|Monday, 11 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-10-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 12, 2004
 PM addresses International Herald Tribune's conference on Greek economy, refers to smooth fiscal adjustment
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis focused on the economy in an address at the International Herald Tribune's conference on Monday and called on political forces for the second time in 10 days to consent to confronting the phenomenon of vested interests.
"The economy and society in its entirety demand that we join our forces and coordinate our efforts to enable us to confront together, all political forces together, the phenomena of vested interests and corruption which cost a great deal for citizens and investors. The economy, as well as society in its entirety, demands a strong institutional framework, common rules for all, terms guaranteeing equality of rights and equality of opportunities. They demand transparency everywhere. We have committed ourselves to these things and these are the things we are doing," he said.
The prime minister noted at this point that exercising bad faith in carrying out one's duties has already been converted from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Karamanlis defended the fiscal inventory, stressing that knowledge; transparency and reliability constitute substantive preconditions for a responsible policy.
Referring to the issue of fiscal restructuring, the prime minister said that from the very start his government had taken the initiative, as it had pledged, ruling out the possibility of a new compulsory revision (on the part of the EU) for the country and ruling out the pretext of ignorance which leads to situations having unfavorable consequences for the country, society and the citizen.
"We are standing before problems instead of concealing them. We are confronting their causes radically instead of burdening citizens with the consequences. We are creating conditions of reliability, trust and stability, which are essential for boosting investments and supporting the growth process. We are choosing smooth fiscal adjustment from the tidying up of the economy and not from cutbacks in the incomes of working people and substantive fiscal restructuring based on effective management and not on accounting handlings. The basic precondition for fiscal restructuring is ending mismanagement, restricting waste and imposing rules of transparency in all of the wider public sector," he said.
Karamanlis further said the government is shaping a new action framework for companies in the public sector which handle large parts of its property and it is promoting the implementation of a strategic plan for the utilization of Olympic Games installations.
The prime minister stressed that the basic principle of economic policy is restraining consumer expenditures in the public sector, adding that this principle is turning into practice with the new budget and that the promotion of a series of fresh privatizations in 2005, which shall produce about 1.5 billion euros for the state, will have a considerable contribution in this direction.
Karamanlis also referred in his address to the drastic restriction of tax-evasion and of economic crime in particular, as well as to the decrease in defense expenditures and to the distribution of growth to all sectors of economic activity throughout the country.
"We are already going ahead with a downward revision of the current armaments programs and we are planning an even greater decrease in the next 2006-2010 program," he said.
Karamanlis went on to say that the government is promoting radical tax reform and it will end tax uncertainty which was due to frequent changes in tax legislation.
He further said the government is preparing a new growth law which it will be implementing soon and which abolishes the distinction between old and new businesses.
"Circumstances are difficult, but prospects appearing before us inspire optimism in us," Karamanlis said and referred to the tourist industry, services, the creation of breather-projects in regions and the utilization of education and culture.
 Greek FM hopes Turkey will take steps to meet EU criteria
LUXEMBOURG 12/10/2004 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)The hope that Turkey will take the steps required to meet the criteria and prerequisites set by the European Union to countries aiming to become EU members, was expressed here on Monday by Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis during the EU Foreign Ministers meeting.
According to reliable sources, during the brief discussion in light of the recent European Commission's recommendation on the start of accession talks between the EU and Turkey, Molyviatis reiterated that Greece supports Turkey's European prospects and consequently agrees with the Commission's relative proposals.
At the same time, according to the same sources, the Greek foreign minister gave particular importance to a series of steps which Turkey must take, noting indicatively on the domestic issues, those of relations between the army and the political authority and respect of minority and religious freedoms. On issues touching on Turkey's foreign policy, he referred to good relations with its neighbors, including Cyprus.
Concluding, Molyviatis stated that he expects from Turkey to meet its obligations during the course of the accession talks, however long they last.
 Greek President Stephanopoulos begins three-day visit to Sofia
SOFIA 12/10/2004 (ANA/N. Megadoukas)The upgrading of cooperation in the region of southeastern Europe was agreed in principle by the Presidents of Greece and Bulgaria, Kostis Stephanopoulos and Georgi Parvanov respectively, who at the same time reconfirmed the mutual political will of Athens and Sofia for the further broadening of Greek-Bulgarian bilateral cooperation, both on the commercial and economic level -particularly in light of Bulgaria's future accession to the EU, an accession which Greece supports- as well as on the granting of aid in order for there to be stability in the western Balkans.
