|Monday, 21 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-08-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 25, 2003
 Gov't unveils ambitious plan to upgrade ancient Olympia ahead of Games
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)Preparations for a truly Olympian “homecoming” next year on Saturday shifted to ancient Olympia, in the northwest Peloponnese, with visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis emphasizing that the government aims to enhance and project Hellenism’s “cultural aspect” on the occasion of the 2004 Olympic Games.
Simitis led a high-level government delegation to the inimitable valley where the Games were held during antiquity to outline an ambitious series of projects and works to upgrade the entire region, including the renovation of ancient Olympia’s noted museum, which will be transformed into an “Olympic Games” museum after the ongoing work are finished.
“In a year the Olympic Games will be taking place in Athens, and Olympia will be at the centre of the international limelight. These Games of 2004 include a uniqueness that Olympics usually don’t retain – Games showcasing the history of the Olympics.
They demonstrate the relationship between Greece and the Games, and also that the Games are intertwined with the history of humanity, something particularly evident here in Olympia,” Simitis told reporters while touring the site.
A budget of 97.6 million euros also includes significant roadwork projects – bypassing the ancient site, of course – as well as renovation of nearby sports facilities and practically the entire infrastructure in the greater Olympia area – one of the pre-eminent and most popular archaeological sites in Greece.
“... that is why our effort is not just focused on sports facilities or even just the sports event (Olympics), but it is focused on reforming and showcasing culture as well, to renovate sites and, of course, to improve citizens’ environment,” he added.
A nine-kilometer section of a new highway, bypassing the actual site, is expected to be completed by May 2004, officials announced.
PM Simitis tours Ancient Olympia: Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday morning visited at Ancient Olympia the under renovation Old Museum which following its restoration will be transformed into an Olympic Games museum.
Furthermore, Simitis also visited the under reconstruction and retransformation of the New Archaeological Museum.
The prime minister also visited the work site where construction is underway of the regional Ancient Olympia motorway which is a section of the national Pyrgos-Olympia-Vytina-Tripoli highway.
Simitis was accompanied by Culture Ministry General Secretary Lina Mendoni and Olympic Games General Secretary Kostas Kartalis.
The Action Program for Ancient Olympia does not conclude with the promotion of the ancient sites, but also aims at the total reform of the city with interventions in the sectors of culture, sports, infrastructure, health and environmental training.
Simitis, following his tour of the old museum, the new ancient museum and the regional Ancient Olympia motorway, told reporters:"The Olympic Games will be held in Athens in one year's time and Olympia will be at the epicenter of world interest. These 2004 Olympic Games have a particularity which Olympic Games usually do not possess. They are Games which show the history of the Olympic Games. They also show that Greece's relations with the Games are connected with the history of humanity and this is shown particularly in Olympia."
 PASOK officials prepare for PM's visit to Thessaloniki trade fair
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)An informal meeting of ruling PASOK high-ranking officials, in the presence of the party's Central Committee Secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis, convened in Thessaloniki on Saturday in light of the visit to the city by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in early September for the inauguration of the 68th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
During his visit to Thessaloniki, northern Greece, for the annual international trade fair, the prime minister is due to present the Social Cohesion Charter, which will give answers to all daily problems and cover the needs of the citizens for the next four years. He will also inspect the infrastructure works which have been completed or are in the process of completion, in the region.
According to sources, during Saturday's meeting, which was held in camera, the ruling party members sought ways to promote the government's work. At the same time, they made proposals for speeding up procedures for the completion of major infrastructure projects. Furthermore, the party members discussed the evolution of PASOK into a modern party with a progressive policy with the active participation of the citizens.
The proposals formulated at the informal meeting will be conveyed by Chrysohoidis to Prime Minister Costas Simitis and included in the agenda will be the meetings which the prime minister will have with producer and social partners during the established annual three-day visit to Thessaloniki from September 5-7.
