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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-05-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Memorial service for Constantine Karamanlis on Mon.
  • [02] Poll on political developments
  • [03] FinMin on OTE future, VAT
  • [04] Driver shot during escape

  • [01] Memorial service for Constantine Karamanlis on Mon.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will attend the annual memorial service for his namesake and uncle Constantine Karamanlis, the late Greek statesman and founder of the New Democracy party, at the Constantine Karamanlis Foundation on Monday morning.

    He will receive Justice Minister Sotiris Hatzigakis at noon before addressing an international conference on the subject of Energy Security and Climatic Change later in the afternoon in the Greek capital.

    [02] Poll on political developments

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) maintained a 2.6 percentage point lead over rival main opposition PASOK, according to a latest opinion poll, the results of which appeared in the Sunday edition of the "Ethnos" newspaper. Additionally, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis remained the most popular political leader.

    Specifically, with respect to voters' intent (i.e. the party the respondent would vote for if elections were held tomorrow), ND was preferred by 31.6 percent of respondents against 29 percent for PASOK, followed by 15.6 percent for the Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance; 7.2 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE); 3.6 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party, while 2.2 percent opted for "other" parties, and 10.9 percent were undecided.

    Regarding the popularity of political leaders, Karamanlis was viewed positively by 62 percent of respondents, posting an 8.4 increase in comparison with the same poll conducted by the MARC firm two months ago, followed by Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos, which heads the SYRIZA alliance) leader Alexis Tsipras with 54.8 percent (down 10.3 percent from the previous opinion poll), SYRIZA head Alekos Alavanos with 48.9 percent (down 5.4 percent), and PASOK leader George Papandreou with 43.4 percent (up 0.8 percent from the previous poll).

    Also, 64.8 percent of respondents favoured the strengthening of the smaller political parties in Parliament, with 48.9 percent endorsing a strengthening of SYRIZA, 17.2 percent for KKE, and 10.8 percent for LA.OS.

    In addition, 50.3 percent of the respondents want a coalition government to emerge from the next general elections, while 48.3 percent prefer an autonomous government.

    Furthermore, 96.6 percent of the respondents were in favour of reforms, with 37.7 percent believing that the reforms being advanced by the ND government were "headed in the right direction', whereas 49.6 percent believed the opposite.

    Also, 91.2 percent of the respondents were 'very little' or 'not at all' satisfied with the government's handling of matters concerning standard of living, while 86.3 percent were 'very little' or 'not at all' satisfied with its confrontation of unemployment.

    In addition, 85.6 percent of the respondents were 'very little' or 'not at all' satisfied with the government's steps against corruption, 85 percent on its confrontation of crime, and 84.1 percent on its handling of the economy.

    However, 55.7 percent were 'very' or 'quite' satisfied with the government's handling of the FYROM "name issue".

    [03] FinMin on OTE future, VAT

    Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, speaking in an interview on a public television station on Sunday, again ruled out the possibility of an increase in VAT rates.

    "At a time when inflation has increased it would be absolute madness for me to increase VAT," he said, stressing that repercussions for the Greek economy, emanating from international turmoil in markets, will be overcome with the smallest losses possible.

    Referring to negotiations with the Deutsche Telekom (DT) regarding state-run Hellenic Telecomunications Organisation (OTE), he said that through a shareholders' agreement the state will sign with the German multinational, one valid for as long as the Greek state holds a percentage in the region of 5 percent of OTE, the government will enjoy considerable safeguards and the right of veto in all strategic issues.

    The minister clarified that these issues include OTE's rates policy, which, as he said, is determined by the independent National Regulatory Authority (EETT), as well as ones affecting national security.

    "There shall be consultation for labour matters, collective bargaining agreements, changes in the personnel regulation; consultations with the Greek government will be necessary and, of course, national law shall apply," the minister said, underlining that there is no question of OTE changing name.

    Alogoskoufis pointed out that negotiations have not yet been concluded on all issues and certain obstacles have to be handled, namely, ones concerning the sale price of 3 percent of OTE's shares from the state to Deutsche Telekom, what options the state will have if it sells more stakes of OTE in the future etc.

    He further clarified that the effort currently taking place is for the state to receive the best possible price, higher than the price MIG sold OTE shares to DT.

    The minister said an indefinite shareholders' agreement, valid for as long as the Greek state has at least a 5-percent stake in OTE, eliminates the risk "that always existed for OTE of someone appearing without the joint participation of the Greek state and making a public offering via the stock exchange for its control."

    On the issue of rising cost-of-living rates in the country, Alogoskoufis said the issue will be tackled with the 41 measures announced by the development ministry.

    As regards debt-ridden Olympic Airlines, he said the government's policy anticipates its privatisation, while for the Hellenic Post Bank he said "our policy is that it will continue its autonomous course."

    Alogoskoufis also indicated that more measures will be taken to protect retail borrowers, saying that such measures are still being considered.

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

    [04] Driver shot during escape

    A 30-year-old man in custody on burglary charges escaped from a police patrol car on Saturday afternoon in west Thessaloniki, taking an officer's service revolver in the process he later used to gun down a bus driver during a frantic chase in the northern city's streets.

    The suspect repeatedly stopped unsuspecting motorists in the city at gun point in his attempt to elude pursuing police vehicles.

    He reportedly shot a 60-year-old driver of a city bus in an attempt to hijack the vehicle while later taking a hostage in a residence, where he was finally arrested in the Neo Kordelio district.

    An investigation of the unprecedented incident was ordered amid heightened local media coverage throughout the weekend.

    The suspect and two police officers -- the driver and co-driver of the police unit from where the suspect fled -- were led before a public prosecutor in Thessaloniki on Sunday, following the suspension of a total of six police officers a day earlier, hours after the incident.

    Caption: A view of a bus in the northern city of Thessaloniki on Saturday, May 3, 2008, whose driver was gunned down by a suspect who fled police custody along with an officer's service revolver. ANA-MPA / P. MAKRIDIS.

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