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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-11-10

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

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

November 10, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] FM Molyviatis, Javier Solana discuss Middle East, European constitution and European summit
  • [02] Gov't on handling of developments surrounding FYROM name issue
  • [03] US senator Bilirakis says US recognition of FYROM with name of 'Macedonia's a blow to US relations with Greece
  • [04] Main opposition accuses government of 'lacking policy' in foreign affairs
  • [05] PM to carry out official visit to Egypt at the end of November
  • [06] Cypriot House President arrives in Greece for official visit
  • [07] Greek navy to receive frigate at Dutch naval base
  • [08] Gov't on landing of U.S. aircraft in illegal airport operated by Turkish-Cypriot regime
  • [09] U.S. State Department official says no military aircraft landed in occupied territory in Cyprus
  • [10] Turkish warplanes violate Greek national air space
  • [11] ND coordinating committee discusses changes of party rules
  • [12] Greek Prof. Flogaitis re-elected to UN Administrative Tribunal
  • [13] Dafermos dismissal in accordance with law, gov't says
  • [14] Greek annual inflation rose to 3.2 percent in October
  • [15] National Bank of Greece reports higher Q3 earnings
  • [16] Greek retail sales index up 7.0 percent in Jan-Aug, yr/yr
  • [17] Eurostat releases Greek unemployment figures for 2003
  • [18] Finmin soon to name head of insurance market regulator
  • [19] Environment minister presents draft bill on public works
  • [20] Stronger promotion for Greece as tourist destination in the US market
  • [21] Gov't urges fuel companies to pass price cuts down to consumers
  • [22] Gov't backs business-friendly environment
  • [23] Greek Transport Deputy Minister visits New York
  • [24] Hellas Sat in cooperation agreement with SATLYNX SA
  • [25] Stocks drop in blue chip profit-taking
  • [26] EU Commissioner notes Brussels' concern over doping in response to Greek MEP
  • [27] First AIDS vaccine to appear in 2007, will provide 50 pc protection
  • [28] Illegal immigrants arrested in northern Greece
  • [29] Cyprus FM Iacovou: No issue of recognition of pseudostate by US
  • [30] Cyprus Government: no protest to US with regard to illegal flight
  • [31] British MPs discuss prospects for Cyprus solution

  • [01] FM Molyviatis, Javier Solana discuss Middle East, European constitution and European summit

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and the European Union's Higher Representative for Defense and Foreign Policy Javier Solana discussed developments in the Middle East, the ratification of the European constitution and the European summit in December in talks in Athens on Tuesday night.

    Molyviatis later said Solana's visit indicates the EU's interest in the wider region and the important role it has to play.

    Solana, who arrived in Athens from Skopje, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), reiterated the EU's interest in the region of the Balkans and, addressing the Palestinian people, expressed his sympathy for these difficult hours and stressed that the EU will support the Palestinians' dream to obtain a state.

    Referring to his talks with Molyviatis, Solana spoke of issues to be discussed at the upcoming European summit, which he termed very important since it will address such issues as the ratification of the European constitution and the new European Commission.

    FM, Javier Solana discuss Middle East, European constitution and European summit

    The European diplomat said that after Athens, he will be visiting London and Paris in an effort to analyze the "dramatic" situation in which the planet has found itself.

    According to diplomatic sources, Molyviatis raised the issue of FYROM's name during his talks with Solana, reiterating the position of Greece and Europe for a dialogue to find a mutually acceptable solution.

    The European diplomat said that after Athens, he will be visiting London and Paris in an effort to analyze the "dramatic" situation in which the planet has found itself.

    According to diplomatic sources, Molyviatis raised the issue of FYROM's name during his talks with Solana, reiterating the position of Greece and Europe for a dialogue to find a mutually acceptable solution.

    FM Molyviatis briefs President on foreign policy issues: Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis on Tuesday expressed hope that "the spirit of calm-headedness and cooperation will prevail again" on handling foreign policy issues, after a meeting with President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos.

    Molyviatis said he briefed the President on the latest developments in the major issues of Greek foreign policy and the prospects appearing on the horizon.

    Molyviatis was also due to brief the standing parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defense on Wednesday on the same issues, while on Thursday he will hold consecutive meeting with the leaders of the political parties represented in parliament.

