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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-08-25

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 25, 2005


  • [01] PM Karamanlis tells ND's Political Council the government is determined to continue reforms
  • [02] PM meets with Public Order minister ahead of TIF
  • [03] PM Karamanlis congratulates new Bulgarian counterpart Stanishev
  • [04] Cooperation contract to be signed between Security Studies Centre and 'Beijing 2008'
  • [05] Public works minister visits new underground parking garage
  • [06] Gov't declines comment in ongoing media owners' feud
  • [07] SYN leader Alavanos discusses issues related to the safety of flights
  • [08] Budget for 2006 to curb spending, boost growth
  • [09] Stocks slump in across-the-board selling
  • [10] OA plane with reported wheel malfunction lands safely at Athens airport
  • [11] City of Athens distributing new historical, tourist maps
  • [12] Papadopoulos asks EU experts to thoroughly investigate air crash
  • [13] Foreign minister says Cyprus has two aims on Turkish EU bid

  • [01] PM Karamanlis tells ND's Political Council the government is determined to continue reforms

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, speaking on Wednesday afternoon at a meeting of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Political Council, expressed the government's "determination to continue the course of changes and reforms in the state, the economy, education and health."

    Karamanlis made clear that the government "will not retreat to reactions of organized interests and closed groups of privileged people" and added that "he does not compromise with the past."

    The prime minister explained that "the changes and reforms are not an end in itself, they are the necessary prerequisites for a really strong economy and for the dynamic development which bears fruit for all."

    The ND's Political Council session was held on Wednesday immediately after the completion of the first round of reforms, shortly before the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and shortly before the start of preparations for the setting up of the state budget of the next year, Karamanlis added.

    The prime minister made a brief reference to the situation which the government inherited from the previous Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) government (debts, deficits, penalty rates on overdue loans, numerous contract workers, bureaucracy, corruption, operational problems in public utilities) and stressed that the confrontation of these problems extracted a great part of the government's efforts.

    In continuation, he referred to the axes of the government's efforts and stressed in particular the triptych: the re-founding of the state, fiscal cleansing, new developmental model.

    Karamanlis further said that the government's efforts are made more difficult because of the unfavorable international circumstances.

    Having proceeded in giving a brief evaluation of what the government has done until the present, he referred to the opposition parties and particular to the main opposition party, saying that PASOK "intends to further intensify its attacks against the government for the purpose of making its presence felt, to cause polarization and to entrench itself."

    The prime minister predicted that PASOK will resort in distortion and that it will make efforts so as to attribute to the ND government problems such as unemployment and the high cost of living, "which, however, were created earlier," while he viewed as possible that "there may also be personal attacks."

    Karamanlis clarified that the ND "will not play the game of polarization," something, which he said, it did not even do when it was in opposition. He added, however, that "he will not leave anything unanswered."

    He said the ND "is the power of the contemporary social Centre which aims at reforming the structures of the state and of the economy." He added at "the government will continue its work steadfastly, with determination and effectiveness."

    In closing statements to the ND's Political Council, Karamanlis stressed that in politics the most important dilemma is to either move in the direction of simply handling the country's problems without reforms, in order for the government to be temporarily pleasant to the citizens, but without benefits for the country, or to decide in making major reforms which temporarily do not appear to be pleasant but are beneficial for the overwhelming majority of the citizens.

    Karamanlis said "the government chose the second road, the most difficult and effective one, the road of real policy and not temporary and insipid impressions."

    ND's Political Council discusses issue of change in electoral law for local government: The ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Political Council which convened at the party's headquarters on Wednesday evening accepted the reforms being promoted by the government, opened the debate on the issue of the change of the electoral law for local government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed that a prudent economic policy will be followed.

    ND Secretary Evangelos Meimarakis stated after the meeting that discussion included the issue of the local government elections "with the purpose for local government to be autonomous, independent and to find solutions to problems which concern its citizens."

    Meimarakis noted that the electoral law proposed by the government "is more democratic and more proportional and will help local government to rid itself of its bipartisanship."

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, during her exit from the party's headquarters, said that the Political Council discussed about the major reforms being implemented and "which are applauded by the citizens."

    She added that also discussed were the reforms in local government which will soon come to the forefront and for which the local societies have a view. She also noted that local government "must have its own autonomy and impetus."

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said that the Political Council examined all the sides of the government's actions and particularly the reforms "which the country needs," as well as the issues concerning the party and the support of the government by the party in society.

    Meimarakis stressed that given that the percentage of about 42 per cent a government can be elected, why cannot the municipal and regional authorities be elected. He said that "this proposal does not obstruct local cooperation but to the contrary supports them in the first round and makes them more honest and transparent."

    [02] PM meets with Public Order minister ahead of TIF

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis on Wednesday ahead of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TIF).

