|Tuesday, 22 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-11-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 21, 2002
 Objectors to Cyprus' EU course 'will have us to deal with', FM Papandreou warns
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou on Wednesday expressed hope that no EU member country would raise any objections to Cyprus positive course for EU accession, but at the same time warned that if such an eventuality arose ''they will have us to deal with''.
Replying to press questions after an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by prime minister Costas Simitis ahead of a NATO summit in Prague, Papandreou said it was reasonable that there be pressure by the US side for a resolution of the Cyprus issue, given the delay by Turkey which, invoking difficulties due to the ongoing deliberations on the composition of the new government in that country, had yet to respond to the draft plan put forward by the UN chief as a basis for negotiating a Cyprus solution.
But time was fling, rendering more difficult the prospect for negotiations of substance, Papandreou warned.
He said that the Greek and Greek Cypriot sides hoped that a solution would be achieved before the EU summit in Copenhagen next month, but added that even if that did not occur, the negotiations must continue dynamically.
Asked to comment on press reports of a US non-paper to the EU on the Cyprus issue and Euro-Turkish relations, Papandreou said that the Greek side had not seen any such document. He referred, however, to a statement Tuesday by the Danish EU presidency that the UN secretary general's initiative was considered positive, and reminded that the Greek side considered it as a basis for the commencement of negotiations to achieve an agreement.
To other questions, Papandreou did not rule out the prospect of numerous bilateral contacts on the Cyprus issue taking place on the sidelines of the NATO summit, which opens Thursday in Prague.
The issues to be dealt with at the summit include NATO enlargement, on which the Greek side hopes for an affirmative reply to Bulgaria's and Romania's applications for membership, as well as the developments in Iraq, and the proposals for utilization of NATO in peacekeeping missions.
Defense minister Yannos Papantoniou, who also attended the meeting, said in reply to press questions that the US side and the NATO secretary general were pressing for an increase in the member countries' contributions to enable NATO to meet the security conditions following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack in the US.
Papantoniou added that Greece ''is in agreement in that direction, but due to the unique situation it faces, it has exhausted its margins, contrary to other countries which have such an ability and do not contribute their proportion''.
Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer was expected to reply at the NATO summit in Prague on Thursday as to whether Turkey accepted the European Union proposal on the so-called Euro-force, the European rapid reaction force.
Commenting on this, Papandreou said that there were positive reactions from Turkey, but ''we are waiting to see it in action'', while Papantoniou explained that the EU had affirmed in Brussels on Tuesday its will to solve the political aspect of the issue by the end of the year so that the agreement on the operational preparedness of the European rapid reaction force could be signed in May 2003 in Athens.
Questioned on the violations of Greek national airspace on Monday during the visit here of the winner of the Turkish general elections, Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Papantoniou commented that there was in Turkey an unstable balance between the political and military leadership, and expressed hope that with the formation of the new government that balance would be stabilized.
On the KYSEA government council for foreign affairs and defense meeting scheduled for November 25, Papantoniou said that the decisions on armaments programs would be taken on the basis of the government's policy for cutbacks in defense spending and increasing the funds for social policy.
 Lord Hannay holds talks amid crucial Cyprus issue phase
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday received Britain's special envoy for Cyprus Lord David Hannay at his office, with the British diplomat later citing what he called encouraging developments over the past few weeks.
He also said Greece and Britain will not spare efforts to find a resolution to the Cyprus issue before Dec. 12 within the European Unions framework.
The high-ranking British diplomat leaves for Nicosia on Wednesday, before traveling to Ankara over the weekend.
Asked about the possibility of no deal being worked out before the EU Summit in Copenhagen, Lord Hannay simply referred to decisions by the European Council and the Helsinki Summit, youll find the answer there, he said in outlining his governments position.
Finally, asked if the ball was now in the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot court, he merely noted that the UN Secretary-General has already expressed his satisfaction over the Greek Cypriot sides willingness to begin negotiations on the basis of the Annan peace plan, whereas the response from the T/C side is now pending.
Karamanlis: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis later received Lord Hannay in Athens.
No statements were made afterwards, although press reports said Greeces main opposition leadership expressed the partys reservations on whether the plan would lead to a dysfunctional federal government, the constitutional issue, the Turkish settlers issue and the harmonization with the Unions acquis communautaire.
According other press reports, Lord Hannay reportedly said efforts are underway to change certain deadlines, especially in light of the new Turkish governments statements that it cannot meet a Dec. 12 deadline to respond.
