|Friday, 15 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-10-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 5, 2004
 Roussopoulos: Gov't will meet its pre-election promise to refer mismanagement to justice
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The government on Monday reiterated that it will honor its pre-election promise to refer to justice any public sector-related case that "exceeds the boundaries of appropriate management", a reference to the possibility that another Parliamentary committee of inquiry will be formed, this one focusing on alleged mismanagement at the merchant marine ministry during a previous PASOK government.
Government spokesman Theories Roussopoulos made the statement during his regular press briefing and in the wake of highly publicized judicial probes into a handful of high-profile and costly weapons purchases by the past two Simitis governments. The files of those investigations were tabled with Parliament, as the possibility of serving MPs' involvement automatically shifts jurisdiction to the 300-deputy legislature.
Alleged "discrepancies" at the ministry of merchant marine reportedly refer to the tenure of George Anomeritis.
"If the justice system determines that there are indications of political figures' involvement, then the case is referred to Parliament. If the deputies, subsequently, judge that the establishment of a committee of inquiry is necessary then the process continues," Roussopoulos noted.
Moreover, he said the establishment of Parliamentary commit-tees of inquiry to probe the defense contracts in question (Russian made anti-aircraft missiles and US-made artillery-detecting radars, among others) does not necessarily entangle "the entire political system in every such case."
Furthermore, Roussopoulos said it would be an error to link the notion of "political persecutions" and that of a "further judicial investigation" of cases, "because when justice necessitates a further investigation, Parliament should follow".
Presidential election: Regarding the growing media speculation over whether or not early elections will be held in the spring on account of the election of a new president, Roussopoulos tersely noted that the "government will table the issue of the president of the republic's election at a time when it thinks proper."
Asked about a statement by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou over the weekend on the same issue (a compromise candidate for president), Roussopoulos said the former simply reiterated what he himself has said for quite some time.
Finally, in an unrelated issue, the spokesman announced that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will meet with the ship-owners' union later in the afternoon, whereas he will also meet with Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis in the early evening.
PASOK party spokesman, commenting on merchant marine ministry issue, says 'government being trapped more and more in deadlocked procedure': Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis, commenting on Monday on press reports concerning "a new file in Parliament on an issue of the merchant marine ministry against former minister George Anomeritis" and on relevant statements by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, said the New Democracy government ''will ascertain very soon that instead of trapping the country's political life with talk of scandals it will be trapped itself more and more every day in a deadlocked procedure''.
"Today's case with the merchant marine ministry is typical. Let ND decide now whether it will get the procedure moving for this case as well, whether it will propose the creation of a preliminary or Fact finding Committee, or whether it will not get any procedure moving as it has done with other cases recently," he said.
"The government spokesman recognized in half of his replies today that decisions on whether or not a procedure will be activated (such as for a Fact finding Committee) are political ones since, as he says, 'it is the parties which undertake to judge the report and then they make their proposal'," he added.
Athanasakis further said it is time the ND government ''stops hiding behind public prosecutors, whom it has previously activated itself either by forwarding documents or provoking relevant press reports''.
"It is time the ND government undertakes its responsibilities and realizes that, apart from its talk of scandals and its methods, the country's problems exist and citizens demand serious governance," he added.
Athanasakis pointed out that PASOK will continue to ''state its position responsibly, and with transparency and truth, in every case and on all issues that appear''.
ND deputies call for creation of Fact finding Committee to probe missiles, radar contracts: A total of 116 deputies from the ruling New Democracy party on Monday called for the creation of a Fact finding Committee to examine the legality of two contracts concerning the procurement of 21 tracked TOR/M1 anti-aircraft systems and six anti-artillery AN/TRQ-37 radars.
They said the creation of the Committee was "imperative for reasons of constitutional, political and moral order to enable the issue to be examined in depth and in all its aspects."
The 116 deputies said the probing of the cases should take place with an examination of the objective data contained in the two files of proceedings forwarded to Parliament by the justice minister and which were submitted to him by the Supreme court's deputy prosecutor "since evidence has appeared which is related to punishable acts which are referred to in the law on the penal responsibility of ministers."
PASOK deputies table motion in Parliament for Fact finding Committee on armaments programs: Seventy-one deputies of the main opposition PASOK party on Monday tabled a motion in Parliament on the creation of a Fact finding Committee to probe the implementation of armaments programs from past periods of governance until the day the Committee's work will end since, as they said, the implementation of most of these programs are under way.
The signatories believe that "it is an imperative political need that the Fact finding Committee formulates its report within a month from the beginning of its work."
The deputies accused the ruling New Democracy party that when in the opposition and in power "it supported and supports its political planning on talk of scandals, creating and maintaining a morbid climate in the country's political life."
They further said that the government's position that the entire issue concerning armaments programs was raised at the initiative of prosecuting authorities is "hypocritical and provocative."
The deputies went on to say that the probe had been announced in advance by the defense minister as a diversion from the case of the Chinook helicopter's crash, adding that Parliament became the final recipient of prosecuting authorities' documents "which were prepared in violation of the constitution and of the law."
