|Friday, 23 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-11-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 23, 2004
 Gov't unveils public work projects worth 2.6 bln euros
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Public Works, Environment and Town Planning Minister George Souflias on Monday unveiled a series of public works, worth 2.6 billion euros, to be auctioned in the next quarter.
Speaking to reporters, Souflias noted that 90.5 percent of these projects were designed for regional Greece. "Our priority is the regions," the Greek minister stressed adding that the projects to be auctioned by February were budgeted at around 2.4 billion euros from a total of 2.6 billion euros in the program.
The projects include extending a runway at the "Macedonia" airport in Thessaloniki (worth 245 mln euros), completion of a dam in Aheloos river (worth 175 mln euros), works at the Egnatia Road (worth 1.3 bln euros) and extending the Athens Metro (worth 209.5 mln euros).
Souflias said that projects worth 945 mln euros would be put in tender in November, 561 mln euros in December, 555 mln euros in January and 542 mln euros in February. "We are entering a new era for public works in the country. These projects will test the success of a new legislation and I hope everything will be OK," Souflias noted.
The Greek minister pledged that the projects would be delivered on time and with no extra costs, while he underlined that 2005 would be a year of project assignments. Commenting of the government's policy over the area of the previous Athens airport at Hellinikon, Souflias said that a meeting was scheduled to take final decisions on the issue. He also said that price increases by Athens Water and Sewage were necessary according to market rules.
 EU enters final turning point ahead of December 17 summit
BRUSSELS 23/11/2004 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)The European Union has entered its final turning point ahead of its summit on December 17, while the Dutch presidency disclosed during the Council of EU Foreign Ministers held here on Monday with the participation of Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and Deputy Foreign Minister Giorgos Valinakis, that for the time being it is collecting the positions and views of the 25 EU member-states with the purpose of achieving a compromise position plan both for Turkey and the other candidate countries.
The discussion on the issue of Turkey was somewhat limited, but positions aired made it clear that there are two main trends in the EU.
The first supports the "alleviation" of Turkey's EU accession prospects. Meaning that accession negotiations must get under way as soon as possible, without special terms and preconditions, and with its future and complete accession to united Europe being the exclusive outcome. Britain, Germany and other countries support this trend.
The second trend concerns those who are skeptical both as to the date for the beginning of negotiations and as to their character. That is to say as to whether the outcome will be accession or whether there should be other alternative scenarios. This trend is primarily supported by Austria and, to a certain degree, by France.
Greece, as well as most national delegations, showed support for the preparation of a special text for each country which will pinpoint individual problems and the obligations of each candidate country separately.
What is most important for Greek diplomacy is the preparation of a text providing an analytical list of Turkey's obligations on a series of issues, in a way that will make it clear that if Turkey does all that is necessary then it will become a full EU member.
However, apart from the issue of special texts, many EU countries and first of all France, appear prepared for the time being not to consent to a speedy beginning of accession negotiations between the EU and Turkey and to set either late 2005 or early 2006 as their starting point.
Moreover, many countries insist on the view that accession negotiations with Turkey must not have its accession, even in the distant future, as a compulsory outcome but should also anticipate alternative scenarios such as the conclusion of a special status between EU and Turkey.
These issues are expected to be the focus of attention in consultations Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul will have with the Dutch presidency at The Hague on Wednesday.
 EU Battlegroups to reinforce Europe's security
BRUSSELS 23/11/2004 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)The defense ministers of the 25 EU member-states agreed on the creation of an EU rapid reaction force consisting of thirteen Battle groups during the General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting held here on Monday.
Thirteen EU battle groups that can be rapidly deployed (within 5-15 days) in case of crisis anywhere in the world will be created. Each battle group will comprise 1,500 men. Each EU member-state can participate in up to four battle groups.
According to Dutch Defense Minister Henk Kamp, who presided over the meeting, Initial Operational Capability will be achieved within 2005, with the aim of achieving Full Operational Capability by 2007.
Greece, represented at the meeting by Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos, will be part of the EU battle group created with Italy, Spain and Portugal and has also made available the Athens Sealift Co-ordination Centre, which was initially established to deal with illegal immigrants.
"Greece is steadily, methodically and cautiously promoting European integration and is determined to be at the centre of developments from the start," Spiliotopoulos said after the meeting. "We are aiming for an effective Europe, safer and in the role of international peacemaker in a multi-polarized world, under the auspices of the UN and within the boundaries of international law," he added.
