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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-03-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 30, 2004


  • [01] US President George W. Bush phones PM, asks him to assist Cyprus solution
  • [02] Revised Annan plan submitted to two Cyprus sides in Buergenstock
  • [03] PM, Cyprus president confer ahead of presentation of new Annan plan
  • [04] PM Karamanlis attends Cyprus National Council meeting in Buergenstock
  • [05] President Stephanopoulos signs twin economic agreements with Moldova
  • [06] Bush addresses letter to Greek premier regarding terrorism
  • [07] Justice minister presents ministry priorities
  • [08] Public prosecutor orders inquiry into defense contracts
  • [09] PASOK congress to take place in autumn
  • [10] Greek ombudsman submits 2003 report to Parliament
  • [11] Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America to meet with US president Bush)
  • [12] Europarliament elections: Interior ministry on out-of-country voters
  • [13] Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate national airspace
  • [14] Gov't to seek balanced economic growth, FinMin says
  • [15] Bank of Greece sounds warning bell over fiscal condition
  • [16] Large enterprises flourish, small-sized shrink in 2002, report
  • [17] Industrial production fell 3.3 pct in January, yr/yr
  • [18] Deputy tourism minister discusses tourist cooperation between Greece and Russia
  • [19] Greek Metallurgical Federation urges immediate VAT return
  • [20] Nikos Katsaros appointed president of Farmers Compensation Organization
  • [21] Olympic Velodrome roof in place
  • [22] Basmajian and Manetas qualify for the Athens Olympics
  • [23] Greek fencing team continues intense preparations
  • [24] Greek and Australian Olympic football teams to play Tuesday
  • [25] Orfanos visits Panathenaiko Stadium
  • [26] Ioannides to be present at Athens 2004 Basketball Tournament
  • [27] London Marathon qualifying event for Athens Olympics
  • [28] UK's Banks takes the gold in Men's Singles at Int'l Tennis Sport Event
  • [29] Athens 2004 Torch Relay-The Olympic Flame in Tripoli
  • [30] Athens 2004 torch relay song released Monday
  • [31] Security at archaeological sites during Athens Games
  • [32] ''Olympic Torches 1936-2004'' exhibition opens on Monday
  • [33] Venizelos pleased by Rogge's letter to him on Olympic Games preparations
  • [34] ELA trial limps on amid ongoing strife between bench and barristers
  • [35] Archbishop and deputy minister discuss ecclesiastical education
  • [36] Tatoulis expresses sorrow over the death of British actor Peter Ustinov
  • [37] Lufthansa inaugurates new flight linking Athens with Germany
  • [38] Unicef to hold radiothon for vaccination campaign on Thursday
  • [39] Greek Cypriot side not satisfied with new UN plan
  • [40] Britain says EU will accommodate terms of a Cyprus settlement

  • [01] US President George W. Bush phones PM, asks him to assist Cyprus solution

    BURGENSTOCK 30/3/2004 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)

    US President George W. Bush telephoned to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at 6.15 p.m. (Greek time) on Monday, calling on him to ''assist efforts for a solution to the issue of Cyprus.''

    Karamanlis told President Bush ''we are here to help. We are all trying. The 48-hour framework is tight but there is goodwill.''

    The prime minister also had a meeting with European Union Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen to whom, according to diplomatic sources, ''he raised issues of lack of compatibility existing in the Annan plan with the acquis communautaire.''

    The sources said Verheugen told Karamanlis he will examine the issues and return.

    Karamanlis met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as well.

    Diplomatic sources said Greece shares the skepticism of the Greek Cypriot side since ''there are problematic elements in the text.''

    Athens insists that it will not sign the text on the agreement, as UN special envoy Alvaro de Soto has requested and insists on requesting.

    The Greek side is in constant contact with the Greek Cypriot side and, according to reports, there is absolute harmony. On the question of security issues, the three rounds of negotiations which took place failed to produce any result and ''Greece and Turkey reached no agreement.''

    Greek diplomatic sources stressed that negotiations are underway with the purpose of correcting in favor of Greek interests problematic elements contained in the text.

    [02] Revised Annan plan submitted to two Cyprus sides in Buergenstock

    BUERGENSTOCK 30/3/2004 (ANA/F. Karaviti)

    UN secretary general Kofi Annan's new (4th) plan for a Cyprus settlement to the sides involved in the negotiations at the Swiss town of Buergenstock was delivered to the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot delegations shortly after noon (Swiss time) Monday.

    Speaking at a ceremony in the Swiss Alpine resort on the shores of Lake Lucerne, Annan said the new plan would ''break the ice'' in the stalled talks before the March 31 deadline expired and he asked the parties to give their views on the new plan by Tuesday morning.

    He described the revised plan as a ''win-win proposal'' that the UN had worked on right up to the last minute and which incorporated as many of the changes desired by the two sides as possible, without upsetting its overall balance.

    "We have tried to be helpful to each side in a manner compatible with the interests of the other. Inevitably, it has not been possible to accommodate all proposals for amendment. The result, as it must be, is an overall compromise," he said.

    Annan's envoy Alvaro de Soto told reporters on Monday that the new plan was not a "take it or leave it" final text. If no agreement was reached by Wednesday, March 31, however, then the UN chief would present his finalized plan which would be put to twin referendums on the island due to be held on April 20, he said.

    The envoy did not rule out the possibility that the parties might be asked to sign some sort of document before the talks ended. Asked whether this was provided for under the New York agreement, de Soto said the New York agreement was "essentially procedural" and did not dictate how the negotiations will proceed.

