|Thursday, 14 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-03-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 1, 2005
 FinMin unveils new legislation to combat capital market abuse
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday unveiled a new draft law aimed to protect the capital market from acts of manipulation and insider trading.
Presenting the draft legislation to reporters, Alogoskoufis said its aim was to create a modern, effective and operational regulatory framework for the country's capital market, adopting community laws into Greek legislation.
An innovation in the new regulatory framework is that securities firms will notify Greece's Capital Markets Commission of suspicions that investors' breached market regulation due to insider trading or manipulation of the market.
Alogoskoufis said the draft law aimed to combat the use of "privileged" information and not "confidential" information.
The Greek minister noted that the bill was part of wider legislation aimed to promote restructuring and support of the capital market and would be followed by another draft bill setting preconditions for listing and trading in the market, enhancing the independence of Capital Markets Commission, reviewing a regulatory framework on investment funds, and reforming regulation on the liquidation of securities firms.
"With the new draft law we are introducing an integrated package of pre-emptive measures aimed to strengthen fair, timely and adequate information to investors. It will contribute to promoting transparency and preventing illegal acts in the market," he said.
 Government spokesman on PM's schedule, crisis within Church
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will chair Tuesday's meeting of the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA), which will choose a new head of the Greek Coast Guard and discuss defense policy, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Monday.
Immediately afterward, the premier will chair a meeting of the cabinet focusing on merchant marine ministry affairs and will then have a meeting with six ruling New Democracy MPs, the next in a series of meetings with ND's entire Parliamentary group.
Responding to questions related to the crisis within the Church of Greece following serious allegations of corruption against senior members of the clergy, Antonaros stressed that the government had nothing further to add to its previous position on this issue, in which it had encouraged the Church leadership to initiate action for an internal clean-up of corruption.
He denied any plans to alter the customary swearing-in ceremony for the new President Karolos Papoulias, or that Papoulias had told the government he did not wish to be sworn in by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece.
Commenting on press reports that a diplomatic passport had been issued for convicted drug dealer and fugitive Apostolos Vavylis - whose name has become inextricably associated with the alleged scandals within the Church - Antonaros said that no record of a diplomatic or other service passport issued to Vavylis had been found during a probe carried out by foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos for the period between 2000-2003.
Asked whether the revelations regarding links between Vavylis and Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos created "conditions of danger for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem", the spokesman merely warned reporters against "danger-mongering".
Commenting on comparisons between the government's "hands-off" approach during the current crisis and its decision to intervene during last year's crisis in relations between the Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, meanwhile, Antonaros simply noted that the two cases were "two different things". He also denied all knowledge of a list of judges involved in the ecclesiastical scandals and spoke of an "attempt to involve the premier that in no way reflects reality".
On other issues, Antonaros stressed that the government was satisfied with the pace of reforms and the implementation of its program and played down a U.S. State Department report claiming that Greece was still at risk from terrorism, with some domestic terrorists still at large and an increased threat from international Islamic terrorism.
Antonaros stressed that, while the struggle against the international phenomenon of terrorism was constant, the country had achieved major successes against terrorism and Greece was "an absolutely safe country".
 Government spokesman discusses TV issues with French culture and communications minister
PARIS 1/3/2005 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Minister of State and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos discussed French expertise on the licensing system and on digital television in talks held here on Monday with Culture and Communications Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres and French Radio and Television Council President Dominique Baudice.
In light of the bill being prepared on "mass media concentration", meaning the number of mass media means allowed for one owner, Roussopoulos intends to benefit from advanced experience obtained by other European countries.
"Our target is to see what is happening in the most important European countries, primarily on the issue of concentration, which is preoccupying us at present and for which we must go ahead with new legislation. What is valid today is the old legislation of 1995. The concentration of mass media by one owner means the concentration of power which in most countries is handled with percentages," Roussopoulos told reporters.
"We want our legislation to move on the EU average. Not because this is imposed on us by someone but because we want to benefit from experience already existing," he added.
Apart from France, Roussopoulos has already visited Germany, and will be visiting Spain, Britain and the European Com-mission in Brussels.
