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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-03-11

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

March 11, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM tells Madrid conference terrorism emerging as major threat for international security
  • [02] Karamanlis meets with Spain's Zapatero
  • [03] PM, speaking after international conference in Madrid, says terrorism cannot be tolerated
  • [04] Friday to mark one-year anniversary of Madrid train station bombing
  • [05] Foreign ministry reiterates Athens' position regarding Kosovo
  • [06] FM's meeting with Rice in Washington announced
  • [07] EU Environment Council ratifies conclusions for spring European Council
  • [08] Gov't continues to attack PASOK's Pangalos over lump sum pension payment proposal
  • [09] Interior minister gives reply to PASOK on account of government work
  • [10] DM briefs Parliamentary Committee on future structure of armed forces
  • [11] Deputy FM Stylianidis greets Karamanlis-Adenauer foundations event
  • [12] Turkish military planes infringe Athens FIR, violate Greek national airspace
  • [13] KKE leader Papariga tours Piraeus, expresses concern about TEI
  • [14] Psarouda-Benaki receives Dutch ambassador
  • [15] Gov't announces six major road projects worth 7.0 bln euros
  • [16] Greek inflation eases to 3.1 pct in February, yr/yr
  • [17] Oil, cigarette smuggling hit state revenues, FinMin says
  • [18] Greek farm union begins battle against GMOs
  • [19] National Bank of Greece eyes expansion in Turkey, Romania
  • [20] Merchant Marine minister says sea cruise sector a priority
  • [21] State saves 40 mln euros from defense contract renegotiation
  • [22] Pensioners hold rally in downtown Athens, demand 10 pc pension hikes
  • [23] Government mulls early rebate for poorer pensioners
  • [24] Palestinian Authority Representative visits Intracom installations
  • [25] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying
  • [26] Situation in Evros prefecture stable as level of water in rivers drops
  • [27] Athens chosen as headquarters of the International Committee for the Mediterranean Games (ICMG)
  • [28] Government says Turkish attitude not very European
  • [29] Missing persons' issue should be an inviolable condition for Turkey's EU course
  • [30] Medical care for Turkish Cypriots reaches 3.6 million pounds

  • [01] PM tells Madrid conference terrorism emerging as major threat for international security

    Madrid, 11/3/2005 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing the international conference on terrorism here on Thursday, said that terrorism is emerging as a major threat for international security and affects all aspects of society, endangering the values of our civilization.

    The conference is taking place a year after the attack at a Madrid railway station in which about 200 people were killed.

    "Wherever democracy takes root, terrorism cannot flourish," the prime minister said.

    "The reason for this is because its main ideological basis contrasts with the nucleus of values of the free and democratic countries: tolerance and respect and acceptance for different ideas, values and cultures," he added.

    Karamanlis went on to say that "Greece and we Greek people, having suffered from terrorism, are in a position to understand the pain caused by this terrorist attack to the families of the victims and sympathize with them fully. Greece condemns in the most categorical way terrorist acts in their entirety as criminal, regardless of whatever motive, form or appeal. Every cause, no matter how just it might be, can function as an alibi for terrorist acts."

    The prime minister expressed his will for cooperation "at international level, in the framework of international legality and the safeguarding of human rights, so as to eradicate this scourge from our societies and the world."

    He further said that Greece has ratified the 12 international agreements, it remains bent on the implementation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and welcomed the decision "which urges all countries to adopt suitable and effective laws aimed at forbidding the possession, production and trafficking of weapons of mass destruction by non-governmental forces. We also fully support the implementation of the international agreement on the eradication of the phenomenon of financing international terrorism."

    Karamanlis said that all necessary measures have been taken in Greece to have international agreements and directives to be incorporated in the Greek legal system, adding that "the protection of human life and of the security of our citizens is of paramount importance for us and our top priority and we shall not make any compromise on this."

    He also referred to the safe hosting of last year's Athens Olympic Games, stressing that this constitutes a tangible example of efforts made.

    "The effective measures taken by Greece, as well as cooperation had with the international community, resulted in the Games being held in a safe environment with full respect for Olympic values and without any repercussion on the human rights and the political freedoms of both Greek and foreign citizens," the prime minister said.

    He went on to say that cooperation among countries is imperative because terrorism and organized crime know no borders.

