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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-01-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

January 17, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] Two new opinion polls indicate change of political climate
  • [02] PM Simitis visits Crete, attacks main opposition
  • [03] Floridis concludes talks in Washington on security of 2004 Athens Olympic Games
  • [04] Gov't to continue its work until Feb. 9-12, Protopapas says
  • [05] Cypriot FM Iacovou doubts Turkey serious over Cyprus solution by May 1
  • [06] Alternate FM meets visiting Hungarian MP, discusses Cyprus issue
  • [07] Greek president receives IMO secretary general
  • [08] Parliament speaker meets visiting Bosnian presidency
  • [09] Counter-terrorism services fear terrorist acts by anarchists at Olympic Games
  • [10] British PM Tony Blair supports idea of Olympic Truce
  • [11] Papandreou calls for party consensus for public administration reform
  • [12] Main opposition leader addresses ND's election campaign committee
  • [13] Communist party head says cooperation with Coalition party insolvent, insincere
  • [14] Investment banking has significant growth prospects in Greece, report
  • [15] EU starts court action against Greece over status of contract workers
  • [16] Intracom to supply communication system for Greek Navy vessels
  • [17] Greek economic weekly review
  • [18] Greek stocks end week with net gain of 3.81 pct
  • [19] Bari donates 258,000 euros for reconstruction of St. Nicholas Church in
  • [20] Top British official outlines policy to combat social exclusion
  • [21] Cyprus spokesman says Prodi in Ankara positive development
  • [22] Cyprus president to consult with Greek premier

  • [01] Two new opinion polls indicate change of political climate

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Two new opinion polls appearing in newspapers on Friday indicate a substantial change in the political climate in Greece following the decision for a change of leadership in the ruling PASOK party.

    The results of the polls, conducted by Metron Analysis and Opinion, were printed in the Athens dailies TA NEA and ELEFTHEROTYPIA, respectively.

    Metron Analysis poll: The Metron Analysis poll appearing in TA NEA was conducted January 10-14 on a nationwide sampling of 1,416 citizens.

    According to the results of that poll, 40.1 percent of respondents stated that they would vote for main opposition New Democracy party (ND), 37.6 percent for ruling PASOK, 4.9 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 2.2 percent for the Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN), and 1 percent for the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI). The difference between ND and PASOK has narrowed to 2.5 percentage points from 6.8 percentage points in the previous poll conducted by the same company.

    With respect to which party was expected to win the March 7 elections, 45 percent of respondents felt that ND would win, against 38.1 percent who felt that PASOK would emerge the victor, again marking a substantial narrowing of the difference vis-a-vis the previous poll.

    On the question of who was most suited for prime minister, 46.9 percent of respondents said George Papandreou (PASOK foreign minister, who is slated to take over the helm of the party), against 41.7 percent who said Costas Karamanlis (ND leader).

    With respect to who had more prestige abroad, 73.4 percent of respondents said Papandreou, against 16.3 percent who said Karamanlis.

    Regarding who inspired more confidence, 45.4 percent said Papandreou, against 37.6 percent who said Karamanlis.

    On who was friendlier, 50.2 percent said Papandreou, against 37.8 percent who said Karamanlis.

    To the question on who had better associates, 41.1 percent said Papandreou against 34.3 percent who said Karamanlis.

    As for who had the better prospects for the future, 46.5 percent said Papandreou, against 35.3 percent for Karamanlis.

    On the question of who was more frank, 37.7 percent said Papandreou, against 34.0 percent for Karamanlis.

    To the question who cared more for the people's problems, 34.6 percent said Karamanlis, against 33.0 percent for Papandreou.

    Voter rallying in ND was 89.1 percent, against 82.1 percent in PASOK.

    The poll further recorded a substantial lead in popularity among young people by Papandreou, while Karamanlis was more popular in the larger age brackets.

