|Monday, 18 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-10-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 29, 2004
 Karamanlis cites 'transparency, meritocracy & mild economic adjustment' as gov't priorities
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday focused on the need for transparency, meritocracy and a policy of "mild economic adjustment", during an address to members of ruling New Democracy (ND) party's political council.
In reference to the utterly topical issues of corruption and "vested interests", both of which have more-or-less dominated the local political scene over the past month, Karamanlis emphasized that "it is necessary for rules to exist in the country, ones applicable to all. We're not interested in a witch hunt. This policy is self-evident for us, but it's also a top priority.
"We're applying our policy. We're under attack; attacks that will intensify -- even against my person -- by those who support shady dealings, favoritism and collusion," he warned.
According to press reports, Karamanlis announced that another pending government initiative will focus on a new framework for state contracts and procurements.
In terms of another high-profile and controversial initiative, the prime minister defended his government's fiscal audit of the economy, reminding that it was a pre-election promise by New Democracy that was implemented. He also referred to standing doubts by the European Union of economic figures given to the bloc by the past two PASOK governments, noting that the country "cannot live in a myth and cannot deceive its citizens".
Along those lines, he dismissed any notion of economic "shock treatments", saying the challenge for the government was to achieve fiscal reform through a policy of "mild adjustment".
"No new taxes will be levied, nor will incomes be nixed, because we can't burden the shoulders of our citizens with (past) mistakes, especially the lower-income citizens," he said.
Conversely, no reference was made at the political council meeting to the subject of a candidate for president or the possibility of early elections next spring.
Meimarakis: On his part, ND Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis unveiled the ruling party's action plan for the coming period as well as a revised organizational chart reaching down to the level of prefecture offices - both of which were approved.
ND cadres elect sector heads and alternate sector heads next week, whereas central committee members will be elected at the end of November.
 Gov't on Turkish provocations: Not even the slightest let-up in terms of sovereign rights
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Athens reiterated on Wednesday that it will not budge, "even a centimeter", from the country's sovereign rights, in response to questions related to a recent barrage of airspace and territorial waters violations by the Turkish military throughout the Aegean.
"We will not withdraw, even a centimeter, from our sovereign rights," alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed during his regular press briefing in Athens.
A more than weeklong campaign of repeated violations in the Aegean by Turkish warplanes and surface vessels raised the alert status of the Greek military, and, even more importantly, generated sharp criticism and suspicions of Turkey's behavior as a would-be European Union candidate-country in waiting.
Turkish warplanes violate Greek national air space: Six formations of Turkish warplanes on Wednesday entered the Aegean region proceeding to five violations of national air space in the regions between the islands of Chios, Lesvos and Psara-Antipsara, press reports said.
In all cases, the Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while in four cases the interception process developed into mock dogfights.
The reports said that three of the Turkish aircraft were armed.
President of the Republic raps Turkey: President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos has called on Turkey to halt acts of provocation at Greece's expense.
"We do not harbor negative thoughts about Turkey, but Turkey has to demonstrate that its approach to Europe is accompanied by a genuine inclination for change, both internally and in foreign policy that is linked to Greece and Cyprus," Stephanopoulos told a dinner in Thessaloniki held in his honor by the military.
Turkey was giving the impression of taking one line in terms of its European orientation and another in its behavior towards Greece, the president added.
His comments on Wednesday followed a spate of Aegean air and sea violations by Turkey.
Also present were the leader of the main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement, George Papandreou, and National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos.
 Defense minister to hold talks with German counterpart
BERLIN 29/10/2004 (ANA/P Stangos)Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos is due to have talks on global military missions and arms cooperation with his counterpart, Peter Struck, on Friday during a visit to the German capital.
"(The visit) is an expression of long-standing and friendly ties between NATO allies Greece and Germany," a foreign ministry statement said.
Spiliotopoulos is also expected to brief Struck on recent Turkish violations of Greece airspace.
