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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-08-20

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 20, 2002


  • [01] PM sees growth topping 3.8 pct in 2002
  • [02] Charges filed over leak of N17 case file to the press
  • [03] Karamanlis chairs series of top ND meetings
  • [04] Gov't seen finalizing tax reform package this week
  • [05] Second round of Balkan Reconstruction Plan opens in Romania
  • [06] Consumer group complains over shoddy tourism-related services
  • [07] Stocks rise in moderate trade
  • [08] Greece can organize safe Olympics, US counter terrorism official says
  • [09] There is chance for a settlement, says President Clerides
  • [10] US officials commend Cyprus on fighting terrorism and money laundering
  • [11] Famagusta mayor protests stealing of icons in occupied Cyprus

  • [01] PM sees growth topping 3.8 pct in 2002

    Athens, 20/08/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Monday that he saw growth overtaking a target of 3.8 percent for 2002, accelerating to more than 4.0 percent in coming years.

    ''Despite a difficult set of circumstances globally, it seems that not only will Greece attain an anticipated growth rate of 3.8 percent, but will also exceed the target this year,'' Simitis said in a message to mark the annual Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

    ''And in the years to come, growth will move above 4.0 percent,'' he added.

    Factors that would maintain and accelerate existing high growth were national development and investment plans coupled with European Union funds and projects for the Olympic Games to be hosted by Athens in 2004.

    In addition, private capital from home and abroad would spur investments under the government's privatization plan and its deregulation of markets, which include energy and telecoms, Simitis said.

    Furthermore, domestic industries were undergoing a restructuring, which also would help to boost growth.

    ''Guaranteed growth rates of the Greek economy have rendered the climate more favorable for new investments and further business activity, while continuing structural changes in the private and public sectors are contributing to an improvement in competitiveness, also boosting employment,'' Simitis said.

    ''At the same time, an overhaul of the taxation system that is underway and a new development bill are to provide the required incentives for repatriation of capital, and for an increase in indirect investments from abroad'' he added.

    The prime minister also said that Thessaloniki, the country's second city and a major port, would host a summit of EU leaders in June 2003 for Greece's rotating presidency of the 15-nation bloc.

    He added that he hoped the northern city would become capital of the Balkan hinterland in coming years.

    ''Northern Greece has a major role to play. Its powerful production network and intensive exports orientation have made the region a powerhouse for the national economy,'' Simitis said.

    Finally, Greece held the rotating president of the eurozone until the end of June 2003, working closely with the European Central Bank, he added.

    [02] Charges filed over leak of N17 case file to the press

    Athens, 20/08/2002 (ANA)

    The head of the Athens primary court public prosecutors, Sotiris Bagias, on Monday filed charges against all responsible for the leak to the media of information in the November 17 case file, specifically the statements made by Savvas Xiros during a preliminary examination by the public prosecutor handling the case.

    The case will be investigated alongside similar cases regarding the leaks of statements made by other alleged members of N17 during the preliminary inquiry into the case.

    First civil action against N17 filed by relative of victim: The first civil suit against the terrorist group November 17 was filed on Monday on behalf of Eleni Athanasiadi for the murder of her husband Alexandros by the group in March 1988.

    Her lawyer Alexandros Lykourezos filed the suit with the special magistrate handling the case.

    In her statement, Athanasiadi said she had filed her suit "against the accused that planned, decided and carried out the crime of homicide against my husband, Alexandros Athanasiadis, on March 1, 1988 in Athens, specifically on Kifissias Road."

    She is also seeking financial compensation for mental anguish she suffered as a result of the murder.

    Visiting hours again extended for 'N17' suspects: Visiting hours for eight out of the more than a dozen suspects held on charges related to the "November 17" terrorist group were again extended on Monday, as the practice appears to have been permanently instituted for the accused terrorists.

    Family members visited the Xiros brothers, Christodoulos and Vassilis, as well as Vassilis Tzortzatos and Theologos Psaradellis.

    Meanwhile, the attorney for alleged "N17" co-founder and leader, Alexandros Giotopoulos, was expected to visit his client in the afternoon.

    A special appellate court prosecutor is scheduled to visit Giotopoulos in his cell at the Korydallos prison on Tuesday. Giotopoulos, 58, and his attorney, Yiannis Rahiotis, had requested a 30-day extension to better prepare for the deposition, which was denied, instead a two-day extension was granted.

