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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 24, 2005


  • [01] Greek gov't presents official participation in EXPO 2005
  • [02] US Sec. of State 'looking forward' to upcoming meeting with FM Molyviatis
  • [03] Minister of Aegean in Brussels for talks on EU subsidy policy for islands
  • [04] Cabinet briefed on results of meeting in Brussels over 'primary shareholder' law
  • [05] Greek MEPs address Europarliament session on Euro-Med relations
  • [06] 'EU and NATO are the same syndicate,' KKE says
  • [07] Roussopoulos calls on PASOK to clarify its position regarding media accumulation initiative
  • [08] Main opposition leader calls on gov't to present 12-month performance review
  • [09] Deputy DM visits Evros prefecture
  • [10] TPQ-37 radars fall short of contract requirements
  • [11] Turkish PM Erdogan makes clarifications, says he will meet his Greek counterpart Karamanlis in March
  • [12] Meeting between Greek and Turkish parliamentarians
  • [13] Next round of Greek-Turkish exploratory talks to take place on Thursday
  • [14] KKE leader meets with leaders of judicial associations
  • [15] Economic and Social Commission says Greek development bill "on right track"
  • [16] Greek unemployment rate at 10.1 pct of workforce in 3rd qtr 2004
  • [17] Banks unveil pension reform plan; employees' union rejects proposal
  • [18] OTE management, workers reach initial pact on early retirement
  • [19] Cabinet discusses draft bill on public health and hygiene
  • [20] Union of Greek Industry board visits President of Republic
  • [21] Prices up 2.83% Jan to mid-Feb, gov't says
  • [22] Athens chamber welcomes development law
  • [23] Land register to cost another 2 billion euro and finish in 2016, Greek technical chamber says
  • [24] Athens-quoted PPC's managing director resigns
  • [25] Gov't offers incentives for the withdrawal of old motorcycles
  • [26] Parliament passes gov't bill to cut red tape for industry
  • [27] Stocks rise, led by banks
  • [28] Foreign nationals 10.3% of population; EU principles will serve as basis for Greece, Pavlopoulos stresses
  • [29] Doukas on cost overrun of Olympic Games projects
  • [30] Retired police officer testifies about activities of Apostolos Vavylis
  • [31] Trial for four murders, three involving Albanian nationals, begins in Thessaloniki
  • [32] Hellenic Audiovisual Institute launches online communications guide
  • [33] Probe ordered in game-fixing allegations linked to German football scam
  • [34] Cypriot President meets EU Enlargement Commissioner
  • [35] Cypriot President Papadopoulos verifies new weaponry in occupied areas
  • [36] Cyprus finds misinterpretations in British Committee's report

  • [01] Greek gov't presents official participation in EXPO 2005

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's participation in the EXPO 2005 international fair, to be held in Japan, will be based on the triptych "Nature-Measure-Human" and the Greek participation's logo will be an olive tree -a symbol of Greek heritage and a global symbol for prosperity and peace, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.

    Presenting the Greek participation in the EXPO 2005 fair, to begin in March 25, Alogoskoufis said that the international fair offered Greece an exceptional opportunity to highlight the country's new face after the Olympic Games in 2004.

    The Greek minister said that this year's EXPO was dedicated to "nature's wisdom", a harmony between nature and culture, and seeks to help in the exchange of views and interaction between different peoples. Greece will exhibit products and services with organization and coordination, since the country was opening up to the world with modern terms of promoting products and services.

    Greece will organize two concerts during the six-month exhibition aimed to promote modern Greek culture, three business delegations -organized by the Greek External Trade Organization in May, June and September- aimed to promote an integrated picture of the economy.

    In May and September, the Economy and Finance minister will hold two events to present the country's new tax and development framework, the Athens Stock Exchange and its plans for the use of Olympic facilities.

    Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said that the EXPO 2005 would be a very good opportunity to present the country's farm products and announced a series of food and wine tasting events.

    Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said that the Greek participation would facilitate the access of Greek products to the vast market of Far East.

    Culture Alternate Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said that the dominant element of the Greek participation was the presentation of a business program for the use of Olympic facilities.

    [02] US Sec. of State 'looking forward' to upcoming meeting with FM Molyviatis

    Brussels 24/2/2005 (ANA/T. Ellis)

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was "looking forward" to an upcoming meeting with Greek foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, a State Department spokesman said in Brussels on Tuesday.

    Rice, who is accompanying US president George Bush on his tour of Europe, has already visited seven European capitals and Ankara since early February, while a series of visits to other NATO member states is also scheduled before the spring.

    Greece is tentatively included in Rice's schedule of visits, but an upcoming meeting with Molyviatis could render the visit to Athens unnecessary at this time.

    Although the exact date for the Rice-Molyviatis meeting at the State Department has yet to be finalized, diplomatic sources in Washington believe the talks will take place in the second half of March.

    [03] Minister of Aegean in Brussels for talks on EU subsidy policy for islands

    BRUSSELS 24/2/2005 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis had a series of meetings in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss the impact that the operating rules of EU structural funds for 2007-2013 will have on islands.

    Pavlidis had meetings with officials from Finland, Cyprus, Malta and Ireland in order to form a common front for the recognition of particularities of islands with respect to subsidies by the EU.

