|Friday, 6 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 11, 2005
 Greece to follow EU rules on farm subsidies
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The government will abide by EU rules forbidding national support for farm products, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, Roussopoulos stressed that the ruling New Democracy party had never spoken of national support in payment or subsidies for the country's entire cotton production.
"We have never said that we will subsidise the whole quantity, all the money," he noted.
The spokesman stated that the government has reached a consensus with farmers.
Roussopoulos said that a total of 32 farm unions had agreed to policy, adding that the government had attained higher subsidies to cotton growers compared with previous years to total 690 million euros.
He said that the government was implementing Community regulations and criticized previous PASOK governments for failing to negotiate effectively to safeguard Greek farmers' interests in the European Union.
Roussopoulos stressed that the government respected farmers' demands but it disagreed with any extreme form of protests such as road blockades, which have been employed in the past.
Greek cotton producers have threatened blockades unless the government accepts a larger quantity of cotton compared with EU rules.
Farm unions will meet in Larissa on Tuesday to assess the situation before a meeting with Farm Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos on Thursday.
Basiakos has stated that the ministry will not agree to any national subsidies for cotton.
Farm minister rejects funding request: Later in the day, Basiakos repeated that the government would not provide state support sought by farmers in Thessaly.
He also said that cotton producers in Larissa and Magnesia claiming payment for their whole output had already received the most funding.
The government was obliged to implement EU rules that the previous government, which lost national elections in March 2004, had voted through, the minister added.
 PM meets with Minister of the Interior
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos at Maximos Mansion on Monday afternoon to discuss issues pertaining to the ministry.
Pavlopoulos did not make any statements after the meeting.
 PM's schedule for the coming week
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will chair a meeting of the high-ranking defense and foreign policy council (KYSEA) on Tuesday.
The KYSEA meeting will reportedly focus on the issue of new general staff chiefs for the three military branches. Earlier on Tuesday, Karamanlis will chair a Cabinet meeting.
A meeting with ruling New Democracy (ND) secretary Vangelis Meimarakis is scheduled for later on Tuesday.
In continuing his meeting with ministries' leaderships, the prime minister will meet with the education ministry's heads on Wednesday and the health ministry's leadership on Friday.
 Justice minister meets Council of Europe legal affairs director general Guy de Vel
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)Greek Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Monday met the Council of Europe's Director General for legal affairs Guy de Vel for talks in view of a CoE justice ministers' council to take place in Helsinki on April 7-8 and the later CoE summit in Warsaw on May 17-18.
They discussed the fight against corruption, protection of children, bioethics, internet crime and the fight against terrorism and organized crime.
Another topic broached was the state of Greek prisons and the efforts currently being made by the justice minister to reduce overcrowding in Greek prisons by transferring foreign inmates to correctional facilities in their own country, where they will serve the rest of the sentences.
Papaligouras and de Vel agreed to cooperate closely in this direction in order to facilitate and speed up the necessary processes.
 New US ambassador Charles Ries arrives in Athens - Arrival statement
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The new US ambassador to Greece, Charles Ries, arrived in Athens on Monday, where he will be replacing outgoing ambassador Thomas Miller.
In an arrival statement at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos international airport, Ries promised to work with the Greek government on issues concerning NATO and the EU, promoting stability in the Balkans, Middle East peace, and the improvement of trade and economic relations between the two countries.
"As Ambassador, I will work with the Greek government on issues concerning NATO and the European Union, the promotion of stability and prosperity in the Balkans, the improvement of our trade and economic relations, the war on terrorism, Middle East peace, as well as other issues that will concern Greece and the US as members of the (UN) Security Council," he said.
Ries added that Greece's assumption of a non-permanent seat on the Security Council as of the first of January, for a two-year period, was "evidence of its (Greece's) global vision".
"The US and Greece have cooperated closely for many years, through NATO, the EU, and bilaterally. And we are close allies in the great challenge of our time -- the war on terrorism," the envoy said.
Noting that he was very happy to be in Greece as the representative of the US in this "beautiful country", Ries stressed that "everyone in the US and everywhere on earth admired your success in the Olympic Games last summer", adding that "we are proud that we contributed in our way to this great success".
