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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-08-03

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

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

August 3, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece hails French PM's statements on Turkey
  • [02] Roussopoulos says PM Karamanlis will visit Ankara when date is mutually agreed
  • [03] Gov't releases 100,000 euros for emergency aid to Attica fire victims
  • [04] Gov't says it is considering first-round election of mayors with 42 per cent from 2006
  • [05] Ecumenical Patriarchate expresses 'sorrow' at statements by Turkey's deputy premier
  • [06] Greek inner cabinet approves introduction of VAT on new buildings
  • [07] Greek businesses seek opportunities in China
  • [08] Tourism to Crete shows rising trend, minister says
  • [09] Merchant marine and Aegean ministers discuss problems of passenger shipping
  • [10] Greece sets new record in electricity consumption
  • [11] Technical Olympic's US arm buys home developer in joint venture
  • [12] Greek stocks end 0.52 pct higher
  • [13] Attica police bust international crime ring exploiting deaf people from eastern Europe
  • [14] Thessaloniki to host 2006 European Cup in Athletics
  • [15] Cyprus government: French Premier's statement ''particularly positive''
  • [16] Recognition of Cyprus not a prerequisite for Turkey, says Commission

  • [01] Greece hails French PM's statements on Turkey

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign Ministry Spokesman George Koumoutsakos said in an announcement on Tuesday that the statements by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin according to which "it is inconceivable" for the European Union to start negotiations with Turkey as long as it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, "apparently carry particular weight."

    Koumoutsakos said: "We have made clear that the non-recognition of a member state of the European Union by another country which seeks its accession to it apparently constitutes an apparent political and institutional contradiction and paradox, alien to the European rationalism."

    The foreign ministry spokesman said that "within this context, today's statements by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, apparently have particular weight."

    Koumoutsakos added: "We have also repeatedly underlined that this contradiction in which Turkey itself chose to find itself in, must cease. The sooner the better. We insist on this position."

    He went on to say: "We will take a definite position on the matter of the start of Turkey's accession negotiations at the agencies of the European Union which will take the relevant decisions. At the same time, our position remains the support of the European prospects of Turkey, which, however, must develop in accordance with the principles, rules and values of the European Union".

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis stated that the non-recognition of Cyprus by Turkey, that is, of a member state constitutes a European paradox .

    The deputy minister said that "the continuation of this paradox will shadow Turkey's accession negotiations and for this reason it must be lifted as soon as possible."

    Within this context, the statement by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has particular importance, Valinakis said. "Greece's position regarding the accession negotiations of Turkey with the European Union will be presented to the relevant European agencies at the appropriate time," Valinakis said.

    On his part, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, in reference to the statement by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, said that "the Greek government is faced with a serious dilemma, following the statement by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, regarding Turkey's statement that with the signing of the extension of the customs union protocol, it did not recognize the Republic of Cyprus."

    Defining this dilemma to which, as Athanassakis said the Greek government is faced with, he stressed that the government "should either stop itself Turkey's accession course or support this course, having accepted to faits accomplis."

    Athanassakis also said that the government is at an impasse due to its stance at the EU summit last December, "a stance which was characterized from a lack of strategy and a clear position."

    [02] Roussopoulos says PM Karamanlis will visit Ankara when date is mutually agreed

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, asked to comment on a dispatch by Reuters news agency, which on Tuesday, with a delay of two weeks, speaks of a postponement of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis's visit to Ankara, reiterated that as he has stated "for many days now, the visit will take place in the near future, on a date which will be mutually agreed."

    Commenting on statements by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis regarding Turkey's European prospects, Roussopoulos said that "all that are referred in today's announcement of the Foreign Ministry are valid."

    [03] Gov't releases 100,000 euros for emergency aid to Attica fire victims

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    The Health and Social Solidarity ministry on Tuesday responded immediately to a request by East Attica Prefect Leonidas Kouris for 100,000 euros to cover initial emergency relief aid of 586.94 euros promised by the government for each household that suffered damage in the northeast Attica fires on July 28. The money is intended to cover basic needs, such as clothing and food.

    Deputy Health Minister George Constantopoulos ordered the same-day release of the funds, so that the emergency relief might be immediately given to residents of Rafina, Nea Makri, Spata, Pikermi and other areas whose homes suffered damage.

    [04] Gov't says it is considering first-round election of mayors with 42 per cent from 2006

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday said the government might well introduce the first-round election of candidates that get over 42 per cent of the vote before the next municipal elections in 2006.

    Municipal elections in Greece currently take place in up to two rounds, with a second electoral race held between the two candidates with the highest proportion of the vote, unless one candidate receives an absolute majority from the first Sunday.

