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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-10-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

October 22, 2005


  • [01] EU funds' absorption rate 35% in Greece, Commissioner Hubner says
  • [02] EU-funded projects, Commissioner Hubner says
  • [03] Serbian minister announces Kostunica visit to Athens late this month
  • [04] Valinakis praises EU-Russia visa agreement
  • [05] Government denies over-reacting to bird flu scare
  • [06] Turkish authorities must find way for reopening of Halki Theology School, Eurodeputy says
  • [07] Archbishop Christodoulos on Ecumenical Patriarchate and Church-State relations
  • [08] PASOK party official says train accident requires full administrative enquiry
  • [09] PASOK party leader holds talks with Cyprus ambassador to Athens
  • [10] Main opposition PASOK launches web radio station
  • [11] Four new ambassadors present credentials
  • [12] SE Europe Energy Community Treaty to be signed in Athens on October 25
  • [13] Ministers address Economist conference on PPPs
  • [14] Main opposition accuses gov't of 'discrepancy' in deficit reduction target
  • [15] Development minister inaugurates windpower park in the Peloponnese
  • [16] Greek livestock industry has huge growth prospects, report
  • [17] Commission demands Athens suspend what it calls 'illegal tax exempt fund', probe begun
  • [18] Eurostat reveals taxation burden in EU member-states
  • [19] Athens court vindicates OTE in case against Newsphone Hellas
  • [20] EIB signs contract with Piraeus Port Authority
  • [21] Cosmote unveils new logo
  • [22] Greece, China seek closer trade relations
  • [23] Gov't tightens regulation of insurance industry
  • [24] European Taxi Forum begins in Thessaloniki
  • [25] Shipping sector inflows increase 8 pc over January-August period
  • [26] Development minister, Athens mayor inaugurate Greek fashion week events
  • [27] 20th Kosmima exhibit opens in Thessaloniki
  • [28] Strong earthquake rocks Samos, Chios - Same epicenter as Monday's quakes - Seismologists on alert
  • [29] Greek tanker missing after pirate attack off Somalia
  • [30] Archbishop of Albania an honorary member of Athens Academy
  • [31] 'Abduction of Europa' sculpture donated to EU by Crete
  • [32] Priceless Byzantine icon from Italy in Thessaloniki from Monday
  • [33] Defense ministry organizes meeting for the combatting of drug addiction
  • [34] Alexandria patriarch receives defense ministry delegation
  • [35] DEKA trial to resume on Monday
  • [36] Relief organizations to head for Djibouti with medical aid
  • [37] Translator, sect's to defense team at Nuremberg Trials to appear at Athens event
  • [38] New drivers one fifth of road accident deaths, experts claim
  • [39] Illegal immigrants discovered hidden in tourist coach
  • [40] Greece honors three Austrian gold medalists of 2004 Athens
  • [41] Cyprus says Turkish F-16 to show occupation of EU member
  • [42] Green Line Regulation for movement of citrus implemented
  • [43] Cyprus supports cooperation on avian influenza with Turkey

  • [01] EU funds' absorption rate 35% in Greece, Commissioner Hubner says

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    The absorption of Community funds by Greece for regional development programs totalled 35 percent in September, according to official European Union figures, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hubner said here on Friday.

    Speaking to reporters during a news conference in Athens, Hubner said she hoped that this figure could be raised during the ongoing year, while she stressed that payment applications were usually submitted with the European Commission even at the end of each year.

    She also expressed satisfaction over her cooperation with Greek authorities and for Athens' commitment to introduce necessary adjustments, although she noted she was not satisfied with absorption of funds of structural programs.

    Hubner said Greece could lose around 200 million euros from the Cohesion Fund, although she stressed that the figure was very low compared with the total funds from the Cohesion Fund (around three billion euros). The Commissioner also underlined that the European Commission helped member-states to timely prepare for absorption of EU funds and to maximize the use of Community funding at the national level.

    Meetings with ministers: During her meeting with Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias, Hubner brought up the disposal of toxic waste issue, to which the Greek minister replied that three joint ministerial decisions on the matter will be issued in November.

    On his part, Souflias told reporters that he briefed Hubner on a new legal framework pushed through by the Karamanlis government for tendering large public works -- a pre-election pledge aimed at fighting corruption and increasing transparency in the sector -- while reiterating that the ministry has requested an increase of 300 million euros due to a redistribution of 3rd Community Support Framework funds.

    He also said the ministry's EU funding absorption rate is satisfactory, sans Operational Program for the Environment-related projects, for which he said initial plans will be revised.

    The EU Commissioner also met with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, as talks focused on EU fiscal prospects for the 2007-2013 period.

    Afterwards, the deputy minister said he reiterated a position promoted by Greece and other members of the so-called "Friends of Cohesion" group for increased Cohesion Fund allocations.

    "A primary objective for our country is the fair distribution of enlargement costs and the guaranteeing of Cohesion Funds in favor of the developmental process of both new and older member-states. We would like a resolution to the problem as soon as possible. This is why Greece has requested that the issue of the EU budget for 2007-2013 be discussed at next week's informal summit meeting," Valinakis said.

    Greece must move faster in realizing

    [02] EU-funded projects, Commissioner Hubner says

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Greece must execute projects co-funded by the European Union at a quicker pace, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hubner said during a press conference in Athens on Friday.

    She stressed there was no time to waste and said that she was in Greece in order to help resolve any pending issues.

    The European Commission wants to ensure that Greek regions and citizens benefit as much as possible from the EU's regional programs.

    The key to regions making the most of EU funds is timely preparation, according to Hubner.

    She said that following initial discussions regarding the 2007-2013 period, it is obvious that Greek authorities have begun preparations.

    While Greek GDP stands at 82% of the EU average, the gap widens when broken down by region. For example, the GDP in Central Greece stands at 108.9% of the EU-25 average, but falls to 58.4% in western Greece, Hubner noted.

    The same fluctuations appear in terms of the unemployment rate, she said. While the national unemployment rate in Greece reached 10.5% in 2004, on the island of Crete it was as low as 6.8% and as high as 16.6% in western Macedonia, the highest in all EU regions.

    Finally, regarding public procurements and relevant legislation, Hubner said that it must be simplified in order to be more functional in practice.

    She said that the complexity of the legislative framework leads to delays and referrals but added that this is something the Commission has to deal with in the case of the new EU member states as well.

    Hubner confers with FinMin Alogoskoufis: Visiting EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hubner met Friday with Greece's national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis, with whom she discussed matters falling under her portfolio, and matters related to the new Community Support Framework (CSF).

    Alogoskoufis told waiting reporters after the meeting that the discussion had been "constructive", and reiterated that Greece's fiscal deficit would be contained at 2.6 percentage points of GNP in 2006, noting that the reduction would be achieved through cutbacks in expenditures.

