|Friday, 23 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-11-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 13, 2004
 Karamanlis and Cypriot President discuss the Cyprus issue and Turkey's EU prospects
NICOSIA 13/11/2004 (ANA /A.Panagopoulos,CNA)Cyprus and Greece support Turkey's European course, however, they say Turkey must fulfill its obligations as a candidate country, towards the European Union and Cyprus, stated here Friday Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Speaking after their talks at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Papadopoulos avoided revealing what stance Cyprus will take on the issue of granting Turkey a date for the start of accession negotiations with the EU, stressing that the decision will be taken, after developments are reviewed at the last moment.
He stressed that although 17 December 2004 is a milestone, it does not mean that efforts end there.
The EU leaders are expected to decide on the issue on 17 December during their Summit. Both Greece and Cyprus are members of the EU.
The two leaders stressed the need for a resumption of efforts to solve the Cyprus problem based on the Annan Plan, provided, as Papadopoulos stated, the relevant amendments and improvements are made to the plan to make it functional and viable.
"The common aim remains the need to solve the Cyprus problem, within the framework of the UN and as a member of the EU", said Karamanlis, so that Cypriots can live in conditions of security and prosperity and enjoy the fruits of accession to the EU.
Papadopoulos emphasized that the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus is an inherent obligation of all EU member states. Karamanlis underlined that according to the European Committee report, Turkey must proceed with internal reforms - such democratization, the role of the military, and equality among religious groups.
The two leaders examined issues of common interest in a climate of understanding and cooperation, as they said, and ascertained the excellent level of bilateral relations.
Papadopoulos and Karamanlis also discussed the missing persons issue.
The Cypriot President said the Turkish Cypriot side has adopted delaying tactics as far as the exhumations and identification process is concerned.
President Papadopoulos sends clear message regarding Cyprus solution: "We are going through a period full of potential developments, which with the right handlings, the unity of the people and the most valuable contribution and support of Greece, can open the way towards a dignified, albeit painful compromise, and towards a viable solution to the Cyprus problem," Tassos Papadopoulos, President of the Republic of Cyprus, said on Friday during the official dinner he hosted in honor of visiting Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Papadopoulos spoke of modifications and improvements, within the framework and philosophy of the Annan Plan, without referring to specific changes. "We want to be able to be a constructive partner, not a bothersome member of the EU," he said. "We do not regret saying 'no' to a bad solution, but we are unhappy that we didn't have the option of saying 'yes' to a good solution," he added.
The government of Cyprus in principle supports Turkey's candidacy to join the European Union, Papadopoulos said, adding that Turkey should at the same time recognize, understand, accept and comply with its obligations towards the European Union and all its member states, including Cyprus.
''Part of these obligations is the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, the withdrawal of the occupation troops and settlers, the end of the organized new wave of settlers, avoiding hostile actions against Cyprus, like the obstruction of the participation of the Republic in international organizations and international treaties'', he said.
"Despite the fact that the popular verdict is still fresh, it is my belief that the Greek-Cypriot citizen is ready - as he/she has proven through his/her maturity to date - and steadily oriented towards a functional solution to the anachronistic Cyprus problem," Karamanlis said.
"I agree that you are asked to make very difficult decisions for a painful - as you termed it - compromise which will lead to a just and viable solution within the framework of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation, which will be based on the UN Secretary General's plan," he added. "Despite the difficulty of the international conjuncture, we must clarify that our vision is that of a free and united Cyprus Republic. In light of the new facts, level-headedness, concentration, clear thinking, and most of all agreement are required," Karamanlis said.
Referring to Turkey's European course, he said ''we support Turkey's European orientation, which is, after all, our strategic choice''.
He added ''Turkey's course towards Europe, which is expected to be a long one, depends on her attitude. The respect of the rules of international law and the acquis communautaire is sine qua non if Turkey is to be accepted in Europe.''
Earlier in the evening, Karamanlis met with the leaders and representatives of Cyprus' parliamentary parties, and had the chance to hear their views in the presence of Papadopoulos. The Greek premier also met with Pafos Metropolitan Chrysostomos, who is also presiding over the Holy Synod, and members of the Holy Synod.