 FM Molyviatis receives US envoy Ries
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis on Monday received US ambassador to Athens Charles Ries.
According to sources, the meeting took place in the context of preparations for Molyviatis' official visit to the US, which is scheduled for March 24.
Immediately afterwards, Ries was received by deputy foreign minister Evripidis Stylianidis.
Athens Mayor receives U.S. Ambassador : Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis on Monday received United States Ambassador to Athens Charles Ries at her offices for the customary courtesy visit by foreign envoys to local officials.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 Deputy FM discusses economic cooperation with Vietnamese alternate FM
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis discussed the development of economic cooperation and prospects of creating diplomatic authorities of the two countries in Greece and Vietnam in talks with Vietnamese Alternate Foreign Minister Nguyen Trung on Monday.
According to a foreign ministry announcement, Skandalakis underlined existing possibilities for the conclusion of agreements in tourism, shipping and agriculture, as well as for cultural cooperation.
Skandalakis also spoke of aid offered to Vietnam by Greece with the purpose of remedying damage caused by the typhoon Linda and said that Greece is willing to provide its economic and medical aid to help resolve the problem created by poultry flu.
The deputy minister further noted that Greece, being a member of the European Union, could contribute to the development of relations between Vietnam and the EU.
 Clean-up of corruption in justice will be complete, minister pledges
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Monday pledged that the clean-up of corruption in justice might take time but it would be complete, stressing the government's determination to fight corrupt circuits operating on the fringes of the justice system.
Papaligouras made the statements as he emerged from the Athens Bar Association, where he had just exercised his right to vote.
"I can assure you that there is the determination and the seriousness and the systematic work and the strictness that will guarantee that a clean-up will take place. I cannot make any commitment as to the time, it would be naive for one to say that they could determine when in time this great effort will end. But I can assure you of the result. The clean-up achieved will be complete," he said.
The minister noted that the problem was great but expressed confidence that the measures taken by the government and justice would be able to combat incidents of corruption in both the justice system and "para-judicial" groups operating on its fringes.
He rejected reports claiming that the Supreme Court prosecutor had received a file on corrupt judges from the head of the Greek secret service EYP by order of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, noting that the investigation had so far only followed up one anonymous complaint and that attempts to involve premier were "unacceptable".
Coalition leader comments on attempt to clean-up corruption in justice: Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Alekos Alavanos on Monday said that a serious attempt to clean-up corruption was being made in justice that compared unfavorably with what was happening in the Church, after a meeting with the presidency of the Union of Judges and Public Prosecutors.
The stance of certain judges should not be considered a criterion for judging the entire body, he added.
Alavanos said the meeting had focused on the links between judges and employers of big firms, with court decisions almost permanently on the side of employers in cases of strike action.
 Church leaders meet to reportedly consider anti-corruption measures
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)A burgeoning counter-offensive by the Church of Greece's ecclesiastical hierarchy to deflect intense media scrutiny and criticism over the past month following a cascade of revelations and allegations of corruption continued on Monday with a meeting chaired by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
The influential head of the Church of Greece met with 10 Metropolitans and three legal advisers at his office at the archbishopric.
According to reports, a bevy of measures to promote transparency in the Church were discussed, along with the timetable needed for their implementation.
Christodoulos over the weekend appeared unflinching in his determination to ride out the crisis enveloping the Church of Greece's hierarchy, days after his closely watched television interview and amid cries from some quarters demanding his resignation.
"If those battling us (the Church) think I will resign or that I will stop speaking out they are deeply mistaken," Christodoulos told an enthusiastic congregation of worshippers at a cathedral in the Athens district of Kallithea on Sunday morning.
Christodoulos himself has come under intense scrutiny for his alleged ties to a fugitive felon (Apostolos Vavylis) who apparently was involved over in activities ranging from drug smuggling to selling equipment to Greek police to opaque missionary activity in southern Italy to even working within the inner circle of Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos -- especially in the run-up to the latter's election in 2001 to the Orthodox throne in the Holy Land.
