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

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

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

November 11, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] Turkey's European progress still conditional on meeting criteria, Molyviatis tells Parl't committee
  • [02] Greek, Cypriot parliaments sign cooperation protocol
  • [03] Deputy DM visits Istanbul to watch SEDM simulation exercise
  • [04] National Defense General Staff says Turkish aircrafts operated in region not provided by civil aviation service
  • [05] UN chief briefed on Greek government positions on FYROM developments
  • [06] ND Eurodeputies address letter to Europarliament president on FYROM name issue
  • [07] Boucher says U.S. decision to recognize FYROM as 'Republic of Macedonia' was correct
  • [08] FYROM party leaders sign proclamation on support for country's strategic interests
  • [09] PM Karamanlis to meet delegation from U.S. Congress, Cyprus House president on Thursday
  • [10] PASOK spokesman says no special agreement with gov't on presidential candidate and national issues
  • [11] KKE leader Papariga on flooding and refuse-dumps
  • [12] Albania's Deputy Justice Minister to meet with Papaligouras in Athens
  • [13] Gov't lowers corporate tax in new bill
  • [14] Greek Deputy FinMin visits Beijing
  • [15] Eurostat officials in Athens to check fiscal data
  • [16] The Economist's 4th Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Summit held in Athens
  • [17] Avramopoulos addresses British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce conference
  • [18] Athens to acquire new conference and exhibition centre in 2005, tourism minister says
  • [19] Development minister meets with GE executives
  • [20] Liapis' comments on importance of space technology during ESA's satellite teleconference
  • [21] Stocks rise in bid to consolidate
  • [22] Transport minister inaugurates new bus service from eastern suburbs to metro
  • [23] Athens Mayor and Tirana counterpart agree to organize joint exhibition
  • [24] Ricomex files for bankruptcy, claims inability to pay compensation to earthquake victims
  • [25] Two new exhibitions to open at Macedonian Museum of Modern Art
  • [26] Data shows that the dead in Greece from traffic accidents will number 25,000 in the decade 2001-2010
  • [27] ENISA begins move to Greek headquarters in Crete
  • [28] Authorities round up 31 illegal immigrants that broke out of Iraklion hotel
  • [29] Doctors Without Frontiers, Greece, set up new NGO 'PRAKSIS' for Greek programs
  • [30] Tons of agricultural products and animal feed confiscated
  • [31] Four arrested at Evros for transporting illegal immigrants
  • [32] COREPER fails to reach agreement on EU trade regulations with Cyprus

  • [01] Turkey's European progress still conditional on meeting criteria, Molyviatis tells Parl't committee

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis stressed on Wednesday that Turkey's progress toward joining the European Union was still conditional on meeting certain criteria and that it would be assessed on these every step of the way.

    "Nothing has been separated from Turkey's European progress. Ankara must fulfill certain obligations and it will be constantly assessed on these. Everything that was agreed at Helsinki remains in force," Molyviatis said during a briefing of Parliament's National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on Greek foreign policy issues, such as the Cyprus problem and Turkey's accession course.

    The minister underlined that, even if Turkey received a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU at the upcoming EU summit in December, it would remain under scrutiny throughout the process.

    Commenting on recent actions by the United States to allow U.S. commercial airlines to carry out flights to the 'airports' illegally operated by the Turkish-Cypriot occupation regime in the north of Cyprus, Molyviatis said the foreign ministry was in the process of lodging complaints with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

    The minister said that Greece's foreign policy regarding the Cyprus issue and Turkey's EU accession course was still dedicated to the effort to reunite the island republic based on the peace plan presented by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, stressing that Greece continued to support Turkey's European orientation on condition that Turkey adapted to European standards.

    Referring to the 'Macedonia' issue and the objections raised by Greece to the use of the name by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Molyviatis noted that the dispute over the name was the only outstanding issue in relations between Athens and Skopje, blaming the failure to reach agreement on FYROM.

    He predicted that the recent recognition of FYROM as 'Republic of Macedonia' by the United States will further increase Skopje's inflexibility on the issue, while stressing that "completing FYROM's progress to Europe was not a consideration unless the difference over the name were previously resolved".

    The foreign minister also came in for strong criticism from opposition MPs on the committee, who said the country's prestige had suffered serious blows during New Democracy's eight months in power due to "a vacuum in policy", and from former premier Costas Simitis.

    Simitis called on the government to clearly state whether it accepted or rejected the Helsinki agreements and stressed that the best time to make Turkey face its responsibilities with regard to Greece and Cyprus was the present and not when EU accession negotiations were underway.

    [02] Greek, Cypriot parliaments sign cooperation protocol

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    A protocol of cooperation between the Greek parliament and the Cyprus House of Representatives was signed in Athens on Wednesday by the two unicameral parliaments' presidents, Anna Psarouda-Benaki and Demetris Christofias, respectively.

    The protocol aims at a much closer and productive cooperation between the two parliaments, Psarouda-Benaki said, noting that "the issues between Cyprus and Greece are common ones, the struggles are common, the need for agreement a given fact, and consequently the protocol will serve as a tool for the practical implementation of the decisions and sentiment of solidarity between the two parliaments".

