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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-11

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

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

February 11, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece will firmly support the positions and views formulated by Cyprus government, FM spokesman stresses
  • [02] Cyprus president congratulates new Greek president
  • [03] Greece welcomes Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire agreement
  • [04] Russian president congratulates Papoulias on winning presidential election
  • [05] Turkey's National Assembly speaker emphasizes the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations
  • [06] Gov't stands by decision to include personal interview provision in new public sector hirings law
  • [07] Gov't proposes one-job-only rule for journalists in wider public sector
  • [08] Parliament votes through government's state recruitment bill
  • [09] Justice bill tabled in Parliament
  • [10] UN Security Council to discuss Sudan crisis next week, FM spokesman says
  • [11] President Stephanopoulos says 'unemployment is an open wound'
  • [12] Karamanlis receives Aegean minister
  • [13] PASOK plans to propose changes to political system
  • [14] Deputy FM Stylianidis meets Ukrainian Ambassador Kalnyk
  • [15] Turkish warplanes violate Greece's national air space
  • [16] Gov't on GDP growth, inflation rate
  • [17] Greek gov't announces commission to promote structural reforms
  • [18] ICAP report on Greek enterprises' performance in 2003
  • [19] Greece, Serbia seek closer business ties
  • [20] Greek trade deficit up 16.3 pct in Jan-Nov, yr/yr
  • [21] Athens International Airport announces 2004 airline awards
  • [22] Bank workers pull out of talks with gov't, employers
  • [23] Gov't to give EU file on China tomato paste imports
  • [24] Stocks drop in late spurt of selling
  • [25] Attention shifts to elusive drug smuggler in ongoing Church, judiciary furor
  • [26] Judge arrested for counterfeit 'traveler's check'
  • [27] Interior Minister Pavlopoulos to meet Evros mayors
  • [28] Findings reveal presence of Phoenicians in Macedonia from the 7th Century B.C.
  • [29] Bloody clash between Kurdish and Afghani immigrants in Patra; Afghani stabbed to death
  • [30] UNSG urges Cyprus President to put his views on paper
  • [31] Spokesman: Hannay sees the Cyprus problem as a mathematical equation
  • [32] DISY outlines changes in Annan Plan to Turkish FM

  • [01] Greece will firmly support the positions and views formulated by Cyprus government, FM spokesman stresses

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greece will be a firm proponent of the positions, views and perceptions formulated by the government of Cyprus, Greece's foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Thursday.

    "Greece will be a firm supporter of the positions, views and perceptions formulated in Nicosia. The fact that this discussion is underway is, I believe, positive, and when the positions are formulated, the Greek government will lend its support so as to advance them in the best possible way," Koumoutsakos told a regular press briefing.

    "Communication and cooperation are, at any rate, continuous, and that is the framework in which we are moving forward," the spokesman said, replying to questions as to whether the Greek government intended to make public any positions concerning changes possibly being sought to the Annan plan for a Cyprus solution.

    Asked to comment on statements by Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos inferring that the Cyprus government was prepared for dialogue on the Cyprus problem, Koumoutsakos noted that it was not a new development "the fact that the Cyprus government and the President of the Republic of Cyprus are expressing their volition for dialogue so that the discussion towards a solution may advance".

    "This is a standing volition, which had been expressed from the day after the referendum" on the Annan plan, Koumoutsakos added.

    He explained that the result of the referendum -- in which the Greek Cypriot side rejected the Annan plan with an overwhelming majority -- "concerned the specific plan with its specific wording" at that time.

    But beyond that, the desire for achieving a solution remained firm, the spokesman said, adding that "the fact of these manifestations in the past few days are part of that rationale".

    Koumoutsakos clarified, however, that "at this time I do not seen any element existing that would allow us to reach the conclusion that something spectacular was to be expected in this process".

    "The process is under way, exchanges of views are taking place, and all this is positive," he added.

    Asked to comment on Cypriot opposition Democratic Rally (DISY) party leader Nicos Anastassiades' recent visit to Ankara, Koumoutsakos said that "all contacts that can prove positive constitute a positive development".

    Beyond that, however, "such meetings cannot take the place of the need, when contacts are made, that they take place at the level of the elected government", Koumoutsakos said, adding that it was nevertheless self-evident that such meetings were useful, as they allowed an exchange of views.

