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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-23

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

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

February 23, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Message of NATO Summit is "Re-establishing understanding between Europe and the US" Karamanlis says
  • [02] Greece supports dialogue between NATO and the Ukraine, PM says
  • [03] EU official briefed on 'primary shareholder' law
  • [04] Deputy FM Stylianidis meets representatives of Greek-Turkish Forum
  • [05] Gov't on Church proposal for ecclesiastical audit council
  • [06] Jerusalem Patriarchate denies press reports regarding Irineos
  • [07] PASOK leader Papandreou begins two-day tour of Crete
  • [08] PM Karamanlis condolences to Iran president Khatami over devastating earthquake
  • [09] KKE announces categorical rejection of Euro-constitution
  • [10] Parliament president receives ambassadors of China, Chile
  • [11] Development ministry approves package of projects, worth 41 million euros
  • [12] Gov't ready to implement new development law
  • [13] Tourism minister addresses tour operators' session in Athens
  • [14] Greek gov't to present draft law on market manipulation next week
  • [15] Gov't sees 2004 fiscal deficit topping 5.3%
  • [16] Greece to tender information system for customs service in April
  • [17] Conference on investing in Black Sea region Feb 24-25
  • [18] Alexandroupolis-Moscow air link as of May
  • [19] Greek honey producers say product fully safe and guaranteed
  • [20] Gov't to present plans for EXPO 2005 participation on Wednesday
  • [21] Civil servants announce strike schedule
  • [22] Bank workers to strike Monday
  • [23] Domestic apparel manufacturers oppose EU plan to scrap tariffs as tsunami aid
  • [24] Olive oil publicity drive begins at home and abroad
  • [25] Stocks nose down in range bound trade
  • [26] First multi-cultural, all foreign-language radio station begins broadcasting in Athens
  • [27] Another first instance judge answers charges of wrongdoing
  • [28] Athens rules against extradition of Kurdish activist
  • [29] One more cleric to be led to Korydallos prison for antiquities-smuggling
  • [30] AHEPA president attends benefit for children's hospital
  • [31] Minister, MP present book on Greek national security strategy
  • [32] Thessaloniki prefect asks law to intervene over phone-sex ads on TV
  • [33] Minister intervenes so that lights stay on at cash-strapped Thrace University
  • [34] HOC President and Secretary General for Sports discuss preparations for 2008 Olympics
  • [35] President Papadopoulos says Turkish Cypriots pursuing political gains
  • [36] Cyprus President says time makes solution more difficult
  • [37] EPP Vice President: no signature, no accession talks with Turkey

  • [01] Message of NATO Summit is "Re-establishing understanding between Europe and the US" Karamanlis says

    BRUSSELS 23/2/2005 (ANA/C.Poulidou)

    Both the EU and the US have realized that more factors unite them rather than divide them, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said during a press conference on the sidelines of the NATO Summit held in Brussels on Tuesday.

    "There have been and continue to be disagreements surrounding handling and tactics, but in essence there is unity on basic principles. And that is a strong foundation for further cooperation," Karamanlis said. "The fight against terrorism and establishing security worldwide require mutual support for the strengthening of peace and prosperity," he added.

    Speaking on what was discussed during the summit, Karamanlis mentioned the issue of Afghanistan, for which NATO leaders examined ways of further reinforcing democracy, security, development and the fight against drugs. He reminded the audience of Greece's contribution, which involved the creation of a health care unit, which will remain on-site for 18 months.

    On the issue of Iraq, Karamanlis said that NATO leaders considered recent elections as a step forward towards the country's democratization (based on UN resolution 1546). He also noted that Greece is contributing to the effort to train Iraqi forces by allocating funds for that purpose.

    Regarding the Middle East, the Greek premier said that the general sentiment was that prospects for implementation of the Road Map for Peace are looking positive.

    Issues related to the Balkans were also discussed during the summit since the evaluation report on Kosovo will be presented in early summer. "We agree with whatever decision satisfies EU principles, the region's multiethnic character, religious freedom, minorities' rights and the protection of property and monuments," Karamanlis said.

    Finally, in response to a related question, Karamanlis stated that distribution of roles among NATO members was not discussed during the summit, noting however, that Greece has already stated its willingness to take on specific initiatives related to the Balkans.

    PM Karamanlis focuses on Balkans during NATO Summit: "The Balkans is a region that demands closer cooperation between the EU and the US, since negotiations and coordination comprise the foundation of our Balkan policy," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said during the NATO Summit.

