|Monday, 18 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-10-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 1, 2004
 FM chairs meeting on Greece's priorities in light of country's expected non-permanent UN Security Council seat
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis chaired a meeting on Thursday on processing Greece's priorities and preparing the foreign ministry's services in light of the expected election of the country as one of the UN's non-permanent Security Council members for the 2005-2006 period.
The meeting was attended by Deputy Foreign Ministers Yiannis Valinakis, Evripidis Stylianidis and Panayiotis Skandalakis, as well as by the ministry's secretary general and relevant officials.
Main institutional, procedural and political issues expected to preoccupy the Security Council during the period of Greece's expected participation were examined during the meeting and the country's priorities and initiatives were processed.
Among others, they are expected to focus on the Balkans, the Middle East and the issue of Cyprus. Other sectors of Greek priorities and initiatives will be announced after October 15, the day on which the election process will take place in New York.
 Another two previous contracts for weapons forwarded to prosecutors
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Another two cases dealing with the procurement of costly weapons systems approved by the defense ministry's former leadership between 2000 and 2003 were forwarded on Thursday to prosecutors by a top ministry official.
The current general secretary of the ministry's financial planning and defense investments department, former Supreme Court assistant prosecutor George Zorbas, forwarded the cases to the head of the first instance courts prosecutor's office, Dimitris Papangelopoulos, for further investigation. The latest inquiries deal with the purchase of two Russian-made hovercrafts, a deal worth 177.1 million dollars, and the 2003 purchase of helicopters from the NH Industries firm.
This latest development comes after another high-profile two probes, one involving the purchase of Russian-made (Antei) mobile anti-aircraft missile batteries and the other US-made (Raytheon) artillery spotting radar units, surfaced this past week.
Results of those two relevant judicial reports have been conveyed to Parliament due to the fact that current deputies, such as former PASOK defense ministers Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Yiannos Papantoniou, headed the ministry during the period of the under-investigation arms deals.
Main opposition PASOK, on its part, has criticized the judicial inquiries as politically motivated, while saying that the government is scandal mongering.
Government spokesman reiterates position on weapons contracts: Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, reiterated the government's position on the issue of two previous weapons contracts which have been forwarded to prosecutors. Antonaros had announced the government's position on Wednesday and denied that the creation of an Investigation Committee to pursue this matter was politically motivated.
Antonaros stated that ''the two issues are completely different and have nothing to do with each other' adding that 'once the public prosecutor handed down its decision to Parliament, justice demanded that we pursue those who are politically culpable. No-one is above the law and the government will honor its commitment to transparency and justice'.
''The government is not creating a pre-election climate, nobody wants elections. The Investigation Committee will look into the public prosecutor's findings'' added Antonaros.
 Report on helicopter crash that killed Patriarch submitted to military on Thursday
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)The findings of a sworn administrative inquiry regarding a helicopter crash that killed Alexandria Patriarch Petros VII and 16 others were submitted to the Armed Forces General Staff on Thursday, sources said.
The inquiry was focused on apparent delayed responses to the crash by armed forces services monitoring the VIP flight, especially in alerting emergency services and the country's political leadership.
The contents of the report are classified and there is limited information on the conclusions reached by the inquiry.
Meanwhile, the transport ship "Ikaria", the tug-boat "Diomedes" and the hydrographic vessel "Nautilus" have gone to the crash site to assist the oceanographic ship "Aigaio" in the operation to bring up sections of the helicopter's fuselage from a depth of 866 meters to the surface. The operation will begin over the next few days if weather conditions permit.
The accident occurred on September 11 as the Chinook military helicopter was nearing the capital of the monastic community on Mount Athos to land, falling into the sea between the Athos peninsula and Sithonia. All those on board, including the Patriarch, his entourage and a five-member crew, were killed.
 'We inherited empty coffers', gov't spokesman replies to questions on new budget
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)The government intends to carry out its pledges to support vulnerable and low-income groups, in spite of the difficult fiscal framework left behind by the previous administration, deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Thursday.
"We inherited empty coffers," he stressed in response to questions regarding the draft budget unveiled by the finance ministry on Wednesday and an apparent dearth of extra spending on social and welfare benefits.
"The government's announcements apply in full and the prime minister's pledges for an increase in the EKAS pension supplement and OGA farmers' pensions will apply over the entire four-year term," Antonaros said.
He also noted that the funds allocated to the Employment and Social Solidarity ministry had increased by 14.9 per cent, with particular emphasis on care for vulnerable social groups and boosting low incomes.
In response to related questions, the spokesman said the government had not expected the fiscal deficit to be so large before the elections.
"We couldn't imagine the size of deficits and huge costs, which were both enlarged to a greater degree than a sensible person could imagine," he said.
