Gov't again calls on GSEE union to continue dialogue over proposed labor changes: Labor Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos on Wednesday again publicly invited GSEE - the country's largest umbrella trade union - to continue a dialogue over working hours and overtime pay.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Panagiotopoulos said dialogue was at the last and most crucial phase, while he stressed that conditions were ripe for finding a mutually acceptable solution.
"It would be a pity for a unilateral decision by GSEE to disturb this positive climate of consensus," the minister added, while he stressed that a dialogue was active.
The government seeks a consensus with employees' unions, Panagiotopoulos said, adding that a well-organized state should promote dialogue and labor relations peace and not to leave initiatives to employers.
The Economy minister said the government was trying to effectively execute this year's budget with the aim of achieving its goals and a reduction the country's fiscal deficit.
 SE European energy charter to be signed in October
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)A southeast European energy charter is to be signed in Athens in October, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Wednesday.
"Creation of an integrated, regional energy market, which is an event of major importance, will further reinforce the ties among peoples in the wider region and act as a powerful basis for cooperation in all sectors of the economy, as well as energy," Sioufas said in a statement.
The move was decided at a meeting in Vienna on Tuesday of prime ministers of the Southeast European Energy Community, following a proposal by the United Kingdom, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency.
Taking part in the energy group are Austria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Romania, Turkey and Kosovo. Moldova is an observer.
The charter will create a new, EU-backed regional energy market for electricity and natural gas that will benefit countries, companies and consumers, the statement said.
 Demand in Greek fuel market slowing in 2005
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Fuel consumption, including all types of petrol and diesel oil, fell 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2005, a sign of a slowing market, a report by Stat Bank said on Wednesday.
The report said the domestic petrol market was down 3.1 percent in the January-March period, with oil product distribution companies reporting sales of 3.4 million metric tons from 3.5 million in the same period last year.
Stat Bank said the market was stable last year, after recording a 9.0 percent growth rate in 2003. The report said sales of petrol rose 2.4 percent in the first three months of 2005, while sales of heating oil and diesel oil dropped 4.9 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively. Large enterprises are hit the hardest by the slowdown in demand while smaller enterprises manage to overcome more easily market difficulties.
EKO topped the list of the domestic fuel market in the first quarter, followed by BP and Shell, with all three companies losing market shares to smaller competitors. Avin, Jet Oil, Aegean Oil, Elin Oil, Revoil, Silk Oil and Kaoil reported improved market shares over the same period.
Aegean Oil and Revoil reported growth rate of more than 20 percent.
The report said a dramatic increase in crude oil prices was expected to affect the domestic market and to further cut consumption.
The 55 fuel distribution companies in the Greek market reported an 8.9 percent increase in turnover, but their pre-tax profits fell 15.2 percent. Sales totalled 8.29 billion euros, while net profits were 153.7 million euros.
The report said that a low price policy would continue to benefit small Greek companies in 2005. Shell saw its profitability plunge by more than 80 percent, while Avin reported a 30.2 percent fall in profits.
 Greek plastic packaging product market steadily growing
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The Greek plastic packaging product market is expected to grow by 4-5 percent in the 2005-2006 period, an ICAP report said on Wednesday.
The domestic market of plastic packaging products grew an average annual rate of 4.3 percent in the period 1995-2004, with demand covered mainly by domestic products.
Plastic bags accounted for 29 percent of the market in 2004, followed by the plastic leave-films (26 pct) and plastic bottles (20 pct).
Plastic packaging products offer safe transportation and preservation of consumer products, while the fact that such products are very light in weight make them very competitive. The only disadvantage of the product is that it is not environmental-friendly.
Plastic packaging product prices are highly dependent on oil prices, with a record rally of international oil prices in the last three years leading to a substantial increase in production costs and limiting profit margins in the sector.
Recycling of plastic products is crucial for the sector. Greece ranks at the bottom on European countries in recycling, with a rate smaller than 5.0 percent.
