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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-07-29

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

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

July 29, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets ministers, ATHOC chief to discuss tourism policy, Olympic Games
  • [02] No power problem for Olympics, gov't stresses after report on July 12 blackout released
  • [03] Liapis presents development strategy for public transportation
  • [04] ND party's Central Committee secretary to be elected on Thursday
  • [05] Deputy defense minister receives courtesy call by Polish ambassador
  • [06] Economy ministry unveils policy priorities
  • [07] Government finance bill gets overall approval from parliament
  • [08] Stocks nose up, tracking markets abroad
  • [09] Greece to field country's largest-ever Olympic team during the Athens Games
  • [10] Thessaloniki ready for Olympic Games, city's police chief says
  • [11] Attico Metro opens new station
  • [12] Thessaloniki police say they have uncovered ATM gang
  • [13] Cyprus not satisfied with new US remarks
  • [14] USA: Turkish forces use US weapons under agreements
  • [15] US official says UN plan for Cyprus settlement was fair

  • [01] PM Karamanlis meets ministers, ATHOC chief to discuss tourism policy, Olympic Games

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had successive meetings with government ministers and the head of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee ATHOC), Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, on Wednesday to discuss efforts underway to get the newly-created tourism ministry up and running and preparations for the Olympic Games.

    Emerging from a one-hour meeting with Karamanlis, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki told reporters that everything was nearly ready and that Greece would give its critics an answer during the days of the Games. The premier also had a meeting with Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and Olympic Games General Secretary Spyros Kapralos on Wednesday morning regarding the progress of preparations for the Games, in a climate described as upbeat and optimistic.

    Later, Karamanlis had a joint meeting with Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, who briefed him on recent action regarding the new tourism ministry. Avramopoulos said that the his ministry would be ready to swing into action once its first bill, due to be tabled in Parliament within the next few days, had gone into effect and which was expected to significantly boost tourism to Greece from October. He announced plans for an advertising campaign, which he said would prudent and cost-effective, and expressed optimism about the future of Greek tourism in spite of the slump seen during the current year, which he blamed to mistaken past policies that had failed to capitalize on relative advantages, particularly that of the Olympic Games.

    Development Minister meets with Athens 2004 President: Sufficient energy supplies Games-time, natural gas, operation of the market, and the quality of foodstuffs, were the issues Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas discussed with Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki during their meeting at Athens 2004 headquarters on Wednesday.

    "I want to reiterate once again that right now everything is operating and moving along satisfactorily. We are all ready to host, in an exemplary way, the visitors to this great celebration this summer, the 2004 Olympic Games," Sioufas said after the meeting, which he described as useful.

    Angelopoulos-Daskalaki gave Sioufas and other ministry executives present at the meeting, a tour of Athens 2004 Main Operations Centre and the Technology Operations Centre.

    [02] No power problem for Olympics, gov't stresses after report on July 12 blackout released

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday ruled out the possibility of power supply problems during the Olympic Games in Athens next month, following the release of a report on a general blackout that left large parts of the country without electricity on July 12.

    According to Sioufas, recent investments to enhance the power supply network and infrastructure that will be delivered over the coming days will guarantee a safe and adequate power supply during the Games, as well as the rest of 2004. Development ministry officials said previously planned work on the network carried out since July 12, as well as work due to be completed over the next few days, would increase its capacity for the production, transport and distribution of power.

    Sioufas said the report did not reveal any acts of sabotage or any intentional actions or omissions, blaming the blackout on a combination of factors and coincidences, including human error, which led to the general collapse of the network.

    Among factors cited in the report were an imbalance in production and consumption between the northern and southern parts of the country, with most electricity production in the north and the greatest consumption in the south. This was exacerbated further by the high temperatures on that day and the fact that the heat wave struck early in the summer, before most Athenians had left on holiday.

    The problem was compounded by delays in works to enhance the network's capacity to transport power to central Greece and Attica, which had not kept track with the rate at which overall power loads had increased. Ministry officials said recent additions to the system after July 12 will have eliminated this problem.

