|Monday, 18 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 10, 2005
 Government sets priority on meeting 2005 budget goals
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)The government has set a priority on adhering to targets in the 2005 budget, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Friday.
Another objective was to spur growth throughout the country, especially the regions that would not be restricted to construction, Alogoskoufis told reporters after a meeting on policy directions with his deputy ministers that was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
The government would also seek to further increase the absorption rate of European Union funds, which is currently at 32 percent, up from 22 percent in March 2004; and implement new growth-oriented development and tax laws, the minister said.
In addition, public services would be improved by reducing red tape and using new technology.
Government sources said that meeting budgetary targets would be accomplished mainly through controls on public spending and effective tax collection. Privatization plans may also be expanded, and ways sought to make better use of state property.
Contributing to the drive would be a bill containing changes to tax law on real estate that would come into force in 2006, the sources said.
As part of a drive to attain growth of 3.9 percent in 2005, the government would accelerate work on a bill on self-financed projects that aims to attract private capital to projects mainly in the regions, they added.
According to data released by the State General Accounting Office on Friday, in January-November 2004 budgetary revenue rose by 5.2 percent, lower than a target of 8.5 percent, while spending in the same period was on target at 11.3 percent, resulting in a 20.9 percent rise in the budget deficit to total 10,492 million euros, up from 8,677 million euros in the same period of 2003.
 Stylianidis attends EU Foreign Ministers meeting on coordination of aid to SE Asia
BRUSSELS 8/1/2005 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)The European Union's Council of Foreign Ministers held a special meeting on Friday regarding quake/tsunami stricken Southeast Asia and expressed the need for speeding up the procedures for granting humanitarian aid to the affected areas.
Greece was represented at the meeting by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.
Stylianidis noted that with regard the humanitarian aid, the United Nations should play the central role of coordinating the actions and that all the EU member-states should support the effort.
The Greek deputy foreign minister said that regarding the second phase of aid to the affected regions, which will concern reconstruction, the EU should play a key role and have a systematic presence.
He further briefed his counterparts that from the very moment of the disaster which struck Southeast Asia on December 26, there was a great mobilization both on the part of the Greek state apparatus and by the Greek people.
 C-130 aircraft to depart with humanitarian aid for quake/tsunami stricken SE Asia
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)A Hellenic Air Force C-130 aircraft will depart from Elefsina military airport in the early hours of Saturday morning with humanitarian aid for Sri Lanka, Phuket, Bangkok and Jakarta.
The plane will be carrying 11.5 tons of humanitarian aid (food and water) which was gathered by the Church's non-governmental organization (NGO) "Solidarity".
The director of "Solidarity", Dimitris Fourlemadis, stated on Friday that the efforts by the Church and the State will continue until the end of March.
Apart from the cargo which is shortly departing to the quake/tsunami stricken areas of Southeast Asia, a ship will leave on January 17 carrying 600 tons of humanitarian aid.
PASOK leader lauds Greek public's move to help tsunami-stricken SE Asia: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou said on Friday that the Greek public should rest assured that the financial and other aid it offered to tsunami-stricken SE Asia would go to the right place.
Papandreou, who was speaking after a meeting of senior PASOK officials, also lauded the Greek people's move to help the victims, saying that it surpassed all expectations.
The government, he added, should plan systematically and with transparency delivery of the aid.
SYN says gov't responsible for effective distribution of aid to SE Asia: The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYNASPISMOS) party, in light of comments regarding the effective distribution of humanitarian aid to those affected by the quake/tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia, said in an announcement on Friday that the government "has all the responsibility towards the Greek people for the speedy, effective and complete distribution of the material which with willingness and solidarity the Greek people offered."
"We note that similar operations in the recent past, with responsibility of the governments, had failed."
Alexandria Patriarch promises generous financial aid to tsunami-devastated SE Asia:
Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II has pledged to send generous amounts of economic aid to the peoples of Southeast Asia that fell victim to the devastating earthquake and tsunamis that swept the Indian Ocean on December 26, 2004, claiming the lives of more than 165,000 people.
In letters to the ambassadors of the countries affected by the disaster, the Patriarch stressed that the Church of Africa wished to do everything in its power to assuage the suffering of the peoples of Asia that "recently felt nature's fury".