    The same prosecutor, Leonidas Zervombeakos, is expected to take depositions from at least three "N17" victims in the next two days, including former New Democracy deputy Lefteris Papadimitriou and police officers Socrates Kotsias and Ioannis Papafotis. The latter two were injured in a 1991 gunfight with "N17", the so-called Sepolia incident.

    [03] Karamanlis chairs series of top ND meetings

    Athens, 20/08/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis held a series of meeting with top ND cadres on Monday morning, with the economy and his upcoming keynote speech at the annual Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) next month.

    Other discussion focused on Karamanlis' upcoming tours around Greece; the closely watched developments on the local terrorism front and the sudden floods that struck downtown Athens on Sunday.

    [04] Gov't seen finalizing tax reform package this week

    Athens, 20/08/2002 (ANA)

    The government is expected to finalize the third and final phase of its taxation overhaul this week.

    The last phase of the wide-ranging plan is to focus on income tax, including relief for low wage earners and other changes.

    Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis will begin a series of meetings, probably on Tuesday, to hammer out the final details of the reform, which will then be given to the prime minister for approval.

    Among changes expected to be adopted are an increase in the tax-exempt ceiling to 10,000 euros for earnings in 2003 from 8,400 euros in 2002.

    In addition, a higher tax-exempt ceiling, possibly of 30,000 euros, is likely to be introduced for families with four or more children; and a 15-20 percent rise in the deduction for families with three or fewer children.

    Finally, many salary earners and pensioners will not have to make a mandatory tax return each year.

    [05] Second round of Balkan Reconstruction Plan opens in Romania

    BUCHAREST, 20/08/2002 (ANA - S. Aravopoulou)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos opened here on Monday the second round of Greece's ambitious Balkan Reconstruction Plan (ESOAB), which will be completed by the end of August with his visits to Albania and Bulgaria.

    The recipient of a Greek 70.93-MLN-Euro aid over the next five-year period, Romania is the first stop of the second round, while the first round was completed in July with the signature of separate bilateral agreements between Greece and Serbia Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina and FYROM, who along with Romania, Albania and Bulgaria will share a total of 550 MLN Euro within the framework of the ESOAB.

    Launching his visit in Bucharest, the deputy minister had a meeting with Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, focusing on Romania's European and NATO course in view of the Prague summit, as well as on issues related to Balkan stability and reconstruction.

    Loverdos said that in Bucharest he had the opportunity to verify once more the "excellent relations" between the two countries, as well as between their respective foreign ministries.

    The Romanian foreign minister reassured Loverdos that his government places great importance on the Greek EU presidency, convinced that within the framework of that presidency, Bucharest will be able contribute ideas and proposals toward a further development of the Balkans.

    [06] Consumer group complains over shoddy tourism-related services

    Athens, 20/08/2002 (ANA)

    The Center for Consumers' Protection (KEPKA) has addressed a letter to the development minister listing a series of complaints and charges by holidaymakers over shoddy tourism-related services in the country, especially in the northern Greece prefecture of Halkidiki.

    In the letter, KEPKA cites complaints over a lack of cleanliness at some rented rooms, questionable quality of food services as well as some many proprietors' failure to issue legal receipts for services rendered or sold merchandise. Numerous complaints also cite price gouging.

    KEPKA noted that only two police officers and three trainees have been assigned to the entire prefecture of Halkidiki, a major tourist attraction east of Thessaloniki, for the three summer months.

    The development ministry is responsible for tourism policy and the supervision of tourism-related enterprises.

    [07] Stocks rise in moderate trade

    Athens, 20/08/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens bourse finished higher on Monday, with small- and medium capitalization stocks picking up steam.

    The general share index gained 0.49 percent to end at 2,170.90 points. Turnover was 72.9 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.26 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.96 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities 1.03 percent up.

    Of 358 stocks traded, advances led declines at 229 to 80 with 49 issues remaining unchanged.

    The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecoms, Public Power Corporation, Football Pools, National Bank of Greece, and Alpha Bank.

    [08] Greece can organize safe Olympics, US counter terrorism official says

    WASHINGTON, 20/08/2002 (ANA - A. Ellis)

    Greece was committed to organizing successful Olympics and had the right infrastructure to successfully protect the Games' security, U.S. State Department Coordinator for Counter terrorism Ambassador Francis X. Taylor is quoted as saying in an interview with journalist Mike Fish on the CNN-Sports Illustrated website

    Taylor visited Athens in June and was briefed on preparations being made in Athens for the Games by the organizing committee ATHOC.

