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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-04-20

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU Commission finds 'primary shareholder' law incompatible with EU rules; government reaction
  • [02] Greek exports to Russia on the rise, deputy foreign minister says
  • [03] Privatisation programme to proceed as scheduled, Greek FinMin
  • [04] 4th Acropolis Rally kicks off

  • [01] EU Commission finds 'primary shareholder' law incompatible with EU rules; government reaction

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Wednesday stressed that a letter received from the European Commission that day, which found the government's 'primary shareholder' law to be incompatible with the laws of the European Union, was not a reply to the letter sent 15 days earlier by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, which the government was still waiting for.

    According to the spokesman, the memorandum sent by the head of the European Commission's Regional Policy Directorate-General Graham Meadows ruled out payments from EU Structural and Cohesion Funds for projects affected by the new law, creating the risk that EU subsidies might lost.

    He said the government was considering the option of postponing the date that the bill came into force if no agreement was reached before May 31, the deadline given by Meadows for informing Greek authorities responsible for EU-funded projects about the non-eligibility of spending linked to contracts affected by the bill.

    The new bill was originally scheduled to come into force on June 14 this year.

    The spokesman also stressed that the letter questioned the compatibility of both the new law and the law passed by the previous PASOK government, which is currently in force, while pointing out that the Commission official was mistaken in believing that the law passed in 2005 was already in force.

    Roussopoulos said that the government was continuing efforts to find a "common ground" with the Commission while defending both the Greek Constitution and the Community funds that the country was entitled to.

    "On no account does our strategic target change and we are not giving up our fight for transparency.

    "No one should entertain any illusions that the government will lay down its arms in the fight against graft," he added, while he left open the option of amending the law or postponing its enactment, depending on the outcome of talks with the European Commission.

    Roussopoulos also pointed out that the risk of a freeze of EU funds was linked to the implementation of the previous law passed by PASOK in 2002 and possible complaints filed in connection with contracts awarded or lost on the basis of this law, which was still in force. He said he was unaware if any such complaints had been lodged with the Commission.

    "However, we are not prepared to lose even one euro of Community funds linked to major public works projects, whether these concern PASOK's laws or our own," he stressed.

    In the letter sent to Greece's permanent representative at the European Union on Wednesday by Meadows, Greek authorities are advised that spending linked to contracts affected by the 'primary shareholder' law of 2005 is not eligible for funding from the EU Cohesion and Structural Funds.

    Meadows also demands that applications for payments submitted to EU funds by Greece should include a certificate from Greek authorities that they are not linked to contracts affected by the law in question.

    He asks that the Greek government send confirmation by May 31, 2005 that it has advised Greek authorities in charge of handling and administrating EU-subsidised projects of the new rules, otherwise EU funds will refuse to accept requests for payment from Greece.

    The letter notes that the Commission had also found the previous law passed by PASOK in 2002 to be incompatible with European Law and that the Commission was leaving open the possibility of initiating procedures for "fiscal correction" foreseen under the Structural Fund and Cohesion Fund rules if it was informed that participants in a tender had been disqualified from bidding for state contracts on the basis of this law.

    The 'primary shareholder' law of 2005 enacts an article of the Greek Constitution that seeks to prevent media involvement in the process of awarding state contracts, in a bid to promote transparency and ensure that the media fulfill their institutional role. In effect, the law forbids individuals or companies that own at least 1 percent of a media enterprise from bidding for state contracts, while the ban also extends to their spouse and close relatives.

    [02] Greek exports to Russia on the rise, deputy foreign minister says

    The balance of trade deficit between Greece and Russia was tending to improve, with Greek exports and investments in Russia on the rise, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianides told a Greek-Russian Business Forum taking place in Athens on Wednesday and Thursday.

    He also stressed the recently signed political memorandum for the construction of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, saying this sealed Greece's successful presidency of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) organisation and established Greece and Russia as strategic partners.

    Stylianides said that 45 Greek businesses were currently operating in Russia, as well as 130 mixed Greek-Russian concerns. He said Athens was making efforts to resolve the problem of issuing visas for both tourists and business travellers within the framework of the Schengen Treaty.

    He also noted that Greece was organising a mixed ministerial meeting and business delegation to Moscow as a way of promoting bilateral ties between Greece and Russia.

    The forum was organised by the Athens Chamber of Trade and Industry.

    [03] Privatisation programme to proceed as scheduled, Greek FinMin

    A total of 37 investment projects, budgeted at 115 million euros, have been submitted with the economy ministry as part of the framework of a new development law so far, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told an Economist conference in Athens on Wednesday.

    In his speech, the Greek minister stressed that a privatisation programme would be implemented as scheduled along with structural reforms included in the government's economic programme.

    [04] 4th Acropolis Rally kicks off

    Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sports George Orfanos on Wednesday inaugurated the 4th Acropolis Rally, in which antique cars participate.

    The starting point was at the foot of the Acropolis, which is where the cars will also finish on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

    "It's an event that Greeks find exciting. They love it and they support it," Orfanos said.


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