|Friday, 26 April 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-10-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 29, 2005
 EU budget requires balanced solution, PM tells EU heads of state
LONDON, 29/10/2005 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)A balanced solution concerning the EU budget must be adopted in time for the December Summit, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in comments he made after the informal EU summit held here on Thursday.
Failure to agree on the budget means heavier consequences for the Union's long-term economic planning and difficulty for the EU to proceed with decisions on crucial issues, he added.
Karamanlis noted that according to the Greek government, agreement on the budget should be based on the proposals made by the Luxembourg EU Presidency, since those proposals ensure satisfactory levels of funds for political cohesion.
Regarding the issue of globalization - the summit's main topic of discussion - Karamanlis noted that it brought about many opportunities, but also many challenges as a result of the increased movement of people, services and goods.
"It [globalization] is an issue of great dimensions, making it impossible for individual countries to effectively address it alone.
Therefore, our discussion focused on finding the common denominator which will enable the EU to formulate strategies and to step up actions aimed at dealing with common problems and individual issues, such as unemployment, competitiveness, illegal immigration, and citizens' safety in connection with the EU's foreign policies," Karamanlis said.
He added that Greece emphasized the need for the EU to face the challenges globalization poses while at the same time preserving the European social model.
"That means growth and competitiveness, while at the same time safeguarding social solidarity, social justice and jobs. It is a difficult goal but it's one our policy must serve," he said.
Referring to the fight against terrorism, the Greek premier stressed that any initiatives aimed at ensuring citizens' safety must not be taken at the expense of civil liberties.
Speaking of Thursday's informal summit, Karamanlis said that it gave EU leaders the chance "to exchange views in an informal and friendly setting, as to how we will jointly - within the EU - address the challenges set forth by globalization."
On the sidelines of the summit, Karamanlis met with French President Jacques Chirac, Portuguese President Jose Socrates, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende with whom he discussed the Union's fiscal prospects.
He also met with Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader ahead of a trilateral meeting in Athens on Wednesday.
Finally, the Greek premier met separately with Cyprus Republic President Tassos Papadopoulos.
 PASOK leader attends European Socialist leaders meeting in London
LONDON, 29/10/2005 (ANA/L.Tsirigotakis)British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday night hosted a dinner at 10 Downing Street for European Socialist leaders ahead of Thursday's informal EU Summit here.
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, who attended the dinner, told reporters afterwards that talks focused on "building tomorrow's social Europe, which will be based on values, man, employment, education and research".
"We, European Socialists, are now taking the initiative to define priorities, objectives and the vision of tomorrow's Europe. It was us - Socialists, labor movements and parties - that have created a social Europe. Today, we are saying that we have the historic responsibility to discover again what a social Europe means within a globalized and demanding society, which needs both competition and social coherence," Papandreou said.
According to Papandreou, European socialists also discussed economic development, employment, environmental protection, agriculture's prospects and EU enlargement.
On the issue of enlargement, Papandreou said: "We agreed that it should be handled as a positive element that will capitalize on human resources thus making Europe a Europe of values that will not invest in cheap labor but in values, man, education and research."
Papandreou added that he also had separate meetings with the British prime minister and other party leaders whom he briefed on his latest trip to Turkey.
 Papandreou meets London Mayor Ken Livingstone
LONDON, 29/10/2005 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met London Mayor Ken Livingstone during a visit to the British capital on Thursday. They discussed the Olympic Truce, the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and cooperation in local government and education issues.
Regarding the return of the Parthenon Marbles, Papandreou suggested that the Olympic Games in London in 2012 will be a new opportunity to grant Greece's request for their return. "It would be a move that will be appreciated and recognized throughout the world, and have a positive impact on Britain's image," he said.
Livingstone, for his part, assured Papandreou that he wanted to play an active part in promoting the Olympic Truce in the run-up to the London Games, in his capacity as mayor.
In statements after the meeting, Papandreou reported that Livingstone was prepared to come to Greece to discuss the issues of education and local government.
 Greece celebrates its 1940 'no' to admit Italian troops
ATHENS, 28/10/2005 (ANA)Greeks on Friday celebrated Greece's refusal to allow Italian troops to pass through the country on October 28, 1940 with parades throughout the country.
In Thessaloniki, the annual military parade was held in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias and Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos.
Immediately after the parade, Papoulias greeted handicapped veterans and National Resistance fighters.
"Today is a great day; a historic day and one of national pride," Papoulias told reporters.
"However, it is also a day during which we pay honor and respect to the country's Armed Forces, whose ultimate duty is safeguarding our country's territorial integrity and security," he said.
Turning to current events, Papoulias said that the country will fight in coming days for a just and definitive solution to the Cyprus issue, a solution that will not allow occupational forces in an EU member state.
"We will fight for a mutually-acceptable name for FYROM. We will not accept ultimatums nor blackmail," he said.
Referring to Greek-Turkish relations, Papoulias said that on that issue too Greece is fighting daily to improve relations.
"There is much potential and many benefits to be derived from such cooperation between Greece and Turkey, but Turkey's political and military leadership must take that into account," he said.
On his part, Spiliotopoulos said: "We honor those heroes who sacrificed even their lives so that we today can live under free and democratic rule. Our powerful and modern Armed Forces are an impenetrable shield and a guarantee for the defense and security of Greek citizens, who contribute to the armed forces' modernization."
