|Friday, 22 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 6, 2004
 Public order minister hosts working luncheon for Arab League ambassadors
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis hosted a working luncheon for the ambassadors of Arab League countries in Greece on Thursday, during which the foreign diplomats were briefed on issues concerning the Athens Olympic Games.
Speaking afterwards, Voulgarakis said "we had the opportunity of having an extensive briefing through a working luncheon for the ambassadors of the Arab League countries. We also had the opportunity of explaining all the measures we have taken and to discuss at length what exactly has been done and all the preparations we have made. We had a very pleasant and friendly discussion because, as you know, we are united by culture, we are united by location, we are united by geography and we are united by the concept of life."
Arab League Chairman and Ambassador of Lebanon William Habib said "we warmly thank the minister Mr. Voulgarakis for this working luncheon on behalf of all the Arab ambassadors in Athens. We particularly appreciate the historic relation and relation of friendship between the Arab countries and Greece since ancient times and, being Arabs, we feel that we have absolute involvement in the success of these Olympic Games which will be held here in Athens."
Replying to a question from the press whether he fears that something might happen during the Olympic Games, Habib said "I don't think something will happen. But if it does, then it will come from enemies of the Arab countries and of Greece. Because Greece and the Arab countries are closely linked."
 All measures to protect human rights, airship will not violate democratic rights, spokesman says
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)In the framework of security in Greece, all measures have been taken to protect human rights, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said Thursday, responding to a press question on the operation of the airship (zeppelin) that has been purchased under the Olympic Games security programme and has been flying over Attica prefecture in the past few days.
Roussopoulos underlined the fact that the zeppelin's operation was directly monitored by the independent Personal Data Protection Authority, and therefore "there will be no action that will violate the democratic framework".
The Swiss-made 59-metre airship "Phoebus", being used for overhead surveillance during the Olympics Games, is equipped with state-of-the-art technology that will aid communications between the Olympic Security Operations Centre, security staff guarding Olympic facilities and vehicles on the ground, especially those carrying VIPs and their personal security teams. It also has the capability to transmit photographs of the ground below it to the operations centre.
 Gov't spokesman presents press centre at Zappion Hall
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday presented the press centre set up by the government at Zappion Hall. He said the centre provided advanced technical support and will operate on a 24-hour basis, in addition to providing exhibition space, pavilions for travel information, an Internet cafe and cultural events.
He said that the daily briefing for reporters will also be attended by deputy government spokesman Vangelis Antonaros, Communications general secretary P. Livadas, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, Olympic Preparations general secretary Spyros Kapralos and public order ministry spokesman Nikos Economou.
Roussopoulos said that spokespersons for other ministries may participate in the daily briefing on occasion and stressed that six press office heads from abroad had been brought to Athens to assist reporters.
 Greece lodges demarche with Turkey over airspace violations
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)The Greek government has lodged demarches with the Turkish government in Ankara and the Turkish embassy in Athens over violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes in the past few days, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said Thursday.
Responding to press questions during a regular briefing, Roussopoulos noted that although violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes had dropped by 44 percent in comparison to last year, such violations were nevertheless continuing and "this is unfortunate".
In the latest of a recent spate of violations, two Turkish F-4 warplanes flew over the north-eastern part of Limnos island, at an altitude of only 500 feet, in the early afternoon on Wednesday and were intercepted by Greek air force jets.
 Twelve Turkish warplanes violate national airspace
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Six formations of Turkish warplanes in seven cases on Thursday violated the national airspace over the areas of the north-western part of the island of Lesvos, south and south-west of the island of Chios, north of the island of Samos and west of the island of Antipsara, the National Defence General Staff announced.
The 12 F-14 warplanes were intercepted by Greek air force jets, while being trapped by the radars of land-based anti-aircraft weaponry.
 Gov't expresses regret over alleged mistreatment of Mexican journalists
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday said it was regrettable if the acts attributed to Greek coast guard officers by two Mexican journalists had in fact taken place, when asked about a demarche lodged by the Mexican Embassy over the incident.
The two journalists alleged that they were detained and beaten by coast guard officers in Piraeus, who had objected to them photographing the area where the Olympic VIP cruise ships will be docked during the Games.
