|Friday, 6 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 13, 2003
 Greek FM: Margins for resolving Iraq crisis narrowing
STRASBOURG 13/03/2003 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou warned on Wednesday that the margins for peacefully resolving the Iraq crisis are being exhausted, saying that the Middle East country must comply immediately with demands of UN weapons inspectors.
Papandreou was speaking before the European Parliament here, as he detailed the current Greek EU presidency’s positions and activities regarding the ongoing Iraq crisis.
The Greek FM stressed that the current period is extremely crucial, while he cited the latest report by chief UN weapons inspector Dr. Hans Blix as well as the latter’s references to Iraq’s destruction of its “Al-Samoud” short-range missiles and the prospect of interviewing Iraqi scientists without the presence of third parties or tape recorders.
Papandreou added, however, that inspections in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction cannot continue indefinitely.
“The ‘15’ agreed to a common position at the special Summit meeting on Feb. 17. Our goal is the complete disarmament of Iraq. We considered and consider that war is not unavoidable, and I want to stress here today that we still believe that. It is up to Baghdad to end this crisis by complying with the Security Council’s demands,” he said.
“We call on the Iraqi regime to proceed immediately and unconditionally with actions and answers” to inspectors’ demands, “because the deadlines are very close to being exhausted.”
In other developments, Papandreou noted that the current period is rife with challenges, such as maintaining unity within the 15-member Union; trans-Atlantic relations between Europe and America, as well as Europe’s relations with the Arab and Islamic worlds.
As far as the Arab world is concerned, the Greek foreign minister and current president of the European Council of Ministers said it must mobilize for a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis, while promoting a “dialogue of civilizations” instead of a “clash of civilizations”.
In reference to Turkey, he expressed a wish that the country’s EU course isn’t affected by the Iraq crisis, “because the Union has a significant decision to make concerning that country in 2004”.
Regarding Cyprus, he said the issue is not over.
“We want the Turkish Cypriots here with us, we want them in this assembly, in the great European family … Turkey must help towards this direction,” he stressed.
 Finmin worried about oil price hike if war launched on Iraq
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday that he was worried about a steep rise in the price of oil if war was launched on Iraq, creating inflationary pressures in the European Union.
Speaking to the ambassadors of Arab countries on behalf of Greece, the EU's rotating president, Christodoulakis said that a peaceful resolution of international differences should be achieved.
Also discussed at the meeting were the 15-nation bloc's economic ties with Arab countries, Greece's bilateral ties with those countries, and new legislation on offshore companies.
 DM and former ND leader probe illegal immigrants' issue due to possible Iraq war
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and former main opposition New Democracy party leader Miltiades Evert on Wednesday discussed the problem of an influx of illegal immigrants expected to be faced by Greece due to a possible war in Iraq, as well as developments over the issue of Cyprus.
Evert assessed that the number of illegal immigrants to attempt to seek refuge in neighboring countries, including Greece, will amount to 250,000 people.
He added that the armed forces, harbor authorities and security services must prepare themselves to prevent these people and pointed out that there are 800,000 foreigners in the country already.
Referring to the issue of Cyprus, Evert said Turkey's stance on finding a just and viable solution is relentless and unfair.
On his part, Papantoniou stressed the importance of under-standing between the PASOK and ND parties on national issues, adding that there must be the greatest degree of national consensus on them.
 Greek EU presidency expresses condolences over Djindjic's assassination
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)“The Presidency, deeply shocked by the assassination of the Prime Minister of Serbia Zoran Djindjic, strongly condemns this atrocious act of violence, which is incompatible with a sound democratic system,'' a press release issued by the Greek EU presidency in Athens on Wednesday said.
''The assassination of the Prime Minister of Serbia coincides with an important and crucial period for the future of the new State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, especially as far as its European perspective is concerned. The Presidency calls on the political leadership in both Republics to take all the necessary measures so that the democratic principles and stability in the country may prevail in these testing times.
''Furthermore, the Presidency expresses the hope that the efforts of Zoran Djindjic to promote reform will be further pursued by all political forces in both Republics for the benefit of the people of Serbia and Montenegro.