Bulgarian President Parvanov met in Sofia on Monday with his visiting Greek counterpart Stephanopoulos and announced that in the talks they had "he raised the idea of the renewal of the forms of regional cooperation so that the existing tripartite forms of cooperation to be converted to quadripartite." The Bulgarian president expressed his satisfaction of Greece's acceptance of this idea. That is, according to Sofia's proposal, the existing two tripartite initiatives in the region, one between Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, and the other between Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey "to be upgraded" and converted to a quadripartite cooperation.
However, Parvanov stated that he did not want to commit himself by announcing a date for the implementation of this idea as "discussions must also take place with the other sides". He expressed the hope that "next year" this cooperation will be a fact.
Greek President Stephanopoulos began a three-day visit to Sofia on Monday, responding to a visit made by Parvanov to Athens about a year ago, and already met -with the participation of Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis- his Bulgarian counterpart with whom he discussed the entire spectrum of issues concerning bilateral relations.
Particular emphasis was given to the sector of commercial and business cooperation (the trade transactions between Greece and Bulgaria have increased since last year by 50 percent and have reached 1.5 billion dollars) and it is assessed that a new impetus will be given, on the one hand with the accession of the neighboring country to the European Union, and on the other on the advancing opening of three poll stations on the Greek-Bulgarian border.
Stephanopoulos stated that in the talks Stylianidis gave details on the progress being made on the matter which "is advancing at a rapid pace."
In reference to the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, which will transport Russian oil to the West, as stressed in the Stephanopoulos- Parvanov talks, there is a political will by Athens and Sofia "for there to be disentanglement" and for the plan to be promoted.
"There was a complete identity of views on this important issue," said Stephanopoulos and having noted that Russia must also agree he expressed the hope that there will be a meeting between the three involved sides -on a ministerial level said Parvanov- so that the project can go ahead as soon as possible.
Official dinner: The President of the Hellenic Republic, Kostis Stephanopoulos, expressed his conviction that "no development could shatter excellent Greek-Bulgarian relations which are being continuously enhanced and which are founded on multi-sided collaboration". The President made the remarks Monday during an official dinner held in his honor by the President of Bulgaria, Georgi Parvanov.
Stephanopoulos based his convictions on ''the political reality of our times and the common interests of both Athens and Sofia''. He also emphasized that Bulgaria's European prospect is another factor which reinforces this collaboration, reminding of Greece's support for Bulgaria's entry into the EU. However, Stephanopoulos did not hide his concern regarding the situation in the western Balkans which he characterized as "unfortunately fragile" and emphasized that despite stabilization, South-Eastern Europe continues to face significant problems such as organized crime, corruption and illegal trafficking.
Bulgarian President Parvanov said that Bulgaria's recent NATO membership and the completion of negotiations for the country's EU entry meant that Greek-Bulgarian relations had taken on "a new character of strategic co-operation, alliance and Atlantic solidarity".
Parvanov also congratulated his Greek counterpart on the successful organization of the Olympic Games and expressed his hope that the meeting of the European Council in December takes the historic step of admitting Bulgaria into the EU. "Two months before this decision, I would like to thank Greece for its steadfast support of Bulgaria's EU candidacy" stated the Bulgarian president, who also expressed his satisfaction that Greece is the main investor in Bulgaria, with trade between the two countries reaching a record 1,5 billion dollars in 2003.
 Government spokesman says vested interests issue one of institutions and not individuals
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Mon-day the government's approach to the issue of vested interests is one of institutions and not individuals.
Roussopoulos reiterated that the institutional framework must be strengthened, adding that the government is promoting the tabling of the bill on the main shareholder and the strengthening of auditing authorities.
Elaborating on the issue of the main shareholder, Roussopoulos said the government has embarked on a dialogue with relevant agencies, such as the unions of mass media owners.
The spokesman pointed out that if an owner requests a private discussion "to brief the government on his positions, the government is open to listening," adding that "if an opposition party desires to submit its proposals and hold a discussion with the government, we are open."
Minister comments on vested interests: Minister of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works, George Souflias, met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis Monday to discuss issues relating to his ministry.
Asked about the issue of vested interests and the naming of persons, Souflias stated that "the government is not concerned and should not be concerned with individuals in this matter. The government is concerned with and will be concerned with institutional changes which safeguard the general interest and the smooth operation of democracy".
Souflias also referred to the issue of investigative committees stating that it is not "the government which promotes investigative committees; rather, when issues are examined by prosecutors and are brought before parliament, then investigative committees will be considered".
 PASOK leader accuses gov't of confused policy over invested interests
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)During a luncheon he gave for parliamentary reporters at an Athens restaurant on Monday, PASOK leader George Papandreou said:» By the talking of 'pimps', we transfer the problem to these five are to blame. I say, if the system is to blame, let's change the system."