    "The promotion of regional and international cooperation is mandatory in this framework. Anti-terrorist strategy and an overall plan of action have been adopted in the framework of the EU. We vigorously support both the spirit, as well as their strict implementation. Our efforts to achieve consent at the United Nations for an accurate definition of the meaning of terrorism have been intensified," Karamanlis said.

    Earlier in the day, Karamanlis met for the first time with new Romanian Prime Minister Tariseanu and bilateral relations, Romania's impending accession to the EU and the situation in the area were examined.

    The prime minister also had brief meetings on the sidelines of the conference with Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and European Commission President Jose Barroso.

    Karamanlis, attending a reception given at noon by the Spanish royal couple, held brief talks with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia on the Athens Olympic Games.

    [02] Karamanlis meets with Spain's Zapatero

    Madrid, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    The European Union's fiscal prospects in the 2007-2013 period dominated a half-hour meeting here on Thursday between the prime ministers of Spain and Greece, Luis Zapatero and Costas Karamanlis, respectively.

    Karamanlis arrived in the Spanish capital to participate in an international summit focusing on the fight against international terrorism.

    One common initiative reportedly discussed by the two leaders involved cooperation by Madrid and Athens over the level of funding from the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF).

    According to sources, Karamanlis also reiterated his proposal for the establishment of a European-wide coast guard force, with discussions revolving around the possibility for a pilot program to ascertain whether any such force can be fielded throughout the European Union's coastlines.

    The Greek premier also briefed his Spanish counterpart over his recent tour of the western Balkans, whereas Zapatero outlined his proposal for a special summit to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration.

    [03] PM, speaking after international conference in Madrid, says terrorism cannot be tolerated

    Madrid, 11/3/2005 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, speaking after the international conference on terrorism held here on Thursday, said terrorism cannot be tolerated.

    "The message we are sending unanimously and in every direction is that we cannot tolerate terrorism. No cause can justify such crimes. Human life and the security of our citizens is a paramount priority and we shall cooperate on an international level to safeguard it," he said.

    Karamanlis said proposals were made on the combatting of terrorism by the international community, in the framework of international legality and respect for human rights, adding that the contribution of democracy in this direction was also probed.

    The prime minister also referred to his meetings with his Spanish, Polish and Romanian counterparts.

    Talks with the Spanish prime minister focused on stable and close cooperation between the two countries on issues of mutual interest to the countries of the EU's south, while it was also agreed that consultations to promote these issues must be extended.

    Views were also exchanged with the Spanish and Polish prime ministers on the EU's fiscal prospects (the 4th Community Support Framework), the Lisbon strategy and enlargement.

    Bilateral relations were discussed with the Romanian prime minister as well as this Balkan nation's accession to the EU, which Greece supports, as well as the situation prevailing in the area.

    Karamanlis also said he had the opportunity of talks with many leaders. He was to attend an official dinner on Thursday night and will be leaving for Athens on Friday morning.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis will leave Madrid for New York at noon where he will be meeting the UN's special negotiator for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Matthew Nimetz on Saturday.

    [04] Friday to mark one-year anniversary of Madrid train station bombing

    Madrid, 11/3/2005 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)

    The embassy of Spain in Athens will join the rest of the Spanish nation on Friday in holding five minutes of silence -- beginning at 1 p.m. Athens time -- in remembrance of the victims of the March 11 terrorist attack at the Atocha railway station of Madrid.

    Friday will mark the one-year anniversary of the sinister attack, blamed on extremists linked to "al-Qaeda".

    In commenting on the occasion, a foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday noted that "this sad anniversary reminds us that terrorism, as a phenomenon, surpasses national borders and assumes dimensions that transform it into a significant threat to international peace and stability".

    Spokesman George Koumoutsakos added that dealing with terrorism is a major challenge for the international community, one necessitating coordinated action and cooperation on the bilateral and multilateral level.

    [05] Foreign ministry reiterates Athens' position regarding Kosovo

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry on Thursday noted that all 24 EU member-states' diplomatic delegations in Athens have been briefed on the results of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' high-profile tour of the western Balkans last week, as the Greek premier met with political leaderships in Zagreb, Belgrade and Pristina.

    Moreover, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Washington and Moscow were also briefed via diplomatic channels.

    In response to press questions during his briefing, the spokesman reiterated the Greek side's four basic goals for the strife-plagued province, namely, safeguarding stability; implementation of European principles in Kosovo; existence of a multi-national society in the region and establishment of security for all the residents of the province.