According to German government sources, the two sides are likely to discuss the possible supply of used Leopard tanks to temporarily meet needs of the Greek army.
In addition, the Greek minister will attend an aerial display by Euro fighter jets during his stay.
 Karamanlis in Rome on Friday
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis departs on Friday for Rome, where he will participate in the ceremony for the signing of a new European constitution by the EU's 25 leaders.
Meanwhile, the premier on Wednesday chaired a meeting of ruling New Democracy's political council, with discussions focusing on internal party issues and the latest political developments.
 Greece marks WWII refusal to admit Italian troops
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Greeks around the country on Thursday celebrated "Ohi" Day from World War II when Greece said "No" to Italy's request for free passage into the country that would have led to invasion.
President Kostis Stephanopoulos said after the celebration's annual military parade in Thessaloniki that a spirit of patriotism should prevail in peace time without being restricted to national holidays.
Also attending the parade was Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos. Asked by a reporter how acts of provocation in the Aegean by Turkey were being handled, the minister replied: "Very successfully".
In a message, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis said that the current anniversary of "Ohi" Day was historic for the continent as it coincided with forging a European constitution and leaving behind divisions of the past, with Greece a leading player in the new reality.
The leader of the main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement, George Papandreou, said that Greece had a strong voice in the European Union; and the country's international profile had been reinforced by its election to a non-permanent seat on the UN's Security Council.
The Communist Party of Greece noted that in 1940 the Greek people had driven back the Italian invaders, which stood as proof that a people could do what it wanted, if there was a will.
The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology said it honored the uprising of Greeks in 1940, and their sacrifice.
"Ohi" Day celebrated at Athens University: An official celebration of "Ohi" Day was held at Athens University, attended by President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos.
Representing the prime minister was Alternate Culture Minister Fani Petralia. Addressing the event was George Babiniotis, rector of the university.
 FM meets with envoys of nine Latin, South American countries
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Wednesday met with the accredited ambassadors from nine Latin and South American countries, with discussions reportedly focusing on issues affecting those nations in the run-up to Greece's assumption of a two-year stint as a non-permanent member of the United Nations' Security Council.
Ambassadors representing Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela attended the meeting.
 Latest opinion poll gives ruling ND 8-point lead over rival PASOK
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)The latest opinion poll unveiled by a major media outlet this week has ruling New Democracy party leading main opposition PASOK by roughly eight percentage points.
Results of the poll, conducted by the Rass firm and commissioned by the "Star" television station, give ND 35.6 percent of respondents' preference. PASOK is second with 27.4 percent, followed by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) with 6.5; the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) 3.6 percent and the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party with 2.7 percent.
Some 42.8 percent of respondents said they were very satisfied or satisfied with the ND government so far, whereas 24.2 percent said they were very satisfied with PASOK's performance as the main opposition party.
The most popular political leader, according to the poll, is Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis with 62.2 percent.
On the question of which political leader has recorded the best presence since last March's general election, 51.2 percent of respondents picked Karamanlis; 19.1 percent chose main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.
Finally, some 62.2 percent of respondents picked late premier Andreas Papandreou when asked which PM has done the most of the country. The nationwide poll was conducted on Oct. 22 and Oct. 23 on a sample of 1,200 respondents via telephone interviews.
 EU ends disciplinary action against ex-Eurostat head
BRUSSELS 29/10/2004 (ANA/V Demitris)The European Union's Commission said on Thursday that it had ended disciplinary proceedings against a former head of its Eurostat agency, Fotis Nanopoulos.
A detailed enquiry by the Commission's fraud division had found no evidence to warrant a continuation of disciplinary action, which began on July 9, 2003, the Commission said in a statement.
In addition, there were no qualms that Nanopoulos, an experienced and senior member of staff, was involved in any mismanagement, the statement added.
 Communist MP is defense witness at war crimes trial of Milosevic
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Liana Kanelli, a deputy of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), last week gave evidence as a defense witness for former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic at the Hague war crimes tribunal.
