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

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

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

August 5, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek gov't tables draft bill on joint cooperation between public and private sectors
  • [02] Government sets bounty on arsonists, effective immediately
  • [03] Next round of Greek-Turkish exploratory talks in Istanbul on Friday
  • [04] Parliament passes draft law on immigration
  • [05] PASOK opposes Meimarakis' proposals for changes to the electoral law in local government
  • [06] Parties of European Left to submit anti-nuclear appeal to Greek Parliament
  • [07] Greek economy to grow 3-3.5 pct this year, IOBE report
  • [08] Main opposition complains of rising prices
  • [09] Agriculture minister tables draft law adjusting to new CAP in government's first farm bill
  • [10] Greek stocks ease on profit taking
  • [11] Cyprus spokesman: Many voices calling for Cyprus recognition by Turkey
  • [12] US Congressman submits resolution urging Turkey to recognize Cyprus

  • [01] Greek gov't tables draft bill on joint cooperation between public and private sectors

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    Both public and private agencies were showing increased interest in a government-sponsored plan to promote closer cooperation in small and medium-sized projects in the country, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, after tabling the draft bill to parliament, Alogoskoufis said the plan aimed to support creation of new infrastructure and offering more services to citizens.

    The Greek minister underlined 12 points of the new draft legislation, such as naming the public agencies eligible to participating in joint ventures with private companies, private enterprises were undertaking a substantial part of risks related to funding and construction of necessary infrastructure, projects could not exceed 200 million euros in budget, funding would be ensured by private companies, excluding national defense, law enforcement and justice activities from the plan, and setting up an inter-ministerial commission to draft the government policy on the issue.

    Alogoskoufis said the government has taken a series of initiatives and actions, during the last 16 months, aimed to boost business activity, improve productivity and supporting economic competitiveness.

    The Greek minister announced that a total of 372 investment projects, worth 873.1 million euros, have been submitted with ministry agencies since the introduction of a new investment law. Alogoskoufis said the ministry has approved 123 investment plans, worth 222.5 million euros, envisaging the creation of 1,171 direct full time job positions.

    Communists slam bill on private, public sector ventures: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday condemned a government bill spurring joint ventures between the private and state sectors as legal endorsement for theft of public money.

    "(Ruling) New Democracy is swiftly following the road created by the previous PASOK government, protecting rapacious contracts and joint ventures for high-budget public works by means of parliamentary decisions," the KKE said in a statement.

    The bill given to parliament earlier in the day meant that working people would have to fork out double or triple as both taxpayers and end-users since the projects were given to powerful "monopoly" construction groups.

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) also raised its objection to the bill.

    [02] Government sets bounty on arsonists, effective immediately

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday set a steep bounty on arsonists, effective immediately, public order minister George Voulgarakis told reporters during a break in a meeting of the relevant ministers chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis to appraise the damages from the recent devastating fire in the northeastern coastal town of Rafina, believed to be the work of arsonists, which burned more than 5,000 stremma of forest land and burned some 60 homes. The ministers also discussed a serious of additional measures to confront the phenomenon.

    Voulgarakis stepped out of the meeting briefly to announce to waiting reporters that the government was setting a bounty of up to 100,000 euros for information leading to the location and arrest of the Rafina arsonists "and for any other incident (arson) concerning this year's summer season".

    Consequently, he said before returning to the meeting, "as of this moment, the bounty is in force for any citizen who helps in locating the arsonists".

    After the meeting, interior minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos noted that emergency financial assistance was already being given out to the fire-stricken residents of the Rafina fire, stressing that all the residents whose homes had suffered damages or total destruction could begin repair work or rebuilding.

    He further stressed that the decision designating the region for reforestation has already been issued, and pending only was the detailed map of the specific areas for reforestation, on which a relevant being was taken place in tandem on Thursday in the Peripheral authority.

    "Wherever there was forest will remain a forest," Pavlopoulos said, adding that the State was meeting its obligation to the citizens who suffered damage and loss from the fire.

