|Monday, 11 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-10-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 26, 2004
 Support of Turkey's EU prospects remains a strategic choice for Greece gov't says
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Athens reiterated on Monday that its support of Turkey's European Union prospects remains a strategic choice, and that this position has not changed.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros made the statement in answer to a barrage of press questions on whether Greece will revise its position vis-ą-vis Turkey's long-coveted desire to nail down a "start date" for EU accession talks. A crucial Dec. 17 summit will consider, among others, Ankara's request to commence accession negotiations next year.
"Support of Turkey's European prospects is a strategic choice for our country, one that enjoys bipartisan approval; there is no change in this reality," Antonaros said during a regular press briefing.
Increased media attention in the country over the past few days has focused on a weeklong series of Greek airspace and territorial waters violations by Turkish warplanes and warships, respectively, in practically every corner of the Aegean Sea.
The repeated incidents have raised the alert status of Greece's air force and navy, and, more importantly, generated widespread local condemnation of Turkey's actions, ones deemed as "incompatible" with European standards and the neighboring country's wish to join the 25-member bloc.
On his part, Antonaros referred to recent statements by Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis concerning a report by the EU Commission on Turkey's standing for accession talks.
Molyviatis noted that Turkey is called on to "resolve discrepancies" during its future negotiations with the EU.
"Discrepancies that relate to the internal situation in Turkey and its foreign policy - a dimension that includes the candidate country's relations with its neighbors, including the Republic of Cyprus," Antonaros added.
Moreover, he noted that the Greek government is not "detaching" Greek-Turkish relations from developments in the Aegean, while he replied to questions citing a potential "Greek veto" at the EU summit in December as something that is "not an object of public discourse".
Additionally, he said the Greek government has taken all the necessary diplomatic actions in response to the latest Turkish provocations in the Aegean (i.e. demarches with Ankara) and will "take other action when this is necessitated".
Finally, he said no meeting is scheduled between Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of an EU meeting in Brussels next month.
Turkish violations of Greek airspace and territorial waters: The Turkish air force as well as the Turkish coast guard appear to be repeating their illegal activity in the Aegean on a daily basis.
According to press reports, nine formations of Turkish war planes on Monday entered the Aegean without submitting flights plans (10 infringements of the flight traffic regulations) and in 17 cases violated national airspace, mainly in the region of the central Aegean.
The 18 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greeks jets, while in six cases the procedure of interception developed into a mock dog fight. It was reported that four formations were armed, while two of the Turkish aircraft were photographic.
Meanwhile, between 10:30 a.m. and 10:40 a.m., a Turkish coast guard vessel again violated the Greek territorial waters, heading towards the islet of Imia. The Turkish vessel remained in the area of the islet for 35 minutes and later headed towards the Greek-Turkish border line where it remained for 30 minutes. It then departed for the Turkish coast.
The movements of the Turkish coast guard vessel was observed by a Greek patrol boat and by a gunboat from a distance.
As was made known, the data of Turkey's illegal activities in the Aegean were forwarded to the Greek Foreign Ministry to recourse to the relevant action.
 Papadopoulos on Cyprus' stance regarding Turkey at upcoming EU summit
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos reiterated, in a weekend newspaper interview, that Turkey has distinct obligations vis-ą-vis the European Union and the Republic of Cyprus, one of 10 new members of the bloc.
"That does not mean we will exercise our veto, nor does it mean that we will not exercise our veto," he was quoted as telling the Athens daily "Eleftheros Typos" in relation to the stance his government will take during a closely watched EU summit in December.
Moreover, Papadopoulos emphasized that a veto by any small EU member-state is no easy matter.
Papadopoulos added that the Cypriot side is fully aware of the island republic's true political strength, as he juxtaposed this reality with Ankara, noting that "we are waiting for Turkey to assume its responsibilities to the EU and to all other member-states".
Finally, the Cyprus president declined to cite any specific conditions for Ankara, saying he will not negotiate in public.
 Athens officially proposes creation of EU coast guard to protect european borders
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Greece's proposal for the establishment of a European coast guard to protect the bloc's sea boundaries was officially unveiled on Monday during an EU justice ministers and home affairs ministers' council meeting in Luxembourg.
In proposing the initiative, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis noted that illegal immigration via sea routes throughout the Mediterranean is a serious problem, one linked closely to terrorism, people trafficking and organized crime.
Additionally, the Greek minister agreed with a proposal by the Dutch EU presidency over the need for more effective cooperation by member-states in protecting sea routes in order to avert maritime disasters involving migrant-laden vessels.