    Referring to democratic reforms and free elections held in Balkan countries, Karamanlis emphasized that "EU policies and the prospect of EU participation was the driving force behind these developments, which led to the emergence of reformist and democratic leaders and in the replacement of autocratic leaders and regimes."

    "EU standards and principles gradually replaced antiquated political and economic systems with democratic societies - open to all citizens - regardless of national origin or religious affiliation," he continued.

    Karamanlis also referred to the problems that the region faced and which were addressed. "In the Balkans, as elsewhere, a country and a leader who do not respect the rights of all their inhabitants cannot be respected by their neighbors. Therefore, the problems that emerge in the region and which are related to organized crime and a lack of infrastructure and which were often the result of war and poor management, demand our undivided attention," he said.

    The Greek premier also referred to the grave problem of unemployment in the West Balkans, emphasizing that "it must be addressed as a top priority, given the fact that millions of unemployed individuals are filled with feelings of social and national exclusion."

    Finally, in reference to Kosovo, Karamanlis said that: "We all realize that the situation in the region is temporary. Our efforts deal with the next stage, during which an evaluation of standards will be carried out. We cannot return to conditions that prevailed before 1999, nor will we tolerate a situation that could lead once again to destabilization."

    In closing, Karamanlis reiterated that based on the decisions taken during the 2000 Summit, "we are fully committed to the efforts of all West Balkan countries to join the EU on the basis 'clean' standards and criteria."

    PM meets NATO member-state leaders on sidelines of Brussels summit: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had brief meetings with several of the heads of state and government attending Tuesday's NATO summit in Brussels, among them United States President George Bush, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

    Karamanlis also had talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Luxembourg premier Jean-Claude Juncker on the sidelines of the summit.

    Afterward, the Greek premier said that he intended to begin a round of visits to European countries that had been confirmed during Tuesday's contacts, beginning with Luxembourg, Germany and France, while in the next few months he will be visiting the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

    He said the foreign visits will focus on issues of mutual interest, both European and bilateral, while he stressed the need to boost close ties with natural partners and allies.

    Regarding his meeting with Erdogan, Karamanlis said they had agreed to meet at the next summit since Erdogan's party had become an observer at the European People's Party (EPP).

    Asked if he had received an official invitation to visit the U.S., the Greek premier said it had been discussed informally during his talks with Bush and that both sides had expressed interest in a meeting and visit, to be arranged via diplomatic channels.

    During an earlier meeting between the 26 NATO leaders with newly-elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, Karamanlis said that Athens was in favor of "honest and open" dialogue between NATO and the Ukraine and congratulated Yushchenko on his recent election victory.

    He said that Greece also looked to the development of balanced and friendly relations between the Ukraine and other countries and counted on it to show a constructive stance toward settling regional crises, while praising the Ukraine's contribution to peace-keeping missions.

    Yushchenko had expressed the Ukraine's desire to join NATO while noting, for Russia's benefit, that it did not wish to disturb its relations with neighboring countries.

    Karamanlis also took questions regarding the briefing earlier on Tuesday of the European Commission's director general for internal market affairs Alexander Schaub on the government's "primary shareholder" bill by three government ministers, stressing his belief that the new law was necessary to impose transparency.

    "We believe, as do the overwhelming majority of citizens, that rules of transparency must be imposed and this is what we are trying to do, this is the policy that we have served with consistency and steadiness."

    "We have briefed the Commission, unlike the previous government, and the results will soon be apparent," he added.

    Addressing press speculation that the Commissioned considered the new law incompatible with EU rules, meanwhile, Karamanlis merely noted "that my information appears to be different from yours".

    [02] Greece supports dialogue between NATO and the Ukraine, PM says

    BRUSSELS 23/2/2005 (ANA - Ch. Poulidou)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday said that Athens was in favor of "honest and open" dialogue between NATO and the Ukraine during a meeting between NATO leaders and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko at a NATO summit taking place in Brussels.

    Karamanlis also congratulated Yushchenko on his recent election victory. He said that Greece also looked to the development of balanced and friendly relations between the Ukraine and other countries and counted on it to show a constructive stance toward settling regional crises, while praising the Ukraine's contribution to peace-keeping missions.

    [03] EU official briefed on 'primary shareholder' law

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos, Interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and deputy economy minister Christos Folias met Tuesday with the EU director general for internal market affairs at the European Commission, Alexander Schaub, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros confirmed during a regular press briefing in Athens.

