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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-21

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

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

January 21, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece responds to Turkish provocation regarding Aegean search-and-rescue missions
  • [02] Greek Euro-MP tables question over prospect of unilateral US decision to recognize Kosovo's independence
  • [03] Gov't on prospects of new peace initiative for Cyprus
  • [04] Parliament approves 'main shareholder' bill
  • [05] PM meets with Parliament VP to discuss farmers' protests
  • [06] Defense ministry signs MOU with Italy's Aermacchi on possible cooperation for M-346 trainer
  • [07] Top Greek diplomat in D.C. this week
  • [08] UN Special Envoy meets with FYROM political leadership regarding name issue
  • [09] Prime minister receives new U.S. envoy
  • [10] Deputy FM meets separately with Belgian, Romanian, Iranian and UK envoys
  • [11] Public Order Minister meets with Turkey's new ambassador to Greece
  • [12] Brazilian ambassador meets with Synaspismos party cadres
  • [13] Greek shipping is the economy's heavy industry, minister says
  • [14] Current account deficit up in November 2004
  • [15] Greek annual inflation eased to 3.1 pct in December, Eurostat says
  • [16] Gov't announces energy saving measures for the summer
  • [17] Greek professor heads EuroGeosurveys in 2005
  • [18] Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens breaks all records in 2004
  • [19] British Tourist Association makes positive comments on Greek tourism
  • [20] Greece, Turkey to sign closer banking supervision agreement
  • [21] ADSL penetration lags in Greece in comparison with EU peers
  • [22] External Trade Organization signs cooperation agreement with Helexpo
  • [23] Education minister addresses conference on unemployment and labor market
  • [24] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying
  • [25] Dialogue on education beginning with address by PM on Friday
  • [26] Cruise ship carrying humanitarian aid to depart for Sri Lanka on Friday
  • [27] Olympic equipment delivered to Athens Prefecture town planning dept.
  • [28] Hellenic Olympic Committee presents "The History of the Olympic Flame"
  • [29] 3rd Greek-Turkish journalism conference next month
  • [30] European Historical Re-enactment Network exhibit opens in Brussels
  • [31] Major hashish haul intercepted near Greek-Albanian customs post
  • [32] British House calls on government to safeguard Cyprus' interests
  • [33] DISY President to head delegation to Turkey
  • [34] Kranidiotis bust graces Cyprus Foreign Ministry

  • [01] Greece responds to Turkish provocation regarding Aegean search-and-rescue missions

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Turkey on Wednesday issued a NOTAM over a recent search-and-rescue mission off the Greek eastern Aegean island of Psarra, a perceived reply to the NOTAM previously issued by Greece's Civil Aviation Authority (YPA), a foreign ministry spokesman told reporters on Thursday.

    Speaking during a regular briefing, spokesman George Koumoutsakos noted that "the issue of these NOTAMs is the administrative manifestation of a reality".

    "The reality is that there are two statements -- the Greek and the Turkish statement -- concerning the issue of the search and rescue region. Greece has made its own statement, according to which it has the right of coordinating and conducting search and rescue operations in the entire area that coincides with the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR).

    "And that is what happened during the recent incident with the sinking (of a Korean-flagged motorship). It took place immediately, efficiently the right arising from the determination of the area in which Greece exercises the right of search and rescue operations was exercised with consistency and effectiveness. The nature of the area, Greece's abilities and experience, and its ability to be efficient, constitute a reality. We moved immediately and effectively," he explained.

    He added that, "in accordance with standing practice, and since there is a different position, the Turkish side responded, and Greece will respond again. This is not an unprecedented situation".

    Queried over the general principles of Athens' policy regarding Turkey, Koumoutsakos noted that dealing with such incidents "now and in the future, with calm-headedness, lucidity and decisiveness, is part of a clear-cut policy framework, with a strategic goal and strategic perspective.

    "Greece seeks and works for peace and stability in the region; it believes that the European path is a factor that aids in this course, and it is within that framework that the long-term, detailed and strict process of Turkey's adaptation to the European reality and rules is being faced. In this process, the EU, and of course Greece and Cyprus, are judges," he said, adding that incidental circumstances should not "deter us from this policy, which serves the goal of normalization of Greek-Turkish relations".

    He said that had no intention of altering its policy which, overall, is a position supported by all parties, nor would the EU member-state alter its policy because a violation occurred.

    "It goes without saying that defending national interests stands above all else. There is no carte blanche, but at the same time it is clear that the strategic goal must be peace and stability in the region," Koumoutsakos added.

    NOTAM is short for "notice to airmen", and is often used by aviation authorities to restrict airspace.

