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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-09-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

September 15, 2003


  • [01] Keynote Karamanlis address outlines ND policies, directions
  • [02] Karamanlis cites four-year period of 'high goals', during press conference
  • [03] Constantopoulos, Chrysohoidis interviews in Athens dailies
  • [04] Greek justice minister attends EU meeting with counterparts
  • [05] Memorial service in Nicosia for Kranidiotis
  • [06] Fake crew lists used by migrant smuggling ring
  • [07] Moderate quake in Aegean sea region
  • [08] Police charge elderly pensioner with armed robbery
  • [09] Panathinaikos ahead of standings; AEK falters
  • [10] German delegates to visit Cyprus

  • [01] Keynote Karamanlis address outlines ND policies, directions

    Athens, 15/09/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday stressed that a 30-year cycle in Greece is coming to an end, with the upcoming period characterized by new collective and individual demands for more prosperity.

    Karamanlis spoke during the last weekend of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) in the eponymous northern Greece port city, exactly one week after the customary state-of-the-nation speech by the prime minister inaugurating the largest trade exhibition in Greece.

    Less than a year before the next general elections in Greece, the main opposition leader outlined his party’s economic and social targets, while repeatedly stressing that “new governance” is needed in practically every aspects of the country’s daily life – a political blueprint he termed as “Prospect 2010”.

    Speaking to a crowd that included most of the area’s top political, business and labor leaders, Karamanlis said ND’s goal is for development and prosperity everywhere in the country.

    In a reply from the same podium to remarks by PM Costas Simitis a week earlier, who cited an upcoming four-year period of “high risk”, Karamanlis first focused on next year’s Olympic Games in Athens, saying that “we believe that despite the delays and skyrocketing costs, we can host the best Games ever.”

    Along those lines, he promised that if elected to the premier's post, he will retain all of the top cadres involved in preparations for the Games.

    As far as national issues are concerned, the ND leader reiterated his party’s positions over defense and foreign policy, saying the goal is to reduce defense spending in favor of social funding and a more robust social state.

    “We Greeks strive for peace and cooperation with our neighbors, and we demand respect for International Law. That is why in this era of a new governance, immediately after the elections, we will embark on initiatives for the union of our forces, by upgrading the foreign policy council, as well as mobilizing the council of political party leaders under the auspices of the president of the republic.”

    In terms of social policy, Karamanlis announced that he will work for the creation of a unified social protection fund, one financed by the budget and aimed at supporting the lower socio-economic strata.

    Another eyebrow-raising statement by the ND leader was his promise to abolish the financial crimes unit (SDOE), which falls under the finance ministry’s control, in its present form.

    “We do not agree with the view that wants Greece to constantly compare itself with its past; to ignore the international environment and to appear, thus, satisfied,” he said.

    In echoing his consistent and sharp criticism of the government, Karamanlis said Greece remains in the bottom stops amongst EU member-states in terms of spending for education, health and research, while charging that two out of every 10 Greek families live under the poverty line. Additionally, he reminded that six Greek regions are amongst the EU’s 11 poorest, whereas the average per capita income in Greece is 67.8 percent of the Union average, down from the 69-percent average of 1981, when Greece debuted in the European Union.

    He added that massive amounts of monies were squandered over the previous years, before noting that the country can still act with certainty and even set lofty goals with a new economic policy that leads to true convergence with the rest of Europe.

    Continuing his emphasis on the economy, Karamanlis said that with today’s policies, medium and long-term development is not viable, whereas ND’s policy will aim at boosting employment and at a dramatic improvement in the country’s lagging competitiveness.

    Moreover, Karamanlis promised that an ND government under his premiership will strive for true fiscal reform; deregulation of markets through stepped up competition and the privatization of state-run enterprises; “courageous” tax cuts as well as a brake on contentious penalty interest rates slapped by banks in Greece.

    Karamanlis also referred to measures against corruption, crime, better environmental protection and improvements to the education sector, among others.

    The ND leader first toured several pavilions at the 68th TIF exhibition, where he met with local officials, supporters as well as with the trade fair’s leadership.

    Reactions: In a reply to Karamanlis’ address at the TIF trade show, deputy press Minister Telemahos Hytiris charged that the ND leader offered nothing new or specific in his remarks.

    “We’re offering work and actions, they’re offering rhetoric … Mr. Karamanlis is dreaming of re-inventing the right’s (wing) state, something he’s not even hiding … We have already seen that, Mr. Karamanlis, we’ve seen that...” was the spokesman’s response.

    A written statement by ND spokesman Theodoris Roussopoulos soon followed Hytiris’ reaction, where the former noted:

    “Truly, the PASOK governments received and managed a great deal (of money), but they did little. In the meantime, 1.5 million investors are still asking to find out who, and with whose tolerance, took 30 trillion (drachmas) from them in Sophocleous (the stock market); Greek taxpayers are still wondering where the 1.1 trillion (drachmas) spent for the ‘reform’ of (state-run) Olympic (airways) went to. At this point, when Greeks hear of new ‘packages’, when they are bombarded with worn-out pre-election promises, they respond: ‘We’ve already given, Mr. Simitis, we gave’.” (one euro equals 340.75 drachmas)

    As far as the other two, smaller, parties in Parliament are concerned, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) merely said that Karamanlis’ statements on Saturday confirmed that a vote for ND “means a vote for PASOK’s policy without PASOK… it means a vote for the government of plutocracy...”