Based on the current joint cooperation by a pair of European Centers for Maritime Borders, one in Piraeus and the other in Madrid, Athens is proposing operational support from other member-states on a voluntary basis, with a view to holding naval search & rescue exercises in the Mediterranean, for the most part.
Finally, Kefaloyiannis said the proposal is part of an initiative announced by Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos during an informal ministerial meeting last September in the Netherlands.
 Deputy Foreign Minister represents Greece at Mediterranean Forum
PARIS 26/10/2004 (ANA/O.Tsipira)The informal meeting between the foreign ministers of the 11 Mediterranean Forum member-states was held here on Monday, with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis representing Greece. The other 10 member states are: Algeria, Egypt, Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey.
The Mediterranean Forum is an informal platform for political negotiations among countries of the EU and the Mediterranean South.
During this meeting, the 11 ministers examined how EU and Mediterranean countries can cooperate effectively.
"We have a new weapon available to us - the European neighboring policy," Valinakis said, adding that it should serve as the means towards adopting effective practices rather than simply issuing statements. "Not only should the necessary resources be included in the EU budget, but the appropriate mechanisms so that these resources are 'transformed' into developmental plans, useful for both sides, are also necessary," he said.
"The Greek government places special emphasis on the Mediterranean aspect of our foreign policy, from which we think we have been absent for a long time. Until now, we had placed emphasis on eastern countries and the Balkans, due to geographical proximity. However our Mediterranean side and our relationship with the Arab world are particularly important, which is why we must act towards such initiatives," he noted.
During a breakfast session Valinakis had with EU members only, earlier in the morning, he presented Greece's proposal for the creation of a European coast guard in order to deal with the immigration issue. The first step would be to create a core of member states responsible for coordinating coast guard forces by conducting joint patrols and exchanging know-how. The next step would then be to include all Mediterranean countries under a European umbrella.
The Middle East, the Palestinian issue and Iraq were also topics of concern and discussion among the ministers, who agreed that Europe should play a greater role in finding solutions in order to break the vicious cycle of violence.
"After the US elections, which will also clarify the American political scene, the EU must be ready with its own ideas, so that we can instill as much as possible, the European view of consensus and measure. The Euro-Mediterranean Summit which will be held at the end of November in The Hague, will also aid in this direction," Valinakis concluded.
Other issues discussed during the informal meeting were: security and defense policy in the Mediterranean, development of EU relations beyond the Mediterranean, expansion of EU programs to include Mediterranean countries.
 Papandreou refers to 'amateurism' at every level of gov't, during visit to Kilkis
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou visited the northern Kilkis prefecture on Monday, where he met with local officials, farmers as well as business and chamber of commerce representatives.
In directing his criticism at the government, Papandreou noted that it completely lacks policies for economic development, while referring to "amateurism" at every level of government.
In terms of politicians' relations with major businesspeople, publishers, wage-earners and other social partners -- a discussion that has been thrust onto the national limelight of late -- Papandreou said a "politician must be in contact with everyone. The issue is to define the correct relationship".
Relations with Turkey: In referring to Greek-Turkish relations, he charged that the government has given up significant diplomatic advantages, instead following a passive stance dominated by public relations.
Papandreou, a former foreign minister, also forecast that this strategy, as he said, will lead to vacillation, with the government swerving from one extreme to another -- something he said is dangerous for the country and the wider region.
Papandreou calls for PASOK's restructuring
Main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement: (PASOK) party President George Papandreou emphasized the need for his party's restructuring while on a visit to Northern Greece on Monday evening.
"No one at PASOK has a permanent seat. We are all subject to evaluation," he said, adding that changes are already being carried out within the party and called on young people to participate in choosing the party's new high-ranking officials.
In response to young people's demand for a change in the members of PASOK, Papandreou said that that which is needed is not a change of faces, but a change of ideas and mentality.
He also said that anyone who has mismanaged public funds must be penalized regardless of which party he or she belongs to, and accused New Democracy of trying to create a climate of scandal.
"We brought the issue to Parliament so that we can finish with this as soon as possible and concentrate on the real problems facing citizens today," he said.
Papandreou also stressed that his party must be ready, since "PASOK might be called upon soon to lead the country once again."
 Parliamentary Investigative Committee on armament procurements decides on first 24 witnesses
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The Parliamentary Investigative Committee charged with investigating the procurement of the Russian TOR-M1 missile system and the American TPQ-37 radar, on Monday comprised a list of the first 24 (military) witnesses it will call.