    EU's High Representative Solana has phone conversation with PASOK leader Papandreou: High Representative for the European Union's Common Foreign and Defense Policy Javier Solana, prior to his departure from Athens, had a telephone conversation with main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Tuesday night.

    According to a PASOK press release, Papandreou reiterated to Solana his party's positions on the name issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    During their discussion, they also referred to the general situation in FYROM after the referendum there as well as developments in the Palestinian issue.

    [02] Gov't on handling of developments surrounding FYROM name issue

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    The government will call a meeting of the political party leaders if there were new developments concerning the negotiations underway between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at the United Nations to find a mutually acceptable solution with respect to FYROM's name, deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reiterated on Tuesday.

    Asked to comment on a proposal by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou that the political leaders' council be convened immediately, he stressed that "nothing had changed" since the statement made on the issue on Monday by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.

    He refused to comment on the revelations made by Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on television the previous day that Papandreou and Greek foreign minister Petros Molyviatis had each received letter from U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell that responded to their own letters criticizing Washington's decision to recognize FYROM by its constitutional name of "Republic of Macedonia".

    Asked whether Greece will veto FYROM's progress toward joining Europe over the name issue, Antonaros again referred to Roussopoulos' statement that Greece will "use all the weapons at its disposal".

    He also expressed the view that meetings between Molyviatis and the political party leaders on Thursday will not focus on a proposed name for FYROM but have more the nature of a briefing about the foreign ministry's plans on this issue.

    Regarding a visit to Skopje on Tuesday by European foreign policy chief Javier Solana and whether the Greek government had contacted Solana in advance of his talks there, Antonaros only said that the European Union's position on the issue of FYROM's name was clear and that Solana would convey the EU positions in his talks there.

    [03] US senator Bilirakis says US recognition of FYROM with name of 'Macedonia's a blow to US relations with Greece

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    The US decision to recognize FYROM with its disputed constitutional name of 'Macedonia' "strikes a blow to US relations with Greece and the southern wing of NATO in general, and has only negative consequences, not positive ones," Republican Senator for Florida, Mike Bilirakis, said in Athens on Tuesday.

    Bilirakis and the delegation of US senators he is heading on a visit to Greece, met Tuesday with parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki.

    "Personally, I was not given the impression that FYROM was in danger of destabilization due to the referendum," Bilirakis said, referring to the referendum in FYROM on November 7 that the US government cited as part of the reasons behind its decision.

    In statements to ANA, Bilirakis recalled that Greece was financially assisting FYROM, adding that "I don't see how recognition with the name 'Republic of Macedonia' will help FYROM against the Albanian claims".

    Bilirakis said it was difficult for the Greek position on the name issue to be comprehended in the US, because in the US they saw it only as a name, but added that, conversely, there was disgruntlement over the procedure employed by the US State Department in the recognition of FYROM.

    In a later meeting with Bilirakis, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said his party was prepared to contribute to a solution to the national issues, but criticized the government as being unable to formulate strategy.

    Papandreou said that 2005 would be a very critical year for the Balkans, adding that "we say yes to consensus, but the government is unable to formulate strategy".

    Bilirakis, replying to press questions, revealed that the US Congress had not been informed of the Bush administration's moves on the FYROM issue.

    "We will put the issue to Congress and will aspire to the best possible solution," Bilirakis added.

    [04] Main opposition accuses government of 'lacking policy' in foreign affairs

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Emerging from a meeting with main opposition PASOK's parliamentary group coordinators on Tuesday, PASOK leader George Papandreou again accused the government of lacking policy in major foreign affairs issues, such as relations between Greece and Turkey, the Cyprus problem and the disputed name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    "A condition for consensus is the existence of a proposal from the government," Papandreou said in reference to government appeals for unity.

    According to Papandreou, the meeting had also covered economic issues, another area over which PASOK was intensely concerned.

    Referring to FYROM's recognition as 'Republic of Macedonia' by the United States, Papandreou rejected government arguments that previous PASOK governments had shown inertia on the issue, saying that the recognitions of FYROM as 'Macedonia' had occurred when New Democracy was in government and that the 'great battles' over the Macedonia issue had been fought by PASOK.

