|Wednesday, 16 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-08-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August,8 2003
 NY Times reports on Athens airport 'unfounded', gov't spokesman says
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas on Thursday cal-led "unfounded" a New York Times report, which claimed that Al-Qaeda may be planning to hit the Athens Airport, among others.
"All that is reported in today's report of the New York Times, concerning the action of Al-Qaeda in Greece are not true and unfounded," Protopapas said, adding that "nothing was ever noted to connect activities of that terrorist organization with our country."
"Concerning what was reported on the 'Eleftherios Venizelos' airport we would like to remind everyone that it has been checked thoroughly and repeatedly by international organizations on security issues and has been found to be one of the safest in the world," the press minister said.
"Greece is a fully secure country and the question that is posed is what kind of aims do such reports serve, especially during the tourist season," Protopapas said.
The New York Times published a report that included Greece in a list of airports that may be targeted by the terrorist network Al-Qaeda, stressing that the Greek government has showed great willingness to prove that Athens, in which the summer Olympic Games will be held, is secure from terrorism.
Two opposition parties rap government over growth bill
The Communist Party of Greece said on Thursday that a government development bill would ensure that capital remained in the same hands, failing to bring growth through a reallocation of resources.
The government is to send the new bill to parliament in September whose contents were released by the finance ministry on Wednesday.
The legislation has been distributed to trade groups for feedback before the final draft goes to parliament.
In a separate statement, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology criticized the government for granting privileges to large companies in the bill.
Persistently high unemployment despite high growth rates show-ed the failure of current policy, the statement said.
The finance ministry has said that following a favorable performance by the economy in recent years, a policy of raising grants was unwarranted.
More grants would also run contrary to tax reductions already implemented, a policy of implementing fiscal discipline, and pledges made to the European Union of gradually reducing state subsidies.
The government says that the bill aims to provide a stable tax regime for the next decade, boost employment through raising subsidies for job creation, increase regional growth, and spur competitiveness.
It will simplify procedures for vetting investments, and improve incentives for large investments and for investments by companies operating abroad.
The bill also raises grants for tourism investment, and decouples job creation incentives from grants for high technology investments and for the creation of manufacturing units for new products.
Furthermore, companies will be able to opt for tax-exempt re-serves for investments under the previous development law instead of receiving other tax relief.
 HATTA complains over U.S. stance on visa issue
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)The Association of Tourism and Travel Bureaus in Greece (HATTA) in an announcement on Thursday expressed its displeasure over the policy adopted by the U.S. on the issue of the granting of visas concerning Greece.
HATTA noted that Greece's political exclusion from what is valid for the other European countries do not help the climate of friendship and understanding between the two countries.
The Association said that it works in every way for the establishment of the best possible climate in bilateral relations and for the development of the tourism movement, but finds obstacles due to the stance of the U.S. government which asks of Greek citizens (the only ones among the EU citizens) to obtain a visa in order for them to travel to the U.S.
Furthermore, the recent decision by the U.S. to ask for visas even for transit visitors who come from countries for which the issue of a visa is foreseen, such as Greece, and which was implemented directly within the context of the measures against terrorism, is already causing a number of problems for Greeks who had planned to travel to a third country with the U.S. the intermediate station. Many travelers were finally unable to travel because they did not manage to obtain the relevant visa in time.
 FinMin on a two-day visit to Lesvos on Friday
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Friday will visit the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, a ministry release said on Thursday.
During his two-day visit, the minister will meet with local leadership, while on Friday night he will address an event organized by the local Chamber of Commerce under the theme "New Economic Environment - New Type Policies for Small-Medium Enterprises, Farmers and Workers".
 Kaklamanis to visit Lefkada, Alexandroupolis
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis is to visit the Ionian island of Lefkada, his birthplace, on Saturday, Aug. 9, where he is scheduled to inaugurate the new "Nikos Svoronos Library", named after a noted historian and thinker born on this island.
The event will be part of the Speech and Art Festivities, organized each summer on the island by the Lefkada municipality.
Next Tuesday, Aug. 12, Kaklamanis will travel to the border city of Alexandroupolis, where he is to declare open and deliver a speck at the VI World Congress of Thracian Hellenism.