Probe on possible penal responsibilities of politicians in managing $756,000 donated to Greece by U.S.: Prosecuting authorities in Piraeus forwarded a file of proceedings to Parliament on Monday, calling for a probe on the possible penal responsibilities of political figures in managing 756,000 dollars donated to Greece by the United States.
A preliminary enquiry had begun last March in the wake of press reports regarding the managing of the amount of money and its legality.
The United States donated the money to Greece, through their embassy, in the year 2000 to strengthen infrastructure to combat drug trafficking and in the framework of cooperation with relevant American services for this purpose.
According to reports, the enquiry carried out revealed that a part of the amount was used to meet needs which had nothing to do with those for which the money had been donated.
The reports said an amount of money was given to a company as a down payment to help serve the holding of the informal Council of Merchant Marine and Transport ministers during the Greek European Union presidency.
Since decisions were taken when George Anomeritis was minister prosecuting authorities in Piraeus, without making any assessment, deemed that the file of proceedings should be forwarded to Parliament for further legal action to be taken.
 Premier confers with ruling party MEP head Varvitsiotes, parliamentary group secretary Stavrou
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Ruling New Democracy party (ND) MEP Yannis Varvitsiotes said Monday that the talk on the election of a new President of the Republic, which is due in March, was "untimely", following a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Varvitsiotes, head of the ND Euro parliamentarians, met with the premier for talks on a wide range of issues, including the European Parliament's activities.
"I don't think we should be involved in Presidency talk when there is so much time before the election," Varvitsiotes told waiting reporters after the meeting.
Karamanlis also met with the secretary of the ND parliamentary group, Apostolos Stavrou, ahead of the opening of parliament's new plenary session following the summer recess sessions.
Stavrou, replying to press questions, said he would not be heading a parliamentary fact-finding commission on the armaments programs, the proposal for which ND was due to table in the 300-member unicameral House -- possibly later in the day or at the latest on Tuesday, according to sources.
"Transparency is of utmost importance for ND, and I wonder why (main opposition party) PASOK has a different opinion. We want to clear up the landscape, and if there is nothing, we proceed fro there," Stavrou said.
Questioned on the prospect of early general elections, Stavrou said he did not see such an eventuality.
 PM talks to ship owners' trade groups
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday met the heads of the two largest Greek ship owners' trade groups for talks.
The president of the Union of Greek Ship owners, Nikos Efthymiou, told reporters after the session that Karamanlis was well informed on shipping, which brings one billion euros a year to the balance of payments.
The head of the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee of Lon-don, Epaminondas Embirikos, said that Greece will support the sector in the European Union and in international organizations.
 European Commission report on Turkey to be released Wednesday
BRUSSELS 5/10/2004 (ANA/G.Zitouniati/V.Demiris)Issues of Greek-Turkish interest are dealt with satisfactorily in the European Commission's report on Turkey, which will be made public on Wednesday, sources say.
According to diplomatic sources, Greek positions on bilateral issues were largely adopted throughout the text, including the Patriarchate, the Cyprus issue, neighbor relations, etc.
Sources also say that the EC covers the Turkish military's relations with government to a greater extent than in previous reports, indicating the weight the Commission places on the military's role in the country's political scene - a concern also shared by Greece. It is also the first time that an EU text includes an indirect reference to the negative role of military acts and the government's failure in managing relations with neighboring countries.
As for the Cyprus issue, the Commission considers the Turkish stance generally positive during the past year with specific references made to the negotiations held in Burgenstock in March and the referendums of April 24. The report also highlights Turkey's support of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan and Turkey's call to Turkish Cypriots to vote in favor of the plan.
The report also makes reference to all the issues brought forward by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which includes property, legal entity, the Chalk School of Theology, minority education, etc. Overall, the Commission criticizes past measures and calls for reform where necessary.
The Commission points out that significant progress has been made in Greek-Turkish relations since 1999, especially after the aid each country provided to the other during the earthquakes of August and September of that year. As a result of this policy, numerous bilateral agreements were signed in various sectors aimed at building trust between the two countries. Through this building of trust, both countries are taking steps in order to gradually cut down on military spending, the report notes.
Another point is that the report also makes mention of the problems residents of Greek origin on the island of Imvros face, namely the operation of schools and the stealing of real estate property through a restructuring of the island's land registry.
There is also a reference to the Cypriot Loizidou case, whereby the EC indirectly criticises Turkey for failing to settle the matter despite the EU Court's ruling.
In general, the Commission notes the significant progress Turkey has made so far, but emphasizes the need for efforts to be sustained in areas such as the political authorities' control over the military, corruption, human rights, freedom of expression, gender equality, use of minority languages, etc.
 Bill tabled in Parliament on student transcriptions
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)A bill prepared by the education ministry on student transcriptions and the election or promotion to a university professor's post was tabled in Parliament on Monday.
The bill enacts a new legal framework for the transcription of students in the country.
More specifically, the carrying out of transcriptions of any kind is forbidden for the academic year 2004-2005, unless in the case of the exceptions defined.
The right of transcription, for those having the legal preconditions, only exists for two departments which are closer to the place of residence and which correspond to the department of origin.
The process for carrying out transcriptions, relevant time limits and the necessary supporting documents are also defined in the bill.