 Gov't denies all knowledge of document on Cyprus in 'Vima' report
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)The government on Wednesday denied all knowledge of an unofficial document allegedly crafted by Britain and the United States regarding Cyprus and once again repeated that Cyprus' EU accession was in no way connected to a solution of the Cyprus problem.
Pointing to statements on Tuesday by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Prime Minister Costas Simitis to this effect, government spokesman Christos Protopapas stressed that Athens would be extremely determined on this issue.
Referring to the alleged 'non-paper' reprinted in Wednesday's edition of the newspaper 'To Vima', Protopapas said the Greek government had never seen any such document and was only aware of a British attempt to submit a draft resolution concerning Cyprus to the EU foreign ministers' council on Monday.
The spokesman said that this had been withdrawn following objections raised by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, and the council had instead adopted a statement by the Danish EU presidency that completely satisfied Greek positions.
Protopapas also noted that the Cyprus government had agreed to begin negotiations based on the Annan plan and urged the Turkish side to do the same, stressing that negotiations had to begin as soon as possible.
 Euro-Parliament president Cox comments on Annan plan
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)European Parliament President Pat Cox was the latest high-ranking international statesman to focus on the recently tabled Annan peace plan for Cyprus, stressing at a milestone meeting at the Euro-assembly before 27 representatives of EU members and candidate-states that the plan marks a historic challenge.
Speaking to representatives from the 15 member-states and 12 candidate-states, Cox said the plan offers the people of Cyprus a unique opportunity, the best after many decades, as he underlined, to finally achieve a comprehensive resolution to the island republics political problem.
He also said any resolution would allow a united Cyprus to join the 15-member bloc. Cyprus is among the front-runners for EU accession, with one of the most robust economies of candidate-states and a champion in terms of implementing the Unions acquis communautaire. However, the internationally recognized Cyprus government controls two-thirds of the island republic, as the remaining one-third remains illegally occupied by Turkish forces.
Finally, the Euro-Parliament president told permanent representatives from the 27 countries that the leaders of the two communities on the east Mediterranean island Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash -- will need all the significant reserves of wisdom, political and moral courage they can muster to iron-out a deal, adding that he has no doubts that they will rise to the occasion.
In an unrelated issue, Cox said he hopes the Euro-Parliament and the European Council to convene in Copenhagen will receive a commitment by the European Union for Bulgarias and Romanias EU accession in 2007.
 US Senate unanimously backs Cyprus' EU accession
WASHINGTON 21/11/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)The US Senate on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution strongly backing Cyprus' accession to the European Union.
The resolution, which described as "unacceptable" the present status quo on the island republic and noted that the reunification of Cyprus remained an objective goal of US foreign policy, said that Cyprus' membership in the EU should be "strongly supported".
Coming at a critical phase in the Cyprus issue as international efforts for his resolution have reached a peak, the resolution states that "the island and its people (must) be reunited, in a bizonal, bicommunal federal Cyprus, with full consideration of United Nations Security Council resolutions and international treaties".
Keeping in line with the EU decisions on Cyprus at its Helsinki summit, the resolution says that "while a successful resolution of the Cyprus problem would facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the EU, in the absence of such a resolution, the accession of Cyprus to the EU could act as a further catalyst for the solution of the Cyprus problem without the latter being a precondition for accession and with all relevant factors being considered".
The resolution was tabled by Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Joseph Biden (D-Delaware), the outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and co-signed by Paul Sarbanes (D-Maryland), Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), Robert Torricelli (D-New Jersey), Jean Carnahan (D-Missouri), John Kerry (D-Massachusetts), Dianne Feinstein (D-California), Jon Corzine (D-New Jersey), Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Thomas R. Carper (D-Delaware).
 Luxembourg Eurodeputy says ray of hope for Cyprus
STRASBOURG 21/11/2002 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Luxembourg Eurodeputy Jacques Poos, special rapporteur for the Cyprus progress report in the framework of the Elmar Brok general report on enlargement, ratified on Wednesday by the European Parliament's plenum, took a tough stance against Turkey.
Speaking during the discussion preceding the ratification vote, Poos said that after 28 years of occupation a ray of hope for the island's peaceful reunification appears to exist.
He said the Greek Cypriot side has already accepted the UN secretary general's proposals as a base for negotiations, while the Turkish Cypriot side is the one obstructing.
