|Friday, 24 May 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-10-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 30, 2003
 US State Dep't sees 'secure and successful' Olympics in AthensWashington D.C., 30/10/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)
The US State Department on Tuesday reiterated that it had ''every confidence'' that Greece would host ''secure and successful'' Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a regular press briefing, when asked to comment on Greek press information of a report by experts concerning the prospects of terrorist action during the 2004 Games drawn up on behalf of the Greek government, that ''I think there is a report like this just about every day in some Greek newspaper'', adding: ''So I'll tell you what we think about it, and the way we say it every time''.
''The summary is that the Greeks, in our judgment, have the will and the resources to hold a secure and successful Olympics; we have every confidence that they will,'' Boucher said.
''The Greek Government's planning and preparations for Olympic security are well underway. Greece is working with several countries, including the United States, to ensure the full safety of the Olympic Games. Almost a year in advance of the event, the Greeks are assessing their situation, identifying needs and devoting resources to achieving a secure and successful Olympics. Exercises to highlight any potential problems were undertaken with a view to solve all these issues by the day the games open, August 13th of next year,'' he explained.
''The United States has offered expertise and resources of several of our agencies to Greece in order to ensure Olympic security. Ambassador Cofer Black, the U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism, visited Greece in September to discuss ways to enhance Olympic security. The United States is providing equipment, policy workshops and security training to that end. Our two governments frequently discuss Olympic security cooperation, including when the Secretary (of State Colin Powell) met with (Greek) Foreign Minister (George) Papandreou on September 17th,'' the State Department spokesman continued.
Asked if the US was concerned whether the Greeks are capable of handling casualties that would result in the event of a terrorist action and if that was the subject of one of the exercises, Boucher replied that ''I think there are various aspects of this that are being tested'', adding that ''you'd have to check with the Greek Government which exercises they're holding at any given time''.
''But our feeling is that this far in advance, one year in advance, is a good time for exercises to identify deficiencies or areas that need to be worked on, so that by the time we get to the Games everything can be the way it should be,'' he said.
''This is in the hands of the Greek Government and I'm sure they are focusing on any number of areas...There are a number of areas that they should be looking at, and, apparently, from this report, they probably are looking at,'' Boucher added.
Greek government reacts: Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Wednesday expressed satisfaction with Boucher's statements, saying that these presented an "entirely different image from that conveyed by certain articles, that serve God knows what interests".
Protopapas noted Tuesday's announcement by the Greek police that the country would host the best and safest Olympics.
 FM addresses Socialist International conference in Brazil
SAO PAOLO, 30/10/2003 (ANA/D. Konstantakopoulos)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday addressed the Socialist International's conference here, underlining issues concerning the prevention and resolution of conflicts in the new international environment. Papandreou, who headed a delegation representing PASOK at the conference, also spoke of a ''holistic'' strategy that confronts in a systematic fashion the root causes of conflicts with the active participation of the society of citizens, the dialogue of cultures and the measures for confidence building, calling them essential tools for the prevention of conflicts.
Papandreou referred to the example of Greek-Turkish relations, saying ''only a few years ago, the rapprochement of Greece and Turkey was unthinkable. Now we have signed 10 agreements and 14 confidence building measures and we are trying to resolve several of the most contentious issues that separated us for so long''.
He stressed that the support offered by the society of citizens is vital for the process of confidence building.
Papandreou quoted president Antonio Guteres, who called the world an airplane ''flying without a pilot'' and underlined the danger of humanity falling into the ''black hole'' of over-con-gumption, inequality and intolerance.
He called for the establishment of an alliance that will be based on democratic understanding for the confrontation of international problems.
The foreign minister also underlined that the nature of the ''new threats'' to international security, such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, gave rise to the mistaken logic that preventative diplomacy can be replaced with preventative strikes, calling the use of disarmament as a reason to attack Iraq a ''tragic irony''.
The current crisis in Iraq, he concluded, is a painful proof that the combatting of force with force never brings peace, the Iraqi people deserve democracy, a democracy, however, cannot be imposed.
 Deputy FM continues tour of Black Sea countries with visits to Armenia, Georgia
YEREVAN 30/10/2003 (ANA - S. Aravopoulou)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Mangriotis continued his tour of Black Sea countries on Wednesday, leaving Armenia and arriving in Georgia, while with a military aircraft carrying eight tones of consumable medical supplies and various medical tools and equipment every stop meets with a warm welcome by the Greek community and local authorities.
