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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-11-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

November 13, 2006

CONTENTS

  • [01] Government to revise GDP increase, FinMin says
  • [02] FM spokesman condemns torching of diplomatic mission's car
  • [03] Croatian envoy calls EU accession report 'objective, satisfactory'
  • [04] PM attends event in Athens held by Greek Union of US Veterans
  • [05] Zagoritis at ruling AKP con'f in Ankara
  • [06] KKE leader addresses communist and labor party conference
  • [07] SYN leader gives interview to Athens daily
  • [08] Elections in Oct. 2007 'not early', former PM Mitsotakis says
  • [09] Nat'l education council head refers to 'war of ideas' in reforms debate
  • [10] Papoulias on hand for commemoration of Samos' union with Greece
  • [11] Alogoskoufis cites absolute opposition to hefty pay hikes given to judges by tribunal
  • [12] Employment minister outlines gov't policy on heated social security issue
  • [13] Greek-Turkish tourism protocol signed
  • [14] AHEPA congress to take place in Greece in 2008
  • [15] Super market in Thessaloniki robbed of 100,000 euros
  • [16] Greek Super League soccer results
  • [17] New Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus enthroned
  • [18] Papadopoulos: EU Council not linked with Finnish initiative

  • [01] Government to revise GDP increase, FinMin says

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, speaking on Saturday at an insurance company conference on the occasion of "Private Insurance Day", said the government will revise predictions on the increase in GDP. He also announced the gradual abolition of the 2.4 percent stamp duty imposed on all insurance policies.

    Alogoskoufis stressed that growth exceeded predictions during the third quarter of the year and the percentage is expected to be announced within the week and will be in the region of 4.3 percent.

    The finance minister further said that tax rates in the second and third stages of tax reform will develop as follows: 25 percent for incomes between 12,000 and 30,000 euros and 35 percent for incomes of up to 75,000 euros, while from then on the rate will be 40 percent.

    Lastly, the minister said the Private Insurance Committee will be undertaking the supervision of the insurance market at the beginning of 2007.

    Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda also said in her address that the appropriate functioning of insurance companies benefits both the citizen and the state.

    Awards were given during the conference to the Honorary President of the Union of Insurance Companies of Greece, Dimitris Kontominas, and for the best performance of the year in the police force, the traffic police, the fire brigade and the harbor authority.

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will hold separate meetings with her counterparts from Finland, Sweden and Germany on Monday on the sidelines of the European Union's General Affairs and Foreign Relations Council in Brussels.

    The meetings will focus on issues expected to preoccupy the Union until December's European Council, including Turkey's accession course.

    [02] FM spokesman condemns torching of diplomatic mission's car

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry spokesman on Saturday evening emphatically condemned the torching, a day earlier, of a vehicle used by an employee of the Turkish embassy in Athens.

    "This was an abominable and dangerous action by irresponsible individuals who have absolutely no relation to the principles and values of Greek society and the Greek state," spokesman George Koumoutsakos said.

    The car, which sported diplomatic license plates, was parked in the Pangrati district of east Athens. An investigation is continuing.

    [03] Croatian envoy calls EU accession report 'objective, satisfactory'

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Croatia's ambassador in Athens on Friday emphasized the positive aspects of a closely watched EU Commission report last week on the country's progress towards accession, while stressing that Zagreb is committed to utterly fulfilling criteria laid out by the Union in order to join the 25-nation bloc on "its own merits".

    Ambassador Neven Madey called the report both "objective" and "satisfactory" for his country, with any delays due to the "reality in SE Europe" since the country's independence from the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

    "Today there is a new reality, and the EU has not closed the door to enlargement," Madey said, adding that Croatia's accession course, as opposed to the process followed in previous enlargements, includes benchmarks to gauge progress as well as the opening of negotiations on difficult chapters "sooner rather than later".

    "Our goal is for a conclusion to negotiations by the end of 2008, with accession around 2009 to 2010. This is the ideal scenario, however," the Croatian envoy said.

    Asked whether looming developments in the western Balkans and potential tensions will in any way affect Croatia's European momentum -- i.e. a decision on a final status for Kosovo and possible repercussions in Bosnia or tensions elsewhere --Madey responded that the Union has repeatedly said that countries' individual performances will determine progress, "now, negotiations are held on the merits of our performance".