Poos further said Ankara's threat for the compulsory and simultaneous accession of Cyprus and Turkey, even if a solution has been reached in the meantime, is condemnable.
It is a colonial approach, which disregards both the desires of the Turkish Cypriot population and the independence and national sovereignty of Cyprus, which has been consolidated many times with UN Security Council resolutions.
Poos went on to say each country should be judged according to its performances alone and if Turkey insists on its ''veto'' it should be met with categorical rejection by the European Union.
The Copenhagen summit should accept the Republic of Cyprus in accordance with conclusions reached at the Helsinki EU summit. The Turkish Cypriot side will then be the loser in the case, unfortunately, since ''the train will not pass again.''
Poos called on the Commission and the Council to assure the Parliament that the accession of Cyprus will not be disputed in the event of a negative result during the referendum for the agreement's ratification, either in the Greek Cypriot sector or the Turkish Cypriot one.
Relevant Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, making special reference to Turkey, said ''Turkey entering the EU should be a different Turkey'' and not the present one.
This evolutionary process for Turkey began precisely with Helsinki, but regarding the commencement date for negotiations all candidates should have an equal handling. Consequently, a commencement date should not be set for as long as the political criteria are not met.
On the question of Cyprus, he reiterated his known positions, stressing that things should be clear. Whatever happens over the next 23 days the decision regarding the accession of Cyprus should be taken in Copenhagen and include the island.
 Greek Church strongly criticizes Annan plan for Cyprus
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece on Wednesday voiced strong criticism of the United Nations plan for Cyprus, after being briefed on the positions of the Cypriot Church by two visiting clerics from the island republic.
Pafos Metropolitan Chrysostomos and Kyreneia Metropolitan Pavlos arrived at the Holy Synod session devoted to the Cyprus plan at 11:00, while the gathered clerics had earlier been briefed by Nafpaktos Metropolitan Ierotheos and Kalavryta Metropolitan Amvrosios, who had in turn visited Cyprus for talks with the Church there.
In an announcement read out by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the Church said it could not congratulate United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the plan and did not consider it to be a plan for a true solution of the Cyprus problem.
In statements after the meeting, the Pafos Metropolitan described the Annan plan as unworkable and unimplementable in Cyprus.
The Kyreneia Metropolitan who was himself a refugee from the occupied territories said Annan's plan was despicable.
 NATO summit to focus on enlargement and int'l terrorism
PRAGUE 21/11/2002 (ANA - V. Mourtis)Press reports said on Wednesday the Cyprus issue and the European army, the two most important issues currently preoccupying Greece, will be raised and discussed one way or another during NATO's summit due to get underway here on Thursday.
NATO's summit, focusing on expansion, international terrorism and the possibility of military intervention in Iraq, will be attended by the biggest gathering of leaders in history.
Greece will be represented by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who arrived in the Czech capital on Wednesday afternoon accompanied by Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and Press and Information Minister Christos Protopapas.
Out of the two issues of interest to Greece, only the European army issue is included in the agenda. However, the Cyprus issue is also expected to be raised in the Greek delegation's bilateral contacts.
Government sources said Greece intends to exert indirect pressure on Turkey to enable negotiations to begin, based on the UN secretary general's plan, which it has already considered a springboard for the beginning of negotiations.
The European army issue will be raised, one way or another, at the NATO summit, while the decision taken at the recent European Union's summit in Brussels will be brought to its attention.
Greece will press for the acceptance of the decision taken in Brussels, having the support of other EU countries. However, Turkey is raising obstacles for the acceptance of the Brussels decision by NATO and this might result in NATO not issuing a relevant decision at the Prague summit.
The main issue at the Prague summit will be the alliance's expansion. It will be the biggest expansion in its history since seven new members will be added to the existing 19.
Consequently, the number of NATO's members will reach 26, of which 24 will be European countries, while only the United States and Canada will be non-European members. However, Europe's role in NATO will not be strengthened despite the fact 24 out of the 26 members are European countries.
Without it being related to international terrorism, the possibility of military intervention in Iraq will be discussed at the summit, since the US and President George W. Bush have decided to raise the issue with the alliance and request the allies' cooperation in decisions taken by the US concerning Iraq.
Greece's position on the issue is that all moves should be based on the UN Security Council's latest decision.
NATO's summit is taking place under draconian security measures called for by the US, while even US F-16 warplanes, as well as of the hosting country, will be patrolling Czech airspace.
