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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-09-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

September 29, 2005


  • [01] Greece-Russia ministerial meeting ends with signature of cooperation protocol
  • [02] Greek-Russian Business forum on Wednesday and Thursday
  • [03] US ambassador in Athens refers to Cyprus issue during Washington event
  • [04] PM meets with public order minister; 4 draft bills to be tabled
  • [05] PM receives Justice Minister Papaligouras
  • [06] PM to meet with sports minister Thursday
  • [07] Gov't on 'Le Monde' report alleging 2003 defence kickback
  • [08] President Papoulias to pay official visit to Cyprus
  • [09] Aegean Minister to visit Cyprus
  • [10] Europarliament says Turkey must recognise Cyprus, Armenian genocide
  • [11] PASOK party spokesman criticises interior minister, interior ministry replies
  • [12] President Karolos Papoulias inaugurates renovated 'Lorentzos Mavilis' army camp
  • [13] Frigate and tank carrier to participate in NATO exercise 'Loyal Midas 05'
  • [14] Greece's role as energy hub addressed in US
  • [15] Greek economic competitiveness index up in 2004, World Economic Forum report states
  • [16] Greece needs more effort to improve economic competitiveness
  • [17] National Bank CEO rings NYSE opening bell
  • [18] Deputy finmin takes the blame for mistaken statement on graft
  • [19] Gov't dismisses furore over circular for tax debts, denies recruitment to Galilaios
  • [20] EU Commissioner Hubner refers to funding of land register
  • [21] Greece seeks major markets for olive oil exports
  • [22] EU aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation sector
  • [23] Black Sea Economic Cooperation research and technology conference held in Athens
  • [24] Greek tourists to Cyprus up 30%
  • [25] European Journalists Federation on violations of labour rights in press and electronic media in Greece
  • [26] Trade board to present new food exports promotion policy
  • [27] Greek stocks hit new four-year highs
  • [28] Liossia dump remains closed as workers continue protest for second day
  • [29] Alexandroupolis mayor confers with Imvros, regional counterparts on cross-border cooperation
  • [30] Cross-border network aims to strengthen cooperation
  • [31] 'Ransom cheques' of Thessaloniki's WWII-era Jewish community discovered
  • [32] Italian war correspondent Sgrena to speak at Athens event on Thursday
  • [33] Bill to open up recreational scuba-diving in Greece backed by Parl't committee
  • [34] Five deer released in bid to revive extinct Greek deer population
  • [35] Queen of Spain visits orphanage in Athens
  • [36] Truck driver arrested for attempting to smuggle illegals to Italy
  • [37] Shenyang delegation discusses Olympic preparations with Thessaloniki mayor, Athens 2004 organisers
  • [38] HPC celebrates one year after 2004 Athens Paralympics, sets goals for future games
  • [39] The Athens dailies at a glance
  • [40] ''Maritime Cyprus'' ends urging Turkey to lift embargo on Cyprus ship
  • [41] Cyprus launches Programme of Help to Palestinians

  • [01] Greece-Russia ministerial meeting ends with signature of cooperation protocol

    MOSCOW, 29/9/2005 (ANA/N. Melissova)

    The 5th mixed Greek-Russian ministerial meeting ended in Moscow on Wednesday evening with the signature of a cooperation protocol by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Russian Agriculture Minister Aleksey Gordeyev.

    Stylianidis stressed that the protocol laid the foundations for future cooperation between Greece and Russia and to a great extent implemented a Joint Action Plan agreed by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Moscow last December.

    The ministerial meeting began in Moscow on Wednesday alongside a Greek-Russian business forum taking place the same day, attended by the largest Greek business delegation ever to venture outside Greece.

    In a statement to the ANA, Gordeyev stressed the "great warmth" during Wednesday's meeting and said this was a guarantee for the "further successful development of our relations".

    Stylianidis said the two sides had agreed to set up working groups to look into bilateral trade arrangements and to convene joint committees to discuss issues concerning agriculture, transport and tourism.

    In the energy sector, the two sides achieved a positive outcome concerning plans for the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and also set in motion cooperation in the natgas and electricity sectors.

    During the meeting, the Russians promised to move faster for the ratification of an agreement for avoiding double taxation, which will in turn allow implementation of a bilateral maritime agreement that has been stalled since 2001. The Greek side, in turn, committed itself to participation with a Greek pavilion in 10 trade exhibitions taking place in Russia next year.

    Arrangements were also made for a meeting between the Greek delegation and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov on Thursday to discuss cooperation in construction projects.

    On the sidelines of the ministerial, an agreement was also signed by the Union of Greek Industries (SEB) and the Russian Business and Industry Association, which will create a Business Council to act as a bridge between the Greek and Russian business communities and give a new boost to their relations.

    Also participating in the ministerial meeting, which was chaired by Stylianidis and Gordeyev, were Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias and Agricultural Minister Evangelos Basiakos, who stressed in a statement that Greece "looked to the large Russian market" for high-quality Greek agricultural products like olive oil, wine, honey and others, as well as processed and packaged Greek agricultural products with higher added value that were competitive worldwide.

    [02] Greek-Russian Business forum on Wednesday and Thursday

    MOSCOW,29/9/2005 (ANA/N. Melissova)

    A business forum that began here on Wednesday and will continue on Thursday has attracted the largest business delegation ever to venture beyond Greek borders, with representatives of 170 companies based in Greece. It was chaired by Stylianidis and former Russian premier Yevgeny Primakov, who is currently head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    Commenting on the forum, Stylianidis noted that members of the Greek delegation had organised meetings with more than 500 Russian businesses over the two days, whose results would largely determine the mission's success.