Mangriotis held talks in Armenia with his counterpart Sugaryan and Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan on further developing economic, political and bilateral relations and left the country for Tbilisi, Georgia, at noon.
The deputy minister said Greece and Armenia are also linked with the issue of expatriates since Greeks living in Armenia number 10,000, while over the past decade Greece has received 15,000 Armenians of Greek origin and 8,000 purely of Armenian origin. Two considerable Armenian communities have also been existing in Athens and Thessaloniki for many decades.
Mangriotis is also bringing with him the foreign ministry's two-year integrated program for Greek expatriates amounting to five million euros which will widen Greek aid to these countries in the health, education and business sectors with the purpose of promoting the expatriates' progress in their countries.
Eighteen secondary education schools in Georgia have introduced the Greek language as a compulsory lesson which is taught by 26 teachers who graduated from the Tbilisi University's Classical and Modern Greek Studies Institute which Mangriotis also visited on Wednesday to sign the renewal of the agreement on the teaching of the Greek language program at Georgian schools for two more years with financing by Greece.
 Greek-Turkish 'exploratory contacts' in Ankara on Thursday
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panagiotis Beglitis announced on Wednesday that the 17th round of ''exploratory contacts'' between Greece and Turkey will be held in Ankara on Thursday between Foreign Ministry Secretary General, Ambassador Anastasios Skopelitis, and Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry of Turkey, Ambassador Ugur Ziyal.
ND seeks to be briefed on course of Greek-Turkish 'exploratory contacts: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy and the party's coordinator for foreign and defense affairs, Petros Molyviatis, in a letter to the President of the Permanent Parliamentary Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, Carolos Papoulias, asked for a briefing by the Foreign Minister for the Deputies - members of the Committee on the framework, contents and course of the ''exploratory contacts'' between Greece and Turkey.
In his letter, Molyviatis states that ''these talks, which the government has described as 'exploratory contacts', are veiled by absolute secrecy and Parliament has no briefing whatsoever neither on the contents nor on the course of these talks.'' For this reason, the ND coordinator asks of Papoulias to proceed with contacts so that ''the Foreign Minister can brief the committee directly on the framework, contents and course of the Greek-Turkish talks.''
 People's Republic of Congo FM arrives in Athens
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)People's Republic of Congo Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation Minister Antoine Ghonda Mangalibi will speak at the Greek foreign ministry on Thursday concerning the latest developments concerning his country. The minister is on an of-facial visit here.
On Wednesday, Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis received Ghonda Mangalibi at the foreign ministry, with talks focusing on ethnic Greeks' property in the Congo prior to nationalizations in 1973 as well as bilateral economic ties, including outstanding obligations by the African state.
Yiannitsis later accompanied the DRC foreign minister during his meeting with Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos.
Call on Greek businessmen: Foreign Affairs and International
Cooperation Minister of the People's Republic of Congo Antoine Ghonda Mangalibi, beginning on Wednesday his newly-established government's first European mission from Greece, called on Greek businessmen of the past to return to the Congo ''to contribute to the country's reconstruction with their valuable experience," following a bloody five-year civil war.
''For the first time after independence we have a constitution and a system of justice for all and not only for a few,'' he said, adding that ''we are preparing a program for the protection of investors and for aid for those who suffered damage.''
He also said ''the Greeks were scattered, during the '60s they were 22,000 and today they do not exceed 500, all over the country, contributing to the development of the extensive countryside and not only of the capital.''
Greeks had been active in the sectors of agriculture (cotton and coffee), industry, general trade, transport and construction.
''We want their help again to rebuild the Congo,'' the foreign minister said.
Replying to a question on military security, he said ''the new national unity government, established in July with the assistance of the United Nations, has secured peace in the country.'' A small part at the northeastern border with Rwanda is an exception.
 New Greek Navy gunboat 'Krataios' launched on Wednesday
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)The fourth gunboat commissioned by the Greek Navy from the Hellenic Shipyards was launched on Wednesday in the presence of Greek Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Cyprus Defense Minister Kyriakos Mavronikolas.