 PASOK leader Papandreou launches stinging attack against the government
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)Main opposition Panhellenic Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Monday launched a stinging attack against the government, claiming that it "set the country backwards, operates in a political vacuum" and is losing the confidence of the people.
Papandreou made the statements following a meeting of the party's secretariat of the national council for reconstruction. According to reports, during the meeting Papandreou said that PASOK will be called on to again govern the country in four years time, at the same time not excluding the possibility that this could happen sooner.
The PASOK leader called on the cadres of the Movement as well as all the party, to be prepared, whenever the general elections are held.
In his statements, Papandreou said "we live daily the government's mistaken choices and its lack of strategy," adding that "it seems that as its only strategy, it has the strategy of power for power."
He accused the New Democracy government of being "unable to deal with the country's major problems" and of showing "weakness to meet the challenges of the era" and "of taking the country very much backwards with its choices."
 New armaments procurement bill to be tabled end of January
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The new bill regarding armaments procurements will be submitted to Parliament by the end of January, Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos said on Monday.
Spiliotopoulos also announced the awarding of programs, valued at ¬ 340 million, to Hellenic Defense Systems (EAS) for the period 2005-2011.
Speaking to the company's employees at Aigio, Peloponnese, the minister reiterated the government's commitment and the basic framework of the new bill, whereby no new contract will be signed unless it results in a significant, value-added benefit for the country's economy, the labor market, and technical know-how in order to ensure transparency, avoidance of waste in public spending, and strengthening of the country's defense industry.
 Gov't condemns violence at Sunday's match between Panionios-Olympiakos
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The government condemned the previous day's violent incidents before the start of a match between premier league teams Panionios and Olympiakos, which forced organizers to postpone the game, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Monday.
The spokesman noted that justice had already swung into action regarding Sunday's events and stressed that the government has introduced measures to combat soccer violence that have brought results. He also called on all sides involved to "take part in effectively handling the problem".
 Greek liaison office in Skopje debuts new, streamlined procedure for visa applications
SKOPJE 11/1/2004 (ANA)Greece's diplomatic liaison office here has inaugurated a new streamlined procedure for collecting visa application fees (35 euros) from interested Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) citizens, as it now uses the local Stopanska Banka branches as payment outlets.
The new procedure is expected to significantly reduce wait time for applicants outside the Greek liaison office in the FYROM capital. Moreover, last year's implementation of a pre-set appointment regime for visa applicants has also dramatically reduced "red tape".
According to foreign ministry figures, the liaison office issued some 100,000 visas to FYROM citizens in 2004, up 10,000 from the previous year. That same figure puts the Skopje diplomatic mission on the same level as the Greek embassy in Moscow, which traditionally has issued the most visas for entry into Greece.
 Turkish warplanes violate Greece's national air space
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The Turkish Air Force yet again resorted on Monday in violating Greece's national air space over the Aegean.
According to press reports, nine formations of Turkish warplanes entered the entire Aegean region on Monday and in 14 cases violated the national air space in the southern, central and northern Aegean.
The 20 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter jets.
It was reported that six of the Turkish aircraft were armed.
 Gov't says it's open to proposals for improving 'primary shareholder' draft law
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The government on Monday reiterated that it is open to proposals for improving draft legislation aimed at excluding major state contractors and suppliers from controlling interests in broadcast media, the so-called "primary shareholder" bill.
Government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos noted, however, that such proposals must be "in the direction of more effectively dealing with vested interests".
Roussopoulos' comments follow recent discussions and statements, including ones by Greek EU Commissioner Stavros Dimas, on making sure that the bill is compatible with Union law and regulations.
 Gov't denies clash between measures for repatriating capital and EU law
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday denied that there were compatibility problems between government measures designed to encourage Greeks to "repatriate" their capital and European law.
"We consider the measures to be compatible with Community rules," he told reporters, noting that there already existed a decision by the appropriate EU agencies, as well as a precedent of similar measures introduced by Italy in the past.
 Gov't on prospect of establishing committee of inquiry for bourse 'bubble'
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)Government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos on Monday echoed previous statements by top ministers and ruling New Democracy cadres in stressing that any decision on whether to propose a Parliamentary committee of inquiry into the 1999-2000 Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) "bubble" will await the conclusion of an ongoing judicial probe.
"We are awaiting the judicial report," he said, adding that results of the investigation will determine the government's next move.