    Moreover, he said his government remains committed to its activity elsewhere in SE Europe by sharing its experiences in EU-mandated reforms, whereas it also eagerly supports the EU prospects of the entire western Balkans.

    Relations with Greece: The veteran Croatian envoy termed bilateral relations as very good, with only the trade sector falling behind political ties, stressing that the former sector offers incredibly wide margins for improvement.

    Moreover, he also expressed Zagreb's satisfaction with Athens' support for Croatia's EU prospects.

    "We want to intensify contacts on all levels," the envoy said, noting that Croatia's chief EU negotiator will visit Athens at the end of the month.

    The bilateral trade balance for 2005 was roughly US$178.5 million, with Croatia taking the "lion's share" of bilateral trade, $114.4, due to the construction of several Greek-owned vessels at Split's shipyards.

    In the first half of 2006, conversely, trade between the two countries has reached only $60 million, with Greek imports dominating, at $45 million.

    Finally, the Croatian envoy lamented the fact that no Zagreb-Athens air link exists.

    [04] PM attends event in Athens held by Greek Union of US Veterans

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Saturday evening attended an event organized by the Greek Union of US Veterans.

    Karamanlis, accompanied by his wife, Natasa, and mother, Aliki, sat through a concert at the event in northern Athens. No statements were made afterwards.

    Most of the union's members served with the US armed forces in Greece and are married to Greek citizens.

    Saturday's event was in honor of America's war dead.

    [05] Zagoritis at ruling AKP con'f in Ankara

    13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) secretary Lefteris Zagoritis represented the party at the second regular conference of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and within his capacity as an observer of the European Peoples' Party (EPP).

    The conference took place in Ankara on Saturday, with the main item on the agenda being the election of a new president of AKP's central executive committee.

    [06] KKE leader addresses communist and labor party conference

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga addressed an international conference of communist and labor parties in Lisbon, Portugal, on Saturday, stressing the need for an ideological counter-offensive by communist parties to confront "the policy of the forces of imperialism."

    Papariga said that a reshuffle is currently under way in the international imperialist system since "relations between the two strongest imperialist centers, the United States and the European Union, are becoming more complex and competitive, while contrasts in the ranks of the EU itself are worsening."

    The KKE leader proposed initiatives and joint action in the near future concerning EU presidencies and summits, as well as action against anti-communism.

    Papariga further proposed campaigns for the withdrawal of foreign occupation forces from Iraq and against the NATO alliance and foreign military bases, as well as an anti-NATO meeting of parties and movements from the Balkans in Thessaloniki in May 2007.

    Lastly, she proposed action against the plan for a "Wider Middle East" and solidarity missions to Lebanon, Syria, Palestinian territory and Israel by representatives of communist parties.

    [07] SYN leader gives interview to Athens daily

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party leader Alekos Alavanos, in an interview with the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia", that "this generation has a great deal to give, the generation of the 50-year-olds, which is full of wisdom and experiences."

    Alavanos added that there is no question of excluding some of the current deputies since "the sense of opening to the new is a sense of participation and not exclusion."

    [08] Elections in Oct. 2007 'not early', former PM Mitsotakis says

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    New Democracy party honorary president and former prime minister Constantine Mitsotakis, speaking in an interview with the Athens daily "Ethnos", stressed on Friday that "elections in October 2007 are not considered early".

    General elections in Greece are due roughly in March 2008.

    Mitsotakis further said that "the date for holding elections is not determined precisely in our Parliamentary form of government, as is the case in other countries."

    He added that if elections are held a few months earlier, such as in October of next year, "it does not mean that they are early", while he reminded that "elections have taken place one or two months after the end of a government's tenure."

    In separate statements carried by another Athens daily, Mitsotakis said he favored a change in the election law to strengthen the party coming in first, while he said the possibility of a "grand coalition" along the lines of the German model is absolutely unrealistic. He also called for the tabling and passage of education reforms after the holidays.

    [09] Nat'l education council head refers to 'war of ideas' in reforms debate

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    The appointed head of the National Education Council on Saturday stressed that "whatever will shatter the inertia prevailing in the tertiary education sector is a legitimate change that must take place."

    Council president Thanos Veremis, a noted academic and university administrator, also emphasized that his proposals are "minimalist."

    "We are in an absolute war of ideas and in a state where (the other side) lacks any ideas, since none of these groups that supposedly care about education has ever raised any question regarding the improvement of teaching," he said.

