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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-07-01

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

July 1, 2005


  • [01] PM Karamanlis holds talks with British counterpart Blair in London
  • [02] Parliament ratifies capital market bill and bank employees' social security arrangements
  • [03] Alogoskoufis adamantly vows that banks will cover sector pension reform; dismisses Evert criticism
  • [04] Defense minister meets US undersecretary for defense Suzanne Patrick
  • [05] Gov't spokesman denies that Greek Commissioner opposed Turkey's EU prospects
  • [06] Gov't spokesman on documents showing political bias against military officers under PASOK
  • [07] Papandreou meets with EETT's outgoing president
  • [08] Athens, Ankara sign multi-faceted trade cooperation memorandum
  • [09] Greek, Turkish PMs to inaugurate joint natural gas pipeline project on Sunday
  • [10] Budget revenues down from official provisions in Jan-May
  • [11] Olympic Airlines' privatization underway, results expected soon, Minister says
  • [12] Greek Civil Aviation Authority upgraded to first category in flight safety by FAA
  • [13] Greek Ombudsman's report shows flaws in implementing employment law for vulnerable groups
  • [14] Gov't considers abolishing indicative retail prices on beverages
  • [15] U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense visits Intracom's installations
  • [16] Greek stocks end up in heavy trade
  • [17] Environment ministry invites local gov'ts to submit plans for reclaiming uncontrolled dumps
  • [18] Gov't plans to re-establish rural police force
  • [19] Gov't warns against 'hawking' for tourists, free camping

  • [01] PM Karamanlis holds talks with British counterpart Blair in London

    LONDON 1/7/2005 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his British counter-part Tony Blair discussed the restructuring of the European Union's budget, Turkey's European candidacy, the issue of Cyprus and the situation in the Balkans, particularly Kosovo and Skopje, during their meeting here on Thursday.

    These are the issues that the British EU presidency, due to begin on Friday, will address and promote.

    Speaking after his talks with Blair, Karamanlis said "we had a very useful meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and we discussed a wide spectrum of international, European and bilateral issues. Our talks, as was natural, focused on recent developments in the European Union and I had the opportunity of presenting to Tony Blair our positions and views, our proposals on these developments."

    Karamanlis further said that "in parallel, we listened to Mr. Blair presenting the priorities of the British presidency on these issues and primarily, of course, on the ratification process for the Constitutional Treaty, as well as fiscal policies for the 2007-2013 period."

    The prime minister added that relations between the EU and the western Balkans, relations with Turkey and the issue of Cyprus were also discussed.

    "On a bilateral level, we had the opportunity with the British prime minister of confirming once again the excellent climate in our bilateral relations. I must stress as well that the meeting and the discussion took place in a very constructive climate and on this occasion I wished the British prime minister every success in the British presidency, which he is assuming now, and in the difficult task in the six-month period that is beginning," Karamanlis said.

    PM gives speech at London's City University, outlines new institutional framework for attracting investments: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis gave a speech at the Business and Economics Faculty of London's City University on Thursday night on the theme of "Greece: Looking behind the 2004 Olympic Games" in which he outlined the new institutional framework being created in Greece to attract foreign investments and develop businesses in the country.

    "A wide program of changes and reforms is already fully underway in the economy, public administration, public health and education and the basic axis of our strategy is the transition to a state of increased capabilities, a state that will be smaller in the economy and more effective in its social mission," the prime minister said.

    Karamanlis further said the fiscal adjustment remains a basic and imperative priority for government policy.

    "Our aim is for this adjustment to be achieved with the mildest of processes. We are implementing a new economic and development model which is not based on state-fed development but on productive investments," he noted.

    The prime minister said that as part of the effort to support enterprise, special plans are being promoted for tourism, industry and renewable energy sources.

    Karamanlis also stressed the great importance of shipping for Greece.

    "It is the sector in which we Greeks have proved how much enterprise can flourish when it finds a fertile environment. The benefits for the country are considerable. Revenues from shipping outstripped revenues from tourism for the first time last year," he said.

    "Greece is the gateway to Europe for the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia. Greece is at the same time the place where European businesses can establish their headquarters to infiltrate the countries of southeastern Europe," the prime minister stressed.

