|Friday, 15 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 31, 2005
 Karamanlis outlines strategic policy for achieving development, greater prosperity
Athens, 31/1/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis expressed his confidence that Greece will win the "wager" for development and prosperity, in statements published in a special edition of the "Economist" that focuses on the so-called "Irish Miracle" -- the economic boom in the Republic of Eire since its European Union accession.
Only days after a recent opinion poll gave Karamanlis a significant lead over his main opposition rival George Papandreou on the question of "more suitable" for the premiership, the Greek prime minister said his government's goal is none other than to transform the country into a modern economic hub of the entire region, a Balkan or even Mediterranean economic "tiger", as he said in using a term regularly applied to the super-charged economies of the Asia-Pacific rim.
Better quality, effectiveness and competitiveness in the economic sector was another theme that Karamanlis focused on, saying he's also confident that Greece will meet the challenge.
In referring to the "Irish miracle" and the extent to which Greece can follow that European island-nation's model of stunning economic growth and development -- especially in terms of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and hi-tech multinationals -- Karamanlis said a policy of immediate market deregulation, especially in the energy sector, should provide the first "investment jumpstart" in this direction.
Other reforms, he added, to attract FDI's will come in the legal and institutional framework governing business investment.
The 48-year-old Karamanlis also cited the government's decision to proceed with the creation of "innovative cities" outside the congested and economically saturated greater Athens area, again, similar to the model employed in Ireland. Moreover, he cited the "Irish model's" straightforward organizational parameters and the fact that it fully exploited the potential offered by EU membership as other yardsticks for accelerating Greece's growth.
While acknowledging the fact that economic conditions are difficult at present, Karamanlis nevertheless said the challenge is both a personal and collective incentive for Greeks to ensure the country's future development.
His entire interview was carried in the Greek-language edition of the Economist magazine, which was a supplement in the Saturday edition of the Athens daily "Kathimerini".
 Papandreou accuses gov't of misleading farmers
Athens, 31/1/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Saturday spoke to supporters in the central city of Larissa, the hub of ongoing farmers' protests against low crop prices, mainly subsidized cotton, and shrinking agricultural incomes.
He began his comments by sharply attacking the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, saying the latter reneged on pre-election promises and used "cheap populism" to win over a majority of rural votes in the previous election. He also accused the government of illegally allowing thousands of hectares of land to tack on to cotton cultivation.
In pointing to solutions for the impasses in the country's farm sector, Papandreou referred to new crop cultivations, ones away from the reasoning and framework of subsidies -- which he said PASOK has guaranteed until 2013 -- farmers' vocational training, and an emphasis on agri-business and packaging, as well as improving the operation of various cooperatives, upgraded scientific support and even a branching out into eco-tourism.
Newspaper interview: Meanwhile, in an interview published in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Ethnos", Papandreou dismissed mostly internal criticism that he is establishing a "leader-based" party, while stressing that he is "preparing for a future government".
In view of the main opposition party's congress next month -- a much-anticipated event for local political analysts -- Papandreou said he expects a new "framework of positions and a vision for Greece" to be produced, along with a new structure for the party itself.
Noting that PASOK has up until today been a "leader-based" political formation, he nevertheless expressed his opposition for such a model because "it nurtured (inner party) captains and smaller groupings".
The one-time foreign minister added that criticism against him, namely, that he is attempting to graft an American-style party structure on PASOK, is historically baseless. Conversely, he said Scandinavian political models are particularly successful.
"I do not want to take cover behind creeds, frightened reactions or other's oversights ... it's time for labels (of affiliation) to cease at PASOK, and for us to return to politics," he said.
Finally, as far as internal party politics are concerned, he said a new leadership team to guide PASOK will arise through meritocracy and that he will not adopt any list of names.
In repeating his criticism of the government, Papandreou accused it of "yielding power without direction" and of "lacking any social dimension".
Papandreou's father, the late three-time premier Andreas Papandreou, founded the party in 1974, whereas Costas Simitis succeeded an ailing Andreas Papandreou in January 1996. The latter won two elections in 1996 and 2000. In January 2004 Simitis announced that he would not stand for the upcoming elections (March 2004) and tapped the younger Papandreou for his successor
Gov't response: In a later response to Papandreou's comments, Minister of State Thodoris Roussopoulos simply remarked that "if the president of PASOK is readying to govern, it would be good for him not to forget that reliability and trust are built on the basis of truth and responsibility. Albeit difficult, this is the only path available."