Commenting on security measures requested, Czech President Vaclav Havel reportedly wondered, according to press reports, whether ''we are preparing for war.''
Five small demonstrations took place in Prague on Wednesday night without any problems. However, mass demonstrations are expected on Thursday, organized by political and other organizations from the Czech Republic.
 Top gov't meeting covers NATO-related issues
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)The government spokesman on Wednesday said a high-ranking meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, touched on the issues of NATO expansion, the course of recent Cyprus developments and the Euro Army issue, all in light of Thursday's Alliance summit meeting in Prague.
Regarding the EUs nascent rapid deployment force, spokesman Christos Protopapas said a positive follow-up to Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogans recent positive statements in Athens, as well as those by Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, could materialize, although the issue may not be finalized in Prague.
FM George Papandreou, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and the government spokesman participated, among others, in the meeting.
 FM and CoE official discuss Greek EU presidency goals
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)In a meeting with Council of Europe (CoE) General Secretary Walter Schwimmer in Athens on Wednesday, Foreign Minister George Papandreou outlined the ideas and priorities of the Greek EU presidency in view of the new challenges that Europe will have to face.
The Greek minister congratulated Schwimmer on the spirit of cooperation between the European Union and the Islamic and Arab worlds and thanked him for his support of the Olympic Truce initiative.
The CoE general secretary said he would continue to support the Olympic Truce idea, which could help secure peace in the world and in a divided Europe.
 Yiannitsis receives CoE's Schwimmer, in light of Greek EU presidency
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Wednesday met with Council of Europe's Secretary General Walter Schwimmer, and discussed the priorities of the Greek EU presidency, as well as institutional issues that arise for the Council of Europe and the European Union, due to the institutional changes that will follow the enlargement and the intergovernmental conference.
Yiannitsis briefed Schwimmer on the issues Greece will promote during its presidency, speaking in detail of the enlargement, the social and immigration policy and the cooperation between the EU and the CoE.
On his part, Schwimmer informed Yiannitsis of the CoE's wish to cooperate with the EU in promoting democratic governance and the support for democratic institutions and the defense of human rights.
Yiannitsis also met with U.S. Presidential representative for the energy sector of Caucasus Ambassador Steven Mann and discussed the role of the Greek presidency in relation with the Caucasus region concerning the energy sector and especially the transport of natural gas from East to West.
 Greek ambassador to US outlines Greece's role in address to Potomac Exchange
WASHINGTON 21/11/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greece's international presence, its 20-year course in the European Union, the priorities of Greece's EU presidency in the first half of 2003, the country's stabilizing role in Se Europe, and the opportunities arising from the organization of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, were outlined by Greek ambassador to the US George Savvaidis on Tuesday in an address to the Potomac Exchange, the Washington-based federation of business concerns that promotes US trade relations and investments abroad.
Savvaidis also pointed out the importance of Cyprus' imminent accession to the EU and the prospects for a resolution of the island republic's political problem following the draft plan submitted by the UN secretary general as a basis for negotiating a solution, Greece's support of Turkey's European course, the need for Iraq to conform with the UN resolutions on its disarmament, and the importance of EU and NATO enlargement, to be decided at the two bodies' summits in Copenhagen and Prague, respectively.
The Greek ambassador further analyzed Greece's efforts inside the framework of NATO, noting that Greece's defense spending as a proportion of GDP continued to be the highest among the NATO member countries, and this at a time when it was advancing the growth and convergence of its economy with the other member states of the EU and the euro-zone.
 Turkey's Erdogan visits Brussels, holds talks with Verhofstadt
BRUSSELS 21/11/2002 (ANA - . Spinthourakis)Turkish Justice and Development party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday spoke in favor of the accession of Cyprus and Turkey in the same timetable.
Erdogan, who visited Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt as soon as he arrived here, held a press conference and said that the UN plan for the resolution of the Cyprus issue has positive and negative points, noting, however, that the time of the tabling of the plan was not good since the new government of Turkey will undertake its duties in the beginning of December and since Turkish Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash is ill.
He stressed that although Cyprus is far ahead of Turkey the accession of the two states to the European Union should be interconnected, adding that a similar interconnection should also exist concerning the issue of the accession of Cyprus and the ''Euroforce'' issue.
Erdogan also said that there are EU member-states that are positive towards the setting of a date for Turkey to begin accession negotiations, noting that Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis was examining the issue under a positive light and that Germany was positive towards the setting of a date for an ''appointment'' where the accession negotiations date would be given.