However, efforts are been made to improve the country's record.
 Greek railways eye express routes to Bucharest, Skopje, Belgrade
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The state-run Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) on Wednesday announced that it will use high-speed trains on its routes from the northern city of Thessaloniki to Bucharest, Skopje and Belgrade, a move that comes after similar routes were inaugurated on the same day for Istanbul and Sofia.
The announcement came during a brief ceremony in the port city's train terminal for the new routes, which were inaugurated by Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis.
The minister added that a rail link between Thessaloniki and the northwest Bulgarian river port of Lom is also being promoted.
The Thessaloniki-Istanbul express, which departs each city daily at 10 p.m., will cover the distance in 11.5 hours, down from the 14.5 hours it previously took.
Liapis, meanwhile, is expected to board a specially commissioned train for Istanbul on Wednesday evening, arriving in the ancient Bosporus metropolis the next day, where he will be welcomed by his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim.
Wednesday's ceremony was attended by local officials and diplomats.
 Major tourism investments in Crete, Volos and Arkoudi
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The Hellenic Investment Centre (ELKE) said on Wednesday that it was processing major tourism investments in Crete, Volos and Arkoudi that totalled 600 million euros.
"These are the first tangible results of ELKE's new strategy to disentangle from red tape investment plans from long ago, and to lift the disincentives that harass investors," ELKE's president, Yiannis Anastasopoulos, said in a statement.
The state's one-stop centre said that a tourism investment was to be implemented in Crete worth 250 million euros that would create more than 300 tenure and seasonal jobs.
In Volos, a tourism complex also budgeted at 250 million euros would be built, bringing 800 new jobs.
The third investment in Arkoudi, an Ionian island, totalled 100 million euros, the statement said.
 Greece rejects Commission plan to reform EU sugar regime
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The Greek government on Wednesday categorically rejected the European Commission's proposals to reform a sugar regime in the Union, with Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos saying that "under no circumstances can these proposals be accepted by the government, since they are catastrophic for Greek farmers and the country's sugar industry".
Addressing a meeting with the ambassadors of the EU-25, organized on the initiative of British ambassador to Greece Simon Gass, Basiakos said past PASOK governments failed to make an efficient use of community subsidies to improve Greek farm competitiveness, while he stressed that the farm sector currently faced many structural problems.
"The farm sector's share in the country's economy, although it shrank significantly in the previous decade, continues to be at very high levels compared with most EU member-states," the Greek minister said.
Basiakos said the current government was placing emphasis on production and distribution of quality farm products.
Greece, however, remains steadfast on its position to ensure community funds in support of farmers and the farm sector during the fourth period and rejects any idea of cutting spending or re-nationalizing a Common Agricultural Policy for economic, social or national reasons, Basiakos stressed.
He also urged other EU sugar-producing countries to form a common position on the sugar regime issue.
 Info-Quest gets non-binding offer for Q-Telecom
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Athens-quoted Info-Quest SA informed bourse authorities on Wednesday that it had received a non-binding offer from foreign institutional investors for the purchase of its Q-Telecom operation.
The indicative offered price for the acquisition is two hundred and fifty million euros, Info-Quest said in a statement.
Negotiations on an exclusive basis are to begin shortly and are anticipated to end in August 2005, the statement added.
 Greek car market shows signs of fatigue in 2005, report
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)New car registrations totalled 288,786 units in 2004, up by 31,786 from the previous year, a report by Hellastat citing official figures by the Association of Car Importers and Dealers said on Wednesday.
Small and medium-sized cars, due to their affordable prices, cars with a taxed engine horsepower of 11hp and family multi-purpose vehicles were the top winners in the Greek market last year, with the latter category raising its market share to 6.5 percent, approaching a 12 percent average share in Europe.
The Greek car market, however, is showing signs of fatigue in the first months of 2005, a development expected after the surge of 2004 due to the Olympic Games and in line with a slowdown in other sectors of the economy. Car registrations were down also in Europe, with sales falling 1.4 percent in the first five months of 2005 compared with the corresponding period last year.