At the same time, the PASOK leader during the discussion also gave an idea for parliament to invite major publishers within the context of a hearing in the direction of the creation of a new institutional framework for the ceasing of the phenomenon of vested interests.
Papandreou appeared particularly distrustful towards Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' intentions as registered following the dinner the latter gave to the ND deputies last week, where he had reportedly referred to ''five 'pimps' that govern the country''.
"The statements by government members and by the prime minister himself, create a nebula regarding vested interests in general without a specific aim," he said. "Has anyone stopped the government of introducing a law?,'' the PASOK leader questioned. "We, from the start, had told the prime minister 'proceed and we will support you'. We are a socialist movement which wants the deepening of the democratic institutions. I do not accept however the generality which conceals conflicting interests, or is done for balances to change hands," he said.
Papandreou said that the radio and television "'pie' had already been shared out when PASOK returned to power in 1993, therefore it was not possible for any of its legislative initiatives to start from a zero basis, and that in the PASOK government's effort to settle the matter of the radio stations (resulting in their reduction), the New Democracy should have supported us but it did not do so."
As regards the presidential election, Papandreou said that his party's stance did not depend on the course of any investigative committee. He refused to refer to any name of a presidential candidate, saying, however, that political parties should choose a ''progressive and open-minded president''.
 Early elections not necessary, will not be called, development minister Sioufas tells IHT conference
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Early general elections were not necessary and would not be called, development minister Dimitris Sioufas said Monday, speaking at a conference on attracting foreign investments to Greece, organized by the International Herald Tribune (IHT).
He said that in the March 2004 general elections the government had ensured an exceptionally large majority in the Greek parliament, and called on the country's business community to ignore the election rumors.
Replying to questions, Sioufas said there was no doubt that there were phenomena of special interests and corruption in the country, but added that the government would tackle those phenomena on the basis of its government platform. "The same rules for everyone, without benefiting certain quarters, nor excluding others," the minister said.
Sioufas said that the new big wager of economic policy needed to be won was the reinforcement of the economy's competitiveness. Greece, he said, had failed in the past to take advantage of significant opportunities, an auspicious environment and the EU reinforcements. Despite the high growth rates, the competitiveness of the Greek economy receded, he noted, adding that the government would not let the country slide further in the classification based on the competitiveness of the economy.
Referring to specific measures aimed at developing an auspicious business climate, Sioufas announced that the new regime governing the issue of licenses to business concerns, which he said would contain revolutionary changes to the time and documentation required to set up a new business would be unveiled in the coming weeks.
National economy and finance minister George Alogoskouris told the delegates attending the conference that the inventory and revelation of the extent of the fiscal derailing that existed had been a necessary precondition in order that the government could proceed with the materialization of its targets. "We shall achieve a drastic containment of the deficit and the public debt through mild adjustment," he said.
Alogoskoufis noted that, with the new developmental law and tax reform that would be announced "within the year", a business climate conducive to investments would be created.
A poll carried out by the Kappa Research company among 676 senior officials from Greek and foreign businesses active in Greece, and presented at the International Herald Tribune's conference on Monday, showed that 76 percent of respondents believe that possible early elections will have negative results for the economy. Only 3.6 percent believe they will have a positive effect, while 16 percent say they will have no impact.
Moreover, the discussion on transparency and the possibility of fact-finding committees being set up and of ministers being indicted is expected to worsen the investment climate in Greece, according to 56 percent of respondents.
One out of three businesses believes that the fiscal inventory will benefit the economy in the long run, 30 percent believe the issue harms the economy's course directly and 29 percent believe the economy will not be affected by the inventory.
As regards the expectation that the government will be able to rein in deficits, 46 percent believe the government will succeed and 49 percent that it will not, while 56 percent of business officials believe that tough restrictive measures must be taken in 2005 for the target of fiscal restructuring to be achieved.
On the question of which country in the Balkans provides the most favorable conditions for investments, respondents said Romania 25.8 percent, Bulgaria 22.8, Turkey 16.9 and Greece
10.1. Lastly, 30.5 percent said they are planning new investment activities in Greece in coming years, 27.8 percent are giving serious thought to such a move and only 16.3 percent have no investment plans.
Defense minister says 'observance of laws and terms of transparency not negotiable' Athens 12/10/2004
National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos, speaking at a one-day event organized by the International Herald Tribune at a central Athens hotel on Monday evening on the theme "Investments and Business Prospects in the Post-Olympics Era", said: "The observance of the laws and the terms of transparency are not negotiable by anyone and with anyone. We are determined to protect the smooth operation of the free market, safeguarding the terms of healthy competition, in a status of equality before the law, with conditions of equal opportunities for all, to the benefit of our national defense and economy."