    [06] FM's meeting with Rice in Washington announced

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis is scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on March 24 in Washington, the foreign ministry confirmed on Thursday.

    He will also meet with National Security Adviser Steven Hadley the same day, whereas a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is set for March 28.

    "Beyond the traditional issues, other matters will be discussed, along with the course of the Cyprus problem, developments in the Balkans, Greek-Turkish relations within their new European dimension as well as Turkey's European course," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said, adding that the visit and talks will mark the beginning of a new and closer cooperation with Washington.

    [07] EU Environment Council ratifies conclusions for spring European Council

    Brussels, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    The European Union's Council of Environment Ministers concluded its session in Brussels on Wednesday, ratifying conclusions to contribute to the spring European Council.

    The conclusions place particular importance on the contribution of environmental policies to help achieve targets set by the Lisbon Strategy and on the role played by the Environment Council in this process.

    Environmental technologies are promoted in particular, as well as protection for nature and biovariety.

    Greece insisted, together with other delegations, on the inclusion of biovariety and protection for nature as a means of having a positive effect on the development of competitive products and businesses and on employment.

    [08] Gov't continues to attack PASOK's Pangalos over lump sum pension payment proposal

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday again led off his regular press briefing by calling on the main opposition leader to clarify whether it backs a statement -- made a day earlier -- by PASOK deputy and former minister Theodoros Pangalos in favor of abolishing lump sum pension payments.

    "Does silence mean, therefore, that PASOK adopts the views of its responsible coordinator for economic issues in relation to the abolishment of lump sum pension payments?" alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros asked, in beginning his press briefing.

    He also stressed that lump sum payment contributions are regularly paid by employees towards their various pension funds, a regime that does not burden state coffers when payments are finally made upon retirement.

    In defending his proposal on Wednesday, Pangalos said he was expressing a "personal view" and that the idea has never been discussed by PASOK. He also said he referred to abolition only for newly hired employees.

    Asked about the prime minister's statement, namely, that the government "did well for one year (in power)", Antonaros emphasized that "no well-meaning Greek citizen can doubt the fact (the government's) effort was huge and effective..."

    In an unrelated development, the spokesman reiterated Athens' position that the draft European constitution must be ratified by Parliament based on Article 28, paragraph III, something expressed recently by the premier.

    "This position stands therefore, all other interpretations have no basis in truth," Antonaros said in dismissing one report claiming that the government was interested in employing a majority vote (151 out of 300 MPs) formula for ratification of the Euro-constitution.

    [09] Interior minister gives reply to PASOK on account of government work

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday replied to criticism by the main opposition PASOK party on the government's work and that of his ministry in particular, saying that "the coordinators of PASOK appear more as coordinators of ignorance and disinformation rather than as representatives of the main opposition party."

    Referring to his own ministry, Pavlopoulos invoked law 3242 on cracking down on bureaucracy, as well as measures concerning civil protection.

    "They were unable to see the immediate results and the difference in queues at public services and in serving the citizen, as well as the fact that an entire winter has passed in which not even one road has closed. They forgot, it is true, what happened last year when their leader was carrying out tours in support of motorists who had been trapped in their cars as a result of snowfall and, indeed, very close to the capital," he said.

    [10] DM briefs Parliamentary Committee on future structure of armed forces

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    The members of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee were briefed by the defense minister on Thursday on the future structure of the armed forces.

    According to an announcement by the defense ministry, as a result of the new structure of forces proposed the targets of civil national defense will materialize, cooperation among the various services will be boosted and the fighting capability of the armed forces to handle all kinds of threats successfully will increase, while the country's international obligations will be met.

    According to sources close to the defense minister, the Committee's members will be visiting the defense ministry in the near future, while the Committee will also be holding another meeting in Parliament to facilitate a more extensive briefing on defense and security issues.

    [11] Deputy FM Stylianidis greets Karamanlis-Adenauer foundations event

    Berlin, 11/3/2005 (ANA/P.Stangos)

    The past and the present of Greek-German relations under the prism of the contribution to their development by Conrad Adenauer and Constantine Karamanlis was the subject of an event held in Berlin on Thursday at the Academy of "Conrad Adenauer Foundation" in cooperation with the "Constantine Karamanlis Foundation" and at which a greeting was delivered by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.