    He also said that there was a "very good and constructive collaboration" with the Commissioner, adding that all the major problems inherited from the past were being tackled.

    Alogoskoufis further said that it was important for decisions to be taken on the EU's fiscal prospects for the period 2007-2013.

    Hubner told reporters that the solutions being advanced on the structure of the Third CSF mechanisms aimed at not one single euro being lost vis-a-vis development.

    She described the coordination at the national economy ministry as "good".

    Hubner is also slated to meet with environment, town planning and public works minister George Souflias, development minister Dimitris Sioufas, economy deputy minister Christos Folias, and deputy foreign minister George Valinakis.

    Main opposition leader requests Commission's help for Greece to absorb EU funds: Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou asked European Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Hubner to help Greece in capitalizing on and absorbing EU funds during their meeting in Athens on Friday evening.

    "I asked her to help during upcoming negotiations regarding the Fourth Community Support Framework so that Greece receives its rightful share," he said.

    "I have said and will say again publicly that PASOK will support every such effort," he added.

    Papandreou accused the government of missing opportunities and losing out on funds.

    "I'm afraid that the government is continuing along this course," he said.

    [03] Serbian minister announces Kostunica visit to Athens late this month

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    The excellent climate in relations between Greece and Serbia-Montenegro, expected to be reaffirmed at an end-of-the month meeting here between Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Serbian counterpart Vojislav Kostunica, was under-scored Friday at the 1st Greece-Serbia Business Council meeting, an event opened by Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and Serbia's Minister for international economic relations Milan Parivodic.

    It was the latter who announced Kostunica's visit to Greece, as the Serbian prime minister will reportedly meet with his Greek counterpart as well as President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and main opposition leader George Papandreou on Oct. 31. According to an unofficial itinerary, Kostunica will travel to the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki the next day. His visit to northern Greece will also reportedly include a brief stop at the nearby Orthodox monastic community of Mount Athos.

    Speaking to reporters after the morning session of the meeting, Parivodic said bilateral trade has reached the 200-million-euro mark, whereas even more interesting is the fact that it is now equally balanced between the two Balkan countries.

    The Serbian minister again reiterated that total Greek investment in his country stands at 1.1 billion euros. Moreover, he said Belgrade's target for 2005 is two billion dollars in new foreign direct investments (FDIs), and US$2.5 billion for 2006.

    "If two or three issues are resolved we will surprise Europe with the number of foreign direct investments we'll attract. Serbia is still terra nova. The rate of FDIs will be more intense (for Serbia-Montenegro) because we've lost time, in relation to the rest of eastern Europe, and we have to fill the gap," he said.

    In inaugurating the business council meeting, both Stylianidis and Parivodic called entrepreneurs to take advantage of the excellent political climate and legislative framework provided by the two governments in order to proceed with new investments.

    Stylianidis pointed to the sectors of transport and energy, and stressed the importance of an agreement to be signed in Athens next week regarding the unification of SE Europe in the energy sector.

    He also reiterated the commitment of Greece and Karamanlis for implementation of a Greek plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (ESOAB), under which 250 million euros are earmarked for Serbia. Additionally, he stressed that the roadway "Axis X" linking Thessaloniki with central Europe was a project of absolute priority.

    Referring to Serbia-Montenegro's European prospect, Stylianidis said that "we are following Serbia's course with vital interest and will back its European prospect with all our strength".

    On his part, Parivodic again expressed appreciation for Athens' backing of Serbia-Montenegro's European prospects, adding that "we also hope to have Greece's support for our membership to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which we desire as soon as possible".

    Parivodic, who headed a large Serbian delegation comprised of four deputy ministers and the heads of two of the country's top chambers, called on Greek investors to increase investments in Serbia which, according to a recent World Bank report, was the top country in terms of speed of reforms in 2004.

    The Serbian minister said infrastructure, energy, trade, tourism and the foodstuffs sectors were the "choice" areas of investment opportunity in his country.

    Turning to the Greek entrepreneurs, he said that neither a referendum on Montenegro, nor the Kosovo question, would negatively influence the investment climate, while reiterating the importance of implementing Athens' reconstruction plan.

    Greece, Serbia discuss tourism cooperation: Tourism Deputy Minister Anastasios Liaskos met here on Friday with visiting Serbian Deputy Minister for Trade, Tourism and Services Vlajko Senic, as talks focused on ways to promote bilateral tourism cooperation.

    The meeting, also attended by Serbian Tourism Organization Director Milica Cubrilo, touched on Serbian plans to hold a bilateral tourism forum in Belgrade next spring that will attract representatives from the tourism sector.

    [04] Valinakis praises EU-Russia visa agreement

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Friday praised a recent EU-Russia agreement over easing entry procedures for citizens of the latter, saying visa simplification will increase the number of Russians choosing Greece for holidays and make many EU citizens' travel to Russia easier and less expensive.

    The accord must still be ratified by all 25 member-states and Russia's Duma.

    The EU agreed this month agreed to facilitate visas for Russians visiting Europe in exchange for Moscow agreeing to re-admit people who illegally emigrated to the Union.

    The European Union had pressed for those commitments in response to Moscow's demand that the bloc relax visa restrictions.

    [05] Government denies over-reacting to bird flu scare

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Friday denied that the government had damaged the prospects of the poultry trade by over-reacting to a suspected incident of bird flu. He also stressed that there was no question of a cabinet reshuffle.

    "From the first, we [the government] noted the need to keep calm and that there was no cause for concern. We were proved right. Greek authorities informed EU services, as they were required, of all the facts in the case. Everything was done according to procedure," Antonaros said.

    Concerning the damage to poultry farmers, the spokesman said that the buying patterns of Greek consumers would quickly return to normal after the latest tests on the bird that had initially caused the scare were found free of the H5 virus.

    He also strenuously denied that the premier had asked Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Bassiakos to avoid appearing on television after Thursday.

    PASOK accuses manner with which gov't handled the bird flu issue: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Friday accused the government's handling of the issue of the avian flu, noting that Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos "finally disappeared."

    Athanassakis referred in particular on the issue of the blow dealt to Greece's poultry farming, attributing responsibility to minister Basiakos and the New Democracy government, which, he said, "also dealt with this issue with incredible incompetency and awkwardness."

    The spokesman said that Epirus, Evia and Megara, regions which concentrate 90 per cent of poultry farming, "are in danger of extensive economic losses."

    He called on the government for the businesses to be compensated.

    Alavanos criticizes gov't over bird flu reaction: Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) president Alekos Alavanos on Friday toured several poultry farms in the Megara region of west Attica prefecture, west of Athens, where he again called on the government to reassure consumers that consumption of properly prepared poultry meats and eggs entails no risk whatsoever.