    Foreign ministry on Gonul statements regarding bilateral armaments reduction: Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Thursday said that the statements made on the previous day by Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul on the prospects of armaments reduction by Turkey were "a positive sign".

    He was referring to Gonul's statement on Wednesday that Turkey would reduce armaments "to the degree that Greece reduces them".

    While stressing that he did not adopt the Turkish official's statement, Koumoutsakos said it was a "sign that there is this general view regarding the direction in which we should move on the specific issue, that there are positive signs".

    "The reduction of armaments should serve stability and security and, certainly, a steady ratio of forces going downward is, I think we all agree, a factor that contributes to a climate of calm and stability, not only in relation to bilateral relations but also more generally," he added.

    The spokesman also stressed that he was referring to the specific statement and not to Ankara's decision to purchase new reconnaissance aircraft.

    "I am referring to a political statement that is the product of a point of view. Whether or not this point of view is realized is something that will be judged in due course and in the future," he said.

    He referred reporters to the defense ministry for more details regarding Ankara's aircraft purchase.

    [02] Greek Euro-MP tables question over prospect of unilateral US decision to recognize Kosovo's independence

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    A Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) Euro-MP has tabled a question with the European Council regarding the Union's stance vis-a-vis the prospect of Washington unilaterally recognizing the currently UN-administered Kosovo province as an independent state.

    According to a Synaspismos press release, Euro-deputy Dimitris Papadimoulis refers to a recent statement by Erhard Busek, the special coordinator of the Stability Pact for SE Europe, whereby the latter reportedly cites the possibility of a unilateral US decision regarding strife-plagued and impoverished Kosovo.

    On his part, Papadimoulis reminded that the Bush administration proceeded with a sudden and unexpected recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as simply "Republic of Macedonia" in early November 2004 "without any prior communication with the European Union..."

    The EU continues to recognize and deal with the landlocked state in official correspondence as "FYROM".

    Additionally, the Greek Euro-MP also cited statements by Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano, who on Wednesday was quoted from Paris by the AFP as saying that Kosovo should become an independent state and that, initially, the province's administration should be modified to become "less international and more European."

    Finally, Papadimoulis calls on the European Council to take the necessary measures in order to "prevent another surprise by the United States with unilateral decisions over the future of Kosovo, actions that may exacerbate the impasses that already exist in the area."

    [03] Gov't on prospects of new peace initiative for Cyprus

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry on Thursday responded to a press question regarding speculation over a "new initiative" to solve the Cyprus issue by noting that "certain expressions of interest" in the recent period do not comprise a specific basis for a new development on the long-standing problem.

    "You know the positions of the Cypriot side as far as the description of the procedural framework that would have to exist for something like that (a new peace initiative) to begin," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said, adding that a lack of concrete steps so far dampens Athens' expectations for any new peace initiative.

    A new initiative, the spokesman said, would have to include an agreement by all parties involved and a specific proposal, among others. "I don't think we're there yet," he said.

    [04] Parliament approves 'main shareholder' bill

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Parliament's plenary session approved the 'main shareholder' bill in its entirety on Thursday evening.

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party did not vote for any of the bill's articles, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party voted for eight of the bill's 14 articles.

    Parliament had approved the bill in principle on Wednesday evening.

    The new law includes among others the following measures:

    A main shareholder is defined as someone who holds at least a 1% stake in a company, or is among the company's 10 major shareholders. Furthermore, the 'main shareholder' definition also applies to the spouses, third-degree relatives and any other individual(s) working for the actual main shareholder.

    The 'main shareholder' bill aims to limit conflict of interest in the awarding of public contracts involving media firms and engineering contractors.

    Earlier, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos announced a series of changes in the draft bill concerning the "main shareholder", also responding to specific observations made by the opposition.

    Some of the changes announced by Pavlopoulos are strengthening the definition of the form of media with the phrase "regardless of its legal form or its nature", so as to cover various forms of business activity in the mass media, such as press foundations.

    It was clarified that businesses providing services for access to the Internet (portals) are excluded from the principle of incompatibility enacted between business activation in the mass media and companies concluding contracts (over one million euros) with the state.

    Media belonging "entirely" to local administration organizations are excluded from the principle of incompatibility.

    ESHEA leadership meets with G. Papandreou: "The 'main shareholder' bill does not address the issue of concentration of media ownership, does not provide a solution for the media sector's viability and funding, while journalists foot the bill through firings," Manolis Mathioudakis, President of the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) said on Thursday after a meeting between the Union's leadership and main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) President George Papandreou.

    Mathioudakis added that ESHEA is in absolute favor of transparency in the media sector and said that the Union had its own ideas on the matter, which it has sent in writing to the leaders of all political parties.

