|Saturday, 20 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-09-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 10, 2005
 PM inaugurates 70th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, places emphasis on development of northern Greece
Thessaloniki, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis inaugurated the 70th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TIF) on Friday night, placing emphasis on the development of northern Greece during his address at the inauguration ceremony. Outlining the government's intentions, Karamanlis said it is forging ahead along the path of changes and reforms. He added that day by day it is creating the conditions necessary to achieve success and that the foundations are being laid to enable Thessaloniki, Macedonia and Thrace to gain the growth and prosperity they are entitled to. The prime minister further said that the foundations are being laid to achieve the citizens' common demand for a better life for all Greeks and that this is the government's target and vision. He also stressed at this point, referring to the country's development, that "there are not two Greeces."
"A 'Strategic Plan for the Development of Northern Greece' is being prepared (and will be ready before the end of the year). It is a plan of prospects for the three regions, technology, innovation and competitiveness, which it defines as the pylons of their prospects for development. It is aimed at promoting and utilizing their comparative advantages and paves the way for a competitive regional economy having internal cohesion and an extrovert orientation," he said.
Karamanlis said the government is aiming at turning Thessalonica into a "Regional Convention and Exhibition Centre", adding that HELEXPO's strategy is already orientated towards this goal.
"Thessaloniki, Macedonia and Thrace are acquiring increasing geopolitical importance and a new momentum of development. What is even more optimistic is the prospect being shaped for northern Greece by the next European enlargement, when Greece will also be joined to the European Union geographically. Macedonia and Thrace can develop from border and distant regions of Greece into a geopolitical and economic centre for the wider region," he further said.
The prime minister stressed that the strategy to achieve the vision of a modern Greece is being implemented with the goal of "peace-cooperation-development", saying that "we are cultivating relations of bilateral and multilateral cooperation with all countries in our region. We are working with the aim of having our wider region becoming a European neighborhood of peace, development and prosperity for all."
Karamanlis placed particular attention to international cooperation which is being developed in the crucial sector of energy.
"We signed a few months ago (in Sofia) a political agreement with the governments of Russia and Bulgaria for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline. My Turkish counter-part and I have inaugurated, at the Kipi Bridge at Evros, the beginning of works for the construction of the Greek-Turkish natural gas pipeline. The development minister and his Italian counterpart have signed a protocol for the construction of an undersea pipeline which shall convey natural gas from Greece to Italy and from there to the heart of Europe," he said.
Focusing on communication, the prime minister went on to say that railway links between Thessaloniki, Sofia and Istanbul have been upgraded and the time required for these trips has been reduced considerably and the creation of an International Trade Centre to be linked to the city's port and the railway network has already been scheduled.
"The future is challenging us and we are determined to win. A great deal has yet to be done, of course. One thing, however, is more than certain: we Greeks play a leading role when we join our forces, when we utilize our culture and when we function as 'citizens of the world'," the prime minister concluded.
 Thessaloniki to become science centre in Southeastern Europe, Greek PM says
Thessaloniki, 10/9/2005 (ANA)"The government aims to establish the Thessaloniki region as a pole of attracting scientists from Southeastern Europe and becoming the base of new enterprises in the new technologies sector," Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters, after a visit to the Sciences Centre and Technology Museum and the National Centre of Research and Technological Development in Thessaloniki, the Greek Premier expressed his satisfaction over the development of sciences centers in the city and noted that both institutions were consistently servicing a double target: to the citizens closer the science and technology and to become structural elements of an innovative nature of the city of Thessaloniki and Northern Greece in general.
"These institutions, the wider Innovation Zone, and the foundation of an International University, are very significant steps towards establishing the Thessaloniki region as a pole of attracting scientists from Southeastern Europe and at the same time establishing the region as the base of new enterprises in the new technology sectors," Karamanlis said. "In this framework, and according to targets set in Lisbon, we support both institutionally and financially -and within limitations set by the country's fiscal condition- research activities. We work hard with the belief that our country has all the preconditions needed to play a leading role in a new era," the Prime Minister said.
 PM visits Thessaloniki Concert Hall
Thessaloniki, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister and Culture Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday paid a visit to the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, accompanied by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis and a group of New Democracy MPs.