 Greek Police chief visited by Serb deputy interior minister
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Greek Police chief Georgios Angelakos held talks on Monday with Serb Deputy Interior Minister and Public Security chief Miroslav Milosevic, focusing on the transfer of expertise obtained with the holding of the Athens Olympic Games and on a briefing on the way with which Greek Police services function.
The meeting, held at the initiative of the Serb deputy minister in the framework of his official visit to Greece, was also attended by officials from the Greek Police headquarters and the Serb interior ministry.
The excellent climate of cooperation between the police forces of the two countries was confirmed during the talks, while issues discussed included cooperation between the police of both countries in light of the European Basketball and Volleyball Championships to be held in Serbia in September.
 Croatia seeks Greece's support for start of EU accession talks, Croatian envoy says
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Croatia's Ambassador to Athens Neven Madey on Monday said that Croatia looked to Athens to support the start of accession negotiations between Croatia and the European Union when EU leaders are called to make a decision on March 17.
Speaking during a press conference held in Athens on Monday, Madey also expressed Croatia's satisfaction with a scheduled visit to Zagreb by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on April 4, in the framework of a Balkan tour. He said the two sides were also discussing an official visit by Karamanlis within the year.
The ambassador stressed the good bilateral relations with Greece and said that Croatia wanted to strengthen these on both a political and economic level, while underlining his government's commitment to Croatia's European prospects.
The only obstacle to the start of negotiations with the EU, he added, was the fact that a former general wanted by the International Tribunal at The Hague was still at large. He said that Croatia had to prove by March 16 that it had done everything in its power to cooperate with the tribunal and that the wanted general was not on Croatian territory.
 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State says Greek government in general respected citizens' human rights
WASHINGTON 1/3/2005 (ANA/T. Ellis)U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for human rights Michael Kozak, speaking during a special briefing on the content of the report on human rights publicized on Monday and replying to a question on references made to Greece, said that just like last year the Greek government had ''in general respected the human rights of its citizens'', while problems were observed in certain sectors which, as he added, is the case for many countries.
"It is difficult for one to find a country which does not have problems in any sector," Kozak said.
 Former PASOK spokesman Vougias says he won't run again for Thessaloniki mayor's spot
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Former Thessaloniki mayoral candidate Spyros Vougias, who heads up the main opposition on the current city council in the northern port city, on Monday announced that he will not vie for the mayor's post in the 2006 municipal elections.
Vougias, who initially made a surprise showing as the mayoral candidate on a ticket backed by the Coalition of the Left party (Synaspismos) in 1998 before switching over to PASOK in a disappointing bid for the mayor's job in 2002, had at one point served as a deputy transport minister in the previous Simitis government.
He entered Parliament on the state deputies' list with PASOK following the April 2000 general elections, only to bow out of the 2004 elections due to his involvement in the Porto Carras furor.
Vougias made the announcement on Monday amid criticism aimed at current Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos' record at town hall.
 PM meets with Economy, Development ministers
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday met with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and discussed economic developments in the country.
Alogoskoufis briefed the PM over economic developments and a series of ministerial decisions, to be announced by the Greek FinMin during his tour in Epirus at the end of the week. Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Alogoskoufis said that the government was doing its best to deal with inflation".
Development Minister briefed the Premier over the agenda of an important meeting of Black Sea member-states, on Thursday and Friday in Alexandroupolis- a National Competitiveness Council to be held on Wednesday and an EU Development Ministers' Council in Brussels next week.
Speaking to reporters, Sioufas said that the prime minister's and the government's top priority was to ensure prosperity everywhere and for all.
The Greek minister stressed that the government has managed to ensure a smooth operation of domestic markets and that price increases were moving in line with the inflation rate in the country.
 PM Karamanlis confers with merchant marine minister
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday conferred with merchant marine minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis to prepare for Tuesday's Inner Cabinet meeting on shipping, with Kefaloyiannis as the rapporteur.
The government's target is to advance 20 major projects in the maritime sector, reinforce growth and development, and provide incentives for the repatriation to Greece of 30 billion euros in capital as investments in all sectors.