    [05] PM meets with Parliament VP to discuss farmers' protests

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Parliament Vice President Sotiris Hadjigakis at Maximos Mansion on Thursday to discuss the issue of farmers' protests.

    Commenting on the issue, Hadjigakis said that both sides were right - the farmers and the government - but that the government cannot be burdened by sins committed in the past decade.

    Asked why he had participated in such protests in the past by climbing on board a tractor, he said that it was a symbolic gesture to make residents of the Athens centre and the posh Kolonaki area aware of farmers' problems. He noted that roads had not been blockaded and expressed confidence that they wouldn't be blockaded now either.

    Hadjigakis also emphasized that when New Democracy was the main opposition party it had never promised farmers state subsidies.

    He noted, however, that the government is 'boxed-in' by precedents set before it came into office.

    ND Central Committee secretary stresses need of dialogue for farmers' problem: Ruling New Democracy party Central Committee Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis, speaking to representatives of farmers' cooperatives in the prefecture of Argolida on Thursday, stressed the need of finding a solution to the farmers' problem through dialogue and in the framework set by the European Union's regulations.

    Meimarakis, who made a tour of the cities of Argos and Nafplio in the Peloponnese at the head of a party delegation, said only the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) supports finding a solution to the farmers' problem outside the EU, adding that the government respects this position although, of course, it disagrees.

    "We have a front with no one, we are not confronting the farmers, all views are being registered," Meimarakis said and stressed that checks on cotton quantities must go ahead.

    Meimarakis also pointed out that ND is a government of all the Greeks and cannot favor one region at the expense of another.

    Tractors group along motorway ahead of gov't talks: Cotton farmers in Larissa and Magnesia on Thursday grouped around 600 tractors at six points along the country's north-south motorway ahead of talks the next day on cotton output controls with the agriculture ministry.

    Farmers have said they will not stage tractor blockades of major highways if the road to dialogue with the government remains open.

    [06] Defense ministry signs MOU with Italy's Aermacchi on possible cooperation for M-346 trainer

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Italy's Aermacchi, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Varese on Wednesday with the Greek defense ministry regarding possible cooperation by Greek companies in the production of the LIFT trainer M-346, a press release issued by the Italian embassy in Athens stated on Thursday.

    In its early stages of production, the M-346 was first unveiled in June 2003 and recorded its maiden flight on July 15, 2004.

    The Italian embassy's press release noted that Greece is the first European nation to sign a MOU leading to possible participation in the program. Among others, embassy officials accompanied an Aermacchi delegation to the ministry of defense, where the offer was presented.

    According to the military training aircraft manufacturer, the M-346 is a twin-engine transonic trainer that combines "a performance close to that of front-line fighters and highly competitive acquisition and operational costs".

    [07] Top Greek diplomat in D.C. this week

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry on Thursday announced that the director of the Balkan desk at the ministry, Amb. Alexandros Mallias, is on an official visit to Washington this week, following his contacts in Serbia-Montenegro and the Kosovo province earlier in the month.

    Mallias is expected to meet with State Department officials, Senators' staff and National Security Council cadres, the foreign ministry added.

    [08] UN Special Envoy meets with FYROM political leadership regarding name issue

    SKOPJE 21/1/2005 (ANA/N.Fragopoulos)

    UN Secretary General's Special Envoy Matthew Nimetz met with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) President Branco Crvenkovski on Thursday to discuss the FYROM name issue. Present at the meeting where FYROM Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski and Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva.

    According to a statement issued by Crvenkovski's office, FYROM's political leadership presented Nimetz its arguments for supporting a "dual name" solution, which would entail using its constitutional name "Republic of Macedonia" internationally, and a different name - acceptable to both FYROM and Greece - in the context of bilateral communications. Additionally, Crvenkovski's office also stated that FYROM was willing to continue negotiations on a constructive basis.

    After the meeting, Nimetz confirmed that FYROM's leadership continues to support a "dual name" solution and claimed that the US decision to recognize FYROM by its constitutional name resulted in drawing more attention and interest to the name issue. He said that while it was important to find a solution that will satisfy the international community, it was particularly important that a solution which would satisfy both countries be agreed upon.

    The next meeting on this issue will be held in New York at the end of February or beginning of March.

    [09] Prime minister receives new U.S. envoy

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received on Thursday evening the new U.S. ambassador to Athens Charles Ries. It is the first meeting between the two men.

    The U.S. envoy made no statements after the meeting.

    [10] Deputy FM meets separately with Belgian, Romanian, Iranian and UK envoys

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Thursday met successively with the ambassadors of Belgium, Romania, Iran and the United Kingdom.