    [05] PM to carry out official visit to Egypt at the end of November

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to carry out an official visit to Egypt on November 26-28, deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced on Tuesday.

    The visit is taking place at the invitation of Egyptian premier Ahmed Nazif and is the first official visit by a Greek premier to Egypt in several years. Antonaros said the visit will be an opportunity to boost bilateral ties and discuss regional developments.

    [06] Cypriot House President arrives in Greece for official visit

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Cypriot House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias arrived in Athens on Tuesday night for an official visit, at the invitation of Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki. Christofias was welcomed at Eleftherios Venizelos airport by Psarouda-Benaki.

    During the visit, in return of a visit to Cyprus by Psarouda-Benaki last June, Christofias will be received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos and will meet with Prime Minister Costas

    Karamanlis, Psarouda-Benaki, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos. Christofias and Psarouda-Benaki will also sign a cooperation protocol.

    The House President is accompanied on his trip by House Director General Costakis Christoforou, Director of the House President's Office Vassos Georgiou, and Deputy Director of the International Relations Service Socratis Socratous.

    [07] Greek navy to receive frigate at Dutch naval base

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    The Greek navy will receive the frigate "HNMLS Bloys van Trelong" from the Dutch navy at the Den Helder naval base on November 19. It is the last of 10 "S" type frigates to join the Greek navy.

    The ceremony for the delivery of the vessel and the hoisting of the Greek flag will be organized by the Dutch navy in the presence of Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos and his Dutch counterpart Van der Knap.

    The frigate will be renamed "Nikiforos Fokas", who was one of the most important emperors of the Byzantine Empire.

    [08] Gov't on landing of U.S. aircraft in illegal airport operated by Turkish-Cypriot regime

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Commenting on press reports that a United States aircraft had landed at one of the illegal airports operated by the Turkish-Cypriot regime within the occupied territories in the north of Cyprus, deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros noted on Tuesday that the government was monitoring the developments and would proceed to lodge the necessary demarches when it judged that the timing was most appropriate and useful.

    He also stressed that the incident was in no way connected to Washington's sudden recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) by the name 'Republic of Macedonia' adopted by the FYROM constitution.

    [09] U.S. State Department official says no military aircraft landed in occupied territory in Cyprus

    WASHINGTON 10/11/2004 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    A U.S. official said on Tuesday, in reply to a question by the Athens News Agency (ANA) on whether an American aircraft landed at an airport in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, "there has been no flight by an American military aircraft to the northern part of Cyprus."

    Asked whether there could have been a civil aviation flight, the official said he was not in a position to know.

    [10] Turkish warplanes violate Greek national air space

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    The Turkish air force violated Greek national air space once again on Tuesday.

    According to press reports, six formations of Turkish warplanes flew over the Aegean without submitting flight plans and in 19 cases they violated national air space in the region of the northern, central and southern Aegean.

    In all cases the 15 Turkish aircraft were recognized and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while in one case the interception process developed into a mock dogfight.

    The reports added that three Turkish aircraft were armed, two were Fantom jets used in photo reconnaissance, which flew 12 miles southeast of the island of Rhodes, and one was a naval cooperation aircraft which flew in the northern and central Aegean.

    [11] ND coordinating committee discusses changes of party rules

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    The ruling New Democracy (ND) Coordinating Committee, with ND Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis presiding, met at party headquarters in Athens on Tuesday to discuss the changes and the party's rules that were decided during the party's sixth congress.

    According to a related announcement, the coordinating committee's aim is to ensure the best possible coordination and effective operation of the party's local branches in the capital and in the provinces. According to sources, the possibility of "breaking down" the Central Committee into six groups, the same number as the relevant committees in Parliament, was also discussed.

    The central committee is scheduled to meet at the end of the month, or the beginning of December, while Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will most likely visit northern Greece.

    Meimarakis said that the new political culture is already being implemented, serving as the foundation of the new governance exercised by New Democracy. He also emphasized that, "This was confirmed by the atmosphere of dialogue, communication and consensus on issues of foreign policy as well as during yesterday's (Monday) discussion in Parliament on education."

    According to sources, Meimarakis reiterated that ND does not encourage protests regarding the FYROM name issue and that foreign policy is not exercised according to sentiment.

