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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-08-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 4, 2005


  • [01] Foreigners feel safe visiting Greek museums and ancient sights, survey shows
  • [02] PM Karamanlis and alternate culture minister discuss tenders for new museums
  • [03] President Papoulias congratulates new Saudi king Abdullah
  • [04] ND Secretary Meimarakis chairs meeting on municipal elections
  • [05] Draft medical ethics law introduces stiff penalties for transgressing doctors
  • [06] Parliament employee unjustly fired, PASOK's Kastanidis says
  • [07] FinMin says readjustment in tax-exempt levels for home buying possible
  • [08] FinMin Alogoskoufis says no problems with EU concerning banking and OTE issues
  • [09] Greece ranks 9th in list of rapidly growing enterprises in 2005
  • [10] EU Commission begins infringement procedures for failure to implement internal market directives
  • [11] Church service in Thessaloniki in memory of Roma executed by Nazis
  • [12] Greek tourism enterprises react to Athens tourist bus service
  • [13] Greek bank workers in 24-hour strike, August 16
  • [14] Greek natural cosmetics market shows growth
  • [15] Truck owners call of indefinite strike
  • [16] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying
  • [17] Policeman arrested for drug-dealing
  • [18] Ferry develops list, all aboard safe and well
  • [19] Cyprus spokesman says Turkey obliged to recognize Cyprus
  • [20] Cypriot spokesman says Turkey maintains inflexible policy

  • [01] Foreigners feel safe visiting Greek museums and ancient sights, survey shows

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    The vast majority - 92.5 per cent - of foreigners feel absolutely safe when visiting Greece's archaeological sites and museums, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

    The survey was carried out using a sample of 2,718 Greeks and foreigners above 18 at the Athens Acropolis and the National Archaeological Museum from June 26 until July 3. It was conducted by Greek Public Opinion on behalf of the Panhellenic Federation of Culture Ministry Associations.

    The survey also showed that 81 per cent of visitors were pleased with levels of service by staff in museums and sites, while 96.1 per cent of Greeks and 84.7 per cent of foreign visitors said a demand for the return of ancient Greek archaeological finds was just.

    More than half the Greek visitors to sites and museums found that entrance prices and the cost of goods in museum shops was too high, 64.4 per cent found museums to be well organized, while 44.4 per cent believed that archaeological sites were not well maintained, as opposed to 39.6 that believed the opposite.

    About 66.6 per cent said that the opening hours were satisfactory, while 52.7 per cent said that they should be extended in the summer months. About one in 10 was in favor of hiring part-time staff to cover additional needs of sites and museums, while 73.7 per cent were against allowing private interests to run them.

    Commenting on the results of the survey, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis stressed that there was no question of privatizing archaeological sites and that these were protected by the Constitution. He said the survey would be used as a basis for ministry action and its goal of flexible and effective policies that involve society and the citizens, since the cultural goods produced should be spread to all social strata.

    [02] PM Karamanlis and alternate culture minister discuss tenders for new museums

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister and Culture Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday had a meeting with Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia to discuss two tenders for the construction of a Museum of Greek Olympic Games and a Museum of Classical Athletics.

    Palli-Petralia afterwards stressed that the post-Olympic use of Olympics infrastructure was progressing at a fast and satisfactory pace. Announcing new tenders at the end of August and September, she said the government's goal was for the public to enjoy the added value from the post-Olympic use of projects without paying a single euro.

    She pointed to Greece's successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup and European Cup in athletics, the recent canoe/kayak world championship held in Athens and the international beach volley championship to be held this year.

    The minister also briefed Karamanlis on the results of her two trips to China and the United States.

    Greece to tender more Olympic facilities in August, September: The Greek government will proceed with its plan to ensure a commercial use of Olympic Games facilities by announcing two new tenders in August and September, Culture Deputy Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said on Wednesday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis to discuss the program, Petralia said the August tender would include Olympic facilities in Faliro, Galatsi (beach volley, tae-kwon-do and fencing facilities). Petralia added that following the introduction of a new legislation, the government must proceed with the capitalization of the large Olympic heritage and to avoid further burdening the state budget.

    "Our aim is that this great Olympic Games heritage to be used to the benefit of consumers' daily lives," Alogoskoufis said.

    [03] President Papoulias congratulates new Saudi king Abdullah

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    Congratulations to Saudi Arabia's new king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz were sent Wednesday by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on the assumption of the former's duties.