The new ship was christened ''Krataios'' by the prime minister's wife, Daphne Simitis.
The shipyard also officially delivered the gunboat ''Mahitis'' launched on June 4, 2002, to join the Greek Navy's fleet.
In his speech at the ceremony, Papantoniou said the Greek Navy program at Hellenic Shipyards will continue with the construction of one more gunboat, while noting that the government's policy in the arms industry would secure 15,000 jobs.
He said that Hellenic Shipyards had been assigned the construction of 14 warships and the retooling of 15 others in a program worth five billion euros in total.
The ceremony was also attended by representatives of the par-ties, the leadership of the Armed Forces, military attaches from Germany, France, Holland, Poland, Italy and local authorities.
ND deputy requests information on Navy's armaments programs: Main opposition New Democracy party Deputy and the party's defense sector chief Spilios Spiliotopoulos tabled a question in Parliament on Wednesday on the Navy's armaments programs, particularly on programs for the building of gunboats and a corvette.
Spiliotopoulos refers to a 14-month delay in the program for building the gunboats.
He says the first gunboat named ''Machitis'', delivered to the Navy on Wednesday, should have been delivered on August 29, 2002, and asks whether penalty clauses resulting from the delay will be requested.
Spiliotopoulos also asks why a program for the building of frigates is not provided for the Skaramangas Shipyards and requests information on the program concerning the building of the corvette, which has been undertaken by the Elefsina Shipyards.
 Gov't welcomes Turkish admission that Greek minority's rights were violated
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)The Greek government on Wednesday welcomed news that a Turkish Parliamentary Committee in Ankara had recognized that Turkey's past policies had violated the rights of the Greek minority in that country.
Commenting on information about the decision allegedly made on Tuesday, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said it was a positive step.
''Our people have lived through persecution and the fact that Turkey admits this directly, even after the fact, is positive, in the sense that it can prevent a similar stance in the future,'' Protopapas said.
 Gov't reaction to Stephanopoulos' remarks about corruption
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)The government on Wednesday merely noted that Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos' recent high-profile comments lamenting what he called symptoms of mismanagement and a lack of transparency in the country's often bloated public sector was "positive advice" towards the government's efforts to stamp-out corruption in the state services.
Spokesman Christos Protopapas made the comment in response to press questions during a regular briefing in Athens.
 Gov't condemns racist incidents during Oct. 28 parades
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)The government categorically condemned the far-right slogans against immigrants expressed by extremist groups during the October 28 national day parades the previous day, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday.
He also expressed hope that all political parties would join together to condemn racist and xenophobic attitudes and beliefs.
 US Federal Civil Aviation Service delegation visiting Athens
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)A delegation of the US Federal Civil Aviation Service is currently visiting Athens for a series of meetings with the Greek Civil Aviation Service as part of regular contacts between the two sides on flight security.
Talks will focus on issues concerning the flight model sector and flight security regulations and control to enable, on completion of the evaluation, the country to be included in Category 1 on the US flight security list.
The US Civil Aviation Service's experts will prepare a report expected to be publicized in early 2004.
 PM meets PASOK secretary
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis met on Wednesday evening at 19:00 with PASOK Central Committee Secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis.
On Thursday the prime minister will chair a meeting of the cabinet to discuss employment and a proposal presented by Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas.
 PASOK spokeswoman announces party public dialogue program
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)PASOK party spokeswoman Chrysa Arapoglou on Wednesday said that PASOK is aiming to make the party's program for the next four-year term the subject of dialogue with all the Greek people.
Speaking during the regular weekly press conference, the newly appointed spokeswoman, stressed that the process will begin from within PASOK's local organizations and then it will encompass all Greek society.
According to the timetable Arapoglou announced the program which will include a public dialogue for the drafting of ''Regional Charters'' of development, the first phase of which will be one of in-party discussion between Nov, 1 and 11.
She also spoke of meetings of National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis with PASOK secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis and PASOK Parliament deputies from around the country.
 Athens Mayor briefs President over municipality's preparations for Olympics
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni on Wednesday briefed President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos over the work of the municipality in light of the Olympic Games.
Following the meeting, Bakoyianni said that the municipality's cooperation with the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee was very good, concerning the involved agencies.