    After the meeting, Voulgarakis said that talks with the prime minister centered on planned restructuring of Thessaloniki's police force, draft legislation regarding security studies centers and the minister's upcoming visit to China in order to discuss Greece's contribution and assistance ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

    Asked whether he had anything to add regarding the investigation into the plane crash that killed 121 people on August 14, Voulgarakis said that all findings so far have already been made public. He added that other authorities are responsible for the investigation and for discovering the causes that caused Helios Airways flight ZU 522 to crash into a mountain near Athens.

    [03] PM Karamanlis congratulates new Bulgarian counterpart Stanishev

    SOFIA 25/8/2005 (ANA/B.Borisov)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday sent a telegram of congratulations to new Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev on the assumption of his duties and assured him that Greece will continue its steadfast support in Bulgaria's efforts to join the European Union.

    Karamanlis expressed his conviction for the further deepening of the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria to the benefit of the prosperity of the two peoples and the stability in the broader region.

    [04] Cooperation contract to be signed between Security Studies Centre and 'Beijing 2008'

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis announced in Parliament on Wednesday the signing of a cooperation contract between the Security Studies Centre (KEMEA) and the Chinese Olympic Games Organizing Committee.

    Speaking on the draft law for the setting up of the KEMEA, Voulgarakis said that the first contract for the transfer of technical know-how for the security of major athletic events, which Greece acquired at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, will be signed in Beijing on September 25, within the framework of his visit to the Chinese capital. Voulgarakis underlined that this contract "involves a very significant economic benefit for the Centre."

    KEMEA, Voulgarakis added, would function according to the rules of the market.

    [05] Public works minister visits new underground parking garage

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias visited the new underground parking garage at Fix metro station that will operate in the upcoming weeks.

    The garage, with a capacity of 642 parking spaces, is the largest garage to be constructed at a metro station.

    Construction of the 6-storey garage cost 13.5 million and brings the total of parking spaces available at metro stations throughout the Greek capital to 2,100. Souflias said that the goal is to create a total of 5,000 parking spaces in nine metro stations by 2007.

    Parking garages will be constructed at the following stations: Nomismatokopeio, Eleona, Anthoupoli and Halandri.

    Public works minister rules out Formula 1 race track at old Athens airport site: Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias ruled out the possibility of a Formula 1 race track being set up at the site of the old Athens airport at Elliniko, in comments he made on Wednesday.

    He said that the largest metropolitan park will be created at the site.

    "I am not against a Formula 1 race track being built in Greece, but not in a residential area and only with the appropriate infrastructure and facilities," Souflias stressed.

    Asked about the progress of public works in the country, the minister said that construction projects totalling 5 billion have already been tendered and most of them are under way.

    [06] Gov't declines comment in ongoing media owners' feud

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Wednesday declined to comment on a particularly vitriolic and very public ongoing feud between Greek insurance doyen Dimitris Kontominas, the founder of the Interamerican group, and controversial publisher Giorgos Kouris.

    "The government will not make any public comment, as this specific matter has already been transferred to the legal arena," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed.

    Banner stories assailing Interamerican's integrity and Kontominas himself, first by Kouris' daily "Avriani" and then by his television station "Alter", resulted in a barrage of negative news stories focusing on Kouris by the television station controlled by Kontominas, "Alpha".

    [07] SYN leader Alavanos discusses issues related to the safety of flights

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Wednesday discussed with the management of the Federation of Civil Aviation Associations issues related to the safety of flights.

    Alavanos expressed his opposition that "Greek airline companies rent foreign planes, from countries of Africa or of Asia, with different specifications, which, not only are not checked from the Technical Base of these companies, but are neither checked by the Greek Civil Aviation Service."

    The Synaspismos leader announced that his party will undertake an initiative to ask for the setting up of a Special Committee in Parliament for the "Investigation of Security Conditions and Control of Flights" and for the detection of any existing responsibilities and called on all the other opposition parties to support this initiative.

    [08] Budget for 2006 to curb spending, boost growth

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    The government's budget for 2006 aims to curb public spending and attain high growth in order to help lower the fiscal deficit to below 3.0% of gross domestic product, finance ministry sources said on Wednesday.

    In 2005, the deficit is forecast to fall below 4.0% of GDP, in line with targets, the sources said, speaking after a meeting of Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis with senior service officials.

    The 2006 budget will also rest on the government's efforts to clamp down on tax evasion, eliminate unnecessary spending, contain normal spending, and make good use of European Union funds, the same sources said.

    Spending under the budget is likely to show a lower rate of growth than 4.6% this year. Revenue is targeted to rise by 7.0%-7.5% against 11.4% in 2005.

    Growth in 2006 is targeted at 3.6% or above, from an estimated 3.5% or 3.6% in 2005, the sources said.

    Details of the budget will be finalized in coming meetings, they added.

    Alogoskoufis has asked ministries to keep their spending requirements as low possible.

    [09] Stocks slump in across-the-board selling

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower in across-the-board selling, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 3,231.49 points, marking a decline of 1.42%. Turnover was 194.6 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.38% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.79% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.19% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 220 to 55 with 51 remaining unchanged.

