|Sunday, 21 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-09-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 8, 2003
 Simitis unveils regional policy plan
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Regional development is the top priority of the government's economic policy and a challenge to achieve real convergence with the European Union, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday.
Addressing an official dinner, traditionally held by the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, Mr. Simitis stressed that real convergence passed through regional convergence.
''We want Greece to converge with the European Union with no parts or region of the country lagging behind in a process of improving living standards in the country,'' the premier said.
In his speech, Mr. Simitis offered a more detailed view of the government's regional policy.
''Our policy is not focusing only on regions lagging behind in growth. Our policy covers all geographical regions of the country as they all offered significant and unexploited potential in production and employment. Regional converge offers the chance to highlight all advantages attracting investments and creating employment. Within this context, it is desirable and that's what we are doing, we support more those regions with more weaknesses,'' Mr. Simitis stressed.
The Greek prime minister presented in detail the government's public investment program, ''the more stable engine'' of development procedure in Greece as he described it.
The government is channeling the biggest part of all public and private investments to the country's regions, establishes investors' support centers in every prefect (five pilot centers are already operating), sets up Business and Development Centers around the country with the aim to coordinate and integrate regional initiatives funded by a Third Community Support Framework, to support small- and medium-sized enterprises and to promote employment, and finally creates regional venture capital schemes to fund high-risk investments.
Mr. Simitis stressed that projects funded by a Third CSF program were the criteria for the quality of regional development in the next 10-15 years.
He said that 80 percent of total funds, around 14 trillion drachmas, were earmarked for projects and actions in regional Greece.
Private investments soared in regional Greece, supported by a government's development law - approved in 1998. More than 2,260 investment projects, with budgets totalling 2.9 billion euros and capital subsidies of around 1.0 billion euros, have been approved by the development law creating around 20,800 new job positions.
Mr. Simitis underlined that the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, Central Macedonia and Central Greece regions accounted for 50 percent of all investments and around 54 percent of total subsidies.
The secondary sector accounted for 71 percent of all subsidies, followed by the tourism sector (25 percent). Mr. Simitis stressed the importance of promoting agro-tourism policy around the country.
''Without any exaggeration, we can say that with our investment program, we will have completed the formation of a new productive system in the country in the next five years. This program will be strengthen in the future by absorbing funds currently channeled to Olympic Games' projects,'' he said.
The prime minister stressed that the government's investment program contributed in overcoming chronic weakness in the country and changing the face of Greek regions.
''The results of our policy are visible to the Greek society. In contrast with the general picture in Europe, Greece is steadily reducing regional imbalances, in fact imbalances in our country are among the lowest in Europe.''
The Greek premier stressed, however, that
despite improvements made there were still unexploited potential, potential that local societies and regional authorities such as municipalities and prefects could exploit more efficiently.
Mr. Simitis urged for local societies and authorities to come to a consensus in an effort to attract investments around the country and to avoid past mistakes when large investments left the country because of the opposition of local societies.
He also urged regions to end regional competition practices and to unite their forces to win the future.
''Our government rejects the idea of local differences and try to formulate a policy of local, prefect and regional development based on synthesis because we believe that everyone can and should participate in growth,'' Mr. Simitis noted.
The prime minister urged for all Greeks, the administration, businesses, workers, citizens and social agencies to participate in an effort to achieve regional development and convergence ''for a strong region, equally participating in growth, servicing the needs of citizens and respects the environment.''
 PM rules out early elections, stresses Cyprus developments
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Sunday ruled out all prospect of early elections during the customary press conference given by the prime minister at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) each year, stressing that the government intended to exhaust its term.
On the issue of foreign policy, meanwhile, he predicted that the next government in office will have to deal with crucial developments on the Cyprus issue and in relations with Turkey.
''We do not conduct opinion poll politics, we make policy based on four-year planning, our work is in progress, the economy is doing better and we have no reason to hurry,'' he said, regarding the elections.
He advised main opposition New Democracy to ''show patience'' and said that the party's victory in the coming polls was doubtful, while predicting victory for PASOK.
Turning to the package of social measures announced by the government the previous week, Simitis said that these were the result of a ''planned and decisive policy that has been evolving since 1996''. As to the funds that will cover the new benefits, he said these would come from a rise in GDP, which was expected to come to 10 billion euros in 2004.
He said that the measures would cost about 1.5 per cent of GDP, which was the same percentage as the tax and social insurance measures announced the previous year.