    Antonaros said that the three ministers briefed the EU official on matters concerning the law on the "primary shareholder".

    Replying to questions, the spokesman said that he was not aware of any reservations having been submitted by European companies to the authoritative EU bodies against the primary shareholder law, adding that that would be an issue concerning the European Commission.

    Asked to comment on rumors that funding to Greece from the EU was put in jeopardy as a result of the primary shareholder law, Antonaros passed the rumors off as "figments of the imagination". He further said that the law was in line with the Greek Constitution and European Law.

    An ANA dispatch from Brussels, citing diplomatic sources, said that the three Greek government officials gave a detailed presentation of the basic aspects and philosophy of the primary shareholder law.

    The same sources said that the information provided by the Greek delegation was considered "useful" and "quite convincing" by the EU official.

    The sources said that, in the next two weeks, the Greek authorities would forward supplementary information requested that concerned some of the basic provisions of the law.

    They said that, for the time being, the EU was not examining the prospect of adopting any resolution on the matter.

    [04] Deputy FM Stylianidis meets representatives of Greek-Turkish Forum

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis met at the foreign ministry on Tuesday with the representatives of the Greek-Turkish Forum to discuss prospects of strengthening bilateral relations on a political and economic level.

    On the Turkish side, taking part at the meeting were former foreign ministers Ilter Turkmen and Yassar Yakis and professors Ustun Erguder, Soll Ozel and Rana Zincir, while on the Greek side taking part were Costas Karras, Costas Zeppos, Evanthis Hatzivassiliou and Paulina Lampsa.

    [05] Gov't on Church proposal for ecclesiastical audit council

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Tuesday reminded that the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece has not yet tabled its proposal for establishing a high-ranking three-member ecclesiastical council assigned the task of auditing and monitoring bishoprics' finances.

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said relevant ministers will study the proposal when the paperwork is officially tabled by the Church's hierarchy.

    [06] Jerusalem Patriarchate denies press reports regarding Irineos

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem expressed its grief in a statement on Tuesday, over recent news reports, according to which Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos allegedly tried to sell Greek real estate property in Turkish-occupied territories in Cyprus.

    The patriarchate called the reports not only 'inaccurate' but 'condemnable' in their 'maliciousness.'

    [07] PASOK leader Papandreou begins two-day tour of Crete

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou began a two-day tour of Crete on Tuesday. His schedule includes visits to the prefectures of Hania, Rethimno and Iraklion.

    Speaking in Hania on Tuesday, Papandreou launched a stinging attack against the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. The PASOK leader stressed that "the Greek people were waiting that after the elections, whichever government was elected, it would take the country forward." However, he added, "eleven months since the election of the New Democracy (ND) party and Mr. Karamanlis as prime minister, there is a climate of pessimism, defeatism and disappointment in the country, and this climate exists also in those who voted for the New Democracy."

    Papandreou accused the government that "instead of dealing with the country's problems, it is dealing with the defamation of PASOK's work, but this is defamation of the work of the Greek people and of Greece, which again became the black sheep of Europe with the audit and supervision." He also termed the government's policy as being "tragic and catastrophic."

    [08] PM Karamanlis condolences to Iran president Khatami over devastating earthquake

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday sent a message of condolences to Iranian president Mohammad Khatami over the powerful earthquake that struck the town of Zarand in a mountainous region in the southeast of the country, killing nearly 400 people, injuring hundreds and destroying villages.

    Karamanlis expressed his sincere condolences and conveyed the support of the Greek government and people over the tragic loss of lives caused by the 6.4 Richter magnitude quake, and said everyone's thoughts were with the families of the victims and all those hurt in the trembler.

    [09] KKE announces categorical rejection of Euro-constitution

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday announced what it called its categorical opposition to the proposed European constitution, while at the same time criticizing both ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK for their support of the Euro-charter.

    In a more-or-less expected decision, the communist party said the proposed European constitution would merely transform the bloc into a "more reactionary union and further strengthen the dictatorship of capital."

    [10] Parliament president receives ambassadors of China, Chile

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Tuesday received courtesy visits from the Chinese Ambassador to Athens Tian Xuejun and Chilean Ambassador to Athens Sofia Prats Cuthbert.

    After the meeting with the Chinese ambassador, Psarouda-Benaki said they had confirmed the friendly feelings between Greece and China and established the foundations for cooperation, which was in any case close.

