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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-01-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

January 8, 2003


  • [01] PM announces elections for March 7, new PASOK leader
  • [02] Simitis’ televised announcement
  • [03] KKE, Synaspismos, DHKKI leaders sharply criticize PM's decision
  • [04] FM concludes talks ahead of Thursday's Central Committee meeting
  • [05] Cyprus government not expecting Greek election period to affect talks efforts
  • [06] EPP's Poettering cites his grouping's criteria for new Commission head
  • [07] Deputy FM, Iranian envoy discuss humanitarian aid for Bam
  • [08] Greek mutual funds' rose to 30.4 bln euros in 2003
  • [09] Early elections call pushes Greek stocks 1.92% higher
  • [10] Two Belgian cyclists have first contact with Olympic mountain bike route
  • [11] One out of two Greeks believes 2004 worse than 2003, report shows
  • [12] Panel of judges to try ELA terrorism case announced
  • [13] Cabinet approves additional financial assistance for Turkish Cypriots
  • [14] House President hopes Ankara is sincere on Cyprus
  • [15] Estonia's president arrives in Cyprus for four-day state visit
  • [16] IMF official to visit Cyprus

  • [01] PM announces elections for March 7, new PASOK leader

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    Two-term Greek Prime Minister and ruling PASOK leader Costas Simitis on Wednesday opened the way for his succession ahead of upcoming general elections, which he called for March 7, bringing to a climax weeks of accelerated political developments and maneuvering within the ruling party.

    Simitis, 67, said he would remain prime minister until the March 7 poll, whereas a new president of PASOK – which by all accounts will be Foreign Minister George Papandreou – will assume the government’s reins if PASOK wins the election, five months before the 2004 Olympic Games of Athens.

    The reason Simitis cited for his decision not to run for a third term was Cyprus’ full membership in the European Union on May 1, which he said called for a fresh Greek government mandate in the face of efforts to unite the island republic prior to EU accession.

    Greece's constitution calls for elections no later than May.: PASOK’s central committee will convene on Thursday to focus on the election of a new party president, with Papandreou expected to be the only candidate.

    No official statement was made, by press time, on if and when Papandreou would leave the foreign ministry or who his successor would be.

    G. Papandreou: On his part, the foreign minister later said: “Costas Simitis made and is making a decision that is characterized by ethos, courageousness and a sense of responsibility. It is a challenge for all of us; a challenge to exceed ourselves … to change. To change with respect, with certainty, with caution, but to change.”

    Karamanlis: ‘An admission of failure’: In a sharp response to Simitis’ decision not to run for re-election, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis called the prime minister’s move an “admission of failure”.

    He also echoed heightened ND criticism of late that “everyone within PASOK is collectively responsible”, an indirect reference to George Papandreou's share of responsibility in government policies and practice.

    Karamanlis said Greek voters may not be given the opportunity to judge Simitis for the problems accumulated during his governance, they will, however, be asked to judge his government’s policies. Moreover, the ND leader referred to an “establishment”, adding that the true dilemma of the upcoming elections would be whether the country moves forward with new policies, a new leadership team and a new governance, or whether “we will retain the same washed-up policies, the same worn-out cadres and an arrogance of power”.

    Finally, he referred to a “last-ditch communications spectacle without any substance”.

    “I have a full understanding of my debt (to the nation) and I am listening to citizens’ demand: to never again squander public money, or concentrate wealth in the hands of the few; the stock market crime and the establishment mentality of the state…” Karamanlis said.

    [02] Simitis’ televised announcement

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    During a nationally televised address, Simitis said developments surrounding the Cyprus issue and efforts to ensure that the island republic unites before it officially joins the EU on May 1 would require a government with a fresh mandate.

    On the issue of his succession, Simitis said the leader of a political party had to represent forces for renewal, while pointing to political models in other countries, where changes of leadership were commonplace.

    ''The egotism of permanency is a deeply conservative behavior,'' Simitis stressed, noting that leadership inflexibility was incompatible with a changing society.

    "I believe my decisions promote the interests of Greeks and Greece," he concluded.

    President briefed: Earlier, Simitis was received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos at the presidential mansion, a short walk from the premier’s official office, for a much-anticipated briefing regarding the accelerated political developments of recent days.

    The meeting lasted for 65 minutes, with Simitis declining comment upon his departure from the president’s office. Simitis joined a joint Cabinet and ruling PASOK executive bureau meeting already in progress at his office only minutes later.