    Abdullah took over the reigns of the world's biggest oil exporting country and cradle of Islam following the death Monday of his half-brother, King Fahd, who ruled the strategic Gulf state for 23 years.

    "On the occasion of the assumption of your lofty duties, as head of state of the friendly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I wish to express to you, personally, and to the people of your country, on behalf of the Greek people and myself, personally, our most sincere congratulations and warmest wishes for health, happiness, prosperity and every success," Papoulias wrote in his cable of congratulations.

    "I am certain that, under your guidance, your country will progress, ensuring its people a future of prosperity and stability, in its own interests and also in the interests of the wider region," the message said.

    Papoulias further reaffirmed the "friendly sentiments of the Greek people", adding that "I look forward to our cooperation for the advancement and improvement of our traditionally excellent bilateral relations".

    Tourism Minister Avramopoulos visits Saudi Arabia: Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos was in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday as representative of the Greek government so as to convey to the royal family and the members of the government of the country, on behalf of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, condolences over the death of King Fahd.

    During his stay in Riyadh, Avramopoulos had contacts with the president of Afghanistan, the prime minister of Iraq and the Turkish foreign minister.

    Avramopoulos also had talks with members of the government of Saudi Arabia and members of the royal family.

    [04] ND Secretary Meimarakis chairs meeting on municipal elections

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) party Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis on Wednesday chaired a meeting at the party's headquarters on the topic of the municipal elections.

    He said that the system for the election of a mayor from the first Sunday with 42 percent and over would be more democratic and proportional.

    In the fist meeting which was held at the ND's headquarters in Rigillis early afternoon with the secretaries of local government, discussion centered on the party's basic directions and the action program in light of the municipal and prefectural elections.

    [05] Draft medical ethics law introduces stiff penalties for transgressing doctors

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Wednesday unveiled a draft bill that will introduce a new code of ethics for medical practitioners, as well as stiff penalties for doctors found guilty of unethical practices, particularly doctors working at state hospitals and social insurance funds that illegally accept money from patients or have their own private practices.

    Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said these penalties can range from a two-year suspension of the license to practice and fines of 50,000-200,000 euros for first-time offenders to a permanent loss of license for repeat offenders.

    The draft bill also provides doctors with greater protection from unwarranted complaints and reports, giving them the right to seek compensation and restitution of financial damage and mental anguish, while other articles forbid euthanasia and cloning.

    In a section dealing with medical certificates and diagnoses, the bill clarifies that those issued by private doctors and state doctors have the same weight and legal validity for all purposes, provided they are confined to the doctor's area of specialization, and that the issue of false medical certificates is a disciplinary and penal offence.

    A copy of the draft law has been sent to the Panhellenic Medical Association to be forwarded to medical associations throughout the country, as well as other bodies interacting with the health sector, such as the larger trade unions and social insurance funds. They have been asked to present their observations and counter-proposals within the next 20 days.

    [06] Parliament employee unjustly fired, PASOK's Kastanidis says

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK's parliamentary spokesman Haris Kastanidis on Wednesday protested in writing at the dismissal of a Parliament employee, claiming that she had been unjustly fired.

    Kastanidis said the grounds of dismissal cited - that the woman had leaked classified information that she was not entitled to view from her office - actually referred to the stock market transactions carried out by ruling New Democracy MP Achilleas Karamanlis, which had already been included in the annual means and assets statement submitted by the MP two days earlier.

    Stressing that the information had been made public before the actions attributed to the employee in question, Kastanidis described her dismissal as "unprecedented in the administrative annals of the Greek Parliament, harking back to the days of the Right's 'glorious' past, and leading to control of the administrative activity of employees through a regime of threats and fear".

    Parliament rejects PASOK criticism over employee's dismissal: Rejecting criticism from PASOK parliamentary spokesman Haris Kastanidis on Wednesday, the Greek Parliament stressed that the dismissal of an employee from one of Parliament's services was done using fair and unbiased procedures.

    A Parliament announcement underlined that its employees were expected abide by rules of discretion that were not open to political exploitation, in response to Kastanidis' complaints. It added that the employee had been fired following proper procedures, after a written complaint about her activity by colleagues in the same department and a report by her supervisor.

    Parliament services also clarified that the employee had illegally gained access and copied information from past years contained in the personal file of New Democracy MP Achilleas Karamanlis - to which only chartered accountants were allowed access - and that this was not the same as the information made public by Parliament.

