|Monday, 15 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-09-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 19, 2005
 Papandreou outlines differences with gov't, unveils policies in TIF address
THESSALONIKI, 19/9/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Saturday evening called for the creation of a new "social system" that emphasizes the role and "contribution of the citizen in society", speaking in Thessaloniki on the last weekend of the 70th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).
His address to business leaders, professional sectors' representatives, labor officials and party cadres came exactly a week after Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis spoke from the same podium to inaugurate this year's trade exhibition.
In touching, during his speech, on the most controversial topic of the month, namely, the fate of ailing state-owned national carrier Olympic Airways (OA), Papandreou cited three goals: that the company's unhindered and safe operation continue; that the Greek government take recourse to the European Court against last week's Commission ruling; and finally, that the government present a plan in coordination with the EU aimed at continuing and finalizing procedures for OA's privatization.
Moreover, Papandreou said his party does not want a state monopoly in the domestic airline industry to be succeeded by a private monopoly, "but for competition to work". He pointed out that any new business scheme based on a sold-off OA should be viable and be based primarily on private capital, whereas jobs should be guaranteed.
He acknowledged that PASOK bears responsibilities for the current sad state of affairs at OA, while nevertheless charging that the government was "provocatively absent" in the 18 months since it assumed power in March 2004.
Turning to an overall political vision, Papandreou echoed previous statements over boosting spending for education and research, promising that if in government, he would allocate 5 percent of the annual state budget to the education sector from savings gained from defense cuts, public expenditures and subsidies without a "social result", as he said.
He also repeated his support for private non-profit universities -- a distinct break with past PASOK positions -- noting that public institutions will continue to act as the primary level in the tertiary level, "although PASOK has nothing to fear from non-public forms of (higher) education".
In terms of tax policy, Papandreou proposed slashes in income tax with corresponding hikes in capital gains taxes. Turning to a long-standing target by successive Greek governments over the past decades, he also called for a sharp reduction in tax evasion and social security contributions evasion through stepped up enforcement.
In beginning his statements, Papandreou aimed directly at the Karamanlis government, accusing it of being a "government of the few and ignoring the many". To back his point, he referred to the government's opposition to a heating oil subsidy for the coming winter season and to minor, as he said, increases in pensions.
Other noteworthy proposals cited by Papandreou included the transfer of the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED), the primary agency for compiling unemployment statistics and managing employment programs, from state control to social partners.
Furthermore, in unveiling a greater portion of his ideological perspective, Papandreou noted that the conservative view of the public sector's role today encompasses both a "demonisation of the state" and a "demonisation of the market" -- "what's progressive is the development of the third major pole, namely, the society of citizens".
Foreign policy - Turkey: Turning to the foreign policy front, Papandreou, the former foreign minister in successive Simitis governments, stressed that it would be "a historic mistake" for Greece to agree to the start of Turkey's EU accession talks (set for Oct. 3) under the current conditions.
"The continuing occupation of Cyprus and Turkey's claims in the Aegean cannot be grafted onto a European normality," Papandreou said, adding that such a prospect would be nothing more than a constant "time bomb".
He emphasized that Oct. 3 is a last chance for Athens to seek a "new Helsinki (agreement) with a timetable, commitments and guarantees by Turkey ... because this is what the country's national interest demands".
In closing his address, Papandreou lashed out at the government for reneging, as he charged, on its pre-election pledges. Among others, he said the government has not given families with three children the benefits allocated to families with four or more offspring, and has also failed to create a small and flexible cabinet, but instead has proceeded with the wholesale creation of new departments and multitudes of new committees.
Additionally, he also claimed that some 25,000 high-ranking public sector officials are being "hounded" by the ND government.
Gov't reaction: In a later response to Papandreou's address, government spokes-man Theodoros Roussopoulos noted that "Greek citizens have the chance to compare".
"On the one side, there's the work, clear-cut strategy and poised policy of the government; and on the other, there's the vacuous words of PASOK. On one side there is a new government policy that's already producing results, one that ensures a better future for all. On the other side, there's a universal rejection of any change, any form of reform. On one side there's the language of truth, and on the other: the voice of populism".