    National defense minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos, in turn, told reporters that the aerial photographs of the fire-ravaged region, taken by the Air Force and the Army's Geographical Service, would be released later on Thursday.

    The minister said that the photographs had been taken with the geodetic method, with precision at one-tenth of a degree, so as to delineate the areas destroyed in order that it will be reforested.

    Later, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos clarified during a regular press briefing that the amount of the bounty would range from 10,000 euros to 100,000 euros for information on arsonists, applying to the present summer season, in accordance with a formal Ministerial Decision to be issued later in the day by public order minister Voulgarakis.

    He said the amount of the reward (bounty) would depend on the "quality" of the information provided in addition to other factors, such as the extent of the destruction, the existence or not of casualties, etc.

    Roussopoulos also reiterated, regarding the Ministerial Decision for assistance for repair or restoration of the fire-damaged homes, that the decision provides that one-third of the capital of the loan to be issued to the eligible residents would be in the form of State reinforcement (write-off), while the remaining two-thirds of the loan would be interest-free, repayable in installments over a period of 15 years.

    Environment, town planning and public works ministry engineers had commenced recording the damages from the very first day, he said, and, under the Ministerial Decision, the fire-stricken residents had a deadline of one year to submit applications concerning the buildings that had suffered damage or were destroyed.

    [03] Next round of Greek-Turkish exploratory talks in Istanbul on Friday

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry announced that the 31st round of ongoing exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey will take place in Istanbul on Friday, between Greek senior diplomat Anastasios Skopelitis and his Turkish counterpart Ali Tuygan.

    [04] Parliament passes draft law on immigration

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    The draft law on immigration was passed in Parliament on Thursday by the government.

    Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos insisted on his position for the legalization only of immigrants who entered the country legally and therefore can show a visa. He said: "In many cases in illegal immigration, we also have cases which we must be particularly careful of. We must not underestimate the phenomenon. We must not underestimate that that international terrorism finds inroads through the gaps we leave."

    Pavlopoulos added: "We are obliged to balance. And we are balancing excellently, because in an international environment as the present one, with the enormous problems of terrorism, we, as a country, have the democratic infrastructure and courage to bring decrees for the expulsion which will be more beneficial than those we previously had."

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) put forward an amendment in favor of the granting of the Greek citizenship to all those ethnic Greeks who have stayed in Greece for three years, which concerns mainly ethnic Greeks from Albania.

    Interior Minister Pavlopoulos clarified that "the matter stumbles on the non-acceptance on the part of the Albanian government of the Greek request for the signing of a relevant inter-state agreement."

    He added: "Until Albania signs that the granting of Greek citizenship does not constitute deprival of the Albanian nationality, the Greek citizenship will not be granted. The issue is open, and the Greek government is doing everything possible in order for the Albanian government to be convinced."

    [05] PASOK opposes Meimarakis' proposals for changes to the electoral law in local government

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Thursday expressed his party's "complete opposition" to proposals made by ruling New Democracy (ND) party Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis for changes to the electoral law in local government.

    Athanassakis termed as "complete irresponsibility for someone to propose a number (percentage) because an electoral system concerns many more things."

    The PASOK spokesman exerted intense criticism against the government and the ND and accused it that as a party "it stood opposite local government."

    [06] Parties of European Left to submit anti-nuclear appeal to Greek Parliament

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    An appeal against nuclear weapons by Europe's left-wing parties and a declaration by mayors and MPs, issued on the 60th anniversary of the atomic explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, will be submitted to Greek Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Friday.

    The appeal was originally proposed by Greece's Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party at the Forum of the European New Left.

    It makes a series of demands - such as adherence to the treaty for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, an end to 'preventative wars', removal of some 480 U.S. nuclear weapons that are still in Europe and the signature of a full nuclear test ban treaty by the U.S. - which aim to make the world free of nuclear weapons by 2020.