''The management of the city is the responsibility of the municipality. We must show that Athens will be a hospitable city for those invited to come and visit and want to enjoy the Olympic Games,'' she said.
 Coalition leader charges 'government's policy is not progressive modernization'
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Coalition of the Left Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party leader Nikos Constantopoulos paid a visit to Tripoli and Megalopoli, southern Greece, on Wednesday.
The Coalition leader visited the Public Power Corporation (DEH) plant at Megalopoli and discussed with workers the problems they were facing and accused the government of a lack of programming in the development sector.
Constantopoulos also visited the Paparkadiko Hospital of Tripoli and expressed his dismay that a regional general hospital lacked vital medical equipment.
In a press conference he gave in the afternoon, Constantopoulos referred to the government's policy, saying that ''government policy is not progressive modernization which the country needs, it is the old party system in the square, which deceives society and burdens future generations.''
''The lies have finished for (ruling) PASOK,'' he said, under-lining that both PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party ''are competing for their one party power, cultivating false illusions for the Greek society.''
 EU Commission releases autumn forecasts on Greek economy
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Greek economic growth is expected to remain strong in 2004 but to slow in 2005, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
In its comments over Greek economic prospects, accompanying the Commission's autumn forecasts for the EU economy, the EU's executive also predicted that the country's public deficit would rise in 2004 and to fall slightly in 2005.
Greek economic growth will remain the highest in the EU (4.2 percent in 2004 and 3.4 percent in 2005 compared with 2.0 percent and 2.4 percent over the same period in the EU-15 and 1.8 percent and 2.3 percent in the eurozone, respectively).
The Commission stressed that domestic demand, and private investments in particular, would be the driving force of the high growth rates, along with increased fund inflows from the European Union's Structural Funds.
Private investments' growth rates are forecast to slow after completion of projects connected with the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. The Commission, however, stressed that an expected improvement in international economy from 2004, combined with a low interest rates environment, could maintain high economic growth rates in Greece after next year's Olympic Games. Also, an expected recovery in global economy could positively affect efforts to reduce the country's balance of payments on the pre-condition that measures would be taken to avoid a further worsening of the Greek economic competitiveness, the report said.
The Commission expects the country's external trade deficit to improve next year and forecasts that inflation would reach 3.7 percent in 2004 only to ease to 3.4 percent in 2005, compared with 1.9 percent and 1.7 percent in the EU-15 and 2.0 percent and 1.7 percent in the eurozone, over the same period respectively.
The EU's executive forecasts that the impact of ''imported inflation'' on domestic prices would be limited while develop-mints in the incomes policy in the private sector remained uncertain.
The Commission noted that negotiations over a new collective labor agreement, expected to begin early next year, could be affected by a pre-election period and the generous increases an-enounced by the government to the public sector.
Greece's public deficit is forecast to reach 2.4 percent as a percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product in 2004 to ease to 2.3 percent of GDP in 2005 (compared with 2.6 pct and 2.4 pct in the EU-15 and 2.7 pct and 2.7 pct in the eurozone, over the same period respectively).
Greece, along with Ireland, Luxembourg and Austria, ranks in the third category of EU member-states with an expected public deficit below 1.75 pct of GDP in 2003.
The Commission warned that excesses in private consumption could lead to a significant worsening of the country's public finances while the country risked failing a target of reporting primary consumption. The country's primary surplus is forecast to fall to 3.1 percent of GDP in 2004 from 4.3 percent this year.
The unemployment rate is forecast to total 9.2 pct of the workforce in 2004, falling to 9.0 percent next year (compared with 8.2 pct and 8.1 pct in the EU-15 and 9.1 pct and 8.9 pct in the eurozone over the same period, respectively).
Unemployment is expected to reach 9.5 percent in 2003, one of the highest rates in the EU. The Commission attributed a fall in the unemployment rate to rapid growth rates in the construction sector because of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
The EU's executive expects the country's public debt to ease to 97.1 percent of GDP in 2004 and to 95 percent in 2005, from an expected 100.6 pct of GDP this year.
EU Commissioner Pedro Solbes, commenting on the Commission's forecasts over Greek economic prospects, said he was worried because of different estimates announced by the Greek economy over the country's public deficit in 2004. "We are ready to accept supplementary figures to have a clearer view of the situation and to have our forecasts with Greece converge in the future," Mr Solbes said.
