|Monday, 21 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 7, 2004
 PM Karamanlis visits press centre at Zappeion
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday visited the press centre at Zappeion, accompanied by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, where he showed special interest in the pavilion of the ministry of tourism.
The premier, welcomed to the centre by deputy government spokesman Vangelis Antonaros and the general secretary of information Panos Livadas, toured various pavilions at the centre and talked to foreign journalists in the Greek capital to cover the 2004 Olympic Games.
"I believe that you will organize the next Olympic Games in 2008 just as well as we will and I wish you good luck," he told a Chinese journalist who asked him for his assessment of the 2008 Olympic Games to take place in Beijing.
A Turkish journalist congratulated Karamanlis on the work done by Greece for the 2004 Games and said he was very impressed.
The premier was very interested in touring the pavilion of the ministry of tourism, where journalists can get information about beautiful sites they can visit throughout Greece, through three-dimensional images.
Karamanlis spent quite some time at the pavilion of the ministry of culture and the pavilion of the Botsi Foundation which presents the originals of front-page articles of newspapers of 1896 on the first Olympic Games.
Before leaving the press centre, Karamanlis visited the briefing rooms and said he was impressed.
PM to visit Olympic sites in Markopoulo, Schinias on Saturday: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will visit the Olympic shooting and equestrian centers in Markopoulo on Saturday morning, and the Schinias rowing centre immediately afterward, deputy government spokesman Vangelis Antonaros announced on Friday.
The spokesman also clarified that the prime minister will not be attending the inauguration of the new Rio-Antirrio bridge on the eve of the Olympic Games and that the bridge will be opened by Environment and Public Works Minister George Souflias.
 Olympic Games Security Coordination Council meeting held at Public Order Ministry
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)The Olympic Games Security Coordination Council concluded that everything that is humanly possible for the staging of a safe Olympic Games has been done, following a meeting that was held at the Public Order Ministry on Friday.
Public Order Minister and Council President George Voulgarakis said that all the involved ministers confirmed that schedules are being adhered to and that all projects needed for the Olympic Games are being completed.
Problems that need to be addressed, according to the Council, include violation of Olympic lanes regulations, sufficient supply of wireless radios for security purposes, prompt delivery of disinfection chambers, and facilitating members of the press working at Zappeion, etc.
 State Dept. asserts Athens Games will be safe
WASHINGTON DC 7/8/2004 (ANA/A.Ellis)State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher reiterated once more that the US government is convinced that Greece has done everything in its power to ensure that the Athens Olympic Games will be safe and successful. His comments were made on Thursday, during the State Department's daily press briefing, in response to a journalist's question regarding statements US Admiral Gregory Johnson made to the Washington Post recently. Johnson was quoted as saying: "We do not want to be comfortable. There could be something deeply involved but we just have not seen or anticipated."
While unfamiliar with the actual comments, Boucher said, "I think I'd just point out, once again, that we're all working with the Greek authorities to provide security for the Olympics to make it as safe as possible."
 Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate national airspace
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Five formations of Turkish war planes on Friday made an equal number of infringements of the air traffic regulations of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) which developed in 28 violations of national airspace, the Armed Forces General Staff said. Twenty-five of these occurred between the islands of Chios and Kos, while Turkish aircraft flew at a height of 2,000 and 6,000 feet over Agathonisi.
In all cases the 12 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while being trapped by the radars of land-based anti-aircraft weaponry.
Relevant sources did not rule out the possibility that the provocations by the neighboring country are related with the hosting of the Olympic Games in Greece.
 PASOK criticizes gov't reaction to Turkish airspace violations
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK on Friday criticized the foreign ministry's reaction to a series of airspace violations by Turkish aircraft in the Aegean, saying it had not responded strongly enough.
A PASOK announcement said Turkey should have been reminded of its commitment to avoid all military exercises and provocative actions in the Aegean in the period leading up to the Olympics, under an agreement made by Greece and Turkey in 2003 during talks between foreign ministers Abdullah Gul and George Papandreou.
It accused the government of weakly reminding Turkey of its obligations within the framework of the Olympic Truce and of failing to inform NATO and the European Union, according to the precedent set by Papandreou.