    The article by Fish, which was first posted on Friday, also quotes others experts, some of whom view Athens security as deficient - especially at Athens airport - and raise concerns about its proximity to unstable regions, such as the Balkans and the Middle East.

    According to Taylor, however, security concerns have existed for every Olympics tournament since Munich in 1972 and every venue presents its own difficulties.

    ''The bottom line is always the same: How do we protect that venue and those athletes and those people that come to see those athletes so that terrorists or others who would try to undermine the Games would not be successful? Whether Greece is harder or easier, I don't think is really the issue. Our commitment is to do it, so that whatever it takes, those Games go off successfully,'' Taylor says.

    [09] There is chance for a settlement, says President Clerides

    PAPHOS, 20/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has said that he expects the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to point out that the window of opportunity for a Cyprus settlement, that exists now, should be seized.

    On the political situation in Turkey with regard to the Cyprus peace process, the president recommended patience until after a government is formed following the November elections.

    ''I would expect the Secretary General to make an effort and stress that there is now a window of opportunity which we should not allow to close so that we can find a solution,'' Clerides said, when asked what he expects from a meeting early next month with Kofi Annan.

    Annan has invited Clerides and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Rauf Dentkash to a meeting in Paris on September 6 to take stock of the ongoing peace talks, his special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto is conducting since January.

    ''This is the direction in which I believe the Secretary General will move,'' the Cypriot president added.

    Asked to say whether the political instability in Turkey encourages Denktash's intransigence, Clerides replied ''I do not know, we shall have to wait and see the results of the elections in Turkey.''

    He said he did not think any single party will have a parliamentary majority to form a government on its own.

    ''Things will depend on the coalitions that will be formed among the various parties and see what kind of government will emerge from these coalitions,'' he said.

    The president was speaking in Latsi, on the western coast, where he returned on Sunday night aboard his yacht after his summer holidays. He will spend another few days in the Paphos area before returning to Nicosia, he told the awaiting press.

    [10] US officials commend Cyprus on fighting terrorism and money laundering

    NICOSIA, 20/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Three US high-ranking officials have commended the government of Cyprus on its efforts to fight international terrorism and money laundering.

    In separate letters, US Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Kenneth Dam and Senator Bill Nelson have expressed gratitude to Cyprus for its cooperation and the measures it has introduced to prevent the flow of funds to terrorists.

    ''The impressive list of anti-terrorist steps taken by Cyprus through June 2002 reaffirms your nation's continuing resolve to stand with the US and countries around the world in aggressively opposing the threat of international terrorism,'' Thomson notes in his letter.

    Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Kenneth Dam congratulates Cyprus on behalf of the US government for the island's efforts to align policy with the EU and ''take the necessary actions to identify and freeze assets associated with listed terrorists and their supporters.''

    ''For this important work to be successful, governments must work closely with the financial sector to ensure the transparency of their systems and develop uniform and consistent enforcement mechanisms,'' Dam adds.

    In his letter to Cyprus' Ambassador to the US Erato Kozakou-Markoulli, Senator Nelson commends Cyprus on its ''cooperation with the war on terrorism and for the steps you have taken to combat money laundering.''

    [11] Famagusta mayor protests stealing of icons in occupied Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 20/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Famagusta Mayor Kikis Kazamias expressed his strong protest against the stealing of five icons from the Church of Aghios Ioannis, in the Turkish occupied town of Famagusta, on the east coast.

    Kazamias has sent letters of protest to the Acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Cyprus Zbigniew

    Wlosowicz, UNESCO, the embassies of the five UN Security Council permanent states, the delegation of the European Commission in Nicosia and the World Council of Churches.

    In his letter of protest, Kazamias calls for the use of pressure on the Turkish Cypriot regime in the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, in order to secure the return of the icons to the church.

    The Church of Aghios Ioannis, located in the closed town of Famagusta, was turned into a museum in 1995. According to the Turkish Cypriot press, Turks have stolen the icons and the guard of the building is already under ''custody''.

    ''We urge those who claim to uphold principles that protect our cultural heritage to demonstrate their beliefs in deeds by protesting together with the use the disrespect the Turkish military is displaying towards our culture,'' Kazamias says in his letter.

    The mayor of the occupied town demands an urgent investigation into the theft and points out that the icons were removed from a church in the enclosed area of Famagusta.

    He also noted that the UN holds Ankara responsible for the maintenance of the status quo in this specific area.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

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