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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-06

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

March 6, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] FM says present conjuncture a historic opportunity for Cyprus solution
  • [02] UNSC fully supports Annan's efforts on the Cyprus issue
  • [03] Greek representative at Hague meeting for Cyprus to be named soon
  • [04] Defense minister: Greece is not providing any facilities to the US
  • [05] Greek EU presidency: developments on Iraq should arise via UN
  • [06] Greek presidency: preparations for upcoming Brussels Council
  • [07] Main opposition again slams gov't economic policies
  • [08] Reppas meets EU’s Prodi on gender equality
  • [09] EU Troika visits Moscow to encourage Russia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol
  • [10] Athens again advises patience, says terrorism trial will 'reveal all'
  • [11] N17 court disallows civil suit linked to statute-barred act
  • [12] Minister says police Internal Affairs Service refuted state corruption myth
  • [13] EU welcomes the release of Moroccan prisoners of war by the Polisario front
  • [14] Finance ministry unveils simplified tax agency services
  • [15] FinMin announces auditing inspection of state enterprises
  • [16] No need to review 3.8 pct Greek growth rate, FinMin says
  • [17] Contractor gets deal for Athens Olympics media village
  • [18] Travel firms seek gov't action on feared impact of war on Iraq
  • [19] Greece awaits EU aid for damages caused to farmers in 2000
  • [20] US tax assistance for citizens residing in Greece
  • [21] Greek stocks plunge to new five-year lows on Wednesday
  • [22] Parliament Committee briefed on Olympics preparations
  • [23] Greek EU presidency - ''Sport and Women'' conference in Thessaloniki
  • [24] British police arrest young Greek in accordance with anti-terrorist law
  • [25] EU Commission adopts directive for criminal sanctions on polluting ships
  • [26] EU member-states sign support declaration for anti-doping
  • [27] Greek European Orientation Committee to organize briefing conferences
  • [28] Decision to take into account interests of Cyprus, says President Papadopoulos
  • [29] UN Secretary General sends letters to guarantor powers
  • [30] De Soto says the two sides are expected to reply in writing

  • [01] FM says present conjuncture a historic opportunity for Cyprus solution

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Wednesday the present conjuncture is a historic opportunity for a solution to the issue of Cyprus.

    Papandreou was speaking after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on European and foreign policy issues and which also included Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis and Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris.

    The foreign minister said the issue of whether referendums on the two sides will go ahead will be examined, adding that Greece has supported the moves of the government of Cyprus, while it should be seen whether there will be political volition on the other side as well.

    Papandreou said Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is insisting on rejecting the plan and that the question is not whether Denktash agrees with the plan but whether he agrees to presenting it to the Turkish Cypriot people for judgment.

    Referring to remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller on the ongoing trial of 19 November 17 terrorist group suspects, Papandreou said he is covered fully by statements made by the government spokesman.

    Commenting on press reports speaking of pro-Americans and pro-Europeans in the government, he said they are not valid.

    Papandreou said Greece is a European country, first of all, and supports the EU's deepening and enlargement, while our moves must secure national interests.

    Apart from the Cyprus issue, the issue also focused on issues to be examined by EU leaders during the upcoming Brussels summit.

    Papandreou said these issues are very important for the economy, the social policy and the cohesion of European society both now and after enlargement.

    On the question of Iraq, Papandreou said there is overall speculation in the EU on its role, on the need for a strong voice and on cross-Atlantic relations.

    He added that there is further speculation on the handling of crises such as that with weapons of mass destruction where Europe has a great deal to give due to its history as well.

    Papandreou said the Greek EU presidency will open a dialogue both within the EU and with the United States on all these issues.

    The Greek presidency, he added, has taken many initiatives on the issue of Iraq, including visits to Arab countries, and noted that this mobility has been greatly appreciated.

    Papandreou said diplomatic means must be exhausted even up to the last moment for a peaceful solution.

    [02] UNSC fully supports Annan's efforts on the Cyprus issue

    NEW YORK 06/04/2003 (ANA - P. Panayiotou)

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Monday (New York time) said he had the full backing of the UN Security Council for his efforts for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, involving adherence to the March 30 deadline for simultaneous referenda in the two Cypriot communities.

