|Wednesday, 20 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-08-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 26, 2005
 Papandreou says gov't 'undermining' democratic institutions
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday again sharply criticised the government, this time during the first day of a two-day conference of his party's political council in the port town of Lavrio, southeast of Athens.
Among others, Papandreou, the former foreign minister, said ruling ND's plan was exhausted when it achieved its goal of assuming power, while he also accused the government of "undermining" democratic institutions, a reference to an extension of chief prosecutors' terms and a proposal allowing for mayoral and prefectural candidates to win their seats by taking 42 percent of more of the vote in a first round of local government elections.
PASOK is bitterly opposed to both measures.
In other criticism, Papandreou charged that Greece's capacious public sector is being politicised and taken over by New Democracy, while he repeated criticism over the government's economic policy.
Conversely, he said past PASOK governments -- the party ruled the country from 1981 to 1989 and from 1993 to March 2004 -- were able to win the Olympic Games for Athens, promote Cyprus' EU accession, achieve GDP growth of up to 5.5 percent annually, as well as include Greece in the euro-zone.
Moreover, he dismissed unremitting criticism by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis that all of the country's problems stem from PASOK's governance. Along those lines, he said there was no intent by his party to criticise the premier in a personal manner, as the main opposition party was offering responsible and constructive criticism.
Following his arrival in Lavrio, Papandreou was given a guided tour of a new technological park in the one-time industrial district by the Athens Polytechnic's rector.
Gov't reaction: "It's obvious that in the face of a policy of reforms and structural changes being applied by the government, with the backing of a large majority of citizens, the only communications refuge for PASOK is (political) polarisation and distortion," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said in response to the PASOK leader's comments.
 Foreign ministry cites heightened diplomatic activity ahead of crucial EU-Turkey meetings
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)Athens on Thursday reiterated its standing position of "no shadow" being cast vis-a-vis Turkey's absolute application of a customs union protocol with the European Union, weeks after the EU candidate-state signed an extension of the protocol while simultaneously claiming that its signature doesn't constitute recognition of EU member Cyprus.
The statement came amid heightened diplomatic activity by Greece and Cyprus' diplomatic services ahead of a COREPER meeting on Aug. 31 in Brussels, a meeting expected to focus on Turkey's signing of the protocol, as well as an informal council (Gymnich) assigned the task of processing the negotiation framework for EU-Turkey relations.
A foreign ministry spokesman made the statement on Thursday, while noting that both Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and Deputy FM Yiannis Valinakis plan to communicate with their counterparts in Italy and Spain over the next few days, as well as with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn.
Moreover, spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Molyviatis is set to speak with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the next 24 hours, whereas Turkish Deputy Undersecretary Ertugrul Apakan is scheduled to arrive in Athens for talks on Aug. 31.
Similar contacts by Greece's permanent representation in Brussels with the EU presidency, Commission and in other EU capitals are underway, the foreign ministry stated.
"The end result of Turkey's European course is a European Turkey, not the opposite," sources at the foreign ministry added.
Athens will not respond to letter sent by Turkish-Cypriot leader
Foreign Ministry Spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Thursday said that the Greek government does not intend to respond to a letter Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat sent Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
The letter's contents have not been publicised, but reportedly Talat has sent similar letters to other European leaders as well.
Roussopoulos comments on Commissioner Rehn's statements regarding Turkey's EU accession course: Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopooulos, asked by reporters to comment on statements made by EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn that "Turkey has fulfilled all the terms for the start of its (EU) accession course," which, according to the reporters, are contradictory with the obligations Turkey had undertaken with its signing at the EU summit last December, noted that "with its signing, Turkey undertook a series of commitments and obligations towards the European Union."
On the same issue, Roussopoulos recalled that a few days ago at the meeting in Athens between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos, the two men "agreed together on the tactic and strategy which they will follow in the coming period, on the issue which has arisen."
 Gov't on PM's statement regarding 'difficult decisions' for economy
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)The government reiterated on Thursday that a recent statement by the prime minister, namely, that "that debts and deficits aren't covered by easy and pleasant decisions", has been repeatedly and publicly uttered.
Moreover, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed that the government has repeatedly declared that a stepped up effort is underway to solve the major problems plaguing the Greek economy.
Asked by reporters if "difficult or unpleasant decisions" have already been made, Roussopoulos reiterated that "difficult decisions have been taken … that we hope will solve the difficult problems we inherited."