The premier was given a tour of the building by the board of directors and shown a model of the new concert hall that will be built next door to the present building, on the Thessaloniki coast road. The project will cost ¬ 36 million, with funding from the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF).
The three-storey building has been designed by the internationally-acclaimed Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and includes two large concert halls, one of which is an amphitheatre and the other a 400-seat level hall that can be further divided into smaller areas. There will also be a restaurant, a music museum and a music library.
Covering a total of 8,500 square meters, the building will also extend two storeys below ground, which will be used as storage areas and parking.
During his visit, Karamanlis reconfirmed his faith in the existing board of the Thessaloniki concert hall organization, whose term officially ended 13 months earlier but which has been extended indefinitely, urging them to continue working with the same creative rhythm.
 PM's address at Thessaloniki International Trade Fair a display of unreliability, PASOK party spokesman says
Thessaloniki, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanassakis, commenting on Friday night on the address made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis during the inauguration of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TIF), said that with his address Karamanlis continued to display the unreliability of both himself and his government.
"Announcements again which have been contradicted by non-existent to minimal work and by his announcements last year which have been contradicted tragically," the spokesman said.
"The image alone of the ministers running in the past few days to finish something, to allow even some last-minute project to be displayed, is characteristic of the government's inconsistency," Athanassakis added.
Roussopoulos responds to remarks made by PASOK spokesman: Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Rousso-poulos, commenting on remarks made by main opposition Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Spokesman Nikos Athanasakis about Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' speech at the inauguration of the 70th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair (TIF) on Friday night, reminded that "for whole years" the citizens of Thessaloniki and of northern Greece "heard proclamations" by PASOK about energy plans for northern Greece. "Twenty years of big words and zero works," Roussopoulos said.
Roussopoulos noted that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis committed himself last year from the forum of the TIF that northern Greece "will constitute an energy hub of the broader southeastern Europe."
He added that "from last year until today the inter-state agreement between Greece, Russia and Bulgaria for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline has already been signed."
Roussopoulos said that Athanasakis "may forget the false big words of PASOK, however, they are well remembered by the Greeks, especially the citizens of Thessaloniki and of northern Greece."
 SYN shows its opposition during PM's TIF speech
Thessaloniki, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Members of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party, its youth organization and town councilor Tassos Kourakis expressed their opposition to the government's policies by unfurling two banners during Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' inaugural speech at the 70th International Thessaloniki Trade Fair (TIF) on Friday evening.
The banners read "Profit isn't everything; people count too."
Police immediately had the intruders leave the conference centre.
 Greece reminds that no EU presidency should exploit its position to advance national political choices
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Greece's foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Friday pointed out that no EU presidency should exploit its position in order to advance purely national political choices.
Replying to questions, during a regular press briefing, regarding the ongoing discussion at the EU's Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) in Brussels aimed at formulating a reply (counter-declaration) to Turkey's unilateral declaration on July 29 that its signature of the Association Agreement Protocol -- by virtue of which Ankara extended its customs union agreement with the EU to the 10 new member states, including Turkey -- did not mean recognition of the internationally-recognized (except by Turkey) Republic of Cyprus and that it refused to open its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes, and the British EU presidency's stand, Koumoutsakos stressed: "The principle of objectivity is fundamental for the successful exercise of the mission of each and every EU presidency".
"I fear that the developments of the past 24 hours in the discussion in Brussels (COREPER) on this matter render it necessary to repeat this," Koumoutsakos said.
"It is self-evident that no (EU) presidency should take advantage of its abilities for the projection of purely national political choices," Koumoutsakos concluded.
British EU presidency acting objectively, UK ambassador says in reply to foreign ministry: The British presidency of the European Union carries out its duties objectively and will continue to do this in its efforts to reconcile all the views of the EU member-states, British Ambassador to Athens Simon Gass said on Friday in response to earlier statements by the Greek foreign ministry.
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, in his reply to a question during the regular press briefing, had stressed that no EU presidency should exploit its position "for the projection of purely national political choices".
The question had referred to the UK presidency's stance on how the EU should respond to Turkey's unilateral declaration on July 29 that it refused to recognize the Cyprus Republic, an EU member-state, and that its ports and airports would remain closed to Cypriot ships and planes.
