|Saturday, 7 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 4, 2004
 National defense general staff chief assures armed forces fully prepared for their Olympic Games mission
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)National Defense General Staff chief General George Antonakopoulos, speaking during an event held at the defense ministry on Tuesday on the military's contribution to the holding of the Athens Olympic Games, said the armed forces are prepared from every point of view and will fulfill their mission regarding the holding of the Games.
Lieutenant-General Vassilis Yiannopoulos, who is responsible for Olympic Games' security, said that although there is no specific information indicating that the Olympic Games are being threatened and according to the assessment that potential disproportionate threats exist, whose handling during the Games requires the decisive involvement of military power, the use of this power on land, sea and air was planned in every detail.
A total of 234 aircraft and helicopters, 51 Greek Navy vessels and 28 anti-aircraft missile batteries of various calibers compose the preventive security network created by the armed forces for the Olympic Games.
Armed forces staff involved in the security of the Games amount to 53,363 people, while over 500 vehicles will be used for their transportation.
Their mission is, among other things, to control the access of pedestrians and vehicles, supervise sports and other sites, escort members of the Olympic family, monitor Olympic venues and activities by air, protect vital installations all over the country, protect the Athens-Alexandroupoli railway line, monitor open sea regions, assist the harbor corps to monitor sea borders and guard the port of Piraeus, monitor Greek national air space and the Athens Flight information Region (FIR) and handle disproportionate threats, whether they may come from unauthorized flying means, windsurfers or remote controlled devices.
A nuclear, biological and chemical defense unit was provided to confront such threats, as well as air space observers.
Warplanes and helicopters will be conducting flights throughout the period of the Olympic Games.
The security network will be supplemented, at Greece's request, by NATO's Permanent Mediterranean Naval Force which will patrol outside territorial waters, AWACS aircraft which will carry out flights round-the-clock and NATO's battalion for handling chemical, radiological and biological threats which has been deployed in the city of Halkida, eastern Greece, and at Megalo Pefko.
According to a plan codenamed "Valkanio", about 200 checkpoints will be created and manned along land borders, while foot patrols will be taking place between the checkpoints round-the-clock. The whole effort will be backed by air surveillance provided by four helicopters and four aircraft.
Implementation of the plan will require 4,000 military personnel, who can be increased to 5,500 if necessary.
The armed forces, in addition to preventive measures taken for Olympic Games security, will also provide sanitary and meteorological support for the Games by offering the following: -622 doctors, nursing and administrative staff to man the Olympic Village's clinic and 210 infirmaries -25 ambulances -the creation of suitable infrastructures at military hospitals -the provision of suitable systems for the timely and accurate prediction of weather phenomena. Meteorological support will be undertaken by the National Meteorological Service (EMY) which was provided with modernization works valued at 15 million euros.
In addition, the armed forces provided facilities to accommodate 3,000 press representatives and members of the Olympic family. They will be accommodated at army and air force resorts, as well as at military academies.
They also created training facilities meeting Olympic Games specifications at Dekelia airport, a new heliport at Ancient Olympia and airborne facilities for the Torch Relay all over the country.
Lastly, 8,000 recruits and 400 employees and reserves officers will participate in the relevant Athens 2004 program as volunteers.
Event held at defense ministry on the contribution of the military to holding of the Olympic Games: An event was held at the defense ministry on Tuesday on the military's contribution to the preparation and holding of the Athens Olympic Games, while ministers praised the ''unanimity and unity of the Greek people, excellent cooperation between ministries and agencies and the decisive role played by the armed forces in hosting the Olympic Games''.
Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said the Olympic Games are a collective task constituting a national issue with international radiance, reiterating that preventive measures being taken will in no way alter the spirit of the Olympic Games.
Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis said the country is able to provide the environment of security required by the great undertaking. He added that the issue of holding the Olympic Games was approached in an integral way, regarding both infrastructures and security.
Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said the Olympic Games ''are not a war but a great celebration''. He further stressed that cooperation between relevant ministries and agencies to achieve their best possible preparation was excellent and exemplary.
 Karamanlis: "Greece is ready for the Olympics"
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)"Greece is absolutely ready for the Olympic Games," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed during his visit to the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA) on Tuesday evening. Karamanlis, escorted by Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Athens 2004 Executive Director Marton Simitsek and Secretary General for the Olympic Games
Spyros Kapralos visited the velodrome, the tennis courts, the athletics training area and the swimming pool.
The prime minister emphasized that in 10 days both the country and its people will send the world their message - a message of peace, brotherhood, competition, cooperation, humanity and civilization - but also a message regarding Greece's present capabilities.