Simitis stressed that the government's goal for its current four-year term had been economic growth and stabilization, both of which had been achieved, so as to establish the conditions needed for convergence in all areas with the EU average.
Convergence had already been achieved in the social sector through the new measures, and the government had created the right conditions for convergence to be ''visible and possible'' in the third four-year term that would begin in 2004, he added.
Stressing that there was no cause for concern about how the measures would financed and rejecting ND claims that they would be paid for with borrowed money, Simitis also pledged that income from privatizations would be used exclusively for reducing public debt.
According to the prime minister, total social spending during 2004 could reach as high as 2.6 billion euros. The precise amount that will be added to the 1.7 billion euros earmarked for the 'social package' measures announced last week, however, will depend on revenue policy and decisions will be made through dialogue with social bodies.
Simitis also accused ND of ''double-talk'', since it had simultaneously denounced the measures as 'small change' and an ''economic crime'', even as ND members came out with statements promising to implement the measures denounced by their party if they came into power.
The prime minister also made it clear that the government would not bow to pressure for more handouts. Commenting on the demands being made by specific groups, such as academics, doctors and teachers, he said that some were fair and would be met by the government but others were ''excessive and unjustified''.
He went so far as to ascribe political motives to some of these demands, saying they aimed to trigger confrontations with the government in order to damage it politically and create the impression of disorder within the country.
Apart from foreign policy, major issues in the coming four-year term according to Simitis will be the Olympics Games, negotiations for the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) and convergence with the EU, including a decision on whether to expand the social state or not.
He slammed what he called ND's ideological ''confusion'' and its position that it could express the political centre, the right and even the left and questioned whether the future course for growth and stabilization could be entrusted to ''the automatic pilot'' of ND.
Referring to the process of inspecting the 'statement of means' declarations submitted by MPs, he said this would be completed by the end of 2003 so that the elections would not take place ''under the shadow'' of accusations of no transparency.
He said these inspections would be comparative, unlike in previous years, and described the submission of statements of their stock market transactions by PASOK MPs as a ''political act''. At the same time, he expressed conviction that the MPs in his party would not avoid making this political act.
Regarding the bill for election law reform, particularly the inclusion of proposals such as the double ballot box and MP list, he said this would take its final form after dialogue on the proposed reforms was completed.
In response to other questions, he said he had no interest in either the post of Greek president or EU president and said he would consider a meeting with Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece if there were a specific agenda.
Cyprus, Turkey and Iraq: Linking the settlement of the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations with the government's developmental policies - due to the high percentage of GDP currently absorbed by defense spending that a solution would allow to be reduced - Simitis said these would be the ''crucial issues in the next four-year term''.
He stressed that a decision for the start of accession negotiations between the European Union and Turkey in December 2004 also hinged on its finding a solution to problems with Greece over the Aegean and on the Cyprus issue before the end of that year. According to Simitis, the new Turkish government headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted to follow policies on internal affairs - such as civil rights and social policy - that were very different to those of previous Turkish governments.
''The new Turkish government has understood that, in order to become a member of the EU, it must solve certain problems that are long term...I believe that it is totally aware that if it wants to achieve the start of accession negotiations it must solve outstanding problems that concern the Cyprus problem, the Aegean continental shelf and Greek-Turkish relations in general,'' Simitis said.
In meetings with Erdogan, he added, he had received the impression that the Turkish prime minister and his government genuinely wanted to take steps to overcome the problems that existed.
At the same time, Simitis noted that Erdogan's good intentions were not enough and would have to be backed up by actions that had so far failed to materialize.
He said the Turkish government would have to find ways to overcome the opposition of reactionary elements within Turkey and give tangible proof of its intentions, as Greece had done, which would allow the two sides to overcome their divisions and come to an agreement on the outstanding issues.
''I am expecting these steps...I have not so far seen proof in practice that things are really changing,'' he stressed.
He was strongly critical of ND's stance on the Cyprus issue and relations with Turkey, saying its supposedly 'different view' on these issues was actually targeted at domestic audiences and studiously kept quiet abroad.
If the party attempted to bring about change via the rampant nationalism touted by its members, he added, the country would find itself in a very difficult position.
He also accused the main opposition of not having presenting a clear point of view regarding the peace plan for Cyprus proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
With reference to Iraq, Simitis said there was no point sending Greek forces to the area when there was no plan for Iraq's political administration with the contribution of the UN and no timeframe for gradually turning the country's government over to the Iraqis.
