|Friday, 15 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-08-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 11, 2005
 Minister cites steps to eliminate problems in coastal shipping sector following meeting with Premier
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Wednesday as the latter briefed him over recent well-publicized problems in coastal shipping, mostly a handful of ferry boat breakdowns that plagued thousands of holiday makers over the past few weeks.
Kefaloyiannis told reporters afterwards that the government has taken all measures required for the safety of passengers and their smooth return from their holidays, with the summer tourism season now in full swing.
He noted that hefty fines have already been imposed on specific shipping companies, and warned that the latter firms will be judged by their performance and by passengers' satisfaction.
Kefaloyiannis stressed, however, that many shipping lines have adequately carried some 2.5 million passengers to and from various island destinations this season.
Ministry sources added that the ministry was preparing to impose new fines on companies that "do not inform their passengers of delays, thus causing them inconvenience, and which do not apologize, in action, to their customers".
The ministry has also taken steps for the coming days, particularly in view of the upcoming three-day religious and banking holiday of the Aug. 15 -- the Feast of Assumption of the Virgin -- in order to avoid the need for the urgent scheduling of routes.
Furthermore, the ministry was mulling -- for next year's summer season -- the issuance of an international tender for the leasing of a vessel that would be used in a back-up capacity, being on stand-by wherever the need arose.
Regarding the servicing of remote islands, contracts for periods of between 5-12 years would be signed based on selection criteria that includes the age of the vessel, its speed, and the background of the ship and the owner company -- in order to attract better vessels, which could also be financed under a loan from the Investments Bank contracted by the merchant marine ministry.
A tender will also be issued in the immediate future for the hiring of an international consultant to undertake advancement of the project.
Reactions: In a later statement, a top main opposition PASOK deputy charged that the government simply tried to shift the blame from its own shoulders, instead of asking for forgiveness because of its "incompetence in managing issues involving coastal shipping."
MP Anna Diamantopoulos, a former EU Commissioner, also called on the government to take the necessary measures ahead of the coming three-day weekend, "in opposition to various (vested) interests and pressures", towards aiding passengers, without going into further details.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) later issued an announcement regarding coastal shipping, where it noted that the solution to problems in the sector lay in the creation of an "exclusively public owned and unified body for coastal shipping within the framework of a popular-based ... economy..."
On its part, the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) also called on the government to take immediate and necessary stems against shipping owners responsible for the problems on ferry boat routes and in the country's passenger harbors.
Gov't rejects opposition complaint over shipping: The merchant marine ministry on Wednesday rejected criticism by the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) that its passenger shipping policy and practice were ineffectual.
"This is senior PASOK officials holding a beach-party fire-works display," the ministry said in a statement.
"PASOK policy (when the party was in office) fostered vested interests, games on the stock market, monopolies and piracy over 20 years," the statement said.
 Labor leader takes exception to ND sec't comment on TIF rallies
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)Ruling New Democracy party secretary Vangelis Meimarakis' high-profile statements on Tuesday, namely, that planned rallies by labor groups during the upcoming Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) will primarily affect the trade exhibition itself and not the government, drew a first response a day later.
The head of the northern port city's Labor Centre, Nikos Yiannopoulos, called Meimarakis' comments "dangerous" and "provocative".
The high-ranking ND secretary had stressed that such anti-government rallies can be held on any day, whereas their holding during the annual TIF exhibition -- the largest trade fair held in the country and the venue from where the Greek premier delivers his unofficial "state-of-the-country" address -- hurt the major Thessaloniki event as well as the entire region's image.
 Gov't promises farmers just compensation for damages caused by extreme weather
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)Deputy Minister of Agricultural Development and Foods Alexandros Kontos promised farmers fair compensation for damage caused to their crops by recent extreme weather conditions during his visit to Kavala in northern Greece on Wednesday.
Kontos emphasized that his visit was an indication of the government's and the ministry's continued support of farmers and the Greek agricultural sector.
Crops damaged include tobacco and grapes.
Kontos said that farmers could expect to be compensated within three months after harvest.
Regarding losses and damages to livestock, he said that compensation would be paid within a one-year period.
In cases that are questionable the decision will always be in favor of the farmer, he said.
 Agriculture Minister Basiakos meets peach producers
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos held a meeting at the ministry on Wednesday with the peach producers of Pella Prefecture, northern Greece, and with the processors.
Following the meeting, Basiakos said: "The government today yet again undertook a mediatory initiative between the peach producers and the processors, despite the fact that it does not have the right to do more than it has already done. As is known, the government has already exhausted every measure, compatible with the European Union regulations for the support of the income of peach producers. Already, measures have been taken and announced both by me and by Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos."
The minister said that the peach producers will be compensated for damage caused to their produce due to the bad weather conditions.
Basiakos added: "It is apparent that the government and the Agricultural Development and Foods Ministry cannot decide nor advance any decision which is determined by the European Union partners and exclusively concerns their revenue."