"This was like a witch trial in a 15th century religious court," Kanelli, also a publisher and TV talk show host, told the Athens News Agency in an interview released on Sunday.
She said that she had requested a meeting with Milosevic in his cell as a condition for testifying; and that all his conversations are video and audio taped.
"Milosevic was very tough about the process, the court and his rights. He has been barred from undertaking his own defense, and he has only been given the right to ask defense witnesses one or two questions, if the court deems they are relevant to the case," Kanelli said. "He has been given lawyers and a doctor. He cannot bring his own doctor, or check the medication he is given for high blood pressure. He's enraged, but as sober as ever."
Kanelli does not know how she came to be called as witness, or by whom, but believes it is linked to her status as deputy president of a committee for Milosevic's release that was set up in 2001.
 No need for supplementary budget at this time, Greek govt says
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)The current state of the budget makes no need for a supplementary budget, Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters during a radio interview, Doukas said that the government respected the Commission's autumn forecasts for the Greek economy but stressed that "we should leave the budget progressing and if we see any divergence we will decide accordingly".
"You cannot achieve all of your goals easily within a year," the Greek minister noted. "I think the Europeans acknowledge this fact and we will proceed more mildly," he said adding that "the Commission has it own view of things to come but it cannot force us to change our targets and do something supplementary".
Commenting on a fiscal audit of the economy, the minister said "it was either we or the Europeans to take this task".
Finance Deputy Adam Regouzas speaking to reporters noted that the government did not need to cut wage increases in the public sector to achieve a goal of reducing fiscal deficit. The Greek minister reiterated the government's decision to expand tax discounts for interest payment and medical expenses and said that a new tax draft bill would seek to boost economic growth and to support social benefits.
 Fiscal deficit to fall below 3.0 pct of GDP in 2005, govt says
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)The European Commission's autumn estimates for the Greek economy justifies the government's policy of mild adjustment, a policy that will drastically reduce the country's fiscal deficit by two percentage points and allow the economy to continue its rapid growth rates, above the EU average, government spokesman Evaggelos Antonaros said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, during his regular daily briefing, Antonaros stressed that the EU Commission was forecasting a slow down of the European economy as a whole in 2005, to 2.0 percent from 2.1 percent this year, citing higher oil prices. The government spokesman noted that the Greek economy was two times more dependent on oil compared with other EU member-states.
He underlined the government's decision to proceed with its economy policy based on budget targets for growth rates of 3.9 percent and a fiscal deficit of 2.8 percent of GDP in 2005.
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, speaking to reporters earlier, said that the government insisted on its program to reduce its fiscal deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP next year.
 Greek govt can achieve 2005 budget targets, report says
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Greece's fiscal deficit can be reduced to levels set by a Stability and Growth Pact (below 3.0 percent of GDP) according to the government's draft budget plan for 2005, a monthly bulletin by Emporiki Bank's analysis department said on Wednesday.
The bulletin is examining thoroughly the Greek economy's main statistics. It also includes forecasts for the world economy and a report on Bulgarian economy.
 Pay rises to exceed inflation in 2005, FinMin says
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)The government's incomes' policy for 2005 will envisage pay rises above the inflation rate, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with ADEDY, Civil Servants' Union, Alogoskoufis said that pay rises to civil servants, workers and pensioners would exceed the inflation rate, while the government would also raise the tax-exempt income ceiling to 11,000 euros.
ADEDY's president, Spyros Papaspyrou, speaking to reporters, said that the union was expecting the minister's final answers to ADEDY's demands during their next scheduled meeting.
 Greek stocks end flat on Wednesday
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Wednesday's session flat in the Athens Stock Exchange ahead of Thursday's public holiday. The general index rose 0.01 percent to end at 2,463.25 points after moving within narrow ranges throughout the day. Turnover was a moderate 135.6 million euros.
