|Tuesday, 12 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 21, 2004
 Government spokesman comments on Olympic costs, tickets and the Kenteris-Thanou case
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos repeatedly emphasized that "the government has promised to disclose costs associated with the Olympic Games in analytical detail in due time after the Games are over," in response to questions regarding Deputy Minister of Finance P. Doukas' statements that the Games have cost ¨ 7 billion, during the daily press briefing held at Zappeion Hall on Friday.
Roussopoulos refused to say anything further regarding Olympic costs.
The issue of Olympic ticket sales and why tickets are unavailable while many venues seem empty was discussed, with Roussopoulos saying that it is an issue that concerns the government. However, he pointed out that 5.3 million tickets were issued for the Athens Games, 7 million for Sydney and 10 million for the Atlanta Games, quite a large number for Greece when compared in proportion with each country's population. Asked whether it was possible that sponsors had bought tickets and then failed to make them available, Roussopoulos responded that it would be difficult to know since personal data is not collected from ticket buyers.
The investigation regarding the missed doping tests of Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou and the possible involvement of their trainer Christos Tzekos was again a topic of discussion. Specifically, the government spokesman was asked why it was only revealed on Thursday that Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis turned over a file of evidence to the public prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos regarding Christos Tzekos' nutritional supplements company on Monday. Roussopoulos stressed that none of the government's ministers take any action secretively and went on to outline the events as they developed since last Thursday.
On Friday, the day after Kenteris and Thanou had not turned up for their doping test and could not be located, Kaklamanis began researching doping in Greece in general. An order dated July 15, 2003 and issued by EOF, the country's drug regulatory body, required the destruction of 641 packages of a specific product, sold illegally by Tzekos. However, no evidence that the products had actually been destroyed could be found. On Monday afternoon, one of the health ministry's secretaries general handed all evidence to Kaklamanis, who on Tuesday morning turned over the file to Papangelopoulos. The health minister continued searching for evidence that the products had been destroyed but was still unable to find any. Thus, EOF sent several officials on Friday to search Tzekos' company offices. The company was closed and the case is being handled by the prosecutor's office.
"Our objective is to discover the truth in this case," Roussopoulos said, adding that the government focuses on doing its job right - and it is - not on advertising what it is doing.
 New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says decision to award Olympic Games to Athens correct
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis hosted a reception for her New York counterpart Michael Bloomberg at the Athens town hall's roof garden on Friday night, who said the decision to award the Olympic Games to Athens was correct.
Bakoyannis said the Olympic Games have returned home, where the Games are taking place following a great effort made by the Greek government, the 2004 Athens Olympic Games Organizing Committee, the municipality of Athens and, mainly, by all the patient Athenians and the thousands of volunteers from Greece and all over the world.
Bloomberg, focusing on the issue of security, said many had doubts about the security of the Games, adding that there were front-page reports all over the world which had questioned Greece's ability to hold them.
However, he added, all were proved wrong and it was proved that the decision to award the Olympic Games to Athens was correct.
Bloomberg also said the Games contributed to infrastructure projects being carried out in Athens, which will be useful for the city in the future, while noting that New York will be ready to welcome the Olympic Games in 2012 if its candidacy will be supported.
 Surge in ticket sales pleases Athens organizers
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)A spectacular increase in Olympic ticket sales over the past 48 hours has, momentarily, ended grumbling that some venues in and around Athens are recording low fan turn-out.
Athens organizers (ATHOC) on Friday said 3.233 million tickets have been sold so far, whereas more than 70,000 tickets were sold on Thursday alone. Friday's start of the popular athletic events bodes even more promising for the ongoing Olympic Games.
Officials added that there is no thought of lowering ticket prices, whereas the emphasis has now shifted to prevent possible 'ticket scalping' at upcoming track and field finals as well as the semis and finals of most team sports.
 IOC's Rogge attends Athens ceremony in memory of Israelis killed at '72 Games
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) top leadership on Thursday evening paid homage to the 11 Israelis killed by terrorists at the 1972 Munich Games, during a solemn event held in an otherwise celebratory Athens.