    Asked whether the law might be changed, Roussopoulos pointed out that the measure was included in New Democracy's program for all municipalities and scheduled to be implemented before the next local government elections in 2006.

    He said the government was looking into ways that it might be implemented and stressed that there were no disagreements among government members on this issue.

    It was also announced that ND Central Committee Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis will hold the first meeting with party organizing and local government secretariats in view of the upcoming elections at ND headquarters on Wednesday morning.

    [05] Ecumenical Patriarchate expresses 'sorrow' at statements by Turkey's deputy premier

    ISTANBUL 3/8/2005 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate on Tuesday expressed "sorrow" at statements made the previous day by Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin, in a note sent to the Turkish daily "Milliyet".

    Sahin had accused Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of "exceeding his limits" and warned that Turkish authorities "would take the action demanded", in response to the Patriarch's complaints about an attempt by a Turkish government service to expropriate property belonging to an Orthodox monastery in Turkey.

    In the note published by "Milliyet", the Patriarchate underlined Bartholomew's "prayers and efforts for our country's accession to the European Union and that our citizens might live in justice and prosperity", and stressed there was no point in the Patriarch's statements that could be interpreted as an offence.

    [06] Greek inner cabinet approves introduction of VAT on new buildings

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    A Green inner cabinet meeting on Tuesday discussed an Economy and Finance ministry plan to introduce a 19 percent VAT on new buildings from January 1, 2006.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said the measure would help significantly in combatting tax evasion in the country, while he added the first homes would be excluded from the introduction of VAT. The measures also include higher tax-exempt levels for heritages and a gradual abolition of a tax on real estate transfers.

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias said the measures were in the right direction and underlined his satisfaction over the fact that ND's pre-election program was being implemented.

    Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou said the inner cabinet unanimously approved a draft legislation over the quality upgrading of Technical Colleges and to ensure professional rights for graduates. Mrs Yiannakou said the Finance Ministry has already approved 800 organic job positions in the country's universities and that the draft bill was adding another 1,030 more jobs.

    Communist party blasts gov't move to change property taxes: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Tuesday sharply criticized a government plan to change property taxes.

    "The offensive against working people's income and their housing has intensified, leading to a sharp rise in tax and in rents," the party said in a statement.

    "Raising the tax-exempt bracket (for incomes) in no way offsets the dramatic burden that will emerge," the statement said.

    The KKE called on the public to resist the proposed changes.

    Coalition (Synaspismos) party criticizes new tax system for property: The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party slammed new property tax and VAT measures announced by the government on Tuesday, saying they would drive up already inflated property prices.

    Top party member Panagiotis Lafazanis, in charge of economic issues for Synaspismos, accused the government of "continuing the summer and tax-levying road-roller" and predicted that the new measures will make it even harder for lower incomes to buy their first home.

    He also criticized government plans to sell more of the state's share in the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) with the expiration of a bond loan for institutional investors, after which 10.94 of OTE stock would revert to the state and once again raised its share in OTE to 47 per cent.

    Lafazanis said that the state should retain control of public utilities like OTE and called on the government to try to regain control of the phone company.

    Gov't counters opposition criticism of changes in property tax: The finance ministry on Tuesday countered criticism by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) of changes to property tax announced earlier in the day by the government.

    "If PASOK's goal is not to mislead the public, not to expose itself, then it would be a good idea for the party to examine its own (2004) election manifesto, page 17, which calls for imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on new buildings," the ministry said in a statement.

    "It refers to the introduction of VAT on new buildings accompanied by the total abolition of transfer tax in order to lower the cost of construction, revitalize the construction sector and tackle tax evasion," the statement said.

    [07] Greek businesses seek opportunities in China

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    The China market could offer significant opportunities to Greek enterprises if they decide to move fast in the country.

    That was the message delivered by eight Greek companies' officials that participated in an "Asia Interprise ProPak China 2005" event held in Shanghai.

    Greek businessmen expressed their satisfaction over the meetings held in China, in July 26-28, with the business meetings, organized by the Northern Greece's Exporters Union. Greek businessmen met with Chinese officials and businessmen, and visited industrial parks with packaging machinery production unions.

    The Asia-Invest program is an initiative by the European Union and aims to promote and support cooperation between small- and medium-sized enterprises from the EU, Southeastern Asia and China.

    [08] Tourism to Crete shows rising trend, minister says

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Tourism Minister Anastasios Liaskos said on Tuesday that tourism to Crete was showing a rising trend following a period of consolidation.

    Markets like the US that had declined in terms of tourism to Crete had awoken, with US tourist arrivals doubling this year, Liaskos told reporters.

    Charter flights to Iraklion, Crete rose by 7.9 pct in June and 14 percent in July. Arrivals at Hania airport increased by 5.5 percent in May, 7.0 percent in June and 3.5 pct in July, according to official data.

