|Friday, 18 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-05-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 22, 2006
 FinMin defends mild economic adjustment policy
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis strenuously defended the government's high-profile policy of mild economic adjustment, in a newspaper interview carried in the Sunday edition of the Athens daily “Ethnos".
He emphasized that savings of 1.7-1.9 billion euros in 2007 as a primary target for the government's economic team.
"We already have tangible results. The deficit has been decreased to 4.5 percent of GDP in 2005 and this year it will fall below 3 percent," the minister said.
Alogoskoufis further noted that "our target is to maintain these percentages and we shall do this in an environment of development, while at the same time promoting social priorities."
Lastly, Alogoskoufis said "the strategy of mild adjustment, which was disputed by many but whose results have been vindicated absolutely, will continue. The aim is to restrict the increase in expenditures even more and this will take place in an environment of development for the rest of the economy..."
Annual OECD session on Monday: Meanwhile, the annual ministerial session of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will begin here on Monday, with the session of particular interest to Greece, as the country is holding the organization’s chairmanship this year.
Alogoskoufis was due to arrive in Paris on Sunday, within the framework of the session's Greek presidency, while Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is also expected to arrive on Monday to chair the session.
The main topic to be examined at this year's ministerial session is entitled "strengthening prosperity worldwide."
The decision concerning Greece's chairmanship had been taken unanimously by the OECD's board last July. The previous chairmanship held by Greece was in 1976.
 DM comments on relations with Turkey in newspaper interview
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis, speaking in an interview with the newspaper "Eleftherotypia", said that Ankara's "casus belli" threat against Greece is "anachronistic" and "unsuitable with the European course of Turkey."
Meimarakis said that the issue of the German ocean research ship "Poseidon" does not affect the good relations which the two countries want to have and added that he does not predict tensions.
On the question of the continental shelf, the defense minister said that a timetable for its solution had not been set in Helsinki and pointed out that "in any case, the Greek government is working with consistency for the improvement of Greek-Turkish relations and for the eradication of tension in the region, promoting bilateral cooperation in sectors of mutual interest."
DM visits naval station in Crete: Meanwhile, Meimarakis attended a meeting at the naval station at Souda, on the island of Crete, on Saturday, stressing the government's determination to have the naval station continue to function as a repairs base.
"It is a political decision by the government that the naval station should be in continuous operation. It is a gateway of development for the island and, of course, and in the long run the economic structure it will have and its more effective functioning, always maintaining its public and defense character, can be discussed," the minister said.
The issue of the shortage of staff was brought to the attention of Meimarakis, as well as that of the naval station's modernization. The minister said he will examine the requests and give replies in about a month.
The employees' representatives primarily want the strengthening of technical staff. In 1984 a total of 1,360 people were serving at the naval station as non-military staff, while today this figure has been reduced to 659.
The meeting was attended by Parliamentary deputies from the local prefecture, the naval station's administration and employee representatives.
 No question of lifting civil servants' tenure, interior minister
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in an interview with the Sunday edition of the paper "Kathimerini", stressed that "there is no question of lifting the permanent status" of civil servants.
Pavlopoulos clarified that the clause in the constitution concerning tenure will not be revised.
Pavlopoulos visits town of Tripoli: Meanwhile, Pavlopoulos on Saturday visited the town of Tripoli in the central Peloponnese and met with the secretary general of the Peloponnese region, the prefect of Arcadia and the mayor of Tripoli. He later spoke at a closed meeting of ruling New Democracy (ND) party Arcadia cadres.
In statements to reporters, Pavlopoulos referred to the New Local Government Code, which, he said, will be tabled in Parliament in the coming days and bear the name "Theodoros Katrivanos".
Referring to economic matters concerning local government, the minister said that the funds tripled over the past two years, adding that from the Peloponnese regional operation program, Arcadia absorbed seven per cent in 2004 while the corresponding percentage for 2006 is 33 per cent.
 PASOK party leader criticizes government from Santorini
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, speaking at a meeting of the local cooperatives union on the fashionable island of Santorini on Saturday, criticized the government for abandoning rural areas and cutting back on funds earmarked for their development, while also stressing that sea routes have been abolished, a development harming the producers of farm products.