    Christofias, in turn, described the signing of the protocol as "a new historic moment" in the relations between the two parliaments, adding that it rendered their cooperation, "which has always been close" practical, and rendered joint action at political, diplomatic and cultural level more specific.

    During their talks, particular mention was made of the importance of coordinating the two parliaments' actions and the need for prior agreement between the two Houses, particularly now when the Cyprus issue was at the centre of international interest. Psarouda-Benaki also assured Christofias of the Hellenic Parliament's solidarity and support of any decisions deemed necessary for the negotiations.

    Christofias was also received later by President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos.

    The cooperation protocol between the Greek and Cypriot parliaments reaffirms their "firm dedication to the unwavering goal of achieving a just, functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of the relevant UN resolutions".

    The two sides also agree, inter alia, to promote exchanges of visits between the two parliaments, to further upgrade their cooperation and coordination in international parliamentary organizations, to facilitate the creation of an information exchange mechanism with respect to their positions on the legislative proposals of the EU, and to reinforce their participation in the activities of the corresponding Greek and Cypriot oversees organizations.

    Christofias asks for better coordination between Nicosia and Athens: Demetris Christofias, President of the Cypriot Parliament, emphasized the need for Nicosia and Athens to better coordinate efforts, following a meeting he had with Nikos Constantopoulos, President of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party on Wednesday.

    On his part, Constantopoulos said that Turkey must fulfill its obligations, referring to the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey. The SYN president also referred to the state of uncertainty in the Middle East and expressed hope that it would not affect the Cyprus issue.

    "It is self-explanatory that on their way to EU accession, all candidate countries are obligated to fulfill certain tasks. And we, on Greece's part, want to ensure that Turkey will adhere to obligations regarding the Republic of Cyprus, the Cyprus issue, as well as other issues, but also towards Greece, in terms of creating an atmosphere of neighborly relations without harassment," Constantopoulos said, once again referring to Turkey.

    [03] Deputy DM visits Istanbul to watch SEDM simulation exercise

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos arrived in Istanbul, Turkey, on Wednesday to watch a simulation exercise due to take place in the framework of the Multinational Brigade of countries in southeastern Europe.

    According to reports, the exercise's hypothetical scenario concerns a possible terrorist strike and measures to be taken by SEDM countries to confront it.

    Mihaloliakos, heading the Greek delegation, visited the TOP KAPI (central market) in Istanbul on Wednesday afternoon. His visit was announced by loudspeakers and the deputy minister and the members of the delegation were warmly welcomed by visitors.

    Greeks living in Istanbul also had the opportunity to speak to him.

    [04] National Defense General Staff says Turkish aircrafts operated in region not provided by civil aviation service

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    The National Defense General Staff announced on Wednesday night, in reply to an announcement by the Turkish foreign ministry, that Turkish warplanes were buzzed by Greek air force jets on Tuesday, that the Turkish aircraft were operating in a region which had not been provided by the relevant civil aviation service.

    The Greek aircraft proceeded with recognizing and intercepting the Turkish warplanes since they had entered the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) without submitting flight plans.

    Meanwhile, violations of Greek national air space by Turkish warplanes continued for yet another day on Wednesday.

    According to press reports, seven formations of Turkish warplanes entered the Aegean without submitting flight plans, making 12 infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens FIR and violating national air space in the region of the northern Aegean on 10 occasions.

    In all cases, the 16 Turkish aircraft, which included two CN 235 naval cooperation aircraft, were recognized and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while in three cases the interception process developed into a mock dogfight.

    Four of the Turkish aircraft were armed.

    FM holds telephone conversation with Turkish counterpart, raises issue of national air space violations: Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis telephoned to his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on Tuesday afternoon and raised the issue of ongoing violations and infringements by Turkish aircraft in the Aegean with him, according to an announcement by foreign ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos.

    The spokesman, referring to accusations made by the Turkish foreign minister on Wednesday, said they reflect the views of the Turkish side which do not live up to reality. Consequently, he added, problems created by the activity of the Turkish air force in the Aegean remain.

    Earlier in the day, Gul had issued a written statement in which he claimed that four Greek warplanes had buzzed two Turkish aircraft on Tuesday which were carrying out a flight in international air space in the Aegean, north of the island of Limnos, as part of the Eastern Mediterranean 04 exercise which is taking place under the supervision of the NATO alliance, resulting in the Greek aircraft being warned by NATO and leaving the region.

    [05] UN chief briefed on Greek government positions on FYROM developments

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

    Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations, ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, on Tuesday briefed UN secretary general Kofi Annan, at the latter's request, on the latest developments in the FYROM issue and on the Greek governments positions and intentions following the US' recent recognition of FYROM with its disputed constitutional name of 'Republic of Macedonia', in an effort to intercede in the issue.

    According to diplomatic sources, Annan is also expected to meet with FYROM's permanent representative to the UN, for the purpose of continuing the ongoing UN-sponsored negotiations between Greece and FYROM aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue. The talks, coordinated by UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz, have been ongoing for more than a decade, and Greece and FYROM recently agreed -- before the US move -- to speed up the talks.