    [03] PM, Cyprus president confer ahead of presentation of new Annan plan

    BUERGENSTOCK 30/3/2004 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was conferring Monday morning with Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos ahead of UN secretary general Kofi Annan's presentation of his new (4th) plan for a Cyprus settlement, scheduled for 12:00 noon (Greek time), in ongoing UN-sponsored talks.

    Karamanlis, who arrived in the Swiss ski resort of Buergenstock late Sunday, was scheduled to attend a meeting of the Cyprus National Council at 11:00 (Greek time), while he also had a very brief meeting with Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul following his arrival Sunday night.

    The meeting with Gul took place at the initiative of the Turkish foreign minister and was of a courtesy nature. Gul congratulated Karamanlis on his recent election victory and briefed him on the results of Sunday's municipal elections in Turkey. He also informed Karamanlis that Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan would be arriving in Switzerland on Monday afternoon.

    According to an ANA dispatch from Ankara, Erdogan, speaking on Turkish state television Sunday night, said that he and Karamanlis shared a friendship hailing back from the time when they were both simply political party leaders, and expressed hope that during the Cyprus talks a result would be achieved that was "very different from those up until now".

    Erdogan also said that the Turkish side was going to the negotiations "with good intentions", but added that it would "not back down on its principles" to achieve a Cyprus solution at any cost.

    Meanwhile, sources said that British prime minister Tony Blair has sent a letter to Karamanlis congratulating him on his election, expressing his satisfaction with their discussion at the recent EU summit in Brussels, and calling on him, vis-a-vis the Buergenstock negotiations, to contribute to a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    According to an ANA dispatch from Nicosia, three days of hard bargaining will commence Monday in Buergenstock after Annan submits his new, revised plan for a Cyprus settlement to the sides involved.

    The new draft will be given to the sides in installments given its massive volume, as it comprises more than 10,000 pages.

    The first section of the plan to be released to the sides involved will be founding agreement and the maps.

    Greek Cypriot sources in Buergenstock said that after the sides studied the new plan, a ''give and take'' process would begin, lasting to Wednesday, at which time the UN chief would submit to the two sides the final text containing additions and deletions based on the positions of the two sides.

    The sources said the final text will then be put directly to separate referenda in the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, without the two sides being asked to sign it ahead of the referenda.

    Reliable sources told ANA that the territorial issue and the issue of the settlers -- which are considered of vital importance by the Greek side -- will remain pending, adding that both Annan and his special advisor on the Cyprus issue, Alvaro de Soto, were keeping their cards closed on these items.

    However, regarding the issue of the settlers, Annan appeared to agree with the Turkish position that the settlers would also vote in the referendum in the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus, as the wording was said to state that the right of vote would be held by all those who had voted in the last ''elections'' in the occupied sector, the sources said.

    The biggest battle, though, would be waged over the issue of the divergences from the EU's acquis communautaire, which the Turkish side insists should be permanent, a position categorically rejected by the Greek Cypriot side, the sources explained.

    Speaking at a reception he hosted for the four delegations -- Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot, Greek and Turkish -- on Sunday night, Annan called on them to display political volition and a disposition for negotiation.

    Annan also said that his presence in Buergenstock, during the second phase of the Cyprus talks, indicates his determination to lead the solution process to the end.

    [04] PM Karamanlis attends Cyprus National Council meeting in Buergenstock

    Buergenstock 30/3/2004 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday attended a meeting of the Cyprus National Council in the Swiss resort town of Buergenstock, where UN-sponsored negotiations are taking place between the two Cypriot communities for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.

    Greek government spokesman and minister of state Theodoros Roussopoulos, who is accompanying Karamanlis, said that the prime minister stressed to the national Council that it was everyone's common desire that a solution be found.

    Karamanlis also expressed his support for the Greek Cypriot side's efforts for a Cyprus settlement that would be in line with the UN resolutions and the EU's acquis communautaire.

    "The Cyprus government negotiates, Greece is actively present, but the final judgement belongs to the Cyprus people," Karamanlis said.

    The national unanimity between the Greek and Cypriot governments was also reaffirmed during the meeting, Roussopoulos said.

    The government spokesman further announced that Karamanlis was scheduled to meet separately Monday afternoon with UN secretary general Kofi Annan, Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, and EU enlargement commissioner Gunther Verheugen.

    [05] President Stephanopoulos signs twin economic agreements with Moldova

    CHISINAU 30/3/2004 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos signed twin bilateral agreements in trade and economics between Greece and Moldova, during an official visit here on Monday.

    These included measures for avoiding double taxation, an aviation agreement and a cooperation protocol for social insurance and protection issues.

    Stephanopoulos arrived in Moldova earlier on Monday accompanied by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis and a business delegation.

    He was received by Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, with whom he discussed both the political and economic aspects of bilateral ties between Athens and Chisinau.

    In statements afterward, Voronin said that a ''strategy for our cooperation in the future'' was established during the discussion with Stephanopoulos, which was described as ''frank and constructive''.

    In addition to bilateral relations, the meeting also covered major problems on the international scene, such as the Cyprus problem, events in the Balkans and developments in Europe.

    According to Stephanopoulos, his visit to Moldova did not aim to solve problems but to further boost bilateral ties with a country that was almost a neighbor and that had long-established and historic bonds with Greece.

    Athens established diplomatic ties with the former Soviet republic in 1992.

    During the Greek president's visit, he will address a business forum on Tuesday where the Greek entrepreneurs accompanying him will have an opportunity to contact their Moldovan counterparts and discuss the prospects of business cooperation.

