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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-08-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 22, 2002


  • [01] Finance minister pledges intensified efforts against inflation
  • [02] Public order minister briefs PM over terrorism probe
  • [03] Yugoslav deputy PM to visit Greece next week
  • [04] Australian official due in Athens to finalize bilateral pensions agreement
  • [05] Bakoyianni raises electoral roll issue in meeting with interior minister
  • [06] KKE's Florakis to be released from hospital soon
  • [07] PASOK announces candidates for Athens, Piraeus prefectures
  • [08] Draft-bill to combat human trafficking hailed by opposition
  • [09] US Coast Guard to transfer patrol boat to Greece
  • [10] Thessaloniki farmers warn of protest rally at TIF opening
  • [11] Government plans in the pipeline to tackle price hikes
  • [12] Stocks up, spurred by banks
  • [13] PM Simitis, Health Minister Stephanis, discuss Olympic Games
  • [14] EU Danish presidency reiterates adherence to Helsinki decisions
  • [15] Cyprus-Turkey drawn to play in European Handball Championship

  • [01] Finance minister pledges intensified efforts against inflation

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    The government would work closely with the markets and intensify the effort to keep inflation at acceptable levels, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    The meeting focused on recent economic developments in Greece and abroad, as well as the budget for 2003 and tax reforms.

    Regarding inflation, Christodoulakis said that Greece had maintained and increased growth rates, which led to a significant increase in employment levels.

    He admitted, however, that there were worrying developments as regards inflation, with Greek inflation continuing to exceed the rate in other European countries. This constituted a threat to Greek competitiveness and thus to Greek employment levels, he added.

    New central bank chief sees end-year inflation at 3.0 pct: The country's new central bank chief, Nikos Garganas, said on Wednesday that he was optimistic inflation would drop to 3.0 percent by the end of the year.

    Appointed this summer as governor of the Bank of Greece, Garganas told reporters that authorities should set as a target an inflation level below 2.0 percent.

    ''I think we are able to achieve this but care is required both in wage rises and in the fiscal area,'' he said after a meeting with the prime minister.

    Garganas added that Greek inflation had remained discernibly higher than in the eurozone.

    Also requiring attention were unemployment, which remained high despite a recent decline; and the balance of payments.

    Finally, Garganas welcomed the country's high growth rates against European and US levels.

    The central bank's estimate was growth of about 3.5 percent, he added.

    Opposition blasts gov't over resurging inflation: The Coalition of the Left and Progress on Wednesday sharply criticized the government for a wave of price hikes in the consumer market, fuelling inflation.

    "This new and worrying surge in inflation signals a clear-cut failure of the government's policy of 'gentlemen's agreements" (with producers and traders)," the party's economic and social affairs spokesman, Dimitris Papadimoulis, said in a statement.

    "These agreements are based on an unbridled operation of markets and a lack of effective checks and measures against violators," Papadimoulis said.

    He added that state-owned companies had often led the pack in unjustified rate rises, setting an example for the rest of the market, which meant that price hikes were transferred down to the consumer, he added.

    [02] Public order minister briefs PM over terrorism probe

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    The latest developments in the unprecedented police operation to eradicate the country's most elusive and deadly urban terrorist group expectedly dominated a meeting on Wednesday between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis.

    Speaking to reporters after he briefed the premier, Chrysohoidis said there is no "deadline" regarding more arrests of "November 17" suspects, or, suspects affiliated with any other terrorist groups.

    According to sources, the minister reportedly told Simitis that the nearly two-month-old investigation, which has resulted in more than a dozen high-profile arrests and the apparent confiscation of N17's arsenal, has entered into a "sensitive phase".

    Chrysohoidis publicly reiterated, meanwhile, that the investigation will continue in tandem with a "full respect of Greek citizens' rights".

    Witness seeks face-to-face interrogation of two suspects in N17 case: Former MP Lefteris Papadimitriou, a victim of the terrorist group ''November 17'' and a witness in the ongoing judicial investigation, on Wednesday asked Special Examining Magistrate Leonidas Zervombeakos to arrange for the face-to-face interrogation of Savvas Xiros and Vassilis Tzortzatos, two suspected N17 members in police custody.

