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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-08-29

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

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

August 29, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Cabinet discusses gov't planning on education
  • [02] Election campaign the focus of gov't meeting
  • [03] KEDKE conference closes on Thursday
  • [04] Erdogan receives Patriarch in Ankara; Halki school discussed
  • [05] Greece one of the most favorable tourist destinations in the world
  • [06] Gov't earmarks 33.3mln euros for repairs on quake-ravaged Lefkada
  • [07] PM Simitis to discuss 'Social Charter' with finance minister
  • [08] Agricultural Insurance reports 16.1 pct rise in premium production
  • [09] Profit taking reverses early advance of prices in ASE
  • [10] ND's Karamanlis confers with ATHOC chief Angelopoulos-Daskalaki
  • [11] Fugitive Russian magnate applies for temporary release
  • [12] N17 suspect Kondylis says he met Giotopoulos 'six, seven times'
  • [13] Deputy FM to hold press conference on human trafficking on Friday
  • [14] Two cargo ships collide in the East Aegean - no injuries reported
  • [15] Minor quake reported off Preveza
  • [16] Greek FM Papandreou to exchange views during forthcoming visit
  • [17] Greek defense minister to visit Cyprus
  • [18] Cabinet sets up committee for return of displaced
  • [19] New PSEKA leadership elected in Nicosia

  • [01] Cabinet discusses gov't planning on education

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    A four-hour cabinet session on Thursday focused its discussion on the government's planning on education, in view of the commencement of this year's academic year.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who chaired the meeting, referred to the action to be taken by his government to improve education on all levels, including the construction of more school buildings.

    ''This year, we are increasing the number of full-day kindergartens and primary schools to cater for 300,000 students. The full-day school is the type of school of the 21st century. It provides full educational facilities, but it mainly assists the working family, especially the working mother,'' Simitis said.

    The reform in the essence and content of education would be continued also this year, with new text books for both primary and secondary levels, the premier said.

    ''The new text books will be modern and more functional to prepare a discerning student to become the citizen that would judge tomorrow's developments.''

    Simitis also announced the commencement of teacher training program, the promotion of special education for handicapped students, the introduction of advanced technology into schools, the creation of 16 new higher and tertiary education faculties and an increase in the master degrees offered by Greek universities.

    Later, Education Minister Petros Efthymiou in a press conference to announce details of the government's program said that plans were in place to open 500 new school libraries and 15 new Environmental Education Centers of a total capacity of 140,000 students, to be staffed with 12,000 educators, with both numbers being twice as many as last year.

    In addition, the minister announced the creation of two new universities, in Western Macedonia and Mainland Greece, and a new Technical Education Institute in the Ionian Islands, based in Argostoli, Cefalonia.

    Reactions on gov’t education initiative by ND, KKE, SYN: In his critique of the government's education program for the academic year 2003-2004, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis charged on Thursday that premier Simitis presented a false image of the country's education system.

    ''He conceals that public spending on education in Greece amount to 3.5 percent of the GDP, when the European Union average stands at 5.5 per cent,'' Karamanlis said during a speech he was delivering in Grevena.

    In the meantime, a Communist Party (KKE) press release containing the party's reaction to the same issue, in which it said that ''parents, students and the Greek people in general were experiencing daily the painful reality of a dearly-paid-for illiteracy that is offered by the current education system.''

    In its own reaction, the Coalition of Left (Synaspismos) complained that the government's announcements were dominated by pre-election impressiveness, lacking specific commitments on education.

    [02] Election campaign the focus of gov't meeting

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held a meeting in parliament on Thursday with PASOK's Parliament Group Secretary Nikos Levoyiannis, also attended by Minister of State Alekos Akrivakis and the ruling party's secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis.

    Levoyiannis and Akrivakis conveyed to Simitis the PASOK deputies' concerns over the current political climate, expressing their optimism for an improvement of pre-election climate in the provinces, following their recent contacts around the country.

    PASOK deputies should step up their pre-election campaign, Simitis said.