    In statements to reporters, Pavlidis said his aim was to ensure action on the special problems faced by island regions, such as lack of harbor infrastructure, the high cost of maritime transport and problems with electricity and water supply.

    He said the government was attempting to secure rights to higher government aid to island regions than that allowed for other regions in EU member-states, as well as the implementation of special programs for island infrastructure problems.

    [04] Cabinet briefed on results of meeting in Brussels over 'primary shareholder' law

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday briefed the inner cabinet on the results of a meeting he attended the previous day with the European Commission's director general for internal market affairs Alexander Schaub and two other government ministers regarding the 'primary shareholder' law introduced by the government to ensure transparency in relations between the state sector and the media.

    Emerging from the cabinet meeting, Pavlopoulos said that the government had "responsibly and convincingly" presented arguments explaining that both the Greek Constitution and the recent legislation passed by the government were compatible with European law.

    All reports regarding conditions, terms and deadlines in connection with the issue were a distortion of reality "whose origins and motives everyone understands", he added.

    The minister also stressed that there was no problem in relation to Community funds.

    Pavlopoulos later told reporters that he might take the initiative to outline the government's positions and arguments to the EU in writing.

    Government refutes press reports regarding 'primary shareholder' law: Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday refuted press reports that the government had run into problems with the European Union over its 'primary shareholder' legislation, designed to impose transparency in relations between the state sector and the media.

    Antonaros said the reports were had no connection with reality and called for a stop to "this unprecedented attempt at distortion".

    He clarified that Tuesday's meeting in Brussels between three Greek ministers and the European Commission's director general for internal market affairs Alexander Schaub had taken place at the government's initiative, which had decided to brief Commission officials on the law first-hand. According to Antonaros, the initiative had yielded positive results.

    The spokesman also reiterated that the Greek government was absolutely certain that the law was compatible with both the Greek Constitution and European laws.

    He refused to supply details of what was discussed during the government meeting with Schaub, noting that the answers would come in due time and that the Greek government was not at all worried.

    Antonaros also denied that the government intended to supply additional clarifications in writing, saying there were no plans to send another letter to the Commission and that no recommendations for changes to the law were made during the meeting with Schaub, while rejecting reports that Greece was in danger of losing EU funds as a 'press invention'.

    [05] Greek MEPs address Europarliament session on Euro-Med relations

    Strasbourg 24/2/2005 (ANA/O. Tsipira)

    A new wind was blowing in the Middle East, which was a positive development, ruling New Democracy party Euro MP George Dimitrakopoulos said Wednesday, but added that history has shown that the peace process must be approached with contained optimism, but nevertheless with the volition of the EU to contribute not only financially, but also politically.

    Addressing a Europarliament plenary session on Euro-Mediterranean relations, Dimitrakopoulos said that attention needed to be paid to the countries surrounding Israel and Palestine, including Syria, Iraq and Iran.

    He urged greater attention to future EU relations with Syria, for which he said many proposals and solutions existed.

    Regarding Iraq, he noted that the process of reconstruction was in progress, and the election results clearly indicated what was taking place in that country. "We must approach our relations with Iraq step by step, with the first important step being our assistance in the drafting of a new Constitution".

    On Iran, Dimitrakopoulos said that the EU needed to be particularly cautious on the issue of nuclear energy, adding that the approach should be through diplomatic means, and not military means and wars. "Wars do not solve problems, but multiply them," he warned.

    Main opposition PASOK Euro MP Panagiotis Beglitis stressed that the international and regional developments in recent years had rendered the Mediterranean region of strategic importance for the future of the EU.

    He said the Euro-Med cooperation, as it was formulated in Barcelona in 1995, became embroiled in the Arab-Israeli conflict and consequently did not bring about the expected results.

    Today, he added, it was the EU's obligation, in tandem with the Roadmap for Palestine, to undertake an initiative, within the framework of the Quartet, for the formulation of a Roadmap also for peace between Israel and Syria.

    "We need a comprehensive approach for peace, democracy and security in the Middle East," Beglitis stressed, adding that "Syria, like Israel, must respect the UN resolutions on Lebanon and withdraw its forces".

    At the same time, the Barcelona process needed to be re-assessed in the new framework of the European strategic neighborhood.

    He said the European Commission and Council were called on to give continuity to former Commission president Romano Prodi's initiative of 2002 for dialogue among the peoples and cultures of the Euro-Mediterranean area, Beglitis said.

    [06] 'EU and NATO are the same syndicate,' KKE says

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    In the joint U.S.-EU-NATO meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, "their leaders again confirmed that the EU and NATO are the same syndicate," according to a press release by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Wednesday.

    "It is a provocation the position that the EU and NATO have common high values, when their common values are intervention, war and murders," the KKE announcement said.

    [07] Roussopoulos calls on PASOK to clarify its position regarding media accumulation initiative

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Minister of State and government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos on Wednesday called on main opposition PASOK to clearly state its positions over a pending government initiative to table legislation on restricting the accumulation of mass media.

    Roussopoulos made the statement to reporters after attending a session of Parliament's institutions and transparency committee, a meeting that included representatives of all four Parliament-represented parties.

