|Friday, 15 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-08-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 23, 2005
 Initial findings point to cabin decompression as cause of Cypriot jetliner crash
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Initial findings of the investigation into the crash of Helios Airways' Boeing 737 near Athens point to cabin decompression as the possible cause of the accident that killed all 121 people on board.
Chief investigator and head of the Greek airline safety committee Akrivos Tsolakis provided Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis with a progress report on the investigation on Monday.
Tsolakis said that if there was a problem with the cabin's pressure system this would affect passengers' physical condition and would also explain why the co-pilot seemed to be unconscious in the cockpit.
According to investigators' findings so far, Tsolakis said that the plane went down when it ran out of fuel.
He also said that there are indications that the communications system receiver was functioning during the last 30 minutes of the flight.
As for the person seen in the cockpit by the two F-16 fighter jet pilots who approached the Cypriot jetliner after repeated attempts failed to establish contact with the plane, Tsolakis said that the person tried twice to send out an SOS but was unable to. However, the person's voice is heard sounding weak and exhausted on the voice recorder of the second black box.
In his progress report, Tsolakis emphasizes other factors of the investigation that must be examined in-depth before conclusions can be ruled as definitive. These include medical examiners' toxicological reports, examination of the plane manufacturer's findings, testimony of all involved parties, maintenance records and data from the two black boxes.
Finally, the findings reported by Tsolakis on Monday are based on evidence gathered from the crash site, Cyprus, Greek and international authorities, as well as data contained in the plane's two black boxes.
Helios Airways flight ZU 522 crashed into a mountainous region near Athens last Sunday, flying to Prague from Larnaca via Athens.
Helios representative in Athens completes testimony over plane crash: The representative in Athens of the Cypriot private airline company Helios testified at the Athens Police Headquarters for three hours on Monday in relation to the Helios plane crash north of Athens on Sunday, August 14, which killed all 121 passengers and crew.
The representative, George Dimitriou, accompanied by his lawyer and according to reports, in his testimony was said to have said that he learnt of the air crash by a relative who communicated with him by phone and briefed him regarding what he heard on television. Later, as he was said to have stated, he went to the company's office to learn exactly what had happened.
It is possible that the employees of the Control Tower at Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos", who were on duty at the time of the flight of the ill-fated plane, will testify on Tuesday.
In the context of the police investigation, it is expected that at least 100 people will testify, the majority of which are relatives of the victims of the Boeing 737 crash.
 Gov't on civil aviation authority's actions vis-a-vis crashed Cypriot airliner
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)The government spokesman on Monday reiterated that the government will take immediate action if any omissions or delays by the civil aviation authorities or any other state agency are ascertained vis-a-vis the crash of a Cypriot airliner north of Athens last Sunday.
Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos also referred to an order by the civil aviation authority (YPA) director to release tapes of communication by air traffic controllers during the crucial half hour between the time Helios Airways flight ZU522 entered Greek airspace and the moment state authorities were notified that it was not responding to hailing.
Roussopoulos added that a complete report detailing the actions of air traffic controllers and the subsequent decision-making was delivered to the government by YPA on Monday.
Finally, the spokesman again dismissed press reports that the prime minister has asked for the resignation of YPA's leadership.
In a related matter, Roussopoulos said any planes leased by state-owned Olympic Airways are given a comprehensive inspection based on international standards.
 U.S. President Bush sends condolences to Greek counterpart Papoulias over plane crash
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)U.S. President George W. Bush has sent to Greek President Karolos Papoulias a telegram of condolences over the plane crash of the Cypriot private airline company "Helios" north of Athens on Sunday, August 14, which killed all 121 people on board. The ill-fated Boeing 737 was carrying 115 passengers and six crew members.
 PM Karamanlis meets with Fin Min ahead of Int'l Thessaloniki Fair
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis at Maximos Mansion on Monday ahead of the International Thessaloniki Trade Fair scheduled for early September.
According to Alogoskoufis, the economy is faring well with a growth rate that is satisfactory and higher than the European Union average, while unemployment is lower compared with 2004, thanks to government initiatives.
In closing, he emphasized that the government's objectives include reduction of the deficit and maintaining economic growth at current levels or higher in order to improve citizens' quality of life and to further reduce unemployment.
Communist party forecasts austerity in 2006: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Monday that it expected the prime minister to announce tough austerity measures in his annual economic policy speech next month.
"The people should harbor no expectations of the premier's speech, except an escalation of the offensive against their daily lives and rights in the name of competitiveness and more profit to the rich," the party said in a statement.
