|Monday, 21 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 25, 2002
 PM sees dirty tricks campaign against the government
Athens, 25/02/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis charged on Saturday that a no-holds barred campaign was being waged to discredit the government, implying that the main opposition New Democracy party was involved.
"A carefully orchestrated campaign has recently emerged to sully the government, politics and politicians; a campaign with no barriers, rules, principles or bounds; a campaign camouflaged in masks, with the people who seek to benefit from the mire remaining out of sight," Simitis said.
Speaking in the northern town of Edessa, the prime minister also said that the current climate evoked a time before the country's 1967-1974 dictatorship.
"If we take a good look at the people moving in this murky landscape, we will remember past eras with murky landscapes that took Greece into dictatorship and put the country back years," he said.
Simitis called on the public and politicians, regardless of party political affiliation, to create a united front against what he called an endeavor to degrade politics and weaken democracy.
"There is a certain kind of information being given out that is not a true picture of Greece. The Greece it manufactures wrongs the Greeks," he said.
"This is an attempt to overturn the coherence and meaning of modernization for the country," the prime minister added.
Later in the day, he repeated that national elections would be held on schedule in the autumn of 2004.
Simitis wound up his tour of the Pella prefecture with a visit to an archaeological museum; and to a rowing center used for Olympics training, where he met members of Russia's national team using the facility.
He also met children with special needs ahead of the opening of a new center in Edessa; and visited a newly built workers' housing complex.
 Main opposition leader woos voters from all parties
Athens, 25/02/2002 (ANA)The leader of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, Costas Karamanlis, has asked party members to court voters from all parties.
"I am asking you to extend a hand to all our fellow citizens. We trust all Greeks, regardless of whether they vote for the (ruling) PASOK party, Communist Party of Greece, or Coalition of the Left and Progress," Karamanlis said in the northern town of Veria on Saturday.
He also launched a new offensive against Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who earlier in the day had charged that right-wing forces were engaged in a smear campaign against the government, implying that ND was involved.
"Mr. Simitis is panic-stricken at his forthcoming (election) defeat. A panic-stricken prime minister trying to divide the Greek public by calling up ghosts from the past is dangerous," Karamanlis claimed.
"The country is not being governed, and the premier is fully aware of this. He has lost control of the situation. He cannot take decisions," the ND leader said.
Gov't spokesman raps main opposition over jibes at PM: The government spokesman on Sunday rapped the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, Costas Karamanlis, for criticizing the prime minister over the weekend and asking ND members to court an all-party vote.
"Making false overtures to the democratic world ... is an endeavor that fails to convince," spokesman Christos Protopapas said.
He was asked by a reporter to comment on allegations made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Saturday that conservative forces were engaged in a smear campaign against the government, implying that ND was involved.
Protopapas replied: "It is clear that we are currently seeing an alliance of people trying to degrade politics; of vested interests wanting to manage the resources and growth prospects of the Greek public; and of conservative forces of the Right who, incapable of talking politics, essentially know about and monitor these adverse developments, and, I would say, rub their hands in glee."
"Naturally, we will uncover the alliance. This is a battle that concerns the quality of democracy. At some point, the mask will fall away," Protopapas, added.
Main opposition accuses PM of divisive rule: The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Sunday accused Prime Minister Costas Simitis of using divisive tactics in power.
"It is clear that (ruling) PASOK is disturbed by the fact that (ND leader) Costas Karamanlis has come to unite Greeks and not divide the country, which is something Costas Simitis has been doing systematically," party spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said.
Roussopoulos also accused PASOK of flirting with left-wing parties in any elections that it expected to lose.
"One of the best known tales is that of the pledges PASOK makes to the Left each time it sees election defeat ahead. The latest edition of the myth is enriched with 'ghosts from the past'," he said.
Roussopoulos was commenting on statements earlier in the day by government spokesman Christos Protopapas, who had criticized ND for its attack on statements by the prime minister on Saturday.
Protopapas had questioned the authenticity of a call by Karamanlis for party members to court supporters of all parties.
 FM Papandreou begins official visit to Lithuania
VILNIUS, 25/02/2002 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou arrived in Lithuania on Sunday on an official visit.
He arrived here in the morning and attended a luncheon given in his honor by President of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus and his wife. Also attending the luncheon was Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis.
On Sunday, Adamkus and Valionis added their signatures to the Greek initiative for the proclamation of the Olympic Truce.
Papandreou also visited the grave of his great-grandfather Sigmund Mineiko.
The Greek foreign minister arrived in Lithuania following a visit to Poland.
 Opinion poll gives main opposition lead over government party
Athens, 25/02/2002 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party was 6.3 percentage points ahead of ruling PASOK in an opinion poll published on Saturday by the Imerissia daily financial newspaper.
Conducted by Metron Analysis, the poll gave ND 37.2 percent of voter preference against 37.5 percent in an equivalent survey in November 2001. PASOK secured 30.9 percent of the vote from 32.2 percent in November.