    His comments came after a distinct decline in the sale of poultry in the domestic market, following last week's bird flu scare from a single suspected instance on a small eastern Aegean island.

    Alavanos charged that the government over-reacted, adding that it should now restore any damages sustained by producers and also overturn what he called a "climate of panic."

    [06] Turkish authorities must find way for reopening of Halki Theology School, Eurodeputy says

    ISTANBUL 22/10/2005 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Eurodeputy and rapporteur for Turkey Camiel Eurlings, addressing a meeting organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Group of Christian Democrats and European Democrats on Friday, said "the Turkish authorities must definitely find a way for the reopening of the Halki School of Theology."

    Eurlings said that since the visit to Turkey by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999 until today promises given on the issue have not been observed and called on the Turkish authorities to take specific steps apart from promises.

    "The European Commission's report last December points out that, despite the fact that the Turkish constitution consolidates religious freedom and faith, serious problems exist such as the inability of minority benevolent institutions to obtain a legal entity and to train clergymen," the Dutch Eurodeputy said.

    He also said that "difficulties facing religious minorities must come to an end, the Halki School of Theology must operate as soon as possible and the ecumenical character of the Patriarch must be recognized."

    A new report by the Commission will be made public on November 9, he added and stressed that "since the last report until today very little progress has been achieved."

    In an address at the same meeting, the Metropolitan of Austria Michael said that Turkey's accession course gives the European Union the opportunity to prove that it does not care only for economic or military and political interests but for spiritual ones as well which necessitate religious and minority freedom.

    [07] Archbishop Christodoulos on Ecumenical Patriarchate and Church-State relations

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, after remarks made by the Turkish deputy prime minister disputing the ecumenical character of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, in a statement on Friday supported Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.

    Christodoulos expressed his regret about what is going on at the Patriarchate and added that he was at the side of the Patriarch and supported him in any position he has in the system of the Orthodox Churches. He concluded:"The Ecumenical Patriarch is the first bishop of Orthodoxy."

    However, the archbishop answered to those who a few days ago, raised the issue of clearing up the issue of relations between the Church and the State.

    "The Church does not give basis to any private initiatives because the Church is an institution. We will enter the procedure of discussion and the Hierarchy will have the word only when the issue is raised by the government," he said.

    It was Christodoulos' name day on Friday.

    [08] PASOK party official says train accident requires full administrative enquiry

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party Deputy and Employment, Social Affairs and Health sector chief Evangelos Venizelos on Friday accused Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis of following the "tactic of shameful silence."

    Venizelos said that the intercity train accident, which occurred on Thursday near Thessaloniki, "necessitates, apart from a judicial, a full administrative enquiry as well, taking into consideration that a few weeks ago, and in a festive manner, the transport minister himself had used this route and had made statements, assuming in this way relevant responsibility precisely because he wished to obtain political benefit. We are awaiting his explanations now."

    [09] PASOK party leader holds talks with Cyprus ambassador to Athens

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou held talks with the ambassador of Cyprus to Athens George Georgis on Friday afternoon.

    Georgis briefed Papandreou during the meeting on the recent visit to Cyprus by President Karolos Papoulias, while the PASOK leader briefed him on his visit to Turkey.

    The ambassador of Cyprus offered Papandreou two books written by him, one of which is titled "Istanbul of George Seferis" and the other "The first Greek-Turkish dispute."

    [10] Main opposition PASOK launches web radio station

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK's web radio station will kick off its programming on Saturday morning with a live broadcast of PASOK President George Papandreou's address at the Institute of Civic Education.

    The station aims to provide web visitors with news related to the party's activities, including the president's statements and interviews, meetings, press conferences and statements of PASOK Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis.

    PASOK aims to provide real-time coverage and is the first to try and communicate with its constituency through this medium.

    The web radio is accessible at:

    [11] Four new ambassadors present credentials

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Four new ambassadors presented their credentials to President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Friday, specifically, Cote d'Ivoire envoy Richard Gbaka Zaby; Afghanistan envoy Humayun Tandar; United Arab Emirates envoy Abdulhamid Abdulfatah Kazim, and Liberian envoy Dudley McKinley Thomas.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis represented the government at the ceremonies.

    [12] SE Europe Energy Community Treaty to be signed in Athens on October 25

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    The Energy Community Treaty of the countries of southeastern Europe will be signed in Athens on October 25 with the cooperation of the European Commission, the British presidency and the Greek government.

    The founding of the Energy Community concerns the creation of a unified electric energy and natural gas market, among the countries of the Balkan region and the wider region of southeastern Europe, with the ultimate purpose of its incorporation in the European Union's internal energy market, a foreign ministry press release said on Friday.

    The implementation of the Treaty will contribute decisively to close cooperation between the countries of southeastern Europe and the EU and to support for the Stability Pact for southeastern Europe which aims at the consolidation of peace, stability and the development of the region, it said.

    This is also the aim of Greece, particularly now that it has the presidency of the Cooperation Process of the member-states of southeastern Europe.

    On the occasion of the signing of the treaty, the foreign ministry is organizing a press conference for diplomatic reporters on Monday October 25, at the foreign ministry, on the theme "Greece's position and role in southeastern Europe and the Balkans".

    [13] Ministers address Economist conference on PPPs

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Minister of Health and Social Solidarity Nikitas Kaklamanis, Minister of Tourism Development Dimitris Avramopoulos and Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Friday addressed the Economist conference "New Investment Opportunities in Greece through Public-Private Partnerships."

    Kaklamanis termed PPPs "a significant initiative that will contribute greatly to development efforts in every sector of the Greek economy, including that of health care."

    According to Kaklamanis, new health care units and hospitals will be part of the National Health System and accessible to all citizens.

    "I disagree with those who claim that PPPs mean privatization of the National Health System. I personally love the health system's public status, but I don't believe that PPPs pose a threat to health care as a public commodity," he said.

    On his part, Avramopoulos acknowledged that present circumstances make the partnering of the public and private sectors - particularly in tourism - a necessity.

    Avramopoulos said that public-private partnerships provide a good balance between the state and entrepreneurship.

    "These partnerships provide an alternative avenue in achieving the right mix of state and private initiative, an avenue that leads to better infrastructure, better public services, to a better, more functional and more effective state," he said.

    Petralia spoke about public-private partnerships in connection with the post-Games use of Olympic venues.

    She said that the new law regarding post-Games use of facilities aims at improving citizens' quality of life, accelerating economic development and business activity, attracting foreign and domestic investment and creating jobs.

    She added, however, that the facilities will stay under the state's ownership.