''The Presidency expects from all competent authorities to fully investigate the case and dispense justice.
''The Presidency expresses its condolences to Zoran Djindjic’s family and to the Serbian people,'' the press release concluded.
Greek gov't expresses sorrow over Djindjic's assassination: "The Greek government is deeply moved by the assassination of Serbia's Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic," government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday.
He condemned the assassination, calling it a "heinous act of violence, which unfortunately coincides with an especially critical period for democracy and stability in the course of the confederation (Serbia-Montenegro) to the European Union".
Also, Foreign Minister George Papandreou stressed, on his part, that the assassinated politician "played a determining role in the transition of Serbia to democracy and contributed with decisiveness and to the normalization of the political life".
"He (Djindjic) undertook the premiership during a difficult period and worked hard for there-introduction of Serbia to the international community, for the modernization of its institutions and the economy, for the strengthening of its European orientation, for the stability and security in the wider region of the Balkans. He remained steadfastly focused on the further development of the Serbian-Greek bilateral relations," Papandreou said.
Papandreou, Patten express sorrow at Djindjic’s assassination: Foreign Minister George Papandreou, currently presiding over the EU Council of Ministers, made a statement for the assassination of Serbia’s Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic on Wednesday before the plenum of the European Parliament in Strasburg.
Papandreou expressed his shock at losing a personal friend and a friend of Europe, democracy and peace in the Balkans.
“This assassination,” he said, “reminds us of the need for the European Union to remain focused on efforts to achieve peace and progress in the south-eastern Balkans, a region currently making its first steps towards democracy, stability and development.”
Addressing the Europarliament next, EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said he fully agreed with the Greek Foreign Minister, and further expressed his own and the EU Commission’s sorrow at the assassination of the Serbian premier.
“We should not allow this assassination to hold back Serbia’s democratic direction toward Europe,” Patten said.
ND leader expresses condolences to Serbian president over Djindjic's murder: Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday sent a letter of condolences to Serbian President Natasa Micic, expressing his deep sorrow and disgust over the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.
Karamanlis condemned the act and expressed the hope that it will not have a negative effect on efforts underway for the development of democratic institutions and the reconstruction of Serbia, a friendly state.
''Political violence has no place in our democracies,'' Karamanlis stressed.
 FM comments on Cyprus issue and on conditions in Turkey
STRASBOURG 13/03/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday spoke of the Cyprus problem, following the collapse of talks on the issue, during a press conference he gave at the European Parliament building here.
Speaking of the European Union's future initiatives concerning the political problem of the island republic, as well as the possibility of improvement with the new Turkish government, he said that the problem was becoming more and more a European one, because there can not be ''walls'' in Europe.
''For the resolution of the problem there must be intense political will. Obviously the solution should be just and functional and should be based on democratic ideals,'' he said.
Commenting on the new government in Turkey, Papandreou congratulated Tayyip Erdogan in light of his election and mandate to form a new government and noted earlier statements by him that the Cyprus problem should be resolved, as the policy of the past few decades has not produced results and that he would exert pressure for a just solution to the problem.
The Greek minister also expressed fears that the problem of Iraq could have internal effects in Turkey, resulting in the strengthening of the more conservative elements in the Turkish parliament concerning the Cyprus problem.
He added that the Iraq situation affected the impetus that was created and expressed hope that this impetus will continue to exist after the crisis is over.
''The resolution of the Cyprus problem would mean the stabilization of the region, the Turkish Cypriots would be part of the European Union, and the European Union course of Turkey will be facilitated,'' Papandreou concluded.
 FM says FYROM name issue must be resolved as soon as possible
STRASBOURG 13/03/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Foreign Minister George Papandreou, speaking on the European Union's military mission in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) during a European Parliament plenary session on Wednesday, said he believed the issue of the country's name should be resolved as soon as possible.
Papandreou said nobody is pleased with the name FYROM, which is a temporary name, adding that it is the outcome of compromise and negotiations in the framework of the UN which adopted it as an official name.