    Meimarakis will meet with Karamanlis at the Maximos Mansion on Wednesday morning.

    [12] Greek Prof. Flogaitis re-elected to UN Administrative Tribunal New

    York 10/11/2004 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)

    Professor Spyridon Flogaitis was re-elected Monday as a member of the United Nations Administrative Tribunal (UNAT), during a meeting of the UN General Assembly's Fifth Committee, which is of a technocratic nature and deals with administrative and budgetary questions in an advisory capacity.

    Flogaitis was a candidate for the Western Group of the UN General Assembly member-states, and was elected with 151 votes of a total 185 valid ballots.

    The seven-member United Nations Administrative Tribunal (UNAT) is the independent organ competent to hear and pass judgment upon applications alleging non-observance of contracts of employment of staff members of the United Nations Secretariat or of their terms of appointment as well as applications alleging non-observance of the regulations and rules of the UNJSPF, arising out of decisions by the Fund. The Tribunal was established by the General Assembly in its resolution 351 A (IV) of 24 November 1949.

    [13] Dafermos dismissal in accordance with law, gov't says

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Responding to questions on Tuesday about an abrupt decision to remove Constantine Dafermos from the post of Public Administration General Inspector, ordered by Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros noted that the end of Dafermos' term in the position was "in accordance with the law".

    [14] Greek annual inflation rose to 3.2 percent in October

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Greek annual inflation, measured on the consumer price index, jumped to 3.2 percent in October from 2.8 percent in September, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    NSS, in its monthly report, said that October's CPI was up 0.8 percent from September.

    The annual inflation rate in October reflected a 0.5 percent increase in food and beverage prices, a 1.7 percent rise in clothing and footwear prices, a 2.9 percent increase in housing prices, a 1.1 percent rise in transportation prices and a 2.7 percent decline in communication prices.

    NSS secretary-general Manolis Kontopyrakis, commenting on the October figures, said he expected an average increase of 2.9 percent and an annual figure of 3.1-3.2 percent in the inflation rate this year. He said that domestic prices were "behaving good" while he noted that the statistics service was closely monitoring increases in school fees.

    Greece's harmonized annual inflation rate rose 3.3 percent in October from 3.2 percent in October 2003.

    The harmonized CPI figure was up 0.7 percent from September. Kontopyrakis attributed the higher harmonized figure, compared with the national inflation rate, to different methods used in calculating both indexes.

    [15] National Bank of Greece reports higher Q3 earnings

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    National Bank of Greece (NBG), a blue chip on the Athens bourse, on Tuesday reported group earnings after tax of 338.7 million at the end of the third quarter, up 25.3% year on year, and profit before tax of 474.1 million, marking a 23.9% rise.

    The NBG Group posted profit after tax in the third quarter of 116.9 million, up 39.7% compared with the corresponding quarter of 2003, the parent bank said in a statement.

    The group's ROAE rose to 19.4% against 15.1% in 2003, allowing NBG to take first place among Greek credit institutions in terms of return on equity. The Group's ROA increased by 19 basis points to 1.18% in the 9-month period of 2004.

    "The impressive 9-month results reflect the Group's recent substantial effort to achieve sustainable revenue growth, focusing on the areas of retail banking, small and medium-sized companies, and expansion in Southeastern Europe, while at the same time exercising cost containment," the group's chairman and chief executive officer, Takis Arapoglou, said.

    "We are fulfilling our commitments regarding the containment of operating costs, most notably by the completion of the voluntary retirement program, the streamlining of our presence in Western-Europe and the implementation of an administrative cost containment program, actions which are expected to contribute substantially to Group results in the immediate future. We have entered a period for which we are setting more ambitious targets, emphasizing not only an increase in Group revenue but also the efficiency of our operations and the return on equity," Arapoglou said.

    Reinforcement of operating profitability: Group operating profit increased to 364.4 million, up 31.4% year on year and 15% quarter on quarter, resulting from the group s consistent focus on core business, as reflected in a continuous improvement in net interest income and a strengthening of commission income, according to management.

    Net interest income for the 9-month period totaled 1 048.5 million, up 14.9% y-o-y; third-quarter net interest income was up 5.3%, and up 20.6% year on year.