 Greece says EU structural policy needs funding assurance
BRUSSELS 1/3/2005 (ANA/V Demiris)Greece said on Monday that the European Union should ensure that its new structural policy was adequately funded.
Addressing an EU farm ministers' meeting in the Belgian capital, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Evangelos Basiakos also called for measures to support the Aegean islands as a lesser developed region, forestry protection, modernization of small- and medium sized sector enterprises, and early retirement schemes for farmers.
A proposal jointly made with Italy for support to publicize EU olive oil outside the bloc was accepted by the agriculture commissioner.
 Greek inflation second highest in EU-25 in Jan
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Greek annual inflation, at 4.2 percent in January, was the second highest in the EU-25 after Latvia (6.7 percent), Eurostat said on Monday.
The EU executive's statistics agency said that inflation in the Eurozone fell to 1.9 percent in January, from 2.4 percent in December, while inflation in the EU-25 eased to 2.0 percent from 2.4 percent, over the same period.
Finland (0.2 pct), Sweden (0.5 pct), Denmark (0.8 pct) and Holland (1.3 pct) recorded the lowest inflation rates in January, while Latvia (6.7 pct), Greece and Estonia (4.2 pct each), reported the highest rates.
The inflation rate rose in Greece, Belgium and Holland in January, from December, it fell in 19 countries and was unchanged in the UK, Lithuania and Malta.
 RAE presents proposal for liberalization of electricity market
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Michalis Karamanlis, President of the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) presented RAE's final proposal for the liberalization of the electricity market to Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Deputy Minister Yiorgos Salagkoudis and Secretary General Nikos Stefanou on Monday.
The ministry's political leadership asked that the Codes and Regulations of the Electricity Market be made available on the authority's site at www.rae.gr, as of 6:30 p.m. Monday.
From March 1-18, the framework will be open to a public debate, in which all concerned parties will be able to participate, while from March 21-28 the entire proposal will be debated in detail before the relevant ministerial decision is signed.
"The Ministerial Decision creates the conditions necessary for foreign investment and for large-scale investment initiatives in the energy sector, while competitiveness is reinforced and consumers' choices in the electricity market increase," a ministry announcement stated.
Finalization of the codes and the signing of a ministerial decision into effect are expected by the end of March.
 Gov't completes solvency control in car insurance companies
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)All insurance companies operating in Greece will receive solvency certificates with the exception of InterHellas, a company that did not accept results of a control made by Development ministry agencies and asked for a full audit control, Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, after the completion of financial controls aimed to issue solvency certificates to damage and car damage insurance companies, Papathanasiou said "we have made the first step towards restructuring and transparency in the car insurance market and to ensure a smooth operation of the market".
The Greek minister said that it was the first such control made in the sector's 49 companies and stressed that 22 companies operated with their equity capital less than necessary solvency margins. The ministry demanded that these companies immediately raise their equity capital by 133 million euros. Papathanasiou said that 21 companies accepted the ministry's demands with InterHellas demanding a full financial control.
Papathanasiou said that the ministry's policy lead to a net inflow of 241.3 million euros in the insurance market, of which 177.1 million euros were cash paid by shareholders, 63.5 million euros were added value in real estate and holdings and 700,000 were bond issues.
As a result, the car insurance market's total equity capital now stands at 885,430,492 euros.
The Greek minister said that the ministry would continue its inspections in the market to ensure that companies fully adopted market regulations. He said that the ministry was currently working on how to issue solvency certificates to life insurance companies in Greece.
 Finmin denies existence of proposal to increase age of retirement
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday denied the existence of any proposal to change pensionable age, in response to reporters' questions.
The Reppas law was the last to regulate the pension system but had problems with its funding policies, he added.
 Municipality of Athens' forum for employment and entrepreneurship opens Thursday
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)The 3rd Open Forum for Employment and Entrepreneurship, organized by the City of Athens Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship and the Department of Employment of the French Consulate in Athens, will be held at Gazi's Technopolis on Thursday and Friday.