At the same time, he made known that within the year the revised legislation on military procurements will be tabled.
He said that "the strategy which we are implementing within the framework of the government program contributes decisively to:
- Transparency and the observance of legality as a basic and inviolable rule of the operation of the market
- To the 'opening' of the military procurements in all the market, without exclusions and without preferences to specific suppliers and
- To the restoration of the defense market and the attraction of business activities".
 Greek Deputy Foreign Minister meets Chinese counterpart
BEIJING 12/10/2004 (ANA/E. Boukaouri)Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, currently on visit to Beijing said Monday that "the purpose of my visit is to activate Greek-Chinese relations and to rekindle Chinese interest in our country, particularly during this favorable period after the Olympic Games which we have the opportunity to exploit".
Valinakis, who met with the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for European Affairs, Chang Yesui, told the Athens News Agency that Greece must take advantage of China's increased interest in our country after the Olympic Games. He added that the Greek tourist industry should develop attractive and competitive packages to attract Chinese tourists to our country and added that the idea of establishing a direct flight between Beijing and Athens was being considered. Valinakis added that increased tourism was also being promoted by a recent agreement between the EU and China, which is expected to facilitate the movement of Chinese citizens abroad.
Greece will also be opening a consulate in Shanghai and intends to have closer cooperation with China, if it is elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
In response to a question by the Athens News Agency regarding Greece's position on the arms embargo currently in force against China, Valinakis replied that Greece is positively inclined towards China's request to revoke the embargo, without of course ignoring Greece's international responsibilities.
Valinakis stated that his trip was the first in a series of visits by Greek officials to China.
 Valinakis meets with Beijing 2008 officials
BEIJING 12/10/2004 (ANA)Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Monday met with the Vice-President of the Beijing Organizing Commit-tee for the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG), Liu Jingmin.
Liu, who praised the recently concluded Athens Olympics, thanked Valinakis for the hospitality Greece extended to the Chinese Olympic delegation during its stay in Athens for the 2004 Olympics.
Valinakis stressed that Greece hosted successful Olympic Games "because we were able to keep the balance in three crucial areas: We guaranteed security, we also gave Athens a celebratory feel, thus securing the participation of our citizens, and at the same time we were able to balance the demands of every day life. The journey of the Olympic Flame around the world was also very important".
"More than one billion Chinese watched the Athens Olympic Games," Liu stated, emphasizing that the Chinese would like to cooperate more closely with Greece.
Valinakis went on to meet with Chang Jizun, Deputy Minister and President of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, with whom, according to diplomatic sources, he discussed the Olympic Games and the very friendly relations between Greece and China.
Later, Valinakis was scheduled to meet with officers from the Beijing Municipal Authority as well as his Chinese counterpart, Chang Yesui, the deputy foreign minister responsible for European matters.
 Gov't eyes long-term leasing for Olympic venues, private sector management
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)The government on Monday said it does not intend to sell-off a bevy of brand new facilities that served as venues for the recently completed Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympics Games. Rather, the goal will be long-term leasing with private sector management at the helm.
Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia told participants at a one-day International Herald Tribune-sponsored conference in the Greek capital that the government wanted a joint public sector-private sector format for exploiting the facilities, most of which cost tens of millions of euros to construct, in and around the greater Athens area. Moreover, Palli-Petralia said local governments will also be involved in the future and management schemes for the facilities, which she said will be used for multi-purpose functions.
One thorny issue, namely, land use for certain facilities - in absence of zoning or even a land registry in some areas - will also be harmonized via pending legislation, she said.
Finally, Palli-Petralia indirectly criticized the previous PASOK government by saying that nary a business plan existed for the Olympics-related facilities and venues, something the current government is now developing, as she said. The conference, held at a downtown Athens hotel, is entitled "Investment & Business Prospects in Greece's Post-Olympics Era".
 Roussopoulos refers to overall strategy for best promoting Greece abroad
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Minister of State and government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos on Monday focused on the extraordinary promotion in Greece's image in the wake of the successful holding of the Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games this past summer.
In presenting results of a seven-nation, 7,000-person survey on Greece's image to participants at a one-day, International Herald Tribune-sponsored conference in the Greek capital, Roussopoulos said the categories of "safety", "quality of services" and "creativity", among others, all rose in ranking.
Roussopoulos also more-or-less defined the Karamanlis government's communication strategy vis-à-vis international public opinion, saying Greece must exude a unified image abroad, instead of the piecemeal and often amateurish campaigns that were recorded over the past two decades.
"Our emphasis should be on tourism, we want to attract more tourists, knowing that the competition in the Mediterranean is very stiff," he said, adding that "natural beauty", "culture" and "family values" still remained the most identifiable traits that foreign respondents associated with Greece.
