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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-07-16

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

July, 16, 2005


  • [01] PM addresses ND party's youth festival on Limnos, sends message of peace and cooperation to all neighboring countries
  • [02] Gov't unveils closely watched draft bill on labor relations
  • [03] Greek inner cabinet approves draft bill on labor relations
  • [04] Communist party dissatisfied with govt's labor bill
  • [05] Merchants state demands on working hours
  • [06] Commission finds Greece in breach of EU public procurement law
  • [07] Government distances itself from controversial text sent out by Archbishop
  • [08] Effort to attribute partisan sentiments to Church and its leadership 'doomed to failure', Archdiocese says in announcement
  • [09] Greece seeks ways to boost EU funds' absorption rates
  • [10] Merchant Marine ministry to tender port projects "very soon"
  • [11] Tourism minister meets with World Travel & Tourism Council chief
  • [12] Greek inflation at four-year low
  • [13] Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers
  • [14] President Papoulias attends inauguration of Yianoulis Halepas exhibition on island of Tinos
  • [15] Macedonia-Thrace Minister addresses int'l congress of Pan-Macedonian Associations
  • [16] Cyprus honors those killed in 1974 to defend the Republic
  • [17] European Commission issues report on Green Line Regulation

  • [01] PM addresses ND party's youth festival on Limnos, sends message of peace and cooperation to all neighboring countries

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis addressed his ruling New Democracy party's ONNED youth organization's festival on the island of Limnos on Friday night, titled "Presence 2005-Limnos" and focusing on the theme of "Culture and regional development."

    Karamanlis arrived in the town of Myrina, where the festival got under way, earlier in the day and visited the Myrina Archaeological Park and met with the Minister of the Aegean Aristotelis Pavlidis, deputies from the prefecture of Lesvos, the prefect of Lesvos and mayors of Limnos.

    The prime minister sent a message of peace and cooperation to all neighboring countries during his address at the festival, a message of unity and consensus to all Greeks and a message of education and culture.

    Karamanlis also revealed that the proposal for the establishment of a University Faculty in Limnos, regarding "Sciences and Foodstuffs Technology" and having two departments, is being considered.

    He categorically condemned terrorist attacks and the upsurge of fanaticism, irrationality and hatred and expressed sympathy to the families of the victims which were left behind by the hideous crimes in London, Madrid and New York.

    Karamanlis stressed that terrorists are not entitled to invoke any ideology, any religion and any culture and it is the obligation of humanity not to submit to fear, but to strive to confront the deeper causes of international terrorism. It must intensify its efforts to achieve an international community having stronger institutions, closer ties and more prosperity for all.

    Referring to Greece, the prime minister said that it is following a strategy of peace and cooperation in the modern-day world, with vision and realism for the Europe of the common future, for Europe which is becoming more political, more democratic, more social and more effective.

    Commenting on latest developments taking place in the European Union, he said that it is proceeding with the unshakeable conviction, despite the crucial issues which appeared recently, that the EU can guarantee a better tomorrow for all member-states and its peoples.

    Karamanlis further underlined that Greece is pursuing the widening of cooperation with all peoples and the normalization of relations with neighboring Turkey.

    "We supported and we are supporting its European orientation with the conviction that this path, the path of absolute adjustment to the European acquis communautaire, can produce positive results both for its citizens and its neighbors," he said.

    The prime minister clarified, however, that the course depends primarily on the response of Turkey itself to the principles and values of the EU, to international rules and to international law.

    Focusing on domestic issues, Karamanlis said that his government is forging ahead with vision, wisdom and boldness in the new era.

    "The citizens were the first to recognize that the continuation of the tactic of the past could go no further. We all saw, experienced and learnt these things in this country. Insistence on the preservation of inflexibilities, sterile reaction to every change means the perpetuation and swelling of the problems of yesterday. Inertia entails deadlocks. The lack of action perpetuates morbid situations. Negligence worsens the day-to-day lives of the many. The country has no ground for losing any more time. Greek society chose the path of the future. The path of restructuring and of surging forward. The path of changes and of reforms," he said.

    The prime minister said that the government's decision to change everything that is pinning down Greek society to enable it to move towards a new prospect with the criterion of collective interest and safeguarding tomorrow as of today constitutes a commitment.