On Monday, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis presented the objectives and program of the Forum, during a press conference held at Town Hall. The aim of the forum, in which many companies and public organizations participate, is to inform citizens on labor market, employment and entrepreneurship issues. It is open to the public, particularly to those looking for a job or interested in starting their own business, but also to firms and organizations that want to promote their activities and are looking to hire personnel.
Bakoyannis said she was pleased that she, together with the other organizers of the forum, managed to establish it as an institution for the City of Athens.
She emphasized that the forum brings together companies from the private sector, public organizations and job candidates, encouraging direct dialogue, open communication, and an exchange of ideas. "It also gives visitors the chance to participate in work groups, to speak with human resources directors, and to participate in interviews, as well as to obtain information from public organizations on national and European programs which support employment and entrepreneurship," she added.
The mayor also emphasized the importance of local government in labor-related issues, saying: "Local government is the institution which is closer to the citizens. It is the government level which knows better the everyday problems and the particular needs of each local community."
French Ambassador to Greece Bruno Delaye, on his part, referred to French business' interest in investing in Greece, especially after the success of the 2004 Athens Games. He said that the French consulate has received visits from many French companies that wish to invest in Greece.
On behalf of the forum's major sponsor, Carrefour Marinopoulos Group, its Human Resources and Public Relations Director Anastasia Makarigaki, pointed out that events like the forum are very useful for evaluating candidates for job positions.
Leonidas Korres, President of the City of Athens Center for Employment and Entrepreneurship also addressed the press conference. He referred to the details of the forum and expressed his gratitude to the City, the French Consulate and Carrefour-Marinopoulos.
 Athens-quoted PPC gets new managing director
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)The managing director of the ICAP SA market research company, Dimitris Maniatakis, has been appointed as CEO of the Public Power Corporation SA, a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse.
His appointment was announced on Monday by Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, who said Maniatis was already a PPC board member.
The corporation's former managing director, Steryios Nezis, resigned recently, citing differences with company chairman Ioannis Paleokrassas.
Nezis, who assumed his post under the previous government, and the rest of PPC's previous board are to stand trial on March 7 for award of construction of an electricity output station in Lavrio in November 2003. The European Union sent a reasoned opinion on the contract in January this year.
Shortly after announcement of Nezis' resignation, Paleokrassas said he had submitted a file to judicial authorities on past workings of the corporation.
"I believe that transparency in operation of the country's largest industrial company is a structural component of its success. I have for a long time been the recipient of complaints and evidence concerning the company's operations. I consider it to be my duty to put this evidence to judicial authorities for further investigation and evaluation," Paleokrassas said at the time.
In a separate statement, Nezis had cited "continuing malfunctioning" of the firm, which he claimed was due to intervention by Paleokrassas in management that ran contrary to corporate statutes.
Since 2001 when the PPC became an SA company and joined the Athens and London stock exchanges, the company had posted spectacular results for four straight years and operated in full transparency in line with corporate governance, reflected in the stock's movement, Nezis said.
 Gov't wants to spur cruise tourism
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said on Monday that the government wanted to spur cruise tourism.
"Constructive dialogue with trade groups and the other political parties will help the government, and it will soon be in a position to present to parliament prospects that will revitalize the cruising sector," Kefaloyiannis told the National Shipping Policy Council.
"Greeks formerly had a world first in the sector with 22 cruise ships, whereas we're now on the final rung. I believe that with understanding from all the parties involved, that is shipping workers, employers, and the political parties, we will restore cruising, which would benefit all," the minister said.
 Central gov't debt down Dec vs Sept 2004
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)The central government debt on December 31, 2004 stood at 201.244 billion euros, down from 202.506 billion euros on September 30 of the same year, the State Accounting Office said in a routine statement on Monday.
Of the total debt, 81.6% was in the form of fixed-interest loans and 18.4% floating interest loans, the statement said.
Of the total, 98.8% of the debt was in euros, and 1.2% in currencies from outside the eurozone, it added.