The ceremony, held at the Israeli ambassador's residence in the Greek capital's embassy row and only a short drive from where the Olympic flame currently burns for the Athens Games, was attended by IOC President Jacques Rogge - the first time a standing IOC chief has attended a similar ceremony. Israeli officials hold a memorial for the 11 victims -- athletes, coaches and a referee -- at every Summer Games since the September '72 massacre.
"We are gathered today to pay tribute to the victims of that tragedy, whom we shall never forget. And I want to bring a very solemn homage tonight to our 11 brothers, who lost their life and whom we shall never forget," Jacques Rogge, himself an athlete at the Munich Games in 1972 told the gathering, which including his predecessor, Juan Antonio Samaranch.
In touching on the "sorrow and celebration" aspect he said characterizes Jewish tradition, Israeli Olympic Committee chairman Zvi Varshaviak noted that the event served to both remember the Munich Games' victims but to also present the present Israeli Olympic team at the "Olympic homecoming" of Athens.
The widows of two of the murdered Israelis, Andre Spitzer, a fencing coach, and Joseph Romano, a weightlifter, also spoke at the event, with the former calling on the IOC to hold such a memorial in front of all the athletes at Olympic Games.
"The fifth of September of 1972 changed the face of the Olympic movement and indeed of the Olympic Games forever. Athletes and security have been the number one priority of the Games (since then)," Rogge said, before referring to the IOC's decision to revive the Olympic Truce, an initiative co-sponsored and vigorously promoted by Greece over the past years.
"If we can replace conflicts with tolerance for just a few weeks then perhaps we can come to appreciate the world at its best and strive to maintain that," he concluded.
On his part, Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos noted that the world's attention is now on Athens and Greece, which are called upon to ensure that the Olympic ideals "are and will be treasured".
He also said the Munich terror attack was an affront to human dignity and to the "ideals of our civilization."
Speaking after the event, Alex Gilady, the influential IOC member from Israel noted that the current "Olympic Games are going very, very well. All the things that people were afraid of, the transportation, the accommodations, all these things are not a problem whatsoever. We hope for the Greeks to win more medals so the crowds will be uplifted, and I think that within 11 days you will deserve to be a very, very proud people."
Other dignitaries in attendance included Prince Albert of Monaco, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, Israel's Education and Sports Minister, Limor Livnat, as well as Olympic legend Sergey Bubka, among others
 New suspected doping case for Greek athlete - Govt to take tough stance with proven offenders
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)Just as the uproar was settling over the withdrawal of Greek Olympic medalist sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou from the Games following a no-show for anti-doping testing, a new scandal appeared to be marring 2004 Olympics host Greece involving, according to sources, one of its star weightlifters, bronze medalist in the 62-kilogram category Leonidas Sampanis.
The Hellenic Olympic Committee (EOE) said in an announcement that a representative of the IOC's medical committee had called on the Greek delegation's Chef de Mission Yannis Papadoyiannakis in the early afternoon and presented him with a document stating that the first specimen of a Greek Olympic team athlete had tested positive.
A representative of the athlete and the Greek weightlifting federation were summoned, and they requested testing of the athlete's second specimen, the EOE announcement added, without releasing the name of the athlete.
According to sources, the Greek weightlifting federation explained to the EOE that the said athlete was taking specific, legal, vitamins which may have contained substances that created the problem and sent to the EOE a document listing the specific vitamin supplements, to be forwarded to the IOC.
The athlete's second specimen was due to be tested, possibly on Saturday. It is noted that when an athlete gives a urine sample for anti-doping testing, the same specimen is divided into two vials. The second vial (or 'second specimen') is opened and tested in the event the first specimen tests positive. It is also standard practice that the name of the athlete is not announced unless the second specimen also tests positive.
The sources said that Sampanis was the athlete involved, adding that the first specimen had shown an increased level of testosterone. If the athlete is formally charged with having taken banned substances, he will be stripped of his bronze medal -- which would go to Venezuela's Israel Jose Rubio, who placed fourth in Monday's event -- excluded from the Games, and have his accreditation revoked.
