|Sunday, 20 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-03-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 4, 2002
 Simitis arrives in Tokyo, first ever Greek premier to visit Japan
TOKYO, 04/03/2002 (ANA - V. Mourtis)Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived in Japan on Sunday for the first ever visit by a Greek prime minister to that country, in the 102 years since the two countries initiated diplomatic relations.
Simitis will remain in Japan for a week of high-level meetings, aimed at promoting bilateral relations, the prospects of which are very good on the political, economic and cultural sectors.
On Monday, Simitis will meet with the country's political leadership and over the next few days he will hold meetings with leaders of the Japan's economic community, as he is accompanied by a delegation of Greek businessmen and bankers.
The margin of further development of bilateral economic relations is wide, but not fully explored as the trade balance between Greece and Japan is very low. In 2000 Greece exported a total of 85 million dollars in goods, while Greece's imports from Japan reached to 721 million dollars.
On Monday Simitis will sign a joint action plan with his Japanese counterpart Junichiro Koizumi, signaling the cooperation of the two countries in all sectors. The plan will include joint action in the Balkans and the Korean peninsula, as both countries recognize the important role they can play in their respective regions.
Greece's interest is also keen in cooperating with Japan in light of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, in which the Far East country has extensive experience, while is also looking forward to cooperating in regards to the Cultural Olympiad.
Also on Monday Emperor Akihito will officially receive Simitis.
On Sunday, the Greek premier and his wife had the opportunity to visit the National Museum of Japan.
Simitis is accompanied by Press and Mass Media Minister Christos Protopapas and Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis, as well as by a team of Greek businessmen and bankers.
 FM to receive Russian FM envoy on Monday in Athens
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou will meet with Russian Federation Foreign Ministry special envoy for S.E. Europe Vladimir Chizhov, in Athens on Monday.
 Business interests want weaker govít, Papantoniou tells 'Ependytis'
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)The recently troubled climate in Greek politics was linked to the existence of business circles that wanted weaker governments by Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, in an interview with the Greek paper "Ependytis" on Saturday.
The minister claimed that business interests that had grown over the course of decades with the support of state subsidies were having trouble adjusting to competition on equal terms.
What was needed now, Papantoniou added, was for political power to regain the upper hand over economic powers that had grown significantly and were behaving in an irresponsible way.
The minister called for a new series of political and administrative measures to reform and modernize the political system and make it more robust, including a proposal for a "german-type" electoral system and measures to promote transparency in party funding and for dealing with ineffectual public administration.
Asked about the chances of a change in leadership for ruling PASOK before the elections, Papantoniou replied that this was unlikely.
"Provided there is no issue of removing the prime minister (Costas Simitis) and that he himself wants to stay on and contend for victory in the 2004 elections, I take it for granted that PASOK will proceed with the current leadership," the minister said.
This would be better for the party, he added, since "it was clear that Simitis' cycle is not yet finished."
Regarding relations between Greece and Turkey, Papantoniou said that Ankara would seek to create an artificial climate of tension and warned that Greece would have to be very steadfast in its positions so that dialogue would not lead to problems with the country's territorial rights.
"We must be fully aware of the way to conduct a major national negotiation," he said.
 ND slams govít over Navy chief's resignation
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)The main opposition on Saturday unleashed a barrage of accusations against Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou in response to the unexpected resignation of Navy chief George Theodoroulakis, alleging it had been prompted by the imposition of party political criteria in deciding promotions within the armed forces.
Theodoroulakis submitted his resignation to Papantoniou on Friday, amid rumors that he had been forced to resign for disagreeing with the choices made in the latest bout of promotions and resignations within the military.
Papantoniou accepted Theodoroulakis' resignation and proposed Vice-Admiral A. Antoniadis, currently Commander of the Fleet, as his replacement to the Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA).
In statements after the KYSEA meeting earlier on Friday, Papantoniou had denied the existence of problems between himself and the Navy general staff chief, saying that a degree of "irritability" was common around the time of promotions.
A defense ministry announcement late on Friday, after the resignation was announced, stressed that the final responsibility for the leadership of the armed forces in a democracy lay with the government.
Main opposition New Democracy coordinator for defense and foreign policy, Dora Bakoyianni, responded to the news on Friday by claiming a "revival of the party-dominated state of the early 80s" and saying the defense minister had intervened in the promotions process "with the sole purpose of imposing supporters of his party in the leadership of the Navy".
