|Monday, 11 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-10-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 6, 2004
 FM Molyviatis discusses Turkey's EU prospect with visiting Turkish National Assembly inter-parliamentary delegation
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis on Tuesday met with the members of the visiting inter-parliamentary delegation of the Turkish National Assembly (parliament), and discussed Turkey's EU prospect ahead of the imminent release of the European Commission's report.
Molyviatis reiterated Greece's position in favor of Turkey's European prospect during his meeting with the Turkish MPs Aydin Dumanoglu, who is vie-chairman of the Turkey-EU joint parliamentary committee, Vahit Kirisci and Onur Oymen.
The Turkish parliamentarians expressed appreciation for Greece's position on the issue, and briefed Molyviatis on how the Turkish side was facing the anticipated EU reactions regarding Turkey's European future, a foreign ministry announcement said.
The government on Tuesday again reiterated its support for Turkey's European prospects, following a question on whether Greece would consider holding a referendum prior to the conclusion of the neighboring country's EU accession talks -- whenever those begin.
The question was linked to a proposal late last week by French President Jacques Chirac, who called for a change in his country's constitution to allow for a referendum in France on Turkey's bid to join the 25-member bloc.
 European Commission to publicize report on progress in Turkey on Wednesday
BRUSSELS 6/10/2004 (ANA/Y. Zitouniati)The European Commission will publicize its report on Wednesday on the evaluation of progress achieved in Turkey, but the last word will be said at the summit of heads of state and government in December, which will probably set a date for the commencement of accession negotiations between the European Union and Turkey since, according to diplomatic sources, the Commission's report contains no relevant prediction.
The Commission's report hails the substantive progress achieved by Ankara since 2002, when Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power, but it also underlines delays in such sectors as torture, freedom of religion or of expression, violence against women. etc.
The duration of negotiations is expected to be long. The Com-mission believes that there will be no Turkish accession before 2015. However, this does not seem to create concern in Ankara which is anxious to see negotiations getting under way without delay. The Turkish prime minister himself has not ruled out the possibility of the negotiations lasting until 2019.
 Turkish PM Erdogan rules out prospect of Cyprus Republic objection to comme-ncement of Turkey's EU accession talks
ISTANBUL 6/10/2004 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)Turkish prime minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan ruled out the prospect of a "refusal" on the part of the Republic of Cyprus to the commencement of negotiations for Turkey's accession to the EU, in an exclusive interview with the Turkish daily TERZUMAN.
"In the contacts I had, both with the honorable (Greek prime minister Costas) Mr. Karamanlis and the honorable (Cyprus president Tassos) Mr. Papadopoulos, I did not come away with such an impression," Erdogan said, adding that "both told me that there would be no refusal on their part".
"I don not wish to even consider the possibility that the contents of the Progress Report (on Turkey's EU candidacy, which is due to be released on Wednesday) will be negative," Erdogan said.
He said that "we have done our duty, we fulfilled all the criteria, there is nothing left on the table", adding that "now it is Europe's turn".
 Ecumenical Patriarch views Turkey's EU prospects as guarantee to better days ahead
ISTANBUL 6/10/2004 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)"Turkey's European prospects are also a guarantee of the better days ahead," Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos said in Phanar on Tuesday as he received the Executive Committee and members of Cyprus' Scouts.
"Greek-Turkish issues which are improving and the general course of the world overall, enable us to hope and to be optimistic that the future will be brighter," Vartholomeos emphasized.
He also expressed hope that the Cyprus issue will soon be resolved "that the island will be reunited as soon as possible, that Turkey will join the European Union and that the entire region of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean which for the past decades have served as a stage of conflict, will become a place of peace, love, friendship and cooperation."
 Kerry comments on Greece, Cyprus
WASHINGTON 6/10/2004 (ANA)US presidential hopeful John Kerry, the junior (D) senator from Massachusetts, has referred to Greece's "stabilizing role" in the Balkans, in a letter addressed to Greek-American communities this week.
In a bid to curry votes from Greek-Americans only weeks ahead of the November presidential election in the United States, Kerry also refers to Athens' continued rapprochement with neighboring Turkey, and also congratulates Greece over the successful and safe hosting of the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Democratic contender for the White House also refers to Greece's diplomatic acumen during its EU presidency in the first half of 2003.
In reference to the long-standing Cyprus problem, Kerry cited what he called the division caused by the "Turkish invasion", while noting that the overwhelming rejection of the Annan peace plan for Cyprus by the Greek Cypriot community reflects the a wider concern for the plan's gaps. Moreover, he said the Annan plan's rejection should not be viewed as a defeat.
 Deputy Foreign Minister participates in "Communicating Europe" conference in Amsterdam
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis participated in the informal Ministerial Council on European Affairs which was held in Amsterdam on Tuesday and focused on improving the dissemination of information to European citizens ("Communicating Europe").