The KKE was responding to statements earlier in the day by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.
 PM Karamanlis meets with minister of the interior
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Ministerial Council Secretary Argyris Karras at Maximos Mansion on Monday.
Pavlopoulos said it was a routine meeting regarding issues related to his ministry and noted that today's meeting took place within the context of preparations for the International Thessaloniki Trade Fair, which will be held in early September.
 Greece hails Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Foreign Ministry Spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Monday hailed the withdrawal of the Israelis from Gaza.
According to a foreign ministry press release, Koumoutsakos said: "We hail the decision of Israel to proceed in the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and from the four settlements in the West Bank. It is indisputably a courageous decision which creates a new impetus in the direction of the solution of the prolonged Middle East question."
The foreign ministry spokesman added that "in order for this new impetus to be utilized for the general course of the Peace Process, it is important that the withdrawal process be placed within the context of the Road Map."
Koumoutsakos went on to say that "in order for the relevant process to be successfully completed in a climate of calm and security, it is also necessary for utmost self-control to be shown both by Israel and the Palestinian Authority."
Concluding, Koumoutsakos said that "the Palestinian Authority, on its part, should continue the necessary reforms in the sector of administration and secure the necessary security conditions."
 Gov't dismisses claim of 'differing opinions' between Athens, Nicosia
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)The government on Monday flatly dismissed a recent press report claiming a "difference of opinion" between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and visiting Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos concerning Euro-Turkey relations, during the latter's visit to Athens last week.
 Turkish warplanes violate national air space over the Aegean
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Armed Forces General Staff sources said that 23 Turkish warplanes entered the Aegean on Monday without submitting flight plans and in five cases violated the national air space in the regions of the northern and central Aegean.
In all cases, the Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter jets.
It was reported that four of the Turkish aircraft were armed.
 Gov't favorably views 42% election threshold for mayoral races
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)The government on Monday more-or-less announced its support for a high-profile proposal by ruling New Democracy party's secretary to change the electoral law so that mayoral and prefectural candidates garnering 42 percent or more of the vote in the first ballot win the election.
ND Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis has been the chief proponent of the change, which would apply for next year's local government elections.
"Instituting a 42-percent limit for mayoral elections during the first Sunday (election) comprises a pre-election commitment by the government, and there is political volition for (this measure) to be applied," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said, adding however, that a public discourse is underway with all aspects of the issue up for discussion.
 Theophilos elected new Jerusalem patriarch; Greek leadership sends congratulations
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Theophilos, until recently Archbishop of Tabor, was unanimously elected the new Patriarch of Jerusalem by the 14 members of the Holy Synod on Monday.
Archbishop Aristarchos of Constantini and Metropolitan Alexius of Tver who had been short-listed along with Theophilos, withdrew from the final election round.
Theophilos, from Messinia, Greece, is 55 years old.
President Karolos Papoulias on Monday evening sent a telegram of congratulations to newly elected Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos, who was elected earlier in the day to succeed deposed patriarch Irineos.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has conveyed his congratulations to newly elected Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos, who was elected earlier in the day to succeed deposed patriarch Irineos (Eirineos), the government spokesman noted during his regular press briefing.
Other telegrams expressing their congratulations were also issued by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou and Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis.
Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis called the entire procedure to elect a new Orthodox Patriarch of the Holy Land "flawless".
He also conveyed his congratulations to Theophilos and to the entire Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher for the "moderation and wisdom in which they faced the provocations of the past few months."
 Ecumenical Patriarch, SAE president congratulate Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos
ISTANBUL 23/8/2005 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Monday evening conveyed his congratulations to newly elected Jerusalem Patriarch Theophilos, was elected earlier in the day to succeed deposed patriarch Irineos.
World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Andrew Athens also sent a letter of congratulations to Patriarch Theofilos.
 Joint service by Vartholomeos, Christodoulos next month at medieval chapel
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos will jointly officiate at a church service next month at the Aghios Achilleios basilica, a Byzantine-era chapel located on a tiny islet within the Lake Prespa in extreme northwest Greece.
The joint service, a high-profile development following a dramatic mending of relations between the two pre-eminent Greek Orthodox clerics, comes in light of the Patriarch's tour of Florina prefecture, whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction lies with the Patriarchate.
The visit by Vartholomeos, who will be accompanied by Christodoulos, will also coincide with the annual "Prespeia" series of cultural events. Among others, the noted Novospassky Monastery choir from Russia is scheduled to perform.