The latest survey gave the Communist Party of Greece 5.3 per-cent; the Free Citizens' Movement 5.1 percent; the Coalition of the Left and Progress 3.9 percent; and the Democratic Social Movement 1.7 percent.
At the same time, the poll revealed voter dissatisfaction with both main parties. Of respondents, 41.7 percent expressed dis-pleasure with the government, and 37.5 percent with ND.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis secured 33.6 percent of voter confidence against 33.4 percent for ND leader Costas Karamanlis. The remaining 23 percent felt confidence in neither of the two party leaders.
Minister shrugs off findings of opinion poll: Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Sunday brushed off the findings of an opinion poll that gave the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party a lead of 6.3 percentage points over ruling PASOK in voter preference.
"The gap is great between a poll conducted in the middle of a four-year term of office and the outcome of elections at the end of the four years. ND knows this," Venizelos told reporters in reply to a question.
The survey by Metron Analysis, which was published on Saturday in the Imerissia financial newspaper, gave ND 37.2 percent of voter preference against 37.5 percent in an equivalent survey in November 2001. PASOK secured 30.9 percent of the vote from 32.2 percent in November.
"ND was sure it would win the national elections in 2000. But what happened?, said Venizelos, posing a rhetorical question.
"In the end, PASOK will be judged on the basis of its growth program for the country, on preparation for the 2004 Olympics, on how the public will feel in terms of certainty," he added.
 Cypriot parliamentary defense group to Athens for talks
NICOSIA, 25/02/2002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)A delegation of the Cypriot parliament's defense committee is to visit Athens for talks with National Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.
The officials, who arrive in Athens on Sunday, will also meet leaders of the armed forces and members of the Greek house's foreign policy and defense committee.
They are also expected to hold talks with Foreign Minister George Papandreou and parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis during their three-day visit.
 PASOK Eurodeputy Katiforis on official visit to Cyprus
NICOSIA, 25/02/2002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Cyprus' accession to the European Union does not depend on any Turkish veto, George Katiforis, Greece's ruling PASOK Eurodeputy, vice-president of the Socialist Group at the Europe-an Parliament and representative of Greece at the European Union's convention, said here on Sunday.
Katiforis, who is currently on an official visit to Cyprus at the invitation of the Movement of Social Democrats (KISOS), stressed that this constitutes a common awareness of the great majority of Greek and foreign Eurodeputies.
The PASOK Eurodeputy expressed optimism on Cyprus' EU accession course and said that during his contacts in Cyprus, he discussed ways for the best possible support of Cyprus' accession in the ranks of the European Parliament.
Katiforis had separate meetings with Democratic Rally (DISY) alternate president Panayiotis Dimitriou, Democratic Party (DIKO) leader Tassos Papadopoulos, KISOS leader Yiannakis Omirou and honorary president of KISOS Vassos Lyssarides.
 Minister: Ailing social insurance deters investors, job creation
Athens, 25/02/2002 (ANA)Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said in an interview published on Sunday that a non-viable social insurance system deterred investments and job creation.
Christodoulakis told the Express on Sunday financial newspaper that the state had no incentive to maintain an ailing system.
He also said that investments in Greece this year would rise by a robust 8.7 percent.
The government is attempting to overhaul the country's indebted social insurance system, with a new round of talks set to begin in March.
 Development minister on small and medium-size enterprises
Athens, 25/02/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, at a meeting of EU ministers in Madrid on Saturday, expressed the need to promote the European Charter for small and medium-size enterprises.
The Greek minister raised as a priority a policy of supporting small and medium-size enterprises on a European level and to facilitate them with the fiscal system and know-how.
Tsohatzopoulos expressed the significance for Greece for such a policy to be promoted in support of small and medium-size industries.
He said "99 per cent of Greek enterprises belong in this category of small and medium-size enterprises which not only have many problems but also face historically a downgraded treatment by the market, the economy and the economic activity of the country."
 NBC on security of Athens 2004 Olympic Games
WASHINGTON, 25/02/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greece's determination to complete in time infrastructure works for the safe holding of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was presented in the past couple of days by the NBC net-work which also referred at length to the failure of the Greek authorities to arrest members of the elusive "November 17" terrorist organization.
On the occasion of the end of the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in the United States, NBC presented Athens' preparation, with the aim of assessing if Athens will be ready and safe to host the 2004 Games.
The alternate central news presenter of the network, Brian Williams, who visited Athens, spoke of challenges, which Greece is facing in construction projects, hospitality and security.
Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis stated that "it is a historic challenge for Greece which we should and shall win."
On the issue of security, Williams expressed the view that "Greece is in a dangerous neighborhood" and referred to the activities of the elusive terrorist organization.
The NBC correspondent noted that the Greek government will spend more than 650 million dollars for the safety of the Athens 2004 Games, an amount double that spent for the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. He added that Greece will use 50,000 policemen and soldiers, and at the same time it is exchanging information with its allies in NATO, the CIA, the FBI and the US Secret Service which will offer training on security issues.
