|Friday, 19 April 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-01-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Papandreou, Yilmaz discuss EU-related issues on sidelines of Davos forum
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Sunday held a one-hour meeting with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz on the sidelines of an annual world economic forum being held in Davos, Switzerland.
The two men mostly discussed relations between Turkey and the European Union, especially the meeting of commitments that stem from the neighboring country's partnership agreement with the 15-nation bloc.
Turkey is expected to submit a national action plan next month outlining its priorities within the framework of its partnership agreement with the EU.
Yilmaz conveyed to the Greek FM Ankaras will to rapidly proceed with reforms so that Turkey will meet its partnership commitments, while adding that political volition is also necessary to overcome bureaucratic obstacles that allow a bilateral agreement on the avoidance of double taxation to be signed. He also reportedly sought Greece's assistance in the transfer of EU know-how.
The officials, however, noted that their views on the Cyprus issue remained widely divergent.
Papandreou had accepted an invitation from Yilmaz to hold the meeting, which was originally scheduled for Saturday evening.
The Greek FM had participated in a round-table discussion at the forum on the subject of Balkan reconstruction, a discussion that also included participation by new Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov.
Finally, he also discussed the latest developments in the Middle East with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Mousa.
Meanwhile, an ANA dispatch from Ankara reported that Yilmaz told Turkish reporters that Papandreou might visit Turkey in March.
In response to a press question over what Greece's "expectations" are in relation to the partnership agreement, the Turkish deputy PM mentioned bilateral relations and the Cyprus issue, "which they have expressed in the past...
"...We also have some priorities on these issues. However, there is no reservation on our part to examine such issues in a way that includes the overall framework. Therefore, I expressed the view that we're always ready to discuss these matters."
 Greece should seize euro-zone opportunities, PM says
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)Greece should seize opportunities for growth and job creation arising from the country's entry into the euro zone earlier this month, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Saturday.
"We must exploit the opportunities that our membership of the euro zone affords in order to achieve further growth, full employment, social prosperity and cohesion," Simitis told a rally in the Cretan town of Rethymno during a tour of the island.
"We must not, however, allow inequalities among regions or within regions to stall the country's growth, which is why our regional policy in 2000-2006 is based on ironing out inequality," he added.
The prime minister said the government was trying to bring the standard of living in Greece closer to that of other members of the European Union.
Already in place were the framework for economic stability, a rise in living standards, and a drive towards growth in order to achieve real convergence with the EU, he added.
Simitis also outlined development projects that the government had carried out in Crete's cities and countryside.
PM puts priority on hi-tech health care: Prime Minister Costas Simitis said in Crete on Saturday that the government's new health bill aimed to offer quality healthcare while cutting costs.
"The use of modern technology in the provision of medical data and applications is especially important. We aim to offer quality medical treatment and care in Crete and throughout Greece," Simitis told reporters during a visit to a prefecture hospital in Rethymno.
"The new law on the National Health System that the government is advancing will increase services to the public and reduce spending," he said.
The prime minister, who is touring Crete, attended a presentation of telemedicine at the hospital.
Earlier, Simitis said the government planned to boost growth in the regions.
"I hope that the next time I visit Crete, the island will have prospered further and that people's demands will be fewer," he told residents.
 Greece funds Balkan environment program
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)The public works ministry is helping to fund an international program that monitors environmental management in the Balkans, Deputy Public Works Minister Ilias Efthymiopoulos said on Saturday.
Efthymiopoulos was opening a conference in Athens on inter-national cooperation in the Balkan, Black Sea, southeastern Mediterranean and Caspian regions to improve the environment and develop town planning and sustainable development.
He said that upsetting the region were conflict and foreign intervention, while Greece's role in the environmental program was based on arriving at consensus and could not be construed as imperialist.
Speakers presented the findings of 22 studies carried out by research teams as part of the ministry's inter-state DAC-OECD program, which includes the use of alternative energy and measures to combat pollution in the Balkans.
The speakers also underlined the need for environmental training, publicity programs and consciousness raising schemes for the public.
 Pro-Cyprus group requests Canadian PM's help to free Greek Cypriot from occupied areas
MONTREAL, 29/01/2001 (ANA)The "committee for solidarity to Cyprus" has sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien requesting his help and intervention for the release of a Greek Cypriot man, who was abducted and is being illegally detained by the pseudo-regime in the Turkish-occupied areas of northern Cyprus.