The same sources said that the EOE also informed deputy sports minister George Orfanos of the doping incident, without naming the athlete. Orfanos declined comment on the issue as yet, and would await the official announcement of the athlete's name.
Meanwhile, government sources said that the government was determined to take a tough stance with any Greek athletes proved to have used prohibited substances, who they said would be stripped of any titles, distinctions or privileges that have been awarded to them. The same sources said that any steps taken would be in line with all the due legal procedures.
Also, the main opposition PASOK party, in an announcement later Friday, said it was treating the issue with "due seriousness", and was awaiting the formal announcements and decisions of the authoritative bodies "aimed at transparency and the truth".
The announcement said that PASOK, as confirmed also by statements made by party leader George Papandreou, "had always and continues to set, as the absolute goal, the holding of clean Olympic Games, without distinctions for any athlete, Greek or other, more or lesser known".
Therefore, it added, PASOK had "shielded the State with the entire institutional framework and scientific infrastructure necessary to enable the strictest and most efficient possible checking of athletes for use of prohibited substances".
No one would take testosterone to improve performance, former Olympic medalist tells ANA: A former Olympic medalist, on condition of anonymity, told ANA on Friday night that testosterone was not a substance an athlete would take to improve performance.
"First of all, no one would take testosterone to improve his/her performance or strength in a competition. It is not a substance that increases your body mass...I believe that the issue does not end here," the Olympic champion said.
EOE president Nicolaou: All members of Greek Olympic team successfully passed anti-doping tests ahead of Games
In a written statement Friday night, EOE president Lambis Nicolaou said that ahead of the Olympic Games, and between June 14, 2004 and July 29, 2004, the Hellenic Olympic Committee (EOE) carried out anti-doping tests on all the members of the Greek Olympic team, and all tests were negative.
Nicolaou also took the opportunity to reaffirm the EOE's full support of the IOC's policy on combatting doping.
"The EOE, following its notification several hours ago that a first specimen of a Greek Olympic Team athlete tested positive, reaffirms its opposition to all methods of doping," the statement continued.
It further noted that the EOE has already taken "measures of withdrawal" against 2 Greek baseball athletes who tested positive in an EOE test carried out on August 8, 2004, while it also agreed with forwarding the file of the Kenteris-Thanou case to the IAAF.
 Greek Olympic chief's resignation offer turned down
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)The head of the Greek Olympic team Yiannis Papadoyiannakis submitted his resignation Friday night to Greek Olympic Committee President Lambis Nikolaou, following a doping uproar. His resignation was rejected by Nikolaou.
According to press reports, Papadoyiannakis ''was deeply distressed because he heard news concerning the Greek Olympic team from television channels and had not been briefed by the federations on issues occupying the Greek Olympic team.''
 Case file on Kenteris-Thanou accident to public prosecutor
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)The case file on the motorbike accident involving Greece's star sprinter Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou was delivered by the Glyfada traffic Police to First-Instance Public Prosecutor Dimitris Papangelopoulos on Friday, who immediately started to take statements from the witnesses involved.
Meanwhile, public prosecutors Spyros Mouzakitis and Athina Theodoropoulou have begun an investigation into the accident and suspicions that the two athletes had made use of prohibited substances in connection with another three doping-related cases involving the athletes' coach Christos Tzekos.
These concern complaints by players belonging to the AEK football team, who said that Tzekos had proposed that they use prohibited performance-enhancing drugs, and a complaint filed by a private individual regarding a substance imported by a company owned by Tzekos, which turned out in tests carried out by the Greek pharmaceutical agency (EOF) to be a dangerous anabolic steroid that was hazardous to health.
In the second case, Tzekos had been fined 15,000 euros by the authority.
The third case involves reports made by former sports minister George Lianis regarding the US-based company Balco.
Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou voluntarily withdrew from the Athens Olympics under a doping-tainted cloud of controversy on Wednesday after appearing before an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Disciplinary Commission to explain why they had been unavailable for a doping control test the previous Thursday.