According to Antonaros, meanwhile, the predictions for high growth rates of 3.9 per cent continued to apply for the coming year and would be "a good starting point, so that with the reforms to the economy we will create surpluses, new investments and new jobs".
He said the government's goal of achieving economic targets through "gradual adjustments" would be accomplished by drastic reduction of public-sector spending which was out of control.
 Foreign ministry condemns recent provocation in SW Albania, calls for assailants' arrest
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)The foreign ministry on Thursday added its condemnation over a recent high-profile incident in southwest Albania involving vandalism and intimidation at an Orthodox Church-run campground, an action seen as targeting the ethnic Greek minority as well as Orthodox Christian faithful in the region.
"We hope that acts of violence and intolerance will not be repeated, and that Albanian authorities will condemn such acts as well as commence the necessary procedures to arrest the assailants," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told reporters during a regular briefing on Thursday.
In echoing the government spokesman's comments this week, Koumoutsakos reminded that respect of minority rights is a precondition in the process of Albania's stabilization and association with the European Union, "one linked, in general, with that country's European course."
"We also support that course, because we consider that it is to the benefit of not only Albania, but to the wider region," he added.
 FM spokesman on EU financial assistance to T/C community
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)The foreign ministry on Thursday confirmed that the European Union is closer to adopting a financial aid scheme for the Turkish Cypriot community.
Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said that as far as the "procedural" portion is concerned, the issue should have concluded during Wednesday's discussion by the EU's permanent representatives, as no member-state expressed reservations.
"The relevant text is not the result of brief deliberations, but ones that occurred in a productive spirit of fair-mindedness," he said.
Discussion on the prospect of a regime governing direct trade with the Turkish-occupied northern third of the island republic was postponed for future meetings.
 Turkish-Cypriots to take part in EU-Islamic Conference meeting as observers, Athens says
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)The Greek foreign ministry on Thursday said that the Turkish-Cypriot community will once again be participating in the upcoming meeting of the EU and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) as an observer.
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos stressed that the EU recognizes one state and one government on Cyprus, the Cyprus Republic and its legally elected government.
"This is the framework that determines the European Union's stance on this issue," he said.
 Greece shares EU concern on Turkey's new penal code
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Greece shares the European Union's concern regarding Turkey's new penal code, which will, naturally, be an issue for review by other European organizations as well, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Thursday, responding to press questions during a regular briefing.
Respect of freedom of thought and expression comprise fundamental elements of democratic governance, and this is covered by the "Copenhagen criteria", Koumoutsakos added.
 PM sends wishes on the occasion of Cyprus' Independence Day Oct. 1
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)On the occasion of Cyprus' Independence Day on October 1, which on Friday marks 44 years since Cyprus won its independence from Great Britain, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent the following message to President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos on Thursday:
"With the official EU accession of Cyprus, a new chapter in the island's history has begun, which we hope will contribute significantly to finding a solution to the long-standing political problem, which will benefit the island's population overall. In this vein, I would like to reassure you, once again, that the Greek government remains dedicated and will continue supporting your efforts in achieving a comprehensive, negotiated, fair, sustainable and functional resolution to the Cyprus issue, based on UN decisions and on the Secretary General's plan, and in accordance with the acquis communautaire and the founding principles of the EU."
 PM and President meet Greece's Paralympic athletes
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday had separate meetings with the athletes that made up Greece's national team at the 12th Paralympic Games in Athens.
"Your victory lies not so much in that you won medals or distinguished yourselves but in that you helped the world to which you belong become more widely known. Up until now this world was treated by others with sympathy but now it has earned admiration and made all the others think of their obligations towards you," Stephanopoulos said.
The president also stressed that the Paralympics were an indisputable success, even though the tragic deaths of seven high school students killed on their way to attend the Paralympics cast a shadow over the Games towards the end, and that the results of this success had to be preserved.
The head of the Greek Paralympic team Giorgos Foundoulakis said the goal for the Beijing Paralympics would be yet more medals, which in Athens had risen to 20 from 11 in Sydney.
Also present at the athletes meeting with the President was Karamanlis, former premier Costas Simitis and the leader of main opposition PASOK George Papandreou and a number of officials that had been involved in the organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Among these were Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos, Sports General Secretary Costas Koukodimos, former sports general secretary Nikos Exarhos, former Olympic Games general secretaries Costas Kartalis and Nikos Kapralos, former public works minister in charge of Olympic projects Nassos Alevras and Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee head Gianna Angelopoulos with top Athens 2004 officials Marton Simitsek and Yiannis Spanoudakis.
Karamanlis had earlier also met members of the Greek team at the Zappion Building, along with Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis and Palli-Petralia, Orfanos, Koukodimos and Kapralos.
"I want to congratulate you all and thank you for your unwearied efforts, will power and high ethical standards. With your participation you have put Paralympic sport in the hearts of us all, especially young people," Karamanlis said.
