|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-09-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 3, 2005
 Greek FM says British EU proposal regarding Turkey improved, certain changes still needed
Newport, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Friday said a new proposal by the British EU presidency calling on EU hopeful Turkey to normalize relations with Cyprus was improved in relation to the first draft, "although the text needs certain changes in order to reflect the general spirit and common denominator of positions presented by Greece, Cyprus and other member-states."
The head of Greek diplomacy made the statements from the Welch golf resort of Newport, the site of an informal EU foreign ministers' council meeting late this week dominated by the question of EU-Turkey relations.
Earlier in the afternoon, Molyviatis met privately with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on the sidelines of the ministers' council. According to a press release issued by the foreign ministry, the two ministers discussed the latest developments in EU-Turkey relations.
The diplomatic "thorn" related to Ankara's standing refusal to recognize the island republic -- one of 25 nations comprising a Union it hopes to join -- has generated more clouds for Turkey's EU prospects, although Molyviatis on Friday struck a more optimistic note regarding the scheduled beginning of accession negotiations.
"It became clear (in the sessions) that there's a consistent view holding that the Turkey-EU accession negotiations process must begin, as long, of course, as there is a certainty that Turkey will fulfill its commitment regarding the signing of the (customs union) protocol and its subsequent implementation for all countries, without exceptions," the Greek minister said.
Along those lines, Molyviatis said he believes EU-Turkey accession negotiations will begin, as scheduled, on Oct. 3, while again emphasizing the long course needed for Turkey's harmonization with Europe's standards.
"Turkey's complete fulfillment of set conditions and prerequisites will reasonably lead to its European Union accession after the conclusion of this lengthy process," he said.
 British proposal on EU-Turkey relations still open to negotiation, gov't says
Newport, 03/09/2005 (ANA)The proposal formulated by the British EU Presidency regarding EU-Turkey relations as well as Turkey's customs union agreement are open to further negotiations that will be discussed by the Committee of Permanent Representatives, Deputy Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Friday.
He added that during the EU foreign ministers' informal talks in Newport, Wales, Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis voiced his reservations regarding certain aspects of the British proposal, which will be discussed at the upcoming COREPER meeting.
 Austrian FM Plassnik again cites position for 'alternative' to full EU membership for Ankara
VIENNA, 03/09/2005 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)Austrian press on Friday carried statements by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik decrying the fact that the Vienna government's position of offering an alternative vis-à-vis a full Turkish membership in the European Union was not supported by the Union's other 24 member-states during Thursday informal meeting of EU foreign ministers.
However, Plassnik again stressed that Ankara's declaration that it still does not recognize EU member-state Cyprus -- announced on the heels of Turkey's extension of a customs union protocol with the EU's 10 new members -- created a "credibility deficit, which must be removed".
 PM in New York this month for UN General Assembly
NEW YORK, 03/09/2005 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)The UN's 60th General Assembly will get underway on September 13, while a high-level meeting will be held between September 14-16 to examine progress achieved so far in the Millennium Proclamation.
According to an announcement by the UN, over 170 heads of state and government will have the opportunity of examining international issues and taking decisions on human rights, the struggle against terrorism and providing aid for countries suffering from conflicts.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will represent Greece and address the UN's special session. He will also attend meetings and receptions with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, U.S. President George W. Bush and many other leaders from all over the world.
The prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, who will address the UN's 60th General Assembly and meet with many of his counterparts.
The Republic of Cyprus will be represented by President Tassos Papadopoulos and Foreign Minister George Iakovou.
The 2nd Conference of National Parliament Presidents will also be taking place between September 7-9. The Greek Parliament will be represented by its President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, who will be making an address on Thursday and will be meeting counterparts of hers from other countries on the sidelines of the conference.
The Parliament of Cyprus will be represented by its President Demetris Christofias. The national parliament presidents will also be meeting Kofi Annan.