    Also rising sharply were new markets that the ministry had targeted, including Russia, which had so far shown a 30%-50% increase, he added.

    Crete reports increased arrivals of charter flights: Charter flights to Crete showed a remarkable increase during the last three months, with charter arrivals at the Iraklion airport rising 7.9 pct in June and by 14 percent in July, while arrivals at the airport of Chania rose 5.5 percent in May, 7.0 percent in June and 3.5 pct in July.

    Cretan officials also reported a 6.0 percent increase in coastal shipping traffic in the first seven months of 2005, compared with the same period last year.

    Tourism Deputy Minister Anastasios Liaskos discussed ways to promote a quality upgrading of Crete's tourist product during his visit in the island. The Greek minister also met with Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodore B' and discussed ways to promote cooperation in the tourism sector between Greece and Egypt.

    [09] Merchant marine and Aegean ministers discuss problems of passenger shipping

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Minister of the Aegean and Island Policy Aristotelis Pavlidis met on Tuesday to examine the problems of passenger shipping.

    The aim of the ministers' meeting was to coordinate the two ministries to cover the needs of passengers, to meet the increased needs of passenger shipping for the Aegean islands and to handle the increased passenger movement in the country's ports. In the month of July alone, 1,029,000 people used passenger shipping, 52,882 more passengers compared to the corresponding period last year.

    Both the ministers agreed that "above all" was the safety of passengers but also the continuing passenger shipping link of all the islands of the Aegean.

    [10] Greece sets new record in electricity consumption

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    Greece set a new record in electricity consumption on Tuesday, with demand totaling 9,510 MW shortly before 13.30 local time.

    The country's electricity grid was put to its strongest test so far after a series of technical problems in Public Power Corporation's power stations in Kardia and Megalopoli, with the latter's energy production cut to just 80 MW.

    Increased demand was covered with energy imports from Italy and Greece's northern neighbors (totaling 1,100 MW) and with electricity cutbacks in PPC's lignite mines and water pumping stations.

    Demand for electricity reached 8,600 MW on Monday night, equaling the daily peak of August 2004 during the Olympic Games. This development shows that most Greek citizens slept with their air conditioning systems operating during the night.

    [11] Technical Olympic's US arm buys home developer in joint venture

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    Technical Olympic USA, Inc. (TOUSA) said on Tuesday that it had completed the acquisition of homebuilding assets and operations of Transeastern Properties, Inc, headquartered in Coral Springs, Florida, through a joint venture.

    Currently, the joint venture owns or controls approximately 22,000 home sites throughout all major Florida markets, Tousa, a subsidiary of Athens-quoted Technical Olympic, said in a statement.

    "We are excited about combining the strengths of two of Florida's premier builders," said Antonio B. Mon, President and Chief Executive Officer of TOUSA.

    "This acquisition strengthens and complements our current Florida market positions, provides a strong entry into the Tampa/St. Petersburg market, and secures an excellent home site pipeline for future growth in one of the most land-constrained markets in the country. We believe the acquisition will add approximately $35 million in net income to TOUSA's 2006 results," Mon noted.

    A joint venture (EH/Transeastern, LLC d.b.a. Transeastern Homes) was formed to acquire the homebuilding assets of Transeastern.

    The joint venture was formed between TOUSA Homes and an entity controlled by Art and Ed Falcone, Co-Chairmen of The Falcone Group.

    TOUSA Homes serves as the managing member of the joint venture, and each member of the joint venture holds a 50% voting interest. More than 550 Transeastern associates have joined the scheme.

    [12] Greek stocks end 0.52 pct higher

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    Greek stocks resumed their upward trend on Tuesday pushing the composite index 0.52 percent higher in the Athens Stock Exchange. The index ended at 3,289.15 points with turnover a moderate 161.8 million euros.

    Sector indices ended mixed with the Telecommunications (2.75 pct), Metals (1.34 pct), Investments (0.63 pct) and Publications (0.42 pct) recording the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the IT (1.34 pct), Textiles (1.07 pct), Wholesale (0.43 pct) and Food-Beverage (0.28 pct), suffered the heaviest losses.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.50 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.54 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.38 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 158 to 105 with another 68 issues unchanged.

    [13] Attica police bust international crime ring exploiting deaf people from eastern Europe

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    The Attica Police Organized Crime Unit has uncovered an international crime ring exploiting deaf people from the Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet Union, by putting them to work in Greece, Italy and Spain and forcing them to hand over their earnings, it was announced on Tuesday.

    Acting on a tip-off, police were led to a deaf couple from the Ukraine in Corfu, who were placed under arrest on Monday. They are accused of receiving money from other deaf people that they forced to work as hawkers, which they then sent on to the leader of the ring in the Ukraine.