Spiliotopoulos thanked Greek citizens for their contribution and assured them that the government manages public funds carefully and respectfully.
Also attending the parade were former President of the Republic Christos Sartzetakis, military leaders, government and party officials, as well as local authority officials.
Athens student parade: In Athens, students from the city's schools marched by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Education Minister Marietta Giannakou and main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou attended the annual parade.
In comments she made after the parade, Giannakou said that youngsters understand that this parade as well as other symbols are related to the timeless struggles Greeks underwent in order "to make this land our country."
"Greece is not just a geographic unit, a grand tradition, it is a very beautiful idea; the idea to serve man and our values - those of democracy, freedom, social solidarity and peace," Papandreou said.
"With the great 'No' (Ochi) of 1940 as well as many other eras, including modern ones, Greece shows that when it sets goals it succeeds in meeting them and emerges a universal power," Papandreou concluded.
In Thessaloniki, the traditional high school students' parade held each year to mark the October 28 national holiday took place as usual in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki on Thursday, with the participation of 17 schools in the area and Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos presiding.
Interior Minister attends Patra parades: Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos represented the government at the military and student parades held in Patra.
"I hope that this bright day will always express the future and optimism of this land and its people. Based on this heritage we must vocalize our own 'no' to regression, stagnation, to the interests of those few who are trying to portray Greece as 'grey and leveled out'," he said.
"Based on this heritage we can express our common struggle - beyond party lines and petty conflicts - the struggle to make Greece leader in the protection of principles and values which are inherent to our history and civilization, such as peace, democracy and social justice," Pavlopoulos concluded.
Macedonia-Thrace minister attends Oct. 28 celebrations in Kozani: Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis represented the government during the celebrations held in the northwestern town of Kozani on Friday, marking the anniversary of Greece's refusal to allow the passage of Italian troops through the country during World War II.
"Today's historical anniversary has brought back memories, has moved, encouraged and inspired all of us," he said.
"It has filled us with pride and self-confidence for a secure and prosperous future," Tsiartsionis added.
He referred to Greece's history and its contribution during both World Wars as well as during the Cold War, "always fighting on the side of the free world."
"Greeks will continue to fight for their national rights, they will continue to walk along the path of democracy, development and progress; this path on which we are all fellow travelers," Tsiartsionis said.
 Celebrating historical events national duty, President says
THESSALONIKI, 28/10/2005 (ANA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias referred to the significance of celebrating national holidays shortly before leaving Thessaloniki on Friday, where he attended the annual military parade in celebration of Greece's refusal to allow the passage of Italian troops through the country during WWII.
"Celebration of national holidays is not and should not be simply a matter of tradition. It is and should be a national duty and evidence of our collective self-knowledge," Papoulias said during a farewell luncheon hosted in his honor by Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos.
 President Papoulias visits ruins of Vergina in northern GreeceVERGINA, 28/10/2005, (ANA)
President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Thursday toured the ruins of the ancient Macedonian city of Vergina in northern Greece. Papoulias paid a visit to the archaeological site and museum outside his official program of engagements while in the city of Thessaloniki, where he is attending celebrations for the October 28 national holiday.
In comments afterward, Papoulias also referred the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the use of the name 'Macedonia', noting that those who doubted that Macedonia was Greek should visit the ruins and museums at Vergina.
The Vergina archaeological site was also visited on Thursday by Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos.
 Nation's political leadership issues Oct. 28 message commemorating WWII entry
ATHENS, 28/10/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday issued the premier's traditional message on the occasion of Friday's Oct. 28 national holiday, which commemorates Greece's entry into World War II on that date in 1940.
"Oct. 28 is a day of celebration and pride for the persistence and strength of character shown by Hellenism," the prime minister's message began.
"It is an anniversary for conferring our grateful respect to all those who rose to the occasion against the forces of totalitarianism and violence," Karamanlis stressed.
In referring to the fact that 2005 marks the 60th anniversary since the end of the Second World War, Karamanlis emphasized that the present finds "European citizens demonstrating their faith in the values of ideals of democracy, freedom and cooperation, values that are more effective and beneficial than useless clashes and conflicts."
The Greek prime minister concludes by saying that this legacy serves as a "debt and challenge for our generation as well as a historical debt for each individual, so that peace, democracy, mutual respect act as guides for our society, on the path to prosperity, stability and development."
On her part, Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki noted that the Oct. 28 national holiday symbolizes the Greek people's rejection of totalitarianism, resistance to tyranny, a belief in freedom and national confidence.
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou stressed that the Greek people have defended universal human values, beyond anyone's expectations, during some of history's most crucial moments, "amid difficult junctures and under uneven conditions".
"Greeks have demonstrated that they know how to stand their ground, and that is the message of the 1940 War, one that remains timely for every person and people that want to live free; that knows how to struggle for independence and wants to define their future," he said.
 Government's Oct. 28 message for expatriate Greeks
ATHENS, 28/10/2005 (ANA)"The Greeks of the 1940s had done their duty without expecting any reward, but nevertheless leaving to us a sacred trust: to fight united, whatever the cost and sacrifices demanded, for the good of the country," Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianides said in a message to expatriate Greeks for the October 28 national holiday.
He said the anniversary was a day of memory and pride for those who had fought to the death to uphold the same values that had sealed the Greek nation's course through the centuries: love of freedom and the Greek people's commitment to defend this to the death.