    Additional factors that led to the general power failure were malfunctions in a number of local networks that were not fixed on time because technicians were occupied with Olympic preparations, human error which resulted in delays in reducing the power load and the fact that two power plants, at Megalopoli and Lavrion, were offline on that day due to technical problems, as well as the way that Public Power Corporation power units operated, which tended to accelerate the collapse.

    According to the committee that drafted the report, adequate power supply was not directly linked with the power failure of July 12 since domestic production was also supported by imports. It stressed a recent agreement for the purchase of electricity from Italy, with priority import rights during the Olympic Games, in particular.

    Finally, the committee made a number of suggestions for preventing similar problems in the future, such as giving incentives to reduce consumption at peak times through pricing policy and building additional power stations in the south.

    Development minister assures Parliamentary Production and Trade Committee July 12 blackout will not be repeated: Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas assured the Parliamentary Production and Trade Committee on Wednesday that events reminiscent of the blackout occurring on July 12 will in no way be repeated.

    Sioufas also presented the Parliamentary Committee with a report prepared by a fact-finding committee on the blackout.

    "The report guarantees the country's safe and continuous supply of electric power during the Olympic and Paralympic Games and, in general, throughout the year of 2004," he said.

    Sioufas said that, according to the report, "the blackout had not been intentional but had been due to a combination of many circumstantial factors which burden the unfavorable aspects the system already has in the south."

    [03] Liapis presents development strategy for public transportation

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis presented the government's strategy for the development of the Athens public transportation system during and after the Olympic Games, during a press conference he held at Zappion Hall on Wednesday.

    He said that Greece is ready in every way to stage excellent and safe Olympic Games and pointed out that the transport ministry has great responsibility in this, since a successful Games also depends on a good transportation system. Liapis also emphasized that during the past 10 years, Athens has been transformed thanks to both small- and large-scale transportation projects. Now, the visitors to the Olympic Games as well as Athens residents have a unified transportation network at their disposal. "The golden rule is for us to combine the Olympic Games with the city's smooth functioning," he said.

    As for the Olympic Games, Liapis said that the ministry has published 1 million maps (500,000 in Greek, 500,000 in English) which will be available free of charge at the country's main points of entry and elsewhere. A call centre (185) will also provide visitors and citizens with information in five languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Greek), while special maps have been printed for the disabled.

    The special traffic restrictions will go into effect Sunday, while the suburban railway and the new metro line extension to the airport will begin operating Friday morning. For the first two days, passengers may use both means of transportation free of charge in order to familiarize themselves. During the Olympic Games the tram and ISAP (the train, not the metro) will operate on a 24-hour basis. The other means of public transportation will operate extended hours, but will not run between 2 and 5 a.m.

    As for post-Games, the ministry's objectives are to: - reduce travel time by 33% - increase public transportation use from a current 33% to 50% - reduce the average age of buses to less than eight years

    [04] ND party's Central Committee secretary to be elected on Thursday

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    The time limit for the submission of candidacies for the ruling New Democracy party's Political Council, which will be elected during the Central Committee's meeting on Thursday, expired at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

    The Central Committee, which will also be electing its new secretary, will be convening with its new composition following its election during the party's congress which was held between July 23-25.

    Seven candidacies were submitted for the seven Parliamentary member seats, since the party discouraged other candidacies. The candidates are George Voulgarakis, Nikitas Kaklamanis, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Vyron Polydoras, Dimitris Sioufas, Marietta Yiannakou and Fani Petralia who, of course, will all be elected.

    Candidacies for the seven extra parliamentary seats are 10, while Dora Bakoyianni and Thevronia Patrianakou will be elected due to the quota system as no other women will be candidates.

    The Central Committee's meeting will begin at 10 a.m. with an address by Prime Minister and ND leader Costas Karamanlis, while the Central Committee's members will also be electing its new secretary with incumbent secretary Vangelis Meimarakis being the only candidate.

    [05] Deputy defense minister receives courtesy call by Polish ambassador

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos received a courtesy call on Wednesday by Polish Ambassador to Athens Grzegorz Dziemidowicz.