Papandreou further said that the ruling New Democracy party is unaware of the problems of the times and is unable to plan and program their solution, stressing that the government should stand by the people and solve problems and not take power for the sake of power.
The PASOK party leader also accused the government of saying one thing before the elections and doing something else after the elections, while calling on citizens to contribute with their proposals to the preparation of PASOK's new program.
Papandreou said that the greatest reform being prepared by PASOK concerns local administration with which the central administration will walk hand-in-hand and will be providing it with funds and responsibilities.
Lastly, Papandreou said that in the next national elections the people must send ND back to the benches of the opposition and bring PASOK to power to enable the country to forge ahead.
 PASOK leader Papandreou visits Santorini
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou visited the island of Santorini on Saturday.
In statements he made in the morning at the island's archaeological site of Akrotiri, Papandreou said: "Every effort must be made with care and safety for the restoration of the archaeological site of Akrotiri which must again become accessible to the public."
He said that "the beauty of the archaeological site of Akrotiri surpasses Greece but also our continent and attracts the interest not only of experts and scientists but also of thousands of people from all the countries of the world."
Papandreou thanked the scientists and all those who are working towards the restoration and maintenance of the antiquities of Akrotiri, whose beauty, as he said, "not only distinguishes Santorini but also the beauty of Hellenism, for which we must all be proud of."
Roussopoulos reaction: Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Saturday commented on an address given by Papandreou at an indoor rally of supporters on the island of Naxos on Friday.
Roussopoulos said: "Mr. Papandreou reached the point of claiming that under the PASOK governments the country was an international example, a model and a point of reference and that his party brought complete democracy and credibility to the country."
The Minister of State added:"If he is really unable of being aware of the results of the 20 years of governance by PASOK - in which he participated as a minister - to the country and citizens, he should again study one of the many relevant reports of the European Union and of international organizations. However, it would be well for the PASOK president to know that political surrealism cannot in any case cover the lack of positions and programs, seriousness and responsibility."
 PASOK Secretary criticizes public order minister
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK secretary Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou on Saturday termed as "unacceptable" and "racist" statements made in Parliament on Friday by Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras regarding the issue of the alleged abduction of Pakistanis.
In statements she made on the sidelines of PASOK's Athens Region Conference, Xenoyiannakopoulou said that Polydoras' statements "come to complete a cover-up of issues on the part of the government," referring to the issue of the alleged abduction of Pakistani immigrants by "secret services" but also to the phone-tapping issue.
She accused Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and the government because "they refuse to assume their political responsibilities."
The PASOK Secretary added that "in both cases, there is a violation of the rules of democracy and violation of individual rights."
 PASOK prefecture candidate denies referring to 'Turkish' minority
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK party's candidate for the Drama-Kavala-Xanthi supra-prefecture in October's local government elections, Gul Karahasan, has categorically denied reports of giving an interview to the Turkish newspaper "Vatan" in which she allegedly spoke of a "Turkish" minority in western Thrace.
Karahasan, 27, an attorney who hails from Xanthi prefecture's Pomak minority attributed expediencies to those who are attempting to "cover their own political indigence and the lack of proposals with religious and nationalist prejudices."
The newspaper's reporter, speaking to Greek television channels, said she did not speak with Karahasan either about "Turks or about Muslims."
 Poll shows ruling ND leading PASOK by 1 per cent
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)An opinion poll conducted by the firm Metron Analysis on behalf of "Imerisia" newspaper and which was published in its Saturday edition, showed that the ruling New Democracy (ND) party was leading the main opposition PASOK by 1 per cent.
The poll's telephone interviews were conducted between May 12-17.
The poll showed that 33.6 percent of those questioned would vote for the ruling New Democracy, 32.6 per cent for PASOK, 6.6 per cent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 4.5 per cent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and 3 per cent for the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos).
A total of 56 per cent said they believed that ND would win the general elections against 23.8 per cent that PASOK would.
To a question regarding the degree of citizens' satisfaction, the government garnered 28.5 per cent against 17.8 per cent for PASOK. Dissatisfied with the government were 56.1 per cent and 62.3 per cent with PASOK.