"Our thoughts and prayers are always close to them and close to you," Patriarch Theodoros II ends the letter, while he praised Greeks for their unprecedented display of solidarity toward the victims of the disaster.
Greek-Australians collect nearly half a million Australian dollars for Asia tsunami victims: Greek-Australians had raised nearly half a million Australian dollars for the victims of the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean at the latest count, the ANA correspondent from Melbourne reported on Friday.
The sum represents money raised by various expatriate organizations by late on Thursday.
The Australian government has pledged aid worth one billion dollars to Indonesia, whose Aceh province was at the centre of the disastrous quake and tsunami, during a summit held in Jakarta. This is the largest amount of aid offered by any the developed countries in the world, while more than 100 million dollars have been raised by fund-raisers held all over Australia.
At least 175,000 dollars were collected in a radiothon organized by the state radio's Greek-language program, a further 200,000 dollars in a charity drive organized by the Orthodox Church in Australia, and smaller sums in other collections organized by Greek expatriate organizations.
 Dutch tourists say young Greek saved the lives of 35 people in ThailandTHE HAGUE, Netherlands (ANA)
The Dutch mass media has highly praised the brave action of Greek diving instructor Nikos Ioannidis who saved the lives of 35 people in Thailand.
This was confirmed by Dutch tourists who were on holiday in Southeast Asia when the earthquake/tsunami struck the region on December 26.
The tourists said that the Greek saved the 35 tourists "from certain drowning with his very own hands."
The self-sacrifice of the young Greek, (who is the son of Greek Tourism Organization office director in The Netherlands, St. Ioannidis) was widely covered by the Dutch mass media and carried statements by Dutch tourists who, on their return back home from Thailand, expressed their admiration and gratitude to Nikos Ioannidis and proposed that the Dutch authorities award him an honorary distinction.
 Police report progress in search for killers of special guard outside British attaché's residence
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)Greek police on Friday said they were making steady progress in an investigation into the murder of special police guard Haralambos Amanatidis, who was riddled with bullets on New Year's Eve while posted outside the residence of a British Embassy military attache in Kifissia.
They said the forensic investigation of a stolen Nissan Micra used by the culprits to make their escape will be complete in the next day or so and that a number of fingerprints had been found and identified, though full identification would take a long time since the car had been used by several people.
Police are also investigating a stolen van containing a stolen motorcycle that were found on Tuesday in Halandri, though they believe that these vehicles were very likely stolen by common criminals for use in an armed robbery.
They have not, however, ruled out the possibility that the van and motorcycle were to be used as alternative means of escape by the group that killed Amanatidis.
Investigating officers have, however, ruled out all connection between the hit and the sign 'EO 17N' - reminiscent of the terrorist group 'November 17' - that was spray-painted on a wall next to Synggrou Wood, about 100m from where the killing took place.
 Public Order Minister to begin official visit to China on Saturday
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)Greek Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis is to begin an official visit to China on Saturday that will end on January 15.
Voulgarakis will be accompanied by Greek Police Chief George Aggelakos, the head of the Greek intelligence service (EYP) Ioannis Korantis and other officials.
His talks during the visit will chiefly centre on security issues in preparation for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
 Meeting to be held in New York on Jan. 14 on FYROM name issue
NEW YORK 8/1/2005 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)The second meeting between Greece's Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Ambassador in Washington, Nikola Dimitrov, within the framework of the new effort for finding a mutually acceptable solution on the FYROM name issue, will take place on January 14 ( 5 p.m. Greek time), with Mathew Nimetz as UN mediator.
The meeting will take place at the offices of the Greek Permanent Representation. The meeting was initially set for January 12, but on the same day Ambassador Vassilakis will make his first speech during the UN Security Council's open session with the problems of Haiti as the issue of discussion. Greece is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council as of January 1, 2005.
According to diplomatic sources, "the two sides are determined to maintain and strengthen their good relations, with the result of doing everything possible so as to reach a solution also on the issue of the name of FYROM."
The United States late last year unilaterally recognized FYROM with its constitutional name of "Republic of Macedonia".