 Government bars Belarus sports minister from entering Greece
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Belarus Tourism and Sports Minister Yuri Sivakov will be barred from entering Greece, deputy government spokesman Vangelis Antonaros said on Friday. The decision follows a Council of Europe report that implicates Sivakov in a series of criminal acts and human rights abuses. Persons for whom there is an EU visa ban will not enter Greece," the spokesman said.
Antonaros further clarified that a unit of armed U.S. troops would remain outside Greek borders, stressing that there would be no armed personnel from other countries within Greece.
He also took the opportunity to stress that normal traffic regulations apply and must be respected by those using the special Olympic lanes.
 EU to contribute funds for removal of mines along Cyprus 'green line'
BRUSSELS 7/8/2004 (ANA - A. Simatos)The European Commission has decided to contribute 2.5 million euros for the removal of mines along the 'green line' on Cyprus, which divides the southern areas from the Turkish-occupied north of the island, according to a Commission announcement on Friday.
The aid will be given via the United Nations program 'Partnership for the Future', which is funded by the EU, in collaboration with the UN force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). The aim of this initiative is to support a new policy that will apply for the "green line" with regard to the free movement of goods and people.
The work will be assigned to international companies and non-governmental organizations with proven experience in this area that have worked with the UN in the past and will initially concentrate on the neutral zone in and around Nicosia.
The Commission announcement notes that land mines have been set in several areas on Cyprus, while several others have been booby-trapped and pose a threat to the island's inhabitants. Most of the mines are believed to be in no-man's land and areas within a kilometer of this, which are also under the jurisdiction of peacekeepers.
 PM's use of army chopper fully in line with regulations, defense minister says
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)The use of an army helicopter by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for a trip from Athens to the island of Ios was fully in line with existing regulations, Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos told Parliament on Friday, responding to questions from PASOK MPs.
He also underlined that the cost of the flight had been paid for by the New Democracy party, even though it was not obliged to do so. He pointed to a 2002 decision signed by cabinet general secretary Sokratis Kosmidis, according to which the premier and president of the Republic were entitled to unlimited transportation, whose costs would be divided among the Armed Forces.
 Greek GDP rose 3.9 pct in second quarter, yr/yr
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Greek Gross Domestic Product rose 3.9 percent in the second quarter of 2004 compared with the same period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
In its report, the statistics service, said that "this increase continues a trend of significant GDP growth rates in the fourth quarter of 2003 and the first quarter of 2004".
Greek GDP growth rates were 4.3 percent in the first quarter this year and 4.0 percent in the fourth quarter last year.
The report said that investments increased by 3.9 percent in the April-June period, compared with the same period last year, slowing down from a 5.1 percent growth rate in the first quarter. Investments' growth, however, boosted an increase in total demand by 0.8 percent.
The statistics service said that exports rose 5.4 percent in the second quarter of 2004, from last year, adding 0.9 percent to the country's total demand. Exports grew a substantial 14.4 percent compared with the first quarter of 2004.
Imports rose 0.7 percent in the April-June period, compared with the same period last year, while final consumption spending rose 3.3 percent over the same period.
Greek inflation eases to 2.9 pct in July, yr/yr: Greek annual inflation slowed to 2.9 percent in July from a 3.6 percent increase in July 2003, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
Manolis Kontopyrakis, NSS's secretary general, commenting on July's figures said that annual inflation could be contained between 3.0.-3.2 percent by the end of 2004 "if the services sector showed good behavior" and there were no more rises in fuel prices.
Kontopyrakis said that a forecast made by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research for a 3.7 percent inflation rates this year "was unjustified". He said that according to preliminary figures the consumer price index would be unchanged at 2.9 percent in August.
Greek CPI fell 1.8 percent in July from June, reflecting declines of 4.0 percent in food and non-alcohol beverage price index, 8.6 percent in durable goods-home appliance and a 3.3 percent drop in services. On the other hand transport, hotels, coffee and restaurant prices rose in July.
The annual inflation rate in July reflected rises of 7.3 pct in alcohol drinks and tobacco, 7.4 pct in clothing and footwear, a 5.3 pct in housing prices, a 4.9 pct in healthcare, a 4.3 pct in transport and a 3.0 pct in entertainment services.