 EU-West Balkans Forum held Monday
BRUSSELS 23/11/2004 (ANA/B.Demiris)The EU-West Balkans Forum convened, for the second time since its creation, on Monday in Brussels, on the sidelines of the General Affairs and External Relations Council.
According to a statement, the EU reiterated its support of the West Balkan countries' EU prospects, "whose future is the European Union". Additionally, the statement reads that "all those participating in the forum agreed that mutually-acceptable solutions and agreements on pending issues with neighboring countries must be reached." Greek diplomatic sources indicate that the specific clause was the result of Greek diplomatic efforts and concerns relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as well as between Slovenia and Croatia.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman George Koumoutsakos emphasized that following diplomatic contact between Athens and Tirana on occasion of statements made by Albania's political leadership that it would recognize FYROM by its constitutional name, Athens was reassured by Albania that it will not recognize FYROM with the name "Macedonia."
During the forum, it was also confirmed that the progress of each country will be measured based on their achievements in fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria and in meeting the terms and conditions set out in the Stability and Association Process.
Finally, Russia asked for Greece's assistance on a series of issues that will be examined at the upcoming EU Summit with Russia, following a meeting between Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and his Russian counterpart.
 PM to chair cabinet meeting on developmental legislation on Tuesday
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will chair a meeting on the cabinet on Tuesday to discuss the new developmental bill being prepared by the government, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced on Monday.
On Monday evening, Karamanlis is due to attend the 32nd conference of the civil servants' union ADEDY at the Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens at 18:00, he added.
 Ethnic Greek lawmakers briefed over FYROM 'name issue'
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The government on Monday briefed several ethnic Greek parliamentarians over the latest developments concerning the 'name issue' with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Specifically, Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis received the presidium of the World Hellenic Inter-parliamentary Union (WHIU) at his office, where he also briefed the ethnic Greek lawmakers on issues related to the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE).
On their part, members of the WHIU presidium briefed the foreign ministry on actions taken vis-a-vis their respective governments concerning the resurfaced "name issue".
The WHIU delegation included Demetrios S. Giannaros, the organization's president and a US Congressman (D-Conn.); Nikos Papadopoulos, the vice-president, a member of the Riksdag, Sweden's Parliament; Christos Doulkeridis, a board member and Belgian MP; Leonidas Raptakis, a board member and state senator from Rhode Island, and Dan P. Vrakas, a board member and state assemblyman from Wisconsin.
The World Hellenic Interparliamentary Union (WHIU) was created with the purpose of bringing together members of elected legislatures of Greek origin in non-Greek speaking countries in order to share information of common interest and to create and strengthen ties of friendship and understanding between Greece and their respective countries and Parliaments.
Parliament President meets with World Hellenic Interparliamentary Union: Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki expressed Greek parliament's continued support of the World Hellenic Interparliamentary Union (WHIU) during a meeting she had with the union's leadership on Monday. Both sides also reconfirmed the need for closer cooperation.
WHIU President, US Congressman from Connecticut, Dimitris Giannaros referred to the WHIU's immediate response to the US decision to recognize FYROM by its constitutional name.
"We informed all our members, as well as the US media, and we asked from the Greeks in the States, and from Greeks everywhere to help. We pointed out that there is a UN decision, whereby Greece and FYROM must agree on a solution regarding the latter's name. We must support this position and we must do everything possible to convince the US government that what happened is not right and it must revoke its decision," Giannaros said.
The WHIU's Executive Board also underlined the need for Greek parliament to provide timely and specific information, especially where national issues are concerned, to Greek members of foreign parliaments.
Psarouda-Benaki and Parliament Vice President G. Sourlas agreed to WHIU's requests and reassured its leadership that Greek parliament will provide assistance.
 Australia stands fast by its policy on FYROM name
MELBOURNE 23/11/2004 (ANA)The office of Australian Prime Minister John Howard this week confirmed, in writing, that Canberra is not considering a change in its policy vis-a-vis the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
In response to a letter by officials of the Council of Overseas Hellenism (SAE) in Oceania, the premier's office notes that Australia will continue to use the name "FYROM" when referring to the specific state.
Moreover, Australian government calls on both Greece and FYROM to continue efforts towards finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name issue".
The issue again popped up on Athens' foreign policy "radar screen" earlier this month after the abrupt and unexpected decision by the Bush administration to recognize the land-locked country to Greece's north as the "Republic of Macedonia" -- a name bitterly opposed by the Greek government and public opinion.
Macedonia, the name of the Greece's largest province, is located in the north of the country and to the south of FYROM.
SAE Oceania expressed its thanks to the Australian government over the decision, calling it fair.