 PM Karamanlis arrives in Larnaca to begin official visit to Cyprus Republic
NICOSIA 13/11/2004 (ANA - A. Panagopoulos)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived at Larnaca airport in Cyprus on Friday afternoon to begin a two-day official visit to the Cyprus Republic, his first since becoming Greek prime minister.
During his stay on the island, Karamanlis will have talks with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Cyprus' political leaders on the Cyprus problem and the stance that Athens and Nicosia will adopt at the European Union summit meeting in December in Brussels, where a decision will be taken on giving Turkey a date for the start of EU accession negotiations.
The Greek premier was met by President Papadopoulos on his arrival, who spoke warmly about Karamanlis and Greece's support for Cyprus.
"I appreciate the support given by Greece at such great cost," Papadopoulos stressed, referring to his cooperation with the present but also past Greek administrations in the effort to vindicate Cypriot Hellenism on its major national issue.
On his part, Karamanlis underlined that "the Cyprus Republic's accession to the EU will bring its full yield for all Cypriots, Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots, if they walk side by side in a reunited Cyprus".
He stressed that the efforts and the struggle for a solution to the Cyprus problem within the framework of the United Nations will continue unabated.
"We will not relax our efforts because we believe that the island's future must be a future of cooperation and peace," he added.
The Greek prime minister also underlined that Cyprus' EU accession was the historic landmark that created new conditions of security and development but also new conditions for solving the political problem and reuniting Cyprus.
He stressed that Cyprus was full and equal member of the Community and said that the talks during his visit will cover both the political problem and issues concerning the upcoming European Council decision on giving a date to Turkey.
 Greek political leaders attend Arafat's funeral service; describe his death as "great loss"
CAIRO 13/11/2004 (ANA/N.Katsikas)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, who represented the Greek government at Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's funeral service here on Friday, described the Palestinian leader's death as a "great loss." He also expressed his belief that the necessary conditions and dynamics will be created for peace to prevail and for the region to overcome the long-standing problems it faces.
Nikos Constantopoulos, President of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) stressed that the world lost a great leader and expressed concern over the region's destabilization. Constantopoulos emphasized that Greece should do everything in its power to relieve tensions in the region.
European MP Thanassis Pafilis represented the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa Theodore II also characterized the death of Arafat as "a great loss," and expressed hope that the situation in the Middle East will improve.
PASOK president's statements following Arafat's funeral service in Cairo: "A great leader has departed. He symbolized the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom, but I believe, he also symbolized the struggle of many peoples who fought or are fighting for their freedom, their independence. And he inspired citizens of the world, movements and all of us, with his fighting spirit," George Papandreou, President of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party said after attending Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's funeral service in Cairo on Friday.
"A great friend of Greece has also departed; a friend who loved Greece, because Greece supported the Palestinian people in the most difficult of times. I particularly remember the friendship between (late prime minister) Andreas Papandreou and the Palestinian leader. Arafat would always tell me, at every meeting, about my father and about his support when at one point they [the Palestinians] would be thrown out to sea and Greek ships came and took them to Tunisia. I hope that Arafat's symbolism will inspire peace and an independent Palestinian state will finally be established," he concluded.
Greek Parliament observes one minute of silence in memory of Yasser Arafat: The Greek Parliament on Friday observed a minute of silence in memory of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who passed away the day before.
The proposal was made by Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology MP Alekos Alavanos and adopting by presiding speaker Sotiris Hatzigakis.
Condolences for Arafat's death were also expressed on Friday by the president and the board of the Local Union of Municipalities and Communities of Attica (TEDKNA), which described him as a great leader that had devoted his last ounce of strength to the liberation of the Palestinian people.
 Greek, Turkish FMs have brief talks
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis had a brief discussion with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on Friday on the sidelines of the ceremony which was held in Cairo in memory of Yasser Arafat.
According to diplomatic sources, during the talks mention was made on recent developments and the two foreign ministers agreed that bilateral relations must continuously improve.