    According to diplomatic and business sources, however, simply the fact that such a large Greek business delegation had ventured abroad and so many Greek investors had come to Russia was in itself a success.

    The minister also noted, however, that the very good ties between Greece and Russia on a political level were not reflected in economic relations between the two countries, which were well below their potential.

    This was echoed by Gordeyev, who pointed out that Greek investment in Russia amounted to just $69 million, compared with $14 billion for the Netherlands, ranking Greece lower than 30th place among foreign investors in Russia.

    Stylianidis stressed Greece's high balance of trade deficit with Russia, on the other hand, and asked for the reactivation of an agreement with the former Soviet Union, where Moscow undertook to import Greek products so as to counterbalance hydrocarbon exports to Greece. He also urged Russian businesses to invest in Greece, stressing that it was emerging as an energy hub for southeast Europe and that "energy diplomacy" figured highly in Greek economic diplomacy.

    Both sides emphasised Greece's efforts to become a distribution centre for energy, especially for southeast Europe and the Black Sea, with Stylianidis stressing that "energy diplomacy" was a key focus of Greek economic diplomacy. Greek speakers also pointed out that there was great potential for increasing the flow of Russian tourists to Greece and stressed recent legislation to lower taxes and provide business incentives, as well as to reduce bureaucracy.

    [03] US ambassador in Athens refers to Cyprus issue during Washington event

    WASHINGTON 29/9/2005 (ANA/T. Ellis)

    The United States continues to support a solution to the Cyprus problem based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation that will emerge through a new process of talks which, in turn, should be based to a large extent on the Annan plan, US Ambassador to Athens Charles Ries told a round-table discussion here on Tuesday.

    The round-table discussion was organised by Johns Hopkins University's Washington-based School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

    Ries also noted that support of Turkey's course towards the European Union has been his country's standing policy for years now, adding that such an incorporation would be beneficial for Turkey itself and the Union, including Greece and Cyprus.

    Moreover, he praised Athens' stance vis-a-vis the pending EU-Turkey negotiations, noting that Greek leadership over the recent previous supported Cyprus' objections while at the same time backing the commencement of Ankara's accession talks with the 25-member bloc.

    Ries added that both the current Karamanlis government as well as the previous Simitis government made the strategic choice of backing Turkey's EU accession prospect because it serves Greece's national interests. Additionally, he cited what he called the Karamanlis government's "positive stance" regarding the Annan peace plan in March 2004.

    Returning to the Cyprus issue, he said efforts towards a resolution must continue to evolve within the United Nations' framework, and not land in the EU's lap. He said the UN has dealt with the Cyprus problem continuously for the past 30 years, has issued resolutions on the matter and includes third parties, such as the United States, active in efforts to find a solution to the island republic's division.

    [04] PM meets with public order minister; 4 draft bills to be tabled

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday received Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis at his office, with talks focusing on the ministry's planning for the coming period.

    Afterwards, the minister said the prime minister approved of the tabling of four draft bills, involving, separately, the fire brigade's modernisation; a new disciplinary code for Greek Police (EL.AS); confidential briefings of Parliament committee members by the state intelligence service, as well as the legal framework of the envisioned rural police force.

    [05] PM receives Justice Minister Papaligouras

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday morning received Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras at his office, with the latter telling reporters after the half-hour meeting that talks took place within the framework of his regular briefing of the premier.

    [06] PM to meet with sports minister Thursday

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be receiving Deputy Culture Minister responsible for Sports George Orfanos at Maximos Mansion on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

    Karamanlis and Orfanos will discuss the future of Greek sports as well as issues related to violence in stadiums, soccer clubs' finances and Greece's candidature for the 2012 European soccer championship.

    [07] Gov't on 'Le Monde' report alleging 2003 defence kickback

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Wednesday clarified that a high-profile charge, reported by the Paris daily "Le Monde" this week, citing a nine-million-euro kickback to a Greek minister in 2003 for the modernisation of six Hellenic Navy frigates will be debated in Parliament after a relevant question is tabled.

    The charge was made by a former executive of the French defence contractor Thales against the unnamed Greek minister in the previous Simitis government.

    Asked about the possibility of the accuser, Michel Josserand, being called to testify in Athens, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos merely noted that "procedures will started depending on the answer given in Parliament."

    [08] President Papoulias to pay official visit to Cyprus

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias will pay an official visit to Cyprus from 16-19 October at the invitation of his Cypriot counterpart Tassos Papadopoulos.

    The Presidency has not yet announced the schedule of his meetings on the island.

    [09] Aegean Minister to visit Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 29/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Greek Minister of the Aegean and Island Policy Aristotelis Pavlides will pay a visit to Cyprus September 29-October 1, during which he will be received by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    A press release issued by the embassy of Greece in Cyprus said Pavlides will also meet Foreign Minister George Iacovou and Finance Minister Michael Sarris.

    On Friday evening he will address an event in Paphos to mark World Tourism Day.

    [10] Europarliament says Turkey must recognise Cyprus, Armenian genocide


    The European Parliament backed Wednesday the opening of EU entry talks with Turkey next week, but insisted that Ankara recognise Cyprus and the genocide of Armenians during the negotiations.