    The group's interest margin exceeded for the first time the 3% mark, up 26 basis points from the end of 2003.

    Group net commissions were 289 million, up 4.6% year on year. Retail and corporate banking operations were the key contributors to this performance, up 12.0% and 16.6% year on year respectively, along with commissions on mutual funds, which rose by 17.7% year on year, the statement said.

    Group performance in net interest income and commissions resulted in an increase of total income to 1 475.8 million, up 13.6% from 2003.

    Curbing operating cost: Administrative expenses were down 5.3% quarter on quarter as a result of a first round of cost cutting measures. Group operating costs amounted to 300 million in the third quarter, down 0.8% quarter on quarter.

    Staff costs were marginally up 0.8% quarter on quarter, whereas the year on year increase was contained to 4.6%, equal to an increase in nominal salaries specified in the collective labor agreement, management said.

    A voluntary retirement program, under which 1,509 employees of the bank will depart, was successfully completed at a cost of 106 million. The annual reduction in staff costs is expected to amount to 70 million.

    As a result of cost containment, the group s cost-to-income (efficiency) ratio improved further to 60.9% in the third quarter compared with 64.6% in 2003, according to the statement.

    [16] Greek retail sales index up 7.0 percent in Jan-Aug, yr/yr

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Greek retail sales value index increased 4.4 percent in August from the same month in 2003, the National Statistics Service said.

    NSS, in its monthly report, said that that average retail sales index rose 7.0 percent in the first eight months of 2004 compared with the corresponding period last year.

    The August figure reflected a 3.0 percent increase in super markets, a 1.1 percent rise in department stores, a 4.3 percent increase in food-beverage-tobacco, an 8.1 percent rise in clothing-footwear, an 11 percent increase in bookstore and a 4.1 percent rise in home appliances.

    [17] Eurostat releases Greek unemployment figures for 2003

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Western Macedonia is the area with the highest unemployment rate in Greece, while Crete records the lowest unemployment rate in the country, Eurostat said on Tuesday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in its monthly report on unemployment in the European Union, said that the unemployment rate in Western Macedonia rose to 16.1 pct in 2003 from 14.7 pct in 2002, while in Crete the rate fell to 6.8 pct from 7.7 percent in 2002. The regions of Epirus and the Ionian islands also recorded high unemployment rates (11.0 pct each), followed by Southern Aegean (10.9 pct), Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (10.3 pct), Central Macedonia (10.1 pct), Thessaly (9.7 pct), Western Greece (8.9 pct), Attica (8.7 pct), the Peloponese (7.7 pct), Northern Aegean 7.4 pct) and Crete (6.8 pct).

    Eurostat said that Greek unemployment fell to 10.0 percent in 2003 from 10.3 pct in 2002, while it rose to 9.1 pct from 8.9 pct in the EU-25 over the same period.

    [18] Finmin soon to name head of insurance market regulator

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday that a president would shortly be named for a newly-created independent regulatory authority for the insurance market.

    At a meeting with leaders of the Union of Insurance Companies of Greece, Alogoskoufis also said that private insurance had much leeway for growth, which the government wanted to promote.

    Announcements of policy and legislative moves would be made on Thursday, the minister added.

    [19] Environment minister presents draft bill on public works

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Environment minister George Souflias on Tuesday presented the draft bill on public works that his ministry intends to table in Parliament by the end of November, following a meeting of the cabinet on public works legislation.

    He stressed that the new bill will radically change the process for assigning feasibility studies and other preliminary planning studies for public works projects, increasing the transparency and efficiency of procedures for selecting the best study and incorporating EU directives on this issue. The new bill also creates a single framework for services related to public works and planning studies, as well as fully codifying laws in this area.

    Souflias stressed that under the new law, the only requirement is a presidential decree regarding the past record of those carrying out the study, while the law can also operate without this.

    The minister also stressed a shift in emphasis in the criteria for selecting offers in a tender from considerations of cost (which will now have a 30 per cent weighting) to ones of quality (which will now have a 70 per cent weighting). Companies will also be allowed to submit their offers in terms of cost at a later stage, after the technical elements involved have been fully established.

    Other changes, according to the minister, are a drastic reduction in the amount of red tape associated with submitting an offer in a public tender.