This ministerial council was held publicly for the first time in history, in front of the mass media and an audience. The main topic of discussion was how each of the 25 EU member states can be informed about their fellow member states' communication strategy and the efforts for approving an EU constitution. The council also discussed the coordination of communication strategy regarding European issues in general. The ministerial council's suggestions will serve as the basis for decisions made at the EU Summit in November.
 Inner Cabinet approves of new provisions for bestowing citizenship
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The high-ranking inner Cabinet convened on Tuesday to approve a new legal code for bestowing Greek citizenship, after Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos presented the relevant draft bill.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis chaired the inner Cabinet meeting.
According to Pavlopoulos, a university law professor, legal pro-visions will be codified in a more unified manner, part of an attempt to eliminate legal discrepancies and subjective implementation of the provisions.
He also said new legislation is completely harmonized with EU standards and transparent procedures for bestowing Greek citizenship.
While stricter conditions will apply for naturalizations of athletes, more favorable conditions will apply to repatriate ethnic Greek from one-time Soviet republics.
In a related development, a government spokesman on Tuesday announced that that the premier will receive the president of the state-controlled and bourse-listed Public Power Corp. (PPC), Yiannis Paleokrassas, later in the evening.
 PM requests parliamentary debate on education
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, in a letter sent to Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Tuesday, requested that of an agenda parliamentary debate on education be held.
In his letter, Karamanlis states that "education, its significance and its priorities in the coming years, is one of the most crucial sectors as far as the Government is concerned, and is in accordance with the government program."
Thus, Karamanlis adds, "I believe that a discussion in Parliament on education will enable all the country's political forces to judge and assess its course and the necessary adaptations to European standards in order to upgrade it on all levels."
 Education ministry reinstates certain health-related provisions for college transfers
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The education ministry on Tuesday announced several changes to a draft bill governing college students' transfers from one university to another, an issue that recently caused a bitter clash between the government and main opposition and even resulted in the resignation of one minister and the main opposition's spokesman.
Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou said "social" and health reasons have been reinstated into the bill as grounds for allowing such college transfers.
Moreover, individuals that enroll in universities and technical schools without examinations (3 percent of the annual total of new students in tertiary institutions) are still eligible for transfer to another corresponding school, the draft bill foresees.
In comments on Tuesday, Yiannakou said her ministry had initially considered eliminating most health-related provisions for college transfers because of numerous infractions in the past by students presenting bogus or forged medical documentation.
Although the issue directly affects thousands of Greek families every year -- especially due to rising cost-of-living expenditures for students enrolled in schools away from home -- the backlash from revelations that the son and daughter of former agriculture minister Savvas Tsitouridis and one-time PASOK spokesman Spyros Vougias, respectively, received questionable college transfers resulted in a crackdown by the education ministry's leadership.
GSEE trade union chief calls for broad-ranging dialogue on education system: The president of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) Christos Polyzogopoulos, who heads Greece's largest umbrella trade union organization, on Tuesday called the education ministry, the state, the political parties, local government, educational bodies and unions to begin a broad-ranging dialogue on the entire school system, from primary level through to the system for university entrance.
At a press conference held at the Centre for the Development of Educational Policy, Polyzogopoulos also presented the results of two surveys, the first among markers of university-entrance examinations and a second among parents regarding the institution of "all-day" schools that have an extended timetable.
According to the first survey, the existing system will not in any way reduce needs for additional tuition outside school for students, which represents a considerable financial drain on pa-rents, and magnifies social inequalities.
The second notes almost universal support for extended school hours among parents but also their desire that it cover children's needs, such as preparing homework for the next day.
 Better to tell the truth, Greek Deputy FinMin says
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)"It is better to have the courage to tell the truth from considering any political cost," Greek Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said on Monday.
He was commenting on the government's policy on the economy and the revised upwards statistics for the country's fiscal deficit and public debt in the previous years.
Addressing a meeting at the Federation of Greek Associations of New York, the Greek minister stressed that "some of our partners were surprised, but at the same time they welcomed our decision to present the real economic condition". He added that "if we do not know or acknowledge our problem, we cannot deal with it and solve it."
Doukas participated in delegation that represented Greece in an annual summit of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, a delegation headed by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis. During his meeting with officials from the Hellenic-American community in New York, Doukas said he expected a recovery in tourist arrivals in 2005 and stressed that three Hollywood film productions, based on the ancient Greek history, would help significantly in promoting the country's image abroad.
"We are very pleased with our talks during the IMF/World Bank summit," Doukas said, adding that "everyone congratulated us for the organizing of the Athens Olympic Games".
"My concern is to cut deficits to internationally accepted levels, which are below 3.0 percent of GDP," the Greek minister said commenting on the government's fiscal policy. He said that the first big privatization of the government would be the sale of a 33 percent equity stake in DEPA to a very large Spanish energy company and said that the government would promote a more ambitious privatization program for 2005 expecting to raise at least 1.5 billion euros.
Doukas reiterated that National Bank was not planning to sell Atlantic Bank, its subsidiary in the US.