 Former PASOK minister slams Simitis over recent ''transparency'' initiatives
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)Former PASOK minister Theodoros Pangalos in an open letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis published in Athens magazine ''Karma'' on Thursday said a letter that the premier forwarded to PASOK deputies regarding scrutiny of their assets was a ''spectacular initiative on self-flagellation of the parliament team''.
''After 22 years in service at the Parliament and 50 years of struggle for democracy - I started when I was fifteen, you see - it is natural for me not to be thrilled (by acts that) demean deputies or by the systematic use of upper-hand imposition of political moves in the absence of even elemental dialogue'', Pangalos said in his letter, adding ''in the name of unity, let us swallow, I thought, one more viper.''
Pangalos stressed that neither he nor any member of his family ever ''played'' in the stock market.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis in July forwarded letters to all PASOK deputies requesting them to voluntarily forego their right to secrecy and submit a detailed statement of their stock market transactions in the period 1997-2002 to the Capital Markets Commission by September 15 for verification.
Asked to comment on Pangalos' letter, Deputy Press Secretary Telemahos Hytiris told reporters that ''In politics, everyone and everything is judged, including anything we say or write, as a matter of fact stricter than some believe.''
 Gov't takes water bottlers to regulatory authority over prices
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)Deputy Development Minister Kimon Koulouris said on Thurs-day that the government would take the country's water bottling companies to the fair competition commission, which would be asked to investigate whether the firms had formed a cartel to keep prices high.
Price inspections of bottled water and soft drinks had been carried out in stores and aboard ferries plying the Aegean, Koulouris told a news conference.
The development ministry would ask the commission to find out whether indicative prices of 50 cents or 60 cents revealed the workings of an informal cartel, or whether market leaders were using their position to browbeat less influential firms, Koulouris said.
The inspections in catering outlets aboard ship had uncovered a welter of market law violations, including failure to display a price list, an absence of indicative prices on bottled water, and a failure to identify foodstuffs as frozen rather than fresh.
Another violation was a failure to provide complaint slips for customers, Koulouris added.
 Athens bourse suspends trade in Datamedia
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)Athens bourse authorities on Thursday suspended trade in Datamedia SA in order to protect investors following a statement from the firm earlier in the day that its five board members had resigned.
No reason was given for the mass resignation on August 5 and no procedure was named for their replacement, market authorities said in a statement.
 Stocks drop in glum sentiment
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished lower on Thursday for a third straight session in gloomy sentiment sparked by a decline in world markets that led to across-the-board selling, traders said.
The general share index shed 1.01 percent to end at 2,132.87 points. Turnover was 177.9 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.84 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 1.28 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished with losses of 0.79 percent.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 243 to 73 with 48 issues remaining unchanged.
Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Thursday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 109.0 mln euros Thursday
Equity Index Futures:
Closing rates of August 7 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,144 1,118
 'Aeolus' revenge' blamed for cancellation of first Olympic 'test event'
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)A weather forecast of winds reaching up to force 7 has, by all accounts, cancelled the better part of the first Olympic "test e-vent" of 2003, namely, rowing at the new Schinias centre, while at the same time causing a "windstorm" of concern about the venue ahead of next year's Games.
Local and international press reports from Athens on Wednesday and Thursday were rife with references to the ancient Greek god of wind, Aeolus, whose mighty gusts wreaked havoc on rowers 24 hours earlier during the first day of the rowing "test event". Several boats overturned on Wednesday at the World Junior Rowing Championship (FISA 2003), with some crews swimming to the finish line in order to avoid disqualification.
If winds do die down on Friday, the world rowing federation (FISA) announced, and then the schedule for the remaining two days will be combined, otherwise, individual times will be considered for qualification. Rowers began Wednesday's races at 6:30 a.m. in a bid to avoid the mid-day gusts.
Thursday's decision to call off the day's races, meanwhile, was taken jointly by Athens 2004 Organizers (ATHOC) and FISA leadership.