    The European Parliament has also postponed a vote to ratify Turkey's extended customs union with the EU with 311 votes in favour, 285 against and 63 abstentions. The delay was demanded by the European People's Party (EPP), the biggest party in the EU parliament, due to Ankara's refusal to let Cypriot ships and planes use its ports and airports, as required under the extended customs deal.

    Following an intense debate, the Europarliament adopted a non-binding yet politically meaningful resolution endorsing the start of accession negotiations next Monday, while at the same time including a number of criticisms of Turkey's record on human rights, religious freedom and minorities.

    The motion on Turkey joining the EU received the backing of 356 members of parliament while 181 voted against and 125 abstained.

    The EU legislature demanded that Turkey recognise Cyprus soon and said negotiations could be suspended unless it granted access to Cypriot aircraft and shipping by next year. During the negotiations, which are open-ended and will not automatically lead to Turkish EU membership, Turkey should be kept under permanent scrutiny and pressure to ensure that it maintains ''the pace of the necessary reforms''.

    They also demanded an undertaking that when the Turkish parliament ratifies the protocol extending the customs union to new EU member

    states, it would not attach a government declaration refusing to recognize Cyprus.

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said that developments in the European Parliament show that ''a concentrated pressure seems to be formed so that Turkey will comply with its obligations towards the EU including those towards the Cyprus Republic''.

    EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn regretted the decision to delay ratification of the extended customs union, saying it would weaken

    Brussels' hand with the Turks, but stressed it would have no impact on the start of negotiations.

    Rehn warned Turkey it would have to amend its new penal code, adopted to meet EU criteria, if hardline judges were still able to prosecute the country's leading novelist for expressing his views on the killings of Armenians under Ottoman rule.

    EU lawmakers demanded an undertaking that when the Turkish parliament ratifies a protocol extending the customs union to new EU member

    states, it will not attach a government declaration refusing to recognise Cyprus.

    Rehn had warned parliament it would be scoring ''an own goal'' if it refused to approve the extended customs union.

    Many lawmakers questioned the EU's ability to absorb Turkey financially and politically, especially after French and Dutch voters' rejected a draft EU constitution designed to streamline the bloc's creaking institutions to cope with enlargement.

    Rehn said that on balance, Turkey had made sufficient progress on human rights to justify opening talks, saying the negotiations would give the EU crucial leverage over the direction of Turkish reforms.

    Hans-Gert Poettering, leader of the conservative European People's Party, said if Turkey did not improve its human rights record within a period after starting talks, ''then we should be prepared to suspend the negotiations''.

    The European Parliament also said on Wednesday that Turkey must recognise the killing of Armenians under Ottoman rule in 1915 as genocide

    before it can join the EU. Ankara insists there was no genocide but the Parliament said it considered Turkish recognition of ''the Armenian genocide... to be a prerequisite for accession''.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.

    Greek Eurodeputies addressing the Europarliament's plenary session - with the exception of LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) MEP George Karatzaferis - voiced their support for Turkey's EU accession and the beginning of negotiations.

    However, they also qualified that support by noting the requirements Turkey must meet in order to join the Union.

    Ruling New Democracy MEP George Dimitrakoupolos stressed Turkey's obligations in immediately recognising the Cyprus Republic; fully implementing its extended customs union agreement; respecting minority rights and particularly the rights of Greeks living in Istanbul, on Imvros and Tenedos; and respecting the rights of religious groups and the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    Main opposition PASOK MEP Stavros Lambrinidis said that the beginning of negotiations does not mean that everything is negotiable.

    He noted that neither is the Union's volition to see Turkey as an equal EU member state negotiable but neither is Turkey's obligations under the extended customs union agreement or its obligation to recognise the Cyprus Republic.

    MEP Panagiotis Beglitis, also of PASOK, characterised Turkey's EU prospects as being 'positive', since it can contibute to democratisation of Turkish society, peace, stability and development for Turkey and for neighbouring countries.

    He noted however, that support for Turkey's EU accession does not mean a 'carte blanche' for Turkey when it comes to adopting EU principles and laws.

    Beglitis asked that the EU make clear what the consequences will be for Turkey's EU aspirations if the Turkish National Assembly ratifies the unilateral declaration whereby Turkey refuses to recognise Cyprus.

    Finally, LAOS MEP Karatzaferis referred to Turkey's refusal to allow Pope Benedict XVI to visit the country.

    "What other country in the world forbids the Pope from visiting it?" he asked.

    He said that if Turkey withdraws its occupation forces from Cyprus then the Constitution of 1960 can go into effect, which calls for a Greek-Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president. This, he said, would resolve the issue, allowing the north part of the island to share the same benefits as the southern part.

    [11] PASOK party spokesman criticises interior minister, interior ministry replies

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party spokesman Nikos Athanasakis on Wednesday criticised Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlo-poulos on the question of statements made on the procedure for hiring guards at the Bank of Greece.

    Athanasakis said that the law passed in 1998 by which, according to the government, the hirings took place had been amended in January 2005, by decision of Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, and so the procedure anticipated by the law of 1998 had changed.

    "Mr. Pavlopoulos I suppose, or Mr. Voulgarakis, also led the government spokesman astray and for this reason I will not refer to a lying government spokesman who, during today's press briefing, mentioned a law of 1998 at least three times which was applied for the specific hirings," Athanasakis said.

    Replying to Athanasakis, the interior ministry's press office called on him to clarify when PASOK and former interior minister Costas Skandalidis speak of the hiring of security and guarding staff at the Bank of Greece and speak about an "interview by Pavlopoulos" are they distorting reality conscientiously yes or no?