 Greek-Chinese chamber arranges business delegation to Canton
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)The Greek-Chinese Chamber of Trade and Industry has arranged to send a delegation of business executives to China to take part in a wide-ranging international trade fair as part of moves to spur trade between the two countries.
Further information is available from the chamber's website, www.chinese-chamber.gr.
 Bank union cites strong strike turnout, new walkout March 17
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Bank employees staged a 24-hour nationwide strike on Monday, apparently the last in the current series of weekly walkouts since the end of January.
The OTOE union said in a statement that the next 24-hour stoppage is scheduled for March 17 as part of a strike called by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the country's largest trade union umbrella group.
Monday's strike turnout was higher than previously, when more than 60% of staff walked off the job in major credit institutions, with the highest rate in the state sector, the statement said.
The union is seeking introduction of a single supplementary pension system for all sector staff versus a piecemeal arrangement for each bank; and it opposes alignment of sector pensions with the main state fund, which would lead to lower pensions and a higher retirement age.
Employees at state corporations have been called to take part in a four-hour strike on March 17 to protest against government policy affecting incomes, pensions and company restructuring in state-run corporations.
The walkout is expected to disrupt state railways, telecoms, post offices, civil aviation, electricity and water, and other public services.
 BSEC ministerial meeting on energy to be held in Alexandroupolis on Thursday
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis will be opening the two-day meeting in which the energy ministers from the member countries of the Organization for Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) will participate, in Alexandroupolis on Thursday.
The meeting, co-organized by the Development and Foreign ministries, will focus on connecting electrical networks and future cooperation in the energy sector among BSEC members.
Greece currently presides over the organization.
Trade group welcomes government's economic performance
The Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE) said on Monday that it welcomed the government's economic performance.
"The government has worked satisfactorily and adopted many of our proposals, although initiatives that have been announced should be accelerated," SBBE's president, Dimitris Symeonidis, told a news conference.
"What has emerged, is that matters have to enter a serious, feasible timescale and financing has to be found. Many long-term terms problems have improved, but certain things that have been announced are awaiting implementation," Symeonidis said.
 Four-hour stoppage in state services March 17
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)The General Confederation of Employees of Greece, the country's largest trade union umbrella group, and the ADEDY civil servants union said on Monday that they had called their members to stage a four-hour walkout on March 17.
The strike, which local government workers will also join, is to protest against government policy affecting incomes, pensions and company restructuring in state-run corporations.
The walkout is expected to disrupt state railways, telecoms, post offices, civil aviation, electricity and water, and other public services. Bank employees are to stage a 24-hour strike on the same day.
In addition, unions will take part in a European demonstration in Brussels on March 19 timed to coincide with a European Union summit on economic and social policy.
 Stocks surge in blue-chip buying, post 4-yr high
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher with players buying heavily into high capitalization paper, especially banks, taking the market to a new four-year high, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,145.16 points, marking a rise of 1.69%. Turnover was 309.6 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 2.15% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.64% higher; and the 04TSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.79% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 154 to 124 with 69 remaining unchanged.
 Road fatalities between 2002-04 near 5,000
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Almost 5,000 people lost their lives in traffic accidents between 2002 and 2004 throughout Greece, the National Statistical Service (ESYE) announced on Monday, confirming one of the worst road fatality records in the European Union.
According to ESYE, road fatalities in 2004 numbered 1,619, only marginally up from 1,615 in 2003. In 2002, 1,654 traffic deaths were recorded.
The appalling figure totals 4,888 road fatalities over the three-year period.
As far as December 2004 is concerned, the last month for which figures are available, 134 traffic deaths were reported, along with 198 serious injuries in a total of 1,386 accidents.
The same figures for December 2003 were 119 deaths, 162 seriously injured individuals in 1,171 accidents.
 Rescue of illegal migrants stranded on islet in central Aegean reported
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)A rescue operation was underway in the early afternoon on Monday to retrieve some 60 illegal migrants stranded on a rocky islet 10 nautical miles southwest of the Cyclades island of Milos, in the central Aegean.
