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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-25

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

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

August 25, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] Olympics' Closing Ceremony based on music, dance
  • [02] Gov't spokesman comments on doping affair, cites ex-minister's responsibilities
  • [03] 2004 Olympics - Spectators very satisfied, says survey
  • [04] Greek Olympic medalists talk to the press
  • [05] Athens mayor hosts luncheon for Berlin counterpart Klaus Wowereit
  • [06] Numismatic Museum - Activities
  • [07] Spanish FM says Athens Games the best
  • [08] German interior and sports minister visiting Athens on occasion of Olympic Games
  • [09] NATO SACEUR Gen. Jones to visit Athens, attend Athens 2004 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony
  • [10] Ancient practice revived in Olympics with olive leaf crowns
  • [11] Greek FM meets US Ambassador to discuss Powell visit
  • [12] Athens and Nicosia continue efforts to reach Cyprus settlement
  • [13] PASOK making preparations in light of party's founding anniversary
  • [14] Public debt, competitiveness the main challenges for the gov't, Finmin says
  • [15] Hikes may form part of overall tax cut, finmin says
  • [16] Development minister visits Innovative Product Fair
  • [17] Avramopoulos says Olympics to be used in tourism
  • [18] Greek Farm Ministry approves development plans worth 35 mln euros
  • [19] Thessaloniki International Fair opens its gates in September 11
  • [20] Athens Business Club 2004: PPC seeks alliances for Greek, Balkan projects
  • [21] Civil servants vow industrial action over sluggish pay talks
  • [22] Athens airport expects traffic to peak August 30
  • [23] Stocks rise in late blue-chip buying spree
  • [24] Patras, Cultural Capital of Europe 2006, envisions growth of local economy through development of its rich cultural heritage
  • [25] Forty-two illegal immigrants and four-member crew arrested in Crete
  • [26] Foundation of the Hellenic World presents cutting-edge technology virtual reality museum, new interactive exhibits
  • [27] Earthquake shakes central Evoia
  • [28] Van der Meer: All sides ready for trade

  • [01] Olympics' Closing Ceremony based on music, dance

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Athens organizers (ATHOC) on Tuesday promised an entirely different flavor for this Sunday's Closing Ceremony in comparison to the colossal and theatrically paced Opening Ceremony, which recreated a seminal portion of western civilization on the floor - initially a miniature sea -- of the main Olympic Stadium.

    While the Athens Games' opening revolved around the theme of "love, and the art it inspires", as top artistic director Dimitris Papaioannou said hours after the crisp first ceremony, this Sunday's conclusion aspires to be the biggest concert of Greek pop stars and performers ever held.

    Athens organizers (ATHOC) on Tuesday promised an entirely different flavor for this Sunday's Closing Ceremony in comparison to the colossal and theatrically paced Opening Ceremony, which recreated a seminal portion of western civilization on the floor - initially a miniature sea -- of the main Olympic Stadium.

    While the Athens Games' opening revolved around the theme of "love, and the art it inspires", as top artistic director Dimitris Papaioannou said hours after the crisp first ceremony, this Sunday's conclusion aspires to be the biggest concert of Greek pop stars and performers ever held.

    "This will be a celebration of people, full of music and song. We'll dance in a Greek style, while we'll have a mosaic of musical pieces from every region of Greece…" Papaioannou, basking in a newly gained international recognition for the well-received Opening Ceremony, said.

    Some 250,000 balloons, 2,200 volunteer performers and dancers, addresses by the IOC chief and the mayor of Athens, a brief flag-raising ceremony as well as the passing of the Olympic mandate to Beijing will precede the concert portion of the 2004 Closing Ceremony.

    A draw, meanwhile, will determine which eight Olympic Games volunteers will carry the flag around the stadium (OAKA), moments before the flame for these Games is extinguished.

    [02] Gov't spokesman comments on doping affair, cites ex-minister's responsibilities

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    The sudden emergence of a doping furor involving Greek Olympic champions and its initial shadow on the otherwise smoothly running Athens Games spilled over onto the domestic political arena on Tuesday, with a government spokesman pointing directly to the ex-culture minister as "having his own responsibility" in the affair.

    Spokesman Theodoris Roussopoulos tersely noted that whatever responsibilities by former minister and prominent main opposition PASOK deputy Evangelos Venizelos will be "discussed after the Olympic Games".

    He was responding to press questions at a daily briefing citing Venizelos' recent statement that the government is "awkwardly dealing with the issue of doping".

    As culture minister prior to the March 7, 2004 elections, Venizelos' portfolio included the state's sports policy, overseeing sports federations - through which most Olympic athletes' training was financed and organized - as well as a large chunk of Olympic projects and preparations on the government side.

