|Monday, 20 May 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-11-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 26, 2001
 ND leader criticizes gov't, warns against changing electoral law, on Achaia tour
Athens, 26/11/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday launched a scathing at-tack on the government's policies, particularly in the economy and public works, and warned the PASOK government not to make changes to the electoral law, during a two-day tour of Achaia prefecture.
Speaking to ND supporters in the town of Egio, Karamanlis said the European Commission re-ports on Greece reflected a "society in a deep crisis", with the Greek economy losing its competitiveness in recent years, the trade balance deficit widening, and the developmental structure characterized by intensely unequal distribution.
He said that Greece had dropped to the lower end of the lists vis-a-vis the indicators in the sectors of health, education and new technologies, but was at the top of the list in the expansion of regional and social inequalities.
Five Greek regions were among the 10 poorest in the EU, while one in every four Greek households lived below the poverty level and unemployment had reached "nightmarish heights", with nearly every family having one or two unemployed members, Karamanlis continued.
"And this is one of the biggest social problems, because behind the percentages and soulless numbers are people with dignity, youths sinking into despair. This is the most eloquent reflection of the government's economic and social policy," he said.
Reiterating that Greece's biggest challenge was its course to the EMU era, Karamanlis criticized the government of having become "paralyzed" in the face of that challenge "because it has not dared to go ahead with the necessary structural changes and has postponed the problems of yesterday to today".
Karamanlis charged that, despite the premier's assurances of the opposite, the new budget was along the same rationale as the immediately preceding ones, founded on excessive taxation and lacking in strategy.
The new budget raised revenues from taxes by about 700 billion drachma, imposed additional taxes of an average 190,000 dr. per family, and did not reflect reality but was rather an exercise in "creative logistics" that create hidden debts, he continued.
Karamanlis called for a new expansionist economic policy, a radical taxation reform that would relieve households and businesses, and a new developmental law, as well as substantive fiscal streamlining, a bold policy for the immediate liberation of the markets from the State's clench, speedy advancement of denationalizations, and deep changes in public administration in order to upgrade the coordinating role of the central administration and boost local government.
On farmers' issues, Karamanlis called for an integrated aggressive agricultural policy, while he also severely criticized the government over the situation on the Athens Stock Exchange, claiming that in recent years the "biggest redistribution of wealth" had been effected via the bourse "at the expense of the many in favor of the few".
Turning to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the main opposition leader said that the cost of the various projects had greatly overshot the initial budgets, some up to double the initial projected cost, while the delays and problems were now being openly confessed by government officials, and warned that there was no time margin left.
With respect to the electoral law, Karamanlis said that ND would not tolerate "games aiming at the undermining of the smooth political life" or "political profiteering and anomalous political developments".
He said that the rumors surrounding the issue of the electoral law indicated "defeatism" in the government camp but also "intentions that are not in line with political morality".
"We categorically and responsibly warn the heads of PASOK and the government that if you are once again working on plans for political abnormality, abandon them. Don't even think of playing games with the electoral law," Karamanlis warned.
Earlier, Karamanlis addressed ND supporters in the western port city of Patras, where he pledged that his party, when it became government, would strengthen the role of local government, and criticizing the government for delays in local infrastructure projects.
Gov't cannot change voting system before polls, spokesman says: Government spokesman Christos Protopappas said on Sunday that the government cannot change the country's electoral system before the next general elections, unless the opposition agrees.
He was responding to the main opposition New Democracy party leader, Costas Karamanlis, who had claimed a day earlier that the government was planning an unspecified change to the existing arrangement.
"Either Mr. Karamanlis is panicking due to a clear-cut upswing by (the ruling) PASOK (party), or he has lost his sang froid, or he does not know that under the constitution the election system for the next elections cannot change unless his party agrees," Protopappas said in a statement.
 Greece, Turkey table joint resolution at UN on coordinated disaster response
NEW YORK, 26/11/2001 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)The UN plenary is slated Monday to discuss a draft resolution tabled jointly by Greece and Turkey on coordinated emergency response to natural disasters, it was made known on Saturday.
The Greek and Turkish permanent representatives to the UN, Ambassadors Elias Gounaris and Umit Pamir respectively, will introduce the draft resolution on "Strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations" on Monday during the UN's 56th General Assembly.