In the letter, the committee's members emphasized that the Greek Cypriot businessman was abducted in retaliation for the arrest of a Turkish Cypriot man on drug trafficking charges in the Republic of Cyprus a few days earlier.
 Tsohatzopoulos acknowledges PASOK strayed from '81 vow
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos acknowledged that the ruling PASOK party had strayed from some of the principles it set out in a 'contract with the people' in 1981 elections, but maintained that fundamental pledges had been kept.
"I know quite a few of you today feel disillusioned by politics and by politicians, and quite a few of you by PASOK. You told us that we had relegated to second place...the privileged relationship that we in PASOK established in our contract with the people in 1981," Tsohatzopoulos said in a speech in Thessaloniki on Saturday evening.
"And to a degree you are right. A non-stop drive in recent years to tackle major, difficult issues made us forget the simple, everyday things, but they are the things that affect our lives directly," the minister said.
At the same time, PASOK had carried out its main pledges.
"We kept to our commitments. We carried out those things we had pledged, or at least we tried to be timely in what we implemented when reality was shown to be tougher than we could manage," Tsohatzopoulos added.
 Coalition of the Left in shift to environment
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)The Coalition of the Left and Progress has signaled a shift towards a stronger pro-environmental line that may include a change of name, party officials said on Sunday
The coalition's central committee held a meeting on the environment on Saturday to prepare for a party congress that will debate a proposal to adopt the name 'Coalition of the Left and the Environment', the officials said.
Synaspismos conference in Athens: A one-day national conference by the Coalition of the Left and Progress' (Synaspismos) prefectural secretaries on Sunday focused on the party's internal situation and its priorities, during a meeting in Athens.
Synaspismos garnered 3.2 percent of the popular vote in the last national elections.
 Christodoulos reserved over papal visit to Greece
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece on Sunday appeared reserved over a proposed visit to Greece by Pope John Paul II, while referring to ongoing problems between the two churches, particularly the issue of the Uniate in the former Soviet republics.
Christodoulos spoke during a program on the Orthodox Church's radio network.
 Karamanlis lashes out at gov't over severe bourse slump
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Sunday sternly criticized the government for the long-lasting slump on the Athens Stock Exchange over the past year.
Addressing a party seminar on local government, Karamanlis described the bourse's decline as "a crime" and repeated his call for the resignation of National Economy Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.
"The climate will not change without there being a change of those responsible for the drama," he said.
The ND leader also said that the government was "exhausted and incapable", given that it has done nothing 10 months after the elections.
In a veiled call to supporters of other parties, Karamanlis said ND directs itself to all the voters, "as the dividing lines of the past have fallen and because problems have no (political party) color."
He also referred to the issue of illegal naturalizations, noting that "we will not allow this to be repeated, given that this is a major blow to the essence and quality of democracy."
Papantoniou: In response during a speech in the northwestern city of Ioannina, Papantoniou reiterated his call that the stock exchange ceases to be a "field of petty political party squabbling".
He also cited what he called a "systematic attack against the government's economic policy and the economy in general over the past few days.
"It's natural that the economy is suffering these hits. The government's major economic successes in the past five years and inclusion in EMU have naturally led many to attempt to destroy these successes.
 Minister says bourse drop betrays economic fundamentals
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)A lasting slump on the Athens Stock Exchange fails to reflect the country's healthy economic fundamentals, Development Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said.
"An image and climate of suspicion at the bourse have failed to do justice to the Greek economy, wronging the economy even more in terms of its prospects," Christodoulakis said in an interview to the Ependytis financial weekly published on Saturday.
"I believe, however, that the emphasis the government is giving to structural change and its rapid implementation, coupled with a swift absorption of Third Community Support Framework funds, will give a fresh impetus to the Greek economy, and this impetus will sooner or later be reflected in all markets," Christodoulakis said.
Parliament speaker calls for calm over bourse drop: Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on Saturday urged investors in the ailing Athens Stock Exchange to remain calm, an attitude that could help the bourse to recover from its decline.
"Only those who know anything about the stock exchange should speak, because if we all speak, we're probably not doing good," said Kaklamanis in reply to a reporter's question.