''We are always willing to continue negotiations at the UN and to intensify negotiations with the other side to satisfy the sensitivities of both of us with a solution which will satisfy at the same time,'' he said.
Papandreou further said ''unfortunately, the name has been used for territorial claim in the past. The idea of a Greater Macedonia existed until recently. Fortunately, this aspect has been handled and overcome, at least regarding its historical aspect. Bilateral relations have improved spectacularly in past years, Greece is the top investing country and steadfastly supports the territorial integrity of FYROM and the prosperity and European course of this country.''
The foreign minister also referred to Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, saying his death must be accompanied by Europe's commitment to continue its support for reformer forces and democratic forces in Serbia and Montenegro.
 FM briefs Europarliament on EU military operation in
FYROM STRASBOURG 13/03/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday briefed the Europarliament plenum on the European Union's military operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Papandreou stressed that this military operation will be aimed at securing the integrity and the internationally recognized borders of FYROM, as well as the European course of the country.
Papandreou noted that there were two basic preconditions for the EU to undertake the task, one was the reaching of an agreement between the EU and NATO and the other was the official request by FYROM to the EU.
He noted that both preconditions were met, underlining that FYROM sent an official request for EU's assistance and that the EU-NATO agreement is expected to be finalized by the end of the month.
The Greek minister explained that 487 men will be deployed for six months in FYROM with France being the country responsible for the operation.
He stressed that the possible future undertaking of similar operations in the Balkans by the EU does not in any case mean the end of NATO's presence in the region. On the contrary, he said, the cooperation for peace and security in the region continues.
 9th round of Greek-Turkish exploratory talks conclude in Ankara
ANKARA 13/03/2003 (ANA - A. Abatzis)The 9th round of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey took place in Ankara on Wednesday, where Greece was represented by Foreign Ministry General Secretary Ambassador Anastasios Skopelitis and Turkey by his counterpart Ugur Ziyal.
The exploratory talks began on March 12, 2002 and continue in a closed framework, without statements to the press.
In an unrelated development, the Turkish foreign ministry called the ambassadors of all EU member-states to brief them on the Turkish positions on the Cyprus problem, following the collapse of the direct talks, but a little later it postponed the meeting for Thursday.
 Greek-Turkish inter-ministerial conference begins on Wednesday in Ankara
ANKARA 13/03/2003 (ANA -A. Abatzis)The Greek-Turkish second inter-ministerial conference began on Wednesday and is expected to conclude on Thursday with the signing of a cooperation protocol.
The Greek delegation is headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos and the Turkish by foreign trade General Secretary Tonzer Kayalar.
At the sidelines of the conference, Loverdos met with interim ministers Ali Babacan and Kursat Tuzmen.
Opening the conference, Kayalar said that the incorporation of Turkey in the European Union will bring the two countries (Greece and Turkey) closer and will contribute to the further development of their economic relations.
He also stressed that the issue of double taxation on trade goods was of the outmost importance, thus both countries placed great emphasis on the signing of a bilateral agreement on avoiding such double taxation.
Loverdos, speaking to the ANA, said that that specific issue was not discussed during this meeting, but it was mentioned, saying that Greece can not exempt the profits of merchant marine shipping from such an agreement, as Turkey has requested.
He noted that it was decided to convene a joint committee on the issue in Athens over the next few days to discuss this issue.
The Greek minister also said that the matter of the trade balance between the two countries was discussed, as at this point the Greek exports to Turkey amount about 57 per cent of the Turkish exports to Greece.
On Thursday afternoon, the Greek delegation will depart for Istanbul where he will meet with Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
 Athens pleased over Verheugen comments on Cyprus
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)The government on Wednesday expressed its satisfaction with the latest comments by EU Commissioner Guenter Verheugen regarding the Cyprus issue, days after UN-sponsored peace talks collapsed in the face of the Turkish Cypriot side’s intransigence.
“We will continue our policy, the one we’ve followed for the past years,” government spokesman Christos Protopapas said.