    OPINION poll: The poll conducted by OPINION appearing in ELEFTHERO-TYPIA newspaper took place January 8-14 in a nationwide sampling of 1,601 voters over 18 years of age, with an error margin of +/- 2.4 percent.

    According to the results of the poll, 40 percent of respondents said they would vote for ND, 37 percent for PASOK, 4.9 percent for KKE, 2.8 percent for SYN, 1.7 percent for (George Karatzaferis') LAOS, and 1.6 percent for DHKKI.

    By gender, 39.1 percent of men and 41 percent of women would vote for ND, while 37.5 percent of men and 36.6 percent of women would vote for PASOK.

    PASOK led in preference in the 18-54 age bracket, while ND led in the 55-65+ age groups.

    PASOK was leading in Athens, Thessaloniki and the major urban centers, whereas ND was leading in the semi-urban and rural areas.

    With respect to education level of respondents, ND led among those with elementary and secondary schooling, while PASOK led among those with a higher education.

    To the question on who was more suited for prime minister, 45.7 percent of respondents said Papandreou, against 41.6 percent for Karamanlis.

    Regarding who was anticipated to win the elections if they were held tomorrow, 45.6 percent said ND against 41.1 percent who said PASOK, indicating a narrowing of the margin from the previous opinion poll conducted by the same company, which had shown 51 percent for ND and 32.5 percent for PASOK.

    Also, 67.2 percent of the respondents said they were absolutely sure of whom they would vote for, while 14.4 percent were rather certain and 7.1 percent were not at all certain.

    Government spokesman says polls reveal 'true political change': According to government spokesman Christos Protopapas, the findings of the two polls proved that a true political change was underway and not a 'communications gimmick'.

    Responding to questions, Protopapas said that the successor to PASOK's leadership George Papandreou had generated expectations in the Greek people through his personality, proposals and political career, stressing that PASOK intended to meet those expectations.

    [02] PM Simitis visits Crete, attacks main opposition

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday launched another vehement attack on main opposition New Democracy (ND) during a visit to Arkalohori in the Iraklion prefecture on Crete, where he addressed a crowd of local residents in the town's central square.

    He accused ND of being irresponsible and of threatening important conquests of the people, such as the national health system and the ASEP system for public-sector appointments.

    Earlier, Simitis visited the ultra-modern, 32,000-seat Pancretan Stadium in Iraklion that is now 97 per cent completed, providing facilities for football games, track and field events and indoor facilities for 12 other sports.

    The stadium will be used for the football preliminaries during the Olympic Games in August and will continue to be fully operative after the Games.

    The premier was accompanied on his visit to Crete by his wife Daphne, who visited the Aghios Spyridonas Centre for Special Children and women's associations in Krousonas and Gazi.

    She expressed satisfaction that the mantle of power within the ruling PASOK party was passing from her husband to George Papandreou, noting that there were "new dynamics in society that the new leadership of George Papandreou will express and we will win the elections, which is the fundamental issue."

    PM winds up visit to Crete, confident of victory in March 7 elections: Prime Minister Costas Simitis concluded his visit to Crete on Friday and, speaking during a luncheon given in his honor by the mayor of the municipality of Kazantzaki, expressed confidence that the ruling PASOK party will win the general elections on March 7.

    Earlier, Simitis visited Arkalohori and mentioned Foreign Minister and PASOK leadership candidate George Papandreou, saying that the party will win the elections under his leadership.

    Replying to an address by the mayor of Kazantzaki, Rousos Kypriotakis, the prime minister said he is satisfied and proud of the fact Greece has entered a new era with momentum and views the future with greater optimism, adding that the country must continue on this course since it is something Greek society desires and it will send this message in the March elections.

    The mayor of Kazantzaki said the policy applied by Simitis was a policy without any vestige of populism, a policy with a plan, targets and a prospect. He also praised the prime minister for his contribution to the shaping of new political ethics.

