|Thursday, 18 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-08-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 27, 2003
 Gov't points to better press, coordination as goals for 2004 preparations
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)Three issues more-or-less dominated the high-ranking inter-ministerial meeting of top government ministers and Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC) on Tuesday, namely, an assessment of this month’s Olympic “test events”; better coordination between public sector entities, as well as a public relations counter-offensive in light of several mostly negative articles by foreign papers recently concerning the Games.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who again chaired the session, called on his ministers and ATHOC executives to deal seriously with what is written and said about preparations for the Games. His statements came after more negative press on Tuesday from a couple of Australian media outlets.
Regarding the same subject, one that has seriously ruffled feathers in Athens of late, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos noted that “we are not obliged to pay attention to all the articles; it is not possible for the country to host successful Olympic Games with subordinated reflexes.”
Commenting on the “test events”, with only sailing remaining to conclude this month, Simitis appeared satisfied with results, saying that a couple of incidents (a food poisoning and high winds during the first rowing ‘test event’) were the only blemishes that ruined the general image.
Additionally, he said criticism that Athens would be a “cordoned off” city during the Games, and that local residents would stay away in droves, was also plainly proved wrong.
“That won’t happen ... the Olympic Games are a celebration for Athens and for Athenians themselves; the city’s operation will be successful.”
In other related developments from the meeting, government and ATHOC officials expressed satisfaction that construction work to build a state-of-the-art dome over the main Olympic Stadium (OAKA) began in earnest last week.
On his part, Transport Minister Christos Verelis assured that the new suburban railway will be ready on time, although he didn’t preclude the possibility of leasing train cars during the holding of the Games themselves.
Earlier, before the meeting, Simitis met privately with ATHOC chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, who stressed that improvements are necessary on all fronts.
A full evaluation of the “test events” is scheduled for Sept. 14, when the ATHOC president is expected to announce possible changes within the organization.
 Thessaloniki meeting focuses on PM' visit to the city
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)Details about Prime Minister Costas Simitis’ visit to the northern Greece city of Thessaloniki in September, during the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), have been the focus of discussion during a meeting on Tuesday between Macedonia-Thrace Minister Haris Kastanidis and Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.
Similar meetings between local officials to prepare for the premier's visit have been held in recent weeks.
Kastanidis, who described the discussion as constructive, said that local bodies and agencies must work together on the common challenges facing the city and the wider region.
 PM Simitis discusses government's planning with party Secretary General
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis and ruling PASOK party Secretary General Michalis Chrysohoidis held a 90-minute meeting on Tuesday.
Following the meeting, Chrysohoidis restricted himself to saying that they discussed the party's planning and political work and the events which will mainly take place particularly on the anniversary of the founding proclamation of PASOK on September 3, and the government tasks and initiatives which PASOK will undertake.
 Interior minister briefs PASOK deputies on proposed election law
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis on Tuesday spoke to ruling PASOK party deputies, present in Athens for the second summer session of Parliament, on the proposed changes of the election law.
Reactions of deputies centered on the proposed split of the election ticket, where half of the deputies would be chosen from a list and the rest would be elected on a party ticket, also deputies reacted against the proposed split of electoral districts and the dual type of balloting. Thirteen deputies in all requested to address the meeting.
On his part, Skandalidis stressed that the election law issue would be discussed in the plenum of PASOK’s Parliamentary Committee, adding that the issue would also be discussed in the cabinet before final decisions are made.
 Kaklamanis: Audit of MPs' assets to be completed by end of Nov.
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)Probes into the assets of Parliament deputies will be completed by the end of November, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said on Tuesday.
Following a meeting on the issue with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, Kaklamanis said a bill to establish audit procedures to inspect ''statements of means'' declarations submitted by MPs, public officials and top civil servants would be one of the first that the government would table when the legislature resumes regular sessions again in October.
The bill is part of initiatives the prime minister announced in early in July amidst strong objections from the opposition and even within his own party, aimed to increase transparency and the efficiency of anti-graft measures.
''The completion of the audit and the passing of the new law will allow for more -- I am not saying full -- transparency or for a significant step toward transparency in the country's public life'', Kaklamanis said.
Nevertheless, he stressed that this presupposed that Supreme Court justices would be included in the probe along with other public officials and civil servants, media owners, journalists and anyone else under the obligation to submit such declarations.