ND defense policy sector-head Spilios Spiliotopoulos also accused the government of "serving party-political ends," while questioning how it was possible for the rest of the Council of General Staff Chiefs (SAGE) to stand by while one of their number was forced to back down on issues that were his exclusive area of expertise.
In statements on Saturday, Spiliotopoulos also claimed that the Navy chief had been forced to resign, while he accused the government of "not hesitating to recklessly harm the defense and security interests of the country, forcing the resignation of the only leader who stood up to the undisguised policy of party control and destruction of the Armed Forces."
Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas, meanwhile, on Saturday said the resignation raised "serious questions and concerns about the way the government operated in relation to the Armed Forces."
 ND leader says he does not foresee early general elections
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis has stated that he does not see the possibility of early general elections.
In an interview to the Sunday edition of "Avghi", Karamanlis said he did not see the eventuality of early general elections before the local government elections in October. He noted that in any event "we as a party should be ready every day to confront every eventuality."
On the issue of the change of the electoral law, Karamanlis said he "does not trust the government on such a discussion."
With regard the ND's position on a discussion after the local government elections, Karamanlis said the electoral system should secure the greatest possible representation of the political forces and the possibility of a stable governing of the country.
 Communist Party issues decisions of countrywide policies
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Sunday released the decisions of the party's countrywide conference, which focused mainly on developments in the trade union movement.
KKE stressed in its decision that its major obligation is to work hard, so as to upgrade its instructional role and influence in the working classes and the trade union movement.
Special aim of the party should be the change in the political balance of power in the trade union movement, the decision said.
The text also mentioned the need for "cohesion and action against all capitalist restructuring of the grand social and political problems based on the fronts opened by the government policies, the employers and the European Union".
 ND deputy says new Athens mayor must complete four-year term
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party deputy Dora Bakoyianni has stated that the person who will be elected as mayor of Athens "must complete the four-year term."
In an interview to the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Eleftherotypia", she said that she has already discussed with party leader Costas Karamanlis the possibility of her possible candidacy for Athens mayor and that "the decisions will be announced in March."
Bakoyianni did not exclude the possibility of early general elections, expressing the conviction that the ruling PASOK will lose them by a "landslide".
Asked to comment on the debate on the electoral law, she said that any change will be valid after the next general elections.
 ND leader addresses event organized by Gypsies
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy Party (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Sunday night attended the "Festival of the Gypsies" at Nea Zoi Aspropyrgos where he said that differentiation and exclusions is not permitted by the Greek constitution.
Addressing the Gypsies, he said "you are Greek citizens and have the right to live in a society of equal opportunities. Second class citizens cannot exist in modern Greece. Your children are not children of a lesser God."
Karamanlis said that it was the obligation of the state to support the choices of Gypsies and to undertake initiatives to change the present situation.
He proposed that a special department on issues concerning Gypsies be set up at the health ministry and also at the interior ministry.
 IMF sees strong Greek growth but stubbornly high unemployment
WASHINGTON, 04/03/2002 (ANA - A. Ellis)Greece achieved a strong rate of growth in 2001, with GDP increasing 4 percent, but without this having any significant impact on rates of employment, an annual report by the International Monetary Fund found.
The report released late on Friday in the United States was compiled by an IMF delegation that recently visited Greece.
It stressed that Greek unemployment remained the second-highest among European Union countries and that core inflation was above the EU average, but noted that efforts for fiscal reform were continuing and that a budget surplus, albeit smaller than originally estimated, had been achieved for the first time in decades.
Within 2002, the report said, Greece aimed for a budget surplus of 0.8 per cent of GDP, while the growth prospects of the Greek economy remained significantly more favorable than for most of its EU partners, with 3 percent GDP growth forecast in 2002.
It advised broader and deeper measures to maintain a rapid rate of convergence with the EU, however, especially on issues such as social security reform and high public debt, competition and the job market.
 Tsohatzopoulos meets Florida governor on US tour
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, currently on a visit to the United States, met with Florida State governor Jeb Bush for talks on Greek-US bilateral relations, cooperation between Florida and Greece in tourism and energy and the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, it was announced.
After the meeting on Friday afternoon, Tsohatzopoulos said they had focused especially on the prospects of cooperation involving new technologies that combined wind power and the use of hydrogen fuel.
On Monday, Tsohatzopoulos is due in Washington to meet the US energy secretary, after which he will visit New York for meetings that aim to raise Greece's profile in tourism.