 Greek Communist Party slams U.S. 'anti-Semitism' report as political intervention
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Friday slammed a report released by the U.S. State Department on anti-Semitic sentiment in Greece, saying it was political intervention that had 'ulterior motives'.
"We do not recognize any right of the State Department or any other mechanisms of imperialism to draft reports on what goes on or doesn't go on in Greece, such as the latest 'anti-Semitism' report," a KKE announcement said.
According to the announcement, the U.S. government was actually disgruntled by the fact that Greeks supported the just cause of the Palestinians rather the "criminal politics of the state and governmental powers in Israel".
 Greek economy: weekly review
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)Greeks raised almost 18 million euros in a telethon and auction for victims of the tsunami that devastated sweeps of southeastern Asia, killing over 160,000 people. In addition to the telethon backed by the foreign ministry, an auction of goods donated by celebrities produced another 873,500 euros in aid.
In other headline news this week:
"This is the year of big changes, of widespread reforms in the economy, the state, education and healthcare," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said this week. The Greek Premier stressed that the government's main goal was a competitive economy "that produces more and creates new job positions, and a more effective and credible state sector".
The finance ministry will constantly evaluate and monitor public spending in 2005 to ensure a full implementation of this year's budget, a ministry circular sent public sector's agencies and organizations, said this week. The circular, signed by Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas, said that payment of credits recorded in the budget would depend on progress of implementing the 2005 budget while it noted that no supplementary credits would be offered to state agencies.
The Athens Stock Exchange jumped 23.09 percent in 2004 with the market's composite index reaching the 2,800 level in the last trading session of the year. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip stocks rose 32.27 percent last year, with the Bank sector recording the biggest percentage gains of the year (44.32 pct). The FTSE/ASE MID 40 and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 indices, however, fell by 2.83 pct and 21.31 pct, respectively, justifying forecasts of a two-speed market. Turnover in 2004 rose 15 percent to 35.79 billion euros, with the market's capitalization totalling 95 billion euros.
Greek car sales jumped 12.6 pct in 2004 to a record of 289,753 units, compared with the previous year. Toyota led the list of biggest sellers with 26,441 units, or 9.1 pct of the market, followed by Hyundai (24,904 units, 8.6 pct) and Opel (23,585 units, 8.1 pct).
Greece's PMI, measuring activity in the manufacturing sector, improved in December to 51.8 points from 50.7 points in November, recording the fastest growth rate of the last four months. Production and new orders rose substantially, while employment fell slightly in the month.
Consumer loans offered by Greek banks during the Christmas/New Year holidays jumped 100 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2003, bankers told ANA. The same sources, however, underlined that despite the rapid growth of the market, Greek households were not over debt and that the consumer credit market could continue its strong growth rate for the next three years.
The Greek government announced measures to combat informal trade in the country.
 Greek gov't seeks nation-wide shopping hours
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)Development ministry is drafting a new legislation aimed to implement uniform shopping hours throughout the country, according to Greek press reports on Friday.
According to the reports, the new legislation would envisage that all retail shops would be open from 9.0 am to 21.0 pm. Small- and Medium-sized retail enterprises are strongly against such a measure, while large commercial enterprises are in favor.
 ASE close: prices resume rally
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)Greek stocks resumed their upward trend on Friday, following Wednesday's decline and Thursday's holiday, as buyers took the upper hand in search of medium capitalization stocks.
The composite index ended 1.10 percent higher at 2,849.31 points for a net gain of 2.27 percent in the week. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.85 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index jumped 1.88 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.64 percent up.
All sector indices, with the exception of Base Metals which fell 0.43 percent, scored gains. The IT, Insurance and Publication sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (3.85 pct, 3.18 pct and 2.43 pct, respectively).
Turnover totaled 201.3 million euros. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 181 to 100 with another 67 issues unchanged.
 Government anti-bureaucracy committee to scrap complex confirmation for ID, signature
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)The Central Committee for Simplifying Procedures, chaired by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, on Friday decided to scrap elaborate and time-consuming procedures for confirming a person's identity and signature in transactions with the public sector.
Instead, the interested party will simply have to display an ID card or another equivalent document, such as a valid passport.