Karamanlis also said that the Olympic facilities and the infrastructure in Athens and in other Olympic cities are ready to receive, host, and serve members of the Olympic Family, athletes, journalists and visitors.
 Olympic Games an opportunity to show world the modern face of Greece, PM tellsRAI TV ROME 4/8/2004 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)
In a short interview with the Italian TV channel RAI-2 broadcast on Tuesday, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed that the Athens Olympic Games would be an opportunity to show the world the modern face of Greece, a country that was now in the heart of Europe.
The premier was responding to questions about the high cost of the Games and whether he feared an economic crisis in their wake.
"There is no doubt that such as great enterprise entails a high cost...Our economy will make use of the good image created during the Olympic Games in the long-term," he said.
He said that Greece's triumph in the European soccer championship was the "best preamble" but stressed that the Olympic Games were something different.
"I can assure you that we did everything humanly possible to ensure that we will have a good result," he said.
With respect to security, Karamanlis underlined that Greece had spent four times the amount spent at the previous Olympics, had engaged the assistance of NATO and other allies and had mobilized a force of 79,000 men to guarantee the safety of athletes and visitors, stressing that more than this could not be done.
 Mexican journalists film military airport
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)A Mexican television crew of two reporters and two cameramen on Tuesday was found near the military air base of Tatoi filming the area, according to police sources.
The Air Force's security guards believed the crew was filming rows of Patriot missiles, and turned over the crew to the police.
The television crew told police that they only wished to film the gyms at Dekelia, but got a bit closer than was allowed. The crew was accredited with the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee. All four journalists were let go.
 Coast Guard to launch inquiry into alleged mistreatment of Mexican journalists
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)The Coast Guard on Tuesday announced that it would hold an administrative inquiry under oath to look into the allegations made by three Mexican journalists, who said they had been beaten by Special Forces Coast Guard officers in uniform.
The inquiry will be carried out by Vice Admiral Dionysis Trigalas, who will take statements under oath from the witnesses and then report to the chief of the Coast Guard, Vice Admiral Christos Delimihalis.
Senior coast guard officers note, however, that the incident was due at least in part to the uncooperative behavior of the three Mexican journalists, as well as excessive zeal on the part of the officers involved.
They said the three had failed to produce their accreditation card from the Olympics Organizing Committee on demand, even though they had one, and after arguing with the officers had left the entrance of Xaveri Coast where the eight cruise ships for VIPs will be docked and continued to take photographs of the area from a raised bridge above the passenger station.
The three journalists reported the incident to the French news agency AFP but have not filed charges.
 Inner cabinet ratifies local administration draft law
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)The inner cabinet on Tuesday ratified the interior ministry's draft law on local administration.
The bill, due to be submitted to Parliament's third summer recess committee, enacts a national citizens' register to enable bureaucracy to be limited, as Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said, and citizens to be able to receive certificates from every service and not from municipal authorities alone.
Moreover, prefectures' overdue debts will be arranged, a post of secretary general will be enacted for each prefecture and the funding of municipalities will be rationalized with the Theseus program, while all ministries will deposit their credits for municipalities in a single special account.
Pavlopoulos said the two codes for local administration will be ready at the end of the year and will be ratified with a separate bill.
 PASOK leader has pneumonia but will soon recover, doctors say
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou is suffering from a classic case of pneumonia but is doing well and should be out of hospital before the end of the week, doctors at the Attiko University Hospital announced on Tuesday.
According to his medical team, Papandreou's general health was good and his condition did not give particular cause for alarm, while he had responded well to the antibiotic combination administered. They said the PASOK leader's X-ray results were very good and that the signs of the disease were subsiding and would leave no trace.
His doctors also stressed that there would be no further updates on the state of Papandreou's health, since there was no need.
The main opposition leader was admitted to hospital on Monday night with a fever caused by an infection of the respiratory tract.
Earlier on Tuesday, Papandreou received a visit from Health and Social Solidarity Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis, who conveyed the best wishes of the government, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and himself for a speedy recovery.
The main opposition leader was also sent a telegram wishing him a speedy recovery from Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece.
 Alternate Culture Minister meets with Meimarakis
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia met with Evangelos Meimarakis, Secretary of New Democracy's Central Committee, on Tuesday.