    In reference to statements by former foreign minister and current PASOK leader George Papandreou, namely, that the party will strenuously defend its record and top cadres from politically inspired defamation vis-a-vis the doping furor, Roussopoulos said:

    "It is worth wondering what Mr. Papandreou is referring to, since no government official has made a comment against PASOK. It is Mr. Papandreou, therefore, that should first respect the 'Olympic Truce'."

    The spokesman also stressed that the doping furor revolving around the country's top two sprinters, Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, as well as controversial coach Christos Tzekos, awaits final conclusions by an Athens prosecutor investigating the case. "Because no one is above the law," Roussopoulos said.

    He also defended the current government's record on the matter in the period since it assumed power after March.

    [03] 2004 Olympics - Spectators very satisfied, says survey

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Spectators, Greeks and foreigners, at the 2004 Olympic Games appear very pleased with the service they are getting, the facilities on offer, the security measures in place, transport and the experience of attending various events, according to a survey conducted during the first week of the Games for Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC 2004).

    The survey, to be concluded after the end of the Games, included 1.024 persons - 46% Greeks, 13% Americans and the rest different nationalities - who in their overwhelming majority gave the seal of approval to the Olympic Games Athens is staging.

    On security, 97,3% said they were pleased, on service from personnel and volunteers 95% were satisfied, on Olympic facilities and sports events 93,8% and on public transport 81,8%.

    Over 85% of spectators use public transport to and from the Olympic facilities, most of them use the buses (29,4%), 24,2% the metro, 16,8 % the train, 8,2% the tram and 5,2% taxis.

    The survey covered spectators at the three main venues (Athens Olympic Sports Centre, Helliniko Olympic Complex and Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex) as well as at Schinias Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Centre and the closed gymnastics centers in Nikaia, Galatsi and Ano Ilisia.

    Most of the foreign spectators (56,3%) who took part in the survey said they came to Greece only for the Games, 37,2% came for tourism. A percentage of 96,8% said they think very highly of Greece and feel well disposed towards the country.

    Ticket sales near the 3.5-million mark

    Ticket sales for the ongoing Olympic Games have reached the 3.43-million mark, Athens organizers (ATHOC) said on Tuesday, with some 58,000 tickets sold the previous day.

    An unofficial target of 3.5 million tickets for the 2004 Olympics -- exceedingly higher than the comparable Games of Seoul (1988) and Barcelona (1992) - will probably be achieved on Tuesday, with a goal of 3.75 million ticket sales now on the horizon.

    The last week of the 2004 Games, featuring semi-finals and finals in a number of team sports and the most popular athletic events, has resulted in mostly near capacity venues over the past three days. Better performances by Greek athletes and teams before home crowds have also ended mostly international media criticism of empty stands at some of the earlier events.

    ATHOC officials, nevertheless, said tickets are still available for the Closing Ceremony on Sunday evening.

    In response to a question over prices at venues' concession stands, organizers noted that set prices and public health codes are being strictly enforced.

    [04] Greek Olympic medalists talk to the press

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Athanasia Tsoumeleka, Greek Olympic gold medalist in 20,000 m. walk, and silver medalist in triple jump Hrysopigi Devetzi told a press conference on Tuesday how they encouraged each other and how both drew courage from the support of the people.

    "Thank you for your welcome," she told the journalists at the press conference. The 22-year-old athlete is not used to being in the limelight but faired well in front of the cameras. She also thanked the Greek people and others for their solidarity.

    She said she could not describe in words what it feels like to have won a gold medal and offered her solidarity to Greek Olympic medalists Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, both of whom have withdrawn from the Games after failing to turn up for an anti doping test, saying she looks up to them.

    Devetzi also extended thanks to everybody and said her hard work did pay off.

    "Winning a medal in these Games is even more important because they are taking place in our country," she said.

    Tsatsou happy to have reached so far in equestrian event

    Danae Tsatsou did not do so well on Tuesday in the women's triple jump, compared to the first day of the equestrian event, but said she was happy to have reached so far.

    "It was much more difficult today and the course was much more technical. I did not start with a good rhythm and that is why the first mistake was made at the first obstacle," she said.

    Tsatsou noted "the horse changed its gallop before the start and, instead of using the time I had to make another round, I started and with my inexperience I could not avoid the next mistakes."

    At 24, Danae Tsatsou is the youngest member of the Greek equestrian team in the Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games.

    The Greek rider said if there was no chance of qualifying into the finals, she may not compete in the third round.

    "I am satisfied for having reached so far. It is a huge experience. We expected it to be tough and it was," she concluded.

