|Thursday, 21 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-05-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 18, 2004
 Greek, Turkish DMs discuss their countries' will to reduce armament expenditures
BRUSSELS 18/5/2004 (ANA)The defense ministers of Greece and Turkey met here on Monday on the sidelines of the EU Council of General Affairs and discussed the intention of their governments to proceed in the reduction of armament expenditures.
As mentioned by Greek Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos, the meeting with his Turkish counterpart Vedzi Gyonul was held in a good climate which responds to the given will of the two countries for a new page in Greek-Turkish relations through dialogue and mutual trust.
During the meeting, the Turkish defense minister announced his government's decision to proceed in a review of Turkey's armaments program, with reductions, according to sources, of 10 billion dollars.
Spiliotopoulos also stressed the desire of the Greek government to proceed in a reduction of armament expenditures which could reach up to 25 percent of the relevant budget in the first phase for the next five-year period. He clarified, however, that the exact percentage will be determined at the end of June when the relevant study is completed. He noted however that the cutbacks will not concern the domestic defense industry which on the contrary will be strengthened.
He said that the rationalization of the expenditures for defense was also a pre-election objective of the New Democracy party which is starting to materialize. "We are reviewing the entire program and shaping another one,'' he said.
Replying to reporters' questions on the eventuality of the abolition of the joint defense doctrine between Greece and Cyprus, he noted that "there is no such issue" and that "simply there is an assessment of the new security situation which was shaped with Cyprus' accession to the European Union so that the necessary adjustments are made, where needed."
Finally, in view of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, he said that there is cooperation with all the neighboring countries mainly for border checks, the movement of persons and the exchange of information.
 PM Karamanlis outlines purposes of US visit in interview with Greek American newspaper
NEW YORK 18/5/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, in an interview with the New York-based Greek newspaper "National Herald" on the occasion of his official visit to the United States, referred to the issue of Cyprus, the aims of his meetings in Washington, Greek-American relations and Greece's new image.
"The Greeks are expecting a great deal from us," the prime minister said, only a few hours before leaving Athens for New York on Monday and termed his visit to the United States "a good opportunity for us to reconfirm in practice the commitment for all Greeks to implement common visions together."
Karamanlis spoke of security for the Athens Olympic Games, which will be one of the main issues he will be discussing with US President George W. Bush during their meeting at the White house on Thursday.
"We have developed an advanced security network," he said, adding that "it is a fact that also obliges those who feel reserved, to share confidence for successful and safe Games."
Focusing on latest developments on the issue of Cyprus, the prime minister said "the Greek Cypriots, with the referendum on April 24, took a decision which is respected absolutely as a result of free expression and the product of the democratic procedure proposed by the United Nations. What is important now is for us to keep alive international interest and the existing momentum for a solution to the issue of Cyprus and for finding, on the basis of the Annan plan, of a concerted solution. A solution which shall be fair, viable and workable and which will provide necessary security guarantees for the Greek Cypriots. Statements by President Papadopoulos in this direction that a bizonal, bicommunal federation was and remains what is needed for a solution to the issue of Cyprus keep alive the hope for its final solution."
Commenting in general on meetings he will be having in New York and Washington, Karamanlis said "I will have the opportunity of presenting to the American leadership the performances of our country in the sector of confronting terrorism and of making a joint review of the results being produced by our cooperation with the US and other countries regarding the creation of a framework which shall guarantee the holding of the Olympic Games in conditions of maximum security. It is here precisely that we consider the contribution of Greek Americans to be decisive, since it is they who can send to all of American society a clear and strong message that Greece is a hospitable country and one of the safest in the world."
 Deputy FM calls for reactivation of procedures for Cyprus reunification
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, who represented Greece at the European Union's Council of General Affairs, stressed the need in Brussels on Monday for the reactivation of procedures for the reunification of Cyprus.
Speaking at a press conference, Valinakis said the situation shaped in Cyprus after the holding of the referendum cannot, of course, change in a few days, but added that all desire the reunification of the island.
He added that the government of Cyprus must take its decisions on the issue and come to an understanding with the other side.
On the question of the election of Romano Prodi's successor at the European Commission's presidency, Valinakis said "that there might also be surprises on this" and stressed that the Greek government desires the Commission's new president to be someone who can understand the positions of Greece within the framework of the EU.
The Intergovernmental Conference was among the issues discussed by the foreign ministers of the 25 member-states. Valinakis said the wish was expressed during the Council for an agreement to be reached on the European constitution before the end of the Irish presidency.
According to the Greek deputy foreign minister, achieving an agreement on the European constitution is an issue of compromise.
"Without a compromise there can be no result on condition, of course, that this compromise will be satisfactory," he said.