    Visiting Cyprus House of Representatives speaker Christofias confers with PM Karamanlis: Visiting Cyprus House of Representatives speaker and AKEL party leader Demetris Christofias conferred separately Thursday with prime minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on developments in the Cyprus issue.

    No statements were made after Christofias' 45-minute meeting with the premier.

    Papandreou said after his own meeting with Christofias that PASOK supported the House speaker's efforts for contacts with the Turkish Cypriot side and particularly the self-styled "prime minister" of the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state in the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island republic, Mehmet Ali Talat.

    "The effort Mr. Christofias has been making for many years for cooperation among the citizens is an effort that we hope will continue, because now the need for contact between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots is more crucial than ever in order for the necessary ground to be created not only for a solution, but for substantial coexistence and operation of the form of government after the solution," Papandreou said.

    Christofias said he outlined to Papandreou AKEL's positions and efforts for a "resumption of intensive contacts with the Turkish Cypriot parties, particularly with Mr. Talat".

    The goal of those contacts was "to pave the way so that, if some initiative is undertaken, at some point, it will have the preconditions for success," Christofias continued.

    The issue is not simply for an initiative to be undertaken, as some quarters at home and abroad maintain, but rather that, when an initiative is undertaken, we are not lead to a failure of the effort for a second time, the AKEL leader explained.

    In the framework of contacts with the Turkish Cypriot side, Christofias said he had already had a meeting with Communal Liberation Party (TKP) leader Mustafa Akinci, during which there was "good disposition, mutual understanding", and added that he hoped that soon "we will be able to meet with Mr. Talat, who is a key at this time in the Turkish Cypriot community".

    Papandreou said that PASOK stood at the side of the Cypriot government in its efforts for finding a just solution to the Cyprus issue, adding that whatever solution found should be in the interests of both the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots.

    "This means that the final judge of the solution will be the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots, naturally," Papandreou stressed.

    Papandreou also invited Christofias to the upcoming PASOK Congress. Christofias is currently in Athens for the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

    FM Molyviatis meets Cyprus House Speaker and AKEL party General Secretary Christofias: Cyprus House Speaker and General Secretary of Cypriot left-wing AKEL party Demetris Christofias said on Thursday that Britain must understand that the Cypriots have feelings and dignity, which they stand up for, and called on the British ''to stop challenging the feelings of the people of Cyprus on a daily basis, for our benefit and theirs.''

    Speaking in Athens after a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, Christofias said the main aim is to rid Cyprus of the Turkish occupation of its northern third, noting that the big question put to Britain is what she wants, ''in an effort to make her understand that, while choosing Turkey over Cyprus, she must understand that the Cypriots have feelings and dignity, which they cannot but stand up for.''

    Replying to questions about his criticism against Britain, Christofias said he has expressed his views to Britain and noted that ''there are British interests in Cyprus, met through the Bases, which the Zurich-London agreements imposed.''

    ''No one wanted to ask for the dissolution of these Bases. Now and since 1960 we have many other internal problems, these problems were worsened after the invasion and occupation and became serious problems regarding relations with Turkey,'' Christofias said.

    Christofias added that he discussed the Cyprus problem and the prospects for a settlement with Molyviatis, noting that there was ''as usual common understanding about what is to happen.''

    Replying to questions, Christofias said the problems raised by the Turkish Cypriot side should be discussed but pointed out that ''we must also discuss the substance of the Cyprus problem, having in mind the results of the referenda.''

    In April 2004, separate simultaneous referenda were held on either side of the divide on a UN plan for a settlement.

    The plan was accepted by the Turkish Cypriot community and rejected by the Greek Cypriot community.

    Cyprus House of Representatives speaker Christofias meets with former SYN president: Visiting Cyprus' House of Representatives Speaker and left-wing AKEL party leader Demetris Christofias on Thursday met with a delegation of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party, headed by Nikos Constantopoulos, the party's former President.

    Constantopoulos said that AKEL's proposals can serve as a springboard for the solution to the Cyprus problem. He stressed that he shares Christofias' concerns regarding a new initiative and the changes that need to be made to the Annan Plan.

    On his part, Christofias said that he discussed with Constantopoulos the trade regulations in Cyprus, domestic developments regarding the Cyprus problem as well as initiatives to meet with Turkish Cypriot parties in order to prepare for changes and to begin a substantial dialogue.