 Greek gov't rejects EU forecast of increased deficits in 2004
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Economic forecasts made by the Greek government and the European Commission would converge in the near future, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.
The Greek minister was commenting on a forecast by the European Commission that the general government deficit would total 2.4 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product in 2004.
Mr. Christodoulakis stressed that a government budget for 2004, to be submitted to parliament November 18-20, would envisage a deficit of 1.2 percent of GDP in 2004.
Responding to journalists' questions over the huge difference in forecasts made by the government and the Commission, Mr. Christodoulakis said that maybe the EU's executive thought that the government would raise its spending in 2004 because of increased workers' demands ahead of the 2004 general elections. "We will adhere to spending included in a social package," he noted.
Mr. Christodoulakis said there was not reason to review the government's targets on 2004 revenues. He stressed that the European Commission was traditionally releasing its forecasts over national deficits and that national governments were later clarifying their official targets.
"We do not share an EU's forecast that the public deficit would exceed 2.0 percent next year," the Greek minister stressed.
Mr. Christodoulakis acknowledged that there was a divergence in deficit targets for the current year because of increased spending for the Olympic Games and compensations for damages suffered by severe weather conditions early in the year.
Economy ministry: An Economy and Finance ministry announced later said that the European Commission's forecasts over the general government's deficit for the next year were unjustified.
"The Commission's autumn forecasts for Greece reviewed upwards its projections on the country's economic growth rates to 4.2 percent in 2004, up from a 3.8 percent forecast made in spring 2003. The Commission, however, reviewed its projections on the general government's deficit to 2.4 percent of GDP from 1.0 percent without sufficient justification. Its estimates probably over cost spending included in a package of social and develop-ment policy measures," a ministry statement said.
The ministry stressed that the biggest part of a social package had already be included in an update stability and development program issued in December 2002.
"In our view, the Commission's forecast on the country's deficit in 2004 is excessive as it underestimated the impact of a high growth rate in revenues and EU fund inflows and overestimates spending in the government's social package," the statement said.
 FinMin says Olympics will sustain growth in 2004
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Wednesday defended the government's forecast of sustained growth next year, while dismissing a spate of recent press reports projecting a recession after the holding of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Christodoulakis cited what he called a "developmental reservoir" emanating from the Games, with real economic benefits coming in their wake.
"If we apply a correct economic policy then development will continue, otherwise we will be led to recession," he noted.
 Opposition raps government in wake of EU economy report
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy party on Wednesday said an economic report on Greece from the European Union released earlier in the day was critical of government policy.
''Yet another EU Commission report has rejected the government's economic policy. Despite its diplomatic language, the report stresses that public finances have derailed, and both inflation and joblessness have remained among the highest in the bloc,'' the party's economic spokesman, George Alogoskoufis, said in a statement.
The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology said the report exposed the government's ''embellishment'' of the state of the economy ahead of national elections, revealing a social deficit that has emerged as a result of government policy.
 EU proposes returning 80.9 mln euros to Greece
BRUSSELS, 30/10/2003 (ANA/B.Demiris)The European Union's executive Commission on Wednesday proposed returning 80.9 million euros to Greece from funds that were not used in the bloc's budget for 2003.
The Commission proposed returning a total of 5.0 billion euros for distribution among its member states.
 Greece-China balance of trade the focus of Athens talks
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Commercial ties, including measures to shrink the currently lop-sided balance of trade, dominated the eighth Greece-China inter-ministerial committee meeting here on Wednesday, a session that included participation of several entrepreneurs from both sides.
According to official figures, Chinese imports to Greece last year barely missed the impressive one-billion-euro mark (960.9 million), increasing from 840.7 million euros in 2001. Conversely, Greek exports to the massive Chinese market totaled 56.8 million euros in 2002, up from a paltry 44.2 million in 2001.
Greek exports to China are mostly marble and fertilizers, whereas electronics, air conditioning units and even vessels are imported from the People's Republic of China.
Beyond trade talks, Athens reiterated its support for China's assumption of the 2010 World Expo, echoing Beijing's support for Thessaloniki's World Expo bid in 2008.
In statements afterwards, Chinese delegation chief Zhang Zhigang called on Greek business people to intensify their activities in the vast Far East country, while pointing to the services sector as one area where Greece-based entrepreneurs should focus.