 Municipalities and Communities Code to be reformed
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Deputy Minister Athanasios Nakos and General Secretary Athanasios Vezirgiannis met Monday for the first session of the Committee to reform the Municipalities and Communities Code. The meeting was immediately followed by statements from President of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), Paris Koukoulopoulos and minister Pavlopoulos.
Koukoulopoulos stated that the delegation from KEDKE was satisfied with the results of the meeting and underlined that the organization's aims were "to go a few steps beyond the Municipalities and Communities Code in order to create powerful and modern Municipalities, which will be able to meet the demands of the times and of residents for transparency." He further added that the Code should promote decentralization and local government.
Pavlopoulos in turn stated that the Code was in the process of being reformed and that this was based on legislation that had already been voted on and that further announcements would be made at the KEDKE conference which would take place on Crete. In his statement, the minister further added that "the basis of the Code is local government which has three characteristics: it is institutionally democratic, financially powerful and administratively transparent".
 Government Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defense to elect new leadership of Greek Police
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Minister of Public Order Giorgos Voulgarakis Monday evening, in light of the Inner Cabinet's meeting on Tuesday as well as a meeting of the Government Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA), which will elect the new leadership of the Greek police.
Voulgarakis stated that it is common knowledge that the term of the current leadership was up last March but was extended due to the Olympic Games. Voulgarakis also discussed the guarding of Olympic venues which has been undertaken by the Greek police in collaboration with the army. Reports said that there is a need for 1500 men and women who will guard the 64 Olympic venues until the end of the year.
In another development earlier on Monday, Minister of Merchant Marine Manolis Kefalogiannis who was present at Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' meeting with ship-owners stated that shipping issues are high on the government's agenda and noted that this week is Navy Week.
 FM briefs Synaspismos leader; latter to visit Turkey this week
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Monday received Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, in light of the latter's scheduled visit to Turkey at the end of the week.
Afterwards, the Greek FM said the meeting offered an opportunity to review the country's overall foreign policy, whereas he also briefed Constantopoulos on current issues and matters.
On his part, Constantopoulos reiterated that his party's positive stance regarding Turkey's European orientation are well known, before adding that Synaspismos' positions regarding guarantees by Ankara are also well known.
 Finnish commissioner candidate stresses intention to assist efforts on Cyprus issue
BRUSSELS 5/10/2004 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)Finnish commissioner candidate Oli Rev, due to take the enlargement portfolio in the Barroso Commission, told the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday that he will contribute during his term of office to whatever effort aimed at solving the issue of Cyprus.
Asked on behalf of the European Parliament's socialist group by the main opposition PASOK party's Euro deputy Panos Beglitis how he intends to contribute to a solution to the Cyprus issue, the Finnish commissioner candidate said it depends primarily on the political will of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.
He added that he believes that the Turkish Cypriots must be backed economically in the middle-term period to enable, with an improvement in their living standards, the creation of more favorable conditions for solving the political problem of Cyprus.
On the question of the legal basis of the regulation on the trade relations of the Turkish Cypriots with the rest of the world, the Finnish candidate said it is correct in the view of the Commission's legal service.
 Palestinian Authority appeals to Greece to protest against 'slaughter of civilians' in Gaza Strip
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)In an urgent appeal to all Greek political parties and bodies on Monday, the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic representation in Athens called on them to protest against the "continued slaughter of dozens of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza Strip".
The appeal added that this policy by Israeli premier Ariel Sharon - one of daily murders, demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of infrastructure, barricading of territory, continued settlement and the raising of a wall that will isolate Palestine from the rest of the world - had buried any hopes of reviving the peace process and undermined the security and stability of the entire Middle East region.
Coalition (Synaspismos) party expresses support for Palestinian people: The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synas-pismos) party on Monday issued an announcement expressing their party's unqualified solidarity with the Palestinian people and stressing that the vicious cycle of blood would never end as long as the basic cause that triggered the violence continued to exist, namely the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory in violation of the decisions of the United Nations and other institutions representing the international community.
The announcement was made after a meeting on Monday between-en representatives of the party and an attaché of the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic representation in Athens, Ismat Sabri.
 Turkish warplanes violate Greek air space on eight occasions
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Seven formations of Turkish warplanes made four infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on Monday, which developed into eight violations of national air space in the regions of the islands of Samothraki, Limnos and Lesvos and to the east of the island of Rhodes, press reports said.
In all cases, the 14 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while in five cases the interception process developed into an engagement.
Reports said that three of the Turkish warplanes were armed.
 Prefecture union alerts PM to 'serious financial problems' faced by prefecture government
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The head of the Union of Prefecture Authorities of Greece (ENAE) Fofi Gennimata on Monday sent a letter to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, alerting him to what she called "serious financial and legal issues faced by prefecture local government".
Gennimata, who is also Athens-Piraeus Super-Prefect, noted that prefectures were being starved of the funds needed to cover even their basic running costs and were unable to fulfill their role, while their appeals to the finance ministry were falling on deaf ears even though Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos had promised to table legislation to settle prefecture authority finances within October.