 Gov't denies advance knowledge of Archbishop's letter over FYROM
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Monday denied that the government had been informed in advance about a letter sent to 24 heads of government by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, in which he presented arguments in support of Athens' position on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
 Mihaloliakos to participate in 3rd Int'l European Defense Conference Tuesday
BERLIN 23/11/2004 (ANA/P.Stangos)Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos will be speaking about Greece's role in Europe's security at the 3rd International European Defense Conference, which will be held here on Tuesday.
The conference is being organized by the monthly magazine Behoerden-Spiegel, Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (the federation of German industries), and the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Security and Defense. Approximately 1,200 people from more than 25 countries have registered to attend, including ministers, members of parliament, Eurodeputies, high-ranking military officials, defense industry representatives, EU and NATO officials.
According to the conference's organizers, agenda items include European security and defense policy, trans-Atlantic relations, technological development regarding military equipment, international crisis management, and terrorism.
Aside from speaking on Greece's role in Europe's security, Mihaloliakos will also participate in a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, titled "Military and armaments cooperation - Potential under an EU enlargement perspective," along with the defense ministers of Turkey, FYROM, Albania and Serbia-Montenegro.
The conference will end Tuesday night with a speech by CDU (Christian Democratic Union) Chairwoman Angela Merkel.
 Military exercise begins in Andravida
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The regular military exercise codenamed "Dourios Ippos '04" (Trojan Horse), held under the auspices of the Air Force Tactics Training Centre began in Andravida, in the Peloponnese, on Monday and will last until November 26.
It is the only electronic warfare exercise planned by the Training Centre with coordination by the National Defense General Staff and the assistance of all armed forces general staffs.
The purpose of the exercise is to provide tactical training for Electronic Warfare Academy students, evaluate the potential of weaponry systems and of electronic warfare equipment and to improve coordination in electronic warfare operations.
Deputy Defense Minister Ioannis Lambropoulos will watch the main stage of the exercise on November 24.
 Turkish warplanes violate Greek national air space
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The Turkish air force made new violations of Greek national air space on Monday.
According to press reports, six formations of Turkish aircraft entered the Aegean without submitting flight plans and in nine cases they violated national air space in the region of the northern and central Aegean.
In all cases the 12 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while in four cases the interception process developed into mock dogfights.
Four of the Turkish aircraft were armed.
 Gov't challenges PASOK leader to take stand on statements posted on PASOK website
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The government on Monday challenged PASOK leader George Papandreou to take a stand on an anonymous statement posted on the PASOK party website that strongly criticized Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for "opportunistic handling" of the presidential elections.
"It would be good to know whether Mr. Papandreou agrees with the statements on PASOK's website," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said during the regular press briefing.
According to the anonymous message, PASOK would present its own proposal for president of the republic if the government continued to delay for petty party-political profit. It also accused ruling New Democracy and Karamanlis of "using the issue of the presidential elections within the framework of a double game that is currently underway".
 Interior minister receives Chinese counterpart
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Interior and Public Administration Minister Propokis Pavlopoulos on Monday received the People's Republic of China's Minister of Supervision Li Zhilun, as talks focused on issues of mutual interests, including matters dealing with public administration.
The high-ranking Chinese minister is on an official visit to Greece.
Afterwards, Pavlopoulos said bilateral cooperation on public administration issues was particularly satisfactory, while he said he also accepted an invitation to visit the Far East nation in order to sign a relevant memorandum of cooperation.
 New National Intelligence Service commander assumes his duties
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Ambassador Yiannis Korantis assumed his duties on Monday as the new commander of the National Intelligence Service (EYP). He succeeds Ambassador Pavlos Apostolidis, who headed EYP for five years.
Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, in whose presence the changeover took place at his ministry and to which EYP is accountable, expressed satisfaction over the results of Apostolidis' term and his optimism that EYP will vindicate its performance even more and, in cooperation with the other relevant bodies, it will be one of the linchpins for consolidating a feeling of security in Greek society.
Voulgarakis said a bill will be promoted soon which will restructure EYP's services with the purpose of making them more effective and more flexible, while they will also be strengthened with manpower and material technical means.
 Candidate for Coalition party presidency Papayiannakis presents his program
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)One of the candidates for the presidency of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party, former Coalition MEP Mihalis Papayiannakis, presented his program for the operation and policies of the Coalition party during a press conference on Monday.
Papayiannakis stressed that the upcoming Coalition conference should concentrate on serious issues of policy rather than the debate over who should be next president of Greece and speculation that current Coalition head Nikos Constantopoulos might be a possible choice for president of the republic.
