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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-10-21

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

October 21, 2004


  • [01] Finance minister says Greece will provide fiscal data for relevant EU services
  • [02] Molyviatis in Bucharest for regional FMs' summit on Thursday
  • [03] Deputy FM and Spanish FM discuss European and international issues
  • [04] Greece lodges 'note verbale' with Turkish authorities over airspace, territorial waters violations
  • [05] Stephanopoulos visits Greek villages, completes three-day state visit in Albania,
  • [06] Greece's ruling ND Secretary Meimarakis attends UN session on the combatting of terrorism
  • [07] Karamanlis to meet separately with Serbian, Croatian PMs on Thursday
  • [08] US secretary of state Powell sends congratulatory on Greece's election to UN Security Council
  • [09] Roussopoulos reiterates that gov't wants to cut link between mass media, state contractors
  • [10] Investigative committee on armaments program broadens its search
  • [11] NATO satisfied with its mission to Greece during Olympic Games
  • [12] Seven Stars-04 exercise to take place in region of Constanta
  • [13] Greece improves slightly in int'l group's annual 'corruption perception index'
  • [14] E. Busek likens border changes within Balkans to Pandora's Box
  • [15] Inner-Cabinet decides on speeding up procedures for administering of justice
  • [16] Gov't unveils new pricing policy for public work projects
  • [17] Finmin denies breach of eurozone deficit limit in FT interview
  • [18] Gov't declines comment on Bank of Greece report
  • [19] EU monetary affairs commissioner says Eurostat had reservations on Greek fiscal data in past years
  • [20] Eurostat may take Greece to court over state debt accounting rules
  • [21] Greek gov't increases inspections in cotton sector
  • [22] Greek Farm ministry pledges "not a single euro" in EU funds will be lost
  • [23] Union federation slams central bank governor
  • [24] EU asks Greece to halt aid to Hellenic Shipyards
  • [25] Shipping foreign exchange jumped to 8.756 billion euros in Jan-Aug
  • [26] Civil servants to go on 24-hour nationwide strike on Thursday
  • [27] Gov't may consider heating allowance if oil prices rise further
  • [28] KEEM finds strengthening of Greek-Turkish business relations
  • [29] Presentation of the satellite Hellas Sat at int'l exhibition in Kiev
  • [30] Communist Party leader says working people must make claims securing humane living and working conditions
  • [31] Transport Minister listens to taxi drivers demands
  • [32] Stocks rise, bucking declines abroad
  • [33] Foreign journalists participate in "Campaign 2004: Views from Abroad" held at Harvard Monday
  • [34] Costakis Collection to be shown in Central Europe
  • [35] Gov't spokesman and journalists' union condemn fear tactics targeting publisher
  • [36] Merchant marine ministry General Secretary visits Malta
  • [37] Police give out roses instead of traffic tickets, in observance of Police Day
  • [38] Turk arrested, charged with migrant smuggling
  • [39] 17N convict continues hunger strike
  • [40] New time schedule for visits to archaeological sites, museums
  • [41] Turkish Cypriot 'government' resigns
  • [42] EU Commission report: Cyprus meets 2 of 5 criteria of accession to EU Economic and Monetary Union
  • [43] UNSC holds unofficial consultations on UNFICYP resolution

  • [01] Finance minister says Greece will provide fiscal data for relevant EU services

    BRUSSELS 21/10/2004 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Finance and Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, speaking in Luxembourg on Wednesday shortly before the opening of the Council of eurozone Finance Ministers, said Greece will provide for European Union services all data they consider essential to assess the country's fiscal state before the year 2000.

    In statements to reporters, the finance minister reiterated that the fiscal inventory was necessary, adding that the Greek Statistical Service will respond positively to all EU requirements concerning data for past years.

    He said he is optimistic for the future and that with transparency prevailing in the country's fiscal data and the removal of the economic burden posed by Olympic Games projects, all the preconditions exist for fiscal improvement and the fulfillment of commitments emanating from the Stability Pact.

    On Wednesday night Alogoskoufis was expected to give his eurozone counterparts an initial idea of the main indicators and orientations of the Greek budget for 2005. Analytical data will have to be provided during the next two weeks at the latest.

    The EU's Council of Finance and Monetary Affairs Committee is expected to raise the issue of the reliability of data provided by member-states here on Thursday and issue a relevant announcement.

    National economy ministry sources mentioned that this development was to be expected but stressed that they do not believe that the issue of Greek fiscal revisions will reach the European Court.

    They stressed that the reason for this is that it was Greece that promoted fiscal transparency and that in time the country will meet its commitments towards the Stability Pact and towards EU legislation in particular.

    However, the sources did not rule out the possibility of the Commission launching the procedure against Greece in the future for violating EU law, but clarified that this procedure will not be completed since Greece will be honoring its commitments with time.

    In addition, the sources also reminded that it is not only Greece, from among euro countries, which is showing fiscal problems but a number of other countries as well such as France, Germany and Italy, which the EU should tackle with the same standards as it does for Greece.

    The Council has already shown a flexible stance towards these countries, while skepticism is being intensified in the ranks of the EU regarding the way with which the mandates of the Stability Pact on fiscal discipline will be implemented from now on.

    [02] Molyviatis in Bucharest for regional FMs' summit on Thursday

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis departs on Thursday for Bucharest, where he will participate at an inter-Balkan ministerial summit of the region's foreign ministers.

    The Greek FM is also expected to hold bilateral talks with Romania's leadership.