He stressed the need to solve these problems so that forces sent to the area would be a ''true peace-keeping force'', in which Greece might also participate.
''A peaceful settlement in Iraq is in all our interests. It is in our interests because the rules that apply to international relations demand that the Iraqi people have the power to determine their fate, to have a peaceful future,'' Simitis said.
He stressed the need to give the UN as big a role as was feasible in Iraq's political developments also, so that the Iraqis could take over the government and administration of their country as quickly as possible.
 ND leader Karamanlis slams PM's 'social policy package'
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)''Social policy is not fragmentary grants of the last moment, neither a lottery which pops up every four years when pre-election campaign promises start,'' main opposition New Democracy ((ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Sunday, commenting on the press conference which Prime Minister Costas Simitis gave at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) earlier in the day.
''Social policy means for the Greek citizen to have hospitals which respect human dignity, schools which offer equal opportunities in knowledge, universities whose degrees correspond to the labor market, and an insurance system which respects the toils of the working people,'' Karamanlis said.
The ND leader went on to say that ''social policy for a state which respects its citizens is an on-going obligation. We commit ourselves for the new governance that the support for the low income earners, pensioners and unemployed will be an on-going priority of ours and not a postscript to repeated pre-election promises. Social sensitivity cannot be exhausted through reminders of founding proclamations of parties, neither be a pretext for pre-election expediencies.''
The ND leader further said that the prime minister ''hands out packages and promises which the next government will materialize,'' reiterating that the greatest redistribution of income which occurred under the Simitis governments was ''the 30 billion which were lost at the Athens Stock Exchange.''
Responding to the remarks by Karamanlis, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that ''yet again panic-stricken, Karamanlis chose to convert into a postscript of the prime minister's interview in Thessaloniki.''
''The people also had the opportunity to compare and judge,'' Protopapas said, adding:''On the one had, we, the government, Costas Simitis with security and stability are forging ahead for the future. We guarantee the prosperity of the Greek people. On the other, we have a main opposition party which remains stuck to the agenda of the past. Let's compare and judge.''
 KKE, Coalition criticizes PM's comments at TIF press conference
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Commenting on the press conference given by Prime Minister Costas Simitis at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Sunday, the head of the Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) Central Committee Press Office, Makis Mailis, said ''the prime minister yet again stated many inaccuracies, such as that all are benefiting from the economic growth. At the same time, he did not say, as (main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas) Karamanlis did not also say, that after 2004 the people are expecting a torrent of measures against them, regardless of whether PASOK or ND are in power.''
Mailis called on the people ''to give a hard slap'' to both the major parties ''and to every supporter of the European Union, NATO and Maastricht.''
On his part, Coalition of the Left (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, in commenting on the premier's press conference, said that ''for the two four-year terms of Simitis, the same results speak as the ordinary citizen lives them on a daily basis''.
Constantopoulos noted that the assessment of these two four-year terms is that they led to social exclusion, unequal economic distribution and the creation of new ''non-privileged.''
 PM Simitis inspects projects underway in Thessaloniki
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis, accompanied by several government ministers, was briefed in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Saturday morning on the course of projects underway in the city.
Simitis first visited Kaftatzoglio Stadium which is being renovated almost anew to welcome the Olympic Games in August 2004.
He then visited the Thessaloniki eastern ring highway, budgeted at 76 million euros.
The prime minister later inspected work in progress at a 20 kilometer-long section of the Egnatia Road.
Simitis went on to visit workers' homes under construction at Efkarpia, a project estimated at around 29 million euros. The project consists of 487 homes which will house 2,000 people.
He concluded his tour with a visit to a 3.7 kilometer-long section of the Athens-Thessaloniki highway, budgeted at 58 million euros.
The prime ministerís tour was on the sidelines of his inauguration on Friday night of the Thessaloniki International Fair.
 PM talks to local bodies on Thessaloniki-based public works
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday evening called on all forces in Thessaloniki to mobilize in order to generate policies and carry out work that will help the city ''even better reflect the image of a metropolitan centre of southeastern Europe''. Simitis was speaking at a meeting attended by representatives of dozens of local Thessaloniki organizations and bodies, held in the framework of his visit to the Thessaloniki International Fair.
The prime minister said the effort might also require ''restructuring'' the city's administration model to overcome problems of ''multiple authority or unclear responsibilities''.
He said he would be open to any proposal for the city's development that was jointly submitted by the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry, the regional authority, the prefectural authority, municipal local government and the Regulating Organization.