    "I invited and challenged Mr. (Evangelos) Venizelos (a high-ranking PASOK deputy and former minister) to state if PASOK, even now, accepts this law or if has something else to propose. I did not receive a reply. I hope some type answer is given and that PASOK responds with specific positions, something it avoided with the 'primary shareholder' law," Roussopoulos said.

    Moreover, the Greek minister dismissed charges that the 'primary shareholder' law -- aimed at curbing the influence of state contractors and suppliers in the broadcast media sector and increasing transparency -- is incompatible with Community law and will lead to a freezing of 4th Community Support Framework (CSF) funds.

    "The New Democracy is doing what the previous government did not do: It is giving battles on all levels, and in Brussels, on all issues, especially on an issue, such as transparency, that affects all Greeks, because, in the end, it affects the quality of democracy," Roussopoulos said.

    The Greek minister traveled to Brussels this week to brief Commission officials over the recently passed 'primary shareholder' law, one of ND's pre-election promises.

    [08] Main opposition leader calls on gov't to present 12-month performance review

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou called on the New Democracy government to present a performance review of its 12 months in office, while speaking at a party event in Iraklion, Crete on Wednesday.

    According to PASOK officials, the opposition will remind the government of its demand for a review from here on which will constitute a challenge for the ruling party. Papandreou has already criticized the government and the Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis in particular, of hiding the real facts related to the budget and the actual state of the country's economy. The PASOK leader also said that New Democracy's first year in office has been 'disastrous' for the economy, with the budget being thrown completely off-track, as a result of diminishing revenues and swelling expenses.

    In reference to the new financial crimes squad that the government is putting together with which it will replace SDOE, Papandreou said that the new reinforced unit will target small- and medium-sized businesses and emphasized that PASOK would not abandon the weaker economic classes, but rather would lead efforts to protect their rights.

    Papandreou also criticized the government on its 'primary shareholder' law, saying that it is 'embarrassing' that the country and its government have to defend themselves to the President of the European Commission, a development which he described as being an indication of Greece's return to dependency.

    On the issue of the Church crisis, the main opposition leader said that New Democracy does not support the Church, but rather transactions with the Church.

    Finally, Papandreou also referred to the upcoming PASOK Congress, saying that the party "will abandon practices which in the past embittered and divided us."

    All representatives of Crete, who have been elected to participate in the Congress, were present at Wednesday's event.

    Papandreou promises a 'different party congress' than previous ones: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday continued his ongoing tour of the large island of Crete, part of his campaign to visit various provinces around the country ahead of the party's closely watched congress in early March.

    In comments while on tour of the old quarter in Irakleio, Papandreou cited preparations for what he called a "different congress" than previous ones.

    Along those lines, he said efforts will be made so that all attending delegates get a chance to make a brief address should they desire.

    Moreover, the former foreign minister said the congress delegates will subsequently divide into two groups, with one expected to discuss a new party charter and the other PASOK's political positions and declaration. Additionally, he said round-table discussions on specific matters, such as education, women's issues, employment, immigration etc., will take place.

    Finally, Papandreou said his effort aims to prevent the creation of "groupings" ahead of voting for various committee members, adding that this phenomenon should not be the congress' primary characteristic.

    "Clashes will occur, but they will deal with positions and principles," he added.

    [09] Deputy DM visits Evros prefecture

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Deputy Defense Minister highlighted the contribution of the Greek armed forces in addressing the serious problems that arose in Thrace last week due to heavy rainfall and ensuing floods, during his visit to Evros on Wednesday.

    The deputy minister, accompanied by Army General Staff Chief Nikolaos Douvas, visited Didimotiho, where he inaugurated the Military Museum and attended the unveiling ceremony of the statues of Christodoulos Doitsidis and Christos Hatzopoulos, two soldiers who were killed during the Turkish invasion in Cyprus.

    "We are here to honor the Evros lads who sacrificed their lives in the Cyprus struggle and of course to inaugurate the Military Museum. The purpose that brought us here, therefore, is a sacred one as is our obligation to those who gave their lives for the honor and glory of our country," the deputy minister said.

    Regarding the factory for the manufacture of military clothes in Trigono, he said that the government's aim is to create the necessary conditions for employment opportunities to flourish in Trigono.

    [10] TPQ-37 radars fall short of contract requirements

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek Army found that the TPQ-37 radars it purchased do not meet all the technical requirements defined in the procurement contract, following the first round of evaluations the army carried out on February 18.

    Specifically, the radar does not recognize 20 targets simultaneously, nor 122cm rockets, and is also unable to pinpoint the exact location of a target, all requirements that were set out in the contract. The Army General Staff will carry out more evaluations and will negotiate with the US provider so that the radars meet the agreed requirements.

    The Greek side hopes to eliminate operational problems, but according to defense ministry sources, the fact that the Greek government has pre-paid 90% of the total contract amount weakens its negotiating position.

    [11] Turkish PM Erdogan makes clarifications, says he will meet his Greek counterpart Karamanlis in March

    ANKARA 24/2/2005 (ANA/A. Ambatzis)

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday made a correction to a statement he made earlier, "so as to avoid misunderstandings," concerning his proposal to meet with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, noting that the meeting should also be attended by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Turkish Cypriot 'prime minister" Mehmet Ali Talat of the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC).

    Erdogan also said that he will meet Karamanlis in March.