    In commenting on the summit, the foreign ministry noted that Athens is particularly interested in the regional forum because Greece will assume the rotating presidency for inter-Balkan cooperation on April 1, 2005.

    Among others, a signing ceremony for a cooperation, stability and good-neighborly pact is also planned in Bucharest.

    Molyviatis will officially visit Skopje for two days following the conclusion of the Bucharest summit.

    [03] Deputy FM and Spanish FM discuss European and international issues

    MADRID 21/10/2004 (ANA/F. Karaviti)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Anjel Moratinos ascertained an identity of interests and positions on many European and international issues in talks held here on Wednesday.

    Speaking after the meeting, Valinakis said that during his meeting on Wednesday and his meetings on Tuesday with Deputy Foreign Ministers Bernardino Leon and Alberto Navaro the fiscal prospects of the European Union were discussed and the two countries' efforts to secure funds in the new European reality.

    A tripartite meeting will be held in this context next week with the participation of Portugal.

    The two countries also agreed to promote the idea of the creation of a European Coast Guard to effectively handle illegal immigration and smuggling with organized patrols.

    Valinakis said that the issue will also be raised at the ministerial meeting of the Euromediterranean Forum due to take place in Paris on Sunday and Monday.

    Other issues discussed were the ratification process for the European constitution, European unification, the Cyprus question and the European course of Turkey.

    [04] Greece lodges 'note verbale' with Turkish authorities over airspace, territorial waters violations

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Wednesday confirmed that Greece had lodged a "note verbale" (oral demarche) with Turkish authorities over the recent spate of infringements of the Greek FIR (Flight Information Region) and violations of Greek national airspace and territorial waters by Turkish fighter planes and vessels.

    Koumoutsakos told a regular press briefing that the protests were lodged at Charge d'Affaires level in Ankara on Tuesday afternoon and in Athens on Wednesday.

    Asked to comment on the recent airspace and territorial waters violations, Koumoutsakos said that the foreign ministry was fully informed on the situation and taking the "appropriate actions", and warned that "incidents such as those are not compatible with the climate that the two countries are trying to build, nor with Turkey's European prospect".

    He added that the Greek government was taking "all due steps in all the appropriate directions".

    Questioned on the resignation of the Talat "government" in the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus -- which is recognized only by Turkey -- Koumoutsakos declined comment, saying he did not comment on political developments inside the occupied sector.

    Turkish warplanes violate national air space: Seven formations out of a total of 10 Turkish air force F16 warplanes, 2 F-4s, 2 RF-4Es and one CN-235 violated Greek national air space on eight occasions on Wednesday, according to an announcement by the National Defense General Staff.

    The violations took place in the regions east of the island of Rhodes and in the regions of the islands of Limnos, Lesvos and Chios. Four formations were armed and in four cases they were involved in mock dogfights with Greek air force jets.

    The announcement said that the violations of national air space which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday were handled immediately and effectively by the air defense network.

    In all cases the Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by a large number of Greek jets, while they were also trapped by land-based anti-aircraft systems.

    Two ships of the Turkish coast guard violate Greek territorial waters, approach islet of Imia: Two ships of the Turkish coast guard at 11.50 a.m. on Tuesday violated Greek territorial waters and approached the islet of Imia, according to press reports.

    A Greek patrol boat sped to the region and called on the Turkish vessels to leave the region immediately.

    Initially, the Turkish ships did not respond to the call. However, they later left from the territorial waters but without abandoning the area.

    [05] Stephanopoulos visits Greek villages, completes three-day state visit in Albania,

    TIRANA 21/10/2004 (ANA/S.Tzimas)

    President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, as part of his current visit to Albania, laid a wreath at a cemetery on Wednesday, in remembrance of Greek soldiers who died during the Italian invasion of 1940-41. Stephanopoulos went on to visit a number of villages in Albania inhabited by ethnic Greeks, including Vouliarates, where a cemetery funded by the Greek Ministry of Defense was erected in 1999. The cemetery is the final resting place of over 250 Greek soldiers whose graves were previously scattered around the mountains of Gjirokaster (Argirokastro).

    Greeted by crowds of ethnic Greeks and representatives of local organizations, Stephanopoulos laid a wreath, telling the crowd that he had taken his time in visiting them, but he believed that it was a case of "better late than never."

    Stephanopoulos also stopped at the Kleisoura Pass, site of one of the fiercest battles of the Italian Campaign where he was greeted by the Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania, Anastasios. The two men visited the building site of a monastery and Greek Orthodox Church which will hold the bones of hundreds of Greek soldiers who died during the war.

    Stephanopoulos also visited the village of Droviani, from where his mother's side of the family is originally from.

    End of visit

    President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos described his tour of the towns and villages of Greeks in Albania as a "pilgrimage to the Greeks of Northern Epirus," during a speech he gave on Wednesday evening in Dervitsani.

    Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of Greeks from the greater region, Stephanopoulos called on Albania's leadership to adhere to European principles and treaties regarding minorities towards the Greeks of Albania.

    "For Albania to approach the European Union, it will have to implement the international treaties regarding minorities from A to Z," he said. Stephanopoulos also explained that Albanian President Alfred Moisiu and Prime Minister Fatos Nano promised to discontinue labeling certain areas as minority areas.

    The Greek president also asked that the property of Greeks confiscated under Enver Hodja's regime be returned.

    Stephanopoulos also emphasized that while Greece no longer has any territorial demands on Albania following the signing of the Helsinki Treaty in 1976, it is obliged to protect "its children" wherever they may be.