 Papandreou at TIF press conference appears confident he'll win next election
THESSALONIKI, 19/9/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, speaking at a Sunday press conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), said that he was "determined to proceed in the planning he began when he undertook the leadership of the party."
"I will not be influenced by the useful but completely coincidental opinion polls, as politics are not made through opinion polls."
The PASOK leader again strongly criticized the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis personally, "whom he described as "a leader of the old mould, and timid towards making serious changes."
Papandreou further criticized the stance maintained by Karamanlis on the issue of the start of Turkey's EU accession talks and Turkey's non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, arguing that the prime minister "lay down his arms before giving a battle."
On the matter of the "name issue" vis-a-vis the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Papandreou said "that the veto which Mr. Karamanlis would table against the accession course of the neighboring country is a useless weapon, which someone must know how to use, but the government does not know how to do so."
The PASOK leader also accused Karamanlis over the position he had taken on the matter of Olympic Airways, saying that "through his statement in Thessaloniki a week ago, he, in essence, undermined the company's future."
Regarding the high cost of living, Papandreou said "it is maintained by the government's policy" and accused the government that "with this policy, it makes the poor poorer, and the middle class poor."
In response to a question on why PASOK has not been able to take advantage of whatever dissatisfaction with the government's policies, Papandreou stressed that his aim "it not coincidental, but broader, and has to do with the next day of (general) elections, which I firmly believe my party will win."
He called on citizens "not to choose preferences from one day to another but to hear PASOK and to see the changes it had made as well as its new proposals."
On the issue of non-EU foreign workers in the country, Papandreou said "it is a very big issue and we cannot hide behind racist views."
Asked whether he would assume responsibility in the event that PASOK again lost in the next general elections, Papandreou dismissed the prospect, stressing that "whenever elections take place, PASOK will win and the country will have a different course."
Papandreou said Karamanlis "did not respond to the responsibilities he undertook" and "were not as daring as he and others thought", noting that "he adopted conservative logistics."
Sharp ND response: 20 years of PASOK caused today's problems: Ruling New Democracy (ND) secretary Evangelos Meimarakis was quick to criticize Papandreou's Sunday comments during the TIF press conference, as he stressed that the PASOK leader's "other path is the easy one; it's the path of populism, the one PASOK has followed over 20 years."
"(It's the path) that has caused today's problems and the one that has been condemned by a majority of the Greek people."
Meimarakis also charged that Papandreou's address was replete with generalities and "a hint of self-criticism".
"He (Papandreou) tried to shift the blame of PASOK's 20 years in government to ND, acting as if the problems arose today and did not exist in the past ... the citizens know, however, and back ND's efforts," he stressed.
Meetings with TIF, Helexpo leaderships: Earlier in the morning, Papandreou met with the managements of both the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) and with the Helexpo exhibition and convention promoter.
Afterwards, Papandreou said his meetings were anything but courtesy calls, stressing that PASOK backs the institution and the efforts of local bodies. He also called for a breakdown of this year's heightened participation by vendors in order gauge the level of foreign traders and exhibitors.
KKE says PASOK's opposition 'not worth a cent': Commenting on Papandreou's statements on Sunday, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in an announcement noted that "PASOK's opposition tactics are not worth a cent."
"Papandreou's persistent effort to show that PASOK's strategy is in opposition to (ruling) New Democracy again fell through," KKE charged.
On his part, a Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) spokesman said Papandreou "did not forward any alternative view opposed to the neo-liberal policy of the New Democracy government."
 Greek, Turkish FMs discuss EU-Turkey ties, Cyprus issue during NYC meetingNEW YORK CITY, 19/9/2005 (ANA - P. Panayiotou)
Turkey's European prospects, the long-standing Cyprus issue, bilateral relations as well as scheduling of an official visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to Ankara dominated a meeting here on Sunday between the Greek and Turkish foreign ministers.
Petros Molyviatis and Abdullah Gul met at Turkey's permanent delegation to the United Nations, as both foreign ministers were in New York for the United Nations' 60th General Assembly. A similar meeting was held last year on the General Assembly sidelines at Greece's permanent delegation.
"Our talks today were held in a very positive and friendly atmosphere. We reviewed the course of bilateral relations and re-asserted our will towards continuing efforts for a further improvement in the relations of our two countries," Greece's Molyviatis said.