    On his part, Voronin stressed Greece's role in southeastern Europe and in international relations, while stressing that the Cyprus problem must be resolved in accordance with the principles of the United Nations.

    Stephanopoulos noted Greece's interest in a settlement of the Transdniester issue, saying that it was Greece's ''general position and conclusion that [it] always desires the reunification of peoples and states and the implementation of international law and its rules''.

    The Greek president also noted Greece's willingness to assist Moldova in its desire for rapprochement with the European Union, pledging to pass on the necessary technical know-how and methodology required to achieve this goal.

    Both men expressed concern over the issue of terrorism following the bomb attacks in Madrid and noted the need to boost international solidarity in efforts to combat this threat.

    Finally, Voronin noted the interest shown by Moldova's young people in the Greek language and culture and thanked

    Stephanopoulos for Greece's assistance to Moldovan students seeking to study in Greece.

    The Greek president next met Moldovan Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev and representatives of the ethnic Greek community in Moldova, while he is due to attend a dinner given in his honor by Voronin later on Monday night.

    [06] Bush addresses letter to Greek premier regarding terrorism

    BURGENSTOCK 30/3/2004 ( A. Panagopoulos /ANA)

    U.S. President George W. Bush sent a letter to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, whose contents became known Monday afternoon.

    The U.S. president refers to the close cooperation between the two countries in the fight against terrorism and the promotion of freedom, while emphasizing that, ''American citizens are honored to have Greece as an irreplaceable and courageous ally.''

    Bush writes that the two countries helped free the people of Afghanistan and are working together in punishing terrorism worldwide.

    ''We are working together to ensure the safety and success of the Olympic Games as they return to their birthplace - Greece - this summer,'' Bush stresses. The U.S. president adds that, ''the world in which we live are still dangerous, but we will make it safer through our determination to fight fear and oppression, replacing them with freedom and hope.''

    [07] Justice minister presents ministry priorities

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    In a press conference on Monday, Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras presented the ministry's priorities over the coming months before the Olympic Games begin in Athens this August.

    He said a key priority was to improve protection of courthouses, the justice ministry itself and prisons before the Games and to increase the speed of administering justice.

    The minister said this would be achieved by reducing court workloads, chiefly by settling minor offences like traffic code violations and petty market-law violations through administrative fines than in court.

    Another ongoing priority was to computerize judicial services, such as current attempts to create on-line criminal records that were at an advanced stage.

    More long-term goals mentioned by the minister were to codify existing legislation so as to eliminate overlapping laws and to improve prison conditions.

    He particularly stressed efforts to modify legislation to combat corruption, especially the 'main shareholder' incompatibility law for media and construction companies.

    ''Clashing with corruption is a top priority. This is an outstanding commitment and will very quickly come to Parliament. This legislative measure will tend to eradicate the laws of graft. It will ensure that the capacity of major contractor or major public-sector supplier will not coincide with that of media owner,'' he said.

    Current laws were either not enforced or had built-in loopholes, the minister added.

    Finally, Papaligouras said a committee will be set up to re-examine the laws concerning European arrest warrants and anti-terrorism legislation.

    The minister is to attend a ceremony on Tuesday welcoming the arrival of the Olympic Flame in Ancient Nemea, which lies on the route of the Olympic Torch Relay. The Torch is expected to arrive for the ceremony at the ancient stadium at 11:00.

    [08] Public prosecutor orders inquiry into defense contracts

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    The First-instance Public Prosecutor's department on Monday ordered an inquiry into allegations appearing in the press regarding defense contracts awarded to state-owned munitions and ordnance manufacturer PYRCAL by the defense ministry.

    Specifically, these concern a deal for the procurement of Russian anti-tank missiles, as well as other contracts.

    Because of the breadth of the inquiry, the case has been assigned to three public prosecutors: Dimitris Asprogerakas, Eleni Touloupaki and Areti Athanassiou.

    [09] PASOK congress to take place in autumn

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Central Committee Secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis said on Monday that the party's congress will take place in autumn.

    He made the statement after a meeting of the party's Executive Bureau, which was held without the participation of PASOK President George Papandreou.

    PASOK's National Council will convene on Friday and Saturday, at which Papandreou is expected to recommend the appointment of a number of candidates for Eurodeputies with the procedure similar to that with which he himself was elected PASOK leader. It is expected that during the meeting a decision will also be reached for the conversion of the Central Committee into a Central Organizing Committee for the Congress.

    Monday's Executive Bureau meeting centered on the reorganization of the Movement.

    Chrysohoidis accused the government of not making any reference, during the conclusions of the EU summit in Brussels last week, on the matter of negotiation taking place within the framework of the Common Agricultural Policy, and reminded that the fate of three basic Greek agricultural products (cotton, olive oil and tobacco) will hang in the balance in April.

    [10] Greek ombudsman submits 2003 report to Parliament

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    The number of cases in which members of the public were vindicated when making justified complaints concerning public-sector transactions increased to 80 per cent over the past year, according to the annual report for 2003 submitted by Greek Ombudsman George Kaminis to Parliament on Monday.

    The Ombudsman service acts as an independent authority, mediating between the state sector and ordinary citizens. Its report was submitted to Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki.

    Specifically, the Ombudsman said that the authority had received roughly 11,000 complaints in 2003, of which about 25 per cent were outside its remit. Of the rest, about half were considered justified and 80 per cent of these were settled in favor of the citizen making the complaint.

    For the first time, meanwhile, the Ombudsman's report includes the creation of a Children's Ombudsman charged with the protection and promotion of children's rights.