    Stephanopoulos’ briefing came less than 24 hours after the premier received FM Papandreou at his home on Tuesday evening. Papandreou, the son of late three-term prime minister Andreas Papandreou and the grandson of George Papandreou, his namesake and a well-known post-WWII politician and prime minister in the 1960s, will be Simitis’ apparent successor, by all accounts.

    [03] KKE, Synaspismos, DHKKI leaders sharply criticize PM's decision

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leaders Aleka Papariga on Wednesday disparaged the reasons given by Prime Minister Costas Simitis hours earlier in leading to his decision to step down immediately after the March 7 elections.

    “They say we’re living historic moments in our country. I don’t know if they are historic, but we certainly believe we are living moments of a historic pre-election deception of all the popular social strata, and of all those (people) suffering; from PASOK and not only,” she said, adding:

    “All of this (talk) about renewal of political personnel is but pretences to justify the change of leadership in PASOK; pretences, literally. The fact that elections were called on March 7 due to the Cyprus issue is also pretence,” she charged.

    Commenting on Prime Minister Costas Simitis' proclamation on Wednesday, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Nikos Constantopoulos said ''Mr. Simitis and the system of power he supported and sanctifies in his policy, makes a last moment spectacular move to change the climate, with changes of persons and roles, without harming the policies which constitute the cause of the problems of the Greek people and the transformation of PASOK.''

    Constantopoulos added that the Coalition views that ''the leadership moves do not amend the essence of what is at stake in the coming elections because the real dilemma is not between Karamanlis and Papandreou but whether against this duo, there will be a strong force of alternative policy for progressive prospects.''

    ''This force,'' he added, ''may only be a renovative, unifying, radical and strong Left for which the Coalition is working for and calls on the people to support it.''

    The Coalition's Central Committee will meet this weekend to discuss the political developments, while decisions are expected to be taken regarding the presentation of the party's tickets.

    On his part, the leader of the out-of-Parliament Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI), former top PASOK minister Dimitris Tsovolas, sharply criticized Wednesday’s decision by PM Costas Simitis to step down after the March 7 election, calling the development “shadow boxing two months before elections”.

    “He (Simitis) is afraid of a majority judgment by the Greek people, (a people) he dispatched to joblessness, inflation and insecurity due to the socially unjust and dead-end government policy of the last eight years ... now he is underestimating Greek citizens’ intelligence...” Tsovolas countered.

    Finally, he charged that the current president of PASOK (Simitis) “appointed the new leader of PASOK from his home, in the absence of collective party organs and the party’s grassroots, violating every principle of internal party democracy and its democratic operation”.

    Conversely, in a later press release, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said the change in PASOK’s leadership means renewal, a catchphrase that relates to PASOK’s political expression and the country’s political system. He also expressed his optimism over another electoral victory by the ruling party

    PASOK Secretary says PM 'opened new chapter'in Greece's political life: Commenting on Prime Minister Costas Simitis' proclamation earlier in the day, PASOK Secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis said on Wednesday that the ruling party, and its course from 1974 to the present, ''has never been afraid to change itself when circumstances required it to do so. Consistent in the political mission and the character of our movement, we are proceeding today in a pioneering move.''

    ''Costas Simitis today opened the new chapter of political life in our country. He proved, not only through his eight-year leadership, but also with his statement today, that justifiably the progressive party and the Greek people trusted him,'' Chrysohoidis said.

    ''Our emotion is human and understandable, but it should not prevent us from seeing the great truth of Costas Simitis' political heritage: Greece of the 21st Century will be the new force which will dawn in the world, providing we continue to be creative, plan our future with self-confidence, not be afraid, but on the contrary seek what is new,'' he added.

    [04] FM concludes talks ahead of Thursday's Central Committee meeting

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday evening concluded his successive meetings with his close associates ahead of Thursday's meeting of the ruling PASOK party's Central Committee.

    Speaking earlier on his departure from his Kastri residence, Papandreou, who is expected to be the sole candidate for the leadership of the party, spoke of ''important days, great challenges and great expectations,'' adding:''we want to live up to expectations, we can live up to them.''

    ''The people are thirsty for the new initiatives which we are undertaking, and wish us to show new ethics in politics,'' he concluded.

    Parliament expected to be dissolved during first 10 days of February: Parliament is expected to be dissolved during the first 10 days of February, given that elections will be held on March 7, and the relevant Presidential Decree must be issued after February 6, 2004.