Exclusive importers, with the exception of Lada Hellas, reported an average sales growth rate of 20.9 percent, while profit growth was up an average 9.8 percent, with 10 companies reporting a decline in profits.
In the car dealers market, the three largest players in car financing reported a remarkable increase in revenues but a 20 percent drop in profit, while tire, accessories and spare part firms reported an 11 percent increase in revenues and profits.
The report by Hellastat said it remained optimistic over domestic car market prospects since 23.6 percent of passenger cars were registered before 1990, compared with a 10 percent rate in other EU-15 member states. The report said that plans to allow the use of diesel engine cars in large Greek cities could drastically change market shares in the market and affect significantly demand for cars.
Greek consumers are currently focusing on imported cheaper cars from China.
 Emporiki Bank to complete share capital rise by end September
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Athens-quoted Emporiki Bank is to complete a share capital increase of 400-500 million euros by the end of September, chairman George Provolopoulos said on Wednesday.
The move aimed to improve the state run bank's capital adequacy, said Provolopoulos, who is also managing director.
The increase, which was likely to be closer to 400 million euros, would improve the capital adequacy ratio to at least 10%, he noted.
Board members representing shareholder Credit Agricole of France were satisfied with the bank's first-quarter results, announced on Tuesday, and with resolution of a social insurance problem with staff, Provopoulos added.
 Analyst sees July inflation at 3.9%
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Inflation in July is likely to run at 3.9%, Athens-quoted Alpha Bank said in a market report released on Wednesday.
In August, inflation is like to fall to 3.5%, dropping to 3.2% in December, based on an anticipated average oil price of 53 US dollars per barrel, the report said.
Average inflation for 2005 is seen at 3.4%, with a slight decline in average core inflation to 3.2% in 2005 from 3.3% a year earlier, despite rising pressure from new tax measures, it added.
 EFG Eurobank completes securitization of credit card receivables
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Athens-quoted EFG Eurobank SA said on Wednesday that it had successfully completed a securitization of domestic credit card receivables, the first in the Greek market, and the first in euros in the European market for 2005.
Issuer of the 750-million-euro credit card asset-backed floating-rate notes was Karta 2005-1 Plc of the United Kingdom.
The rate is 21.7 basis points above three-month Euribor, Eurobank said in a statement.
Collateral is a pool of credit card receivables from Visa and MasterCard accounts originated by EFG Eurobank Ergasias
Contact was made with institutional investors in Dublin, Brussels, Frankfurt, London and Paris, which included a presentation of the Greek credit card market, the statement said.
This is Eurobank's third securitization following two successful mortgage issues totalling 1,500 million euros rated by Fitch: Themeleion Mortgage Finance Plc and Themeleion II Mortgage Finance Plc.
 Gov't on results of new development law
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The government on Wednesday dismissed criticism that a new development law, implemented last year, has not posted positive results, as the government spokesman pointed to figures gathered from every individual prefecture in the country.
Speaking to reporters during his regular press briefing, spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that as of July 7, 2005 proposals involving a total of 561.3 million euros have been filed. Of those, applications involving a total of 114.4 million euros have been approved, of which 50.54 million euros are subsidies, he said.
Roussopoulos said the figures translate into 62 out 249 proposals being approved so far, with the remainder under consideration.
 Workers at Attica Bank stage 48-hr strike
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Workers at Athens-quoted Attica Bank on Wednesday began a 48-hour strike to protest against a management plan to abolish a social insurance account for staff.
The OTOE bank workers' union said it supported the strike.
 Sanyo Hellas sells subsidiaries to US venture
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Athens-quoted Sanyo Hellas Holdings said on Wednesday that it had signed an agreement with Arcadia Media Inc. of the U.S.A. for the sale of Sanyo subsidiaries Arcadia Digital S.A. and Arcadia Master S.A.