    "With the exchange of visits between MPs and the talks that will take place on a parliamentary level, we will have very good results in cooperation between the two countries," she said.

    The Chinese ambassador referred to the good relations between the two Parliaments and described Psarouda-Benaki as an old friend of the Chinese people who personally contributed to promoting relations between the two countries.

    He offered the Parliament president a work of art by a well-known Chinese artist depicting a lotus flower, considered a symbol for good luck.

    During a brief meeting with the ambassador of Chile, meanwhile, Psarouda-Benaki proposed strengthening relations between the parliaments of Greece and Chile by arranging an exchange of visits.

    [11] Development ministry approves package of projects, worth 41 million euros

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday signed a ministerial decision earmarking 8.7 million euros in financial support to a shipyard industrial area in Astakos, western Greece.

    Under the plan, the money will be used to transform the area into a modern transit centre. The Astakos project, budgeted at 126.5 million euros (of which 73.3 million euros will come from national funds) envisages the creation of a large cargo shipping centre, capable of harboring large cargo vessels, fully equipped with the necessary freight machinery and warehouse facilities. The project will be completed in 2005.

    Sioufas also signed a series of ministerial decisions aimed to offer financial support to environmental protection projects in industrial areas around the country. The program is budgeted at 21.84 million euros.

    The government also offered around 10.5 million euros for the construction of infrastructure projects in remote Greek islands. Under the plan, a fishery vessels' shelter will be built in the island of Fourni, Ikaria, budgeted at 6.0 million euros.

    [12] Gov't ready to implement new development law

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek government will unveil its joint ministerial decisions for the implementation of a new development law in the country next week, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Tuesday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting, Alogoskoufis said that the two ministries would sign eight joint ministerial decisions and announced a tour of visits around the country to promote the new law's advantages. He will begin his tour from Epirus, March 4-5.

    The Greek minister stressed that the country's main development "tools" were a new development law and the Community Support Framework.

    Sioufas said that a new development law was brave and aggressive and added that following the issuing of the joint ministerial decisions, the government would begin accepting investment plans from both the domestic market and abroad.

    [13] Tourism minister addresses tour operators' session in Athens

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday addressed a closed session of the World Federation of Tour Operators held in an Athens hotel.

    Speaking to ANA, Avramopoulos said he had a very fruitful meeting with representatives of the industry and stressed that in his address he presented the government's view over the tourism sector in the next 10 years. "During this period, substantial reforms will be made to create a modern and more attractive tourist product," the Greek minister said.

    The World Federation of Tour Operators is an agency representing a section of the global tourism trend and their estimates were of great importance to the Greek tourism authority, Avramopoulos said, adding that the fact that the closed session was held in Athens highlighted the country's significance in the tourism industry.

    Avramopoulos stressed that Greece needed deep institutional and quality reforms to become the world's number one tourism destination.

    Avramopoulos meets with IFTO President: Minister of Tourism Development Dimitris Avramopoulos met with Martin Brackenbury, President of the International Federation of Tour Operators and other federation representatives on Tuesday, on the sidelines of an IFTO seminar being held in Athens.

    Avramopoulos described the meeting as "very meaningful", during which he had the opportunity to express his views and strategy for Greek tourism over the next 10 years. "It is imperative - if our country is to be competitive - that in-depth, institutional and qualitative changes are made as quickly as possible, so that Greece can become, once again, one of the world's top tourism destinations. This is why the first steps that have been made are in this direction," Avramopoulos said.

    "A more friendly and hospitable investment environment has been created, which will attract large investments. However, everyone must take on their respective responsibilities since tourism is one of the country's main pillars of development and progress and of course, a dominant factor of the Greek economy," he added.

    On his part, Brackenbury said that he had had a sincere and very useful discussion with Avramopoulos, who briefed Brackenbury on the Greek tourism sector post-Games and about programs that are under way. The IFTO president also said that the first steps have been made towards a cooperation between some of the world's major tour operators and the Greek ministry. The objective, according to Brackenbury, is for the two sides to adopt joint initiatives that will make Greek tourism the country's most successful economic sector.

    [14] Greek gov't to present draft law on market manipulation next week

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis will present, next week, a draft law aimed to combat "manipulation of the stock market".

    Alogoskoufis on Tuesday completed a round of consultations with all interested parties with a meeting with Athens Stock Exchange's president Spyros Kapralos and Capital Markets Commission's president Alexis Pylavios.