    According to article 41 of the constitution, ''the decree on the dissolution of Parliament must include, at the same time, the proclamation of elections within a period of 30 days and the convening of the new Parliament within a period of another 30 days after the elections.''

    It is reminded that according to article 41, ''the President of the Republic dissolves Parliament with a proposal by the government for a renewal of the popular mandate to handle a national issue of exceptional importance.''

    This issue, as the prime minister said in his message, is the issue of Cyprus, also in light of its formal accession to the European Union on May 1, for which the government needs ''fresh election'' from the people.

    [05] Cyprus government not expecting Greek election period to affect talks efforts

    NICOSIA 08/01/04 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    The government of Cyprus does not expect the election period in Greece to affect to any degree efforts for a resumption of talks on the issue of Cyprus.

    Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides, referring to the proclamation by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the holding of elections on March 7, said that Nicosia does not comment on domestic political developments in Greece.

    Chrysostomides said good cooperation with the Greek government and all political forces is always the aim to enable a resumption of negotiations which shall lead to a solution to the Cyprus issue.

    [06] EPP's Poettering cites his grouping's criteria for new Commission head:

    BRUSSELS 08/01/04 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The chairman of the centre-right European Peoples’ Party-ED grouping, Hans-Gert Poettering, reiterated here on Wednesday that he will ask the European Council that any new Commission president hail from his political grouping’s ranks if the latter comes in first during the June European Parliament elections.

    Poettering made the statement during a press conference here, his first of the year.

    Ask about the possibility of outgoing Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis being a candidate for top Commission post, the EPP chairman merely noted that he is aware of the speculation regarding such a prospect current taking place in Greece.

    More importantly, he stressed that his views about any new Commission president remain vis-a-vis Simitis’ possible candidacy, adding that his positions are based on political criteria and not based on the personal abilities of candidates.

    [07] Deputy FM, Iranian envoy discuss humanitarian aid for Bam

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday received the Iranian ambassador to Athens, with talks centering on Athens’ recent dispatch of humanitarian aid and rescue crews to the quake-stricken city of Bam, in SE Iran.

    Iranian envoy Mehdi Mohtashami conveyed the appreciation of the country’s deputy FM, Ali Ahani, for the aid send by Greece.

    Moreover, the ambassador said some 90 percent of the residents in Bam are homeless. Along those lines, he requested that any further aid by Greece be in the form of pre-fabricated buildings.

    The Greek government send two transport planes loaded with humanitarian aid in the wake of the devastating earthquake, along with 20 members of a special rescue unit and emergency financial aid totaling 250,000 euros.

    [08] Greek mutual funds' rose to 30.4 bln euros in 2003

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    Greece's mutual funds' assets totalled 30.4 billion euros in December from 25.4 billion euros in the previous year, for an increase of 19.7 percent, official figures showed on Wednesday.

    A monthly report by the Union of Institutional Investors said that the Greek mutual funds market returned to a positive trend after a three-year decline, although funds' returns for the year were low and in several cases disappointed investors.

    The report said that the market managed to surpass the 30-billion-euro mark in 2003 due to an increase in the domestic money management, domestic bond and domestic equity mutual funds' assets by 45.9%, 19.5% and 23.5%, respectively. A 45.9% drop in domestic combined funds' assets, however, limited the market's rise in value.

    Domestic money management and domestic bond funds reported inflows worth 3.5 billion euros in 2003, while domestic combined funds reported outflows worth 2.7 billion euros during the year.

    Domestic equity funds' assets rose 23.5% in 2003, after a 33.1% drop in 2002, with the category's average numerical return totalling 23.4% from -27.2% over the same period, respectively. Out of a total 69 mutual funds in the category, 29 reported returns more than 25% in 2003 while another 14 reported returns more than 30%. Investors in the category, however, continue suffering significant losses after a three-year sharp decline in returns.

    Bond and money management funds raised their market shares to 21.52% (from 20.18% in 2002) and 51.93% (from 42.34% in 2002), respectively, reflecting an increase in domestic funds' assets.

    Equity funds also saw their market share rise to 15.96% in 2003, from 14.62% in the previous year, while combined funds' market share fell to 10.59% from 22.87% over the same period.

    [09] Early elections call pushes Greek stocks 1.92% higher

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    News of an early general election in the country, ending the uncertainty of a long pre-election period, improved sentiment in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday and pushed share prices higher for the sixth consecutive session and turnover above the 300-million-euro mark for the first time in months.