 Defense ministry in deal with northern InfoTech firms
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)The Association of Northern Greek Information Technology Firms and the defense ministry are to collaborate in a project to set up an InfoTech center in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, National Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Sunday.
A company to carry out the scheme has been set up with a share capital of 100 million drachmas, said the association's president, Anastasios Tzikas.
 Most Greeks believe public sector rife with corruption
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)Almost all Greeks think that the public sector is characterized by a high rate of corruption, according to an opinion poll published in a newspaper on Sunday.
A total of 92.5 percent of those polled believed that heavy corruption existed and 78.6 percent backed the government's decision to introduce mandatory means declaration for public sector workers said the poll, which was conducted by Kapa Research and carried in Ethnos on Sunday.
Of those who backed means declaration, 38.3 percent believed that the scheme would greatly help to restrict corruption, and 34.9 percent said it would have a fair impact.
Interior Minister Vasso Papandreou ordered means declaration a few weeks ago, sparking the ire of the civil servants' umbrella union. A committee will be set up to protect the confidentiality of employees' means data.
Of those polled, 34.8 percent reported that they had witnessed instances of corruption by state sector officials; and 64.4 percent said they had not.
Ranking top for presumed levels of corruption were tax offices, followed by ministries, hospitals, education, the Public Power Corporation, the town planning division and local government.
 Greece stages first earthquake readiness drill
Athens, 29/01/2001 (ANA)Greece on Sunday staged its first earthquake readiness drill, centered in Atalanti, the scene of past temblors.
The exercise, which was monitored by earthquake experts from home and abroad, aimed to test the preparation of state services and identify any weak points in organization and response.
Taking part were the state's special emergency squad, its earthquake protection organization, the ambulance division and fire brigade. Sniffer dogs also took part.
The scenario for the drill was an earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale that caused buildings to collapse, trapping residents under the rubble.
Also for the first time, a device being developed at the National Technical University of Athens was tested that is able to detect people trapped in fallen buildings.
"I am entirely satisfied with the way the exercise was conducted," fire brigade chief Panayotis Fourlas told reporters.
"A series of facts emerged that will be extremely useful in designing similar exercises throughout Greece and in the islands," Fourlas added.
The experts from Greece, France and the Upsala earthquake detection center in Sweden have recently been studying the fault at Atalanti, near Lamia.
 Denktash reiterates his unacceptable positions on the Cyprus problem
NICOSIA, 29/01/2001 (CNA/ANA)Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Sunday reiterated his unacceptable positions on the Cyprus problem and demanded that his illegal entity set up in the north be recognized before a settlement on the island was achieved.
Denktash was speaking after a meeting with the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who will be having fresh talks with President Glafcos Clerides and the Turkish Cypriot leader on Monday morning, before giving a press conference in the afternoon on his visit to the island.
Denktash told reporters after his two-hour meeting with de Soto that he explained to the UN diplomat why the process of the talks could not continue.
In December 1999 the UN embarked on a new effort to reach a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, divided since Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third in 1974, through what have been named as proximity talks.
Five rounds of proximity talks have taken place so far, but Denktash is refusing to participate in another round of separate meetings with the UN officials unless the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus is recognized and there is a change in the procedure of the talks and their basis.
Denktash said "these talks have been set up with no preconditions and we discovered ourselves with several preconditions, without the ground being prepared", and repeated his unacceptable positions about "two states" and "two peoples" on the island, noting that "this has to be taken into consideration in preparing the ground for substantive talks for a settlement of the problem".
Asked if de Soto viewed this approach positively, Denktash said the UN diplomat "has his own way of looking at things".
Invited to say whether a fresh round of talks could be expected, the Turkish Cypriot leader said "it is too early to say anything yet".
Denktash laid out a series of reasons for not attending a new round of talks, namely that he wanted acknowledgement for his regime, that the Greek Cypriot side's priority was accession to the European Union, and that the Cyprus government "is being treated by the world as the government of the whole island".
He added that as long as the Greek Cypriot side insisted on the return of refugees to their homes in the north, "there is no chance of a settlement".
Replying to questions about the prospects of a future settlement, Denktash said "I am sure a way out will be found, I am sure Greek Cypriots, if they want a united Cyprus, will realize that they have to treat us as equals".