    During the day, Simitis visited the dam of Inio from which the entire hinterland of the prefecture of Irakleio will be irrigated.

    He was also given a guided tour of the Nikos Kazantzakis museum and left for Athens after attending the luncheon given for him by the mayor of Kazantzaki.

    [03] Floridis concludes talks in Washington on security of 2004 Athens Olympic Games

    WASHINGTON 17/01/2004 (ANA/T. Ellis)

    Greek Public Order Minister George Floridis said here Friday at the end of a two-day visit to the United States that he ascertained that the U.S. senior government officials he held talks with had confidence in the security measures the Greek government is taking for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

    In statements following talks on Friday with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and other officials, Floridis said ''we discussed in detail with them in a very good spirit. The climate was excellent. This means we have built a very good relation of trust with the United States. We ascertain their will to help very much on the issue of the security of the Games which they feel is an international matter that concerns them as well and the assessment is that finally everything will go well. In Athens we are working very hard in this direction, and the message is that because we are working together we will have a very big success.''

    Floridis also met, among others, with CIA chief George Tenet who expressed the willingness of Washington to help in the granting of information, high technology and with other means which will facilitate the work of protecting athletes and visitors at the Games.

    [04] Gov't to continue its work until Feb. 9-12, Protopapas says

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Friday announced that Parliament will break up February 9-12, while stressing that the government will continue to operate as usual until that time and continue to bring legislation to Parliament.

    The bills currently being brought to parliament had arisen after a lengthy social dialogue and referred to policies that had been announced and from which the Greek people had gained, he added.

    He also commented on the departure of PASOK press spokes-woman Chryssa Arapoglou, saying that she had chosen to concentrate on her campaign to be elected to Parliament given that she would soon be forced to drastically reduce her appearances under the law.

    [05] Cypriot FM Iacovou doubts Turkey serious over Cyprus solution by May 1

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou on Friday offered a “mixed review” vis-a-vis prospects for a comprehensive Cyprus solution in the decisive periods before and after the island republic’s historic European Union accession on May 1.

    The veteran diplomat, nevertheless, concluded an address before an audience at the Hellenic American Union (HEU) by stressing that “by the end of 2004 the Cyprus problem will be solved, because it is good for all sides and for greater stability in the region.”

    Iacovou, however, was blunt in his earlier comments, saying that Turkey’s leadership will give the nod to the Turkish Cypriots to approve the Annan peace plan in a referendum only after “Turkey has received a date (for its EU accession negotiations to begin). If the bloc does not give Ankara a date, Iacovou said, then Turkish leadership will instruct the T/C community to vote against the peace plan.

    The Cypriot foreign minister also said he doubted whether Ankara will set in motion the negotiation process to reunify the island republic and solve the long-standing problem. “Negotiations will start, but wont’ finish before May 1,” he said, adding that a probable date for any beginning of a new round of talks is roughly Feb. 15.

    “It’s impossible for Turkey to be a candidate-country and occupy territory of Europe. The EU can’t function if Turkey doesn’t recognize Cyprus’ territory as that recognized by the European Union,” Iacovou said, citing his recent contacts with EU Commission President Romano Prodi, among others.

    He also pointed, more-or-less pessimistically, to an upcoming session of Turkey’s influential national security council in Ankara, on Jan. 23, saying that Turkey’s army chief of staff is particularly “hawkish” on the Cyprus issue. Additionally, he said the Erdogan government has made absolutely no reference to the Annan peace plan, but it is simply embarking on a new and vociferous communications policy. “While at the same time they cite a solution based on the realities on the ground on the island,” a clear reference to the occupation, he said.

    In remembering the unmemorable proximity talks between the Cyprus government and the Denktash regime at The Hague in March 2003, Iacovou said, “there were no negotiations, only a tragedy. The talks did not collapse, that is a major mistake.”

    He said long-time Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash was unequivocally opposed to the entire Annan plan and intransigent at every turn.