    The press office further queried the interview for these hirings at the Bank of Greece was established in 1998, meaning when PASOK was in power, by decision of the then public order minister Mr. George Romeos yes or no?

    It added that according to Mr. Athanasakis the interviews established by PASOK's ministers for hirings are "good", while today's interviews on the same issues are "suspicious"?

    [12] President Karolos Papoulias inaugurates renovated 'Lorentzos Mavilis' army camp

    IOANNINA, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday inaugurated the renovated "Lorentzos Mavilis" army camp at Kalpaki, in the northern prefecture of Ioannina, one of the oldest ones located near the border with Albania which had been closed for years and which began to function again.

    The opening of the army camp for use completes the first phase of strategic planning for the Ipiros region and at the same time the measures being taken satisfy the local inhabitants' desire for a strengthened presence of military forces and contribute to the develoment of the local economy.

    Speaking during an official luncheon served in his honour, President Papoulias made special reference to the importance of the camp which consolidates a feeling of security for inhabitants in the Ioannina prefecture living near the border with Albania, while not forgetting that he himself comes from a village in the region.

    "I am happy because this army camp is being upgraded and Kalpaki is being upgraded. And Kalpaki is being upgraded thanks to the efforts of the defence ministry's civil leadership and I thank the defence minister publicly because he had adopted from the past the idea of strengthening the region," President Papoulias said.

    [13] Frigate and tank carrier to participate in NATO exercise 'Loyal Midas 05'

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The Navy General Staff announced on Wednesday that the frigate "Navarino" and the tank carrier "Samos" will participate in the NATO exercise codenamed "Loyal Midas 05" (formerly called Destined Glory) which is scheduled to take place in the wider sea region of Sardinia from September 29 to October 15, 2005.

    The purpose of the exercise is to train the alliance's naval forces to handle a modern-day international crisis.

    [14] Greece's role as energy hub addressed in US

    WASHINGTON, 29/9/2005 (ANA/A Ellis)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Wednesday that he discussed Greece's role as a regional energy channel with the US deputy secretary of energy, Clay Sell.

    "We analysed the rise in the country's status in energy affairs, especially major pipeline networks underway in our country - natural gas and oil - and especially the Greek-Turkish and Greek-Italian natural gas pipelines, and the Burgas-Alex-androupoli oil pipeline," Sioufas said.

    In a statement to ERT, the minister said another item on the agenda for talks, was the signing on October 25 in Athens of an agreement creatin a southeast European energy community.

    "This is one of the most important conventions to be signed in Greece on energy matters for the entire region, and Greece has palayed decisive role in this," he noted.

    The talks with Sell also covered bilateral cooperation and discussion of the global rise in oil prices.

    "All we can do is to seek support from the public, ask the public to join the energy-saving effort," the minister said.

    Also taking part in the meeting were the ministry's development secretary general, Nikos Stefanou; the Research and Technology secretary general, Yiannis Tsoukalas; the Greek charge d'affaires, Eleftherios Angelopoulos; and the minister's diplomatic counsellor, Tereza Angelatou.

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas also held talks on Wednesday with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for energy issues Paul Simons. The talks focused on the new perspectives created by the energy and natural gas markets deregulation.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting Sioufas said that during the meeting world and regional energy developments, focusing on the electricity and natural gas markets deregulation which will be introduced through relevant bills expected to be tabled in October. This perspective, Sioufas added, will create great opportunities for investments in Greece.

    The second issue discussed, the minister said, was the 'energy treaty' which will be signed in Athens on October 25 with 14 countries, including five EU member-states.

    [15] Greek economic competitiveness index up in 2004, World Economic Forum report states

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Greek economic competitiveness improved in 2005, reflecting an improvement in business competitiveness and a worsening condition in growth competitiveness, an annual report on world competitiveness published by the World Economic Forum showed on Wednesday.

    The report, presented by the Greek Industries Federation, showed that Greece ranked 46th in the Growth Competitiveness Index, losing nine places from 2004. Greece ranked 47th in the Total Competitiveness Index, from 51st in 2004; 40th in the Business Competitiveness Index from 41st in 2004.

    This year's report includes 13 new countries, two of which ranked higher than Greece (Qatar and Kuwait). All other countries ranking above Greece in 2004 maintained their positions in 2005, while five countries which ranked below Greece (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Tunisia, Slovakia, South Africa and Latvia) improved their rankings.

    The World Economic Forum attributed Greece's decline in the Growth Competitiveness Index ranking to its high fiscal deficit and to an increasing disappointment by the business community over short-term economic outlook.

    The report cited improved infrastructure, funding, an opening of markets, public institutions, low crime rates and human resources as positive factors for the Greek economy, and government-public sector, technology, business strategy, social and environmental policies as negative factors.

    The federation said Greece's improvement in the total competitiveness index was attributed mainly to technical reasons covering the structure of the index and other factors and not to fundamental changes in the economy.

    [16] Greece needs more effort to improve economic competitiveness

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Positive steps have been made but we still have a long way to go to reach successes like the ones we enjoy in sports, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos the president of Greek Industries Union -Greece's largest employers union- said on Wednesday.

    Commenting on a report on world competitiveness published by the World Economic Forum, Kyriakopoulos said that EU newcomers, such as Latvia, Hungary, Cyprus and the Czech Republic, along with African nations such as Tunisia and South Africa have surpassed Greece in the world competitiveness rankings.