    Outlining his government's policy, he said its target is to detach the country from the morass of the past and from the long-standing stagnation of short-sighted management and to enable Greece to obtain a leading political, economic and cultural role in Europe and in the wider region.

    Concluding his address at the youth festival, Karamanlis said "we want your proposals and your ideas. We want you to be at the focal point of politics and at the focal point of developments. Our strength is the relation of confidence with citizens. You are our strength. The young women and the young men. Your drive, your desires and your dreams."

    [02] Gov't unveils closely watched draft bill on labor relations

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Friday tabled a draft bill in Parliament envisaging significant changes in labor relations in the east Mediterranean country, such as cutting the cost of overtime work and determining working time.

    Speaking to reporters, Labor Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos said the draft bill would change the way overtime work is calculated and compensated, with the overtime rate lowered to 25 percent of hour-payment from 50 percent at present. On an annual basis, overtime work up to 120 hours will be paid with an additional increase of 50 percent, and by 75 percent for overtime work of more than 120 hours annually.

    The draft bill also envisages a method of calculating working time on a four-month, or on an annual basis for seasonal enterprises, with a ceiling of 10 hours daily work. The new system calls for agreements between companies and workers' unions. In cases of disagreement, a special commission will be formed to find a mutually accepted solution on the prefectural level.

    The draft legislation also foresees stricter procedures for inspecting businesses and worksites.

    Panagiotopoulos said the measures aim at supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises as well as reducing the problem of Greek enterprises moving abroad. Deputy Labor Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos also said the measures were part of an effort to combat unemployment.

    GSEE, the country's largest trade union umbrella, however, has strongly criticized the draft bill, saying it was put together to satisfy employers' demands while at the same time undermining employees' rights. GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos, in fact, said workers' unions would react to the measures, a more-or-less warning of strike actions.

    [03] Greek inner cabinet approves draft bill on labor relations

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    A Greek inner cabinet meeting on Friday unanimously approved a draft legislation envisaging changes in labor relations and overtime work.

    Speaking to reporters, Labor Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos, said he would table the draft legislation to parliament later in day. The Greek minister said that each prefecture would form a three-party commission with the task of regulating working hours in each region. The Commission will include two representatives from workers unions and two representatives from employers.

    Economy and Finance Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos said the draft bill signaled the beginning of a new era in labor relations, while Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said it would contribute in boosting growth and employment in the country.

    [04] Communist party dissatisfied with govt's labor bill

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) attacked the government over the draft law it tabled in Parliament on Friday regarding labor relations.

    "Workers' personal and family lives are being ruined," KKE said, referring to clauses of the bill pertaining to overtime.

    According to KKE, "[ruling] New Democracy is adopting even more aggressive measures against the working class: it is doing away with the 7-hour and 8-hour workday. It is increasing the share of unpaid work."

    Furthermore, the communist party claims that the changes proposed in the draft law do nothing to fight unemployment or to support small- and medium-size business. KKE accused main opposition PASOK of doing the same when it was in office.

    Finally, according to KKE, workers' struggles will become more effective and have greater potential provided that KKE receives widespread support and that the dynamics within the workers' union movement shift in favor of the union PAME.

    [05] Merchants state demands on working hours

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    The National Confederation of Greek Commerce on Friday released a statement of its demands from the government concerning working hours.

    The statement called on the government to meet the following demands:

  • Respect for the 40-hour, five-day working week

  • Eight hours of overtime a week beyond the standard working week, to be recompensed by the hourly wage plus 25%

  • One to 60 hours of annual overtime at additional pay of 35%: 61-120 hours of overtime at 50% extra; 121 and over at 75% extra; and non-legitimate overtime at 100%

  • A full liberalization of the working time, with a ceiling of daily work of 11 hours

    [06] Commission finds Greece in breach of EU public procurement law

    BRUSSELS, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    The European Commission on Friday announced that it has taken action against Greece regarding breaches of European Union public procurement law.

    Specifically, the Commission is referring Greece to the European Court of Justice regarding the award procedure for the construction of a thermoelectric plant in Lavrio, launched by the Public Power Corporation (DEH).

    According to a Commission press release, "the two companies that reached the last phase of the procedure (submission of financial bids) did not meet the conditions set out in the call for tenders, despite the fact that in the announcement of the call and the invitation to tender it was explicitly stated that any bid not meeting the specific requirements would be rejected."