    On Friday, Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard had stated that the US action would not influence the long-term UN efforts for a solution.

    Gov't on Solana's visit to Skopje: Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday noted that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had contacted EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana before the latter's visit to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Tuesday and briefed him on the issue of the republic's name.

    In response to questions concerning reports that Skopje was reluctant to attend UN-mediated talks to find a mutually acceptable solution the issue, Roussopoulos referred to a statement by U.N. envoy Matthew Nimetz that both sides had "assured him of their willingness to continue the process of finding a solution".

    [06] ND Eurodeputies address letter to Europarliament president on FYROM name issue

    BRUSSELS 11/11/2004 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)

    The Eurodeputies of the ruling New Democracy party have addressed a letter to European Parliament President Josep Borell, referring at length to action taken by the Greek government for a mutually acceptable name to be found for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    They also reminded of Greece's disagreement with the sudden and unilateral recognition of FYROM with its constitutional name by the United States. They further stressed that in September 2004, as a result of a Greek initiative and following consultations with the Dutch presidency, the EU included the need to strengthen dialogue for a mutually acceptable solution to be found among its common positions.

    The Eurodeputies also urged Borell to watch developments closely to enable the European Parliament to have its own decisive role in this issue.

    ND secretary Meimarakis sees climate of agreement following disagreements on FYROM issue: A climate of agreement following the disagreements of the first days on the FYROM issue was ascertained Wednesday by ruling New Democracy party (ND) secretary Vangelis Meimarakis, who conferred with prime minister Costas Karamanlis in the morning.

    "The political climate is a climate of discussion and agreement so as to handle our foreign issues with a national strategy," Meimarakis said in reply to press questions.

    Asked whether resorting to early general elections would facilitate main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou's plans, Meimarakis deferred the question to Papandreou, "who I don't think will exercise national policy on the basis of what is beneficial to his party internally".

    Meimarakis said that ND did not desire early general elections, but instead agreement on the issue of the President of the Republic, but added that his party was in a state of preparedness. He said he did not see many prospects of early general elections in March (which would be precipitated if the present parliament failed to elect a new President of the Republic in a maximum three rounds of voting), because PASOK has forged a policy of agreement on this issue and on the national issues, which have been fully disengaged from the current policy issues".

    Former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis says composite name solution must be found for FYROM: Former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, in an interview with the Alpha television channel on Wednesday, said Greek-Turkish relations and the issue of Cyprus are priority issues and stressed that a composite name solution must be found for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the Party Leaders Council must be convened without the participation of Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader Giorgos Karatzaferis (whose party has a seat in the European Parliament but none in the national Parliament).

    Mitsotakis further said national issues are at a crucial turning point and underlined that the issue of FYROM must be given the priority belonging to it, adding that it currently has a lesser sentimental value for the Greeks than in the past although the Greek sense of honor is harmed.

    The former prime minister was also critical of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, saying that the leadership of Cyprus must clarify what it wants.

    [07] Boucher says U.S. decision to recognize FYROM as 'Republic of Macedonia' was correct

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

    The decision by the United States to recognize the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with its constitutional name "Republic of Macedonia" not only was correct but contributed to the stability of the region and influenced in the right direction the recent referendum for the Ochrid Agreement, U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher claimed on Wednesday when asked to comment on the reactions caused in Greece and in Greek community bodies, and particularly on the part of the American-Hellenic Institute.

    "Many different views have been expressed. We knew this as we were deciding to recognize Macedonia with its constitutional name," said Boucher who, having noted that every reaction by citizens is welcome, added that Washington views that finally the specific decision sent "the right messages."

    Asked to explain the letter of reply by the State Department to the American-Hellenic Institute, dated October 29, in which was stressed that the official position of the United States remains that the country is recognized as FYROM, Boucher replied that in those days the relevant State Department officials examined the situation, decided to proceed in a change of position, and immediately afterwards they announced it publicly.

    He further commented that this case also constitutes an answer to those who accuse the U.S. that it does not show the necessary diplomatic flexibility and never changes its position. "Let this be a lesson that we actually took a decision to change position," he concluded.

    [08] FYROM party leaders sign proclamation on support for country's strategic interests

    SKOPJE 11/11/2004 (ANA/N. Frangopoulos)

    The President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Branko Crvenkovski and the leaders of the country's biggest political parties signed a proclamation in the city of Ohrid on Wednesday "on support for the strategic interests of Macedonia."

    Speaking after the signing of the proclamation, President Crvenkovski said it aims at expressing unity on the strategic interests of the country, regarding both local and international public opinion.

    "Assessing the significance of regional cooperation as a precondition for the development of relations of good neighborliness and the building of peace, stability and growth in the region, and taking latest developments into consideration, we express our determination for the promotion of friendly relations with Greece, supporting it at the same time as a motive force in processes for the region's European and Euroatlantic rapprochement," the proclamation noted.