    “For three years there was a monologue of ‘we’re an independent state, recognize us and we’ll cooperate’. (UN mediator) Alvaro de Soto recorded this.”

    Finally, Iacovou reiterated that Cyprus’ historic accession process, and its upcoming EU membership, changed the parameters of the problem and reversed the pressure that Turkey was applying to the Cyprus government for 30 years now, since its invasion of the island republic in the summer of 1974.

    “I was convinced (after the Helsinki summit in December 1999) that US, Europe and the UN would begin a serious effort to solve the Cyprus problem,” he underlined.

    As for the island republic’s imminent accession, he said it was “correct ... Because we are a small but dynamic country”.

    Moreover, he strongly praised the Greek political community’s support to the island republic’s EU course, saying the Greek Parliament’s threat to veto candidate-states’ accession unless Cyprus was included in the group slated for membership as “paramount”.

    Finally, he also expressed thanks to the Greek-American community’s enduring support towards the Greek Cypriots, citing his meeting with HEU president Chris Spyrou during a large rally in Washington D.C. almost 30 years ago to protest the Turkish invasion.

    Cyprus’ ambassador to Athens, Leonidas Pantelides, accompanied Iacovou at the event, organized by the Greek Alumni of American Universities.

    [06] Alternate FM meets visiting Hungarian MP, discusses Cyprus issue

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Friday met visiting Hungarian MP Matyas Eorsi, rapporteur for the situation in Cyprus for the Political Affairs Committee of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly.

    Eorsi had previously visited Cyprus, where he discussed the contents of his draft report, as well as a resolution and recommendation that he intends to submit to the CoE political affairs committee regarding Cyprus.

    The meeting with Yiannitsis sought to brief the Hungarian MP on the particular aspects, sensitive issues and delicate balances pertaining to the Cyprus issue, so that these can be reflected in his report.

    The peace plan for Cyprus presented by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and the prospects of resolving the Cyprus issue on this basis was pivotal to the talks between the two men, while Eorsi displayed acute interest in how the Greek side viewed the plan, including the positions of the political parties and the reaction of public opinion in Greece.

    Yiannitsis explained that Greece had expressed itself in a very clear way on the Annan plan as a framework for negotiations and looked to the resumption of talks. The main point was that the final result should ensure to the greatest degree possible that the solution that emerged was comprehensive and functional, he added.

    [07] Greek president receives IMO secretary general

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Friday received International Maritime Organization (IMO) chief Efthymios Mitropoulos, who was recently elected secretary-general of the London-based organization and is in Athens at the invitation of Greece's merchant marine minister George Paschalides.

    During talks with the Greek president that were also attended by Paschalidis, the IMO secretary-general briefed Stephanopoulos on international shipping issues and practices that should also be adopted by Greek shipping.

    Stephanopoulos was particularly interested to learn the size of the Greek and Greek-owned commercial fleet and the number of Greek seamen working on Greek ships.

    Merchant marine minister hosts dinner in honor of IMO chief: Merchant Marine Minister George Paschalidis hosted an official dinner in honor of visiting International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Efthymios Mitropoulos on Friday night.

    Addressing Mitropoulos, Paschalidis referred to the importance of his election to the post of secretary-general of the London-based organization, to the importance of shipping and to Greek shipping about which he underlined that it is being continuously upgraded and plays a major role in international shipping.

    On his part, Mitropoulos expressed his gratitude for the initiative undertaken by the Merchant Marine Ministry to present him to President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and for the talks he had with him on issues concerning the shipping sector. He also referred to the activities of the IMO which constitutes a specialized agency of the United Nations and is comprised of 163 member-states.

    [08] Parliament speaker meets visiting Bosnian presidency

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    In a meeting with the tri-partite presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday, Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis said the Greek Parliament fully supported Bosnia's efforts for reconstruction and to establish the institutions of a modern Parliamentary democracy.