Coast guard vessels and helicopters are involved in the operation, with 20 of the illegals already ferried to safety on Milos, reports state.
A 10-metre wooden vessel was spotted shipwrecked near the islet's coast, while rough seas and rain hampered initial rescue efforts, authorities said.
The Aegean has become a favorite crossing point for migrant smugglers over the past decade, with mostly Third World would-be immigrants attempting to reach the Greek mainland or islands -- the nearest EU territory in the region -- via the shores of western Turkey and harbors of the eastern Mediterranean.
 Greek delegation in Hollywood to promote country as film production site
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos departed on Monday for Los Angeles and New York, as a bevy of meetings and contacts in the United States is expected to focus on luring back Hollywood film productions to Greece -- an "indirect" promotional technique that exploited several noted productions from the 1950s to roughly the early 1980s.
Avramopoulos is also expected to meet with film industry reporters in Hollywood and with tour operator representatives in New York. Moreover, he will be the guest of honor at a one-day seminar in New York hosted by the Greek-American Chamber of Commerce, entitled "Greece: the final destination".
Other NYC events on the agenda include meetings with expatriate groups and his inauguration of the annual New York Times Travel Show.
Avramopoulos heads up a high-ranking delegation of tourism and government officials.
 Ecumenical patriarch offers 5,000 dollars for 'street child labor' protection program
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos has offered 5,000 dollars in aid of the "street child labor" protection program, according to an announcement by UNICEF's Greek National Committee.
The announcement said Vartholomeos received in Istanbul the Committee's President Lambros Kanellopoulos and Executive Council member Lola Daifa. It was added that he listened with interest to UNICEF's activities in Greece, its priorities and targets and to programs on combatting child exploitation and on the protection of their rights.
 UN Commission of the Status of Women opened its 49th session on Monday
NEW YORK 1/3/2005 (ANA/P.Panayiotou)The 49th Session of the Commission of the Status of Women opened at UN headquarters on Monday. The objective of this year's session is to evaluate how much progress has been made regarding women's rights and gender equality during the past decade.
Hundreds of government officials, 80 ministers and 6,000 citizens from all over the world will be participating in the conference which will run through March 11. A Greek delegation, headed by Secretary General for Equality Evgenia Tsoumani, is also participating.
Members of national delegations will be presenting data regarding areas where progress has been made, as well as areas that still need to be addressed. It is expected that the Greek delegation will present areas where progress has been achieved in Greece, while Tsoumani will be participating in a roundtable which will focus on institutional innovations aimed at promoting gender equality on a national level.
 Deputy sports minister congratulates athletes for successes in Special Olympics
Athens, 1/3/2005 (ANA)Deputy Sports Minister Giorgos Orfanos on Monday congratulated athletes for their successes in the Special Olympics, taking place in the Japanese city of Nagano.
Orfanos, who is at their side, said successes achieved by the country in Nagano prove, following the winning of the 2004 Euro Soccer Championship and the Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games, that good work is being done throughout the entire spectrum of Greek sports.
The deputy minister visited all the areas in Nagano where Greek athletes are participating in the events and congratulated them for the two gold, four silver and one bronze medals won so far.
Orfanos held talks with the mayor of Nagano in the morning and invited him to visit Greece for cooperation on sports and cultural issues.
 EU Presidency warns Turkey to sign Customs Union Protocol
LUXEMBOURG 1/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)Luxembourg's Prime Minister and President of the European Council Jean Claude Juncker has warned Turkey that it will not commence accession negotiations with the European Union if it does not sign the protocol adapting its Customs Union to cover all the bloc's new member states.
Juncker's warning came after a meeting on Monday with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, who is in Luxemburg for a working visit. In his statements, President Papadopoulos reiterated that the recommencement of negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem has always been the priority of the Cypriot government.
Juncker and Papadopoulos discussed issues relating to the decision of December's EU Summit in Brussels to grant Turkey a date, 3 October 2005, to start accession negotiations, the Cyprus question and the financial perspectives of the EU.