 PM sends condolences to Portuguese counterpart over wildfires-related destruction
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday conveyed his condolences to Portuguese counterpart Jose Socrates over the recent deaths and destruction in the Iberian peninsula country from a series of destructive wildfires.
 Inner Cabinet to discuss Ministry of State issues on Tuesday
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)The Inner Cabinet will convene at 11 a.m. on Tuesday to discuss issues related to the Ministry of State.
On the meeting's agenda will be the Ministry of State's draft law for the setting up of an audio-visual archive and the settlement of issues relating to the Information and Communications General Secretariats and of the supervised agencies.
 Kefaloyiannis, Pavlidis discuss passenger shipping
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis met on Monday with Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis in the context of their regular cooperation.
The two men discussed issues concerning passenger shipping and particular emphasis was given to the unimpeded movement of passengers in light of the great passenger traffic which is expected these coming two weekends.
 Foreign Ministry deposits second cheque for aid to those affected by tsunami in SE Asia
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)The Greek foreign ministry on Monday deposited to the special account of the Bank of Greece, for the granting of aid to those affected from the tsunami in southeast Asia late December 2004, the second cheque of contribution by state-run Greek Radio and Television (ERT) amounting to 3,843,416.45 euros. The cheque was handed to Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis by ERT President Mr. Panagopoulos last week.
Up to now, the foreign ministry has deposited 10 million euros to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for distribution to the UNHCR, World Food Program, FAO, FAO/UNDP, WHO and IOM for special programs for the relief of the affected areas and the development of the region, 10 million euros for humanitarian aid in pharmaceuticals and clothing, 150,000 euros for the Maldives, 150,000 euros for Sri Lanka and 200,000 euros for Indonesia.
Greece was the first country to respond to Annan's appeal for aid to the affected areas in southeast Asia. a fact which was recognized by a relevant letter of gratitude by the UN Secretary-General to Foreign Minister Molyviatis.
 PASOK Coordinators to convene on Tuesday
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)The Coordinators of the parliamentary group of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) will convene on Tuesday. Among the issues which will be discussed
are the positions which PASOK leader George Papandreou will expound at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair early next month.
The meeting of the Coordinators will be followed by a two day-meeting of the party's Political Council at Lavrio (August 25-26).
In the context of the Thessaloniki Fair, PASOK is expected to give particular emphasis on the economy and to the problems of the daily life of citizens. Furthermore, the main opposition party will refer to the government's pre-election commitments on the issue of contract workers and the issues of education and health.
Finally, particular reference will be made to the government's handling of foreign policy issues.
 Government steps up cross-checks to curb tax evasion
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)The government is stepping up its drive to cross-check taxpayers' data by tightening computer controls and coordinating depart-mental services.
Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, who held talks on Mon-day with senior internal staff, ordered weekly meetings to monitor progress in the campaign.
Specialized auditors would work with the capital tax service and the ministry's regional offices to carry out detailed inspections in 4,000 companies that appear to have evaded tax totalling 5.1 billion euros of 7.0 billion euros liable, ministry sources said.
 Electricity rates still rank lowest in EU-15 after hike, PPC says
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation on Monday announced a rise in electricity rates, saying Greek tariffs were the lowest among the European Union 15 member states before enlargement.
"The rate adjustment will cover part of the cost arising from a rise in fuel prices, and implementation of the Kyoto protocol," PPC chairman Ioannis Paleokrassas said in a statement.
"We are already curbing spending, making full use of human resources, and increasing productivity in order to boost competitiveness in a deregulated market," Paleokrassas said.
Under the new tariffs endorsed by the government, households that use up to 800 kilowatt hours per four-monthly bill, will see no increase in their bills or standing charge. Heavier household consumers will see hikes of 3.0% to 6.5%.
For commerce and industry the increases are 3.5%, and for agriculture, 2.5%.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas noted that the government had acted to protect the less affluent - or 42.9% of PPC'S customers who use up to 800 KW per four-month bill; and to keep the increases below inflation for 95.9% of consumers.
Opposition lashes out: The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology called the hike in electricity rates a fresh blow to household income that would fuel a consumer price spiral.
"The increases are even more unacceptable in view of the fact that the government is preparing an austerity budget for 2006, with wage and pension rises below 3.0%," party spokesman Panayiotis Lafazanis said in a statement.