    The three-member Bosnian presidency, headed by Croat chairman Dragan Covic and also comprised of Serb presidency member Borislav Paravac and Bosniak/Moslem presidency member Suleyman Tihic, is currently in Athens on an official visit.

    After the meeting, Kaklamanis said they had agreed to closer cooperation between the Greek and Bosnian parliaments for the transfer of know-how in legislative work, information on parliamentary procedure and in community law.

    [09] Counter-terrorism services fear terrorist acts by anarchists at Olympic Games

    ROME 17/01/2004 (ANA/L. Hatzikyriakos)

    The 2004 Athens Olympic Games could be the target of acts of terrorism by anarchist groups, according to assessments by leaders of counter-terrorism services who met at The Hague to exchange information and views on the upsurge in terrorist acts taking place in Italy and other European countries in past months.

    Greece's counter-terrorism service director Stylianos Syros, who participated in the meeting, told the newspaper ''Republica'' that ''we have an absolute need for an exchange of information between our services and to monitor and control the movements of these persons because the Olympic Games due to take place in August could be the target of anarchists.''

    The meeting was also attended by the leaders of the counter-terrorism services of Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Britain, who underlined close cooperation existing between anarchist groups in Greece and corresponding ones in Italy and Spain.

    Members of these groups had participated in the incidents which had taken place during the European Union summit in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, last June.

    [10] British PM Tony Blair supports idea of Olympic Truce

    LONDON 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    In a letter to Conservative Party Deputy for Barnet Sir Sydney Chapman, British Prime Minister Tony Blair expresses full support for the idea of a world truce.

    The letter follows a recent unanimous ratification of a resolution submitted by municipal councilor Andreas Tambouridis at the municipality of Barnet in London with which he called on the three deputies in the area - Sir Sydney Chapman, Andrew Dismon and Rudi Vis - to convey to the House of Commons the message of the revival of the Olympic Truce in light of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

    [11] Papandreou calls for party consensus for public administration reform

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Foreign minister and soon-to-be PASOK leader George Papandreou on Friday said that effective reform to solve the problems of public administration could only be achieved with the consensus of all parties, in addition to simplified laws, fewer ministries and a new 'covenant of trust' between citizens and the state.

    Papandreou made the statements after a meeting that he had requested with the head of the Ombudsman's Office George Kaminis.

    He focused particularly on the Ombudsman's service to the less privileged, such as immigrants and those on low pensions.

    He said that the Ombudsman's Office had to evolve so as to converse on an equal basis with the government and act in an advisory capacity in the preparation of legislation after March 8.

    Emerging from the meeting, Papandreou also spoke with fired Olympic Airways flight attendants who had gathered outside the building shouting slogans and demanding that he find a solution to their problems.

    While avoiding any specific commitment for an immediate solution, Papandreou said he would be meeting with transport minister Christos Verelis in the next few days to review the issue.

    [12] Main opposition leader addresses ND's election campaign committee

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy's leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday addressed the first meeting of his party's election campaign committee, stressing that ND had maintained a steady lead over ruling PASOK in opinion polls ''in spite of PASOK's attempt at disorientation''.

    He declared himself confident that ND will win the elections on March 7 and that victory was ensured if all members of the party contributed and would be a ''triumph of true democracy''.

    Responding indirectly to George Papandreou and his ''self-criticism'' about PASOK's mistakes, Karamanlis noted that mistakes could not simply rubbed out and that only those that had an interest in people forgetting the 'lost years' supported this.

    He called on Papandreou to name the ''arrogant'' ministers and those that had made mistakes, to state who would pay for all this and to explain what Papandreou had done to prevent such mistakes.

    Karamanlis also noted that his party was more than ready for both the electoral battle and to take over the reins of government, while PASOK was waging a desperate battle to stay in power with the establishment as its ally.