Tsohatzopoulos says Greek culture a bridge between cultures: Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Saturday, in a speech he gave at South Florida University on the theme "American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture-AFGLC and Greek-American cooperation", said that Greek culture was a bridge of communication between cultures.
Tsohatzopoulos expressed the need to support the 500 Greek language centers throughout the world.
He said that the world today needs the principles, values and strength of ancient history and of Greek culture in particular which is based on humanism.
The development minister also visited the region of Tarpon Springs, which is 50 kilometers from Tampa and the so-called "Greek Village".
 Economy minister expresses concern over 'unhealthy' climate
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis has expressed concern over the consequences, which the perpetuation of the present 'unhealthy' climate may have on the economy.
In an interview to the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Eleftherotypia", he said that "when petty political expediency intervenes in the markets, then investors run away."
He said that "enterprises and the markets should operate in a calm climate". He added that "we should not allow the impression to be created that a type of McCarthyism is developing against enterprises."
Concluding, he said "there must be political alliances."
 Drys stresses organic farming at Kozani seminar
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)Agriculture Minister George Drys on Saturday announced the operation of certifying agencies for organic foods, during a speech at a Kozani seminar on "Developing business in Regional Greece".
The lack of such services was an obstacle to the development of modern organic agriculture with certified products, Drys said.
He stressed the role of organic farming in the future, saying a large part of Greece should be turned over to this.
The minister also forecast positive developments in the EU's Common Agricultural Policy when Greece took over the EU presidency in 2003.
 Kavala Chamber of Commerce to participate in Barcelona "Alimentaria 2002" fair
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)The Kavala Chamber of Commerce will participate in the Barcelona International Food and Drinks Fair "Alimentaria 2002", which begins on Friday.
The stand of the Chamber of Commerce will be located in the International exhibits center along with the Greek stand of the Exports Promotion Organization.
 U.S. art magazine publishes extensive article on Parthenon marbles
NEW YORK, 04/03/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)The March edition of the Arts and News magazine published an extensive interview of Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, in the form of a comprehensive article entitled "Olympic Effort: British politicians join campaign to send Elgin Marbles to Greece by the 2004 Games".
"The debate over whether the British Museum should return the Elgin Marbles to Greece has raged for almost two centuries," the article written by Michael Grover noted, adding that Venizelos was "very optimistic about the marbles repatriation now that there is what he called 'important support within British Parliament'".
Venizelos spoke of the campaign initiated by British MP Richard Allan on January 16 "that calls for the marbles to be displayed in Athens. Backed by more than 100 members of Parliament, as well as British celebrities and academics, the effort is intended to stimulate public debate and move citizens to urge their representatives to vote for restitution."
"We want to see them returned to Greece in time for the 2004 Olympics," Allan said to Art News, and stressed that "What Greece envisages is that the marbles will be displayed in front of picture windows facing the Parthenon itself, which will enable you to see and image more fully the building as it once used to be".
 CoS rules against new museum planned by Goulandri Foundation
Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)A decision of the Council of State posted on Saturday has barred the Goulandri Foundation from erecting a new modern art museum on a site in Athens given to it by ministerial decree.
Greece's supreme administrative court upheld the arguments made by Athens residents, the Association of Greek Town Planners and the Greek section of the International Council of Sites and Monuments, which asked that a decision by the Finance Minister giving the site to the Goulandri Museum be overturned.
The court ruled that a law ratifying the minister's decision was unconstitutional, since it violated the principles of equality, protection in law and the powers of authority.
 Photographic exhibition on Patriarch Vartholomeos inNY NEW YORK, 04/03/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)
The Onassion Cultural Foundation in Manhattan will present a photographic exhibition on the "Ten Years of the Ministration of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos" which the patriarch will inaugurate himself on March 8.
At the same time, a cultural program will be held at the Olympic Tower, which will include works, by Greek artists.
The event is organized by head of City College's Museum Studies program, Harriet Senie.
 Drugs remain a major problem for Greece, state department report says
WASHINGTON, 04/03/2002 (ANA - A. Ellis)Drug trafficking and money laundering remain serious problems in Greece, according to an annual report submitted by the US State Department to the American Congress on Saturday.
According to the report, which recommended that Greece remain in the 'primary concern' category for the drug trade, narcotics use in Greece is still on the rise, users are for the first time becoming younger and Greece has the second-highest percentage of deaths due to drug overdoses in Europe.