    [11] Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America to meet with US president Bush)

    NEW YORK 30/3/2004 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)

    Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios of America will meet with US president George Bush at the White House on April 1, it was announced Monday.

    The meeting, during which the US President traditionally presents the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America with the annual anniversary declaration on the Greeks' struggle for freedom and democracy, was originally planned for this past Friday, but due to Bush's overloaded program, the meeting has been scheduled for April 1 and will also be attended by several Greek-American leaders.

    Asked by ANA on Sunday what topics would be included in his discussion with Bush, the Archbishop said the top item on the agenda would be the Cyprus issue, "which is an open problem", while the talks would also include the issue of world peace, overcoming the problems in the Middle East, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    "These are issues that worry both him (Bush) and as, because they keep millions of people throughout the world in a state of anxiety. The quicker these problems are settled, the better for everyone," the Archbishop said, speaking to ANA during the annual parade in central New York marking the March 25 Greek Independence Day anniversary.

    The traditional parade along 5th Avenue in Manhattan, was attended by some 80,000 spectators. Leading the officials at the parade, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg expressed admiration for Greek history and heritage and called on everyone to go to Athens this summer for the 2004 Olympic Games.

    "Greece, together with New York, a candidate for hosting the 2012 Olympics, will serve as an example of Games organization," he said.

    Referring to the Cyprus issue, he endorsed "a free, democratic, united Cyprus".

    The Greek government was represented by deputy foreign minister for Greeks abroad, Panayotis Skandalakis, while a three-member parliamentary delegation, and the mayors of Thessaloniki and Ancient Olympia, were also in attendance.

    A similar parade was also held in Montreal, Canada.

    [12] Europarliament elections: Interior ministry on out-of-country voters

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    The interior, public administration and decentralization ministry of Greece on Monday announced that, in accordance with legislation governing European Parliament elections, Greek citizens residing in a European Union member state outside of Greece, or who will be in another EU member state on the day of Europarliament elections, will be able to exercise their right of vote there.

    Conditional for exercising the right of vote is the voter's registration in the voter catalogues of Greece, the voter must submit a petition to the local Greek embassy or consulate in the relevant EU member state for inclusion in the special voter lists to be drafted by the interior ministry, and must submit their application by the April 8 deadline.

    The provisions also apply to Greeks residing in the 10 newly acceding EU member states, or who will be in one of those states on the day of European Parliament elections.

    Euroelections will be held throughout the Union from Friday, June 11 to Sunday, June 13. In Greece, Europarliament elections will be held on Sunday, June 13.

    [13] Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate national airspace

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Four formations of Turkish warplanes infringed on Athens's Flight Information Region (FIR) an equal number of times on Monday which developed in 20 violations of Greek national airspace in the Dodecanese region (between Patmos and Kos), press reports said.

    In all cases, the 12 Turkish aircraft were recognized and intercepted by Greek jets, while in two cases the interception process developed into a mock engagement.

    It was reported that two of the Turkish warplanes recognized and intercepted were armed.

    [14] Gov't to seek balanced economic growth, FinMin says

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Our main economic policy goal is to achieve a balanced growth that will be spread throughout the society and boosting employment to combat unemployment, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday.

    Speaking to reporters, Mr Alogoskoufis noted that the government's

    economic policy would be growth- and social-orientated. "We will proceed with efficiency, moderation and reforms based on consensus," he added.

    The immediate priority of the government's economic policy would be to strengthen sectors such as the construction and to boost other sectors such as tourism, energy production, telecommunications, transportation and manufacturing, the Greek minister said. "These sectors could give a significant push in economic growth through a new policy that will attract investments, both domestic and foreign," he added.

    Mr Alogoskoufis said that a new development law and proposals on a new tax system would be ready in September. He noted that a procedure to write down the country's fiscal condition has already begun in cooperation with European Union and added that EU Commissioner Pedro Solbes has expressed his concern over the fact that Greece's fiscal deficit was very near 3.0 percent of GDP.

    "Our aim is to contain the deficit below 3.0 percent in 2004 and to lay the foundations for healthy, honest and reliable budgets from 2005," Mr Alogoskoufis said.

    The Greek minister committed with Mr Solbes that he would deal effectively with the country's fiscal problem despite widening deficits in recent years.

    "We will adopt a policy that will restrain public spending, slow down a high growth rate in current primary spending and lead to a better and more efficient state," he said. Mr Alogoskoufis reiterated that funds would be saved from a rising economic growth and an effective battle against tax evasion and social contribution evasion.

    [15] Bank of Greece sounds warning bell over fiscal condition

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Greece's central bank sounded the warning bell over the fiscal condition of the country, in the annual report by the Monetary Committee tabled in parliament Monday by Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas.

    The central bank, in its report, stressed that ''more intense efforts are urgently needed to achieve fiscal adjustment considering a relaxation in fiscal policy in the last three years and particularly significant divergence noted in 2003 compared with budget targets".

    The Bank of Greece noted that the country's economy, despite any achievements, faced significant challenges, such as a high unemployment rate (the third largest in the EU), a high inflation rate (steadily above the EU average) and an increasingly widening current account deficit (around 6.0 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product).

    The central bank recommended the promotion of structural reforms to combat unemployment, "reforms that would improve the country's productivity and strengthen economic efficiency".

    Competition should also be enhanced while the tax system should be simplified, and reforms in the labor market should create an environment of safety and flexibility, the report said.