    Greece, along with other EU member-states, will submit to the European Commission their plans over improving their economic competitiveness in the framework of a Lisbon strategy. The Greek industrialist said the Greek plan, drafted by the government, did not meet Community standards and needed improvement.

    Kyriakopoulos rejected a proposal by GSEE -Greece's largest trade union umbrella- asking for publication of enterprises subsidised by either national or community funds before they went bankrupt.

    [17] National Bank CEO rings NYSE opening bell

    NEW YORK, 29/9/2005 (ANA/A.Lidorikis)

    National Bank of Greece (NBG) Chairman and CEO Takis Arapoglou kicked off Wednesday's trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) by ringing the opening bell.

    According to NYSE press officer Christian Brakman, Greek companies have proven that they are able to meet the exchange's stringent criteria and predicted that the number of Greek companies listed on the NYSE will increase from six currently to 10 by year-end.

    The National Bank of Greece has been trading on the NYSE since October 1999.

    NBG, which will announce its first-half results for 2005 on Thursday, is active in the US through its subsidiary Atlantic Bank.

    [18] Deputy finmin takes the blame for mistaken statement on graft

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Finance Minister Adam Rengouzas said on Wednesday that he took responsibility for a mistaken statement he made publicly that customs officers should take "less" cash to illegally accelerate the movement of goods across borders.

    Addressing parliament, he described the wording he used as "a non-sequitur or poor phrasing", acknowledging criticism from main opposition PASOK deputies that the statement sanctioned corruption, including graft by state employees.

    The statement made headlines with media charging that Rengouzas was urging officers to lower the figure of bribes they were taking.

    "The government is determined to crack down on all forms of corruption," Rengouzas added.

    [19] Gov't dismisses furore over circular for tax debts, denies recruitment to Galilaios

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednes-day dismissed complaints regarding a circular sent out by the finance ministry to tax-payers to settle outstanding debts, saying that it was based on procedures and laws in place for decades and not a departure from existing practice.

    In response to other questions, Roussopoulos also categorically denied that the government had proceeded to hire new staff for a subsidiary of Olympic Airlines called Galileos, or that it intended to do so in the future.

    Concerning the criteria for the appointment of guards for the Bank of Greece - following a complaint made by a main opposition PASOK MP that the government had chosen less qualified candidates on the basis of their interview results - Roussopoulos said the guards had been selected on the basis of a 1998 law for recruitment to banks and public-sector companies.

    The spokesman stressed that the same recruitment process had been in place for the past seven years and also pointed out that interviews were standard practice in the private sector, which generally had a better track record than the public sector in their operation.

    [20] EU Commissioner Hubner refers to funding of land register

    BRUSSELS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    European Union Regional Policy Commissioner Danuta Hubner, replying on Wednesday to a question by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party Eurodeputy Dimitris Papadimoulis on the issue of the drastic decrease in EU funding for the creation of a national land register in Greece, said that the previous project failed and funding for the second land register plan will be limited to 40 million euros.

    Referring to the course of the project's implementation in general, Hubner said she intends to visit Greece on October 20 for a check and a discussion with the Greek authorities and "although the Commission has not been informed of discrepancies, we shall check the course of the project in any case."

    The Coalition party stressed in an announcement that only 2.5 percent of the total cost of the land register, estimated at 1.65 billion euros, will be covered by EU resources and the rest will be paid by the state budget and the citizens.

    [21] Greece seeks major markets for olive oil exports

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Greece is seeking ways of exporting olive oil to major markets.

    Deputy Agricultural Development Minister Alex Kontos on Wednesday met the visiting executive director of the World Olive Oil Organisation, Habib Essid, who said the trade group would arrange seminars in all producer countries.

    At the same time the organisation would shortly launch a publicity campaign for the product, and on Mediterannean food in markets including China, Russia and India.

    Kontos sought the entry of Greek sector experts into the organisation, and the use of Greek in the trade group's literature.

    [22] EU aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from aviation sector

    BRUSSELS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The European Commission presented a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel by bringing aircraft operators into the European Union's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

    "The ETS sets an overall cap on greenhouse gas emissions, within which participating operators can buy and sell emission allowances as needed. This would create a permanent incentive for airlines to minimise their emissions," the Commission said in a statement, released on Tuesday.

    "The boom in flying is bringing with it a rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions. Extending emissions trading to the aviation sector will limit these emissions and ensure that aviation, like all other sectors, contribute to reducing the harmful greenhouse gases," Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

    "Through emissions trading, airlines will be able to do so at the least possible costs," he added.

    The Commission said that it will set up an expert working group of member states and stakeholders under the European Climate Change Programme to examine the matter in-depth and to provide a report in 2006.

    The aviation sector will join ETS when the relevant legislation is passed.

    Finally, according to the Commission, while aviation's share of greenhouse gas emissions represents about 3% of the total, its emissions are growing faster than any other sector. EU emissions from international flights grew by 73% from 1990 to 2003.

    This increase could widen to 150% by 2012 unless action is taken, the Commission said.

    [23] Black Sea Economic Cooperation research and technology conference held in Athens

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) countries' first conference of ministers responsible for research and technology was held in Athens on Wednesday, with the aim of adopting a plan of action and a joint declaration on research and technology to enable regional cooperation to be promoted in the region in this sector.

    Addressing the opening session, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou said that cooperation in the research and technology sector was always the frontrunner of wider and deeper cooperation, paving the way for cooperation in handling crucial problems such as environmental pollution, as well as industrial cooperation, with multiple benefits for society.