Peach growers lift northern road blockade in good-will gesture: Peach producers from Pella in the north on Wednesday temporarily lifted a road blockade that was staged to protest against treatment of the sector by national and European Union authorities.
Farmers said that they had dismantled the barricade at the junction of a highway linking the northern port city of Thessaloniki to Edessa in a good-will gesture ahead of talks with the deputy agricultural development minister to be held in Athens later in the day.
 Sioufas visits Crete, says checks on fuel prices are systematic
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, who visited the installations of the Creta Farm company in Crete on Wednesday, said that that the ministry's checks in the fuel sector are constant and systematic.
At the same time, Sioufas noted that despite the significant international increase in the price of oil, "our country continues to have the cheapest prices in petroleum products throughout Europe."
 Greek govt's net borrowing eased to 6.3 pct of GDP in Jan-July
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)The central government's net borrowing needs totalled 11.156 billion euros in the seven month period from January to July, slightly higher from an 11.124 bln euro figure in the corresponding period in 2004, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank, in its report, stressed that net borrowing needs as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product eased to 6.3 percent in 2005 from 6.7 pct last year.
The government deficit was affected by payment of 1.770 mln euros to repay state hospitals' debts to suppliers and by payment of 1.028 billion euros for the state's participation in an Agricultural Bank's share capital increase plan.
The central bank noted that the government shortfall was positively affected by receipts totalling 1.090 billion euros from the sale of a 16.44 percent tranche in OPAP. The report stressed that spending on state hospitals' debt would not significantly affect this year's deficit.
The deficit of public investments' budget fell to 1.557 billion euros (or 0.9 percent of GDP) in the seven month period from 3.484 billion euros (or 2.1 pct of GDP) in the same period last year.
 Greece reports deficit in trade transactions with FYROM
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)Greece reported a shortfall in its trade transactions with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in the first quarter of 2005, for the first time in bilateral history, official figures showed on Wednesday.
A report by the Greek Financial and Commerce Affairs' bureau in Skopje showed a significant increase in FYROM's exports to Greece, reflecting increased exports by Greek subsidiaries operating in the neighboring country.
FYROM exports to Greece rose 39.5 percent while Greek exports were limited to a 1.5 percent increase in the January-March period. Greek exports totalled 65.96 million US dollars in the first quarter of 2005 from 64.04 million dollars in the same period last year, while FYROM's exports totalled 73.53 million dollars from 52.71 million dollars over the same period, respectively.
Bilateral trade left Greece with a shortfall of 7.5 million US dollars in the first quarter, compared with a surplus of 11.3 million dollars in the same period last year.
Greece is the biggest foreign investor in FYROM with Greek enterprises' investments in the country totalling 800 million euros and creating 20,000 new job positions.
Foreign direct investments to FYROM totalled 36.18 million US dollars in the first quarter of 2005. Greece ranked fifth in the same quarter with investments totalling one million euros.
 Greek stocks resume uptrend on Wednesday
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)Greek stocks resumed their upward trend on Wednesday, with investors putting more money into the market, encouraged by a positive climate in international markets.
The composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange ended at 3,323.66 points, up 0.71 percent, with turnover a heavy 220.6 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.69 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.67 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index jumped 1.17 percent.
The Mineral-Cement (1.05 pct), Publications (0.59 pct) and Textile (0.31 pct) sectors were the only ones to suffer losses, while the IT Solutions (2.37 pct), Insurance (2.28 pct) and Base Metals (1.41 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 181 to 83 with another 72 issues unchanged.
 Greek aid to flood-stricken residents in Bulgaria
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)The foreign ministry's international development aid service, Hellenic Aid, on Wednesday announced the granting of 50,000 euros towards flood-stricken residents of neighboring Bulgaria for the purchase of various items, including fresh water.
At least eight flood-related deaths have been reported in the Balkan country over the past few days after torrential rains struck the country.
The order was signed by Deputy FM Evripidis Stylianidis.
Authorities brace for more floodwaters in Evros prefecture : The water level on the Evros River in extreme northeast Greece on Wednesday again neared the 5.7-metre emergency mark, as authorities said the flow of water from neighboring Bulgaria increased overnight.
Floodwaters interrupted rail service in the region a day earlier, the result of torrential rains in neighboring Bulgaria over the past week.
The Evros River, which separates the land borders of Greece and Turkey in the Thrace province, flows north to south, beginning in Bulgaria and emptying into the Aegean. It is called the Maritsa River in Bulgaria.
At last count, some 450 hectares of crops had been covered by flood waters, mostly in the Dikaia district of Evros prefecture.
The water level had dropped off to the 4.2-metre mark on Monday only to rise to 5.27 meters on Wednesday.