Speaking later in the day during a closely watched press conference at the Schinias venue, located on a coastal plain northeast of Athens, FISA president and IOC vice-president Denis Oswald emphasized that rowing is a sport played "outdoors", and that "difficult conditions" are not out of the ordinary.
Oswald, with FISA chief executive Matt Smith and ATHOC Executive Director Marton Simitsek at his side, took the baton in exercising ''damage control'' vis-a-vis the recently wind-swept venue, saying he wanted to set things in their correct dimension.
Simitsek, amongst ATHOC's most experienced and high-profile executives, stressed that studies certified that the site was the best choice for hosting the Olympic rowing and canoeing events. He also cited the IOC's and FISA's approval of Schinias.
Finally, Smith told reporters that high winds have plagued all of SE Europe this week, something his federation is aware of, before again expressing FISA's satisfaction with Schinias.
Stepped up criticism of Schinias as the for the new Olympic rowing centre resurfaced over the last few days in both the local and international press.
 In an earlier press release, ATHOC announced:
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)"The strong winds in the Schinias area forced a series of delays in the second day of the World Rowing Junior Championship, and, eventually, their final cancellation.
The races were scheduled to start at 06.30, but weather conditions forced the International Rowing Federation (FISA) to cancel today's competition program. Earlier, the World Junior Rowing Championship Organizing Committee had moved the starting-time to 06.56, then again to 07.26, and finally to 07.56.
After today's (Thursday) cancellation, the program of the World Championships will have to be compressed and restructured … It is worth noting that in other instances where cancellations have occurred, time trials determine qualification to the finals (FISA rule, 5.2):
If the Time-Trial System is used for Repackages, Semi-Finals or Finals, then in each separate race the crews shall start in order according to their standings in the previous round. If two crews have the same placing, (e.g., both were Heat winners), then there shall be a draw to determine their starting order.
According to the weather bulletin issued at 05.00 on 7 August 2003 by the (Greece's state-run) National Meteorological Service and the Olympic Meteorological Centre, the winds in the area are blowing force 4 to 6 Beaufort. A new weather bulletin for today is expected to be issued at 08.30, while a forecast of tomorrow's weather conditions will be issued at 5 p.m. today.
 IOC hopes to revitalize Iraqi Olympic comm't
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)A three-member International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation last week completed a nine-day mission to Baghdad in order to assess efforts made by that country's new National Olympic Committee to regroup, with an eye to fielding a team for the Athens 2004 Games.
The majority of Iraq's national sport federations said they would manage to have their athletes ready for Athens next August, although several nagging problems make qualification events for Iraqi 2004 hopefuls a difficult proposition.
The IOC is attempting to assist the new Iraq NOC in organizing try-outs. Moreover, an emphasis is placed on supporting the Olympic movement in that war-ravaged country. Widespread reports over the past decade cited a ''complete and asphyxiating control'' of Iraq's Olympic committee by toppled dictator Saddam Hussein and his son Udai.
Iraq's Olympic Committee, whose Baghdad headquarters were largely destroyed in bombing raids during the war, was suspended in May by the IOC following confirmed allegations that its leadership tortured and jailed athletes on orders from Udai Hussein.
The IOC is monitoring the selection of members to staff the country's new committee and intends to send a delegation to Iraq again shortly.
 Infighting among defendants again dominates 'N17' trial
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)The attention-grabbing cross-examination of one alleged "November 17" defendant, who captivated a packed courtroom this week by more-or-less affirming his participation in the deadly urban terror band and by identifying its leadership, continued on Thursday by defense attorneys of his co-defendants.
Attorneys for alleged "N17" suspect Vassilis Tzortzatos were the first to question Patroklos Tselentis on Thursday morning. In testimony over the last 48 hours at a specially modified prison courtroom and before a special three-justice appellate level court, Tselentis stood by his initial pre-trial statements and confessions to police and, subsequently, to judicial magistrates.
He also outlined what he described as the influential role of Alexandros Giotopoulos and Dimitris Koufodinas within the elusive and deadly terrorist group that first appeared with the murder of a CIA station chief in Athens in December 1975.
Giotopoulos, identified in court documents as the "N17" member known as "Lambros", along with his assumed name of "Michel Economou", adamantly denies any involvement with "N17". Conversely, Koufodinas, identified as "Loukas", has assumed "political responsibility" for the group's actions but refuses to divulge any details.