The committee also plans to simplify procedures for ratifying photocopies of state-issued documents and to speed up the process by which public-sector services place direct internal requests for documents held by other public-sector services and bodies that are needed for specific transactions with the public.
It is envisioned that such services will be provided by Citizens' Service Centers once their conversion to 'one-stop-shop' complete transactions centers is completed.
 Tourism minister to inaugurate Folk Art and Craftwork Fair at Piraeus Port Organization
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos is to inaugurate the four-day Folk Art and Craftwork Fair that will take place at the Piraeus Port Organization (OLP) exhibition space from January 12 to January 16.
Representatives of 4,000-odd workshops and other businesses that make up the sector said they looked to a rise in tourism through the ministry's promotional campaign for Greece's tourist product to boost flagging revenues, noting that Greek folk art and craftwork products were coming under strong pressure from cheap tourist goods imported from Asia.
Despite the government's announcement of the foundation of a National Craftwork Council demanded by the sector, workshop owners stressed the need for heightened action to restore the craftwork sector's lost flexibility.
 Attica urban transport organization clarifies rules concerning 'universal' one-euro ticket
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)The Attica Urban Transport Organization (OASA) on Friday clarified that passengers using its newly-introduced 'universal' ticket, which provides unlimited travel on all means of public transport in the city for 90 minutes, will be able to complete journeys that take longer than the time allowed using the same ticket if they boarded the last means of transport in their journey within the time limit.
They also clarified that the 'universal' ticket worth one euro (0.50 euro for half-fares) is valid for all means of public transport in the Athens area, while the cheaper 0.70 euro ticket (0.40 euros for the half fare) can only be used on buses, trolleys and the tram.
Both types of ticket are valid for 90 minutes from when they are first validated, which is when a passenger boards the first means of public transport used in his or her journey. Passengers that cannot complete their journey within the time allowed should validate their ticket a second time when they enter the last vehicle that they will use in their journey, provided they board this before the 90-minute period expires. Their ticket will then be valid until the end of their journey with the specific vehicle.
 Musicians across the globe give hope to tsunami survivors
Athens, 8/1/2005 (ANA)Musicians across the globe are joining forces to support Beat The Wave and raise money for tsunami victims. Bands and musicians around the world are asked to donate one of their concerts to the Beat The Wave project - showing that artists care about the victims of the terrible catastrophe.
A press release issued on Friday by Andy Treichler, One World Beat founder and Director of One World Beat - Beat The Wave, said that the project has been launched by One World Beat, an organization which unites musicians worldwide to raise money and awareness for good causes. One World Beat is supported by Westlife, Phil Collins, The Cardigans, Billy Joel, Paula Abdul, Europe, Sheena Easton, Level 42 and other high profile artists.
 Cypriot FM: Illegal regime's proposal on exports an election firework
LARNACA 8/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus' Foreign Minister George Iacovou has described as a ''pre-election firework'' a proposal by so called prime minister in the Turkish-occupied areas Mehmet Ali Talat for the export of Greek Cypriot products through the illegal ports in the occupied areas to Turkey.
Speaking Friday before leaving for Brussels to attend an EU ministerial meeting on the south-east Asia disaster, Iacovou said that with ''Turkey having so many problems and Mr. Talat facing elections, he decided to set off another firework, advising Greek Cypriot exporters to export their products via the Green Line and the illegal ports in occupied Cyprus to Turkey''.
The illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus is scheduled to hold ''elections'' next month.
Iacovou recalled that the occupied ports are closed following a decision of the legitimate government of the Republic of Cyprus and therefore those ports are non-existent. He described Talat's action as provocative noting it has no connection whatsoever with the Green Line Regulation, the 886 EU Regulation or any other regulation that talks about direct trade. ''He is talking about the free areas' exports'', the minister said.
Noting the issue is completely illegal and unfounded, Iacovou said that Talat's statements were made for solely pre-election purposes.
''Our reply (to Talat) is our proposal to open the port of Famagusta (in the occupied areas) or to use Larnaca port (in the free areas) for exporting Turkish Cypriot products'', he said.