 Balkan support for return of Parthenon Marbles by 2004
Athens, 25/02/2002 (ANA)Culture and sports ministers from southeastern Europe said on Saturday that they would like the United Kingdom to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece in time for the Athens Olympics.
"The sculptures must be in Athens for the 2004 Olympics," the ministers said in a joint statement at the end of a two-day meeting in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
The session was arranged by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos who is seeking cooperation from the region for the Cultural Olympiad, which forms part of the main event.
Agreed was that southeast European countries would host the traveling Olympic flame; and that the countries would organize cultural events as part of the Olympics through newly created arts networks in the Balkans, including cinema and theatre.
In addition, a Balkan book fair is to be held in Thessaloniki from next year, and a regional website created.
Adopted was a proposal by the culture minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, musician Ganka Samolovska Cvetanova, to found a southeast European orchestra.
Attending the meeting were ministers or their representatives from Bosnia, Serbia, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, the FYROM, Turkey, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece.
They are due to meet again in Thessaloniki in the first half of 2003, timed to coincide with an informal meeting of European Union culture ministers that will be held in the city during Greece's presidency of the 15-nation bloc.
 Australian newspaper calls for return of Parthenon Marbles
MELBOURNE, 25/02/2002 (ANA - S. Hatzimanolis)The Melbourne-based Sunday Herald Sun newspaper has called on British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is to visit Australia next week, to return the Parthenon Marbles to Athens.
"Many museums around the world are afraid of the idea of the sculptures returning to the Parthenon in case a bad precedent is set," the newspaper said in a lead article published on Sunday.
"Careful study on a case-by-case basis is required, and in the case of Elgin, there is no longer any doubt that these treasures were looted from Greece, and that they must be repatriated for justice to be done," the article said.
It added that ethnic Greeks in Australia had collected over 30,000 signatures in a petition for return of the Marbles that will be presented to Blair during his visit.
The Sunday Herald Sun, which has a circulation of 550,000, published a copy of the petition for readers to sign.
 European Commission to review harmonization process
NICOSIA, 25/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)A 25-member mission from the European Commission, led by the chief negotiator for Cyprus' accession, Leopold Maurer, begins talks on Monday on the island, to review work on Cyprus' harmonization with the acquis communautaire.
The mission, which is the largest ever to visit the island, will hold talks with the Cyprus Negotiating Team, relevant government departments and other institutions.
The aim of the talks will be to discuss various issues relating both to those chapters provisionally closed and those still under negotiation during the current Spanish Presidency as well as those to be concluded during the forthcoming Danish Presidency.
Discussions will also address financial cooperation issues under the pre-accession strategy for Cyprus.
Chapters to be addressed include Taxation, Energy, Transport, Competition, Environment, Telecommunications, Agriculture, Culture and Audio-Visual Policy, Justice and Home Affairs, and Free Movement of Goods.
The Commission's Team will seek to be updated on Cyprus' harmonization process as well as on progress in its administrative capacity and implementation of the acquis, and to inform the Cypriot side - where applicable - of new legislation adopted by the Union.
It will hold general meetings with the Cyprus Negotiating Team and the Planning Bureau while members of the Team will hold separate meetings with their counterparts in the competent Ministries and other institutions.
The Team will hold a meeting with the House of Representatives Committee on European Affairs. Maurer will also meet with the President and Members of the Supreme Court to discuss issues pertaining to the Justice and Home Affairs chapter.
On February 27, Maurer and members of his Team will participate in a panel discussion at the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations in 1998, has provisionally closed 24 of the 29 chapters open for negotiation. The chapters not yet closed are Taxation, Competition, Agriculture, Regional Policy and Financial and Budgetary Provisions.
 Finland supports Cyprus' EU membership and peace talks
NICOSIA, 25/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus' chief negotiator for accession to the EU, George Vassiliou, has returned to Cyprus from Finland, where he had a series of meetings and spoke at an event organized by the European Commission delegation in Helsinki and the Finnish government, during which he presented Cyprus' candidacy.
Vassiliou met with Finnish President Tarja Halonen, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, and other government and parliamentary officials, who reaffirmed their full support for Cyprus' accession to the EU and efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, based on UN resolutions and the acquis communautaire.
Speaking at the event, Vassiliou said Cyprus' EU prospect has changed the scene around the Cyprus problem and that from the moment it was made clear that Cyprus would become a member of the 15-nation bloc with or without a political settlement, Turkey and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash realized they had to resume talks on the Cyprus problem.
At the same event, Jaacko Laasko, member of the Finnish parliament, Vice President of the parliamentary friendship group with Cyprus and rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on settlers in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, stressed the importance of Cyprus' accession, which will grant the EU a presence in the Eastern Mediterranean and will contribute to stability, the solution of various regional problems, and effective handling of illegal immigration.
He also said the events surrounding the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the subsequent occupation of the island's northern third were nothing less than "ethnic cleansing" and stressed that Turkey has not yet complied with relevant European Court of Human Rights decisions.
Laasko also expressed hope that Cyprus' accession course would contribute to a successful conclusion of talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash to solve the Cyprus problem.