    The central bank painted a bleak picture on inflation prospects, forecasting increased inflationary pressures in 2004 that could push the consumer price index higher from a 3.5 percent rate in 2003. To effectively deal with higher inflationary pressures, the central bank recommended that wage increases should not exceed productivity gains and urged for a pricing policy that could achieve price stability.

    The Bank of Greece said that the country's GDP grew 4.0 percent in 2003.

    The central bank also warned over the dangers of higher household debt rates, currently at 26.2 percent of GDP from 9.3 pct in 1998. The report attributed this development to households' expectations of a gradual convergence of real incomes in Greece with the rest of the EU, but warned that if this expectations were not met then higher debt rates could pose serious risks both for the country's credit system and for households.

    [16] Large enterprises flourish, small-sized shrink in 2002, report

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    More than four in five small-sized commercial enterprises failed to make any investments in 2002, according to an annual report on Greek commerce in 2003 published by the National Confederation of Greek Commerce on Monday.

    The report, however, showed that medium- and big-sized enterprises reported the biggest rises in profitability and significant investments. The report said that 42.2 percent of private and small-sized enterprises witnessed a worsening liquidity situation in 2002, while sales of societies anonyms and limited companies rose 11.7 percent and 5.8 percent, respectively, over the same period.

    Big companies said net profits rose 16.2 percent to 1.7 billion euros, while assets totalled 3.1 billion euros, up 9.2 percent in 2002. Sales grew 6.9 percent, while gross profits increased by 10.2 percent leading to a rise in dividend payment to 34.5 percent of pre-tax earnings from 32.6 percent in 2001.

    The report said that only 5.0 percent of companies included in a commerce register (totalling 281,124 companies) were societies anonyms or limited companies.

    Forty percent of small enterprises reported a drop in sales in 2002, while big companies reported sales growth exceeding 10 percent. Small-sized enterprises also said that credits to customers jumped to 48.2 percent in 2002 from 30.1 percent in the previous year, while gross profits in wholesale and retail sales rose significantly, with gross profit increases in the car-and-car parts sector exceeded 50 percent.

    The report said that the majority of commercial enterprises did not have liabilities to the banking system.

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, addressing the general assembly of the Confederation said the government was determined to support business activity in the country, but also to protect consumers. He noted that the government was also planning measures to combat illegal trade and urged for measures to deal with speculative price increases in the market.

    [17] Industrial production fell 3.3 pct in January, yr/yr

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Greece's industrial production index fell 3.3 percent in January compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.

    NSS, in its monthly report, said that the mining, manufacturing, electricity-natural gas-water production index rose by 0.1 percent in January, on a year-on-year basis.

    The mining index dropped 3.9 percent, the manufacturing index fell 3.3 percent and the electricity-natural gas-water index jumped 8.5 percent over the same period

    [18] Deputy tourism minister discusses tourist cooperation between Greece and Russia

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Strengthening tourist cooperation between Greece and Russia and handling operational problems to facilitate arrivals of Russian tourists in Greece were issues examined in talks held in Moscow on Monday between Deputy Tourism Minister Anastasios Liaskos and Russian government and travel agency representatives in the framework of Moscow's international tourism exhibition MITT 2004.

    Liaskos said moves concerning a more effective implementation of tourist policy and the simplification of procedures for trips to Greece will be promoted immediately.

    The deputy minister held talks with the municipality of Moscow's foreign relations chief G. Muratov, who proposed the signing of a tourist cooperation protocol.

    Liaskos also held meetings with representatives of the local media, as well as giving interviews, with the purpose of promoting Greek tourism in the Russian market.

    About 140,000 Russian tourists visited Greece in 2003, an increase of two percent compared to 2002, while a further increase is expected this year on the occasion of the Athens Olympic Games.

    [19] Greek Metallurgical Federation urges immediate VAT return

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    The Federation of Greek Metallurgical Enterprises on Monday protested against a delay of returning a withholding VAT tax for a period of 10 months by the government's finance ministry, blaming the delay to a time-consuming and complex procedure set by decisions taken by previous ministers.

    The federation said that the sum of tax return current totalled 25 million euros from 10 million euros it was 10 months ago, while it noted that a return fuel tax was an additional 2.0 million euros.

    In a letter sent to Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Deputy Minister Adam Regouzas, the federation noted that its members - particularly companies with exporting activities such as industrial minerals and marbles - were facing serious financial problems because of the delay.

    [20] Nikos Katsaros appointed president of Farmers Compensation Organization

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Former Larissa deputy and former Parliament vice president Nikos Katsaros has been appointed president of the Farmers Compensation organization (ELGA).

    The relevant decision was signed by Agricultural Development and Foodstuffs Minister Savvas Tsitouridis.

    According to an announcement, the European Commission has ratified the supplementary compensation program for Greek farmers (FROGI).

    The Commission's decision rules that subsidies anticipated by the program are compatible with the common market and their payment to farmers is approved.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover

    at 108.7 mln euros Monday

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: +2.16%

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

  • Underlying Index: +2.65 percent


    Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,221 1,193

    [21] Olympic Velodrome roof in place

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    IOC Chairman of the Coordination Commission for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Denis Oswald expressed his satisfaction regarding the placement of the roof over the Olympic Velodrome which was completed successfully on Monday.

    ''The successful placement of the 4,000-ton velodrome roof is extremely satisfying for many reasons, even if it happened after the scheduled target date,'' Oswald emphasized.

    He described the insertion of the velodrome roof as a ''warm-up'' exercise for the Athens Olympic Sports Complex roof, adding that, ''the velodrome is exactly the kind of project on which the IOC has asked the new government to place priority.''