    Karamanlis concluded his speech by saying "post-Olympic Games Greece is a country of many prospects and opportunities. A country which is facing the future with optimism and self-confidence."

    Karamanlis was scheduled to depart from London at the end of his speech.

    [02] Parliament ratifies capital market bill and bank employees' social security arrangements

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Parliament on Thursday ratified the capital market bill, which includes articles regarding pension reform in the banking sector and voluntary retirement of employees of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE).

    The articles concerning the bank employees' social security system and voluntary retirement from OTE were ratified with the roll call voting process as requested by the main opposition PASOK party.

    Out of 286 deputies present (Parliament has a total of 300 deputies), the articles (with the exception of article 74 regarding voluntary retirement) were ratified with the votes of 164 deputies (belonging to the ruling New Democracy party) and were voted against by 122 deputies (PASOK; Communist Party of Greece; Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology; and by Stefanos Manos).

    Article 74 on voluntary retirement from OTE was ratified with the votes of 165 deputies (those of ND and by Stefanos Manos), while they were voted against by 121 deputies (PASOK, the Communist Party and the Coalition party).

    ND Deputy of State Miltiades Evert did not attend the voting process, but reiterated in a letter to Parliament's directorate that he votes against article 59.

    An amendment tabled by Manos for banks to assume the deficits of funds was also rejected by a majority vote.

    Banks will be open on Friday: Banks will open on Friday following the decision of the bank staff union OTOE to suspend the rolling strike which has been going on for the past two weeks.

    OTOE's General Council decided to suspend the strike since the controversial bill regarding pension reform in the sector will be voted on in Parliament on Thursday evening.

    However, OTOE said that bank employees will be ready to proceed with further strikes should any bank try to implement the new pension arrangement.

    The union also said that legal action will be taken to render the bill - if it is passed - unconstitutional.

    Finally, bank employees will participate in a two-hour work stoppage on Wednesday in a sign of solidarity towards retail shop employees who will be striking in order to protest the government's recent decision to extend shop hours.

    Bank employees continue rallies ahead of crucial Parliament vote, strike may be suspended: Striking bank employees symbolically blocked off Parliament on Thursday, hours before deputies were scheduled to vote on the government's milestone banking sector pension reform, with a relevant amendment expected to be ratified via the ruling party's Parliamentary majority.

    Hundreds of strikers also marched from the economy ministry to the Federation of Greek Industries' (SEB) offices to underline their demand that the bill be withdrawn.

    Meanwhile, the bank employees' union (OTOE) convened an urgent general assembly on Thursday afternoon to decide on further mobilizations as well as possible court action, while press reports stated that the industrial action, which began earlier in the month, would be suspended.

    Most state-run banks have been shutdown by the strike, although private banks have been mostly unaffected. Whereas ATMs operated without any problem, pensions and unemployment benefits, as well as check clearances, were affected.

    GSEE announces 24-hour strike over gov't bill on labor law: The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organization, on Thursday announced that it would call a 24-hour nationwide strike as soon as the government tables a draft bill on labor relations, more flexible work hours and abolition of the eight-hour day.

    Following a meeting of the union's leadership on Thursday, GSEE said that it would not participate in dialogue or negotiations with the government on labor relations.

    The union group also pledged to support strike action by private employees and small-scale manufacturers over new shop opening hours being promoted by the government and to support all action by the bank workers' union OTOE against an amendment shifting bank auxiliary pension funds to the private sector.

    GSEE said it would also respond with strike action to any decision that was carried out at the expense of IKA, while it also rejected a recent early retirement deal struck at the state telecoms organization OTE and called for action to reverse this.

    [03] Alogoskoufis adamantly vows that banks will cover sector pension reform; dismisses Evert criticism

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis remained adamant on Thursday that a high-profile draft amendment regarding bank sector pension reform will be entirely covered by the banks themselves, while he again dismissed high-profile criticism from a past New Democracy party leader that one private bank was privy to the government's intentions.

    Alogoskoufis pointed to a letter by the bank employees' union (OTOE) dated Jan. 18, 2005 that details the union's position on pension reform and one that includes its demand for a "total solution" to the problem with the creation of a unified supplementary fund.