Simitis also noted that government initiatives to make Thessaloniki the base of several major international organizations, the venue for EU councils and for the final summit held under the Greek EU presidency had helped place the spotlight on the city, ''which has passed into the history of major European developments''.
He added that significant progress had been made over the past year in implementing government policies and major public works for the area, such as the Egnatia Highway, the state airport, the submarine roadway, and the junctions on the ring road and on the issue of a metro system.
Overall, public works budgeted at around 3,82 million euros were currently underway throughout the northern city.
Speaking after Simitis, main opposition New Democracy-affiliated Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis and other representatives of local bodies criticized the government for delays in carrying out public works and for going back on promises that had been made by the prime minister in the past.
During the meeting, Simitis was given three memoranda with demands regarding the city's problems, one by the prefect referring to the prefectural authority's finances, one by Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, who had earlier complained about the delay in beginning work on the metro, and one by the mayor of a Thessaloniki suburb.
 ND leader Karamanlis says PM Simitis attempts to buy votes from farmers
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis, in a speech in Evia on Saturday, said that the present policy of Prime Minister Costas Simitis on agriculture constituted an electoral effort to buy votes.
Stating that "the Simitis package attempts to buy votes", Karamanlis said that the priorities of his ND party was to develop a new policy which will facilitate Greek entrepreneurs and attract investments from abroad.
The ND leader was particularly critical of the government's use of European Union funds, stating that "the governments of Simitis had 8 years at their disposal to handle the funds properly but despite this, the Greek economy at present is the weakest in Europe."
 Coalition leader Constantopoulos foresees early general elections
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Coalition of the Left (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, on a tour of the Dodecanese island of Kos, said on Saturday that he foresees that general elections will be held soon, that is, before the official date of spring 2004.
He was responding to the announcements made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis during his speech at the inauguration of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Friday night.
''The elections will be judged by the people. And the people must answer one question: Should they believe in the promises which are always given on the eve of general elections and which are not kept, or should they believe with their own eyes and experience. Will they (the people) legalize the two Greece which the policy of the (ruling) PASOK has created - The Greece of the powerful and the Greece of the weak, or will they say no and claim the share which they deserve from the (economic) growth of the country.?''
 PM Simitis inaugurates exhibition on Cyprus on sidelines of TIF
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis, on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), on Saturday inaugurated an exhibition on Cyprus entitled ''Cyprus 1700-2000'' at the Telloglio Foundation of Thessaloniki.
The exhibition was organized by the foundation in cooperation with TIF.
''The dynamics of Cypriot society are the most effective way in order for the open wounds of the Cyprus issue to be closed, as we all wish, for both the communities to live peacefully and creatively in a unified European Cyprus,'' the prime minister said.
Simitis added that ''the exhibition gives this message, the cultural and political one: Cyprus, that has a long historic course, participates in Europe and has its own offer and with this offer will also join the European family.''
 PM briefs PASOK cadres on social policy package
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Addressing a meeting of ruling PASOK party cadres in Thessaloniki on Saturday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis referred to the social policy package he had recently announced.
According to information received by the ANA, the continuation of the economic support measures for the lower income classes will be announced after a Cabinet meeting on September 15.
Govít spokesman visits ANA and MPA pavilion at TIF: Press and Mass Media Minister Christos Protopapas visited the pavilion of the Athens News Agency (ANA) and the Macedonian Press Agency (MPA) at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Saturday.
The minister was received and given a tour by ANA General Director Andreas Christodoulides and MPA President Paraskevas Papaskevopoulos and General Director Spyros Kouzinopoulos.
Labor minister visits pavilions at TIF: Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas on Saturday expressed satisfaction over the performance of the pavilions of the Social Policy Organization at the 68th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
The minister stressed that "the presence shows the progress being made in the combatting of unemployment and the conditions offered for a better life for the working people, like the acquirement of a home and better entertainment and education.
The minister also visited the Social Security Foundation (IKA) and other labor related pavilions.
 Polls say govt's social package of measures "very necessary"
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)A poll by Metron Analysis, published with Imerisia daily financial newspaper on Saturday, showed that 61.5 percent of respondents said that a "social package" of measures, announced by the Prime Minister Costas Simitis early in the week, were moving towards the right direction, while only 27 percent expressed a different opinion. The same poll showed that 37.4 percent of respondents said they trusted more the ruling PASOK government under Mr. Simitis in managing economic issues compared with a 27.3 percent saying they trusted the main opposition ND party under Mr. Karamanlis.