He was commenting on high-profile remarks by Verheugen to a German newspaper on Tuesday, with the latter stressing that the government of the Republic of Cyprus represents the entire island, as based on International Law. Therefore, the Commissioner added, the Accession Agreement will state that the Union’s acquis communautaire will not be implemented in the north – i.e. the Turkish-occupied portions of the island republic.
Protopapas again stressed that Turkey’s own course towards the EU depends on a solution to the Cyprus solution, “we want to believe that under international pressure, particularly European pressure, Turkey will change its stance (on Cyprus),” the government spokesman said.
Finally, he reminded that the revised Annan peace plan for Cyprus is still on the negotiating table.
 Turkish foreign ministry says EU spokesman's Cyprus statement lacks information
ANKARA 13/03/2003 (ANA)The Turkish foreign ministry claimed on Wednesday that the statement of the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen's spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori showed his "lack of information about why and in what conditions Turkey was on Cyprus".
Filori had said that the Greek Cypriot side would be a European Union member in May 2004 ''in any condition'' and ''Turkey would be considered as occupying EU territory when the Greek Cypriot side joined the EU as a full member.''
A statement of the foreign ministry said that Turkey's existence on the island depended on its rights stemming from the international agreements.
The statement pointed out that Turkey had the right to deploy soldiers on Cyprus as a guarantor state within the terms of the Treaty of Guarantee and Treaty of Alliance.
The statement added, ''the EU doesn't have the right to take one-sided decisions on the future of Cyprus and cause international problems by considering international agreements regarding Cyprus as non-existent. Statement of the EU Commission's spokesman does neither have a legal basis nor help efforts for peace and compromise on Cyprus.''
 US planes' 'locate' Greek naval support aircraft within Athens FIR
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)Two carrier-based US fighter planes reportedly scrambled late Wednesday morning to intercept a plane some 90 miles south-west of Kalamata, in extreme southern Greece, that turned out to be none other than a Greek naval support aircraft.
According to reports, at the time of the incident the Greek propeller-driver P3 “Orion” was participating in a NATO exercise and flying within the Athens FIR, close to its boundary with the Malta FIR.
Sources said the two F-18 “Hornet” warplanes took off from the USS “Harry S. Truman” and flew towards the Greek aircraft, making recognition at a distance of 1,000 feet and at an altitude of 1,000 feet as well.
The incident comes after a NOTAM filed by Washington to-wards Athens on Jan. 31, one requesting from Athens information on aircraft flying near US military vessels.
 KKE totally opposite ideologically to terrorist group "N17"
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)The Communist Party of Greece's (KKE) ideology and political practice is totally opposite to that of the "November 17" terrorist group, party leader Aleka Papariga said on Wednesday, adding "thus we have nothing to add nor anything said concerns us".
Speaking in response to statements by the defense of alleged members of the murderous group now in session, Papariga stressed that "KKE has taken a clear position toward 'N17', the aims it served and the role it played for the past 27 years, irrespectively of how the A or B member of the group thinks or the position and the role it played as part of that group".
 PM discusses higher education with university rectors
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis held talks with university rectors on Wednesday, in the presence of Education Minister Petros Efthymiou, focusing on higher education in the country.
Simitis told the rectors ''the wholehearted development and qualitative improvement of higher education in our country was and is a steadfast option of the government.''
He outlined all that has been done in past years in the sector of higher education and stressed that ''the new scene requires higher education establishments in full readiness.''
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Efthymiou said ''the aim of today's meeting was to clarify the scene to enable Greek higher education to play a leading role in the country's development and on the European scene of cooperation.''
Simitis is also expected to meet with presidents of technical institutes in early April.
 Cabinet meeting Thursday seen taking counter-inflationary measures
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)A cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday is expected to take steps to counter inflationary pressures stemming from a rise in global oil prices and domestic fruit and vegetable prices, government sources said.
Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis is likely to recommend stepping up checks in the market by the financial crimes squad and development ministry authorities in order to clamp down on profiteering, the sources said on Wednesday.
In addition, Christodoulakis is to order ministries to keep spending within limits set in the budget; and ask public utility firms to restrain charges.
Inflation in February was sharply higher at 4.3 percent.