    Of the two companies that made it to the final stage, the first did not have the necessary experience, while the second - which was awarded the contract - did not comply with one of the conditions concerning the long-term maintenance agreement.

    In the second case, the Commission has sent Greece a reasoned opinion regarding a procedure launched by the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Foods for the award of 24 studies on the protection and management of public forests.

    According to the Commission, "the call for tenders mixes up the selection and the award criteria, which is contrary to Directive 92/50 (public service contracts), which foresees that the selection and the award phases should be distinct and based on different criteria (set out in the Directive itself)."

    The European Commission began infringement proceedings against Germany, Spain, Italy, Portugal and France also regarding public procurement.

    [07] Government distances itself from controversial text sent out by Archbishop

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Friday underlined the government's disagreement with a document attributed to an associate of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece, and sent by the archbishop to a number of specific recipients.

    "The government does not adopt the content of the text and deplores it," the spokesman said in response to questions.

    The text was entitled as "Manifesto of political positions" and attacked the head of main opposition PASOK George Papandreou and former PASOK leader and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    It drew angry reactions from the main opposition party, which slammed it as libelous and demanded explanations from the government and the Church, hinting at secret arrangements between Christodoulos and ruling New Democracy.

    [08] Effort to attribute partisan sentiments to Church and its leadership 'doomed to failure', Archdiocese says in announcement

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    The press office of the Archdiocese issued an announcement on Friday, regarding a document published in the press which drew a strong reaction from the main opposition PASOK party, saying that the "effort being made by some to attribute partisan sentiments to the Church and its leadership is doomed to failure".

    "The Church cannot be identified and is not identified with specific political sectors, nor can it be colored and it is not colored by feelings of sympathy or dislike for them," the announcement said.

    "The Church, being the affectionate mother of the people by nature, embraces all people, without being interested in their partisan identity and only serves man and his spiritual and material needs," it added.

    An announcement made by the Archdiocese's press spokesman earlier in the day had said that the document did not reflect the views of the Archbishop and nor did it bear his signature.

    Sources of the Archdiocese further stressed that the Archbishop receives various analyses from various scientists, etc, without this meaning that he endorses them.

    [09] Greece seeks ways to boost EU funds' absorption rates

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    Greece has to spend around 500 million euros on a monthly basis from a Third Community Support Framework by the end of the year to achieve EU funds' absorption targets and avoid the risk of losing money, Constantinos Mousouroulis, secretary-general at the Economy and Finance ministry, said on Friday addressing a meeting -held in Thessaloniki- by the Monitoring Commission of the Community Support Framework Program for the period 2000-2006.

    Addressing the meeting, Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Folias, expressed his optimism over the course of implementing a Third Community Support Framework and praised the coordinated and systematic efforts made in the last 16 months towards achieving this goal. Folias said it was crucial to deal with existing problems by the end of 2005 and stressed that the government aimed to reach an agreement on a Fourth Community Support Framework for the period 2006-2013 during the UK presidency of the European Union.

    Other officials stressed that the Greek government submitted with EU agencies the first payment applications for 2005, but the total sum of the projects was rather low.

    [10] Merchant Marine ministry to tender port projects "very soon"

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Friday met with Finance ministry officials, and representatives of Greek employers, shipowner, seamen and the board of Greek Ports Organization to discuss the implementation of a financial protocol signed between Merchant Marine ministry and the European Investment Bank in July 12, in Luxembourg.

    The financial protocol envisages the offering of a 3.0-billion-euro loan to Greece for projects to upgrade the country's major ports. The terms of the loan agreement are very favorable. It has a 25 year duration and a grant period of seven years, low interest rate and comes without the guarantee of the Greek state.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Kefaloyiannis said the purpose of the meeting was to brief all interested parties over the financial protocol and seek their cooperation in implementing planned projects. "We believe we will be able very soon to announce the first projects -to be tendered- for the ports of Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Heraclio and the country's 12 biggest ports," he said.

    Merchant Marine ministry has announced a mammoth program, worth 6.0 billion euros, to upgrade the country's projects with the aim to attract new investments and establish the country as a dominant player in sea transport in the Mediterranean and the wider southeastern Europe.