    Finally, Petralia said that the first phase of tenders for three Olympic venues (Badminton, Canoe-Kayak and the Int'l Broadcasting Centre) have been completed, while the process for the Agios Kosmas facilities are under way.

    [14] Main opposition accuses gov't of 'discrepancy' in deficit reduction target

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Friday noted a "discrepancy" in the government's projections regarding the deficit in 2006.

    Athanassakis said that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, in a written statement he sent on Thursday to the Economist conference, had said the deficit in 2006 was expected to fall to 2.8% of GDP, while Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, speaking at the same conference, said it would be reduced to 2.6%.

    Athanassakis said that according to the Finance Ministry's website, as of Thursday morning, the deficit is to fall to 2.8% in 2006.

    The PASOK spokesman also accused the government of failing to meet the goals of the 2005 budget, citing reduction in revenue, lack of cost containment and the increase of public debt as evidence.

    [15] Development minister inaugurates windpower park in the Peloponnese

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday inaugurated a windpower park in the prefect of Argolida, in the Peloponnese.

    The windpower park is the first integrated such program in the Peloponnese region and it took around 18 months to be completed. The park includes 12 winpower generators and will have a production capacity of 70 million KW. Energy produced by the park will be distributed to Public Power Corporation's electricity grid in the country.

    The Greek minister, in his inauguration speech, said it was a remarkable project for the region that would benefit the country as a whole. "The government is committed to earmark funds from a Fourth Community Support Framework for the development of Greek regions," Sioufas said.

    A Development ministry's plan to deregulate the country's electricity, natural gas and bio-fuel markets aims to secure 20 percent of energy needs from alternative energy sources by 2010.

    [16] Greek livestock industry has huge growth prospects, report

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's livestock industry is constantly downgraded, compared with other European Union member-states, with the sector's product deficit steadily rising leading to higher imports, a report by the Panhellenic Confederation of Farm Cooperatives (PASEGES) said on Friday.

    The report was presented during a two-day seminar on livestock held in Thessaloniki. The report, however, stressed that the Greek livestock sector had huge growth prospects.

    The livestock industry accounted for around 27 percent of farm production balance in the country, compared with 70 percent farming and 3.0 percent fishery, while the EU showed a more balance rate, of 50-50 percent between the livestock and farming sectors.

    The report said the sector's main problems were production costs, inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional training, a chronic problem with animal food, lack of proper organizing and delays in improving structures. Problems related with a Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are inadequate national reserve to offer rights to new producers and a relatively low quota of cow milk in the country.

    The report also agreed with PASEGES in opting for a system with a single subsidy and disconnecting subsidies from production. It also agreed with withholding a percentage from subsidies to fund quality programs in the country. The report also supported electronic marking of animal stock and recommended that the measure to be adopted before 2008.

    Speaking to ANA, PASEGES member, Panagiotis Peveretos, said there 130,000 cattle breeders in Greece, but stressed that they were not organized. Peveretos urged for a new strategy for the livestock industry and for more money to support research since 35 pct of lamb died from diseases that could be effectively combated.

    [17] Commission demands Athens suspend what it calls 'illegal tax exempt fund', probe begun

    BRUSSELS 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    The European Commission on Friday announced that it will demand from Greece that it immediately suspend the granting of what it called "illegal state aid" under the guise of tax breaks, as specifically envisioned under national law 3220/2004.

    In qualifying its decision, the Commission said Athens had never notified its services of the law.

    According to a Commission press release issued on Friday: "This law reduces the tax base of many companies in various sectors by 35 percent of their profits. This measure was never notified to the Commission and is therefore illegal.

    "At the same time the Commission has launched an in-depth investigation as it has doubts that such aid would be compatible with EC Treaty state aid rules (Article 87) because of the serious risk that it will distort competition in a way liable to affect trade between Member States. If the Commission finds the aid to be contrary to the EC Treaty, it may require Greece to recover the unlawful aid paid to undertakings, including interest."

    According to statements by EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes, "...when Member States distort competition with illegal state aid I will seek the most effective remedy at my disposal, including an injunction to suspend the measures."

    The development marks the first time in recent years, according to the Commission, that it has required a member-state to suspend the granting of state aid before a final decision by the Commission.

    The Commission's press release reads:

    "Article 2 of the Greek Law 3220/2004 allows companies to deduct up to 35 percent of profits in 2003 and 2004 from their tax base for projects in a series of sectors -- including production of textiles and basic metals, manufacturing of automobiles, energy production, mining, intensive agriculture and fishery, large international trading companies and specific tourism undertakings). The companies must use their tax exempt income to finance expenses, such as construction, expansion and modernization of plants and buildings, purchase of new equipment or vehicles, environmentally-motivated investments, leasing costs, studies, training, patent registration and many others.

    Thousands of companies can claim this benefit directly from the tax authorities as the aid scheme is part of the Greek tax system..."

    [18] Eurostat reveals taxation burden in EU member-states

    BRUSSELS 22/10/2005 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)

    The total tax burden in 2003 (meaning the total amount of taxes and social insurance contributions) corresponded in the European Union's 25 member-states to 40.3 percent of their GDP.

    Differences between member-states are considerable. In Greece, the total tax burden corresponded in 2003 to 36.2 percent of GDP. In Lithuania it corresponded to 28.5 and in Latvia to 28.9, while in Sweden it was 50.8 and in Denmark 48.8.

    According to a study by the European Statistical Service, in 2003 tax on consumption in Greece was 17.9 percent, on labor 40.9 and on capital 17. The corresponding percentages in the 25-nation EU were 22 percent, 35.9 and 25.4. In the eurozone the figures were 21.5 percent, 36.8 and 28.2.

    As regards the maximum legal tax burden on private persons, in Greece it amounted to 40 percent in 2005 compared to 41.1 which is the EU average and 45.4 the eurozone average.

    Lastly, the legal maximum tax burden for companies was 32 percent in Greece in 2005, while in the EU 26.3 and the eurozone 30.3.

    [19] Athens court vindicates OTE in case against Newsphone Hellas

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    An Athens first-instance court on Friday found in favor of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) in a case against its competitor Newsphone Hellas. The case concerns the new directory-inquiries numbers - of which OTE and Newsphone operate just two - that were introduced after state-run OTE's monopoly of the market ended and the now defunct OTE number 131 was scrapped.

    The court ruled that Newsphone Hellas had to radically change its advertising campaign for its directory-inquiries service and remove any reference to the 131 number from all visual, audio or printed advertising material. The company was also ordered to avoid any combination, correlation or link between the 131 number and the company's 11880 directory-inquiries code.

    In addition, Newsphone Hellas was required to state its company's name in all television, printed or audio messages.