    Speaking to reporters after a closed UNSC session on Monday night, (New York time) during which the secretary general briefed the 15 Security Council members on his recent trips to Athens, Ankara and Nicosia, Annan urged Greece and Turkey to come to an agreement on the security issue in Cyprus.

    ''I think this is a unique opportunity for the people of the island'', Annan said. He urged the leaders of the two Cypriot communities to go to The Hague on 10 March, and expressed hope that the would ''be prepared to put the basic agreement to a popular vote and let the people of Cyprus decide''.

    Annan stressed that ''our deadlines are real and genuine, they are not artificial'', adding that the UNSC supported his good offices and hoped that the two sides would go to The Hague and say 'yes'''.

    The secretary general urged ''mother countries'' Greece and Turkey to come forward with a ''positive response'', adding that ''if the answer were to be negative, then of course we cannot move forward. This would also mean a united Cyprus would not be able to accede to the European Union on the 16th of April. Things are very clear and we have been very sincere with all sides. If they say 'no' they will have to face the consequences. My good offices will always be available, but I think I will not be able to sustain the same pace and the same engagement''.

    The EU has said that in the absence of a settlement to the Cyprus issue, it will only admit the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, which comprises the Greek Cypriot side.

    Asked whether he was optimistic about developments, Annan said ''Why do you think I make all these efforts if I did not believe that they can bring results? There is only one solution. If there is political will, then they have a chance to make history''.

    Britain's permanent representative to the UN Jeremy Greenstock also urged the leaders of the two Cypriot communities to give a ''positive response'' in Hague.

    ''We are at an important junction'', he said after the UNSC briefing, adding ''the time has come for the people of Cyprus to speak''.

    Greenstock repeated Annan's warning that this was a ''unique opportunity approaching a 'crunch' point''.

    ''This is a unique opportunity that will not come back again'', he added.

    [03] Greek representative at Hague meeting for Cyprus to be named soon

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek government will on Thursday name Greece's representative at the March 10 meeting for a solution to the Cyprus problem that will take place at The Hague, government spokesman Christos Protopapas announced.

    The meeting was called by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and hopes to extract an agreement from all sides involved on holding referenda on a proposed Cyprus solution on the island, without signing an agreement on the proposed plan itself.

    Protopapas said that Greece and the Cyprus Republic were working and focusing all their efforts on find a viable, functional solution to the Cyprus problem.

    [04] Defense minister: Greece is not providing any facilities to the US

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Greek defense minister Yannos Papantoniou on Wednesday told BBC Radio's Greek program in London that Greece's policy on the Iraq issue was ''crystal clear'' and was unrelated to the operation of the (US) military installations in Souda Bay on the island of Crete, a defense ministry press release said.

    ''The facilities have nothing to do with (military) operations, they are associated with existing obligations'', Papantoniou said.

    Papantoniou denied reports which, citing Brussels sources last week, claimed that NATO had requested the relocation of two series of Patriot-type missiles from Greece to Turkey for the protection of the neighboring country in the event of war. According to the same sources, the missiles would be accompanied by Greek expert operators, an act equaling Greek military participation in the war against Iraq, the release said.

    ''We have not been asked to do anything like that. It is not within our intentions to give up any Patriots to a third country, we need them'' the minister said.

    Asked about possible implications from the participation of only certain EU countries in a war against Iraq and the impact it would have on the unity of the Union, Papantoniou said '' the participation of an EU state in a unilateral action against Iraq without UN support would definitely raise a question over EU unity, which the EU should confront immediately after the end of such possible war.''

    Papantoniou, on a visit to London at the invitation of the London School of Economics' Hellenic Observatory, told a conference that a rift in EU unity over the Iraq issue would risk the creation of different groups within the EU, engaged in different cooperation levels.

    Asked by BBC whether one of the EU's powerhouses that either supports or opposes the war could with some compromise contribute to diffuse the crisis within the EU, he said ''It is not up to only one country. We should not place responsibility with any one specific country. This is a collective question that should be confronted by all of us together''.