 Stylianidis meets with British envoy on initiative for Africa
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on Friday met with British ambassador to Athens Simon Gass regarding, among others, the deputy's participation this month at an Athens conference sponsored by the embassy and the ELIAMEP think tank on efforts to fight poverty in Africa.
Initiatives to combat poverty and under-development in sub-Saharan Africa as well as the Greek foreign ministry's developmental work will be promoted, along with British PM Tony Blair's initiative for the continent.
 Gov't on fate of Greek citizens in New Orleans
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)The government on Friday announced that there was still no information no the fate of Greek citizens in the greater New Orleans area, which was devastated by Hurricane "Katrina" days ago.
Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros added that various Greek consulates and other services are attempting to collect information that will be immediately made known to the public.
 Italy's Fini in Athens on Tuesday
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Italian Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini will arrive in Athens early next week for an official visit, where he will be received by Greek leadership, including Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
During his stay, Fini is expected to discuss a wide spectrum of European and EU issues, including the Cyprus matter, as well as regional issues.
 Restoring local administration's prestige a political priority for the government, interior minister says
Athens,, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, speaking at a press conference in Rhodes on Friday, ahead of the conference between regional governors and the interior ministry's civil leadership, referred to general issues concerning local administration and stressed that restoring the prestige and role of local government is a political priority for the government.
Pavlopoulos announced that the new municipalities and communities code is ready and will be tabled in Parliament for ratification in October, while the corresponding code for prefectural local administration will be ready by spring.
He also said that the number of the country's regions will remain 13 and there will be no changes.
Referring to the issue of mayoral candidates being elected with 42 percent in the first round of local elections, the minister defended the government's proposal and noted that those who will be elected in this way will be able to exercise their policy freely with their own program and will not be bound by circumstantial alliances.
 Chief investigator of Helios plane crash meets with Cypriot president
NICOSIA, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Akrivos Tsolakis, chief investigator of the recent crash of Helios Airways' Boeing 737 near Athens, had an emergency meeting with President of the Republic of Cyprus Tassos Papadopoulos at the Presidential Mansion on Friday.
The purpose of his visit was not announced.
In the meantime, members of the Greek investigating committee continued gathering testimony from witnesses in connection with the crash that killed all 121 people on board.
Among those testifying on Friday was a Bulgarian pilot who had flown the plane in the past.
Report places responsibility on two civil aviation employees in connection with Helios Airlines crash: A report prepared at the order of Civil Aviation Service governor Dimitris Stamatis, on the possible responsibility of service employees in the case concerning the Helios Airlines crash last month, places responsibility on two of its employees.
The two employees are air traffic controllers who have been found responsible for disciplinary offences alone. According to the report, when the ill-fated aircraft entered the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) they did not proceed immediately with vocal recognition, in accordance with air traffic regulations, but limited themselves to only visual and mechanical identification of the aircraft.
However, the report added that the two air traffic controllers' negligence had no connection with the aircraft's fate.
It further stated that the Civil Aviation Service's employees applied the procedures anticipated and within the proper time limits in the sectors of their responsibilities and duties.
The report has been forwarded to the Civil Aviation Service's Disciplinary Council for disciplinary action to be taken against the two employees for negligence.
 Papoulias expresses support for war reparations during memorial for occupation victims
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Greek President Karolos Papoulias added his support on Friday to a long-standing demand by various communities in Greece for war reparations by Germany to the families of victims executed during the country's occupation by the Nazis and their allies.
Papoulias made the statement during his attendance at a memorial service in the town of Hortiati, outside the northern metropolis of Thessaloniki, for the 149 people executed by occupation forces in September 1944.
"Reprisals against the Greek population during the occupation were not the result of initiatives by a few fanatical officers or an expression of anger by occupation forces," he said, adding: "Reprisals systematic, following strict reasoning and aiming at specific goals. By employing reprisals, occupation forces attempted to terrorize the population, so it would stop supporting the partisans or even turn it (population) against them (partisans)."