According to Gennimata, the amount for the Central Self-Sufficient Funds for 2005 could not be less than 540 million euros. She said this money would cover the non-payment of 'development resources' for the years 2002-2004, the resumption of school building programs interrupted because of outstanding debts to contractors, spending related to schools and repair of infrastructure destroyed in freak bad weather.
She also complained about delays in hiring vital staff through the ASEP public-sector appointments system, the non-payment of 50 per cent of fines and taxes due to prefectures under the current legal framework, and "inexplicable" delays in the signature of contracts for technological equipment for prefecture authorities, with the risk of losing 33 million euros available under the Information Society program.
 Washington Times article paints positivePost-Olympics image of Greece
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)According to an article appearing in the Sunday, October 3rd edition of the Washington Times, Greece is reaping the rewards of the great success of the Olympic Games, and is beginning a campaign to attract foreign investors who would like to invest in the region.
The article, based on an interview of Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianides, goes on to say that Greek officials feel that Greece, despite its small size and the potential threat of terrorism it faced on its soil, proved that it is in a position to successfully organize large international events.
Stylianides stated that Greece's geographical position, combined with its stability and security, make it an ideal base for investors who wish to tap into the markets of the wider region, particularly the Balkans and the Black Sea. The minister added that the fulfillment of such a plan could help to ease Greece's financial burden, resulting from the huge amount spent on Olympic Games security, which came to 1,2 billion dollars, a record amount and four times greater than that spent on security at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Stylianides was in New York to attend the annual conference of the United Nations, where he discussed Greece's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council and expressed his optimism that Greece would be elected on 15 October. Stylianides also promoted Thessaloniki's 2008 bid as host nation for Expo 2008. In Washington he met with State and Commerce Department offices on development assistance.
 Former PM Comments on the presidential election, Simitis and the economy
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)"If the president of the Hellenic Republic was a figure from the (main opposition) Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party, then Mr. Simitis would perhaps be the best choice, in my opinion. But, I don't think that the president can be either from PASOK or from (ruling) New Democracy (ND)," former prime minister and Honorary ND President Constantine Mitsotakis said during an interview he gave to NET's "Proti Grammi" on Monday morning.
The former PM reiterated that he is not interested in running for president, adding that the new president does not have to be a political figure: "A person who is not strongly associated with political parties, but someone who is prestigious," he said.
Of Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, Mitsotakis said that the composer did not want the position, while his age and state of health do not allow him to seek the post.
Speaking of Kostis Stephanopoulos, the current President of the Hellenic Republic, and his tenure, Mitsotakis said: "I won't talk about individuals; a president's success is very relative. In Greece, a president is successful, usually when he doesn't do anything. Of course, in Greece, the president by definition should not do anything.''
While the former PM said he did not object to the presidential candidate being from the ND camp, he did acknowledge that "since we're aiming for a consensual solution, it is most likely that we will lean towards a 'middle of the road' solution in terms of a candidate."
Asked about the possibility of early elections, Mitsotakis said they were a possibility because of the state of the economy and the confrontation under way between the two parties. He estimated that PASOK may put up an extreme fight against the government's efforts at 'housecleaning.'
Mitsotakis also commented on the government's communication strategy, saying it isn't bad, but has room for improvement, and must be improved.
As for the budget, Mitsotakis said it was on target and ambitious, but emphasized that the government should negotiate with the EU for greater leniency.
Finally, the former PM also commented on insurance reform, saying that the system could not remain as is indefinitely and noting that fat must be trimmed in all sectors.
 President Stephanopoulos to make official visit to Bulgaria on October 11-13
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will make an official visit to Bulgaria on October 11-13, at the invitation of the country's President Georgi Parvanov, it was announced on Monday.
President Stephanopoulos will be accompanied on his visit by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.
 Gov't allocates 13,000 part-time work positions in local government, regional authorities
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The government on Monday decided on the allocation of 13,000 part-time posts in regional authorities and local government, on both a municipal and prefecture level.
The decision was made by the inter-ministerial committee for part-time employment that took place at the interior ministry, with deputy interior minister Athanassios Nakos in the chair and Deputy Finance Minister Adam Regouzas and Deputy Employment Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos attending.
Afterward, Nakos said that the 13,000 part-time positions will be allocated on the basis of population criteria, the number of municipal divisions and needs in relation to employment and levels of joblessness.
The measure is targeted at unemployed people over 30 that are still registered as unemployed six months after they have exhausted the period in which they qualify for unemployment benefits (30 per cent), registered unemployed that are in the last five years before they qualify for a pension (20 per cent), young people under 30 that have been registered as unemployed for at least 18 months (20 per cent), mothers of young children (10 per cent), those considered 50 per cent handicapped (10 per cent), and members of large families (10 per cent).
It was also decided that at least 60 per cent of the positions will go to women, in all categories.
The committee has approved all operational plans for part-time posts submitted by regional authorities and local governments. It has allocated 300 posts in the 13 regional authorities, 1500 posts in 49 prefectures and 10,381 posts in 764 municipal authorities.
 Employment minister says employees at temporary employment companies must have equal rights with other employees
BRUSSELS 5/10/2004 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)Employment and Social Security Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, who represented Greece at the Council of European Union Social Affairs Ministers, said in Luxembourg on Monday that employees at temporary employment companies operating in many European countries must have equal rights with other employees.