    In statements he made on Wednesday night to the Turkish television channel NTV, the Turkish prime minister said: "First of all, I must note something to avoid misunderstandings. My proposal was not made for a tête-à-tête meeting with Papadopoulos. In this meeting there will also be the prime minister of the 'TRNC' and Karamanlis, and if deemed necessary, also Britain. And this because I am not the interlocutor of Cyprus, but the TRNC."

    Foreign Minister to meet with Turkey's Yakis: Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis will be meeting with Yassar Yakis, President of the Turkish Grand National Assembly's EU Conciliation Committee on Thursday at noon.

    [12] Meeting between Greek and Turkish parliamentarians

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The will for closer cooperation between the Greek Parliament and the Turkish National Assembly, as well as the importance of further rapprochement between the two countries in sectors of mutual interest was expressed by the Greek Parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee and the European Affairs Committee in successive meetings they had with the Turkish Parliament's EU Harmonization Committee in Athens on Wednesday.

    Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee President Vassilis Magginas said that the Greek Parliament and Greece in general support the difficult and lengthy effort of Turkey in its European prospects.

    European Affairs Committee President and Parliament First Vice-President Sotiris Hatzigakis said that of recent, Greece and Turkey are going through a period of improved relations. "This does not mean that there are no problems. However, it is a fact that there is an improvement which facilitates us in confidence building relations," he said.

    On his part, the president of the Turkish parliamentary committee and former foreign minister Yasar Yakis, stressed that the two countries face problems which they have not as yet managed to solve. "The next generations will not forgive us if we do not find a solution to the problems which concern us," he said.

    Yakis also said that Greece's support of Turkey's European prospects is "a very positive development" and that "we must all show good will."

    He added that "we must strengthen the contacts and cooperation between the two countries on all levels but also for other channels of communication to be added, such as the creation of a Greek-Turkish Friendship Group in the Greek Parliament which will cooperate with our corresponding one."

    Replying to Yakis, Hatzigakis said that he would raise the proposal for the creation of a Greek-Turkish Friendship Group to Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki. "However, we can start an ad hoc effort of cooperation aimed at strengthening our friendship," Hatzigakis said.

    [13] Next round of Greek-Turkish exploratory talks to take place on Thursday

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The 29th round of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey at the level of foreign ministry officials will take place in Ankara on Thursday, with Ambassador Anastasios Skopelitis representing Greece and Ambassador Ali Tuygan representing Turkey.

    [14] KKE leader meets with leaders of judicial associations

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Aleka Papariga, Secretary General of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), demanded the adoption of measures that would ensure actual and formal autonomy of the judiciary, in comments she made on Wednesday following a meeting with the leaders of judicial associations.

    Papariga said that KKE was radically opposed to dealing with judiciary corruption with the adoption of measures aimed at containment and added that judges must stop being appointed by the Justice Ministry's political leadership.

    "We support measures that ensure the justice system's independence," she said and accused the government of following a policy of trying to integrate new mechanisms of containment which only result in hindering judges from effectively and objectively carrying out their duties.

    [15] Economic and Social Commission says Greek development bill "on right track"

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Economic and Social Commission (ESC) on Wednesday said that the Greek government's new draft legislation on "Foundation and operation of manufacturing facilities for sustainable growth" was on the right track as it was aiming to simplify a regulatory framework for manufacturing activities, laboratories, warehouses and machinery facilities in the country.

    ESC said that the draft bill was a fundamental step towards simplifying business environment in the country and creating a favorable investment climate.

    The Commission, however, said that the draft legislation could also include strategy elements for the transformation of existing productive activities into environmental-friendly units, covering operations, energy sources, materials and production procedures.

    The Commission said that the draft law should also seek to ensure a fundamental protection of the environment along with simplifying licensing and operation procedures.

    [16] Greek unemployment rate at 10.1 pct of workforce in 3rd qtr 2004

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek unemployment totalled 10.1 percent of the workforce in the third quarter of 2004, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.

    NSS, in its quarterly report on the country's labor market, said that a total of 485,897 people were unemployed in the July-September period last year, of which 85.1 percent said they were searching for either full-time or part-time jobs.

    Unemployment totalled 19.9 percent among young people, aged 15-29, and 27.5 percent for younger women. The unemployment rate for women was 15.8 percent, more than double compared with the unemployment rate for men (6.1 percent).

    NSS said that the unemployment rate among people with higher education diploma was 7.2 percent, while for people with technical education diploma was 12.2 percent.

    The Western Macedonia (16.4 pct), Western Greece (13 pct), Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (12.6 pct), Central Greece and Evia (12.2 pct) and central Macedonia (12.2 pct) were the regions with the highest unemployment rates in the country, while Crete (5.8 pct) and Ionian Islands (4.7 pct) recorded the lowest unemployment rates.

    Long-term unemployed (being unemployed for more than 12 months) totalled 57.6 percent of total unemployed in the country, while the unemployment rate among foreigners was 8.5 percent.

    The statistics service said that the number of employed people in the country totalled 4,342,000 in the third quarter of 2004, while part-time employment was 4.5 percent of total employment.