According to the same sources, Molyviatis stressed to Gul how significant this is in view of Turkey's European prospects.
PASOK leader meets Turkish premier, foreign minister in Cairo: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou briefly met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on the sidelines of the funeral ceremony for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat held in Cairo on Friday, PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis announced.
During the 10-minute meeting, Papandreou expressed concern over escalating tension in relations between Greece and Turkey due to constant infringements and violations of Greek airspace by Turkish fighter aircraft and they exchanged views on the upcoming European Union summit on December 17, when EU leaders are to decide on whether to give Turkey a final date for the start of accession negotiations.
Papandreou reiterated that the Greek government and main opposition party support Turkey's European course while stressing that this required that answers be found with respect to the Cyprus problem and in Greek-Turkish relations.
Athanassakis also revealed that Papandreou had been invited to attend the burial service for Arafat in Ramallah and would make every effort to be present, though there were currently technical obstacles regarding his traveling to Ramallah and his return that had to be overcome.
 Three Greek Euro-MPs comment on all-important conditions for Turkey's EU prospects
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Three Greek Euro-deputies spoke to reporters here on Friday regarding the upcoming European Union Parliament summit in Strasbourg, with the crucial and contentious issue of Turkey's European prospects mostly dominating the Q&A session.
In response to questions over Turkey's EU course, New Democracy Euro-deputy George Dimitrakopoulos said the goal is to hold a discussion on the matter before a Euro-parliament plenum ahead of an EU leaders' summit on Dec. 17, so that the legislative body's position is will be recorded beforehand.
PASOK's Panos Beglitis, who has tabled 14 amendments for discussion in the Euro-Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said the Greek side should demand that terms and conditions for Turkey's prospective accession talks, ones decided at the 1999 Helsinki summit, should be included in the upcoming Dec. 17 summit's conclusions.
On his part, LA.OS party founder and Euro-deputy George Karatzaferis listed off a series of conditions that Ankara must fulfill to achieve its European ambition, namely, to remove its occupation forces from Cyprus, lift a threat of war (casus belli) against EU member-state Greece and to allow the re-opening of the Halki School of Theology, among others.
In a later development, Dimitrakopoulos' office announced that the Euro-MP had tabled a set of amendments to a report submitted by Dutch Euro-MP Camiel Eurlings regarding Turkey.
The amendments refer to:
• the continuing presence of Turkish occupation forces on a portion of territory belonging to a European Union member-state (Cyprus);
• the issue of article 305 of Turkey's penal code, which among others, states that whoever refers to "Turkish occupation forces" on Cyprus is subject to arrest and heavy fines -- a violation of the right to free expression, according to the Greek MEP;
• protection of the rights of the ethnic Greeks of Istanbul, as well as the ethnic Greeks of the islands of Imvros and Tenedos;
• the unconditional recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, and;
• Turkey's obligation to refrain from provocative actions, such as infringing on FIR regulations and violating other countries' national airspace.
 New Australian envoy to Athens says no change in FYROM name policy
MELBOURNE 13/11/2004 (ANA)Australia's new envoy to Athens, Paul Tighe, emphasized here this week that his government will not follow Washington's lead in recognizing the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as the "Republic of Macedonia" -- a name steadfastly opposed by Athens and Greek public opinion.
Tighe said Canberra will, "for the moment", continue to recognize Greece's landlocked northern neighbor as FYROM, in the hope that a mutually acceptable solution to the "name issue" is achieved.
The new Australian ambassador to Athens is scheduled to assume his duties in the Greek capital next January. He met with Greek-Australian community leaders over the past week.
In an unrelated development, Tighe expressed his optimism that a bilateral agreement over pension rights will soon be finalized.
 President Stephanopoulos to pay state visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos will pay a state visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina next week, it was announced on Friday.
Stephanopoulos, accompanied by deputy foreign minister Evripides Stylianidis, is due to arrive in Serajevo on Tuesday for a three-day official visit at the invitation of the tri-partite presidency of the country.