Several deputies and local officials also attended the memorial service.
 Psarouda-Benaki addresses 'Youth Parliament'
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)The values of Democracy but also the dangers which threaten them, and the duty of every citizen to defend it both on a personal and a collective level, was underlined by Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Friday, during her speech at the start of the sessions of the 10th "Youth Parliament", in the presence of its president, playwright Iakovos Kambanellis.
"Democracy, in its present parliamentary form, is regarded as the best system for mankind, but is not the property of all the peoples," she told the "youth deputies", noting that "there are peoples who do not know about it."
Psarouda-Benaki underlined that the institution of the "Youth Parliament" contributes to the civil awareness of youth and to the conveying of faith in the value and defense of freedom of opinion and speech.
 PM meets with SEB president
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday continued his scheduled round of contacts with social partners, trade groups and business leaders by meeting with the president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) a week before the former arrives in Thessaloniki to tour the 70th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and give a keynote address.
Following the meeting, SEB President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos referred to a "period of structural changes and reforms", whose effectiveness, in fact, "will determine the country's future".
 Industrialists present proposals, positions during meeting with PM
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Leaders of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE) presented their positions and proposals for development in northern Greece during their meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at Maximos Mansion on Friday.
"We conveyed our views on how reforms will affect the marketplace now and in the future," SBBE President George Mylonas said after the meeting.
SBBE submitted four proposals to the premier which are aimed at regional growth and at providing Greek companies better access to Balkan and Black Sea markets.
They include the creation of an innovation zone for hi-tech firms, a proposal that Karamanlis called 'an important initiative' and promised to promote; the creation of free commerce zones near the border to keep Greek firms from relocating to the Balkans. Karamanlis expressed reservations to this idea due to possible European Union restrictions.
SBBE also proposed reducing the number of districts in the country in order to facilitate absorption of EU funds and establishing a Business Planning Centre under the auspices of the Thrace-Macedonia Ministry.
As for tax issues and labor relations, Mylonas said that these topics were not discussed with the premier.
Asked to comment on the demonstrations scheduled to take place during the International Thessaloniki Trade Fair (TIF), Mylonas said that this is a critical time that requires cooperation among all concerned parties.
 PM discusses labor claims with labor confederation directorate
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis held talks on Friday with the directorate members of the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), who briefed him on the labor movement's claims.
According to reports, Karamanlis told the trade unionists not to see "ghosts behind doors" since all have the same targets, but possibly with a different approach, while the government's policy is aimed at improving the investments climate and increasing employment and incomes.
Employment Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos, in a statement after the meeting, said that the government is aiming at improving the investments climate and all the measures it is taking, even at a cost, target development, increasing employment and decreasing unemployment.
GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos said on his part that the government thinks that its options will produce results.
However, until now a redistribution of income is taking place at the expense of low income brackets. He further said that the prime minister did not reply to the confederation's claims.
Polyzogopoulos listed labor claims in a long letter he delivered to Karamanlis. GSEE focuses its criticism on the issues of labor reforms and the high cost of living and seeks an increased heating allowance for this year.
"If last year, with 42 dollars a barrel, the allowance was necessary, this year that it is already exceeding 70 dollars, the allowance is becoming imperative," the letter stressed.
 OAED data shows marked drop in unemployment
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Measures in support of employment are beginning to bear fruit and unemployment is on the decline as new official data released on Friday by the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) confirm a significant drop of OAED's registered unemployment, according to a joint announcement released by the offices of Labor and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos and of Deputy Minister Gerassimos Yiakoumatos.
Specifically, the latest OAED data show that between July 2004 and July 2005, the number of registered unemployed dropped from 499,287 (2004) to 458,717 (2005), that is, by 40,570 unemployed.
When the New Democracy came in power in March 2004, it inherited from the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) 562,289 registered unemployed, while in July 2005 the number of unemployed in OAED's register declined to the level of 458, 717, that is, it fell by 18.41 per cent and in numbers by 103,572.
