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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-07-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM confers with development minister on energy issues
  • [02] FinMin meets with Orascom Telecom chief
  • [03] First data on Parnitha damage disclosed
  • [04] Budget revenues up 7.1% in June

  • [01] PM confers with development minister on energy issues

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred on Thursday morning with development minister Dimitris Sioufas, as the latter afterwards told reporters that he briefed the prime minister "on all the energy-related issues and the various pipelines".

    A day earlier, Karamanlis was briefed by Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras over changes in the leadership of Greece's judiciary after several top judges went into retirement at the end of June.

    In statements to reporters, Papaligouras stressed that this was a difficult conjunction for the judicial body, since its new leadership would have to carry on the clean-up of justice and handle a number of crucial cases that were now before the courts.

    "I am certain that the new leadership of Justice will rise to its absolutely independent and impervious role in dealing with all these issues," he said.

    Replying to questions, he said the justices to be promoted to the top judicial posts would be approved by the Cabinet. Questioned regarding the objections raised by main opposition PASOK to the criteria used in this selection, meanwhile, he accused "centres" within the main opposition party of "attempting to corrode justice".

    PM confers with Lebanese counterpart on the phone

    Earlier on Wednesday, the prime minister spoke on the telephone with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, at the latter's request.

    Siniora briefed the Greek prime minister on developments in the Middle East, while Karamanlis outlined the briefing he had received from Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on her recent visit to Lebanon, as well as on Bakoyannis' talks there with Siniora and members of the Lebanese cabinet.

    Karamanlis reiterated Greece's determination to contribute, together with the EU, to strengthening the national sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Lebanon, and conveyed to Siniora Greece's sentiments of solidarity over the loss of soldiers in the attack against the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon.

    The Greek premier also underlined Greece's approval of the Lebanese government's efforts for the consolidation of security and stability in the country, and stressed that the national dialogue was of prime importance for defusing the tension and attaining political understanding.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] FinMin meets with Orascom Telecom chief

    Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis met Thursday with Orascom Telecom Holding SAE chairman and CEO Naguib Sawiris, for talks on matters related to the Group's investments in Greece.

    Sawiris said after the meeting that he had a "very good cooperation" with the Greek minister, with whom he discussed investments in the sectors of the mass media, communications and banking.

    "We are looking for investments. We are already in with respect to telecoms," Sawiris said.

    Orascom Telecom Holding, a member of the Egypt-based Orascom Group, is managed by Weather Investments S.P.a. which also holds 50 percent plus one share of it. Weather Investments also owns Wind Telecomunicazioni S.P.a. (bought on May 2005) which is the third largest mobile operator in Italy. It also owns Wind Hellas (formerly TIM Hellas, acquired in April 2007), the third largest mobile operator in Greece, and 50 percent plus one share of Tellas, a large fixed telephony provider in Greece.

    Caption: Greek FinMin George Alogoskoufis. ANA-MPA file photo

    [03] First data on Parnitha damage disclosed

    The first figures showing the extent of the damage from last week's fire on Mount Parnitha were presented in Parliament on Thursday by Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras, who disputed initial claims concerning the number of hectares burnt.

    He attributed the extensive damage to both the extremely hot weather at that time and the inability to properly muster fire-fighting forces against it because of roughly 350 simultaneous blazes that had erupted throughout the country.

    The minister said a final and accurate picture will exist after aerial photographs of the area have been taken but that an initial assessment and count showed that the disaster on Parnitha was not absolute.

    "The total mass of forest on Parnitha is 30,000 hectares and of these, 2,500 hectares were burnt; in terms of the national forest about 1,000 out of 3,800 hectares were burnt," Polydoras said in response to a question by PASOK MP Dinos Vrettos.

    "We have to appreciate the meaning of an 'act of God.' We had record temperatures of 46.5 degrees Celsius in the shade and winds measuring 6-7 Beaufort. These caused the disaster on Parnitha. The state gave its battle using an updated plan and coordinated action. It was impossible to avoid the catastrophe because of an act of God," he stressed.

    Vrettos accused the minister of once again failing to admit to his responsibility for the disaster.

    "Why are you still minister? If I was in your place I would have resigned," the MP said.

    Polydoras responded angrily, accusing the main opposition of lacking arguments:

    "In 1998, 3,900 hectares were burnt on Parnitha and I didn't see anyone from PASOK shed tears or resign at the time. Protection of the environment requires collaboration and not wordplay," he countered, accusing the main opposition party of acting like "back-seat drivers" and handing out advice that cost them nothing while the government was fighting and giving a battle with self-denial and self-sacrifice.

    "We don't allow denunciation over the ashes of Parnitha. We must reach an understanding on how to join our forces to protect the environment," he said.

    Caption: A view of fire-ravaged Parnitha on Tuesday, July 3, 2007. ANA-MPA / S. PANTZARTZI

    [04] Budget revenues up 7.1% in June

    The Greek state's regular budget revenues rose by 7.1 percent in June, surpassing a budget target for an annual growth rate of 5.5 percent, the Economy and Finance ministry announced on Thursday.

    A ministry statement said budget revenues totaled 23.471 billion euros in the January-June period, from 22.613 billion euros in the corresponding period last year, for an increase of 3.8 pct.

    Budget revenues from custom and tax agencies grew by 3.1 percent, while VAT revenues rose 7.5 percent.

    The ministry said budget income grew by 1.268 billion euros in the January-June period, or by 5.7 percent, down from a 7.2 percent budget target for the year.

    Caption: A file picture dated 30 August 2001 of euro banknotes on dislay at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt/Main. ANA-MPA / EPA / BORIS ROESSLER

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