According to Ankara, its signature of the Association Agreement Protocol -- by virtue of which Turkey extended its customs union agreement with the EU to the 10 new member states, including Cyprus -- did not mean recognition of the internationally-recognized Republic of Cyprus.
An ongoing discussion is currently underway at the EU's Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) in Brussels aimed at formulating a reply (counter-declaration).
Koumoutsakos had said that "developments over the past 24 hours at COREPER made it necessary" to repeat that EU presidencies should act objectively and not use their position to further strictly national goals.
 Russian president Putin on pilgrimage to Mt. Athos monastic community
Mt. Athos, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday paid a visit to the Mt. Athos monastic community, under draconian security measures, where he received a warm greeting.
Putin, the first Russian leader to visit Mt. Athos, a worship site that is extremely respected and loved in Russia, reached Karyes, capital of the monastic community, shortly after noon on Friday, arriving from Sithonia in the Halkidiki prefecture, where he met with prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday evening.
President Putin had twice scheduled such a pilgrimage to Athos in the past -- in December 2001 and in September 2004 -- but the visit was cancelled both times. The first visit was cancelled to inclement weather conditions on Mt. Athos at the time, and the second visit was cancelled due to the hostage crisis at a school in the North Ossetia capital of Beslan when Chechen rebels took over the elementary school, in which more than 300 children and adults were killed.
The Athos monastic leadership greeted Putin in a stately ceremony in accordance with the Byzantine ritual. The Russian president was greeted by the head of the Holy Assembly, Pavlos, who escorted Putin to the entrance of the Protatos church, where the Superiors of the community's monasteries, the representatives of the monasteries to the Holy Community, and the members of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's hexarchy were awaiting him.
Putin greeted all the monks one by one before entering the Church, where he lit a candle, worshipped the revered Axion Esti icon of the Virgin holding the Child Jesus, and attended a Te Deum.
Responding to the greeting by Pavlos, Putin expressed gratitude for being given the opportunity to visit Mt. Athos, which he described as a "special site for the Orthodox Christians and the entire Christian world".
"In Russia, we have always respected and have great respect the people who take up the monastic life here. Russia has always had strong bonds with Mt. Athos. All its spiritual roots are linked with Mt. Athos. In my country, all the social strata have great respect for Mt. Athos," Putin said.
The next stop on Putin's itinerary was the building of the Holy Community, after which he visited the Iviron monastery, followed by a visit in the afternoon to the Panteleimon monastery, which is inhabited by Russian monks.
 Russian President Vladimir Putin concludes visit to Mount Athos
Mt. Athos, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded his visit to Mount Athos at 7 p.m. on Friday and is expected to fly back to Moscow from Thessaloniki later in the day.
President Putin visited Karyes, as well as the Panteleimon Monastery where monks of Russian and Ukrainian origin live and where he was welcomed by monks chanting psalms in the Russian language.
Later on, he attended a religious service, dined with the monks, was given a guided tour of rooms in which heirlooms are kept and decorated Ukrainian monk Jeremiah with whom he had a private meeting.
Speaking during the decoration ceremony, President Putin praised the monks' work and the cooperation and assistance of the Greek authorities in the effort to preserve and protect the monastery.
President Putin then left by yacht for Porto Karras, from where he will be driven to Thessaloniki to fly home.
 Greek business delegation to Russia Sept 27-30
Thessaloniki, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Greece is to send a business delegation to Russia on September 27-30, Deputy Foreign Minister Euripides Stylianidis said on Friday.
Playing a key role in the delegation, Greece's largest so far, will be northern Greek company representatives, Stylianidis after a meeting with the Association of Northern Greek Industry in Thessaloniki.
The foreign ministry would strengthen its presence in the country's north, backing the trade group's policy of greater involvement in the Balkans, the Black Sea area and Turkey, he pledged.
Stylianidis added that more northern infrastructure projects would be carried out, including a second bridge over the Evros river, approved by Turkey's cabinet on Thursday.
The government has made boosting the regions a cornerstone of its policy.