On the country's economy, the ND and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis gained the confidence of 38.6 per cent of those questioned, against 27.1 per cent for PASOK and its leader George Papandreou.
Premier Karamanlis remains the most popular political party leader with 59.3 per cent, against 52.4 per cent for Papandreou, 39.1 per cent for KKE's Aleka Papariga, 38.3 per cent for Synaspismos' Alekos Alavanos 32 per cent for LA.OS's George Karatzaferis.
 Memorial service held for late KKE leader Harilaos Florakis
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The annual political memorial service for the late Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Harilaos Florakis was held at his grave at Paliozoglopi, in the prefecture of Karditsa in central Greece, on Sunday in the presence of KKE Secretary General Aleka Papariga.
Addressing the event, Papariga referred to the life and work of the deceased, stressing that he had struggled for the prosperity of all working people regardless of nationality, religion or color.
 Papoulias at events marking union of Ionian isles
22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)President Karolos Papoulias on Sunday attended events in Corfu marking the 142nd anniversary of the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece. Local residents gave a warm welcome to the head of state, who laid a wreath at a monument commemorating the union and then observed a school and military parade.
The government was represented Deputy Finance and Economy Minister Antonis Bezas.
 Events held in memory of Pontian genocide
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)A memorial service was held at Athens' Metropolitan Cathedral and wreaths were laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Sunday to honor the memory of the victims of the Pontian (Black Sea Greeks) genocide during and immediately after World War I in modern-day northeastern Turkey.
A march followed to the Turkish embassy, where a protest resolution chided official Turkey's failure to recognize the genocide.
The history of the Pontians' genocide was also expounded by Federation of Pontian Associations President Dimitris Christoforidis.
The government was represented by Deputy Interior Minister Apostolos Andreoulakos.
Main opposition PASOK was represented by deputies Anna Diamantopoulou and Sylvana Rapti. Also present at the events were Parliament Vice-President Ioannis Tragakis and ruling New Democracy (ND) party secretary Lefteris Zagoritis.
 Battle of Crete events continue with participation of ANZAC veterans
22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Events marking the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Crete continued on Saturday morning with a visit by New Zealand veterans to the Hania Town Hall.
The New Zealand veterans were accompanied by the mayor of Wellington, Kerry Prendergast, who spoke warmly about Greece and the joint struggles of Greeks and New Zealanders.
Later in the day at the Town Hall, the mayor of Hania, Kyriakos Virvidakis, received New Zealand's Police and Transport Minister Annette King who was accompanied by New Zealand's Ambassador to Greece and representatives of the armed forces.
The events marking the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Crete will continue on Saturday evening with the presence also of National Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis.
Mitsotakis addresses Battle of Crete event: Former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, addressing an event marking the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Crete at the cultural centre in Hania on Saturday, referred to the events that occurred at the time and to the significance of the position of Crete both then and now.
"It is a known fact that the geopolitical position of Crete has always been important," he said, adding that the rule of the island "has always been considered essential to secure the control of the eastern Mediterranean."
Mitsotakis further said that "nothing in life is achieved without faith, without a struggle and sacrifices and that values exist for which, if necessary, it is worth sacrificing your own life for."
The event was also attended by Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis, Army General Staff chief Dimitris Grapsas, deputies and local authorities.
 110th anniversary of the German School of Athens
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda addressed an event at the Athens Concert Hall on Sunday marking the 110th anniversary of the continuous operation of the German School of Athens.
"The presence of the German School in Athens for 110 years, despite various wars which separated our peoples ... show how German culture acquired deep roots in Greece, a product not only of history, but of the orientation of Greek science vis-à-vis the German spirit, starting right off with the foundation of the modern Greek state," Benaki-Psarouda said.
 Greece fares poorly in EU road accidents list
22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The 3rd international conference on research and transport in Greece was held in Thessaloniki on Saturday and revealed that Greece is in the worst positions in the European Union regarding road accidents.
At the same time, the existing level of road safety continues to be considered unacceptable, especially when compared with the corresponding level in other EU member-states.
This is underlined in a study conducted by Thessaloniki University professor Panagiotis Papaioannou and civil engineer Constantine Spathopoulos.