    [02] Cyprus president congratulates new Greek president

    NICOSIA 11/2/2005 (ANA/G.Leonidas)

    President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos has sent a message of congratulations to newly elected President of the Hellenic Republic Karolos Papoulias.

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Thursday that Papoulias ''has good knowledge of the Cyprus problem and is well known for his democratic action against the dictatorship, a worthy successor of worthy President Stephanopoulos, to whom we express deep appreciation on behalf of everyone in Cyprus.''

    [03] Greece welcomes Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire agreement

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greece on Thursday welcomed the cease fire announced by the Israel and the Palestinian Authority as "an important step in the difficult road to peace".

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared a cease-fire on Tuesday at a summit in Egypt aimed at ending four years of bloodshed and reviving peace talks.

    "Greece welcomes with particular satisfaction the cease-fire agreement announced by the governments of Israel and the Palestinian Authority," Greece's foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos told a regular press briefing on Thursday.

    "The cease-fire agreement constitutes an important step in the difficult road to peace. It creates expectations for the substantive revival of the peace process and implementation f the Road Map, which is supported by the international community, in order to render a reality the vision of peaceful coexistence of the two peoples in the framework of two independent states: that of Israel and that of a democratic and viable state of Palestine," Koumoutsakos said.

    "On this important step, which is an achievement in the peace efforts in the region, Greece congratulates the leaderships of the two sides, and at the same time praises the valuable contribution to this positive step of the Egyptian and Jordanian governments, as well as the prospect of normalization of their diplomatic relations with Israel," the foreign ministry spokesman added.

    [04] Russian president congratulates Papoulias on winning presidential election

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Karolos Papoulias on Thursday on being elected the new President of the Hellenic Republic. In addition to his congratulatory remarks, Putin also extended an invitation to Papoulias to visit Moscow on May 9 to join in the celebration of the 60th anniversary since Russia's victory against the Nazis.

    Putin also said that he looks forward to a close and productive cooperation with Papoulias in order to further develop the friendly ties, respect and trust that have united the Greek and Russian peoples over time.

    In closing, the Russian president wished success and happiness to Papoulias and peace and prosperity to the Greek people.

    [05] Turkey's National Assembly speaker emphasizes the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations

    ISTANBUL 11/2/2005 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)

    Bulent Arinc, Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, emphasized the steady improvement of Greek-Turkish relations as he welcomed Greek Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras to the Turkish Grand National Assembly on Thursday.

    Arinc thanked Papaligouras for his visit and stressed that relations between Greece and Turkey are steadily improving both on a government level, as well as on a ministerial level.

    Papaligouras, on his part, said that the Greek government warmly supports Turkey's European prospects and stressed that "the government believes that this course will contribute to promoting and reinforcing Greek-Turkish relations."

    The Greek justice minister is in Ankara following an invitation by his Turkish counterpart Jemil Cicek.

    [06] Gov't stands by decision to include personal interview provision in new public sector hirings law

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday again defended its decision to include a personal interview of applicants in the process for public sector hirings, a development that caused main opposition PASOK deputies to walk out of Parliament a day earlier.

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros reiterated that PASOK's MPs left the chamber in lieu of "substantive and convincing arguments" and as part of an attempt at sensationalism.

    Antonaros reminded that the specific provision remains under the auspices of the independent authority (ASEP) responsible for supervising and holding public sector placement examinations and will be employed when deemed necessary for specific posts.

    Moreover, he said successful procedures for conducting personal interviews in other European countries will be followed.

    New Democracy deputies have emphasized in Parliament that personal interviews play a decisive role in private sector hirings the world over, while ASEP's role in conducting personal interviews will preclude instances of favoritism.

    [07] Gov't proposes one-job-only rule for journalists in wider public sector

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday, and specifically Minister of State Thodoris Roussopoulos, proposed that journalists be limited to only one job position in the public sector, a description that includes state-run utilities, organizations and any agency or institute connected with the state.

    Roussopoulos, a well-known local journalist and commentator prior to becoming ruling New Democracy's spokesman when the party was in the opposition, made the proposal during the second extraordinary meeting of ministry officials with party representatives and the journalism unions' leaderships.