    He also made special mention to the work of Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania Anastasios, present at the evening's event, saying that "if there's one person that has benefited Albania, that's Anastasios."

    Stephanopoulos left for Athens late Wednesday evening, having completed his three-day state visit in Albania.

    [06] Greece's ruling ND Secretary Meimarakis attends UN session on the combatting of terrorism

    NEW YORK 21/10/2004 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greece's ruling New Democracy (ND) party Central Committee Secretary Evangelos Meimarakis, as member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, is currently taking part in a United Nations session where specific issues are being discussed for the combatting of terrorism.

    Meimarakis told the Athens News Agency:"It concerns matters to which particular weight is being placed from now on by Europe, America and the whole world. We view that the problem of terrorism is from now on worldwide and there should be a coordinated effort for its confrontation."

    Referring to the different approaches which are presented with regard the ways and methods for the combatting of terrorism, Meimarakis stressed:"Discussions are taking place in all societies and there are serious concerns. Because, really, we cannot reach such a level of confrontation where the individual rights of the citizens are trampled on. On the other hand, however, we cannot allow for there to be terrorist strikes, blind strikes, against innocent citizens. We lived it very intensely due to the Olympic Games and we cooperated, not only with the other political forces for the joint confrontation of the matter, but also with foreign countries. Quite a number of discussions took place on how we will handle the issue and at the same time how we would not reduce the individual rights of the Greek citizens. There were many discussions and views. I view that finally, when you are hosting major events, you are obliged to place on the scale the protection and the defense of all your guests and the world image of your country which could possibly be harmed in the event of a tragic incident."

    [07] Karamanlis to meet separately with Serbian, Croatian PMs on Thursday

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday will meet separately with Serbian Premier Vojislav Kostunica and Croatian PM Ivo Sanader in Thessaloniki, where the Greek premier will also address the eighth roundtable conference between Orthodoxy and the European Peoples Party grouping earlier in the morning.

    [08] US secretary of state Powell sends congratulatory on Greece's election to UN Security Council

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    US secretary of state Colin has cabled foreign minister Petros Molyviatis to congratulate him on Greece's recent election to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member for the next two years, ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Wednesday.

    The spokesman said that Powell's congratulatory message, sent Tuesday afternoon, noted inter alia that Greece's election to the Security Council indicated and proved how powerful the country's and Greek diplomacy's international esteem was.

    Powell also noted that Greece's participation in the international organization advances the Greek positions in the international community.

    [09] Roussopoulos reiterates that gov't wants to cut link between mass media, state contractors

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Minister of State Thodoris Roussopoulos on Wednesday reiterated that the "umbilical cord between the mass media and companies that assume state contracts must be severed," speaking at a one-day seminar organized by the Coalition of the Left on the topic of "Relations Between Political Authority and the Mass Media."

    He reminded that the government is drafting legislation to this effect, with a relevant bill expected to be tabled in Parliament by the end of the year. He also dismissed claims that the government had failed to adequately address the issue during its seven months in power.

    Roussopoulos, who is also the government spokesman, cited existing instability, the questionable legal status of certain (broadcast) media and the lack of enforcement of existing laws as factors that are currently being exploited.

    On his part, main opposition PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis stated that "New Democracy had turned the issue of the primary shareholder (for transparency of broadcast media ownership) into its pre-election banner, so now we're waiting for the appropriate draft law."

    He further added that "the issue of vested interests is being discussed in the wrong way, as this is not only a Greek phenomenon."

    SYN leader Constantopoulos supports efforts to cut links between state contractors and mass media: Leader of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Nikos Constantopoulos, speaking Wednesday at a one day seminar organized by his party on the topic of "Relations Between Political Authority and the Mass Media", stated that a change to the central core of the Greek political system was necessary so that it could withstand onslaughts by vested interests and corruption.

    Constantopoulos added that the Coalition of the Left had established "the issue of vested economic interests and political authority as a spearhead of its policy." He went on to say that "the prime minister appears to be determined to address this issue while the leader of the opposition has committed to participating in any sincere attempt to find a solution," adding that the possibility now existed for progress to be made in this matter.

    [10] Investigative committee on armaments program broadens its search

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    The Parliamentary Investigative Committee, established to look into the Defense Ministry's armaments program, defined its agenda on Wednesday, regarding the procurement of Russian missiles TOR-M1 and US radars TPQ-37.

    Committee members agreed to start from the very beginning and review files in their entirety, thus broadening their search wider than what was initially decided by the prosecutor's office.

    [11] NATO satisfied with its mission to Greece during Olympic Games

    BRUSSELS 21/10/2004 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) judged that its mission to Greece during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was a success, congratulating Greece and its government in carrying out its security obligations, during a meeting held here on Wednesday.

    During the meeting which was held specifically to assess NATO's contribution to Olympic security, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alessandro Minuto Rizzo enthusiastically congratulated the Greek government and praised it for its cooperation.

    Major General Rick Lynch, based in Naples, Italy and responsible for the NATO mission titled "Distinguished Games," told NATO's Permanent Representatives Council that Greek forces had operated in an "exemplary" way, while NATO representatives from the US, the UK and the Netherlands called the organization and cooperation "superb."

    NATO's safety net during the Athens Olympics included 610 hours of AWACS flight time.

    [12] Seven Stars-04 exercise to take place in region of Constanta

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    The exercise codenamed Seven Stars-04 will be taking place at the Topraisar exercise location in the wider region of the Romanian city of Constanta between October 26-29, according to an announcement by the National Defense General Staff on Wednesday.