Road traffic accidents are for Greece a daily plague with significant social and economic cost. Over the past years, recorded annually are 18,000-20,000 accidents with about 22,000 people affected, of which, about 1,600 (drivers, passengers or pedestrians) losing their lives.
There were 24,819 accidents in 1998 and since then there was a downward trend until 2003 when there were 15,751 accidents. The annual average of deaths numbers 1,965.
 Public prosecutors hold conference on 'Combating of human trafficking'
22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Union of Public Prosecutors of Greece, in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and under the auspices of the foreign ministry, began a two-day conference on the island of Rhodes on Saturday on the theme "The combating of human trafficking".
Taking part are 170 public prosecutors from all over Greece.
The sessions of the conference, which are being held at a central hotel, were opened by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis.
In his address, Deputy Minister Stylianidis said that the trafficking of humans "is probably the most vile crime of our times," adding that this trafficking "is contemporary slavery which insults human values, culture and our democracy."
Stylianidis went on to say that "either we are referring to illegal trafficking and maltreatment of women, either to trafficking, maltreatment and exploitation of children, either to labor exploitation of immigrants, in every case we are speaking of a crime which directly harms human dignity."
Referring to the foreign ministry's role for the combating of the phenomenon, Stylianidis said: "Before, during and after the Olympic Games, a serious effort started for the briefing and awareness of the public, the mobilization of the state apparatus and coordinated action with the Society of Citizens for the confrontation of the phenomenon. We doubled the budget of Hellenic Aid against human trafficking, we created a strategic plan and ventured cooperation and mobilization of all the relevant agencies, the police, judicial functionaries, public prosecutors, public administration in general, the Church, non-government organizations and of ordinary citizens."
 Finland wins 51st Eurovision song contest in Athens
ATHENS, 22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)Finland won the 51st Eurovision song contest held at the Athens Olympic complex's indoor stadium on Saturday night with the horror-movie costumed Lordi band singing "Hard Rock Hallelujah" garnering 292 votes from 38 countries. The event was hosted by Greek pop star Sakis Rouvas and Greek-American model and presenter Maria Menounos. Russia won second place with the song "Never let you go" (248 votes), while Bosnia-Herzegovina came in third with the Hari Mata Hari band singing the song "Layla". Greece finished in ninth position with veteran Cyprus-born singer Anna Vissi performing the single "Everything".
It was the first time that Finland won first place in the half-century-old Eurovision song contest, which Ireland has won seven times; Britain, Luxembourg and France have each won the contest five times.
The final phase of the contest -- the semifinals took place on Thursday -- was held with the participation of 24 countries and was watched by more than 100 million television viewers.
Greece hosted this year's contest after winning in last year's event with the song "My number one", sang by Helena Paparizou.
 Science fiction festival set for Syros
22/5/2006 (ANA/MPA)The 2nd annual Science Fiction Festival begins on the island of Syros on Friday with the inauguration of two exhibitions.
The first exhibition, with creations by students from the Aegean University, is entitled "Inter-planetary Zoology", while the second is an art exhibition by Vassilis Tzavaras, entitled "Deep Space".
 Final Pancyprian results in parliamentary elections
NICOSIA, 22/5/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)Final Pancyprian results in parliamentary elections.
Of a total of 501,024 registered voters island wide, 445,989 voted.
There were 421,148 valid ballots, 55,035 abstentions, 14,737 invalid ballots, and 10,104 blank.
Votes went to:
AKEL 131,237 31.16%
DISY 127,734 30.33%
DIKO 75,429 17.91%
EDEK 37,531 8.91%
EVROKO 24,152 5.73%
GREENS 8,192 1.95%
EDI 6,563 1.56%
KEP 5,155 1.22%
EVRODI 1,861 0.44%
HUNTERS 1,111 0.26%
LASOK 979 0.23%
EFSTRATIOU A. 455 0.11%
CONSTANTINOU A. 386 0.09%
COSTA CHR. 203 0.05%
KYRIAKOU K. 73 0.02%
CONSTANTINOU M. 61 0.01%
MICHAIL A 26 0.01%
 President Papadopoulos calls for unity
NICOSIA, 22/5/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)President of the Republic Tassos Papadopopoulos said here Sunday that in the effort for a free and united Cyprus, no one can be spared and no one can be absent.