    [09] PM Karamanlis to meet delegation from U.S. Congress, Cyprus House president on Thursday

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is scheduled to meet a visiting delegation from the United States Congress on Thursday morning at 9:00, followed by Cyprus Parliament President Dimitris Christofias at 11:00 and deputy sports minister George Orfanos at noon, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.

    [10] PASOK spokesman says no special agreement with gov't on presidential candidate and national issues

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    There cannot be any agreement when there is nothing concrete to agree on, Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said on Wednesday. His comments came in response to earlier statements made by ruling New Democracy Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis, who after meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, said that PASOK was on the track towards agreeing on the new president of the Republic and on national issues.

    Athanassakis denied that there was any 'secret contact' or communication between PASOK and the government on the above issues and emphasized that PASOK President George Papandreou has not authorized anyone to speak on his behalf, nor has he had any contact with the prime minister.

    Referring to the issue of the new president of the Republic, Athanassakis said that if elections are held because of this, the government will be responsible, since it is the one taking initiatives on the matter and also the one which has a recent, popular mandate. He also noted that all surveys have showed that Greek citizens do not want three elections in one year.

    As for national issues, the PASOK spokesman said that the government ''is absent from the international stage and lacks a strategy in matters concerning foreign policy.'' He added that it is the government's responsibility to shape national strategy and for any agreement to be reached between the government and the opposition, the government needs to have presented its strategy. Athanassakis said that once the government presents a strategy, PASOK is ready and willing to discuss and to support that which is in the country's best interest.

    [11] KKE leader Papariga on flooding and refuse-dumps

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Wednesday termed the problems relating to the consequences of flooding and waste management as "torpedo issues" which will get worse unless conclusive measures are taken to deal with them.

    Presenting her party's positions on these two matters, Papariga underlined that the Greek people must not tolerate the existing situation.

    She termed as the main cause of flooding "the excessive expansion of cities to the benefit of profiteers."

    She noted that a completed anti-flooding protection project costs less than the destruction caused.

    With regard refuse, she noted certain aspects of the problem such as the lack of national planning and the non-replacement of the 2,000 closed refuse-dumps of the total 3.5 thousand which existed.

    [12] Albania's Deputy Justice Minister to meet with Papaligouras in Athens

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    A four-member delegation, headed by Albanian Deputy Justice Minister A. Duro will be coming to Athens on Monday to meet with Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras and a special ministerial delegation.

    The visit is being realized as part of an earlier agreement reached between the two sides during Papaligouras' two-day visit to Tirana on September 25 and 26, whereby Greece would fund the building of a new prison in Albania, where Albanian prisoners currently held in Greek prisons will serve the rest of their sentence.

    Papaligouras has also had contacts with his counterparts in Romania, Bulgaria, FYROM and Serbia in an effort to make arrangements for the transfer of foreign prisoners to their respective countries, in order to decongest Greek prisons.

    [13] Gov't lowers corporate tax in new bill

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    The government is to phase in lower corporate tax under a new tax bill released on Wednesday.

    Corporate tax for SA and limited liability companies is to drop from 35% currently to 32% in 2005, 29% in 2006, and 25% in 2007, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said in a statement.

    The move is to help spur business activity, avoid liquidity problems in newly created firms, and encourage investment.

    A month after the bill is published in the Government Gazette, the ministry will announce expenses that may be deducted from net corporate income.

    "We are therefore responding to a standing demand of companies to have a more objective system of acknowledging their expenditure, to restore transparency and equal treatment for all, thereby avoiding rifts between tax authorities and firms and reducing the number of cases that reach the courts," Alogoskoufis said.

    In addition, the tax bill contains incentives to spur private small- and medium-sized private businesses to merge based on tax breaks.

    Finally, Value Added Tax will be introduced on the handover of new buildings from January 1, 2006.

    Income from equities, bank deposits and repos

    The new bill encourages household savings by equalizing tax on income from interest on bank deposits and repos with that on bonds. Tax will be 10% for all three categories from 15% and 7% respectively for the first two categories stated.

    A tax on bourse transactions will fall to 3 thousandths to 1.5 thousandths for stock transfers, effective on January 1, 2005, in order to help revitalize the market, Alogoskoufis said.

    Finally, he promised that the government would offer further tax relief for the public, if warranted by the country's fiscal situation.

    The minister also noted that the cost of the bill's provisions will be around 150 million euros.

    Replying to a reporter's question, Alogoskoufis said that no measures on indirect taxes were contained in the bill.

    Finance and Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis on Wednesday publicized the government's new tax bill which includes tax relief for all income brackets, as well as a decrease in tax rates applied for businesses.

    The bill, due to be tabled in Parliament by the end of the week and become law by the end of the year, was previously discussed and approved by the Inner Cabinet.

    It aims at providing tax relief for people belonging to lower income brackets, strengthening investments and enterprise, simplifying the tax system, securing objectiveness in tax controls for businesses and safeguarding the stability of the system.

    "We are providing an opportunity for a growth course for the Greek economy, we are correcting some of the great injustices contained in the tax system and we are promoting transparency, simplicity and effectiveness," Alogoskoufis said.