In a letter to UN secretary general Kofi Annan accompanying the text of the draft resolution, the two ambassadors noted that after the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Greece in 1999, the governments of the two countries, "motivated by the mutual assistance extended by their people", established a Joint Hellenic-Turkish Standby Disaster Response Unit (JHET-SDRU).
This Unit, in tune with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), aims at "reinforcing and expanding existing arrangements of the UN system and is fully aligned with the United Nations' efforts to mitigate the impact of natural disasters", and "is reflected in the draft Resolution" tabled jointly by the two countries, the two ambassadors explained in their accompanying letter, calling for Annan's support and co-sponsorship of the Resolution.
Below is the full text of the draft Resolution on "Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance of the United Nations, including special economic assistance; strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations", which will be Agenda item 20 for the 56th session of the UN General Assembly on Monday:
Emergency response to disasters
The General Assembly,
Reaffirming its resolution 46/182 of 19 December 1991 on the strengthening of coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations, including the guiding principles of humanitarian assistance contained therein,
Recalling its resolutions 44/236 of 22 December 1989, 54/30 of 22 November 1999 and 54/219 of 22 December 1999,
Welcoming the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction,
Deeply concerned by the fact that natural disasters in every corner of the globe continue to claim high numbers of casualties and cause immense material damage and that the frequency and magnitude of these catastrophes lay an ever-increasing material and moral burden on nations,
Reiterating the importance of mounting prompt and effective relief operations in the aftermath of such deadly calamities in the future,
Welcoming the ongoing efforts, led by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the Secretariat, aimed at promoting preparedness for disaster response at the international, regional and national levels, including, in collaboration with the International search and Rescue Advisory Group, initiatives to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of international urban search and rescue assistance in the aftermath of natural disasters,
1. Expresses its solidarity with the peoples of the countries that have been struck by natural calamities as they cope with the consequences of these disasters;
2. Expresses its appreciation to all States of the international community, international agencies and organizations and non-governmental organizations and individuals that are providing emergency relief to the areas affected by natural disasters;
3. Notes with satisfaction the progress achieved by the Governments of Turkey and Greece, in cooperation with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs of the Secretariat, on the formation of a joint Hellenic-Turkish standby disaster response unit, which would be operational in the near future, having no financial implications on the program budget of the United Nations;
4. Requests the Secretary-General, through the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, to continue its work on the modalities for the utilization of the standby disaster relief unit by the United Nations system;
5. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-seventh session on the progress made in the implementation of the present resolution.
 Bush welcomes ethnic Greek solidarity after terrorist attacks
Athens, 26/11/2001 (ANA)George Bush has welcomed solidarity from ethnic Greeks in America following terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in the autumn.
"Thank you for writing about the acts of war committed against the United States on September 11," Bush said in a letter earlier this month to Ted Spyropoulos, president of the Chicago-based Hellenic American National Council.
He noted that the US remained strong and united in the face of the onslaught, a beacon of freedom and opportunity to the rest of the world.
"Our government continues to serve the American people. Our intelligence, military and law enforcement communities are working non-stop to find those responsible for these attacks," Bush said.
He also underlined that Arab and Moslem American citizens backed the US, and should be treated with dignity and respect.
"Americans of every creed, ethnicity and national origin must unite against our common enemies," the president said in the letter.
He also urged the public to use web sites like LibertyUnites.org in order to join the relief effort.
 Communist Party of Greece condemns 'imperialist war' in Afghanistan
Athens, 26/11/2001 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Sunday criticized the US for the invasion of Afghanistan, saying that it would start "other imperialist wars in other countries".
"In Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance appears as a liberator, but in reality it is the new oppressor of the Afghans. This is the other face of the Taliban," the party said in a statement.
It also criticized the European Union and Greece for their part in the war in Afghanistan, as well as the Coalition of the Left and Progress for its views over the EU's role in the war.
 KEP Founding Congress - Avramopoulos elected party leader
Athens, 26/11/2001 (ANA)Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, founder of the new Movement of Free Citizens (KEP) party, was on Saturday elected party leader at the KEP Founding Congress in Thessaloniki.