"Greece Doing Wonders" was the general promotional moniker unveiled at the conference, entitled "Investment & Business Prospects in Greece's Post-Olympics Era".
 Parliament president congratulates new Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Monday sent a message of congratulations, on behalf of the Hellenic Parliament, to the newly-elected Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria and All Africa.
In the telegram, Psarouda-Benaki expressed warmest congratulations on his election on behalf of the parliament and herself and personally wished the new Patriarch health and progress in the Patriarchate's work.
Theodoros succeeds the late Patriarch Petros VII who died on September 11 when a Chinook military helicopter crashed into the sea off Mount Athos en route from Athens to the all-male monastic community, killing everyone on board, including the Patriarch's 11-member entourage and a five-member crew.
 Parliament president Psarouda-Benaki congratulates Turkish national assembly speaker Arinc on re-election
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Monday sent a message of congratulations to speaker of the Turkish National Assembly, Bulent Arinc, on his re-election to the post.
In her telegram, Psarouda-Benaki expressed certainty that during Arinc's new term they would have the opportunity to continue the constructive dialogue between the two parliaments, aimed at further advancing the good-neighbor relations between Greece and Turkey.
"In that spirit, the Parliament of the Hellenes remains firmly dedicated to the need for cooperation between our parliaments, to the mutual benefit of our peoples and the entire region," the message added.
 Gen. Secretariat for Civil Protection to be ready by November to tackle winter weather conditions
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)The General Secretariat for Civil Protection will be ready by November to tackle problems that may arise due to intense weather conditions such as snowfall, ice, and flooding that plague the country during the winter.
For that purpose, a broad meeting was held at the general secretariat, attended by interior minister Procopis Pavlopoulos and civil protection secretary general Panayiotis Fourlas and representatives of other services, in order to coordinate all the various agencies to enable fast and efficient action.
After the meeting, Pavlopoulos said that it was better to plan ahead for extraordinary circumstances than face things after the fact. He said the phenomena that occurred last year, such as problems arising from snowfall and other such dysfunctions, could not occur again, that would be unallowable, particularly given that following the country's Olympic preparations and successful staging of the Games "we have the experience, but also the duty, as the state machine, to not allow room for the appearance of similar problems".
 Communist and labor parties express opposition to 'pre-emptive wars'
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)During a three-day discussion organized in Athens by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) from October 8-10 on the theme "Resistance to imperialist aggression. Fronts of struggle and alternative solutions", delegations from 64 communist and labor parties expressed their concern over the ''increase of anti-communism, fundamentalism, racist and neo-fascist forces'' but also their opposition to "pre-emptive wars".
According to a KKE announcement issued on Monday, which included the conclusions of the three-day discussion, the participants "assessed as particularly dangerous for all the peoples and for world peace the dogma of the pre-emptive strike and of the pre-emptive war of the United States which has also been adopted by the European Union, Australia and the Russian Federation in the name of the so-called confrontation of terrorism."
Many speakers noted "the savage attack against the social and labor rights of the working people by the neo-liberal policies, with the first victims being youths and women". It was further stressed that "poverty and the accumulation of wealth have increased, while the peoples of developing countries are being strangled by increased foreign debt."
The communist and labor parties further assess that "the threats of the U.S. government against Iran as well as the provocative statements of the Iranian regime constitute a danger of a flare-up and the destruction of the whole region. A military strike directed by the U.S. against Iran would be catastrophic not only for the people of Iran, but also for the movement for peace, progress and democracy in all the world."
Regarding Cuba, the communiqué said that "the attacks by the U.S. and the EU against Cuba are continuing." The participants particularly condemned the new plan "initiative for free Cuba" and expressed their solidarity to its people.
On the Cyprus issue, the communiqué said that "the participants expressed their solidarity and support to the struggle of the Cypriot people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, for a federal solution based on the resolutions of the UN and the Security Council, for the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops, the reunification of Cyprus and its people, which will contribute to peace in the region of the eastern Mediterranean."
 Deputy finance minister says target for 2005 is for privatization income to exceed 1.6 billion euros
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas, addressing the International Herald Tribune's conference on Monday, said the target for 2005 is for income from privatizations to exceed 1.6 billion euros.
He said attracting capital from the private sector will help businesses to become more competitive, smooth out competition conditions in the domestic market and boost enterprise.
Referring to the issue of the fiscal inventory, Doukas said partners in the European Union and markets had been noticing for some time that the debt was increasing with much faster rates than the deficits.