The spokesman denied statements attributed to Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis that "excessive zeal was better than a lack of security".
 NATO's STANAVFORMED command at Souda naval base handed over
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)The command of NATO's Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED) at the Marathi naval base in Souda, Crete was officially handed over to Greek Commander Ioannis Karaiskos on Thursday by his predecessor, Italian Admiral Ferdinando Sanfelice. Karaiskos also took over command of the fleet of ships at the base.
The hand-over ceremony was followed by a press conference, in which speakers stressed the important role that the NATO base will play in security arrangements for the Olympics. Karaiskos said the NATO force will patrol the seas from Corfu to Rhodes outside Greek territorial waters and will work closely with the Greek Navy. The force is comprised of eight Allied vessels at any given time, contributed by Greece, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland, the United Kingdom, Turkey and the United States.
 Gov't presents plan to combat human trafficking
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)The government on Thursday presented an action plan to combat human trafficking, prepared by a special committee of senior officials from various ministries that was set up by Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras in May 2004.
The plan proposes measures for locating, supporting, providing shelter and rehabilitating the victims of human trafficking through coordinated action, either through a government agency called the National Centre of Emergency Social Assistance or non-governmental organisations.
The plan provides for psychological and legal assistance for victims and allows them the option of either returning to their country if they are foreigners or remaining in Greece and taking part in state-funded training and job placement programmes.
 Foreign ministry spokesman says Greece will follow EU's decisions on issue of Belarussian sports minister
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, commenting on Thursday on the issue of Belarussian Sports Minister Yuri Sivakov who has been accused of illegal activities, referred to the condemnatory report unanimously ratified by the Council of Europe and to reports that the European Union's Dutch presidency will soon be issuing a relevant statement, stressing that Greece will follow decisions taken by the EU.
"The Council of Europe, with an almost unanimously ratified resolution by its Parliamentary Assembly has stated its position on this issue with clarity. Moreover, there are absolute and explicitly stated objections from all our European partners regarding his entry into Europe. The Greek government is well aware of the issue and it is handling it in the framework of reactions by these two international organisations, of which it is a member," he said.
Koumoutsakos added that consultations are currently taking place on the issue in Brussels and specifically at the EU Council's Policy and Security Committee.
"According to reports we had a short while ago, the above Committee decided that procedures anticipated on forbidding the granting of a travel visa to all persons included in the foregoing Council of Europe resolution must get under way. In addition, we are informed that a relevant statement by the EU's Dutch presidency might be made soon, possibly tomorrow," he said.
 Private sector jobs likely to rise over next three years
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Employment in the private sector is to rise over the next three years according to the findings of a new survey, Employment and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos said on Thursday.
Releasing the findings of a study by a research subsidiary of the state Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED), Panayiotopoulos noted that the employment increase was anticipated for graduates in information technology, civil engineering, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering; as well as for accountants and personnel and supplies directors.
Demand would also be seen for graduates of technical colleges, including electricians, assistant electronics analysts, computer programmers.
Other sectors to attract staff were biology and medicine; and more salespeople, waiters, plumbers, and car mechanics were likely to be required, the minister said.
In the private sector, 50,000 jobs are currently vacant, of which 13,000 have been vacant for more than six months. The majority of posts are in Attica (28.7 percent), followed by Central Macedonia (25.6 percent), the southern Aegean (7.3 percent), and western Macedonia (11.7 percent).
By sector, the highest demand is seen in mining (11.2 percent), health (6.5 percent), education (6.4 percent), real estate management (5.2 percent) and the wholesale trade (4.6 percent), Panayiotopoulos reported.
Only 9.6 percent of private companies contact the OAED to find staff, the survey showed.
"This confirms the failure of training programmes in previous years," the minister noted.
In addition, 66.4 percent of firms polled stated that their main reason for taking part in training programmes was to lower labour costs.
 Govt spokesman says indicative price leaflet aimed to combat price increases
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday said that Development Ministry's leaflet, printed in five different languages and presenting indicative prices on a number of products and services offered in the country, was aimed to combat price increases.