Replying to a relevant question, Kaklamanis played down the fact that few PASOK deputies have so far heeded a call by the premier to declare by Sept. 15 all their financial investments from 1998 through 2000.
''This is no issue, just summer vacations'', he said.
Asked whether reforms to the electoral system, also announced along with the other initiatives, would be tabled at the Parliament session in October, Kaklamanis noted that the deadline for submitting and voting on this bill was in April 2004.
Finally, he dismissed allegations regarding a ''turbulent'' climate within his party's Parliamentary group.
''I am presiding over Parliament. I am not in charge of (PASOK's) Central Committee. I don't think there are any serious problems''.
 NY State assembly delegation in Athens this week
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)A New York State assembly delegation arrives on Thursday for an official visit to Athens, at the invitation of Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis. Talks are expected to focus on international efforts at fighting international terrorism.
''Our discussions in Athens will focus on international terrorism and ways to deal with it," NY State representative Michael Giannaris told the Athens News Agency.
''Athens is organizing the 2004 Olympic Games and New York City is a candidate host-city for the 2012 Games. Therefore, we have a lot to discuss, and our Greek hosts will have a lot to say to us based on their own experience'', he added.
The NY delegation will visit Cyprus on Wednesday, where NY state legislators will meet with President of the Cyprus Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and other top government officials.
 Gov't: Humanitarian measure for FYROM citizens a success
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)The government on Tuesday announced that a total of 382 citizens from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) have visited Greece under a special humanitarian measure allowing visits into the country by individuals considered by Athens as political refugees who had fled Greece as a result of the 1946-49 civil war.
Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, who chaired a meeting of officials at the foreign ministry to evaluate the success of the program, said that 281 of them had now returned back home and that 125 visited Greece for the first time, most of whom were retired and aged people, whose aim was to visit their birthplace in Greece.
The purely humanitarian initiative implemented by the Greek foreign ministry was warmly welcomed by the FYROM government, as well as by the international press and local media.
During Tuesday's meeting, also discussed was the likelihood to repeat the measure given its success, Loverdos said.
 ND leader meets chamber delegations, discuss economy
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday met with delegations from the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) and the Athens Trade and Industry Commerce (EBEA) to discuss economic developments in the country.
ND deputy, responsible for economic affairs, George Alogoskoufis, speaking to reporters after the meeting said that Greek economic growth ''was not achieved with communication tricks, or social tips ahead of the elections...A new integrated and responsible policy is needed, a new government is needed.''
ESEE chairman, Mr Armenakis, speaking to reporters expressed the hope that ND's financial program would include policies aimed to boost Greek businesses. Commenting on a package of social benefits planned by the government, Mr Armenakis said that ''benefits do not help the economy, but they burdened it with new weights.''
EBEA chairman, P. Fountoukakos, said that the government's economic policy ''is moving in the wrong direction: this is not the time for big social benefits and the pre-election period should not lead to a further widening of the country's deficit. We want a friendlier economic environment for Greek businesses to boost employment and to achieve real convergence.''
Press minister responds to Karamanlis’ statements on gov’t’s program: Government spokesman and Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas on Tuesday accused main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis of either “unbelievable double talk or harsh social class choice”.
“Mr. Karamanlis, while up to now, rushed to adopt without judgment and responsibility every financial demand from anyone, today he tried – using the employers’ organizations – to oppose the measures promoted by the government for the weak economic classes,” Protopapas said.
 Intracom signs 5.8-mln-euro contract with Merchant Marine ministry
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)Intracom, in cooperation with Lockheed Martin, on Tuesday announced the signing of a contract with Merchant Marine Ministry, worth 5.8 million euros, for the extension of a National System for Maritime Traffic Management (VTMIS), based on the VTS and RTS centers of Rafina and Lavrio ports.
Under the supply agreement, the consortium will install four radars in Evia, Lavrio, Andros and Kea islands.
A ministry statement said that the project aimed to offer a wider coverage of Greek seas and offer a more efficient management of sea transport, sea safety and protecting the sea environment.
 Greek stocks remain under pressure on Tuesday
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)A wave of profit taking in blue chip stocks, particularly banks, kept Greek stock prices under pressure for the second consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
The general index fell 1.80 percent to end at 2,251.48 points, reflecting mainly a 3.21 percent drop in the bank sector.
Turnover remained a high 189.6 million euros.