Committee President Yiannis Tragakis told reporters that the Committee intends to conduct an in-depth investigation into the matter, while speaking on behalf of the main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party, Andreas Loverdos reiterated PASOK's wish that political witnesses be called as soon as possible.
Two marathon sessions are expected to be held next week, during which 12 witnesses will be asked to testify. The witnesses are all former members of the armed forces' armament evaluation committees. After the first 24 witnesses have testified, the first political witnesses will be called. They are: former Defense Ministry Secretary General responsible for armaments Yiannis Smpokos (during Akis Tsochatzopoulos' tenure); former Secretary General for Economic Planning and Defense Investment Spyros Travlos (during Yiannos Papantoniou's tenure); and current Secretary General for Economic Planning and Defense Investment Yiorgos Zorbas.
 President Stephanopoulos arrives in Thessaloniki to attend three-day events, including that for 'OHI' Day
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)President Kostis Stephanopoulos, on arrival in Thessaloniki on Monday to attend three-day events marking the anniversary of the historic national "OHI" Day on October 28, the liberation of Thessaloniki from Ottoman rule in the early 20th Century and Aghios Dimitrios Day, Patron Saint of Thessaloniki, described himself as lucky because his ten-year tenure of the presidency of the republic coincided with a period of political calm. At the same time, the president expressed the conviction that the period of political calm will last and improve in the future.
"I was lucky because I was called on to serve my country from this position in a period where from a political view it found itself at the highest point of the past years. It was a political period which will last and improve in the future and which left no room for concern to anyone neither of course to the president of the republic," Stephanopoulos said in addressing Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos who welcomed him at Macedonia airport. The president added that "it was a period when the institutions operated in the best possible way, a period which really showed the significance and importance of the democratic form of government, a period which we must dedicate and recognize that it is due to the Greek people."
On his part, the mayor of Thessaloniki thanked the president for "his enormous contribution to the nation," and welcomed him for his tenth and last visit as president of the Hellenic Republic.
On Tuesday, the president will attend a service at Aghios Dimitrios Church which will also be observed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition leader George Papandreou. At noon he will inaugurate an exhibition at the port on the theme "Hellenism of Australia" and early afternoon attend a luncheon in his honor hosted by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis.
At 6:30 p.m. he will attend a ceremony at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki where an address will be made by Cypriot Defense Minister Kyriakos Mavronikolas. In the evening, Stephanopoulos will attend a dinner given in his honor by the mayor of Thessaloniki.
 PM Karamanlis confers with ND parliamentary group secretary Stavrou
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Karamanls on Monday met with secretary of his ruling New Democracy party's (ND) parliamentary group Apostolos Stavrou, who conveyed the ND deputies' satisfaction over the unanimity and positive climate in the group, which would continue.
Stavrou cited as proof of the unanimity and good climate in the parliamentary group the recent defeat in the House of three roll-call votes instigated by the main opposition PASOK party.
He said there was also a continuous improvement in the support and back-up for the MPs with the establishment of a data bank that would be at the disposal of all the ND deputies.
Replying to press questions after the meeting, Stavrou also opined that there was no issue of early general elections.
 PM Karamanlis meets with visiting Deutsche Welle director-general Bettermann
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with the visiting director-general of the German international broadcasting service"Deutsche Welle", Erik Bettermann, who is in Athens on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the commencement of Deutsche Welle's Greek program.
Deutsche Welle GM awarded City of Athens medal: General Manager of Deutsche Welle Erik Bettermann was awarded the medal of the City of Athens by Deputy Athens Mayor Kalliopi Bourdara during a special ceremony held on Monday.
The German journalist received this award because, as Bourdara noted, he represents the contemporary German who has drastically changed the German stereotypes that prevailed for decades throughout the rest of Europe. The other reason Bettermann was awarded is due to the historical and emotional ties the Greek people have with Deutsche Welle, as it was the radio station on which all Greeks relied during the dictatorship for accurate and unbiased reporting.
 U.S. envoy meets with Molyviatis
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Monday received outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller at the latter's demand.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, issues of common interest and current developments were discussed during the meeting.
 Kyrgyzstan president Akayev to visit next week
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, will pay an official 2-day visit to Greece next week, it was announced on Monday.
Akayev arrives in Athens next Monday at the invitation of his Greek counterpart Costis Stephanopoulos.