    Ministry sources told ANA that the ministry would also unveil a series of other legislative initiatives aimed to boost transparency, strengthen the stock market's credibility and enhance the capital market's independence.

    [15] Gov't sees 2004 fiscal deficit topping 5.3%

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Finance Minister Peter Doukas said on Tuesday that the fiscal deficit for 2004 was likely to rise slightly above 5.3%.

    A final figure would emerge in five to 10 days after cross-checking of data had been completed with Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency, Doukas said in Thessaloniki, replying to a reporter's question.

    He added that he was satisfied with state expenditure in January 2005, which was lower than the same month a year earlier.

    [16] Greece to tender information system for customs service in April

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's General Secretariat of Information Systems on Tuesday announced it would launch, on April 19, an open tender for the supply, operation and support of sub-systems and applications of ICIS, the Economy ministry's integrated customs information system, worth 1.585 million euros.

    A ministry announcement said that the project would help achieve a strategic goal for tax transparency and justice and facilitate transactions with the customs department. The new system would simplify import procedures, cooperation with other European custom agencies for the promotion of community cargoes to third countries and improved information of transit activities in the European Union.

    The ministry also expects the new system to better service citizens, simplify trade procedures, boost productivity in the customs department, raising state revenues, combatting tax-evasion and adopting community regulations.

    ICISnet will become a portal for a safe completion of all transactions through the Internet, also offering an e-payment system.

    [17] Conference on investing in Black Sea region Feb 24-25

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    A conference to promote investment in the Black Sea and Caspian region is to be held in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on February 24-25, as part of Greece's presidency of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization.

    Keynote speaker at the conference will be Deputy Foreign Minister Euripides Stylianidis, organizers said in a statement on Tuesday.

    The event has been arranged under the aegis of the foreign ministry by the organization's Greek Business Council, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Development Centre.

    More than 200 delegates from member states of the Black Sea cooperation group are to take part, including representatives of the World Bank, European Investment Bank and the European Union.

    [18] Alexandroupolis-Moscow air link as of May

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Evros prefecture and the Tourism Committee have set their sights on Moscow's tourism market by establishing an air link between Moscow and Alexandroupolis, through the Russian company Gazprom.

    The new route will operate from May 14 until September 18, with four weekly flights between the two cities, while the addition of an extra flight is being considered by the Greek side from Alexandroupolis to Moscow.

    The new tourism package will be presented at an event which will be held in Moscow on March 10 in the presence of 150 guests, 90 representatives from travel agencies, ministries, large companies, as well as journalists.

    Announcing the Moscow-Alexandroupolis air link, Evros Prefect Nikos Zampounidis on Tuesday said: "By establishing four weekly flights [between May and September], our aim is to bring 10,400 Moscovites to Evros during this period and for this to continue into the next season, even in the winter."

    [19] Greek honey producers say product fully safe and guaranteed

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek honey producers on Tuesday said that their product was fully safe, checked and guaranteed by official agencies and stressed that "the presence of infinitesimal quantity of a chemical substance did not threatened consumers' health nor it was jeopardizing or questioning the Greek honey's international repute".

    Greek honey producers unions' coordinating committee issued a statement following reports doubting the quality of Greek honey after Cyprus authorities asked for the withdrawal of a Greek brand honey from the market.

    The coordinating committee stressed that the Aristotelion University of Thessaloniki in 2003 found the presence of "infinitesimal quantities of chemicals in honey" and said that although that community authorities did not issued any warning signal, Greek honey producers' unions agreed to end the use of the chemical product, used to clean honeycomb.

    [20] Gov't to present plans for EXPO 2005 participation on Wednesday

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek government will present its plans over the country's participation in the EXPO 2005 international fair at a news conference on Wednesday, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.

    The issue was discussed during a meeting between Economy Minister with Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos, Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Culture Alternate Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou.

    [21] Civil servants announce strike schedule

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Civil servants are to stage strikes over the next month, their ADEDY union said in a statement on Tuesday.

    The protest action schedule released by ADEDY and affiliated unions is as follows:

  • March 17, four-hour stoppage from 1200-1600, joined by local government workers, in recognition of a 24-hour strike in public corporations and banks scheduled for that date. ADEDY also called on unions for workers in heavy and hazardous occupations to take part.

  • February 24, health workers to stage 24-hour strike

  • February 28, meeting with key union federations in the education sector to forge a protest action strategy

  • March 19, participation in a European demonstration in Brussels to coincide with a European Union summit on economic and social policy

    [22] Bank workers to strike Monday

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Bank employees are to stage a 24-hour nationwide strike on Monday, the latest in a spate of weekly walkouts since the end of January.