He said the Athens Paralympics had broadcast a message about Greece's ability to meet great challenges, as well as a message of culture and humanism to the entire world.
All the costs of Paralympic sport, including bonuses for Paralympic medalists and finalists, will be covered by the general secretariat for sport and will be given from 2005.
 G. Papandreou meets with IPC President
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)President of main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) George Papandreou received Phil Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) at his office in the Parliament building on Thursday.
"It is with particular joy that I'm here with Phil Craven, IPC President. We spoke about the Games and their excellent staging, but also where we go from here," Papandreou said after the meeting.
He said that "we've asked [Craven] to be in contact regularly, for him to advise us of his views and thoughts, so that we can highlight this issue even more and to make even more progress within Greek society," Papandreou added, thanking Craven for everything he has done.
"It was a great joy for me to become a half-Greek these past seven weeks since my wife and I have been here for the Olympic and Paralympic Games," Craven said. "And I was truly very pleased with the athletes' performances, but I think - even more importantly - I am very pleased with the way the athletes touched the hearts of the Greek people and sports fans, so that a great number of people came to see the Games," he continued.
Craven expressed the belief that the Paralympics have helped change attitudes towards people with disabilities. "Therefore, the legacy is for us to move forward, maybe make all of Greece accessible to every member of society within the next 10 years. And I'm sure that the Greek people would want this and that the government will support it," he said.
In closing, he thanked Greece and its people for their hospitality.
 Deputy Foreign Minister thanks Greek volunteers from abroad
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)"With the successful completion and the excellent staging of the Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is with a sense of pride and emotion that I would like to thank all the Greek volunteers living abroad, and each one individually, on the Government's behalf since I am responsible for Overseas Greeks and on behalf of the Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis," Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for Overseas Greeks Panayiotis Skandalakis said in a statement issued on Thursday, addressing those Greeks living abroad who volunteered for the Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"The large participation of young Greeks from abroad in the volunteer program, and especially their willingness to unselfishly contribute to the most important endeavor our country has ever undertaken, reveals the passion and desire of Greeks everywhere to see Greece progress," he continued.
Skandalakis went on to say that Greek volunteers from abroad played a decisive contribution to the Games' success. "We promise to never disappoint them and to always be by their side," he concluded.
 Secretary General for Olympic Games urges Greece to capitalize on Games' success
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)"Greece must capitalize on the very good reputation it has abroad following the excellent staging of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is an opportunity that we cannot afford to let go to waste," Secretary General for the Olympic Games Spyros Kapralos said during a luncheon held on Thursday for journalists who covered Olympic preparations and the Games.
Kapralos, who as of October 25 will officially become President of the Athens stock exchange, expressed complete satisfaction with the superb staging of the Games. He publicly thanked Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for trusting the General Secretariat for the Olympic Games during the past six months and Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki for giving him the opportunity for participating both in Athens' Olympic bid and in the preparations.
Kapralos expressed his concern but also his optimism for the future regarding the sports facilities, which according to him, must be taken advantage of in the best possible way and by avoiding mistakes of the past, such as having overstaffed, state organizations manage them.
In closing, he thanked the journalists who through their criticism - although sometimes "unfair" - contributed to the staging of the best Olympic Games as they were described by the international media and members of the International Olympic Committee.
 National Action Plan on employment presented to Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)The National Action Plan on employment, due to be submitted to the European Commission on Friday, was presented at a meeting of the Parliamentary Social Affairs Committee on Thursday.
Employment and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos said "the dilemma of austerity or growth is not posed and the aim of the National Action Plan on employment is to link employment with growth", adding that on the question of the unemployment rate he will await the final announcement by the National Statistical Service.
Speaking on behalf of the main opposition PASOK party, Thanassis Tsouras called for the withdrawal of the action plan, stressing that in 2003 unemployment had reached 9.3 percent, according to population data for 1991, while the Statistical Service is saying now that for the first quarter of 2004, and with 90 percent of data examined, the unemployment trend is nearing 12 percent.
Lastly, Dimitris Tsiongas of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said the plan was unacceptable, adding that it sets specific priorities in accordance with the mandates of the European Union.
 OTE telecom glum about earnings for 2004, plans part-restructuring
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Hellenic Telecommunications Organization SA (OTE), a full-service telecommunications provider, on Thursday updated guidance based on US GAAP for second-half and full-year profitability of its domestic fixed-line operations, indicating declines in revenue and earnings for 2004.
Full-year 2004 operating income before depreciation and amortization in its domestic fixed-line business should be significantly below previous guidance, OTE said in a statement.
Based on current company estimates, the decline in fixed-line operating revenues for the full year should be roughly in line with the level recorded in the first half. Fixed-line operating revenues have been impacted by a decision of regulatory authorities to impose lower tariffs on a number of products and services, the statement said.