    According to reports, the Polish ambassador requested from Mihaloliakos that the scheduled visit to Greece by the Polish defense minister coincides with the last 10 days in August to enable him to also watch part of the Olympic Games.

    Greece will participate in the international defense equipment exhibition to be held in the Polish city of Kielce in September, following an invitation extended by the Polish ambassador.

    Greece and Poland have signed a Mutual Understanding Memorandum for cooperation in the defense sector.

    [06] Economy ministry unveils policy priorities

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    Promoting a new development law, creating a new regulatory framework covering transactions between the state and private companies and the doubling of efforts to avoid losing money from a Third Community Support Framework program, are the main priorities of the Economy and Finance ministry, Deputy Minister Chistos Folias said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, Folias said that the main philosophy of a new development law was offering a generous support to small- and medium-sized enterprises (employing up to 50 workers) and emphasizing on supporting new technologies and innovation. "The market will tell us what to include in a new development law," the Greek minister noted.

    Folias said that the ministry has already asked 450 businesses, included in a previous development law, on their opinions on the issue, while the Greek ministry was consulting with the European Commission in drafting a new law that would be in line with community law. He stressed that the new law would have a two-year implementation period because the European Union was promoting a new regional policy.

    The Greek minister said that the government was working to achieve a new level of cooperating with the private sector in major works and stressed that the country needed a new regulatory framework to safeguard both the state's and the citizens' interests.

    Folias said that Greece still risked losing money from a Third Community Support Framework program in 2004 and noted that the absorption rate has risen to 25.7 percent from 21.7 percent in March when the government took over.

    [07] Government finance bill gets overall approval from parliament

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    A wide-ranging government bill including clauses on repatriation of capital, overdue loan penalty rates, and debts to the state sector received initial approval by parliament on Wednesday.

    Deputies are now to debate the bill article by article until the end of parliament's summer session.

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, whose ministry submitted the bill, said the government aimed to wind up long-lasting areas of conflict through the measure, heralding a new era.

    Opponents of the bill from the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) charged the government with reneging on pre-election pledges. And deputies from the Communist Party of Greece and the Coalition of the Left and Progress charged that the brunt of tax collection had fallen on those who had already declared their income through a second round of controls; and not on tax evaders.

    Opposition parliamentarians also objected to a measure in the bill encouraging the repatriation of capital as opening the way to "a legalization of money laundering and legitimization of financial crime".

    Alogoskoufis countered that his PASOK predecessor, Nikos Christodoulakis, had proposed the measure when in office, but the move had been rejected by the rest of the cabinet.

    [08] Stocks nose up, tracking markets abroad

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with players encouraged by sentiment in markets abroad and by favorable first-half earnings reported by blue chip Alpha Bank, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,356.92 points, showing a rise of 0.16 per cent. Turnover was 142.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.01 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.86 per cent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.57 per cent up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 200 to 112 with 49 remaining unchanged.

    [09] Greece to field country's largest-ever Olympic team during the Athens Games

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    The Greek Olympic Committee on Wednesday announced the names of the 441 athletes that will make up the Greek team during the Athens Olympics in August, making this the largest-ever Olympic team ever fielded by Greece.

    This is nearly double the previous record which dates back to 1896, the year that the Games were revived, when Greece was host-country and brought a team of 240 athletes to the first-ever modern Olympics.

    The Greek team for the 2004 Games will be made up of 223 men and 218 women and will be competing in all the events except hockey. It will move into the Olympic Village from Friday, the first day of its operation.

    [10] Thessaloniki ready for Olympic Games, city's police chief says

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    The head of the Thessaloniki police force Kostas Tzekis on Wednesday assured Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis that the city was fully prepared for the foreign athletes and guests that will be attending Olympic events in the city, after a meeting to brief the minister on the Olympic security plan for Thessaloniki.

    Tzekis said everything was ready, including a plan for special traffic measures that will apply on the days that Thessaloniki hosts the Olympic soccer preliminaries.

    Afterwards, the minister underlined his satisfaction with the preparations made by the Thessaloniki police and their new headquarters, which he visited.