"Paying tribute to those heroic Greeks and their grand struggle is not simply carrying out our duties, the debt of those who come after to their forefathers. These commemorative events that Greeks all around the world today take part in are something more than just anniversary celebrations held out of an outmoded sense of duty. They are an act of survival, of rescuing our historical past from oblivion and of waking our national consciousness," he said.
 Egypt's Greeks celebrate Oct. 28 anniversary
CAIRO, 28/10/2005 (ANA/N. Katsikas)Egypt's Greek community celebrated the October 28th Greek national holiday here on Friday with a student parade and Greek dances.
"October 28th is a day of commemoration so that younger generations can learn how their forefathers said a vociferous 'No' , standing united and showing in practice that the unity of the Greeks is always what made our country strong," Greek Ambassador to Egypt Panayiotis Vlassopoulos said.
Vlassopoulos, who represented Greece at the celebrations, called on all expatriate Greeks and on Egyptians to fight for the just resolution of the Cyprus issue.
He noted that Egyptians have always contributed and fought for Greece and its people.
Attending the celebrations were Cypriot Consul Andreas Kouzoupis, Greek Consul General in Cairo Ekaterini Gini, President of Cairo's Greek Community Christos Kavalis, diplomatic and community officials.
 Oct. 28 a day of national pride, Greek ambassador in Cyprus says
NICOSIA, 28/10/2005 (ANA/A. Viketos)Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Dimitris Rallis paid tribute to all Greeks and Cypriots who fought during World War II, on occasion of the October 28 Greek national holiday celebrated on Friday, which marks Greece's refusal to allow the passage of Italian troops through the country in 1940.
"This holiday is one of pride for Hellenism, it is a holiday during which we pay tribute to all those who fought for Greece," he said after the parade held in Nicosia.
 Athens University celebrates Oct. 28 anniversary, Papoulias attends
ATHENS, 28/10/2005 (ANA)The University of Athens celebrated the national holiday of October 28 on Friday evening, in the presence of President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Referring to Greece's refusal in 1940 to allow Italian troops to pass through the country, Athens University Dean Prof. George Babiniotis called it "a milestone in our history which went against the logic of numbers, proving that even a small nation can defend its sovereignty against a much more powerful rival when it possesses spiritual power."
Babiniotis thanked Papoulias, whom he praised for touching on issues in a straight-forward manner - officially and publicly - "that strengthen the Greek spirit on a day such as this one."
During Friday's event, Law Professor Nikolaos Skandamis provided a brief historical overview underscoring the significance of today's European governance which constitutes an institutional framework for the prosperity and security of Europe's sovereign states.
The event closed with a performance by the music school's choir, directed by Prof. Nikolaos Maliaras.
 European aspirations and casus belli 'incompatible', President Papoulias tells Turkey
ATHENS, 29/10/2005 (ANA)European aspirations and casus belli are incompatible concepts, President Karolos Papoulias said on Thursday, urging Turkey to decide which path it will follow.
"Acquis communautaire and occupation forces are two conflicting realities. Turkey is at a crossroads: It will either consistently follow the path of a European future or it will never reach full accession," Papoulias said during a dinner hosted in his honor by the Third Army Corps Commander, Lt. General Elias Petsas in Thessaloniki.
Papoulias noted that if Turkey decides to follow the European path then it will have to revise basic policies.
According to the president, Ankara must proceed with the re-opening of the Theological School in Halki, recognition of the Patriarchate's ecumenical status, creation of good neighborly relations with all EU member states, extension of its customs union agreement with the Cyprus Republic and the latter's recognition.
"The start of accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey creates a new environment and optimism, but not complacency, in terms of Greek-Turkish relations. Our neighboring country has made clear commitments to the European Union, which it will soon need to implement," Papoulias said.
The president predicted that Turkey's road to EU accession "will be long and difficult, painful; it will be marked by regression and internal turbulence."
Referring to Greek armed forces, Papoulias said that although Greece's independence and territorial integrity are not in any danger at present, the country's geographical position in the troubled Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean region, requires competent armed forces, ready and high-spirited.
Papoulias also underscored the impact of Turkey's unilateral provocations in the Aegean on both countries' economies and on the quality of life of more vulnerable classes.
On his part, Petsas assured the president of the Greek armed forces' readiness and superiority.
 Papoulias, Moisiu meeting possibly on Tuesday in southern Albania
ATHENS, 29/10/2005 (ANA)The presidents of Greece and Albania, Karolos Papoulias and Alfred Moisiu, are expected to hold an informal meeting in the southern Albanian town of Sarande on Tuesday, according to as yet unconfirmed reports.
The meeting could ostensibly serve as the follow up to an earlier meeting by the two heads of state last May in the northwest Greek city of Ioannina.
 US draft resolution urges FYROM to stop nationalistic propaganda against Greece
WASHINGTON, 29/10/2005 (ANA/T.Ellis)A draft resolution calling on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to put an end to its negative and nationalistic propaganda against Greece and to cooperate with the United Nations and Athens to find a mutually acceptable name to the land-locked republic, was tabled on Thursday in the US House of Representatives by the co-presidents of the Congress' Hellenic Caucus group, Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Michael Bilirakis.