 EU directive on ship-source pollution continues to stir controversy
BRUSSELS 23/11/2004 (ANA/A.Simatos)French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, during the General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting held here on Monday, proposed that the EU Directive on Criminal Sanctions for Ship-Source Pollution be discussed at the upcoming EU Summit Council in December.
According to sources, Barnier's proposal provoked Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis' immediate intervention, who called Barnier's suggestion pointless since the issue is scheduled for discussion at the next Justice and Internal Affairs Council on December 2 and 3. Cyprus and Malta voiced similar objections to the French suggestion.
 Finance minister announces new era for enterprise
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Finance and Economy Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, speaking on Monday at a conference organized by the Economic Review and the Vovolinis Archives, announced a new era concerning enterprise which will boost employment.
The minister said that both the tax and growth bills will provide considerable relief in the private sector to facilitate investments by offering suitable incentives.
Alogoskoufis added that the government's political decision regarding the model of growth has been taken and is based on support for private initiative.
He also said structural changes will be continued with absolute transparency, as was the case with the National Bank, and in a way that will not dynamite social cohesion.
Federation of Industries of Greece President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos referred to the negative image which is being created continuously in the country for the businessman and enterprise, stressing that what is necessary to reverse this situation are many changes.
He also said laborious and time-consuming procedures and contacts with public services must be tackled to enable the beginning of a new business undertaking.
 Gov't rejects ND MEP's criticism of fiscal audit as 'strictly personal view'
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The government on Monday stressed its disagreement with the views expressed by ruling New Democracy MEP Giorgos Demetracopoulos regarding the fiscal audit of the Greek economy, saying that they were strictly personal and in no way aligned with the government's policy.
"The government deplores these views," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters during the regular press briefing.
"The government was elected to tell Greeks the whole truth about the economic state of the country," Roussopoulos underlined, while noting that the MEP had already been contacted by ND parliamentary group secretary Apostolos Stavrou and asked to clarify the statements he made to the Greek Sunday newspaper "Kyriakatiki Eleftherotypia".
Speaking to the paper, Demetracopoulos had criticized the government's decision involve the European Union in the process of reassessing Greek economic factors, which had resulted in an upward revision of the public debt and public deficit indices, saying that this should have been done with discretion and kept strictly within the framework of national institutions.
He also said the reassessment should have taken place using 'consensual rather than adversarial logic' and criticized Greece's effort to prove to its EU partners that it could decrease the deficit to below 3 per cent in a year as "politically and economically naive".
Countering the MEP's arguments, Roussopoulos stressed that the fiscal audit had been unavoidable in order to determined the true state of the economy and seek the right solutions and, secondly, because the EU had already questioned the accuracy of the figures supplied by the Greek government. Conversely, he noted, the ECOFIN ministers' council had praised the Greek government's efforts to cooperate with the audit and had encouraged it to correct the problems created by the preceding government.
"The government, after completing the difficult task of the audit in cooperation with the appropriate Community authorities, will continue the even harder task that concerns correcting the problems created by the PASOK government," he added.
In response to related questions, the spokesman also stressed that the government had repeatedly complained about the concealment of true economic figures by the previous PASOK government, which the premier and finance minister of that time had consistently denied.
"It's important to see the wood rather than the trees," he told reporters, noting that current PASOK leader George Papandreou was now pretending that he did not know what was going on all those years.
Asked why the government had not revised the 2004 budget drawn up by the previous government if it severely doubted the accuracy of the figures, he stressed that the process of reassessing the economic state of the country was time-consuming and for this reason the government had decided to adopt the budget inherited from PASOK, while stressing that the 2005 budget had been drawn up on the basis of the revised figures for the economy.
 Former ND leader Evert attacks MEP, PASOK leader over fiscal audit comments
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Former New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert on Monday joined the chorus of government criticism against a same-party MEP who, in a weekend interview published by a local paper, questioned the necessity of undertaking a high-profile fiscal audit of state finances commenced by the finance ministry.
Evert tersely noted that MEP George Demetracopoulos should have first asked for a briefing by National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis before making his statements, thereby preventing main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou from using them in his "feeble arguments", as he noted.
In targeting PASOK's leader, Evert said Papandreou would also do better to study the "aberrant doings" of the previous Simitis governments before issuing press releases.
"If the government did not proceed with the fiscal audit it would have discredited the Greek state, and then the repercussions would have meant economic and administrative penalties against Greece," Evert charged.