 Deputy Gov't spokesman on economic policy, rising cost of living
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)The government is listening to all social partners and is careful so as not to burden socially vulnerable groups, Deputy Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros told reporters on Friday.
Asked to comment on a study carried out by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), according to which income levels have fluctuated significantly during the past year at the expense of vulnerable groups, Antonaros replied that the government is sensitive to these issues and continuously tries to provide solutions to existing problems.
He added that the study's findings must be examined carefully before conclusions are drawn.
Regarding the rising cost of living, Antonaros acknowledged that certain sectors have seen price increases, but the government is doing its best to contain them, he said.
Finally, asked about possible public transport fare hikes, Antonaros said that talks regarding fares are under way and announcements will be made once talks have concluded.
 Economy Minister Alogoskoufis on growth rate
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday appeared satisfied with the ongoing growth rate, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and business leaders.
"The government's economic policy is a given and is responsible for the rate of growth and the decrease in unemployment, despite the difficulties we're facing from the international scene, the increase in the price of oil and the stagnation in the European Union," he said, while terming Greece's growth rate as satisfactory.
Finally, he also dismissed press reports that the state was collecting more revenue due to higher gas prices.
 Papandreou meets with business groups, trade unionists ahead of TIF
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday met with representatives of northern Greece's industries, a little more than two weeks before he makes an address at the 70th Thessaloniki International Fair.
"We provided some information to Mr. Papandreou over how we view the business situation in northern Greece, and also, we cited what we consider important for us to happen in the coming period in order to include the development dimension in what we do in northern Greece," the president of the association, G. Mylonas, said afterwards.
The PASOK leader also met separately with officials of the Thessaloniki Labor Centre, who briefed him over a planned rally in the city on Sept. 10; representatives of northern Greek exporters as well as owners of small-to-medium-sized manufacturing firms.
PASOK's Diamantopoulou calls gov't and PM 'unreliable'
Main opposition PASOK's Anna Diamantopoulou, responsible for the party's Development Sector, accused the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis personally of being unreliable in terms of delivering on promises made, in comments she made on Friday.
"Ahead of the International Thessaloniki Trade Fair (TIF) [Karamanlis] not only is not making any promises, but neither can he prove that he has satisfied the Greek people in terms of delivering on promises he had made in the past," she said.
According to Diamantopoulou, Karamanlis, as the main opposition leader two years ago, had criticized the then PASOK government for the 'meager' supplementary pensions (EKAS) increases and the subsidies it had allocated for economically-vulnerable groups.
Asked about the absence of former PASOK Prime Minister Costas Simitis from the party's celebration of its 31st anniversary on Saturday, Diamantopoulou replied "I know nothing about the matter."
According to reports, Simitis telephoned PASOK President George Papandreou to inform him that he would not be attending.
 Political parties react strongly in light of possible Olympic Airlines fine
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)The main opposition PASOK party has accused the government of being responsible for undermining and disdain in connection with a possible EU fine being slapped on the Olympic Airlines Company, while the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology blamed both PASOK and the ruling New Democracy party for the state of the company.
PASOK's Employment, Social Policy and Health sector chief Evangelos Venizelos accused the government of remaining "inert in the face of developments in Brussels", adding that its stance was "suspicious and absolutely harmful for the interests of both the company and the country".
The Coalition party's Political Bureau member Panayiotis Lafazanis said it is imperative that the Olympic Airlines must be reorganized and supported as a national carrier having a social and development role.
 Knitwear trade group opposes change to EU, China textiles pact
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)The Association of Ready Knitwear of Greece (SEPEE) on Friday called for full implementation of a textiles pact between the European Union and China setting, which sets a ceiling for imports into the bloc of ten categories of products.
"The association is totally opposed to any attempt to alter the agreement made on June 10," it said in a letter to Greek authorities, and to Curate, the EU's sector group.