After referring to the UN General Assembly's decision to accept FYROM to the organization under the name 'Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' in April 1993, to the 817/1993 Security Council resolution for settling the dispute over the new state's name, so as to secure peaceful relations between the two countries and to the 1995 Interim Agreement between Athens and Skopje, the draft resolution notes that FYROM "has allowed the dissemination of negative and nationalistic propaganda through school books that teach pupils that parts of Greece - including Greek Macedonia - belong to FYROM, and through maps that show a "Great Macedonia" extending to Mount Olympus in Greece and to Mountain Pirin in Bulgaria in the east, thus consolidating, among parts of its population, enmity towards Greece."
The draft resolution also calls on FYROM firstly to respect its obligations emanating from article 7 of the Interim Agreement between Greece and FYROM achieved through UN mediation, to take measures in order to stop the dissemination of negative propaganda against Greece and to delete inaccurate information contained in school books, maps and educational companion books and, secondly, to work within the framework defined by the UN procedure to settle on a mutually acceptable permanent name for the country.
 DSCA informs Congress of approval of F-16s sale to Greece
WASHINGTON, 29/10/2005 (ANA/T. Ellis)The US Department of Defense on Wednesday informed Congress that it has approved the sale to Greece of 40 F-16 C/D jetfighters, noting that if Greece opted to also purchase all the associated supplementary operational equipment and weapons systems, the deal would value 3.1 billion dollars.
An announcement by the US Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said that Greece had requested the purchase of 40 F-16 Block 52 jetfighters with F100-PW-229 engines and APG-68(V)9 radars; night vision goggles, ground stations, reconnaissance pods and various weapons, including 4 AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapons.
A DSCA official told ANA that the notification to Congress of the Pentagon's approval of the sale was the first step in the procedure.
The next step would be examination of the proposed sale by Congress, which would have 15 days to block the sale -- an action that is very rare -- to Greece, given it is a NATO member country (a 30-day deadline is applied for such sales to non-NATO countries), following which the sale procedure would enter the next stage, which was negotiations between the Greek government and the contractors (Lockheed Martin Corp) on the specific associated equipment desired by Greece and relevant offset agreements.
According to the DSCA announcement, Greece had requested to acquire all the associated equipment and systems and, if it chose to do so, this would increase the effectiveness of the country's defense capabilities and its function in the framework of NATO, as well as enhance Greece's ability to patrol the nation's extensive coastline and borders and contribute to confronting international terrorism, and thus, by extention, contribute to the foreign policy and security objectives of the US.
The announcement further said that the sale of the weaponry to Greece would not upset the military balance in the region, nor negatively affect the ongoing efforts for finding a solution to the Cyprus problem.
 Washington Times features Athens mayor
WASHINGTON, 29/10/2005 (ANA/A. Ellis)The Washington Times' Embassy Row column featured Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday, not only because of her status as "world-class mayor" but also because of her close call with terrorists.
According to columnist James Morrison, "The mayor of Athens knows the anguish of terrorism firsthand. Her husband was assassinated by Greek terrorists, and she survived an attempt on her life shortly after she was elected."
"People want security. This is our first responsibility, but we have to do it in a way in which we do not give up our values and our liberties," Bakoyannis is quoted as saying.
The article refers to the successful and safe staging of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, to Bakoyannis' mayoral victory in 2002 and the fact that she is the daughter of Constantine Mitsotakis and to Athens' facelift and modern infrastructure.
Morrison concludes the article with a mention of the FYROM name dispute, "one of the touchiest regional problems for Greece."
He adds that "Mrs. Bakoyannis raised the issue in her talks at the State Department, calling on Washington to help solve the name dispute."
 European Left Party to convene in Athens on Saturday
ATHENS, 29/10/2005 (ANA)The first conference of the European Left Party will be held at the Peace and Friendship Stadium over the weekend.
Before the conference begins, leaders of the European Left will meet with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at Maximos Mansion and with President Karolos Papoulias at the Presidential Mansion.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) President Alekos Alavanos will inaugurate the conference at 10 a.m. on Saturday, while President of the European Left Party Fausto Bertinoti will present his party's positions immediately after.
On the sidelines of the conference, separate sessions will be held, focusing on agricultural policy, education, environment, economic policy, international relations, health care, immigrants/minority rights, urban centers and other topics.
The two-day event is hosted by SYN.
 European Left leaders meet ahead of conference
ATHENS, 29/10/2005 (ANA)Leaders of the European Left met on Friday evening ahead of this weekend's conference to be held at the Peace and Friendship Stadium.
"It is an honor for the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party to be organizing the 1st Conference of the European Left party," SYN President Alekos Alavanos said.
"We have battles ahead of us, for peace, social justice and democracy," he added.
European Left leaders agreed to Alavanos' request that one minute of silence be observed before the conference begins on Saturday, in honor of those who fought against fascism during World War II.
On tomorrow's conference, Alavanos said: "At the same time that the EU 25 are meeting at Hampton Court in order to discuss the future of big business, the European Left's '26' are gathering in Athens to discuss how they will support, promote and revitalize the social state in Europe."
Oscar Lafontaine, President of Germany's Left Party said: "We are here, after the French and Dutch 'no', to create new momentum for the safeguarding of a social Europe in the face of neo-liberalism. [We are here] to provide an answer so that Europe's working class does not fall victim to neo-liberal reforms. We are here to express and to promote the efforts of the working people for a better future."
On his part, Fausto Bertinoti, President of the European Left Party also made the comparison between the EU-25's informal summit and tomorrow's conference.