 Papandreou accuses government of 'lack of courage' in dealing with country's problems
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday accused the government of ineffective economic policies, after a meeting with PASOK officials. Papandreou stated that "the budget hinders growth, marginalizes farmers and the countryside and has wiped out the incomes of families. Unfortunately the government is captive to catastrophic accounting; there was no enquiry into state accounts, there was simply a change of the accounting rules".
Papandreou further accused the government of a lack of courage in dealing with the country's real problems and of only dealing with the opposition.
In a separate development, Papandreou met with the vice president of the Turkish People's Republican Party, Onour Oymen. In regard to Turkey's EU candidacy, Papandreou stated that the previous PASOK government was able "to connect Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus issue with Turkey's EU candidacy and this should continue. Unfortunately, today we hear the Greek government saying that it does not want these issues to be connected to Turkey's progression towards EU membership."
PASOK to channel its energy on economic issues: The main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party will be focusing its political energy on the economy and on microeconomics particularly, in the near future, as it expects problems among certain social groups to worsen, according to announcements the party made on Tuesday evening during the meeting of the Coordinating Committee. Furthermore, PASOK does not rule out the possibility of early elections.
PASOK estimates that farmers and workers will be the hardest hit with financial problems. According to PASOK members, the party will also place emphasis on the increase in the cost of living which puts pressure on families' budgets, such as price increases in heating oil, petrol, road taxes and auto insurance.
Another topic discussed at Tuesday's meeting was the budget, over which PASOK expressed serious concerns whether it can be realized. According to PASOK sources, the budget is more a semi-annual budget rather than an annual budget, which brought on the issue of early elections.
As for the presidential election and comments made by former prime minister and Honorary President of New Democracy Constantine Mitsotakis, the overall sentiment was that ND could not possibly nominate Costas Simitis since it refuses to recognize his accomplishments during his tenure as prime minister.
 DM and Russian deputy DM discuss issues of mutual interest
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos and Russian Deputy Defense Minister Mikhail Dimitriev held talks on issues of mutual interest on Tuesday, as well as on the invitation extended to Spiliotopoulos by his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov to visit Russia shortly.
 National Defense General Staff chief delivers to DM report on Chinook helicopter crash
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)National Defense General Staff chief George Antonakopoulos on Tuesday delivered a report to Defense Minister Spilios
Spiliotopoulos on enquiries carried out on the delay ascertained concerning the timely notification of the political and military leadership on the Chinook helicopter's crash in the northern Aegean last month that killed 17 people.
According to press reports, the report attributes responsibilities to the staff of services and agencies responsible for monitoring the mission.
Details of the report have not been disclosed since it has been classified as being top secret as it concerns personal data.
The report will be evaluated by Spiliotopoulos who will then take the action he considers necessary, meaning that he will either order a further probe into the accident or instruct armed forces services to impose disciplinary or other sanctions on those responsible.
 Gov't on street cameras, possibility of more Parliament committees of inquiry
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Tuesday said a relevant lease contract for a pair of airborne surveillance platforms, namely, Swiss-made airships (blimps), has concluded. The two airships were a mainstay over the skies of greater Athens during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Regarding numerous hi-tech cameras now trained on greater Athens' major thoroughfares -- also part of stepped up security measures in the run-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games -- Antonaros said they will remain in operation for traffic management purposes.
However, he stressed -- again in reference to the cameras -- that the government will not allow any violation of laws concerning the protection of citizens' personal data.
Speaking at a daily press briefing, Antonaros was also asked about the possibility of the government requesting a Parliamentary committee of inquiry to probe whether some 750,000 US dollars granted by the US government were misused during PASOK deputy George Anomeritis' tenure at the merchant marine ministry's helm. Regarding the latter, he underlined that procedures for establishing such committees first necessitate referral of a relevant report by prosecutors to Parliament. MPs subsequently read over the report and arrive at an opinion, he said.
A tabled question by a Piraeus-area ruling New Democracy deputy (Petros Mantouvalos) cited use of the funds for organizing a "floating summit" aboard a cruise ship for Anomeritis' EU counterparts instead of purchasing equipment for the coastguard.
Regarding the high-profile crash of a military helicopter last month and delays in informing the country's political leadership, Antonaros said a confidential administrative inquiry has been concluded, "and blame will be assigned wherever necessary."
In yet another unrelated matter, the government spokesman dismissed any notion that the government was considering any revisions to police-issued ID cards -- a mandatory requirement for adult Greek citizens.
The abolition of the religious affiliation entry on IDs sparked a bitter clash in the predominately Orthodox country between a previous Costas Simitis-led PASOK government and the powerful Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece after the April 2000 general elections.
 George Aggelakos named new Chief of Greek Police by KYSEA
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)George Aggelakos, chief of the Attica Police, was unanimously named the new Chief of the Greek Police (EL.AS.) by the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) on Tuesday.
Public order minister George Voulgarakis told waiting reporters after the KYSEA meeting that after a screening of all the candidates, the KYSEA unanimously decided on Aggelakos' promotion to the post following the retirement of current ELAS chief Fotis Nasiakos.