    [05] Athens mayor hosts luncheon for Berlin counterpart Klaus Wowereit

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis hosted a luncheon for Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who is an official guest of the municipality of Athens for the Olympic Games.

    Among others, the luncheon was attended by Germany's Ambassador to Greece Albert Spiegel and the Greek national soccer team's German coach Otto Rehhagel.

    Speaking to reporters, Bakoyannis said "we received the mayor of Berlin with joy, a successful mayor of Europe who visited Athens responding to the Athens's municipality's hospitality program for the Olympic Games. I do not think there is anything nicer than offering hospitality to a person under the Acropolis."

    [06] Numismatic Museum - Activities

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Athens Numismatic Museum is organizing a series of events this summer to fit with the spirit of the 2004 Olympic Games, currently underway in the Greek capital.

    One of the events taking place is a photographic exhibition on "Niki-Victory" , outlining in coins and medals the story of victory since the fifth century BC to the present day. In ancient Greece Niki belonged to the indigenous godlike generations, the Romans dedicated a temple to Niki in the most central point in Rome and the goddess was a permanent companion of the Roman emperor. The Byzantines transformed her into an angel and after the Renaissance the image of Niki related to the notion of fame, glory and justice.

    Another event the Museum is hosting is a video show inspired by the quarries in Lavrio, entitled "Subterranean Routes", which explains the relationship between Lavrio and the coin cutting industry in ancient Athens, which played a very important role in the economic development of the city.

    On this occasion the Museum will issue a commemorative medal in cooperation with the Bank of Greece.

    [07] Spanish FM says Athens Games the best

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said on Tuesday the Athens Olympic Games are the best in the history of the Games and said that he felt proud that this was taking place in Europe and in particular in a Mediterranean country.

    Speaking after a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, Moratinos congratulated the Greek people on the "excellent organization" of the Games.

    Moratinos stressed the need for bilateral cooperation, since as he pointed out Spain and Greece have common interests and goals within the European Union and at the UN.

    Molyviatis said that Greco-spanish relations are excellent and referred to increased cooperation in the EU and the UN, where Spain assumes next month the presidency of the Security Council.

    PASOK leader Papandreou meets Spanish foreign minister Moratinos: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos at the Equestrian Club in the Athens district of Maroussi on Tuesday.

    Papandreou told reporters they discussed the future of Iraq, the Middle East and the Balkans, Europe-Turkey relations and the Cyprus issue. "Of course we discussed developments in the Cyprus issue and on the future of Europe and the cooperation of the socialists, particularly of Spain and Greece. Of the socialist parties of Spain, Greece and of the Mediterranean in a new prospect," the PASOK leader said. Papandreou added: "It is with particular joy that I have him by my side and I know that he very much enjoyed the Olympic Games and I wish him more medals for Spain."

    On his part, Moratinos said that "it is a great pleasure for me to visit Athens and to be given the opportunity to congratulate him (Papandreou) personally as well as the Greek people on the superb Olympic Games." The Spanish foreign minister added that they discussed Europe, the European Union and the European Constitution.

    [08] German interior and sports minister visiting Athens on occasion of Olympic Games

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    German Interior and Sports Minister Otto Schily is currently on a three-day visit to Athens on the occasion of the Olympic Games.

    The German minister visited the Olympic Security Centre on Tuesday, where he was received by Public Order Ministry Secretary General Leonidas Evangelidis and Greek Police Chief Fotis Nasiakos.

    Schily was given a guided tour of the Olympic Security Center's installations by the chief of the Greek Police and the head of the Olympic Security Centre George Angelakos.

    Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis hosted a luncheon for the German minister at Mikrolimano later in the day.

    [09] NATO SACEUR Gen. Jones to visit Athens, attend Athens 2004 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    NATO Supreme Commander for Europe (SACEUR) General James L. Jones, will be in Athens on an official invitation by chief of the National Defense General Staff (GEETHA), Gen. George Antonakopoulos, for the Closing Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the GEETHA announced Tuesday.

    During his August 27-30 visit, Jones will tour several archaeological sites, discuss Olympic Games security with Antonakopoulos, and go to Olympics sporting events.

    On Sunday, August 29, he will attend the Closing Ceremony.

    [10] Ancient practice revived in Olympics with olive leaf crowns

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Athens 2004 Olympic Summer Games have revived one of the most ancient sports practices, the roots of which reaches deep into Greek mythology - the adorning of the three winners with a Cretan olive leaf crown.

    In making the wreaths, olive branches from some of the oldest trees in Greece, found in Crete, were used. According to legend, the founder of the Olympic Games, Idaios Hercules, brought a wild olive tree from Crete and planted it at Olympia.