 Deputy Defense Minister meets with Ecumenical Patriarch in Phanar
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos reiterated that Greece, as a truly peace-loving country, is making great efforts to transform the Balkans into an oasis of peace, during his meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos in Phanar on Friday. He added however, that in order for this to be achieved, discouragement of secession trends and extreme nationalist tendencies are prerequisites.
On his part, Vartholomeos emphasized that the Ecumenical Patriarch is continuously working towards improving Greek-Turkish relations, as well as towards peace and fraternity among peoples not only in the region but throughout the world.
 Navy chief Hinofotis named new GEETHA chief by KYSEA, to assume post in mid-February
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Chief of the Hellenic Navy fleet vice-admiral Panayotis Hinofotis was unanimously named as the new chief of the National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) on Friday by the National Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA), which met under the chairmanship of prime minister Costas Karamanlis.
The new GEETHA chief will assume his new duties on February 15.
 More Turkish violations reported in Aegean region
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Six formations of Turkish warplanes infringed on Athens FIR regulations on Friday, while 24 violations of Greek airspace, primarily in the central Aegean, were reported.
According to press sources, three engagements were recorded after Greek fighter planes intercepted the intruders. Moreover, sources said three Turkish warplanes were armed.
The latest violations by Ankara's military come on the heels of increasing provocations by the neighboring country's air force and navy in the Aegean region.
 Parliament 2nd Vice-President Sourlas visits Belgrade
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)On the occasion of events honoring the pre-revolutionary visionary Rigas Feraios on the occasion of the 206th anniversary of Feraios' execution by Ottoman authorities, the 2nd Vice President of Parliament George Sourlas held talks in Belgrade on Friday with Serbia's deputy culture minister and the city's mayor with the purpose of capitalizing on the Neboisa Tower where Feraios and his comrades were strangled.
Sourlas' visit to the Serbian capital is part of an initiative which the Greek Parliament has taken in order for the historic character of the Tower not to be diminished and where Feraios spent the last moments of his life, but to constitute an operational space in the future which will showcase the cooperation and brotherhood of the peoples of the Balkans.
Sourlas received promises by the deputy culture minister and the mayor of Belgrade that the Tower will remain a historic monument.
 Cost of Athens 2004 Olympics substantially overshot Games budget, economy & finance minister Alogoskoufis says
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)The cost of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games substantially overshot the budget, but this is not the time to discuss that aspect, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Friday, speaking at a press conference following a meeting of the Inner Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, and added that "it was a major investment, which will yield in the coming period".
Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, addressing the same press conference, said that last August's Olympic Games in Athens were "an immense venture with very great success and security, but also very expensive", adding that "everything was done with absolute transparency" and that "the next day" was very important.
Alogoskoufis said that the largest proportion of expenditures was carried out in 2003 and 2004, noting that the initial forecast put the cost for the Olympic Games at 4.5 billion euro, while the overall cost (state and private funding) was estimated to reach 8.954 billion euro, not including the cost of projects that were completed or the construction of which were accelerated due to the Games, but which had been planned for construction regardless of the Games. Those projects included the Attiki Road highway, Athens' new Eleftherios Venizelos international airport, the tram, and the suburban railway. Of that 8.954 billion euro total, an estimated 7.202 billion was footed by the State, with the remaining 1.752 billion euro coming from the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) and financed by the committee's revenues from ticket sales, television broadcast rights, Olympic-logo product sales, and sponsorships.
The largest proportion of state financing -- expected to reach 7.202 billion euros -- was earmarked from the Public Investments Programme (PDE), under which 6.583 billion euro, or 73.5 percent of the overall state funding, was forthcoming, and was channeled mainly to infrastructure projects, Olympic athletic venues and facilities, equipping of the venues and facilities, security expenditures, and cultural activities, Alogoskoufis said.
The minister also noted that "the projects for the Olympic preparation and the specific projects of national planning" (referring to public works projects of national magnitude which had been planned regardless of the Games) were financed "exclusively from national resources", adding that the infrastructure projects category included expenditure for improvement of the infrastructure in hospitals and transportation means.