    The political framework of the event, beyond its historic reference to the "patriarchs" of post-war Germany and post-junta Greece respectively, centered on the fact that Greek-German relations developed in the post-war era into a "significant element" of European integration, underlining that for the first post-war period Karamanlis and Adenauer managed to open the road of reconciliation between the two peoples, despite the wounds which the Nazi occupation left on Greece.

    Stylianidis told reporters that the joint event by the two foundations constitutes an act of "brotherhood". He also conveyed greetings by Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis.

    [12] Turkish military planes infringe Athens FIR, violate Greek national airspace

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Illegal activity in the Aegean was resumed Wednesday by the Turkish Air Force, according to press sources.

    A total of 33 Turkish military aircraft -- 15 formations and one naval cooperation aircraft -- engaged in 17 infringements of the of the Air Traffic Regulations within the Athens Flight Information (FIR), which developed into 14 violations of Greek national airspace.

    All 33 Turkish aircraft were reconnaissed and intercepted by Greek fighter planes, while on three occasions the interception procedure developed into dogfights.

    Six of the Turkish jetfighters were armed.

    On Tuesday night, the Hellenic Air Force radars had detected one infringement of the Athens FIR by a helicopter that took off from a Turkish frigate participating in a joint exercise of the Turkish Air Force and Navy. The infringement occurred at 22:40 north-northeast of the Greek island of Limnos in the Aegean. The Turkish military helicopter was reconnaissed by two Greek F-16 fighter planes.

    [13] KKE leader Papariga tours Piraeus, expresses concern about TEI

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary Aleka Papariga on Thursday toured Piraeus where she expressed her concern over the state of the Technical Educational Institutes (TEI) and of the Higher Educational Institutes (AEI).

    She said that her party in 2001 had foreseen that the "pseudo-law" and ''pseudo-name'' of the TEI downgraded the entire educational system, including the TEI and AEI.

    "The KKE, beyond its overall opposition to the educational policy, the least we seek today is for the labor problems of the teachers to be confronted. Above all, for us to exert greater pressure for the state funding of the TEI."

    [14] Psarouda-Benaki receives Dutch ambassador

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Thursday received the Netherlands' ambassador to Athens, Johannes Forster, at her office for a customary visit.

    European issues and ways to achieve closer cooperation between the two countries' parliaments were discussed.

    [15] Gov't announces six major road projects worth 7.0 bln euros

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Thursday announced the construction of six major road projects, budgeted at more than 7.0 billion euros, to be completed in an average of five years.

    The six projects will be assigned to construction groups which will also take over management of a part of the national road network to cover the cost of the project.

    The six projects are the national road linking Patras-Pyrgos-Tsakona, a highway in central Greece, the national road linking Corinth-Tripoli-Kalamata and Lefktro-Sparta, the Ionian roadway linking Antirrio with Ioannina, part of the national road in the Gulf of Malliakos and the Thessaloniki underwater tunnel.

    Presenting the projects, Souflias said all existing public road tolls would be abolished and would be replaced by new private ones, while he stressed that employees in state-run toll booths would not lose their jobs.

    The Greek minister did not elaborate on whether the new private road tolls will be costlier.

    Souflias said bid submission for the Corinth-Patras-Pyrgos-Tsakona project would be made by the end of December 2005, the contractor would be announced in April 2006 and the project was expected to be ready in six-and-a-half years.

    Bid submission for the Corinth-Tripoli-Kalamata and Lefktro-Sparta projects is expected by the end of September 2005, the contractor will be announced in December and the project to be ready in four-and-a-half years. Bid submission for the Ionian Roadway is expected by mid-September, the contract to be announced in December and project completion in five years.

    The central Greece highway road, linking the cities of Lamia-Karditsa-Trikala and Kalambaka is expected to be ready in five-and-a-half years.

    The ministry said bids for the Thessaloniki underwater tunnel, with a length of 6.5 km, have been submitted since last November and that the contractor was expected to be named in April. Estimated time of completion is four years.

    Souflias said bidders would have to present a letter of loan support during the tender, while the Greek state would not guarantee loans abandoning existing policy. The Greek state has earmarked around 2.0 billion euros for the projects.

    [16] Greek inflation eases to 3.1 pct in February, yr/yr

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Greek annual inflation, measured by the consumer price index, rose 3.1 percent in February, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday. The inflation rate had jumped to 4.2 percent in January because of a difference in the winter sales season in the country.