    [05] Greek EU presidency: developments on Iraq should arise via UN

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    European Union president Greece on Wednesday reiterated that any developments vis-a-vis the Iraq issue, whether involving a peaceful solution or military action, should be the product of United Nations process.

    Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that ongoing efforts were pushing away from military action, which, he said, should not take place.

    Protopapas also said that EU president Greece was basing its moves on a comprehensive strategy regarding the Iraq issue and if any new initiatives were considered necessary by the Greek presidency they would be taken.

    [06] Greek presidency: preparations for upcoming Brussels Council

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Preparations for the upcoming European Council in Brussels on 20 and 21 March for deliberations on the big questions of European development and employment, were the focus of a meeting on Wednesday between Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his ministers of finance, labor and development, Nikos Christodoulakis, Dimitris Reppas and Akis Tsohatzopoulos, respectively.

    Coming out of the meeting Christodoulakis told reporters that the Greek presidency had so far achieved a number of agreements in significant areas such as savings taxation and the Community patent, as well as on issues associated with employment and social cohesion, which he said gave a new prospect and direction in the European Union.

    The Greek presidency, the minister said, fully acknowledging the messages of the times and the expectations of the citizens, was working systematically toward that direction promoting decisions that were changing Europe for the better.

    [07] Main opposition again slams gov't economic policies

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy once again slammed the government's economic policies on Wednesday, this time focusing on the repercussions of the Iraq crisis.

    ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos stressed that the Greek economy's woes were only partly due to the international climate of uncertainty and that it was already in a bad state because of the government's dead-end policies.

    Pointing to falling company turnover and profits, a plunging stock market, rising interest rates, inflation, high prices, high unemployment and high household debt, Roussopoulos said that the economy's woes were political and that a new policy was needed that only ND could guarantee and implement as a government.

    Reacting to the main opposition's statements, government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Wednesday advised ND to "avoid inappropriate and miserable statements" about the economy, which served petty party-political goals and generated a sense of insecurity among the public and problems to the overall economic climate.

    He called for even greater caution with respect to the prospective war in Iraq, which had already created grave problems and would create even more if it took place.

    [08] Reppas meets EU’s Prodi on gender equality

    BRUSSLES 06/04/2003 (ANA-G.Zitouniati)

    The Greek EU Presidency’s contribution to promoting gender equality and related European Union initiates has been the focus of discussion here on Wednesday during a working lunch between Greece’s Employment and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas and European Commission President Romano Prodi.

    The event was also attended by EU Employment and Social Security Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen and Commission Vice-President Loyola de Palacio, responsible for Transport and Energy.

    Equality between the two sexes was examined during the meeting in connection with the new European Constitution, the Union’s enlargement and the society of information.

    Special consideration was given to a more active participation by women in political life and to phenomena of in-family violence.

    Reppas noted that the Greek Presidency regarded the promotion of gender equality as a basis area of policy, with priority given to the following topics: - incorporation of gender equality in all EU policies - promotion of women participation in the areas of new economy and women adjustment in Society of Information challenges. - eradication of all forms of violence against women, with a special meeting of experts on in-family violence and women trading and trafficking, to be organized in Athens, May 30-31. - development of social dialogue to enhance the society of citizens.

    Reppas added “the EU should focus on specific strategic targets and sector policies to promote equal opportunities and social inclusion of women in economic, political and social conditions.”

    [09] EU Troika visits Moscow to encourage Russia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, together with Greek Environment Ministers Vasso Papandreou - President-in-office of the EU Environment Council - and Altero Matteoli of Italy, were due to travel to Moscow on Wednesday to urge Russia to complete ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and discuss a strengthening of Russia-EU co-operation in the fight against climate change, a Greek environment ministry press bulletin said.

    Russia's ratification is necessary to enable the Kyoto Protocol to enter into force. The Troika visit to Russia is an EU initiative in the Union's ongoing efforts to secure the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol and effective multilateral action to combat climate change. The Troika will be in Moscow from 5-7 March 2003.