    Synaspismos spokesman Panos Trigazis stressed that the Belgian Parliament and Senate had been the first in an EU member-state to adopt a demand for the withdrawal of U.S. nukes from Europe, asking the Greek government to explain why it had fully aligned itself with a position that they should stay during a NATO nuclear planning meeting on June 9.

    Trigazis also pointed out that demands for Iran to give up its nuclear program should be accompanied by initiatives to make the entire Middle East a nuclear-free zone, starting with Israel's nuclear arsenal.

    [07] Greek economy to grow 3-3.5 pct this year, IOBE report

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    Greek economic growth will slowdown to around 3-3.5 pct in 2005, after completion of the Olympic investments in 2004, with an official aim of reaching a 3.9 percent growth rate seemed unlikely, a report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.

    IOBE, in its report on the Greek economy, said that despite a slowdown in growth rates, private consumption will remain strong supporting domestic demand. On the other hand, however, uncertainties remained over the course of investments, while spending in a Public Investments Program were sharply down in the first five months of the year.

    IOBE warned that a forecast for a GDP growth rate of more than 3.0 percent this year was doubtful unless there was a recovery in investments in the second half of the year. The Institute said it expected an improvement by the end of 2005 due to a recovery in the construction sector.

    Employment growth in 2004 was much smaller from the previous two years. In the first quarter of 2005, employment growth accelerated but forecasts for the remainder of the year continued to be unfavorable.

    Industrial activity fell in the first months of the year, reflecting a decline in the production of capital goods, with only durable consumer goods reporting growth in the same period.

    The Greek manufacturing sector faced problems, with both domestic and external demand, as a result of an economic slowdown after the Olympic Games. This trend shows no signs of recovery this year. IOBE said it expected a decline in investment spending in the manufacturing sector despite the fact that the government was offering more investment incentives.

    Annual inflation is expected to reach 3.5 percent this year, after recording a 3.3 percent increase in the first half, reflecting higher fuel and VAT prices.

    The report stressed that despite the fact that the Greek economy continued growing with a satisfactory pace, there was a widespread climate of disapproval and lower expectations in the country. IOBE stressed that if the government managed to quickly implement economic reforms it could positively affect economic activity and result to higher growth rates in 2006.

    The institute said that government-sponsored reforms in the pension system, labor relations and shopping hours were creating a climate of cautious optimism since they underlined the government's will to promote necessary changes.

    Greek economy grew 3.5 pct in 2nd quarter, yr/yr: The Greek economy maintained steady growth rates in the second quarter of 2005, with the country's Gross Domestic Product rising 3.5 percent in the April-June period, matching first quarter's growth rate, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    NSS, in its report, said investments fell by 4.0 percent in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, reflecting the completion of Olympic Games' projects.

    Imports fell by 4.0 percent while exports rose by 3.9 percent over the same period.

    Spending on final consumption rose 3.4 percent in the April-June period, compared with the same period last year, contributing by 2.2 percent in the increase of final demand.

    Greek inflation jumped to 3.9 pct in July, yr/yr: Greece's annual inflation jumped to 3.9 percent in July, compared with the same month last year, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.

    NSS, in its monthly report, attributed the rise in the consumer price index to a delayed start of this year's summer sales season and to higher oil prices.

    The consumer price index fell 1.2 percent in July from June. The statistics service said the annual inflation figure in July reflected a 9.2 percent increase in housing prices, a 6.5 percent rise in clothing and footwear, a 5.0 percent increase in transport prices and increases of 4.3 percent and 4.2 percent in education and healthcare prices over the month. Hotel-coffee-restaurant prices rose 3.2 percent in July.

    Greece's harmonized inflation rate also rose to 3.9 percent in July, compared with the same month in 2004, although the rate fell by 1.3 percent from June.

    [08] Main opposition complains of rising prices

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Thursday criticized the government for rising inflation and high consumer prices.

    "Inflation continues to rise, and high prices are striking a blow at every Greek household, while the government is behaving as a mere spectator," PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said in a statement.