    Souflias said the draft law will now be presented to the professional associations for their input before it is tabled in Parliament at the end of the month.

    According to the minister, the new bill completes the government reforms to the institutional framework for public works, after the scrapping of the mathematical formula and the introduction of modern invoices.

    [20] Stronger promotion for Greece as tourist destination in the US market

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    The Tourism Ministry will be placing emphasis on markets significant for the Greek tourism sector, among them the US market, Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is currently in London on occasion of the World Travel Market event, said in a press conference on Tuesday.

    Advertising of Greece as a tourist destination will be intensified in the US, while Greek tourism offices will also be set up throughout the country, according to the tourism minister.

    Avramopoulos also referred to the attention Greece has drawn in terms of investment after the Athens Olympic Games, as well as an increase in interest on behalf of foreigners wishing to visit Greek destinations. He said that a recent survey conducted abroad showed that 70% of those surveyed would like to visit Greece.

    The tourism minister emphasized that legislation is being modified in order to attract more investments, while Olympic facilities are already being utilized, thus strengthening the country's tourism development efforts, with an emphasis on conference tourism, convention centers, etc. He also mentioned that two factors that will prove advantageous to the Greek tourism sector is that Greece is one of the safest countries in the world and that 31 million have been allocated for the country's advertising and promotion.

    On Tuesday, Avramopoulos also met with the directors of the largest travel organizations in the UK, spoke at an event held by the Association of British Travel Agents, and gave an interview to Sky News.

    Deputy Tourism Minister Anastasios Liaskos spoke about the ministry's post-Olympic strategy at a special event held on the sidelines of the World Travel Market conference.

    According to Liaskos some strategy highlights include:

    Maximizing use of sports facilities by the general public, as well as for hosting various sporting events;

    Modifying facilities so that they can be used for various activities;

    Capitalizing on the country's tremendous publicity due to the Games, in new ways;

    Identifying new tourism markets.

    [21] Gov't urges fuel companies to pass price cuts down to consumers

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday called on fuel companies to accelerate a process of passing global oil price declines down to consumers.

    Addressing representatives of the country's oil refineries, distributors and retailers, Sioufas said that consumers should see the price reductions in full.

    Price monitoring by the ministry had shown substantial declines in recent days, the minister added.

    [22] Gov't backs business-friendly environment

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Tuesday that the government was working to create a business-friendly environment.

    Addressing an international seminar held by the Federation of Greek Industry, Sioufas said that steps included fiscal revitalization, tax reform, changes in the development law, new rules on business licenses, shrinking the state sector, and backing an outward-looking approach in the economy.

    There was much room for improvement in competitiveness, the minister noted.

    According to a survey by the Planning and Research Centre, only 10% of Greek manufacturing and agricultural firms were competitive on a global basis, and only 21% of all Greek companies, he said.

    [23] Greek Transport Deputy Minister visits New York

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Greek Transport and Communications Deputy Minister Anastasios Nerantzis briefed Greek-American organizations over developments in the country's transport and communication networks.

    During his visit in New York, Nerantzis met with heads and members of Greek-American organizations and presented a series of projects that "have changed the image" of Greece.

    A large number of Greek-Americans are visiting Greece each year and transportation conditions are of particular interest to them. The Greek minister also presented the operation of a Suburban Railway and a Tram system while he added a gradual renewal of the Athens bus fleet.

    Nerantzis also referred to the development of broadband networks in the country, "a service that could change the nature and operation of national economic activity".

    [24] Hellas Sat in cooperation agreement with SATLYNX SA

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    HELLAS SAT is rapidly expanding in the European and American markets offering a wide range of satellite broadband services around the world.

    The operating company of Hellas Sat recently signed cooperation, after an international tender, with SATLYNX SA, the biggest provider of broadband satellite services in Europe. The agreement covers the leasing of a significant satellite zone to create a DVB-RCS platform offering satellite broadband services.

    SATLYNX could offer high-speed Internet services to around 76-120 million antennas in Europe and particularly in regions with no access to ground broadband networks.

