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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-20

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

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

January 20, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Govt's first national goal is to reduce unemployment, minister says
  • [02] Greece does not recognize 'grey zones'; gov't spokesman on ties with Turkey
  • [03] 'Main shareholder' bill voted in principle
  • [04] Government on planned changes to defense ministry briefing system for reporters
  • [05] ND party's coordinators discuss account of past year and Parliamentary Group's plan of action for first months of 2005
  • [06] President Stephanopoulos receives former PM Costas Simitis
  • [07] Greek Liaison Office director in FYROM meets with foreign minister
  • [08] Public order minister receives new British ambassador to Greece
  • [09] Former justice minister calls for immediate response to instances of corruption by judges
  • [10] Athens Bar Association President Dimitris Paxinos criticizes attitude of judges who harm prestige of justice
  • [11] Bishop of Kosovo says 'ethnic cleansing' of Serbs continues
  • [12] Greek public sector needs broad restructuring, FinMin says
  • [13] Coalition party Politbureau member says ECOFIN Council completely indifferent over widening inequalities in country
  • [14] Stylianidis on BSEC goals and Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline
  • [15] Bank of Greece, bank union discuss sector issues
  • [16] Greek travel enterprises warn over EU directive on licensing system
  • [17] Greece to take part in Vienna world tourism trade fair
  • [18] State trade fair organizer to expand abroad
  • [19] SYN president supports state subsidies for cotton producers
  • [20] No firm decisions as yet on abolition of tenure at OTE, gov't says
  • [21] Education minister discusses enterprise with Greek Industries Federation president
  • [22] Armenian-Greek School of Tourism to be set up in Armenia
  • [23] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying
  • [24] ERT president gives FM check for 15 million euros for tsunami victims from TV marathon, more to be forthcoming
  • [25] Justice Minister lays foundation stone for new lower-level court building in Athens
  • [26] Deputy FM awards Order of the Phoenix Cross to Apostolic Nuncio
  • [27] Divine justice: Man killed in traffic accident after shooting woman

  • [01] Govt's first national goal is to reduce unemployment, minister says

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Labor and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos on Wednesday said that the government's first national and social goal was to reduce unemployment.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, Panayiotopoulos said that the Labor ministry did not create new jobs but it was responsible for promoting the actions and policies aimed to boost employment in the country. In the period from March to December 2004, more than 35,000 unemployed benefited from the ministry's programs, while around 65,000 unemployed people around Greece were expected to benefit during the current year, according to a program approved by the Prime Minister, he noted.

    The Greek minister said that the Premier also approved the ministry's plan to improve Greek citizens' daily transactions with state agencies, and in particular healthcare and pension agencies. "We are able to issue Social Insurance Agency pensions in a month's time. We are rapidly moving towards hiring around 500 doctors to support healthcare needs. We are promoting an ambitious, but also realistic, program to offer houses to around 20,000 families in Greece, either through new buildings or subsidizing mortgage loans," he said.

    Panayiotopoulos reiterated that the government did not plan to open the pension issue again, but that it was adopting a dialogue with its social partners to solve any pension system side issues.

    He announced a ministry initiative aimed to resolve a pension problem at Emporiki Bank, saying that the matter was urgent due to the bank's special status and the participation of Credit Agricole in the Greek bank's equity capital.

    The Greek minister said that the Prime Minister was expected to announce the government's incomes policy for 2005 later this month and reiterated the government's decision to adhere to its pre-election pledges for higher pensions over the next four years.

    Panayiotopoulos acknowledged that 22 percent of Greek households were living below poverty standards and stressed that the government pledged to work hard to offer positive results.

    [02] Greece does not recognize 'grey zones'; gov't spokesman on ties with Turkey

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek government, state and political parties do not recognize "grey zones", alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Wednesday, in response to questions regarding bilateral ties with Turkey.

    "Greece's sovereign rights in the Aegean and anywhere else they exist are not subject to negotiations," Antonaros said in response to questions claiming Turkish attempts to create a "grey zones" issue in the Aegean.

    Commenting on relations between Greece and Turkey following the European Union summit in December, the spokesman said that "Greek-Turkish ties are marked by the exchange of views, by the good neighborly relations that should exist between two countries and by cooperation on many levels - one of which is the diplomatic level."