    For the women's marathon winners, olive branches from Ierapetra were used, while for the men's marathon the branches were brought from Kolymbari in Chania.

    However, many crowns presented at the award ceremonies are made of olive branches from the "Immortals' Park" in Elaionas, planted by IOC members themselves.

    By the end of the Olympics and Special Olympics, a total of 5,513 bouquets and crowns will be used, donated by Interflora Hellas S.A.

    The bouquets will be created in the central manufacturing workshop that has been formed specifically for this reason by Interflora. The main production group comprises florists, members of Interflora, as well as graduates of the Institute of Agricultural Studies, with the final supervision carried out by certified flower arrangers.

    Interflora Hellas S.A. decided to create and donate all the bouquets that will be presented at the medals ceremonies as a way of participating in the national endeavor of the Athens 2004 Games.

    The colorful bouquets presented to the winners are bursting with blue amaranths, orange gerberas, red roses, and yellow solidaster and chrysanthemums, hugged in olive tree and tied to form a round-shaped arrangement.

    Greek and foreign media have praised the adorning of winners with crowns and the presentation of bouquets.

    [11] Greek FM meets US Ambassador to discuss Powell visit

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    US Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller said that US Secretary of State Colin Powell is coming to Athens to discuss all issues that concern the two countries.

    Speaking after a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, Miller said the Secretary of State is apparently coming not just to attend the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games or watch any other Olympic event.

    Miller said that Powell will discuss "all issues" that concern the two countries during his meetings with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Greek counterpart Molyviatis.

    The US Ambassador stressed that the first thing Powell will tell the Greek government is a simple "congratulations" on the excellent hosting of the Games.

    [12] Athens and Nicosia continue efforts to reach Cyprus settlement

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    The governments of Greece and Cyprus are in close contact in an effort to reach a viable solution of the Cyprus problem that would help reunify the island, Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Tuesday.

    Roussopoulos added that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis would be meeting with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos in Athens on Thursday, at 11:00 local time, to exchange views on recent developments in the Cyprus problem, in view of Karamanlis' meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    Asked if Karamanlis would pursue a renewed effort during his meeting with Powell to solve the Cyprus problem or if he would request amendments to a UN plan for a settlement, Roussopoulos reiterated that "the Greek government's effort, in co-operation with the Cypriot government, is continuous and aims at maintaining the Cyprus question on the forefront internationally."

    "Our effort to find a good, viable solution, that will help towards the reunification of the island, is continuous," Roussopoulos pointed out.

    Parliament president meets Lithuanian counterpart

    Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda held talks with her Lithuanian counterpart Arturo Paulauskas, who visited her in Parliament on Tuesday.

    Psarouda said Greece endorses the accession of Lithuania to the European Union, the country has taken considerable steps towards convergence with Europe in every sector and that the further improvement of bilateral relations is Greece's ambition.

    Paulauskas expressed his admiration and congratulations "for the very successful Olympic Games taking place in Athens", adding that the past year was very important for Lithuania, with its accession to the EU and NATO and that good bilateral relations with Greece are very important for his country."

    The Greek Parliament president said relations between Greece and Lithuania had always been satisfactory and expressed the conviction that closer relations between the two countries will be achieved through Parliament's Friendship Committee. She also accepted an invitation by Paulauskas to visit Lithuania.

    [13] PASOK making preparations in light of party's founding anniversary

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    The main opposition PASOK party is making preparations in light of the 30th anniversary of its founding and its congress which, according to all indications since there has been no official announcement, will ultimately take place in mid-January.

    PASOK leader George Papandreou met on Tuesday with the coordinators of the Political Proclamation Group Evangelos Venizelos, Haris Bamboukis and Costas Kartalis and on Wednesday he will be meeting the coordinators of the Political Positions Group Costas Skandalidis, George Floridis and Achilleas Mitsos.

    According to reports, the party's leader is throwing his weight behind the formation of a party which will be completely decentralized and with members and friends participating in its operation, while members will have a limited period of office in the party's bodies.

    [14] Public debt, competitiveness the main challenges for the gov't, Finmin says

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Dealing with high public debt and increasing competitiveness are the two main challenges ahead for the government, National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday in an interview with Flash radio station in Athens.

    According to Alogoskoufis, however, this would be done without imposing new taxes. In fact, he revealed plans to legislate for a 10 per cent reduction of corporate tax from 35 per cent to 25 per cent over three years. He said this tax bill will also introduce procedural changes to combat graft and corruption in tax issues and replace the financial crimes squad SDOE with a new body.