    The exercise will be taking place as part of the training program of the Brigade of Southeastern Europe (SEEBRIG).

    The purpose of the exercise is to achieve full operational capability during operations "In support of peace", the improvement of the operational readiness of personnel and units provided for the Brigade in the region of action and the development of mutual understanding during the above operations.

    About 600 people from countries comprising the SEEBRIG Brigade will be participating in the exercise.

    [13] Greece improves slightly in int'l group's annual 'corruption perception index'

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Greece was assigned to 49th overall -- tied with the South American country of Surinam -- in terms of a "corruption perception index" for 2004, according to a report issued on Wednesday by the group Transparency International.

    According to the report, Greece received a rating of 4.3 on a maximum scale of 10.

    Cyprus occupies 36th place, while Turkey places 77th. In terms of other EU member-states, only the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia and Poland fared worse.

    This year's rating for Greece was slightly better that 2003's, when Greece was in 51st place.

    The index is based on an opinion poll-type of questionnaire that gauges the views of entrepreneurs and businesspeople (primarily) and corporate executives, as well as researchers, residents and non-residents of included countries.

    [14] E. Busek likens border changes within Balkans to Pandora's Box

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Special Coordinator for Southeastern Europe's Stability Pact and former Austrian Vice Chancellor Erhart Busek called the possibility of changing the borders of countries in Southeastern Europe "as the biggest possible foolishness that would open up Pandora's Box," on Wednesday.

    Speaking at a press conference in Thessaloniki on occasion of the Stability Pact's five years of existence, Busek said that he was confident a free transaction zone is feasible "since it is a prerequisite for the development of a common market."

    Asked about relieving tensions in Kosovo, Busek replied that, "We are close to a solution through political negotiation," adding that "if the government can guarantee the Serbs' safety then foreign forces will be able to withdraw."

    According to Busek, 2005 will be an important year since Kosovo's regime will be reviewed with the upcoming elections, a referendum regarding the union of Serbia and Montenegro is possible, while a referendum will be held in FYROM regarding the Albanian minority. However, Busek believes that high unemployment in the region, which is 50% in Kosovo and 30% in FYROM, "is a time-bomb which can lead to political conflict," he said.

    Taking stock of the five years the stability pact has been in effect, Busek emphasized that elections are now transparent, excellent legislation regarding the mass media and minorities is in place, but there are still pending issues regarding the return of Kosovo's Serbs. Referring to economic data, Busek said that 28 free transaction agreements have been signed among the region's countries, while ¬ 25 billion has been channeled into the region.

    [15] Inner-Cabinet decides on speeding up procedures for administering of justice

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    By the end of the year a draft law will be tabled in Parliament which will contribute in the speeding up of the procedures for the administering of justice, as delays are observed at present, Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras said immediately after an Inner-Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday.

    Papaligouras said under discussion were issues concerning the structure and lack of personnel, as well as the possibility of the introduction of the society of information, which is an important European Union program, to Justice.

    The justice minister said that procedures for the separation of inmates with heavy sentences from the other inmates has already begun in prisons, underlining that this measure has already gone into effect in the women's wing of the top security Korydallos prison in Athens.

    Papaligouras confirmed that negotiations are underway with the Albanian government, so that with Greek funds, a prison be built in Albania for Albanians sentenced in Greece to serve their term there.

    He said a basic condition is for them to serve their sentences and in this there will be control by the Greek side. He added that only Albanians who have been sentenced in Greece will be in this prison. The justice minister explained that the Albanian authorities will be responsible for their guarding.

    Regarding the draft law for the main shareholder, Papaligouras said the time limit for it to be tabled is by the end of the year.

    The justice minister added that he would not go into details regarding the reforms which will be advanced. However, he said that through the draft law, a serious matter which must be solved will be confronted.

    [16] Gov't unveils new pricing policy for public work projects

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Wednesday unveiled a system of pricing public works being implemented in the country, one aimed at facilitating procedures and more transparency in projects' tendering.

    In presenting the new system, Souflias said one primary characteristic was that it features real market prices, and that a new set of price lists were updated to fully integrate the cost of using new machinery and materials in the construction sector.

    The second characteristic was that it minimizes disagreements between the underwriter and the owner of a project by using the experience of the last 15 years.

    The third characteristic was that new price lists were fully disconnected by older and outdated price analyses, a major obstacle in setting realistic budgets in public work projects.

    The new price lists cover road, landscaping, water and harbor projects, accounting for 95 percent of public work projects.

    The Greek minister said the ministry would tender projects worth 2.3 billion euros in the period October 2004-March 2005 and that the state was expected to unveil next month its timetable for completion of a national road project linking the north Peloponnese towns of Corinth with Patra.

    [17] Finmin denies breach of eurozone deficit limit in FT interview

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Budget deficit figures that decided Greece's entry into the eurozone in 2001 were misreported, but the deficit had not breached the European Union ceiling of 3.0% of gross domestic product, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told the Financial Times in a report published in Wednesday's edition.

    "Numbers have been revised upwards, mainly to reflect under-reporting of military spending but I am confident the true figures are below the limit," George Alogoskoufis said in an interview with the FT.

    Amid fears that Greece produced false figures in order to qualify for eurozone membership, officials from Eurostat, the EU's statistical agency, last week carried out a special audit of deficit figures for 1998 and 1999 - the two years that determined whether Greece was ready to join the euro, the report said.