A 22.1 percent of respondents said they did not trust either of the two politicians, while 11.2 percent did not answer.
Metron Analysis' poll showed that 30.7 percent of respondents said they were very satisfied with the government, 31 percent said they were not so satisfied and 36.4 percent said they were not satisfied at all (the rates for ND party were 24.7 percent, 33.3 percent and 34.1 percent, respectively).
Another poll, by DIMEL, published with the ''Investors' World'' weekly financial newspaper on Saturday, showed that 47.7 percent of respondents said that the government measures were little or not at all positive, with a 66.6 percent saying they were ''benefits on loan'' and a 84.9 percent saying they were mostly pre-election policy lacking any social sensitivity.
The same poll showed that 39.8 percent of Greeks said the measures were very necessary, with another 29.4 percent saying they were necessary enough.
DIMEL's poll said that 55.9 percent of Greeks believed that the measures would not improve their financial situation, with only 22.5 percent expecting a ''small'' improvement. The poll showed that 71.7 percent of respondents believed that the measures would not affect their voting decisions.
The poll maintained ND party's lead over the ruling PASOK to around 8.3 percentage points (37.3 percent against 29 percent), although Prime Minister Costas Simitis continued leading its opposition leader Costas Karamanlis (35.8 percent against 29 percent) in credibility. A 26.1 percent of respondents said they rejected both politicians.
 Informal EU foreign ministers' meeting endsRIVA DEL GARDA, 08/09/2003 (ANA/E. Boukaouri)
Foreign Minister George Papandreou joined his European Union counterparts in expressing concern over the resignation of Palestinian premier Mahmoud Abbas and in adding the political wing of the extremist Palestinian group Hamas to its 'blacklist' of terrorist organizations.
At an informal EU foreign ministers' meeting at this quiet Italian town that ended on Saturday, Papandreou was among those stressing the need to implement the 'Road Map' to kick start the peace process in the Middle East and end the cycle of violence.
He noted, however, that the decision to freeze Hamas assets - while necessary and justified - presented a wider problem and required a carefully assessment of the organizationís humanitarian activities.
''We support Abbas, but naturally it is not reasonable to set aside Arafat, who is elected and composes part of the Palestinian affair,'' he added.
On the issue of Iraq, the second major issue discussed at the meeting, Papandreou said that all sides agreed on a steady course toward democratic government in Iraq, while he stressed the central role that an upgraded United Nations should play in this process.
On the issue of the European Constitution, Greece sided with the smaller countries at the meeting in favor of extending negotiations passed the deadline, if necessary, in order to achieve the right balance on the issue of majority.
Greece supports a double majority worked out on the basis of population and state.
Papandreou said particular emphasis should be placed to extending the double majority to the areas of foreign policy and security.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Papandreou had talks with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul that focused on internal reforms within Turkey and developments on the Cyprus issue.
 Greek foreign minister sees new impetus for Cyprus solution
NICOSIA, 08/09/2003 (ANA/G.Leonidas)The interest shown by European Union countries and the involvement of the EU itself were giving a new impetus for the solution of the Cyprus problem, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said in an interview with the Cypriot newspaper 'Haravgi' published on Sunday.
Papandreou, who is due in Cyprus on Wednesday for a two-day working visit, said this new impetus was also linked to the fact that Turkey had come up against the Cyprus problem as an obstacle in its efforts to join the EU - with its contribution to a solution due to be assessed when it seeks the start of accession negotiations with the EU at the end of 2004 - and the continued lively interest in the Cyprus problem shown by the United States.
Europe wanted to see the Cyprus problem solved because Turkey's behavior in the occupied north part of Cyprus was un-European, he added.
''Based on these facts, the Annan (peace) plan for Cyprus must be re-examined, so that any solution found is truly viable, functional and compatible with European principles and the body of EU laws and regulations,'' he said.
Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas, meanwhile, in an interview given to the Cypriot daily 'Phileleftheros', said that Cyprus formal accession to the EU in 2004 did not reduce the value of the Annan peace plan for Cyprus, which was ''an important initiative by the United Nations for a Cyprus solution'' and a powerful basis for dialogue with the proper adaptations.
 PM tours TIF, comments on Thessaloniki's bid for EXPO 2008
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Visiting the Expohouse pavilion at the 68th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) on Sunday, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the northern Greek city would be ready to place a successful bid for the EXPO 2008 international trade fair in December 2004.