    Tsiartsonis stressed that Thessaloniki was ready to receive the events and that the state was working flawlessly to ensure that the city was safe for foreign visitors and athletes.

    He also announced plans to set up a special department at the Macedonia-Thrace ministry that will deal with public order ministry issues and liaise with local police.

    [11] Attico Metro opens new station

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    The Attico Metro, the Athens metro system, on Wednesday begun operating a new station at Doukissis Plakentias and said that in the next few days it would start servicing the extended line terminating at the Eleftherios Venizelos international airport using the Suburban Rail's railway network.

    The travel from Syntagma to Doukissis Plakentias station takes only 15 minutes. The new station has five entrance-exit gates and a 360-seat car parking.

    The new metro line linking Syntagma with the Athens international airport at Spata will be served by seven new trains offering air-conditioning and special luggage spaces. Ticket prices were set at 8 euros.

    Attico Metro is expected to open a new station in western Athens next week, servicing thousands of citizens in the Peristeri municipality, one of the biggest in the country.

    Prosecutor seeks guilty verdict for all five accused in ELA trial.

    The public prosecutor in the high-profile ELA terrorism trial, in which five people stand accused as members of the urban guerrilla group Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), on Wednesday asked the court to pass guilty verdicts on all five of the defendants.

    Prosecutor Eleftherios Patsis said four should be found guilty of joining and participating in a terrorist organization and possession of explosives, naming Christos Tsigaridas, Costas Agapiou, Irene Athanassaki and Aggeletos Kanas.

    He singled out the fifth defendant, Mihalis Kassimis, saying that he seemed to have been only fleetingly involved with the group. Patsis pointed out that none of the evidence linked Kassimis to any of ELA's actions before or after the group's attempt on the life of trade unionist George Raftopoulos, then head of the Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE).

    He therefore recommended that Kassimis be found guilty only as a direct accomplice in the attempted murder of Raftopoulos, a charge that carries a life sentence.

    On the other hand, he recommended that charges against the other four defendants concerning a series of explosions, the murders of police officer Apostolos Velios and Supreme Court justice Anastasios Vernardos, as well as over 70 attempted homicides, be converted from charges of moral instigation to simple complicity.

    Should the court adopt this recommendation, the prospect of life sentences for the four becomes less likely.

    Patsis also asked that the defendants be acquitted in connection with the attempted killing of Kyriakos Diakoyiannis since the bomb used had been deactivated.

    He was succeeded by substitute prosecutor Constantinos Vompiris, who outlined the penalties allowed by law for each of the charges requested by Patsis.

    The trial is to continue on Friday with the arguments of lawyers representing civil suits in the case.

    With the agreement of the counsel for the defense and civil suits, it was decided that the court will adjourn on August 6 until September 1.

    [12] Thessaloniki police say they have uncovered ATM gang

    Athens, 29/7/2004 (ANA)

    Police in Thessaloniki on Wednesday said they had apprehended three members of a gang which had discovered an original and highly effective way of robbing banks, namely by stealing entire ATM machines that they had ripped from their foundations and then opened at their leisure.

    The suspects in custody are three gypsies, while another two members of the gang are being sought.

    Police said the gang operated by seeking out ATM machines in secluded spots on the edges of towns or villages that were placed on the exterior of a building. They then picked a day or a time when the streets were likely to be deserted, such as a public holiday or during poor weather like snow, mist or heavy rain and drove to the ATM using a stolen tow truck, with which they removed the ATM from its base.

    They then loaded the ATM onto a stolen truck and transported it to a warehouse in Paleokastro, where they could open it using a variety of tools available to them and remove its contents. Once empty, the ATM was then dumped in a pre-selected spot or from the place it had originally been stolen from.

    Using this method, the suspects are believed to have stolen four ATMs containing a total of 238,000 euros from the greater Thessaloniki area, while inflicting over 160,000 euros of damage to the businesses involved.

    Police said they were put on the gang's trail by a fingerprint found on a flashlight left at the scene of the one of the robberies and the assistance of a witness whose truck the gang had attempted to steal, who was able to describe them.