    "We opened the books and co-operated fully with Eurostat," Alogoskoufis told the FT.

    Greece's higher deficit resulted from overestimating surpluses reported by state-controlled pension funds and local authorities, and changes in the way that military spending was reported, the report said.

    Alogoskoufis launched a clean-up of public accounts when he took over as finance minister in March when a new party took office in government, it added.

    [18] Gov't declines comment on Bank of Greece report

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    The government on Wednesday declined to comment on the "cautiously optimistic" report issued a day earlier by Bank of Greece Government Nikos Garganas, who called for cuts in state spending and more flexible labor relations, among others.

    Garganas nevertheless said a budget deficit goal of no more than 2.8 percent is attainable.

    "The Bank of Greece enjoys total autonomy within the European Union framework," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said.

    [19] EU monetary affairs commissioner says Eurostat had reservations on Greek fiscal data in past years

    BRUSSELS 21/10/2004 (ANA/V. Demiris)

    European Union Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joakin Almounia reiterated here on Wednesday that Eurostat had made clear its reservations on Greek fiscal data in past years.

    Asked during the presentation of an informative note on Greece's fiscal data on Eurostat's possible responsibilities which had accepted Greek data in past years, Almounia said that the EU statistical service had repeatedly expressed its doubts in the past with subnotes in its announcements on Greece's fiscal data, as well as in the records of Eurostat's missions to Athens.

    However, he added that the Commission does not possess the necessary legal base to check whether member-states communicate accurate data to EU services.

    As regards the possibility of the Commission taking action against Greece, the commissioner said all aspects of the case are being examined with respect for EU rules, adding that the Commission will be taking its decisions shortly.

    [20] Eurostat may take Greece to court over state debt accounting rules

    BRUSSELS 21/10/2004 (ANA/A.Simatos)

    Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency, may take Greece to court if the country fails to submit state fiscal and debt data under acceptable accounting standards.

    The EU's executive Commission said in an explanatory note released on Wednesday that the head of the National Statistics Service of Greece, Manolis Kontopyrakis, had replied to Eurostat's questions on the data on October 18, 2004, but the reply was deemed inadequate.

    "This reply is incomplete and does not fully answer the questions posed by Eurostat. Eurostat is conducting a detailed analysis (of data), and cannot rule out the possibility of a new delegation to Athens when the analysis is ready in order to hold consultations with Greek authorities," the note said.

    Eurostat was considering taking Greece to the European Court of Justice if it cannot provide the data required under ESA 95 accounting rules, the Commission added.

    Under review is Greek data on the fiscal deficit and public debt for 2000-2003 submitted by the previous government, which lost national elections on March 7, 2004.

    The current government undertook a detailed, unofficial audit of financial records left by its predecessor, also asking Eurostat to check the outcome.

    [21] Greek gov't increases inspections in cotton sector

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Agricultural Development and Foods Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos on Wednesday announced that ministry agencies would intensify their inspections in cotton ginning units around the country, a move aimed to protect cotton production and to boost transparency in EU subsidies to the sector.

    Cotton is a vital factor to the country's farm sector. With capital inflows totalling 600 million euros it is a significant part of total inflows in Greece.

    A ministry announcement said the inspections would determine the subsidy amount to be offered to Greece and stressed that the ministry has taken measures to simplify bureaucratic procedures in cotton delivery to ginning units. The ministry said it has asked for the help of a financial crimes squad in its inspections and announced the temporary suspension of operations in five cotton ginnings and 11 cotton distribution centers for breaching of community and national regulations.

    [22] Greek Farm ministry pledges "not a single euro" in EU funds will be lost

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    The Greek government has substantially raised absorption rates of EU funds in the farm sector, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, Basiakos stressed that the government has worked hard to cover past mistakes by simplifying and speeding-up procedures. "The total picture for all the programs included in a Third Community Support Framework is absolutely positive with a target for absorption rates in three out of a total four programs already has been achieved," the Greek minister said adding that "not a single euro will be lost in a Leader+ program this year".

    Basiakos said that absorption rates in Agricultural Development, Fishery and Leader+ programs rose to 26.7 pct, 29.56 pct and 13 pct by September 30, 2004 from 22.3 pct, 22.3 pct and 10.2 pct in 29 February 2004.

    Gov't pledges new measures for farming: The government is to rise by 30% compensation awarded to organic farmers by the Greek Agricultural Insurance Organization in a move to encourage the sector, Deputy Agricultural and Foods Minister Alexander Kontos said on Wednesday.

    In addition, a department would be created to track imports of farm products, some of which were of poor quality, Kontos told a seminar on organic farming.

    [23] Union federation slams central bank governor

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Union federations on Wednesday blasted central bank governor Nikos Garganas for seeing social insurance and wages as an immediate cause of the economy's problems.

    The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) said in a statement that growth was currently in jeopardy from talk of vested interests that bore no relation to the real source of corruption, or to the country's labyrinthine bureaucracy.

    Commenting on release of the Bank of Greece's interim report on the economy a day earlier, the GSEE added that wages were the lowest in the European Union.

    The federation complained that the government was making workers, pensioners and taxpayers pay for a crisis that it had itself engineered.

    [24] EU asks Greece to halt aid to Hellenic Shipyards

    BRUSSELS 21/10/2004 (ANA/V.Demiris)

    The European Union's executive Commission on Wednesday asked Greece to repeal legal provisions that allow the state to cover future retirement costs at Hellenic Shipyards and to relieve the yards of any tax or other duties in terms of reserves and a share capital increase, used to offset losses of previous years.