    Preparations for President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos' upcoming visit to Belgium dominated talks with Belgian envoy to Athens Peter Moors.

    Improvement in trade ties and stepped up political cooperation were discussed in separate meetings with the ambassadors of Romania and Iran, Traian Dragomir and Mehdi Mohtashami, respectively.

    Finally, prospects for joint efforts in development cooperation and economic diplomacy issues were brought up in Stylianidis' meeting with British ambassador Simon Gass.

    [11] Public Order Minister meets with Turkey's new ambassador to Greece

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis met with the Turkey's new Ambassador to Greece Tahsin Burcuoglu on Thursday and discussed matters of bilateral interest.

    Voulgarakis and Burcuoglu particularly focused on the fight against organized crime as well as addressing problems related to human trafficking and illegal immigrants - problems that concern both countries' borders as crime groups try to smuggle people and goods to Greece and other EU member states via Turkey.

    Finally, both sides expressed confidence that they will have an excellent and productive cooperation.

    [12] Brazilian ambassador meets with Synaspismos party cadres

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos' visit to Brazil next week to participate at the World Social Forum meeting in Porto Allegre was discussed on Thursday during a meeting her between party officials and Brazilian ambassador to Athens Roberto de Abreu Cruz, the Parliament-represented party said.

    During the meeting, Brazil's envoy to Greece said bilateral relations were excellent, while he briefed the Synaspismos delegation on efforts to strengthen economic and political cooperation by South American countries.

    [13] Greek shipping is the economy's heavy industry, minister says

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday met with Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and discussed the government's priorities on the shipping industry for 2005.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Kefaloyiannis said that Greek shipping topped the government's policy agenda as it was the Greek economy's heavy industry.

    The Greek minister noted that policy priorities for the current year were the creation of many job positions, higher foreign exchange inflows, structural changes and solving a chronic problem with remote island sea lines.

    "We have achieved many so far, including the liberation of Greek sailors jailed in foreign countries and a dynamic intervention in the European Union against proposals to penalize the seamen profession.

    Merchant Marine ministry officials said that the ministry was promoting a five-year plan aimed to improve transport services with remote Greek islands. The plan will envisage subsidizing fares for island inhabitants with a population less than 3,000.

    The officials said that the ministry also planned to further develop and restructure the country's ports by assigning certain port services to private investors, or through cooperation between the public and the private sector.

    [14] Current account deficit up in November 2004

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    The current account deficit grew by 116 million in November 2004 over the same month of 2003 due to a substantial rise in the trade deficit, which was largely offset by a rise in the services and the transfers surplus, with no significant change in the income account balance, the Bank of Greece said on Thursday.

    The widening of the trade deficit is mainly due to an increase in the non-oil trade deficit, while the net oil import bill also rose. The services surplus improved as a result of an increase in net transport receipts, while net travel receipts remained virtually unchanged and net payments for other services grew, the central bank said in a monthly report.

    The year-on-year rise in the transfers surplus mainly reflects increased net EU transfers to general government, while the net receipts of the other sectors - emigrants' remittances etc.- declined slightly.

    In January-November 2004, the current account deficit came to 5,084 million, showing a considerable improvement by 1,972 million over the corresponding period of 2003. This development mainly reflects a substantial rise in the services surplus, an increase in the transfers surplus, as well as a small decrease in the income account deficit, which more than offset a strong rise in the trade deficit, the report said.

    The trade deficit grew by 2,664 million against the same period of 2003. A 3,252 million, or 12.7% increase in the non-oil import bill more than offset a 1,113 million, or 12.5% rise in non-oil export receipts, whereas the net oil import bill increased by 525 million.

    The services surplus grew by 3,712 million, largely owing to a strong rise of 2,661 million in net transport receipts mainly from shipping and a 712 million increase in net travel receipts. In addition, the deficit in the other services account dropped considerably over the same period of 2003, the central bank noted.

    Finally, year-on-year growth of 836 million in the transfers surplus is due to a 1,121 million increase in general government receipts, mainly EU transfers, which far exceeded a 180 million rise in general government payments, mainly to the EU, whereas the net receipts of the other sectors declined.

    Financial account balance: In November 2004, no major flows were recorded under direct investment. Under portfolio investment, there was an inflow of non-residents funds amounting to 843 million mainly for purchases of Greek companies shares, with non-resident institutional investors purchasing National Bank of Greece shares as part of a sale of 7.9% of the bank's share capital by the Greek government, the Bank of Greece said.