    NSS, in its monthly report, said that Greece's harmonized consumer price index rose 3.2 percent over the same period. Manolis Kontopyrakis, NSS's secretary-general, predicted that the inflation rate would fall below 3.0 percent in March.

    The consumer price index fell 1.2 percent in February from January, while the average inflation rate in the period March 2004-February 2005 was up 3.0 percent, compared with the same period in the previous year.

    NSS said the 1.2 percent drop in the inflation rate in February, from January, was attributed to a 1.3 percent rise in food and beverage prices, a 1.2 percent increase in housing prices, a 0.4 percent rise in healthcare prices and a 1.1 percent rise in transportation prices. Clothing and footwear prices were down 13.7 pct, durable goods prices fell 2.9 percent, while hotel-restaurant prices eased 1.0 percent over the same period.

    The 3.1 percent annual inflation rate in February was attributed to a 0.4 percent rise in alcohol drinks and tobacco prices, a 6.0 percent increase in clothing and footwear, an 8.1 percent rise in housing prices, a 2.2 percent increase in durable goods, a 3.5 percent rise in healthcare prices, a 4.7 percent rise in transportation prices, an 1.9 percent increase in entertainment and a 4.3 percent rise in education prices.

    [17] Oil, cigarette smuggling hit state revenues, FinMin says

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday said that lower-than-expected budget revenues in the first two months of the year were attributed to smuggling of oil products and cigarettes.

    Speaking to reporters, during a news conference, the Greek minister said that large enterprises were also connected with fuel smuggling activities in the country.

    Alogoskoufis said that the government has achieved public spending cuts totalling 3.3 billion euros so far and said that rising oil prices in international markets were an unpleasant development. He said that the ministry was closely monitoring developments in the domestic fuel market.

    Alogoskoufis sounded optimistic over developments in the EU, saying that member-states were expected to agree on a review of a Stability and Growth Pact by March 20, two days before a European Summit on March 22-24. He said that the review would not change the main directions of the pact, such as the 3.0 pct limit on budget deficit and the 60 percent limit on public debt, as percentage of GDP.

    Commenting over his contacts with foreign investors in London, the Greek minister said "the climate for the Greek economy and its prospects is very positive," adding that proof of that was a huge success of a recently issued 30-year bond loan by the Greek government, priced very closely to German and Italian bonds.

    Alogoskoufis said the government would take measures to promote privatizations, while submitting an updated Stability and Growth Program to the EU by March 21 would help clear the country's economic prospects.

    [18] Greek farm union begins battle against GMOs

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    GESASE, Greece's farm unions umbrella, on Thursday said it has filed an appeal against SYNGENTA for allegedly distributing contaminated genetically-modified maize in Greece last year.

    The appeal by GESASE seeks compensation of 45,000 euros each for two Greek farmers, based in Xanthi northern Greece, for loss of profit and damages to their crops from the use of the contaminated maize. The case will be brought in court in April 2006.

    GESASE is adopting a more aggressive policy towards the use of genetically-modified crops. George Goniotakis, GESASE's president, said the use of GMOs was undermining Greek farming.

    The union also submitted a package of proposals to the government seeking to address the problem of co-existence between GMOs and compative or bio-farming in the country.

    [19] National Bank of Greece eyes expansion in Turkey, Romania

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece is eyeing expansion in Turkey and Romania, its chairman, Takis Arapoglou, said on Thursday.

    The moves would be part of the bank's strategy of expansion in southeastern Europe, Arapoglou, and also managing director, told the Foreign Press Association of Greece.

    "It would be an error not to study expansion into Turkey," he said.

    Declining to give details, Arapoglou noted that the move would require caution and confidentiality.

    In Romania, National's banking network would double within the year; and in Bulgaria, where the bank has a strong presence through UBB, a subsidiary, it would operate two new insurance firms.

    "Generally, we are studying all investment opportunities on the basis of returns, which in three years should reach 15%. We are eyeing banks with a name and a network in local markets," Arapoglou added.

    Asked to comment on interest rates, he said he believed an increase was unlikely in the near future as the move would hinder growth in the European Union.

    [20] Merchant Marine minister says sea cruise sector a priority

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    The merchant marine ministry's priority is to promote the cruise industry, Greek Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, Kefaloyiannis said are plans of six cruise ships joining the Greek register and added that the ministry should improve harbor facilities.