At the same time, the deterioration in the company's operating income before depreciation and amortization has been exacerbated by factors including continuing increases in personnel other operating expenses, only partly attributable to the 2004 Olympic Games, according to OTE's management.
Despite a continued strong performance in all other business, a decline in domestic fixed line profitability will have a detrimental impact on the group's overall results for 2004, Panagis Vourloumis, the company's chairman and CEO, noted.
"We are taking measures in many directions to address this situation with the urgency it requires; these measures will include the reorganization of our Greek fixed-line operations and headcount reductions," Vourloumis said.
OTE will announce third quarter 2004 results and a detailed outlook for the full year on November 25.
OTE is a provider of public, fixed switch domestic and international telephone services in Greece. With local, long distance and international communications services in addition to mobile telephony, internet services, and high-speed data communications, OTE offers communications globally through its network infrastructure.
In addition, OTE has international investments in southeast Europe and addresses a potential customer base of 60 million people.
The company is quoted on the Athens Stock Exchange and on the New York Stock Exchange. In the U.S., OTE's American Depository Receipts (ADR's) represent ½ ordinary shares.
Hellenic telecoms discussing voluntary
retirement with unions, gov't says: The government on Thursday confirmed that the leadership of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) was in talks with unions on the issue of offering voluntary early retirement, in the context of exploratory discussion on streamlining OTE's operations.
Deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed that all talks were still in the very early stages and quoted a statement on Thursday by Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis, who said that the cost of the measure could not be calculated at the present phase until its full extent was known.
The spokesman was responding to questions regarding alleged reactions by state pension funds, which say they would be unable to bear the additional cost.
 Former PM Constantine Mitsotakis calls for minimum consensus on two basic economic issues
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Former prime minister and ruling New Democracy party Honorary President Constantine Mitsotakis on Thursday called for minimum consensus by the political world on two basic economic issues, otherwise the solution must be given by the people, letting it be understood that the possibility exists of early elections.
Mitsotakis stressed in a written statement that there must be consensus on that the people are entitled to know the full truth on the state of the economy, no matter how bitter it may be, and that the policy which must be applied, particularly the effort to contain expenditures, must be in line with the size of the problem.
"If we cannot agree on these two, I fear that sooner or later the people must give a solution," he said.
Mitsotakis pointed out that the state of the economy is so bad and reality is so crystal-clear that the conflict on who is to blame for all that has happened is unnecessary.
 Finmin to attend IMF-World Bank meeting
WASHINGTON 1/10/2004 (ANA/A Ellis)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis is to take part in a joint annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington this week.
During his four-day stay in Washington beginning on Thursday, the minister will also meet bankers and politicians.
Also to attend the IMF-World Bank meeting is central bank chief Nikos Garganas and Deputy Finance Minister Peter Doukas.
 Civil servants to strike October 21, protesting 2005 budget
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Civil servants are to stage a 24-hour nationwide strike on October 21 to protest against the government's draft budget for 2005.
"The budget outlines tough austerity for working people and pensioners, new burdens from a rise in indirect taxes, and incentives for the financial establishment from the sale of public property," the ADEDY union said in a statement on Thursday.
"Working people and pensioners are going to have to pay up around 3.5 billion euros," the statement said.
ADEDY's board is to meet on October 25 to decide whether further industrial action will be taken. It will also seek an alliance with the country's largest umbrella union, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece, to stage more protests until the budget is voted in parliament, probably in the second half of December.
 Transport Minister Briefs PM on results of ICAO assembly, civil aviation agency upgrade
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Thursday met Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and briefed him on the results of the ICAO general assembly that he attended in Canada, where he discussed an upgrade of Greece's Civil Aviation Service (YPA) from class B to class A.
Liapis said the process, once complete, would allow Greek airlines and airports to enjoy a privileged status worldwide with respect to security, stressing that it was a great achievement of the Greek government and state.
The minister reiterated that the government was seeking a buyer for Olympic Airlines in order to implement its plans for the airline's privatization on the best possible terms, which would benefit both society and OA staff.
The YPA upgrade is expected to be completed in roughly a month's time, according to talks held on the issue in Montreal between Liapis and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Marion Blakey and other FAA officials.
Blakey said that a team of experts from the FAA will be visiting Greece in the next month in order to formally confirm the progress made by Greek airports and airlines in the area of security, so that YPA could be immediately upgraded to the highest category.
In practice, the upgrade will mean that flights from Greece will automatically be considered to belong to airlines that have been certified by YPA, based on the security standards included in the Chicago Convention.
It will also upgrade the country with respect to the international aviation community and aviation organizations and put an end to a freeze of Olympic Airlines flights, allowing it to increase the number of routes it offers - a freedom also offered to all other Greek airlines.