    Greece has worked systematically in the direction of preparation for the plan of action during its presidency of the BSEC. The deputy minister said that Greece's active interest in the region is not new since the country has been maintaining active bilateral scientific and technological cooperation with almost all countries comprising the BSEC for years.

    [24] Greek tourists to Cyprus up 30%

    NICOSIA, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The number of Greeks visiting Cyprus rose by 30% in August against the same month a year ago to total 16,000, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation said on Wednesday.

    Greek tourists to Cyprus in January-August 2005 totalled 93,000, up 4.0% against the corresponding period of 2004, the island republic's travel board said in a statement.

    The board is to open an information and sales bureau in Thessaloniki in November.

    [25] European Journalists Federation on violations of labour rights in press and electronic media in Greece

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Reports by the Panhellenic Federation of Journalists Unions (POESY) on violations of labour rights in the press and the electronic media have drawn a reaction by the European Journalists Federation (EJF).

    "The European Journalists Federation condemns the ever-increasing negative stance by employers in the media in Greece and denounces pressures being exerted on employees, both in the written press and the mass media, to accept scandalous and abusive cutbacks in their labour rights," an announcement by the EJF said.

    International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Secretary General Aidan White expressed the solidarity of European journalists for the struggle of their Greek colleagues "for justice and transparency in labour conditions, as well as the hope that the Greek authorities will realise the seriousness of the situation which has been created", the EJF's announcement added.

    [26] Trade board to present new food exports promotion policy

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek Foreign Trade Organisation is to announce a promotion strategy for Greek food and beverages abroad at a sector conference in Athens on September 30-October 1.

    The conference on Greek food, beverages and gastronomy will be held under the aegis of the finance ministry.

    The trade board will announce its new business plan at Cologne's international food and beverages trade fair on October 7-13, managing director Panayiotis Drosos told a news conference.

    [27] Greek stocks hit new four-year highs

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Greek stocks continued moving higher on Wednesday, hitting new four-year highs in the Athens Stock Exchange and reflecting increasing interest in blue chip stocks.

    The composite index rose 0.70 percent to end at 3,333.44 points, after hitting 3,339.88 points in intra-day trading, with turnover a healthy 240.7 million euros.

    [28] Liossia dump remains closed as workers continue protest for second day

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The landfill at Ano Liossia - the main depository of refuse for the entire capital - remained closed for the second day on Wednesday as the workforce refused to return to work and continued a strike to protest against the dumping of sewage sludge in the landfill.

    Workers at the landfill have decided to hold a general meeting on Friday to decide their next move.

    The president of the Athens water and sewage company EYDAP Costas Kostoulas held an unscheduled press conference on Wednesday afternoon over the closure, in which he accused the Attica municipalities union (ESDKNA) and the Ano Liossia municipality of having an "ulterior motives" in protesting against the use of the landfill to absorb sewage sludge and backing the strike. He claimed that they were clamouring for the five hectares set aside for the composting of the sewage sludge to use for the composting of refuse, since the landfill was too full.

    Kostoulas also pointed out that the sludge will stop being taken to Ano Liossia in December, in accordance with the commitment made by Environment Minister George Souflias.

    He said that alternative solutions were now being studied but did not release any details, apart from letting it be understood that these might also require use of the landfill.

    Kostoulas reiterated that the sewage sludge was not to blame for the stench in west Attica but the landfill itself and blamed ESDKNA for its failure to put a composting plant into operation, noting that this would not only had processed the mounds of refuse but also avoided the problem with the sludge, since there had been an agreement for the composting plant to absorb up to 300 tonnes of the sludge a day.

    [29] Alexandroupolis mayor confers with Imvros, regional counterparts on cross-border cooperation

    IMVROS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The common prospects for cross-border cooperation were examined during Alexandroupolis mayor George Alexandris' visit to Imvros, in the framework of a conference held on the island among mayors from Greece and Turkey.

    Alexandris was briefed by Imvros mayor Halil Rustu Akgun on the problems and prospects for development in the region, particularly in the sectors of economy and tourism, and was in turn briefed by Alexandris on the existing infrastructures and prospects posed by Alexandroupolis.

    Alexandris stressed the need for the development of good neighbourhood relations and cooperation among the peoples of the area, for better confrontation of the problems and for advancement of cross-border matters.

    He also took part in a broad meeting attended by mayors and special advisors, held at the Canakale university, whose headquarters are on Imvros.

    The delegates agreed on the encessity of strengtheing relations and cooperation in order to take advantage of the EU cross-border programmes.

    Alexandris has already submitted a proposal for collaboration with the municipality of Imvros in organising a Cinema Festival.

    The mayors further duscussed ways of tackling such common problems as marine pollution, fishing, and the possibility of a coastal shipping route linking the islands of Limnos, Samothraki, Imvros and Tenedos with the mainland ports of Alexandroupolis and Canakale.

    The Alexandroupolis mayor told his counterparts that his city, given its infrastructures, could serve as a 'communications hub' for linking the above areas.

    The delegates further agreed that the ties of cooperation among their towns and cities needed to be strengthened, and on the need for more regular contacts, as well as joint planning of cross-border activities.

    [30] Cross-border network aims to strengthen cooperation

    ORESTIADA, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The Executive Board of the Cross-border Cooperation Network, established by Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey agreed to further strengthen cooperation during its meeting in the northern Greek town Orestiada on Wednesday.