After the meeting, Palli-Petralia said: "Eleven days before the Olympic Games we had the pleasure of receiving New Democracy Secretary Mr. Meimarakis and his associates, here at the Ministry, to inform them regarding the Olympic Games and final preparations. Of course we thank Mr. Meimarakis for New Democracy's support of the government. They will be at our side for whatever we need, in this bet all Greeks have made. It's evident that when we Greeks are united and set goals, we achieve them. Greece is a team, a team which knows how to fight and win."
Asked to comment on the media's changed attitude, which was previously critical, but more recently positive, Palli-Petralia said that Greece is sending a message - loud and clear - to all those doubting its capabilities. "[We are sending the message that] Greece has the knowledge, the desire and the ability to stage unique and safe Olympic Games," she said.
 Budgetary deficit higher than anticipated
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)The budgetary deficit in the first half of 2004 was higher than anticipated, totalling 8,746 million euros against a target of 6,260 million euros, the State Accounting Office said on Tuesday.
A high rate of growth in primary spending was due to pay rises in the public sector, the payment of family benefit backdated to 2001 and 2002, pension payments in line with 2004 incomes policy, and higher down payments to state bodies including social insurance funds and transport agencies.
Ministry officials anticipate that on the basis of current data, the general government deficit will total 4.0 percent of gross domestic product at the end of 2004 to exceed the European Union stability pact target of a maximum of 3.0 percent.
 Greek retail sales index up 5.1 pct in May, yr/yr
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)Greece's retail sales composite index rose 5.1 percent in May 2004, from the same month last year, for an increase of 7.5 percent in the average index in the first five months of the year, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.
NSS, in its monthly report, said that the May increase reflected a 7.8 percent rise in the pharmaceutical-cosmetic sales index, a 7.8 percent increase in outdoor sales, a 7.6 percent increase in book-papers, a 6.8 percent rise in super-markets, a 6.6 percent increase in furniture, electric-home appliances index and a 6.5 percent rise in large department stores. The clothing-footwear sales index fell 1.9 percent in May compared with the same month in 2003.
The statistics service said that 7.5 percent increase in the January-May period, year-on-year, reflected rises of 10.1 percent in super-markets, 9.2 percent in department stores, 9.1 percent in pharmaceutical-cosmetics and 8.6 percent in book-papers.
 One in two Greek restaurants breaching market regulations, ministry report
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)One in two businesses in the restaurant and recreation sector were breaching market regulations, Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Papathanasiou said that a ministry inspection agency completed a total of 1,240 inspections in companies in the sector in July and stressed that inspections would intensify in the next few days with the addition of 500 contract workers in the ministry.
Greece's Food Inspection Agency said it completed a total of 43 inspections in athletic sites, 485 restaurants in Olympic sites, 10 summer camps, 13 catering businesses, 13 hospitals and 132 restaurants in Athens in July.
The Greek minister said that ministry inspections found that restaurant companies failed to present price lists, complaint boxes and higher profits and stressed that most cases would be sent to the prosecutor.
Commenting on the likely impact of increased fuel prices in the market, Papathanasiou said that the Greek market did not experience any problems so far.
 Stocks rise in blue-chip buying
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished higher with players buying into blue chips, also moving into other stocks towards the end of the session, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,330.30 points, showing a rise of 0.91 percent. Turnover was 86.0 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.96 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.53 per cent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.18 per cent up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 155 to 139 with 61 remaining unchanged.
 Greek MP stresses Athens' determination to host doping-free Games
LONDON 4/8/2004 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)The head of the Greek Parliament's narcotics committee, MP Constantinos Kiltidis, has underlined the Greek government's determination to keep the Athens Olympics "clean and doping-free" in an article appearing in London's "Daily Telegraph" on Tuesday.
Kiltidis stressed that all Greek agencies are working with a "heightened sense of national duty to achieve this target", while noting that large sums of money have been spent to acquire the very latest technology to test for controlled substances.
He also stressed the Parliament committee's vital role in ensuring 'clean' Olympics, in close collaboration with the Greek Olympic Committee and international sports federations.
According to Kiltidis, in classical ancient Greece sports were seen as a fundamental factor in achieving physical, mental and social perfection. It was seen as a way to produce healthy citizens and a strong city-state with a democratic structure. He said the return of the Games to Greece was a unique opportunity to restore some of their original spirit and move away from the 'manufactured' champions seen in past Olympiads.
"We will be extremely tough in our efforts to wipe out the problem of doping, and toughest of all on our own athletes. We are striving to make the Athens Olympic Games the start of an international effort to revive the 'immortal ancient spirit'," he said.
 Health ministry's 'Olympic Guide 2004' available from Tuesday
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)The Health and Social Solidarity Ministry's "Olympic Guide 2004" will be available to the public from Tuesday in Greek, French, German, Spanish and English.