"Our starting point is the French people's victory against neo-liberal policies and we have also seen an encouraging situation in Germany. Right now, we want peace in Europe. We want a Europe that is against war, against neo-liberal policies, a Europe that is for the social state and the protection of citizens' rights," he said.
 Further charges to be made in judicial corruption case, sources say
ATHENS, 29/10/2005 (ANA)The investigation into the judicial corruption scandal has turned up further evidence that implicates new suspects and adds to the charges against those already accused in the case, well-informed sources claimed on Thursday.
The examining magistrates in charge of the case are considering brining charges against another six lawyers and judges, while they are still waiting for evidence from the Union of Greek Banks concerning the accounts of persons being investigated for possible involvement with the corrupt judicial circles.
Among those being investigated since last July is the - now independent - MP Petros Mantouvalos, whose dramatic resignation from New Democracy's parliamentary group earlier this week has dominated the media headlines.
Also under investigation are associates of the MP's office and three judges.
In a statement to the state television channel NET, Mantouvalos said that he was prepared to provide any information and evidence required by justice.
 Greece condemns Iranian president remarks against Israel
ATHENS, 29/10/2005 (ANA)Greece condemns the remarks made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel should be 'wiped off the map,' Foreign Ministry Spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Friday.
Such remarks, which the government deems unacceptable, "are a threat to peace and stability," he said.
"Threats of violence against any country are a direct insult against the spirit and letter of international law and the UN Charter," he added.
"Greece along with the international community unequivocally condemns these remarks," Koumoutsakos concluded.
 Campaign in Turkey for the 'transfer' of Ecumenical Patriarchate to Greece
ISTANBUL, 29/10/2005 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)Turkish nationalist organizations and groups will begin on Friday a campaign for the "transfer" of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Greece.
In announcements published in newspapers sharing their ideology, various organizations linked to the Grey Wolves Movements, said that as of Friday they will begin collecting signatures for the "transfer" of the Orthodox Patriarchate to Greece.
 EU approves 'primary shareholder' bill
BRUSSELS, 29/10/2005 (ANA/V. Demiris)The new primary shareholder bill prepared by the New Democracy government complies with European Union legislation and has the European Commission's approval, a spokesman for European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Charlie McCreevy said on Thursday.
In comments he made to the ANA, Oliver Drews said that after the Commission reviewed the bill and following close cooperation with Greek authorities, the Commission deemed it to be in line with EU laws.
According to Drews, an official statement by the Commission that it has agreed to the bill is expected next week.
The bill, which overrides previous laws, aims to limit the rights of owners of mass media enterprises to take on public-sector contracts. The measures were designed to prevent the media from exerting undue influence on the award of state contracts and also extended to the next of kin of people owning up to 1 per cent of a media enterprise.
The current law (3310/2005) and the previous primary shareholder law 3021 passed by PASOK in 2002, were judged by the Commission to be incompatible with fundamental European directives and treaties.
As a result, both laws have been suspended.
Government Statement: The Greek government on Thursday received an approval of the primary shareholder bill in writing from the European Commission, according to a statement issued by Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos.
Agreement was achieved after months of negotiations between the Greek government and the Commission, Roussopoulos stated.
The bill implements article 14, clause 9 of the Greek constitution while at the same time safeguards the observance of EU law, the minister said.
"The constitutional provision imposing incompatible status between companies participating in public bids and mass media is implemented in the sense that it forbids the exercise of dishonest influence on the assigning public authorities," he said.
According to the new bill, incompatibility is not automatically assumed but must be proven in the event of dishonest influence.
"The penalties foreseen in the case of a judicial decision are strict and may reach life imprisonment. The main shareholder is defined by 1%," Roussopoulos said.
The bill will soon be tabled in Parliament, he concluded.
PASOK spokesman: Main opposition PASOK Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis commenting on the European Commission's approval of a government bill on the so-called primary shareholder issue, said on Thursday night:
"We have underlined from the very first moment and repeatedly that the government could have prepared, in cooperation with the European Commission, a bill compatible with the Greek constitution and EU law. The government, instead, wasted so many months to vote alone in Parliament and then abolish a law that was a flop, thus exposing itself and the country."
The new primary shareholder bill prepared by the New Democracy government complies with European Union legislation and has the European Commission's approval, a spokesman for European Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services Charlie McCreevy had said earlier on Thursday.
 EU budget amendments favorable for Greece approved
STRASBURG, 29/10/2005 (ANA)European Parliament's plenary session completed a first review of the 2006 EU budget on Friday, approving most of the amendments proposed by ruling New Democracy MEP Antonis Samaras.
Specifically, the proposals concerned funds for structural funds, small- and medium-sized businesses, trans-European networks, research and innovation, occupational training, agriculture, citizens' safety and the strengthening of air transport security.
"Thus, significant funds are secured for our country's growth and social cohesion, for achieving the Lisbon targets and for the greater support of more vulnerable social groups," according to an announcement.
After the voting, Samaras criticized those in the EU who insist on limiting the budget to 1% of the Union's GDP, noting that this "prohibits us from exercising a policy worthy of the ambitions we have for the EU we want to build."
He also stressed that the ambitious goals concerning Europe's development and cohesion must not be abandoned.
 Greece wins one EU court case on agricultural subsidies, loses another on agricultural expenditures
BRUSSELS, 29/10/2005 (ANA)The European Court of Justice ruled in Greece's favor on Thursday, reversing a previous European Commission decision regarding EU subsidies for the maintenance of olive groves on small Aegean islands for the period 1999-2001.