In a written statement after voting ended in Sunday's elections for the 56 seats at the House of Representatives, President Papadopoulos told reporters at the Presidential Palace that as of Monday all jointly must handle together the challenges that may arise before us and fight to achieve the great aim, which is a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.
In his statement to the press, President Papadopoulos said "the elections were carried out in an impeccable manner, worthy of our democratic tradition and the increased demands of the citizens of a modern European state."
"I want to note and praise the political maturity and the high level of democratic political spirit demonstrated by the whole of the electorate. Contrary to some intense pre-electoral verbal confrontations, the electorate has voted in a civilized, calm manner," he underlined.
President Papadopoulos said that "according to police reports there has been no incident involving conflict or confrontation among the voters. I praise this high level of political ethos and for this I congratulate our democratic people. This is the first and foremost aspect I wish to highlight. And for that I wish to commend first and foremost the voters as well as the political party leaderships."
President Papadopoulos said "the Chief Returning Officer Mr Lazaros Savvides, the District Returning Officers, the Police, the Civil Service personnel, the political party representatives and everyone who has contributed in the organizing and conducting of today's elections, are all worthy of a public praise and of our congratulations."
''In my statement this morning I had called on the citizens to vote and thus exercise their electoral right, pointing out that participating in elections is the blood vessel of a democratic life. I am happy to see that the citizens have showed that they share this democratic principle," he said.
"Thus, it is with great satisfaction that I note that the percentage of participation in the elections, despite a small decrease, remains very high, of the highest in recent years, in Europe," he added.
With their participation the citizens have proved once again that democracy is deeply rooted in our country and that they remain determined to have a say and role in crucial matters which concern the future of our country as well as their own personal course in the years to come, he added.
President Papadopoulos said "the election results constitute a useful basis in order to extract the correct messages."
"I am confident that all political powers in the country, each one from their own perspective, will assess correctly these messages, will respect with deeds the expression of the people's will and will direct their actions according to the choices of our people," he added.
He pledged that the "government, reinforced by the messages sent out by these elections, will carry on its work in order to complete the implementation of the government program. Our final goal and pursuit is for every citizen to enjoy the quality of life they are entitled to, in an environment of equality, security and growth for all."
"The elections are over. I call on all to leave behind any tensions and confrontations of the pre-election period," said President Papadopoulos.
"In democracy there are no 'winners and 'losers'. Democracy is the sole winner as well as our people who have proved their political maturity and culture," he said.
Starting on Monday, he added, "we must all jointly deal with possible great challenges that may arise."
"We must give the battle to succeed in our great goal. A solution that will truly be functional and viable. A united and free country.
In this effort no one can be spared or be absent. United we shall proceed. And united we shall succeed," President Papadopoulos concluded.
 ECHR under excessive burden, says Cypriot
FM LARNACA, 22/5/2006 (CNA/ANA/MPA)Council of Europe member states will examine a proposal presented by a ''group of wise men'', aiming to ensure the effective-ness of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to deal with the excessive number of cases, which have tripled during the past three years, Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou has said.
Iacovou participated in the CoE's 116th Session of the Committee of Ministers in Strasbourg, the agenda of which was dominated by the issue of human rights and the functioning of the ECHR.
''This issue directly concerns the Republic of Cyprus and its citizens,'' Iacovou said upon his arrival in Cyprus.
According to Iacovou, the cases pending before the ECHR have tripled during the past three years, reaching 80,000.
''It is believed that the Court is literally under excessive burden and as a result the Committee of Ministers does not know how the ECHR will respond,'' Iacovou said, adding that the Council appointed a ''group of wise men'' to propose recommendations on the measures to be taken in the long term with a view to further guaranteeing the effectiveness of CoE's human rights protection system.
''We will study (these recommendations). We, the citizens of Europe, including the Cypriots, are interested in finding justice on the basis of the European Convention on Human Rights,'' Iacovou noted.
The Russian Federation assumes the Chairmanship of the Committee for the next six months.