Demetracopoulos' comments were published in the Sunday edition of the "Eleftherotypia" daily.
 PM calls on civil servants union to agree to major institutional changes
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, addressing the 32nd congress of the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) on Monday, called o0n the union to agree to the promotion of major institutional changes.
Karamanlis said these points are the introductory, promotional and continuous training of civil servants, the commitment by the prime minister on the gradual introduction of a new salary scale for civil servants as of January 1, 2006, and the promotion together with ADEDY of a new civil servants code aimed at consolidating merit and transparency in public administration.
Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou said in his address that ADEDY is a strategic partner of his party in the effort to reform the state and public administration.
Papandreou also termed the ruling New Democracy party's law on public administration a serious retrogression and warned that the government's economic and social policy will lead to a loss of income for working people.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party leader Nikos Constantopoulos said the demand for democratic reforms in public administration remains up in the air and called for the democratic modernization of the state's functioning, speaking of a lack of planning, customer relations and untransparency.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) representative Takis Tsiongas said ND is continuing the restructuring in the state and public administration that had been implemented by PASOK.
The opening of ADEDY's 32nd congress heightened with the delivery to President Kostis Stephanopoulos, who attended the event, of a two-volume book on the history of ADEDY's congresses and of an honorary plaque with which unionists thanked him for his contribution to the civil servants movement.
 Competitiveness council debates EU's Lisbon strategy
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The National Competitiveness and Growth Council met on Monday to debate interim reform of the European Union's Lisbon strategy and preparations for a meeting of EU sector ministers in Brussels late this week.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas pointed out that Greece came lowest and second-lowest in competitiveness rankings monitored under the Lisbon strategy, despite high rates of growth in recent years.
The head of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece, Christos Polyzogopoulos, underlined the damaging impact of a commercial assault from far eastern countries, a problem that would grow in coming years; small- and medium-sized enterprises would suffer, and tens of thousands of jobs would be lost.
The president of the Federation of Greek Industry, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, told the meeting that beyond the Far East problem, a stronger euro/US dollar parity would lead to a rise in US imports and decline in exports. Needed was an aggressive policy to improve competitiveness and support demand, without protectionism.
 Labor union hails PM's visit to one of the poorest regions in the EU, Epirus
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Small and medium-size enterprises termed Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis's visit to one of the poorest regions in the European Union, Epirus, over the weekend positive, while also responding positively to his announcements on strengthening the region's infrastructures.
In parallel, an announcement by the General Confederation of Professionals, Handicraftsmen and Merchants of Greece (GSEBEE) said more measures are necessary, particularly as regards the strengthening of small businesses, until these infrastructures are completed.
GSEBEE added that a prolonged period until the infrastructures network is completed should not be expected because unless more initiatives are taken by then the production base and business activity in the region will be undermined.
 Greece's central gov't debt totalled 202.5 bln euros in 3rd quarter
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The central government's debt totalled 202.5 billion euros in the third quarter of 2004, up from 200.27 billion euros in the previous quarter, Greece's General Accounting Office said on Monday.
The state's liquidity totalled 5.318 billion euros at the end of the July-September period from 4.199 billion euros at the end of the April-June period. The agency's report said that from the total 202.5 billion euros in debt, 199.813 billion were in euros and the remaining 2.692 billion euros in other currencies.
 Greece, Spain, Portugal back fair distribution of EU enlargement cost
BRUSSELS 23/11/2004 (ANA/A Simatos)Greece, Spain and Portugal have joined to ensure that the cost of European Union enlargement is fairly distributed.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Sunday met his counterparts from Spain, Portugal and the bloc's 10 new members for talks initiated by the Spanish ambassador to Belgium.
The three older members of the EU want to see a Commission proposal adopted on management of EU funds in 2007-2013.
 Spanish Tourism Organization looks forward to more tourists from Greece
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Representatives of the Spanish Tourism Organization and a Spanish tourism industry delegation, speaking at a press conference on Monday, invited Greeks to visit Spain. The Spanish officials are visiting Greece to promote Spanish tourism.
It was disclosed that Greece holds 22nd position regarding the number of tourists visiting Spain (about 104,000 tourists visited the country in 2003) which, as the Spaniards said, shows the margin by which visits to Spain by Greeks can improve.
Greeks travel to Spain for traveling, cultural and business reasons, for shopping and to visit specialized hospitals.
A crucial factor in further strengthening tourist relations between Greece and Spain is an increase in flights between the two countries. The airline company Iberia currently carries out daily flights from Athens to Madrid and Barcelona and Olympic Airlines from Athens to Madrid.