    In reply to a question regarding the debate on the new electoral law, Akrivakis said that the premier himself raised the specific issue during the meeting, adding that the Parliament Group is scheduled to convene in October to deal exclusively with the electoral law.

    ''Obviously the target would be to achieve a convergence of differing views,'' Akrivakis said.

    [03] KEDKE conference closes on Thursday

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) President Paris Koukoulopoulos on Thursday closed the extraordinary session of the organization’s assembly, stressing that “we managed to break the code of silence concerning the finances of the municipalities and to establish the way of assessing the central government’s founding” to municipalities”.

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni also addressed the closing day of the assembly’s session saying “there were many promises. The benefit of KEDKE and its conference was that it proved that it is united and resolved to fight”.

    “In essence, according to the promises of the minister (of Interior Costas Skandalidis), the law 1928 will be implemented beginning 2004, which practically means that it will be formulated by the next minister, who ever that may be”.

    [04] Erdogan receives Patriarch in Ankara; Halki school discussed

    ISTANBUL, 29/08/2003 (ANA – A. Kourkoulas)

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday received Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos here for a 45-minute meeting that reportedly touched on a handful of long-standing issues revolving around the ancient Patriarchate’s continued viability and its relations with the Turkish state.

    The re-opening of the Halki Theological Seminary on the eponymous island in the Sea of Marmara – a long-standing demand by Patriarchate, Greece and Orthodox communities around the world – was apparently high on the agenda of the meeting, the first official one between the Turkish premier and Vartholomeos.

    The Halki academy, the Patriarchate’s influential and primary seminary, was shut down by Turkish authorities in 1971.

    According to the Patriarch afterwards, he also referred to the problems faced by the now small ethnic Greek community of Istanbul, particularly severe laws on the management of ethnic Greek charities and charitable institutions.

    Although no decisions were announced, the Patriarch mentioned that Thursday’s meeting could prove to be “historic”.

    “Our problems have both a political and legal side. We agreed on this,” Vartholomeos later told Turkish reporters.

    “We were met with understanding. They told us that they will approach our problems with good intentions, and we left the prime minister’s residence with the hope,” he said, adding:

    “We hope to ensure certain results, as soon as possible. We are certain that within the framework of Turkey’s democratization, which has entered the road towards Europe, specific solutions will be able to be found over the problems of minorities, especially over the accumulated problems of the ethnic Greek community,” Vartholomeos, the primus inter pares of Orthodox Christian patriarchs, said.

    [05] Greece one of the most favorable tourist destinations in the world

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    Greece is steadily improving its position as one of the most favorable tourist destinations around the world, National Tourism Organization said on Thursday.

    Quoting figures published in foreign newspapers and magazines, GNTO said that in the UK, a survey by the Berret Southampton University showed that Greece was the second most favorable tourist destination after Spain (Canary Islands).

    In France, according to travel agents' estimates Greece was among the three biggest organized travel destinations after Spain and Italy.

    In Italy, recent surveys showed that Greece was the most favorable tourist destination in August and second in July, while in Germany, surveys by Zeit and Innofact AG showed that Greece and Italy were the most favorable tourist destinations.

    A recent survey in the US and Japan showed that Greece ranked 10th in the list of most favorable tourist destinations this year, up from 14th and 13th in both countries last year.

    [06] Gov't earmarks 33.3mln euros for repairs on quake-ravaged Lefkada

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    The government announced on Thursday that it released an allocation of 33.3 million euros, coming from the Public Investments Program, to pay for reconstruction projects on the island of Lefkada, to repair the damage left behind by a strong mid-August earthquake.

    Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas, who signed the relevant decision, said 30 million euros would be used to repair infrastructure projects, 1.8 million euros for restoration of monuments and 1.5 million euros to support Local Government Organizations.

    [07] PM Simitis to discuss 'Social Charter' with finance minister

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis will meet at the Maximos Mansion on Friday to discuss the ''Social Charter'' drafted by the government.