In a related development on the Cyprus issue, an ANA dispatch from Ankara noted that former Turkish president Kennan Evren said in an interview to CNN Turk that in 1974 the Turkish forces invaded and occupied more territory than initially planned.
''In 1974, when our forces had disembarked on Cyprus, the border that was planned was not that of today's. The one that had been planned was much more behind the lines than that of today. When, however, our forces met with no resistance they moved on. Famagusta was not in our plans,'' Evren said.
He also said that Denktash had told him that the issue of constitutional guarantees towards the Turkish Cypriot community was more important to him than the territorial issue.
 Interior minister says EU should ratify Cyprus' accession
BRUSSELS 21/11/2002 (ANA - V. Tsiorou)Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, speaking at the Regions Committee's plenum at the European Parliament here on Wednesday, said the European Union should ratify the accession of Cyprus.
Skandalidis, who said both the governments of Greece and Cyprus consider the UN secretary general's plan on Cyprus a good starting point for discussion in the effort to resolve the Cyprus issue, pointed out that ''in any case, however, the EU should ratify the accession of Cyprus, implementing in Copenhagen the decision taken in Helsinki and the final decision should be signed in Athens in April.'' He said that, at last, Cyprus is entitled to turn a new page and Europe should guarantee it with all its political, moral and historic weight.
 Main opposition attacks gov't over economic policy; Protopapas responds
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy on Wednesday attacked the government over its economic and agricultural policy, even calling for the resignation of certain ministers.
ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos openly accused the government of having ''underground'' links with big business interests, particularly in relation to a new inheritance tax for businesses that ranged from 0.6 per cent to 1.2 per cent, compared to property transfer taxes between ordinary individuals of 20 per cent to 25 per cent.
Roussopoulos questioned the authorship of the specific measure, suggesting that graft had been involved.
ND economics coordinator George Alogoskoufis also criticized the 2003 budget tabled by the government on Tuesday, saying it was unreliable and would not solve the problems.
ND section-head for agriculture Evangelos Basiakos, meanwhile, called for the resignation of Agriculture Minister George Drys over the delays and cutbacks in subsidy payments to farmers and the decisions concerning cotton.
Similarly, former minister Aristidis Tsiplakos called for the resignation of Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pahtas, accusing him of hiding the true facts regarding the 3rd Community Support Framework and of using misleading tactics with regard to the rate of absorption of 3rd CSF funds.
Tsiplakos presented data that he said originated from within the finance ministry, which showed that only 10.67 per cent of national and community funds available under the program had been absorbed, while the situation was even worse with respect to private-sector funds.
Responding to the main opposition's attack, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said New Democracy was behaving as though it were still in the run-up for local government elections.
He said the statements by members of ND betrayed the party's hope that early elections would be called. This would not take place and had no reason to take place, he added.
The spokesman urged ND to take a specific stand on the budget, which he described as strongly oriented toward social justice and favorable for lower incomes.
 Trade, manufacturing unions reactions to 2003 budget
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)High growth rates, reflecting EU subsidies and public investments ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, was the only optimistic message from the 2003 budget submitted to parliament on Tuesday, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) said on Wednesday.
EBEA's chairman, Drakoulis Fountoukakos, said that with the new budget the government tried, once more, to avoid promoting the necessary structural changes, a fundamental fiscal restructuring and reduction of tax burdens on business activity, two preconditions to achieve a more competitive economy.
EBEA also said that primary spending was rising at a more than double rate compared with the inflation, while a larger state debt and a high inflation rate were hampering the country's competitiveness.
The Athens Chamber said that next year's budget lacked generous tax measures for businesses, the incomes policy remained strict, and criticized the government of relying too much on small- and medium-size incomes and wage earners for its tax revenues.
GSEBEE, the union of small- and medium-sized enterprises, reacted strongly to the budget's high tax burdens and announced mobilizations in early December.
 Eurochamber head meet Prime Minister, Development Min
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Eurochamber on Wednesday urged the Greek EU presidency, beginning January 1, 2003, to intervene in an effort to support small- and medium-sized enterprises in Europe that are currently undergoing a crisis, with the aim of issuing a "Green Paper" for the sector.
Eurochamber's chairman, Christoph Leitl, currently visiting Athens, placed the demand with Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos during a meeting on Wednesday.