    The minister further said that the two elements on which the growth of the Greek economy will be based in the future will be private investments and enterprise, adding that the bill focuses on supporting them and so does the new growth law which will also be tabled in Parliament soon.

    Referring to income tax, Alogoskoufis said that, as a result of the new bill, very low income brackets will enjoy tax relief beginning from 150 euros, medium-level income brackets will benefit by about 90 euros and higher incomes by up to 50 euros.

    In addition, the tax-free sum for salary earners and pensioners will increase from 10,000 euros at present to 11,000.

    New tax bill seeks to establish stable tax environment, gov't says: Wednesday's meeting of the cabinet discussed a draft bill on taxation that seeks to create a stable tax environment and prevent frequent changes in tax law, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.

    He also noted the new bill's decreased tax burden for lower incomes and pensioners, combined with strong developmental incentives to attract investment, through a simple and transparent system of tax inspections and the abolition of the financial crimes squad SDOE, which is to be replaced by a new 'special inspections' service.

    Asked to comment on an alleged shortfall in revenues and whether this was linked to the scrapping of SDOE, the spokesman stressed the government had only been in power for eight months and that a government's policies were judged by their results, urging reporters to await the changes that would be wrought by the tax and developmental bills soon to be tabled in Parliament.

    Opposition parties and trade unions criticize new tax bill; Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that the new tax bill, the government announced on Wednesday, falls way short of making any substantial changes in tax legislation. "Instead of the tax reforms New Democracy (ND) had promised, there are only a few tax settlements, while the entire range of tax income categories are not included," he added.

    "The government's rationale, as it becomes apparent from the tax bill translates into a burden for low- and middle-income earners through indirect taxation and relief for the higher-income categories," Athanassakis said.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was also critical of the new tax measures, which in a statement said that the new bill "serves the needs of capital in order to reinforce the competitiveness of businesses and to support their profitability. (...) The increase in the tax-exempt limit and the changes regarding deductible expenses essentially benefit high-income earners," the statement continued.

    The General Confederation of the Employees of Greece (GSEE) also believes that the announced changes do not help the vulnerable. "The new tax bill increases the burden on salaried workers and pensioners and widens the gap between them and the higher-income individuals through generous tax reductions for businesses phased in through 2007," GSEE said in its statement issued Wednesday.

    The union urges the government to increase the tax-exempt limit to 13,000, to decrease indirect taxation and to eliminate VAT (value-added tax) on basic goods, "since high prices and a restrictive incomes policy for employees and pensioners further reduce their buying power."

    The National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) was more receptive to the announced changes. ESEE President Dimitris Armenakis said that, "it is especially positive that the process of reshaping the tax system has been completed; something the marketplace has been eagerly awaiting."

    According to Armenakis, substantial reform of the tax system must, among other things, create stability within the tax environment and should apply for at least five years; it should not hold companies hostage; it should eliminate interpersonal relations between tax auditors and taxpayers as much as possible so as to reduce the risk of "informal transactions"; and should fight tax evasion, the black economy and illegal trade.

    [14] Greek Deputy FinMin visits Beijing

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Greek Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas is visiting Beijing on an invitation by the Chinese government to attend a 2nd World Economic Congress held in China's capital November 10-13.

    The congress is organized by the Chinese government, the country's central bank and the United Nations. The Greek minister will speak on "World Trade Organization and Opening up of China's markets".

    Other speakers in the congress include former US vice-president Al Gore, Economics Nobel winners Robert A. Mundell, Robert Merton and Willian Sharpe, and heads of international corporations and financial institutions.

    During his stay in Beijing, Doukas will meet with Chinese government officials and representatives of international financial institutions. The Greek minister's talks will focus on expanding economic relations between Greece and China ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and attracting investments in Greece.

    [15] Eurostat officials in Athens to check fiscal data

    BRUSSELS 11/11/2004 (ANA/M.Spinthourakis)

    Officials from Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency, arrived in Athens on Wednesday to examine fiscal data from before Greece's entry into the eurozone.

    The officials are expected to have submitted a preliminary report to the EU on Monday or Tuesday when the bloc's finance ministers are due to meet in Brussels.

    The enquiry will not include a recalculation of data on the basis of later rules.

    [16] The Economist's 4th Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Summit held in Athens

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    The Economist's 4th Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Summit, titled "The Future of the Pharmaceutical Environment," was held in Athens on Wednesday and examined such issues as the fight against cancer, preventing heart attacks, and dealing with Alzheimer's with the help of drugs.

    According to information presented at the conference, already 395 cancer drugs, 18 drugs for the prevention of heart attacks and 53 for the treatment of Alzheimer's are being developed by some of the world's major pharmaceutical companies. The cost for the production of a new drug is estimated at $1 billion.

    Greek Health Deputy Minister Athanassios Yiannopoulos on Wednesday said that the ministry has formed a code of ethics commission to monitor clinical research in medicines.

    Addressing an Economist conference in Athens on "The future of pharmaceutical environment", the Greek minister stressed that clinical research should not be a product of interpersonal relations.

    Addressing the conference, main opposition party PASOK deputy Athanassios Tsouras defended a policy of prescribed medicines and urged for a strengthening of this policy to ensure better therapy for patients and money saving.