"Every budget of the previous government systematically revised the data contained in previous budgets. Depicting reality correctly is an essential precondition for one to know where he stands and to enable one to define an appropriate course, because trust and reliability are essential preconditions for attracting capital," he said.
 Greek budget deficit up 23 percent in Jan-Aug
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Greek budget revenues increased by 4.4 percent in the first eight months of 2004, sharply down from an 8.5 percent growth rate projected in the budget, while spending rose 11.4 percent in the January-August period, reaching an 11.5 percent projected growth rate, the State's General Accounting Office said on Monday.
Primary budget spending rose 14 percent in the first eight months of the year, slightly down from a 14.6 percent growth rate envisaged by the budget, while spending on interest payment grew by 4.2 percent in the January-August period from an 1.1 percent annual growth projection in the budget.
Revenues of a Public Investments Program, covering mainly receipts from community funds, rose 74.9 percent exceeding an annual growth rate projection of 66.8 percent over the same period, respectively. Spending of the program rose by 5.7 percent, down from a projected growth rate of 12.4 percent.
The Greek budget deficit rose 23 percent in the first eight months of 2004, exceeding the budget target for the period.
Greek trade deficit up 19.9 pct in Jan-July;
Greece's trade deficit increased by 19.9 percent in the first seven months of 2004 to 16.513 billion euros from 13.773 billion euros in the same period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
NSS, in its monthly report on the country's trade balance, said that the higher deficit reflected a 12.6 percent rise in the value of import-arrivals in the January-July period to 23.572 billion euros from 20.942 billion euros in the same period last year. NSS also said that export-deliveries fell 1.5 percent in the first seven months of the year to 7.058 billion euros from 7.168 billion euros in 2003.
 Greek bankers call for speedup in structural changes
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Greek bankers addressing the International Herald Tribune's conference on Monday called for a speedup in structural changes and reforms to enable the country to take advantage of the benefits resulting from the successful Olympic Games.
The managing director of Eurobank Nikolaos Nanopoulos said that what is necessary in the present conjuncture is a different planning with greater discipline and responsibility towards the country's international obligations, as well as greater support for enterprise and the economy's private forces.
Eurobank's chief said the investment vacuum created in the sector of financing infrastructure development projects, estimated at 1.6 billion euros in 2005, must be covered by the private sector.
Commercial Bank president and managing director Giorgos Provopoulos also stressed that the Greek banking system will be faced with considerable challenges in the years to come.
 Greece, Cyprus agree closer business cooperation
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Greek Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Folias urged for a closer cooperation between Greek and Cypriot enterprises during his official visit to Cyprus.
The Greek minister met with Economy Minister of Cyprus Makis Keravnos. The Cypriot minister asked for the Greek government's help in dealing with European structural funds. The two ministers also discussed ways to promote closer cooperation between Greek a Cypriot enterprises that could help in the transfer of growth to both economies. Greek enterprises have a comparative advantage for accessing into Balkan markets, while Cypriot businessmen have to the Middle East, Folias stressed adding that a closer cooperation between the two countries could open new horizons for business activity.
The two ministers agreed to organize a special seminar that will bring Greek and Cypriot companies in contact with each other.
Folias also met with other government officials and addressed a series of events organized by the Cyprus Stock Exchange, the Bank of Cyprus and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Cyprus.
 Transport minister outlines government's targets in post-Olympic Games era
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis, addressing the International Herald Tribune's conference on Monday, outlined the government's targets in the post-Olympic Games era and underlined the national wager the country succeeded in winning which concerned the safe and excellent holding of the Games.
Liapis also referred to issues concerning his ministry and placed particular emphasis on the transport and communications sectors in which, as he said, considerable steps have been taken in improving infrastructures.
The minister pointed out that government policy aims at improving security conditions in all means of transport, upgrading urban means of public transport, decreasing repercussions for the environment and saving energy, modernizing the country's network infrastructures and modernizing radio communications.
 Greece ready for large-scale tourism investments
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)Greece's Tourism Development Ministry on Monday announced the completion of a regulatory framework and outstanding procedural moves aimed to pave the way for large-scale tourism investment in the country, beginning from the Area of Integrated Touristic Development in Messinia, a prefecture Peloponnesus.
Procedures that begun in 1997 were delayed due to lack of ministry co ordinations. A Tourism ministry announcement said that policy interventions made in the last few months managed to overcome all remaining hurdles and to pave the way for a pilot program in tourism development.
The program envisages creation of special and general tourist infrastructure (hotels, theme tourism facilities, shops, etc) fully harmonized with the natural habitat in an area of around 3,000 stemmata in Messinia, covered by the municipalities of Pylos, Nestor and Gargaliani.