Other benefits include a reduction of the intensive security checks carried out on all OA aircraft, expand the airline market as other Greek carriers are given the opportunity to enter and it will also allow Greek airlines to join international alliances.
 European Parliament appoints ND Eurodeputy rapporteur for 4th Community Support Framework
BRUSSELS 1/10/2004 (ANA/A. Simatos)The European Parliament on Thursday appointed New Democracy party Eurodeputy Kostis Hadzidakis rapporteur for the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF).
According to an announcement, Hadzidakis was appointed European Parliament rapporteur for the General Operation Regulation of Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund for the period between 2007-2013 (4th CSF).
The regulation concerns the general legislative framework to be applied for the operation of Funds over the 2007-2013 period.
The announcement added that the Greek Eurodeputy had also been appointed European Parliament rapporteur for the Commission's so-called "Third Cohesion Report."
 Greek minister addresses international symposium on the environment
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Macedonia-Thrace Minister, Nikos Tsiartsionis, referred to the need for protecting the environment and for sustainable development during a speech he gave Thursday at the Third International Symposium organized jointly by the Greek-German Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of Macedonia-Thrace. The topic of the symposium was "Waste management in Greece - technology, applications, experiences, legal framework, financial returns, the market and future prospects."
Tsartsionis stated that the government's policy reflected its sensitivity and commitment to social development, including improving the quality of life of Greeks through the maintenance of ecological balance, the protection of the ecosystem and the rational use of natural resources. The minister also referred to the government's plans to create a national town-planning policy.
 Household, business borrowing shows rise
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Borrowing by households and businesses was 16% higher at the end of July 2004 against the same period a year earlier, the central bank said in a routine statement on Thursday.
Household borrowing totalled 46.17 billion euros, up 28.2%; and balances of consumer loans and credit cards were 14.98 billion euros, with 7.0 billion euros of the total from credit cards, up 22.8%, and 5.5 billion euros from personal loans, showing a 67.8% increase, the statement said.
Overall credit expansion slowed slightly to 9.6% in July on an annual basis from 10.9% in June, it added.
 Stocks slump, depressed by OTE telecom losses talk
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower with talk that management of OTE telecom expects the heavily traded stock to show losses for 2004, dragging down the market, traders said.
OTE dropped 6.7% within the session to finish 3.57% down at 10.82 euros.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,328.24 points, showing a decline of 1.38 percent. Turnover was 171.0 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.58 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.60 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.28 percent down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 189 to 75 with 89 remaining unchanged.
 Deputy minister calls for harsher penalties for consciously negligent drivers
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Deputy Public Order Minister Christos Markoyiannakis on Thursday came out in favor of harsher legal penalties for those found guilty of being consciously negligent, while stressing that this was a personal point of view.
Markoyiannakis was speaking in Parliament regarding Monday's tragic road accident at Maliakos Bay, in which seven high school students were killed and three others injured.
The deputy minister said current laws required public prosecutors to carry out "legal acrobatics" in order to ensure that the guilty were punished and public opinion was satisfied. He noted that the legal framework as it now stood essentially forbids the temporary detention of those accused of manslaughter through negligence.
"When you foresee that it's possible that what you are doing will lead you to conscious negligence, even if you believe you can avoid this, but if you foresee it, then you should be punished with much harsher penalties and not these minimal penalties we have," Markoyiannakis said.
 Public Works Ministry outlines agenda for public road works
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Four hundred cameras will be installed in the country's road network by Easter, while 10 cameras will be immediately placed in Maliakos, where seven high-school students were killed in a traffic accident earlier this week, Minister of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works George Souflias announced during a press conference on Thursday.
The cameras will be operated by regional control centers and they will be used for traffic monitoring and regulation.
According to Souflias, among the ministry's top priorities is the tender for the camera installation in Maliakos within the next 1.5 months. The tender for the installation of cameras throughout the rest of the country's road network will begin in November or December and should be complete by March 2005.
Additionally, regarding the area of Maliakos - which is very often the site of traffic accidents - Souflias said that a study for improving the area's lighting conditions is under way and the relevant decisions will be taken next week. "We are addressing the issue very seriously, we are accelerating the works and I am certain that by the end of 2007 these works will be completed," he said.
Souflias also outlined the ministry's plans regarding works in Agios Konstantinos, Kammena Vourla, Thermopyles-Agia Marina Stylidas and other parts of the national road network. Furthermore, he announced that the new laws for the awarding of public works contracts and two cabinet decisions which will be issued next week create a new legislative framework which ensures transparency in public works.
According to Souflias, within 2004 works on the Egnatia Odos in Northern Greece worth 1 billion euros will be tendered, while works tendered in the first half of 2005 are valued at 650 million euros.