    [11] Tourism minister meets with World Travel & Tourism Council chief

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's tourism development minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Friday met with visiting president of the World Travel and Tourism Council Jean-Claude Baumgarten, with whom he discussed views on the current tourism season.

    Avramopoulos told reporters that a series of ideas were put forward on ways that Greek tourism could become more deeply involved in the activities of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

    Tourism, on a global scale, was entering a "very interesting" period, he said, given that new methods of tourism policy management were arising and international collaborations were being promoted.

    Greece was breaking out of its borders and becoming involved in such activities, Avramopoulos added, aiming at rendering it a major tourism force, and reiterated that systematic work and professionalism were among the means for achieving that target.

    Baumgarten, replying to press questions on how the tourism season was developing for Greece, said that the season had started extremely well, adding that Greece should take advantage of the momentum from last year's Olympic Games in Athens and its increased presence in the new markets.

    The visiting official, questioned on the repercussions of the recent lethal terrorist attack in London on world tourism, opined that the incident would not have a negative effect, noting that people continued to travel and engage in tourism.

    [12] Greek inflation at four-year low

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    Annual inflation in Greece remained at its lowest levels in four years despite surging oil prices in international markets and speculation of a new round of price hikes in the country, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou both said on Friday.

    Speaking to reporters, the two ministers said the average inflation rate remained at the lowest levels in four years in June (3.2 percent, from 3.1 pct in June 2004; 3.6 pct in June 2003 and 3.5 pct in June 2002). The ministers also pledged to continue working, in cooperation with market authorities, towards further containing prices in the domestic market.

    [13] Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond: 3.53% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bund: 3.30% yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring July 20, 2015 (760 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.3 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released

    by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.217

    Pound sterling 0.691

    Danish kroner 7.519

    Swedish kroner 9.490

    Japanese yen 136.4

    Swiss franc 1.571

    Norwegian kroner 8.033

    Cyprus pound 0.578

    Canadian dollar 1.476

    Australian dollar 1.621

    [14] President Papoulias attends inauguration of Yianoulis Halepas exhibition on island of Tinos

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    President Karolos Papoulias visited the Aegean island of Tinos on Friday, where he attended the inauguration of the Yianoulis Halepas exhibition and was proclaimed an honorary citizen of the island.

    "When I received the invitation for the inauguration of the permanent exhibition of Yianoulis Halepas at the Tinos Culture Foundation I responded immediately and with great joy for two reasons: So that I could also be able to express personally the emotion created in me by the work of an exclusively tragic figure of Greek art. In parallel, however, and to find myself with you in a holy location on this beautiful island in the Cyclades, many corners of which still remain unknown and unexplored," President Papoulias said during the inauguration ceremony.

    Addressing the mayor of Tinos during his proclamation ceremony, President Papoulias expressed the feelings of joy he experiences every time he "visits the Aegean and its precious pearls, the islands".

    [15] Macedonia-Thrace Minister addresses int'l congress of Pan-Macedonian Associations

    Athens, 16/07/2005 (ANA)

    Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis said that the history of Macedonia must be safeguarded, during his opening address at the 9th International Congress of the Pan-Macedonian Associations, held in Thessaloniki on Friday.

    "The Greek government has made and continues to make efforts in order to find a mutually-acceptable solution to the name issue," he stressed, referring to the long-standing controversy between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regarding the use of the name Macedonia by the latter.

    He said that "We are adamant about preventing the distortion of our history and civilization," Tsiartsionis said.

    [16] Cyprus honors those killed in 1974 to defend the Republic

    NICOSIA, 16/07/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus remembered and paid tribute on Friday to those killed defending the Republic during the 1974 military coup against the democratically elected President of Cyprus.

    A church service for those killed during the coup was held in the morning at Saints Constantinos and Eleni Church in Nicosia, in the presence of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    In statements after the service, Cyprus President stressed that Friday's remembrance should remind all that disunion among people brings disaster and catastrophe.

    ''Let us wish that today's remembrance is used as a reminder that disunion brings disaster. I appeal to you all for unity and participation at the struggle for justice in Cyprus'', President Papadopoulos said.

    The military coup against the first President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios, engineered by the military junta then ruling Greece, was followed five days later by the Turkish invasion, which resulted in the illegal occupation of 37 percent of the Republic's territory and its de facto division.