    Ahead of the visit to Moscow, Commissioner Wallstrom commented: ''The world is waiting for Russia to demonstrate that it is ready and willing to become a major player in the multilateral efforts to combat climate change. I trust that Russia will live up to its responsibilities and political commitments. The EU is looking forward to co-operating even closer with Russia to fight this global challenge. ''

    Papandreou said ''Russia has the honor of running the anchor leg of this relay race for ratification. We hope that Russia will cross the finish line so that the applause from around the world starts. All of us - 15 Member States in the EU as well as all the acceding countries who have already ratified it - view the entry-into-force of the Kyoto Protocol as an important step in addressing climate change and starting to reduce its impacts. We believe that the Kyoto Protocol is good for Russia, and most importantly it is good for the world.''

    By ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, Russia, besides showing leadership in the world-wide efforts to combat climate change, would have domestic economic advantages as it would be able to participate in the so-called ''flexible mechanisms'' that the Protocol entails.

    The Troika Moscow schedule includes meetings with the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade, Energy Minister Yusufov, representatives of the Duma and NGOs.

    [10] Athens again advises patience, says terrorism trial will 'reveal all'

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Greek government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Wednesday repeated his call for patience and advised all sides to wait until the end of the November 17 terrorism trial, "where all the answers will be given".

    He said he had been in contact with United States Embassy in Athens of the statements of U.S. Ambassador Thomas Miller to the ''New York Times'', in which Miller said that only the operational branch of the terrorist group had been brought to trial.

    According to an embassy press attache, however, Miller's statements had been misunderstood.

    Asked to comment on the ambassador's views, Protopapas referred reporters to his previous response on Tuesday, in which he had urged Miller not to be ''hasty and change his statements''.

    ''Until a few days ago Mr. Miller was congratulating the Greek government for cracking down on terrorism. He should know now that since the trial has begun the hearing process everything shall be proved. Therefore, he must have patience to receive answers. He should not be hasty and not change his statements because then there is a major issue of credibility,'' Protopapas had said on Tuesday.

    Protopapas also claimed to have ascertained a similar ''strange haste'' within the ranks of main opposition New Democracy.

    ''If some politicians have a different view and evidence they should say so, otherwise they should wait for the trial to proceed where all the answers will be given. Let them have a little patience,'' he reiterated.

    [11] N17 court disallows civil suit linked to statute-barred act

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    The Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court trying 19 alleged members of the terrorist group November 17 on Wednesday rejected a civil suit filed by the families of N17 victims Pantelis Petrou and Sotiris Stamoulis because the 20-year statute of limitations on both crimes had elapsed.

    The families had tried to claim compensation for damage for the crime of forming and joining a criminal organization, which is ongoing.

    According to the recommendations of the public prosecutor on the bench, the crime of forming and joining a criminal organization is a crime against law and order in general and is not linked to any specific individual right, such as that to life.

    During Wednesday's proceedings, several of the lawyers for the defense and prosecution presented their arguments for and against live television coverage of the trial, with most those representing the accused in favor of letting the cameras in.

    Among those objecting to the presence of TV cameras in the courtroom are the families of American and Turkish victims of the group and others who have filed civil suits in the case, such as the families of British military attache Brigadier Stephen Saunders, Greek MP Pavlos Bakoyiannis, businessman Vardis Vardinoyiannis, banker Mihalis Vranopoulos and Thanos Axarlian, an accidental victim of the hit against former minister Yiannis Paleokrassas.

    Presiding judge Michalis Margaritis made it clear, however, that no decision on television coverage would be made on Wednesday and urged lawyers to present arguments regarding the objections raised to the composition of the court.

    Meanwhile, in a severe letter to all the lawyers representing the defendants and civil plaintiffs, the head of the Athens Bar Association Dimitris Paxinos warned them to avoid "reproducing" the trial outside the courtroom.

    "The transfer of trials from courtrooms to the mass media and arguments between lawyers defending their clients is not compatible with the institutional role of a lawyer as a defender and does not help to upholding the prestige of the legal profession, being tantamount to doubting established processes and the reliable judgment of justice," he noted.

    [12] Minister says police Internal Affairs Service refuted state corruption myth

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, presenting results of the police Internal Affairs Service's operation, said on Wednesday the Service refuted the myth that corruption in the state apparatus is pervasive and invincible.

    Chrysohoidis said the most important proof of the Service's successful course is the approval it has had from the relevant Parliamentary committee and the GRECO group (the group of countries combatting corruption).