    "We are making coordinated efforts. It's a win-win situation since the sea cruise industry is currently at ground zero," he said.

    Kefaloyiannis said the ministry planned to make better use of large tract of area of roughly 100 hectares in the port of Piraeus that could create huge added value and change the look of the port city south of downtown Athens.

    The Greek minister said the ministry will launch an international tender for an architectural design for the area, budgeted at around three billion euros.

    The merchant marine ministry also plans to make a more efficient use of the port of Lavrio, in extreme southeast Attica prefecture, by offering special incentives to coastal shipping lines.

    [21] State saves 40 mln euros from defense contract renegotiation

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    The state has saved 40 million euros over 12 months from a renegotiation of defense project and procurement due to contract renegotiation, in compliance with a government pledge before national elections on March 7, 2004, the deputy defense minister said on Thursday.

    The purpose of the move was to cut costs for taxpayers and improve transparency, the minister said.

    Open tenders for military projects had brought savings of up to 61.1%; and procurement contracts savings of 2.62% to 51%, he added.

    [22] Pensioners hold rally in downtown Athens, demand 10 pc pension hikes

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Pensioner's organizations held a rally in downtown Athens on Thursday and marched to the Maximos Mansion after delivering a memorandum with their claims to the employment ministry's Social Security General Secretariat.

    Pensioners' organizations are demanding a 10 percent increase in pensions for 2005 and a minimum monthly pension of 960 euros, an immediate payment of rebate, 500 euros as a special annual heating benefit and a decrease in personal participation in the cost of pharmaceuticals.

    Pensioners declared that they will hold another rally, in an effort to meet the prime minister, and that they will also be participating in labor action scheduled for March 17.

    [23] Government mulls early rebate for poorer pensioners

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Finance Minister Peter Doukas said on Thursday that the government was mulling the payment of rebates on a now defunct pension levy earlier than announced for people at the bottom end of the income scale.

    The move would also apply to pensioners owed minor amounts, Doukas stated in reply to a parliamentary question from the Communist Party of Greece.

    If the plan is adopted, repayment for the two categories would be made in fewer than five installments, or even as a lump sum, Doukas said.

    [24] Palestinian Authority Representative visits Intracom installations

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    The Diplomatic Representative of the Palestinian Authority in Athens, Marwan Abdelhamid, paid a visit to the installations of Intracom on Thursday.

    He was received by Intracom's administrative adviser George Deliyiannis. During his visit he held talks with the president of the Intracom Group, Socratis Kokkalis.

    He was given a tour of the company's Athens Information Technology (AIT) installations.

    "I was very impressed by the installations of Intracom as well as of the AIT, where I hope Palestinian students will soon be trained," the Representative of the Palestinian Authority said.

    [25] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with players buying into high capitalization paper, especially bank, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 3,100.32 points, marking a rise of 0.29%. Turnover was 171.4 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.45% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.23% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.26% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 167 to 101 with 74 remaining unchanged.

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond: 3.94 yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bund: 3.78% yield

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring July 2015 (535 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.0 bln euros

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Friday

    U.S. dollar 1.351

    [26] Situation in Evros prefecture stable as level of water in rivers drops

    11/3/2005 (ANA)

    The situation in the flood-hit northern prefecture of Evros was reported stable on Thursday afternoon as the level of water in rivers dropped.

    Trains continued not to run along the Soufli-Didimotiho route, near the region of Lavara, as a result of the floods.

    Regional, prefectural and municipal services in the area remain on standby for the fourth consecutive week.

    [27] Athens chosen as headquarters of the International Committee for the Mediterranean Games (ICMG)

    Athens, 11/3/2005 (ANA)

    One of the first major post-Olympics benefits from Athens' spotless hosting of last year's Summer Games came on Thursday with an agreement to base the International Committee for the Mediterranean Games' (ICMG) headquarters in the Greek capital.

    The agreement was signed by ICMG President Amar Addadi and Greek Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos, on behalf of the government, during a brief ceremony at the Athens Olympic Sports Complex's (OAKA) natatorium and in the presence of numerous local sports sector dignitaries and officials.

    "The gesture by the Greek government for the permanent establishment of our headquarters in Athens will make the Mediterranean Sea a sea of peace," Addadi said, adding that the ICMG will be the only international sports federation based in the Greek capital.

    On his part, Orfanos stressed that the success of the 2004 Olympic Games allowed Greece to link its past with the present and future. The deputy minister also stressed that the government wants to promote Athens and Greece as hosts for other major sports events.