 PASOK unveils 'Black Book' listing gov't blunders and let-downs; Roussopoulos responds
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK on Friday released a 128-page publication that it dubbed the "Book of Unreliability", in which the party lists a series of what it says are blunders, broken promises and outright lies by the present government.
Unveiling the book, PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that the government was revealed as unreliable and as having deceived the electorate, while noting that the book would continue to follow the government "month by month and day by day".
He said the book showed that there had been a full reversal of every pre-election promise made by the government and its every announcement had been either a lie, an unkept promise or a mistake.
Noting that the book could just as easily be entitled the "Handbook for the Good Liar", Athanassakis said that it would continue to grow because the government had not changed its tactics.
Responding later in the day, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that "with its 'Black Book', PASOK and its president have given their opposition arguments the hue of reaction and conservatism. Reaction to every change and reform, while perpetuating the distortions, rigidities, practices and beliefs of the 20 years of PASOK governance".
According to Roussopoulos, the book only served to highlight PASOK's own actions, omissions and failed promises when in government.
"Greek men and women have condemned PASOK's governments for the things they did and failed to do over 20 years; for the hidden debts and deficits, for unemployment and high prices, for lack of transparency and corruption, for bureaucracy and party-politics, for the crime of the stock market, for Olympic Airways and the Land Register," he stressed.
According to Roussopoulos, the electorate supported the government in its effort to carry out necessary reforms and changes needed by the economy and demanded by society. "Because they know full well that reforms are a one-way street that will lead to a truly humane, just and social state," he said.
PASOK's own unreliability and its lack of counter-proposals and positions were highlighted even more by this attempt, 18 months after the elections, to blacken and denigrate the real and effective work of a government that will be judged by its citizens at the end of its four-year term, Roussopoulos concluded.
Interior ministry replies to PASOK party's 'black book': An announcement by the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization ministry on Friday, in reply to the main opposition PASOK party's "black book", said the only thing justifying the characterization of the book as "black" is the size of its inaccuracy and propaganda.
"The only thing which can justify the characterization of PASOK's book as 'black' is the unprecedented size of its inaccuracy and propaganda which distinguishes it, as well as the color of the holidays of PASOK's cadres who prepared it," the announcement said.
 Upgrading relations with Greece and Italy a priority, new Albanian PM says
TIRANA, 10/9/2005 (ANA - I. Patso)Albania's new Prime Minister Sali Berisha, presenting the new government's program and composition in Parliament on Friday, said upgrading relations primarily with Greece as well as with Italy is a priority in the framework of regional cooperation. He also said the United States is his country's most important strategic partner.
The new prime minister reiterated that cracking down on corruption; combating organized crime and amending the law on public tendering are also priorities of his government.
Berisha also said that he will continue the work of the previous socialist government are regards Albania's participation and contribution in the global war against terrorism.
 'Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy' conference ends with discussion on media
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)The "Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy" conference organized by the Greek foreign ministry in Athens ended on Friday with input by foreign correspondents in Athens and discussion of the ministry's relations with the media.
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said the challenge for Greece was now to project a positive public image in a unified rather than fragmented way, and he outlined how ministry services might be changed to achieve this.
Information General Secretary Panos Livadas referred to Greece's upgraded image in the foreign media since the Athens Olympic Games and stressed that this had to be properly exploited in order for Greece to occupy a "better position on the world map".
The head of the Reuters news agency's office in Athens, Karolos Grohmann, particularly praised the press centre set up for the Athens Olympics, stressing that this had given journalists access to information within minutes and that, for the first time, foreign journalists had been given equal treatment with Greek colleagues.
He said Greece had also impressed the international community with its organization of security, with many countries now seeking Greece's expertise when organizing major sports and other events.
Grohmann also referred favorably to the speedy response given by the Greek foreign ministry after the United States announced its decision to recognize the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name, despite the fact that this had been an awkward development for Greece.
Koumoutsakos referred to steps taken to give journalists quicker and better information, such as the crisis management centre set up after the Indian Ocean tsunami, the extended phone network activated at times of crisis and the briefing of journalists through SMS messages.
He said the ministry was also planning to introduce electronic briefings, such as those now held at the French foreign ministry.