 Farmers suspend roadblock at Tempi Valley
Athens, 31/1/2005 (ANA)Protesting farmers, mostly central Greece cotton growers, on Saturday agreed to suspend a high-profile roadblock they had set up at the Tempi Valley bottleneck, as farm tractors had cut-off the main Athens-Thessaloniki highway for roughly 24 hours.
Although the roadblock was called off, the vehicles would remain parked by the highway, farmers' representatives said.
Farmers in Macedonia also suspended roadblocks.
Cotton growers over the past month have threatened roadblocks with their tractors in order to gain better prices for their crop, whereas the representatives for the entire agricultural sector have complained for falling incomes for farmers and stockbreeders.
 First interview of new US ambassador to Greece
Athens, 31/1/2005 (ANA)Washington's new envoy to Greece, Charles Ries, this week commented directly on the long-standing Cyprus issue and the recent Annan peace plan for the island republic, his first press interview since presenting his credentials here.
Ries is quoted as saying the US would like to know where Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos disagrees with the controversial Annan plan.
The career diplomat noted, in an interview published by the Athens daily "Kathimerini", that the UN Chief has also requested from Papadopoulos to detail the points in the peace plan he opposes.
Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly voted against the plan last spring. The internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus subsequently joined the European Union, whereas the Turkish-occupied one-third of the isle in the north remains outside the bloc's domain.
Specifically in terms of Greek-US relations, Ries praised the east Mediterranean country successfully hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games, while he said Athens' participation on the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member will expand Greece's diplomatic horizons.
In terms of economic ties, he said US investments in Greece are the lowest of any other EU member-states if compared with the size of the local economy.
Conversely, Ries said recent announcements by the government of tax breaks and a streamlined legislative framework leading to greater transparency should rejuvenate interest by US and international investors.
Finally, he praised the "leadership role" exhibited by Greece during the first half of 2003, when the then Simitis government held the rotating EU presidency.
 Greece unanimously approves UN mandate extension for Lebanon, Georgia
NEW YORK 31/1/2005 (ANA)Greece joined its other United Nations Security Council members late last week to unanimously approve an extension of mandates for interim peacekeeping forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the UN's UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG).
Both mandates were extended to July 31, 2005, as Council members acted on recommendations by UN of Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Calling for an end to "serious breaches" of the ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon, the Security Council today extended the mandate of the peacekeeping United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon for another six months and urged Lebanon to deploy an adequate number of security forces along the so-called Blue Line between the two countries.
According to the United Nations, UNIFIL was established in 1978 to confirm the withdrawal of Israelis troops from its northern neighbor, restore international peace and security and help the Lebanese government regain its authority over the area.
UNOMIG, which consists of 130 uniformed personnel, including 119 military observers and 11 civilian police supported by 103 international civilian personnel and 184 local civilian staff, was established in 1994 after an accord reached in Moscow ended the fighting in Georgia's northwestern corner.
 Education minister meets with Ecumenical Patriarch
ISTANBUL 31/1/2005 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou on Saturday met here with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and discussed problems pertaining to the education of Greeks in Istanbul.
"We consider that Turkey through its European path, which depends exclusively on it, can and should give solutions thus giving the chance to Greeks still living in Istanbul to breathe," Yiannakou told reporters after the meeting.
Yiannakou was due to meet with her Turkish counterpart to discuss the pending issue of the opening of the Theological School of Halki as well as other matters.
 EU considering Europe-wide criminal database
BRUSSELS 31/1/2005 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)The European Union is apparently leaning in the direction of creating a Europe-wide criminal database that will give member-states the opportunity to access the criminal record of a European citizen anywhere in the bloc.
On his part, public order ministry general secretary Leonidas Evangelidis said the issue dominated an unofficial council meeting of EU justice and home affairs in Luxembourg, which began late last week.
 Synaspismos delegation at world social forum in Porto Allegre
Athens, 31/1/2005 (ANA)A Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) delegation, led by Synaspismos leader Alekos Alavanos, attended the firth world social forum over the past few days, which returned to Porto Allegre in Brazil this year, a party press release stated on Sunday.