    [25] Stocks drop in blue chip profit-taking

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower with players raking in their blue chip gains, especially in banks, for a second session in the wake of eight straight rises, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,577.82 points, showing a decline of 0.93 percent. Turnover was 120.8 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.42 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.06 percent up; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.14 percent lower.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 168 to 121 with 79 remaining unchanged.

    [26] EU Commissioner notes Brussels' concern over doping in response to Greek MEP

    BRUSSELS 10/11/2004 (ANA - A. Simatos)

    European Commissioner Viviane Reding on Tuesday noted the European Union's concern over doping and the use of anabolic substances at all levels in sports, in response to a question put by Greek MEP Ioannis Varvitsiotis.

    Varvitsiotis asked if the Commission planned to undertake further information and educational action to combat the problem of doping and also for the amounts being spent by European programs on research and the provision of information and education to athletes on these issues. He also asked if there were plans for a special European program to create a common European policy on doping.

    The Commissioner's response noted that the Commission in 1999 approved a plan for Community support to combat doping in sports that was backed by the European Parliament.

    According to an announcement, the European Commission has spent 7,360,212 euros on co-funded initiatives against doping in the years 2000-2001 and 2001-2002 and has also allocated funds to activities related to health and doping as part of a health program for 2003-2008.

    Reding also notes that the draft EU Constitution includes references to ensuring uncompromised competitions and protecting the bodily and moral integrity of athletes. She adds that, due to the extent and nature of the problem, the Commission will carefully consider the possibility of combating doping in future Community action related to sports but such efforts are now at an early stage.

    [27] First AIDS vaccine to appear in 2007, will provide 50 pc protection

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    The first vaccine against the AIDS disease is expected to appear in 2007, but special scientists stress that it will only provide 50 percent protection.

    On the occasion of the 16th Panhellenic AIDS conference, due to begin in Athens on Thursday, scientists referred to the situation prevailing in Greece on this issue, saying that 6,900 cases of the disease have been officially registered since it first appeared and 1,400 people have ultimately died.

    Out of all the people infected 70 percent are men and 30 are women. However, over the next three years a 50-50 balance will be created.

    Thirty million people have died of the disease all over the world so far. According to the World Health Organization, 14,000 people contract the disease every day and 8,500 die.

    [28] Illegal immigrants arrested in northern Greece

    Athens 10/11/2004 (ANA)

    Thirty-eight illegal immigrants, originally from Iraq, Kashmir, Iran and Israel, illegally entered Greece by crossing the Evros River in northern Greece on Saturday and were arrested by border guards along the Thessaloniki-Athens National Road on Tuesday.

    The immigrants traveled to neighboring Turkey where they met an unknown man who offered to smuggle them into Greece for $5,000 a head. After paying the man, they were rowed over the Evros River on Saturday, where a man around 30-35 years old picked them up and hid them in a wooded area for three days.

    On Monday evening arrangements were made for the immigrants to be driven down to Athens by truck, but were arrested on Tuesday morning.

    The investigation regarding all those involved in the case is under way.

    [29] Cyprus FM Iacovou: No issue of recognition of pseudostate by US

    LARNACA 10/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou on Tuesday ruled out any possibility that there is a US plan to recognize the illegal state unilaterally declared in Cyprus' northern part occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.

    At the same time, the Cypriot official said the recognition by the US of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as ''Republic of Macedonia'', is not connected with press information that an American aircraft landed last week at the illegal airport ''Ercan'' at Tymbou situated in the Turkish-occupied areas.

    The Cypriot FM made this statement at Larnaca airport on Tuesday morning, on his departure for London, where he was due to address on Tuesday night a gathering organized by the Cypriot Brotherhood in the UK, where around 80 British MP's have been invited to participate.

    ''This event is organized successfully in the past 20 years. The Foreign Minister of Cyprus has the chance to present the positions of the government to an important number of British Parliamentarians," he noted.

    Invited to comment on information that an American aircraft landed at the illegal airport at Tymbou, Iacovou explained that the Civil Aviation of the Cyprus Republic notified the Foreign Ministry last week that a US-made aircraft had asked for permission to land at Tymbou.

    ''The Larnaca Airport Control Tower, of course, did not give the permission and the aircraft flew to Turkey. Later on, the same aircraft came back and landed at the illegal airport at Tymbou," Iacovou said.