    The wailing of sirens was heard at 8.20 local time, the very time when the coup occurred.

    Present at the church service were among others House President Demetris Christofias, Ambassador of Greece to Cyprus Demetris Rallis, Attorney General Petros Clerides, National Guard Commander Athanasios Nikolodemos, Police Chief Tasos Panayiotou, leaders or representatives of political parties, other officials and relatives of those killed in defense of the Republic during the military coup.

    Addressing the ceremony Minister of Defense Kyriakos Mavronicolas said that the people of Cyprus managed to survive the coup and the Turkish invasion that followed, and to join the European Union, but noted that the tragic consequences of the twin crime remain until today.

    ''There are still refugees, missing persons, enclaved ones, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the Cyprus people are still being violated'', he said.

    Referring to the Turkish invasion the defense minister noted that its aim was to destroy the Cypriot state and to commit genocide by killing innocent women and children and violently forcing them to leave their homes.

    On the Cyprus question he said that it still remains an international problem of invasion and occupation, and it should be solved within the framework of the United Nations.

    He added though, that after Cyprus' accession to the EU, the problem has become a European one and stressed that Cyprus wishes to see a

    more active involvement of the European institutions in the efforts to solve the problem.

    Referring to the rejection by the Greek Cypriots of the UN-sponsored Annan plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, he said that Greek Cypriots refused to approve an unfair solution that would not secure their future.

    ''Our people are interested in solving the Cyprus problem as soon as possible, because we are the ones who suffer from the effects of non-solution. But we want a functional and viable solution that is based on the international and European law'', he stressed.

    Mavronicolas underlined that Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership demand to upgrade the pseudo state in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus by calling for the lifting of the so-called isolation of Turkish Cypriots and by demanding legalization of the illegal ports and airports in occupied north.

    ''This proves that priority of Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat is not the solution but the legalization of the occupation faits accomplis. The only one responsible for the non solution so far and the stagnation, is Turkey'', the Cypriot official pointed out.

    After the church service President Papadopoulos and other officials laid wreaths at the tombs of those killed defending the Republic.

    Cyprus' House denounces coup and invasion: Cyprus' House of Representatives denounced on Friday the July 15, 1974, military coup against the first President of the Republic, Archbishop Makarios, engineered by the military junta then ruling Greece, and the Turkish invasion that followed five days later resulting in the occupation of the island's northern third.

    The 56-member parliament held an extraordinary plenary session on the occasion, attended by President Tassos Papadopoulos, Cabinet members, the Undersecretary to the President, the Government Spokesman, other government officials, and the National Guard Commander.

    The House observed a one-minute silence in memory of those killed defending democracy and the country.

    Addressing the plenary, President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias assured that efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and reunite the island would not cease and that the division would never be a settlement option.

    He added that ''the message deriving from the traumatic historical reality we lived and still live is that the political management of situations and developments needs caution and maturity, insistence on principles, and readiness for compromises, in order to reach the aim of solving the Cyprus problem.''

    [17] European Commission issues report on Green Line Regulation

    NICOSIA, 16/07/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The European Commission expresses its concern regarding the illegal crossing of immigrants from the Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus via the Green Line to the government controlled areas.

    In its report on the implementation of the EU Council Green Line Regulation, that covers the period 1 May 2004 until 30 April 2005, the Commission notes that the Regulation has proven to be a stable legal frame for the daily crossing of thousands of Cypriots as well as for other EU citizens who can move freely within Cyprus.

    ''This strengthens the links between the two communities on the island and positively affects the development of tourism'', the report states.

    About the volume and value of goods crossing the line, it notes that they remain limited. It is estimated that the real value of the products that crossed the line is 818,133 Euros, and adds that there was no trade between the northern part of Cyprus and other EU Member States via the Green Line.

    The Commission considers that a swift opening of the two new crossing points would have a positive effect on trade development and would contribute to a further integration of the island.

    For the time being the Commission does not envisage further proposals for amendments to the Green Line Regulation.

    Illegal immigration across the Line causes concern, the report says, adding that at least 50% of the asylum seekers illegally crossed the line.

    ''With the implementing measures taken during the course of the reporting period, the regime under Article 2 of Protocol 10 to the Act of Accession is fully operational'', the report adds.

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