On his part, Environment Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on departure from the informal meeting that the prime minister's upcoming visit to Thessaloniki was of particular political importance as it marked ''the start of the counter-attack which PASOK and its government is planning.''
Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Haris Kastanidis and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis were among the officials present at the meeting.
 Top gov't ministers lament 'black flag' protests in Thessaloniki
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)A group of top ministers -- all elected in the greater Thessaloniki area -- on Saturday commented over the ''black flags'' which have been hoisted at town halls around the prefecture, ahead of the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) in early September.
The black flags were hoisted earlier in the week to protest the poor financial state of local governments, with numerous mayors around the country accusing the government of not turning over revenues slated for municipalities and prefectures. The decision to proceed with the mostly symbolic protest was taken by majority vote at a meeting of local government entities (KEDKE), although the faction affiliated with ruling PASOK were in opposition.
Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Haris Kastanidis, Deputy Foreign Minister Yannis Magriotis and PASOK Secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis all issued statements on Saturday, mostly critical of the mayors and main opposition New Democracy.
On his part, Chrysohoidis launched a stinging attack against ND, linking it with the mayors.
''In democracy we all believe in one flag and the flag is dialogue ... I do not know exactly what the black flags symbolize for certain mayors, what I do know however is that they render the main opposition disreputable," he said.
 Top ND cadre attributes high prices, inflation to gov't's fiscal policy
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)One of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party's top deputies and economists charged over the weekend that high market prices and inflation are the result of the government's fiscal policy and long-standing structural problems in the economy.
In an interview published by the Sunday edition of ''Eleftheros Typos'', ND MP George Alogoskoufis said ''the causes of inflation are mainly fiscal and structural, and what mainly contributed to this fact is the government’s imposition of new tax increases over the past year.''
“Businesses tried to blame the tax hikes on prices, which is the primary reason why we have high inflation. Inflation must be reduced and the tax system must be drastically simplified, the market must be deregulated and competitiveness strengthened,” he said.
Regarding unemployment, he said the emphasis must be given to structural changes and to attracting investments. He also called for deregulation in the goods and services markets.
Papantoniou: Defense cuts can finance social spending
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Sunday edition of ''Eleftherotypia'', Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, a former national economy minister, said 2.7 billion euros in defense sector cuts and economizing are sufficient to finance the latest social spending plan Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected to announce at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next month.
Papantoniou appeared pleased by his ministry's economic handling, at the same time underlining a percentage reduction record in defense expenses, from the 5 per cent of the GDP it was in 2000 to 3.9 per cent this year, with prospects of a further reduction to 3.25 next year.
 ATHOC-Gov't session to focus on conclusions from recent 'test events'
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)Accelerating preparations for the Olympic Games in the months remaining until Aug. 13, 2004 -- when the Olympic flame returns to Athens -- is the main topic on the agenda of this week’s inter-ministerial committee meeting, a high-ranking body comprised of both Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC) and the government's top ministers.
The latest meeting is the first following a summer recess, with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis expected to again chair the session.
Additionally, an eagerly awaited evaluation following the completion of seven Olympic “test events” this month is also on the agenda – where the expanded “round-table” discussion will consider the ''bright spots'' and certain high-profile problems recorded during the seven events -- rowing, archery, beach volleyball, canoe/kayak, equestrian, cycling and sailing.
While both the government and ATHOC maintain that construction timetables are being met for a variety of venues and related infrastructure, concerns remain over three specific projects: a state-of-the-art metal and glass dome over the main Olympic Stadium (OAKA); the new tram network in southern Athens and completion of the Karaiskaki football venue. All three were yet again mentioned by name during IOC Coordinating Commission chief Denis Oswald’s press conference in the Greek capital last week.
“Better coordination” has also been a recurring “catch-phrase” cited by the government and ATHOC, particularly after the wind-plagued rowing “test event” at the nearly completed Schinias Olympic Rowing Centre and a food poisoning incident (salmonella) that knocked-out the entire German junior rowing team from the competition.