    He rejected the assertions of one journalist that "Turkey was taking a stroll in the Aegean," saying that Turkish forces had been forced to depart every time they had intruded into zones or spheres of Greek sovereign rights.

    He stressed that the Greek Armed Forces and the Greek state unfailingly defended all Greek territorial rights and made it clear that they were not prepared to accept any reduction of territorial rights whatsoever.

    The spokesman said he was unaware of any telephone contact between Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, in response to questions.

    [03] 'Main shareholder' bill voted in principle

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    The 'main shareholder' bill, which aims to limit conflict of interest in the awarding of public contracts involving media firms and engineering contractors, was voted in principle by Parliament's plenary session on Wednesday, but after intense debate.

    The government insisted that the bill will help eliminate "unlawful transactions", one of the government's priorities.

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party accused the government of taking "political revenge" against certain business owners, claiming that the bill did not reflect promises the government has made.

    "The government's decision to exhaust the limits on the main shareholder issue while overlooking or making light of other issues, is a cover-up for other goals," PASOK MP and former Finance and Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said.

    "We don't expect PASOK to applaud our efforts, but society," Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos said. Referring to PASOK President George Papandreou, Roussopoulos said: "if Costas Karamanlis was the main opposition leader, he would be here supporting his proposals."

    Industry criticizes terms of bill on conflict of interest in state projects: Industrialists are critical of the terms of a government bill that aims to keep media barons out of state construction projects through their holdings in engineering contractors, but support the drive against vested interests, the head of the Federation of Greek Industry, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, said on Wednesday.

    "The bill will not bring the desired result, and it will impose high costs on all companies that have no involvement with media firms but do legitimate business with the state," Kyriakopoulos told a news conference.

    "The fact that the government has put a priority on the matter of transparency and vested interests is positive, but the solution it chose was wrong," Kyriakopoulos said.

    The number of firms or individuals with holdings in both media and construction companies that bid for state projects was limited, but the method of trying to eliminate conflict of interest as stated in the bill would have an impact on thousands of firms, he noted.

    According to industrialists, tenders for state projects should be simple and transparent, ensuring that no party, especially the government, could intervene, Kyriakopoulos said.

    Overall, industry welcomed the government's achievements since it took office in March, 2004, he added.

    [04] Government on planned changes to defense ministry briefing system for reporters

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday said that the government had discussed the need for changes to the defense ministry's system for briefing the media in a meeting with the Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) the previous week, during which both sides had agreed to collect information on the systems used in other countries for journalists covering ministries handling sensitive information.

    He was responding to questions regarding a protest by ESHEA over the changes planned by the defense ministry.

    Antonaros said that he had been present at the meeting on Friday, during which government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos had proposed the two sides independently collect information on systems used abroad.

    "The proposal was accepted and we want to believe that ESHEA will keep to this agreement. For our part, we are already collecting data," Antonaros added.

    Asked whether introduction of the new system would be postponed until the data had been collected, the spokesman underlined that this was up to the political leadership of the defense ministry.

    He also rejected complaints that briefings at the foreign ministry were inadequate, saying that foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos "does a good job, holds regular briefings and speaks frequently with reporters".

    [05] ND party's coordinators discuss account of past year and Parliamentary Group's plan of action for first months of 2005

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    The ruling New Democracy party's coordinators met on Wednesday and discussed the account of the past year and the Parliamentary Group's plan of action and cooperation for the first months of 2005.

    Deputies conveyed the climate existing among the party's grassroots and the need was ascertained for even better cooperation with ministers, while ways were discussed of promoting the government's positions in society in a more effective way.

    In this framework, coordinators will be holding various events in the provinces on issues pertaining to their duties.

    Central Committee Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis will also be visiting the cities of Argos and Nafplio on Thursday as part of the party's activities.

    [06] President Stephanopoulos receives former PM Costas Simitis

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos held 45-minute talks with former prime minister Costas Simitis at the Presidential Mansion on Wednesday.

    On leaving the building and asked what issues were discussed with President Stephanopoulos, Simitis said there are many issues which one can discuss such as history and the past and the future, as well as what is being done for the country.