Commenting on the content of a report on increasing employment in Europe, prepared by former Dutch prime minister Vim Coq, the minister said that "as regards some countries in northern Europe which have a different status and a different culture on labor issues, we agreed to a compromise proposal which consists of a transitional period being anticipated for these countries to enable them to adjust national legislation to that of Europe."
Panayiotopoulos also said that "the Greek government insists that in Europe we must combine proposals made by various countries on more flexibility in the labor market with high protection for the rights of working people. In no case must more flexible forms of labor remove rights from working people."
As regards the discussion on the settlement of work time in Europe, Panayiotopoulos said that all issues must become the object of exhaustive dialogue between social partners and that legislation and arrangements must not be imposed from above.
 EU welcomes change in Greek law on contract workers
BRUSSELS 5/10/2004 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)The European Union's executive Commission on Monday welcomed changes being made in Greek law on contractual workers.
The changes will bring Greece into line with the bloc's directive on contract workers in the public sector, a Commission representative told a Euro parliament committee reviewing Greece's stalled compliance deadlines.
A euro deputy of the ruling New Democracy party and member of the committee, Manolis Mavrommatis, said that Greece had also prepared corresponding legislation to cover contract workers in the private sector.
 Greek retail sales index jumped 7.8 pct in July, yr/yr
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Greek retail sales index jumped 7.8 percent in July, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The average retail sales' value index rose 7.3 percent in the first seven months of 2004 compared with the corresponding period last year, NSS said in its monthly report.
The statistics service said that the big increase in the July figure reflected a 12.1 percent jump in super market sales in July, a 9.1 percent increase in food, drinks and tobacco store sales, an 8.8 percent rise in clothing and footwear and a 7.4 percent increase in bookstore sales.
NSS also said that department stores' sales rose 6.5 percent in July, pharmaceutical-cosmetics stores' sales increased by 3.4 percent and electric home appliance stores' sales rose 3.2 percent. The statistics service said that outdoor sales fell 0.8 percent in July.
 Greek unleaded petrol price lowest in EU
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The average price of unleaded petrol rose to 0.844 euros per liter in the week ending October 1, from 0.834 euros in the previous week, to an increase of 1.20 percent compared with a 1.74 percent rise in the Brent crude oil price over the same period.
The price of unleaded petrol has risen by 15.46 percent so far this year, significantly lower compared with a 51.10-percent jump in international crude oil prices.
A Development ministry announcement said the price of unleaded gasoline has actually fallen by 0.47 percent since May 28 - when it peaked for the year - despite a 26.90-percent increase in international oil prices over the same period.
Retail petrol prices remained the lowest in the European Union for one more week, down 23 percent compared with the average retail price in Europe.
 Greek car sales jumped 28.6 pct in September, yr/yr
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The Greek car market is rapidly moving towards breaking the 300,000-mark in this year's sales, with nine-month car sales totaling 233,675 units and the Union of Car Importers-Dealers expressing their full satisfaction over developments in the domestic market.
According to monthly figures released by the union, car registrations rose 16.2 percent in the January-September period compared with the same period last year, while September figures were 28.6 percent up compared with the same month in 2003. Sales in September totaled 19,782 units.
Toyota maintained its leading position in the Greek market in the period January-September with a total of 21,599 sales (up 14.6 percent from last year), followed by Hyundai (19,966 units), Opel (18,629), Fiat (14,652) and VW (14,594).
Porsche, Lancia, Mazda and BMW recorded the biggest monthly percentage increases in their sales (182 pct, 156 pct, 90 pct and 80.7 pct, respectively).
 Lord Bach at Defendory 2004 next week
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The British embassy in Athens on Monday announced that Lord Bach, the minister for defense procurement in the United Kingdom, will attend the Defender 2004 trade show here next week.
Lord Bach, according to an embassy press release, is responsible for decisions affecting the nine-billion-pound defense equipment budget for the British armed forces, as well as overseeing the promotion of British defense equipment overseas.
The Defender exhibition of arms and defense contractors as well as national delegations takes places in Piraeus every two years.
 Greece seeks to host next Euro-Mediterranean Conference for Industry
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Greece wants to host the 6th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference for Industry as it seeks to contribute more in promoting cooperation between the 25 EU member-states and the 10 Mediterranean states, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Monday.
Addressing a 5th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Industry, themed "Competitive Enterprises in the Mediterranean Region" held in Cazerta, Italy, the Greek minister stressed that the Mediterranean region for thousands of years has been an area of exchanging goods, traditions and cultures. "Therefore, it is natural for the European Union to build upon these long-term relations," he added.
Sioufas said the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, introduced in Barcelona in 1995, was significantly supporting this goal and underlined Greece's strong interest in promoting this effort. "We support the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean zone of free trade and prosperity by 2010," Sioufas said. He added that this goal would significantly strengthen industrial cooperation in the area, attract direct foreign investments, transfer technology and encourage innovation. "To achieve this we must emphasize on economic structural changes, improving infrastructure in transport and energy and establish a healthy business environment. We need policies to promote entrepreneurship," the Greek minister said.