 PASOK's Diamantopoulou calls for unity ahead of EU Council meeting on Turkey
NICOSIA 26/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)Main opposition PASOK's Coordinator for External Affairs and Defense Issues, and member of parliament Anna Diamantopoulou, said on Monday that any ''solution to the Cyprus problem should correspond with the need for security and welfare of the Republic of Cyprus''.
Speaking after meeting Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias, Diamantopoulou said that PASOK is at the disposal of the politicians of Cyprus to work with them to achieve the final goal, that of a Cyprus settlement.
Referring to the 17 December 2004 date concerning Turkey's accession course, Diamantopoulou said it is the first important procedure in which the Republic of Cyprus has a very clear role as an EU member state, adding that whatever the position is, ''it requires setting out priorities, prudence and determination''.
Christofias referred to the December European Council which will decide whether to start accession negotiations with Turkey, adding that ''on this point, we have to be as united as possible, both here in Cyprus and in Greece, so that we can demand the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and whatever else we want''.
Stressing that the past is history, Christofias said ''we must look ahead and see how to handle the new provocations''.
Diamantopoulou underlined that ''any solution concerns the whole of Hellenism and requires a unification of all forces so that united and with common goals and policies we can invite the EU to participate actively in a political manner in the final solution of the problem''.
 European United Left opposes EU Constitution; Constantopoulos' statements
ROME 26/10/2004 (ANA/L.Hadjikyriakos)Parties comprising the European United Left expressed their opposition to the European Constitution that will be signed in Rome on October 29, by the 25 EU member states, during a meeting held here on Monday. Presiding over the meeting was Fausto Bertinotti, leader of the Partito della Rifondazione Communista, while participants included members of the communist parties of Spain, France, the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Cyprus as well as Greece's Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party, headed by Nikos Constantopoulos.
At the end of the meeting, attendees said that today's Europe is based solely on one principle that is a capitalist market and free competition and stressed that they demand referendums.
Speaking to journalists, Constantopoulos said: "The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology has supported the need for a referendum in Greece as well. I would like to emphasize that the European United Left is a positive effort, a decisive step towards renewing the left as well as strengthening the fight for a united Europe, for peoples, for rights, for a social state, for solidarity, for democracy and peace."
"If there is a future for Europe, then that future entails more democracy, rights and humanity," he added.
 Coalition party supports lifting of Cuba's economic and trade blockade
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The steadfast position of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party in favor of the lifting of Cuba's economic and trade blockade, in accordance with UN General Assembly resolutions, was reiterated by the party's International Relations Department chief Panos Trigazis to the Cuban embassy's first secretary Lydia Gonzalez who visited the party's offices on Monday.
The meeting was attended by Kaiti Nikolatou, a member of the party's International Relations Department.
Trigazis expressed wishes for the speedy recovery of Cuban President Fidel Castro from his recent accident, criticizing statements made to the contrary by Spanish EU Commissioner de Palacio.
The party's International Relations chief expressed support for the further development of relations between Greece and Cuba, adding that he expects Greece to vote against the embargo imposed on Cuba in the new vote to be held at the UN in coming days.
 Gov't to unveil tax, development draft bill in next few weeks
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The government will unveil its new draft bill on taxation and development within the next few weeks, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Alogoskoufis said that the draft legislation would envisage lower taxes, a rise of the tax-exempt income to 11,000 euros for workers and pensioners and a gradual reduction of tax factors for households and enterprises.
"This strategy begins from 2005, " the Greek minister said, adding that "this new development and taxation legislation will offer new impetus to the economy through private investments and private entrepreneurship to deal with large problems of unemployment and growth".
Alogoskoufis reiterated that a fiscal audit of the economy was a central strategy of the government. "We could no longer move based on false figures. It was our pledge to the Greek people to know the truth and to correct this reality. That's what we do".
 European Commission predicts 3.8 pc growth rate in 2004 for Greece
BRUSSELS 26/10/2004 (ANA - V. Demiris)The European Commission is expected to publicize its autumn predictions on the main fiscal indicators of European Union member-states on Tuesday, according to which Greece will have a 3.8 percent growth rate in 2004.
In view of the ongoing increase in oil prices, the European Commission will appear less optimistic on the possibility of economic growth being maintained in the euro zone next year, compared to the spring predictions made in April, while fears are expressed of inflationary pressures.
More specifically, the Commission is expected to make a downward revision of its assessments on economic growth in the euro zone to 2 percent from 2.3 anticipated by the predictions made in spring.