The pair had both spent nearly a week in hospital recovering from alleged injuries sustained in a mysterious motorbike shunt on the same night that they went missing from the Olympic Village, where IOC officials were looking for them to take the test.
Illegal substances confiscated in the past found in warehouse of coach's company: At least 640 illegal substances which had been confiscated in the past were found in the warehouse of the company of coach Christos Tzekos late on Friday afternoon after a raid by the public prosecutor and inspectors of the Greek Pharmaceuticals Organization (EOF). In the first case Tzekos had been fined 14,800 euros.
Found in the warehouse of Tzekos, who was the coach of Greek athlete Costas Kenteris who withdrew from the Olympic Games, were hundreds of substances named Fat burners thermo for which orders had been given last year for them to be destroyed. Also detected in the warehouse, located in the Athens district of Ilioupolis, were nutritional supplements which contain illegal substances.
The EOF inspectors have been instructed to make intensive checks regarding the import activities of Tzekos and also on the movement of substances which his company is alleged to have provided to gyms and also through the Internet.
IOC - Two athletes excluded from Games: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Friday that two athletes, Tetyna Stiajkina from Ukraine and Chanu Sanamacha from India, have officially been excluded from the 2004 Olympic Games for failing anti-doping tests.
Stiajkina, 27, tested positive on 14 August and admitted to having taken syrup for her throat. Chanu, 25, tested positive on 15 August.
 IOC says less doping instances in Athens than Sydney
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)The issue of anti-doping checks and the total number of positive results at the ongoing Games on Friday again resurfaced at a joint press briefing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC), with a spokeswoman for the former stressing that less athletes have been nabbed for prohibited substances here than in Sydney four years ago.
Moreover, the IOC spokeswoman vigorously denied that a disproportionate number of doping checks are being conducted on Greek athletes, noting that more checks have been made on American athletes. That statement followed a barrage of questions by mostly Greek media.
Spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the Lausanne-based organization is merely conducting doping checks over a longer period of time and on a larger sample of athletes than during previous Games.
Davies also said an incident on the island of Crete involving two USADA-contracted doctors who conducted a doping test on a US track and field athlete does not fall under the IOC's jurisdiction. The two doctors were momentarily detained by police near Hania, Crete after taking a sample from the unnamed female athlete.
On the competition front, Athens organizers said Friday was the busiest day so far at the 2004 Games, with 26 sports taking place at 29 Olympic venues -- a total of 303 events, 55 of which are in athletics.
As far as the all-important transportation is concerned, 12,000 routes are planned for Friday, organizers said.
Friday's press briefing comes on the heels of repeated IOC kudos over a flawless Olympic Games so far.
 Visitors to Athens find lots to enjoy
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)They have come from all four corners of the earth with different goals but one thing in common - to enjoy the 2004 Olympic Games and get a taste of what Greece is all about.
Athletes came to Athens, the host city of this year's Games, after years of training with the sole aim of winning one of the coveted medals, others came simply to compete while the vast majority of visitors to the Greek capital have combined the Games with a relaxing holiday in Greece.
Athens News Agency was out in the streets of the capital on Friday to get a feel of the atmosphere and see what people had to say about the city, its people and of course the big competition that concludes on 29 August.
One thing that nobody has complained about is the excellent organization of the Games with trains that run on time, buses that do not make you wait in long queues in the summer heat and the state of the art metro, serving millions of Athenians and foreign visitors on a daily basis on a nearly 24-hour basis.
A Chinese journalist Hao Zhang, who works for Tinanjin TV station, said the thing that impressed him most about Athens is the warmth of the people.
"If there is anything I can take back home for the 2008 Olympic Games is the kindness of the people and their willingness to help us in any way they can," he said, and recalled an incident when one of the thousands of volunteers actually went back to find him among the crowds to give him more specific information about how to get from A to B.
Hao sounded really impressed by this move.
He had nothing but praise for the Olympic stadium, which he described as a magnificent construction and said the combined use of Greek history and new technology at the opening ceremony was superb.