An attack by Koufodinas against Tselentis, whom he charged with altering the group's image and of derogatory remarks against its members, later dominated the session.
"…Soon, he (Tselentis) will realize that his downward spiral of cooperation (with authorities) has no end. They will force him to say other, more outrageous, lies before they abandon him like a squeezed lemon peel," Koufodinas, identified as one of the terror band's more prolific assassins, warned while reading from a prepared statement.
"…drink and mints, but about the murder not a word," was presiding judge Mihalis Margaritis' immediate response, in paraphrasing limerick that rhymes in Greek.
Afterwards, a final statement by Vassilis Xiros, one of three Xiros brothers being tried as members of "N17", was cut short, after attorneys representing victims of the terror group charged that not only was the former reading from a prepared text – something prohibited under Greek law when delivering a final statement in court – but that he didn't even understand what he was reading.
Vassilis Xiros later refused to continue after a brief recess, while he also refused to answer questions directed from the bench and prosecutors.
Thursday's session ended with a decision by the three-justice court to reject a motion by the same defendant, Vassilis Xiros, to throw out his pre-trial statements and confessions. Similar to his two co-defendant brothers, Savvas and Christodoulos, Vassilis claims his statements were the product of "psychological duress" and "blackmail."
Tomorrow's session will be the last until Aug. 19, when the court reconvenes.
 State authorities warn of high forest fire danger
Athens 08/08/03 (ANA)The regions of Greater Athens, Evia, Viotia, the Cyclades Group of Islands, and Ikaria and Samos islands are facing a high forest fire danger on Friday, August 8, according to a warning by the General Secretariat of Civil Defense issued on Thursday.
State services and local government bodies in the above areas have been notified accordingly and have been placed on a state of high alert.
The General Secretariat also asked citizens to refrain from activities in open areas, which may possibly cause a fire as a result of negligence.
 UN Chief appoints de Soto to Western Sahara
NICOSIA 08/08/03 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is ready to exercise his good offices to help reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem when both parties and both motherlands show a genuine commitment to come to terms, his spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said on Thursday in New York, announcing Annan's intention to appoint his Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto as his Special Representative for Western Sahara. The spokesman said Annan would make arrangements as appropriate regarding the handling of the Cyprus good offices when de Soto takes on his new duties.
In response to a question during his daily briefing, the spokes-man repeated Kofi Annan's statement last week that ''he is ready to exercise his good offices to help the parties achieve a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem when both parties and both motherlands show a genuine commitment to come to terms.''
Eckhard said ''this was spelled out in the Secretary-General's report to the Security Council in April following the failure to reach agreement at The Hague.''
''As he has amply demonstrated, the Secretary-General attributes a high priority to the settlement of the Cyprus problem, and believes that it is possible to achieve this if the political will is there,'' Eckhard said.
''He therefore awaits a firm commitment by all concerned to finalize negotiations with UN assistance on the basis of the plan he put forward to the parties on 26 February, and to submit it shortly thereafter to separate simultaneous referenda,'' Eckhard added.
He noted ''the Secretary-General will make arrangements as appropriate regarding the handling of the Cyprus good offices when Mr. de Soto takes on his new duties.''
Alvaro de Soto has been Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus since 1999.
The Peruvian diplomat has worked on the island heading a team of legal experts for more than a year. He produced what has been
described as the most comprehensive peace proposal on a political settlement covering all aspects of the problem, which he presented to the two sides.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash rejected the proposal at talks at The Hague in March, while Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said it was a basis for negotiation.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
 Spokesman says Denktash's machinations illegal
NICOSIA 08/08/03 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government believes Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's machinations to encourage Greek Cypriots to apply to a so-called ''commission of compensation'' in the Turkish-occupied areas is illegal and they will be rejected by the European Court of Human Rights.
Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides told reporters during an impromptu briefing on Thursday that the government strongly opposes any Greek Cypriots ''applying'' to the so-called ''commission'' to receive compensation for their properties in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, noting that it is monitoring the issue.