    The proposal, if implemented, would affect employees classified as "journalists" in permanent positions, or ones employed as advisers, associates or even temporarily assigned from one department to another.

    Ministers would also submit lists with journalists employed by their respective ministries.

    Finally, Roussopoulos called on interested parties to submit their proposals for rules governing a code of ethics for journalists.

    [08] Parliament votes through government's state recruitment bill

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Parliament on Thursday voted through a government bill on recruitment procedures for the public sector, with the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement abstaining from the ballot.

    The bill ordains a points-based recruiting system that also includes personal interviews for positions, a move that PASOK rejected.

    [09] Justice bill tabled in Parliament

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The bill drafted by the Justice Ministry and titled "measures for the reinforcement of internal audits and transparency in the justice system," was tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

    Some of the measures proposed include amending the penal code, with stricter penalties foreseen for perjury and other criminal acts; reorganizing the judiciary system; requiring a means declaration of those working within the justice system; and others.

    [10] UN Security Council to discuss Sudan crisis next week, FM spokesman says

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Thursday said that developments in Sudan would dominate the UN Security Council meeting next week so that a decision can be made by the end of February.

    Greece, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, supports sending troops to ensure that the treaty between the North and South is enforced, Koumoutsakos said. He added that Greece looks forward to cooperating with the African Union which currently has forces in Darfur.

    Koumoutsakos said that imposing sanctions against Sudan should be considered carefully since it might have a negative impact on the treaty and may discourage the new Sudanese government.

    The declaration of the Security Council's Presidency on Iraqi election will also be discussed next week.

    Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis meets Sudanese First Deputy PM Ali Oshman Taha: On the occasion of his visit to New York to attend the open session of the UN Security Council on Sudan, the First Deputy Prime Minister of Sudan, Ali Oshman Taha, asked to meet with Greece's Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Adamantios Th. Vassilakis, according to a foreign ministry announcement on Thursday.

    At the meeting, which took place on Wednesday, the deputy premier of Sudan thanked for Greece's constructive stance both at the United Nations and in the European Union, underlining the role which Greece can play in the international efforts for peace in Sudan.

    Vassilakis thanked Ali Oshman Taha for his briefing and expressed Greece's satisfaction for the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 9 between the government of Sudan and the Sudanese Popular Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

    [11] President Stephanopoulos says 'unemployment is an open wound'

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Thursday referred to unemployment, the prosperity of the citizens and of hirings in the public sector during a visit to Akrata, Achaia in the Peloponnese, to attend events marking the celebration of Saint Haralambos Day and where the president was proclaimed honorary citizen.

    Stephanopoulos said that "the citizens are struggling today to improve the level of their prosperity and to reach the other countries." He added that the Constitution foresees that the State is obliged to secure work to the citizens, "but unfortunately today unemployment is an open wound and reaches 10 per cent."

    [12] Karamanlis receives Aegean minister

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday received Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis at his office for talks focusing on issues within the minister's portfolio, including coastal shipping and the absorption of Community funds.

    Afterwards, Pavlidis, a veteran deputy elected from the Dodecanese islands, said his ministry is promoting initiatives in partnership with the health ministry to upgrade facilities on various islands.

    [13] PASOK plans to propose changes to political system

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou announced on Thursday that his party would be establishing a special committee charged with evaluating the current political system and indicating what changes need to be made.

    He stressed that the depreciation of institutions is a major issue and that society demands accountability. Papandreou identified the Church, the justice system, the media, political parties, universities, local government, hospitals and businesses as the sectors that need to be held accountable.

    Senior members of PASOK, academicians and other experts will comprise the committee.

    Papandreou also emphasized that important decisions will be made at the upcoming PASOK Congress, regarding the party's political proposals, its new charter and new leadership.

    [14] Deputy FM Stylianidis meets Ukrainian Ambassador Kalnyk

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis met on Thursday with Ukrainian Ambassador to Athens Viktor Kalnyk and discussed prospects for intensifying and further improving bilateral political and economic relations, according to a foreign ministry press release.

    [15] Turkish warplanes violate Greece's national air space

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Turkish Air Force on Thursday again violated Greece's national air space over the Aegean.

    According to press reports, nine formations of Turkish warplanes entered the Aegean and in 15 cases violated the national air space in the region of the central and northern Aegean.

    In all cases, the 24 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter jets, while in one instance the interception evolved into mock dog-fighting.