"I give Greece 11 out of ten for staging the Games," said Margaret Manoussos, from Reading in England, who favors the idea of seeing the Olympic Games return to their birthplace on a permanent basis.
Nudging gently her Greek husband out of the way because, as she said very proudly "I am being interviewed", Margaret told ANA that Athens is now a lot cleaner than at any other time, graffiti has gone, broken down cars removed and stray dogs no longer roam the streets in their hundreds.
She did not fail to praise the "excellent public transport which gives London a lesson", as she pointed out. Margaret did not appear to be bothered by the stringent security measures in place during the Games, which she said was not overpowering.
"Greece has done us proud," she said, noting that the traditional Greek hospitality continues to welcome every visitor, even at a time when people are very busy.
A young teacher from Ireland, Cliodhna Bren, also had very flattering words for the host city in organizing the Games. The 23-year-old told ANA she is here on a brief holiday but will take advantage of her time to see some of the sporting events.
She did however have a piece of advice for the Greek organizers - the language barrier seemed to have slow down her plans. It was all Greek to her, at times!
Vicky Koulas, a 38-year-old accountant from Cyprus, noticed how lively Athens is at this time, since every August when she visits the city, it is nearly empty.
"It is just so nice to see Athens like this, cleaner, brighter, with excellent infrastructure and an efficient transport system that serves people very well indeed," she said.
Vicky is here to watch next week's track events, got her tickets well in advance and is very much looking forward to the experience. "This is a once in a lifetime chance, but I hope the Games stay here, why not, this is where they were born," she said.
"Greece has proven to everybody that once it sets its mind on something, it can excel in it, just look around you, this is a global celebration, irrespective of any disappointments or mishaps," she told ANA.
What impressed most 56-year-old Frenchman Jean Limouzy, from Marseilles, was the number of very good volunteers everywhere who went out of their way to help visitors any way they could.
He was a bit bothered however by the stringent security measures but recognized the need for such strict measures. Jean and his other five friends who are here with him said they would have liked to see more small-time sellers in the streets of Athens and slightly better traffic arrangements.
"We came for the Olympic Games but that has not stopped us from touring the country to enjoy its archaeological sites. The Vergina museum is the best in the world," one of his friends said, adding that ancient Olympia, which earlier this week saw the return of the Games on site, is definitely a place to remember.
Athens has another nine days to go until the end of the 2004 Games which have a record participation of 11.047 athletes from 202 countries, not to mention some 21.500 journalists.
 Sydney 400m gold medalist Kathy Freeman says Athens Olympic Games full of colors
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)Sydney 400m gold medalist Kathy Freeman of Australia, watching the Athens Olympic Games as an observer, told the Athens News Agency (ANA) on Friday that the Games are full of colors.
"The Athens Olympic Games are full of colors. The true spirit of the Games exists here and you can see it and feel it everywhere. These are precisely the Olympic Games. Everything is going well until now and all the events which have taken place are really wonderful," she said.
"Athens is really wonderful. It is a very beautiful city. If I remember correctly, it is the 5th time I have come here and every time I realize how nice it is. I like my stay here and really I have no problem," Freeman added.
 Austrian defense minister shows interest in Olympics security
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)Greek Minister of National Defense Spilios Spiliotopoulos met in Athens on Friday with his Austrian counterpart GŁnter Platter, with whom he discussed bilateral issues and matters of mutual interest.
Platter showed a great interest in security planning for the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games, and was briefed in depth.
The Austrian minister will be in Athens until August 22nd, in the context of the Olympic Games.
 Traffic regulations during men's and women's marathon along original route
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)After 108 years, when Greek Spyros Louis became the first gold medal athlete in the Marathon race in the 1896 Olympic Games, the Marathon will be run along its original route in the context of the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games, with the women's race on Sunday, August 22nd, and the men's a week later, on August 29th.
On both days, special arrangements will be made for traffic to facilitate the sport, as the Marathon is run over public roads. Its starting point will be in Marathon, called the Marathon start, and the finishing line at the Panathinaikon Stadium, the marble stadium known as "Kallimarmaro", where the Games were revived in 1896.