Nasiakos' term expired in March, but was extended in view of the 2004 Olympic Games staged in Athens in August.
Sources told ANA that the ministry intends to use the now-retired Nasiakos in a different capacity, but denied reports of the possibility that he would take over the helm of the National Information Service (EYP).
Emergency services unions dissatisfied with government's choice for new Police Chief: Police, fire brigade and coast guard unions on Tuesday said they were not satisfied with the government's choice of Attica police chief George Aggelakos for the new chief of the Greek Police (EL.AS). At the same time, they said Aggelakos was an able officer and wished him all success for the good of the police force and Greek society.
Police force unions consider Aggelakos to be responsible for incidents last year in which protesting police officers were set upon by their colleagues in the riot police, who used teargas to disperse a union-organized demonstration by uniformed officers outside the finance ministry.
They also announced that they will be holding a nationwide rally in uniform at Syntagma Square in central Athens from midday on Friday until midday on Saturday, both to mark the anniversary of last year's incidents and to demand that the government class police work among 'unhealthy and hazardous' occupations for insurance and pension purposes.
Specifically, the government now gives police officers a hazard pay bonus but trade unionists want this to be linked to the basic wage and pension, while they also ask that all security forces employees qualify for a bonus five years added to their working life for calculating pensions. Finally, they are demanding that laws on workplace hygiene be strictly observed.
 Communist Party of Greece (KKE) declares support for Palestinians
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)In a press release issued Tuesday, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) condemned what it called the "continued attacks of the Israeli Army in the Gaza Strip, where since 28 September it has continued to bomb inhabited areas and the Jabalia refugee camp in particular where there were over 100 victims, among them children between the ages of 8 and 12".
The KKE statement adds that the Greek government needs to take a position on this matter, ''to assume its responsibilities and to not hide behind EU policies.'' It further condemns what it calls the ''barbaric policies of the Israeli government, which with its daily attacks and murders and the demolishment of houses is carrying out a policy of genocide against the Palestinian people"
 Greek ship owners Union president briefs PM on shipping positions and proposals
Athens 9/10/2004 (ANA)Positions and proposals on shipping brought to the attention of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday by Greek Ship-owners Union President Nikos Efthymiou and London's Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee President Epaminondas Empirikos, as well as by the members of the two boards, were revealed in a joint announcement made by the two shipping unions on Tuesday.
The prime minister was notified that shipping managed by Greek ship owners has remained, from the point of view of size, at the top of the international sea transport sector for 20 consecutive years with a 17 percent stake in the world's commercial fleet and 24 percent in the European Union's and only with Greek-flag ships.
During the first seven months of the current year, foreign exchange inflows resulting from the activities of the Greek-owned fleet around the world increased by 40 percent, with the prospect of shipping income exceeding 13 billion dollars at the end of the year.
As regards urgent problems currently preoccupying shipping, it was pointed out that the competitiveness of the Greek ship must be regained with the assistance of a specific stable and flexible form of measures to encourage the turn of Greek-owned shipping to the Greek flag.
Also stressed were the necessities of the immediate and radical reforming of shipping training, as well as the necessity of shipping being supported by the state at EU and international organizations?
 Karamanlis meets with DEH President
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with President of the Public Power Corporation (DEH) Ioannis Paleokrassas on Tues-day evening. During their hour-long meeting, Paleokrassas brie-fed Karamanlis on all issues pertaining to DEH as he usually does during their regular meetings.
Asked whether there were problems at DEH, Paleokrassas responded, "I've said whatever I've had to say."
 Heating oil on sale at low tax rate from Oct 15
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Heating oil for the winter will be sold at the lowest consumption tax rate allowed by the European Union for petroleum products, Deputy Development Minister George Salgoudis said on Tues-day.
The product at the low tax rate will be available from October 15, Salagoudis told reporters on the sidelines of an energy forum in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
 Gov't cautiously optimistic about oil pipeline project
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Deputy Development Minister George Salagoudis expressed guarded optimism about progress in a long-delayed project to build a pipeline carrying Russian oil from Bulgaria to Greece.
Salagoudis said he hoped the project would be cleared during an upcoming meeting with the Bularian side; and that a final agreement could be signed late in 2004 or early in 2005.
Russia has expressed enthusiasm for the project, he said on the sidelines of an energy forum in the northern port city of Thessa-loniki.
Following the agreement on a political level, talks could begin on the technical side of the project to discuss creation of a company, costing and taxation. The negotiations would take about two years, and, if progress was good, then construction could be completed four years after signature of the political agreement, Salagoudis added.
The pipeline would link Burgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupoli in northern Greece.
 Shipbuilding and repair zone in western Greece receives cash injection
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas signed several decisions into effect on Tuesday aimed at bolstering investment in shipping. Specifically, 2.5 million euros have been allocated for the modernization of the Shipbuilding and Repair Zone (NABIPE) of Platygialios Astakos in western Greece into a transit centre, and 4.1 million euros have been allocated for shipbuilding, conversion and refurbishment of a cruise ship and passenger ferries.