Avramopoulos was formally elected party leader in a show of hands by the 3,500 party members taking part in the Founding Congress.
"Today is a new beginning. The beginning of a new struggle that will soon lead us where we deserve to be. Soon, we will be the winners, and what we achieve shall be big. Now we exist, they take us into account and fear us," Avramopoulos said, taking the podium.
Avramopoulos said that the party did not designate itself as the "opponent" of anyone, adding that those who felt threatened did so because they do not advance democracy, but only use it.
"Ideas cannot be threatened. We present to the Greek people our targets, analysis and proposals. We present or love to this land, and will infuse it with new blood," he added.
Avramopoulos pledged that KEP would soon prove that the political structure was a "paper castle" that would be blown away by the wind of demand for a different tomorrow, "and in the place of that paper castle, we will lay the foundations for true democracy".
Delegates defied adverse weather conditions and traveled on chartered coaches from all over Greece to attend the Founding Congress.
A novelty in the KEP Congress was that the delegates were not elected by party organizations, and also that a ballot was not held to elect the leader, just a show of hands.
Avrampoulos said during a press conference on Friday that the party's Central Committee would be elected at a later date.
According to figures provided by KEP, 68 percent of the founding members were men and 32 percent were women. It is noted that all the delegates taking party in the Founding Congress are considered founding members.
Of the founding members, 19.4 percent are business executives and employees, 16 percent are businessmen/women, and 10.5 percent are teachers and professors.
The Founding Congress was slated to end late Saturday with the signing of the Founding Declaration.
KEP to back Thessaloniki mayor Papageorgopoulos for re-election: The newly-formed Movement of Free Citizens (KEP) party will back current Thessaloniki mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos for re-election in next year's municipal elections, KEP leader Dimitris Avramopoulos announced Saturday.
Avramopoulos made the announcement in Thessaloniki during the KEP Founding Congress, to which Papageorgopoulos ad-dressed a greeting earlier in the day.
 Ecevit says Cyprus is Turkey's problem
ANKARA, 26/11/2001 (ANA/A.Abatzis)Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said on Sunday that Cyprus was Turkey's problem, criticizing the West for presenting the issue of the divided island as a problem for Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
"It is Turkey's problem. But they (the West) will reassess the situation when they see that we will not back down," Ecevit told Turkish state television.
He also said that there was no difference between sacrifices made in Turkey or in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus, which he called of key strategic importance both for the security of Turks in Cyprus and of Turkey itself.
Ankara has rejected rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, saying the regime in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus was the competent authority.
 Public Power Corp. seeks listing in London, Athens
Athens, 26/11/2001 (ANA)The Public Power Corporation (PPC) is to seek listing on the London Stock Exchange in a move to coincide with an initial public offer (IPO) for entry into the Athens bourse that is scheduled for next month, the government said on Sunday.
Authorities of the Athens Stock Exchange and capital markets commission on Friday endorsed a prospectus from the state-owned PPC to hold a domestic IPO on December 4-7 for entry into the bourse's main market.
For privatization will be about 15 percent of the company's stock after a share capital rise that is to be sold through a domestic IPO, a private placement to staff, and in the form of Global Depository Receipts (GDRs) on the London bourse.
Application will shortly be made in the United Kingdom for the issue of GDRs, which should go on the market at the same time as stock in the domestic IPO.
Roadshows to present the company to institutional investors will begin on Monday, along with a book building process to determine the share price, which has an indicative range of 12.30-14.70 euros in the international offer. The roadshows end on December 7.
A binding price range for the IPO will be announced on December 3, with the final price and number of shares for sale likely to be finalized on December 10, based on demand in the two offers.
The decision to take the company to London's international market was taken after consultations between National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and senior executives of the PPC.
About 10 percent of the PPC's total stock for sale will be in the form of existing shares belonging to the state, with roughly five percent to emerge from a share capital increase, and one percent to act as a 'green shoe' price stabilizer.
On offer are 12,000,000 new common shares from the share capital rise and 23,000,000 existing stocks, of which 3,700,000 are destined for private placement.
The state has an option of offering up to 2,320,000 existing shares for underwriters to help stabilize the stock price; and up to 4,680,000 existing shares to cover surplus demand.