    The IOC executive emphasized that there are other, greater challenges ahead, but expressed optimism that all the necessary Olympic projects will be completed on time, given the close cooperation between the IOC, Athens 2004, and the government.

    [22] Basmajian and Manetas qualify for the Athens Olympics

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Greek fencing athletes Marios Basmajian and Costas Manetas have qualified for the Athens 2004 Olympics following their satisfactory performance at the tournament held in Sofia, Bulgaria last weekend.

    Basmajian (world ranking 70) managed to take 32nd place, while Manetas (world ranking 73) placed 64th.

    [23] Greek fencing team continues intense preparations

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Greek fencing athletes are continuing their intense preparations not only for the Olympic Games but also for the upcoming tournament that will take place in Gent, Belgium.

    The Greek team's fencing coach Manolis Sarris said he was very pleased with the athletes' efforts in comments he made to the Athens News Agency on Monday.

    ''It is still very early to be able to say in what condition fencing athletes will be and what they will be able to achieve this summer. We are still in a preparation phase. We are trying for the best. We want to be very well prepared for the Olympic Games. We can speak however about the group event. In that category, our main goal is to make the final eight. That will certainly be a success for Greek fencing,'' Sarris said.

    [24] Greek and Australian Olympic football teams to play Tuesday

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    The Greek and Australian Olympic football teams - both have qualified for the Athens 2004 Olympics - will test the Panthessaliko Stadium, in Volos, east central Greece, at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday in a friendly match.

    The event's organizer is the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO), while the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games will also be offering its services during the game.

    [25] Orfanos visits Panathenaiko Stadium

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Culture Minister George Orfanos visited the Panathenaiko Stadium on Monday to check progress as work on the Stadium must be completed by Wednesday, when the Olympic Flame will reach Athens and a ceremony will be held at the Stadium hosting thousands of spectators.

    ''We realize that we're trying to make up for lost time. Everything will be ready by Wednesday, so that we can receive the Olympic Flame, in an understated yet grand manner appropriate for such an occasion. My presence here today is due to this important event, but has to do primarily with the preparation of the Panathenaiko Stadium, which we know will play a central role in the Olympic Games (the Stadium will serve as the finish for the Marathon and will also host the archery events). We will be ready for this as well, although there are specific delays according to initial time estimates,'' Orfanos said.

    Asked to comment on media criticism of Greece's Olympic preparations, Orfanos said, ''Whoever criticizes Greece has their own reasons for doing so. Some are justified, others are due to ulterior motives. The truth is we missed the opportunity of being ready in due time. However, you must know that Greece will have the final word and it will be a positive answer.''

    [26] Ioannides to be present at Athens 2004 Basketball Tournament

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    George Vassilakopoulos, FIBA Europe President and Executive Board Member of the Hellenic Basketball Federation (HBF) asserted on Monday that Yiannis Ioannides will coach Greece's basketball team at the Athens 2004 Olympics. Vassilakopoulos' statement was made at an event held at the Zappeion Mansion where EFG Eurobank announced that it will continue to sponsor the HBF through 2006. Eurobank has been the official HBF sponsor since 2001.

    [27] London Marathon qualifying event for Athens Olympics

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Greek athletes will be participating in the Flora London Marathon to be held April 18. The marathon will serve as a qualifying event for the Athens 2004 Olympics, following a relevant request by the Hellenic Association of Amateur Athletics that was accepted by the London Marathon's organizers. The prerequisite set by the International Association of Athletics Federations is 2 hours and 15 minutes for men and 2 hours and 37 minutes for women.

    [28] UK's Banks takes the gold in Men's Singles at Int'l Tennis Sport Event

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    The UK's Andrew Banks won the gold on Monday at the Athens 2004 Tennis sport event, in the final of the Men's Singles discipline, at the Olympic Tennis Centre, part of the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA) in Maroussi.

    Banks (ranked 681st in the world) defeated Belgium's Jeroen Masson (612th in the world) with a 2-1 set (6-2, 6-7, 6-4) that lasted one hour and 46 minutes.

    The final was continued over from Sunday, after it was disrupted by rain.

    [29] Athens 2004 Torch Relay-The Olympic Flame in Tripoli

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Dimitris Thanopoulos was the torchbearer who brought the Olympic Flame to Tripoli in Arcadia on Monday, the fifth day of the Athens 2004 Torch Relay.

    ''It is significant and stirring at the same time to see so many people waiting for the Olympic Flame. It's what brings people together,'' he said, after having run the last 500 meters in Tripoli - the first time he ran as torchbearer.

    Secretary General for the Olympic Games Spyros Kapralos and European javelin champion Anna Verouli were among those present who had also been torchbearers in the past.

    ''It's a distinct honor. I had run in 1996 and 2002, but this time it's different, '' Kapralos stated.

    ''I really wanted to participate in this torch relay. Even though I ran in 1996, emotions were completely different this time,'' Verouli said.

    [30] Athens 2004 torch relay song released Monday

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    The first torch relay to cross all five continents in Olympic Games history with the motto ''Pass the Flame, Unite the World,'' also has its own song, released on Monday, titled ''Pass the Flame.''

    The song, written by famous composer and producer Trevor Horn in collaboration with Lol Creme, is interpreted by Greek singer Yiannis Kotsiras (in both Greek and English), while the Greek version has been written by songwriter Lina Nicolacopoulou.

    The song was recorded at Sarmwest Studios in London with singers from all over the world lending their voices to the song.