    ND's leader was acutely critical of what he described as a ''barrage of bills'' being tabled in Parliament by the government and said that the debate in Parliament just 10 days before the official start of the pre-election period was unprecedented.

    He was particularly scathing about a bill that he said granted ''general amnesty'' for offences related to the Athens stock exchange, which the government had been forced to withdraw after intense reactions from the opposition and some of its own MPs.

    [13] Communist party head says cooperation with Coalition party insolvent, insincere

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking in an interview with the Alpha private television channel on Friday, said cooperation with the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party, and indeed before the general elections, would be insolvent and insincere because substantive differences exist between the two parties.

    Papariga said such cooperation would be opportunist cooperation to remove a slice of the pie from the PASOK party and the day after the elections it would be blown away in the wind.

    She criticized the Coalition party of begging for cooperation with PASOK a short time ago and of voting for the Maastricht Treaty and other treaties, as well as for contributing to the trapping of some leftist citizens.

    Papariga also said Coalition leader Nikos Constantopoulos has made no proposal for cooperation with KKE, adding that there is also the decision by the Coalition's congress which says it cannot cooperate with KKE or with the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI).

    [14] Investment banking has significant growth prospects in Greece, report

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Investment banking has significant growth prospects in Greece, EFG Eurobank said on Friday.

    A report by EFG said that investment banking margins were currently below the average margins in the European Union and the United States.

    The average margin of primary and secondary issues in Greece eased to 2.1 percent in 2003 from 2.7 percent in 2002, compared with gross average margins of 3.3 percent and 2.6 percent in the EU, over the same period, respectively.

    The Greek bank's report said that money raised through public offerings in 2003 totalled 1.548 billion euros, from 966 million euros in the previous year, an increase of 60.2 percent. The report stressed that the figure was rising to 3.1 billion euros if money raised through accelerated book-building procedures were added in 2003.

    Greek and foreign investment banks were paid a total of 64.2 million euros in fees during 2003, a figure up 47 percent compared with the previous year.

    Eurobank said that bond loans and asset-backed securities were starting to look particularly attractive to Greek borrowers and investors as they offered significant advantages such as low liquidity costs, tax burden and diversified source of raising capital.

    These instruments also offered businesses and banks with an effective framework of risk management. The report estimated a trend of issuing medium-term securities in this particular category totalling more than 5.0 billion euros in the next three years. EFG Eurobank Ergasias has its own investment arm, EFG Telesis Finance and its subsidiary EFG Eurobank Securities.

    EFG Telesis Finance expects that more and more Greek businesses would seek to expand in and out of the Greek borders in the next few years, through strategic alliances, mergers and takeovers. The investment bank organized 17 syndicated bond issues and bond loans worth 1.0 billion euros.

    EFG Eurobank Securities maintained its leading position in the Greek market, with a market share of 16.54 percent, while Eurobank Group was leader in underwriting operations for public offerings and private placements, with an undertaken risk of around 400 million euros in issues totalling 2.2 billion euros.

    [15] EU starts court action against Greece over status of contract workers

    BRUSSELS 17/01/2004 (ANA/B.Demiris)

    The European Union's executive Commission said on Friday that it would launch court action against Greece for failing to provide salaried jobs to contractual workers in the public sector.

    A warning letter would be sent to the government stating its incomplete harmonization with EU law that meant sizeable groups of employees were ineligible for payroll employment, including workers at state radio and television and in local government.

    If the government fails to reply or its answer is deemed unacceptable, then the Commission will deliver a reasoned opinion, the final stage before referral to the European Court.

    [16] Intracom to supply communication system for Greek Navy vessels

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Intracom on Friday announced the signing of a contract of 1.8 million euros, with Elefsis Shipyards for the supply of a new communication system to be installed with the Greek Navy's "Combattante III" vessels.

    Under the contract, Intracom will manufacture and install a WISPR Net communication system offering advanced intercom operations and supporting control of regular communication sub-systems.

