|Friday, 17 January 2020|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 00-06-01
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>
NEWS IN ENGLISH
(THE VOICE OF GREECE - Translators Dpt.)
 Political leaders hold heated debate on Athens 2004 GamesA pre-agenda debate at party leader's level was held in Parliament yesterday on preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
The Prime Minister Costas Simitis called on all the social forces to take action and rally on national level. Mr Simitis said that the government's vision was to elevate the Olympic Games to a new model that would be a feast for the young people and friendship and not a market place.
Referring to the works that will be done, the PM said that in this period of time the government was in the phase of planning and expressed the certainty that hoteliers, constructors and businessmen will understand the efforts being made by the government. He also said that the government would in no way allow the various interests to delay and undermine the common efforts.
Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy Party leader Costas Karamanlis expressed concern over the eventual waste of public money by organized interests, which, as he said, the prime minister was attached to.
Mr Karamanlis insisted on setting up a national Olympic council and reiterated that he supported the organisation of the Games through understanding and institutionally consolidated consensus.
The ND leader further predicted that the success was given but warned that he would help without however, permitting non-transparent procedures.
 Communist leader sees Games as a profiteering fieldThe leader of the Greek Communist Party, Aleka Papariga claimed that the government had turned the Olympics into a profiteering field of business groups. She pointed out that thousands of acres of land were bargained away using the Olympic Games as pretext.
The leader of the Coalition of the Left Wing and Progress Nikos Konstantopoulos stressed that if the govt did not change attitude, no organising body would be able to avert the failure of the Olympics.
Meanwhile, the culture minister Theodoros Pangalos ruled out the likelihood of the construction of Olympic projects being assigned to contractors without tender procedures.
 Environment Min. Laliotis rejects direct contractsA bi-ministerial committee for the Olympics, which convened yesterday, chaired by pm Costas Simitis, mainly focused on issues concerning road works and the suburban railway, the metro and light trains.
At the meeting, Environment, Public Works and Town Planning Minister Costas Laliotis stated categorically that no Olympic Games-related projects will be directly contracted.
 The planet of the rising fuelAs of today, there is a further hike in gasoline prices, with unleaded fuel selling 3.8 drachmas more per litre, super costing 3.7 drachmas more and diesel prices rising by just under one drachma a litre. In contrast the price of heating fuel will drop by 0.3 drachmas per litre.
International oil prices have increased by one third in two months, following a growing concern of a shortage in fuel during summer which is a travelling season.
In the US, things became even more complicated, as the new super-clean gas is compulsory for one third of the vehicles, starting today.
 Tighter rules for the stock marketThe national economy ministry is preparing to table a bill in parliament, which provides for special regulations to strengthen security and transparency in stock exchange transactions.
The bill is authorizing the Capital Market Committee to issue a Rule of Attitude for companies that have joined the stock exchange. Furthermore, major shareholders of companies trading on the bourse will be obliged to announce in advance the sale or the purchase of their major share packages.
The code seeks to ensure equal treatment and the rights of shareholders, as well as conditions of transparency, so that the interested parties may be aware of the companies' financial state.
The same bill provides for greater power for the stock exchange board and the capital market committee, with regard to the endorsement of the companies' informative cards.
 Church still objects to govt plan for new ID cardsAt a lunch hosted in Athens by the Foreign Press Association, in honour of Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece yesterday, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church reiterated the position of the church about the optional mention of citizen's religious affiliation on the new ID cards, and urged for the holding of a referendum, calling the government's decision authoritative.
The church, he emphasized, did not require a crutch in order to exist and be active. Replying to journalists' question, he clarified that he was in favour of the optional mention of religious affiliation on new state-issued identity cards and criticized the government for what he described breaking a gentlemen's agreement.
On his part, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas stressed that the issue of the new ID cards was a matter between the state and its citizens, not between the state and the church.
The secretary general of PASOK Costas Skandalidis also added his voice to supporters of the government's decision, appealing to the church to consider where it was leading the country.
Meanwhile, the opposition ND party's spokesman Aris Spiliotopoulos yesterday reiterated the conservative party's view that mention of religious affiliation on the identity cards should be optional. He added that the government should be prepared to discuss the controversial question with the church.
His comments were echoed by former ND leader Miltiadis Evert, who suggested that the government's decision be postponed and proposed a meeting between PM Costas Simitis and Archbishop Christodoulos to look into the issue.
Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis is in favour of the government decision not to include the religious affiliation on ID cards and stated that the govt should deliver the country from laws that were made during the Nazi occupation.
 Greek President pays for new museum wing in CanadaPresident of the Republic Constantinos Stefanopoulos is continuing his seven-day official visit to Canada.
Yesterday, the Greek president handed a 300,000-dollar-worth cheque to the president of the museum of Ontario Steve Lowden to create a new wing to house Greek antiquities of the bronze era.
The new room is expected to open in the autumn of 2003 and will be an extension of the wing that today houses Greek antiquities.