He further clarified that the special projects of national magnitude included not only the projects carried out in Attica, but also those carried out in the provinces under the "Greece 2004" program.
Regarding the expenditures covered by ATHOC, Alogoskoufis said they were expected to reach 1.752 billion euro, or 19.6 percent of the overall 8.954 billion euro cost of the Games, and were funded from ATHOC revenues chiefly emanating from ticket sales, television rights, sale of Olympic-logo products, and sponsorships.
In an analysis of expenditure by category, Alogoskoufis said, spending on infrastructure works was estimated to reach 2.861 billion euro (39.7 percent), and spending on sport venues and equipment was expected to reach 2.153 billion euro (29.9 percent), while spending on the promotion of Greek culture, environmental intervention and landscaping, and the hosting of athletes was due to reach 1.108 billion euro (15.4 percent), while the remaining 15 percent, or nearly 1.080 billion euros, was the outlay for security, including all categories of additional compensation.
As for the distribution of expenditure by ministry, via the Public Investments Programme (PDE), Alogoskoufis said the biggest proportion of PDE-related expenditures was footed by the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry (35 percent) and the Culture ministry (34 percent).
Political parties attack gov't over high final estimates of Olympic costs: News that the final cost of the Athens Olympic Games was nearly double the amount originally budgeted for, as revealed by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis during a briefing of the cabinet, drew sharp criticism from the opposition parties on Friday, especially main opposition PASOK.
PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis launched a bitter attack against the government, pouring scorn on the figures produced by Alogoskoufis and accused him of "political fraud" in order to deceive the Greek public and divert attention away from foreign policy issues and the upcoming debate on the government's tax bill in Parliament.
He also suggested the announcement was linked to the upcoming ECOFIN council next week, when EU finance ministers will discuss the reduction of the Greek public deficit over the next two years. According to Athanassakis, the government was trying to bump up the cost of the Games in order to convince its EU partners that it would be relatively easy to reduce the deficit in 2005 and 2006.
The spokesman said the government had added all infrastructure spending to the Olympics bill, even that which had post-Olympic uses, and had failed to include significant sources of revenue generated by the Olympics, such as VAT and taxes levied from business.
Finally, he accused the government of failing to make use of Olympics infrastructure and allowing it to deteriorate, while sharply criticizing a statement by Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli Petralia that the Athens Games had been "very expensive".
Former culture minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose ministry was in charge of coordinating Olympics preparations, said the government had added all spending between 1998-2004 that was not covered by the Community Support Framework Funds to Olympic costs in order to produce a budget that was acceptable to the EU.
According to the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology, the announcement confirmed the fears of the party and citizen's movements since Athens first undertook to host the Olympics. It said that both ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK were politically responsible for systematically underestimating the costs, which the Greek public was now called upon to pay, while overestimating potential revenues.
In an analysis of expenditure by category, Alogoskoufis said that spending on infrastructure was estimated to reach 2.861 billion euros (39.7 percent), and spending on sport venues and equipment was expected to reach 2.153 billion euro (29.9 percent), while spending on the promotion of Greek culture, environmental intervention and landscaping, and the hosting of athletes was due to reach 1.108 billion euro (15.4 percent), while the remaining 15 percent, or nearly 1.080 billion euros, was the outlay for security, including all categories of additional compensation.
Alternate Gov't spokesman responds to PASOK statements on cost of Olympic Games: Alternate Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, in reply to statements made by main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) press spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on the cost of the 2004 Olympic Games, said on Friday that "it seems that at PASOK they have not yet decided whether they will serve the shadow theatre or the theatre of the absurd."
Antonaros noted that the Greek people "deserve more respect and less hypocricy and demand from all (political) forces to serve the truth."
He noted that the truth which the main opposition party "on purpose conceals, is one and only: -The total cost of expenses for the preparation and hosting of the Games amounts to 8.95 billion euros, without including the cost of the projects for the airport, the Attiki Road, the suburban rail, the tram etc. - The funding by state resources comes to 7.2 billion euros. - Th expenses of the Organizing Committee amounts to 1.75 billion euros."