Summing up, Koumoutsakos said that public diplomacy was neither propaganda, which involved an element of coercion, nor public relations, which were too superficial.
"It is a sincere effort of bodies with outward action in a government to project the character of that country abroad and to explain their foreign policy as convincingly as they can at home," he said.
 Draft law to ensure local defense industry's participation in Greek armed forces' procurement programs
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos emphasized that one of the government's main policies is to ensure the local defense industry's participation in the Greek armed forces' procurement programs.
Spiliotopoulos' comments were made while addressing the management and staff of the Hellenic Vehicle Industry SA (ELBO), during his visit to the company's facilities on Friday. Earlier in the day, he attended the company's executive board meeting.
The minister said that a new bill has been drafted which will not allow the purchase of any defense materials/equipment unless it has invested in Greek added value.
With this bill, the government aims to benefit the economy, safeguard jobs and contribute to acquisition of know-how.
According to the minister, ELBO is in the process of being commissioned to carry out programs totaling ¬ 200 million.
Furthermore, Spiliotopoulos said that the ministry is preparing a 15-year armaments program for the armed forces, which will enable the Greek defense industry to know ahead of time the type and size of future orders and to prepare accordingly.
 Deputy defense minister tours military factories in Athens
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos on Friday toured military factories in Attica, inspecting their facilities and talking with military and civilian staff.
The minister said he was very impressed with the level of work being done to ensure the battle-readiness of Greece's Armed Forces.
He said the upgrade of the factories would go ahead at a speedy rate and with absolutely transparent procedures, with new buildings and equipment needed for the maintenance of army supplies and equipment. He noted that this would also create new jobs, with the hiring of the necessary technicians and staff.
Mihaloliakos visited the 301 Technical Base Factory, the 305 Technical Area Workshop and the 306 Telecommunications Base Factory, before a visit to the mine-clearing battalion.
 Main opposition slams ministry promotional ad as 'propaganda gift to PM'
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK press spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Friday slammed a full-page advertisement run by the environment ministry featuring five major public works in northern Greece, saying that it was nothing more than a 'propaganda gift' for the prime minister using the tax-payers money.
Athanassakis questioned the government's right to run the advertisement, while noting that it was not eligible for Community funding since the advert was signed only by the environment ministry.
The spokesman also stressed that the promotional campaign effectively went back on the commitments made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis a year ago concerning when the projects will begin and finish.
 Greece reiterates support for UN reforms, during presentation of IIC report on Oil-for-Food program
New York, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Greece's permanent representative to the United Nations, ambassador Adamantios Vasilakis, on Thursday called for protection of the UN's prestige, while expressing Greece's full support, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, for Un secretary general Kofi Annan's proposals regarding the restructure and more efficient operation of the international organization.
Addressing an open meeting of the Security Council, during which the definitive report of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) on the overall management and oversight of the UN's Oil-for-Food program for Iraq was presented, Vassilakis noted that the past two years had been very difficult for the UN chief, "but we have all followed your courage, determination and frankness, with the presentation of proposals and adoption of changes, beginning with the set-up of the IIC".
Vasilakis also thanked IIC head Paul Volcker and the other members of the independent committee for their briefing and the presentation of their report to the Security Council.
He said that the report, judging by its bulk alone, represented the work of tens of lawyers, investigators and experts over the period of more than a year.
Besides the report's volume, however, of utmost importance was its content, Vasilakis said, adding that the Security Council had so far been able to only take a quick look, via the introduction that has been uploaded on the IIC webpage and the IIC's briefing to the body.
"In order to devote the due attention to the extensive work of the IIC and to be able to garner useful conclusions for the future, we must study the report and its findings very carefully," the Greek envoy said, adding that this would take some time.
But regardless of how much time was necessary, the one thing that was certain is that "we must do something".
"We must react in a cohesive and lucid manner. We must not rush to conclusions in the heat of the moment regarding the magnitude of the corruption suffered by the UN's credibility over the Oil-For-Food program," Vasilakis warned, noting that "the program, as stated by the IIC, did meet the food and health needs of the Iraqi people, which Saddam Hussein had systematically ignored".
At the same time, he said, the program also averted the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by Saddam Hussein.