    The minister said that priority will now be given to boosting the competitiveness of Greek industry, neglected during the drive to prepare the Olympics, focusing on the service sector as much as industry and manufacturing. On privatizations, he said the government was close to a deal with Spanish interests for the sale of 35 per cent of the natgas utility DEPA.

    He avoided giving precise figures for the public debt but said that the government was near the end of an exhaustive audit to collect all the necessary facts and figures, while referring to 'hidden deficits' left by the previous government.

    He also avoided giving precise figures for the deficit of the Olympic Games, saying that final figures were not yet available and that there will be an official announcement later. He stressed that the major spending on the Games was now an accomplished fact and that all that remained to be done was to use the "intangible" element generated to the best advantage and prove that Greece was capable of exporting and increasing the competitiveness of its economy.

    [15] Hikes may form part of overall tax cut, finmin says

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Increases in selected indirect taxes may form part of a government plan to reduce the tax burden overall, with other indirect levies to decline, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.

    "Our intention is to lower taxation and tackle deficits with methods linked to curbing wasteful spending in the public sector. The government will not seek to make up deficits through rises in indirect taxes. But it's not out of the question that in one indirect tax category or another there will be an increase, and a decrease elsewhere. This is being studied," the minister said in an interview to the Flash radio station.

    [16] Development minister visits Innovative Product Fair

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday visited an Innovative Product Fair held at the trade fair centre of the National bank of Greece.

    The fair is part of activities by the Athens Business Club and it is organized by the Development ministry and the Export Promotion Organization of Greece. It has so far attracted the interest of both visitors and foreign media representatives.

    The Innovative Product Fair is aiming to promote the image of modern Greece, and especially that of innovation and creation.

    "I am overwhelmed by my visit here, with 42 enterprises, seven research centers and six university institutes showing their performance in research and innovation. This is a dynamic entry into a New Era with optimism and confidence in our creative powers. We invest in research, new technology and innovation...I believe we can do many and important things by investing in this field. This is the future of the country, the future of business activity," Sioufas told reporters.

    [17] Avramopoulos says Olympics to be used in tourism

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Minister of Tourism Dimitris Avrampoulos said on Tuesday that the post-Olympic period would be used to promote tourism over a period of ten years, noting that a new era would be inaugurated.

    Speaking at a press conference after a meeting on tourism, presided over by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Avramopoulos said the government's policy on tourism would not be restricted to certain parts of the country but would spread across Greece.

    He said a new optimistic era would be inaugurated, focusing on many aspects of tourist activity that have not yet been developed in the country, such as cultural, social, rural, urban and sport tourism.

    Avramopoulos pointed out that Barcelona had used dynamic communications in the post-Olympic period to send a message to the whole world, adding that Greece would focus on putting everything in order by smoothing out uncontrolled and splintered tourism.

    Tourism minister unveils new strategy for Greek tourism: Greek Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday presented a new draft legislation aimed to offer a new strategy for the tourism sector in the country.

    Avramopoulos presented the draft legislation during a cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    "The main axis of our strategy is development, upgrading the quality of services and infrastructure in combination with prices," the Greek minister told reporters after the meeting. "A new era begins based on culture, environment and development," he added.

    Avramopoulos said that tourist arrivals were lower although revenues were 4-5 percent higher so far this year and noted that a Tourist Real Estate company was renamed into Tourist Development Enterprise operating under the auspices of Tourism ministry.

    Athens Business Club 2004: Greece to spend over 30 mln euros on tourism publicity: The state is to invest over 30 million euros on tourism publicity for Greece, 10 times more than any past government, the head of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), Haris Kokkosis, said on Tuesday.

    Beyond the main campaign, which is to use the Athens 2004 Olympics as an advertisement, other moves will target specific sectors such as conference tourism, Kokkosis told the Athens Business Club 2004, set up to spur international contacts during the Olympics.

    "We aim to expand the alternative, quality, sustainable tourism product on a level that would be considered part of our national identity. Our objective is to move ahead in an efficient, strategic manner, working with all the trade bodies involved," Kokkosis said.

    In addition, the GNTO will also seek to publicize Greece as a tourism investment venue, he added.

    [18] Greek Farm Ministry approves development plans worth 35 mln euros

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greek Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Savvas Tsitouridis on Tuesday approved a total of 182 private investment plans, worth 35,126,444 euros, to be included in an Integrated Program of Developing Farm Areas.

    Public spending in these projects will total 21,117,323 euros.

    The projects are aimed to protect economically and socially weaker regions in the country and those areas suffering from a restructuring of the farm sector as the Greek economy adjusted to international developments. The public support will help in reducing imbalances and to offer equal opportunities in the population in the regions.