    The two men are alleged to be the terrorists that attacked Papadimitriou and shot him in the legs in December 1992.

    Papadimitriou also asked Zervombeakos, an appeals court justice assigned to the N17 case, for a copy of the case file so that he could be briefed on the evidence before testifying about the attack made on him.

    The former MP claims a woman played an important role in the incident by preventing his escape and appealed to her to come forward and clear up the issue if she was not actively involved in the organization and had simply happened to be there by chance. Meanwhile, police officer Ioannis Papafotis completed his own testimony before Zervombeakos on Wednesday regarding the shootout with November 17 in Sepolia in November 1991, during which he was injured.

    Papafotis has filed a civil suit in the case represented by Papadimitriou, who will also file suits on his own behalf and that of other victims linked to the case.

    ''N17'' suspect's attorney to ask for his client's release: The attorney of ''N17'' jailed suspect Dionysis Georgiadis on Wednesday said that he intended to file a request for his client's release.

    Sources said that the information provided to a public prosecutor by Savvas Xiros, another alleged member of the notorious "November 17" terrorist group, do not point to Georgiadis' active participation in ''N17'' activities. The same sources said that Xiros maintained that 26-year-old Georgiadis did not take part in the 1998 robbery of a National Bank of Greece branch for which he was indicted, neither was he the tenant of the gang's hideout located on Damareos street in Pangrati, Athens, as initially mentioned.

    According to Xiros, the group's members did not talk directly to the apartment's owner over rental matters; such discussions took place through an appointed representative. In his testimony, Georgiadis admitted to his planting a bomb at an Alpha Bank branch in 1998, however, he clarified that he was not aware that Xiros, or any of the others that he had seen were ''N17'' gang members.

    The attorney of the 26-year-old suspect said that his client was terrified when he realized that it was about the ''N17'' and that he had told the authorities everything he knew about this matter as soon as he was summoned.

    Georgiadis has testified seeing Dimitris Koufontinas, a ''N17'' suspect still at large, using a computer at the Pangrati hideout, where he said he had also spotted two guns, as well as the statement that the urban guerilla group had issued after the assassination of CIA station chief in Athens Richard Welch in December 1975.

    N17 suspects visited by their families at Korydallos

    The six suspected "November 17" members currently being held at the Korydallos prison women's wing on Wednesday received visits from their next of kin, each lasting half an hour.

    First to enter were the wife and son of Pavlos Serifis, followed by the brother of Costas Tellios, who received a visit for the first time.

    Both Serifis and Tellios were brought clothes, books and food. The relatives also complained that the very small amount of yard time allowed the prisoners was affecting their mental health.

    Further visits by families of the six prisoners are expected before 16:00, when visiting hours end.

    In the meantime, all 14 prisoners being held in connection with the N17 case have received copies of the case files from their lawyers in order to prepare their defense in future examinations.

    The 10 special cells being built next to the kitchens in order to house the terrorist suspects are expected to be ready in a few days, as is the special room in the prison hospital wing, where Savvas Xiros will very likely be transferred by the end of the week.

    [03] Yugoslav deputy PM to visit Greece next week

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    Federal Yugoslavia's deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus is to visit Greece on August 27-28 for talks with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou and a visit to the monastic community on Mount Athos.

    One of the two front runners in the upcoming Serb presidential elections, Labus is considered a rising star in Yugoslav politics and heads the alliance that toppled Slobodan Milosevic - minus the party led by Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica.

    Though it is still uncertain whether Kostunica intends to run, Belgrade sources believe he will announce his candidacy in the next few days, in which case Labus will be faced with a close race.

    The Yugoslav deputy premier is also responsible for Yugoslavia's foreign economic relations and is very popular in Serbia, where polls give him a slight lead over Kostunica.

    Yugoslavia, now reduced to Serbia and smaller Montenegro, is set to become a loose federation with a largely figurehead president in a few months, making the Serbian presidency the more powerful post under the new constitution.