    "We did just that, with the difference being that we promoted the creation of a fund based on private law and not on public law, as OTOE wanted," he said.

    The minister said the sum to be paid by the banks for the plan's implementation will be calculated by a specially commission study that will also take into account the interest on the amount and the payment period.

    In answer to the controversial statements this week by high-ranking ND deputy and former party president Miltiades Evert, who expressed reservations over whether taxpayers will contribute to the reform and whether private Alpha Bank knew of the government's intentions four months ago, Alogoskoufis countered that state-run ATEBank (the former Agriculture Bank) also did not list debts to pension funds on its balance sheet ahead of a possible legislative initiative.

    "No bank had listed such obligations on its balance sheet in anticipation of the dialogue (over pension reform) ... Let me just repeat that all of the debts will be listed," he said.

    In a related development, Alogoskoufis also tabled a past statement by former Emporiki Bank governor Yiannis Stournaras, a top economic adviser in the previous Simitis government prior to his subsequent assumption of the state-run bank's helm, whereby the latter states that the proceeds from the sale of Ioniki Bank (another state-run bank sold to Alpha) were invested in the Athens Stock Exchange, "which we lost".

    Turning to the principal state-run Social Security Foundation (IKA), the entity where bank employees will be shifted for their primary pension, Alogoskoufis repeated the government's commitment to funding IKA with at least 1 percent of GDP annually, as mandated by law.

    "IKA is not at risk. Please stop shedding, gentlemen of PASOK, crocodile tears for IKA. The foundation has been undermined since the 1980s and 1990s..." he charged, only hours before a relevant draft bill detailing the reform and a ground-breaking early voluntary retirement plan for the state-run telephony provider (OTE) is expected to be ratified by a majority of Parliament MPs.

    ND former party leader Evert says he will not vote article 59 on banks' pension fund: New Democracy's former party leader Miltiades Evert on Thursday announced he would not vote in favor of article 59 of a draft law on capital markets, regulating the entry of bank workers' pension funds to the Social Security Institution (IKA).

    Speaking to reporters, Evert said "if we really wanted to save state banks, Emporiki Bank and Agricultural Bank, we could simply proceed with a share capital increase plan, according to their funds' needs. That's what a simple economist could think. I wonder why the finance ministry didn't".

    Commenting on the equity participation of French bank Credit Agricole in Emporiki Bank (it owns a 10 percent stake), Evert wondered if the Greek people would pay the French bank, while he stressed that Greek banks would pay their share of the cost after 10 years but not with interest. "The article 59 should have included the word on interest," he added.

    "I am in the difficult position, since for the first time in my political career, I have to oppose a draft law tabled by my political party. I will not vote in favor of article 59," he stressed.

    Gov't spokesman: The government spokesman on Thursday also fielded a barrage of press questions over the Evert statement hinting at "insider information", with Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos noting:

    "From the balance sheets it is clear that Alpha Bank itself, and not the auditors, recognized that it had outstanding obligations in terms of social security contributions, and that these would be met with the conclusion of talks over pension reform," he said.

    He also noted that ATEBank's board of directors also made a similar observation in that bank's balance sheet for 2004.

    In conclusion, Roussopoulos said the entire issue was well known since last September.

    SYN leader criticizes gov't on pension reform: President of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Alekos Alavanos criticized the government for its efforts to reform the banking sector's pension system and with proceeding with a voluntary retirement program at the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE).

    Alavanos made his comments during a speech he gave in the Athens district of Egaleo on Thursday evening.

    He said that through these actions, the government is trying to impose the lowest common denominator - in terms of pay and benefits - in both the public and private sector.

    Alavanos also accused the government of using a "divide and conquer" tactic with workers.

    "The first, major structural reform that we need, as a society, is to re-create a connection between politics and the economy on the basis of a new foundation," he said, calling on workers to cooperate and show solidarity towards one another.

    [04] Defense minister meets US undersecretary for defense Suzanne Patrick

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos on Thursday received U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Industrial Policy Suzanne Patrick, who is currently visiting private and state-sector defense industries during a tour of EU member-states.