    The measures are incompatible with EU state aid rules as they constitute operating aid. Greek authorities have been requested to repeal both measures and recover any aid that may have been granted, the Commission said in a statement.

    [25] Shipping foreign exchange jumped to 8.756 billion euros in Jan-Aug

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Shipping foreign exchange inflows totalled 8.756 billion euros in the January-August period from 6.122 billion euros in the same period last year, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.

    The central bank said that shipping foreign exchange inflows totalled 1.097 billion euros in August, sharply up from 677.5 million euros in the same month in 2003.

    [26] Civil servants to go on 24-hour nationwide strike on Thursday

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    The Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) has called a 24-hour nationwide strike on Thursday, while a rally will be held at Korai Square in central Athens at 11 a.m. and a march to the national economy ministry will follow.

    Public sector unions want salary increases above the 3 percent anticipated by the state budget, demanding 1,100 euros as a starting salary, as well as tax benefits.

    They also want an arrangement on family bonuses, an increase in expenditures for health and education and protection for the public nature of services.

    The strike is expected to have a great impact on schools, local administration bodies, social security funds, ministry services and tax offices.

    Public hospitals will operate with skeleton staff and only emergencies will be treated.

    Air traffic controllers stage 4-hr work stoppage Thursday: Air traffic controllers are to stage a four-hour work stoppage from noon to 1600 on Thursday as part of a 24-hour strike called by civil servants.

    Olympic Airlines has announced the cancellation of 22 flights and rescheduled another 17 routes. Aegean Airlines has cancelled five.

    [27] Gov't may consider heating allowance if oil prices rise further

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Finance Minister Peter Doukas said on Wednesday that the government may consider granting a heating allowance if oil prices rise further.

    The minister was speaking in an interview to the Athens 9.84 radio station.

    Main opposition offers proposals to reduce impact of high oil price: The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Wednesday offered proposals to help reduce the impact of high oil prices.

    Among the proposals were a heating allowance for pensioners on low income, the unemployed, and low wage earners in the private sector, and a reduction in fuel tax for industry to 21 euros per thousand liters from 125 euros per thousand liters, PASOK's production and trade spokesman, Christos Papoutsis, said.

    PASOK had repeatedly asked the government to present an energy program, including in the form of a parliamentary question, Papoutsis added.

    [28] KEEM finds strengthening of Greek-Turkish business relations

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Turkey has evolved into one of Greece's basic business partners and prospects look positive following the European Commission's decision for Turkey's EU accession talks to begin, Panhellenic Exporters Association Research Centre (KEEM) stated in its current issue of "Episimanseis."

    According to KEEM, Greek exports to Turkey increased from $115 million in 1990 to $527 million in 2003. During the same period, imports to Greece from its neighboring country had increased six-fold, from $144 million to $864 million.

    In 2003, Turkey was number 8 on Greece's customer list and 13th among the Greek market's suppliers.

    Between 1990 and 2003, Greek exports jumped 66%, while Greek imports increased by 113%. The upward trend in commercial relations between the two countries continues unabated in the first half of 2004, with exports having increased 40% and imports by 53% in dollar amounts (or 24% and 36%, respectively in euros).

    In total (imports plus exports), commerce between Greece and Turkey increased from $223 million in 1990 to $1,392 million in 2003.

    According to KEEM, the relatively large transactions, the investments (76 Greek companies currently operate in Turkey) and the relations developing in other business sectors, have created strong, mutual interests between the two countries, paving the way for an even closer economic partnership, with Turkey's EU prospects serving as the starting point for a new cycle of economic relations between the two neighbors.

    [29] Presentation of the satellite Hellas Sat at int'l exhibition in Kiev

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    The presence of the Hellas Sat company at the TRBU International Exhibition, which was held in Kiev, Ukraine from October 12-16, was marked with great success.

    Taking part in the exhibition, which concerns Satatellite Telecommunications, Television Organizations and Mass Media, were more than 300 exhibitors from countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, while it was visited by about 30,000 people.

    A relevant announcement said that the Hellas Sat pavilion drew positive comments by exhibitors and visitors and won the exhibition's first prize, as the Greek satellite is the most powerful in Europe.

    [30] Communist Party leader says working people must make claims securing humane living and working conditions

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga held talks with a delegation of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) on Wednesday and said afterwards the labor union movement must take speedy action and working people must counter-attack, meaning they must set struggle targets and make claims securing humane living and working conditions.

    Papariga reiterated that KKE supports the demand for 1,200 euros being the lowest salary and 960 euros the lowest pension and calls for the corresponding handling of unemployment benefits.

    The KKE leader further said her party supports the granting of permanent status to all who are considered contract workers and that a bonus of at least 300 euros must be given to working people and 400 euros to pensioners to make up for oil price increases.

    [31] Transport Minister listens to taxi drivers demands

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    The Minister of Transport and Communications, Michalis Liapis, met Wednesday with the president of the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Private Taxis.

    The Federation presented Liapis with a list of demands, including a proposed 15% increase in taxi tariffs due to the increase in the price of petrol, an increase in the starting rate from the current 75 cents to 86 cents and the right to drive in bus lanes, a request made consistently by the Federation.

    It was disclosed that the minister did not commit himself to any of the above demands, at least not until the end of the year.