    If the company fails to comply, the court has imposed a 3,000 fine for every mention of the 131 number and every failure to state Newsphone's company name.

    The ruling was based on arguments that Newsphone's advertising campaign was misleading for consumers, who have associated the 131 number with the directory-inquiries service provided by OTE, and thus tend to use the 11880 code because they confuse it with OTE'S new directory-inquiries number 11888.

    OTE's arguments were also based on price differences between the two services that make confusion damaging to consumers, since OTE charges a flat rate of 0.34 per call to its 11888 number while Newsphone Hellas charges 0.013 per second but imposes a one-minute minimum charge that comes to 0.78.

    [20] EIB signs contract with Piraeus Port Authority

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    The Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) on Friday signed a contract for the funding of a project to expand Piraeus port's cargo facilities.

    The contract was signed by OLP chief executive Nikos Anastasopoulos and EIB vice-president Gerlando Genouardi in the presence of Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis.

    Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said it was an important day for the ministry, the Greek economy and port authorities in the country, adding that the loan contract with EIB was a first step in a long road ahead.

    "The financial protocol sets the basis for cooperation between Greece and the European Investment Bank for projects in the period 2005-2015 in all Greek ports. The protocol covers a wide range of projects, combined with port development, such as infrastructure and roads," Kefaloyiannis said.

    The Greek minister said the ministry would soon announce a tender for hiring a technical consultant.

    [21] Cosmote unveils new logo

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Cosmote, Greece's leading mobile telephony operator based on the number of its subscribers, on Friday unveiled its new corporate logo, signaling the beginning of a new chapter in the company's future.

    Its new logo was designed on the lines and shape of sound waves, a symbol of human communication, while at the same time resemble the shape of ancient theater or stadium, reminding the country's history and combining tradition with modern achievements.

    A Cosmote announcement said the company has developed into one of the strongest players in Southeastern Europe, with activities in Albania, Bulgaria, Skopje and Romania, covering a population of around 45 million people.

    Cosmote's chief executive, Evaggelos Martigopoulos said the company's new image signaled the beginning of a new era. "When you are ahead, the challenge is to surpass yourself and set the goals for the future," Martigopoulos said.

    [22] Greece, China seek closer trade relations

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday met with visiting Chinese Minister of Industry and Commerce Wang Zhongfu and discussed ways to improve trade relations between the two countries.

    The Greek minister asked for better coordination to improve inspections on Chinese products' specifications, sold in the Greek market, to avoid incidents putting consumers' health at risk and damaging the image of Chinese products internationally. Sioufas also asked for Mr Zhongfu's contribution to boost Greek exports to China (such as olive oil and other certified farm and industrial products) while he stressed that Greece could become a gateway and transit center for Chinese products to Europe.

    The Chinese minister asked for Greek government's expertise on competition matters, market function, advertising and consumer protection. Mr Sioufas wished for successful Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

    [23] Gov't tightens regulation of insurance industry

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou warned that the government will be stepping up its monitoring of the insurance industry, during his address at the 9th Insurance Agents National Conference on Friday.

    "The practice of certain insurance companies that fail to fulfill requirements regarding their reserves, while at the same time engaging in unfair competition at the expense of those insurance companies which comply with the law, undermines the insurance industry's present and future course," he said.

    He called on insurance companies to base their growth on the provision of better products and services rather than "looking for ways to avoid fulfilling their obligations. It would be better if they complied with the laws by increasing their share capital, restructuring, merging and seeking strategic alliances."

    Papathanassiou said that by increasing inspections and monitoring the industry more closely, the government aims to protect the interests of citizens and fair competition.

    Until an independent regulatory agency is set up, the ministry's responsible department in cooperation with an international auditing firm, will carry out inspections of the sector.

    [24] European Taxi Forum begins in Thessaloniki

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    The future of taxis in Europe is the topic of discussions at the 1st European Taxi Forum, taking place in the northern city of Thessaloniki at the initiative of the Panhellenic Taxi Federation and which is under the auspices of the Macedonia and Thrace ministry.

    The aim of the conference is to examine the legal framework of taxis all over Europe and to ascertain differences between countries enabling a process to begin in the future with the purpose of unifying the institutional framework on the operation of taxis in all European countries.

    Minister of Macedonia and Thrace Nikolaos Tsiartsionis inaugurated the conference, saying that "the state has shown its interest in practice on the development and modernization of the sector with such activities as financial support to facilitate the replacement of taxi vehicles with new ones having anti-pollutant technology."

    The minister further said that "efforts for the renewal and modernization of your sector will continue with the purpose of providing modern high-level services to citizens, facilitating the work of taxi drivers and upgrading the quality of life in urban centers in general. They are arrangements which meet the models and specifications which are applied in Europe and internationally."

    He also mentioned that 43.5 million euros were provided for the replacement of taxis with new ones and 9,500 taxis have been replaced on a nationwide scale.

    [25] Shipping sector inflows increase 8 pc over January-August period

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    The increase in shipping sector inflows is continuing, according to an announcement by the merchant marine ministry.

    Temporary data provided by the Bank of Greece showed that shipping sector inflows during the January-August period this year amounted to 9,459.9 million euros compared to 8,756.3 million euros during the corresponding period in 2004 (marking an increase of 8 percent).

    In the month of August alone, shipping sector inflows totalled 1,212 million euros as against 1,096.7 million euros in the corresponding month last year, showing an increase of 10.51 percent.

    [26] Development minister, Athens mayor inaugurate Greek fashion week events

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas and Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyiannis inaugurated events at the Zappeion Mansion in Athens on Friday evening on the occasion of the second Greek fashion week (Diners Athens Collections In Style).

    It has now become an institution of the fashion week that is being organized for the second consecutive time by the Panhellenic Society of Fashion Designers.

    Thirty-three Greek designers are presenting their creations for the spring and summer of 2006 with the purpose, as it was stressed, of Greek fashion becoming known in an effort to enable Greek designers to cross the country's borders united.

    Sioufas said fashion is an element of culture and pointed out at the same time that fashion is the market's engine. Greece has promoted arts but fashion was also born here and now with the support of the state it will also cross the Greek borders to find its position on the world's map.

    [27] 20th Kosmima exhibit opens in Thessaloniki

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Helexpo President Aristotelis Thomopoulos inaugurated the 20th Kosmima exhibit, featuring jewelry, watches, precious stones and equipment, in Thessaloniki on Friday.

    The international exhibit brings together 181 Greek companies and 69 foreign businesses from 16 countries, such as Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, UK, Iran and Turkey.

    The exhibit, which will run through Monday, aims to develop business relations between Greek and international jewelers and others active in the industry.