Sioufas stressed that a Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Businesses envisaged the direction lines to move towards this goal and urged for the adoption of specific programs, incentives and other policy measures.
Sioufas underlined that the European Charter for Small Enterprises has helped Greece to adopt the necessary policies to boost business activity in the country, such as simplifying procedures, better training and closer consultation with trade organizations.
 Greek-Serbian trade ties, development on agenda of business forum
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Direct Greek investment in Serbia-Montenegro currently surpasses the 700-million-euro mark, participants at the third Greek-Serbian business forum in Athens were told on Monday.
"Our goal is to send a powerful message of stability, peace, economic cooperation and qualitative development from the SE European region to the international community," Deputy FM Evripidis Stylianidis said in inaugurating the forum.
Greek and Serbian officials also said that bilateral trade doubled over the past five years, although no exact figures were announced.
On his part, Serbia and Montenegro Minister of International Economic Relations Predrag Bubalo stressed that the growth rate in his country continues to hover at 8 percent, while also highlighting a handful of incentives he said Belgrade offers to foreign firms, such as 10-percent tax rate for profits and equal treatment of overseas and local companies, among others. Some 150 joint Greek-Serbian firms along with 80 Greek companies, in fact, are active in Serbia-Montenegro.
Moreover, Stylianidis reiterated that Greece will continue to implement a thoroughly ambitious 550-million-euro Balkan Reconstruction Plan, half of which is destined for Serbia (including Kosovo) and Montenegro.
Bubalo noted that although the plan has been delayed for various reasons, "my position is not to look to the past, but only to the future." He also called the developmental aid package unveiled by Athens for its SE European neighbors a "very impressive and noble gesture on the part of Greece, given the fact that economic prosperity is the only viable base for long-term political stability."
 Black Sea Energy Conference to be held in Thessaloniki
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Greek Development Deputy Minister George Salagoudis will address a 3rd Black Sea Energy Conference to be held in Thessaloniki, October 5-6.
The conference is under the auspices of Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and is organized by the Regional and Inter-Regional Development Forum and the Romanian Consulate in Thessaloniki, with the support of Greece's Development Ministry, the Romanian Economy and Trade Ministry, the Black Sea International Study Centre, the Black Sea Development Bank, the World Bank and the prefecture of Thessaloniki.
The 3rd Energy Conference will bring together more than 200 government and business officials from 11 countries (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey), the European Union and the United States.
The conference's theme is government planning in view of a restructuring of energy markets in the region, abolishing monopolies and attractive international investors in a gradually deregulating market.
 Greek milk production within set quotas in 2003-04, Commission says
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Greece and another five other EU-15 member-states did not exceed milk production quotas in the period 2003-2004, there-fore, they do not owe refunds to community funds, the European Commission said on Monday.
An EU executive's report stressed, however, that nine EU member-states exceeded milk production by a total of 1.0 million tons and that they have to refund a total 388 million euros to community funds.
According to the report, based on figures submitted by Greek authorities, milk deliveries totaled 689,340 tons this year, with the country's production quota set at 699,730 tons
Besides Greece, Spain, France, Portugal, Finland and Sweden have not exceeded production quotas, while Italy and Germany record the highest monetary refunds (166 million euros and 131 million euros, respectively).
 Elinoil issues 7.0 mln euro bond loan
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Elinoil, a Greek oil product distribution company, on Monday announced an agreement with National Bank of Greece to issue its second bond loan, worth 7.0 million euros.
The five-year bond will be fully covered by National Bank.
Elinoil issued its first bond loan in July, worth 7.5 million euros, as part of a strategy to restructure its debt and reduce its borrowing costs. The company invested 3.1 million euros in the first six months of the year.
 EFG Eurobank Securities ranks top in brokerage turnover
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)EFG Eurobank Securities ranked top in brokerage turnover in September 2004, gaining 17.3 percent of the market including block trades and 15.5 percent excluding block trades.
Following including block trades were National Securities, P&K, Alpha Finance, Kappa, Sigma Securities, Proton Sec, Investment Bank of Greece, HSBC Pantalakis, and Egnatia Securities.
Ten brokerages controlled 76% of the market on the basis of transactions in September; and 68% of the market in January-September 2004.
 Aegean Airlines voted top regional operator for 2004
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Aegean Airlines was voted top regional operator for 2004-2005 by trade reporters throughout Europe.
The gold prize was awarded to Aegean by the European Regional Airline Association, which has 230 member-companies representing 70 airlines operating in 250 European airports.
 Naoussa textile mill workers picket Employment ministry over factory closure
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Workers at the 'Trikolan' textile mill owned by Klonatex in Naoussa on Monday organized a march and a picket outside the Employment Ministry in Athens to protest against the owner's plans to close down the factory.
The mainly female workers also marched to the owner company's offices in Athens and warned that if plans for the factory's closure went ahead, they were not prepared to give it up.
At the Employment ministry they met Deputy Employment Minister Gerassimos Giakoumatos, who said the government would exhaust all legal avenues to prevent the factory's closure. Should efforts to keep it open fail, he said the ministry would help those laid off with subsidized training and retraining programs.