''We were discussing some issues which are of great concern both to Cyprus and to the Presidency taking up the development where we have left it during the recent European Council in December 2004, and we were discussing all these issues and items with the willingness to bring all these to a good end both for Cyprus and for the EU,'' Luxembourg's Prime Minister said.
Asked whether Turkey's insistence to sign the Protocol expanding its Customs Union to cover all member states by incorporating in the Protocol a declaration saying it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, is contradictory to European values, Juncker said that this debate took place during the European Council last December.
''Turkey will have to sign the Protocol and the Cypriot President was explaining in the course of the last meeting of the European Council how this has to be understood,'' he added.
Replying to a question regarding the Luxembourg Presidency's actions with a view to persuade Turkey to sign the Protocol, Juncker said ''we really explained to Turkey that there is a general expectation from the members of the European Union that Turkey will sign the Protocol as soon as possible.''
''There is no way for commencing negotiations without having Turkey having sign this Protocol,'' he pointed out.
Replying to a question about the intentions of the Luxembourg Presidency regarding the two European Commission regulations for the Turkish Cypriots, namely the financial regulation and the regulation for direct trade, Juncker said ''we are of the opinion that what has been agreed should be implemented and we do think that the discussion concerning the two regulations is a discussion which has to be pursued.''
Asked whether the Luxemburg Presidency intends to promote the regulation for financial aid to the Turkish Cypriots, which has been agreed by the EU, Juncker replied ''we will bring it to the table if the time has come to bring it to the table.''
In his statements, President Papadopoulos said ''we spoke about the progress we want to make towards the recommencement of the talks for the solution of the Cyprus problem.''
''This is always our priority,'' he added, noting that ''we have also in the mean time to deal with various issues which emanate as a result of the decision of the Council in December 2004 that Turkey should be given a date for starting accession negotiations.''
Referring to the financial perspectives, which must be agreed upon by the EU leaders by the end of the Luxembourg Presidency's term, which expires at the end of June, President Papadopoulos said ''it is our view that unless great progress is made during the presidency of Luxembourg there maybe great difficulties in concluding an agreement on the financial perspectives.''
''So we promised to work very closely and support any initiative the Presidency of Luxembourg is going to take on that subject,'' the president added.
President Papadopoulos also noted that ''Cyprus has claims,'' adding that he realizes ''how difficult it is to satisfy them.''
He also explained that Cyprus is one of the countries that had not received any pre-accession assistance, noting that Cyprus was excluded from a number of schemes because of the regulations of the European Union concerning per capita income.
''We hope that compromises may be found so as to get a better deal in the next period of the financial perspectives,'' the President added.
 Barroso calls for more active EU involvement in Cyprus question
BRUSSELS 1/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Monday called for a more active EU involvement in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
Speaking after meeting with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos at the Commission headquarters in the Belgian capital, Barroso said they had a ''cordial and frank discussion.''
Referring to Cyprus, Barroso said conditions were good to achieve progress following the voting in the illegal elections in the Turkish occupied areas and in view of the commencement of negotiations between the EU and Turkey.
He said the Cyprus problem is becoming an EU issue and that the EU would like to have a more active involvement, noting however that the issue will remain under UN auspices.
Barroso said that a climate of trust must be consolidated, adding that this was ''something which the EU cannot impose but instead facilitate.''
President Papadopoulos assured Barroso over the Cyprus government's readiness to make every new effort to solve the Cyprus problem and expressed hope that this opportunity will soon come.
Answering a question, Barroso said that all parties involved in Cyprus must work for a solution, and that includes Turkey, noting that Ankara is told this at every opportunity.
He said conditions were good for a settlement, and in view of the start of accession negotiations with Turkey. Barroso also said so-called prime minister of the puppet regime in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat, has told him that the Turkish Cypriot community is more and more interested in EU matters.
Regarding the regulations for financial assistance to Turkish Cypriots totaling 259 million euro and direct trade with the occupied areas, Barroso said it was a European issue and concerns only the EU.
On Tuesday, President Papadopoulos will meet Vice President of the Commission Margot Wallstrom, Cypriot Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou and Greek Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Demas.