    [19] Thessaloniki International Fair opens its gates in September 11

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    The 69th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair will begin in exactly 18 days, on Saturday 11 September and will be completed on Sunday 19 September.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will officially inaugurate this year's fair on Friday 10 September, his first presence since he took over in March, and his speech is awaited with great interest since the prime minister is expected to unveil the government's main policies for the next year.

    Preparations by the Thessaloniki International Fair SA and Helexpo SA, the co-organizers of the fair, are in full swing although both companies admit that the Athens Olympic Games, currently in progress, were making their work harder.

    Helexpo has asked for the cooperation of the Thessaloniki municipality, the sponsor of the city's communication and promotion program during the fair.

    [20] Athens Business Club 2004: PPC seeks alliances for Greek, Balkan projects

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation (PPC) said on Tuesday that it was seeking alliances for joint investments in Greek and Balkan markets.

    The projects would involve energy and telecommunications, the PPC's two spheres of operation, and could also move into development, as the company is the country's second largest real estate owner after the government, chairman Yiannis Paleokrassas told the Athens Business Club 2004, set up to spur international contacts during the Olympics.

    In reply to a reporter's question, the state-owned company's head described the PPC's electricity rates policy as "conservative in the extreme", in order to avoid hurting consumers.

    "We're in agreement over this, on condition that the rates approved give us leeway in terms of margins. Rates here are the lowest in the European Union, but in the single market I don't know how long this can last," Paleokrassas said.

    "From our vantage point, as the PPC, we have no problem in maintaining rates below or close to the inflation rate," he added.

    [21] Civil servants vow industrial action over sluggish pay talks

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Civil servants on Tuesday vowed to stage industrial action in September in the wake of slow-moving talks with the government on pay, conditions and terms of employment.

    "The government has shown an inability to respond to employees' demands over wages and incomes, the question of allowances for occupations that pose a hazard to health, and other trade union claims. Collective bargaining in the public sector is heading for deadlock, and the government is responsible," the ADEDY federation said in a statement.

    The union has called a meeting for September 10, timed to coincide with the prime minister's annual economic policy speech, in order to plan industrial action until the end of October, the statement said.

    [22] Athens airport expects traffic to peak August 30

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Athens International Airport (Eleftherios Venizelos) on Tuesday announced a series of measures, to be taken over the weekend, with the aim to facilitate an expected massive departure of Olympic Family members, scheduled from Saturday 29 to Monday 31 August.

    Specifically, the Athens airport said it would allow entry in the departure terminal only to holders of travel tickets, while their entry in the terminal would not be allowed earlier than three hours before their scheduled flight.

    The Eleftherios Venizelos airport said traffic was expected to peak on August 30 with around 878 scheduled flights on that day. The Athens airport also announced measures aimed to facilitate departure of Olympic Family members, with check out procedures to be carried out in Olympic villages, with only personal checking to be carried out at the airport.

    Athens airport reports daily traffic data: The Athens International Airport on Tuesday said it handled efficiently 659 flights on Monday, of which scheduled flights accounted for 82.5 percent of total traffic, charter flights for 2.9 percent and general aviation for 14.6 percent.

    The airport said that a total of 53,733 passengers were welcomed throughout the day (25,654 arriving and 28,079 departing), with the number of Olympic Family members accommodated since July 12 rising to 33,443.

    The airport expects a total of 697 flights on Tuesday, comprising 526 scheduled flights, 29 charter and 142 general aviation flights.

    The Athens International Airport projects a total of 721 flights to operate on Wednesday.

    [23] Stocks rise in late blue-chip buying spree

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with players buying heavily into high- and medium capitalization in the final half hour, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed off the day's high at 2,257.88 points, showing a rise of 0.66 percent. Turnover was 67.0 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.86 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.77 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.03 percent down.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 137 to 126 with 80 remaining unchanged.

    [24] Patras, Cultural Capital of Europe 2006, envisions growth of local economy through development of its rich cultural heritage

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Patras, Greece's third largest city and also the third Greek city to hold the title of Cultural Capital of Europe (in 2006), envisions growth of the local economy through the projection and development of its rich cultural heritage.

    An Olympic city for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Patras presented its ambitious plans for its organization of the Cultural Capital institution to international press covering the Games, during a press conference at the Zappeion Press Centre on Tuesday.

    Mayor Andreas Karavolas, president of the Patras 2006 organizing committee, informed the press that the city was a symbol of ancient but also modern Greece, a major port and chief gateway to western Europe, and a city of youth and university students, with more than 40,000 students and higher education teaching staff, and a complex city that has preserved its significant cultural and productive roots.