    [32] Stocks rise, bucking declines abroad

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher, bucking declines abroad, with players buying into small- and medium-capitalization stocks, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,425.02 points, showing a rise of 0.24 percent. Turnover was 102.7 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.10 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.11 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 2.04 percent up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 224 to 71 with 57 remaining unchanged.

    [33] Foreign journalists participate in "Campaign 2004: Views from Abroad" held at Harvard Monday

    BOSTON 21/10/2004 (ANA/P.Panayiotou)

    The event titled "Campaign 2004: Views from Abroad" and organized by Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government in cooperation with the Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and East-Central Europe, was held on Monday, enjoying a good turn-out of students, professors and the general public.

    The four panelists - Nicholas Voulelis, managing director of the ANA, Nico Fried of Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Mehmet Ali Birand of CNN Turk, and Talah Al-Haj of Al-Arabiya TV - and moderator Alex Jones, Director of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, discussed vital issues such as the role of the US on the international stage, the positions of President George Bush and Senator John Kerry, the interest the US elections have drawn abroad, and the way in which US issues are covered by the media in Germany, Greece, Turkey and the Arab world. The audience also participated in the discussion, with the topics of US foreign policy, the war in Iraq, the Middle East conflict, terrorism, and the role of the US media, drawing the most attention.

    On Tuesday, another event was held at the John F. Kennedy School of Government with the participation of undergraduate and post-graduate students, professors and journalists Ali Birand and Voulelis. The discussion focused on the Cyprus issue, on Greek-Turkish relations and on Turkey's EU prospects.

    [34] Costakis Collection to be shown in Central Europe

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    A major exhibition of the Costakis Collection titled "Light and Color in the Russian Avant-Garde" will be held in various cities in Central Europe from the beginning of November, 2004 until the end of May, 2005. Housed at the State Museum of Contemporary Art in Thessaloniki, the Costakis collection is one of the most important avant-garde art collections of the twentieth century, created by Greek émigré George Costakis in the 1950's and 196O's when he lived in the then Soviet Union.

    The collection will be shown in Berlin at the Martin Gropius Bau Exhibition Space from 2 November, 2004 until 10 January, 2005, will then move on to Vienna, with a final stop in Thessaloniki where it will be on show until September, 2005.

    [35] Gov't spokesman and journalists' union condemn fear tactics targeting publisher

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday condemned the fear tactics used by unknowns against Christos Tegopoulos, publisher of the daily Eleftherotypia.

    On Tuesday evening and after an unknown individual placed a call to the newspaper's offices around 9 p.m., special police forces discovered a package containing a homemade explosive device left outside Tegopoulos' house in central Athens. The device was not programmed to explode, but comes just two days after a brutal attack on Eleftherotypia's journalist Philippos Syrigos which sent him to the hospital with severe injuries.

    "Any attack against a member of the press, regardless from where it originates, is condemnable in the harshest and most austere terms," Antonaros said.

    The Athens Journalists' Union ESHEA also condemned the attack against Tegopoulos, stating that "it is evident that it is just another act which aims to create fear and to terrorize the media world."

    Coming two days after the attack on Syrigos, ESHEA has called on the relevant authorities to take the measures necessary for the protection of members of the press.

    Finally, ESHEA's Executive Board stressed that, "Greek journalists are determined to defend the right to information and the freedom of the exchange of ideas, which are constitutional rights, by all means."

    [36] Merchant marine ministry General Secretary visits Malta

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Merchant Marine, the General Secretary of the ministry, Professor Ioannis Tzoannos ended a four day trip to Malta which took place between 15 October until 18 October, 2004.

    During his visit, Tzoannos met with Censu Galea, Maltese Minister of Competitiveness and Communication and other Maltese officials. He also gave a talk on "European Foreign Policy on Shipping, Security and Protection" at the International Institute of Naval Law.

    According to the release, Tzoannos then visited the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC).

    [37] Police give out roses instead of traffic tickets, in observance of Police Day

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Police in Athens were giving out roses instead of traffic tickets and donating blood at the Aglaia Kyriakou Children's Hospital for children with neoplasia on Wednesday, in observance of Police Day and the feast day of Aghios Artemios, patron saint of the police.

    Traffic police were instructed to be elastic throughout the day, handing out roses and reprimanding errant drivers instead of traffic citations for minor violations of the Traffic Code, with emphasis on urging drivers to observe the Code and wear seatbelts, while motorcycle drivers were urged to wear helmets.

    A doxology in honor of the patron saint was held in the morning, while a reception will be held Wednesday night at the Police Academy on Messogion Ave. in Athens, to be attended by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, the police leadership, and representatives of the political world.

    The public order ministry said that this year there would be no awards for individual police offers for exceptional deeds, which is the norm, because the police force would be honored in its entirety for its contribution.

    PM Karamanlis addresses 'Greek Police Day' event: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis attended an event on Wednesday evening marking "Greek Police Day".

    "Greece contradicted all worries and fears that had been developed and sent all over the world a strong message for the safety and hospitality it offers to its visitors," Karamanlis said in an address, adding that Greece organized "the most successful and the safest Olympic Games in their modern history."

    The premier also referred to a more effective functioning of the police force, underlining "we give immediate priority to the restructuring of its services, to the rational distribution of its manpower, its ridding of work alien to its tasks, the implementation of effective action for precaution and dissuasion and for the strengthening of the policeman's presence in neighborhoods.

    [38] Turk arrested, charged with migrant smuggling

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    A 25-year-old Turkish national on Wednesday was led before a local prosecutor on the eastern Aegean island of Samos on charges of migrant smuggling.