In another case, the European Court rejected Greece's appeal to nullify a previous Commission decision regarding the settlement of accounts between 1999-2000 regarding wine, olive oil, beef and lamb products.
The Commission, with ruling 2003/536/EK, imposed fiscal corrections totalling more than ¬ 51 million.
Following the Court's decision on Thursday, the Commission's ruling stands.
 BSEC seeks closer ties with EU
29/10/2005 (ANA)The promotion of stronger ties with the European Union in various sectors was one of the main issues discussed by foreign affairs ministers representing countries of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organization on Friday.
The ministerial summit, held in Chisinau, Moldova, focused on closer cooperation with the EU in transportation, energy, the fight against organized crime, environmental protection and sustainable development, economic and commercial cooperation, and social policy.
The BSEC ministers adopted a separate declaration on social policy, making a special mention to the proposal of the previous Greek presidency and the Greek Foreign Ministry.
The foreign ministers also discussed the restructuring of the organization, stressing the great geostrategic significance of the Black Sea and the broader region.
Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, who represented Greece at the 13th summit, met with all his counterparts on the sidelines of the meeting.
He also visited Archbishop of Chisinau and Moldova Vladimir and the Greek church of Agios Panteleimonas.
 Eurostat survey on gross earnings reveals pronounced differences among member states
BRUSSELS, 29/10/2005 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)A survey by Eurostat, the European Union's statistical arm, reveals pronounced differences in gross earnings throughout the Union.
The survey looked at the gross hourly earnings of workers in 24 of the 25 EU member states (excluding Malta), as well as the acceding countries Bulgaria and Romania, and Iceland and Norway, across nine economic sectors. The data presented in the survey apply to 2002 earnings.
In the industry and services sector, the average gross hourly wage in Greece stood at ¬ 7.20 in 2002, while in the EU-15 the average was nearly double at ¬ 14.20, while in the 10, new EU member states (NMS) it stood at ¬ 2.80.
Regarding gross monthly earnings in industry, the Greek average stood at ¬ 1,345 compared with ¬ 2,399 in the EU-15, ¬ 2,075 in the EU-25 and ¬ 498 in the 10 NMS.
Findings were comparable for the services industry with the corresponding averages totalling ¬ 1,210 in Greece, ¬ 2,398 in the EU-15, ¬ 2,172 in the EU-25 and ¬ 526 in the new member states.
In general, regarding gross hourly wages in industry and services, EU member states can be classified into five categories:
1) average hourly wage at or above ¬ 20 (Denmark, UK);
2) average hourly wage from ¬ 15-¬ 20 (Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands and other northern and central European countries);
3) average hourly wage from ¬ 10-¬ 15 (France, Belgium, Italy);
4) average hourly wage from ¬ 5-¬ 10 (Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Portugal and Slovenia);
5) average hourly wage less than ¬ 5 (Eastern European countries).
In terms of gross hourly wages in other economic sectors, Greece compares as follows:
Mining and Quarrying
Greece: ¬ 9.51 EU-15: ¬ 15.70 NMS: ¬ 4.34
Greece: ¬ 6.70 EU-15: ¬ 14.36 NMS: ¬ 2.64
Electricity, gas, water supply
Greece: ¬ 13.63 EU-15: ¬ 17.47 NMS: ¬ 3.47
Greece: ¬ 7.21 EU-15: ¬ 12.53 NMS: ¬ 2.50
Wholesale and retail trade, repair
of motor vehicles,
personal and household goods
Greece: ¬ 5.91 EU-15: ¬ 12.23 NMS: ¬ 2.47
Greece: ¬ 5.48 EU-15: ¬ 9.50 NMS: ¬ 2.32
Transport, storage, communication
Greece: ¬ 9.16 EU-15: ¬ 14.14 NMS: ¬ 2.87
Greece: ¬ 10.44 EU-15: ¬ 20.49 NMS: ¬ 5.08
Real estate, renting, business activities
Greece: ¬ 6.83 EU-15: ¬ 15.64 NMS: ¬ 3.13
 Eurostat report shows heightened Internet use by Greek firms vis-a-vis public sector
BRUSSELS, 29/10/2005 (ANA)Greek companies' communication with public sector agencies via the Internet appears much greater than the corresponding usage of individual users in the country, according to a Eurostat report released here on Thursday.
Specifically, in the first four months of 2004, 36 percent of Greek Internet users (aged between 16 and 74) had visited a public sector website in order to obtain information. Some 14 percent had downloaded a form and 12 percent had sent completed forms.
Conversely, 70 percent of Greek businesses had obtained similar information via the Internet; 67 percent had downloaded at least one form and 51 percent had sent a completed form via the Internet.
Eurostat noted that Internet use by Greek businesses for interaction with the public sector was among the highest in the Union (EU average 51 percent).
 Pharmaceutical sector thriving in Greece, report says
29/10/2005 (ANA)A government decision to abolish a list of prescribed drugs and to change pricing methods will create a new environment in the domestic pharmaceuticals market, a survey by Stat Bank said on Thursday.
The pharmaceuticals sector's turnover was 5.8 billion euros in 2004, while it managed to improve profitability (to 310 million euros in 2004 from 254 million in the previous year) supported by strong exports in the last few years.