Speaking to reporters, during his daily regular briefing, Roussopoulos reminded that citizens could lodge their complaints against cases of profiteering calling on special telephone service line (1520) that would operate daily from 8.30 to 22.00. He also stressed that a large number of inspectors were currently working with Development ministry's agencies and that offenders of market regulation would be sent to the prosecutor's office.
 Greek Commerce submits proposals for new development law
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)The Greek National Confederation of Commerce on Thursday submitted a memorandum with Economy ministry presenting its proposals over a government-sponsored effort to reform a development law in the country.
In the memorandum the Confederation stressed that a new development law should be accompanied with a series of horizontal policies aimed to improving the business climate in the country, it urgent for more transparency, credibility, speed and rational thinking in a system of evaluating business plans and called for reforming a current system of regional structure.
The memorandum also said that approvals of enhanced business plans should be the responsibility of Economy ministry and not of regional authorities and called for a mixed system that would offer financial motives to businessmen.
The Confederation also called for measures to strengthen logistics centres and for the creation of "free zones" to fully exploit the country's geographical advantages. It also called for a government-sponsored plan to save problematic businesses from collapsing if viable business plans were presented.
 Higher percentage of Athens hotel bookings in first half of 2004
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)The percentage of hotel bookings in Athens and the surrounding region were higher in the first half of this year in comparison to the corresponding period in 2003.
According to data released by the Attica Hoteliers Union on Thursday, in the first half of 2004 bookings were as follows (in brackets are the corresponding percentages of the first half of 2003): Five stars hotels 41.55% (38.42%), four stars 57.80% (53.65%), three stars 59.49% (57.69%) and two stars 45.32% (48.73% - the only category which showed a decrease).
In June 2004 the bookings were as follows (in brackets are the corresponding percentages for June 2003 and June 2002): Five stars hotels 40.08 (37.58% - 59.09%), four stars 50.10% (59.12% - 66.60%), three stars 60.15% (57.45% - 63.29%) and two stars 38.64% (51.43% - 41.59%).
 Greek national soccer team's coach Otto Rehhagel to be Olympic Torch bearer
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Greece's national soccer team's coach Otto Rehhagel has formally accepted a proposal by the 2004 Athens Olympic Games Organising Committee to be one of the Olympic Torch bearers who will be crossing the newly built Rio-Antirrio bridge, spanning the Peloponnese and central Greece, on August 8.
Rehhagel will be handing the Torch to the coach of the Greek Olympic soccer team Stratos Apostolakis.
 Public transport system accessible for people with disabilities
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis on Thursday presented the Olympic transportation system which has been made accessible for people with disabilities.
Within the framework of applied measures, all of the buses on the 21 Olympic routes are accessible for individuals with disabilities and will run every 30 minutes (on the half hour) from their terminals to Olympic venues. These buses will be specially marked. Additionally, all metro, ISAP, suburban rail and tram stations are accessible for the disabled.
The transport ministry has also integrated 10, specially-designed vans for those with disabilities travelling to and from Olympic venues which are not serviced by public transport. These buses will leave from central points, such as Syndagma Square, Doukissis Plakentias (Halandri), and Schinias 90 minutes before the beginning of an event and 60 minutes after their completion.
Maps in both Greek and English (100,000 copies in each language) have been printed with details on routes and itineraries of all means of transportation accessible for individuals with disabilities. The maps will be available at all OASA kiosks. Information is also available by phone (185) in five languages.
"Along the lines of 'removing all obstacles' we reorganised the public transport network to make it possible for our fellow citizens with special needs to be able to get to and from Olympic venues and to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Games without difficulty," Liapis said. "This programme is the beginning of a broader policy which we began implementing aiming to create a friendlier and effective transport system for people with disabilities," he added.
 AHEPA sends wishes for a successful Games
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), based in Washington DC, sent its wishes "for what will be a most memorable, unique and historic Olympic Games," in letters sent to President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Thursday.
"We...are looking forward with excitement as the Olympic Games return to their place of birth commencing on August 13. We are confident that the Games will make a triumphant return and that Greece will project herself as a modern, vibrant nation on the world stage," the letter read.
Members of AHEPA have participated in Olympic Games preparations through volunteering, running in the torch relay, and promoting the Olympic Truce "in our own communities and among our government officials."
