21 March, 2006
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday received Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis at his office for talks focusing directly on the issue of debt-ridden national carrier Olympic Airways (OA) and implementation of recent legislation aimed at reforming several state-run utilities and enterprises (DEKO) under the transport ministry's jurisdiction.
Afterwards, Liapis told reporters that the government is again considering the creation of a new company for beleaguered OA, a new company able to operate under private sector criteria and management. He added that a draft proposal will soon be tabled with the European Commission.
The European Court of Justice in February 2005 ruled that Greece had not taken all measures necessary to secure repayment of aid granted to Olympic Airways over several years in the 1990s, while also noting that such aid was incompatible with the common market -- a ruling that concluded a case brought by the European Commission against Athens. The ruling subsequently added urgency to efforts by the new Karamanlis government to end years of loss-making performances by the bloated national carrier.
The case stemmed from a European Commission decision in 1998 approving aid granted by a PASOK government under Costas Simitis for OA's restructuring between 1998-2002.
In 2002 the Commission initiated a further procedure on grounds that the restructuring plan had been applied and that certain conditions envisaged in the decision approving the aid had not been met. As the information supplied by Greece was judged as inadequate, the Commission then pointed to an infringement, claiming, furthermore, that more aid being pumped into the state-run airline company.
Regarding the DEKO law, Liapis said the government will soon begin talks with relevant employees' unions in order to begin reforms, while he stressed that whatever changes aren't aimed chipping away at employees' rights or benefits but at improving conditions and especially state-run companies' often dire finances.
Finally, he said a report by an ad hoc committee of university professors regarding telecoms security will be released this week.
Source: Athens News Agency