    The board selected the new members to represent Turkey and Bulgaria and agreed on a funding proposal that it will submit within the framework of the EU's Interreg III-A Greece-Turkey programme.

    Finally, the board also decided to hold separate conferences that will focus on the environment, traffic congestion and bird flu.

    [31] 'Ransom cheques' of Thessaloniki's WWII-era Jewish community discovered

    THESSALLONIKI, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Seven recently discovered cheques issued by the beleaguered wartime Jewish community of Thessaloniki and handed over to German occupation authorities in late 1942 and early 1943 as ransom to spare the community's male population from forced labour are the focus of a soon-to-be-released study.

    The seven cheques totalled an astronomical 1.036 billion drachmas, or in 1942-1943 figures, more than a million daily wages of the period. All in all, Jewish community leaders in occupied Thessaloniki -- the world's pre-eminent Sephardic metropolis since the 16th century and up until World War II -- turned over 1.5 billion drachmas to Nazi forces between Oct. 29, 1942 and Jan. 15, 1943.

    The cheques were discovered by Thessaloniki historian Evangelos Hekimoglou in the archives of the defunct Bank of Thessaloniki, whose documentation has been stored for decades within the National Bank of Greece's historical archives.

    The cheques listed the recipient as the "German administration of Thessaloniki-Aegean", with six cheques cashed via the sequestered Bank of Greece and paid out to the Nazi regime's financial services. The cheques were also undersigned by the notorious Kriegverwaltungsrat (the military administration counsellor for occupied northern Greece) Max Merten, who was tried and found guilty by a Greek tribunal in 1959 on several wartime-related charges only to be subsequently deported to West Germany following a November 1959 amnesty.

    According to Hekimoglou, the seventh cheque was cashed by Marten's interpreter, while speculation remains as to whether Marten himself collected the remaining 500 million drachmas levied on the Jewish community.

    The effort to save Thessaloniki's Jews -- 95 percent of whom perished during the Nazi occupation following systematic deportations from February 1943 to August 1943 -- began in July 1942, when the German administration ordered all Greek Jewish males of Thessaloniki between the ages of 18 and 45 to register for forced labour throughout Macedonia.

    Turning to the present, according to statements this week by the president of Thessaloniki's Jewish community, David Saltiel, the community has never dropped its claims against the German state, whereas the discovered cheques serve as documented proof of the ransom paid to occupation forces, beyond the testimonies of those involved.

    The study, entitled "Merten's Lost cheques", will be published in the 18th volume of the series "Thessalonikeon Polis" (Thessalonikians' City).

    [32] Italian war correspondent Sgrena to speak at Athens event on Thursday

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The Goethe Institut of Athens will host a round-table discussion on the issue of "Journalism and War" at its downtown campus on Thursday afternoon.

    Among the participants will be Rome-based "Il Manifesto" war correspondent Giuliana Sgrena, who herself was abducted by insurgents while on assignment in Baghdad early last February only to be freed a month later.

    Sgrena arrives in Athens as the guest of the Italian society of Greece, Prospettive, and the Nikos Poulantzas Institute.

    The event, set for 6:30 p.m., is also sponsored by the Municipality of Venice.

    ANA Managing Director Nicolas Voulelis will moderate the discussion.

    [33] Bill to open up recreational scuba-diving in Greece backed by Parl't committee

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    A merchant marine ministry draft bill lifting restrictions on recreational scuba-diving was passed in principle by both main parties on Wednesday, during discussion in a parliamentary committee.

    MPs stressed that the new laws would help make Greece one of the most popular worldwide destinations for scuba-diving holidays and bring in significant revenue.

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party expressed reservations about whether the new laws adequately protected submerged archaeological remains, however.

    In past years, recreational diving was strictly restricted in Greece in order to deter antiquities smugglers, with diving only permitted in specific, closely-watched locations.

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis stressed that all measures in the bill were fully harmonised with Community law and aimed to allow full exploitation of the favourable weather conditions prevailing in Greece for the greater part of the year, as well as its natural, historic and cultural attractions, to draw the recreational diving sector.

    The minister also announced that he intended to table an amendment for the subsidisation of insurance contributions paid by staff on cruise ships and another obliging ships to have a doctor on board.

    [34] Five deer released in bid to revive extinct Greek deer population

    TRIKALA, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    A family of five deer, one male and four females, were released into the Nature and Outdoor Park at Nymphaio in Trikala on Wednesday in hopes of reviving Greece's extinct deer population.

    The initiative belongs to the Nymphaio Community, which imported the five deer from Finland through a special breeding farm in Trikala. The first fawns are expected to arrive in July next year.

    Other plans for the park include the construction of an artificial lake at an altitude of 1,500 metres. The park covers an expanse of 180 hectares of forest and alpine meadows and belongs to the Nymphaio community. It was created with a budget of 416,500 and received funding from the 3rd Regional Operational Programme of Western Macedonia, with 75 per cent of funds from the EU and 25 per cent from national funds.

    [35] Queen of Spain visits orphanage in Athens

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    Spain's Queen Sofia visited the orphanage "Mitera" in Athens on Wednesday, where she had volunteered her services in 1956 when it operated as a nursery school.

    Sofia, met at the orphanage by Health and Social Solidarity Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis, Deputy Minister George Konstantopoulos and the institute's president Maro Kontou, said she was deeply moved to find herself among former teachers and classmates.

    During a brief speech she gave, Sofia referred to the institute's significant work and contribution.