    [28] Strong earthquake rocks Samos, Chios - Same epicenter as Monday's quakes - Seismologists on alert

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    A strong earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale rocked the islands of Samos and Chios in the eastern Aegean in the first hours of Friday, causing some panic, but no damage was immediately reported. The earthquake, which struck at 00:40 a.m., emanating from the same epicenter in the Aegean Sea near the opposite Turkish coast as the twin 6.0 and 5.9 Richter tremblers that jolted the same region on Monday.

    Seismologists were on alert after Friday's quake, which was followed by intense post-seismic activity, with the strongest aftershock recorded just four minutes after the main quake, with a magnitude of 5.3 Richter.

    Friday's quake, like Monday's, was felt in the Aegean islands, the Cyclades, Evia, and as far as Attica prefecture.

    According to the Athens National Observatory's Geodynamic Institute, the earthquake was recorded at 00:40 a.m. (2140 GMT), with its epicenter in the bay of Sivri Hisar (Seferihisar) in Izmir province, while the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory announced that the epicenter was pinpointed at 430 kilometers southeast of Thessaloniki, adding that a string of after-shocks have been recorded.

    The quake was felt throughout the entire Aegean islands, but no damage or injuries have been reported in Greece, while in Turkey, Izmir governor Kagan Goksal said 15 people have been hospitalized due to heart attacks or injuries suffered while jumping from buildings in the panic that ensued during the quake. He also said the roofs of five buildings, three of them empty, had been damaged in the quake. It was later learned that one of the men who suffered a heart attack had died.

    Two strong earthquakes measuring 6.0 and 5.9 on the Richter scale jolted the Aegean islands on Monday morning within a space of four hours, causing no damage as the quake struck in the sea between Chios-Ikaria islands and the coast of Izmir, in Turkey, but were felt throughout the Aegean islands and as far as Athens. The first trembler was recorded at 8:46 a.m., at a distance of 450 kilometers southeast of Thessaloniki, according to seismographs in Athens and Thessaloniki, while a second strong quake was recorded four hours later at 12:46 p.m. Several aftershocks immediately followed the two strong quakes, while the largest in magnitude was 4.6 Richter, occurring between the two powerful shocks.

    Several smaller tremblers have also been recorded in the area over the last 48 hours.

    According to authorities on Samos, the new 6R quake caused concern among the local residents. They also said the quake had been longer in duration than any of the smaller tremblers over the past two days.

    Thessaloniki Aristotelion University Geophysics Laboratory seismologist Christos Papaioannou told the ANA on Friday that the "phenomenon is in development", confirming that the epicenter had been the same as that of last Monday's quakes of the same magnitude.

    It is noted that the Eastern Aegean is a highly seismic region, with the last strong earthquake recorded in 1992, with a magnitude of 6.2 Richter.

    Turkey is criss-crossed by seismic fault lines and small or moderate earthquakes are an almost daily occurrence. A powerful quake measuring 7.4 Richter devastated areas of northwestern Turkey near Istanbul in 1999, killing more than 17,000 people.

    Seismologists on alert: Seismologists were on alert after the new 6 Richter quake on Friday, which they said was followed by intense post-seismic activity, with the strongest aftershock, which registered 5.3 Richter, having been recorded just four minutes after the initial earthquake.

    Seismologists were concerned over what the called the "three sixes" (Monday's 6.0 and 5.9 Richter and Friday's 6.0 Richter quakes) recorded in the same region in the last few days.

    Aristotelion University seismologist Costas Papazahos told ANA that the State needed to implement in the region all the provisions contained in the Xenocrates plan, particularly on Chios and Samos.

    "We seismologists are reserved, because we feel that there is a substantial exacerbation (of seism city) in the region, which will take a long time to normalize," Papazahos said, and did not rule out the possibility of another quake of a somewhat larger magnitude than 6.0 Richter.

    According to Papazahos, following the "three sixes", the aftershocks could continue for up to 2-3 years.

    Similar statements were made by seismologist Gerassimos Houliaras, who said that aftershocks of 3, 4 or even 5 Richter should be anticipated.

    Geodynamic Institute director George Stavrakakis said the area was in a period of increased seism city, but added it was highly unlikely that a new, larger earthquake would occur, while the Institute's research director also said that many aftershocks should be expected.

    Earthquake causes minor damages in Lesvos and Chios museums: Only minor damages were reported by the Old Archaeological Museum of Lesvos and the Archaeological Museum of Chios following the 6.0 Richter earthquake that rocked Samos and Chios at 00:40 am Friday.

    The Archaeological Agency is dealing with the damages according to a Culture Ministry statement.

    The Lesvos museum will remain closed as a precaution.

    No damages were reported in the museums of Samos and Ikaria, two islands that were also jolted by the earthquake.

    The earthquake's epicenter was the same as that of the twin 6.0 and 5.9 Richter tremblers that jolted the same region on Monday.

    [29] Greek tanker missing after pirate attack off Somalia

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    A Greek tanker was reported missing after a special device on the vessel issued an automated "pirate attack" signal as it was sailing off the coast of Somalia on Thursday night, Greek merchant marine ministry sources said.

    The attack was recorded by the special device, while the Greek captain of the Greek-owned Malta-flagged "San Carlos" tanker also informed authorities of the attack on the vessel Thursday night as it was sailing 170 nautical miles off Somalia loaded with gasoil and carrying a 24-member foreign crew.

    The Greek and Somali coastguard authorities as well as Greece's Navy General Staff (GEN) mobilized immediately to locate the tanker immediately after the device issued the piracy signal.

    The signal was received in Greece's port city of Piraeus by the managing company "Athetia Balker/Trinity", which immediately informed the GEN Operations Room, and also in Malta.

    The Operations Room, in cooperation with the port authorities of Somalia and Malta immediately initiated a search for the tanker via high-technology radio-electronic devices.

    At time of press, the tanker, which had been sailing in a dangerous "piracy" region, has not been located.

    Piracy has become an epidemic in the unpatrolled waters off the coast of Somalia, where at least 23 ship hijackings and attempted seizures have been recorded since mid-March, according to figures from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which has reported an unprecedented increase in the number of serious attacks of Somalia.

    Somali waters have been the scene of repeated acts of piracy and vessels have been advised to keep at least 80 kilometers (50 nautical miles) from the coast.

    Pirates on Wednesday seized the Malta-registered "MV Pagania" some 90 nautical miles off the Somali coast, and were demanding 700,000 dollars for the release of the ship and the crew.

    [30] Archbishop of Albania an honorary member of Athens Academy

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    The Orthodox Archbishop of Tirana and all Albania Anastasios was made an honorary member of the Athens Academy on Friday, following a secret vote by its members.