According to the factory workers, the owner has received state subsidies in order to keep the factory open, though he is now seeking additional bank loans.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise, led by markets abroad
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished higher, tracking a rise in markets abroad, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,383.49 points, showing a rise of 1.31 percent. Turnover was 112.1 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.36 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.40 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.80 percent up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 199 to 84 with 75 remaining unchanged.
 Olympic Airlines flight headed for London, lands in Corfu on account of bomb scare
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Another bomb scare interrupted an Olympic Airlines flight headed for London - the third in the past two weeks - forcing its pilot and crew to land on the island of Corfu on Monday.
Specifically, OA flight 265 took off from Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos at 7:15 p.m. with 205 passengers, headed for London. Shortly after take-off, an unknown individual phoned the offices of a daily newspaper claiming that a bomb was on board the plane. The pilot was then notified and ordered to land on the island of Corfu. Two Mirage 2000 fighter airplanes took off from Araxos airport in order to escort the Olympic Airlines plane to Corfu.
The plane landed at Corfu airport at 9:28 p.m. where all the necessary security measures had been taken. Prior to landing, the pilot emptied the plane's fuel in the Ionian Sea.
Immediately after the plane landed, passengers and crew evacuated the plane so that Special Forces and specially-trained dogs could check the plane for explosives. Once the search is complete, the Olympic Airlines flight will continue its journey towards its scheduled destination. Evidence indicates that it is most likely another false alarm as were the previous two incidents.
 Polichni municipal cars torched
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)Two cars belonging to the Polichni municipality, near Thessaloniki, were torched early Monday, causing extensive damage to the vehicles.
The cars, parked outside the Polichni town hall, were severely damaged when a makeshift bomb comprising four small butane canisters exploded at dawn on Monday, causing a fire that was quickly extinguished by firefighters.
Polichni mayor Michalis Xanthopoulos told ANA that none of the municipal services had received any threatening phone call warning of the explosion.
 Xanthi lawyer, couple ordered to stand trial for illegal adoptions of infants
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The Xanthi Misdemeanors Council has ordered a well-known lawyer in Xanthi and a couple from Halkida to stand trial before a Mixed Jury Court in Orestiada on Wednesday as suspects in the illegal adoption and sale of babies and children to childless couples.
The case was hit the headlines four years ago in Xanthi, when the lawyer was arrested after allegedly receiving a newborn baby boy from the couple, who intended to sell him for the sum of 3.2 million drachmas (approximately 9,400 euros).
 Illegal immigrant killed in Northern Greece minefield
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)A young Iranian illegal immigrant lost his life Monday, while a compatriot of his was wounded, as the two tried to enter the country at the Greek-Turkish border in Evros, Northern Greece, via a fenced-off minefield.
According to sources, the two immigrants had been taken to the specific point by Turkish human traffickers. In order to get through the minefield the two Iranians used special cutters to cut through the wire fencing.
The wounded Iranian is being hospitalized at Alexandroupolis' University Hospital and is not in danger.
Since the early 1990s, a total of 82 people have lost their lives in the Evros minefields and 43 have been injured. Of those killed 79 were illegal immigrants of various nationalities, while three were Greek soldiers. Of those injured, all 43 were illegal immigrants.
 Deputy Minister sends message on World Animal Day
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)In a message Monday on the occasion of World Animal Day, Greek Deputy Minister for Agricultural Development and Foods, Alexandros Kontos, said that "wild animals are more than ever deserving of the attention and protection of the state. The same applies to domestic animals, which make unique friends for humans, providing them with social, psychological and therapeutic benefits."
The minister went on to say that it is important that we all recognize the rights of animals, their right to live, to food and to equal treatment. "Significant steps have been taken in the past few years to improve the treatment of farm animals. The aim is to improve the production process of raising animals as well and this has been achieved thanks largely to both national and EU regulations", added the minister.
 Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio at Athens Concert Hall
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The Athens Concert Hall's series "Great Orchestras - Great Conductors" continues with two performances by the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio under the direction of Vladimir Fedoseyev on October 8 and 9.
The first performance will open with Ludwig Van Beethoven's "Wellington's Victory," concerto no. 2 for piano, in B flat major, with Alexei Volodin at the piano. The second half of the performance will feature Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony no. 4 in F minor.
The second performance is dedicated to Tchaikovsky, beginning with the Waltz and Polonaise from the opera "Eugene Onegin", followed by the Concerto Fantasia for piano and orchestra, op. 56, with Yorgos Petrou at the piano. The second half will continue with Symphony no.6 in B minor, op. 74, ("Pathetique"), Tchaikovsky's last work before he died.
 Sotheby's to hold auction of top 19th-20th century Greek painters
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)One hundred paintings by the foremost Greek painters of the 19th and 20th centuries will be up for auction in the 'Greek Sale' held at Sotheby's in London on Tuesday, November 16.
This year's Greek Sale, following highly successful Greek Sales in 2002 and 2003, will include works by Constantinos Volanakis, Pericles Pantazis, Georgios Bouzianis, Theodoros Rallis and Nikiforos Lytras, Constantinos Parthenis, Polychronis Lembesis, Georgios Iakovidis, Constantinos Maleas and Nikos Hatziky-riakos-Gkikas.