    The OTOE union is seeking introduction of a single supplementary pension system for all sector staff versus a piecemeal arrangement for each bank; and it opposes alignment of sector pensions with the main state fund, which would lead to lower pensions and a higher retirement age.

    In a statement on Tuesday, the union said that the president of the Union of Greek Banks, Yiannis Costopoulos, would present a proposal by employers on Wednesday for the new pension system.

    In addition, OTOE noted that it was still refusing to take part in a finance ministry technical committee after rejecting the government's proposal.

    In the latest stoppage on February 21, OTOE welcomed a strike turnout of more than 60% in major credit institutions, with more staff walking off the job in the state sector.

    Furthermore, banks plan to join a 24-hour strike on March 17 to protest against government policy affecting incomes, pensions and restructuring in key state corporations.

    Civil servants will stage a four-hour work stoppage during the March strike proposed by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece, the country's largest trade union umbrella group. The walkout is expected to lead to disruption in banks, state railways, telecoms, post offices, civil aviation, electricity and water, and other public services.

    [23] Domestic apparel manufacturers oppose EU plan to scrap tariffs as tsunami aid

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Two apparel manufacturers' trade groups said on Tuesday that their members opposed a European Union plan to scrap tariffs on sector imports to aid southeast Asian countries hit by a devastating tsunami at the end of last year.

    Abolition would also apply to clothes manufactured in those countries employing imported raw materials, the Association of Greek Knitwear and Ready-Wear Firms and the Association of Ready-Wear Makers said in a joint statement.

    "The abolition of import tariffs would strike a timely blow at the European apparel industry and the entire Euro-Mediterranean region," the statement said.

    There was room for a wealth of other humanitarian and other direct aid, without resorting to a removal of tariffs, it added.

    [24] Olive oil publicity drive begins at home and abroad

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Association of Greek Standardized Olive Oil Industries (SEBITEL) is to launch a publicity drive for their product at the beginning of March.

    The target of the campaign abroad will be to boost market penetration and consumer demand for the product. At home, the aim is to divert consumers from cheaper but often substandard bulk produce, SEBITEL said in a statement.

    The publicity drive budgeted at 3.5 million euros is co-financed by the European Union and agricultural development and foods ministry.

    Apart from Greece, the campaign covers Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Cyprus.

    [25] Stocks nose down in range bound trade

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower in range bound trade, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 3,033.68 points, posting a decline of 0.10%. Turnover was 191.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.05% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.38% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.56% up.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 179 to 102 with 69 remaining unchanged.

    [26] First multi-cultural, all foreign-language radio station begins broadcasting in Athens

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Athens will finally acquire its first multi-cultural radio station addressed to the city's expanding immigrant population with the start of broadcasts on a 24-hour basis by the radio station Air 104.4, it was reported on Tuesday

    The station's entire program will be broadcast in 11 foreign languages and is designed to inform and entertain the hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals that live in Athens, making up an estimated 17 per cent of the city's population.

    With programming based on the foreign-language programming of Athina 9.84, the radio station will daily broadcasts shows in English, French, Albanian, Russian. It will also have programs in another seven languages, making it the only radio station in Greece with a program exclusively in foreign languages.

    There will be daily half-hour shows in Albanian and Russian from 8:30-9:00 and 9:00 to 9:30 every night, as well as Sunday programs in Polish, Romanian, Bulgarian and Filipino.

    The station will provide news, interviews, social and cultural information and sports coverage, in addition to news from home and useful information concerning immigrant groups.

    News headlines in English will be broadcast every hour from 7:30 in the morning, with longer news programs in English at 9:00, 14:00 and 20:00.

    There will also be a French news and cultural program at 17:00 every afternoon, while news and cultural programs in German, Spanish and Italian will be broadcast after 14:30.

    In addition, the station will daily broadcast programs from the BBC, RFI and Deutsche Welle.

    [27] Another first instance judge answers charges of wrongdoing

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    One of several judges currently under investigation was ordered on Tuesday not to travel overseas, following her appearance before a high-ranking appellate jurist to answer misdemeanor charges that she failed to file a "statement of means and wealth" -- a mandatory requirement for judicial officials.

    According to reports, first instance judge Antonia Ilia reportedly stated that her failure to file such statements three years in a row was merely an oversight, whereas she claimed that her personal assets and income remained unchanged during 2001-2003.