Official figures showed that pharmaceuticals' sales totaled 5.0 billion euros (retail prices), of which sales to hospitals were 835 million euros and sales to pharmacies totaled 4.16 billion euros.
Pharmaceutical industries raised their sales by 16 percent and pre-tax profits by 25.7 percent in 2004, with the 30 largest enterprises of the sector (excluding Phamar, Pfizer and Lavipharm) reporting a turnover of 2.38 billion euros and pre-tax profits of more than 192.5 million euros in 2004, from 153.1 million in 2003.
In the retail sector, the 74 largest enterprises reported sales of 3.4 billion euros in 2004, from 2.99 billion in 2003, for an increase of 13.5 percent.
A wave of mergers between multinational companies abroad is changing the business map in the Greece and lead the sector to more consolidation, although Greek enterprises are maintaining a strong presence in the domestic market (Vianex, Marinopoulos and Gerolymatos).
Medium-sized enterprises also reported strong growth rates in recent years, with UCB Pharma among the five biggest in biotechnology. The company expects to double its sales in Greece after the acquisition of Celltech. Kleva reported a turnover of 14.7 million euros last year from 11.8 million in 2003, while Unipharma saw its profits soar to 1.5 million euros from 200,000 euros over the same period.
 Piraeus Bank's acquisition of Egyptian bank boosts opportunities for Greek community, SAE's Tamvakis says
CAIRO, 29/10/2005 (ANA)The acquisition of Egyptian Commercial Bank by Piraeus Bank creates new opportunities for the Greek community in Cairo and Alexandria, World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Alternate President Stefanos Tamvakis said on Friday.
"This move opens up new prospects and will undoubtedly strengthen the position of Greek communities in the Middle East and of the Alexandria Patriarchate, while it will further strengthen ties between Greece and Egypt," Tamvakis, who is also Honorary President of Alexandria's Greek Community, stated in a letter addressed to Piraeus Bank President Michalis Sallas.
"I wish you every success in your endeavor," Tamvakis concluded.
 Greece, Serbia & Montenegro sign cooperation protocol on culture
BELGRADE, 29/10/2005 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis and his Serbian counterpart Liljana Sop signed a cooperation protocol here on Thursday further strengthening bilateral relations on culture-related issues, including the construction of a Serbian Book Centre based on the Greek model.
After the signing, Tatoulis expressed satisfaction with the two countries' decision to work more closely on a cultural level.
He said that the Greek Culture Ministry, the National Book Centre and the International Publishers' Federation intend to support Serbia's Book Centre through the provision of know-how and expertise.
On her part, Sop thanked Tatoulis for his cooperation and support and announced that Greece will be the theme country at the 2009 Book Exhibit in Belgrade.
Dusan Batakovic, former Serbia & Montenegro Ambassador to Athens and Advisor to Serbian President Boris Tadic, was also present at the signing.
Batakovic thanked Tatoulis for Greece's contribution in saving Kosovo's cultural legacy.
 Hellenic Music Festival concludes in Vienna with Dionyssis Savvopoulos
VIENNA, 29/10/2005 (ANA)Concert-goers gave Greek singer Dionyssis Savvopoulos a warm reception when he performed along with his 10-member orchestra and six vocalists at the Vienna Concert Hall on Thursday evening.
Savvopoulos performed portions of "Acharnes" and "Plouto", based on ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes' works, as well as an anthology of his well-known hits.
The other six vocalists that accompanied Savvopoulos in concert were Vassiliki Karakosta, Aspasia Theophilou, Eleni Garyfalaki, Constantinos Maravegias, Yiorgos Mylonas and Panagiotis Mouzourakis.
In comments he made to the ANA, Savvopoulos said he was very pleased with the 'magical' atmosphere that prevailed during the concert, and the wonderful audience who seemed to communicate superbly with the performers despite the language barrier.
He also praised the Greek embassy's initiative and personally Greek Ambassador to Austria Theodoros Sotiropoulos, for organizing a concert series dedicated to Greek composers Mikis Theodorakis, Manos Hatzidakis, the 'rebetiko', and his own work.
Savvopoulos' concert was the fourth and last in the Hellenic Music Festival series held in Vienna throughout the month of October.
 Hellenic-Spanish Cultural Centre celebrates Don Quixote's 400th birthday
THESSALONIKI, 29/10/2005 (ANA)The Hellenic-Spanish Cultural Centre of Thessaloniki 'Federico Garcia Lorca' is organizing from November 1-4 a series of events to celebrate the 400th anniversary since the publication of Miguel Cervantes' novel 'Don Quixote'.
The events are being held under the auspices of the Spanish culture ministry and are organized in cooperation with the Thessaloniki municipal authorities.
 Papadopoulos stresses need to handle globalization challenges
LONDON, 29/10/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has stressed the need for effective handling of the challenges of globalization, through the necessary reforms, on a national and European level.
In an intervention during Thursday's informal EU heads of state or government meeting, in Hampton Court Palace, President Papadopoulos also underlined that there is no ideal economic or social model and EU partners are obliged to respect the particularities of the model which every member state follows.
Furthermore, the Cypriot president pointed out the need for reform of EU member states, noting that the responsibility in specific sectors such as social welfare and employment market should remain within the member state's authority.
He referred to the priorities which the EU should have in the coming years, including the completion of European domestic market and liberalization of services on a new basis.