    According to sources within the ministry, Patrick expressed satisfaction with the capabilities of the Greek defense ministry and spoke in favor of expanding bilateral cooperation between the defense industries of the two countries, asking that Greece cut through bureaucratic red tape toward this end.

    [05] Gov't spokesman denies that Greek Commissioner opposed Turkey's EU prospects

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Greek government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday denied that Greek European Commissioner Stavros Dimas, in charge of the environment, had adopted a stance opposing Turkey's accession to the European Union.

    Referring reporters to Dimas' own denial of a report by Reuters, in which he allegedly backed fellow EU Commissioner for the Information Society and media Viviane Reding during Wednesday's debate by the College of Commissioners when she asked that Turkey not be given any EU accession prospects, Roussopoulos said that Dimas "supported the views that our country has expressed from time to time."

    [06] Gov't spokesman on documents showing political bias against military officers under PASOK

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Thursday insisted that evidence pointing to party political bias in the treatment of armed forces staff under PASOK governments had not been proved fake.

    The spokesman was referring to accusations made in Parliament by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that officers known to support New Democracy had been given unfavorable transfers in 1998, under PASOK governments.

    "There was an investigation on this issue and those involved in the incident did not accept their involvement (as they naturally would not), but - as noted in an announcement yesterday by the national defense ministry - the files of the officers prove that the transfers were carried out exactly as ordered in those notorious lists".

    Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, during a debate on public administration, Karamanlis had presented files that he said contained documents written under PASOK governments, in which there were recommendations that certain officers be admitted to military academies and others failed on the basis of the political beliefs.

    In a later announcement, main opposition PASOK questioned the accuracy and veracity of the documents presented by the premier.

    [07] Papandreou meets with EETT's outgoing president

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday met with the outgoing president of the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT), the country's national regulatory authority, Emmanouil Yiakoumakis.

    Yiakoumakis has complained to political leaders over the recent period over the lack of a new board at EETT.

    Moreover, he expressed his opposition to a government proposal shifting the appointment of EETT's director from Parliament to the transport minister.

    [08] Athens, Ankara sign multi-faceted trade cooperation memorandum

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Greece and Turkey on Thursday signed a memorandum of cooperation in the commercial and trade sector following the conclusion of a two-day inter-ministerial council meeting in Athens.

    An agreement on patent and standardization between the relevant Greek and Turkish agencies was also signed on the sidelines of the meeting, a pact that foresees the exchange of know-how, among others.

    On his part, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis called for a decrease in the trade gap between the two neighbors, as Turkey still enjoys a 2-1 advantage in the bilateral trade balance, a motion that reportedly met with acceptance by the Turkish side.

    Athens also proposed the creation of a second bridge at the Kipi border crossing on the two countries' land frontier, a border separated by the Evros River.

    Both sides also agreed, in principle, to ferry boat routes in the northeast Aegean linking the ports of Ainos, Alexandroupolis, Maroneia, the island of Samothrace and the island of Imvros.

    The memorandum also cited a reference to an agreement between state-run Greek telephony provider OTE and the corresponding utility Turk Telecom, as well as one between Hellenic Railways and Turkish Rail for upgrading the Thessaloniki-Istanbul route.

    The Turkish delegation was headed by Foreign Trade Undersecretary Tuncer Kayalar.

    [09] Greek, Turkish PMs to inaugurate joint natural gas pipeline project on Sunday

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    The official inauguration of a Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline project, by both countries' prime ministers on the Evros River on Sunday, is a significant and historic moment, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the people of Greece and Turkey have not experienced such historic moments since the era of Eleftherios Venizelos and Kemal Mustafa Ataturk.

    "The project is an achievement of friendship and cooperation between the two people. It is proof that our people want to live in a common better future with economic, social and political cooperation. The pipeline will transfer natural gas from the east to European markets," Development Deputy Minister George Salagoudis told a Greek-Turkish forum in Athens.

    Salagoudis also referred to the inter-connection of electricity grids between Greece and Turkey, scheduled for end-2007, a project that "will allow the exchange of power between the two countries," as well as the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, "a project that will contribute in protecting the environment and sea traffic of Bosporus Strait".

    Development minister hails inauguration of Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline: Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday stressed that the official inauguration of a Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline on Sunday by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan was an "important and historic moment".