 One in five Greeks use the Internet
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The average user of computer and the Internet in Greece is aged between 16-34 years, is a graduate of lyceum or vocational school and is working, a survey by the National Statistics Service said on Monday.
The survey, conducted on a sample of 4,970 people, aged 16-74 years old, showed that one in three Greek households owned a computer. One in five Greeks used the Internet in the first quarter of 2004, one in four Greeks used a computer in the first quarter of 2004 and that 94 percent of Internet users were seeking information over product and services, 80 percent were seeking communication (e-mail, e-chat, etc), 44.5 percent were seeking information on educational matters and 40 percent was receiving information from public sector's websites.
Only 10 percent of Internet users were making banking or other financial transactions in Greece, the survey said. E-buying, however, remained at very low levels with only 6.0 percent of Internet users making their purchases.
Greeks said they avoided using the Internet because "information were not useful, or damaging," while 49 percent of users complained over its high cost of equipment and access (49 percent).
The survey showed that 76 percent of Greek households owned a mobile telephone, 99.5 percent a TV set and 5.0 percent a satellite TV.
 Greece to oppose any concentration of sugar output in specific EU regions
BRUSSELS 23/11/2004 (ANA/V Demiris)Greece will oppose any measures taken in the European Union that could lead to a concentration of sugar output in specific regions of the bloc, which would jeopardize production and industrial output at home, Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said on Monday.
A proposal by the EU's executive Commission for the sector went further than necessary, and the outcome should be awaited of negotiations with the World Trade Organization setting the external framework of the status of sugar before reforming the bloc's common market organization. In addition, a workable transition phase should be adopted for any changes that were decided, Basiakos told the beginning of a two-day meeting of EU farm ministers in the Belgian capital.
Price declines and quotas that had been proposed were excessive and unjustified, and quotas for surpluses should be limited, he said.
"It is necessary to provide satisfactory offset benefits for Greek producers, who will bear the brunt of the reform," the minister added.
Basiakos and 10 other farm ministers sent a joint letter to the EU's agriculture commissioner expressing concern at the Commission's line on the future status of sugar.
In the ministers' debate of a Commission proposal on agricultural growth and financing for the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP), the minister said that the objective should be a new, more effective and more consensus-based farm policy for the period after 2006, ahead of implementation of the new CAP.
 PASOK MPs criticize gov't on work delays in Thessaloniki
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Harris Kastanidis, Yiannis Magriotis, Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Chryssa Arapoglou and Evangelos Venizelos - five Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) MPs - criticized the government on Monday regarding delays and cancellations of infrastructure projects in Thessaloniki.
Despite their criticism of projects being delayed or cancelled, the five MPs acknowledged that delays also occurred while PASOK was in office. ''Some of the projects to be terribly behind schedule'', according to the PASOK MPs, are the Thessaloniki Expo and "Macedonia" Airport.
New Democracy's Administrative Committee of Thessaloniki Prefecture issued a statement in response. "One would expect greater caution and realism from PASOK's five, leading members. However, they chose to resort to a press conference in order to accuse - more or less - the government because 'it failed' to do in eight months what they failed to do in 20 years," the statement read.
 Stocks drop in profit-taking, tracking markets abroad
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower in across-the-board profit taking, tracking markets abroad, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,599.58 points, showing a decline of 0.90 percent. Turnover was 123.5 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.92 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.45 percent down; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.50 percent lower.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 257 to 48 with 50 remaining unchanged.
 Liapis presents comprehensive strategy on road safety
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis presented his ministry's five-year, comprehensive strategy aimed at improving road safety and reducing accidents 50% by 2010, in a meeting held at the ministry on Monday with the participation of representatives from agencies and organizations, as well as professors from the Polytechnic Institute, involved in issues of road safety.
Liapis presented the program's five basic principles which concern the driver, the vehicle, the road, inspections and immediate treatment of those injured.
The transport minister reiterated his decision to completely revamp the system according to which driver's licenses are issued, which will include regular re-examination of drivers, especially professional drivers. At the same time, a public awareness campaign will soon be launched.
Emphasis will be placed on the safety of vehicles, which will entail regular and detailed technical inspections, as well as identifying dangerous areas throughout the nation's road network in order to reduce the likelihood of accidents. Liapis also pointed out that the road infrastructure will have to be maintained regularly.
According to the transport minister, effective road safety requires specific planning, but also a reliable monitoring system that will keep track of the plan's results. For this reason, Liapis said that a special fund will be set up so that the program can continue to operate, but also to ensure methodical policing, including strict penalties imposed against violators and creating a system that will ensure the collection of fines.