    The finance minister next week will hold a round of talks with other ministers in the context of the formulation of the budget for 2004.

    [08] Agricultural Insurance reports 16.1 pct rise in premium production

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    Agricultural Insurance on Thursday reported a 16.1 percent increase in its premium production in the first half of 2003, compared with the same period last year, to 101.5 million euros, and profits totalling 553,000 euros over the same period.

    Premium production in the general insurance sector totalled 56.9 million euros in the January-June 2003 period, from 53.1 million euros last year, an increase of 7.3 percent, while life insurance premium production rose 29.8 percent to 44.5 million euros from 34.3 million euros over the same period.

    The company said its investment revenues remained subdued because of disappointing developments in the capital markets and lower interest rates. Agricultural Insurance, however, expects a recovery in the bourse to help in improving its results by the end of the year.

    The company currently implements a voluntary retirement program including 20 percent of its workforce.

    [09] Profit taking reverses early advance of prices in ASE

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    A late wave of profit taking reversed an early upward trend in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday pushing Greek stocks off their day's highs.

    The general index ended at 2,256.03 points, off the day's highs of 2,292.31 points, unchanged from Wednesday. Turnover was a brisk 191.5 million euros.

    The Investment, Textile and Wholesale sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (1.57 percent, 1.33 percent and 1.15 percent, respectively), while the Publication and Retail sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (0.97 percent and 0.78 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks eased 0.03 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.83 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index dropped 0.97 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 240 to 82 with another 47 issues unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks in value were KAE, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, National Lottery Organization, National Bank of Greece and the Public Power Corporation.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover

    at 142.32 mln euros Thursday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: -0.03% percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: -0.83 percent

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 142.32 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Sellers

    outstrip buyers on Thursday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.33 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 14 bps

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring May 2013 (973 mln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.131 bln euros

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of August 28 2003

    Parities in euro

    Banknotes

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,091 1,066

    [10] ND's Karamanlis confers with ATHOC chief Angelopoulos-Daskalaki

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    The seven Olympic ''test event'' and progress over preparations for the 2004 Games were the focus of a meeting on Thursday between main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis and Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki at ND’s headquarters.

    ''The test events are an opportunity to correct flaws and confirm the state of preparedness,” Karamanlis said after the meeting.

    Although they began ominously in early August – hotel food poisoning the German junior rowing team and high winds plaguing the first two days of a rowing championship – the seven pre-Olympic sports events concluded with mostly positive marks on Thursday, drawing praise from athletes, coaches, federation officials and, of course, the IOC.

    ''We do not even have one day to spare'', Karamanlis said in echoing warnings by the IOC and ATHOC. ''We must accelerate our pace so that Athens can be entirely ready on Aug. 13, 2004.''

    The ND leader stressed that the Olympic Games are a major national affair that belonged to all of Greeks, who he said were actively supporting the endeavor.

    ''I am certain that Greece will succeed with everyone's reliable contribution. Athens will be ready. The Greek people in unison are guaranteeing the security, success and quality of the Olympic Games 2004''.

    On her part, the ATHOC chief answered a question regarding travel advice issued by the Australian government recently for its nationals in Greece, first referring the government’s response before adding that the country is “proceeding with an arduous and difficult preparation for the Games, just as the countries that have hosted the Games before us.”

    [11] Fugitive Russian magnate applies for temporary release

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    A one-time Russian media baron held here on an Interpol warrant issued by Russian authorities on Thursday applied for a temporary release from custody, claiming that the warrant was the product of political pressure.

    Vladimir Gusinskiy, 51, wanted in Russia since 2000 in connection with a multi-million-dollar money laundering and loan fraud scandal, was formally remanded in custody on Monday following his arrest at Athens' International Airport ''Eleftherios Venizelos'' last week.

    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. He was traveling with both Russian and Israeli passports.

    Gusinskiy's request is expected to be reviewed by an Appellate Council of justices on Friday.

    Sources said that an Appellate Magistrate has already submitted a recommendation to the Council for the release of the Russian businessman on a 60-thousand-euro bail and on the condition that he not leave the country.