Tourism minister Avramopoulos says new development plan for Greece's tourism industry involves everyone: Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday stressed that the government's new development plan for Greece's all-important tourism industry involves everyone, "from the last waiter to the biggest hotelier".
Avramopoulos, the former high-profile mayor of Athens, spoke during a wide-ranging one-day International Herald Tribune-sponsored conference in the Greek capital on the issue of "In-vestment & Business Prospects in Greece's Post-Olympic Era".
The one-time career diplomat nevertheless warned that there is no "magic wand" to reverse years of disappointing or stagnant results in the local tourism sector, noting however, that the cur-rent government of Costas Karamanlis is adopting a long-term strategy, up to 10 years, in fact.
In referring directly to the Olympic "momentum" the country is banking on from its widely successful staging of the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Avramopoulos cited a "Barcelona model" for jump-starting tourism in Athens - a destination increasingly overlooked and bypassed by the roughly 11 million foreign tourists that arrive in Greece every year.
In terms of priorities for the newly created tourism development ministry, Avramopoulos said a 31-million-euro international advertising campaign is in the final stages of preparation, whereas another emphasis is on emerging markets - he recently visited Thailand, for instance, while a visit to China is pending - and also on better absorbing EU support funds.
He underlined that better quality of service will determine the future of Greece's tourism industry, going hand-in-hand with the government's efforts to cut red tape and reform relevant bureaucracy, create a more favorable investment framework for tourism enterprises and foreign capital, as well as industry-wide standardization of tourism-related enterprises and products and, finally, "modern" promotion.
"We need to clean up the tourism landscape. The Olympics caused us to see things in a differently light … we mustn't squander that momentum," he said.
 Criminal Appeals Court imposes 1,174 years imprisonment for each of four convicted ELA members
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)The three-member Criminal Appeals Court on Monday imposed sentences of 1,174 years imprisonment on each of four members of the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) urban guerrilla group found guilty on charges of procurement and possession of explosive materials, of simple complicity in 41 cases of explosions and attempted explosions and in the homicide of police officer Apostolos Velios, serving substantially larger jail terms than the 972 years proposed by bench prosecutor Eleftherios Patsis.
The court served the following sentences on Costas Agapiou, Christos Tsigaridas, Aggeletos Kanas and Irene Athanasaki. The sentences apply to all four defendants:
For the conviction on multiple counts of procurement and possession of explosive materials: 28 years imprisonment.
For the conviction on simple complicity in 16 counts of explosions: 12 years imprisonment and a 1,000 euro fine for each count.
For the conviction on simple complicity in 5 counts of explosions: 8 years imprisonment and a 1,000 euro fine for each count.
For the conviction on simple complicity in an attempted explosion: 6 years imprisonment and a 1,000 euro fine (one count).
For the conviction on simple complicity in 20 counts of explosions: 13 years imprisonment and a 1,000 euro fine for each count.
For the conviction on one attempted explosion: 6 years imprisonment and a fine of 1,000 euro.
For the conviction on simple complicity in the homicide of police officer Velios: 18 years imprisonment.
For the conviction on simple complicity in 48 counts of attempted homicide: 13 years imprisonment for each count.
The court was due to recess to confer on the merger of the sentences which, according to law, cannot exceed 25 years imprisonment (for each defendant).
 Frysira Museum to host art history seminar on 'The Adventures of the Artistic Phenomenon'
Athens 12/10/2004 (ANA)The Frysira Museum is organizing an art history seminar in Athens on the theme "The Adventures of the Artistic Phenomenon", from November 3 to December 15 on Wednesday evenings.
The purpose of the seminar is to delve into the changes that arose in perceptions and definitions of artwork from the 19th century to the present.
The cost of the seminar is 100 euro, encompassing all six two-hour sessions. Information available at the museum secretariat at 210-3234678.
 Cypriot FM says Turkey must recognize Republic before EU summit
BRUSSELS 12/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou called on Monday for the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey before the December 17 European Council, during which Turkey aspires to obtain a date to commence accession negotiations with the EU.
Speaking in Luxembourg in the framework of the first official discussion at the General Affairs Council regarding the European Commission recommendation for the commencement of Turkey's accession negotiations, Iacovou also set out a series of other issues, which Ankara is called on to comply with, making specific moves before the beginning of membership talks.
Monday's discussion at the General Affairs Council began with the presentation of the Commissions recommendation by Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen.
According to sources, Iacovou told his colleagues that by December 17 Turkey must have recognized the Republic of Cyprus, lifted its ban on vessels flying the Cypriot flag from approaching Turkish ports, and allowed the use of international air passages over Turkey by planes registered in Cyprus.
The minister also raised the issue of Turkish settlers in the areas of the Republic under Turkish occupation, noting that Ankara must commit itself to a program to reduce their number.