    [31] Security at archaeological sites during Athens Games

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis and Secretary General of the Culture Ministry Christos Zachopoulos were briefed on the security measures to be taken at archaeological sites and museums during the Olympic Games at a meeting held at the Ministry on Monday.

    Tatoulis asked Lazaros Kolonas, Director of the General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage, Vasilis Chandakas, Director of the General Directorate of Restoration, Museums, and Technical Works, and others present at the meeting, to intensify efforts regarding the protection of, and security measures at the country's archaeological sites and museums.

    [32] ''Olympic Torches 1936-2004'' exhibition opens on Monday

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos inaugurated the ''Olympic Torches 1936-2004'' exhibition at the Athens' War Museum on Monday. The exhibition will last until April 5.

    Spiliotopoulos emphasized that the power of nations is not only a matter of weaponry but of spirit as well.

    ''The Olympic legacy is one of the most significant parts of that spirit,'' he said.

    Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki, also present at the opening, pointed out that the Olympic Flame can convey a different message to a world rife with disturbances.

    ''To remind us of all those things that bring us together, not those that keep us apart,'' she said.

    Athens 2004 Torch Relay Consultant Athanassios Kritsinelis who offered his collection for the purpose of the exhibition, referred to the history of the Olympic Flame.

    Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos, leaders of the Armed Forces and the new Secretary General of the Financial Planning and Defense Investments Division G. Zorbas were also present at the event.

    [33] Venizelos pleased by Rogge's letter to him on Olympic Games preparations

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Former culture minister and PASOK deputy Evangelos Venizelos in a written statement on Monday said that in a letter which International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge had sent him, the IOC president expressed the fruitful results of the long-time cooperation which both sides had and was indicative of the recognition of the previous Greek government's efforts in the preparations for the Olympic Games.

    Venizelos stressed that he would observe at close hand the completion of this effort, ''which is not a PASOK effort, not a New Democracy effort, it is an effort of all the Greek people, it is a very great opportunity to strengthen our national self-confidence.''

    [34] ELA trial limps on amid ongoing strife between bench and barristers

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Yet another day in the trial of five suspected members of the terrorist group ''Revolutionary Popular Struggle'' (ELA) was dominated by a dispute between the bench and the defense lawyers for the defendant Irene Athanassaki, two of whom had earlier quit in protest over the court's decision to admit documents from the files of former East Germany's Stasi secret police as evidence.

    As the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court reconvened, it rejected a request by the third lawyer on Athanassaki's team, Aris Konstantakis, asking the court to reverse its decision to assign court-appointed lawyer Theofanis Dallas to his client's defense.

    The court's decision prompted both Konstantakis and Dallas himself to say they would depart.

    Dallas was one of two lawyers chosen by the court to represent Athanassaki from the Athens Bar list after her own lawyers walked out.

    The first of the lawyers thus chosen refused the appointment outright, defying a contempt of court order, while Dallas had repeatedly stated his reluctance to represent a client who did not want him in such a serious case.

    Addressing the bench, Athanassaki then asked to re-hire her original team of lawyers, two of whom were in court.

    After this interval, the court continued to hear the testimony of journalist Vassilis Zisis, a witness for the prosecution and the source of the controversial Stasi documents.

    Zisis defended the authenticity of the documents he had presented, denying that the files had been in any way tampered with before they came into the hands of German authorities after the Berlin Wall fell.

    Zisis claimed that Greek authorities had known members of ELA and had struck deals not to prosecute them.

    The journalist is due to complete his testimony on Tuesday.

    [35] Archbishop and deputy minister discuss ecclesiastical education

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos on Monday had a meeting with Deputy Education Minister George Kalos. Afterward, Kalos said the visit was mainly a formality but had also covered outstanding matters concerning a bill on ecclesiastical education, so that this could be tabled in Parliament as quickly as possible in time for the new academic year.

    [36] Tatoulis expresses sorrow over the death of British actor Peter Ustinov

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis on Monday expressed his sorrow on hearing of the death of British actor Peter Ustinov.

    ''The death of the known humanist comes at a turning point in history where his sober and clear speech with reference to peaceful cohabitation and co-existence of the peoples could have given a note of differentiality in the era of asymmetric threat and blind hate.''

    The Culture Ministry expresses its sorrow over the death of the British actor and knows that the Greek citizens will always remember him for his superb performances.

    Ustinov died at the age of 82 in Switzerland on Monday.

    [37] Lufthansa inaugurates new flight linking Athens with Germany

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    The German airline company Lufthansa has inaugurated a new daily flight linking Athens with Germany. Flight LH3410 will depart every day from Düsseldorf at 10 a.m. and arrive in Athens at 2.05 p.m. local time. In addition, flight LH3411 will depart every day from Athens at 2.50 p.m. and arrive in Düsseldorf at 5.10 p.m. local time

    [38] Unicef to hold radiothon for vaccination campaign on Thursday

    Athens 30/3/2004 (ANA)

    A radiothon to raise funds for UNICEF's global vaccination campaign will be held by the Greek branch of the international organization on Thursday, in collaboration with the state-run radio station ERA on its NET 105.8 frequency, as well as a network of radio stations in Athens and elsewhere around the country.

    The chairman of UNICEF's Greek Committee Lambros Kanellopoulos told reporters during a press conference on Monday that up to 5,500 children die every day because of a lack of vaccines. He said that two million people die each year of diseases that could be avoided through the proper vaccines, while half of all children in sub-Saharan Africa are not vaccinated in their first year of life and thirty million children worldwide are not vaccinated at all.