 Road deaths down 6.6 pct in July 2004 against July 2003
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Road deaths throughout the country declined by 6.6 percent in July 2004 against the same month in 2003, while road accidents fell by 10.1 percent, according to data released Thursday by the national statistics service ESYE.
More specifically, 169 people were killed in traffic accidents throughout the country in July 2004, marking a 6.6 percent drop from 181 road deaths in July 2003, while the number of traffic accidents declined by 10.1 percent. The number of persons suffering serious injuries in road accidents rose by 8.7 percent to 274 in July 2004 against the corresponding month in 2003, while lighter injuries declined by 10.7 percent to 1,740.
According to statistics for the 7-month period January to July 2004, a total of 911 people were killed and 11,094 suffered injuries, against 915 deaths in road accidents in the same period in 2003, and 958 in the corresponding period in 2002.
 Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe sets human trafficking as issue of major political importance
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed its determination to promote the issue of human trafficking as an issue of major political importance during its two-day conference held on the island of Rhodes.
Apart from the need of setting common inter-state policies and improving economic and environmental conditions in countries of the Third World and of central and eastern Europe (from where the victims of human trafficking come from), the conference also pondered measures that must be taken to crack down on this modern-day slave trade.
Minister of the Aegean and of Insular Policy Aristotelis Pavlidis focused on the need for creating a European Coast Guard, intensifying border checks and achieving closer supervision of inter-state agreements on repatriation which have been signed or will be signed in the future.
Pavlidis further said that the Greek Coast Guard saves over 5,000 weary illegal immigrants every year, adding that in the first half of 2004 alone the Greek police handled 35 cases of human trafficking, 15 of which concerned international criminal rings.
Former minister and European Union's special representative in the Balkans Panayiotis Roumeliotis said the percentage of illegal immigrants, compared to that of legal immigrants, was increasing in past years.
Roumeliotis said that, according to data for the year 2000, the number of illegal immigrants in Greece corresponded to 77 percent of the total number of legal immigrants, while at a European level the number of asylum applications and of rejections has been increasing.
"Europe is trying to block the illegal entry of immigrants, but it is providing work because it has needs. The aging population of Europe will attract more immigrants. In 2002, at a time when a quarter of the Italian navy was preoccupied with preventing illegal immigration, the Italian state was legalizing 700,000 people," he said.
 Russian deputy minister chairs international forum in Rhodes
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Russian Deputy Minister of Transport, Vladimir Yakunin is the chairperson of an international forum on the "Dialogue between Civilizations" which is taking place in Rhodes over the next few days. Organized by the Russian Foundation in conjunction with the Moscow Patriarchate, the forum has attracted an international audience of politicians, academics, scientists and religious leaders, including a representative from the Church of Greece.
The forum deals with issues such as the dialogue between dogmas and religions as well as the peaceful co-existence of nations. A proposal was made to erect a monument to the victims of terrorism on Rhodes.
 Common EU policy on personal data protection should be adopted, says Greek minister of justice
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)The need to create a common EU policy framework for the exchange of information was emphasized by Greek Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras during an informal meeting of the EU justice ministers' council.
During the meeting which is being held Thursday and Friday in The Hague, Papaligouras underlined the need to create common, personal data protection laws within the EU. He stressed that "there needs to be a balance between the need to enforce the law and the protection of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms."
The minister also referred to the various legal, technical and practical problems which currently hinder the direct and safe exchange of information between EU members. Also on the agenda at The Hague meeting were family law issues.
On matters relating to family law, Papaligouras stated that when it came to matters of inheritance, Greece believed that the EU should uphold the principle of nationality, as well as country of residence, given that many Europeans now live all over the world and many of them are involved in complex inheritance matters.
 Prime Minister to meet with head of Athens 2004
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet Friday with President of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, Gianna Angelopoulo-Daskalaki as well as with Alternate Minister, Fani Palli-Petralia.
When asked why Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was not present at a reception held by the prime Minster in honor of Greek Paralympic athletes, a government spokesman replied that the ATHOC president was not even at a previous reception held to honor Greek Olympians, but that nevertheless she would meet with the prime minister on Friday.
 Message on 'International Day of Older Persons'
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)In society, which must never forget the "Solidarity of the Parents", the elderly comprise a precious capital and source of experience and knowledge that must not be left unutilized, Greece's health and social solidarity minister Nikitas Kaklamanis and deputy minister for social solidarity George Constantopoulos said Thursday in a message on the 14th annual International Day of Older Persons, which is celebrated on October 1.
Our stance towards Older Persons is an indication of civilization, the ministers' message said.
The message noted that the celebration of the UN-designated International Day of Older Persons should not be merely an opportunity for paying tribute, adding that the ministry's priorities included medical and hospital care as well as psychological support for the senior citizens, their remaining in their family environment, and reinforcement of the social care and welfare program.