    [07] Greek Liaison Office director in FYROM meets with foreign minister

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Theodora Grosomanidou, the new Director of the Greek Liaison Office in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) met with the country's Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva in Skopje on Wednesday to present her credentials.

    During the meeting, both sides expressed their willingness to further develop relations between the two countries in sectors of common interest.

    Grosomanidou and Mitreva also exchanged views and briefed each other on matters related to bilateral relations and to the region in general.

    According to an announcement issued by FYROM's Foreign Ministry, Mitreva emphasized that her country expects Greece - as an EU and NATO member - to support FYROM's Euro-Atlantic course.

    As for the controversy over FYROM's constitutional name, Mitreva reiterated that FYROM is ready to continue negotiations with Greece within a UN context.

    [08] Public order minister receives new British ambassador to Greece

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis on Wednesday received the new British Ambassador to Greece Simon Gass and discussed steps for promoting bilateral cooperation between Greece and Britain in matters of mutual interest, such as the fight against international terrorism, illegal immigration, human-trafficking and organized crime.

    During the meeting, Voulgarakis also briefed the British ambassador on the progress of a police investigation into the murder of special guard Haralambos Amanatidis outside a British embassy official's residence and discussed his upcoming visit to Britain, following the cancellation of a previous scheduled visit.

    Britain is next in line for the rotating European Union presidency, which it takes over in July.

    [09] Former justice minister calls for immediate response to instances of corruption by judges

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Parliament vice-president Philippos Petsalnikos, a former justice minister, on Wednesday called for an immediate response to cases of corruption involving judges in order to protect the integrity and operation of justice.

    Petsalnikos, who stressed that the overwhelming majority of judicial officials in the country were faithfully serving justice, was responding to questions.

    "If it should be ascertained that there are judicial officials who have broken their oaths then the natural leadership of justice must immediately and without hesitation take action on these cases and take the necessary steps to protect the integrity and operation of justice," he added, expressing confidence that immediate steps will be taken to prevent the "virus of corruption from affecting justice in our country".

    [10] Athens Bar Association President Dimitris Paxinos criticizes attitude of judges who harm prestige of justice

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Athens Bar Association President Dimitris Paxinos on Wednesday criticized the attitude of judges who harm the prestige of justice.

    "On the question of reported morbid phenomena of graft on the part of judges, I wish to declare that the Athens Bar Association has always and firmly, in the framework of its institutional duty, referred to the pathogeny of justice and has repeatedly and personally criticized the attitude of those judges who harm its prestige and reliability. However, the duty and responsibility for its self-purification belongs, according to the constitution, to justice's self-administration bodies," he said.

    "Lastly, the Athens Bar Association condemns phenomena which harm institutions, from wherever they may come from, and in parallel it is concerned over the fact that enacted functions are placed in doubt which society trusts and which the Athens Bar Association has proved in practice that it defends," Paxinos added.

    [11] Bishop of Kosovo says 'ethnic cleansing' of Serbs continues

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Bishop of Kosovo and Metochio Artemios on Wednesday said that ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Kosovo was ongoing "during peacetime and under UN oversight," something he characterized as being "unprecedented."

    Artemios emphasized that Kosovo, where Serbs have lived for the past 1,000 years, was the cradle of civilization and the heart of Serbia - "a holy city, as Jerusalem is for other peoples," he added.

    Bishop Artemios is in Greece at the invitation of the inter-orthodox association 'St. Paul'.

    [12] Greek public sector needs broad restructuring, FinMin says

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Wednesday said that Greece's wider public sector needed a broad restructuring since budget problems also resulted from hidden debts.

    Speaking to reporters, during a news conference, Alogoskoufis said that the country's fiscal situation was difficult but noted that restructuring efforts would not burden citizens and would not be made through excessive borrowing.

    "Our strategy," the Greek minister said, "will focus on each year but it will be the same, of a mild fiscal adjustment. The government is determined to implement its economy policy and remains optimistic that the economy will improve."

    Alogoskoufis said that the government would wait to see what the new recommendations by the European Commission would be in February. "It is clear that the Commission will ask to strictly adhere to the budget's provisions in 2005 and to adopt adjustment measures in 2006," he noted.