    An announcement by the Academy said that honorary membership was awarded to Greeks and foreigners that had made a significant contribution through their works or donations to the Greek nation, the Athens Academy or humanity in general.

    Archbishop Anastasios has had a long and distinguished career as a theologian and senior cleric, both in Greece and abroad.

    He has been an honorary member of the Moscow Theological Academy since 1998 and received the Dimitriu Staniloae diploma - the highest distinction for theologists established in Romania - in the year 2003.

    In 2004, meanwhile, he was elected vice-president of the Meeting of European Churches.

    [31] 'Abduction of Europa' sculpture donated to EU by Crete

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    A monumental statue depicting the abduction of Europa by Zeus, a well-known ancient Greek myth believed to symbolically depict the settlement of Europe, has been donated to the European Parliament by the municipality of Aghios Nikolaos on the island of Crete.

    The monument was sculpted by Nikos and Pantelis Sotiriadis and is destined to stand outside the entrance of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where it will be unveiled next Tuesday by Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos in a grand ceremony organized by the Crete regional authority with the assistance of three Greek MEPs.

    The project was initiated by the two brothers that sculpted the monument and funded by a local Cretan businessman, while Crete's regional authority undertook to arrange and pay for its transfer and placement, as well as the unveiling ceremony that it hopes will promote Crete abroad.

    Apart from promoting Crete's history and culture, the gift is also a tribute to the European Union's vital role in the island's development, through the funds given by Community programs.

    The sculpture is built of bronze, steel and glass that has been entirely hand-crafted and weighs nearly six tones.

    According to myth, the Phoenician princess Europa was abducted by the god Zeus, who turned himself into a bull and carried her on his back to the island of Crete, where he seduced her and founded the lineage of the ancient Minoan kings.

    [32] Priceless Byzantine icon from Italy in Thessaloniki from Monday

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    A priceless Byzantine-era icon of St. Demetrius, patron saint of Thessaloniki, will arrive in the northern Greek city on Monday, where it will remain on display for about a month.

    The rare icon is on loan from a museum in the Italian town of Sasso Ferrato and was requested for celebrations around the October 28 national holiday in Thessaloniki, when Greeks celebrate their resistance to the Axis powers of WWII. The holiday comes just two days before the feast day of St. Demetrius, which this year also marks 1,700 years since the saint's martyrdom.

    The valuable relic will be officially handed over on Monday afternoon in the ancient Agora and will be on public display in the Church of St. Demetrius. A press conference on the icon's arrival was held on Friday by Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and Thessaloniki Metropolitan Anthimos, attended by the head of the Italian Institute of Thessaloniki.

    The 13th-century icon is a miniature, measuring just 9x6 centimeters, and portrays the saint in military uniform, bearing a lance and a shield, against a gold background. It was taken to Italy from Constantinople before the city was sacked and this is the second time it will be traveling outside Italy's borders, after it was loaned for an exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum.

    According to experts, the icon has historic as well as artistic value, being an example of cooperation between Greeks and the Catholic humanists that helped usher in the Renaissance.

    [33] Defense ministry organizes meeting for the combatting of drug addiction

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    The National Defense Ministry, at an event organized at the War Museum on Friday, called on all the political parties to support the struggle against drug addiction "which constitutes a major national matter."

    Parliament Vice President George Sourlas expressed his concern over the stance of the international community in the confrontation of drug addiction and proposed that a team of detoxified individuals from narcotics be set up as they have gone through the problem and rid themselves of the addiction and can better brief youth.

    Deputy National Defense Minister Vassilis Michaloliakos, who opened the event, said that "the policy of the military leadership the National Defense Ministry is supportive in the society's difficult and continuous battle against narcotics." He added that "we also help the overwhelming majority of our youth who come to serve their duty, to remain clean, escaping the temptation of false happiness."

    According to data made public, depression constitutes the main reason for men using narcotic substances. Sixty-three per cent of users say that they use substances as an answer against depressive symptoms. Eighty-nine percent of users with major depression take resort to drugs.

    Alcoholism and the abuse of substances is related to a great extent to suicide. Fifty per cent of suicides is related to the abuse of substances while for teenagers the percentage reaches 70 per cent.

    [34] Alexandria patriarch receives defense ministry delegation

    ALEXANDRIA 22/10/2005 (ANA/N. Katsikas)

    Alexandria Patriarch Theodoros B' expressed from Egypt on Friday morning his gratitude to the Hellenic Armed Forces for the help they offer to the work of the religious mission in the Church of Africa.

    The patriarch received a delegation of the National Defense Ministry and of the Unions of Retired Officers on the occasion of Saturday's 63rd anniversary of the historic battle of El Alamein.

    [35] DEKA trial to resume on Monday

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    A trial concerning the activities of the Public Securities Company (DEKA) on the Athens bourse in the run-up to the elections of 2000 will resume on Monday, after a medical examiner told the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court on Friday that the defendant G. Kallias was medically fit to stand trial.

    The court rejected a request lodged by Kallias' lawyer to postpone the trial on health grounds but adjourned until Monday to give the defense time to prepare arguments against allowing the Greek State and DEKA to present civil suit claims for damages during the criminal trial.

    On trial before the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court are seven former members of DEKA's board that have been accused of breach of faith and fraud against the state. They allegedly gave orders for DEKA to buy major blocks of shares in public utilities in order to keep the Athens bourse artificially high in the run-up to the April 2000 elections.

    [36] Relief organizations to head for Djibouti with medical aid

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Teams from the Doctors of the World and Pharmacists of the World relief organizations are due to leave on Saturday for Djibouti, in the framework of a joint program financed by Greece's foreign ministry.

    The members of the two organizations, in collaboration with the Greek consular authorities, will deliver medicines and medical equipment to the Paule Faure Centre Pheumono-Physiologie.

    One of the biggest problems faced by Djiboutiis unemployment, which is estimated at 50 percent of the active population.

    Djibouti is plagued by tuberculosis, due to the bad living conditions and congestion of large families, with elderly and children, in limited living quarters.

    While in Djibouti, the representatives of the two organizations will investigate the general humanitarian situation and the needs of the country's citizens.

    [37] Translator, sect's to defense team at Nuremberg Trials to appear at Athens event

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    A Belgian translator, Louis Dirkx, and a German secretary to the defense team at the Nuremberg Trials, Elizabeth Kupfer- Dirkx, will share their insight of the Allies' court proceedings against a handful of the most notorious wartime Nazis during an event early next month at Athens' downtown Book Arcade (Stoa tou Vivliou).

    The event, coming on the 60th anniversary of the commencement of the famous trials, is entitled "The Role of Translators and Interpreters at the Nuremberg Trials".

    The discussion is set for Nov. 4.