Concluding, Antonaros stressed that "all the Greeks are proud of the successful and safe Games, which we hosted all together and all together are working in order to capitalize on the great success and render it as a lever for development in the future."
 Greek economic growth highest in the EU-25 in third quarter, Eurostat says
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)The Greek economy grew by 1.8 percent in the third quarter of 2004 compared with the previous quarter, recording the highest quarterly growth rate in the European Union, Eurostat said on Friday.
The EU executive's statistics agency, in a report, said that Gross Domestic Product in the Eurozone and the EU-25 grew 0.3 percent in the July-September period. Greek GDP grew 3.8 percent in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year, while GDP in the Eurozone and the EU-25 grew 1.9 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Eurostat said it expected GDP in the Eurozone to grow by 0.2-0.6 percent in the fourth quarter of the year, and by 0.2-0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2005.
 Greek Farm minister reports on subsidy payment to farmers
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos on Friday said that the government has already paid a total of 224 million euros in community subsidies to cotton growers so far, from 88 million euros in the same period last year, an increase of 155 percent.
Speaking to reporters, Basiakos stressed that ministry authorities have issued payment orders to tobacco growers, worth 177.6 million euros, from 102.8 million euros in 2003, an increase of 72 percent. Payment orders are issued immediately after submission of applications by farmers' groups and the ministry is expected to have completed advance payment -worth around 200 million euros- to the 52,000 eligible tobacco growers in the next 20 days.
The Greek minister said that ministry authorities have already verified data for 78 percent of olive oil producers ahead of beginning payment procedures to the sector.
 Gov't announces measures to support dairy production
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)The Greek government on Friday announced the immediate hiring of 40 scientists to work for the Greek Milk Organization in the inspection of domestic dairy products and to support Greek farmers and the drafting of an integrated program for the promotion of Greek dairy products in the domestic and foreign markets.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with the Greek Milk Organization's board, Agricultural Development Foods Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos said that the government was speeding up efforts to pay bonus payment for milk production in 2004.
"Greek dairy products are well known for their high quality and the conditions of hygiene during their production," the Greek minister said.
 OTOE denounces sale of 7.46 pc equity stake in National Bank
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)The sale of the 7.46 percent equity stake of the National Bank of Greece that was under the control of the Greek state and the Public Securities Enterprise DEKA, with the use of an accelerated book building procedure, which was completed on Thursday evening, was denounced in an announcement on Friday by the OTOE bank workers union which said "this opens the road for the complete privatization of the bank.
"The government's real intentions have now been revealed,'' said the federation which assesses that the procedure will follow for the sale of package shares of the National Bank which the insurance funds have, through which the management of the bank is controlled, something which ''will constitute the greatest national, economic scandal, with enormous repercussions for the country.''
"It seems that the procedure of the sale of the total share capital of the National Bank is being planned slowly but surely by the Economy ministry, despite the denial to the contrary," said OTOE which declared that "it will resist along with the rest of the trade union movement so as to avert a national economic tragedy."
 Trade unions rap central bank chief over wages
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) on Friday criticized central bank governor Nikos Garganas for comments he made on wages.
The country's largest union umbrella group claimed that Garganas had brushed off the differential between average wages in Greece and in the other eurozone countries.
In addition, labor costs in Greece were relatively low and wages even lower in comparison with the rest of the eurozone, especially taking into account the cost of living, the GSEE said in a statement.
"The Bank of Greece's recipes will make working people even poorer, if used," the statement added.
 Egypt seeks cooperation with Greek shipping
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)The Egyptian government has recently shown keen interest for the development of business activities in Egypt on the part of Greek shipping, the Union of Greek Ship-owners announced on Friday.
According to a relevant report by the Greek ambassador following a series of contacts with economic ministers of the Egyptian government, Egypt is developing at a rapid rate as a basic supplier of the world market of natural gas following the discovery of new, rich deposits, but also the completion of the suitable infrastructure for its transportation, to the coasts of the Mediterranean. It concerns installations which liquefy or compress the gas for export to third countries.