This is the second decision signed by Sioufas which aims at improving infrastructure and creating a modern Transit Centre on the 1,850 acres of Astakos' Shipbuilding and Repair Zone. The first was signed on June 17, 2004 and allocated funds from the public investment program of 4.7 million euros. The total amount to be invested in NABIPE so that it can accommodate large-capacity ships will total 126.5 million euros, 73.3 million of which will come from Greek funds.
 Greece seeks closer regional energy cooperation
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The Greek government is actively participating in the development of a Regional Energy Market in Southeastern Europe, in the creation of a single market in electricity and natural gas and has already recommended the city of Thessaloniki as the base for this single market, Development Deputy Minister George Salagoudis said on Tuesday.
Addressing the 3rd Black Sea Energy Conference in Thessaloniki, Salagoudis stressed that "Greece is ready to cooperation with other countries in the region to promote common goals more effectively".
The Greek minister, in his address, underlined that the government was implementing an integrated, rational and aggressive energy policy, with interventions and incentives, with clear targeting and priorities.
"Our priorities are to plan and implement a long-term strategy with full harmonization of the country's regulatory framework to community directives, a speedy deregulation of electricity and natural gas markets, completing ambitious investment programs by DEPA (the state natural gas company), strengthen healthy competition in the oil products market, promoting the linking of the Greek natural gas network system with the Italian and Turkish systems, adopting a new regulation framework for Renewable Energy Sources and supporting the role of Public Power Corporation SA," Salagoudis said.
The Greek minister said that Greece has successfully organized the Athens Olympic Games and stressed the success of electricity supply during the Games. "It was the first time that energy supply of all Olympic facilities was fully covered by one country's electricity system," Salagoudis said, adding that reserve generators remained idle during that period. He expressed his optimism that very soon the governments of Greece, Bulgaria and Russia would sign a political agreement to promote the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.
"Our government believes that Greece's geopolitical position offered significant investment opportunities with the country characterized by a stable political and economic environment," he said.
Salagoudis noted that the 3rd Black Sea Energy Conference would contribute, with its results, to enhancing regional cooperation.
 Greece-Serbia discuss closer tourism cooperation
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Greek Tourism Deputy Minister Anastasios Liaskos on Tuesday met with visiting Serbian Minister of Tourism, Trade and Service Bojan Dimitrievic and discussed drafting of joint tourism development programs in the Balkans and Southeastern Europe.
The meeting, held in the framework of a cooperation protocol between Southeast European states signed last April in Belgrade, also discussed a variety of tourism issues and in particular the creation of an integrated tourist product and of a tourist cultural route that would link Balkan and Southeast European states.
Serbian minister noted the increased interest of Serbian tourists to visit Greece after the Athens Olympic Games and said he would visit the "FILOXENIA" International Tourism Fair in Thessaloniki next month.
 Tourism ministry holds Syrian night
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The tourism development ministry on Tuesday held a Syrian night to mark a visit to Athens by officials of the Greek-Syrian Business Council.
Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who attended the celebration, recently signed a cooperation memorandum in Damascus to boost links between the two countries.
The president of the business council, Farouk Joud, welcomed cooperation agreed between the two countries that were furthered during Avramopoulos' visit.
 European Court rules in favor of Greece on ouzo tax
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The European Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected a case brought by the EU's executive commission that Greece had under taxed ouzo as an alcoholic beverage.
An EU directive on the harmonization of excise duties on alcohol and alcoholic beverages set rules determining the rate of excise duty for alcoholic products, with certain types of products, including ouzo, eligible for reduced rates, the court said in a statement.
In addition, the commission's action, which sought directly to challenge the rate of excise duty that Greece was authorized to apply to ouzo, amounted to a challenge to the lawfulness of the EU provision allowing the lower tax rate, the court said.
"The Court therefore finds that the Commission's action is unfounded and must be dismissed," the statement added.
 Draw for Olympic Village housing to be held Thursday
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Olympic Village housing will be sold at a low cost to those citizens who qualify in terms of income level, number of children, disability, etc. The distribution of housing to beneficiaries will begin on Thursday when a draw will be held at the Peace & Friendship Stadium, in the presence of Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, Deputy Labor Minister Gerasimos Giakoumatos and President of Workers' Housing (OEK) Angelos Econo-mopoulos. The draw will conclude on Sunday.
 Four prefects of Aegean islands demand support for increased Turkish tourism
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The prefects of the Dodecanese, Lesvos, Samos and Chios petitioned Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yiannis Valinakis regarding the imbalance in tourism between Greek and Turkish tourists in Turkey and Greece, respectively. The prefects tie this problem to the "time-consuming and expensive process of clearing Turkish tourists and allowing them into Greece, compared to the ease with which Greeks are allowed into Turkey".
According to the petition, this situation has had a negative impact on development, even though interest in visiting the Aegean islands by Turks is on the increase. The prefects stress that further talks on the matter are required and have suggested a meeting with the deputy minister. They have also requested that Turkish citizens be allowed to enter Greece on 48 hour visits without the need for a visa.