The Commission's autumn predictions for Greece expect a growth rate of 3.8 percent in 2004 and 3.3 percent in 2005 and 2006. Moreover, the Greek fiscal deficit will be in the region of 5.5 percent of GDP in 2004 and it will drop to 3.6 in 2005 and 3 in 2006.
In addition, the Greek public debt is expected to close at 112.2 percent in 2004 and will decrease to 111.9 in 2005. Lastly, inflation in Greece will be 3 percent in 2004 and will decrease to 2.9 in 2005 and 2006.
 Spokesman refers to 'systematic deception' by previous gov't over economy's condition
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The government on Monday echoed recent sharp criticism by the national economy ministry's leadership over the question of the previous government's accurate representation of the Greek economy.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros referred to a "systematic deception of Greek citizens as far as the true situation of the economy is concerned" by the previous PASOK governments.
Moreover, the spokesman stressed that the purpose of a high-profile fiscal audit was to give the current government an accurate picture of the state of the economy so it can best deal with economic problems.
Additionally, Antonaros also cited a recent statement by Economic & Monetary Affairs and Commissioner Joaquin Alumina, namely, that the Commission's statistical service had aired its reservations over figures supplied by Greece for seven years in a row.
Finally, in answer to a press question, Antonaros clarified that the government believes that this deception worsened after 2000.
 Greek unemployment jumped to 11.2 pct in 1st quarter
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Greek unemployment rate jumped to 11.2 percent in the first quarter of 2004 from 10.0 percent in the same period in 2003, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
NSS also predicted that the unemployment rate would move higher during the third and fourth quarters of 2004 due to the completion of Olympic projects.
The main characteristic of the unemployment data is that the unemployment rate for women was more than double the rate for men, to 16.8 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively.
NSS's secretary general, Manolis Kontopyrakis, presenting the figures said that the latest data were more credible with that of the past due to the adoption of a new method of registering unemployed people in the country.
Young people, aged 15-29, recorded high unemployment rates (21.3 percent), while for women in the same age category the rate was 28 percent.
Unemployment was higher among graduates of Secondary Education and lower among Higher Education and Primary Education.
From a total of 523,843 registered unemployed in the country, 40.7 percent was seeking full-time job positions, while 48.6 percent was ready to accept part-time employment if necessary. Only 4.8 percent of unemployed were offered job positions which were rejected due to non-satisfactory pay (at a rate of 34.5 percent).
Unemployment among foreigners living the country was smaller compared with the national average unemployment rate, with their employment rate totaling 69.6 percent of their population.
Ionian islands (18.7 percent), Western Macedonia (16.2 percent), Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (13.9 percent) recorded the higher unemployment rates in the country, while the Peloponese (9.9 percent), Thessaly and Attica (9.7 percent each) were the only regions to record unemployment rates less than 10.0 percent.
Total employment was 4,150,000 people in the first quarter of 2004, while 110,000 unemployed people returned to work during the same period and 104,000 people lost their jobs, compared with the same period last year.
Part-time employment accounted for 4.6 percent of total workforce in Greece, NSS said.
 Report: Super market chains thrive in Greece
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The super market/department store sector is the third largest business activity (based on its annual turnover) in the local commercial sector, a survey by Stat Bank said on Monday, with oil products distribution and car sectors leading.
The survey said that total profits of the country's 99 large super market-department store chains rose 18.4 percent in 2003, to 175.91 million euros from 146.55 million euros in the previous year.
Enterprises in the sector were steadily increasing their profitability in the last three years, the survey said, adding that profits jumped from 58.2 million euros in 2001 to 175.91 million euros in 2003, a rise of 202 percent, while only nine super market companies reported losses.
Average sales rose by 10.8 percent to 8.2 billion euros.
Major super market chains dominate the sector, with the seven most profitable companies (Praktiker, Sklavenitis, Carrefour-Marinopoulos, Five, Metro, AB Vassilopoulos, Masoutis) accounted for around 70 percent of total net profits of the sector.
Sixty percent of super market sales represent products from 40 supply enterprises, of which less than 15 are import companies, multinational subsidiaries.
 Greece supports closer cooperation between EU southern member-states
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Greek Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evaggelos Basiakos on Monday urged EU member-states in the south to cooperate in the distribution of pesticide products and to activate a community directive that was adopted 12 years ago but remained largely inactive due to lack of support by national authorities.
Addressing the 7t Mediterranean Conference, organized to boost cooperation between EU southern states, Basiakos said that member states needed to find alternative solutions in implementing community directives on the issue.