Finally, upgraded commercial exploitation of the Games will be discussed, particularly in light of a memorandum of cooperation (establishing the Athens Business Club) Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and ATHOC chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki will sign a day early, based on the model used during the Sydney Games.
 Patriarch refers to issue of northern Greece bishopry
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos stressed on Sunday that the Patriarchate has never turned over the northern Greece ecclesiastical districts.
Speaking from the island of Zakynthos, the Ecumenical Patriarch referred directly to the issue that has soured relations between the Autocephalous Church of Greece and the Patriarchate over recent months concerning the administrative status of bishopries of Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace and in the northern Aegean islands.
''Sometimes the term 'new countries' scandalizes. We do not have any new reason to insist on the term... but on official papers, official books ... here and there, and in the Constitution if I am not mistaken, it is referred to. That is how it was then, after 1912. But we repeat that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has no difficulty to speak about its (ecclesiastical provinces, which are in Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace and the islands of the (Aegean) archipelagos."
 Greece and Cuba sign sports cooperation protocol for 2003
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)Greece and Cuba on Saturday signed a sports cooperation protocol for 2003.
The protocol was signed in Florina, northern Greece, by Deputy Culture Minister, responsible for sports affairs, George Lianis, and his Cuban counterpart Umberto Rodriguez Gonzalez.
The protocol expresses the will of the two countries to strengthen their ties in all fields of sports.
 Two killed in Cessna plane crash
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)Two people were killed when a single-engine Cessna plane crashed on an abandoned factory in the region of Lecheo, four kilometers outside of Corinth, southern Greece, on Saturday.
For as yet unknown reasons, the pilot of the single-engine plane lost control of the craft.
After the crash, the plane burst into flames and unfortunately the firemen who sped to the scene found the pilot and co-pilot burnt to death.
The causes of the accident are being investigated and according to initial reports it must have been due to technical failure.
 Wanted Russian businessman arrested at Athens airport
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)A Russian businessman, who is being sought by his country's authorities for numerous offences, was arrested at Athens' International Airport ''Eleftherios Venizelos'', it was announced on Saturday.
The Russian Embassy in Athens has been briefed on the matter and there has already been communication between the Greek authorities and Russian Embassy senior staff in order for a decision to be reached on forthcoming action on the issue.
Athens awaits extradition request for outlaw Russian media magnate: Greek authorities are reportedly waiting for an extradition request by Moscow following the arrest yesterday of Russian businessman Vladimir Gusinsky at Athens’ airport.
The former chief of the Media-Most Holdings, one of Russia’s largest private broadcast networks, arrived in Athens aboard a flight from Tel-Aviv, before being arrested on warrants issued via Interpol.
According to reports, Gusinsky has been wanted since late 2000 in connection with a multi-million-dollar money laundering and loan fraud. Greek authorities said Russia’s embassy in Athens was notified of the arrest.
The man had been detained in Spain almost two years ago, although courts there rejected Russia's extradition request in April 2001.
According to a dispatch by the Itar-Tass news agency, the Russian prosecutor general's office and the Interpol Russian bureau have not been officially notified of Gusinsky's arrest as of press time.
 More arrests of Turks with fake passports reported in Thrace
Athens, 25/08/2003 (ANA)Another six illegal Turkish migrants in possession of fake passports were intercepted in northern Greece over the weekend at a train station.
The illegals told authorities they picked up the bogus passports in Bulgaria for 3,500 euros a piece, before illegally entering Greek territory through an unguarded pass on the Greek-Bulgarian frontier.
A 24-year-old local man was also arrested for escorting the six Turks to the train station in the northeast prefecture of Rhodopi, where he intended to load them on a train for the port city of Thessaloniki.
Another two Turks holding fake passports, again supplied by a ring operating in Bulgaria, were arrested on Thursday in the same area.
In an unrelated incident involving yet more Turks in Greece, two men were arrested on Saturday at the western port of Patra just before their vehicle driven by the first, and with the second hidden in the trunk was about to be loaded onto an Italy-bound ferryboat.