    Speaking at the sidelines of events for "Science and Technology Week" at Zappeion on Thursday morning, he said that the people of Greece and Turkey had not lived through such major developments since the time of Eleftherios Venizelos and Kemal Ataturk.

    The pipeline was also referred to in a speech by Deputy Development Minister George Salagoudis at the 8th Greek-Turkish Business Conference, which began in Athens on Thursday, who stressed that the project was an achievement of friendship and cooperation between Greece and Turkey.

    "It is proof that our peoples want to share a better future, with economic, social and political cooperation," he said.

    Salagoudis also referred to a link between electricity grids in the two countries that was envisioned to begin operating at the end of 2007.

    [10] Budget revenues down from official provisions in Jan-May

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Greek state budget's net revenues rose 4.0 percent in the first five months of 2005, compared with the same period last year, a rate sharply lower from a budget provision for an annual growth rate of 10.2 percent.

    Budget spending rose 6.8 percent over the same period, exceeding a budget provision for a 4.6 percent annual growth rate. Primary spending rose 4.1 percent in the January-May period, compared with the same period last year, slightly down from a 4.9 percent budget forecast, while spending on interest soared 13.5 percent in the five-month period from a budget target of 3.5 percent.

    Public Investment Programme's revenues rose 4.9 percent in the same period, down from a 10.3 percent budget target, while the program's spending fell 39.1 percent from 15.4 percent, respectively.

    This leaves the state budget's deficit at 6.168 billion euros in the January-May period, from a budget target of 8.517 billion euros, the State General Accounting Office said on Thursday.

    [11] Olympic Airlines' privatization underway, results expected soon, Minister says

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Thursday said he was cautiously optimistic over developments in a plan to privatize Olympic Airlines.

    Speaking to reporters, Liapis said an international tender was underway and according to EU regulations, while he added that negotiations were at their final stage. The Greek minister said that no candidate company was excluded from negotiations and stressed that results were expected in the next few weeks. Liapis said a contract with a likely winner of the tender was expected to be signed after three months.

    [12] Greek Civil Aviation Authority upgraded to first category in flight safety by FAA

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's Civil Aviation Authority was upgraded to the first category in flight safety by FAA, the US federal aviation authority, after almost five years of consultation.

    The announcement was made by Greek Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis during a visit to the Athens International Airport on Thursday.

    This development is of great significance to the Greek aviation, since it will expand the country's aviation market, facilitating Greek airlines' flights to the US, with more flights and destinations in the American market, while at the same it will ease aircraft inspections.

    US ambassador to Athens, Charles Ries, announced FAA's decision in a meeting with the Greek minister on Wednesday and said the US aviation authority acknowledged Greece's efforts to upgrade infrastructure, legislation and general aviation conditions in the country.

    Speaking to reporters, Liapis expressed his satisfaction over this development and called it "a national success" since FAA's decision not only added more status to the Greek aviation sector but offer many advantages as well, such as more tourism.

    The Greek minister announced that a Presidential Decree on airport safety would be ready in the next few days, an issue pending since 2003.

    Liapis said the Athens International Airport was one of the two rapidly growing airports in Europe and noted that passenger traffic rose 12 percent in the first five months of 2005.

    [13] Greek Ombudsman's report shows flaws in implementing employment law for vulnerable groups

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    A report by the Greek Ombudsman released on Thursday revealed significant flaws in the implementation of a 1998 law for the preferential employment of 'vulnerable' groups, such as the disabled, members of large families, resistance fighters and victims of war.

    The report presented by Ombudsman George Kaminis to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis noted that nearly 60 per cent of those eligible for preferential treatment under the law's provisions in 2002 had been barred from the benefits they were entitled to because they were misinformed or inadequately informed about the supporting documents they must provide and because of unclear interpretations of the law itself.

    The report also noted that nearly every placement of a representative of such vulnerable groups in a private-sector company had been challenged by the employer involved.

    Finally, Kaminis noted that there was no clear data base regarding the number of people employed through implementation of the 1998 law.

    The Ombudsman stressed that unemployment was the greatest social problem for such vulnerable population groups and recommended that the government prepare a new legislative framework or improve the old one in this area.