"The EU's south has to seek ways to solve its problems in a coordinated way. I would like to assure you that this idea has the full support of the Greek Agricultural Development and Foods Ministry. The South has the same need with the North and Central Europe to participate in all kind of talks held in Brussels and to adopt a single policy. This way it will increase its efficiency," the Greek minister said.
Basiakos pledged that Greek would work in priority to boost cooperation between EU southern states.
 Greek Merchant Marine Minister meets US officials in New York
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Greek Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis met with US officials and representatives of the Greek-American community during his visit in New York.
The Greek minister, accompanied by ministry officials and consultants, met with US Coast Guard Chief, Admiral Thomas Collins. The two men discussed issues of common interest to the two countries, while the US official congratulated Kefaloyiannis over the successfully organizing of the Olympic Games and made particular mention to the safety measures adopted by Greek authorities during the games.
Kefaloyiannis also met with Archbishop Demetrios and addressed a dinner reception organized by the Greek-American Chamber of Commerce.
 Economy Minister Alogoskoufis meets with OTE employees
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogouskoufis held a meeting on Monday with the presidium of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization's (OTE) employees union (OME-OTE) and as announced by trade unionists, the meeting was held in a good climate.
Alogoskoufis represented the Greek state, as main shareholder of OTE.
During the meeting, the entire spectrum of the issues concerning the country's biggest organization and of its employees was raised, such as the matter of voluntary departure, following statements by OTE President Panayiotis Vourloumis for a reduction of personnel, the social insurance issue and the property status.
As stated in an OME-OTE announcement, the minister did not answer to many issues raised, but committed himself that the state will continue to be the main shareholder of OTE with at least 34 percent, while on voluntary departure, he stressed that the government intends to proceed to a legislative settlement, providing, however, that agreement is reached between the administration and the employees.
 Moody's company presents positive image of Greek banks
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The latest report by the Moody's company on Greek banks presented a positive image, but prospects do not lack risks.
The foreign firm ascertains that the prospects of banks remain firm thanks to the gradual transformation of the local fiscal system which leads to more powerful banks, a considerable improvement in their recent economic performance and satisfactory opportunities in a Greek market which has not yet had its fill of bank services.
On the other hand, however, risks increase for the portfolio of Greek banks due to the speedy increase in loans provided in past years, as well as for possible negative repercussions on the quality of loan portfolios due to a possible slowdown of growth in the Greek economy.
As regards medium-term prospects, Moody's expects the trends of past years to continue in the local fiscal sector, meaning privatizations, mergers and buyouts, leading ultimately to the strengthening of the Greek banking system and, consequently, to facilitating economic growth in the country.
 Positive climate for Hellas Sat satellite
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The positive climate prevailing for the Hellas Sat satellite, following the reorganization of the commercial department and the company's successful presence in big exhibitions has been certified through a new commercial agreement.
Hellas Sat signed a one plus two-year transmitter renting contract with the Canadian Teleglobe company on providing Internet services in the Middle East.
The Canadian company constitutes one of the world's leading suppliers for access to the Internet and preferred the Hellas Sat 2 satellite to the PAS-4 of the American Panamsat company with which it had a contract until now.
Hellas Sat has also signed a five-year contract for half a transmitter with a European company, which will establish a VSAT network for the provision of SCADA services in an oil-pumping region in the Persian Gulf.
The company's future is considered favorable by market circles since more big contracts will be announced soon, while negotiations are underway with big telecommunications companies which have shown interest in renting the satellite's services.
 Southeastern Europe's 4th Energy Week to begin on Tuesday
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Southeastern Europe's 4th Energy Week will begin on Tuesday, in the framework of the 5th Athens Forum, and will come to an end on October 27.
The meeting will be inaugurated on the same day by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and the ministry's development secretary general Nikos Stefanou.
The 4th energy Week is the second to take place in 2004. The 3rd Energy Week was held in Athens on June 1-2.
The meetings take place at the initiative of the European Commission and under the auspices of the development ministry, while their purpose is to promote a single energy market in southeastern Europe and its linking with the European Union's energy market.
The ultimate aim is to link western Europe with its southern and eastern flanks and secure energy supplies for the EU and neighboring countries.
 Stocks down in wake of negative international market climate
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower, with players influenced by the negative climate prevailing in international markets, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,434.92 points, showing a decrease of 1.30 percent. Turnover was 127.0 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.47 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.35 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.95 percent down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 249 to 45 with 57 remaining unchanged.