 Cooperative banks achieve considerable improvement of indicators in first half of year
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Cooperative banks operating in the country have achieved a considerable improvement of their main economic indicators in the first half of the year, compared to the corresponding period last year.
According to data provided by the Union of Cooperative Banks of Greece (ESTE), in the first half of the year cooperative banks' pre-tax profits amounted to 14.851 million euros, registering an increase of 26 percent.
Their assets reached 1.4 billion euros, increasing by 27.7 percent, loans totaled 1.117 million euros (increasing by 34.47 percent) and deposits amounted to 1.115 million euros (increasing by 35.9 percent).
The members of cooperative banks increased by 16,440 and amounted to 137,155 (increasing by 13.62 percent), while outlets numbered 99 and employed 709 people (increasing by 26.92 and 11.30 percent respectively).
 Mutual funds market assets decrease one percent in September
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The total assets of the Greek mutual funds market amounted to 30.61 billion euros at the end of September this year, decreasing by one percent compared to the end of August, according to data provided by the Union of Institutional Investors.
The market's total assets have increased by 216 million euros (0.7 percent) since the beginning of the year and compared to the corresponding month in 2003 they have increased by 645 million euros (2.2 percent).
 Rice farmers block Thessaloniki-Athens national highway in protest
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Rice farmers in the northern Greek prefecture of Thessaloniki on Tuesday blocked the Athens-Thessaloniki national highway at the Malgara tolls for a second consecutive day, demanding a better price for the crops.
Thessaloniki traffic police have diverted traffic onto minor roads during the blockade, which began shortly after 13:00.
The farmers' tractor blockade was lifted at 15:00 and normal traffic resumed.
A delegation representing the rice farmers will be traveling to Athens on Wednesday to take part in a meeting at the Agricultural Development and Foods ministry.
 Moraitakis of Nuntius Securities voted new head of brokers association
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Alexandros Moraitakis of Nuntius Securities SA has been voted the new president of the Association of Athens Stock Exchange Members.
The association voted N. Pantelakis of HSBC as deputy president; M. Karamanof of Karamanof Securities as secretary; and C Daveronas of Atlas Securities as treasurer.
Moraitakis told members that he would work to strengthen the institutional role of the association; restore confidence in the trade group and in the market; and align the market with the European Union.
 Euro bank gets award from international finance magazine
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Global Finance, the international business magazine, has named Athens-quoted EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA as the best Greek bank for 2004.
The award to a credit institution in each country is based on performance in the previous year and other criteria including reputation and quality of management.
 Industrial Property Organization honors Greek inventors
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The Industrial Property Organization on Tuesday honored Greek inventors for the second time - the first was in 2001 - at a special ceremony to honor their contributions to the techno-logical and economic progress of the country.
The awards were given by Minister of Development Dimitris Sioufas for amateur inventions, most of which involved new technologies. Five awards were made in total, which included financial rewards ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 euros.
Sioufas went on to state that "the Ministry of Development places particular emphasis on innovation, technology, human creativity and spiritual activity which contribute to the quality of life".
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks rise in range bound trade
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished higher in a range bound market with profit takers raking in short-term gains in high capitalization stocks, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,385.56 points, showing a rise of 0.09 percent. Turnover was 99.7 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.02 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.13 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.74 percent up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 185 to 107 with 65.
 Third OA bomb scare in less than two weeks again proves to be hoax
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Passengers aboard an Olympic Airlines flight from Athens to London, which made an emergency landing at Corfu airport on Monday night following an anonymous bomb warning, were due to arrive at their destination on Tuesday with a 12-hour delay after the bomb scare proved to be a hoax, in the third such incident in less than two weeks.
OA flight 265 took off from Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport at 7:15 p.m. with 205 passengers aboard, headed for London. Shortly after take-off, an anonymous caller phoned the offices of a daily newspaper claiming that a bomb was on board the Airbus carrying out the flight. The pilot was immediately alerted and ordered to land on the island of Corfu, escorted by two Mirage 2000 fighter planes that were dispatched from Araxos military airport for that purpose.
The pilot dumped the airplane's fuel in the Ionian Sea, and the plane landed at Corfu's Ioannis Capodistrias airport at 9:28 p.m. where all the necessary security measures had been taken. Passengers and crew evacuated the plane. Special forces and specially-trained sniffer dogs searched the plane for explosives but did not turn up anything.
Passengers and crew were put up at hotels in Corfu for the night, and were allowed to resume their flight at about 7:00 a.m. Tuesday.
This was the third such bomb hoax in 9 days. The two previous false alarms both involved OA flight 411 from Athens to New York, which forced the planes to land at nearby airports in England and Ireland, respectively.
 Deputy State Dept. spokesman comments on Olympic Airlines and Lufthansa false alarms
WASHINGTON 6/10/2004 (ANA/T.Ellis)Deputy State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli said he was not aware of what exactly happened when asked to comment on the Olympic Airlines and Lufthansa flights which received bomb threats and were forced to make emergency landings before reaching their destination. He did say, however, that these incidents ''serve as evidence to the present risks the world has to deal with'' and that ''they are proof that the threat of terror still exists and calls for necessary measures''.