    The report was based on 204 complaints lodged by citizens, the majority of them either disabled or individuals support large families and also contains proposals for the placement procedure, providing more specific protection and for greater acceptance of the measures by the companies it affects.

    [14] Gov't considers abolishing indicative retail prices on beverages

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou on Thursday said the government was considering the abolition of indicative retail prices on beverages after the Council of State ruled against a market regulation setting ceilings on the retail price of beverages sold in museums, airports and cantines. The ruling does not cover bottled water.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said the ministry's legal service was considering all scenarios with the aim to maintain a market regulation on indicative retail prices in markets with no competition. A draft legislation on the issue is scheduled to be discussed in parliament July 5-28. Papathanasiou reiterated that the government would proceed with plans to introduce single shopping hours around the country and stressed that, so far, he has not heard any convincing arguments against such a plan.

    The Greek minister also said that a market regulation on pharmaceutical products would be published next week, while a draft legislation on creating a commercial register would be tabled to parliament in August.

    [15] U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense visits Intracom's installations

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Industrial Policy Suzanne Patrick visited the installations of the Intracom company in the township of Peania, east of Athens, on Thursday. She was accompanied on her visit by U.S. and Greek officials.

    According to an announcement by Intracom, Patrick was briefed on the company's activities, products and services, while prospects of new cooperation with U.S. companies were also discussed.

    The U.S. delegation was then given a guided tour of the company's defense systems factory.

    [16] Greek stocks end up in heavy trade

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    Greek stocks rebounded on Thursday, changing direction for the fourth time in four days, reflecting nervousness among investors and lack of clear direction from the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The composite index rose 0.77 percent to end at 3,060.73 points, with turnover a heavy 271.9 million euros, reflecting strong buying interest for blue chip stocks.

    The Insurance, Information, Telecommunications and Investment indices scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (6.59 pct, 3.97 pct, 1.89 pct and 1.27 pct, respectively), while the Cement (0.57 pct), Textiles (0.44 pct), Industrials (0.34 pct) and Retail (0.27 pct), suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.62 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.92 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended up 0.45 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 176 to 96 with another 68 issues unchanged.

    [17] Environment ministry invites local gov'ts to submit plans for reclaiming uncontrolled dumps

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    The environment ministry on Thursday invited local authorities to submit proposals for works to reclaim Sites of Uncontrolled Waste Dumping, in the framework of its 'Perivallon' (Environment) program.

    The total budget, including both national and Community funding, made available through this invitation of interest is 18,300,000 euros. Proposals chosen under the measures will receive 75 per cent funding from the European Regional Development Fund and 25 per cent from national funds.

    The final deadline for submitting proposals is August 12, 2005.

    The ministry also invited expressions of interest from non-governmental organizations for launching campaigns to raise public awareness concerning the Perivallon operational program.

    Stressing that no policy for the environment could work without activating and boosting the society of citizens, Environment Minister George Souflias said that ministry was taking this "important step" to involve NGOs, while the total budget for the campaign would come to 1,120,000 euros, of which 75 per cent will come from the European Regional Development Fund and 25 per cent from national funds.

    [18] Gov't plans to re-establish rural police force

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    The government has decided to re-establish a rural police force, according to plans presented by Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis on Thursday.

    The Greek Rural Police will have jurisdiction throughout the country and will be responsible for protecting Greece's rural regions, ensuring the quality of agricultural production and addressing potential environmental threats.

    The new force will have its own headquarters and will report to the public order minister. It will also have its own training academy.

    Voulgarakis said that talks on the issue with other responsible ministries, authorities and agencies will conclude in October.

    The objective, he said, was to collect feedback from all those concerned in order to formulate the best possible plan.

    [19] Gov't warns against 'hawking' for tourists, free camping

    Athens, 1/7/2005 (ANA)

    The tourism development ministry has issued two circulars towards all relevant authorities and agencies warning against the practice of "hawking" for tourists at ports and entry points and against free camping.

    The circulars, signed Deputy Minister Anastasios Liaskos, calls on authorities to take immediate action against such instances.

    He also called on professional unions to patrol their members, so that the positive images gained from the Olympic Games remains.

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