Iacovou furthermore wondered whether the presence of 36,000 Turkish troops in Cyprus could be considered in line with the Copenhagen criteria, adding that there must be commitments on behalf of Ankara in this respect too.
He also brought up the issue of Ankara complying with the European Court of Human Rights rulings in cases regarding Cyprus.
The representatives of Austria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic also raised concerns about the commencement of Turkey's ac-cession negotiations, while the majority of the member states supported the Commission's recommendation. Britain strongly supported the recommendation, France, Germany and Italy refrained from taking a stance, while the Netherlands (holding the EU rotating presidency) appeared not to want an in depth discussion on Turkey on Monday.
 Finnish President says Cyprus solution beneficial for Europe
HELSINKI 12/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)Finnish President Tarja Halonen said Monday that a solution to the Cyprus problem would benefit the region and Europe in general, noting that the current situation with Cyprus as a full EU member and Turkey aspiring to join the Union was a historically good phase.
Halonen was speaking after a meeting in Helsinki with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, who pointed out that Cyprus was not against Turkey joining the EU, adding that a Turkey complying fully with the acquis communautaire and respecting all the principles and values of the EU would be beneficial for all concerned.
The Finnish president noted the ''friendly relations'' between Finland and Cyprus and said ''we have also been involved in international politics plus bilateral politics already for a long time,'' adding that they also discussed how the two countries could ''deepen our bilateral relations.''
Referring to the Cyprus problem, she said ''we have a great interest because we have been since the beginning involved as representatives in the international community in this question.''
Replying to questions, the Finnish president said ''Cyprus is an independent state and we respect your sovereignty but we also see that not only the close neighborhood but also Europe will benefit a lot if we could solve this issue.''
''The Eastern Mediterranean could be much more positive, could have much more positive impact on the whole region if we could solve this problem,'' she added.
On Turkey's EU bid, Halonen stressed ''very strongly that Turkey will be treated in an equal way, on equal terms in this enlargement process.''
Replying to questions, Halonen said that the current situation ''in which Cyprus is a member in the EU and Turkey is looking forward to becoming a member of the EU, is a historically good phase.''
Asked if she expected the European Council in December to include a condition, in its decision on Turkey, for Ankara to withdraw its troops from Cyprus, Halonen said ''we treat Turkey exactly in the same way like all the other candidates and that means that Turkey has to meet the demands of the Copenhagen criteria.''
''The Cyprus issue is one extra issue compared with some other candidates in the past,'' she added.
In his statements, President Papadopoulos said ''Finland has always been a friendly country'' and noted that they discussed ''the Cyprus problem and various European issues and we hope that our cooperation and friendship will deepen even further as both countries are members of the EU.''
''We have also discussed improving bilateral relations and I am very glad that five or six of our leading businessmen are here in Finland to explore the possibilities for bilateral commercial and business relations.''
Replying to questions, President Papadopoulos said ''Cyprus is not against Turkey joining the EU.''
''A Turkey complying fully with the acquis communautaire and respecting all the principles and values of the EU, such as human rights, resistance from military intervention and things like that, will be beneficial for the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots, the Turks and the EU,'' he pointed out, adding that its application for EU membership will be examined as objectively as every other candidate state was.
 Straub says Turkeys' EU bid dead-end with Cyprus' occupation
NICOSIA 12/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)President of the EU Committee of the Regions Peter Straub, who is currently visiting Cyprus, said Monday that if Ankara began negotiations for EU membership they would lead nowhere if Turkey continued to maintain occupation troops in Cyprus, an EU member state.
Straub noted that the most important element for Turkey to begin accession negotiations was the demilitarization of the northern third of the island, which it occupies since its 1974 invasion, and explained that it would be unthinkable for Turkey to occupy part of an EU member state and join the Union itself.
Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia, in the presence of Nicosia Mayor Michael Zampelas and Head of the European Commission Representation to Cyprus Adriaan van der Meer, Straub said the Greek Cypriot community's rejection of a settlement plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in the April 24 referendum was respected, adding that everyone's wish was for the reunification of the island.
Replying to questions put forward by the Municipal Council regarding the illegal development of Greek Cypriot property in the Turkish occupied areas, Straub said the EU had no influence over the pseudo state.
Straub said that European funds would be used to help the weaker part, which in the case of Cyprus was the Turkish Cypriot community, and expressed certainty that this would help the Turkish Cypriots advance financially, which would make reunification easier.
After the press conference, Zampelas offered Straub the Nicosia Medal and an honorary diploma for his visit to the island, as a gesture of gratitude for all he has done for the local administration and all he will do in the future.