    [04] Australian official due in Athens to finalize bilateral pensions agreement

    MELBOURNE, 22/08/2002 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard has instructed Ross Cameron, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Family and Community Services, to travel to Athens next month in order to finalize a bilateral agreement on pensions between Greece and Australia, the ANA correspondent in Melbourne reported on Wednesday.

    In a recent trip to Athens, Howard and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis had agreed to speed up the process of signing the bilateral deal after lengthy negotiations lasting several years.

    The news was greatly welcomed by the Greek-Australian community, who have been pressing for such a deal for a long time, while initial contacts on this issue between Cameron and ministry staff apparently yielded encouraging results.

    It is widely expected that Cameron's trip to Athens will also lead to the signature of the agreement.

    The pensions agreement is also among the issues that will be discussed at this year's regional Council of Hellenes Oceania conference to take place in Melbourne on September 27-29.

    [05] Bakoyianni raises electoral roll issue in meeting with interior minister

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    New Democracy MP Dora Bakoyianni, who heads ND's 'Athens Tomorrow' ticket for the Athens municipality, on Wednesday expressed concern about the smooth running of the municipal and prefectural elections in October during a meeting with Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis.

    Bakoyianni was particularly concerned about an estimated 20,000 voters whose names have been added to electoral rolls at random and who will face enormous problems traveling from one election center to another on the day of the polls.

    The MP further estimated that 20,000 voters were still registered twice and another 25,000 did not appear at all.

    She asked for legislation giving extra time to voters to register.

    The meeting also discussed other areas involving local authorities, such as green space, schools and fines. Bakoyianni wanted a settlement of fines concerning businesses for the change of a presidential decree concerning land use in the historic center.

    Skandalidis agreed with many of the issues raised by Bakoyianni and said the committee for finalizing the electoral rolls would meet next Tuesday. He noted that the problems appearing in the rest of the country were magnified in central Athens.

    He also assured Bakoyianni that voters would have until the day before the elections to register their names on the electoral rolls.

    Regarding outstanding debts, he said there was an environment ministry proposal in the wings for this issue that would cover the whole of Greece and which would soon be tabled in Parliament.

    [06] KKE's Florakis to be released from hospital soon

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    Veteran politician Harilaos Florakis, honorary president of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), would soon be released from 'Erythros Stavros' hospital after having responded well to a course of antibiotics, a hospital press release said on Wednesday.

    Florakis had been admitted on Tuesday with a fever and was found to be suffering from lung infection.

    His best wishes for Florakis' speedy recovery were also expressed by PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Laliotis, during a press conference on Wednesday.

    [07] PASOK announces candidates for Athens, Piraeus prefectures

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK on Tuesday announced the candidates it will back in a handful of important local government races in the Athens-area, with the daughter of one of the party's early leaders tapped to vie for the expanded Athens-Piraeus prefecture seat.

    Municipal and prefectural elections are scheduled for October throughout the country.

    Fofi Gennimata, the daughter of the late minister George Gennimatas, was given the nod to run for the super prefecture seat during a press conference at the party's headquarters. PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis made the announcement.

    For Athens' prefecture, Laliotis said PASOK would back former sports general secretary Yiannis Sgouros, while the president of Piraeus' Labor Center, Yiannis Mihas, was picked to run for Piraeus' prefecture.

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) announced its candidates for the same races in late July, backing veteran journalist and former state radio network president Yiannis Tzannetakos for the Attica-Piraeus super-prefecture; Thanassis Vezyrgiannis for Athens prefecture and incumbent Maria Tsanaki-Sorotou for Piraeus prefecture.

    Albanian consul thanks Greek government for border measures GJIROKASTER, 220/08/2002 (P. Barka)

    Albanian Consul of Ioannina Ilirian Zhupa on Wednesday congratulated the Greek authorities for their way of handling the wave of Albanian citizens returning to Greece from their summer vacations in their country.

    Speaking to Albanian journalists in Kakavia, the Greek border village with Albania, Zhupa expressed his appreciation to the Greek police forces and the personnel at the local customs office for their "self-abnegation" while handling the waves of Albanian citizens flooding the borders, furthermore thanking the Greek government and all competent ministries for their caring approach to the situation.