    The Russian fugitive's arrest has reportedly generated international pressure -- from the US, Israel and even within Russia -- for his unconditional release, as was the case when he was again intercepted in Spain three years ago.

    [12] N17 suspect Kondylis says he met Giotopoulos 'six, seven times'

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    The rejoinder phase of the ongoing “November 17” trial continued on Thursday with another two out of the 19 defendants taking the stand to offer statements.

    Pavlos Serifis, one of three Serifis’ (all related) in the docks, denied any involvement with the lethal terrorist group, while claiming that his original confessions were the product of duress and threats by police.

    Among others, he said that during the December 1975 assassination of Richard Welch, the CIA’s reputed station chief in Athens, he was in West Germany.

    Conversely, defendant Sotiris Kondylis admitted to his involvement in a series of “N17” actions, including an infamous shoot-out with police in the Sepolia district.

    Moreover, he said he met Dimitris Koufodinas, N17’s reputed top assassin, through Christodoulos Xiros, one of three Xiros brothers on trial. He also said he met Alexandros Giotopoulos, the group’s alleged leader, on several occasions, as well as Vassilis Tzortzatos. Kondylis said Giotopoulos, aka “Michel Economou”, introduced himself as “Lambros”.

    Kondylis said he met Giotopoulos ''six or seven times'' along with other ''November 17 members'' at cafes and ''rebetika'' music bars.

    In other statements, he admitted to his involvement in the 1994 slaying of Turkish diplomat Omer Sipahioglu as well as to a rocket attack a few years later against the US embassy in Athens, before claiming he left the terror group in 1996.

    The trial resumes on Friday with Kondylis’ questioning by the bench and both prosecution and defense attorneys on the agenda.

    Additionally, the special appellate-level three-judge court hearing the trial ruled against a request by several defense attorneys for a psychiatric evaluation of one defendant, Costas Telios, an elementary school teacher who offered incriminating testimony this week about several of his co-defendants.

    Telios, who in the past has been treated for emotional problems, according to court records, stood by his initial confessions to police and identified several of the other suspects as “N17” members, including Koufodinas, a self-described beekeeper.

    [13] Deputy FM to hold press conference on human trafficking on Friday

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    Foreign Deputy Minister Andreas Loverdos on Friday will hold a press conference to present the activities of Non-Governmental Organizations financed by the foreign ministry to combat human trafficking, a foreign ministry press statement said.

    The deputy minister will be accompanied by International Economic Relations and Development Cooperation General Secretary Dimitrios Dollis.

    [14] Two cargo ships collide in the East Aegean - no injuries reported

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    A Greek-flagged cargo ship and another cargo ship sailing under a Turkish flag collided in the early morning hours on Thursday in the eastern Aegean Sea, causing significant damage to both ships but no injuries, maritime authorities said.

    The Greek-flagged ''ELPIDA 1'' and the Turkish-flagged ''SERVET DEVAL'' collided for unspecified causes, when their paths crossed at three nautical miles west of the Eastern Aegean island of Samos.

    The Greek motor-ship, with an eight-man crew but no cargo, was en-route from the Dodecanese island of Rhodes to Turkey when it collided with the Turkish vessel which was carrying a 17-man crew transferring 3.300 tones of fertilizers from Ukraine to Israel.

    After the accident, the two ships were escorted by port authority vessels to Samos.

    An investigation is underway.

    [15] Minor quake reported off Preveza

    Athens, 29/08/2003 (ANA)

    A mild earthquake registering 4.1 on the Richter scale was recorded at 4:16 a.m. (02.16 GMT) on Thursday morning in a sea region off western Greece, and near the coastal town of Preveza.

    The quake's epicenter was plotted as due north of the Ionian island of Lefkada, which bore the brunt of a 6.4 on the Richter scale quake earlier this month.