    Kastanidis had protested in writing earlier that day that the woman had been unjustly fired.

    He claimed the information the employee was supposed to have taken referred to stock market transaction carried out by the MP that were already public knowledge, since they had been included in his annual means and assets statement released two days earlier.

    Kastanidis described her dismissal as "unprecedented in the administrative annals of the Greek Parliament, harking back to the days of the Right's 'glorious' past, and leading to control of the administrative activity of employees through a regime of threats and fear".

    [07] FinMin says readjustment in tax-exempt levels for home buying possible

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday left the door open to more readjustment in tax-exempt levels for buying a first home.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said that if there were any problems with the introduction of new real estate value system, then the ministry could examine any readjustment in tax-exempt levels.

    Technical chamber wants lower VAT rate on new buildings: The Technical Chamber of Greece said on Wednesday that it backed a government proposal to levy Value Added Tax (VAT) on new constructions, but wanted a rate lower than 19%.

    The chamber's president, Yiannis Alavanos, said that a bill circulated by the government for consultations contained many gaps and ambiguities that may not bring the intended outcome.

    In addition, excessive taxes in the property market should be avoided that would have economic and social repercussions on the productive but vulnerable construction market, Alavanos added.

    [08] FinMin Alogoskoufis says no problems with EU concerning banking and OTE issues

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday that the European Union is not raising a problem of state support regarding the adjustments to the social insurance of banks and of the voluntary retirement of staff of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE).

    The minister was briefing the relevant committees of Parliament on the results of the recent councils of EUROGROUP and ECOFIN.

    Alogoskoufis announced that the draft law for the joint ventures of the public and private sector will be tabled in Parliament on Thursday, while he appeared satisfied with the rate of growth of the Greek economy. Alogoskoufis said that in the first quarter of 2005 the growth rate was at 3.5 percent and that this percentage would also be maintained in the second quarter of the year.

    [09] Greece ranks 9th in list of rapidly growing enterprises in 2005

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    Greece ranks ninth in a global list of countries with the more rapidly growing enterprises in 2005, published by Grant Thornton. Greece is one place below Ireland but above Sweden, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Holland and Spain.

    According to the report, 13 percent of domestic enterprises recorded growth rates above average in 2004, rising to 15 percent this year.

    The United States is the country with the highest rate of rapidly growing enterprises (48 pct), sharply up from 22 percent in 2004. Hong Kong jumped from eighth in 2004 to second this year and with a rate of 28 percent, followed by Australia (27 pct), UK (25 pct) and Canada (23 pct).

    The "Rapid Growth List 2005" is published for the second consecutive year and is based on a survey by IBOS, a research arm of Grant Thornton International, covering more than 6,000 businessmen in 24 countries.

    Sweden, first in 2004, fell to the 10th place, with Russia (2.0 pct) and Turkey (1.0 pct) at the bottom.

    The term rapidly growing enterprises describes a company which growth rates exceed average and generally sound more optimistic over their turnover, employment and performance.

    Rapidly growing enterprises are focusing more on employment, with 55 percent of these companies focusing on attracting and maintain its personnel this year, while a vast majority of them (82 pct) believed that a system of pay and bonus packages were significant in achieving this goal.

    Education and training were another factor with great differences. Around 74 pct of rapidly growing companies said education and training were necessary for their development, up from a 69 percent rate in average enterprises.

    [10] EU Commission begins infringement procedures for failure to implement internal market directives

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    The European Commission on Wednesday announced a decision to pursue infringement procedures against 13 member states -including Greece- for failure to implement in national law one or more of eight different internal market directives.

    The Commission has sent reasoned opinions to eight member states - Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden to implement quickly the necessary legislation in a total of 25 cases covering directives on supplementary supervision of financial conglomerates, reorganization and winding up of credit institutions, activity of e-money institutions, accounting rules, winding up of insurance services, life assurance, postal services and conditional access services.

    These requests took the form of "reasoned opinions", the second stage of the infringement procedure laid down in Article 226 of the EC Treaty. If there is no satisfactory reply within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the European Court.

    [11] Church service in Thessaloniki in memory of Roma executed by Nazis

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    A Tedeum service for the dead of the Roma who were executed by the Nazi regime was held at the Church of Aghios Nektarios in Thessaloniki, northern Greece on Wednesday.