    Attica police chief Stefanos Skotis said the members of the ring recruited deaf people from Eastern Europe to work as street vendors, supplying them food, shelter and fake permits. Soon after their arrival, however, the group would begin to demand money - between 400-500 euros a month - using intimidation, blackmail or threats to harm their families at home.

    The couple arrested handed over two thirds of the money they collected to a deaf compatriot with the nickname "Doll", who was apparently the organization's second-in-command, and he then delivered the loot to the gang leader - nicknamed 'the Clown' - who is a resident of Kiev.

    According to police, the gang was exploiting 6-7 groups of around 10 deaf street hawkers in Greece, mainly on the islands during the summer months. They said the investigation was continuing in cooperation with Italian, Spanish and Ukrainian police forces in order to fully dismantle the ring.

    [14] Thessaloniki to host 2006 European Cup in Athletics

    Athens, 3/8/2005 (ANA)

    The northern Greek city of Thessaloniki has been chosen to host the 2006 European Cup in Athletics - formerly known as the Bruno Zauli Cup - the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced on Tuesday. The competition will be held in June 2006, with Europe's top male and female athletes competing.

    Shortly after the news was announced, Greek Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos said the decision to award yet another major international sports competition to Greece, which will also be hosting the IAAF World Cup during the same year in Athens, reflected the international sports world's confidence in Greece.

    "The right preparation and coordinated movements by the Greek side have brought Greece this victory, which will yield the corresponding benefits with the presence of dozens of top athletes. The decision of the European Athletic Association (EAA) proves the high level of Greek sport and our country is once again called on to prove its abilities, using the important legacy in infrastructure and installations but also experience obtained during the successful organization of the Olympic Games," Orfanos said, expressing his thanks to all that worked for the success of Greece's bid, especially Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) president and IAAF board member Minos Kyriakou.

    [15] Cyprus government: French Premier's statement ''particularly positive''

    NICOSIA 3/8/2005 3/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides described as ''particularly positive'' a statement by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin that it doesn't seem conceivable that a negotiation process of whatever kind can start with a country that does not recognize all EU members.

    Commenting on the statement referring to Turkey's bid to start accession talks, Chrysostomides said ''we have always stated that it is inconceivable for a country that wants to accede into the EU not to recognize a full EU member state.''

    ''Recognition is self-evident'', the spokesman said, noting that the EU will soon issue its decision on this issue.

    Asked if the government intends to make use of the French position in order for Turkey to recognize the Republic before the beginning of Turkey's accession talks, he said that ''all efforts will be made to protect the interests of the Cyprus Republic''.

    He added that the statement of Ankara that it does not recognize the Cyprus Republic is legally invalid, ''as confirmed by Com-missioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn''.

    ''We believe that recognition of the Cyprus Republic, on the basis of international law, UN Security Council decisions and the Acquis Communautaire, is a clear obligation of Turkey'', he concluded.

    [16] Recognition of Cyprus not a prerequisite for Turkey, says Commission

    NICOSIA 3/8/2005 3/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey should be settled in the framework of the United Nations, said on Tuesday the European Commission and is not a prerequisite for Turkey to begin accession negotiations with the EU, as France had asserted on Tuesday.

    Commission Spokesman Amadeu Altafaj said that with the signing of the protocol by Turkey whereby it extended its customs union agreement with the EU to all new EU member states including Cyprus, Ankara recognizes that the EU is made up of 25 member states.

    Altafaj said French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's statement on Tuesday that Turkey must recognize Cyprus before it can begin accession talks, was the PMs' opinion, noting that the statement was not final.

    For Brussels, the recognition of Cyprus follows a "parallel procedure" with Turkey's accession negotiations, however "at another framework, that of the UN", said Altafaj.

    "The negotiating framework which we propose clearly states that progress in the negotiations will depend particularly from the progress made on Cyprus' recognition in the UN framework", Altafaj added.

    The EU Foreign Ministers will discuss the contents of the negotiating framework during an informal meeting between 1-2 September and decide whether to give the green light to start accession negotiations with Turkey on 3rd October.

    "It is the last political act before the 3rd of October. The member states will have to undertake the political responsibility to proceed or halt the procedure. It will be a sovereign decision of the member states", the spokesman added.

    Asked if the Commission is disturbed by the non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey, the Commission spokesman said that with the protocol's signing, a step forward was taken because it means that the Turkish side recognizes that the EU is made up of 25 member states.

    Earlier Tuesday Villepin told Europe One radio that "it seems to me inconceivable that such a negotiation process can begin with a country which does not recognize every one of the members of the European Union, that is to say the 25".


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