    [17] Banks unveil pension reform plan; employees' union rejects proposal

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Alpha Bank chairman Yiannis Kostopoulos, who also heads the Greek Banks Union, on Wednesday said a plan drafted by the five largest banks in the country and delivered to the bank employees' union (OTOE) was the last opportunity to resolve the sector's pension problem.

    However, a later announcement by OTOE said the trade union's board had rejected the plan and will proceed with a strike on Feb. 28.

    "We must not lose this opportunity to create the right framework for bank employees' pension system. We must not focus on the individual interest. We will all win if the pension problem is resolved," Kostopoulos told reporters hours after the plan was unveiled.

    "It will be crime if we fail, but not the end of the world," he added, saying that in such a case each bank would cover the cost of a separate solution.

    The well-known Greek banker said the government should be pleased with the fact that former Ionian Bank's pension fund (the latter was acquired by Alpha Bank) has entered the Social Security Fund (IKA) with a net asset of 213 million euros.

    Conversely, according to OTOE, the plan divides bank employees into those hired before 1993 and those after Jan. 1, 1993, with IKA selected as their primary pension fund with differences applying to the envisioned entity that will pay lump sum retirement bonuses and auxiliary pensions.

    Commenting on the prospect of a new round of acquisitions and mergers in the domestic banking sector, Alpha Bank's chairman said it was not easy to have any kind of combination between the country's large banks at this particular time because of the size and shareholding composition of financial institutions.

    He stressed that Alpha Bank was not in discussions with anyone over an equity partnership, either in Greece or abroad, although he did not exclude any such role in the future.

    Alpha Bank's head said the bank's goal was to raise its share of profits from activities abroad to 20 percent of total profits from 10 percent currently.

    The bank operates a network of 156 branches in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania and Cyprus. Profits from international activities totalled 47 million euros in 2004 from 14.3 million euros in 2003

    [18] OTE management, workers reach initial pact on early retirement

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Management and unions of Athens-quoted Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Wednesday reached initial agreement on the terms of a voluntary retirement scheme.

    According to a statement released by management, the roughly 6,000 staff eligible for normal retirement until 2012 may take part in the early pension program.

    The scheme will cost more than 1.0 billion euros, with about a quarter of the total to be spent on lump-sum payments, and the remaining three quarters accounting for contributions to the TAP-OTE pension fund and Staff Assistance Fund. The state will contribute to the cost, the statement said.

    The plan, which is subject to approval by OTE's board and a legal amendment to be passed in parliament, would take effect by the end of first-half 2005, with the first staff to leave in the second half of the year.

    In addition, any further recruitment at the corporation would take the form of open-ended contracts time wise, the statement added.

    "This agreement marks the first fundamental step towards effective control of operational cost. A decline in human resources by about a third will allow us to reach productivity levels in our European counterparts, become more competitive in the market, and attract new executives with the know-how OTE needs to meet current challenges," Panayis Vourloumis, OTE's chairman and managing director, said in the statement.

    OTE's trade union said in a separate announcement that the preliminary agreement safeguarded payments to the staff pension fund, the terms of new recruitment, and maintenance of acceptable industrial relations.

    [19] Cabinet discusses draft bill on public health and hygiene

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The inner Cabinet on Wednesday convened to discuss a draft bill on public health and hygiene being prepared by the health ministry.

    According to Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis, the bill will go before a Parliament Committee for discussion on Thursday and will be tabled in Parliament within March.

    The bill concerns hygiene regulations and inspection of foods and water, as well as articles for restructuring the Centre for the Control of Special Diseases.

    Also due to be tabled in Parliament soon is a draft bill for restructuring National Health System services.

    [20] Union of Greek Industry board visits President of Republic

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The board of the Union of Greek Industry (SEB) called on President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and conveyed the thanks of Greece's business community for his contribution to democratic institutions, public life, consensus and open dialogue, an announcement said on Wednesday.

    The meeting took place at the presidential mansion on Tuesday evening at the union's request, the announcement said.

    [21] Prices up 2.83% Jan to mid-Feb, gov't says

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The average price rise in the market stated by domestic industries is 2.83% from January 1 to February 19, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said on Wednesday.

    Papathanasiou said the increase was far more favorable than in the corresponding period of 2004.

    He was commenting on media reports of steep price hikes.

    [22] Athens chamber welcomes development law

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday welcomed the government's new development law as a bold step that could contribute to attracting investors from abroad.

    At the same time, the chamber said that needed in conjunction with the bill were adequate state funds each year in the form of grants for new investments; a public administration that worked swiftly and with transparency; and integrated town planning that would facilitate, not block, investment.

    The chamber was commenting on the imminent release of ministerial decisions that will allow implementation of the new law.

    [23] Land register to cost another 2 billion euro and finish in 2016, Greek technical chamber says

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Completing the Greek national land register will cost a further two billion euros and it will be ready in 2016, according to a study presented on Wednesday by the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE).

    According to the report, the registry fee should be set at 35 euros on average instead of 20 euros as today.

    The 66-page report outlines the experiences of the past 10 years of efforts to set up a national land register and includes proposals on how the land register should be funded and better organized. It was drafted by a special interdisciplinary group of experts and sent to Environment Minister George Souflias and other bodies involved by TEE President Yiannis Alavanos.

    [24] Athens-quoted PPC's managing director resigns

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The managing director of Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation, Steryios Nezis, on Wednesday submitted his resignation, citing differences with company chairman Ioannis Paleokrassas, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas announced.

