In a published interview in an Athens daily’s Sunday edition, deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris said whatever announcements concerning greater social spending Prime Minister Costas Simitis will make, “would primarily be related to pre-election commitments by the party (ruling PASOK) focusing on the government’s program.”
Asked if such measures will improve the government’s popularity, Hytiris pointed instead to the ruling party’s stepped up congress in October.
“In order for the government’s image to improve vis-a-vis the public opinion several specific moves are needed. I believe this exact problem will be examined at the congress, and I also believe that the aftermath of the congress will find PASOK in better shape,” the veteran PASOK cadre was quoted as saying by the “Eleftheros Typos” newspaper.
He again dismissed the possibility of early elections, while asked about a bevy of opinion polls reportedly pegging Foreign Minister George Papandreou as a possible front-runner to succeed Simitis, Hytiris said:
“When that time comes, the public’s opinion will be taken into serious account,” Hytiris said.
On his part, Deputy Labor Minister Christos Protopappas stressed that PASOK’s stepped up congress cannot be "the ‘battering ram’ for the government."
He also noted, in an interview published by the "Eleftherotypia" daily, that certain government policies went against the needs of society as a whole, while calling for a new policy in the area of social security and insurance benefits -- a contentious issue that came to a boil in the spring before a reform package was scuttled.
Bakoyianni: On the main opposition side, high-ranking New Democracy deputy Dora Bakoyianni charged that ruling PASOK is marred by arrogance and internal antagonism, as well as lacking expertise in the foreign and defense areas.
Bakoyianni, who also heads up ND's foreign affairs sector, said Greece "must improve its presence in the Balkans, as well as the wider European region."
In an interview with the "Adesmeftos Typos" daily (Rizos), she added that "governments such as PASOK" burdened both the foreign and defense sectors in crucial moments, and at a time when there was a "significant historical turning-point for the nation's interests."
According to an announcement by his doctors on Sunday afternoon, Nano is expected to make a full recovery and will most likely be released from hospital in two days time.
Nano underwent plastic microsurgery at the Athens Medical Center on the fingers of his right hand, carried out by a hospital team specializing in hand surgery.
The accident occurred late on Saturday night after he left a political meeting in Tepeleni, when his car came off the road and capsized.
The Albanian party leader arrived in Athens accompanied by his wife and Albanian Health Minister Leonard Solis, himself a doctor, who had arranged for his transfer to Athens from Tirana hospital.
The accident and Nano's hospitalization will mean a delay in the formation of a new Albanian government, which was originally scheduled for Monday and will now be put off until his return.
Following a general meeting at Kavala's Labor Center, which also included members of the Federation of Chemicals Industries and the Kavala Labor Center’s president, it was decided that Eurotechniki would receive 470 million drachmas of all profits achieved, representing 67 per cent, while workers would get a slice of 280 million drachmas.
At the same time, workers and Eurotechniki officials agreed to hike employees' earnings to 1998 levels, which will raise all current wages by some 15 percent.
Kavala Oil took over the Prinos oil field concession in 1999 after North Aegean Petroleum Co pulled out. Eurotechniki has a 67-per-cent stake in the consortium while the remaining 33 per cent is held by the oilfield's workforce.
Under the terms of its concession, Kavala Oil sells all its production to Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE).
With a new labor contract, as well as a division in profits, it is expected that all operations will run smoothly until 2002, and the company will be in a better position to proceed with other drilling projects.
Finally, Kavala Oil shareholders are expected to hold a general assembly meeting on August 31, where officials are to discuss a newly drawn up company balance sheet, including the return of any taxes already paid.
The fire has swept through the area for the past two days, burning one village home to the ground and causing damage in two other villages, while it has destroyed 3,000 hectares of pasture and forest.
Despite the efforts of local residents, the army and the area's meager fire-fighting forces, the fire is still out of control, while strong winds are pushing it toward the area's few remaining forests and the villages of Lesinitsa and Kra.
This is the second major fire near ethnic Greek areas in Albania in the past few days. Four villages were at risk three days ago from a fire on the Greek-Albanian border near Gjirokaster that was finally brought under control with the help of Greek fire-fighting planes.
The fire department blames the fires on sheepherders, who they say set fire to pastures to improve grazing.
The quake registered 3.6 on the Richter scale and was felt in some of Thessaloniki's eastern suburbs.
"We urge the parties to engage constructively in the UN process, "British Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman has said, responding to a CNA question on the British stand regarding the prospect for the resumption of the intercommunal talks on Cyprus. "We continue to give full support to the effort of the UN Secretary General to reach a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement on Cyprus," she added.
The British appeal comes ahead of Annan's meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in late August in a bid to resume the stalled dialogue between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides.
Annan and Denktash are to meet in Salzburg, Austria, on 28 August.
Last year Denktash, backed by Ankara, abandoned the UN-led proximity talks, which started in December 1999, declaring them dead and demanding recognition of his self-styled regime in Turkish occupied Cyprus before he returns to the negotiating table.
Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has said he would participate in afresh round of talks but warned all concerned not to attempt to satisfy Denktash's demands for recognition. UN effort to reunite Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of its territory, have so far failed.
Christofias has called on those involved in the Cyprus peace effort to persuade Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to return to the negotiating table with good will for a substantive dialogue and urged them not to tolerate Turkish policies, which sustain the current deadlock.
"The basis of the talks is already in place and we shall insist on this basis. We shall not accept any divergence from the principles of a solution already set out and let this be known to all those trying to have the stalled talks resume," Christofias said at a memorial service for a National Guardsman, killed during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
He said the Greek Cypriot side has "two weapons" to use in its efforts to find a settlement, persistence and insistence on the principles defined by UN resolutions, that provide for a bizonal, bicommunal federation in a unified state of Cyprus with one sovereignty, one citizenship and one international personality with respect for human rights and safeguard of the fundamental freedoms.
In anticipation of a resumption of talks in September, Christofias called on interested parties to turn their attention to Ankara and persuade Denktash to return to the talks "with good will for a substantive dialogue with a view to find a settlement."
"At the same time, we have to intensify our efforts on another front, called rapprochement with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots who wish to see Cyprus reunited, in peace," he said, adding that it is important to convey to the Turkish Cypriots a message of friendship and respect for their rights.
According to the Department of Antiquities, the first phase of a trial excavation on the north east of the southern town of Limassol uncovered the foundations of an early Christian timber-roofed basilica, the first single aisled basilica ever found on the island, and the beddings of the floors.
The excavations, carried out by the Department of Antiquities from end of June to mid July, located few movable finds, consisting of tiles and sherds, dating between the fourth to seventh centuries AD.
At another site, on the western side of Limassol, the Department of Antiquities in cooperation with the University of Cincinnati completed the first season of excavations of the late Bronze Age with the discovery of eight trenches. Finds in one of them consisted of late Bronze pottery, including a cooking pot still containing animal bones and a large bronze hook.
A late Cypriot tomb and a large Roman tomb were also discovered, both of which had been looted.