Domestic retail investors will be offered a discount on the share price set for retail and institutional investors of up to three percent; plus one free share for every ten held for at least six months, with the ceiling on free shares set at 200.
Staff will have a discount of 10 percent on the share price, plus one free share for each ten held for at least 12 months, again with a ceiling of 200 free shares.
The decision to holding the IPO in early December was taken on Thursday by Christodoulakis and Tsohatzopoulos.
The government had long ago declared its intention of arranging a partial flotation for the PPC, but a weak stock market and preparations for the sale delayed the move.
 Qantas to liaise with OA if Australian group wins sale tenderMELBOURNE, 26/11/2001 (AAP/A. Stavrinos-ANA)
An Australian-led business consortium, the frontrunner in a privatization tender for Olympic Airways, is likely to receive support from Qantas if it emerges as the Greek national carrier's new owner, industry officials told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
In a news feature from Athens on Sunday, the AAP quoted a member of the Integrated Airline Solutions Consortium as saying the group would appoint Ian Oldmeadow, a senior adviser to Qantas, as Olympic's chief executive officer, if it won the tender for the sale of a majority stake in the airline and its management.
Gregory Konstantellos, president of the Hellenic Airline Pilots Association, which is a member of the consortium, also told the news agency that the group had proposed eight Australians for seats on a management team of 10; and that support had been secured from Qantas.
The Australian airline's chief executive officer, Geoff Dixon, is quoted as saying in a letter in August that Qantas would be prepared to enter into talks with Olympic if Integrated's bid was successful.
The airline would welcome the opportunity to examine schedule alignment and product and service upgrades with Olympic in order to facilitate the two carriers' relationship, also providing intellectual capital through Qantas Consulting, Dixon said.
The Integrated Airline Solutions Consortium is the brainchild of Macquarie Bank chairman David Clarke, and includes Greek tycoons Pavlos Vardinoyiannis and Konstantinos Angelopoulos, the brother-in-law of Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, chief of the Athens 2004 Olympics organizing committee.
Other members of the consortium are telecommunications and tobacco tycoon Dimitris Fessas; Greek-American entrepreneur Spiros Papageorgiou; aviation and shipping operator Vangelis Papistas; and another Greek shipowner who has asked to remain anonymous.
Led by Integrated Airlines Pty Ltd, which is controlled by Clarke and his son Angus, the consortium also includes telecommunications and IT services provider Algo Systems and aviation maintenance service provider Brown and Root.
The Greek government's adviser in the tender, Credit Suisse First Boston, has given the group until December 24 to demonstrate its capability to run Olympic and enter into second-stage negotiations early next year.
Integrated took the lead in the tender after talks broke down with the preferred bidder, Axon Airlines of Greece.
It is hoping to finalize sale negotiations early next year allowing time for a contract with organizers of the 2004 Athens Olympics for OA to become the official carrier for the event, AAP said.
However, a few problems lay on the horizon, despite a robust outlook due to the Games.
They include a steep 700 percent increase in charges to 140 million US dollars for use of Athens' new airport; and the need to cut up to 2,000 jobs through offers of early retirement in order to keep the airline profitable after terrorist attacks in the US on September 11 deterred the public from traveling by air.
 Gov't again vows to pursue job creation policies
Athens, 26/11/2001 (ANA)National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Sunday that the government would pursue its integrated policy of boosting employment.
"Our policies in the sectors of growth, the economy and tax all seek to increase employment," Christodoulakis told NET state television in an interview.
He said that funding under the European Union's Third Community Support Framework package was the main vehicle for job creation in coming years.
All areas of the country would receive financing for infrastructure and corporate projects and other programs that would provide jobs.
Finally, the minister said that the government would bring its tax overhaul plan to completion on target in 2003.
 Journalists debate rapidly changing media market
Athens, 26/11/2001 (ANA)Journalists met in the northern town of Edessa on Saturday to discuss changes in the electronic and printed media stemming from rapidly evolving technology.
Organized by the Macedonia and Thrace Union of Journalists and the ministry for the region, speakers included Macedonia-Thrace minister George Paschalidis; the president of the Athens Union of Journalists, Aristidis Manolakos; and the director of the Athens News Agency (ANA), Andreas Christodoulides.