 Tourism Development Minister Avramopoulos visits prefecture of Ilia
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Monday visited the prefecture of Ilia in the Peloponnese and discussed with local government officials issues related to the tourism development of the broader region.
Avramopoulos visited the Lake of Kaiafa and the installations of the Kounoupelio spa and had an extensive meeting at the Town Hall of Pyrgos.
In statements from the region of Kaiafa, Avramopoulos said that a completed plan is under way for the development of the region and that relevant announcements would be made soon.
The tourism development minister noted that what is required is the promotion as soon as possible of all the plans for the strengthening of the infrastructures, mainly of air transport. Already, as he said, there has been a discussion at the Inner Cabinet and instructions have been given by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for the conversion of the Andravida airport to a civilian airport as well during the tourism period.
Avramopoulos noted that initiatives must be taken to clean up the area. "Ilia in its entirety do not give the best image today," he said, stressing that a series of specific measures must be taken. "There cannot be tourism development without a civilized environment," Avramopoulos said.
 Gov't sets priority on cave tourism
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)The government has set a priority on boosting cave tourism, a rich natural resource in Greece, yet relatively untapped, the deputy tourism development minister, Anastasios Liaskos, said on Monday.
Opening the World Tourism Conference, Liaskos said cave tourism was a type of alternative travel authorities hoped to attract that could also form part of a holiday package.
About 10,000 caves have been found in Greece so far, with around 100 deemed suitable for use in tourism. Work had been done on about 20 making them fit for immediate use, Liaskos said.
Sector authorities want to increase the number of caves accessible to tourists. Those currently accessible host about a million domestic and foreign visitors a year, he added.
The conference ends on August 27.
 Stocks edge down in a flaccid market
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished lower with minor buying seen in low-capitalization paper, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,316.00 points, marking a decline of 0.32%. Turnover was 116.9 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.41% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.20% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.42% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 142 to 124 with 66 remaining unchanged.
 Propane gas explosion in restaurant in Santorini kills one person, seriously injures three
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)A propane gas bottle exploded in a restaurant in Ia, on the island of Santorini, on Monday, causing injuries to customers.
A C-130 cargo plane was sent to Santorini and was due to leave late Monday night to transport the injured to Athens and specifically to KAT hospital.
The first information from the General Police Department of the Region of the Southern Aegean refers that one person was killed, three seriously injured and two passers-by slightly injured, while material damage to the restaurant was extensive.
 Two truckloads of illegal migrants intercepted in Evros
Athens, 23/8/2005 (ANA)A total of 134 illegal immigrants and three migrant smugglers were intercepted in the northeast border prefecture of Evros over
the last 24 hours after slipping onto Greek territory from neighboring Turkey, authorities said.
Twenty illegals were initially arrested on the 63rd kilometer of the Alexandroupoli-Nea Orestiada roadway when border guards stopped a vehicle driven by a 50-year-old local man.
Shortly afterwards, 114 would-be migrants along with two Turkish nationals were intercepted on the 97th kilometer of the Alexandroupoli-Kastanies roadway. Both Turks had legally entered Greece with their truck from the Kipi border post before later loading the illegals, authorities said.
The entire group of illegals was ferried into Greece by a Turkish smuggler across the Evros River aboard a plastic boat, reports state.
 Cyprus President pledges full investigation into Helios air-crash
NICOSIA 23/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos reiterated before members of the National Council his pledge for a full investigation of the causes of the August 14 Helios Airways plane crash near Athens that killed all 121 persons on board, Undersecretary to the President Christodoulos Pasiardis said here Monday.
In statements after a three-hour long meeting, Pasiardis also said that the President has thoroughly informed the members of the Council on the situation that has ensued following the signing of a protocol by Ankara its customs union to cover the EU's ten new member-states and its simultaneous declaration that Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
According to Pasiardis, Papadopoulos informed the members of the Council on the government's actions towards the full investigation of the causes and circumstances under which the plane crash occurred nine days ago near Athens.
''The President reiterated his pledge that both the government and he personally will contribute decisively towards the thorough and in-depth investigation of the real facts that led to the tragedy and underlined that responsibilities will be attributed and those responsible will be called to answer,'' Pasiardis added.
In Monday's meeting, Papadopoulos also informed the members of the Council regarding the developments after the signing of a protocol by Turkey expanding its customs union to cover the new member-states which Ankara accompanied it with a declaration reiterating that Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
He also said that some members expressed their views regarding the actions that the government will take within the EU, while other members said they will submit their views in writing.