    The Turk was arrested by coast guard officers after reportedly landing 13 Afghans on the island at dawn. Another five Afghan illegals were arrested the previous night on another spot on the same isle.

    The suspect was identified as Vural Yavuz Selim.

    [39] 17N convict continues hunger strike

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    Alexandros Yiotopoulos, convicted for his involvement in the terrorist organization 17N and an inmate at Korydallos prison, said he would continue his hunger strike in a statement released Wednesday.

    According to Yiotopoulos, the issue is not removing the wire fencing from the prison's yard as the Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras decided, "but the isolation which leads to insanity." Yiotopoulos states that the conditions under which he and other inmates are being held is not done for security reasons, "but for our psychological and physical annihilation."

    [40] New time schedule for visits to archaeological sites, museums

    Athens, 21/10/2004 (ANA)

    The archaeological sites of the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora and the Dionysus Theatre, as well as the museums of the Acropolis and the Stoa Attalos will operate for the public until 19:00 due to less daylight time.

    Until recently, visiting hours ended at 20:30 for museums and 20:00 for archaeological sites.

    [41] Turkish Cypriot 'government' resigns

    NICOSIA 21/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Self-styled prime minister in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat, leader of the Republican Turkish Party, handed over on Wednesday morning to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash a letter for his ''government's'' resignation.

    Talat confirmed his resignation at a press conference given jointly with his "government" partner Serdar Denktash, leader of the Democratic Party.

    The Turkish Cypriot politician said they tried a lot to form a ''majority government'' but they failed.

    He added that they tried to pass an early - election decision from the ''parliament'' but they could not find the majority for that decision.

    An important period is coming, Talat said, noting that they are going to work as if they did not resign till a new ''government'' is formed.

    Serdar Denktash said that the Republican Turkish Party and the Democratic Party ''government'' was a ''government'' which worked in harmony because they respected the differences of each other.

    Asked if he was going to form a ''government'' with Dervis Eroglou's National Unity Party, he said ''we are not a party which is going to propose anything,'' but they are going to wait and see the proposals and then decide.

    The Cyprus government has described ''a domestic matter'' of the Turkish Cypriot community the resignation of Talat.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the government is monitoring developments and expressed hope that when a new round of negotiations begins, there will be a reliable leadership among the Turkish Cypriot community to talk to.

    ''We regard the developments in occupied Cyprus an internal matter of the Turkish Cypriot community. However we do follow what is going on carefully,'' he said.

    He reiterated that the government is working towards the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of a bicommunal, bizonal federation.

    ''We are seeking to resume negotiations, in the framework of the Annan plan (a UN solution plan) to bring about those changes that would secure reunification,'' he said.

    ''When a new effort begins, always under UN auspices, we expect to have a reliable Turkish Cypriot leadership that can cooperate with us in a binding way to achieve the common goal,'' he added.

    Rauf Denktash is expected to ask another party leader to form a ''government'' within two weeks. If this fails, the mandate for a new ''administration'' could go to a second party leader or Denktash may decide to go to the country.

    [42] EU Commission report: Cyprus meets 2 of 5 criteria of accession to EU Economic and Monetary Union

    BRUSSELS 21/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The European Commission adopted on Wednesday a report on the convergence criteria of the ten new Union members and Sweden, relating to the members' readiness for euro membership.

    The report said that Cyprus meets two of the five criteria of accession to the EU Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), that on inflation and on long-term interest rates. The three criteria it does

    not meet relate to the government budgetary position, the exchange rate stability and legal compatibility.

    EU Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said that a lot of progress has been made with convergence but the road to euro membership requires further efforts.

    According to the EU, public deficit must not exceed three per cent of the Gross National Product (GDP). In 2003 the deficit in Cyprus was 6.3 per cent of the GDP.

    The Cypriot convergence program, which covers the period 2004-2007, aims at reducing the deficit from 6.3 percent to 2.9 per cent by 2005 and to 2.2 percent in 2006 and 1.6 percent by 2007. This is underpinned by a package of mostly structural measures to contain expenditure, which is where historically most of the slippage occurred, and both structural and one-off measures to increase revenue, to about an equal degree.

    Stressing that "the measures are mostly implemented from 2005 onward," the report underlines that "the adjustment path reflects the government's commitment to improve public finances given their intention to adopt the euro by 2007; this is the main factor behind the strong frontloading of the fiscal adjustment in 2005. Given the mixed record on fiscal consolidation, the target for 2005 looks rather ambitious and therefore requires a strong commitment, including taking additional measures if necessary, for its implementation."

    The report points out that "budgetary outcomes could be worse than projected, especially concerning the achievement of the objective for 2005, given the size of the adjustment and the fiscal consolidation record of Cyprus."

    ''For the period 2004-2007, the convergence program projects the debt ratio to peak at 72.6 percent in 2004 and then to decline by almost 7 percentage points by 2007. The projected decline in the debt ratio is mainly driven by the increasingly positive primary balances and nominal GDP growth exceeding the average interest rate on government debt in 2005-2007. However, the evolution of the debt ratio may be less favorable than projected given the risks to the deficit outcomes mentioned above," the report concludes.

    [43] UNSC holds unofficial consultations on UNFICYP resolution

    UNITED NATIONS 21/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN Security Council has begun unofficial consultations for the adoption of a resolution on the renewal of the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which expires December 31, 2004.

    The resolution is expected to be approved by October 28.

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