 Onassis Foundation board briefs PM Karamanlis on Foundation's cultural activities
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The board of directors of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation on Monday briefed prime minister Costas Karamanlis on the Foundation's cultural activities, chairman of the board Stelios Papadimitriou told reporters after the meeting.
The Foundation was set up after Aristotle Onassis' death in 1975 by virtue of the shipping magnate's hand-written that bequeathed half his fortune for that purpose.
The will provided for the creation of a private, independent Public Benefit Foundation named after Onassis' son, Alexander, who was killed in 1973 in a private small-plane accident.
 Transport minister vows Greece will reduce road accidents by 50%
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis reiterated the Greek government's commitment to reduce the number of road accidents by at least 50% by 2010, during the EU Transport Ministers' informal meeting that was held in Verona, Italy on Monday.
According to Liapis, this will be achieved through the implementation of a related national action plan which will be ready by the end of 2004.
The European Union's transport ministers agreed on adopting certain measures which aim to improve road infrastructure, to reinforce road safety, to raise public awareness, and to increase policing.
Liapis also promised that a small amount of road taxes, tolls, insurance fees, and fines will be allocated to a special fund dedicated to road safety.
 PM Karamanlis discusses condition of Greek roads with students
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday visited the 6th Gymnasium of Thessaloniki and discussed with students of the 2nd and 3rd grade of the school who, following the accident at the Maliakos Gulf, had asked of him in a letter to intervene so that the condition of Greek roads improves.
Karamanlis, who spoke with the students for more than half an hour, stressed in statements that he agreed with the students that "the state must do its own job with infrastructures, training, rules and sanctions to guarantee safe transport for the citizens."
"We agreed, however, at the same time, that there is also an issue of mentality and of a new optic for all of us. That we must respect the law and the Road Traffic Code, our own life and that of our fellow citizens, pedestrians and drivers. And this is a matter of education and culture," the premier added.
Forty students of the 6th Gymnasium of Thessaloniki had sent a letter to the prime minister calling for the implementation of stricter rules of road safety so that hundreds of people are not killed every year on the roads. They had also asked of Karamanlis to confirm to them that "the batch of measures which the government intends to take to achieve the reduction of accidents will be strictly adhered to and will not remain, such as so many other times in the past, an empty letter."
Commenting on the initiative of the students, Karamanlis said that "they prove that they are an active part of society and we must not disappoint them in any way."
"For us to make our lives better, we must all give daily the struggle with determination, with vision. And in this struggle, the youth are the most live hope. They are the vanguard," Karamanlis concluded.
 Athens Mayor meets with "World Governance Group" representatives from Greece, France and Canada
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyanni on Monday met with the Presidents of the World Governance Group from France Olivier Giscard d'Estaing, of Canada Kimon Valaskakis and Greek representatives of the Group John Rigos, T. Papalexopoulos and O. Kyriakopoulos. Bakoyanni was briefed on the results of their first meeting, which was held in Athens between Oct. 21-23, whose aim is the founding of the School of Athens, a think-tank on issues of security, the environment and development.
The three-day meeting was organized by the Municipality of Athens in cooperation with the non-government organization "World Governance Group". Participants included world-renowned scientists, academicians and representatives of international and non-government organizations. Participants agreed that Athens should host a major, international conference focusing on security, environmental and development issues in 2005.
Furthermore, it was agreed that the School of Athens should submit proposals by members of the international community, such as international organizations, governments, and others to the UN Secretary General on occasion of the UN General Assembly that will be held in September 2005.
 ATHOC President Angelopoulos-Daskalaki responds to press criticism
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki in a written statement released on Monday expressed her intense displeasure over critical publications by a section of the press, stressing that she will "confront this barbaric attack" which she and her husband are sustaining, by resorting to Greek justice.
In her statement, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said: "Over the latest period, and particularly after the completion of the Olympic Games, I am a target of a slanderous barbaric attack. With every way and with every means, an attempt is made for the cancellation of the work which was made, the staining of my own reputation and even that of my husband Theodoros. This barbaric and hideous slanderous campaign has gone beyond limits. It goes beyond the limit of acceptable criticism. I will confront this barbaric attack. The rules of the state and of Greek justice constitute the only refuge for the defense of our honor. I am certain that public opinion, which observes and is aware, condemns the extreme attempt to blemish and condemns its expressors."
Articles accuse Angelopoulos-Daskalaki of "squandering" the money which she handled as president of ATHOC and of "in transparency» the appointment of Olympic sponsorships.