    [16] Greek FM Papandreou to exchange views during forthcoming visit

    NICOSIA, 29/-8/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    A general exchange of views will take place during the forthcoming visit to Cyprus of Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Thursday that Papandreou will arrive in Cyprus around September 10 and noted that the governments of Athens and Nicosia maintained friendly relations.

    Asked about the purpose of Papandreou's visit, taking into consideration that President Tassos Papadopoulos will be visiting Athens towards the end of September, Chrysostomides said ''it is natural, due to close and friendly relations between the President of the Republic and the Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs, to have contacts at any time without any formalities or notice.''

    ''The relations between the governments of Greece and Cyprus are friendly. No formality is needed regarding the exchange of visits,'' the spokesman said.

    Chrysostomides noted that the visit was arranged after a conversation over the telephone between President Papadopoulos and Papandreou, adding that there will be ''a general exchange of views, as usual.''

    [17] Greek defense minister to visit Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 29/08/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou will be visiting Cyprus soon to attend the October 1st military parade, on the occasion of the anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, and to hold contacts with the government and political parties.

    The visit was announced on Thursday by Cypriot Defense Minister Kyriacos Mavronicolas, who also commented on the ''Nikiforos'' military exercise, which would take place depending on developments in the Cyprus problem.

    ''If there are political developments in the Cyprus question, which may create a climate for a settlement of the problem, then I think 'Nikiforos' will not be necessary,'' he said, commenting on a report in local daily newspaper ''Politis'' that the maneuvers may not take place due to efforts to reach a Cyprus settlement.

    Mavronicolas said ''we are the first to want a solution of the Cyprus problem and thus our actions should give this message, that we are ready not only to sit at the negotiating table but also to solve the problem.''

    The minister noted that if the situation remained as it is today, then the exercise should take place, adding that preparations are already underway.

    Mavronicolas said that other smaller scale exercises were continuing at all army camps and on all levels.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [18] Cabinet sets up committee for return of displaced

    NICOSIA, 29/08/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus' Council of Ministers decided on Wednesday to appoint a ministerial committee to undertake the organization of the return of displaced persons to municipalities and communities under Turkish occupation.

    Announcing the decision on Thursday, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said that the committee would comprise the Ministers of the Interior, Finance, Communications and Works, and Education and Culture.

    He added that the committee would undertake to study the issue of reconstruction, including plans, infrastructure and costs.

    This, he said, generally covers all the areas under Turkish occupation but noted that the whole project would probably start in the areas to be placed under Greek Cypriot administration.

    Asked if there was a deadline for the completion of this project, Chrysostomides said ''we want a solution of the Cyprus problem before May 1, 2004'' when Cyprus will become a full member of the EU, and thus the project should be carried out by then.

    Replying to questions, the spokesman said ''the intention is for us to be ready and we are trying to be ready in all sectors in case of a promotion and solution of the Cyprus problem.''

    Asked if the studies would be based on a solution plan presented to the two sides by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan earlier this year, Chrysostomides said they would ''in the context of some plans or some other parameters that the ministerial committee may deem necessary.''

    The spokesman said the committee would act on behalf of the President of the Republic and that any minister authorized by the cabinet could make any necessary contacts with the EU or any other international organization or country.

    [19] New PSEKA leadership elected in Nicosia

    NICOSIA, 29/08/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The new leadership of the World Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) was elected on Thursday in Nicosia, during PSEKA's meeting on the sidelines of the 13th World Congress of Overseas Cypriots.

    Philip Christopher was pronounced President, Loizos Aravis General Secretary and Ninos Koumettou Treasurer without elections, as no other candidacies were submitted, while elections were held for the position of Alternate President, which Savvas Tsivikos won.

    The federations for each country had already submitted the names of the Vice Presidents of PSEKA as follows: Michalis Ellinas for the United Kingdom, Michalis Christodoulou for Australia, Michalis Panayi for Canada, Georgios Syllouris for Greece, Evagoras Mavrommatis for the rest of Europe, Costas Kolatsis for South Africa, Costas Klostris for the rest of Africa, and Tasos Zambas for the United States.


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