Referring to the situation in Iraq, Valinakis said the "25" condemn in an announcement the acts of violence and the murders taking place in the area as well as the "ill-treatment", as they termed it, of detainees there and stress the need for an upgraded role for the UN in the process of transferring power to the Iraqis.
 PASOK leader and Cypriot socialist leader discuss Cyprus issue
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou discussed latest developments on the issue of Cyprus with the President of Cyprus' Socialist EDEK party Yiannakis Omirou on Monday, as well as "the coordination of our initiatives and our thoughts regarding the tactic we shall follow to be led to a bizonal and federal solution to the problem of Cyprus," as Papandreou said.
Papandreou said the discussion also focused on the upcoming Euroelections given that "the socialist group at the European Parliament was and is the most active group as regards the effort to resolve the Cyprus issue" and consequently "the strong presence of the socialists in the European Parliament is a precondition to enable us to play a decisive role on this issue in Europe as well."
Omirou said Cyprus has entered a new historic cycle after May 1, with the incorporation in the European family, adding that "despite the fact that we have undesirable difficulties and existing problems to face after the referendum on April 24, our effort, and in this respect agreement between the two brotherly socialist parties is absolute, is to confront these difficulties jointly, conveying the message that the 'no' by Cypriot Hellenism was in no way a 'no' to a solution to the problem of Cyprus and that we remain firm and steadfast on the aim of pursuing a solution as soon as possible, based on some changes which will appease the insecurities and reservations of Cypriot Hellenism in connection with specific provisions of the Annan plan which, in any case, remains at the forefront of the problem of Cyprus."
 Australian and New Zealand PMs refer to Olympics in Battle of Crete address
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Australian Prime Minister John Howard and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark both referred to the upcoming Olympic Games that will take place in Athens this August during their addresses for the 63rd anniversary of the Battle of Crete on Monday.
Events marking the anniversary are taking place in 11 municipalities in Hania prefecture and other areas of Crete up until Sunday.
The Australian premier stressed the bonds of friendship forged between Greece and Australia at a time of adversity, noting that these had been further strengthened through the valuable contribution of Australia's Greek community to Australian culture and society. He said that Greece and Australia were now celebrating these common bonds, especially in a year when many Australians will be coming to Greece to attend the Athens Olympics in the summer.
Clark expressed her best wishes to Crete and all Greece for the success of the Olympics and her hope that the Athens Olympics will express hope, optimism and good will.
 President Stephanopoulos attends CoS 75th anniversary event
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Monday attended an event celebrating the 75th anniversary since the foundation of the Council of State, Greece's highest administrative court.
 Deputy FM Stylianidis meets with new Liberian FM Nimley, in Athens on unofficial visit
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Deputy foreign minister for International Economic Relations and Developmental Cooperation Evripidis Stylianidis on Monday met with Liberia's new foreign minister, Thomas Yaya Nimley, who is on an unofficial visit to Greece.
The meeting was held in a cordial climate, and Greece's volition to aid, to the degree possible, the Liberian people in the new beginning being attempted for normalization of the situation in that country was stressed, according to a ministry announcement.
The two men also discussed the traditional good relations between the two countries, particularly in the maritime sector.
 Greece seeks permission from EU to cut fuel tax in times of crisis
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Greece on Monday asked the European Union for permission to reduce its fuel taxes in times of crisis in order to avoid a chain reaction of inflationary pressures that would damage the economy and hurt consumer's purchasing power.
The floor for fuel tax is set by the EU's executive Commission, and Greece already has the lowest tax in most categories, which means that permission is required, Deputy Development Minister George Salagoudis told reporters.
If allowed, the measure would bring Greek fuel taxes below the bloc's current floor, Salagoudis said.
The request would be discussed at the Commission's next meeting, he added.
 Construction workers' union demands implementation of safety measures on work sites
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Construction site safety measures, the role of labor inspectors, and Olympic projects were the topics the Construction Workers' Union leadership discussed with the Minister of Labor and Social Protection Panos Panayiotopoulos during their meeting on Monday.
Most fatal, work-related accidents occur on construction sites, where conditions are dangerous and protective measures lacking. According to data from the Labor Inspection Agency (SEPE), 145 workers were killed on a job site in 2003, while 18 have died on Olympic work sites from the time construction began until today.
Since the beginning of this year, 11 workers, the majority of them construction workers, have lost their lives on the job. SEPE ordered 1,700 worksites to close in 2003 that were considered unsafe.
 Greek GDP grew 4.1 pct in 1st quarter, yr/yr
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Greece's Gross Domestic Product rose 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2004 compared with the same period last year, while investments increased by 6.1 percent over the same period, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
NSS, in its report on economic growth, said that GDP growth was 3.0 percent in the January-March period from the fourth quarter of 2003. The statistics service said that a 6.1 percent increase in investments added 1.4 percent in total economic demand in the country.