    "Every four seconds a man is dying from cancer and another man is dying from AIDS every 11 seconds in the planet," Wyeth Hellas's general manager T. Zervakakis told the conference. He stressed that 17 percent of pharmaceutical companies' turnover was spent in research while from every 10 new medicines only three managed to cover their expenses.

    The conference agreed that the European pharmaceutical market was single but it suffered from different pricing policies adopted by each EU 25 member-states.

    [17] Avramopoulos addresses British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce conference

    LONDON 11/11/2004 (ANA/L.Tsirigotakis)

    Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos was the keynote speaker at a conference hosted by the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce here on investment opportunities related to tourism in post-Olympic Greece.

    Avramopoulos emphasized that the new policy for Greek tourism will focus on a qualitative upgrade of the sector, on alternate and new forms of tourism, and on making Greece a tourist destination suitable to everyone's budget. Regarding new forms of tourism, the minister said that conference tourism is a top priority.

    As for upgrading the tourism sector, Avramopoulos explained that large-scale training and post-training programs will be implemented, in order to ensure that those working in the industry have the appropriate mentality. Approximately 13 million will be allocated for these programs. "The training programs will take place everywhere: from a small taverna in a remote region of Greece to the most famous hotel," he said.

    Finally, Avramopoulos said he was pleased with the results of contacts he had in London with foreign tourism organizations and investors within the context of the World Travel Market exhibit.

    [18] Athens to acquire new conference and exhibition centre in 2005, tourism minister says

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday announced that Athens will acquire a modern new conference and exhibition centre from March 2005, which will be set up either at the old terminal buildings at the former Athens airport in Helliniko or at the Tae Kwon Do Hall built for the Athens Olympics in Faliro.

    He also announced that a new agency will be set up to promote conference tourism, while among the ministry's immediate goals was to organize major conferences in Greece.

    Avramopoulos made the announcements during a press conference in London, after he had completed a round of contacts at the international tourism exhibition World Travel Market.

    The minister stressed the brighter prospects for Greek tourism, with changes to infrastructure and better quality, combined with great efforts to 'tidy-up' the tourism environment. He also referred to a major promotional campaign of 31 million euros, which he said would be properly coordinated so that Greece would acquire a specific identity.

    He expressed satisfaction with the interest expressed by British and other foreign businesses in the prospect of investing in Greece's tourism sector, stressing that foreign investment would rise in Greek tourism over the coming years in construction, marinas and special infrastructure, such as golf courses. He said the government will also seek to encourage organized holiday homes and will soon be introducing legislation to this effect.

    He also outlined plans to upgrade and modernize Greek airports and to convert some Greek military airports into civilian airports to cover the increased needs of tourism.

    [19] Development minister meets with GE executives

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Secretary General of Industry Spyros Papadopoulos met with Nani Beccalli-Falco, President and Managing Director of General Electric for Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Canada and Latin America; Dan Ionescu, Regional Representative for Southeast Europe; Evangelos Sitarenios, National Advisor for Greece and Cyprus; and Brussels-based CFO Gerit Baumberger at the ministry on Wednesday.

    Issues discussed during the meeting included electric energy, the legislative framework regarding the energy market, major energy projects, liberalization of the energy market, and the new tax and development law. According to the ministry, the discussion was productive, reinforcing the efforts for entrepreneurial initiatives in the country.

    [20] Liapis' comments on importance of space technology during ESA's satellite teleconference

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    The use of space technology is of decisive importance for the development of broadband services, for dealing with the digital gap, electronic governance, tele-education, telemedicine, telecommunications network security, political protection and satellite navigation, Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis said during the first satellite teleconference organized by the European Space Agency (ESA) in Rome on Wednesday. "Space technology makes crucial services more easily accessible to citizens; it improves their daily life and is emerging as an important tool in Greek hands," he added.

    Liapis emphasized that this was a new type of collaboration between Greece and the European Space Agency, of which Greece became a full-fledged member earlier this year. He also announced that the ministry would continue its satellite activities. The minister made his comments via satellite from Athens along with 100 other Greek participants.

    [21] Stocks rise in bid to consolidate

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher in a bid to consolidate after two downward corrections in the wake of eight straight rises, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,597.42 points, showing a rise of 0.76 percent. Turnover was 180.4 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.79 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.12 percent up; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.41 percent higher.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 202 to 89 with 65 remaining unchanged.

    [22] Transport minister inaugurates new bus service from eastern suburbs to metro

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis on Wednesday inaugurated a new OASA bus service - the 212 line passing through Kareas-Vyrona-Hymettus-Daphne that will provide access to the metro to residents of the eastern suburbs.

    He stressed the government's determination to press ahead with the changes to Athens' public transport system that have been announced, stressing that he was indifferent to the political cost and believed the measures to be correct.

    Among the more controversial is an absolute ban on the use of bus lanes by private cars and taxis, to be enforced by surveillance cameras set up in various locations in the city. According to the minister, tickets for violating bus lanes have already been sent to 200 drivers.