On the basis of this ascertainment, the relevant report said, the Greek ships could benefit both from the existence of large deposits of natural gas in Egypt and from the suitable infrastructure and to take part in the project of its transport to the world markets.
The same report underlines the keen interest of the Egyptian government for the development of an industry for the dismantling of ships in the country and on the basis of cooperation with Greek shipowners.
It is specifically referred that the Egyptian government would desire a consortium with the participation of Greek shipping interests with the aim of creating a unit for the dismantling of ships and the management of iron scrap in the Mediterranean coast of Egypt. The offered advantages by the Egyptian side for such a unit is the country's geo-strategic position in the Mediterranean and the passage way through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean as well as the cheap labor cost and the cheap industrial land.
 Stocks slip in edgy trade
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower in volatile trade with the general index soaring to a new year's high at the start but slumping towards the end of the session, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,610.99 points, showing a decline of 0.33 percent. Turnover was 786.4 million euros, fuelled by a block trade of 562 million euros in National Bank of Greece with 7.46% of the bank's stock sold to investors by the state's securities holding company.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.44 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.04 percent down; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.45 percent lower.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 143 to 142 with 74 remaining unchanged.
On a weekly basis, the general share index lost 0.94%.
 Patriarch, Greece's general consul attend one-day seminar in Istanbul
ISTANBUL 13/11/2004 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and Greece's General Consul here, Alexis Alexandris, participated in a one-day seminar this week to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the construction of a cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary -- a church located in the Stavrodromio district of the ancient metropolis.
Several ecclesiastical leaders and scholars also spoke during the event.
Meanwhile, in a related development, visiting Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos met with representatives of the dwindling ethnic Greek community of Istanbul.
The deputy minister met with the representatives at Greece's consulate here.
Mihaloliakos is in Istanbul to attend a NATO alliance exercise. He is also scheduled to be received by Vartholomeos.
 Bulgarian president Purvanov to pay private visit to Mt. Athos next week
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Bulgarian president Georgi Purvanov will pay a private visit to the Mt. Athos all-male monastic community in northern Greece next week, it was announced on Friday.
Purvanov was due to arrive on Mt. Athos on Monday for a two-day visit, during which he was scheduled to visit the Zographos Monastery, which is inhabited by Bulgarian monks and is dedicated to Saint George.
He is also scheduled to visit the Hilandarion Monastery, which suffered substantial damage from fire last spring.
Weather permitting, given that meteorologists predict strong winds that render approach to the Athos peninsula difficult, Purvanov will first go to the Athos community's capital of Karyes, where the monastic community will be hosting a welcome ceremony for the Bulgarian president, before he goes on to Zographos Monastery.
 Health minister inaugurates post-hospitalization shelter at Evangelismos Hospital
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis on Friday inaugurated a 20-bed Short-Stay Post-hospitalization Shelter opened by Evangelismos Hospital for psychiatric patients that have completed their treatment but need additional support to become reintegrated in society, with a maximum residence limit of six to eight months.
 Athens Mayor Bakoyannis visits Larissa
Athens, 13/11/2004 (ANA)Athens Mayor and member of the Central Committee of the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's Political Secretariat, Dora Bakoyannis, speaking from Larissa, central Greece on Friday, indirectly but clearly stood against a possible veto for the date of the start of Turkey's European Union accession procedures at the EU summit on December 17, on the part of Greece and Cyprus.
Bakoyannis reminded that "Europe was not built on refusals but on consensus even after tough negotiations," and stressed that "Greece and Cyprus are seeking a solution of the Cyprus issue on the basis of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan".
The mayor of Athens, whose visit to Larissa was her first post-Olympic Games visit outside the Attica region, underlined with emphasis that what is needed in Greece is regional development and that the fundamental problem for the country's development course is the regional inequalities. She supported that it is time for drastic changes to be made in the structure of the Greek state with the strengthening and support of local government.