Another area on which the ministry is focusing, is ensuring that medical care is provided quickly and effectively in case of an accident, in order to reduce the number of fatalities. To achieve this, those injured must be transferred from the accident site to a nearby hospital faster than they are presently, while better psychological support must be provided to those suffering directly or indirectly from the consequences of an accident.
For the new strategy to be effective, other actions are also necessary. They include:
• Creation of a strategic plan regarding road safety with emphasis placed on the ability to track results;
• Review of the existing traffic code and the imposition of strict fines and administrative penalties;
• Activation and upgrading of the existing point system; etc.
"We are determined to put an end to the recklessness of dangerous drivers, in order to protect them as well as our other fellow citizens," Liapis concluded.
 Athens mayor concludes four-day visit to Syria
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis on Monday concluded her official visit to Syria, made at the invitation of Damascus Mayor Mohammad Bashar Al-Moufti, according to an announcement by the press office of the municipality of Athens.
During her visit, Bakoyannis met with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, Prime Minister Naji Al-Otari and Culture Minister Mahmad Al-Sayyid, while later in the day she was due to meet the Patriarch of Antioch Ignatios.
Earlier in the day the two mayors signed a friendship and cooperation agreement between the two cities.
"Concluding our four-day visit to Syria, we signed the friendship and cooperation agreement with the city of Damascus, an agreement which places cooperation between the two cities on a new base. In essence, we agreed that there will be a close exchange of experiences between the two cities," Bakoyannis said afterwards.
 ATHOC chief concludes party leaders' briefings following meeting with Constantopoulos
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Monday concluded her briefings of the country's political leaders after her meeting with Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos.
The ATHOC chief briefed Constantopoulos on a variety of post-Olympics issues, on the impact the Games had internationally as well as on her recent visit to Beijing.
She also referred to ATHOC's upcoming presentation of its financial results, before thanking the party leader for his cooperation during the run-up to the Games.
 Health minister says insurance fund drug lists to be scrapped in early 2005
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis on Monday announced that the lists limiting the drugs available to those using state insurance funds will be scrapped within the first two months of 2005, in accordance with the government's pre-election pledges.
The drug-list system meant that the insurance funds would only cover the cost of medication included on the list, unless the patient obtained a special form from their doctor to say that there was no replacement for the specific drug prescribed. After the system is scrapped, social insurance funds will be able to cover all drugs for their patients, with the exception of 'modern lifestyle products' such as beauty, slimming and anti-smoking aids.
The new system also scraps the inspection and approval of prescriptions, a time-consuming process that deterred many social insurance fund users from claiming rebates due to them for drugs they had paid for in advance.
Another change will allow patients to obtain high-cost drugs used for the treatment of cancer and AIDS in their local pharmacy instead of hospital pharmacies, as before. In view of the bill on in-vitro fertilization to be passed in Parliament, the minister also announced that the medication used for fertility treatments will be provided free by social insurance funds.
Finally, Kaklamanis said that a new emergency duty system for hospitals in Attica will go into effect from Monday, where all hospitals will be open until 14:30 except four to seven, which will go on emergency duty from 14:30 until 8:00 in the morning the next day.
 Work by photojournalist Sarrikostas on show at Glyfada Municipality arts centre
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)An exhibition of photographs taken by noted Greek photojournalist Aristotelis Sarrikostas entitled "40 years of Greek Political History" will be held at the Glyfada Municipality Arts Centre (Alsous 15, Glyfada) from November 25-30.
The exhibition tracks some of the most dramatic and tumultuous periods of Greek political life, immortalized by the photographer's lens since 1961, including the military coup of April 21 1967, scenes from the flight of Greece's royal family from Athens and Kavala and images of army tanks breaking down the gates of the Athens Polytechnic in order to quell a student rebellion on November 17, 1973, as well as photos of the tanks surrounding the villa of dictator Georgios Papadopoulos when he was overturned.
For the past 37 years, Sarrikostas worked as a photographer for the news agency Associated Press.
 Tribute to Alekos Fasianos at National Gallery
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The National Gallery/Alexandros Soutzos Museum is organizing a major tribute to Greek painter Alekos Fasianos in an exhibition that opens next Wednesday entitled "Mythology of the Everyday".
The exhibition is comprised of 360 works by the painter, from his first sketches at age 15 through his years as a fine arts student and his later characteristic work in bright colors and red hues. The early work is from the painter's private collection and is on public display for the first time.