He added that both sides examined possible future dates for the Greek premier's visit to Ankara.
Referring to Euro-Turkey relations and Ankara's much-anticipated beginning of accession talks, scheduled for Oct. 3, Molyviatis simply noted that Athens' positions over the subject were well-known and unchanged.
Finally, he said both sides also discussed the prospect of re-kindled initiative by the UN General Secretary for a process leading to a solution to the Cyprus problem -- probably the biggest difference in Greek-Turkish relations and a major obstacle to Ankara's anticipated course towards the EU.
 FM Molyviatis discusses FYROM issue with US Under Sec't of State Burns
NEW YORK , 19/9/205 (ANA/P. Panayiotou)"We have strategic cooperation with Greece and it is genuine," US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said on Sunday following talks here that Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis held with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns on the sidelines of the sessions of the 60th UN General Assembly.
Bryza said the issues discussed included "excellent" bilateral relations between the United States and Greece, Turkey's European course, the situation in the Balkans (Kosovo), the FYROM "name issue", Iran, security issues in the Mediterranean and the Middle East situation.
Bryza noted that Greece is a country that has "a great deal to teach us about democracy and freedom, and we are cooperating with it for the region of the Middle East."
Regarding the FYROM name issue, the US senior official said "we support the efforts" of UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz, noting that he did not know whether the latter was preparing a new proposal, adding that "there is a proposal on the table that must be discussed."
Bryza reiterated that the United States will support any agreement that may arise from Nimetz's mediation. The FYROM name issue will be discussed between Molyviatis and the UN envoy on Monday, as well as between Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and Bryza in Washington next Friday.
 Latest poll shows 4-point ND lead over rival PASOKATHENS, 19/9/2005
Ruling New Democracy (ND) was given a four-point lead over rival PASOK in the latest opinion poll published by an Athens daily's Sunday edition, garnering 35.9 percent of respondents' preference to 31.9 percent for the latter.
In terms of other parties, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) was given 6.2 percent; the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) 3.9 and the out-of-Parliament LA.OS party 2.9 percent. The portion of undecided reached the 11.5-percent mark.
Asked who will win the next general elections when they are held, ND was favored by 67.5 percent of respondents to PASOK's 16.4.
The poll, conducted by the firm GPO between Sept. 12-15, was published in the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Eleftheros Typos".
 FinMin says OA 'in its present form, is finished'ATHENS, 19/9/2005
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, in an interview with the Sunday edition of "To Vima" newspaper, said that "in its present form, Olympic Airways is finished."
In the same interview, Alogoskoufis announced a reduction in personal tax rates to 25 per cent as of 2007.
 OA board vows to take 'all necessary measures to safeguard interests'ATHENS, 19/9/2005
State-owned Olympic Airway's board of directors on Saturday issued a laconic announcement noting that the ailing national carrier will "proceed with all necessary actions towards all directions in order to safeguard the company's interests", a statement that hints at recourse to the European Court.
The EU Commission on Wednesday approved a recommendation by Commissioner Jacques Barrot that OA return a still unspecified, but massive amount of money -- as much as 500 or more million euros -- to the Greek state.
Saturday's announcement followed a briefing of OA's state-appointed board by the carrier's legal experts.
 PM expresses condolences over death of French author LacarriereATHENS, 19/9/2005
Prime Minister and Culture Minister Costas Karamanlis expressed his condolences on Sunday over the death of French author Jacques Lacarriere, noting that the latter was a "true friend of Greece and an indefatigable ambassador of culture throughout the world".
 Warplanes from 19 countries participate at 'Archangel '05' air showATHENS, 19/9/2005
A record number of military planes from 19 countries joined the Hellenic Air Force on Sunday in an international air show, "Archangel 2005", held at the Tanagra airbase, north of Athens.
Among the dignitaries at the exhibition was President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, who was briefed on the air force's readiness and combat capability.
Highlights of the air show included simulated bombing runs and evasion by Greek F-16 fighters, a pilot rescue exercise involving two "Super Puma" helicopters, a flyover by a Euro-fighter "Typhoon" and a vertical take-off, landing and mid-air hovering by a British-made Harrier jet.
 Ecumenical Patriarch officiates at church service in Florina,
FLORINA, 19/9/2005 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Sunday jointly officiated with Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos at a service in the northern town of Florina.