In addition, the number of drug dealers and the size of their operations has also increased dramatically.
Greece is also seen as a major portal for drugs headed for western Europe due to its extensive coastline and land borders.
The country was also vulnerable to money laundering from activities such as the drug, arms and sex trades and the illegal trafficking of human beings, extortion and illegal gambling by Russian and Albanian crime syndicates, the report found.
There was not a full investigation into the sources of foreign capital used to set up a business in Greece, the report said, so that the country's five private and two state casinos were easy targets for money laundering.
The report also noted a high degree of cooperation between Greek and US authorities in combatting these phenomena.
The Congress and US president are obliged to take the contents of the report into advisement in the process of giving foreign economic aid. If a country does not meet the criteria and is seen as not cooperating in the fight against drugs, the US government is obliged to freeze all bilateral economic assistance and vote against any funding through international development banks.
About quarter of Greek population over the age of 60 NEW YORK, 04/03/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)Greece ranks fourth in the world regarding ageing of the population, according to a report which was made public by the UN Population Department.
In Greece, 24 per cent of the population is above the age of sixty - about 2.5 million in 2002. This figure is expected to reach 3.6 million in 2050 (41 per cent).
Greece follows Italy (25 per cent), Japan and Germany, which also have 24 per cent. After Greece comes Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Austria.
 Cyprus FM: Commonwealth's paragraph on Cyprus to be discussed Monday
NICOSIA, 04/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)Debate on the paragraph on Cyprus, to be included in the final communique of the Commonwealth summit, starts on Monday at senior officials level, Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has said, adding that he is in contact on the matter with Head of Diplomatic Service of British Foreign Office Sir Michael Jay.
Speaking to CNA from Australia Kassoulides, who is representing the President of the Republic at the Commonwealth summit, stressed the need to support the people of Zimbabwe as well as their right to free elections and back efforts for the eradication of any sort of suppression or violence that could lead to fraudulent election results.
He also said that Cyprus takes into consideration the opinion of some neighboring countries to Zimbabwe that no conclusions should be drawn before the elections take place.
"There should be a mechanism to evaluate the election result on the basis of the reports by Commonwealth observers, who are currently in Zimbabwe" Kasoulides told CNA.
He said the diversity among Commonwealth member states, in terms of religion, language and race, strengthens the organization, which numbers over 50 nations from around the globe.
"This diversity does not tear people apart, it brings them together", he said.
Among the issues discussed during Sunday's deliberations was the situation in Zimbabwe, the challenges this millennium is facing, as well as economic support to some Commonwealth states.
The minister met Sunday with other foreign ministers or heads of state who asked to be informed about the state of affairs in the UN-led peace talks, currently underway in Cyprus.
The Commonwealth summit ends Tuesday and Kasoulides returns home on Wednesday.
 Australian FM: We want one Cyprus, member of the
EU NICOSIA, 04/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Saturday said Cyprus's accession to the European Union will be a very important development, adding that his country is looking forward to seeing Cyprus an EU member.
He also said Canberra wishes to help in any way it can towards a just settlement of the political problem on the island for the sake of the people of Cyprus.
"We would like to help in any way we can to ensure that there is a just settlement for the people of Cyprus," Downer said after a meeting in Coolum, Australia, with Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides, who is representing the President of the Republic at the Commonwealth summit, which began on Saturday.
Downer said that the Australian government wants Cyprus to be "one nation and to have a sense of national unity and national purpose."
"We look forward to seeing Cyprus as a member of the European Union. It will be a very important development for the people of Cyprus," Downer said.
He also said Australia and Cyprus have "very strong ethnic links" and expressed his very strong feelings about "the plight that has confronted the Cypriot people since the mid 1970s", a reference to the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which resulted in the occupation of the island's northern areas.
In his remarks after the meeting, Kasoulides said he discussed developments in Cyprus, a report by Australian envoy Jim Short on the situation on the island and issues relating to the Cypriot community in Australia as well as matters concerning illegal immigration.
Kasoulides said his Australian counterpart has accepted an invitation to visit Cyprus sometime in the future. He also said Short intends to return to the island.
In his address to the summit, the minister referred to the fight against terrorism saying that this is not a struggle between civilizations and religions.
He pointed to the need to eradicate the causes that breed fanaticism, such as poverty, regional disputes and the discrepancy between poor and rich nations.