"We must not forget that the United Nations is a unique Organization, unequalled in the world. It is the sum of all its parts, and this includes, inter alia, 191 sovereign member countries and many other bodies, specialised organisations, committees, etc.," Vasilakis stressed.
He said that the inquiry into the Oil-for-Food program contained valuable information "on how we can improve the work of the Organization (UN), to which we all belong".
"I am certain that we shall all study the IIC report in depth, since we all share the desire for optimization of the UN's effectiveness in all its functions and, more particularly, in the sectors of administration, transparency and checks, as we do also in our countries," Vasilakis concluded.
 Dialogue integral to achieving local gov't reforms, Athens Mayor says
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis stressed the need for essential reforms in local government through dialogue, in comments she made during her visit to the Municipality of Evosmos in Thessaloniki on Friday.
Asked about the government's plans to change the local elections law lowering the percentage of votes a candidate needs in order to win, Bakoyannis said that this was not at the heart of the issue.
"Citizens are less concerned about how a mayor is elected. What they want is a good and effective mayor, who will address their day-to-day problems," she said.
Bakoyannis described Evosmos municipality as "exemplary."
 Informal ECOFIN session begins in Manchester
MANCHESTER, 10/9/2005 (ANA)The crisis created by the continuous increase in oil prices must not be tackled with tax measures, such as with a decrease in taxation, Eurogroup finance ministers stressed in their proposal at the informal ECOFIN session that began here on Friday afternoon.
However, it was added that European rules cannot rule out, in ac-accordance with national budget margins of course, support for weaker social groups which are suffering indeed as a result of oil price increases.
Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, who is attending the ECOFIN and Eurogroup sessions together with Bank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas, also referred to the oil price crisis and said that the government is examining to what extent the granting of a heating allowance is feasible, not in a generalized form, for really weak social groups such as low wage and low pension earners.
Alogoskoufis also briefed his colleagues at ECOFIN, as well as the relevant Commissioner Almunia, on the latest developments in the Greek economy, pointing to the very positive results produced by recent privatizations which yielded more revenues than had been expected.
 Public spending up 2.5 pct in Jan-July
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Public spending grew by 2.5 percent in the first seven months of 2005, Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said on Friday.
Addressing a seminar on controlling public spending, held in Thessaloniki, the Greek minister said public spending growth rate was 1.2 percent lower compared with the country's current inflation rate and reiterated the government's will to contain spending, although he admitted that the ministry was awaiting a slight increase in spending in the next few months.
Doukas said the country's public debt was 214 billion euros and stressed that the government was able to refinance its debt with new loans carrying rates slightly higher compared with Italy.
The Economy and Finance ministry is drafting new legislation aiming to improve management of state-owned institutions, public agencies and the management of seashore and real estate assets. Doukas said the draft legislation would be radical.
 Gov't eager to back exporters
Thessaloniki, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Deputy Finance Minister Adam Rengouzas said on Friday that the government would maintain its effort to spur exports.
"An effort is being made to introduce legal provisions that will support an outward-looking orientation for the economy and the work being done by exporting firms," Rengouzas told the Association of Northern Greek Exporters in Thessaloniki.
Among changes northern exporters are seeking are the con-version of the city's port into a free trade zone, timely payment of Value Added Tax rebates to exporters, and avoidance of double-taxation with other countries.
 ASE ends lower on profit taking
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Greek stocks ended lower on the last trading session of the week as investors took profits, particularly in high capitalization stocks.
The composite index fell 0.52 percent to end at 3,259.40 points with turnover a huge 1.1 billion euros of which 835 million were the transfer of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization's shares after a successful placement of 10 percent of its equity capital to domestic and foreign institutional investors.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.61 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.58 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.50 percent lower.
The general index ended the week with a net loss of 0.89 percent.
 Five illegal immigrants killed, 20 injured as truck overturns in N. Greece
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Five illegal immigrants were killed, and another 20 were injured -- two of them seriously -- when the truck transporting them overturned on the Via Egnatia highway early Friday morning outside the village Megali Volvi, and the accident was tentatively attributed to excessive speed.