Turkish news Agency ''Anadolu'' quoted Denktash as saying earlier on Thursday that some Greek Cypriots were getting prepared to apply to the ''commission'', which was expected to start ''operating'' soon to determine the use and ownership right of the properties of Greek Cypriots in the occupied areas of Cyprus.
Chrysostomides clarified that there were ''no reports of any 'applications' being submitted to Mr. Denktash,'' stressing that ''the property issue is a central problem within the framework of efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.''
He reminded that the occupation of Cyprus' northern third by Turkish troops in 1974 ''deprived some 200 thousand Greek Cypriots of their homes and properties,'' adding that international law stresses that occupation does not prevent the right of ownership, while the deprivation of enjoyment of property by the occupation regime ''leads to decisions for compensation just as in the Loizidou case.''
The European Court of Human Rights ordered Turkey to pay Titina Loizidou 600,000 dollars for loss of use of her property, 40,000 dollars for moral damages and about 260,000 dollars for costs, in addition to eight per cent interest as of 28 July 1998.
Loizidou's house is situated in the northern town of Kyrenia, occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.
''The problem is a collective problem and not individual. There-fore Mr. Denktash's machinations, which are illegal, will be rejected by the European Court of Human Rights and should not be supported,'' the spokesman added. He further noted ''the government strongly opposes any actions (applications) by persons.'' which would be ''irresponsible'', adding that ''they neither help efforts towards a solution to the Cyprus problem nor efforts to return and regain their properties.''
''We discourage such actions strongly and with emphasis,'' Chrysostomides said, adding that he does not believe there will be Greek Cypriots who will take such action.
 Journalists denounce illegal regime's restrictive measures
NICOSIA 08/08/03 (CNA/ANA)The Union of Cyprus Journalists (UCJ) has denounced the occupation regime and Turkey for the flagrant violation of the fundamental human rights and principles of international law with the continued occupation and enforcement of restrictive measures in the freedom of movement of journalists and citizens over the divide.
In a statement, the UCJ also condemned the requirement imposed by the Denktash regime for Greek Cypriots to show their passports at the control points of the dividing wall and regarding journalists as well as the insistence of the occupation regime to enforce journalists to wear jackets which bear the illegal regime's hallmark while they are on mission in the occupied areas.
''We call on the United Nations to secure free and unimpeded movement throughout the island and to remove the artificial dividing line. We consider obvious that journalists, who are on mission in the occupied areas, should refuse and continue refusing the occupation regime's insistence in wearing the illegal state's jackets,'' the Union's statement added.
 Hadjidemetriou says Cyprus at final stage of harmonization
NICOSIA 08/08/03 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus is at the final stage of harmonization with the acquis communautaire and a great number of bills are being promoted for approval when the House of Representatives convenes in an extraordinary session on September 18, Harmonization Coordinator Takis Hadjidemetriou said on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference, Hadjidemetriou said that 36 bills were tabled or will be tabled before the House of Representatives after being examined by the Cabinet. Another ten bills will be ready by Monday, while 13 more will be complete by the end of the month.
More bills will be tabled in Autumn with their debate finalized early next year.
''Our time limits are tight because the work for our final meeting in Brussels on September 25 has begun,'' Hadjidemetriou said, adding that at the Brussels meeting the Commission will be informed on Cyprus' progress.
Referring to his cooperation with Head of the European Commission Delegation to Cyprus Adrian Van der Meer, Hadjidemetriou said the EU diplomat informed him that talks will begin in the near future on the Structural and Cohesion Funds estimated at 154 million euros.
Hadjidemetriou also said that he and Van der Meer talked about the possibility of a second set of goodwill measures in Autumn to support Turkish Cypriots when Vice President of the Com-mission, Relations with the European Parliament, Transport and Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio and Commissioner for Regional Policy, Michel Barnier will visit the island.
Hadjidemetriou also referred to a report of the Economist Intelligence Unit on EU Enlargement which shows that Cyprus will be the first country to reach the EU average per capita GDP, with Malta being second and Slovenia third.
He further said that the setting out of a strategy for Cyprus' role in the EU is among President Tassos Papadopoulos' priorities.