    "Mitera" has successfully found homes for more than 100 children.

    [36] Truck driver arrested for attempting to smuggle illegals to Italy

    IGOUMENITSA, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    A 40-year-old truck driver was arrested at the northwestern port of Igoumenitsa late Tuesday evening after authorities found five illegal immigrants hidden in his Italy-bound vehicle.

    One of the five illegal migrants was subsequently hospitalised, police said.

    [37] Shenyang delegation discusses Olympic preparations with Thessaloniki mayor, Athens 2004 organisers

    THESSALLONIKI, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    A delegation from the Chinese city Shenyang discussed Olympic preparations in light of the 2008 Beijing Games with Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and executives of the Athens 2004 Organising Committee during a meeting in the northern Greek city on Wednesday.

    Shenyang, like Thessaloniki, will host the preliminary soccer matches for the Beijing Games.

    Efthymis Kioumourtzoglou, General Manager for the organisation of the Olympic Games in northern Greece, briefed the Chinese delegation on how Thessaloniki prepared for the sports events on all levels.

    Thessaloniki Police Chief Adonis Bamiatzis, Athens Police Chief responsible for Olympic Games security Constantinos Kassapakis and Assistant Director of Thessaloniki's Traffic Police Anastassios Apostolidis concentrated on security issues during their briefing with Chinese officials.

    [38] HPC celebrates one year after 2004 Athens Paralympics, sets goals for future games

    TORINO, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Paralympic Committee (HPC) celebrated the one-year anniversary since the 2004 Athens Paralympics were held and set out its goals for the 2006 Winter Paralympics in Torino and the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, during a special event held in Athens on Wednesday.

    "Last year represented a leap forward in the way Greek society thinks, in the way it deals with people with disabilities," HPC President Spyros Stavrianopoulos said.

    He expressed confidence that increased public awareness and support for people with disabilities will become stronger and more widespread.

    "We, the state, as well as everyone individually, must support this trend," he said.

    Stavrianopoulos announced that the Culture Ministry is working on a plan to make all sports venues accessible to people with disabilities.

    "One year after the Athens Paralympic Games, we can say that Greek athletes with disabilities have truly improved their performance. This makes us particularly optimistic regarding our participation in the 2006 Torino Paralympics (March 2006), as well as for the best possible planning that will ensure our successful participation in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics (September 2008).

    Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sports George Orfanos attended the event.

    [39] The Athens dailies at a glance

    ATHENS, 29/9/2005 (ANA)

    The allegations appearing in the French newspaper Le Monde of a French firm bribing a minister of (preceding government) PASOK, the 'get-it-done-quickly fee' in civil services, the EU demand that privileges of specific professional groups be abolished, the seizure of salaries and pensins for debts to the Tax Bureau, and the unhealthy dietary habits were the main front-page items in Wednesday's dailies.

    [40] ''Maritime Cyprus'' ends urging Turkey to lift embargo on Cyprus ship

    LIMASSOL, 29/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Turkey, an EU candidate country, should lift its embargo against Cypriot flagged vessels and thus fully implement the Customs Union Protocol it has already signed late July.

    This was underlined on Wednesday at a press conference marking the closing of this year's ''Maritime Cyprus 2005'' Conference that took place in the coastal town of Limassol with the participation of European Union top officials and 800 delegates from 35 countries.

    President of the Cyprus Shipping Council Andreas Drousiotis expressed hope that Turkey would lift its embargo against Cypriot ships and airplanes by March 2006 and reminded that Vice President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Transport and Energy, Jacques

    Barrot, who also attended the Conference, had said that Turkey has been warned to resolve the issue by 2006.

    He added that the Cyprus Shipping Council has informed in written various international organizations on the Turkish embargo, noting that the issue concerns Cyprus and the EU as a whole.

    "We have discussed the matter with the government. We clarified that the lifting of the Turkish embargo against Cypriot ships and airplanes is urgent and very serious. The lifting would be for the benefit of the Cypriot maritime and economy as well'', Drousiotis said.

    He added that the Cyprus Shipping Council deems as more feasible the lifting of the Turkish embargo against Cyprus, when it is separated from the efforts to achieve the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey.

    Director of the Cypriot Department of Merchant Shipping Sergios Sergiou said the government has made representations to various European Commission services and expressed hope that the issue would be included in the EU-Turkey negotiating framework.

    ''There are plans for next year, the government is making efforts to appoint people in various countries, to promote the registration of ships under Cypriot flag'', Sergiou said.

    Referring to the ''Maritime Cyprus 2005'' Conference, General Secretary of the Cyprus Shipping Council Thomas Kazakos said that the Conference was crowned with great success and it touched various issues regarding international maritime sector.

    [41] Cyprus launches Programme of Help to Palestinians

    NICOSIA, 29/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The Foreign Ministry has announced the launch of a Programme of Help to the Palestinian Authority, with the arrival in Cyprus on September 30 of 21 Palestinian senior police officers, who will attend a training seminar at the Police Academy for four weeks.

    The Programme of Help, approved by the Cabinet in August 2005, will continue in November with another training seminar for other 21 Palestinian senior police officers and in December with a training seminar for 21 Palestinian senior civil servants.

    The foreign ministry said the Programme of Help is concrete proof of the government's will to contribute to institutional reforms of the Palestinian Authority, which is of particular importance to its future evolvement to a Palestinian state, as provided by the Quartet's Road Map for the Middle East.

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