Greek 2003 fiscal deficit likely to reach 4.0 pct, NSS says: Greek fiscal deficit was 3.7 percent in 2003, a figure likely to rise to 4.0 percent when updated date will be announced in September, National Statistics Service's secretary-general Manolis Kontopyrakis said on Friday.
Kontopyrakis stressed that predictions were similarly bleak for 2004 a year when the Greek government would have to present austere measures to reduce its fiscal deficit for the next two years.
He stressed that a so-called "white hole" of the Greek state, state-owned organizations' surpluses, were smaller than previously thought.
Greek PPI up 4.6 pct in June, yr/yr: Greek producer price index jumped 4.6 percent in June compared with the same month in 2003, although the index fell 0.4 percent from May, the National Statistics Service said on Friday.
The statistics service, in its monthly report, said that the producer price index for the domestic market rose 4.4 percent in June, year-on-year, while the producer price index for the external market jumped 5.2 percent over the same period.
 Development ministry seeks to contain price increases in education sector
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)School item prices would remain around last year's levels, representatives of the sector told Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou in a meeting on Friday. Businessmen said that a euro/US dollar exchange rate and intense competition did not allow for higher prices and stressed that even brand name products could be offered at around last year's price levels.
Development Deputy Minister is holding a series of meetings with representatives of the education sector, ahead of the beginning of a new school year in September, with the aim to find a consensus with the market over pricing policy. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Greek minister said that the ministry will draft a new law that would envisage the imposition of strict penalties against offenders of market regulations.
Private school owners want full deregulation of fees policy: Greek private school owners on Friday urged the government to implement its pre-election pledges to proceed with a full deregulation of domestic markets and called for a full deregulation of school fees.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, Thanassis Zahopoulos, head of the union, said that the sector was waiting for the government to fulfill its pre-election pledge and stressed that this year's private school fees would not exceed 6.5 percent with only some special exceptions.
Papathanasiou said that school fee increases for the coming school year would not be significant and that the ministry's policy was ensuring a climate of stability for both parents and pupils. He added that a dialogue with private school owners would continue although he reiterated that he was not backing away from its policy strategy.
 Attica hotels report increased occupancy rates in 1st half
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Hotels located in the Athens area reported a 3 percent average increase in their occupancy rates in the first six months of 2004 compared with the same period last year.
A report by the Union of Attica Hoteliers said that five star hotels' occupancy rates rose to 41.55 percent in the January-June period this year from 38.42 percent in 2003, four star hotels' rates jumped to 57.80 percent from 53.65 percent, respectively, three star occupancy rates increased to 59.49 percent from 57.69 percent, while two star hotels' occupancy rates eased to 45.32 from 48.73 percent, over the same period respectively.
The report said that June occupancy rates for five star hotels rose to 40.08 percent, from 37.58 percent in June 2003 and 59.09 percent in June 2002, for four star hotels to 50.10 percent (from 59.12 pct and 66.60 pct), three star hotels to 60.15 percent (from 57.45 pct and 63.29 pct) and two star hotels to 38.64 percent (from 51.43 pct and 41.59).
 Greek bond prices moved higher in July
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Turnover in the Greek Electronic Secondary Bond Market totalled 63.25 billion euros in July, from a record-high of 80.48 billion euros in June and 60.34 billion euros in July 2003, the Bank of Greece said on Friday.
The central bank, in its monthly report, said that investors' interest focused on long-term state bonds (with duration between seven and 10 years) which accounted for 70 percent of total turnover.
The 10-year benchmark bond recorded the biggest turnover, totalling 31.75 billion euros, followed by the older 10-year benchmark bond (5.43 billion euros), while buying orders exceeded selling orders by 60.61 percent to 39.39 percent, respectively.
Greek state bonds, negotiated in the electronic secondary market, moved higher in July, following a trend in main international markets. Benchmark bonds recorded price rises between 29-133 basis points, with the 20-year benchmark bond ending at 111.88 (yielding 4.90 percent) in July from 110.55 in June (5.0 pct).