    Analysts said that the Greek market could move further up ahead of the elections in March 7 helped by the fact that current market valuations significanlty lagged the high levels of the previous election in 2000.

    The general index jumped 1.92 percent to end at 2,391.35 points, reflecting gains in telecommunication shares (OTE up 4.55%, Cosmote rose 6.17% and Panafon rose 0.32%).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 1.82% higher, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 1.33%,

    the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.05% up and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index rose 1.68%.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover

    at 161.0 mln euros Wednesday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): Mixed

  • Underlying Index: +1.82% percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: +1.33 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (2,388)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 161.0 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip

    sellers on Wednesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.39 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 17 bps

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring May 2013 (1.105 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.207 bln euros


    Closing rates of January 7 2004

    Parities in euro


    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,278 1,248

    [10] Two Belgian cyclists have first contact with Olympic mountain bike route

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    Two leading Belgian cyclists had their first taste of the Olympic Games mountain bike route at cycling installations at Parnitha on Wednesday under unfavorable weather conditions.

    They are gold mountain bike champion Filip Meirhaeghe in the cross country category in 2003 and Paulissen Roel, number 3 in the UCI's world classification in the past year.

    Despite extreme cold and snowfall prevailing in the area at noon on Wednesday, the two athletes had the best of impressions of the Olympic cycling route which they will be experiencing during the 2004 summer Olympic Games.

    [11] One out of two Greeks believes 2004 worse than 2003, report shows

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    One out of two Greeks believes that 2004 will be worse than 2003 and this pessimism ranks Greece as the second most pessimistic country in the world, according to a worldwide report prepared by TNS ICAP and Gallup International.

    The report shows that one out of two Greeks believes that the new year will be worse and not better than last year, despite the fact that the holding of the Olympic Games in Greece in the summer should create greater optimism.

    This pessimism of the Greeks is linked to the fact that the new year is expected to be a year with financial difficulties and a considerable increase in unemployment.

    On the question of ''as far as you are concerned, do you believe 2004 will be a better or worse year than 2003?'', the five most pessimistic countries in the world are Slovakia, Greece, Poland, Ecuador and Portugal where 50, 46, 43, 43 and 41 percent of citizens respectively believe 2004 will be a worse year than 2003.

    The Greeks, not only compared to the inhabitants of the remaining European Union member-states but also to those of all countries as well, believe to a greater degree that 2004 will be a year with financial difficulties (59 percent) and to a lesser degree that 2004 will be the same as 2003 from a financial point of view (26 percent). Economic prosperity is only expected by 12 percent of Greeks.

    Among the inhabitants of EU countries, the Greeks, just as the case was last year, appear to be the most insecure regarding their stay with their current job since four out of 10 (43 percent) see the possibility of becoming unemployed. The average among the remaining EU countries on the same issue is 24 percent.

    The majority of employed Greeks declare that they would find it difficult to find a new job (73 percent), while only 22 percent believe they would find new jobs fairly soon.

    This position of the Greeks on the issue has changed considerably since last year. While last year 62 percent of Greeks said they would find it difficult to find a new job in the event they found themselves unemployed, this year's percentage has increased to 73.

    [12] Panel of judges to try ELA terrorism case announced

    Athens , 08/01/04 (ANA)

    The panel of judges and reserve judges for the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court that will try five suspected terrorists, allegedly members of the Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA), was announced on Wednesday.

    The names were drawn by lots from a pre-selected number of justices.

    Presiding judge will be justice Elisavet Mougakou-Brilli, with reserve presiding judge Grigoris Mamalis. The other two justices on the panel will be Zoi Kobotiati and Dimitris Moustakas, with reserve judges Constantinos Fragos and Giorgos Adamopoulos.

    Eleftherios Patsis will be bench prosecutor, with Constantinos Vobiris as his replacement.

    The trial will begin on February 9.

    [13] Cabinet approves additional financial assistance for Turkish Cypriots

    NICOSIA 08/01/04 (CNA/ANA)

    The Council of Ministers approved additional financial assistance of up to 3.6 million Cyprus pounds for Turkish Cypriots to be used for academic, medical and other reasons, Finance Minister Markos Kyprianou announced here Wednesday.

    Part of the funds will be allocated for educational purposes through scholarships from the State Scholarship Foundation, to cover tuition fees at the University of Cyprus, as well as funding the learning of the Greek language for Turkish Cypriots.