According to first reports, the truck was transporting the 25 illegal immigrants, all Iraqi nationals, to Thessaloniki when it overturned, due to reasons as yet unknown.
The reports said that the bodies of five of the Iraqis had been pulled out of the wreckage, while the 20 others were rushed by ambulances to several hospitals in Thessaloniki.
Traffic along the section of the highway near the site of the accident was closed, and vehicles were being detoured to by-roads.
The reports said that the truck driver picked up the illegal immigrants near the Greek-Turkish border in Evros prefecture, to transport them to Thessaloniki.
The accident occurred when the truck driver attempted to pass four consecutive cars ahead of him that were being driven by Turkish immigrants.
Due to excessive speed, the car veered off course and overturned, after first crashing into one of the cars.
EKAB ambulances rushed to the scene and took the 20 injured Iraqis to hospitals in Thessaloniki. Two of the injured were listed as being in critical condition.
 Greek Police donate patrol cars to Bulgarian border police
SOFIA, 10/9/2005 (ANA/B. Borisov)The Hellenic Police (ELAS) on Thursday donated eight patrol cars to the Bulgarian border police, in a third tranche of donations of patrol cars, police motorcycles and other equipment, with which ELAS is supporting its Bulgarian colleagues in their difficult fight against crime.
ELAS general police inspector for Northern Greece Efstratios Kyriakakis, and Bulgarian deputy interior minister Tsonko Kirov stressed the importance of the excellent cooperation between the police services of their two countries both for the fight against organized crime and for the guarding of the European Union's internal borders, in their addresses during the delivery ceremony, which was also attended by Greek ambassador in Sofia Prokopios Mantzouranis, representatives of the local governments, and other officials.
The two sides are determined to expand their cooperation in the fight against people trafficking and drug trafficking, as well as other forms of organized crime, Kyriakakis said.
In execution of the fundamental guidelines for the development of cooperation of the security services, which were set out during Greek public order minister George Voulgarakis' recent visit to Sofia in May, officers of the Bulgarian police will be trained in Greece, while the border guard services of the two countries will be regularly coordinating their actions in joint meetings, etc.
Kirov expressed the Bulgarian police's gratitude for the support, who also said that the excellent relations between the services responsible for maintaining public order in the two countries was included in the framework for the dynamic development of bilateral relations in recent years, which he said was an important factor for stability and security in the wider region.
 Fifteen Greek artists to take part in Beijing Arts Biennale
Athens, 10/9/2005 (ANA)Fifteen Greek artists will be among the 500 artists from 60 countries that will take part in this year's 2nd International Art Biennale in Beijing. All fifteen were selected by a 20-member committee headed by Jing Shangyi, Liu Dawei and Feng Yuan after an invitation of international interest.
The Biennale will run from September 20 until October 20 at the National Museum of Fine Arts and the Arts Museum of the Millennium Monument of Beijing.
 Cypriot FM Iacovou has doubts that EU counterstatement will be issued,
NICOSIA 10/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou has expressed serious doubts on whether or not the EU will finally adopt a counterstatement to respond to Turkey's unilateral declaration of not recognizing the Republic of Cyprus.
Speaking after a meeting on Friday with Cyprus' main opposition party Democratic Rally President Nicos Anastasiades, Iacovou also expressed the belief that the period until October 3, when Turkey's accession negotiations are due to begin, will be quite difficult and that ''many maneuvers are requested to reach the result we want.''
''I have doubts whether the counterstatement will be adopted. But I have confirmed that, always within the spirit of European cooperation, Cyprus is willing to continue to cooperate aiming at the adoption of a counterstatement that will also protect Cyprus' interests,'' he added.
 Cyprus House President attends Small States of Europe meeting
NEW YORK, 10/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)In the framework of the Second World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments in New York, Cyprus House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias attended a meeting of the Presidents of Parliaments of the Small States of Europe.
On the occasion of the discussion for citizenship, Christofias referred to the situation in Cyprus and underlined that as a result of the ongoing Turkish occupation, Cyprus faces the problem of the presence of 130,000 of Turkish settlers, in violation of the international law.
Christofias underlined that the presence of the settlers is a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus.