The 10-year benchmark bond rose by 87 bps in July to 100.50 (yielding 4.43 percent) from 99.63 in June (4.54 pct). A re-issue of the bond was very successful in July 13 and was highly oversubscribed.
The average spread between the Greek and the German 10-year bond was unchanged at 18 bps in July from June.
The yield curve flattened in July with short-term and long-tern yields easing by 11 basis points, while the five-year and seven-year bond yields fell 13 and 12 bps, respectively.
 Foreign investors change positions in Greek stock market
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Foreign investors slightly eased their positions in the Greek stock market in July, with the share falling to 33.321 percent of total market capitalization compared with 34.04 percent a month earlier, the Main Securities Depository said on Friday.
Foreign investors' share in the FTSE/ASE 20 index eased to 39.586 percent in July from 42.1 pct in June, while their share in the medium capitalization index rose to 19.388 pct from 18.692 pct over the same period, respectively.
Greek investors raised their positions in the market, with their share rising to 66.6 pct in July from 65.5 percent in June. The Greek share in the FTSE/ASE 20 index rose to 60.4 percent in July from 57.9 pct in June, while their share in the medium capitalization index fell to 80.61 pct from 81.3 pct in June.
Greek investors' share in the Small Cap 80 index rose to 82.4 pct from 82.0 pct in June.
The number of active investors' codes shrank in July to 59,275 from 68,400 in June and 143,014 in January.
 Stocks nose down, tracking European markets
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower tracking adverse sentiment in European markets, but made up some lost turf in buying towards the end of the session, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,290.90 points, showing a decline of 0.29 percent. Turnover was 97.5 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.42 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.25 per cent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.33 per cent up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 157 to 118 with 72 remaining unchanged.
On a weekly basis, the general share index lost 1.22 percent.
 US track athletes satisfied with security and facilities in Rethymno
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)USA Track & Field Communications Director Jill Geer on Friday expressed satisfaction with conditions and security measures taken in Rethymno where the US track and field team is training.
"Everything is going well. The humidity and temperature are not bad. The sprinters, actually want these kind of weather conditions. There are many regions in the US which are very hot as well. The weather is really good," she said.
Regarding security, Geer emphasized that, "It is very possible that something may happen, at any time and anywhere in the world. However, the place where the Olympic Games are being staged is the safest place anyone can be at the moment. As a team, we are not concerned. We are very happy and pleased with the security the Greek police force is providing for us here in Crete."
The US team will be staying on the island of Crete for 2-3 weeks. A total 115 athletes comprise the US track and field team; 15 are already in Crete while the majority is expected to arrive by the end of next week. Sprinters are in Munich competing at a track and field event.
In terms of winning, Geer said that, "As a team we always try to win as many medals as possible. So, if we win 19 or 20 medals it will be a huge success for us."
 Deputy government spokesman denies incident at Olympic Village
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Deputy government spokesman Vangelis Antonaros on Friday denied any incident of weapons possession or an attempt to smuggle weapons into the Olympics Village the previous day.
He said that Greek forces were responsible for guarding the site and noted that there was a list of items that were banned at Olympic facilities.
 Neratziotissa station inaugurated on Friday
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Neratziotissa Station, the largest on the suburban railway line, was inaugurated on Friday by Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis. It is a key station in the Olympic rail transport network, connecting the suburban railway with the ISAP electric railway, while its main exit is directly outside the entrance to the Olympic Stadium.
The three-level station is also equipped with a surveillance system linked up with the Operation Control Centre.
The station will serve up to 7,000 passengers an hour in each direction on the suburban railway and up to 10,000 passengers an hour in each direction on the Kifissia-Piraeus electric railway.
The station was built in less than four months, with construction starting in April 2004 after initial designs were scrapped and redrawn due to lack of time. Liapis stressed that it was a gigantic work, using 2,500 tones of metal on platforms extending roughly half a kilometer, carried out in record time.
 Olympic Games traffic regulations in Thessaloniki come into effect
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)Special traffic lanes entered into effect on Friday in Thessaloniki in view of the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games. Non accredited vehicles are banned from using lanes the lanes, which are designated for exclusive use by the Olympic Family for commuting between hotels, stadiums and training centers.