In connection with the domestic rise in inflation, the cabinet will also study the impact of a possible war on Iraq lasting more than two weeks, which would begin to hurt eurozone economies, the sources said.
 Gov’t sees accelerating rate of absorbing EU funds
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)A Third Community Support Framework program will develop more significantly compared with previous years be-cause it has mature in project and procedures, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis to review progress of the Third CSF, Mr Christodoulakis said that in the next few months the Greek government would start reporting very high rates in absorbing EU funds giving a strong boost to the country's economic growth and competitiveness.
''Infrastructure, enterprises and many other economic activities are in full development in Greece,'' the Greek minister said, adding that the meeting reaffirmed progress in EU-funded programs and examined the next steps of designing development programs.
''The year 2002 was the period of grand preparations as the Third Community Support Framework included new monitoring procedures and mechanisms, more demanding and stricter com-pared with a Second CSF. Last year we fared well, and this year we are overcoming a series of preparations hurdles,'' Mr Christodoulakis stressed.
The Greek minister noted that in the next few months the program would advance further, becoming a vital development tool for the Greek economy, a very significant and useful factor amid a current climate of economic and geopolitical uncertainties.
Economy Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas, speaking to reporters after the meeting, stressed that Greece ''does not lacking in implementing its development program compared with other EU member-states'' and stressed that a Third Community Support Framework program was progressing with rates above the EU average.
According to figures released by the European Commission, the average absorption rate of available funds for EU member-states was 50 percent in the period 2000-2002, while the absorption rate in Greece was above 51 percent over the same period.
''There is absolutely no danger of losing money from a Third CSF this year, nor for 2004 and 2005,'' Mr Pahtas said in a reassuring tone.
The Greek minister said the government's efforts right now were focusing not on absorption rates but on quality and efficiency of the program.
Agriculture Minister George Drys told reporters that the course of implementing EU programs in the farm sector was satisfactory and said he expected an acceleration of programs in the second half of 2003.
 Transport minister briefs Premier over EU-funded programs
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)The government expects a draft legislation envisaging the building of six cargo centers around the country to be voted in parliament next month paving the way for announcing tenders for the project, Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis to discuss absorption of EU funds, Mr Verelis said that Hellenic Railways Organization will absorb 60 percent more money this year, from 2002, as the majority of projects for the development of its network were currently under implementation.
The Greek minister also stressed that plans to renew the public transportation fleet have already begun.
 Minister inaugurates first tourist submarine in Greece
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis on Wednesday inaugurated the first tourist submarine in Greece, the ''Atlantis Santorini I'', in the sea region near Peace and Friendship Stadium.
The submarine can dive to a depth of 25-30 meters in the region of Caldera, at an angle of up to 15 degrees, to enable passengers to view the unique seabed.
Every such dive lasts for about an hour and includes 28 passengers and two crew. The submarine will be carrying out 8-10 runs daily from spring until September.
The submarine is monitored by a surface vessel throughout its voyage and constant contact is maintained between them.
 ND leader criticizes gov't tourism policy; reservations down
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday visited the National Tourism Organization’s (EOT) offices in downtown Athens, where he was briefed on possible repercussions to the all-important tourism industry from a war in Iraq.
The ND president sternly criticized the government over what he called the current state of Greece’s tourism sector, while noting that his party does not discern a clear-cut strategy to turn tourism into a lever for development. Moreover, he blamed the government for low absorption rates of Community funds as well as EOT’s weakening and the freezing of an international campaign to promote Greece as a tourist destination.
In briefing Karamanlis, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos – whose portfolio includes EOT and the tourism sector – said a reduction of between 10 to 20 percent in reservations has been recorded, blaming uncertainty in the face of a possible Iraq war. However, he said crisis is only temporary and mainly involves the spring season.
Tsohatzopoulos arrived at the EOT offices to personally brief Karamanlis.
Finally, he added that a draft bill would soon be tabled governing the regime for a number of casinos now operating in Greece.
 Fresh fruit and vegetable prices soar in early March
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)Fresh fruit and vegetable prices are expected to add further burdens to domestic inflation in March, with price rises exceeding 450 percent in the first 10 days of the month, compared with the same period in 2002.