    July inflation, announced earlier this week, stood at 3.9%.

    [09] Agriculture minister tables draft law adjusting to new CAP in government's first farm bill

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos on Thursday tabled the present government's first draft bill for agriculture, which contains a series of measures designed to adjust the Greek farming sector to the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that goes into effect in 2006.

    Among the bill's provisions are new centers to inform and provide technical support for farmers, interest-free or low-interest loans for setting up new farms, a new service for the inspection of imported farm produce, incentives for mergers by farming cooperatives, advisory groups for individual farm products, reduction of insurance contributions of livestock breeders to ELGA and various other measures concerning the agricultural sector and related organizations.

    Farmers' trade group wants EU alignment bill scrapped: The PASEGES farming cooperatives trade group on Thursday asked the government to withdraw from parliament a bill that aims to align Greece with the European Union's new common agricultural policy.

    Farmers would be willing to hold talks with the government on a zero basis if the bill were withdrawn, the group's president, Tzanetos Karamihas, said in a statement.

    He accused the government of trying to bypass dialogue with parties involved in the change, the statement added.

    [10] Greek stocks ease on profit taking

    Athens, 5/8/2005 (ANA)

    Greek stocks eased on Thursday as investors took profits after a three-day advance in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The composite index fell 0.51 percent to end at 3,297.53 points, with turnover a healthy 208.9 million euros.

    Sector indices ended lower with the Telecommunications (2.01 pct), Metals (1.27 pct), Publications (1.06 pct) and Banks (0.75 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day. The Insurance (1.67 pct), Refineries (1.40 pct), Food-Beverage (0.69 pct) and Real Estate (0.64 pct) scored the biggest percentage gains.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.65 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 0.02 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.03 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 172 to 106 with another 55 issues unchanged.

    [11] Cyprus spokesman: Many voices calling for Cyprus recognition by Turkey

    NICOSIA 5/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides has said on Thursday that positions such as those expressed by the German Christian Democrats for Turkey to recognize Cyprus before starting accession negotiations are not the only ones made on the issue.

    German Friedbert Pfluger, foreign affairs spokesman for the parliamentary faction of the Christian Democrats said Turkey must recognize Cyprus before beginning accession negotiations with the EU on 3rd of October.

    "These are not the only voices heard on the issue at the EU÷, said Chrysostomides. He repeated that the government of the Republic of Cyprus will examine in detail all aspects of the issue and will make its position known within the framework of the EU organs", he concluded.

    [12] US Congressman submits resolution urging Turkey to recognize Cyprus

    NICOSIA 5/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    New Jersey Democratic Congressman Robert Menendez has submitted a resolution to the US Congress calling on Turkey to fully recognize all European Union members, including Cyprus.

    The resolution, supported by ten members of Congress both from the Democratic and the Republican Party, calls for the removal of Turkish occupation forces from the northern third of Cyprus in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 353 and says that Turkey should recognize the fundamental rights of all Cypriots with respect to the right to own property, the right of free movement, the right of free settlement and the right of return for refugees.

    The resolution expresses the view that the Republic of Turkey should continue to demonstrate that it was meeting the criteria set forth in the Copenhagen European Council for accession to the EU and should do so prior to the start of accession negotiations, currently scheduled to begin on October 3, 2005.

    It calls on Turkey to continue to adhere to all criteria for accession to the EU and to extend its customs union to all EU members and to fully recognize all EU members, including Cyprus.

    Furthermore it calls on Turkey to respect EU laws and demonstrate that it was willing to abide by such laws and urged Ankara, in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 353, to abandon all insistence of the right to intervene in or invade Cyprus.

    It urges Turkey to work and cooperate with the UN and Cyprus toward the discovery of the fate of every missing person and to pledge to uphold and safeguard human rights without compromise.

    The resolution encourages Turkey to continue the advancement of processes and programs to modernize and democratize its own society.

    The resolution was referred to the Committee on International Relations, which will decide if it will forward it to the plenary for final adoption.


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