    WISPR Net is digital telecommunications system for warships fully developed by Intracom.

    [17] Greek economic weekly review

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Greece has absorbed around 4.8 billion euros in funds from a Third Community Support Framework program by the end of December 2003, Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas said this week. The Greek minister said he expected the government to absorb another 2.4 billion euros this year in implementation rates were maintained throughout the year.

    Bakery retail prices are up 9-10 percent so far this year, reflecting a 20 percent increase in wheat prices in the last four months of 2003, official figures showed this week.

    Economy and Finance ministry submitted to parliament a draft bill on the creation of a new supervisory authority for private insurance in the country. The new legislation also envisages creating an independent authority on gaming and casino operations.

    Lamda Development, a member of Latsis Group, announced the creation of a new suburban in Athens, to be named "Elida", after completion of works to build an Olympic Media Village in April. The building complex covers an area of 202 stremmata (one stremma=1,000 square meters) and it is budgeted at 400 million euros.

    The government has room for social benefits in its course towards economic and social convergence, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said this week. The Greek minister said that the ruling PASOK party's new program, to be unveiled during the pre-election period, would included new directions and prospects, while he stressed that Greek economy has the potential to support convergence, cohesion and combatting poverty in the country.

    The Greek state plans to borrow up to 15 billion euros and to issue two benchmark bonds in the first quarter of 2004, Christoforos Sardelis, head of the Public Debt Management Organization said. Mr Sardelis said that 1st quarter borrowing plans would cover 50 percent of the country's borrowing needs for the year (around 30 billion euros, down from 33 billion euros in 2003).

    Household debt rose in November 2003 with growth rates exceeding 30 percent in a year-on-year basis, the Bank of Greece said in a report. Credit card debt totalled 25.411 billion euros in November, for an annual increase of 27.31 percent, while consumer credit debt was 13.118 billion euros, up 31.28 percent over the same period.

    The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry warned that any decision to adopt a 35-hour working week in the country would create significant problems to small- and medium-sized enterprises and could undermine the viability of at least one-third of Greek SMEs.

    The Greek government has earmarked around 145.6 million euros to be offered to small- and medium-sized enterprises around the country this year, with the exception of SMEs based in the Attica region.

    EFG Mutual Funds Management Co, a subsidiary of EFG Eurobank ranked first in 2003 based on its under management assets, with a market share of 25.65 percent and total assets of 30.3 billion euros.

    [18] Greek stocks end week with net gain of 3.81 pct

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended the last trading session of the week with moderate gains in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday with the general index closing at 2,494.91 points, up 0.56 percent, to its highest level since February 15, 2002. The index ended the week with a net gain of 3.81 percent.

    Turnover was a healthy 213.2 million euros. The Textile, Holding and Wholesale sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.33 percent, 2.22 percent and 1.43 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.40 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 0.76 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index jumped 1.39 percent. The Telecommunications sector was the only one to end lower (-0.72 percent).

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 192 to 97 with another 72 issues unchanged.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of January 16 2004

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,273 1,244

    [19] Bari donates 258,000 euros for reconstruction of St. Nicholas Church in

    NY NEW YORK 17/01/2004 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)

    The mayor of the Italian city of Bari, Simeone di Cagno Abbrescia, on Friday presented a donation of 258,000 euros to Archbishop Demetrios of America for the reconstruction of St. Nicholas Church which was destroyed during the World Trade Centre attack on September 11, 2001.

    The presentation ceremony took place at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, in the presence of the mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg.

    In his address, di Cagno Abbrescia noted that the city of Bari has a particular attachment and love for St. Nicholas because of the holy relics of the saint that were enshrined on May 9, 1087 in a magnificent basilica erected there in his honor. In an ecumenical gesture, the Roman Catholic Church offered some of the above relics of St. Nicholas to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America in 1972.