    Inflows of non-residents funds for the purchase of Greek government securities were relatively small, and more than offset by outflows of residents' funds, mainly for purchase of bonds issued by non-residents. Among other investments, a substantial inflow of non-residents' funds was recorded, mainly into deposits and repos. This inflow was about one third offset by outflows of funds of domestic credit institutions and institutional investors into deposits and repos abroad.

    In January-November 2004, non-residents' direct investment in Greece totalled 1,014 million, while residents direct investment abroad came to 450 million.

    At end-November 2004, Greece s reserve assets came to 2.7 billion.

    [15] Greek annual inflation eased to 3.1 pct in December, Eurostat says

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Greek annual inflation eased to 3.1 percent in December from 3.2 percent in November, Eurostat said on Thursday.

    The EU executive's statistics agency, in its monthly report on inflation in the European Union, said that Eurozone's inflation rose to 2.4 pct in December from 2.2 pct in November, up from 2.0 percent in December 2003, while inflation in the EU-25 rose to 2.4 pct from 2.2 pct and 1.9 pct over the same periods, respectively.

    Eurostat said that Latvia (7.4 pct) recorded the highest inflation rate in December, followed by Slovakia (5.8 pct), Hungary (5.5 pct) and Estonia (5.4 pct), while the lowest rates were recorded in Finland (0.1 pct), Sweden (0.9 pct), Denmark (1.0 pct) and Holland (1.2 pct).

    The inflation rate rose in seven EU member-states in December, from the previous month, it fell in 13 and remained unchanged in four countries. There are no figures for Ireland.

    [16] Gov't announces energy saving measures for the summer

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday announced billing reductions to any industrial company that could limit consumption of electricity during peak hours in summer 2005.

    Presenting a commission's report on securing energy efficiency for the current year, Sioufas said that details of the plan would be presented by April, while he did not exclude the imposition of extra charges on companies over-consuming electricity during the specific period. The measure will not cover households for the time being.

    The Greek minister said there would be no scheduled cutbacks in electricity energy, although he underlined that authorities could decide power cuts without previous warning in cases of emergency.

    The report by the commission, drafted by Development Minister George Salagoudis, also envisages the transfer of certain energy consumption, such as irrigation, from peak hours to night hours, ensuring electricity imports and maximum capacity utilization from power stations, programming of maintenance works at Public Power Corporation's energy units, supporting the electricity energy production system with the installation of turbo engines at PPC's unity in Lavrio, and building new high voltage centers in Attica and the Peloponnese.

    Speaking to reporters, Salagoudis stressed that electricity was not a product to be spend carelessly and announced an information campaign to save energy.

    [17] Greek professor heads EuroGeosurveys in 2005

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Charalambos Tsoutrelis, a professor at the National Metsovio Polytechnic School, took over as president of EuroGeosurveys for 2005, Europe's Geological Institutes' Union, from January 1, following a decision taken last October during an annual general meeting of the unions in Berlin.

    Member of the union are the 25 national institutes of geology sciences in the EU and the seven candidate countries, employing more than 5,000 scientists and engineers.

    [18] Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens breaks all records in 2004

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens broke all records in 2004, while the Olympic Games gave a great impetus in this respect and provided an experience which the capital's airport handled with success.

    According to data publicised, passenger travel increased 11.5 percent compared to 2003, amounting to 13.7 million passengers. It is the highest figure ever to be registered in Athens.

    The number of flights was also a record, totalling 191,000 and recording an increase of 12.3 percent. In addition, the volume of goods carried increased by 8.4 percent, amounting to 119,000 tons.

    Domestic travel increased by 17 percent, totalling 5.1 million passengers, with the most popular destinations being Thessaloniki, Iraklio and Rhodes.

    Travel abroad also registered a historic record with 8.5 million passengers creating an increase of 8.4 percent. London (Britain) remains the most popular international destination, followed by Larnaca (Cyprus) and Paris (France).

    [19] British Tourist Association makes positive comments on Greek tourism

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    The annual report prepared on Britons' holiday preferences for the year 2005 by the Association of British Tourist Agencies (ABTA) contains positive comments on Greece in general and Athens in particular and praises efforts being made by the country to enrich its product and upgrade its hotel infrastructures.

    The report says that Greece is the third most popular destination in 2005 among Britons, after Spain and France, as a result of the Athens Olympic Games, adding that the country has made leaps in improving its infrastructures.

    Referring to Athens, mention is made that it is no longer a city with a great deal of pollution and traffic jams but, on the contrary, it is developing into a "fascinating city tourism destination."

    In addition, flights to even the most southernmost of islands take no longer than 35 minutes, while Athens, apart from its unique archaeological sites, now has restaurants and art galleries which compete favorably with others located in major European cities.