 Forest fire on Mt. Parnitha extinguished
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)A fire that broke out at dawn in a stretch of forest near the Kapotas military camp on Mt. Parnitha was extinguished on Tues-day morning, after burning an estimated five stremata of forest-land, a senior Fire Brigade official told ANA.
A team of 60 firefighters with 20 fire engines took part in the operation, assisted by four firefighting planes and two fire-fighting helicopters, as well as another 40 persons on land and water tankers dispatched by the surrounding municipalities.
A strong contingent of firefighters remained on alert at the site for the eventuality of a rekindling of the blaze.
The fire broke out at approximately 7:00 a.m. in the Darviza vicinity in the southern are of Acharnon municipality, near the foot of Mt. Parnitha.
The Arson Investigations Division was conducting an investigation into the causes of the fire, in accordance with standard procedure.
Fire breaks out at Vasilika on Salamina: A wildfire broke out at 15:00 on Tuesday on a hill at Vasilika on the island of Salamina near Athens, among grass and low-growing shrubs.
The fire department said it expected to have the blaze under control very quickly.
 President Stephanopoulos inaugurates 33rd Book Exhibition
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The 33rd Book Exhibition organized by the Greek Book Publisher's Association was inaugurated Tuesday by President of the Republic, Kostis Stephanopoulos. 256 publishers are exhibiting this year, promoting a wide selection of Greek publications.
Minister of Education Marietta Yiannakou also saluted the Book exhibition referring to the "499 existing school libraries around the country and the 300 others under construction."
The Book Exhibition will be open to the public until 17 October.
 Spouses sought overseas for young men in isolated regions
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Six municipalities in the mountainous regions of Achaia and Ilia, in the Peloponnesus are willing to take on the role of marriage bureaus in order to find brides for the unmarried young men of their region. The mayors agree that this is a major social problem since young Greek women prefer to abandon isolated regions in order to try their luck in urban centers.
Both mayors have turned their attention to former Eastern Block nations and the Ukraine in particular, where they have organized a trip on 16 October for the purpose of finding wives for the lonely young men.
 Russian-flag sailboat runs aground off Lesvos in strong winds, passengers safe and well
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)A Russian-flag sailboat ran aground and overturned on Tuesday in strong winds off the island of Lesvos in the Aegean, but its three passengers were rescued by the Coast Guard and a fishing boat and were reported well in health.
The "GRNIKA" ran aground on a rocky outcropping north of the coast of Sigri, due to strong northeasterly winds of 8 beaufort velocities, and overturned.
The Sigri Coast Guard immediately dispatched patrol boats which, aided by a nearby fishing boat, rescued the three passengers aboard, who were reported well in health.
Efforts to dislodge the sailboat would begin when the weather conditions improved, according to the Merchant Marine Minis-try's Operations Room, which was notified of the incident by the Sigri Coast Guard.
 Captain of "Prestige" to return to Greece
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Following efforts made by Greek Minister of Justice, Anastasios Papaligouras, the captain of the tanker 'Prestige' Apostolos Magouras, will be able to return to Greece after being detained in Spain for two years. Magouras captained the 'Prestige' when it caused an oil spill off the coast of northern Spain.
Magouras was allowed to travel back to Greece, after Papaligouras sent a written guarantee to Spanish authorities that Magouras would travel back to Spain to stand trial when the time came.
 Four foreign nationals nabbed in counterfeiting scam
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)Four foreign nationals were charged this week in a scam that reportedly cheated a shop-owner in the northern port city of Kavala out of 180,000 euros.
According to reports, the merchant voluntarily handed over the money on a promise that he would be reimbursed with double the amount in counterfeit banknotes. The four suspects include a French national, a student from Cameroon and two Nigerians.
The suspects were arrested after an undercover officer promised 300,000 euros in return for double the cash.
Police said the four confessed to the scam they had pulled on the Kavala merchant, although the latter had not reported the incident to authorities.
An investigation is continuing.
 Chain of weak seismic shocks near Samos
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)A chain of 15 seismic shocks, the largest of which measured 3.9 on the Richter scale, have been recorded on the island of Samos over the past 24 hours, but due to their small intensity were not particularly felt, according to seismologists.
The largest trembler, with a magnitude of 3.9 Richter, was recorded at midnight, followed by the second largest in intensity (3.5 Richter) at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The epicenter of the quakes was east of Samos, near Turkey.
Seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos told ANA that the phenomenon was a chain of submarine earthquakes that are frequent in Turkey and affect the neighboring country's coastal areas, but was noticed on Samos because it occurred somewhat closer to the Greek island.
 ESAEA President says Paralympic Games benefits short-lived
Athens 6/10/2004 (ANA)The Paralympic Games "left a scent of social sensitivity that might wear off quickly," President of the National Confederation for Persons with Special Needs (ESAEA) G. Vardakastanis said during a press conference on Tuesday.