Simitis, who was touring the exhibition at the head of a ministerial delegation, said that the organization of EXPO would give Greece an opportunity to ''successfully continue the tradition that we started with the organization of the 2004 Olympic Games''.
He said the government had selected Thessaloniki to bid for EXPO in order to highlight the city's role in the wider region.
The prime minister then visited pavilion 10 at the exhibition, which housed a special tribute to education, and then inaugurated the newly-renovated pavilion 6, which this year is being used by government ministries to present their work in specific areas, such as the Society of Information program and the Public Works ministry's stand on the major public works and the National Land Registry.
Simitis also visited the stands of the Agricultural Insurances Organization (OGA) and spoke briefly with Deputy Agriculture Minister Vaggelis Argyris and ended his tour at the stand of the Social Insurance Foundation (IKA), where he was briefed by IKA governor Miltiadis Nektarios on the implementation of the Society of Information program within the organization.
 Simitis inaugurates section of Egnatia Road
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Sunday inaugurated a section of the Egnatia Road which covers the distance from Derveni to Nymfopetra.
The 30 kilometer-long section is budgeted at 140 million euros, while another two kilometers of road will be open to traffic in December.
According to Simitis, with the Egnatia Road the region is upgraded in that it gives Greece new capabilities as the major road axis links the East with the West, from Turkey to Italy.
 Ministers meet industrialists on sidelines of TIF
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis met in Thessaloniki on Sunday night with the board and members of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE) and discussed with them the new development law which is under preparation as well as issues concerning specific businesses in northern Greece.
In statements after the meeting, both the minister and SBBE President Dimitris Symeonidis referred in general to the agenda of the issues they discussed, stating that they had a constructive dialogue during which satisfactory answers were given to certain issues, but that other issues must be examined anew.
Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou also met with the SBBE board and discussed with them issues related to the competitiveness of the Greek economy and the achievement of regional development.
One of the issues raised concerned the contents of the Ramsar Treaty and the protection of the wetlands, due to which various problems have been created to business activity in western Thessaloniki.
Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Sunday inaugurated the pavilion of the Development Ministry at the 68th Thessaloniki International (Fair) where he noted the mass participation of Thessaloniki enterprises of the ministry's Business Competitiveness Program (EPAN).
According to Tsohatzopoulos, the number of enterprises in the region which have declared participation in the EPAN program total 25,000.
 Two killed in explosion at Rendi meat-packing plant
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)Two welders were killed in a powerful explosion at the meat-packing plant "Floridis" in Rendi at 18:10 on Saturday evening, caused by a leak in a four-liter tank of propane they were using in their work.
The two men were identified as Dimitris Stefanou, 30, and his 18-year-old assistant Petros Monoholias. According to police, their death was instant since they were extremely close to the tank at the time of the accident, while their bodies were badly damaged.
The blast, which occurred on the first floor of the factory on the corners of Pyrgos and Kennedy streets near the Rendi vegetable market, was heard throughout the district.
Police are now investigating the exact causes of the propane leak.
 Yugoslav wanted by French authorities arrested in Samothrace
Athens, 08/09/2003 (ANA)A 31-year-old Yugoslav, for whom an international arrest warrant has been issued by the French authorities on charges of attempted manslaughter, was arrested on the island of Samothrace on Sunday.
Two of his friends, aged 24 and 31, also Yugoslavs, were arrested along with him.
Found in the possession of the three Yugoslavs were narcotic substances.
 President opens 6th WFUCA World Congress
NICOSIA, 08/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Saturday that a great part of the island's cultural heritage belongs to the island today as a result of UNESCO's efforts, adding that from
the depths of history Cyprus belongs to those countries that have a significant culture and a bright cultural tradition and heritage.
The president, who opened the 6th World Congress of the World
Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centers and Associations (WFUCA) in Nicosia, expressed gratitude towards UNESCO and WFUCA for their interest and active support since the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island.
The Congress takes place every four years and aims to bring closer the 5,000 UNESCO clubs and discuss issues that are relevant to UNESCO priorities. The Cyprus Congress opened at the ''Archangelos'' Kykkos Conference Center in Nicosia. Deliberations will continue in Limassol.
President Papadopoulos noted that the history of Cyprus is marked by tragic historical events, adding that the people of Cyprus are struggling for a functional and viable solution of the Cyprus problem, which will reunite the island and safeguard economic growth and social advancement in conditions of safety, within the framework of the European family.