    According to the Albanian general consul, an excess of 130,000 Albanians and Greeks from Albania, living and working in Greece, spent their vacations in Albania this year.

    The Albanian media, which on Wednesday continued with their defamation campaign against Greece, were rebuked by Zhupa for their criticism against the Greek border authorities, saying that such an attitude has led to undesirable results.

    The Greek border authorities on Wednesday said that during the past 24 hours approximately 1,500 cars and over 13,000 Albanian citizens have crossed into Greece.

    [08] Draft-bill to combat human trafficking hailed by opposition

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    Deputies from all opposition parties on Wednesday said that the draft-bill submitted by the ministry of justice to combat human trafficking, sexual servitude, child pornography and sex exploitation was "positive and to the right direction".

    Addressing the Parliament's public order, administration and justice commission, Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos said that the bill is designed to cover the vacuum created by developments in the past decade mainly caused by massive immigration from the former Soviet republics into Greece.

    [09] US Coast Guard to transfer patrol boat to Greece

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    A US Coast Guard vessel has been approved for transfer to Greece's Coast Guard corps, it was announced on Wednesday.

    The 64-metre patrol boat will undergo a complete renovation and upgrade before being turned over to Greece in late 2002.

    Both the US Senate and House of Representatives approved of the transfer, following a relevant request by the Greek merchant marine ministry via US ambassador Thomas Miller.

    Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis added that the patrol boat will be fully operational on the day it is transferred.

    The vessel can reach a speed of up to 18 knots and carry a crew of 12 officers and 63 crewmembers.

    [10] Thessaloniki farmers warn of protest rally at TIF opening

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    A group representing farmers in Thessaloniki prefecture on Wednesday warned that it will organize a protest rally early next month to coincide with the opening of the 67th Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF).

    According to members of the federation of democratic farm groups of Thessaloniki, affiliated with the GESASE grouping, if their demands aren't met by Aug. 30 the group will converge on the downtown Thessaloniki fairgrounds - without tractors - on Sept. 6 -- the day when Prime Minister Costas Simitis is scheduled to officially inaugurate the country's largest trade and commercial exhibition.

    Members of the group met with the Macedonia-Thrace minister on Wednesday, who promised to convey their demands to Agriculture Minister George Drys.

    That minister, George Paschalidis, also said Drys will table Athens' controversial proposal at the next EU agriculture ministers' council for extra money to cotton growers from national coffers.

    ND leader Karamanlis accuses government of ''abandoning'' Greek farmers: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday accused the government and Prime Minister Costas Simitis of ''abandoning'' the Greek farmers.

    In statements following an ND meeting on the situation prevailing in the agricultural sector, Karamanlis said ''the Simitis government has abandoned the farmers, leaving them to manage alone,'' resulting ''in our country having lost in Brussels all the crucial battles for our agricultural produce.''

    The ND leader said that the government was responsible for the fact that cotton cultivation has become ''problematic'', adding that ''the paralysis of the Agriculture Ministry has reached such a point that it is unable to implement the most fundamental obligations towards the Greek producers.''

    Commenting on Karamanlis's remarks, Press and Mass Media Minister Christos Protopapas said that ''in the most crucial period for the Greek farmer, at the time when the changes in common agricultural policy will determine the future, the main opposition again shows, unfortunately, to ignore the developments and to short-sighted display a reserve of populism and a lack of seriousness and responsibility. It's a pity. We as always give battles in Brussels to defend the interests of our producers.''

    [11] Government plans in the pipeline to tackle price hikes

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    The development ministry is expected to approach trade groups in early September to seek a new 'gentlemen's agreement' on price restraint, government sources said on Wednesday.

    In addition, the ministry is preparing a bill that will strengthen the role of consumer groups in society, also making them eligible for European Union and national funding.

    Furthermore, the ministry's consumer price watchdog division is to be computerized, allowing regular release to the public of price ranges for commonly purchased items, the sources said.

    [12] Stocks up, spurred by banks

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens bourse finished higher on Wednesday, with an institutional investor abroad fuelling the market with a buying spree in blue-chip National Bank of Greece, which closed 4.98 percent higher, traders said.