The Patriarch made particular mention of the presence of Christodoulos and of other high-ranking clerics that accompanied him, noting that it was a sign of "unity, faith and love."
Vartholomeos added that their presence "shows the common objectives and visions of our Church and for the unity of Orthodoxy in its entirety."
He was on his sixth day of a tour of western Macedonia.
 Photo exhibition devoted to Nobel laureate Seferis in Vienna
VIENNA, 19/9/2005 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)Dozens of local dignitaries from the world of arts and letters and literary aficionados attended a photo exhibition here on Friday evening focusing on Nobel laureate George Seferis.
The event was sponsored by the National Bank of Greece's Cultural Foundation. It will continue until Oct. 9 at the Romanian Cultural Institute of Vienna.
 Disturbances follow fascist rally, opposing counter-rallies in downtown Athens
ATHENS, 19/9/2005 (ANA)Scattered disturbances and the presence of riot police were reported in central Athens on Saturday following the simultaneous holding of three rallies in nearby but separate locations -- the first by a notorious ultra-nationalist group along with Italian neo-fascists, and two counter protests: one by a self-styled anti-state group and one by the leftist Greek Social Forum.
The disturbances were mostly centered around the Polytechnic in downtown Athens.
 Illegal migrants detained on Samos
SAMOS, 19/9/2005 (ANA)Authorities detained 25 Iraqi illegal immigrants on Saturday on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, many of whom are women and children, according to reports.
The group was reportedly ferried over onto Greek territory from the opposite Turkish coast by a migrant smuggler that evaded arrest.
Meanwhile, two foreign nationals were arrested on Saturday just before boarding an Italy-bound ferry boat in the western city of Patra, after authorities determined that the travel documents they carried were false.
 First division football results, standingsATHENS, 19/9/2005
Olympiakos Piraeus continued to easily lead the Greek first division standings with a perfect three-for-three start this the season for nine points, following the club's 3-0 away victory on Saturday against lowly Kallithea Athens. The score, however, is misleading, as last season's champions recorded a pitiful showing up until the 71st minute, when a Kallithea defender headed the ball into his own keeper's net to give Olympiakos the lead.
Meanwhile, AEK Athens squandered two points by posting a 1-1 tie with tough Aegaleo at home, while cross-town rival Panathinaikos was held to a scoreless tie in an away game with newly promoted Levadiakos.
In other action:
Akratitos Athens - Larissa 0-0
Atromitos Athens - OFI Crete 4-0
Panionios Athens - Ionikos Piraeus 3-3
Xanthi - Apollon Kalamaria 2-0
Iraklis Thessaloniki PAÏÊ (Monday 09/20)
The standings after three games:
Akratitos Athens 4
PAOK 1 (2 games)
Iraklis 0 (2 games)
 Cyprus president expects some move by UNSG in the near future
NEW YORK, 19/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said here on Sunday he expects ''some move'' by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan ''in the near future'' with regard to a renewed peace initiative towards a negotiated settlement.
Speaking at a press conference after his address to the 60th session of the UN General Assembly, he said any such initiative must be well prepared to help ensure a successful outcome and any time limits to the talks must be dictated by their pace and any progress achieved and not by outside factors.
He said the European Union, which Cyprus joined last year, must have a more active involvement in a fresh peace effort and pointed out that he would not accept any solution that could lead to two separate states on the island, adding that Turkish troops must be withdrawn as part of a solution.
The president also pointed out that, unlike the period following the rejection of the latest UN solution plan by the Greek Cypriots in April 2004, now everybody appreciates that changes will have to be made to this plan, which at the time was described by various circles as ''uniquely balanced and fair.''
Asked by CNA if we are closer to the start of a new initiative, he said that UN efforts are not a one off exercise ''but a sustained effort being even now exercised in a number of ways, not necessarily by having the two sides sitting across the table and carrying on negotiations.''
He repeated that any new effort has to be very well prepared, adding that ''there should be a calculated prospect of an agreement being probably or within reach, as another failed effort would not be in the interest of anybody.''
Asked if any time table has been set for the start of a renewed effort, he replied ''we are far away from that. I expect some move by the Secretary-General in the near future.''