He also said Beijing wants Athens to support the lifting of several anti-dumping measures slapped on China by the EU Commission.
Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos led the Greek delegation in talks and later accompanied Zhigang during a meeting with officials from the Federation of Greek Industries (SEB). Both men also spoke to a group of Greek and Chinese businesspeople at SEB's headquarters.
 New development law to be implemented January 1, 2004
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)The Greek government will begin implementing a new development law in the country by January 1, 2004, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with the leaders of employers and employees' unions, Mr. Odysseas Kyriakopoulos and Christos Polyzogopoulos, Mr. Christodoulakis stressed that the new law aimed to simplify procedures to attract investments in the country by offering incentives to critical sectors of the economy such as tourism, expanding incentives for old businesses and offering increased tax-free reserve capital to businesses making new investments.
Mr Kyriakopoulos, president of the Greek Industries Union, said that Greece needed more Greek and foreign investments and stressed that a new development law would be improved com-pared with the existing one.
Mr. Polyzogopoulos, president of GSEE, the country's largest trade union umbrella, urged the government to rapidly implement a new law that would support the country's growth.
 Wages not to blame for Greek inflation, gov't concedes; MP slams central banker
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Wednesday conceded that wages were not responsible for pushing up inflation in Greece and that many sectors of the Greek economy generated excessive profits.
Protopapas made the statements when asked to comment on a European Central Bank report that blamed high inflation in Greece squarely on excessive profits by companies rather than on wages.
''Wages are clearly not responsible for inflation and, apart from certain business sectors that are not in any case competitive, excessive profits are generated. The aim is for there to be healthy business activity and healthy competition,'' Protopapas said.
The ECB report was in stark contrast to an analysis by Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas, where he called for restraint in pay rises.
According to the spokesman, Garganas' position was that restraining wages would assist efforts to keep inflation low.
The disparity between the positions of the Greek central banker and the ECB was commented on in a question tabled in Parlia-ment on Wednesday by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology MP Panagiotis Lafazanis for Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
Referring to an interview given by Garganas to the newspaper ''Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia'', the MP said it confirmed that the ''independence of our Central Bank is simply a myth'' and accused him of focusing unfairly on wages while ignoring profits as a cause of inflation.
During the interview, Garganas referred to the 6.3 per cent wage increases in Greece, the largest in the eurozone, and the increase in labor costs, which were 3 per cent in Greece compared to 2 per cent in Europe.
According to a report by the ECB reproduced in the newspaper 'Avghi' on Tuesday, however, the main culprits for making Greek inflation 1.26 per cent higher than the EU average from 1999-2002 were indirect taxation and excessive profits.
The first helped make Greek inflation 0.26 per cent higher than the EU average, while the second added 1.32 per cent to the difference, the report found. Greek wages during that time, by contrast, reduced the difference by 0.23 per cent.
 Additional amount approved for Manpower Employment Organization for pay costs
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Additional funding for the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) amounting to 10 million euros has been approved by decision of Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas with the purpose of covering subsidization needs regarding the pay costs of businesses functioning in border regions.
Funds amounting to 53,720,000 euros have already been provided for OAED from the beginning of 2003 through the Labor and Social insurance ministry.
As a result of the decision, the total amount of funds provided for OAED in 2003 for the subsidization of businesses in border regions amounts to 63,720,000 euros.
Pachtas said the government is promoting and supporting employment which is a priority in the country's development process and the increase in competitiveness.
 Greek govt discusses new tourism policy
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Greece needs to promote a comparative advantage of its tourist product ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Prime Mi-nister Costas Simitis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a cabinet meeting on tourism including Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Internal Affairs Minister Costas Skandalidis, Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Education Minister Petros Efthimiou, Health Minister Costas Stephanis and Transport Minister Christos Verelis, the Greek premier announced that the country's National Tourism Organization (GNTO) would be transformed to focus on promotion issues and said that a new subsidiary company would be created to focus on Greek tourism marketing issues.
Mr Simitis stressed that a Tourism General Secretariat with the Development ministry would focus on strategy drafting and implementing of tourist policy. The Greek premier also announced measures to attract new tourist investments.
Greece seeks direct investment in tourism: Greece is seeking direct investment in tourism, whose competitiveness the government wants to improve internationally, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Wednesday.