Among the highlights of the sale are the seascapes by Volanakis (1837-1907), which are estimated to fetch prices ranging from £100,000 to £221,000, and two works by Parthenis (1878-1967) entitled "Face lost in the shadow of a branch" and "Still Life" that formed part of a collection presented by Parthenis at the Biennale exhibition in Vienna in 1938.
A selection of the works from "Greek Sale" will be displayed alongside jewelry from the Maria Callas collection, which is due to be auctioned at Sotheby's on Wednesday, November 17 in Geneva, at the EFG Eurofinancial Investment Company building in Monaco on Friday, October 22.
 Two new HEU programs this month
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The Hellenic American Union (HEU) is organizing two programs this month at its downtown Athens campus, namely, a 12-session entitled "New Product Development Strategy" between Oct. 25-27, as well as a five-hour workshop entitled "Motivation and Job Satisfaction" on Oct. 23.
Both events will be held in English.
For more information, contact the HEU at (210) 3680056 and 3680006, or e-mail HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com" firstname.lastname@example.org
 US embassy closed on Oct. 11 in observance of Columbus Day
Athens 5/10/2004 (ANA)The US embassy in Athens, including the consular section, the Consulate General in Thessaloniki, and all US government offices in Greece will remain closed on Monday, October 11, in observance of Columbus Day, a US national holiday.
The embassy's consular section will also remain closed to the public on Friday, October 8, an embassy announcement said Monday.
 John Kerry says Cyprus' EU accession major step forward
NEW YORK 5/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)US Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Cyprus' accession to the EU was ''a major step forward'' and reiterated his commitment to ''a just and peaceful settlement'' of the Cyprus problem that would have ''the support of all its people.''
In a statement titled ''Working together with Greek Americans,'' Kerry praises Greece as a good and long-term ally of the United States, playing a stabilizing role in the Balkans and Southeastern Europe.
''The entry of the Republic of Cyprus into the EU is a major step forward both for Cyprus and for the EU. With its strong democratic institutions, vigorous economy and hard-working, well-educated and productive people, Cyprus has earned its EU membership. Cyprus will help carry the EU's fundamental political and economic principles to the Eastern Mediterranean and will contribute to stability and growth in the Balkans,'' he notes.
On the Cyprus problem, he says that ''since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus three decades ago, the island has been divided,'' noting that ''it is a long-standing objective of US policy to see the island united under the terms of a just and peaceful settlement that has the support of all its people.''
''We have not yet reached that objective, to which I am strongly committed. In a recent referendum, the people of Cyprus rejected the UN-sponsored plan, in a vote that reflected widespread concern about the plan's deficiencies'', he says.
Kerry adds that ''while this vote could be viewed as a setback, we must not treat it as a defeat.''
He notes that ''the US must stand firmly behind the continuing effort to reach an equitable agreement on reunification which commands the broadest possible popular support among the Cypriot people.''
 Cyprus Foreign Minister to meet Chinese counterpart
NICOSIA 5/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)The UN Secretary-General's report on the UN Peacekeeping Forces in Cyprus is expected to be raised during a meeting of the foreign ministers of Cyprus and China in Hanoi.
After meeting Monday China's Ambassador to Cyprus Limin Zhang, Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou announced he will meet his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing in Hanoi, between 8 and 9 October 2004 on the sidelines of the fifth Asia-Europe Summit Meeting. Iacovou will represent President Tassos Papadopoulos.
Iacovou said he informed the Chinese diplomat on the UN Secretary-General's report on UNFICYP and called on China to help ''so that no elements from other reports of the Secretary-General be included in the resolution'' to be adopted.
The foreign minister said he did not believe the UNFICYP mandate was in danger.
Limin informed Iacovou on his meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader of the Republican Turkish Party Mehmet Ali Talat at the RTPÔs headquarters in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus, and told the minister the Turkish Cypriots ''expect some positive resolution from the Security Council because that will affect the EU and the regulations it will approve''.
The foreign minister leaves for Amsterdam Tuesday to take part in the informal meeting of the EU Ministers of European Affairs, an official statement said.
He will then head to Hanoi for the Asia-Europe Summit Meeting and then depart for Luxembourg for the General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting. He returns to Cyprus on October 12.
 Turkish Cypriots in PACE under House of Representatives
NICOSIA 5/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)Head of the Cypriot parliamentary delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Doros Christodoulides told CNA Monday that the two representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community that may participate in PACE sessions will be on the list of representatives of the Cypriot House of Representatives.
''The Turkish Cypriots will be invited as 'elected members of the Turkish Cypriot community.' They are invited by the PACE President and this list will be submitted by the Turkish Cypriot political parties and no pseudo parliament or pseudo government. They will be on the list of the representatives of the Cypriot House of Representatives. All this was passed today (Monday) in a unanimous PACE decision,'' Christodoulides said.
Christodoulides added the proposals of the Cypriot parliamentary delegation to PACE regarding the Turkish Cypriots have been ''to a great extent adopted'' and noted that the Council of Europe ''does not recognize a second Cypriot state but one.''