    The outspoken Veremis made the statements during an address at an event entitled "Reforms in Education", organized in Thessaloniki by the Thessaloniki branch of the Constantine Karamanlis Institute of Democracy.

    He went on to say that a dilemma of "public or private universities" is merely a "pseudo-dilemma".

    “There are no prestigious private universities anywhere in Europe ... free public education is a claim that has been fulfilled out long ago."

    Veremis also expressed support for greater autonomy of universities under conditions, such as abolition of "eternal" college students, election of deans by a majority of the entire student body students and abolition of the one textbook per lecturer rule.

    [10] Papoulias on hand for commemoration of Samos' union with Greece

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias traveled to the eastern Aegean island of Samos on Sunday to observe events commemorating the 94th anniversary of the island’s union with Greece.

    "I have arrived here on a day that for me is not only historic, but also a milestone. The people of Samos' yearning for liberty and union with Greece are very significant," Papoulias said during his visit to the Vathi municipality.

    He was accompanied by Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis and Samos Prefect Manolis Karlas, among others.

    [11] Alogoskoufis cites absolute opposition to hefty pay hikes given to judges by tribunal

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Sunday reiterated his opposition to any pay hikes for judicial officials recently mandated by special tribunal of high-ranking jurists, a mechanism that allows the independent judicial to set its own remuneration rates.

    Speaking to the Sunday paper "Proto Thema", Alogoskoufis emphasizes that he considers last week's ruling as "completely unjustified".

    The tribunal based its decision for up to 30-percent pay hikes for judges, prosecutors and other judicial officials by linking salary rates to the level of compensation given to the heads of independent authorities.

    "I am examining the issue from a legal standpoint in order to take all necessary measures. In the end, if need be we'll reduce the salary of the president of the national telecommunications committee," the minister stressed.

    The decision by the tribunal has been roundly criticized by the government, opposition and unions, among others.

    In separate comments to another newspaper, former PASOK minister Evangelos Venizelos was also critical of the decision.

    "In our country we have good institutions but poor institutional ethics. There is no such thing as a 'salary court', there's a long-standing court for lawsuits involving maladministration of justice cases where, following the constitutional revision of 2001, this court was awarded jurisdiction over cases involving pay and pension disputes of judicial officials. What's important is who comprises this court and with what responsibility and conscience they hand down decisions," Venizelos, a constitutional law specialist by training, said.

    [12] Employment minister outlines gov't policy on heated social security issue

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Employment Minister Savvas Tsitouridis, speaking at a trade union conference in Thessaloniki on Sunday, promised to amend a relevant presidential decree in order to preclude any decrease in pensions paid out by the TEBE fund after 2009.

    Regarding the question of debts owed by the state to social insurance funds, the minister offered assurances that a considerable part of outstanding debts will be covered next year, and that the New Democracy government aims to pay off the debts entirely.

    Tsitouridis again noted that the current social insurance system is socially unfair, adding that laws ratified by successive PASOK governments have not yet been implemented.

    Finally, he outlined the fundamental principles he said guide the government's policy: ensuring the public nature of the system; no increase in age limits; no increase in the number of years needed to retire; increase in social security contributions and no decrease in pension rates.

    [13] Greek-Turkish tourism protocol signed

    ANTALYA, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Greece and Turkey on Sunday signed a tourism cooperation protocol here envisioning a greater exchange of information on issues of infrastructure and especially maritime tourism, including potential marina partnerships and the hosting of joint sailing regattas.

    The protocol was signed on the sidelines of the 2nd joint Greek-Turkish tourism committee meeting and the 7th Greek-Turkish tourism forum by Tourism Development Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and her Turkish counterpart Atilla Koc.

    The committee agreed to make travel of third country tourists between the two countries easier and to inaugurate new ferry boat links.

    In her brief comments, Petralia noted that through mutual cooperation in the tourism sector, Greece and Turkey can better prepare for the future and achieve better results vis-à-vis international competition.

    In terms of figures, noted Turkish entrepreneur Can Eretem said roughly 50,000 Turkish nationals take yachting holidays in Greece every year, whereas Petralia said 120,000 Turkish nationals visited the country. Conversely, 585,000 Greek nationals visited Turkey in 2005, up from 100,000 in 2004.