A similar committee of inquiry was established by Parliament last year to look into a handful of costly weapons deals approved by the two previous PASOK governments.
 PM briefed on development ministry activity, planned future action
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met the leadership of the development ministry on Monday in a meeting that reviewed the ministry's activity in 2004 and discussed planned action in 2005.
Development minister Dimitris Sioufas, along with deputy ministers Yiannis Papathanassiou and George Salagoudis, briefed the premier on all issues pertaining to the ministry, including planned changes, reforms and policies to boost investments and create new jobs.
Sioufas emphasized the need to make products and services competitive and of high quality, as well as ensuring the smooth operation of markets and free competition, the everyday life of citizens and protection of consumers.
He said the government's priority was on areas outside Athens, whose development was a strategic choice for the premier.
The meeting also focused on the operation of the electricity and natural gas markets and development of the research and technology sectors, with Sioufas stressing a government emphasis on energy savings through the use of natgas by households and businesses.
He announced a press conference on Tuesday to present the results for the absorption of funds for a special competitiveness program.
Fielding questions on high prices, the minister said the government was constantly on its guard, with daily inspections to prevent profiteering and a harsh stance toward offenders.
According to sources, the premier asked for intensified efforts to ensure the smooth operation of markets and fair competition.
 Gov't to soon present energy plan; table bill on deregulation of natural gas market
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The government will present in two months time the medium and long-term energy plan, while the bill for the deregulation of the natural gas market is almost completed and will be tabled in Parliament, with full incorporation of the relevant European Union directive, Deputy Development Minister George Salagoudis said on Monday in reply to a question by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).
During the debate, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Salagoudis attributed responsibility to the previous PASOK governments for the country's energy deficit.
On their part, the PASOK deputies accused the government of refusing to assume its responsibilities in the energy sector (law on natural gas, etc.) and that ''for ten months it has not presented an energy strategy''.
 SEBE delegation to participate in Tunisia business event in February
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The Association of Exporters of Northern Greece (SEBE) has undertaken the coordination of sending a delegation of Greek company representatives to Tunisia, within the framework of the event MED-INTERPRICE TUNISIE 2005, it was announced on Monday.
The event, which is supported by the European Commission, will be held in Tunis from February 8-9, at the Kram Exhibition Centre. It is expected that about 150 entrepreneurs from small and medium-size businesses will meet from Tunisia and also from countries of the European Union, including Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
As announced, particular emphasis will be given to trade transactions and the creation of consortiums in the sectors of industrial, electronic, plastic and agricultural equipment and new technologies of communication and information.
 Shopowners' unions say no surprise changes in store hours
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) on Monday said the development ministry has pledged not make any 'surprise changes' in shopping hours.
An ESEE announcement said business groups' demands to better regulate shopping hours in tourist areas were considered absolutely justified by the government. The announcement stressed that business and commercial unions around the country were responsible for deciding shopping hours in their regions, according to prevailing social conditions, businesses' and consumers' needs.
ESEE urged its members to remain calm in view of a recent wave of conflicting reports over the issue, and pledged it would defend the sector's "real interests", as it said.
 Stocks drop in blue-chip selling
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower with players dumping high- and low-capitalization paper but buying medium cap shares, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,826.58 points, posting a decline of 0.80%. Turnover was 155.7 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.94% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.63% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.45% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 210 to 92 with 51 remaining unchanged.
 Greek Red Cross sends 250,000 euros to SE Asia
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The Greek chapter of the Red Cross on Monday announced that it had sent 250,000 euros of aid to areas devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean on December 26, as part of the humanitarian aid effort undertaken by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The Greek group also announced that other relief supplies, such as blankets, tents, soap, medicines and prefabricated housing were ready to be sent to areas indicated by Red Cross teams in the field.
In addition, the Greek Red Cross said that it had opened a special bank account at the Agricultural Bank of Greece entitled "Earthquake in Indonesia" (Account number: 01704005437-32) for donations and placed specialist staff at the disposal of the international Red Cross movement for any further missions that may be mounted.
 Cruise ship to transport humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The organization and coordination of sending 800 tons of humanitarian aid by cruise ship to Sri Lanka was the main topic of discussion at the meeting held by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis at the ministry on Monday.