    [10] OA plane with reported wheel malfunction lands safely at Athens airport

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    An Olympic Airways aircraft landed safely at the Athens airport just before 6 p.m. (local time) after pilots reported that one of the plane's wheels had failed to properly lock following take-off from the same airport roughly two hours earlier.

    OA flight 147, carrying 124 passengers, first flew circles over a sea region southeast of the Greek mainland in order to consume the greater part of its fuel supply before returning to Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos Airport.

    The aircraft had reportedly taken off at 4:10 p.m. for Brussels.

    The report initially touched a sensitive nerve in the east Mediterranean country a little more than a week after a Cypriot airliner smashed into the hills north of Athens, the first of three deadly airliner accidents around the world within the last 10 days.

    [11] City of Athens distributing new historical, tourist maps

    Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)

    Volunteers throughout downtown Athens on Wednesday began handing out new tourist and historical maps of the Greek capital, part of a joint initiative by the municipality's newly formed tourism and economic development organization along with several tourism-related associations and chambers, including the Hoteliers' Chamber.

    The first map displays the gamut of mass transit lines and routes (metro, buses, trolleys, tram) available, along with useful telephone numbers and information about museums and tourist sights.

    The second map, depicting the city's historical centre, pinpoints significant archaeological sites, monuments and attractions.

    [12] Papadopoulos asks EU experts to thoroughly investigate air crash

    NICOSIA 25/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has called on two European Union experts, who arrived here for contacts with the Cypriot authorities, to apply all their knowledge, expertise and professionalism in order to investigate fully the Helios plane crash, near Athens, eleven days ago that resulted in the death of all 121 people on board, mostly Cypriots.

    Communications and Works Minister Haris Thrasou made the statement after Jean-Paul Henrotte, expert of the Directorate General Energy and Transport of the European Commission and Francois Janvier of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) were received on Wednesday by President Papadopoulos.

    Thrasou said the president thanked the experts for accepting the government's invitation to come to Cyprus and "asked them to use their knowledge, experience and professionalism to carry out an in-depth investigation and ascertain if there are any responsibilities so that these can be attributed, irrespective of the rank of any person or any government department or organization that might be involved".

    Thrasou said President Papadopoulos had told the experts they would be welcome to return to Cyprus with additional staff, should they need to do so, for more work in order to draw the right conclusions.

    The experts will remain in Cyprus for two days and return to Brussels to evaluate their findings.

    Thrasou said the experts work independently of anybody else and their work does not replace the inquiries carried out in Cyprus and in Greece.

    The minister said the experts would begin with investigations at the Civil Aviation Department and would have at their disposal all documents and anything they require. He said they had asked to meet the new director of the Department Leonidas Leonidou.

    Asked if the findings would be legally binding or mere recommendations to the government, the minister said although their conclusions would be recommendations, the authorities can evaluate the report and if there are any criminal responsibilities, then they can act on them.

    The minister said he was not aware of a meeting with Helios airline officials, adding that the experts would decide on their agenda.

    Earlier, during a meeting with the experts, Thrasou said "I asked for their help, experience and knowledge to investigate in depth the procedures and possible gaps in the Civil Aviation Department and most of all their proposals to upgrade our services".

    Thrasou said the experts had expressed readiness to offer their knowledge not only during their short stay but also at a later stage.

    Meanwhile, Head investigator of Air Accidents in Athens Akrivos Tsolakis told CNA that very soon he will visit Cyprus to meet the relevant Cypriot authorities so that both sides can cooperate before making public the conclusions of the investigations into the air crash.

    An Helios Airways Boeing 737, bound for Prague via Athens from Larnaca, crashed on August 14 near the Greek capital killing all 121 people on board.

    [13] Foreign minister says Cyprus has two aims on Turkish EU bid

    LIMASSOL 25/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou said here Wednesday that Cyprus has two aims ahead of the European Union meetings, which will decide on the commencement of accession talks between the Union and Turkey on October 3.

    Briefing the oversees Cypriots who are holding their fourteenth conference in Limassol, Iacovou said that ''we must obtain an EU counterstatement which will overturn the Turkish declaration and will not leave anything unanswered and there must be improvements of the EU-Turkey negotiating framework.''

    On July 29, Turkey signed a protocol expanding the Ankara Agreement (Customs Union) to cover the Union's ten new member-states, issuing simultaneously a declaration that said it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

    Iacovou appeared optimistic that Cyprus will face the new Turkish challenges and Ankara's declaration.

    ''Cypriot diplomats are abroad to promote our positions,'' Iacovou added, noting that ''we will try to have as much support in the Council, so our positions will be respected and incorporated in the conclusions.''

    Noting that the challenges Cyprus is facing come from Turkey but also from within the EU, Iacovou said he believes it is unlikely that European partners would press Cyprus to accept inadmissible positions with regard the existence of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Referring to the Cyprus problem, Iacovou said that any action by the United Nations Secretariat is expected to take place after the coming October.

    He also said the fact that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is sounding out certain persons for the position of his advisor on the Cyprus problem, ''means that the Secretary General is thinking of the next phase.''

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