It contains useful information about hospitals, first-aid centers and other health services, complete with maps and first-aid instructions.
The guide is available at all Olympic hospitals, first-aid centers, airports and Athens municipality services.
 ELA terrorism trial adjourned until September 1
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)The trial of five suspected members of the terrorist group "Revolutionary Popular Struggle" before the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court was adjourned on Tuesday and will reconvene on September 1.
The court agreed to adjourn before the scheduled date of August 6 at the request of civil suit and defense lawyers in the case.
 Police crack major truck-hijacking case
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)Athens police on Tuesday announced that they had cracked a major truck-hijacking case with an estimated loot of 650,000 euros and had three of the suspected culprits in custody.
The hijacking occurred on September 17, 2003 on the 11th kilometer of the Athens-Lamia national highway, when four armed men forced a truck carrying cigarettes to pull over and made the driver get out at gunpoint.
They said one of the suspects was George Masmanidis, 31, who had been in Korydallos prison since March 11 because of an outstanding conviction and arrest warrant. The other two were identified as Efstathios Theodoridis, 38, and Constantinos Tataridis, 33, who were arrested in the Menidi area on Monday. Police are also looking for Russian national Dima Cecikov as the fourth suspect in the case.
They said the four had hidden the truck in a rented warehouse in Kifissia and had sold some of the cigarettes to four shops in the area, where police found part of the stolen freight last month. The owners have been charged with receiving stolen goods.
 Border guards arrest 35 illegal immigrants
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)Border guards arrested 35 illegal immigrants and a 30-year-old Greek carrying them in a truck on the Egnatia motorway, in the northern Evros prefecture, on Tuesday.
The illegal immigrants (27 Pakistanis, seven Indians and one from Bangladesh) had crossed the Evros river in a plastic boat, with the assistance of two unidentified traffickers, a Turk and a Greek, and were led to an agricultural region in the area of Fylachto where they boarded the truck.
They would then have been driven to Athens for a fee of 3,000 euros each. The truck had been fitted with stolen license plates.
The illegal immigrants and the truck driver were brought before a public prosecutor in the city of Alexandroupoli, while the truck was confiscated.
 Prespes 2004 festival coming to a close in Florina
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)The Prespes 2004 festival held annually at the Prespes lake district in Florina will come to a close on Wednesday.
This year's festival was held much later than usual so as not to coincide with the Olympics and was much more limited compared to previous years, lasting only three days, with the inauguration of an exhibition of art originating in Balkan countries on Sunday.
This was attended by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis and Florina MPs Nikos Kortsaris and George Lianis.
Tsiartsionis noted that the festival had been largely eclipsed by the effort to organize successful Olympics but pledged the start of a 'new era for Greek regions' in which the government would make up for lost time and eradicate inequalities after the end of the Games.
 Thessaloniki's sports museum to open Thursday
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)The Sports Museum of Thessaloniki is practically ready and will open its doors to the public on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with an exhibit dedicated to soccer which will run for a year.
"It's the biggest of its kind in Europe. It can only be compared with the one in Lausanne. It is unique in size, architecture and quality," Museum Curator Stelios Aggeloudis said during a press conference on Tuesday.
As for the exhibit with which the museum decided to make its opening, Aggeloudis explained, "We decided to organize this exhibit since Thessaloniki will host the Olympic Games soccer preliminaries." A total of 2,000 articles will be on display, some of them contributed by Greek sports veterans around the country, while the well-known Pablo Ornaque exhibit of the Museum of the Soccer Club of Barcelona will be on loan to Thessaloniki's museum.
Additionally, Aggeloudis thanked former culture minister Evangelos Venizelos for his support and for including the museum as an Olympic project in EU programs. He also thanked current Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia for continuing this support.
IOC President Jacques Rogge, Palli-Petralia and Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos will attend the museum's opening on Thursday.
 Venizelos visits Kaftantzoglio Stadium
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movemement (PASOK) MP and Former Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos visited Kaftantzoglio Stadium in Thessaloniki on Tuesday.
"We are ready. And the Greek people should feel proud of the country's great achievement. I am also pleased because all those who doubted, complained, and undermined efforts are now proud as they see the Olympic works completed," Venizelos said.
"We've won the bet for the projects, now we have to win the bet for the staging, for the impressions Greece will make, for our national confidence and for post-Olympic development," he continued.
The former minister criticized the current government of taking all the credit, but shifting all the blame. However, Venizelos noted that it is not important. "What we care about is for Greeks to feel that they can, that this country has capabilities; that it can show not only its history but also its modern aspect," Venizelos said, admitting that the previous government had delayed in proceeding with works.