The theme of this year's International Day of Older Persons is "Older persons in an intergenerational society".
 Sprinters Kenteris, Thanou insist motorbike fall was genuine
Athens 1/10/2004 (ANA)Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou on Thursday jointly submitted a memorandum to public prosecutors Spyros Mouzakitis and Athina Theodoropoulou in which they insist that the motorbike accident that sent them to hospital on the night of August 12 was genuine and not staged.
Kenteris and Thanou have been called to supply additional testimony, this time as suspects, in the framework of an ongoing investigation by the two prosecutors into incidents of doping.
The memorandum was presented to the prosecutors by the athletes' lawyer Mihalis Dimitrakopoulos, after the two training partners asked and received two extensions to prepare their testimony since last week.
In the memorandum, they say there are four eye-witnesses to the motorbike fall, in addition to the KAT hospital employee who saw them as they came into the hospital the same night.
The two athletes also insist that they entered the Olympic Village between 15:00 and 15:30 on August 12 and stayed until 16:45 to 17:15 and that no one had informed them that they were due to take a doping control test on that day.
Kenteris and Thanou, training partners under track coach Christos Tzekos, were called to testify a week ago as suspects for the offences of obstructing an anti-doping control test and making a false statement to the authorities, as well as morally instigating the issue of false medical opinions.
The charges against them relate to a missed doping test the two athletes were called to take on August 12 and their subsequent claim that they were involved in a motorbike accident, which authorities have been unable to confirm, as well as their stay in KAT hospital for five days due to alleged injuries suffered in the accident.
The affair caused an uproar leading up to the Athens Olympics that kicked off on August 13, given that it involved two of Greece's strongest hopes for Olympic medals. Kenteris had won the gold in the men's 200m in Sydney, while Thanou had won a silver. Public opinion was further angered by revelations that their coach was heavily implicated in doping-related scandals. The pair was called before an IOC Disciplinary Commission on their release from hospital to explain their no-show for the doping test, where they voluntarily surrendered their accreditation and withdrew from the 2004 Olympics
 Cypriot President calls people to unity on Independence Day
NICOSIA 1/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos called the people of Cyprus to unity and collective efforts in the common peaceful struggle for a happier future on the island, assuring that better days would come for the people, both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
In a declaration Thursday night for the 44th anniversary of Cyprus' independence (October 1), President Papadopoulos said the island's accession to the EU offered ''an additional security framework and potential to promote the principles that should apply in a Cyprus settlement'' but noted that it did not make void the UN framework, in which every effort and initiative for a Cyprus settlement should be promoted and expressed.
The president made a brief review of the 44 years of independence and noted that ''Turkey's aim was and remains the immediate and direct abolition of the Republic of Cyprus and the rejection of our state entity.''
He reiterated the position of the Greek Cypriot side that ''we want, seek and pursue a solution of the Cyprus problem the soonest possible on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.''
President Papadopoulos said this settlement would be sought ''in the framework, the parameters and the philosophy'' of the solution plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan with certain amendments that ''would not overturn the philosophy of the plan but would allow for a functional and viable solution.''
The president assured he was committed to finding ''a functional and viable solution that would safeguard the fundamental freedoms and rights of our people, and the security and better future of our homeland.''
President Papadopoulos called the people of Cyprus to unity ''in the common peaceful struggle for the happier future of our common homeland,'' and noted that the island belonged to both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike.
He extended a ''hand of friendship and cooperation'' to the Turkish Cypriots so that ''we can establish a reunited homeland, society and economy together,'' noting that ''only within a reunited common homeland, with a reunited people, could Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots prosper, progress and build their common future.''
''Forty-four years after the birth of the Republic of Cyprus and thirty years after the birth of our great drama of the invasion and occupation, the European Cyprus and its people have the right to hope and look forward to better days. And better days will come. Be sure of that,'' he concluded.
 UN chief recommends renewal of UNFICYP mandate with reductions
NICOSIA 1/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recommends to the Security Council that the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) be renewed for a further six months, starting in mid December 2004, with a simultaneous reduction of its military component but at the same time maintaining the same level of mandate implementation, with a more efficient use of resources.
In his draft review of UNFICYP's mandate to the Security Council, Annan notes that he still sees no basis for the resumption of his good offices for Cyprus as long as the impasse in efforts to reach a settlement continues.
''I continue to believe that in the absence of a comprehensive settlement, the presence of UNFICYP on the island remains necessary for the maintenance of the ceasefire and to foster conditions conductive to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem,'' Annan says, noting that the review conducted found that ''this view is shared by both sides on the island, as well as by the guarantor powers and other interested parties.''
He also recommends a reduction of the strength of UNFICYP's military component to 860 all ranks from 1,230.