    In a statement, Paleokrassas said that he had accepted the resignation, which takes effect on Thursday.

    A replacement would be found in coming days following consultations with Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, the statement noted.

    Nezis, who assumed his post under the previous government, and the rest of PPC's previous board are to stand trial on March 7 for award of construction of an electricity output station in Lavrio in November 2003. The European Union sent a reasoned opinion on the contract in January this year.

    Shortly after announcement of Nezis' resignation, Paleokrassas said he had submitted a file to judicial authorities on past workings of the corporation.

    "I believe that transparency in operation of the country's largest industrial company is a structural component of its success. I have for a long time been the recipient of complaints and evidence concerning the company's operations," he said.

    "I consider it to be my duty to put this evidence to judicial authorities for further investigation and evaluation," PPC's chairman said.

    In a separate statement, Nezis referred to "continuing malfunctioning" of the firm, which he claimed was due to intervention by Paleokrassas in management that ran contrary to corporate statutes.

    Since 2001 when the PPC became an SA company and joined the Athens and London stock exchanges, the company had posted spectacular results for four straight years and operated in full transparency in line with corporate governance, reflected in the stock's movement, Nezis said.

    [25] Gov't offers incentives for the withdrawal of old motorcycles

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's Transport ministry on Thursday will table a new draft law to parliament aimed to promote the creation of logistics and cargo centers in the country and expanding the withdrawal of motorcycles.

    Speaking to reporters, Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis said that the ministry aimed to offer financial incentives to owners of motorcycles for the renewal of the country's motorcycle fleet. Under the plan, owners of motor-cycles with a circulation age of more than eight years could withdraw their motorcycles for a new one without having to pay a registration duty, or circulation fees (for a period of up to five years for motorcycles more than 300 cc and indefinitely for motorcycles up to 300 cc).

    Transport ministry data showed that around 1.4 million motorcycles were circulating in Greece and noted that the withdrawal measure covered more than 300,000.

    [26] Parliament passes gov't bill to cut red tape for industry

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Parliament on Wednesday passed a government bill on the foundation and operation of industrial installations as part of moves to spur sustainable development.

    Designed by the development ministry, the bill aims to encourage business by slashing red tape in applications for licenses. Among innovations are the abolition of twelve supporting documents for the issue of start-up and operating permits.

    [27] Stocks rise, led by banks

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with buying in banks driving up the market, especially Alpha Bank, which gained 3.55% on better-than-expected 2004 results, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 3,054.96 points, posting a rise of 0.70%. Turnover was 197.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.96% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.20% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.03% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 142 to 139 with 68 remaining unchanged.

    [28] Foreign nationals 10.3% of population; EU principles will serve as basis for Greece, Pavlopoulos stresses

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign nationals residing -- legally and illegally -- in Greece were estimated at about 1.15 million people at the end of 2004, or 10.3 percent of the population, up from 270,000 in 1991, the Institute for Migration Policy (IMEPO) announced last week. Figures from a relevant survey, financed by the interior ministry's Migration Policy Institute (MMO) and authored by researcher Martin Baldwin-Edwards, showed that the largest concentration of non-Greek nationals was in the municipality of Athens at 132,000, representing about 17 percent of the municipality's population.

    Next on the list was the northern port city of Thessaloniki, with 27,000 migrants, or 7 percent of its population.

    Between July 2003 and October 2004, roughly 700,000 residence permits were issued, with 509,000 permits in force in January 2004, which fell to 250,000 permits in September of the same year, the survey showed.

    The highest percentage of non-EU nationals with residence permits were Albanians at 63.2 percent, followed by Bulgarians (9.8 percent), Romanians (4.3 percent), Ukrainians (3.4 percent), Pakistanis (2.4 percent) and Georgians (2.2 percent).

    In a related development, Interior and Public Administration Prokopis Pavlopoulos cited what he called the 11 principles set out by the EU regarding immigration that will serve as a basis for Greece.

    Pavlopoulos addressed delegates at the international event "Management of Migration: The Greek, European and International Reality", which was held on Monday in the Greek capital.

    Pavlopoulos described the EU move as an "encouraging sign", noting that Europe had delayed in taking decisions on a common migration policy. Regarding Greece, he said that unfortunately, in the past, both legislation and policies had been inadequate in properly managing migration, resulting in side-effects and attitudes that did not suit Greece and its culture.

    Now, he added, the government intended, with the cooperation of all the political forces and agencies, to wipe out the tactics of the past so that the country could move forward -- for reasons of culture and democratic principles -- so that all those coming to the country would contribute to the growth of the economy and Greek civilization.

    Migration in Greece had a triple uniqueness, he said, given that Greece had no common borders with any other EU member-states; 55 percent of the migrants in the country hail from one country alone, while Greece also hosts the largest proportion of immigrants - as a percentage of the overall population -- than other European countries.

    [29] Doukas on cost overrun of Olympic Games projects

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas, speaking at an event organized in Athens on Wednesday night by the Centre of Modern Policy at the hall of the Athens Journalists Union on the theme "Development and competitiveness in the post-Olympics period," referred to the cost overrun of the Olympic Games projects.