 Boat believed to have 90 illegal immigrants aboard issues SOS off of Crete
Athens, 11/8/2005 (ANA)A boat believed to be carrying some 90 illegal immigrants on board issued a distress signal shortly before noon on Wednesday, as it was sailing south of the island of Crete.
Nearby merchant ships and coastguard vessels were rushing to the area, while a Dornier plane took off from Souda airbase on Crete for an aerial search of the vicinity.
 French government conveyed position on Turkey to Cyprus
NICOSIA 11/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou said on Wednesday that the French government has communicated to President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos the position that Turkey has in effect not fulfilled its obligation with the declaration it made during the signing of the adaptation protocol to the Ankara agreement.
Speaking at a press conference for foreign correspondents, Iacovou was asked whether French President Jacques Chirac has sent a letter to President Papadopoulos regarding France's position on Turkey.
''The position of the French government is quite clear. The content of the French policy has been communicated to'' the government.
He explained the Cypriot president had a consultation with the French ambassador last week who communicated to him the French government's position "and it is correct to say the French government feels that the Turkish government through the submission of the statement it has in effect not fulfilled its obligation to sign the adaptation protocol of the Ankara agreement".
Asked whether Chirac has sent a letter, the foreign minister said he could not confirm whether a letter has been sent or whether it was an oral message.
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin had stated last week that it does not seem conceivable that a negotiation process of whatever kind can start with a country that does not recognize all EU members.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
 Cyprus spokesman: Turkey had no right to make declaration
NICOSIA 11/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government has said that the European Council decision of last December regarding the signing by Turkey of the protocol extending its customs union with the ten new member states, did not give her the right to issue a declaration announcing that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said Wednesday that the official and clear stance of the government on the protocol and Turkey's declaration will be expressed during the General Affairs Council in September, in the light of the continued statements made by European officials that Turkey must recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
Commenting on statements made by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn that the Commission believes Turkey has fulfilled its obligations to begin accession negotiations, the spokesman replied that Rehn "disregards the fact that Turkey had no right to make a declaration during the signing of the protocol for the customs union".
Chrysostomides reiterated that the government's position regarding the protocol's signing is the first step in normalizing relations between candidate and EU member states and especially Turkey and Cyprus, with whatever that entails.
"We have never said that the signing of the protocol implies immediate and diplomatic recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. However, what comes out of Mr. Rehn's statements is that the obligation to recognize the member states and the candidate states is an obligation derived from the EU member state's capacity. That is how we interpret the 17th December decision", the spokesman noted.
Chrysostomides said that a decision to convene the National Council will be taken around the end of August or beginning of September.
 Cypriot FM says Talat has revealed his true positions
NICOSIA 11/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has divulged his intentions that what he really wants is the recognition of the illegal regime in the occupied north through the ending of the so called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou has said here Wednesday.
The minister was commenting on an interview which Talat gave to the 'New Anatolian' newspaper's website in which he stated that he proposed the opening of ports and airports in the occupied areas in exchange of the return of Varoshia.
Speaking to correspondents of foreign media in Cyprus, Iacovou said that "Mr Talat is supposed to be a leader who always talks in terms of reunification and this cuts across the grain because he is talking about recognition."
He added that the political aim behind the ending of the 'isolation' of the Turkish Cypriots is his intention to obtain "recognition, short of full recognition" of the illegal regime in the occupied north.
"This is why in the context of the consultations we had been having with the European Commission and our partners within the European Union we had indicated in no uncertain terms that this absolutely cannot be the start of anything", the minister added.
Asked whether the strategic interests of Cyprus would be harmed if Turkey does not commence accession talks in October 3, Iacovou said that Cyprus "had supported Turkey's bid to commence negotiations with the Union," adding that, however, "we want a Turkey that really espouses the European values and shows that it is beginning to do so. This recent statement casts very serious doubts on whether Turkey intends to espouse these European values."
Iacovou pointed out that Turkey's statement on the recognition of the Cyprus Republic "has caused alarm and despondency to our European partners and several leaders have reacted to this statement."
He added that Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn adopt the position that the signing of the Protocol is in practical terms recognition.
The Cypriot minister said that the whole issue will be discussed at the Informal Meeting of the Foreign Ministers between 1-2 September in the UK and added that the statement made by Turkey "is provocative and hits the internal European Union legal order. The EU is bound to react."
To a question whether the UN Secretary General intends to start a new round of talks on Cyprus, the minister said that he expected the Secretary General, after fulfilling his present timetable, would soon devote the necessary time to address issues relating to the Cyprus problem.
Regarding the visit to the Turkish occupied north of US Congressional staffers and the fact that the State Department insists that there is nothing illegal in it, Iacovou said that these people were offered free holidays in the occupied north by Turkish lobbyists.
"These visits are illegal and were always protested. This is no exception. We are in disagreement with US administration as to their legal position. We make no secret of our disagreement and we have raised the issue at a very high level'', he concluded.