    [23] Athens Mayor and Tirana counterpart agree to organize joint exhibition

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis on Wednesday met Tirana Mayor Edi Rama in Athens and discussed ways of improving cooperation between the two capital cities in the future.

    Among the issues touched during the meeting was that of the Albanian immigrants living in Athens, described by Bakoyannis as an important part of life in the city. She stressed that closer ties between the two municipalities will "facilitate making this bridge of friendship more effective".

    "We decided to establish closer ties on a cultural level and host a joint exhibition in Tirana and Athens on the changes that have been achieved in the two cities," she added.

    Rama said he was very happy that Bakoyannis had accepted an invitation to visit Tirana for the joint cultural events.

    [24] Ricomex files for bankruptcy, claims inability to pay compensation to earthquake victims

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    An Athens first-instance court on Wednesday heard an application for bankruptcy filed by the firm Ricomex, whose factory collapsed and caused the death of 39 people in the Athens earthquake of 1999 due to construction faults.

    The firm claims it is unable to meet payments due to the high compensation awarded to the families of the earthquake victims by the courts.

    Several relatives of the earthquake victims were present in the courtroom during the hearing, through the Ricomex management was absent.

    The court rejected an application by the relatives that the hearing be postponed due to the absence of the company owners but asked that their absence be recorded so that they might be prosecuted for contempt of the adversaries.

    The relatives also reject arguments that the company's finances have suffered, pointing to the company's recent sale to a multinational company based in Belgium and the founding of a subsidiary in Turkey.

    [25] Two new exhibitions to open at Macedonian Museum of Modern Art

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Two new art exhibitions are to open to the public at the Macedonian Museum of Modern Art in Thessaloniki on Friday, inaugurated by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis.

    The first features the work of Greek and Turkish artists and the second is dedicated to contemporary art movements in Cuba.

    Entitled "Greece-Turkey, Meeting Point: Modern Art" the first exhibition was organized by the art and culture department of the pharmaceutical company Bayer Leverkusen in collaboration with art historian Ingel Baecker and has appeared in the town of Leverkusen and the city of Istanbul.

    The second is entitled "..Social, witty and elegant..." features paintings, sculptures and engravings by the famous Cuban artists Juan Roberto Diago, Mendive and Choco.

    [26] Data shows that the dead in Greece from traffic accidents will number 25,000 in the decade 2001-2010

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Alarming data on traffic accidents in Greece, their repercussions on society and their economic cost, was made public on Wednesday during an event held at Athens' Metamorfosis exhibition centre.

    The event, organized by the Attica Traffic Police along with the Nea Ionia Traffic Police Department, was addressed by experts and scientists from all the related fields.

    The astounding data was given by the president of the Society for the Support of Victims of Traffic Accidents (EYTHYTA), Vassilis Theodorou.

    According to the data, based on current facts, it is estimated that during the decade 2001-2010 the dead in Greece will reach 25,000 and the injured 350,000, while 75,000 people will remain disabled.

    The economic cost from the above traffic accidents which the families of the victims will pay and in general the cost of the traffic accidents, will amount to 8.5 trillion drachmas.

    Specifically, the socio-economic cost of human life is evaluated at one million euros.

    According to the same data, one in ten beds at National Health Service (ESY) hospitals go for victims of traffic accidents, while annually 115,000 are admitted to hospitals with visitors numbering 1,500,000.

    On a global scale, each year 1,200,000 people are killed in traffic accidents, 20,000,000 are seriously injured and 10,000,000 remain with permanent disabilities. Every day worldwide it is estimated that 3,260 people are killed in traffic accidents.

    The European Union has set as a goal for traffic accidents to be reduced by 50 per cent by the year 2010, said Theodorou who noted that this aim can be surpassed if all the actions of the relevant authorities are turned mainly to alcohol, safety belts, helmets and speeding.

    [27] ENISA begins move to Greek headquarters in Crete

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

    Andrea Pirotti, Executive Director of the European Network Information Security Agency (ENISA), escorted by members of the European Commission and representatives of the 25 EU member states, will be visiting Iraklion, Crete in the upcoming days, as the Agency gets ready to move to Crete from its temporary headquarters in Brussels.

    ENISA officially began operations on March 15, 2004, temporarily based in Brussels. However, the European Council had previously decided (December 12-13, 2003) that the Agency would be headquartered in Greece, in a city chosen by the Greek government. The Greek government thus decided to make Iraklion, Crete ENISA's headquarters, announcing its decision in the February 11, 2004 issue of the Government Gazette.

    [28] Authorities round up 31 illegal immigrants that broke out of Iraklion hotel

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Iraklion authorities on Wednesday announced that they had rounded up the majority of the illegal immigrants that managed to escape from the Hotel Royale in the Gournes area on Tuesday night.

    So far, 31 of the immigrants that broke loose have been arrested and the hunt continues for those still at large.

    [29] Doctors Without Frontiers, Greece, set up new NGO 'PRAKSIS' for Greek programs

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    The international non-governmental organization (NGO) Doctors Without Frontiers, Greece chapter, have set up a new independent NGO called PRAKSIS that will oversee the Greek programs up-to-recently operated by Doctors Without Frontiers (or MSF-Medecins Sans Frontieres), the future activities of which were unveiled during a press conference in Athens on Wednesday.