Arcadia Media Inc. was set up by shareholders of the two subsidiaries. Sanyo Hellas Holdings has a 70% stake in the buyer, as well as in each of the two subsidiaries, Sanyo said in a statement.
The deal is the first in a series of moves to achieve funding for the two subsidiaries through a private placement of Arcadia Media's shares to US institutional investors, the statement added.
 Stocks rise, led by smaller stocks
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher with players focusing on smaller stocks, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,123.46 points, marking a rise of 0.25%. Turnover was 170.0 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.05% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.24% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.40% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 148 to 126 with 64 remaining unchanged.
 Police cite arrests in latest migrant smuggling case involving involuntary imprisonment
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Police arrested two suspects along with 60 illegal immigrants held in a one-storey residence in the west Athens district of Peristeri on Tuesday evening, the latest instance of an alleged migrant-smuggling gang keeping mostly Third World migrants imprisoned until relatives paid for their smuggling into the country.
Another two suspects are wanted in relation to the same case.
According to authorities, each illegal immigrant had agreed to pay between 3,000 and 6,000 euros for their transport. An investigation is continuing to determine whether the suspects smuggled more illegals via Turkey into the country or other EU member-states.
 Coalition party leader expresses support for civil homosexual marriages
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party leader Alekos Alavanos expressed support for civil marriages between homosexuals in talks held on Wednesday with the board of the Homosexual and Lesbian Community (OLKE).
"We expressed our support for efforts to handle discriminations of every kind, to consolidate freedom of sexual orientation in Greece and to facilitate institutional solutions for many issues such as, for example, the issue of civil marriage between homosexuals," Alavanos said.
The Coalition party leader added that "the Greek government and Greek parties must learn from the measures recently taken by the Zapattero government in Spain. They are mature institutional changes such as discrimination against homosexuals being considered a racist act."
 Japanese Coast Guard vessel "Kojima" in Piraeus this month
Athens, 14/07/2005 (ANA)The Japanese Coast Guard training ship "Kojima" will dock at the port of Piraeus between July 17 and 21, a Japanese embassy press release stated on Wednesday.
The vessel hosts 42 cadets being trained for future duties involving maritime safety and protection of the Japanese isles.
While in Piraeus, cadets will attend seminars conducted by the merchant marine ministry and the Piraeus harbor authority on the issues of sea transports and maritime safety, among others.
 Cyprus President informs National Council on latest developments
NICOSIA, 14/07/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos informed on Wednesday members of the National Council on the latest developments on the Cyprus problems as well as deliberations at the European Union on the regulations for Turkish Cypriots and the protocol expanding Turkey's Association agreement with the ten new EU member states.
Reading a statement after a two hour meeting, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the president informed in detail the members of the National Council (top advisory body to the president on the handling of the Cyprus problem) on the latest developments on the Cyprus problem, the contacts the government had with UN officials at the UN headquarters and the recent visit of UN Undersecretary General Sir Kieran Prendergast to the region.
He also said that President Papadopoulos informed Council members on the EU deliberations concerning the European Union regulations (direct trade with the Turkish occupied north and allocation of 259 million euro to Turkish Cypriots) and the protocol extending Turkey's customs union to the ten new EU member states, including Cyprus.
The next meeting of the National Council is scheduled to take place around the end of August or early September.
 Cyprus says USAID project not recognition of occupation regime
NICOSIA, 14/07/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Wednesday there were assurances that the US aid to the Turkish occupied areas did not constitute recognition of the puppet regime.
The spokesman was commenting on press reports that Bearing Point, one of the world's largest business consulting and systems integration firms, had won a task order contract with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), to assist Turkish Cypriots in improving their business practices and in creating and taking advantage of new business opportunities. The contract is valued at 10 million dollars over three years.
Chrysostomides said the US had decided on this assistance some time ago and it was not being implemented, adding that there are assurances that this is not any form of recognition of the occupation regime.