    [13] Cyprus not satisfied with new US remarks

    NICOSIA 29/7/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The government of the Republic of Cyprus said here on Wednesday it was not satisfied with fresh statements by the US State Department with regard to the presence of US-made weapons in the island's northern Turkish occupied areas, carried and used by the occupation army.

    ''The response of the State Department deputy spokesman does not satisfy us and therefore today I reiterated yesterday's demarche to Washington's Ambassador Michael Klosson on this issue,'' Foreign Ministry Permanent Representative Ambassador Sotos Zakheos told CNA.

    Speaking after talks with Klosson, Zakheos said Klosson had repeated to him that the US administration's standing position was to see Cyprus demilitarized.

    Klosson, Zakheos added, stopped short of making any reference to any legal framework which governs US-made weapons the Turkish forces have.

    The Cypriot official said the government had pointed out that the problem lies with the illegal Turkish occupation and the presence of the Turkish troops.

    ''We have indicated that the US, who are interested in seeing Turkey begin accession negotiations with the European Union, have an obligation to point out to Ankara that the presence of an occupation army in a European country is not a mark of a European nation and that these troops should be withdrawn,'' Zakheos added.

    On Tuesday, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said ''we have long advocated and worked toward the demilitarization of the island... The use of US military equipment by Turkish forces is governed by legal restrictions or governed by legal agreements and those agreements are followed.''

    Turkey maintains a 35,000-strong military force, equipped with US-made weapons, in the areas of Cyprus it occupies since its troops invaded in 1974.

    American weapons were displayed during a military parade in the Turkish-occupied part of the capital Nicosia, on 20 July, to mark the 30th anniversary of the Turkish invasion and occupation of 37 percent of the island's territory.

    Repeated UN resolutions have called for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from this east Mediterranean island Republic.

    [14] USA: Turkish forces use US weapons under agreements

    WASHINGTON 28/7/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The use of US military equipment by Turkish forces is governed by legal agreements, which are followed, Adam Ereli, State Department's deputy spokesman, said on Tuesday.

    Ereli was responding to questions regarding Cyprus government's protests against the use of American weapons by Turkish troops occupying 37 percent of Cyprus territory since 1974. US-made weapons were displayed during a military parade in the occupied part of the capital Nicosia on 20 July, 30th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

    The State Department deputy spokesman said the US firm view on the question of troops in Cyprus is that ''the island should be demilitarized''.

    ''We've long advocated and worked toward the demilitarization of the island. The Annan plan provided for that, and we believe that the Annan plan, if adopted, would succeed in reaching that goal," he said.

    Asked to comment on the protests by the Cyprus government to the US Administration over a State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher's statement that the issue of the presence of US origin weapons in occupied Cyprus does not raise questions under the law of the United States, Ereli said ''the previous question was a very specific one, and the previous answer was a very specific one. And the question was the use of US military equipment by Turkish forces. And that is something that is governed by legal restrictions or governed by legal agreements, and those agreements were followed."

    Responding to another remark that the Annan plan does not support the demilitarization of Cyprus but provides that the Turkish troops should remain in the island for unlimited time, he said ''the Annan plan dealt with the issue in a way that we felt resolved the standoff and resolved tensions in a way that was in the long-term interests of all peoples of Cyprus''.

    [15] US official says UN plan for Cyprus settlement was fair

    NEW YORK 29/7/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    US Undersecretary for political affairs Marc Grossman said on Wednesday that a plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to solve the Cyprus problem, in the eyes of the American administration, was fair and provided a good basis for a permanent settlement.

    Grossman told the 37th meeting of clerics of the American Archbishopric on Wednesday that the decision of the Greek Cypriot community, which rejected the Annan plan in the April 24 referendum, was respected.

    He added that the US, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, was ready to offer its services with all necessary arrangements in the issues of security and implementation of the plan, on the basis of everything mentioned by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his report.

    Greek Cypriots rejected the plan by majority vote (76 per cent), saying it did not provide sufficient security guarantees nor did it ensure implementation of the proposed settlement.

    Turkish Cypriots approved the Annan plan by 65 per cent.


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