    He further said the Service succeeded because it did not function as another law enforcement apparatus but, in cooperation with the rest of the police, acted boldly in its mission and task.

    Chrysohoidis went on to say that the Service is also considered successful by the fact that its work is being extended throughout the entire public administration, adding that the public order ministry and the police have feasible targets for the future and are raising standards to high but feasible limits.

    ''The war against corruption can and must be won,'' Chrysohoidis said.

    [13] EU welcomes the release of Moroccan prisoners of war by the Polisario front

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek European Union presidency on Wednesday issued a declaration on behalf of the European Union on the release of 100 Moroccan prisoners of war by the Polisario front. The full text of the declaration follows below:

    ''The EU welcomes the release on 26 February of 100 Moroccan prisoners of war by the Polisario Front. The humanitarian aspects that stem from the problem of Western Sahara have been a source of constant concern for the EU, which has carried out repeated demarches in this respect to the parties involved, underlining the need to improve the humanitarian situation of the persons and populations affected by this continuing crisis.

    ''The release of these 100 Moroccan prisoners can contribute to the encouragement of dialogue and promotion of trust between the parties involved in this issue. However, since 1160 Moroccan prisoners are still detained, the EU expects from Polisario the immediate release of all remaining prisoners of war, some of whom have been detained since the beginning of the conflict, in accordance with the international law, as well as the Security Council's resolution 1359 (2001), which also provides for the solution of the problem of the fate of people unaccounted for. The humanitarian aspects of the conflict should be distinguished from the political issue.

    ''The EU reiterates its full support to the UN Secretary General and his Personal Envoy Mr. James Baker for their efforts towards contributing to a durable solution agreed upon by the parties concerned.

    ''The EU encourages all contacts which could contribute towards restoring a climate of confidence among the parties, with a view to reaching a durable solution, while fully respecting international legality.

    ''The Acceding Countries Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, the Associated Countries Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey and the EFTA countries, members of the European Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.''

    [14] Finance ministry unveils simplified tax agency services

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Wednesday unveiled new simpler procedures in four categories of dealings between businesses and taxpayers with the tax agency.

    Presenting the changes, Mr Christodoulakis said that the finance ministry's policy was to help companies and taxpayers in dealing with the tax agency without their physical presence but though electronic main, telephone and fax.

    The Greek minister said that the finance ministry has already set up a commission (including ministry officials and representatives from labor unions, trade and industry chambers) to examine ways of further simplifying tax agency services.

    Mr Christodoulakis also presented a circular envisaging the imposition of a 3.0 percent tax on real estate owned by off share companies.

    [15] FinMin announces auditing inspection of state enterprises

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Wednesday met with representatives of private auditing firms that were selected for making auditing inspections on state enterprises.

    The inspections will focus on salary spending, hiring, invoices, promotion and advertising spending, subsidies to third parties, investments-borrowing, accounting inspection, cash-flow management and administration expenses.

    Meanwhile, Greece's 20 largest state enterprises were currently drafting their Strategy and Business Plans, expected to be submitted for approval by the end of May.

    The finance ministry has already announced a tender to find a consultant to support the evaluation and approval procedures of Strategy and Business Plans and to monitoring the implementation of such schemes in the period 2003-2005.

    The ministry also mandated the Public Debt Management Organization to evaluate state enterprises' debt in an effort to better coordinate these companies' borrowing policies.

    [16] No need to review 3.8 pct Greek growth rate, FinMin says

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Wednesday said that a prevailing uncertainty and the impact on the global and the Greek economy of a possible war in Iraq were "incidental" and stressed that Eurozone economies would return to higher growth rates once the situation came back to normal.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Mr Christodoulakis said that there was no need to review downwards a forecast for a 3.8 percent growth rate in the Greek economy, as this forecast by the Stability Program was a conservative one.

    Commenting on the inflation rate, the Greek minister reiterated that he expected the inflation rate to rise significantly in February "to levels around January 2002" when the consumer price index had exceeded 4.0 percent due to bad weather conditions.

    Mr Christodoulakis said that the Athens Stock Exchange was following international markets lower hit by uncertainty over geopolitical developments.