    [20] Greece, Turkey to sign closer banking supervision agreement

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    The Bank of Greece will sign a memorandum of cooperation with Turkey's Supervisory and Regulatory Agency for the Banking System on January 28, as part of a framework to enhance the supervision of the banking system by the Greek central bank.

    The memorandum will be signed in Istanbul by Bank of Greece governor Nikolaos Garganas and Turkey's Supervisory and Regulatory Authority Tevfik Bilgin.

    The memorandum will envisage the mutual exchange of information and cooperation between supervisory authorities over activities of financial institutions in both countries.

    The Bank of Greece has signed similar agreements with Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia/Montenegro and Romania, countries with increased Greek banks' activities in the last decade.

    [21] ADSL penetration lags in Greece in comparison with EU peers

    BRUSSELS 21/1/2005 (ANA/B.Demiris)

    EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media Viviane Reding said on Thursday that Greece lags behind its EU peers regarding use of ADSL (fast-internet) services, in response to a question posed by New Democracy's Eurodeputy Kostis Hadjidakis.

    According to a statement issued by Hadjidakis, Reding replied that Greece is slow in adopting broadband, internet services, which as of July 2004 had a penetration rate of 0.24% compared with the EU-average of 7.72%.

    Reding cited the delay in liberalizing the telecommunications market in Greece as hindering the National Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) in adopting appropriate market measures. The European Commission considers liberalization an important issue given the lack of serious competition in the landline telecoms segment and a lack of an extensive cable network.

    According to new EU directives concerning electronic communications, EETT must contribute to the liberalization of the telecoms market in order to ensure easy access to broadband and voice services.

    Finally, Reding suggested that Greece should quickly adopt EU directives as part of its own legislation in order to provide consumers with fast and easy internet access.

    Commenting on her response, Hadjidakis said: "Despite the improvements made recently (ie., price reductions in voice services) there is still a lot that needs to be done in order to make up for lost ground in telecoms that has been the case for so many years in the past. By strengthening competition, users particularly will benefit from better service and better prices."

    [22] External Trade Organization signs cooperation agreement with Helexpo

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's External Trade Organization (OPE) and Helexpo SA on Thursday announced the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement aimed at coordinating actions in assisting Greek businesses and the national economy in general.

    The agreement envisages that OPE will promote Helexpo's international trade fairs through the Organization's national pavilions in trade fairs abroad, while Helexpo will participate in OPE's business delegations in foreign countries.

    Specifically, the agreement envisages the coordination of both organizations' activities in offering more reliable information to Greek businesses and supporting their promotion policies, organizing meetings every six months to exchange information and experience, cooperating in bidding for EU programs, organizing local meetings in Greek regions aimed to support new exporting companies.

    [23] Education minister addresses conference on unemployment and labor market

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou addressed a conference organized by the British Council on Thursday on "Handling unemployment: Linking education with the labor market", stressing the importance of training systems and education.

    "The creation of new jobs and the stability of the system depends directly on training systems, training and education in general, as it is developing in the countries of Europe," the minister said.

    "The truth is, however, that from now on if we seriously desire to invest in the future we must invest in knowledge. We are speaking of financing over the four-year period at the level of five percent. I, however, wish to tell you from experience I have over this period as a politician if many things and attitudes do not change, even if we have 200 budgets in education nothing will be achieved," Yiannakou added.

    [24] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with players buying into high-capitalization paper, and, from mid-session, into publishing and construction shares, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,891.60 points, posting a rise of 0.43%. Turnover was 190.3 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.39% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.16% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.04% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 176 to 116 with 62 remaining unchanged.

    [25] Dialogue on education beginning with address by PM on Friday

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    The dialogue on education will begin with an address by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the Zappeion Mansion on Friday morning, in the presence of party leaders and university representatives.

    Work will begin later with the setting of the priorities of dialogue, the institutional framework of operation for the National Education Council and other issues.

    Individual issues to be examined concern securing the quality of higher education, the development of technical professional establishments and the professional rights of university and technical institute graduates.

    [26] Cruise ship carrying humanitarian aid to depart for Sri Lanka on Friday

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    The cruise ship "Ocean Monarch" is to depart from Greece at 14:00 on Friday bound for Sri Lanka, carrying humanitarian aid and specialist personnel for the victims of the Indian Ocean killer tsunami, diplomatic sources said on Thursday.

    They said the mission forms part of the developmental aid for regions struck by the tsunami that is being organized by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.

    [27] Olympic equipment delivered to Athens Prefecture town planning dept.

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia visited the Town Planning Dept. of the Athens Prefecture where office equipment, used during the 2004 Athens Olympics, was delivered on Thursday.