    PRAKSIS (the Greek word for action) comes from the Greek initials for Programs for Development, Social Support and Medical Cooperation, and the decision to set up the new NGO was taken at the MSF Greece general assembly in June 2004.

    MSF Greece president Costas Papaioannou said that the organization, in its daily dealings with the problems of immigrants, refugees and other sensitive groups, has ascertained that these problems were no longer of an urgent nature, and on the other hand were becoming increasingly more complex and, beyond medical support, were increasingly related to the structural weaknesses of the Greek state.

    "At the same time, beyond the medical aspect, we had acquired a wider knowhow in handling other problems, which was at risk of being lost, and thus we had the thought of setting up a new organization that would be independent of MSF, which maintains the right of intervention to the degree that some issues are designated as urgent," Papaioannou explained.

    PRAKSIS present Tzanettos Antypas told the press conference that one of the goals of the new organization was to provide holistic services to the sensitive groups, so as to reduce social exclusion, through the creation of a nucleus of volunteers in the urban centers who would be active in programs concerning social service, legal counseling, medical support, reception of released prison inmates, intervention in the Korydallos and Diavaton prisons, initially, and dealing with the street children.

    Antypas further said that PRAKSIS was participating in six developmental joint actions under the EU's Equal Program, which was financed by the EU (75 percent) and Greece's development ministry (25 percent).

    [30] Tons of agricultural products and animal feed confiscated

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Thousands of tons of imported agricultural products and animal feed, found to be dangerous to the public's health, have been recently confiscated at the ports of Piraeus, Thessaloniki and Patra. These products will either be destroyed or returned to their country of origin.

    Minister of Agricultural Development and Foods Evangelos Basiakos released the list of processed foods which the minister's auditors found to be inappropriate for consumption. Basiakos said that audits will be intensified ahead of the holiday season. Basiakos also emphasized the efficiency of the ministry's auditors who disbanded a group of individuals who had falsely stamped imported cattle from Romania and Bulgaria as Greek.

    [31] Four arrested at Evros for transporting illegal immigrants

    Athens, 11/11/2004 (ANA)

    Four traffickers were arrested by border guards at Evros, northern Greece, for transporting Iraqi illegal immigrants to Greece, it was reported on Wednesday.

    A 39-year-old man who transported in his car six foreigners, was arrested on the Alexandroupolis-Borders national highway. An hour later, on the 14th kilometer of the Alexandroupolis-Komotini highway, a 24-year-old man was arrested for transporting another four illegal immigrants. Also arrested was a 27-year-old man and a 31-year-old Iraqi because they were driving ahead of the cars.

    [32] COREPER fails to reach agreement on EU trade regulations with Cyprus

    BRUSSELS 11/11/2004 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis/CNA)

    Discussions on Wednesday among the permanent representatives of European Union member-states in Brussels (COREPER) on an EU regulation regarding direct trade between the Union and Cyprus' occupied areas led once again to deadlock for both this specific regulation as well as a regulation on financial aid to Turkish Cypriots.

    The EU Dutch presidency on Wednesday presented a paper of draft conclusions, which was criticized on the one hand by Britain and Germany, saying that the two regulations must be adopted simultaneously, and on the other hand by Cyprus, backed by Greece and Spain, saying that the Commission's proposal is not based on the correct legal basis.

    Member states will put forward their proposals on the matter for next week's COREPER meeting.

    The draft refers to the conclusions of EU Foreign Affairs and External Relations Council adopted on April 26, highlighting the need to end the ''isolation'' of the Turkish Cypriots and to support them financially. The draft does not refer to the need to reunite Cyprus.

    On the financial aid to Turkish Cypriots, the presidency recalls COREPER's political agreement on the allocation of 259 million euro to the Turkish Cypriots and notes that the regulation on direct trade can be adopted in 2005.

    The regulation on direct trade includes some criteria, stipulating that it shall not lead to the recognition of any other authority than the Cyprus Republic and that direct trade will be in addition to the Green Line Regulation, which governs intra-island trade.

    Speaking at a discussion on the matter over lunch, Cyprus Permanent Representative at the EU Ambassador Nicos Emiliou said that the Commission's proposal is not founded on the correct legal basis.

    Emiliou highlighted the absence of any reference to proposals by the Cyprus government on Famagusta and Larnaca ports.

    The government had proposed the joint (Greek and Turkish Cypriot) operation of Famagusta port and the return of the city's fenced area, now under Turkish occupation. For Larnaca port, the government proposed that Turkish Cypriot businessmen operate, under EU supervision, a special quay for the export of their produce.

    Spain's permanent representative also questioned the validity of the Dutch proposal with regard to direct trade.

    The permanent representatives of Britain and Germany said the proposed draft was not particularly clear nor was it binding in favor of the Turkish Cypriots. Both ambassadors said that the two regulations (aid and trade) should be linked to each other.

    The Dutch permanent representative asked interested parties to submit their proposals by next week, when COREPER will meet again.


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