    Bloomberg, who described the donation by the citizens of Bari as ''unprecedented generosity'', noted that the new St. Nicholas Church and the monument for the victims of the terrorist attack at the World Trade Centre will be a ''place of prayer'' for visitors from all over the world.

    Archbishop Demetrios thanked di Cagno Abbrescia for the ''great donation'' by the city of Bari and showed the mayor the artifacts which were recovered from the destroyed church.

    [20] Top British official outlines policy to combat social exclusion

    Athens, 17/01/2004 (ANA)

    The director of Britain’s social exclusion unit on Friday described how her office has attempted to counter the worrisome problem in the UK by emphasizing application and follow-up to proposals listed in various reports.

    Claire Tyler, whose unit is attached to the deputy prime minister’s office, said social exclusion was first defined in Britain in the late ‘80s before the problem was seen as expanding throughout much of the 1990s. She said French experts originally defined the term.

    The British official described social exclusion, “a short-hand definition and working concept”, as she noted, as a state where “people or areas suffer a combination of linked problems, such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime, bad health care and family breakdown”.

    Moreover, she said the main axes followed by her unit to combat the problem – which exists in practically every western state to some extent – are preventing social exclusion in the first place; reintegrating those excluded from society (former convicts, minorities, unemployed etc.); improving the quality of public services by raising standards in the worst-hit areas, and ensuring “decent” family incomes, in order words, work for jobless individuals and support for those who cannot work.

    Tyler, who addressed an audience at a foreign ministry auditorium in downtown Athens, said a national minimum wage was also a useful tool in fighting social exclusion.

    Among others, she cited a campaign by her office to reduce teen pregnancy in Britain – which she said was the highest in the EU when a relevant report was released in 1999 – by emphasizing the achievement of specific targets.

    Her address was sponsored by the Athens-based Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and the British Council.

    Plato Tinios, an aide to the Greek prime minister, as well as main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Marietta Yiannakou also addressed the event.

    [21] Cyprus spokesman says Prodi in Ankara positive development

    NICOSIA 17/01/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cypriot government considers it positive that the EU positions have been expressed to Turkey by European Commission President Romano Prodi.

    Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Friday that Ankara has received the message from Prodi himself that a solution of the Cyprus problem would facilitate Turkey's EU course.

    ''Prodi took to Turkey the same message that many convey to Ankara, that the solution of the Cyprus problem would greatly help the European aspirations of Turkey,'' the spokesman said.

    Chrysostomides also commented on statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to Turkish daily ''Radikal'', noting that ''these are statements without anything concrete being implemented yet.''

    Gul had said Turkey would announce to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan its readiness to engage in peace talks.

    The spokesman advised patience until the Turkish National Security Council meeting (Jan. 23) to determine if there would really be any change in Ankara's policy on Cyprus.

    He noted Gul had stated that he would not reveal the negotiating positions of Turkey at this moment but would save the right for when the talks start.

    Replying to questions, the Cypriot official said Prodi's visit to Turkey was a positive development, in that the same position adopted in EU reports is expressed to Turkey by the European Commission's President himself.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [22] Cyprus president to consult with Greek premier

    NICOSIA 17/01/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis will have talks on Monday in Athens to assess the situation with regard to the question of Cyprus.

    ''The president's visit is part of the regular and necessary contacts between the two governments. During this visit, the two leaders will probably draft a framework for future moves, examine the work done so far on a UN peace proposal, assess the situation and discuss other issues as well,'' government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here on Friday.

    He said there is continuous contact with the Greek government in view of expected developments in the weeks ahead and it was necessary to have an exchange of views.

    President Papadopoulos will see Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos and give a joint press conference with Simitis after their talks before sitting at a working lunch with him.

    On Monday afternoon Papadopoulos will see opposition leaders before returning to Cyprus.

    The Cypriot president will be accompanied by Foreign Minister George Iacovou, who is already in Athens, and the Director of his Diplomatic Office, Ambassador Tasos Tzionis.


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