    It is estimated that throughout Europe the Nazis executed 400,000-500,000 Roma.

    The United Nations has set August 3 as a day of memory for the executed Roma, in view of August 3, 1944 when 2,897 Roma men, women and children were sent to the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

    [12] Greek tourism enterprises react to Athens tourist bus service

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    The Panhellenic Federation of Tourism Enterprises on Wednesday expressed its disagreement with a decision by the Athens Bus Organization to launch a tourist bus service in Athens with specially designed buses.

    In a letter sent to Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Federation underlined the "provocative action, approved by the state, to steal this small project from tourism enterprises".

    The Federation stressed that if the government was seeking to fully liberalize road transport in the country, in line with other European Union countries, then tourist buses could seek a share from Athens Bus Organization's monopoly in public transportation. The Federation added that dozens of specialized tourist enterprises were organizing sightseeing tours in Athens for many years and that there were no more needs to be covered in the domestic market.

    [13] Greek bank workers in 24-hour strike, August 16

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    OTOE, Greek bank workers' union, on Wednesday said it would not send representatives to the board of a Bank Workers' Single Pension Fund while it announced a 24-hour panhellenic strike for August 16.

    In a letter sent to Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, OTOE said the Fund was set up on an initiative by the government without any previous consultation and despite the union's different opinion. The union said a recent government legislation was facing serious compatibility problems with the country's constitution and stressed that these problems were expected to be solved by Greek courts soon. OTOE said the operation of a new Fund was doubtful.

    The 24-hour strike was scheduled to coincide with an Emporiki Bank's general shareholders' meeting, August 16. Bank workers will hold a protest rally on that day outside Emporiki Bank's main offices.

    [14] Greek natural cosmetics market shows growth

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek natural cosmetics output and commercial sectors are characterized by rapid growth and outward-looking strategies, the Hellastat market research firm said in a report released on Wednesday.

    Over the last three years, sector firms have successfully penetrated markets in Europe, the US and Asia, boosting turnover from exports, according to the survey.

    Over the past four years, the size of the sector has more than doubled, placing it among the economy's fastest growing sectors. Total turnover in 2003-2004 rose by 55%.

    In addition, the companies enjoy high gross and net profit margins. Since 2000, investments in research and development have totalled more than 2.0 million euros, Hellastat noted.

    Best known abroad are brands by Apivita and Korres, which are sold in stores including Harrods, Harvey-Nichols, Selfridges, Liberty's, Sephora and Galleries Lafayette.

    Mastic Spa, which uses the natural gum of the same name in its products, is also increasing operations abroad, including the US.

    [15] Truck owners call of indefinite strike

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    The owners of private lorries transporting goods, refrigerated trucks carrying out domestic and international transports, and liquid fuel tanker trucks on Wednesday called off an indefinite strike they had commenced on Monday for financial and infrastructural demands.

    The strike was suspended after a meeting of the Central Coordinating Committee of the Cooperation Federations of public use trucks Tuesday evening, following talks the previous day between trade union representatives with employment minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, during which the minister pledged that the government would set up a committee to look into sector problems.

    The committee is due to reach conclusions by September 30 following consultations with relevant unions.

    Panayiotopoulos also underlined the importance of safety in trucks to avoid recent collisions that led to the death of schoolchildren.

    [16] Stocks rise in blue-chip buying

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with players buying mainly into high-capitalization paper, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 3,314.52 points, marking a rise of 0.77%. Turnover was 215.1 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.85% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.59% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.14% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 140 to 129 with 66 remaining unchanged.

    [17] Policeman arrested for drug-dealing

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    A 33-year-old policeman serving with the Salamina police force in 1998 was arrested along with two others on Wednesday on a charge of drug-dealing. A third man, aged 30, is being sought.

    The gang is suspected of selling hydroponic cannabis, or skank, and raw cannabis in Athens. The two others taken in custody are a 42-year-old owner of a reflexology clinic and the 40-year-old owner of a hotel on the Greek islands.

    During the bust, police confiscated 580 grammes of skank, 24 grammes of regular cannabis, a car, a rifle with a pistol grip, 4,700 euros and other evidence. All three men will be led before a public prosecutor on Wednesday.

    The Athens narcotics squad also reported the arrest of a 37-year-old suspected cocaine and heroin dealer, in a joint operation with police in Katerini. The man was caught in possession of 1.368 kilos of cocaine, 1.196 kilos of heroin, a set of precision scales, two cell phones, 340 euros and 160 US dollars.