    "It is very important that through this process of distributing Olympic equipment throughout Greece, we are gradually winning the bet we made regarding capitalizing on the Olympics, by generating savings for the state budget," Petralia said.

    She also said that to date, an enormous amount of equipment has been distributed in the country's various regions and islands, adding that this process will be complete by early February. After that, sports equipment will be distributed.

    Athens Prefect Yiannis Sgouros thanked Petralia, Secretary General for the Olympic Games Spyros Kladas and Olympic Properties President Christos Hadjiemmanouil for supporting the efforts the prefecture is making in reorganizing its services.

    Hadjiemmanouil emphasized that " 140 million belonging to the Greek public is being well spent, being used to cover actual public and social needs, without political discrimination."

    [28] Hellenic Olympic Committee presents "The History of the Olympic Flame"

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Olympic Committee on Thursday presented "The History of the Olympic Flame," a book which features details on the high priestesses, and the first and last Olympic torchbearers of each of the 28 modern Olympiads.

    "We took a human-centric approach. We tried to find the first torchbearers and through photographs we show how things were then and how they are now," Tassos Papachristou said. Papachristou and Yiorgos Gakis - HOC's Press Office directors - authored the book.

    The book also includes brief interviews with key players, among them choreographer Maria Chors, considered to be the heart and soul of the Olympic Flame lighting ceremony.

    [29] 3rd Greek-Turkish journalism conference next month

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    The third Greek-Turkish journalism conference will take place in Athens next month, Greek and Turkish organizers announced simultaneously here and in the Greek capital.

    Expectedly, the conference (Feb. 18-20) is will focus on recent developments affecting the two countries over the past two years as well as the major challenges posed by the prospect of Turkey's European Union accession.

    Of particular importance will be the contribution media professionals can have in Greek-Turkish relations and Turkey's EU prospects.

    [30] European Historical Re-enactment Network exhibit opens in Brussels

    BRUSSELS 21/1/2005 (ANA/M.Spinthourakis)

    An exhibit of the European Historical Re-enactment Network (EHRN) opened here on Wednesday with the initiative of New Democracy's Eurodeputy Kostis Hadjidakis and was organized by the Municipality of the island of Hydra.

    The exhibit will run until the end of January and will feature regions and historical re-enactment from the network's cities: Arezzo (Italy), Austerlitz (Czech Rep), Bourtange (Netherlands), Brussels (Belgium), Cesis (Latvia), Hydra (Greece), Leisnig (Germany), Pisa (Italy), Tolentino (Italy).

    The exhibit is an opportunity for the participating cities to promote themselves as cultural tourism destinations.

    Present at Wednesday's inauguration was Hydra Mayor Constantinos Anastopoulos, President of the European Parliament Josep Borrell, Greek Eurodeputy leaders Ioannis Varvitsiotis (New Democracy), Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou (Panhellenic Socialist Movement), Thanassis Pafilis (Communist Party of Greece), other members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Commission and others.

    The EHRN was founded in September 1998, with the purpose of promoting the history and traditions of the participating cities through historical re-enactment.

    [31] Major hashish haul intercepted near Greek-Albanian customs post

    Athens, 21/1/2005 (ANA)

    Authorities seized 506 kilos of hashish hidden aboard an Albanian-registered truck this week near the Kakavia border post, with two Albanian lorry drivers arrested in connection to the incident as well.

    Two separate trucks were seized in the operation, while police are also investigating the fact that the drugs were found in one of the two vehicles that was sealed by the customs service (the Ioannina branch) and ready to return to Albania with a cargo of electrical appliances.

    The names of the suspects were not released.

    [32] British House calls on government to safeguard Cyprus' interests

    NICOSIA 21/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The British House of Commons calls on the Birtish government through an early day motion, already signed by 42 MPs, to work closely with, and to respect, the rights of the Republic of Cyprus and its democratically elected President Tassos Papadopoulos, to safeguard the interests of Cyprus in the forthcoming discussions on Turkey's possible membership of the EU and to make very clear to Turkey that it is in its own best interest to recognize fully and quickly the existence of the Republic of Cyprus.

    The House also calls on the British government to make very clear to Turkey that it is in its own best interest to clearly work for the normalization of its relationship with the Republic of Cyprus and fulfill, as soon as possible, its obligations towards Cyprus as stated in the Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 17th December 2004 with regard to signing the Protocol regarding that adaptation of the Ankara Agreement, taking account of the accession of the 10 new member states and to resolve the issues of Cyprus in which it can and should play a major role.

    ''The House is aware that the United Kingdom is a strong supporter of Turkey's membership of the EU; further notes that the United Kingdom is one of the guarantor powers for the island of Cyprus and that Cyprus is a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association,'' the motion also said.