    On his part, Koc called on the Greek side to participate in a tourism exhibition to be held in February in Istanbul.

    [14] AHEPA congress to take place in Greece in 2008

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    American Hellenic Educational and Progressive Association (AHEPA) President James Gus, speaking during an event in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Friday night announced that the Association will be holding its congress in Greece in 2008, after many decades, and the target will be to attract about 5,000 expatriates from all over the world.

    Gus outlined the goals of AHEPA in the presence of Deputy Culture Minister for Sport George Orfanos, Parliamentary Deputy Costas Gioulekas, Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis and the General Consul of the U.S. in the city.

    According to Gus, AHEPA, founded in the United States at the beginning of last century, is making coordinated efforts to promote issues concerning Greek expatriates and Greece, operating at the same time as a corridor of communication between the United States and Greece.

    [15] Super market in Thessaloniki robbed of 100,000 euros

    13/11/2006 (ANA)

    A super market in eastern Thessaloniki, Macedonia, was robbed at dawn on Saturday after burglars entered the premises through a hole they made in the roof. According to initial assessments made by its director, about 100,000 euros were stolen.

    [16] Greek Super League soccer results

    ATHENS, 13/11/2006 (ANA)

    Results of the Greek Super League soccer matches played over the weekend:

    Egaleo Athens - PAOK Thessaloniki 0-2

    Iraklis Thessaloniki - Aris Thessaloniki 0-0

    Ionikos Piraeus - Panionios Athens 1-1

    Kerkyra (Corfu) - OFI Crete 1-0

    Ergotelis Crete - Panathinaikos Athens 0-1

    Xanthi - Atromitos Athens 1-0

    Olympiakos Piraeus - Apollon Kalamaria 5-0

    AEK Athens - Larissa 5-0

    Standings after 10 weeks of play:

    Olympiakos 24 points

    Panathinaikos 22

    AEK 21

    PAOK 18

    Egaleo 16

    Kerkyra 15

    Larissa 13

    Atromitos 13

    Ergotelis 11

    OFI 11

    Panionios 11

    Aris 10

    Apollon 9

    Xanthi 9

    Ionikos 6

    Iraklis 3

    Note: Ionikos was deducted two points for disciplinary reasons.

    [17] New Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus enthroned

    NICOSIA, 13/11/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    The new Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II, was enthroned during a special ceremony on Sunday in the presence of representatives from the Orthodox and other Churches, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, representatives from the Greek government and the political and military leadership of Cyprus.

    In his formal address at the official ceremony, the new Archbishop of the Church of Cyprus said that his main concern would be to upgrade the spiritual work of the Church so that it reaches the modern people by an understandable language.

    The new Archbishop said he intends to enlarge the Holy Synod, saying this constitutes not only a practical but also a theological necessity. He also referred to the continuous Turkish occupation of one third of Cyprus' territory since 1974 and reaffirmed that the Church would continue to express its concerns and views on the Cyprus question.

    "Two and a half years ago the people of Cyprus realized the danger and rejected the UN envisaged Annan plan for a solution of the Cyprus problem, which intended to dissolve our state and unconditionally surrender to the occupation power", he said.

    Referring "to our Turkish Cypriot compatriots", he said that there is nothing that divides them from the Greek Cypriots.

    "We lived peacefully with the Turkish Cypriots for so many years. We are not bothered by the voice of the muezzin. But we are bothered tremendously by the illegal Turkish occupation and the violation of the human rights of all Cypriots by Turkey," he stressed.

    [18] Papadopoulos: EU Council not linked with Finnish initiative

    Larnaca, 13/11/2006 (CAN/ANA-MPA)

    The December European Council will deal with Turkey's assessment regarding its EU accession course and is not linked with the Finnish EU presidency’s initiative, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said.

    In statements upon his return from Croatia and the Vatican, where he paid official visits, Papadopoulos said that since the beginning of the Finnish EU presidency's efforts to avert a Euro-Turkish crisis, the Cypriot side has supported the Finnish initiative.

    Invited to comment on Finland's optimism that its initiative will bear fruit until the EU Council of December, Papadopoulos expressed hope that the Finnish proposals would include the "elements that are necessary to reach a progress in the issues we are discussing."

    He noted that the Finnish initiative can not be linked with the December European Council, which will "clearly deal with Turkey's assessment" regarding its EU accession course.


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