The two men also discussed actions to promote solutions to SMEs' problems in the European Union.
Mr. Leitl, accompanied by Eurochamber's secretary-general, Arnaldo Abruzzini, is visiting Greece on an invitation by Greece's Central Chambers' Union and its chairman, George Kasimatis.
The two men also met with Prime Minister Costas Simitis. During the meeting, Mr. Leitl presented Eurochamber's positions on promoting social dialogue and upgrading the role of chambers.
 Greek public hospitals' debt to suppliers total 900 mln euros
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Greek public hospitals' debt to suppliers of medicines and medical equipment reached around 900 million euros, a development of serious concern for the government and its ministries.
Half of the debt, representing unpaid invoices for the last 12 months, is owed to pharmaceutical companies - manufacturers and importers, which are determined to seek full repayment.
The situation has led several suppliers to threaten of cutting their supplies of all main necessary medicines (anti-cancer drugs, blood plasma, etc) protesting for unpaid invoices of around 12 months old.
Health ministry sources said that unpaid debt to suppliers were an ''open wound'' in the relations between hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry that also affected the country's health system.
Public hospitals hold social security funds responsible for the problem but the fact remains that patients would probably feel more pain if the situation did not improve.
Under Greek law, public hospitals are obliged to fully pay their suppliers within 90 days from receiving an invoice, although a Community directive calls for payment of invoices within 60 days.
 Greece to promote religious tourism
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Promoting religious tourism was one of the country's top tourist policy priorities in an effort to enrich its domestic tourist product, expand the tourist season and support regional development, Development Deputy Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos said on Wednesday.
In a letter sent to Economy Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas, Mr. Georgakopoulos asked for the approval of funds to finance infrastructure projects in religious sites worth 4.6 million euros.
Meanwhile, a group of American journalists and television technicians working for NBC Olympics Inc TV network, visited Greece November 12-17 as part of a program to promote Greece ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
The group visited the region of Elia (where the site of the ancient Olympia is) and the islands of Cephalonia and Santorini.
NBC Olympics' chief producer, Mark Levy, said that the US network would cover the Athens 2004 Olympic Games with seven-minute videos and photography in educational TV programs. The deal is part of a cooperation between Greece's National Tourist Organization and Athens 2004, the organizing committee.
Mr. Levy expressed his enthusiasm over his visit to Greece and said that his network would focus on the country's natural beauty, highlighting its ancient civilization through a different approach and linking modern Games with the country that gave birth to the Olympics.
 Greek stocks end slightly higher on Wednesday
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Wednesday's session slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange, with the market finding support from a rebound in Hellenic Telecommunications Organizations share price and a recovery in smaller capitalization stocks.
The general index rose 0.27 percent to end at 1,821.16 points, with turnover a low 72.8 million euros.
The Publication, Wholesale, Investment and Metals sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.71 percent, 1.59 percent, 1.07 percent and 0.94 percent, respectively), while the Cement and Food-Beverage sectors suffered losses (0.48 percent and 0.09 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 0.28 percent up, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 0.44 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.58 percent higher.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 192 to 90 with another 80 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Public Power Corporation, Cosmote, National Bank of Greece, and Atermon.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 69.2 mln euros Wednesday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers outpace sellers on Wednesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 ATHOC delegation completes tour of German cities
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)A delegation of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) closed its tour of Germany in Munich on Wednesday, having met with representatives of the Greek community there.
The delegation organized events in Berlin, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Stuttgart and Munich to familiarize the members of the Greek communities in Germany with Greece's efforts to organize the Athens Games.
 Greece improving its environmental record, minister claims
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Greece was making strides in improving its environmental record before the start of the Greek EU presidency, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou claimed on Wednesday.
The minister said that the number of outstanding cases against Greece for failing to implement EU environmental protection directives had been substantially reduced and Greece had moved down two places to rank as the 6th worst offender among EU member-states.
She reported positive results at a meeting between Greek authorities and European Commission officials to discuss cases involving the management of industrial wastes and environmental protection in ecologically sensitive areas, including those designated in the Natura 2000 program, bird sanctuaries etc.
Of the 18 cases for which the environment ministry was responsible, Papandreou said that 11 were close to a final settlement or had been finally settled.
The number of cases outstanding for Greece as a whole, meanwhile, these had dropped from 92 at the start of 2000 to 66 at present, including the 11 cases recently examined and close to being filed, she added.