He said the brunt of the government's move to improve the country's tourism product lay in an overhaul of the organization and structure of the industry's management.
Under the new plan, the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) will focus mainly on the promotion of Greek tourism abroad, promotion and publicity, and public relations.
The GNTO will also include an economy and tourism division whose functions are to include satellite accounts for tourism.
In addition, the GNTO will create a subsidiary to handle marketing, with private sector firms and regional authorities taking part.
The new company will work on the basis of a five-year financing program for communications policy totalling 150 million euros from Hellenic Tourism Real Estate SA, the state and the private sector.
The centre for strategy will lie in the development ministry's general tourism secretariat after acquiring the GNTO's remaining powers.
The GNTO also plans to modernize its offices abroad at an overall cost of about 15 million euros.
In addition, the government will set up an independent regulatory body for games of chance whose sphere will include state lotteries, horse racing, casinos and the football pools.
Hellenic Tourism Real Estate is to promote investments of 500 million euros, making full use of state tourism properties. The firm will step up its investment policy after anticipated entry into the Athens Stock Exchange at the end of the year.
Authorities also plan a vigorous promotion campaign for alter-native forms of tourism, including agrotourism, promoting specific cities, medical tourism and conference tourism.
By 2006, a new conference centre in Athens should be in full operation; and a tender is likely to be called for an 8,000-capa-city conference centre in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
Opposition criticizes govt's tourism policy: The main opposition New Democracy party claimed that Prime Minister Costas Simitis had belatedly woken up to the lack of tourism policy, spurred by the Athens 2004 Olympics.
''These vaguely announced visions and desires, when unaccompanied by a specific goal-achieving strategy, have been shown in practice to be void, provoking justified outrage from tourism enterprises that are witnessing the collapse of tourism while the government dreams of millions of tourists and a rise in the tourism economy,'' party spokesman said in a statement.
The Communist Party of Greece said that the announcements on tourism showed that the government was trying to penetrate business groups, hitting small and medium sized enterprises, handing over state owned land, and hurting workers in the sector.
 Greek stocks ease slightly on Wednesday
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Wednesday's session lower in the Athens Stock Exchange, reversing an early rally that pushed the general index to the 2,130 level in the first two hours of trading.
The general index ended 0.22 percent lower at 2,107.92 points, with turnover an improved 123.2 million euros.
The Wholesale, Cement and Investment sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (1.01 percent, 0.91 percent and 0.48 percent, respectively), while the Insurance (1.22 per-cent), Textile (1.03 percent) and Publication (0.39 percent) se-ctors suffered the heaviest percentage losses.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.12 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.15 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.29 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 173 to 113 with another 75 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were EFG Eurobank Ergasias, National Bank of Greece, Public Power Corporation, Football Pools Organization and HBC Cola Cola.
Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers on Wednesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 38.9 mln euros Wednesday
Equity Index Futures:
Closing rates of October 29 2003
Parities in euro
Foreign Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,177 1,150
 Hoaxer delays sailing of ferry after claiming bomb on board
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Police on Wednesday evening thoroughly searched 193 cars on a ferry which was about to sail from Piraeus to Iraklio, Crete, following an anonymous call that one of the cars on board was loaded with explosives. It turned out to be a hoax and the ''Knossos Pallas'' finally headed for its destination.
The cause of the police search, which began at 20:35 p.m. and resulted in the delay of the sailing, was an anonymous call by a man to the newspaper ''Eleftherotypia'' claiming that one of the cars on board the ''Knossos Pallas'' ferry was packed with explosives.
The ferry was to sail from Piraeus to Iraklio at 21 p.m. After a two-hour search by police, the vessel, carrying 1,340 passengers, eventually left port with a slight delay and great inconvenience.
 Separated Siamese twins return home to Thessaloniki with happy parents
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)The two four-month-old Siamese twins, who were separated on October 11 after a 10-hour-operation in a clinic in Rome, re-turned to Thessaloniki with their parents on Wednesday after-noon.
The family arrived at Macedonia airport at 17:40 with a flight from Athens and the parents, with the girls in their arms, went to their home.
However, the infants will have to be under constant medical attention over a period of months.