    The Greek minister said the government would focus on reducing spending. Alogoskoufis said that the ECOFIN council acknowledged the Greek government's efforts to reduce its deficit but noted that the country "could still present excessive deficit in 2005".

    Alogoskoufis said that EU agencies would review Greek economic figures every six months and said that the Greek government was obliged to offer updated data to Brussels. "I do not see any procedure other than this," he noted.

    The Greek minister said it was awaiting the Greek Industries Union to submit its proposals over an improvement of Greek economic competitiveness and rejected rumors that the government planned to "shut down" the Hellenic Investment Centre (ELKE) and the Export Promotion Organization (OPE).

    [13] Coalition party Politbureau member says ECOFIN Council completely indifferent over widening inequalities in country

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology Politbureau member Panayiotis Lafazanis said on Wednesday, referring to statements by Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on decisions taken by the ECOFIN Council, that while showing complete indifference over widening inequalities in the country, increasing poverty, soaring unemployment and meager social expenditures, ECOFIN has placed the country in a state of even tighter supervision for excessive deficits at the order of the European Union's neo-liberal Stability Pact.

    "We stress once again that this state of supervision against our country is unacceptable and selective, while leading to even greater pressures by the EU for continuous measures against the world of labor in our country," he said.

    "This Stability Pact is a noose for the social and labor rights of European peoples. The Coalition defends the abolition of the Stability Pact and its replacement by a new agreement on Development, Social Protection and Employment in Europe," Lafazanis added.

    [14] Stylianidis on BSEC goals and Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    "The Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline is the most inexpensive and safest option for transporting oil via the Bosporus to the west and the plan for its construction has gained new impetus recently," Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said during a speech he gave Wednesday evening to business executives at the "Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy." The event was co-organized by the Institute and the Foreign Ministry in order to inform members of the business community of the goals the Greek Presidency has set for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organization.

    The main goal of the BSEC's Greek presidency, according to Stylianidis, is for Black Sea countries to come closer to European structures and the European Union, which after the enlargement in 2007 will neighbor with Black Sea countries. He also said that Greece places great importance on the BSEC presidency, which ends in April. "We could say that we see it being just as important as the EU presidency," he stressed.

    Special emphasis will also be placed on bilateral relations within BSEC, particularly with resource-wealthy Russia and Turkey, which is an important transit station.

    Michalis Myrianthis, Hellenic Petroleum board member emphasized the "noteworthy presence" of Greece in the energy sector in seven of the 11 BSEC member-states and added that "the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline is the main energy goal of the cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria.

    Speaking of the Black Sea countries, Athens University Professor Constantinos Yfantis said that "we see systematic efforts being made to build relations with the EU." He added that "there is a need to reduce the level of uncertainty in this region, which is rich in terms of energy resources, and BSEC will play a decisive role in this respect."

    The last speaker, Panayiotis Liargovas, Professor of Public Law at the University of Thessaloniki spoke of the delay in liberalizing Black Sea markets compared with Central and Eastern European markets and the region's lagging in attracting foreign investment. He did however, acknowledge that investments being made in the energy sector have been a source of "relief."

    [15] Bank of Greece, bank union discuss sector issues

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas on Wednesday will meet with the presidency of the Greek Banks' Union to discuss ways to solve the pension problem in the banking sector and to contain consumer loans' growth in the country.

    The central bank believes that it is harder to find a commonly accepted solution to the pension issue since bank staff unions rejected all proposals made by bank boards so far, but hopes that an expected extension of a deadline to publish balance sheets based on international accounting standards could bridge an existing gap between management and unions. Under an existing framework, all listed Greek companies are obliged to publish their balance sheets, based on international accounting standards, in the first six months of the year. The Bank of Greece, however, expects this deadline to be transferred to the end of the year.

    The central bank is particularly worried over an accelerating growth rate in consumer loans and seeks to adopt a series of administrative measures in the market aimed to contain consumer loans' growth rate.

    [16] Greek travel enterprises warn over EU directive on licensing system

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    HATTA, the Greek Federation of travel and tourism enterprises, on Wednesday warned over the consequences of an EU-sponsored directive abolishing all national licensing systems.

    The Federation said that such a move would have a very negative impact on the Greek economy in general and Greek tourism in particular because of lower tourism funds' inflows and a further shrinking of Greek small- and medium-sized enterprises.