    Iacovou did not exclude the possibility that the aircraft began its journey from Turkey, since, ''although Turkey is part of the Eurocontrol, flights that start from Turkey are not submitted to

    Eurocontrol. It is also possible that the aircraft took off from an airport of a country that is not member of the Eurocontrol."

    He dismissed media reports that the event with the aircraft and the issue of Macedonia are connected with an American plan to recognize the illegal regime in occupied Cyprus, branded ''legally invalid'' by UN resolutions. Only Turkey has recognized it.

    ''I rule out this possibility (of recognition) and I don't believe that those events are in any way connected with each other," Iacovou said.

    Regarding the recognition of FYROM by the US with the name ''Republic of Macedonia'', the Cypriot minister said, ''the decision of the US government at this particular time is strange. This was done without any prior consultation with Greece and the Greek politicians were informed about it by the Media. For diplomacy, this is entirely unacceptable," he pointed out.

    Regarding the official visit of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Cyprus later this week, Iacovou said that delegations from both countries would discuss the Cyprus problem, Turkey's

    European course, the issue of FYROM, as well as other EU developments.

    [30] Cyprus Government: no protest to US with regard to illegal flight

    NICOSIA 10/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus government believes that a commercial flight to an illegal airport in the island's Turkish occupied areas does not cause any problems in its ties with the US, as initial press reports have suggested.

    Government Spokesman Cyprus Chrysostomides said on Tuesday Nicosia will not be making any representations to Washington on the matter, nor does it see any purpose in this specific flight.

    Press reports have suggested that a US aircraft landed last week at ''Ercan'' illegal airport, near the occupied village of Tymbou, days after US administration officials responsible for safety and security had inspected the airport. The reports came in the wake of Washington's decision to recognize the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with the name ''Republic of Macedonia'', a move that neither Athens nor Nicosia agree with.

    The spokesman said that following an investigation by the authorities of the Republic, last Tuesday a US-registered small aircraft landed at ''Ercan'' on a commercial flight, carrying two businessmen, holders of Turkish passports.

    He said the aircraft was not a US state aircraft and flew on behalf of a Polish company, taking the two passengers to occupied Cyprus on business.

    ''The flight is illegal, just as many other such flights to the occupied areas are, but this is a non issue. We shall not protest to the US,'' the Cypriot spokesman said.

    Responding to questions, he said the government does not think there is any link between US policy on Cyprus and US policy on FYROM.

    ''Here we have an illegal occupation and US policy is that the product of illegality is not recognized. These are two completely different cases," Chrysostomides added.

    ''At this stage, I do not think anybody can come to the conclusion that the US is suggesting to Cyprus to settle its political problem as soon as possible or else face the risk of having the occupied areas of the Republic recognized,'' he said.

    [31] British MPs discuss prospects for Cyprus solution

    NICOSIA 10/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    British deputies, currently visiting Cyprus, are trying to understand why a UN-proposed solution plan failed to be accepted by the people of Cyprus, according to Labor MP John Maples, head of a five-member parliamentary delegation from Britain.

    Speaking after a meeting with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Tuesday, the British MP said the delegation from the House Foreign Affairs Committee would like to hear from the Cypriots how things can make headway towards a solution and will draw its conclusions on the situation once it hears a broad series of views.

    "We want to understand, to try to understand better why the Annan plan was not acceptable to both sides and to get an understanding of where we go from here, how do both sides see the process of taking this forward," he said, after an hour-long meeting, noting that the delegation would be talking to government officials, political parties and Turkish Cypriot groups.

    "I hope that in two days' time, we will have a better understanding of that," he added.

    Responding to questions, he said he was not sure that there is a need to review British policy on Cyprus.

    "What we are interested in is why did the Annan plan failed to be accepted and is it a question of negotiating some changes to it or is it much deeper than that," he said, noting that it is a little early to come to any conclusions at that.

    Maples said he has already been given some explanation as to why the plan was not accepted but noted that "what we heard is in slightly more detail of what we have read in the newspapers that people have said."

    "I want to have a much broader series of views before we come to any conclusions ourselves," he said.

    Maples said he would report to the British Parliament, probably in the Spring, and hear some more evidence in London, probably from some Foreign Office ministers and the European Commission.


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