Presidents of Parliaments who took the floor afterwards expressed their solidarity with the efforts for a just settlement of the Cyprus question that will secure the interests both of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
Cyprus, Malta, Luxembourg, Andorra, Iceland, Monaco, San Marino and Liechtenstein comprise the small states group.
The eight countries decided to hold a Conference of the Parliaments of the small states of Europe to take place in Monaco in Spring and referred to the issues that will probably be discussed at the Conference.
Christofias met with the President of the Parliament of Armenia Artur Baghdassaryan, with whom he reviewed the course of the two Parliament's relations especially as regards the implementation of the cooperation protocol signed in Yerevan last November.
The two speakers also agreed the further exchange of visits between the two Parliaments.
Christofias briefed his Armenian counterpart on the latest developments in the Cyprus question and Baghdassaryan briefed Christofias on the problems Armenia faces with Turkey.
They also reaffirmed the friendly relations between the people of the two countries on the basis of common principles.
Christofias also met with his counterparts of other countries.
During his meetings on Thjursday with the Presidents of the Parliaments of Malta and Luxembourg it was decided that the Cyprus House and these countries would further enhance their relations, in the framework of the exchange of visits.
 Czech Deputy FM: Turkey must recognize Cyprus
NICOSIA, 10/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Czech Republic deems as unacceptable that Turkey, a European Union candidate, still does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, which joined the Union in May 2004, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Vladimir Mueller said here on Friday.
''It is not acceptable for the Czech Republic that a member country of the EU is not recognized by a candidate country,'' Mueller said after official talks here with Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry Ambassador Sotos Zackheos.
Mueller called on Turkey to implement fully the protocol it has signed regarding the extension of its customs union to all new EU member states, including Cyprus.
''The customs union should be implemented fully. Customs union means connections with the EU and no part of the EU should be excluded from it'', he underlined.
He said that there will be monitoring mechanisms which would include enough elements so that the protocol is fully implemented.
In statements to the press, Zackheos said that he assured Mueller of Cyprus' support to efforts by the Czech Republic to become a member of the UN Security Council, and added that
Friday's talks were held in a very friendly and constructive climate.
''We share the same views regarding the issues we talked about today. There is a Czech candidacy for a future participation in the UN Security Council. I reassured the Deputy Foreign Minister that the Republic of Cyprus sees his country's candidacy in a positive light," Zackheos said.
 US diplomat says Cyprus' recognition by Turkey rests with EU
NICOSIA, 10/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)US Charges d'Affaires in Cyprus Jane Zimmerman has said the Republic of Cyprus's recognition by Turkey, in the framework of the latter's European course, rests with the members of the EU.
Speaking to the press after a meeting with Cypriot Minister of Education and Culture Pefkios Georgiades on Friday, Zimmerman said ''we believe that Turkey's accession and the negotiation process and eventually getting Turkey on the path to join the EU is a way to promote the kind of reform that is much needed in Turkey and makes the country a better neighbor and a force for stability in the region rather than leaving the future up in question''
''We strongly support Turkey's accession into the EU and the negotiation process. At the same time we are not a member of EU but a supporter as a friend of Europe and as a friend of Turkey and of course Cyprus,'' she added.
As regards the issue of Cyprus' recognition by Turkey, Zimmerman said ''that thing rests with members of EU and again the negotiations process is a long process.''
On her meeting with Georgiades, Zimmerman said she congratulated him on the start of the academic year here in Cyprus and thanked him and the Ministry for the government's support for education and cultural exchanges between the US and Cyprus, ''particularly our Fulbright program and our Cyprus-American scholarship program.''
''I would encourage Cypriot youth who are interested in studying in the US to contact the US Embassy to find out more about these programs and visit our websites because we find that education and culture exchange between the US and Cyprus are the best investments we make,'' she added.
The US diplomat also thanked the government of Cyprus and the Cypriot people for the expression of sympathy and support after the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.
''The Minister came to sign the condolences book along with many other government senior officials and Ministers. We also appreciate the support we receive from the public, from people who recognized that unfortunately sometimes we are united by tragedy,'' she said.
Georgiades described the meeting as very constructive and useful and said they exchanged views as regards their cooperation on cultural issues and issues regarding the Fulbright Commission.