    HATA said that the "origin state principle" promoted by the European Commission was a time-bomb for smaller EU member-states, including Greece, and that it was designed to benefit stronger countries.

    [17] Greece to take part in Vienna world tourism trade fair

    VIENNA 20/1/2005 (ANA/D Dimitrakoudis)

    Greece is to take part in Vienna's international tourism trade fair that opens on Thursday, with Crete as the country's featured region.

    More than 10,000 visitors are expected to attend the event, which ends on Sunday. Greece has a large pavilion representing the country's regions and islands. Among visitors will be the head of the Greek National Tourism Organization, Kostas Katsiyiannis.

    Greece is a favorite holiday destination for Austrian tourists, with over 600,000 arrivals in 2004. Of the total, 489,000 Austrians visited on package holidays.

    [18] State trade fair organizer to expand abroad

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Helexpo SA, the state trade fair organizer, is to expand its operations abroad, management said on Wednesday.

    Among activities would be to increase the shrinking number of international trade fairs held in Greece, hold road shows, and work with dealers abroad, eventually forming joint ventures with foreign counterparts to hold exhibitions outside Greece, management said in a statement.

    The managing director of Helexpo, Themis Kartsiotis, is currently in Barcelona, Spain to take part in an international sector meeting of managers from 30 countries.

    [19] SYN president supports state subsidies for cotton producers

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Alekos Alavanos, President of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party said that he was in favor of state subsidies being given to those farmers who had legally produced cotton in order to absorb the unwanted product, during a press conference he gave in Karditsa, central Greece, on Wednesday.

    Alavanos emphasized that state subsidies had been given to farmers in the past both in Greece and in other EU member-states. Therefore, there was nothing illegal nor strange about the Greek government making such a request to the EU now.

    He did say however, that an in-depth check should be conducted, so that only the legal quantities of product are kept. This would help raise the price of cotton and would also eliminate the practice of categorizing farmers by geographic region.

    SYN's president also stressed the need for the formulation and implementation of a national rural development program, which would promote tourism, manufacturing and other service sectors in rural areas. This development, Alavanos said, in combination with farming would ensure that owners of small- and medium-sized farms and other professionals would have a decent income, but also a better quality of life through infrastructure in culture, health care, education and transport.

    [20] No firm decisions as yet on abolition of tenure at OTE, gov't says

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Commenting on reports that the new management of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), the Greek telecoms utility, planned to abolish tenure for its employees, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed on Wednesday that no decisions had been made at this stage.

    "(OTE CEO Panagis Vourloumis) has undertaken to restructure OTE. Proposals and plans are being made in the framework of this effort, which are still, however, at the stage of dialogue with all the interested parties," the spokesman said.

    [21] Education minister discusses enterprise with Greek Industries Federation president

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Wednesday held talks with Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos and later said their discussion concerned enterprise issues and the view young people must have of it.

    "There was a pilot program on enterprise which had been applied successfully in schools to enable children to receive their first ideas at the elementary school and at the junior high school so as not to be outside reality and afterwards with Professional Orientation and all these to come into contact to such a degree with the meaning of the labor market for them to take relative decisions," the minister said.

    Kyriakopoulos said among other things that "we are going through the year of competitiveness this year, as the government has proclaimed it, and we are also trying to contribute to this effort with ideas, creativity, volunteerism, opinion and experiences which we have accumulated and we are trying to see how we shall support the ministry's initiatives on the issues which are related precisely to the economy and to enterprise at all levels of education."

    [22] Armenian-Greek School of Tourism to be set up in Armenia

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Greece will assist Armenia in setting up a Tourism Professions School, the first such school in the country aimed to significant boost the Armenia's efforts to develop its tourism sector.

    Armenian authorities have recommended that the school be named Armenia-Greek School of Tourism Professions and to include a lesson on Greek language as well.

    The issue was discussed during a visit by a delegation of the Greek tourism ministry in Armenia. The program includes an action plan for the creation and operation of the school, its integration to the country's educational system, supplying basic laboratory equipment and a vocational training program.

    [23] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with players from abroad buying heavily into high-capitalization paper, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,879.18 points, posting a rise of 1.64%. Turnover was 171.7 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 2.10% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.16% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.22% down.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 156 to 127 with 69 remaining unchanged.