    It was reported that three of the planes were armed.

    [16] Gov't on GDP growth, inflation rate

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday downplayed concerns over the rate of projected GDP growth this year as well as inflation worries, noting that a 4-percent inflation figure for January 2004 was the result of a delay in the beginning of the official after-Christmas sales season for retailers.

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros stressed, moreover, that year-on-year inflation for 2004 reached the 3-percent mark, down from 3.5 in from the corresponding 12-month period of 2003.

    Asked about comments this week by EU Commissioner for Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia, who forecast a 3.3 percent GDP growth rate for the Greek economy, Antonaros noted that previously higher government estimates came before results of a high-profile "fiscal audit" were published.

    "If we accept Mr. Almunia's estimates -- which the government doesn't share -- then naturally we would have to accept a minor adjustment downwards," the spokesman said.

    The EU Commission this week recommended the extension, to the end of 2006, of a deadline for bringing Greece's budget deficit below the 3-percent benchmark. The deficit was re-calculated at an estimated 5.5 percent of GDP in 2004, with the Commission forecasting 3.6 percent this year and meeting the limit of 3 percent for 2006.

    The Karamanlis government's decision to proceed with its fiscal audit, however, has been supported, among others, by Eurostat, the EU Commission and the IMF. Conversely, it was bitterly opposed by the main opposition PASOK party, which was in power during the 2000-2002 period, the focus of recent deficit revisions.

    "The government is proceeding with a restoration of fiscal transparency and its mild (economic) adaptation, with the goal being a decisive cut in the deficit. These are the foundations of our economic policy," Antonaros said, adding that the government's actions are also aimed at restoring the country's integrity within the European Union.

    [17] Greek gov't announces commission to promote structural reforms

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Thursday announced the formation of a special commission with the task to promote structural reforms in the country, headed by Greek journalist and former Eurodeputy Ioannis Marinos.

    The commission's task will be to submit recommendations over structural reforms needed to boost the country's competitiveness and to abolish all counter-incentives in attracting investments and promote enterpreunship in the country.

    The commission will submit its recommendations to Economy and Finance minister after consultations with the government's social partners. It will also evaluate all recommendations submitted by social agencies and bodies.

    [18] ICAP report on Greek enterprises' performance in 2003

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek companies in the manufacturing, commerce and services sectors reported a significant improvement in their profitability in 2003, while companies in the tourism sector reported a decline in profits over the same year, a report by ICAP said on Thursday.

    The report, based on financial results announced by 26,362 enterprises, said that 2003 was a "low flying" year for Greek manufacturing, with sales growth rate of 5,675 companies in the sector slowing down in 2003 from the previous year at an annual 4.4 percent. Gross profit margin was stable at 21,8 percent, while operating profits fell by 3.2 percent.

    On the other hand, the report said, a drastic improvement of operating results boosted profitability in the sector, with pre-tax profits up 22.5 percent in 2003, while return on equity capital rose to 9.7 percent. The year 2003 was a landmark for the country since no manufacturing sector reported losses, while more than two-thirds of companies reported profits over the year. New investments in the sector, however, eased while the index of borrowing burden in the sector worsened slightly to 55 percent.

    The commerce sector continued its growth in 2003, with sales growth rate at 9.4 percent and gross profit margin at 20.3 percent. Operating profits rose 29.6 percent and pre-tax profits were up 32.8 percent in the year. Return on equity capital rose to 21.2 percent, with 78.8 percent of companies in the sector reporting profits for the year.

    The financial sector recovered in 2003, with pre-tax profits returning to 2001 levels after falling in 2002. Banks covered 73.9 percent of total pre-tax profits in the sector, with only the foreign exchange bureaus and security transaction order companies reporting losses for the year.

    The year 2003 was disappointing for Greek tourism. Based on results by 3,617 enterprises in the sector, ICAP said that sales rose 2.5 percent while gross profits fell by 7.1 percent, with gross profit margin down to 22.4 percent. Pre-tax profits in the sector plunged to 6.3 million euros in 2003 from 116.9 million in 2002.

    [19] Greece, Serbia seek closer business ties

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greece and Serbia-Montenegro are seeking closer business ties, speakers told the final day of a conference in Athens on cooperation between the two countries.