Papadopoulos noted the need for a discussion on the EU budget with special emphasis on research and training.
Making special reference to the issue of the policy of social cohesion, President Papadopoulos stressed that its main aim should be to help develop poorer regions and countries of the EU to make easier economic convergence.
The EU, he continued, must address the concerns of its citizens, making them feel safer in the new globalized environment and giving them a more active role in the Union's reform and modernization.
 Turkish-Cypriot leader meets with US Secretary of State
WASHINGTON, 29/10/2005 (ANA/A. Ellis)Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat asked the US for help in "lifting the Turkish-Cypriot community out of isolation" during his 20-minute meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice here on Friday.
Talat said the meeting had been "productive" and that Rice had showed understanding for his concerns.
He said that he is "dedicated to finding a solution that will re-unite Cyprus" and reiterated that for re-unification to occur the Turkish-Cypriot community "must no longer be isolated".
Talat also stressed that he did not ask for the adoption of specific measures by the US to this end.
According to US sources, Washington does not intend to give in to demands for direct flights to the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island, nor to any other measures that Talat supports.
The Turkish-Cypriot leader said that he asked that the US encourage countries and international organizations towards "ending the community's isolation".
Regarding UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan for resolution of the Cyprus issue, Talat said it was the only plan on the negotiating table, noting that whichever side wants changes will have to submit proposals.
 State Dept. denies any change in US policy regarding Cyprus
WASHINGTON, 29/10/2005 (ANA/A. Ellis)The meeting between US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat does not imply any change in US policy regarding recognition of the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said on Friday.
McCormack was answering reporters' questions after the Rice-Talat meeting here.
He stressed that the meeting with the Turkish-Cypriots' elected leader reflects the United States' continued support towards those forces supporting a solution to the Cyprus issue.
McCormack noted that previous US Secretaries of State, such as Colin Powell and James Baker, had also met with Turkish-Cypriot leaders.
Finally, McCormack reiterated the US position that the "isolation" of the Turkish-Cypriot community must come to an end.
Asked who is to blame for the "isolation", McCormack said that it is not the time to place blame but to concentrate all efforts on solving the problem.
 AHI President protests US invitation to T/C leader
NICOSIA, 29/10/2005 (CNA/ANA)AHI President Gene Rossides has sent a letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice protesting her meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, noting that the invitation only encourages his continued intransigence on Cyprus.
''This decision is not in the best interests of the United States as it relates to supporting a just and viable solution to the 31-year old Cyprus problem caused by Turkey's illegal invasion of Cyprus in 1974'', Rossides says, adding that "it can also be perceived that the US is upgrading politically the illegal regime in northern occupied Cyprus".
"Mr. Talat receives his instructions from Turkey, which is the creator, protector and facilitator of this pseudo regime", Rossides says.
Noting that the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus forms an illegal entity under international law and is not recognized by any nation except Turkey as well as the presence of illegal troops and settlers in the north, Rossides underlines that "the State Department's policy is shockingly misguided and exhibits a lack of knowledge of the facts regarding the Cyprus problem".
"Unfortunately, ever since 76% of the Greek Cypriots voted against the undemocratic, unworkable and financially not viable, Annan Plan, the Department of State has been openly looking for ways to shift the blame on to the Greek Cypriots by pursuing certain incremental measures", the letter says.
These measures, according to the AHI president, have included officials from the Transportation Security Administration conducting inspection of airports in the illegally occupied north; the illegal authorization by the State Department for direct visits of U.S. officials and members of Congress to the occupied north; and exploring ways whereby direct U.S. flights can proceed directly to the occupied north.
He further notes that Secretary Rice has stated in an interview with Kanal-D TV, with regard to the situation in Cyprus, "we are looking at what we can do to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots because we, like everyone else, were disappointed that the Annan plan was not adopted. We have taken some steps, direct aid for instance to Turkish Cypriots, but there are probably other things that we should look at doing".
Concluding, Rossides suggests that the so-called isolation of the T/C could be eased overnight by asking Turkey to remove the 40,000 illegal Turkish occupation troops, the 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers and the Turkish Green Line barbed wire fence.
"Our position should be to support a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in a state with a single sovereignty and international personality, incorporating the norms of a constitutional democracy embracing the key American principles of majority rule, the rule of law and protection of minority rights, the EU acquis communautaire, UN resolutions on Cyprus, the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and of other European Courts," Rossides concludes in his letter to US Secretary of State.
 Cyprus honors Greek resistance to fascism
NICOSIA, 29/10/2005 (CNA/ANA)World War II veterans, secondary school pupils and students of tertiary education marched Friday to mark Greece's contribution to World War II, when the Greek nation fought bravely against the invading Axis forces in 1940.
House President Demetris Christofias appealed for collective action with regard to efforts for a political settlement in Cyprus, saying that human rights and law and order must be restored on the island, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
"The Greek nation paid a heavy price to defend its freedom in the fight against fascism, with 520,000 dead, among them Cypriots," he said in a speech to commemorate Friday's anniversary.
"Today," Christofias pointed out, "freedom, peace and justice are being threatened by the so-called new world order," adding that nations around the globe claim these notions.
He said Cyprus continues to seek justice and what is needed is "concerted and collective action towards this objective".
Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Demetris Rallis paid tribute to all Greeks and Cypriots who fought by the side of the Allies against fascism saying their sacrifice was for freedom.