    [17] Contractor gets deal for Athens Olympics media village

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Mohlos SA, an engineering contractor quoted on the Athens bourse, is to undertake a project for Lamda Olympia Village SA, a subsidiary of Lamda Development, to construct an underground building for the Athens 2004 Olympics' media village.

    The project for the village located in the north Athens suburb of Marousi is budgeted at 16.0 million euros, Mohlos said in a statement on Wednesday.

    Construction of the three-storey shopping and entertainment centre is due for completion in five months, the statement said.

    [18] Travel firms seek gov't action on feared impact of war on Iraq

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Travel firms on Wednesday asked the government to take action on the feared impact on tourism of war on Iraq.

    The anticipated war has slowed bookings for 2003 with travelers taking a wait and see attitude, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises said in a statement.

    A decline in demand for Greece as a tourist destination would result in a drop in employment and a deceleration in the rate growth, the statement said.

    Additional investment was required to publicize Greece abroad as a holiday venue, it added.

    [19] Greece awaits EU aid for damages caused to farmers in 2000

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    The European Union will reply within two months at the latest to Greece's request for aid to farmers whose crops were damaged during fires in 2000.

    An Agriculture Ministry announcement on Wednesday said this approval is the only one pending at the EU Competitions Committee.

    [20] US tax assistance for citizens residing in Greece

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    The Embassy of the United States of America announced Wednesday that an American tax assistor of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be in Athens April 7 to April 11, 2003 to answer tax questions for U.S. citizens. The official will be available at the Embassy from 08:30 - 12:00 noon and 01:00 - 03:30 p.m. daily. She will see the public on a first come first serve basis.

    The rate exchange for 2002 tax returns is $1.00 to Euro 1,0612.

    Most forms for Federal taxes are available at the U.S. Embassy Consular Section from 08:30 - 04:00 p.m. each workday. The Embassy can provide a list of tax preparers for help in filling out a return. To download a tax return and file electronically you can visit the following web sites: www.irs.gov or www.firstgov.gov

    All American citizens in Greece are reminded that Federal income tax filing requirements are generally the same as those for Americans residing in the U.S. Any U.S. citizen with income over $7,700 (if single) or $13,850 (if married) from sources anywhere in the world must file a return. Americans who live abroad may qualify for exemptions, but must fill a return to claim those exemptions.

    IRS advises that effective December 1996, anyone who is either filing a U.S. Federal tax return or being claimed as a dependent on one must have either a U.S. Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). For information on how to obtain these numbers, or any other general tax information, call the Embassy at 210-720-2421 or 210-720-2423. For answers on specific tax questions, call the IRS office at the U.S. Embassy in Rome at: 003906-4674-2560 or fax 003906-4674-2223.

    [21] Greek stocks plunge to new five-year lows on Wednesday

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks plunged to new five-year lows on Wednesday hit by a wave of selling in blue chip stocks during the last hour of trading in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The general index fell 0.35 percent to end at 1,564.49 points, with turnover a low 64.2 million euros.

    The Textile and the Food-Beverage sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.84 percent and 1.09 percent, respectively), while the parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks eased 0.71 percent.

    The IT Solutions, Retail and Holding sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (1.11 percent, 0.58 percent and 0.43 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.41 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.20 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.39 percent lower. The FTSE/ASE 140 index dropped 0.37 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 176 to 116 with another 68 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 79.5 mln euros Wednesday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -0.41 percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: -0.20 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (270)

    Day's Market Turnover: 79.5 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Wednesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.13 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 21 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 2.1 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring May 2012 (338 mln euros)

    [22] Parliament Committee briefed on Olympics preparations

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    The head of the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Wednesday briefed a session of Parliament's Educational Affairs Committee on all aspects of preparations for the Olympics.

    During the meeting, Angelopoulos stressed that there was no "black hole" in the budget for the Games and that a sum amounting to 120 million euros was needed for the construction of temporary facilities.

    She said that the Olympics budget of 1,962 billion euros was balanced.

    On the issue of Olympic security, ATHOC's chairwoman noted that security was a top priority throughout the world while she denied rumors that a tender for the refuse collection contract would be directly assigned.