    The speakers noted that Greek investment had made a key contribution to modernization of Serbia's economy, especially in banking, financial services, insurance, telecoms, industry and construction. Also valuable was Greece's involvement in growth plans for southeastern Europe's energy network.

    A day earlier, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas told the meeting that the government was working for closer ties between the European Union and Serbia-Montenegro,

    "Greece is working to advance European association for Serbia-Montenegro, and its future entry into the European family...Ours is the first EU country to have devised an integrated national action plan for reconstruction of the Balkans," Sioufas said.

    Outlining the government's Balkan policy, the minister noted a bill was in the pipeline to set up an international university in the northern port city of Thessaloniki; incentives were available for the creation of cargo transit centers; and a natural gas pipeline to Austria through the Balkans was being urged.

    Greece's investment level in Serbia-Montenegro is high with about 150 joint enterprises in operation, and 80 purely Greek companies with a staff of around 18,000, according to data from the Greek embassy in Belgrade.

    Three major Athens-quoted banks are active in Serbia - National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank and EFG Eurobank Ergasias. Alpha Bank recently purchased Serbia's Jubanka.

    [20] Greek trade deficit up 16.3 pct in Jan-Nov, yr/yr

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's trade deficit rose 16.3 percent in the January-November period last year compared with the corresponding period in 2003, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    NSS, in its monthly report on the country's trade balance, said that the shortfall totalled 25.906 billion euros in the first 11 months of 2004 from 22.278 billion euros in 2003 and noted that excluding trade in oil products the trade deficit rose 21 percent over the same period.

    The statistics service said the value of import-arrivals totalled 36.863 billion euros in the January-November period from 33.208 billion in the previous year, for an increase of 11 percent (up 13.3 percent excluding trade in oil products).

    The value of export-deliveries totalled 10.957 billion euros in the January-November period from 10.930 billion euros in 2003, for an increase of 0.2 percent.

    [21] Athens International Airport announces 2004 airline awards

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Airline Marketing Workshop organized by Athens International Airport (AIA) on Thursday gave awards to airlines that recorded the highest passenger development in 2004, marking the airport's overall growth of 11.5%, the second fastest rate in Europe for 2004.

    Athens International Airport presented special awards to the fastest growing airlines for 2004, in the categories of geographical region, thin route, and best performing newcomer.

    The airline awards were as follows:

    A. Fastest Growing Airline per geographical region (highest percentage passenger growth, 2003-2004)

    • Aegean Airlines,for Western Europe

    • Olympic Airlines, for Eastern Europe

    • Emirates Airlines, for the Middle East

    • Delta Airlines, for America

    • Egypt Air, for Africa

    • Thai Airways, for Asia

    • Aegean Airlines, for the domestic market.

    Â. Fastest Growing Airline in a Thin Route (highest percentage passenger growth irrespective of geographical region, 2003 - 2004)

    " Çemus Air, for achieving the highest percentage annual passenger growth in 2004.

    C. Best Performing New Airline Award (airlines that launched operations at AIA in 2003)

    • Hellas Jet, for the highest passenger traffic numbers in 2004 among newcomers

    D. Overall Fastest Growing Airline in 2004

  • Aegean Airlines, operating at AIA in 2004.

    [22] Bank workers pull out of talks with gov't, employers

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The OTOE bank workers' union said on Thursday that it had withdrawn from talks with the government and employers to settle a dispute over pensions for the sector.

    The protest came after the second meeting of the tripartite talks. Strikes called for each Monday of February by the union are to go ahead, OTOE said in a statement.

    The union is to meet on Tuesday to discuss whether further dialogue is possible.

    A condition for talks to resume would be withdrawal of a proposal by the finance ministry that sought to align sector workers' pensions with the Social Insurance Foundation over five years, leading to a reduction in pensions and higher pensionable age, union leaders said. In addition, banks should submit a joint, workable proposal.

    Also on Thursday, Employment Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos said his ministry was unaware of the finance ministry's proposal.

    The plan was a negotiating tool that could be dropped if necessary, the minister added.

    [23] Gov't to give EU file on China tomato paste imports

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government is to prepare a file for the European Union on voluminous quantities of Chinese tomato paste that have flooded the market, hurting domestic producers, Deputy Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Alexandros Kontos said on Thursday.

    The file is to be compiled within three weeks by a committee of ministry representatives and producers for dispatch to the EU's Commission, Kontos told a news conference.