    The radiothon will take place between the hours of 9:00-20:00 on April 1. On that day, those wishing to make donations can call the telephone number 210-955 6400.

    Otherwise, those interested in making a donation can deposit money in the following bank accounts from Monday:

    National Bank of Greece: 169/ 480020-64

    Emporiki Bank: 031/80191081

    Agricultural Bank: 01704004416-70

    ALPA BANK: 11500 2002 017649

    Piraeus Bank:5049-001837-211

    Attica Bank: 069/54799691

    Citibank: 5502346484

    Novabank: 519829

    HSBC: 002-066694-130

    [39] Greek Cypriot side not satisfied with new UN plan

    BURGENSTOCK 30/3/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The new revised Annan plan, aiming at reunifying Cyprus before it accedes to the EU on May 1st, does not satisfy the Greek Cypriot side, since its main provisions do not seem to have changed, in comparison with the previous plan, presented to the parties on February 26, 2003.

    According to diplomatic sources, the plan satisfies the Turkish Cypriot side in its demands for bizonality, ethnic division, settlers, properties, security and permanent derogations.

    ''UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto have given the impression that the plan is a product of negotiation. The UN have filled in the gaps that had to be filled in,'' the same sources said, adding that no substantial work has been made here, since the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot delegations arrived in Burgenstock.

    The National Council, top advisory body to the President on the

    handling of the Cyprus question, convened at 1900 local time (2000 Cyprus time) on Monday. The meeting is expected to last well into the early hours of Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Gunter Verheugen arrived at the Swiss resort of Burgenstock on Monday afternoon for the final phase of the Cyprus talks.

    The main text, comprising around 200 pages, was handed by the UN Secretary General to the four parties on Monday, in print form as well as on diskettes. The remaining 9,000 pages, that include laws and treaties, have been handed out only on diskettes.

    According to diplomatic sources, the new plan foresees that the

    number of 35,000 Turkish soldiers currently on the island is reduced to 6,000 by 2011. The same number is foreseen for Greece. Moreover the number should be further reduced by 2018, to 3,000 soldiers for each side.

    However the plan allows Greek and Turkish contingents to be stationed permanently on the island (950 Greeks and 650 Turks), even after Turkey's accession to the EU, in contrast to the previous Annan plan, that provided for all troops to be withdrawn upon Turkey's accession.

    This provision would be revised every five years.

    Only when the GDP per capita of the Turkish Cypriots has reached 85% of the Greek Cypriots' those provisions of the plan that are not in compliance with EU laws and regulations should be ceased.

    The land map of the new revised plan, that indicates the territories of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot constituent states, has not changed much. The only alteration regards the British Bases and the territory they return to the federal state.

    ''More territory is returned from the British Base of Akrotiri, but is taken back from the Dhekelia Base,'' sources said.

    One of the main demands by the Greek Cypriot side has been to ensure that the new state is functional.

    ''The new plan does not guarantee full functionality, so that the new state could function smoothly within the EU,'' the sources said.

    Regarding the 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees that were driven out of their houses and properties during the Turkish invasion in 1974, the new plan provides for a decrease of the number that is allowed to return.

    The previous plan that was presented to the parties in February 2003 allowed Greek Cypriots to return, provided that they do not exceed 21% of the population in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state.

    According to the new plan, this figure has been reduced to 18% and it ''strengthens the Turkish demand for ethnic homogeneity,'' the sources said.

    Regarding the issue of Turkish settlers, brought illegally to the

    occupied areas of Cyprus after the Turkish invasion, the new plan's provisions basically allow all settlers to stay.

    On the seats at the Senate, the new plan provides for 24 senators from each constituent state, who should be elected on the basis of their ethnic background.

    ''The Greek Cypriot side wished for a multicultural society, without the ethnic division,'' the sources said.

    The new plan also provides for those Greek Cypriots that have filed applications to the European Court of Human Rights against Turkey to withdraw them.

    This provision will be ensured also by a letter send to the ECHR by the co-presidents of Cyprus, saying that for any loss of property, the federal state is to be responsible.

    ''This is an unjustified intervention to juristic principles,'' the sources said.

    The executive power is to be executed by the Presidential Council.

    According to the new plan, for the first five years there should be a co-presidency of one Greek Cypriot and one Turkish Cypriot, who will change posts every ten months.

    During the second five-year period, a President and a Vice President should be elected and exercise their executive power, each every 20 months. The first President to be elected should hail from the Greek Cypriot community.

    According to the plan, there would be areas of territorial adjustment to be returned to the Greek Cypriot constituent state. The Greek Cypriot side raised the issue that upon entry into force of the new state of affairs, those areas should be under the UN administration.

    This demand was not satisfied, and the new plan provides that the areas under territorial adjustment are under Turkish Cypriot administration for the first 3.5 years and then the UN should take over.

    [40] Britain says EU will accommodate terms of a Cyprus settlement

    LONDON 30/3/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The UK is working to support the UN Secretary-General's good offices mission in Cyprus and, along with the other members of the European Union, has declared its readiness to accommodate the terms of a Cyprus settlement, in line with the principles upon which the EU is founded, British Minister for Europe Dennis MacShane said.

    Answering a question by Labor MP Andrew Mackinlay on the derogations which the Turkish side is seeking as a precondition to agreeing to a Cyprus settlement, MacShane said that ''once a settlement is finalized and approved by both communities it will be for the EU to accommodate those arrangements in order for a reunited Cyprus to join the EU on May 1.''

    MacShane further stressed that ''the EU should not become an obstacle to a settlement,'' adding that this was agreed by the parties themselves.

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