During the race, parking and traffic along the route will be banned, as well as on the roads intersecting the route, depending on the time the athletes are expected to pass. Both the women's and men's races will begin at 18:00 and are expected to end at 22:00. The roads will be opened to traffic as they are relieved of the race's needs.
The ban on parking will come into effect at 22:00 on the days preceding the races that are August 21st and 28th, with similar restrictions applying to intersecting roads. Cars parked along the route will be towed away. Motorists are advised to use public transport or use alternative routes.
The Marathon race has its roots in an ancient Greek legend, where a Greek herald named Pheidippides ran 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory against the Persians at the battle of Marathon.
 Greek Prime Minister meets visiting US Senator Paul Sarbanes
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)Greek Prime Minister Constantinos Karamanlis on Friday met with visiting US Senator Paul Sarbanes and discussed bilateral issues and the Athens Olympic Games.
Mr Sarbanes congratulated Mr Karamanlis on a wonderful job done by Greece with the Olympics and stressed that "people around the world are impressed with the spectacular Games in progress here".
The US Senator also expressed the hope that the Games would positively promote Greece and that the "liveliness, vigor and excitement reflected in the last few weeks and months will continue in the future as Greece was building a strong and prosperous society".
 Greek EU commissioner satisfied with environmental duties assumed in new European Commission
BRUSSELS 21/8/2004 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)Greek European Union Commissioner Stavros Dimas expressed satisfaction over environmental duties he has assumed in the new European Commission, following the Commission's first informal meeting here on Friday.
Speaking to foreign reporters, the Greek commissioner said he is greatly interested in this portfolio, adding that this issue is of particular importance for Greece.
Dimas said that on problems regarding the quality of life of European citizens, he feels that he is with them, while defending his own principles and values at the same time.
The European Commission's first day, with its new composition, focused on internal organizational and operational issues, "seeking the collective and family spirit corresponding to the passion for the journey to united Europe," according to the new President Manuel Barroso.
The new Commission will formally assume its duties in November and after it has been ratified by the European Parliament.
 Cuban Olympic Committee delegation visits KKE headquarters
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)A delegation of the Cuban Olympic Committee, headed by its president Jose R. Fernandez Alvarez, visited the headquarters of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Friday where it met with a KKE delegation headed by party Secretary Aleka Papariga.
The Cuban delegation, according to a KKE announcement, expounded on the policy followed by Cuba and its efforts for the development of school and popular sport in general, in preparation of athletes for the Olympic Games.
On her part, Papariga referred to the KKE's efforts for a more effective organization and development of sport.
 Govt to report on Olympics' cost after the Games
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)The Greek government will offer a full financial account of the Games after the completion of the Olympic Games, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters, during the daily briefing, Roussopoulos noted that most of the works made for the Olympic Games were mainly infrastructure projects and to a lesser extend sport facilities, adding that the government was seeking to integrate them into the city's building web.
He reminded that the Prime Minister has asked from cabinet ministers to submit proposals and plans for the use of sports facilities after the Olympic Games.
Main opposition says gov't classing routine projects as Olympic: The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) said on Friday that the government had classed routine infrastructure projects as Olympic, which emerged as cost overruns for the 2004 games.
The party issued a statement asking the government to explain why works were included in the Olympic budget including transfer of an air force base to Elefsina from Elliniko; flood prevention works for the Kifissos river; and regional sports construction projects.
In addition, PASOK said that Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas had failed to mention at the Athens Business Club 2004 on Thursday that 18 percent of the Olympics budget represented Value Added Tax, which would return to state coffers, the statement said.
 Govt seeks to promote technology and innovation
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday said that the government's new economic and development policy gave emphasis to raising productivity and competitiveness through investing in human resources, knowledge, research, technology and innovation.
Addressing an event organized by the Athens Business Club 2004 on "Research and Innovation, growth tools in the 21st century", Sioufas stressed that Greece was at the beginning of a new era amid the creation of an expanded European Union with a total of 25 member-states, a change in the government and the Olympic Games.