In addition to supplies, the cruise ship - courtesy of Majestic Cruises - will also transport 50-100 physicians/medical staff and will serve as a medical centre for two months in Sri Lanka, according to diplomatic sources.
Part of the 800 tons of supplies will be distributed immediately, while part of it will be kept on board while the ship serves as a medical centre.
Another meeting will be held Tuesday to finalize details, while the ship is scheduled to sail January 16 to the northeast port of Sri Lanka - the only port operable after the tsunami hit the region on December 26, 2004.
 Education Ministry to host 150 children from Southeast Asia
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The Education Ministry announced on Monday that it will offer full accommodation and support for two months to 150 children from southeast Asia, a region devastated by the December 26 tsunamis.
The ministry sent out a circular to Greek schools to help raise money for this purpose by January 11 and 12. The 150 children from Asia will be provided room and board at the National Youth Foundation (EIN).
The total amount of funds raised will be given to the Foreign Ministry, which in cooperation with the EU and other international organizations, is responsible for coordinating relief efforts.
During Monday's school prayer, a moment's silence was observed in memory of the tsunami victims, the majority of which were children.
 Transport minister discusses road safety with prefects along PATHE national highway route
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis on Monday headed a meeting with prefects in prefectures along the route of the Patras-Athens-Thessaloniki-Evzones (PATHE) national highway to discuss road safety and the ways in which prefectures can contribute to this.
Liapis outlined the measures already taken by the ministry to reduce road accidents, such as a comprehensive list of all heavy-goods vehicle and bus drivers, the introduction of a special card for them, or the introduction of a mandatory maintenance log for these categories of vehicles.
He reiterated that road safety was a top priority for the government and promised that the state will provide additional support to prefectures in this area, since they now had the authority but not the technical means to enforce road safety regulations.
He agreed with a proposal put forward by the head of the prefecture union ENAE Fofi Gennimata for a three-monthly meeting between the leadership of the ministry and prefectures to monitor progress in carrying out the measures.
Gennimata, also Athens-Piraeus superprefect, stressed the tragically high cost in lives of traffic accidents on Greek roads, where four people were killed on a daily basis. She stressed that prefectures were completely unable to carry out the important responsibilities they were assigned because they lacked the necessary staff, equipment and funds.
Among proposals put forward by prefects for reducing and preventing road accidents, were:
The creation of a list of roads, danger spots and the work necessary to improve them; setting up inspection and management centers for heavy goods vehicles at fixed points along the length of the highway; suggested improvements to sections of the highway to improve its safety; improving road signs; and programs to police excessive speeding, with the necessary technological equipment.
 Archbishop backs preacher's civil suit against singer Domna Samiou over 'indecent' folk songs
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)A spokesman for Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece on Monday said the head of the Greek Church supported the actions of a preacher that filed a civil suit against singer Domna Samiou for singing what he considered "indecent" traditional carnival songs on state television.
In response to questions, the Church spokesman said that "we must acquire cultural criteria and be able to distinguish the treasures of our tradition from the possibly undesirable elements that it may contain."
The Archbishop's stance was condemned by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), who urged the leadership of the Church "to look elsewhere for contamination and not to authentic folk traditions and art".
The affair was also commented on by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday, who simply noted that "Any people that do not respect its own cultural heritage cannot long survive".
"Our nation, because it respected its cultural heritage, has survived long and will continue to do so, continuing to respect its traditions and taking part in them," he added.
 "Eleni Vlachou" journalism award to be given out in 2005
Athens, 11/1/2004 (ANA)The Greek-German journalism award "Eleni Vlachou" - given out every two years - will again be awarded in 2005 to a journalist for exceptional coverage of European and international issues.
The first to receive the Eleni Vlachou award was Yiannis Diakogiannis of the daily "Ta Nea" in 2003.
The recipient, along with the award will also receive a ¬ 2,000 cash prize and a trip to Germany, courtesy of the German government.
Names of candidates can be submitted at the German Embassy in Athens from January 17 until April 15.
Members of the panel will include: German Ambassador to Greece Albert Spiegel; Kakia Papadopoulou, President of the Foreign Press Association of Greece; Ioannis Panoussis, head of the Communications and Mass Media Dept. of the University of Athens; Athens News Agency General Director George Tampakopoulos; Director of Reuters in Greece Brian Williams; and others.