    Indicatively, Doukas said the cost of the Olympic Stadium, from 8.8 million euros which was initially foreseen, the final cost came to 399 million euros. The Olympic Baseball, Softball - Ellinikon Centre, from 32.3 million euros reached the final cost of 200.4 million euros. The Olympic Sailing Centre - Aghios Kosmas from 44 million euros cost 118.5 million euros. Furthermore, the final cost of the Olympic Equestrian - Tatoi Centre reached 110.4 million euros from 22.6 million euros.

    [30] Retired police officer testifies about activities of Apostolos Vavylis

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    Retired police officer Yiannis Triantafyllakis was kept by a First-Instance Court public prosecutor for three hours on Wednesday in order to give testimony regarding the activities of known felon Apostolos Vavylis at the time when he was a fugitive from justice.

    The investigation into Vavylis got underway when his name was linked with that of high-ranking members of the clergy in a scandal concerning corruption within the Church that erupted over the past month.

    Triantafyllakis was also asked to clarify about the issue of false identity documents and certificates to Vavylis in the name Apostolos Fokas, a case due to go to trial in April.

    [31] Trial for four murders, three involving Albanian nationals, begins in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The trial for the murder of three Albanian nationals and one other man began under stringent security measures in a Thessaloniki Mixed Jury Court on Wednesday.

    On trial are the brothers Ioannis and Stavros Baltas, aged 33 and 29, respectively, and their friend Dimitrios Savelidis from the village of Lofiskos in Thessaloniki.

    Ioannis Baltas is accused of killing Dimitris Kirkinezis, the fiancé of his sister Theodora, in May 2004 and, by order of the Thessaloniki Misdemeanors Court Council, of the murder of his Albanian employee Eduard Haka, who worked for him as a shepherd, in 1996. All three men on trial are accused of jointly murdering Albanian immigrants Petrit Losi and Paucin Secisi in December 1995 in Petroto, Kilkis.

    [32] Hellenic Audiovisual Institute launches online communications guide

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Athens-based Hellenic Audiovisual Institute (IOM) on Wednesday announced the launch of an online Greek communications guide.

    In the guide, IOM has recorded more than 1,000 entities divided into 16 categories, such as periodicals, press, audiovisual files, market research companies, public relations firms, advertising agencies, film producers, and others.

    While the entire guide will be accessible to the public through the IOM website (, currently only two categories have been released.

    [33] Probe ordered in game-fixing allegations linked to German football scam

    Athens, 24/2/2005 (ANA)

    One of the biggest football corruption scandals in German history has apparently spilled over into Greece, as a Thessaloniki chief prosecutor on Wednesday ordered an urgent investigation into reports of rigged games in the northern city being manipulated by the same ring behind the scam in Germany.

    The development comes two days after on-air allegations by a man identified only as "Costas", who claimed that six individuals in the Thessaloniki area knew game results of several Greek first and second division football matches beforehand. The man also claimed that his only involvement was to cash in on the "insider information" via on-line Internet betting services.

    The same individual has reportedly been named by Robert Hoyzer, the disgraced ex-referee at the centre of the game-fixing scam, to German authorities.

    The top judicial official, first instance court chief prosecutor Panayiotis Ioannidis, ordered a probe into the identities of the six individuals and whether any crimes were committed.

    Hoyzer faces a lifetime ban and a heavy fine for his admission of fixing football matches, as well as prison time if convicted of fraud. The ex-referee was arrested along with three brothers from Croatia suspected of masterminding the scam.

    The allegations were heard on TV program focusing on behind-the-scenes developments in the local sports scene, and carried by the small television station "Extra".

    [34] Cypriot President meets EU Enlargement Commissioner

    BRUSSELS 24/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and European Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn discussed here on Wednesday the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.

    During their first meeting, President Papadopoulos and Rehn also discussed the two EU regulations regarding financial aid towards the Turkish Cypriots and direct trade between the Union and Cyprus' northern Turkish occupied areas.

    In statements after the meeting, the Cypriot president said he briefed the Commissioner over the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, noting that this issue remains under the UN umbrella but that a more active EU role is expected if and when negotiations start.

    Rehn will visit Turkey on March 8 and Cyprus on May 13.

    The president was accompanied at the two-hour-long meeting by Foreign Minister George Iacovou.

    President Papadopoulos said it was an excellent meeting, during which issues concerning the EU and the Republic of Cyprus were discussed.

    ''These were the EU regulations for the Turkish Cypriots, the construction works and the arrival of settlers in the Turkish occupied areas, the European Commission's plans regarding the protocol Turkey must sign for the extension of its customs union to cover all EU member states, as well as issues for closer cooperation with the EU,'' the president said.

    Responding to a question, the President said the reason for which the EU funds, in the framework of the regulation for financial aid, do not reach the Turkish Cypriots is because of their leadership and for clearly political reasons.

    He noted that the Turkish Cypriots should take into consideration the fact that this financial aid has an expiry date, which is the end of 2006.

    The president also explained to the European Commissioner the government's position that there is no economic or practical reason for the connection of the two regulations, noting that the direct trade regulation is a third regulation imposed by the former Enlargement Commissioner, without any consultation with the Republic of Cyprus, which has some objections on the legal base of this regulation.