 Gov't on Cypriot airliner crash inquiry committees
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)The government noted on Thursday that international practice dictates that expert committees be formed after civil aviation accidents to investigate and release reports over such incidents, whereas reports' findings form a crucial element in subsequent legal action.
Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the statement in response to a question over a recent remark by a Cypriot politician, who claimed that inquiry committees in both Greece and Cyprus investigating the crash of Helios Airways flight ZU522 are not authorised to assign liability over the accident.
The politician, G. Kassoulides, cited what he said was a EU Directive.
116 bodies of Cypriot plane which crashed north of Athens identified: One hundred and sixteen bodies from the Cypriot plane which crashed north of Athens on Sunday, August 14, have been identified.
The Boeing 737 plane, belonging to the private company "He-lios", crashed in the hills of the region of Grammatikos, killing all 115 passengers and six crew on board the aircraft.
Ninety bodies were identified through the method of DNA. while 26 were regonised by their relatives from their features and the personal objects they had on them.
Two bodies have not yet been identified and according to assessments made by officials, they do not belong to Cypriot passengers.
Therefore, apart from the three bodies which have not been located, one of the two unidentified bodies must belong to the German captain of the ill-fated plane.
The relevant service of the Greek Police's crime laboratories has asked through Interpol and with the contribution of the German Embassy in Athens for the German's relatives to send a sample so that lab tests be made for the identification of the body.
The head of the investigation into the cause of the plane crash, Akrivos Tsolakis is due to visit Cyprus on Monday.
 PM meets with Deputy Culture Minister
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis on Thursday morning.
According to Tatoulis, Karamanlis provided him with guidelines and instructions regarding cultural issues ahead of the Interna-tional Thessaloniki Trade Fair (TIF).
Asked to comment on changes made to the Athens Festival Board of Directors, Tatoulis said that the Tourism Ministry and the Greek National Tourism Organisation (EOT) were respon-sible for the changes. He added, however, that the changes were made to reflect the Festival's new philosophy.
Tatoulis noted that the board now includes members who are active in major, international festivals and who will help Athens Festival to successfully meet future challenges.
 PM Karamanlis to chair meeting of ND's Central Committee on Friday
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)The ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Central Committee will convene in Athens on Friday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Later, the prime minister will have a meeting at the Maximos Mansion with the Finnish development minister in the presence of Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas.
 KEDKE opposes 42% election threshold for local gov't ballot
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)The association representing municipalities and townships around the country, KEDKE, on Thursday reiterated its oppo-sition to the prospect of mayoral and prefectural candidates being elected in the first round of local government elections by gaining 42 percent or more of the vote.
The proposal, initially promoted by ruling New Democracy secretary Vangelis Meimarakis, appears to have the solid backing of the government, meaning that the likelihood of its implementation for next year's municipal elections is great.
SYN leader opposed to changing rules in local government elections: Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) President Alekos Alavanos expressed his opposition to the government's proposal to change the electoral law that would enable mayoral and prefectural candidates to be elected with 42 percent of the vote, in comments he made after meeting with Chania Prefect Yiorgos Katsanevakis on Thursday.
According to Alavanos, such a change would only promote bipartisanship.
He said that citizens want local government to take on more duties and responsibilities and claimed that a change in the electoral law is the last thing local government needs.
Alavanos said that SYN's policy regarding local government is based on broad cooperation among political parties that share the same concerns.
Finally, Alavanos announced that SYN is planning a regional conference in the upcoming months which will focus on Crete's growth and development.
 Kontos says there is no poultry flu epidemic in Greece
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)Deputy Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Alexandros Kontos said on Thursday that there has never been a case of poultry flu in Greece, noting that Greece has fortified hygienically so that the illness does not pass into the country.
Kontos said that in the measures which are being taken are constant checks at entry points (airports, ports, etc.) of pas-sengers coming from countries where the epidemic is rampant (Asian countries, South Africa, and Texas of the U.S.
The entry of live poultry, meat and other poultry products from the above mentioned countries is prohibited.
 University entry-exam results released; statement by education minister
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)The Education Ministry on Thursday released the exam results for entry into state universities (AEI) and technical colleges (TEI).
This year, the applicants numbered 129,380, of which 81,021 passed, representing a 62.62 per cent success rate.
In statements after the announcement of the results, Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou welcomed those who passed and wished them success in their studies, recommending them to make even greater efforts.