Kasoulides participated in a ministerial meeting of the group of small states and said they must be afforded the technical support in the negotiations with the World Trade Organization.
He welcomed a report by the Joint Task Force on how to tackle problems small states are facing and said it is very important for small island states to see compliance with the Kyoto Protocol.
 House President calls for decisive action towards Turkish side
NICOSIA, 04/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)House President Demetris Christofias has called on members of the international community who are genuinely interested in a Cyprus settlement to act now decisively in the direction of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots if they want to see a solution.
He also warned that any attempt to bridge the gap between a federal and a confederal solution will not lead to a negotiated settlement and invited interested parties to seek a change in the positions of the Turkish side.
"Time constraints are pressing and the UN should act immediately and exert its influence on Turkey and Rauf Denktash (Turkish Cypriot leader) so that they abandon their position for two sovereign states in Cyprus and accept the framework defined by the Security Council,"
Christofias said at a memorial service held on Sunday for three heroes of the anti-colonial struggle in the mid 1950s against Britain.
Reiterating the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side for an "honorable historic compromise" for the sake of peace and reunification, Christofias said "our wish to see a settlement is simply not enough to pave the way for a solution, now is the time for the international community to intervene in a decisive manner towards Ankara and Denktash."
"The international community should bear in mind that any formulas seeking to divide the distance between federation and confederation will not bring the solution any closer but on the contrary they will encourage Turkish intransigence and arrogance," he said.
He said the result of the first phase of the ongoing UN-led direct talks do not leave much room for optimism.
President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash began in mid January direct talks with a view to negotiate until they find a comprehensive settlement.
The talks, conducted by UN Secretary General's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, resumed last Friday in the hope that the two negotiators will make headway.
There is a tentative timeframe for these talks, June this year, set by the pressing need to find a settlement before Cyprus' accession to the European Union. Cyprus is expected to conclude its membership talks at the end of this year.
 US State Department: Cyprus enforces tough counter narcotics laws
NICOSIA, 04/03/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus legislation carries heavy penalties for drug related offences and maintains "effective and thorough" supervision of the country's offshore sector, according to a US State Department report on narcotics and money laundering, which also says that the Republic's anti-money laundering legal framework meets international standards.
The report notes the excellent cooperation between Cyprus and the US on the issues under review, enumerates law enforcement efforts being taken and reiterates that Washington recognizes only the government of the Republic of Cyprus.
The report covers the areas of the Republic under Turkish occupation since 1974 saying that the Turkish Cypriot regime in this part of the country has failed to provide effective protection against the risk of money laundering.
"The government of Cypriots traditionally has had a low tolerance attitude towards any use of narcotic by Cypriots and narcotics use carries heavy penalties," the US State Department report said.
Noting that drug traffickers use Cyprus as a transshipment point due to its strategic location, it said Cyprus monitors the import and export of precursor chemicals for local markets.
"Cyprus strictly enforces tough counter narcotics laws and its police and customs authorities maintain excellent relations with their counterparts in the US and other governments," the report said.
It recounts the actions taken by the Central Bank and other government agencies to combat the financing terrorist organizations and drug trafficking, including legislation passed by the House of Representatives.
"There is no evidence that senior officials or other officials facilitate the production, processing or shipment of drugs or the laundering of the proceeds of illegal drug transactions," the report said.
On the issue of combating narcotics, the report said the US embassy works with the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied part of Cyprus, noting that they have "their own 'law' enforcement organization, responsible for the investigation of all narcotics related matters."
In the chapter on money laundering, the report said Cyprus remains vulnerable to international money laundering activities but proceeded to enumerate several important steps the government of the Republic has taken in this respect.
It cites a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which said that the supervision of the offshore sector in Cyprus, which brings into the country significant economic benefits, is generally "effective and thorough."
Anti-money laundering legislation and measures imposed by the Central Bank are "adequate", the IMF report said and noted that by 2005 the existing framework of tax preferences for offshore business will be abandoned.
"Cyprus has put in place a comprehensive anti-money laundering legal framework that meets international standards," the State Department report said.
It also tackles the situation in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, where the legal government of the Republic has been prevented by the Turkish military presence from exercising its control. The regulations that apply in occupied Cyprus, the report said, "fail to provide effective protection against the risk of money laundering."
It noted press reports that Osama bin Laden has used banks in the occupied areas to launder money.