Sooner or later, Turkey will sign the protocol to adjust its customs union with the EU and will open its ports for Cyprus maritime and for ships that originate from Cyprus ports, Iacovou added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
 Cyprus government would welcome progress in issue of missing
NICOSIA 8/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government would welcome as a positive step any progress in the issue of missing persons, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides has said, adding that no mass graves have been located so far in the northern Turkish occupied areas.
His comments come as experts from the British foundation INFORCE, in the presence of local observers, are carrying out exploratory investigation with regard to one of three sites presented by the Turkish Cypriot side in 1998, where people killed during the 1974 Turkish invasion are believed to have been buried.
''If there is any progress, that will be a positive step in the right direction to establish the fate of missing persons. There has not been any concrete result so far,'' he said.
He noted that the Turkish side has not been forthcoming up to now, especially in investigating and talking to witnesses to find out what has happened to persons who were alive in 1974 and whose names were later included in the list of missing persons.
Chrysostomides said the exploratory investigation is carried out by INFORCE and if a mass grave is located, the Greek Cypriot side proposes to have remains unearthed examined by the DNA method at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics.
''On this specific matter, we expect to have an agreement,'' he added.
INFORCE experts are working in the area of Trahonas, north of Nicosia, where the Greek Cypriot side believes there must be a mass grave.
Responding to questions, the spokesman said the exploratory investigation in occupied Cyprus is linked to the discussion at the Council of Europe for the implementation of a European Court of Human Rights decision on the issue of missing persons.
The Court found Turkey guilty of violating the human rights of the relatives of Greek Cypriot missing persons and called on Ankara to carry out effective and substantive investigation on their fate.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe is set to discuss Turkey's compliance with the Court ruling in early February.
The Cypriot government has submitted to the tripartite Committee of Missing Persons (CMP), comprising one representative from each side and a UN envoy, for investigation 1493 cases of Cypriot and Greek nationals listed as missing, a number that includes women, children, elderly persons and members of the National Guard.
Of the 1493 cases, the remains of 14 missing persons have been identified through the DNA process when the government of the Republic embarked unilaterally on a process of exhumation and identification of remains. Therefore the CMP now has before it 1479 cases to investigate.
There are also another 107 cases of Greek Cypriot and Greek missing persons whose files have not been submitted to the CMP and whose families have been informed as to the reasons why the specific files were not presented to the CMP. The Cypriot authorities continue to investigate these cases.
In addition to that, there are 50 cases of Greek Cypriots missing since the 1963-64 period, when inter-communal fighting occurred.
The CMP has the files of 500 Turkish Cypriot missing persons from 1963-64 and 1974. The Greek Cypriot side has handed to the CMP information on more than 350 cases of Turkish Cypriots listed as missing, which gives full account as to the fate of these persons.
 AKEL and RTP discuss prospects for solution
NICOSIA 8/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)Representatives from the Greek Cypriot left-wing AKEL party and the Turkish Cypriot Republican Turkish Party (RTP) discussed on Friday for about two hours the prospects for a political settlement within 2005.
Party representatives described the meeting, which took place at the headquarters of the RTP, in the Turkish-occupied part of Nicosia, ''very fruitful, useful and productive''.
Speaking afterwards, RTP General Secretary Ferdi Sabit Soyer said that they talked about their differences and ways to find a solution on the basis of the Annan plan.
He said contacts between the two parties will continue and expressed the wish for peace and stability to Cyprus and the region, Greece and Turkey too.
Responding to questions, he said depending on the outcome of any eventual negotiations, the Turkish Cypriots will evaluate the result and may or may not have to go to the polls in a second referendum.
In last April's referendum on a UN-proposed solution plan, the Turkish Cypriot voted in favor of the plan by 65 per cent. The Greek Cypriots rejected it by 76 per cent.
Andros Kyprianou, of AKEL, said the meeting was sincere and gave them the chance for an exchange of views and ideas on how to proceed to build common ground towards a settlement.
''We strongly believe that we need a joint effort from Greek and Turkish Cypriots, if we are to achieve a solution. The progressive forces in both communities should cooperate in this direction,'' he added.
He expressed hope that a settlement would be reached in 2005, leading to the reunification of the island that would bring peace and prosperity to all Cypriots.