For those who failed, the minister said they still have oppor-tunities, noting that "in life we have both successes and failures."
 KKE leader Papariga speaks about her tour of Cuba and Venezuela
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary-General Aleka Papariga on Thursday spoke about her tour of Cuba and Venezuela and coveyed her impressions from the contacts she had in these two countries.
Papariga said the exchange of experiences around the matter of the Communist Movement on a national and international level and the necessity to actively show solidarity to the peoples of Cuba and Venezuela was the purpose of her visit.
In Cuba, Papariga had meetings with the International Relations Department of the Communist Party's Central Committee and with the deputy prime minister.
Speaking on the contents of her contacts, the KKE leader underlined that the living conditions for the people of Cuba have improved significantly despite the "imperialistic encirclement and pressure it is receiving."
Her reference to Venezuela was extensive as Papariga, con-veying her impressions, spoke of a complex situation, under-lining the need for solidarity "as Venezuela goes through a dy-namic procedure for the quest of popular power under the slogan of revolution."
According to Papariga it concerns a procedure which is marked by "deep antagonisms and contradictions." She said the proce-dure is propped by President Hugo Chavez and by popular movements. However, Papariga observed that in Venezuela "the reactions are also reorganised, the internal reaction with the help of the United States and other forces of imperialism with the exclusive objective of foreign intervention." She predicted that the clash between the two forces will be unavoidable.
The KKE leader denounced the threats for the assassination of Chavez, stating that already many members of Chavez's party have been murdered. She described as very positive President Chavez's efforts for the confrontation of hunger and Cuba's contribution which has sent to Venezuela 20,000 doctors and other personnel for the confrontation of the problems.
Concluding, Papariga called on the Greek government to examine the possibility of buying oil from Venezuela due to its low cost.
 Boosting economic growth, competitiveness and employment opportunities key objectives, labour minister says
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)Minister of Labour and Social Protection Panos Panayiotopoulos emphasised that labour reforms aimed at boosting economic growth, competitiveness and employment opportunities will continue, in comments he made after meeting with Prime Mi-nister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday morning.
He said that unemployment was down roughly 1 percentage point compared with 2004, noting that New Democracy came into office inheriting an unemployment rate of 11.3% from the then PASOK government.
Panayiotopoulos stressed that reforms need to continue in order to further reduce the unemployment rate, which at slighly above 10%, is still too high.
He accused main opposition PASOK of achieving the impos-sible: managing to allow unemployment to reach 11.3% when the country had an average economic growth rate well above the EU average.
Asked to comment on social security reform, the minister reiterated the government's position regarding its insistence on an ongoing dialogue between relevant agencies and authorities and political parties.
The objective regarding social security reform is to protect the system and keep it in tact for future generations, he said.
 Gov't offers job subsidies to small retailers for hiring jobless
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)The government has launched a plan to lower unemployment by subsidising small retailers to employ the jobless on a part-time basis.
A recently passed law that allows longer shopping hours should act as an incentive to recruitment, Development Minister Dimi-tris Sioufas said on Thursday.
Announcing the scheme with Employment Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, he said the new programme was aimed at the self-employed and firms with a staff of up to three people re-gistered as unemployed.
A formerly jobless person would work four hours a day in a five-day working week for 20 months, receiving a daily subsidy of 15 euros for the first two months. In the remaining 18 months, the employer would receive 176 euros a month per employee hired, the two ministers said.
 Stocks nose down with pressure seen on blue chips
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished lower with pressure seen on high capitalisation shares, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,222.27 points, marking a decline of 0.29%. Turnover was 189.1 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalisation shares ended 0.39% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.24% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.36% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 163 to 92 with 71 remaining unchanged.
 Int' conference to be held at Greek Foreign Ministry on 'Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy'
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)The Greek Foreign Ministry's Information Department is hosting a conference on the theme "Foreign Policy and Public Diplo-macy: Constructing relations of cooperation in today's world" on September 8-9.
The purpose of the conference is to exchange views with officials of press services from various countries.
 Actor George Corraface new presidentof the Thessaloniki Film Festival
Athens, 25/8/2005 (ANA)Actor George Corraface has been appointed new president of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, according to a culture ministry press release on Thursday.
Corraface, who is of Greek origin, was born in France in 1952, and has played various roles in the theatre, cinema and television in France, Greece and other European countries.