Papandreou also reported on the progress made since June in the management of protected areas, with the foundation of 25 management bodies for areas falling under this category and other measures.
 Environment minister seeks clarifications over scrapped Nat gas tax relief
Athens, 21/11/2002 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Wednesday said that she was satisfied with explanations given by Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis over a decision to scrap tax relief for natural gas users, who assured her that the measure did not seek to decrease incentives for using environmentally friendly fuels.
Christodoulakis said that additional measures would be taken with the collaboration of the finance, development and environment ministries that would be more effective than tax relief in protecting the Attica environment, in line with the resolutions of the Johannesburg Earth Summit.
The finance minister also said that a request by Papandreou for additional funds to carry out emergency anti-flooding works was reasonable and agreed to make 57.8 million euros available for works in this category in Attica.
 Aegean minister meets New York governor, attends 'Cultural Olympiad Week' events
NEW YORK 21/11/2002 (ANA - M. Georgiadou)Aegean Minister Nikos Sifounakis, currently on a four-day visit here, on Tuesday met New York Governor George Pataki and discussed with him the progress being made for the holding of an exhibition on Aegean maritime tradition at New York's Maritime Museum in May 2003.
At the inauguration of the exhibition ''The Parthenon-Allegories and Reality'' which is being held at the US Customs House in Lower Manhattan, within the framework of ''Cultural Olympiad Week'' and the regional conference of the Council of Hellenes Abroad, Sifounakis conveyed greetings by the Greek government and particularly by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
The events of the ''Cultural Olympiad Week'', which was organized by Greece's General Consulate in New York in cooperation with the Council of Hellenes Abroad, were addressed, among others, by the president of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, Andrew Athens, the president of the U.S.A. Council of Hellenes Abroad, Christos Tomaras and the president of the Federation of Greek Societies of Greater New York, A. Tomopoulos.
 European Parliament welcomes UN plan on Cyprus
STRASBOURG 21/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)The European Parliament on Wednesday welcomed the plan presented by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to the parties to the Cyprus conflict on November 11 and called on the Greek and Turkish Cypriots to use the blueprint as a basis for negotiations and to conclude a framework agreement proposed by Annan before December 12, when the leaders of the European Union meet in Copenhagen to decide on the accession of Cyprus and nine other countries to the EU.
At the same time, the EP called on the Commission of the EU to certify whether the UN proposals comply with the acquis communautaire, as EU legislation is termed in Brussels.
Cyprus was part of the overall report on enlargement tabled on Wednesday before the EP which met in Strasbourg over the last two days. The report was approved by an overwhelming majority of 505 for and 20 against, with 30 abstentions.
The EP accepted an amendment proposed by rapporteur for Cyprus Jacques Poos to his own earlier report and also by Jannis Sakellariou, on behalf of the group of Socialists in the Europarliament, to take account of developments in the last few weeks.
Under the amendment, the EP ''welcomes the detailed plan for a political settlement presented to the parties by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 11 November 2002 and calls on both parties to use the plan as a basis for negotiations and to arrive at a framework agreement to be signed before the Copenhagen European Council'' opening on December 12.
Under a second amendment, proposed by Greek Euro-MP's Christos Zacharakis and Konstantinos Hatzidakis, as well as their colleagues Arie Oostlander and Elmar Brok, the rapporteur for enlargement, on behalf of the PPE-DE group in the EP, the parties were invited to examine the UN proposals ''thoroughly and objectively.''
Further, it called on the EU Commission to certify whether the proposals made by Annan ''can provide the basis for a viable and operational settlement in the framework of the European Union in accordance with the acquis communautaire.''
The ten paragraphs on Cyprus in the overall report endorsed by the EP on Wednesday include a requirement that the political settlement to be achieved should enable Cyprus to participate in the decision-making process and the policies of the EU and to ensure the proper application of EU law.
''This implies that the Federal Government and Parliament of Cyprus should be fully functioning entities at international level,'' the report said.
The EP shared the hope that ''a reunited Cyprus under single sovereignty, but with guarantees for the regional autonomy and protection of the interests of both communities, will accede to the EU on the basis of a comprehensive settlement to be achieved before the completion of accession negotiations and that the terms of the accession treaty may reflect this settlement.''
The EP reiterated its call on Turkey to lend full support to efforts for a Cyprus settlement this year, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions on Cyprus.