Asked by reporters on Monday to comment on Angelopoulos-Daskalakis' statements, Alternate Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said: «I have not been informed on the issue which you are raising. Anyway, if it concerns some judicial development, it is something which concerns justice and we have no intention of commenting."
 "Greece's sacrifices during WWII" exhibit opens in Xanthi
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The Regional administration of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace in cooperation with the Historical Photographic Archive of Modern Greece have organized an exhibit titled "Greece's Sacrifices During WWII" which opens Tuesday at Xanthi's Municipal Art Gallery and will run through November 6.
The exhibit will feature photos, documents, maps, and other items that were collected during the years of occupation and were used as official evidence on behalf of Greece when appealing to the UN and other international organizations.
Secretary General of the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace regional administration Michalis Angelopoulos will inaugurate the exhibit on Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m.
 Greece's population will drop to 7 mln in 30 years, statistics specialist says
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)The country's Greek population will drop to seven million in thirty years, from 10,900,000 at present, according to the latest population census in 2001.
According to National Statistics Service of Greece (ESYE) General Secretary Manolis Kontopyrakis on Monday, the birthrate index is at 1.4 and for the Greek population to be maintained at the present level, the index should have been between 2.1-2.2.
It is noted that this index at present reaches between 2.1-2.2 if however the birthrate of persons with foreign nationality is included.
 Vatican to return remains of two saints to the Ecumenical Patriarchate
ISTANBUL 26/10/2004 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)The remains of Saints Ioannis Chrysostomos and of Grigorios Theologos, great Fathers of the Christian church, will be returned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul by the Vatican, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the Fanar announced on Monday.
The remains of the great tutors of the Church, which are being kept at the Vatican, next to the graves of Apostles Peter and Paul, will be delivered to the Orthodox Church and to the Patriarchate, following a decision by Pope John Paul II.
The decision by the Pontiff was announced at the Fanar with a letter by the Pope to Ecumenical Patriarch Vatholomeos.
The synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate which was briefed on the Pope's decision, has decided to welcome the remains of the saints at an event which will take place in Istanbul on November 30.
Earlier, on November 26, a large delegation, headed by Vartholomeos, will receive the remains of the two saints from the Vatican.
 Palli-Petralia meets with Chinese journalists, discusses Olympics preparation issues
Athens 26/10/2004 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia told 11 high-ranking members of the Chinese Journalists Association and members of the Chinese media, that she was confident Beijing will host superb Olympic Games in 2008.
Palli-Petralia answered journalists' questions regarding Athens' preparations for the 2004 Summer Olympics, the benefits, as well as things that warrant special attention.
Speaking of the construction of Olympic venues, Palli-Petralia said that, "Greece chose to build permanent facilities, which were built after international tenders were held. Additionally, a lot of infrastructure works that Athens needed were also carried out. When a country undertakes the staging of the Olympic Games, it always sets goals for growth and development," she said.
The alternate culture minister also referred to the issue of Olympic security and said that the Chinese must also place emphasis on this issue.
The Chinese journalists thanked Palli-Petralia and said that they would convey to their country "Greece's brilliant civilization" as well as the great success of the staging of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
 AFP Seminar for Med journalists to be held in Cyprus
NICOSIA 26/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)Journalists and IT specialists from 14 national news agencies of the Mediterranean region will participate in a training seminar on ''News Agencies Multimedia Services over the Internet'' to be held in Nicosia on November 11-12.
The seminar is organized and funded by Agence France-Presse for the Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies (AMAN), as part of the Alliance's training program for 2003-2006.
The 20 members of AMAN have introduced or are in the process of introducing multimedia news services for their subscribers and look forward to taking advantage of the information and experiences to be offered by the seminar.
Participating in the seminar, in addition to AFP, are the news agencies AMI of Mauritania, ANA of Greece, ANSA of Italy, APS of Algeria, ATA of Albania, CNA of Cyprus, JANA of Libya, MAP of Morocco, MENA of Egypt, NNA of Lebanon, TANJUG of Serbia-Montenegro, TAP of Tunisia and WAFA of the Palestine Authority.
Presentations will be delivered by AFP Online Editor Pascal Taillandier, Regional Director for the Middle East Pierre Taillefer, and Head of Multimedia Unit in Nicosia Nathalie Samaha Martin.
The seminar will be opened by Cyprus Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides. Welcoming remarks will be made by the President of AMAN, Director General of ATA Frrok Cupi, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of CNA Aristos Aristotelous and Mr. Taillefer on behalf of AFP.
Assisting with preparations is CNA in its capacity as Secretary General of the Alliance.