    [24] ERT president gives FM check for 15 million euros for tsunami victims from TV marathon, more to be forthcoming

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    ERT national radio and television organization president Christos Panagopoulos on Wednesday handed a check for 14,924,486 euros for the victims of the December 26 massive earthquake and ensuing killer tsunamis in SE Asia raised in a recent TV fundraising marathon sponsored by ERT to foreign minister Petros Molyviatis.

    Panagopoulos explained that the check was a "first installment", comprising the money raised in the TV marathon and from the two donation boxes set up at Athens' central Syntagma Square and at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport.

    A second check would follow with the money raised from SMS dispatches and two auctions held by ERT to collect money for the tsunami victims.

    A third check would also be forthcoming from the revenues of a concert by Greek performing artists and the production of a musical CD featuring those artists, also staged to raise money for the tsunami victims.

    Molyviatis thanked the ERT chief, and expressed admiration for the humanitarian sentiments manifested by the Greek people for their fellow man.

    The minister said the monies collected would be administered by an ad-hoc committee being set up for that purpose, which would be monitored by the state General Accounting Office.

    He said part of the money would go to the victims of the earthquake and tsunamis, via the UN, while the remaining money would be distributed via non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with the Greek seal.

    Molyviatis added that there would be detailed information on the recipients of the aid, and full transparency in its distribution.

    [25] Justice Minister lays foundation stone for new lower-level court building in Athens

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Wednesday laid the foundation stone for a new lower-level court building in Athens that will house the Misdemeanors and First-Instance Courts, to be built on the corner of Alexandras Avenue and Loukareos Street, behind the Athens Courts of Appeal.

    Afterwards, a blessing was carried out by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, while the ceremony was attended by the presidents of higher courts throughout the country, representatives of judges' unions, the head of the Athens Bar Association and a number of lawyers and judges.

    In his speech, the justice minister referred to the acute shortage of court buildings in Greece, saying it was a long-term problem that has become increasingly pressing in recent years. He particularly stressed the problems faced by the Athens First-Instance Court, the largest in the country, which was currently housed in a rented building that did not meet the necessary requirements.

    "Since first taking over my duties, I have made it my goal to speed up the procedures for relieving the housing problems of justice," he said.

    According to Papaligouras, the new court building will be ready for use before the end of 2006 and has total budget of 13.6 million euros. The first-instance court will have 22 courtrooms and the misdemeanors court another three courtrooms, covering a total area of 9.5 thousand square meters.

    The minister also referred to recent headlines concerning corruption in judicial circles, stressing that the true foundation of justice was the integrity and moral standing of judicial officials.

    "I am convinced that Greek justice - which these days have once again found itself in the media spotlight - possesses the will required to protect itself by expelling from its ranks all the specific phenomena that threaten to tarnish its image in the eyes of the public. It is the unimpeachable servants of the law that make the law respected," he said.

    [26] Deputy FM awards Order of the Phoenix Cross to Apostolic Nuncio

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    Apostolic Nuncio Tabet was awarded the Order of the Phoenix Cross during a dinner hosted by Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis at the ministry on Wednesday in honor of the Vatican's outgoing representative.

    Skandalakis praised the work done by Tabet during his stay in Greece, as well as his contribution to the strengthening of relations between Greece and the Holy See, culminating in the Pontiff's visit.

    Tabet in turn thanked Skandalakis for hospitality he enjoyed during his tenure and underlined Greece's contribution to the cultural values currently governing Europe and its participation in European developments.

    [27] Divine justice: Man killed in traffic accident after shooting woman

    Athens, 20/1/2005 (ANA)

    A 33-year-old man in Thessaloniki who shot and injured a woman on Wednesday was killed in a traffic accident shortly afterwards.

    The man, according to police, visited a woman acquaintance Wednesday morning, and shot her with an air gun, injuring her in the chest and head.

    As he was driving away from the woman's apartment, the perpetrator's car crashed with a tanker truck. The man was fatally injured, while the truck driver suffered light injuries.

    The woman, who was taken to Aghios Dimitrios hospital, was hospitalized and her condition was not life-threatening, according to hospital sources.


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