    The temporary censure is the latest development amid several ongoing investigations of judges, trial attorneys and court officers implicated in corruption, trial-fixing, bribery and inappropriate behavior allegations rocking the Greek judiciary.

    [28] Athens rules against extradition of Kurdish activist

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's justice ministry on Tuesday ruled against the extradition of Kurdish activist Sinan Bozkurt (aka Taylan) to German authorities, with Minister Anastasis Papaligouras conveying a relevant letter explaining the reasons behind the decision.

    Bozkurt, who holds a German passport, is wanted by German authorities on arson charges, among others.

    The justice ministry's decision comes after lower court rulings on the extradition request, as the case marks the last time the ministry's political leadership will be involved in such hearings due to a change in the law governing extradition rulings.

    As of July 2004, judicial authorities will be solely responsible for such rulings.

    [29] One more cleric to be led to Korydallos prison for antiquities-smuggling

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Another cleric implicated in the stealing of antiquities at the Osios Theodoros Monastery on the island Kythera is to be led to Korydallos prison in Athens, alongside former archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, who is already being held in Korydallos in connection with the same case.

    Father Kyrillos Stavropoulos was remanded in custody by order of the Piraeus Misdemeanors Court Council on Tuesday, after the public prosecutor and the examining magistrate handling the case disagreed on whether he should be detained.

    [30] AHEPA president attends benefit for children's hospital

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Montreal AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) Family donated $40,000 to the Shriner's Hospital for Children on February 12, 2005, according to an AHEPA press release on Tuesday.

    The funds were raised from the 6th Annual St. Valentine's Ball, a gala affair that since its inception has donated $120,000 to children's causes in the Montreal area.

    "I commend and I am extremely proud of the remarkable efforts of the Montreal AHEPA Family," said Supreme President Franklin R. Manios, who attended the event. "By extending a helping hand to their neighbors in the greater Montreal community, the AHEPA Family is performing a philanthropic act rooted in Hellenic ideals and values."

    [31] Minister, MP present book on Greek national security strategy

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, main opposition PASOK MP Anna Diamantopoulou, the head of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) Prof. Theodoros Kouloumbis and diplomat Vyron Theodoropoulos were among the political heavy-weights attending Tuesday's presentation of a book entitled "National Security Strategy, Building a Greek Model for the 21st Century" by political analysts Thanos Dokos and Panagiotis Tsakonas.

    The book concerns models for the coordination of policies for security, defense and diplomacy, while all speakers stressed the need to review older models in light of a new situation. The presentation was coordinated by journalist Alexis Papahelas.

    [32] Thessaloniki prefect asks law to intervene over phone-sex ads on TV

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    A complaint by Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis has prompted a Thessaloniki public prosecutor to order an investigation on Tuesday into alleged ads for phone-sex lines broadcast by local TV stations before the watershed, when young children are likely to be watching.

    According to Psomiadis, he has received numerous complaints from outraged parents and in some cases serious problems have been caused by youngsters calling the numbers and running up huge phone bills, causing a serious social problem.

    [33] Minister intervenes so that lights stay on at cash-strapped Thrace University

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas intervened on Tuesday in order to prevent the electricity company from disconnecting Thrace's Democritian University for non-payment of bills.

    The Public Power Corporation (PPC) announced that it would not go ahead with disconnecting two of the university's seven electricity connections on February 25 as scheduled and was now awaiting an arrangement to settle the debt, after the minister contacted the PPC's management.

    [34] HOC President and Secretary General for Sports discuss preparations for 2008 Olympics

    Athens, 23/2/2005 (ANA)

    Minos Kyriakou, the new President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) met with Secretary General for Sports Costas Koukodimou on Tuesday at HOC headquarters in Athens. During the meeting, the two officials - joined by former HOC President and current IOC member Lambis Nikolaou and HOC Secretary General Manolis Katsiadakis - mainly focused on preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

    Kyriakou also discussed HOC's goals over the next four years, giving priority to ensuring the best possible performance of the Greek team at the next Games.

    "We discussed Olympic preparations and organization of the teams. Today, we are inaugurating a series of contacts between the state and the HOC, which will continue in the future. I believe that Mr. Kyriakou's presence and passion for sports will create a new era for the HOC," Koukodimos said after the meeting.