    The Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) said the major parties in Greece only differ on their estimates and observations regarding the economy’s indices, and over responsibilities and priorities. Conversely, Synaspismos claimed the two converge on what it called “neo-liberal policies that … back and support big capital...”

    [02] Karamanlis cites four-year period of 'high goals', during press conference

    Athens, 5/09/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Sunday appeared confident that his party will win the next general elections, while calling the next four-year period one of “high goals”, in paraphrasing Prime Minister Costas Simitis’ statement last week warning of a “high-risk” period through 2008.

    Karamanlis fielded questions at a nationally televised press conference in Thessaloniki a day after he spoke on the sidelines of Greece’s largest trade exhibition (the 68th TIF), and a week after Simitis inaugurated the trade convention with a customary state-of-the-nation address.

    In continuing his sharp criticism of a recently announced “social package” and “convergence charter” by the government, Karamanlis dismissed the measures as nothing more than pre-election gimmicks to be funded by borrowed money. Nevertheless, he said that if elected prime minister, he will honor his predecessor’s announced measures. As far as the “convergence charter” itself is concerned, Karamanlis said it was an insult to the citizenry, as Prime Minister Costas Simitis simply repeated what he said prior to the April 2000 elections.

    Funding of improved social benefits for low-income and disadvantaged groups will come directly from greater economic growth and savings resulting from a clampdown on corruption and bureaucracy, Karamanlis stressed.

    Asked about preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games, Karamanlis reiterated that the Games are a national endeavor, while criticizing the prime minister for trying, as he said, to use them as a lever of pressure against voters. Moreover, he said no one that is “honest, serious and is doing their job” will be replaced from the various agencies and entities involved with Olympic preparations.

    Along those lines, Karamanlis said that any ND government “would not waste time and energy” in setting up special courts to investigate instances of massive corruption, collusion or fraud, “unless evidence pointing to criminal prosecution arises”.

    The question revolved mostly around the issue of the Athens Stock Market’s sagging performance after summer of 1999, something Karamanlis called a “scandal of major proportions”.

    “ND has no intention of digging up the past when it is in power,” he said, while clarifying, however, that if illegalities are ascertained then the law will be applied.

    Regarding a recent and high-profile initiative by the government to change the current election law, Karamanlis responded that the current law is both good and effective, although certain secondary points may need amending. However, he sternly ruled out any changes in a pre-election period.

    In terms of other questions, Karamanlis merely said speculation over a new president of the republic was untimely at present, while he said talk of a “right parenthesis” between PASOK governments was merely an admission of defeat. In expanding on this last point, Karamanlis said it was “impossible” for a popular government to lose power after its election in such a short period of time, “no matter what the pretense”.

    “Let those in and outside Parliament forget such fantasies,” he said.

    To emphasize his statement of a four-year period of “high goals”, Karamanlis said the country can proceed with much more rapid rates of development, and that ND has a specific proposal and plan, “but it will not accept mediocrity”.

    In returning to his party’s economic blueprint, the ND leader said luring new investments through bold incentives, privatizations and a thorough deregulation of markets will create new jobs. The issue of liberalizing the labor market was also on the agenda, he said, while noting that it will be up for discussion and consultation with labor groups.

    Finally, he promised that ND will ease farmers’ debt burdens vis-a-vis the state-run Agriculture Bank, before condemning the government for not including so-called “Mediterranean pro-ducts” in the EU’s new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Furthermore, he maintained that ND stands by its position to reduce VAT on agriculture products to 8 percent for the current 18 percent.

    Foreign policy issues: Asked about Greek-Turkish ties, Karamanlis said relations have indeed warmed up, although Ankara has still not completely responded to Athens’ goodwill gestures.

    “The (political) environment in Turkey is not favorable for predictions about that country’s European orientation, something for which we must insist on,” he said, before repeating a standing Greek position of solving any outstanding Greek-Turkish differences based on International Law.

    In an unrelated issue, Karamanlis said that as far as New Democracy is concerned, the “name issue” involving the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is still pending.

    Finally, he dismissed criticism by PM Simitis that New Democracy is not able to responsible and effectively carryout foreign policy.

    [03] Constantopoulos, Chrysohoidis interviews in Athens dailies

    Athens, 15/09/2003 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos and ruling PASOK Secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis were amongst the notable political figures with interviews published in the expanded Sunday editions of Athens’ dailies over the weekend.

    The former sternly criticized the “convergence charter” unveiled by Prime Minister Costas Simitis last week, saying the government is “package by package, losing its gravity.”

    Additionally, he said the same government policy will be followed, n general terms, regardless of whether PASOK or New Democracy wins the next elections.

    Furthermore, he claimed that both major parties will not dare vote for a leftist as the new president of the republic because “they do not want any institutional symbolism that will conflict with the two-party establishment”.