    In turn, the action in National spurred trade in the market's heavily weighted banking sector, they added

    The general share index gained 1.37 percent to end at 2,204.95 points. Turnover was 114.6 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.12 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 1.32 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities 0.75 percent up.

    Of 362 stocks traded, advances led declines at 257 to 59 with 46 issues remaining unchanged.

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

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 80.9 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Turnover at 3.1 bln euros

    [13] PM Simitis, Health Minister Stephanis, discuss Olympic Games

    Athens, 22/08/2002 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Health and Welfare Minister Constantinos Stephanis met on Wednesday evening and discussed a wide range of issues.

    Their two-hour talks at the Maximos Mansion focused on Greece's presidency of the EU in the first half of 2003 and on the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    The health minister briefed the prime minister on the steps, which have been taken since he assumed his duties and they discussed at length issues relating to both the health and welfare sectors. When asked by reporters following the meeting to comment on the Olympic Games, Stephanis explained that there is a plan to prevent any significant problem arising in the health sector during the Olympic Games.

    [14] EU Danish presidency reiterates adherence to Helsinki decisions

    NICOSIA, 220/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The current president of the European Council Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said his country continues to back the EU decision that a political settlement in Cyprus would facilitate accession but it is not a precondition.

    ''I would like to underline the position of the Danish presidency. We insist on the Helsinki declaration, according to which a solution of the Cyprus problem would facilitate EU enlargement but this is not a precondition,'' Rasmussen said after Tuesday's meeting with Turkey's deputy premier Mesut Yilmaz in Copenhagen.

    He said the European Council in December will take its decision on the matter taking all relevant factors into consideration.

    The essence of all this, he added, is that Denmark encourages the two parties to this dispute to make every possible effort to find a solution in Cyprus.

    The EU summit in December is expected to invite Cyprus and other candidate countries to join the Union. Turkey, a candidate country, is eagerly seeking to secure a definite date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU.

    [15] Cyprus-Turkey drawn to play in European Handball Championship

    NICOSIA, 220/08/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The men's national handball teams of Cyprus and Turkey have been drawn to play against each other in the qualifying round of the European Handball Championship.

    The games between the two national teams are set for early January next year, the first to be played in Turkey and the second in Cyprus.

    A Cypriot women's handball team have also been drawn to play against a Turkish team for the European Cup.

    A Cyprus Handball Federation spokesman told CNA that the Federation has not been notified formally yet about what the Turkish national team's or the Turkish club's intends to do but if they do not comply with international rules and regulations, they will pay a hefty penalty.

    Turkey, whose troops occupy Cyprus' northern areas since they invaded in 1974, does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

    Wednesday's edition of the Turkish Cypriot daily ''Yeni Duzen'' said that the Turkish Foreign Ministry has asked the General Directorate of Youth and Sports to decide whether the women's handball team ''Uskudar'' will travel to Cyprus for the match, set for early September.

    According to the paper, the Director General of the General Directorate Kemal Mundlu said in sports language, religion and race have no place and that Turkey intends to act according to the rules of the International Federation.

    He said that the games between the national teams of Turkey and Cyprus as well as the games between the two clubs will go ahead.

    The Latsia women's handball team had rejected a suggestion by Uskudar to have both games in Turkey, with all expenses paid for the Turkish team.

    Then the Turkish women's team had said it would come to the island through the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, which is tantamount to entering the country through an illegal port of entry.

    The Cyprus Handball Federation has rejected outright any such suggestion, saying the game can only take place if the Turkish team arrives legally in the country. No reply has yet been forthcoming from the Turkish women's team.

    In 2000, the Turkish women's team ''Ankara'' was excluded from European Championship for two years and was fined for refusing to come to Cyprus and play against the Cypriot team, ''Anorthosis'', which went through to the next round of the European Cup.

    However, in 1995 the Turkish men's national handball team came to Cyprus legally and played against the Cypriot national team for the qualifying round of the 1996 European Championship. Then the Cypriot team went to Turkey for the away game. The Turkish team won both matches and qualified for the next round.

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