He also said that no tight time limits should be set for a new round of negotiations but open-ended talks are not the goal either.
''The pace of talks and any time limits will be dictated solely by the needs and the progress of the negotiations, not be extraneous elements," such as the date of Cyprus' accession (May 1) or the start of Turkey's accession talks (October 3, 2005), he pointed out.
Responding to questions, he said that the one basic issue which is non negotiable is ''the occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, which must come to an end.''
''We will not accept a solution which will lead to the creation of two separate states, entities, whatever you may wish to call them, on the island. I do not believe it will be in the interest of the population of Cyprus,'' he said.
Asked if all Turkish troops must be gone before a plan can be agreed, the president explained that the withdrawal of the occupation troops must be part of the agreement for a political settlement.
''It would be a paradox if we agree to a compromise solution and make a number of sacrifices for the purpose of ending the invasion and the occupation and in spite of it all the occupation would be continued,'' he said.
He explained that in the last UN-proposed solution plan, unlike in its previous drafts, a small number of troops would remain in Cyprus.
''The important aspect is not only the number of troops which remain but also the powers that they would have, a powerful intervention, which would have been enhanced as to what are the powers which the contingents of Greece and Turkey have under the 1960 Treaties'' that established the Republic of Cyprus, he added.
He said it would be ''unreasonable'' after all the compromises the Greek Cypriot side has made to have these rights of intervention being enhanced and perpetuated.
Responding to questions about a possible new approach to the Cyprus peace effort, he said the solution in Cyprus would be under the aegis of the UN but since Cyprus' accession to the European Union many aspects of the problem touch upon provisions of the acquis communautaire.
''It is therefore inevitable that in any new round of talks, the EU should have a more active role in the discussions,'' he said, adding that the EU could be most helpful in guiding the parties as to what would be compatible with the acquis, which will have to be applied after a solution.
Responding to another question, he said he has outlined all the points of areas of serious concern for the Greek Cypriots to the Secretary-General through his representatives, a development that resulted in the UN saying that ''we have stated our concerns in detail, fully and in finality.''
He explained that in outlining his areas of concern and raising the points that need to be changed in the Annan plan, ''in certain aspects we went one step further and stated possible alternative solution to that problem.''
''Nobody any longer raises that issue,'' he added.
To other questions about any changes following the rejection of the Annan plan and Cyprus' EU accession, the president said that accession has not necessarily changed the events but more people now realize that the Greek Cypriots have not rejected the UN plan in an arbitrary manner or turned down a solution by rejecting that particular plan.
''The general view prevailing after the referenda (April 2004) was that the Annan plan was uniquely balanced and fair. I believe that now this is no longer the case, everybody appreciates that changes must be made to the new concept of a solution that has to come about,'' he concluded.
In his opening remarks the president referred to his contacts at the UN seat here saying the Secretary-General had assured him that his effort towards a settlement ''is and is going to be a sustained one and he will decide when and how the reactivation of the talks will take place and the type in which this initiative would be manifested.''
President Papadopoulos leaves New York Monday at 0900 local time for Cyprus via London.
 Cyprus problem discussed at Women's Socialist International Conference
LIMASSOL, 19/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)Prospects for a Cyprus settlement and the role of Cypriot women in efforts for a solution, the situation in the Middle East and women's role in political, economic and social development are the issues discussed during regional conference ''Women for Peace'' organized here today by the Women's Socialist International.
Representatives from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, from Greece, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Cameroon and Canada attend the conference.
Speaking at the conference, Pia Locateli, Women's Socialist International President and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) said the participation of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot women at the conference was a particularly important step. He also noted the participation of women from Palestine and Israel at the conference.
Regarding the Cyprus problem, she said the result of the referendum on the Annan plan in April 2004 proved that people did not trust this plan for a Cyprus settlement. People must feel safe and we must try to create the preconditions for this human security, she added.
She said that people were not against peace but against the solution suggested by this plan.
Cyprus Minister of Justice and Public Order Doros Theodorou said the Cyprus government wants a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem, that will respect international law, human rights and the EU acquis communautaire.
He noted that Women's Socialist International has expressed in practice its solidarity with the women of Cyprus with resolutions and the presence of many of its members to anti-occupation demonstrations of the women of Cyprus.