    His statements were published in the Sunday edition of “Ethnos”.

    On his part, Chrysohoidis, who up until recently was the government’s high-profile public order minister, said change within ruling PASOK was a “constant process ... one that sometimes is accomplished with clashes, and other times with consent and unanimity.”

    That is the reason, he noted, for his disagreement with the notion of an “old and new PASOK”.

    Finally, he claimed main opposition New Democracy was coping with a crisis of direction, whereas PASOK was the primary political force representing the centre-left political spectrum.

    His comments were published in the Sunday edition of "Eleftherotypia".

    [04] Greek justice minister attends EU meeting with counterparts

    ROME, 15/09/2003 (ANA – L. Hatzikyriakos)

    Greece’s justice minister over the weekend referred to a need for supporting alternate methods of solving civil litigation through-out the Union, especially via arbitration.

    Justice Minister Filippos Petsalnikos said legal arbitration is characterized by flexibility, speed and low costs, during the convening of a justice ministers’ council here.

    Regarding the issue of mutual recognition of other EU member-states’ judicial decisions, Petsalnikos said they must serve the notion of a common European area of freedom, security and justice. Conversely, he said the adoption of common provisions for the general recognition and execution of legal decisions in serious criminal proceedings stumbles on objective obstacles, given the different legal systems in each member-state.

    [05] Memorial service in Nicosia for Kranidiotis

    NICOSIA, 15/09/2003 (ANA)

    A memorial service was held for former Greek alternate foreign minister Yannos Kranidiotis on Sunday in a Nicosia cathedral, with representatives of the Greek government as well as the two parties where he was a distinguished cadre – PASOK and Cyprus’ EDEK – on hand.

    In his brief address, Deputy FM Yiannis Magriotis referred to the tremendous loss for Greece’s from Kranidiotis’ death in September 1999.

    “Due to the pioneering efforts of Yannos Kranidiotis, Cyprus is facing its future with such optimism for the first time,” Magriotis stressed, adding that it would not be an overstatement to say that the island republic’s recent accession to the European Union was based on Kranidiotis’ initiatives and detailed preparation.

    Kranidiotis and five other people, including his only son, died in a freak mid-air mishap aboard a Greek government executive jet in September 1999 while en route to Bucharest for an official meeting.

    [06] Fake crew lists used by migrant smuggling ring

    Athens, 15/09/2003 (ANA)

    A total of eight people, two local men and six Pakistanis, were arrested by authorities on Sunday at the port of Piraeus on migrant smuggling charges.

    According to reports, three men were arrested aboard a Honduras-flagged freighter and charged with smuggling mostly Third World migrants into the country via bogus crew lists kept by commercial vessels.

    Five Pakistani men listed as merchant seamen were also arrested on shore. The vessel was identified as the “Vigla”. Another local man is sought in the case.

    All eight are due to face a Piraeus prosecutor on Monday.

    [07] Moderate quake in Aegean sea region

    Athens, 15/09/2003 (ANA)

    An earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale was recorded at 4:46 p.m. (local time) northeast of the large island of Crete.

    The quake’s epicenter was located in a sea region some 300 kilometers southeast of Athens, and west of the Dodecanese island of Kos. No damages or injuries were reported

    [08] Police charge elderly pensioner with armed robbery

    Athens, 15/09/2003 (ANA)

    A 73-year-old pensioner was arrested by police on armed rob-bery charges this past week, authorities announced on Sunday.

    According to reports, the elderly man and alleged bandit reportedly said he held up a super market in the Athens district of Dafni, near his home, with a fake pistol because of excessive debts.

    The name of the suspect was not released.

    [09] Panathinaikos ahead of standings; AEK falters

    Athens, 15/09/2003 (ANA)

    Panathinaikos Athens moved ahead of its cross-town rivals over the weekend by beating lowly Kallithea Athens 3-1 at home, at the same time as AEK Athens failed to edge out a tough Iraklis Thessaloniki side away, whereas last year’s champion, Olympiakos Piraeus, was stunned by Proodeftiki Piraeus 1-0.

    Panathinaikos moved to the top of the standings after the third week of action and only days before it travels to “Old Trafford” to face Manchester United in Champions League play on Tuesday in Group E.

    The 1-0 defeat of a listless Olympiakos side on Saturday followed an 89th minute goal by Proodeftiki, one of several clubs expected to struggle to avoid relegation this season. Olympiakos faces Real Sociedad away on Wednesday in Group D.

    [10] German delegates to visit Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 15/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The President of the German - Cypriot parliamentary friendship group, German MP Siegfried Helias, as well as five German de-legates, members of the Group, arrive here Monday for a five-day visit.

    During their stay here, the German MPs will have separate me-meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs Giorgos Iacovou, Minister of Transport, Communication and Works and acting Minister of Finance Kyriakos Kazamias, Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Cyprus Ambassador Andrian van der Meer and Accession Coordinator Takis Hadjidemetriou.

    The German delegates will also meet with Chairman of the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Nicos Anastassiades, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sotos Zakhaios, as well as representatives of bicommunal projects.

    The delegation departs Friday, 19 September.

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