    [24] Stocks drop in late spurt of selling

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower in a late bout of selling, especially in banking paper, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,902.76 points, posting a decline of 0.58%. Turnover was 204.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.66% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.11% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.17% up.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 175 to 105 with 74 remaining unchanged.

    [25] Attention shifts to elusive drug smuggler in ongoing Church, judiciary furor

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The public order ministry late Wednesday released caseload of information on outlaw Apostolos Vavilis, this week's "protagonist" in an ongoing and often intertwined corruption furor swirling around the Church of Greece and the independent judiciary.

    Vavilis, convicted in a drug smuggling case in Greece and wanted by Interpol for another drug trafficking conviction in Italy, overtook jailed archimandrite Ioakovos Yiosakis this week in the media spotlight for his alleged ties to the Church's top hierarchy and his "shady", according to press reports, role during the election of a new Patriarch of Jerusalem in August 2001.

    A police spokesman said the 44-year-old Vavilis, aka "Apostolos Fokas", passed himself off as a representative of an Israeli firm supplying Greek security forces with armored jeeps and other equipment.

    Additionally, Greek authorities said they relayed an arrest warrant in 2001 for Vavilis to Israeli police, who replied that the outlaw had already departed his hotel.

    The first warrant for Vavilis' arrest on drug smuggling charges dates to 1988, police said.

    Media reports throughout the week also uncovered the fact that Vavilis acquired a fake police ID under the name of Apostolos-Pavlos Fokas in 2000, and that a close relative of his -- most reports cite his wife -- operated a licensed gun and ammo store one block from the general police directorate (headquarters) for Attica prefecture, in downtown Athens.

    Yiosakis, meanwhile, remains in custody for his alleged involvement in a nearly decade-old antiquities smuggling case that has been reopened by prosecutors.

    [26] Judge arrested for counterfeit 'traveler's check'

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    The latest high-profile incident of alleged wrongdoing involving a judicial official was reported on Thursday, as first instance judge Evangelos Kalousis was arrested at an east Athens bank with a bogus 500-dollar "traveler's check" in his possession.

    Authorities, in the presence of a first instance prosecutor and the arrested judge himself, later searched the latter's home.

    In a statement to police, Kalousis claimed he merely wanted to verify the check's authenticity.

    [27] Interior Minister Pavlopoulos to meet Evros mayors

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos will have meetings with the mayors of Evros in Alexandroupoli, northern Greece, on Saturday.

    The minister will refer to the "Thisseas" program, while there will also be a discussion on other issues which concern local government.

    Pavlopoulos will be the main speaker at an event organized the same day by the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's youth organization ONNED Evros branch, in Alexandroupoli. The minister will speak on development in the regions.

    [28] Findings reveal presence of Phoenicians in Macedonia from the 7th Century B.C.

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    New data on the presence of the Phoenicians in the ports and the trade relations with ancient Macedonia from the 7th Century B.C. was brought to light by an archaeological excavation in Karambournaki of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, a region which identifies itself with the region of ancient Thermi.

    The new findings (shells, urns and cups from the late 8th Century until the middle of the 7th Century B.C.) were discovered during a university excavation which is continuing and is under the supervision of Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki professor Michalis Tiverios for the past ten years (since 1994).

    The new discoveries, in combination with other Phoenician urns which were found earlier in the same excavation, strengthen, according to professor Tiverios, proof of the presence of Phoenician traders in the region.

    The findings of the excavations were announced during the 18th congress on the archaeological work in Macedonia and Thrace which began on Thursday morning at Thessaloniki University and which will end on Saturday night.

    [29] Bloody clash between Kurdish and Afghani immigrants in Patra; Afghani stabbed to death

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    A bloody clash between 30 Kurdish and Afghani immigrants took place late Thursday afternoon near the port of Patras in the Peloponnese.

    According to witnesses a 19-year-old Afghani was stabbed to death by a Kurd during the clash.

    As soon as the incident was made known, about 300 Kurdish and Afghani immigrants living in Patra gathered in the region with threatening intentions.

    Strong police forces immediately sped to the scene to avert an intensification of the clash.

    For preventive reasons, police are remaining in the region of Terpsithea, where the settlement of the Afghanis is located.