Traders said that investors continued taking profits after last week's rally of prices while shares in the construction sector came under heavy pressure following negative developments in the relations between Aktor ATE -a Greek contractor firm- and the state. The National Radio/Television Council decided on Tuesday not to issue a certificate of transparency to the company excluding it from public works' tenders.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip stocks ended 0.14 percent higher at 1,356.84 points, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.40 pct to 2,010.61, and the FTSE/ASE Small Cap 80 index fell 0.26 percent to 442.70 points.
Galis (11.54 pct), Lavipharm (7.92 pct), Delta Project (7.84 pct), Mesohoritis (7.41 pct) and Microland (5.56 pct) were the top gainers of the session, while Viosol (-11.43 pct), Petzetakis (-7.61 pct), Ergas (-7.41 pct), Aktor (-7.27 pct) were top losers. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 181 to 91.
 Cross-border local authority centre opens
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Offices for a network of cross-border cooperation among local authorities in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey has opened in the northeastern town of Orestiada.
"Europe's future does not belong to central administrations but to the regions through which the continent will seek its course and a joining together of people and societies," Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told the opening ceremony on Wednesday.
"The central governments of the three countries involved have a duty to support the network," Pavlopoulos said.
 Cross-border prostitute traders nabbed in entrapment operation
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Police in the northern town of Kavala have arrested two men believed to be trading Bulgarian women for sale in Greece as prostitutes.
Following a tip-off, police said on Thursday that an officer set up a meeting to entrap the two suspected traders by pretending he was a customer.
The officer was sold a 19-year-old Bulgarian woman for 5,500 euros in marked notes during the meeting in Ormenio, Evros.
Police and border guards arrested the two Bulgarian nationals, aged 36 and 26, who are to hear charges in Kavala following a preliminary enquiry.
 Afghan illegals picked up on Samos
Athens 29/10/2004 (ANA)Another five illegal immigrants, all Afghans, were arrested on the eastern Aegean island of Samos late Tuesday evening, the latest in a series of incidents involving illegals from the same country and ferried over to the same island from the nearby Turkish coast.
According to reports, the illegals said they crossed over the narrow strait separating the island from Turkey aboard a flimsy rubber dinghy and without the help of a Turkish migrant smuggler. All five are due to face a local prosecutor.
 Cyprus National Council reaches common understanding on further steps
NICOSIA 29/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus' National Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus issue, reached on Wednesday common understanding with regard to further steps until December 17 when the European Council will meet to decide whether to fix a date for the opening of accession negotiations with Turkey, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said.
Chrysostomides noted that at the meeting members of the Council, comprising parliamentary parties, continued to outline their views as regards amendments in the Annan plan (a UN solution plan) and this procedure wrapped up on Wednesday.
"The members of the National Council expressed their assessment of the European Commission report on Turkey and submitted their views on moves until the December European Council,'' the spokesman said.
Responding to questions, the spokesman said that ''there is broad understanding on the handling of the situation until December.''
''The decisions will be finalized by December 17,'' he said, adding that the Council will convene again if this is required.
British government welcomes measures to increase trust in Cyprus NICOSIA
29/10/2004 (CNA)The British government welcomes in principle any measure taken by either side in Cyprus with the aim of contributing to a climate of increased trust and confidence between the two communities, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in a letter to British MP Tom Cox.
Straw also noted that everything should be done to enable Greek and Turkish Cypriots to work together.
The British official said during his visit to Ankara he ascertained that his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul ''is aware of the need to ensure that Turkish Cypriots have the autonomy to manage their own affairs.''
''At the same time Greek Cypriots must have the confidence to let the Turkish Cypriots have a degree of autonomy,'' he said, adding that ''this of course does not mean recognition.''
''I was very clear what our policy was on that issue when we met,'' he noted and added that ''Mr. Talat is not looking for recognition'' of the Turkish Cypriot illegal regime in occupied Cyprus and ''supported the UN Secretary General's proposals for a comprehensive settlement which would have resulted in a reunited island not recognition of' 'the puppet regime.