    Financial assistance will also be granted for medicine, such as immunizations, to prevent the spread of epidemics while funds have also been allocated for humanitarian assistance. Turkish Cypriots who are eligible can apply and the government will investigate their financial situation before granting the aid, the finance minister said.

    Kyprianou also said that various rapprochement activities that promote friendship among the two communities will be funded, as well as research amongst Turkish Cypriots that will help Greek Cypriots comprehend the way their compatriots think and what they believe, he said.

    The Council of Ministers also approved on Wednesday the budget for the Turkish Cypriot Properties Fund for the year 2004. For the first time, it includes funds for repairing, maintaining and cleaning up Turkish Cypriot ancient monuments, mosques, cemeteries, buildings, schools and other.

    Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said the budget provides an income of 6,850,000 pounds while expenditure is estimated at 7,122,000 pounds.

    [14] House President hopes Ankara is sincere on Cyprus

    NICOSIA 08/01/04 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias has expressed hope that Ankara's declaration that it accepts a UN proposal as a basis for negotiations is not a ''tactical manoeuvre''.

    Speaking on departure for Canada on Wednesday, Christofias also noted increased US interest in pressing on with the resumption of peace talks with a view at finding a settlement before Cyprus joins the European Union in May this year but was not in a position to comment on any dates for the start of negotiations.

    ''There will be many statements from the Turkish side. I hope Ankara's interest is genuine and it is transformed into a change in its philosophy and positions on Cyprus so that talks can begin and reach a conclusion. I hope the recent statements is not a tactical game,'' the House President said.

    Commenting on a letter US President George Bush has sent to President Tassos Papadopoulos, he said US interest at the highest level has become obvious with Bush's letters to Papadopoulos and the Greek and Turkish premiers.

    ''Any initiative with regard to the talks will be undertaken by the UN Secretary General once he is convinced that the conditions are ripe for the resumption of negotiations,'' Christofias said.

    He reiterated the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side to return to the negotiating table where the two sides can put forward their positions and if there is an agreement this will be put to the people in a referendum.Christofias flew to Canada to participate in a meeting of parliamentary speakers of member-states of the Commonwealth.

    After the meeting in Canada, Christofias heading a multi-party parliamentary delegation will pay an official visit to Cuba at the invitation of the Cuban parliament.

    During their stay, Cypriot MPs will meet with senior government and parliamentary officials and visit various institutions in Havana.

    The Cypriot delegation comprises AKEL parliamentary spokesman Nicos Katsourides, leader of the Democratic Rally Nicos Anastasiades, Democratic Party Acting President Nicos Kleanthous, leader of the Social Democrats Movement EDEK Yiannakis Omirou and leader of ADIK party Dinos Michaelides. The delegation returns Saturday, January 17.

    [15] Estonia's president arrives in Cyprus for four-day state visit

    LARNACA 08/01/04 (CNA/ANA)

    Estonia's President Arnold Ruutel has said the accession of Cyprus and Estonia to the EU will enhance cooperation between the two countries, benefiting the EU as a whole.

    In statements to the press during his arrival at Larnaca Airport on Wednesday for a four-day state visit, where he was greeted by Foreign Minister George Iacovou, Ruutel, said Estonia is seeking to develop closer relations with countries far away from Estonia, such as Cyprus and other countries in the Mediterranean region.

    Speaking through an interpreter he said as of May this year, both countries will be members of the EU ''and will work closer together within the EU,'' further strengthening bilateral relations.

    ''I am sure the increase and enhancement of our cooperation through the EU will be in the best interest of the two countries and the EU as a whole,'' he added.

    Ruutel expressed certainty that both he and the ministers accompanying him, will have ''fruitful meetings.''

    Ruutel and Papadopoulos will sign three agreements relating to cooperation on cultural and education matters and on the fight against organized crime and a protocol of cooperation between the foreign ministries.

    Accompanied by a 21-member official delegation and an 8-member business delegation, Ruutel will hold official talks with President Papadopoulos.

    Ruutel flies out of Cyprus at 1040 on Saturday morning.

    [16] IMF official to visit Cyprus

    NICOSIA 08/01/04 (CNA/ANA)

    Jeroen Kremers, Executive Director representing Cyprus and other countries of the same region at the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund, will visit Cyprus from January 8-11.

    A Central Bank press release says Kremers is visiting Cyprus for the first time, following his recent election to the post.

    During his stay, Kremers will have meetings with Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Christodoulos Christodoulou, Minister of Finance Marcos Kyprianou, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism George Lillikas and other officials.

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