The Thessaloniki Urban Traffic Organization (OASTH) has furthermore arranged for the commencement on August 11 of four new express Olympic bus routes to be used to facilitate the movement of fans from the airport, train and bus stations to stadiums and vice versa.
All buses to be used in this program are new, equipped with air-conditioning systems and provide easy access to people with special needs.
Fans using the special transport will travel free of charge, provided that they show tickets for that day's games.
 Children's Smile Society calls for protection for street children
Athens, 7/8/2004 (ANA)The Children's Smile Society, active in Greece and Cyprus, calls for continuous protection for street children, urging people to dial 1056 whenever they notice such children in distress.
The line SOS 1056 operates round-the-clock, while social workers, psychologists and volunteers are ready to respond to any call to support children. The society also has vehicles on standby to rush to a child's side any time of the day or night.
The society will make on-the-spot assessments of situations in which a child is in danger to find the best possible solution for it, in cooperation with public prosecutors and other relevant agencies.
 Cyprus raises problems with Turkey on civil aviation
NICOSIA 7/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Communications and Works Minister Haris Thrasou has raised to Eurocontrol the problems Cyprus faces because of Turkey's stance on civil aviation issues.
Thrasou told CNA on Friday that during a long telephone conversation with Eurocontrol Director General Victor Aguado, he raised Turkey's denial to allow Cypriot and other airlines to use its airspace, Turkey's refusal to sign the agreement between Eurocontrol and European-Middle East Traffic Management Coordination (EMAC) in which Cyprus and Middle East states belong, as well as efforts by Turkey and the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus to gain recognition of the so-called ''Ercan international airport''.
Noting that he and Aguado have close cooperation regarding the solution of these issues, Thrasou said that ''Aguado said he will convey our views to the Turkish authorities when he visits Ankara on August 26 and he will then inform us on the outcome of his contacts."
The Cypriot minister said that Aguado told him that Eurocontrol has close cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to which he will he convey the issues raised by Cyprus.
Thrasou also said that he pointed out to the Eurocontrol Director that ''the solution of these issues is necessary and is based on the provisions of the ICAO Treaty as well as on the Eurocontrol Treaty to which Turkey and Cyprus are contributing members."
''Therefore, Turkey is compelled by international law to resolve these problems," Thrasou noted, adding that Aguado, who described the Cypriot positions as rational, will try to convince Turkey to accept them.
Replying to a question, the Cypriot minister expressed hope that as December approaches, when the European Commission will decide whether to grant Turkey a date to start of accession negotiations, Ankara will become more reasonable and it will accept Cypriot airplanes to fly in its airspace.
During their conversation, Thrasou and Aguado praised the cooperation between Cyprus and Eurocontrol and agreed to continue contacts to review the issues under discussion.
 Vasiliou and Talat stress need for solution and easier communication
NICOSIA 7/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)Delegations of the Greek Cypriot United Democrats Party (EDI) and Turkish Cypriot Republican Turkish Party (RTP) discussed on Friday ways to ease contacts among both communities on the island and agreed upon the need to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem as soon as possible.
The delegations headed by EDI President George Vasiliou and RTP leader Mehmet Ali Talat met at the latter's offices in the Turkish occupied part of Nicosia and decided to meet more frequently.
''The continuation of the current impasse is no good for anyone. We recognize this fact and we should try our best so that in the autumn a new initiative can start and be able to arrive at a solution," Vasiliou stressed.
On his part Talat said, ''we had a very fruitful discussion. We share the view that the need for a solution to the Cyprus problem is growing now. We have to work to resolve our problem for a reunited island."
The EDI president noted that any future agreement for solving the Cyprus issue, would only work if both communities can live and work peacefully together.
''For this reason there are a number of issues like direct telecommunication, less formalities when one crosses from one side to the other, all these issues have to be addressed and I am sure that after our discussions, there will be more developments in the future, and easier contacts between both communities'', Vasiliou underlined.
Answering a question Talat said that he is planning to visit the Greek Cypriot side and have meetings there with Greek Cypriot politicians.
He noted that discussions between both parties would continue ''in order to find solutions to every day problems we face, to ease the contacts of the people and their cooperation with each other''.