The Retail sector was the only one to score gains (0.42 percent), while the Investment, Holding and Textiles sectors suffered heavy percentage losses (3.06 percent, 2.74 percent and 2.68 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 2.09 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 2.06 percent and the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.27 percent lower.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 307 to 40 with another 18 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 158.984 mln euros Tuesday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of August 26 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,090 1,065
 Athens confirms int'l interest in detained Russian media baron
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)The Greek government on Tuesday laconically commented on the case of an outlaw Russian media baron arrested at the Athens airport last week and being held on an Interpol warrant issued by Russian authorities.
Vladimir Gusinsky, 51, was jailed on Monday by an appellate level prosecutor in Athens pending a ruling on his case by the country’s high court.
“It’s clear that there is significant international interest surrounding the issue of Russian businessman Gusinsky,” a government spokesman said during a regular press briefing in the Greek capital.
According to a handful front-page news stories in Athens’ dailies on Tuesday, the arrest of the one-time chief of Moscow-based Media-Most Holdings and the NTV broadcast network, has generated international pressure from certain quarters calling for the Russian fugitive’s release.
He had arrived in Athens aboard a flight from Tel-Aviv on Thursday and was traveling with both Russian and Israeli passports.
According to reports, Gusinsky has been wanted since late 2000 in connection with a multi-million-dollar money laundering and loan fraud scandal that according to some press reports tops the 250-million-dollar mark.
According to wire stories from Moscow on Tuesday, Russian prosecutors are preparing a request to extradite the man.
 Court OK's conditional release of last 'N17' suspect arrested; still faces trial
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)An appellate council on Tuesday approved the conditional release of the last suspect arrested in connection with the “November 17” investigation, ruling that a six-month temporary incarceration order against him expired early this month.
The ruling essentially means the release of Anestis Papanastasiou, who is on trial with another 18 defendants on charges related to the deadly urban terrorist group. His incarceration was summarily extended last month by an appellate level prosecutor beyond the six-month period, but without a relevant ruling by the appellate council, as stipulated by law. Such rulings by the appellate council are customary before the six-month period (six plus one month, to be precise) expires, as was the case with all the other defendants. However, judicial officials apparently overlooked this imperative legal formality in Papanastasiou’s case.
The 41-year-old Thessaloniki bank employee’s continued incarceration even resulted in a two-day walkout by most of the attorneys representing the 19 “N17” defendants, causing an angry reaction by the bench.
The full decision and the conditions set out for Papanastasiou’s release were expected later on Tuesday.
Police arrested Papanastasiou, the cousin of alleged ‘N17’ co-founder Nikos Papanastasiou, in January after detecting his fingerprints on a map showing an army camp in northern Greece, as well as on several notes found in the terror band’s safehouses. He attributed the evidence to coincidence, claiming the map was stolen from his home.
 Kenteris misses Paris race because of minor injury
Athens 27/08/2003 (ANA)Greece's Olympic 200m gold medalist and world and European champion Costas Kenteris will eventually miss the World Championships in Paris, as a minor leg muscle injury prevents him from running.
The top sprinter underwent a medical test on Tuesday evening which made doctors and his coach decide that he should not compete in Wednesday's 200m qualifying race, to avoid a worsening of his condition.
 Government complains over Denktash's refusal to open school
NICOSIA 27/08/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Cypriot government is making representations to the United Nations, the United States and the European Union regarding the refusal of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to allow the operation of the Rizokarpaso Gymnasium in the areas of the island under Turkish occupation.
Presidential Commissioner Polakis Sarris said on Tuesday that ''once again, Denktash has proven his intransigence,'' adding that the Turkish Cypriot leader has given ''no reason'' for his refusal to allow the opening of the school.
''Already, the government has made representations and we intend to make more, especially through the EU, because it is a very serious issue for us,'' Sarris said.
He added that he has already spoken to the US Ambassador in Nicosia, who, he said, expressed his disappointment over Denktash's stance.
Sarris said he made representations to the US Ambassador and the UN, and that representations to the EU would follow shortly.
Replying to questions, Sarris said Denktash's stance would mean that Greek Cypriot children residing in the Turkish-occupied areas would have to leave their families earlier than anticipated and follow their older brothers and sisters to the government-controlled areas.
Sarris said ''this is an indirect way with which Denktash is trying to persecute the enclaved.''