    On Olympic test events, she said a program for these would be ready in April.

    The committee was also briefed by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is in charge of coordinating Olympic preparations by the government.

    Venizelos said the Olympics budget was divided in two sections, one for ATHOC and one for the state amounting to 4.6 billion euros. He said it would be possible to keep within this budget by using the surplus from some projects to cover shortfalls in others.

    He said problems had arisen with those projects entangled in lawsuits.

    Regarding test events, Venizelos noted that about half the test events at the Sydney Games had been held outside Olympic facilities and that more test events would be held within Olympic facilities in Greece.

    [23] Greek EU presidency - ''Sport and Women'' conference in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    Greece's culture ministry and the general secretariat of sports are organizing a conference on ''Sports and Women'' focusing on the role of women in sports, to be held at the Hyatt Regency in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, from 7 to 8 March, a culture ministry press bulletin said on Wednesday.

    The conference, taking place within the framework of the Greek European Union presidency and on the opportunity of the World Women's Day on 7 March, will be attended by Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, deputy culture minister Giorgos Lianis and EU Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, the bulletin said.

    [24] British police arrest young Greek in accordance with anti-terrorist law

    LONDON 06/04/2003 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Northumbria county police have arrested a young Greek in the city of Newcastle, in accordance with the existing anti-terrorist law, and charged him for ''possession of items which were to be used or could be used in terrorist acts.''

    Haralambos Dousemertzis, 25, was arrested on February 25, while the Greek consular authorities in London had not been notified of his arrest.

    Police gave no details as to whether the arrested Greek is linked to the November 17 terrorist group and disclosed that his file has been forwarded to the British embassy in Athens which can make official announcements.

    According to reports, posters of the November 17 group and books on international terrorist organizations were found in Dousemertzis' room.

    The general consul in London, Alexis Hatzimichalis, is expected to contact police in the county of Northumbria on Thursday to request more information on the Greek detainee and act in accordance with instructions he will be receiving from his central service in Athens.

    [25] EU Commission adopts directive for criminal sanctions on polluting ships

    BRUSSELS 06/04/2003 (ANA-A.Simatos)

    The European Commission adopted here today a proposal for imposing criminal sanctions against parties responsible for environmental pollution by ships.

    The proposed directive establishes that marine pollution by ships is a criminal offence. Sanctions will be applicable to any person - including the master, the owner, the operator and the chartered of a ship and to the classification society - who has been found to have caused or contributed to illegal pollution intentionally or by means of gross negligence. In the most serious of cases, the penalties may involve jail sentences.

    In addition, the directive prohibits pollution on the high seas, irrespective of the flag of the ship.

    Commenting on the adoption of the directive, EU Commission’s Vice-President responsible for Transport and Energy Loyola de Palacio said that ''the inclusion of the high seas is necessary, since pollution of the seas does not recognize artificial borders and since many Member States do not even have a 200-mile exclusive economic zone''.

    The Commissioner added that the proposed directive will fill significant regulatory gaps in EU regulation and will go a long way in establishing a culture of responsible shipping in EU waters and beyond.

    [26] EU member-states sign support declaration for anti-doping

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    The European Union's 15 member-states, as well as the 10 candidate countries, signed on Wednesday the support declaration for the world anti-doping code at a conference held in Copenhagen.

    Sports Secretary General Nikos Exarchos, after gathering the remarks of member-states in the draft declaration on support for the code, called a meeting of EU member-state representatives.

    Reservations were lifted during the meeting and all countries agreed to sign the declaration text, despite six points in which disagreements were raised.

    A delegation then conveyed the six disagreements to the relevant World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) committee, while they were all accepted and included in the declaration's finalized text.

    The text was ultimately signed by representatives of over 50 governments, while the rest stated that they will sign the declaration in the future.

    [27] Greek European Orientation Committee to organize briefing conferences

    Athens, 06/04/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek Committee of Non-Governmental European Orientation Organizations will organize, in cooperation with the foreign ministry, briefing conferences in the capitals of the country's 12 regions, with the exception of Attica, on the ''Convention on the Future of Europe.''

    Greek representatives at the Convention will be making informative speeches in the framework of the conferences, while a dialogue will follow with representatives of local societies' and citizens' agencies.