Spending on final consumption rose 2.5 percent in the first three months of the year, compared with the same period in 2003, while exports rose 5.6 percent and imports fell by 0.7 percent over the same period.
 Finmin says solution to fuel tax to be sought in EU
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday that a solution would be sought in the European Union for a possible cut in fuel tax, as the Greek tariff was already low and the country could not make a unilateral reduction.
At the same time, the government wanted to avoid an adverse impact on the economy of high fuel prices through inflationary pressures, Alogoskoufis told reporters.
The minister was speaking after a meeting with leaders of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE).
He also welcomed a two-year wage agreement forged last week by the GSEE and Association of Greek Industry.
"The contract will also create conditions of certainty for investments and the outlook for the country," Alogoskoufis added.
 Initiatives against profiteering ahead of Athens Games
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Two new units will be established ahead of the Athens Games, whose primary objective will be the prevention of profiteering and illegal trade.
The first unit, titled "The Olympic Financial Crimes Group," will monitor any violations concerning business transactions, and is being created by the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Public Order, in collaboration with the government's financial crimes squad (SDOE), the Municipality of Athens, and the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee.
The second unit, titled "Olympic Games Information and Protection Centre for Citizens," is being established by the consumer group INKA and aims, among other things, to:
• create an ethics code for every commercial sector
• create a consumer hotline (11721)
• monitor preparations based on the experience of Atlanta and Sydney, the two previous Olympic host cities
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki have made fighting illegal trade and profiteering their top priorities.
 Gov't supports development of cargo centers
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Greek Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Monday announced speedier procedures for the construction of a Cargo Centre in Elefsis, including a terminal station, cargo warehouses and logistical support units, scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2005.
The decision was taken during a meeting with representatives of Hellenic Railways Organization and regional agencies.
Addressing the meeting, Liapis reiterated the government's will to develop and operate similar centers around Greece, mainly located at the country's transport hubs. The Greek minister stressed the need to adhere to EU regulations and noted the significance of the project both for the benefit of Hellenic Railways and the country's economy.
 Tourist arrivals forecast to drop 5-8 pct this year
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Tourist arrivals are expected to decline by 5-8 percent this year, the Panhellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises (POET) said, while its members predicted an even larger decline in tourist foreign exchange revenues.
An annual general assembly held in Rhodes concluded that the main factors behind this expected negative development was a reduced competitiveness of the Greek tourist product, insufficient promotion of the Athens Olympic Games, increased competition from countries outside the eurozone area and lack of cooperation between state authorities and services.
Tourism Deputy Minister Anastasios Liaskos, addressing a seminar organized by POET, reiterated the government's will to promote tourism as the spearhead of growth and added that authorities were currently drafting a new tourism policy, including measures to support business activity and combatting bureaucracy. The sector's representatives expressed their worries over the outlook of the sector.
Sea boat owners said that charters were down 60 percent this year compared with 2003 and criticized authorities over high harboring fees (up 400 percent in recent years) in Greece.
 Gov't examines plan to reduce fuel tax
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)The Greek government is examining a move to reduce fuel tax in the country, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday. He was commenting on the likely impact on domestic inflation by rising international oil prices.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with GSEE -Greece's largest trade union umbrella, Alogoskoufis said that the government did not plan any surprise moves in its economic policy.
GSEE representatives stressed the need to combat price increases, reducing tax burdens and raising unemployment benefits in the country.
 Central bank sees Greek growth holding above EU average
SOFIA 18/5/2004 (ANA/B.Borisov)Greek growth is to remain above the European Union average for at least two or three years, a senior official of the Bank of Greece said on Monday.
Growth should hold steady at around 4.0 per cent annually in that period, the head of the Greek central bank's public finance division, Vassilis Manessiotis, told the Athens News Agency in an interview.
"Even if rates of growth drop below 4.3 per cent over the next two or three years, they will remain higher than those in Europe. The rise in GDP is expected to fall between 3.8 per cent and 4.2 per cent in 2005 to 2006," Manessiotis said.
He was in the Bulgarian capital to present the Greek economy in 2003 to a Balkan central bankers' conference.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop, tracking markets abroad
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower on the bourse with the market depressed by glum sentiment in markets abroad, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,431.63 points, showing a 1.43 per cent decline. Turnover was 128.5 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.51 per cent lower; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.58 per cent down; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.40 per cent lower.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 257 to 54 with 43 remaining unchanged.
