EESC calls for speedier and stricter measures against sea pollution The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has approved a plan for speeding up the withdrawal of EU-registered single-hulled tankers and referring the matter to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with a view to reaching a more flexible, phased timetable. According to the EESC, EU members should strive to introduce, through IMO, a timetable for a speedy withdrawal of single-hulled tankers, to apply worldwide, which will agree with the timetable of the US Oil Pollution Act. The EESC considers the initiative should be taken without affecting the obligation to ensure timely and adequate environmental protection of the EU. The committee also came out in favor of banning the transportation of pollutant heavy oil fractions by single-hulled tankers but did not rule out «exceptions where appropriate.» Furthermore, it called for the urgent designation of a list of ports of refuge for vessels in distress in the EU, with clear instructions for help by the competent authorities, and of a list of environmentally sensitive areas to be avoided by crude oil tankers. Finally, it called for stricter application of all regulations aimed at preventing sea pollution. Greek and Turkish business leaders plan more get-togethers The Development Ministry and the Greek-Turkish Chamber of Commerce are organizing the first bilateral energy conference at the Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel in Athens on May 8 and 9, with the participation of both countries’ competent ministers and senior business leaders. There will be more than 20 presentations on natural gas, electricity, oil and market regulation. Yesterday, representatives of Greek and Turkish mining enterprises discussed corresponding problems at a gathering in Alexandroupolis, and later met Deputy Economy Minister Apostolos Fotiadis and regional officials. It was agreed to hold a dual conference in Aegean locations. The two countries have agreed to build a natural gas pipeline connection. Moody’s The Public Debt Management Organization (ODDHX) said last week’s report from credit rating agency Moody’s on the Greek economy, which maintained a «stable outlook» A1 rating of long-term debt, did not contain any elements revising the picture derived from the assessment conducted in May 2002. Moody’s upgraded Greece from A2 to A1 in November, and is due to visit Greece for a reassessment next month. Maillis Listed packaging materials firm M.I. Maillis announced the setting-up in January 2003 of wholly owned subsidiary Wulftec International Inc. in Delaware, USA, for the purpose of participating in a consortium under the name of MSN Maillis Strapping Network, based in Georgia, and in the context of a reorganization of distribution channels. Maillis withdrew from OMS America Inc., where it held a 33.3 percent interest. ANEK Ferry operator ANEK Lines said it agreed with creditor banks on the basic terms for a long-term rescheduling of debts according to economic prospects. Finalization of the deal is expected next month. ANEK said it has recently seen signs of a recovery.