    Patras, he said, was a long-standing urban center, a commercial and industrial center, and a city with a rich architectural heritage that represented the multi-cultural aspect of modern Greece, but also a springboard for visitors wishing to come into contact with the Greece of culture and intellect, as it was situated in the middle of a geographical triangle delineated by ancient Olympia, Delphi and Epidavros.

    The Cultural Capital 2006 was a huge challenge that Patras had no intention of leaving unanswered, Karavolas said, adding that the city's organizational and artistic success of the venture would be "a springboard for the general development of the region".

    Deputy culture minister Petros Tatoulis, also speaking at this first official press conference held by "Patras 2006", said that hard and careful work, planning and realism was necessary for this immense endeavor, in order to avoid a repetition of the mistakes of the past and a repetition of the "bad experience" (organization) of the Thessaloniki Cultural Capital of Europe (1997), which had damaged Greece's image abroad and left debts that were still being paid off.

    He also said that all the funds necessary for the success of the organization have been ensured, while there was "impeccable cooperation" between the government and the Patras local government and mayor.

    "The government has warmly embraced this effort," Tatoulis said.

    Renowned Greek composer and former culture minister Thanos Mikroutsikos, the artistic director of Patras 2006, said that when the late actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri had first put forward the idea for a "cultural capital" institution in the early '80s -- with Athens being bestowed the honor of being the first Cultural Capital of Europe in 1985 -- she probably had no idea that it would one day evolve into a catalyst for smaller cities to acquire infrastructure through culture.

    Mikroutsikos noted that Patras had impressive strategic advantages, being only 90 kilometers from Delphi, Olympia and Epidavros -- "three of possibly the five Greek sites known the world over" and a port through which 1.5 million visitors pass through annually, "but without stopping even for a coffee". These advantages needed to be exploited to attract government and private investment for the region's overall development, he said.

    Dimitris Pefanis, vice-president of Patras 2006, outlined the city's immense cultural heritage, noting it was the home of one of the oldest Greek cinemas, the birthplace of the shadow theater, and the home of the world-renowned Patras Carnival, a city of sea and sun and mountains, with ski resorts in the environs, famous vineyards and wines, but also a city with a rich political past, as it has produced 15 prime ministers.

    The goal, he added, was development through cultural development. "206 interests us for after 2006," Pefanis said.

    [25] Forty-two illegal immigrants and four-member crew arrested in Crete

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    Harbor police arrested forty-two illegal immigrants and a four-member crew in Ierapetra, Crete on Tuesday.

    A Turkish-flagged 16.5-metre yacht named "Sultanim" disembarked the illegal immigrants on the coast of "Peristeras" in the region of Ierapetra but they were detected by a patrol boat resulting in their arrest and of the crew, also of Turkish nationality.

    The crew will appear before a public prosecutor while the vessel has been impounded. The 42 illegal immigrants are temporarily being held at the Ierapetra Police Subdepartment where they were provided with medical care and food. They declared that they are Turks of Kurdish origin. They are 35 men, six women and one boy aged nine.

    [26] Foundation of the Hellenic World presents cutting-edge technology virtual reality museum, new interactive exhibits

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW) on Tuesday treated journalists to a glimpse of its unique Hellenic Cosmos "museum" -- for want of a better word -- where the visitor is able to "experience" history in a cutting-edge technology environment.

    "When you arrive at Hellenic Cosmos don't look for statues and exhibits, because there aren't any," FHW managing director Dimitris Efraimoglou told journalists covering the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, during a presentation at the Ćappeion Press Centre.

    Hellenic Cosmos, on Pireos street, is not a "museum" in the classical sense of the word, since it does not have collections or permanent exhibits.

    "It is a modern, 'living' museum, where the most innovative applications of modern technologies provide visitors with the opportunity to experience Hellenic history and culture in a unique way. Monuments, cities and events relating to Hellenic cultural heritage come to life with the help of virtual reality and multimedia, in ways that stimulate the visitor's mind, senses, vision and zeal for creation," Efraimoglou explained.

    The Hellenic Cosmos museum and cultural centre was established six and a half years ago, as the Foundation's showcase for the general public, at an old industrial unit remodeled in accordance with the FHW's needs. "This is the principal, public interface where our projects are tangibly realized," and has since been visited by more than 400,000 people from all over the world, making it the venue with the largest number of visitors in Greece, Efraimoglou noted, citing figures by Greece's ministry of education.

    Incorporating the notion of new technologies, Hellenic Cosmos possesses two virtual reality systems that are unique in Greece: the Kivotos, a CAVE-type system, which is a 3-metre cubical room whose walls and floor consist of projection screens, creating an immersive environment where visitors, wearing special stereoscopic glasses and using a small navigation device, participate in virtual journeys; and the Magic Screen, an Immersa Desk-type system comprising a drawing table-shaped large bright screen which, due to its interactivity, allows the visitor to create his own tour within virtual space, and is the first virtual reality exhibit in Greece.