It also noted that if a solution is not achieved by December 12, the EU summit in Copenhagen should proceed according to their decision of December 1999 at Helsinki, under which a settlement is not a precondition for the accession of Cyprus to the EU.
 Cyprus FM Kasoulides says Greek Cypriot side will not tolerate any further delay by others
LARNACA 21/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)The Greek Cypriot side would like an agreement on the UN Secretary-General's blueprint for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, but will not tolerate any further delay by others, meaning the Turkish Cypriot side, which will make the plan "a take it or leave it" situation, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said.
Speaking on his return from Brussels on Wednesday, Kasoulides repeated that the government is ready to begin negotiations on the plan.
"Our side has said it is ready to negotiate on the plan which the Secretary-General submitted for negotiating and not to reject it. We are ready to begin this negotiation, even yesterday," the minister said.
He added that there are some imponderable factors, such as Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's illness, and other factors, which do not depend on the Greek Cypriot side.
"These are the intentions of the Turkish side, because we hear different statements from Ankara and Recep Tayyip Erdogan which many times, are conflicting," the minister said.
Kasoulides expressed hope there will be an agreement before the Copenhagen European Council in December, noting the Greek Cypriot side "will not tolerate any further delay by others so as to make the plan a 'take it or leave it' situation."
From the moment that no opportunity was given during the UN-led direct talks to discuss the territorial and refugee aspects, Kasoulides said, "we have every right to want to negotiate and examine these two aspects in detail."
Answering a relevant question Kasoulides said Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides would continue negotiating the Cyprus problem until the end of his term in office in February 2003.
 UN still have no answer from Denktash, sources say he returns to Cyprus soon
UNITED NATIONS 21/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)The United Nations has still not received Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's reply to the UN Secretary-General's proposal for a Cyprus settlement.
At the same time, Turkish sources said Denktash will be discharged in two to three days and will immediately return to the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus.
During Wednesday's briefing, UN spokeswoman, Hua Jiang, asked when Denktash will give his answer to the UN plan said ''I have no information on that.''
Hua also said she had no information as to where and when Kofi Annan's Special Adviser, Alvaro de Soto would meet the UN chief.
Turkish sources said Denktash on Tuesday underwent medical examinations, which did not show any heart or lung problems. The same sources said he is expected to be discharged from hospital in two to three days and immediately return to the occupied areas.
The Greek Cypriot side replied Monday to the UN within the requested time framework of seven days from the day the UN proposal was presented on November 11.
However, the Turkish Cypriot side failed to meet Monday's deadline. Denktash is still recovering in New York since October 7 following open-heart surgery.
 Annan says his document could provide sound basis for agreement
UNITED NATIONS 21/11/2002 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in his report on the United Nations operation in Cyprus, that his blueprint for a Cyprus settlement could provide a sound basis for agreement on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem and expressed hope that ''it will be possible to bring the effort to a decisive conclusion in the coming weeks.''
Annan recommended in his report issued on November 15 that the Security Council extend the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) for a further period of six months, until 15 June 2003. He referred to the meetings he had with Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in September in Paris and in October in New York.
''I shared with them my growing concern that the talks were not producing the kind of progress that was needed if the opportunity at hand was to be seized. Direct talks were unfortunately interrupted by Mr. Denktash's surgery,'' Annan noted.
Referring to the submission of his blueprint, he noted that ''on November 11, after long and extensive preparations, I conveyed to the two leaders a document which, in my considered opinion, could provide a sound basis for agreement on a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem. I am awaiting the reaction of the parties, and hope it will be possible to bring the effort to a decisive conclusion in the coming weeks.''
The report is covering developments from May 30 to November 15, 2002 and says the situation along the ceasefire line was generally calm.
''There were, however, moments of tension, due mainly to the National Guard improving its defensive positions and living quarters along the ceasefire line. The Turkish forces made some improvements to their observation posts, including a position near Pyla, a mixed village in the buffer zone,'' the SG noted.
He said ''there were 37 recorded air violations during this reporting period: 8 by National Guard aircraft, 24 by Turkish military aircraft, 2 by a Greek Cypriot civilian light aircraft and 3 by civilian aircraft from the north.''
He added ''restrictions imposed on UNFICYP in July 2000 by the Turkish forces and the Turkish Cypriot authorities continued, including the violation of the military status quo in the village of Strovilia, where recently Turkish soldiers have begun to carry loaded firearms during patrols. There was no progress in restoring the status quo ante in Strovilia.''