Annan notes that he does not intend to appoint a Special Adviser at the time being and may consider ''designating, on an ad hoc basis, senior officials of the Secretariat to deal with any particular aspects of my good offices that might require special attention.''
The UN Secretary General recommends that ''the Council approve the amended concept of operations and force level of UNFICYP and extend the mandate of UNFICYP for a further six-month period, starting 15 December 2004 and ending 15 June 2005'' to allow the restructuring of the Force to be implemented.
Annan notes that, pursuant to resolution 1548 with which the Security Council welcomed his intention to conduct a review of UNFICYP's mandate, review teams were established, which ''conducted an in-depth assessment of the developments on the ground and the evolving role of the different components of UNFICYP over the last years.''
The UN chief says that since the resumption of the most recent effort in 1999 to reach a Cyprus settlement, intense negotiations were carried out between the two sides on the island under UN auspices, during the period of which UNFICYP ''assisted in maintaining the calm along the ceasefire lines, ensuring conditions conductive for the talks.''
He notes that ''these efforts came to an end'' with the rejection of the proposed settlement plan by the Greek Cypriot community in the April 24 referendum. The Turkish Cypriot community accepted the Annan plan.
''Official contacts between the leaders of both sides have ceased since the referenda, and signs of mutual distrust have reappeared,'' he notes, adding that he continues ''to see no basis for resuming my good offices as long as the impasse described in that report continues.''
Referring to Cyprus' accession to the EU in May 2004, Annan says it ''did not, as was hoped, provide the catalyst for a comprehensive settlement.''
However, he notes that the accession, ''if used wisely by all parties, does have the potential to improve the climate between Cyprus, as an EU member state, and Turkey, as a candidate for EU membership.''
''It also has potential to help reduce the disparities between the two communities on the island, promote confidence between them, and build and sustain constituencies on each side in favor of reconciliation and reunification,'' he says.
Annan furthermore refers to the EU regulation to facilitate intra-island trade of certain goods and the EU recommendations to the European Commission to provide aid worth 259 million euros for the Turkish Cypriots and to open direct trade between the Turkish occupied areas of the island and the EU.
''However, key decisions on the EU's relations with Turkey and with the Turkish Cypriots have yet to be taken. This has led to considerable uncertainty on both sides of the island,'' Annan says, noting that the Greek Cypriot side has opposed the Commission's recommendations on direct trade and has proposed its own set of economic and confidence building measures, which have been largely dismissed by the Turkish Cypriot side, which has also expressed disappointment with the ''slow pace of EU assistance.''
He also makes reference to the opening of crossing points between the two sides, noting that this was ''perhaps the single recent event to have the most impact on the relationship between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.''
Annan furthermore mentions the Greek Cypriot side's proposals for confidence building measures, which ''have yet to be taken up by the other side.''
Referring to the number of Turkish troops on the island and the level of their equipment, Annan says there has been no change, ''fueling a continued perception of threat in the south.''
On UNFICYP's mandate, Annan says it has remained unchanged since its inception and has proven to be ''broad and flexible enough for the force to adjust its tasks in response to changes on the ground, particularly in the aftermath of the events of 1974.''
Annan notes that ''following the April referenda, the role of UNFICYP has again become particularly important since the mission remains the only UN political interface on the island.''
''The mission's political role has also grown in scope in view of the numerous confidence-building initiatives, the need to deal with the present uncertainty on key political questions and the concomitant potential for frictions on the island,'' he adds.
Referring to the UNFICYP civilian police officers, Annan says they perform a range of community and humanitarian tasks, and have been increasingly involved in monitoring the crossing points as well as the ''relatively few'' incidents on one side involving Cypriots from the other.
''The review team recommended that the present ceiling for UNFICYP's civilian police component be maintained at the level of 69,'' he says.
On UNFICYP's 1,230-strong military component, Annan says it ''continues to perform its primary function of maintenance of the military status quo and prevention of a recurrence of fighting.''
''The review team assessed that a recurrence of fighting in Cyprus is increasingly unlikely, but that the potential for minor local violence and challenges to the ceasefire regime still exists'' and thus concluded that ''adjustments could be made to the military concept of operations,'' Annan says.
He notes that ''this new concept of operation, which might be titled 'concentration with mobility', is intended to maintain the same level of mandate implementation, with a more efficient use of resources.''
The UN chief explains that the adjustment could mean a 30% reduction of the overall strength.
The review team also considered the option of transforming UNFICYP's military component into a military observer group and concluded that ''a small observer and liaison group within UNFICYP could add a valuable capability, given the increased importance of the military component's liaison and mediation tasks.''
Regarding the financial aspects of the Force, Annan points out that the UN General Assembly appropriated 51.9 million dollars for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005.