    [38] New drivers one fifth of road accident deaths, experts claim

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Young and inexperienced drivers account for 20 per cent of people killed in road accidents, according to a report released on Friday. Road accidents were also listed as the main cause of six deaths a day in Greece, on average, while on an annual basis there are roughly 20,000 road accidents that cause some 2,000 deaths and 30,000 injuries.

    The figures are included in a report on road safety in Greece prepared by civil engineer and transport scientist Athanassios Tsoutras and Greek Transport Institute research scientist Dr. Evangelos Bekiaris, which will be presented at the 11th International Conference of Driving Instructors taking place in Cassandra, Halkidiki on Saturday.

    According to the experts, the human factor plays the most important role in traffic accidents and efforts to reduce road accidents - beyond improvements to the roads and vehicles themselves - must focus on training and providing information to drivers.

    The conference is organized by Greek union of driving instructors and the European Federation of Driving Schools, under the auspices of the transport ministry.

    Conference coordinator Konstantinos Michaelides on Friday stressed the need to provide young people with the means to ensure that they could smoothly and safely enter the traffic system.

    "We have an obligation to provide better training through a modern and efficient system for awarding driving licenses," he said.

    [39] Illegal immigrants discovered hidden in tourist coach

    Athens 22/10/2005 (ANA)

    Authorities discovered 15 illegal immigrants hidden in specially designed compartments aboard a tourist coach early Friday morning at a border crossing on the Greek-Turkish frontier.

    The illegal immigrants were identified as Georgian nationals.

    The coach's two drivers, a local man and a Georgian national, reportedly fled the scene when authorities approached.

    [40] Greece honors three Austrian gold medalists of 2004 Athens

    VIENNA 22/10/2005 (ANA/D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Greece and Athens will honor the three Austrian athletes who won a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, declaring them honorary citizens of the Greek capital.

    The diplomas of their declaration as honorary citizens of Athens will be given on October 25 at a special event at the Greek Embassy in Vienna by Greek Ambassador to Austria Theodoros Sotiropoulos and Alternate Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.

    [41] Cyprus says Turkish F-16 to show occupation of EU member

    NICOSIA 22/10/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Turkey's reaction to send F-16 aircraft to carry out flights over Cyprus in reaction to the National Guard maneuvers ''Nikiforos'' would be a clear confirmation of the continued occupation of Cyprus, an EU member state, by Turkey which is aspiring to become an EU member, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Friday.

    Invited to comment on Friday's report on the website of a Turkish newspaper that Turkey intends to send F-16 fighter jets to Cyprus in response to ''Nikiforos'' military exercise which is being held in the government controlled areas of the Republic, the spokesman replied ''this will prove that the occupation of part of the country which is a full EU member state continues, therefore the occupation of European territory by a country which aspires to become an EU state.''

    Such a possibility should be noted to the EU, the Commission and the European Council, he added.

    The spokesman said it seems that the flight has been announced but advised journalists ''to wait and see how things will progress.''

    [42] Green Line Regulation for movement of citrus implemented

    NICOSIA 22/10/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The European Commission Green Line Regulation allowing the movement of citrus from the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus to the customs area of the EU through the ceasefire line without the imposition of customs duties, has entered into force, the Cypriot government announced on Friday.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides told reporters after a cabinet meeting that ''a relevant proposal was submitted to the European Commission by the government of Cyprus in the framework of its policy for improving the opportunities for economic cooperation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and of Turkish Cypriots with the rest of the EU internal market, as well as for improving the conditions for the unification of the Cyprus economy.''

    Chrysostomides said ''the government considers that the adoption of the Regulation provides significant opportunities to Turkish Cypriots as it allows the movement of citrus, which constitute one third of their total annual exports, in the customs territory of the Community without being subject to any duties.''

    Citrus are among those products exempted from VAT.

    [43] Cyprus supports cooperation on avian influenza with Turkey

    NICOSIA 22/10/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus government said a wider regional cooperation and coordination of action between the governments of Cyprus and Turkey in an effort to handle avian influenza (bird flu) would be a very good start in normalizing relations between the two countries.

    Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the fact that there is a ceasefire line in Cyprus should not prevent taking such measures.

    In a statement, which he read to reporters at the end of Friday's cabinet meeting, the spokesman said the government understands the need to take all measures to prevent the outbreak of avian influenza in Cyprus.

    ''The current situation in Cyprus derives from the existence of a ceasefire line that should not prevent, as far as the Cyprus government is concerned, taking such measures,'' Chrysostomides said.

    The authorities of the Republic, he continued, ''are already acting in such a way to allow the cooperation that is required in taking such measures, with those in the occupied part of Cyprus that can contribute to preventing an outbreak of the virus.''

    ''The government believes that the cooperation is satisfactory,'' he said, adding it should not be interpreted that the cooperation affects the political and legal reality of the area of the Republic of Cyprus which is not under the effective control of the government of the Republic but is under an illegal military cooperation and full political-military control of Turkey,'' Chrysostomides said.

    ''The administration there functions illegally and is only a subordinate administration of the occupying force, as it has been ascertained by the European Court of Human Rights and Security Council Resolutions 541 and 550 which continue to be in effect and commit everyone that this secessionist entity is illegal and no state should help or facilitate it,'' he added.

    ''Within this framework,'' he said, ''the primary concern of the government of Cyprus is to protect the health of all Cypriot citizens, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and all those who are in the Republic of Cyprus and for this reason, it is doing everything that is humanly possible.''

    At the same time, the spokesman added, ''the Cyprus government is fully participating in the pan-European mobilization to prevent the outbreak of the virus.''

    Within this framework, he said, ''the Turkish government is called on to rise to the circumstances and to give the proper direction to the Turkish authorities for the relevant services of the two countries to cooperate and coordinate their actions, as imposed by the European political culture of good neighborliness and normal relations.''

    He expressed the hope that ''Turkey will realize that due to the nature of the danger and way the virus is spread, it must cooperate with the Republic of Cyprus to avert an outbreak of the virus, for the benefit of the health and safety of all its citizens, all European citizens and those citizens of neighboring countries.''

    ''The Cyprus government,'' Chrysostomides said, ''expects the presidency of the EU and the Commission to offer their good services to achieve a wider regional cooperation and coordination of action between the governments of Cyprus and Turkey.''

    This, he continued, would be ''a good start in normalizing relations between Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus, as it is clearly outlined both in the statement of the 25 (EU) on 21st September and in the recently approved Negotiating Framework, to handle such serious dangers to our citizens.''

    Replying to questions, the spokesman said the cooperation could take place in the field of Veterinary Services, registering the paths that migratory birds follow and exchange of information and experience so that there is a common handling of the virus.

    The informal cooperation with the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic, he added, is done through UNFICYP and experts.

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