Taking stock of the Athens Paralympic Games, Vardakastanis said little was done in terms of infrastructure and accessibility throughout Olympic cities despite the law that was voted into effect and promises made in previous years. On the contrary, he said, the infrastructure for people with disabilities at the 28 Olympic venues were very close to perfect. However, according to ESAEA's president, Olympic venues are a luxury considering that many sectors in Greece are lacking in terms of accommodating those with disabilities. He also emphasized that after the Paralympics, Greek Paralympians will continue to face serious problems on a daily basis.
Vardakastanis called on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to intervene so that the "social chapter" of the Paralympic Games is not lost, by implementing a comprehensive program for all those dealing with mobility and other problems.
He said that many people in Greece who have health problems are not given opportunities and also emphasized the tremendous, financial problems these people face and the need to offer them more employment opportunities.
 Cyprus FM comments PACE decision for T/Cs and UNSG's report on UNFICYP
LARNACA 6/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)The Turkish Cypriots who will participate at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly will be suggested by the Turkish Cypriot political parties and not by any ''institution'' of the pseudo state, will be on the list of representatives of the Cypriot House of Representatives and will have the right to speak but not the right to vote, Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou has said.
Speaking upon his departure Tuesday for Amsterdam where he later participated at an informal meeting of the EU Ministers for European Affairs, Iacovou added that this development does not, at least at this point, promote the participation of Turkish Cypriots in other international organizations.
Asked to comment on a report by UN Secretary General for the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), the FM said it was positive that the force's mandate is maintained, with a more efficient use of resources even though the military component is being reduced.
On Wednesday, the Foreign Minister will travel to Hanoi, Vietnam, where he will participate at the fifth Asia-Europe Summit Meeting (ASEM) (8-9 October).
It is for the first time that the enlarged EU will take part at this meeting, on the agenda of which are both international and regional political issues.
Government leaders will be looking at forging closer economic relations between Asia and Europe and the summit will end with a debate on culture and civilization in the light of information technology and globalization.
From Hanoi, Iacovou will fly to Luxembourg to attend the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council.
 UNFICYP necessary in the absence of settlement, UNSG Spokesman says
United Nations 6/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)In the absence of a Cyprus settlement, the presence of the UN peacekeepers on the island remains necessary for the maintenance of a cease-fire but certain adjustments to the mission can be made, UN Secretary-General's Spokesman Fred Eckhard has said.
Noting that the Secretary-General's report to the Security Council containing his review of the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus has been released, the spokesman said ''with the security situation on the island having become increasingly benign'', the Secretary-General recommends that decrease of the number of peacekeepers almost by one third and proposes a more mobile and efficient concept of operations.
He noted that ''in the aftermath of the rejection of the comprehensive settlement plan by the Greek Cypriot side at the referendum on 24 April, the Secretary-General said he would conduct a review of the mission's operations taking into account developments on the ground as well as the views of the parties''.
''While in the absence of a comprehensive settlement, the presence of the UN peacekeepers on the island remains necessary for the maintenance of a cease-fire, certain adjustments to the mission's can be made'', he said.
As for the UN police officers, who live within the community and perform a wide-range of community service, he noted that the Secretary-General recommends that the present ceiling be maintained.
''He also recommends an increase of the number of civilian affairs officers working in the mission. He notes that their work has grown qualitatively and quantitatively as they intercede on behalf of members of one community or the other to ease specific situations'', Eckhard concluded.
 Commission report on Turkey ''objective'', says EU official
LIMASSOL 6/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)A report on Turkey's European aspirations, due out on Wednesday, will be objective and will be based on facts, Adrian van der Meer, head of the European Commission Representation Office, has said, adding that the Commission decision on the matter is ''very important.''
Speaking while on a tour in Limassol Tuesday, he also said that the EU had already decided that Turkey is destined to join the Union, probably around 2015, noting however that there is still a long process ahead before this goal is achieved.
''Tomorrow (Wednesday) the European Commission will take a very important decision as regards the future of Europe and particularly as regards EU-Turkey relations,'' he said.
He explained that the Commission will issue three documents, a regular report, an impact assessment and the strategy paper, which will set out future ties between the EU and Turkey, a document he described as ''the most important'' of the three.
''I can tell you that our analysis is objective, based on facts,'' he told the press, adding that a commission visited Turkey in September to see for itself the situation on the ground.
''Hopefully on the basis of our proposals, the final decisions can be taken in December'' at the EU summit, he added.
Responding to questions about Turkey-EU relations, he said the Union back in 1999 in Helsinki decided that ''Turkey is destined to be a member of the EU and the forecast is that around 2015 this will be the case.''
''We have a long way to go, a long process in front of us, let us see what will come out tomorrow,'' he said.
Van der Meer visited Limassol Municipality where he discussed with Mayor Demetris Kontidis issues relating to local administration and toured the office for European affairs the Municipality operates.