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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] European Court orders return of EU fines to Greece
  • [02] Two Greek companies win European media awards
  • [03] Greece supports Bulgaria's EU accession bid, signs cooperation protocol
  • [04] Commission praises Greek gov't action to curb deficits, calls for more measures in 2006

  • [01] European Court orders return of EU fines to Greece

    The European Court of Justice has ruled that fines of about 50 million euros imposed on Greece by the EU over subsidies for arable land in 1994-1999 must be returned, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Evangleos Basiakos said on Tuesday.

    Greece had contested the fine at the court, supported by Basiakos.

    "This is the first time that the European Court has annulled this type of decision by the EU Commission," the minister told reporters.

    The ruling means that Greece may seek return of other, similar fines.

    [02] Two Greek companies win European media awards

    Multichoice Hellas SA, pay TV services provider and Mega TV, one of the major television networks in the country, were the two Greek companies to win distinctions at the 9th Annual Promax & BDA Europe conference, which represents the best in promotion, marketing and broadcast design campaigns.

    In a special awards ceremony, held in Athens on Tuesday, the winners - out of a total of 1,800 submissions in 44 categories -were announced.

    Specifically, Multichoice Hellas SA won the gold in the Best Subscription Promo category for its Nova Subscription Promo Runaway TV.

    In the PSA (Public Service Announcement) Challenge, a distinction that is separate from the 44 categories, three companies - Mega TV, Zone Vision Network of the UK and Multicanal of Spain - were called upon by conference organisers to produce a spot on behalf of ActionAid, the charity organisation dedicated to fighting poverty in Africa.

    The three spots were shown to conference attendees during Tuesday's morning session, who then voted, choosing Mega TV as the gold winner.

    Speaking about the campaign and ActionAid's work, Panos Kokkidis Head of Mega TV's On-Air Promotion, said: "Poverty is not just a problem of Western civilisation." According to Kokkidis, colonolisation is what brought poverty to the African continent. "It is difficult for them to develop their own civilisation after only about 50 years of independence, so they try to solve their problems as best they can and whichever way they know how. (...) We feel guilty and that's why we try to help them. We feel responsible for their pain," he added. "It is our hope this spot will help educate people to the issues and be a big help to create awareness and move people to action," Kokkidis concluded.

    The spot itself sends a strong message. The PSA opens resembling the beginning of the reality show "Survivor" but then shows the problems people in Africa deal with on a daily basis, underscoring the fact that the reality show in the Western world is the real-life reality in Africa.

    "We hold the PSA Challenge every year, it is very important for us. It is a statement," Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Promax & BDA EMEA Carmen Alzner said. The objective is to help charity organisations in two ways: by producing a spot they cannot afford to do themselves and to distribute it to Promax & BDA members in order to generate as much air time as possible, she explained.

    The three spots will be made available to broadcasters to air worldwide.

    Other winners at the Promax & BDA Europe Awards, included AETN International from the US, which won the gold for Best Television Image Campaign ("Know Where You Stand"), while TVE in Spain collected the gold for Best Television Image Promo ("Reality TV-Shoot Out"). Also from Spain, AXN won two gold awards for its "The Rhythym of Action" in two categories: Best Use of Custom-Made/Composed Music/Sound Design and Best Editing.

    BBC Broadcast won a total of 13 awards (10 gold and 3 silver) in various categories, while BskyB picked up nine awards (5 gold and 4 silver).

    According to Alzner, Promax & BDA have noticed that hosting a conference in a particular city tends to increase the number of participants from that country in following conferences. Asked whether she expected the same to hold true in the case of Greece, her response was, "I hope so. That is my wish."

    [03] Greece supports Bulgaria's EU accession bid, signs cooperation protocol

    Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Evrypidis Stylianidis on Tuesday underlined the Greek government's support for Bulgaria's accession to the European Union at the start of 2007, during a meeting with visiting Bulgarian European Affairs Minister Meglena Kuneva.

    "We will do everything possible for the ratification of Bulgaria's Accession Treaty by the Greek Parliament," Stylianidis said and stressed the extremely good bilateral relations between the two countries, noting that this should extend to governments, markets and society.

    Kuneva thanked Greece for its assistance throughout the course of accession negotiations with the EU and asked for its support in ensuring the speedy ratification of Bulgaria accession.

    They noted that cooperation will continue after Bulgaria's EU entry and reaffirmed joint plans for infrastructure projects in Bulgaria.

    Also on Tuesday, a protocol for bilateral scientific cooperation between Greece and Bulgaria was signed in Sofia at the 16th meeting of the Mixed Greek-Bulgarian Committee for Cooperation in Science and Technology by Greek Ambassador to Bulgaria Prokopios Mantzouranis and Bulgarian Deputy Education Minister Kamen Belev.

    This will include cooperation in researching seismic activity in the southern Balkans, the distribution of radioactive elements in Greek and Bulgarian forests, exchanges of oceanographic data and the use of biotechnology to improve crops.

    Meeting of Greek and Bulgarian president postponed due to Pope's funeral

    A scheduled meeting between the Presidents of Greece and Bulgaria in Thessaloniki on Friday will not take place because Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias' will travel to Rome to attend the Pope's funeral, it was announced on Tuesday.

    According to diplomatic sources, Papoulias' meeting with Bulgarian president Georgi Purvanov -- who is also likely to attend the Pope's funeral -- has not been cancelled and will be rescheduled in the immediate future.

    [04] Commission praises Greek gov't action to curb deficits, calls for more measures in 2006

    The European Commission on Wednesday concluded that Greece is taking effective action to reduce its deficit below 3% in 2006, consistent with a Council decision taken last February.

    The Greek stability programme for 2004-2007 shows the Greek deficit falling to 3.7% of GDP in 2005 and to 2.9% in 2006, after having peaked at 6.1% last year, the Commission said in its recommendation. The budgetary strategy is based on a mix of revenue-enhancing measures and expenditure retrenchment, allowing for a primary surplus of 0.7% of GDP in 2005. But the Commission sees risks for 2005 and beyond, and calls on Greece to implement the necessary permanent measures to ensure the correction of the excessive deficit by 2006.

    "The Greek government must be praised not only for implementing the 2005 budget with rigour but also for announcing additional measures for this year. Taking into account the existing risks, I welcome its commitment to present a budget for 2006 in which the deficit would be brought below 3% of GDP," said Joaquin Almunia, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs.

    (Caption: The government's top economic team, Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, right, along with Deputy Ministers Petros Doukas, centre, and Adam Regouzas, appear in Parliament on Wednesday during a debate on economic policy)

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