    Investigations are continuing for the whereabouts of the culprit.

    It is not the first time that Kurds and Afghanis have clashed in the region of the port of Patra.

    [30] UNSG urges Cyprus President to put his views on paper

    LONDON 11/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday urged Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos to ''put his views on paper'' as regards the changes he wants to his settlement plan on Cyprus, adding that ''a detailed list of his objections would help.''

    Invited by CNA to comment on the readiness expressed by President Papadopoulos for the resumption of negotiations on Cyprus under UN auspices, Annan said when the referendum on his settlement plan did not succeed, he asked the parties to go back and reflect, think deeply and come up with suggestions as to what changes they would like to see and how they would like to proceed.

    Annan was speaking to the press after his meeting here with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who on his part said ''the Cyprus issue did not come up for discussion today but it is an issue we keep under review here as we do in the EU as well.''

    ''As you know I did put in quite a bit of effort in an attempt to resolve the Cyprus question. The referendum did not succeed. At that time I did ask the parties to go back and reflect, think deeply and come up with suggestions as to what changes they would like to see and how they would like to proceed,'' Annan said.

    ''I think having gone through the referendum last time, President Papadopoulos had a chance to talk to his people and to think through. I know that the Turkish side, particularly Prime Minister Erdogan, have indicated that they may be ready to resume talks,'' he told CNA.

    ''But I would urge the President to really put his views on paper. The changes he would want to have. It would be helpful for anyone who is going to be in discussions or resumption of talks. So I think it is the other way round. The proposal was on the table. He had objections to it and a detailed list of his objections would help'', Annan concluded.

    [31] Spokesman: Hannay sees the Cyprus problem as a mathematical equation

    NICOSIA 11/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides on Thursday said former British envoy for Cyprus Lord David Hannay continues to speak from the "chair like an impartial wise man who sees the Cyprus problem as a mathematical equation". He was speaking after being invited to comment on statements made by Hannay on the sidelines of a conference on the Cyprus question organized in Cyprus by Wilton Park, on behalf of the British Foreign Office, that he does not see any viable alternative to a Cyprus settlement other than the Annan plan.

    Chrysostomides said that Hannay did not take into consideration that for a right settlement plan there needs to be the necessary political and social background that would lead the two communities to accepting the plan.

    ''The imperfections and shortcomings of the plan are known and led to its rejection by 76% of the Greek Cypriot community,'' he added.

    He said Lord Hannay should take into consideration that ''the one who wants a solution urgently is our side, which for thirty years now is suffering due to the occupation and the continuing deployment of troops in Cyprus.''

    Chrysostomides added that Hannay must not ignore that for thirty years the side that showed intransigence was Turkey and that no one must misunderstand the result of the referendum because ''it was the rejection of the specific plan'' and not of the solution.

    ''The democratic result of the referendum must be respected, that was already provided in the plan and bringing the plan back to the table as it is, is not logically or politically possible and this cannot be accepted by our side,'' the spokesman concluded.

    [32] DISY outlines changes in Annan Plan to Turkish FM

    Athens, 11/2/2005 (ANA)

    A four-member delegation from the Greek Cypriot Democratic Rally party (DISY), in Turkey for contacts with the Justice and Development party of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, has outlined the changes it considers necessary in a UN-proposed solution plan to Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.

    According to CNA sources, at Thursday's meeting between Gul and the DISY delegation, which lasted just over an hour at the party headquarters here, DISY leader Nicos Anastassiades said there must be some good will gestures on the part of the Turkish side.

    These he said relate to the humanitarian issue of missing persons in Cyprus, holding church services in the Greek orthodox churches in the Turkish occupied part of the island, the return of the fenced off areas of the town of Famagusta and the lifting of all restrictions imposed by the Turkish Cypriot regime on free movement in Cyprus.

    Anastassiades outlined his views during the meeting, analyzing them verbally but did not hand Gul anything in writing, the same sources have said.

    On the amendments to the Annan plan, the DISY delegation talked about territorial adjustments, with reference to a previous UN solution plan, Annan three, to the abolition of intervention rights in Cyprus, the full demilitarization of the island as well as securing the implementation of any solution agreed between the two sides.

    The same sources have said that Gul noted Turkey wants a political settlement in Cyprus and talked about the rejection by the Greek Cypriots of the Annan plan in last April's referendum.


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