    Another unique aspect of the museum's virtual reality systems is that the content is not something fixed and unchanging -- it is not a video or film -- but, due to its exclusively digital character, is completely interactive, powered by a super computer, that enables visitors to "travel to monuments and cities that no longer exist and admire them as they were during their heyday," Efraimoglou said.

    In the "Kivotos" system, visitors are able to "visit", through with the Foundation's virtual reality programs/productions "A Walk in Ancient Olympia", "The Workshop of Phidias in Olympia" and "The Temple of Zeus in Olympia", the area as it was in antiquity, with accurate 3D reconstructions of all 33 buildings of ancient Olympia and the surrounding environment of the birthplace of the Olympic Games, and to interact with the three-dimensional digital representations of athletes of the Games who took part in the ancient pentathlon, and even see them crowned with the "kotinos" (wreath made of branches of the olive tree) in front of the temple of Zeus.

    Efraimoglou noted that this is the first time that such a model and thorough display is presented to the public. "This is not a video, it is an animated image where the visitor can choose which parts of Olympia wishes to visit", and is considered the best technological achievement in Greece today created exclusively by Greeks.

    Future plans include the creation of "Tholos", which will resemble a planetarium in its physical and morphological characteristics but is an innovative project at international level, since only New York city possesses something similar.

    The themes of the museum's exhibitions are drawn from the history of Hellenic culture, with two exhibitions currently on show: "Tales of the Olympic Games-A Unique Exhibition", and "Is There an Answer to Everything? A Journey into the World of Greek Mathematics".

    Efraimoglou also outlined the largest program created by the Foundation for the Internet, "Hellenic History on the Internet", which he called a "source of real pride" and currently exceeds 30,000 web pages (accessed at http://www.web.fhw.gr) containing invaluable material on Greek history and culture.

    Further, in its own contribution to the Olympic Games, the FHW has also set up two web sites titled "From Ancient Olympia to Athens of 1896" -- which formed the basis of the curriculum of educational institutions in Europe and the US and has received awards from Europe On Line and Encyclopedia Britannica -- and "From Athens 1896 to Athens of 2004", which provides a wealth of information about the Games during antiquity and after their revival in modern times (accessed at http://www.olympics.fhw.gr).

    The Foundation has also just finished a major project for the City of Athens, a travel guide on ancient, Byzantine and modern Athens that enables Olympic visitors to discover the Greek capital and learn about its buildings and monuments.

    Also, a new major exhibition on the Crusades (1096-1204) will be inaugurated in February at the museum, which will travel to Cyprus, Malta, Italy and France, while the Foundation is also organizing its second conference on Digital Convergence and Digital Technology from November 18-20, to be attended by acclaimed scientists from all over the world.

    [27] Earthquake shakes central Evoia

    Athens, 25/8/2004 (ANA)

    An earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale shook Evoia on Tuesday, at 15:39 local time.

    The quake's centre was at Psahna, central Evoia. The tremor was also felt in Attiki.

    [28] Van der Meer: All sides ready for trade

    NICOSIA 25/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Çead of the European Commission Representation in Nicosia, Adriaan van der Meer, said Tuesday that there are around 25 expressions of interest by Turkish Cypriot traders after the EU's specific rules for the movement of goods across the ''Green Line'', entered into force on Monday.

    Speaking to reporters after meeting a delegation of Turkish Cypriot women comprising the Platform "This country is ours", Van der Meer said "the work now is very much in the hands of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and I hope soon the trucks will start to move."

    The Commission official said that in September experts from the EU will come to Cyprus in time to perform checks on the harvest and this year's citrus crop.

    Expressing optimism, the head of the Commission Representation said the EU "will do all it can to give (trade) a chance" as well as assistance to the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce for the interpretation of the community rules.

    Van der Meer said rules concerning origin of products are very important to be interpreted noting that the prime target is that Turkish Cypriot goods can cross at the moment.

    "I m very positive about the developments. I think there are now around 25 expressions of interest and now the various procedures have been applied," he told journalists.

    Invited to comment on statements by Turkish Cypriot politician Mehmet Ali Talat that the Greek Cypriot side is not ready to trade with Turkish Cypriots, Van der Meer said "my opinion is that all sides are ready," stressing that what is now on the table is the combination of a very long process of preparation.

    The Turkish Cypriot women handed to Van der Meer a letter addressed to Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, calling for an end to the so called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots.


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