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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-10-18

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] EU levels heavy fines on Athens for OA
  • [02] Major concert by ERT orchestra at UN

  • [01] EU levels heavy fines on Athens for OA

    The European Commission on Wednesday approved a decision calling on the European Court of Justice to impose a lump sum penalty and a periodic penalty on Greece for its failure to implement a 2002 decision in relation to the recovery of a state aid, estimated at least 160 million euros, allocated from state coffers to national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) between 1998 and 2002.

    The failure of Greece to comply with the decision had already been confirmed by a judgement of the Court on May 12, 2005.

    In December 2002 the Commission found that Greece had granted illegal restructuring aid to Olympic Airways between 1998 and 2002 and ordered its recovery. On May 12, 2005 the EU Court of Justice confirmed that Greek authorities had failed to recover from the airline financial aid estimated at least 161 million euros. This concerns 41 million euros of illegal restructuring aid and another estimated 120 million euros of operational aid, i.e. non-payment of various sums the company owes to the Greek state, such as VAT on fuel and airport charges.

    Due to the seriousness and duration of the infringement, Wednesday's decision requests the Court impose on Greece a lump sum payment of 10,512 euros for each day since the 2005 ruling until the effective implementation of the 2002 decision. If nevertheless the decision is not fully implemented when the Court issues its second ruling, then the Court may also impose on Greece, from the day of the latter ruling, a periodic penalty payment of 53,611 euros per day until effective implementation of the 2002 decision is carried out.

    In 1994 the Commission allowed a restructuring plan, with two additional positive decisions allowing for amendments to that first plan, in 1998 and 2000. The implementation of that plan, however, did not respect the commitments taken by the Greek authorities between 1994 and 2000, which led to the negative 2002 decision.

    The case does not relate to state financing of public service obligations, such as servicing remote areas or isolated islands. Such financing is allowed under EU rules, provided that it is transparent and non discriminatory, something that has been over the past few years been authorised by the Commission in the case of Olympic.

    Commenting on the European Commission's decision, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said no decision could automatically lead to the bankruptcy of Olympic Airways.

    ANA-MPA file photo

    [02] Major concert by ERT orchestra at UN

    The ERT National Symphony Orchestra is to hold a major concert at the United Nations' General Assembly Auditorium on October 25, the day when the organisation celebrates the 61st anniversary since its foundation. ERT is the acronym for the Greek state broadcasting network.

    During a press conference to present the concert on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed that the United Nations remained "the most powerful symbol of a commitment to common goals". She said that Greece was organising the concert to mark the culmination of its two-year stint as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, in honour of the UN anniversary.

    The programme will feature Mikis' Theodorakis' "Axion Esti" and "Epiphania", based on the poems written by Greece's two Nobel laureate poets, Odysseas Elytis and George Seferis, as well as Manos Hatzidakis' "Megalo Erotiko" and other Greek poetry set to music by 20th century Greek composers.

    ERT has engaged noted Mexican tenor Ronaldo Villazon to perform, alongside Greek soloists Fotini Darra, T. Apostolou and A. Smyrnakis.

    The concert was organised by ERT and sponsorship from the Alexander S. Onassis Foundation, whose role in Greek foreign policy through culture was praised by Bakoyannis.

    ERT director Christos Panagopoulos underlined that it was a great honour for ERT to have been selected by the foreign ministry for this event and said that the concert will be broadcast by satellite over an area spanning America, Australia and South Africa, while it will be broadcast in Greece on the following day from 19:00-21:00 in the evening.

    Caption: An ANA-MPA file photo shows the Montreal Symphonic Orchestra performing a concert in New York City in honor of Theodorakis' 75th birthday, October 2000.

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