 New section of Attiki Odos delivered on Thursday
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)A new section of the Attiki Odos was delivered and opened to traffic on Thursday, linking the west Hymettus ring road with Marathonos Avenue and the rest of the area's road network outside the Attiki Odos.
The new section of the road skirts the town of Pallini and thus greatly facilitates travel to Marathona, Nea Makri and Rafina.
 Composer Mikis Theodorakis recovering after emergency admittance to hospital
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Doctors treating world-renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis on Thursday announced a sharp improvement in his condition, following his admission into hospital on Wednesday night suffering from an acute gall bladder infection.
Theodorakis was admitted to Evangelismos Hospital Increased Care Unit suffering from fever, chills, pains in the abdomen and extreme weakness.
According to his medical team, the problem had been caused by gallstones but these would be treated with a course of drugs rather than surgically removed. They said Theodorakis would not be released from hospital before Saturday.
Theodorakis received a visit from Health and Social Solidarity Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis and telegrams wishing him a speedy recovery from the leaders of the opposition parties in Parliament. The government's wishes for a quick recovery were also expressed on Thursday by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.
 Thessaloniki's sports museum inaugurated
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)The Sports Museum in Thessaloniki was inaugurated on Thursday in the presence of key personalities from the world of Greek sports, local authorities, among them the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge.
"The Olympic Games which will shortly commence in Greece will leave a legacy for the country's future. Greece with its wealthy sports background was not fortunate enough to have a museum like the one we are inaugurating today. The museum will highlight our sports culture, will inform about our sports past and will serve as a bridge for the future of sports in Greece," Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said.
"The site on which the Museum was built is closely associated with the historical course of sports in this city, since it is where a soccer stadium existed and many sports facilities, such as the Alexandrio Stadium, Heracles' sports facilities and Kaftantzo-glio Stadium are located nearby," Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos said. "It's a coincidence that a few days before the Olympic Games begin Thessaloniki's Sports Museum is being inaugurated, where we hope to celebrate many great achievements which will in turn take their place within the museum," he added.
Lambis Nikolaou, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, made comments along the same lines, but also mentioned that Rogge, who was planning on coming to Greece on Friday, came a day early in order to attend the event.
"We deliver this museum to the young generations, optimistic that they will continue the city's long sports tradition, adding new sports achievements, " Museum Curator Stelios Aggeloudis said.
Mayor of Thessaloniki Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, who was also in attendance, thanked and congratulated those responsible for this initiative and commended Rogge on his contribution to sports and for the trust he showed Greece in its efforts to stage the Athens Olympic Games.
Rogge, in answer to a question regarding Greece's readiness for the Games, said, "I am confident and optimistic."
Also present at the inauguration were former Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Olympic champion Voula Patoulidou, as well as many former soccer players.
 Brief power cut in southeast Athens, no Olympic sites affected
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)A malfunction at the Public Power Corporation substation in Nea Smyrni resulted in a brief power cut shortly after 14:00 on Thursday, affecting the power supply to N. Smyrni, Glyfada, Neos Kosmos, Piraeus and Faliro.
Power was restored to all areas within half an hour, while the PPC stressed that none of the Olympic sites had been affected.
 10-year-old British citizen killed, two others seriously injured, in road accident in Crete
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)A 10-year-old boy was killed and two other persons, all British citizens, were seriously injured late Wednesday in a traffic accident on Crete, police said Thursday. Two other British citizens suffered light injuries.
The boy, identified as Amar Phyll (father's name Raminder), was killed, while Dean Ferrar, 27, and 9-year-old Nikhil Ponja were seriously injured shortly before midnight by an oncoming car after being left off by their coach on a speedway. The names of the two other British citizens, who were lightly injured, have not yet been released by police.
Police told ANA that the British tourists were returning to their hotel late Wednesday night after a traditional Cretan "glenti" (feast), together with other British tourists, when the driver of the coach left them off on an express road instead of driving them up to the entrance of their hotel. An oncoming car, driven by 25-year-old Manolis Panayotakis ran into the British tourists, then rammed into a truck, whose driver was also seriously injured. The injured tourists and truck driver were rushed to Irakleion Hospital.
As of late Thursday morning, the Irakleion Traffic Police had not released the names of the two lightly injured British citizens, the truck driver, or the coach driver.