    [28] Government says Turkish attitude not very European

    Nicosia, 11/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides on Thursday described as a non-European attitude a reaction by the Turkish Presidency to cancel an official visit to Finland because the Cypriot Ambassador in Helsinki was also invited to a banquet in his honor and also because the EU criticized police intervention in a recent demonstration in Istanbul.

    If this is the true reason for the cancellation of the visit, it is proof of ''a not so European attitude,'' the spokesman said, commenting on reports in the Turkish press, adding that ''such reactions also show what sort of attitudes prevails in the Turkish capital.''

    ''This issue causes reactions within the EU against Turkey and the Finnish government has already made clear that it will not withdraw the invitation to the Cypriot Ambassador,'' he added.

    According to Turkish daily ''Milliyet,'' President Ahmet Necdet Sezer was scheduled to pay a state visit to Finland between March 14th and 16th.

    ''However, President Tarja Halonen of Finland invited the Greek Cypriot Ambassador in Helsinki to the banquet to be hosted on March 15th in honor of President Sezer and his wife. Turkey harshly reacted and informed Finland that the Turkish delegation would not partake in the dinner. It was the first crisis. Later, the EU criticized police intervention in a demonstration in Istanbul on Sunday. After all these developments, President Sezer decided to cancel his visit to Finland,'' the Turkish newspaper says.

    [29] Missing persons' issue should be an inviolable condition for Turkey's EU course

    Nicosia, 11/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The Pancyprian Committee for the Missing Persons has stressed that the missing persons issue should be an inviolable condition for Turkey starting accession negotiations with the European Union.

    Chairman of the Committee, Nicos Theodosiou, told reporters during a press conference on Thursday to announce the events of the 21st Marathon of Love for the Missing that will take place from 10-31 March, that ''Turkey is solely responsible for the issue'' because it does not release evidence that would help ascertain the fate of the missing persons.

    Referring to the meetings of the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP),

    Theodosiou talked about a ''fiasco'' on the part of Turkish Cypriot Republican Turkish Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat and representative of the Turkish Cypriot side at the CMP, Rustem Tatar.

    Theodosiou remarked that every time that the date for the convening of the Council of Europe's Permanent Representatives approaches, they provide reports about sites where missing persons are buried with an aim to create the impression of progress.

    ''What disappoints us within the framework of the CMP is that it has convened more than 300 times and has not been able to solve a single case concerning the missing'', Theodosiou said.

    The European Court of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of violating the human rights of the relatives of Greek Cypriot missing persons and called on Ankara to carry out effective and substantive investigation on their fate.

    The Cypriot government has submitted to the tripartite CMP, comprising one representative from each side and a UN envoy, for investigation 1493 cases of Cypriot and Greek nationals listed as missing, a number that includes women, children, elderly persons and members of the National Guard.

    Of the 1493 cases, the remains of 14 missing persons have been identified through the DNA process when the government of the Republic embarked unilaterally on a process of exhumation and identification of remains. Therefore the CMP now has before it 1479 cases to investigate.

    There are also another 107 cases of Greek Cypriot and Greek missing persons whose files have not been submitted to the CMP and whose families have been informed as to the reasons why the specific files were not presented to the CMP. The Cypriot authorities continue to investigate these cases.

    In addition to that, there are 50 cases of Greek Cypriots missing since the 1963-64 period, when inter-communal fighting occurred.

    The CMP has the files of 500 Turkish Cypriot missing persons from 1963-64 and 1974.

    The Greek Cypriot side has handed to the CMP information on more than 350 cases of Turkish Cypriots listed as missing, which gives full account as to the fate of these persons.

    The Marathon of Love which begins today aims at informing European embassies on the missing persons issue and to ask for their assistance to solve the issue.

    It will also carry enlighten young people at schools on the missing persons' issue and to raise funds for the relatives of the missing persons.

    [30] Medical care for Turkish Cypriots reaches 3.6 million pounds

    Nicosia, 11/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The cost of medical care for the Turkish Cypriots over the past two years amounts to 3,600,000 Cyprus pounds, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Sotiris Soteriou said here on Thursday.

    Speaking before the Parliamentary Health Committee at the House of Representatives, Soteriou said that from April 2003 until the end of 2004 there were 24,411 visits of Turkish Cypriots to the state hospitals.


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