    The House of Commons ''calls on the British Government to work closely with, and to respect, the rights of the Republic of Cyprus and its democratically elected President, Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos, to safeguard the interests of Cyprus in the forthcoming discussions on Turkey's possible membership of the EU and to make very clear to Turkey that it is in its own best interest to recognize fully and quickly the existence of the Republic of Cyprus which is already a full member of the EU and to clearly work for the normalization of its relationship with the Republic of Cyprus and fulfill, as soon as possible, its obligations towards Cyprus as stated in the Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 17th December 2004 with regard to signing the Protocol regarding that adaptation of the Ankara Agreement, taking account of the accession of the 10 new member states and to resolve the issues of Cyprus in which it can and should play a major role.''

    [33] DISY President to head delegation to Turkey

    NICOSIA 21/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Nicos Anastassiades, president of the main opposition Democratic Rally party (DISY), will head a delegation to Turkey, following an invitation by the ruling party of Justice and Development (AKP) of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Describing the visit as useful, Anastassiades said "the party delegation will be made up by Executive Bureau members and will be decided once we have the program of contacts''.

    He noted that both parties meet on the sidelines of meetings of the European People's party.

    Responding to questions, he said before going to Ankara, in early February, he will meet Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos to confer on his visit.

    ''We have no intention of replacing in any way either the President of the Republic or the positions we express as the official Greek Cypriot leadership,'' he added.

    He said there is no point and no purpose in acting in this manner, pointing out that DISY respects the Republic's institutions and would act to the benefit of Cyprus even if there can exist different views on a domestic level.

    Responding to questions, he said the initiative to have an invitation extended to the party was actually initiated by DISY and Erdogan's party had accepted this call.

    ''We are pleased it has and the visit will give us a chance for a dialogue with Turkey's ruling party,'' he added, noting that DISY and AKP had talked about strengthening their ties.

    Commenting on the reaction of other Cypriot parties to the DISY visit, Anastassiades said he disagreed with adjectives used to describe the whole affair and with attempts to downgrade it.

    Government Spokesman: no official negotiations by DISY in Turkey: Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here Thursday the government has no intention to intervene in any decision the main opposition party (Democratic Rally) takes with regard to an invitation by Turkey's ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) to meet in Ankara.

    The spokesman, however, stressed that it considers totally unacceptable any notion that DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades might conduct official negotiations on the question of Cyprus with either the Turkish premier or the foreign minister while in Turkey.

    ''It would be absolutely improper if DISY were to have formal negotiations. If however DISY is going to outline the views of our side, I see no problem with that,'' Chrysostomides added.

    Responding to questions, he said it is up to DISY to decide how it would handle the whole matter.

    ''The government is not going to interfere, this is a decision of a political party, which is a member of the European People's party.

    The government has no intention to either express an opinion or to interfere in the decisions and the handling of this issue by DISY,'' he said.

    [34] Kranidiotis bust graces Cyprus Foreign Ministry

    NICOSIA 21/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The bust of the late Yiannos Kranidiotis, Cypriot born Alternate foreign minister of Greece and champion of Cyprus' European Union accession course, graces as of Thursday the foreign ministry here.

    Foreign Minister George Iacovou unveiled the bust at a special ceremony Thursday, and paid tribute to the late Kranidiotis for his significant contribution to the strategy that has led Cyprus into the EU.

    ''He has served faithfully all the many posts he held and promoted our European course with persistent work, always advocating that Cyprus' accession would strengthen cooperation between the island's two communities and safeguard human rights, as well as help regional security and stability,'' Iacovou said.

    The minister said achieving EU membership for Cyprus is ''the epitome'' of his belief that Cyprus should become a member of the European family.

    ''Kranidiotis' bust here at this ministry will remind us of his multi-talented personality and his substantive contribution to the achievement of Cyprus' European vision,'' he added.

    Iacovou said that the proposal to have Kranidiotis' bust at the ministry is the brain-child of his predecessor Ioannis Kasoulides.

    Vassos Lyssarides, honorary president of the Social-democratic Movement EDEK, said that the late Kranidiotis foresaw that Cyprus could find through the EU possibilities for a just solution to its political problem, that would be in line with the acquis communautaire.

    ''Kranidiotis had supported Turkey's European aspirations provided that Ankara complied with European rules and regulations. This view is today very appropriate because there is a risk of circumventing this position,'' he added.

    Kranidiotis was killed in September 1999 in a tragic accident when the Greek Air Force Falcon he was traveling with crashed as it was approaching Bucharest. Another six persons, including his son, were also killed in the accident.


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