 Athens receives new car parking station
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Minister of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works, George Souflias, on Thursday inaugurated a new underground car parking station located at the Kaniggos square.
The new car parking station will be able to serve around 500 cars. Speaking to reporters, Souflias said that the ministry would deliver a series of more car parking stations around Athens, raising the total number of new stations to five this year, with a capacity of 2,860 car seats.
The Greek minister visited the Syntagma square, to be delivered to the public this evening, and the newly renovated squares in Koumoundourou, Kolonaki and Omonia.
 Palestinian illegal immigrant killed in border minefield
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)A young Palestinian was killed and six other men were injured on Thursday when they entered a minefield in an attempt to illegally cross the border from Turkey into Greece. The party of illegal immigrants was made up of five Palestinians and two Moroccans.
It is believed that the immigrants failed to see the phosphorescent signs indicating the area was a minefield in the dark and forced their way through the wire fencing surrounding the minefield, believing they had reached the border into Greece.
Police have not ruled out the possibility, however, that the men were led to the specific route by unscrupulous smugglers that wanted to ascertain whether the minefield was active or not.
Three of the injured men were released after receiving first aid while the other three remained in hospital, where doctors say their injuries are not serious.
 Museums and archaeological sites open extended hours
Athens, 6/8/2004 (ANA)Museums and archaeological sites in Athens and other Olympic cities will operate longer hours as of Monday, August 9, a decision which was made Thursday afternoon following the meeting of Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis with representatives of the Panhellenic Federation of Employees of the Culture Ministry. Museums and archaeological sites will stay open until 8:30 p.m.
Guards at archaeological sites agreed to work overtime without receiving an Olympic bonus.
 Villiers: No EU money to be used on building on Greek Cypriot occupied land
NICOSIA 6/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)British Euro MP Theresa Villiers has tabled official parliamentary questions, asking for assurances from the European Commission that no EU funds to the Turkish Cypriots should be used to fund building on land owned by Greek Cypriot refugees.
The European Commission has proposed financial support for the Turkish Cypriot community amounting to 259 million euros for the period 2004-2006.
''It would be completely wrong if EU or UK aid money for Turkish Cypriots were to be used for building on land owned by Greek Cypriots who were forced from their homes by the Turkish invasion'', Villiers noted, adding that she is ''very concerned about the flurry of building in the occupied areas of Cyprus''.
Villiers also said that she ''has tabled official parliamentary questions to the European Commission asking them to guarantee that no EU money will be used to finance building on land owned by Greek Cypriots."
''We must have proper financial controls over international aid to Turkish Cypriots'', Villiers added, noting that ''using this money to build over stolen land would be unjust and wholly inconsistent with the Loizidou judgment in the European Court of Human Rights."
The British MEP also said that she will be campaigning to ensure that this does not happen, noting that she will continue her ''protest against the Blair government's attempts to bypass the government of the Republic of Cyprus by sending EU aid directly to the Talat regime''.
 Cyprus government says missing persons' issue is purely humanitarian
NICOSIA 6/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)The issue of missing persons is purely humanitarian and the Cyprus government does not intend to get involved into a political discussion or exploitation of the issue, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here on Thursday.
The spokesman said the government acts for a long time now with a view to reach a solution to the question of missing persons and the ascertainment of the fate of those people missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion and has unreservedly accepted the UN Secretary General's proposals on the issue.
He added that the organisations of missing persons' relatives are constantly being briefed on developments and it is hoped that there will be a positive outcome of the efforts being made.
''For a long time now the government has undertaken specific initiatives and is acting in order to promote and solve delicate and important issues, without of course revealing or making public the substance or other developments of these contacts, because what is pursued is a positive outcome and not publicity,'' Chrysostomides remarked.
He noted that the missing persons issues ''is a basic problem for the government,'' which ''acts for a long time now aiming at a settlement of the issue and the ascertainment of the fate of the missing persons.''
''It has a long time now accepted unreservedly the UN Secretary General's proposals and the whole issue has many delicate aspects.
These are political, technical and mainly of course humanitarian aspects. The issue is purely humanitarian. The government does not intend to get involved into a political discussion or exploitation of the issue,'' he added.