Fasianos said the exhibition at the National Gallery is "one of the most important segments of my life", while National Gallery director Marina Lambraki-Plaka said the exhibition was a tribute to his entire work, which she said was characterized by a "two-way relationship between extreme innovation and Greek modernism, with elements of Theophilos, Tsarouchis, ancient art and modernism".
 Undisturbed Mycenaean-era tomb uncovered by archaeological dig in Laconia
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)An undisturbed Mycenaean-era tomb has been discovered by archaeologists in the Skala municipality in Laconia, during a dig being carried out by the 5th Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities Department, according to a press release on Monday.
The tomb is an arched chamber carved into a rock face and was used for successive burials during the last two phases of the Mycenaean era. It contains significant archaeological finds, including a seal and buttons carved of steatite, jade and glass beads and various items made of copper.
 Greece to join Organization Internationale de la Francophonie
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)Education Minister Marietta Giannakou and Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis outlined the benefits Greece will reap by joining the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie, during a press conference held on Monday.
Giannakou explained that 56 countries already belong to the international organization. Greece applied for associated membership, which will be approved at a meeting to be held on November 27 in Burkina Faso.
The education minister announced that Greece's inaugural ceremony will be officially held in Athens on December 3 and 4, to which the President of the Hellenic Republic, the Prime Minister and others have been invited to present their experience with the French language.
Giannakou also emphasized that by Greece joining the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie, "it is not only reconnecting with a historical past when French was the first, mandatory foreign language in school, but more importantly, it [Greece] is becoming a part of closer relations on all levels in the era of economic and cultural diplomacy - not classical diplomacy as we knew it - that will also help the education ministry but the two countries' relations in general."
 Prefects of Evros, Adrianoupoli and Haskovo to meet in Orestiada on Tuesday
Athens, 23/11/2004 (ANA)The prefects of Evros, Edirne (Adrianoupolis) and Haskovo will meet in Orestiada, northern Greece, on Tuesday in the framework of activities developed by the Crossborder Cooperation Network.
The meeting between the prefects also anticipates a visit to an islet located in the Evros River and belonging to the three bordering countries.
The purpose of this initiative, which belongs to the managing director of the Network of Prefectures of Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey Nikos Zambounidis, is to make this islet a "Peace and Friendship Park" for the three peoples.
The islet covers an area of about 80 acres, half of which belong to Turkey and a quarter each of the area to Bulgaria and Greece.
 Cyprus outlines to EU positions on Turkey's EU prospects
NICOSIA 23/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)The Cypriot government has explicitly outlined to EU institutions its positions as regards Turkey's EU prospects, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Monday.
He also noted that co-understanding between the Greek Cypriot political parties is pursued as regards Cyprus' further steps, in view of December 17, when the European Council will decide whether or not it will give Turkey a date to begin her accession negotiations.
Invited to say whether Nicosia's positions as regards Turkey's EU prospects have been handed over in writing to the EU Dutch Presidency, the spokesman said that ''our positions have been outlined explicitly to EU instruments.''
''Our positions have been handed over to all those who needed to have them and the Minister of Foreign Affairs is in constant contact with his counterparts in view of the December 17 Council. The same also applies for the President of the Republic's visits abroad,'' he said.
Replying to questions, Chrysostomides reiterated that Turkey is obliged to recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
To a remark that Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah Gul insists that Ankara will not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, the spokesman said these are the positions of the Turkish Prime Minister, which he outlines publicly.
He also noted that within the EU framework a broad exchange of views takes place, issues are discussed and the best compromise is pursued.
''As you have seen, contacts with all parties have begun as well as the Troika's contacts with Turkey. All facts will be evaluated when the right time comes,'' he added.
Chrysostomides also said that ''the US supports the beginning of accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU.''
 G/C and T/C to establish working groups on environmental issues
NICOSIA 23/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)The Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties, who met here Monday for their regular meeting under the auspices of the Slovakian Embassy in Cyprus, stressed the need for closer cooperation and announced that they will establish working groups to study and promote sustainable development in environmental issues, including the de-mining of the UN buffer zone.
Monday's meeting in Ledra Palace was the last for 2004 and the next meeting will be held on January 10, 2005.
According to the joint communique, read out by the Slovak Ambassador to Cyprus Jan Varso, the leaders and representatives of the Greek
Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties ''exchanged views on the sustainable development and stressed the need for closer cooperation among the political parties.''
''In this context they will jointly find practical ways and means, including the establishment of working groups, to study and promote sustainable development in environmental issues, among others de-mining of the buffer zone,'' he added.