SEPEE charged that major European retail groups, backed by the governments, were trying to overturn the pact and free millions of items held by customs throughout Europe.
The countries involved included Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the statement said.
 Lyberis to publish US magazine
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Athens-quoted Liberis Publications S.A. said on Friday that it will publish a new monthly magazine on home decoration called Domino.
The magazine will be launched towards the end of this month, Liberis said in a statement.
A license has been obtained from Advance Magazine Publishers Inc", a member of the US Conde Nast group, the statement said.
 Stocks nose up in higher turnover
Athens, 03/09/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher in higher turnover, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,288.64 points, marking a rise of 0.23%. Turnover was 200.0 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.16% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.42% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.08% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 149 to 106 with 75 remaining unchanged.
Equity Index Futures:
 Cyprus totally satisfied with EU Ministers' Informal Meeting
NEWPORT, 3/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Cypriot government is totally satisfied with the works of the Informal Council of the EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which wrapped up its two-day meeting this afternoon in Newport, Wales.
Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou said agreement had been reached on a text on an EU statement to counter the Turkish declaration accompanying the signing of the additional protocol to its customs union, which said Ankara did not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
He added that this text was a great improvement on a draft presented by the British presidency two days ago, noting that Cypriot positions were met with great support. Iacovou said the text would now be sent to COREPER for further processing and was expected to come out even better.
Iacovou expressed ''satisfaction regarding the works of this Informal Council regarding Cyprus,'' explaining that ''firstly we have obtained a text, which has no similarity with the previous one, and thus it is a noticeable improvement on the first British attempt, and secondly there was a discussion at the Council of Ministers, during which the Cypriot positions were broadly supported.''
''Basically there was no one who disagreed with the Cypriot positions. Two or three delegations just stressed the importance of Turkey in the European front in general. But many supported the Cypriot positions, both generally and on specific issues,'' he added.
Iacovou noted that ''the agreement is that this improved text will be processed, based on all that was said at the Council, by the Permanent Representatives' Committee.''
''Thus, it is reasonable to expect that the improved British text, after being processed, will be even better,'' Iacovou said, noting that ''these are the reasons I feel we can be totally satisfied with this Informal Council of Minister of Foreign Affairs.''
He also pointed out ''the excellent cooperation we had with the Greek diplomatic service,'' including Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Petros Molyviatis, ''both previously and here.''
Iacovou also said ''the fact that these things have evolved in a very satisfactory manner for our side is also due to the fact that the Turkish delegation on all levels, including that of (Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah) Gul, expressed its discontentment even over today's text.''
The text to be sent to COREPER says the EU acknowledges signature by Turkey of the Ankara Agreement Protocol, but regrets that Turkey felt
it necessary to make a declaration regarding the Republic of Cyprus at the time of its signature.
Furthermore, it makes clear that this declaration is unilateral, does not form part of the protocol and has no legal effect on Turkey's obligations.
The EU expects full, non-discriminatory implementation of the additional protocol, and the removal of all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on means of transport.
Furthermore, it notes that Turkey must apply the protocol fully to all EU member states, and that the EU will monitor this closely and evaluates full implementation in 2006.
It also recalls that, as long as Turkey has not implemented its contractual obligations with the EU, negotiations on the relevant chapters cannot be opened.
The text says the EU recalls that the Republic of Cyprus became a member state of the EU on 1st May 2004, and that the EU recognizes the Republic of Cyprus, only, as a subject of international law.
Furthermore, the EU underlines the importance it attaches to the de jure normalization of relations between Turkey and all EU member states, as soon as can be achieved.
It notes Turkey's continuing commitment, in its declaration, to support the efforts of the UN Secretary General to bring about a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, and agrees that a just and lasting settlement will contribute to peace, stability and harmonious relations in the region.
The EU also says, according to the text, that it will remain seized of all the issues outlined and will review them in 2006, through the Commission's reports submitted during the accession process.