    [18] Ferry develops list, all aboard safe and well

    Athens, 4/8/2005 (ANA)

    A ro-ro car/cargo ferry developed a list after setting off from Keratsini on Wednesday morning, and was being propped by five tugboats, but all 10 passengers and 25 crew members were safe and well, the Merchant Marine ministry said.

    According to the ministry's Operations Room, the "Aghios Efstathios" ro-ro set sail in the morning from Keratsini, carrying 25 lorries, 10 lorry drivers as passengers and a 25-member crew on the route Piraeus, Chios, Lesvos, Limnos and Kavala, but soon developed a 13 degree list.

    The captain immediately alerted the Operations Room, and turned the ferry back, anchoring off Drapetsona.

    The lorry drivers and crew were safely disembarked, and the ferry was behind propped in place by five tugboats and cables. Port Authority vessels were also on hand to offer assistance.

    Ship engineers and experts from the ministry's Merchant Shipping Inspectorate were at the scene to determine the cause of the list.

    [19] Cyprus spokesman says Turkey obliged to recognize Cyprus

    NICOSIA 4/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Wednesday that the government was expecting Turkey to unreservedly sign the Ankara Agreement, stressing that its qualms revert the substance of the international agreement that the country has signed.

    Invited to comment on statements made Tuesday by Commission Spokesman Amadeu Altafaj that the recognition of Cyprus follows a ''parallel procedure'' with Turkey's accession negotiations, however ''in another framework, that of the UN,'' Chrysostomides said a serious misunderstanding has occurred.

    Chrysostomides noted that ''the Republic of Cyprus is recognized by all EU member states, apart from Turkey,'' a candidate.

    ''It is also recognized by all UN members and the UN itself. I do not understand what is being implied. If it is implied that through the UN there will be a solution to the Cyprus problem, we totally agree. However, let us not confuse the solution with recognition,'' he added.

    To a remark that President Tassos Papadopoulos had stated on 17 December 2004 that Cyprus has the right to veto Turkey's accession negotiations if it does not sign or implement the protocol extending its customs union agreement with the EU to all new EU member states, including Cyprus, Chrysostomides said ''Cyprus' positions have not changed.''

    ''For us it is self-evident that Turkey has an obligation to recognize all EU member states it will collectively negotiate with during its accession talks with the EU,'' he said.

    ''What was expected was the unreserved signing of the protocol on the part of Turkey, without any reservations that reverse the substance of the international agreement which Turkey had signed and the implementation of the customs union agreement to all 10 member states, including Cyprus,'' he noted.

    The Cypriot spokesman said that final decisions would be taken by the Council after a possible COREPER meeting before early September, where unanimity is required.

    On 29th July, Turkey signed the adaptation protocol to the Ankara Agreement of 1963, extending its customs union with the EU to the ten new member states, including the Republic of Cyprus. However, at the time of the signature, Turkey issued a declaration, stating that Ankara does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

    [20] Cypriot spokesman says Turkey maintains inflexible policy

    NICOSIA 4/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said Tuesday's statements by Turkish President Ahmet Nezdet Sezer and Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat prove yet again the nationalistic and inflexible policy followed by Turkey.

    Pointing out that Sezer talked about the creation of a new partnership and a new state, Chrysostomides said what he was implying is that there is no change in the Turkish policy.

    ''They have again begun to insist on the legalization of the occupation, legalization of secession, legalization of the violation of human rights, the dissolution of the state and the creation of a new state,'' the spokesman said.

    Chrysostomides said that Talat insists on lifting the so-called isolation of Turkish Cypriots, but what must be repeated to him is that if there is any isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, ''this is solely due to the continued occupation and lack of will on his part to exploit what the government is offering with measures, through the Green Line Regulation, something which he continues to reject.''

    The Cypriot spokesman wondered whether Talat's model of modern international law is the recognition of the international illegality of the invasion, occupation, secessionist actions, violation of Security Council resolutions, approval of violation of human rights and the legalization of colonization.

    Chrysostomides said that the legal and political realities are that the invasion and occupation have not affected the identity of the Republic of Cyprus, which is the same since its establishment in 1960, and is a UN member and a full member of the EU, noting that these realities are the ones that Turkey must recognize to proceed with its accession negotiations.

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