 USOC chief Martin certainty 'Athens Games will be safe', athletes' worries allayed
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)New York (ANA/P. Panagiotou) -- US Olympic Committee (USOC) senor officials on Sunday expressed certainty of the secure organization of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, addressing more than 500 journalists, sponsors' representatives and others attending a four-day conference on Athens Olympics security at a downtown Manhattan hotel hosted by USOC.
Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC) officials were also on hand to brief delegates on the Games' security and progress in preparations, and also showed a video on the progress in the projects.
USOC chief Bill Martin said that the Athens Games "will be safe" for the 550 American athletes to be taking part, while conceding that "at this time, we (the Americans) are not the most liked child in the world", and adding that "these Games will be difficult for us".
Martin's statements appeared to allay the worries of many athletes and US sponsors and others, which was reflected in a number of press articles appearing over the weekend.
 Greek mission reaches Everest summit
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)One of the groups of the Greek mountain-climbing mission Everest 2004, currently in progress under the auspices of the Hellenic Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing, reached Everest's peak on Sunday from Nepal. Yiorgos Voutiropoulos, Antonis Antonopoulos, Michalis Styllas, Panayiotis Kotronaros and Pavlos Tsiantos are the first Greek mountain climbers to reach the mountain's summit, after other climbers' failed attempts in the past.
The Greek mission's second group - led by Costas Tzivelekas - set out from Thibet on April 14 and will attempt to reach the peak Tuesday morning.
Deputy Culture Minister responsible for Sports George Orfanos sent a congratulatory letter to the Federation. "Your efforts, which made us proud, resulted in both the Greek and Olympic flag waving over the 'world's rooftop.' I wish the Federation, and each of you individually, continued success in your efforts," Orfanos stated.
 Passenger ferry has engine trouble off Syros, passengers all well
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)A passenger ferry carrying 79 passengers suffered engine trouble early Monday near the island of Syros, but all passengers were safe and well and the ship was heading with reduced speed toward the island on its own steam.
The "Aeolos Express 2" developed a problem in one of its four engines as it was sailing 20 nautical miles off Syros. The ferry was heading on its own steam to port in Syros, where a ban on sailing would be issued for the vessel until completion of the engine's repair.
In the event of a delay due to repair work, the passengers would be transferred to other ferries for transport to their destinations, according to the Merchant Marine ministry.
 New Olympic Transport System unveiled this week
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)The transport ministry and the Athens 2004 Olympic Organizing Committee (ATHOC) will present the new Olympic Transports System on Thursday at Athens organizers' Nea Ionia headquarters.
ATHOC President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis are expected to present the system, considered a crucial component in managing traffic during the Games in August.
The event is scheduled to begin at 12:15.
 Voulgarakis calls criticism over Olympic security 'malicious'
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Greek Public Order Minister Georgios Voulgarakis on Monday again commented on the closely watched issue of Olympic security, following a week-long furor resulting from attempts by foreign media, mostly British, to enter the under-renovation main Olympic Stadium (OAKA).
The most controversial incident was related to a scathing article in the "Times" of London, hours after the paper's correspondent and a photographer illegally entered the OAKA worksite. The two were later arrested by security, touching off a firestorm of international attention and resulting in the Greek government's ire.
Voulgarakis said much of the criticism leveled at the country's 2004 security preparations was "malicious" and "unreliable".
Both the Greek government and Athens 2004 organizers have repeatedly and vociferously pointed out that many of the venues are still classified as construction worksites, including OAKA, with security overseen by contractors. They also noted that as of July 1, all venues will be sealed before undergoing the most thorough of security sweeps.
However, the incidents - including the arrest of another three British reporters moments after they entered the OAKA site - resulted in extra security measures, even at worksites.
 International Foundation of Olympic and Sports Education Conference
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Greek Olympic Games Winners Committee (SEO) President Petros Galaktopoulos, and members of the Committee's Executive Board, were present at the closing of the International Foundation of Olympic and Sports Education Conference held in Athens on Monday. The central theme of the conference was the creation of a European Research Centre, which would deal with anti-sports phenomena, such as violence, drug abuse, and vandalism within the context of sports events.
The Olympic Games Winners Committee also co-organised the Athens race held in the capital on Sunday, while 24 SEO members participated in the race.
 Rhodes Port Authority receives award
Athens, 18/5/2004 (ANA)Rhodes' central Port Authority received an award on Monday, within the context of the International Special Olympics Festival being held on the island from May 14th through the 21st, for its contribution to Games security as well as for its reception and accommodation of participating athletes.
New Democracy Central Committee Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis awarded Rhodes' Harbour-Master P. Galanis during an official dinner held on Saturday. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' wife Natasha, Parliament Vice President George Sourlas, Minister of the Aegean and Island Policy Aristotelis Pavlides, Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and other government officials were in attendance, including Mayor of Rhodes G. Yiannopoulos.