    The conferences will begin in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on March 11 and end on the Ionian island of Corfu on June 10.

    [28] Decision to take into account interests of Cyprus, says President Papadopoulos

    LARNACA 06/04/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The Greek Cypriot side will decide on holding a referendum on a UN peace proposal taking into consideration primarily the interests of the people of Cyprus and specifically the interests of the Greek Cypriots, President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here on Wednesday.

    Speaking on his way to Athens for a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Papadopoulos said the decision of the Turkish Cypriot side on the matter is relevant but it is not the determining factor as far as the Greek Cypriot side is concerned.

    ''We have told the UN Secretary General that we will be at The Hague to give him our response to his request. The main criterion for our decision will be the interests of the people of Cyprus and specifically the interests of the Greek Cypriots,'' he said.

    The president was speaking as he prepares for a crucial meeting on Thursday in Athens with Simitis and in anticipation of a second meeting of the National Council on Saturday, before Monday's encounter with Annan at The Hague.

    Annan has invited the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus to go to The Hague to tell him if they are prepared to put to a referendum on March 30 his peace plan for a comprehensive settlement.

    The President said the National Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus question, will decide on the matter and the decision will be conveyed to Kofi Annan on Monday.

    Replying to questions, Papadopoulos said that security is an issue of primary concern for the Greek Cypriots.

    Asked if there is sufficient time to fill in the gaps in the peace plan, relating to issues on which there is no agreement yet, he said the process to fill in the gaps can continue until March 25 and added ''at this stage it is generally acknowledged that if we had more time the UN document would be more complete.''

    [29] UN Secretary General sends letters to guarantor powers

    UNITED NATIONS 06/04/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has written to the prime ministers of Greece, Turkey and Britain inviting them to be represented at a meeting on Monday in The Hague at a level appropriate to the importance of his meeting with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides.

    The Secretary General has said he was pleased with the support he received from the Security Council for his efforts to help find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus and said he looks to the three guarantor powers to provide strong support for a successful outcome of his meeting on Monday.

    Annan has invited Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to The Hague to tell him whether they intend to put to the people of Cyprus his peace proposal for a comprehensive settlement on March 30.

    ''The Secretary General was pleased with the support he received in the Security Council yesterday for his efforts to assist the parties in Cyprus reach a comprehensive settlement,'' a statement by Annan's spokesman said here on Wednesday.

    ''The Secretary General has since written to the prime ministers of Greece, Turkey and the UK - the guarantor powers - inviting them to be represented in The Hague next Monday, 10 March, at a level commensurate with the importance of the meeting,'' the statement added.

    He noted that Annan ''is looking to the guarantors to give strong support to his effort so that simultaneous referenda go ahead on 30 March 2003,'' it said.

    The Secretary General wants the three guarantor powers to confirm their agreement with the holding of the separate referenda and to commit to signing with Cyprus a Treaty on matters related to the new state of affairs in Cyprus.

    [30] De Soto says the two sides are expected to reply in writing

    NICOSIA 06/04/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides are expected to give their response in writing to Annan's request to put his plan for a comprehensive settlement in simultaneous referenda, Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro De Soto said here on Wednesday.

    The Peruvian diplomat, who met with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, said that he has no information from any of the sides on what their response would be to Annan's call for a referendum on his peace proposal.

    Asked if he has a clear picture of what is going to happen at The Hague meeting on Monday, De Soto noted that this ''is for the parties to speak, to write, we hope.''

    Invited to say if there is room for negotiation on the plan, De Soto said ''the Secretary General has spoken about this and I don't have anything to add or subtract to what he said.''

    Asked if he has any information that the Turkish side will give a 'yes' answer on Monday, De Soto said that he does not have any information from any of the sides.

    Asked whether the two sides will give their response to the Secretary General in writing, De Soto replied ''yes, they are actually expected to sign a paper, which is well known.''

    Replying to questions about meeting at length with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as he has done with President Papadopoulos, De Soto said that Denktash is away, adding that he was ''in touch with the Turkish Cypriot delegation'' to the talks.

    ''In fact we will be seeing him (Denktash) later on,'' he added.


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