Opening the session, Paschalidis underlined the need for a journalism school to be set up in Edessa by the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki.
The president of the Macedonia and Thrace Union of Journalists, Dimitris Gousidis, told delegates how the union was trying to link up with the regional media in order to aid the sector's growth.
Christodoulides of the ANA outlined major changes that were taking place in the media due to the growth of SMS, WAP and Internet technology.
He also said that journalists were dogged by a lack of continuing education, multi-faceted knowledge needed to cover stories in depth, and team spirit.
Another difficulty was a shortage of full-time work, which meant that reporters were simultaneously trying to hold down two or three jobs, impairing the quality of news coverage.
Further problems that needed tackling were an emotional and Greek-centered approach to reporting in an increasingly globalized society; and the political identification of media with the ruling party or with the opposition.
 Celebration of Greek WWII resistance against Germans
Athens, 26/11/2001 (ANA)Celebrations were held on Sunday to mark the anniversary of a major act of Greek resistance against the Germans in World War II when fighters blew up a bridge near Lamia on November 25, 1942, cutting off Nazi supplies.
Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis told the celebration at Gorgopotamos, the site of the bridge blast, that all resistance forces had joined in the act of sabotage, cutting off the Germans' main supply line for six weeks.
A day later, German troops executed 14 people at the site of the destroyed bridge in an act of reprisal.
Representing the main opposition New Democracy party at the ceremony, deputy Vangelis Meimarakis said that the split between left and right in Greece, which had led to a civil war in 1946-49 and bitterness for decades later, was now definitively over.
 Foreign minister hopes Denktash is not bluffing
LARNACA, 26/11/2001 (CNA/ANA)Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides believes an invitation to a meeting by the Turkish Cypriot leader to President Clerides is a bluff, but hopes to be proven wrong in his assessment by a show of political will on the part of Rauf Denktash to negotiate seriously for a settlement.
The minister said that next month's meeting could give an impetus to the substance of the Cyprus question, a development that would allow the top UN envoy on Cyprus to continue the peace process, which Denktash abandoned last year.
"It is obvious that Denktash's invitation for a face to face meeting with the president is a self-motivated move, backed perhaps by Ankara, which nobody expected," Kasoulides said Saturday on his way to China for a weeklong official visit.
He said this was a tactical move to dilute the impressions Denktash's rejection of the UN invitation to talks had created.
"I insist this is a bluff but I hope and pray I am wrong and that Denktash proves me wrong on the 4 December and we see him at the meeting with the political will to discuss seriously the Cyprus question," the minister said.
Kasoulides said that if Denktash moves in this direction, President Clerides would be ready to have substantive talks with a view to finding a solution.
The minister dismissed press suggestions that others (US and Britain) than Denktash and Ankara were involved in this latest move by the Turkish Cypriot leader.
Replying to questions, Kasoulides said that the purpose of the meeting concerns the essence of the Cyprus issue since it is taking place as part of the good offices of the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan.
"If the substance of the problem is given a push at the meeting, then the peace process will carry on through Annan's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto," Kasoulides said.
De Soto's presence at the meeting, which the Turkish side has described as "external interference," signifies that this encounter is taking place within the UN framework of efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.
The UN diplomat is due on the island on 2 December for separate meetings with Clerides and Denktash on the eve of the meeting, the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since August 1997.
Commenting on Turkish Cypriot fears with regard to Cyprus' prospective accession to the European Union, Kasoulides said the president will tell Denktash that there is time to solve the
political problem and see a united Cyprus join the EU.
"We are not going to give up on our objective for EU member-ship because of Turkish threats to annex the occupied part of the island or warnings about possible conflict," Kasoulides said, noting that such remarks "leave us no other choice but to move on with our state goal."
The EU, he said, does not operate on the basis of threats from anybody.
Cyprus is set to join the EU in time for the 2004 European Parliament elections. Turkey has repeatedly warned it would react to such a prospect by annexing the areas it occupies since 1974.
Referring to his visit to China, he said Cyprus needs to talk to different fronts, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
"China is a friendly-disposed country and has always maintained a positive stance towards our views at Council meetings," he said.
The minister will be received by the Chinese Vice President and have talks with the foreign minister.