    [35] President Papadopoulos says Turkish Cypriots pursuing political gains

    LARNACA 23/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Tuesday that Turkish Cypriot efforts to connect a European Union financial regulation with one governing direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic proved that these attempts aim at ''purely political gains'' and not the lifting the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots or the securing of financial benefits.

    Speaking at Larnaca Airport before departing for Brussels and commenting on the effort by Turkish Cypriot politician Mehmet Ali Talat to link the two regulations, President Papadopoulos said the recent arrangements agreed between the Republic of Cyprus and the European Commission offered the Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to export goods ''without our intervention, without depending on anything and without any restriction, apart from those imposed by the EU.''

    Commenting on Talat's remarks that a renewed effort to solve the Cyprus problem could be undertaken only after the lifting of Turkish Cypriots' ''isolation,'' President Papadopoulos reiterated the government's positions on the EU regulations.

    He explained that the financial protocol to strengthen the Turkish Cypriots has been accepted by the Republic of Cyprus and that the Green Line Regulation gave the Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to export their goods ''to the whole world and Europe.''

    President Papadopoulos noted however that the government's positions on the regulation for direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas were well known and added ''we believe the EU, to a great extent, supports our view that the financial regulation should not be linked to the regulation on direct trade.''

    ''This connection proves that it is neither the lifting of the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots nor financial gains that are pursued but purely political gains. If one looks at the statistics and the figures, one can easily realize that this is the case,'' the president said.

    Papadopoulos participated in the EU-US summit on Tuesday in Brussels.

    He returns home Wednesday.

    [36] Cyprus President says time makes solution more difficult

    LARNACA 23/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Tuesday that the passage of time consolidates certain situations and this renders more difficult the solution to the Cyprus problem and the reunification of the island. He noted however that accepting a UN-proposed solution plan, as it is, would have a worse outcome.

    Speaking at Larnaca Airport before departing for Brussels to participate in a meeting of EU heads of state and government with US President George Bush, President Papadopoulos said the only recognized state on the island is the Republic of Cyprus, adding that Sunday's so-called parliamentary elections in the Turkish occupied areas could not be considered ''elections for a state entity and state authorities.''

    He added that the Greek Cypriot side's position was that the Cyprus problem contains certain aspects for which Turkey has ''the absolute responsibility to settle.''

    Journalists invited Papadopoulos to comment on statements by Turkish Cypriot politician Mehmet Ali Talat, whose Republican Turkish Party won the so-called elections on Sunday, that he (Papadopoulos) could not meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan because Erdogan would thus be acknowledging that Turkey is an occupation force in Cyprus.

    In his remarks on these comments, President Papadopoulos said he did not know if Talat was speaking on behalf of Erdogan but that there was probably such an understanding between them.

    Replying to questions, President Papadopoulos said every time one hears a dialogue will take place to solve the Cyprus problem, ''this sounds good to the ear.''

    ''We have bitter experiences from such dialogues, which in actual fact have become a process to impose unacceptable solutions on our side,'' he added.

    President Papadopoulos said the Greek Cypriot community had rejected the UN solution plan but noted that ''we are ready at any time we are summoned for a dialogue, under the auspices of the UN, to find a solution that will lead to the reunification of our country and a viable and functional settlement.''

    ''There is no-one, no community, no politician, no civilian apart from us, the Greek Cypriots, who wants a solution the soonest possible,'' he said, adding that ''of course as time passes some situations are made permanent that will make finding a solution and reunification even more difficult.''

    [37] EPP Vice President: no signature, no accession talks with Turkey

    STRASBOURG 23/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Turkey cannot start accession negotiations with the European Union unless it signs the Ankara Agreement regarding the extension of the Customs Union Agreement with the ten new member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, Othmar Karas, Vice President of the European People's Party (EPP) Group at the European Parliament, told CNA on Tuesday.

    "I hope Turkey will sign the Agreement of Ankara by the third of October, 2005. If it does not sign it, then we cannot start the negotiations process," he said.

    Karas stressed that "It is not possible to have a discussion about a new cooperation between Turkey and the EU and on the other hand see Turkey being against one member state of the EU (Cyprus). This is not acceptable".

    The Austrian MEP noted that the Republic of Cyprus has a very important role to play regarding Turkey's European course.

    "For my group, the EPP, it is very clear that the relation and cooperation between Turkey and Cyprus on the European law level is a very strong factor in Turkey's negotiation process," he added.

    Regarding Sunday's so-called elections in the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, Karas expressed hope that they will prove to be helpful for the process in reaching a solution to the Cyprus problem.


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