 Chinese journalists to begin visit to Greece on Wednesday
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)A nine-member delegation of Chinese journalists, that will include some high-ranking members of China's journalists' union, is to begin a visit to Greece on Wednesday.
During the visit, which ends on November 7, the delegation will be briefed on current affairs in politics, economics, culture and society, particularly preparations for the Athens Olympics in 2004 in view of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
The Chinese journalists will be meeting with Parliament's presidium, Deputy Press and Media Minister Tilemahos Hytiris, the presidency of the Athens journalists' union ESHEA.
They will also visit the Athens News Agency and other Greek mass media, Olympic facilities and the port of Piraeus and be briefed on the progress of Olympic projects and security measures for the Games.
The visit will include a three-day excursion to Delphi, Olympia, Nafplion, Mycenae and Epidavros.
 Five acquitted of charges of blocking NATO convoy
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)Five persons were acquitted of charges of blocking traffic, not allowing a NATO supply convoy to reach the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in 1999.
The convoy was assembled in Thessaloniki and consisted of French troops, but was blocked in the Kilkis prefecture. The five were acquitted by a first instance court and were re-tried at the appellate court.
During the trial members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and of the Committee for International Detente and Peace rallied outside the court-house to show their solidarity to those under trial.
 Defense lawyer says N17 suspect had exclusively political motives
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)A defense lawyer for Thomas Serifis, currently on trial with a number of other suspects for alleged involvement in the November 17 terrorist group, told the court on Wednesday Serifis had exclusively political motives when he joined N17.
Lawyer Eleni Boulieri said Thomas Serifis quit the group in 1990, terming the withdrawal primarily a political option.
Another defense lawyer, Nikos Protekdikos, told the court his client Costas Telios was a member of N17 without a role. He further said that since 1992 when he left the group, Costas Telios had no substantive relation with it.
 Int'l conference focuses on Mylopotamos region of Crete
Athens, 30/10/2003 (ANA)An international conference on the issue of "Mylopotamos from Antiquity Until Today" is being held this week in the eponymous region of Crete, which includes the well-known sites of Anogeia, Koukoulona, Geropotamos and Arkadi.
The conference, which ends on Thursday, covers the entire history of Mylopotamos, from early antiquity, the Roman era, Byzantium and the Ottoman period.
 CoE ministers postpone decision on ECHR ruling over Loizidou
NICOSIA, 30/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)The committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe postponed for two weeks the decision regarding the execution of the European Court of Human Rights decision relating to human rights violations in Cyprus. The postponement was asked by Italy, in its capacity as EU president, and was supported by some European countries. Italy said further negotiations were required with Turkey on the issue.
Turkey has said it is ready to pay the 900,000 US dollars in compensation to Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou for the loss of use of her property in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus but it is not willing to allow Loizidou access to her property, an obligation Turkey has to meet as part of the ruling.
Turkey's Permanent Representative said that any decisions on the issue should be taken at a higher political level.
The decision for the postponement was taken just one week before the European Commission prepares its report for Turkey's accession process.
Loizidou's lawyer, Achilleas Demetriades, said that it is very disappointing that there is a postponement once again.
However, he said the positive element is that there is still pressure to execute the decision.
Demetriades also pointed out that the fact that the issue will be examined at the next meeting means that it is still on the table. The Court ordered Turkey to pay 600,000 dollars for loss of use of the property, 40,000 dollars for moral damages and about 260,000 dollars for costs, in addition to eight per cent interest as of July 28, 1998. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory. The invasion troops forcibly uprooted from their homes and properties some 200,000 Greek Cypriots, one third of the island's population.
 Cyprus gov't describes as overt provocation lighting up of Turkish flag
NICOSIA, 30/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government described the lighting up of the giant Turkish flag on the Turkish occupied Pentadaktylos mountain-side as the most overt provocation lately on the part of the illegal regime.
Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Wednesday ''it is a brutal provocation which does not contribute at all in creating a climate of cooperation and promoting the good intentions of our side for a solution to the (Cyprus) problem.''
He also said the lighting up ''was done with the approval and support of the occupation regime and the occupation leader (Rauf Denktash) also offered money'' for the operation.
According to the Turkish Cypriot press the so-called authorities performed a test run on the gigantic flag on Monday night. The flag was painted on the side of Pentadaktylos in 1985.