    ''We agree with the interpretation as set out by the legal committee of the Council and we disagree with the legal interpretation of the Commission,'' the president said, adding that the issue is still under discussion.

    Responding to a question in connection with a Commission letter to Ankara, calling on Turkey to initial the protocol for the extension of the customs union by the end of February, President Papadopoulos said that this remains the Commission's position.

    ''We encourage Turkey to fulfill its obligations. The signing of the protocol is a Turkish obligation,'' the president said.

    Referring to the continuing construction works in the Turkish occupied areas and the arrival of illegal settlers from mainland Turkey, President Papadopoulos said he submitted a written memorandum to the Commission.

    ''Turkey has certain obligations as a candidate country and we believe that its actions are contrary to the relations candidate countries and EU member states must have,'' President Papadopoulos said.

    [35] Cypriot President Papadopoulos verifies new weaponry in occupied areas

    LARNACA 24/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos verified here on Wednesday night that Turkey has sent weaponry to the Turkish occupied northern areas of the island.

    Speaking on arrival for Brussels, where he participated in the EU-US Summit, President Papadopoulos also referred to Turkey's obsession to intervene and prevent the island's participation in organizations, for instance the agreement on ''Free Skies.''

    Responding to a question on reports that the Turkish occupation army has received new weaponry from Turkey, the president said that the so-called premier of the pseudo state Mehmet Ali Talat is dismissing these reports and describes the situation as ''upgrading, improvement and replacement'' of the existing weapons.

    Commenting on Talat's statement for a meeting between the two of them to discuss the Cyprus problem, the president stressed that efforts for a Cyprus solution are under the UN umbrella, because it is an international problem and not a bicommunal difference.

    As regards his first meeting with European Union Commissioner for enlargement Olli Rehn, he said they discussed the latest developments in the Cyprus problem as well as the EU regulations, pending before the EU Council of ministers, regarding financial aid towards the Turkish Cypriots and direct trade between the Union and Cyprus' northern Turkish occupied areas.

    [36] Cyprus finds misinterpretations in British Committee's report

    NICOSIA 24/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus Government believes that many of the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons report on Cyprus are mere misinterpretations of facts due to the lack of information.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Wednesday the Republic of Cyprus welcomes some of the references but on others expresses disappointment because they seem to support the belief that there are efforts to politically upgrade the divisive tendencies of the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus.

    He added that the report on an inquiry conducted by the Committee into UK policy towards Cyprus would be subject to further examination by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    As regards the conclusion for the illegal Turkish settlers, the spokesman said that the Committee justifies their participation in last year's referendum and suggests that they should participate in a new one, if such an event arises.

    Chrysostomides described this conclusion as ''a mere misinterpretation of the principles of international law and selective implementation of different principles'' and wondered why there is a different approach where Cyprus is concerned.

    He also noted a ''serious contradiction'' in the report since the Committee at one point suggests a population census for settlers either by an international organization or by the so-called authorities of the puppet regime with international monitoring and at another point suggests that they can vote in the referendum.

    The spokesman described as unfair the conclusion that the British Government and other European states should work together with the Republic of Cyprus so that the latter can adapt European principles and working methods.

    ''The members of the European Parliament should not ignore the fact that Cyprus is the only European country, part of which is occupied by foreign troops of a country, Turkey, which aspires to become an EU member,'' he pointed out.

    As regards the EU Regulations for the Turkish Cypriots, he noted the conclusions prove that the Committee was simply not aware that an agreement was reached on the Green Line Regulation for trade between the two communities of the island.

    He further said that the reason the EU funds for the Turkish Cypriots, in the framework of the Financial Aid Regulation, have not yet been given to the community was the refusal of the Turkish Cypriot leadership.

    Chrysostomides noted that it is the British Government that connects this regulation and the one for direct trade, adding that even the Turkish Cypriots agree that the non-allocation of the funds is due to the connection of the two regulations.

    ''The Cyprus Government up to now has offered more financial support to the Turkish Cypriots than anyone else,'' the spokesman pointed out.

    At another point the report said that British promises towards the Turkish Cypriots for direct trade and flights should be kept, and the Cypriot spokesman wondered whether this reference proves or not the Republic's position ''about efforts, in essence, for the upgrading of the divisive tendencies of the north and the support of its efforts for political gains.''

    He also expressed disappointment over ''actions on the UK part that tends to support efforts to bypass international law, international behavior and to ignore the dangers for the international aviation.''

    Responding to the reference that the Cyprus government does not recognize licenses for vehicles issued in the Turkish occupied areas, he explained that the Turkish Cypriots enjoy a lot of privileges on this issue, adding that the Cyprus Government must also comply with EU laws.

    Referring to the conclusion, which the Cyprus government considers as positive, the spokesman underlined the reference that the Turkish troops must leave after a Cyprus settlement. ''The Committee agrees that the occupation army must leave and also notes the British Government's intention to contribute to a settlement,'' he said.

    Furthermore he said the Government agrees with the Committee that the property issue is critical for a solution.

    Responding to questions on the methodology followed by the Committee, he said that what was asked by the Cyprus Government was to submit documents and it did but no verbal report or explanation was asked by the Government.

    He concluded that it seems that the Committee relied extensively on the conclusions of the British former representative for Cyprus Lord David Hannay.

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