"There were delays and quite a few of them in relation with the initial timetables because optimistic estimates were made. And when you make optimistic predictions, you're usually off-target and you end up being criticized for amateurism," he stated.
 Tremors in the Dodecanese islands cause unrest
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)Repeated tremors since Tuesday morning have caused unrest in the Dodecanese islands. The moderate earthquakes were particularly felt in Kalymnos and Kos, given that the epicenter was at the Keramikos Gulf, opposite Kos. However, the tremors were also felt in Rhodes.
The first tremor was registered at 8:34 a.m. and was 4.6 points on the Richter scale. The second occurred at 12:40 p.m. and was 4.5 points on the Richter scale, while the third tremor occurred at 16:14 p.m. and was 5.1 points on the Richter scale. This third tremor was also felt in Nisyros, Symi and Leros. No casualties or damage was reported.
 3-D book on ancient Olympia published
Athens, 4/8/2004 (ANA)A new book entitled "Olympia: a journey in four dimensions" has been published in Athens by the Foundation of Greater Hellenism, which contains 3-D digital images in full color that recreate parts of the monuments that no longer exist and scenes from the surrounding countryside.
 Cyprus and Greece FMs to coordinate action
NICOSIA 4/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)Delegations of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and Greece meet here on Wednesday to coordinate action regarding issues of mutual interest pending before the UN Security Council, the European Union and the Council of Europe.
Soon after the meeting at the Foreign Ministry, the two delegations will present their suggestions to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, during a meeting at the Presidential Palace.
The Cypriot delegation will be headed by Foreign Minister George Iacovou and the Greek delegation by the ministry's General Secretary George Gennimatas.
Iacovou told reporters, after meeting President Papadopoulos that discussions will begin at 1000 local time (0700 GMT) and after agreeing on a common action plan for the second half of the year, they will present their suggestions to the Cypriot president.
"There is continued coordination between the two ministries both at a diplomatic and political level," said the Cypriot minister, noting he is in constant communication with his Greek counterpart Petros Molyviatis and Deputy FM Yiannis Valinakis. "We believe that a full day of exchange of views will be useful for the future handling in the second half of the year," Iacovou added.
The suggestions which the two ministries will make concern handling of the Cyprus problem at the UN Security Council, the European Council on the two regulations for the Turkish Cypriots as well as issues which are still pending before the Council of Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Greek Cypriots' appeals to the European Court of Human Rights and the role of Turkish Cypriots in local administration.
He said an issue expected to be raised, include an EU-Islamic Organization countries seminar to be held in Istanbul on 3-4 October.
The Cypriot minister said that although the issue concerning the growing construction in the Turkish occupied north is not on the agenda, he expressed certainty it will be raised during Wednesday's meeting.
 Cyprus government monitoring booming construction in occupied areas
NICOSIA 4/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)The Foreign Ministry has informed friendly states on the dangers that may arise from the booming construction in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus and especially from illegal investment by foreign nationals, in particular Britons, in land which belongs to Greek Cypriots.
Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou said that such actions did not facilitate the resumption of talks for a Cyprus solution while government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said some people were taking advantage of the Annan plan, a UN proposal for a comprehensive settlement which was rejected by the Greek Cypriots and approved by the Turkish Cypriots.
Minister Iacovou noted the EU was already aware of the situation, pointing out that the government was not making representations but was informing friendly states, indirectly involved in efforts to resume the talks, about the matter.
The minister said he did not think the booming construction was a concerted attempt by the occupation regime but suggested that increased development was due to provisions of the Annan plan, which is a basis for future negotiations.
He said that since the chapter on property compensation in the Annan plan had not been contested too much "it is natural that various investors believe that at this moment they have a framework in which the issue of property, in the Turkish Cypriot constituent state to be formed, will be decided in the future."
He warned that this approach involved risks and that investors believed they would profit from it.
Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said that "some people are making use of some of the provisions of the Annan Plan."
He said the government was monitoring the situation closely and was taking all necessary action available to handle the issue.
The spokesman said that all options are being examined to avoid unpleasant repercussions on property which belongs to Greek Cypriots, the ownership of which has been confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights.''
Asked if the government could prevent the booming construction, the spokesman replied "the occupied areas are not under the control of the Republic of Cyprus."
Responding to questions about a new influx of Turkish settlers in occupied Cyprus, he said "it seems there is an influx of settlers, whom the occupation regime describes as seasonal workers."