 Iraq elections held amid uncertainty for the futureBAGHDAD 31/1/2005 (Special ANA correspondent P. Haritos)
Estimates in the strife-plagued Iraqi capital spoke of a 45-50 percent participation in the Jan. 30 election here only hours before the poll commenced.
Another issue at press time appeared to be the problem -- highlighted by the United Nations some three months ago -- of the method used to prevent voters from voting two or more times, given the fact that an ink stain placed by polling officials on a voter's finger could be identified by insurgents.
US-based National Democratic Institute director Les Campbell noted that such a procedure could, conceivably, endanger a Sunni Iraqi in one of Baghdad's Sunni-dominated neighbor-hoods.
Throughout the day and amid a string of suicide bombings and attacks at polling stations, American troops and Iraqi security forces were out in full force, although, as Campbell says, "American leadership continues to insist on daily improvisations to formulate policy in Iraq, something that will exacerbate the crisis and lead to a greater loss of control."
 Economy, social securities ministers refer to social security reform prospects
Athens, 31/1/2005 (ANA)Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis reiterated in a published interview over the weekend that the government will not take emergency measures amid the specter of a possible budget deficit.
Moreover, he stressed that the target for 2005 is to fully execute the state budget with the measures already announced.
"This year is crucial as far as revenues and expenditures are concerned ... the tax base must be expanded through an intensification of tax inspections and by controlling spending," he said.
In reference to the vital social security issue, Alogoskoufis emphasized that the major problem of guaranteed funding of the system in coming years has still not been solved.
"This isn't an emergency problem; it doesn't have to be solved tomorrow, but it absolutely affects the country's fiscal prospects and will have to be discussed at some point," he was quoted as saying by the Sunday edition of "Eleftheros Typos".
In another interview by a top minister that focuses on social security reform, Labor and Social Securities Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos expressed his support for the establishment of a national "committee of technocrats" to propose reforms to the country's creaky system.
Panayiotopoulos said any such committee would be established in cooperation with social partners and with a spirit of consensus, but without "pre-determined decisions, shock solutions or populist rhetoric."
"We should all remember, both the political world and the trade unions, that public opinion will not judge us with ideological criteria and political stereotypes of the 1980s, but with the complex numbers of the 21st century".
Panayiotopoulos' interview was published in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia".
 Holy Synod expected to focus on priest's alleged involvement in judicial corruption ring
Athens, 31/1/2005 (ANA)Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos is expected to convene a special Holy Synod meeting in the coming week to consider allegations against a high-ranking clergyman, Iakovos Yiosakis, reportedly involved in a judicial corruption ring.
Other allegations against high-ranking priests are also expected to be discussed.
 Cyprus spokesman calls on T/C to present information on missing
NICOSIA 31/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides reiterated on Saturday the Greek Cypriot side's demand for the resolution of the humanitarian issue of the missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion in Cyprus, calling on the Turkish side to present credible and convincing information regards their whereabouts.
Chrysostomides was speaking to a commemoration ceremony of Reverend Christoforos, founder of the Pancyprian Committee of Missing Persons and Undeclared Prisoners.
Addressing the ceremony, both Chrysostomides and the Committee's President Nicos Theodosiou pledged that they would continue the work of Christoforos, calling Turkey to present credible and corroborated information regarding the missing persons, especially after the unsuccessful excavations carried early January by British experts working for the Foundation INFORCE, in occupied Trahonas, one of three sites presented by the Turkish Cypriot side in 1998.
''Our presence in this commemoration ceremony consists our unanimous expression of our non-negotiable view for the establishment of the fate of every single missing person in a convincing way,'' Chrysostomides said.
The spokesman referred to the unsuccessful excavations in Trahonas, noting that this caused resentment in the families and relatives of the missing persons.
Stressing that the Greek Cypriot side's good will is granted, Chrysostomides called on the Turkish side to present convincing information about the whereabouts of missing persons.
''Only this would restore Turkish Cypriot side's lost credibility'', Chrysostomides, noted.
''The Cypriot government once more declares that it will continue and intensify its efforts to establish the fate of the missing persons,'' Chrysostomides said, adding ''we hope that soon the issue will overcome today's stalemate and a substantial discussion would commence.''
Missing Persons Committee President Nicos Theodosiou praised Christoforos' work and love for each and every missing person, noting that Alexandros, one of his sons is missing since the Turkish invasion.