The Greek minister noted that the Olympic Games were successfully promoting a modern Greece, its comparative advantages, new possibilities and great new investment opportunities around the world.
Greece's development policy was aimed to achieve the so-called "Lisbon targets" the soonest possible and was currently seeking to achieve a smooth operation of domestic markets, to support business activity, research and innovation with the aim to boost the country's competitiveness and growth to create new job positions and to achieve social and regional convergence, he said.
Sioufas said that the most competitive economies today were the ones with the most efficient innovative procedures. "There is no doubt that scientific research, technology and innovation is the key to productivity and competitiveness," the Greek minister said.
Greece (with a per capita GDP of around 30 percent lower compared with the EU average and relatively low levels of research and innovation) presented traditionally a very small percentage of innovative enterprises. However, Eurostate's latest report for the period 1998-2000, showed the first signs of growth in the country, with Greek enterprises taking more advantage of new technology.
Sioufas stressed, however, that the level of producing innovative products remained low, around 5.0 percent of the EU's average last year.
A domestic report showed that the rate of innovation and new technology applications in Greek food and beverage companies was around 34 percent, with the rate of successful adoption of new technology exceeding 70 percent. Greece was spending around 0.65 percent of GDP in research and technology (around 1/3 of the EU average), although the Greek research system was of high quality, Sioufas added.
The Greek minister said that the country has great prospects but needed to change to a higher speed.
Research and innovation policy was mainly carried out through a government-sponsored programmed called "Competitiveness", funded by the Third Community Support Framework. This program is supported a gradual increase in spending on research and technology, creation of a National Commission on Research and Technology, establishing transparent and open procedures, introducing new investment incentives for the private sector, encouraging the expansion and improved interconnection between universities and research institutes and supporting the work of researchers and research centers.
"Our goal is to raise research spending to 1.5 percent by 2010 from 0.65 percent currently," Sioufas said.
The Greek minister expressed his certainty that this effort would bring significant results for the economy and urged for the mobilization of workers, businesses, researchers and of course of the Greek state. He added that the government was promoting a new development law, a new tax system and a new regulatory framework on licensing and business operation.
 Stocks slump to hit year's low on oil-price doldrums
Athens, 21/8/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower with players reflecting gloom in European markets over rising global oil prices, taking the index to a new year's low, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,227.33 points, showing a decline of 1.34 percent. Turnover was 66.4 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.56 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.10 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.26 percent down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 186 to 78 with 85 remaining unchanged.
On a weekly basis, the general share index showed losses of 1.24 percent.
 Cyprus president hopes international law will prevail
LARNACA 21/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has expressed the hope that the international law will prevail as regards the Turkish efforts to exercise pressure on the European Union for the realization of promises allegedly given by the Union. Speaking upon his return on Thursday night from Athens where he watched the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the Cyprus president noted that the European Union functions on the basis of laws and regulations and the European Law, adding that the Cyprus Republic has already expressed its positions on this matter.
He was commenting on statements that specific developments are soon expected in the EU - made after a meeting on Thursday in Ankara between Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and self-styled prime minister and foreign minister of the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat and Serdar Denktash.
The Cypriot president said the government held a series of meetings in view of the September 3 COREPER meeting (permanent representatives of EU states) which will examine EU regulations on assistance for the Turkish Cypriots, noting that during the meeting Cyprus will again have the opportunity to elaborate its own proposals.
He said during his stay in Athens he had the opportunity to discuss the Cyprus issue during meetings with the Greece's President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Premier Costas Karamanlis, and Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, as well as with other heads of states, including British Premier Tony Blair, who happened to sit close to him at the ceremony of the signing of the Olympic Truce.
President Papadopoulos said his agenda includes seven official visits until the end of October, within the framework of the Greek Cypriot side's effort to inform on the Cyprus issue and EU matters.
Referring to the Olympic Games, President Papadopoulos noted that the whole world was impressed by the opening ceremony, the excellent organization, the volunteers and the real change in life and climate in the Greek capital.