Official figures from the fresh produce market of Thessaloniki showed that prices of fresh fruit and vegetables were 7.32 percent to 486 percent higher in the majority of products during the first 10 days of March.
Price increases are also rising sharply in the retail sector, with open fruit and vegetable market and supermarkets raising their prices on a daily basis, following a trend by their suppliers.
These developments have already begun worrying the government which is seeking more drastic interventions in the domestic market to contain price increases. Finance ministry sources said that the inflation rate would drop to 3.1 percent in March from 4.3 percent in February, although recent developments in the domestic retail market could undermine this trend if they did not meet successfully.
 V. Papandreou signs presidential decrees on waste management
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou on Wednesday signed three presidential decrees concerning the terms of alternative waste management.
The decrees deal with the safe management of used tires, electronic and electric equipment waste.
 Greek stocks fall to new six-year lows
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks continued their free-fall decline to new six-year lows in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, hit by a negative climate in international markets and worries over domestic economic developments.
The general index dropped 1.60 percent to end at 1,477.91 points, with turnover a low 52 million euros.
The Textile, Construction, IT Solutions, Publication and Bank sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (6.14 percent, 4.51 percent, 4.36 percent, 2.95 percent and 2.87 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 1.90 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index dropped 1.79 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.98 percent down. The wider FTSE/ASE 140 index fell 1.89 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 247 to 65 with another 40 issues unchanged.
Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Wednesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 64.4 mln euros Wednesday
Equity Index Futures:
 Coordination and Cooperation Committee examines sports preparation
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)The Coordination and Cooperation Committee convened on Wednesday to examine issues concerning sports preparation, the functioning of installations and facilities provided for athletes.
Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki exchanged views with officials on issues concerning facilities for athletes and their unimpeded preparation until the start of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Sports Secretary General Nikos Exarchos presented the new installations providing suitable conditions for athletes and referred to the promotion of projects in parts of the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece.
 Int'l conference on return of Parthenon Marbles begins here
Athens, 13/03/2003 (ANA)The high-profile international campaign to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece once again dominated the cultural spotlight here on Wednesday as a one-day conference commenced in downtown Athens.
In greeting delegates, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni emphasized that the Parthenon Marbles are neither the Venus Di Milo nor the “Winged Victory” (Nike of Samothrace), “but a portion of the whole”.
“The antiquities of Athens do not just belong to the Greeks, but to all the peoples that believe in the Parthenon’s symbolism,” she added.
Other speakers during the conference included veteran French film director Jules Dassin, the president of the Melina Mercouri Foundation and the widower of the late Greek actress and one-time culture minister; Laurence professor emeritus of classical archaeology at Cambridge Anthony Snodgrass, who also heads up the British committee for a return of the Marbles; and William St. Clair, the author of “Lord Elgin and the Marbles”.
St. Clair’s research of the museum’s archives revealed the damage done to the Marbles by British Museum restoration staff in the late 1930s. News of the damage was considered a strong rebuff to the standing refusal by the British Museum’s officials vis-a-vis a return of the Marbles to Greece. The British Museum, among others, has long claimed the Marbles are better off in London, away from the ravages of pollution in Athens.
On Wednesday St. Clair said the demand for the Marbles’ return is not nationalistic, while he expressed a hope that the governments of Greece and the UK will be able to find new forms of stewardship for such antiquities.
Conversely, the publisher of Artwatch UK, Michael Daley, criticized the previous speakers’ arguments for a return of the sculptures, saying that Lord Elgin’s taking of the Marbles was not a theft, but an effort to save them from the ravages of the Ottoman Turks then occupying modern-day Athens.
He also said that although the Parthenon’s symbolism once held true, today this notion has been transformed into a “cultural good”, before referring to what he called the Parthenon’s shabby treatment by the Greek side, “one of the tragedies of the 20th century”.
Additionally, delegates will be briefed on the course of preparations to construct a new Acropolis museum to house the marbles before the Athens Olympics in August 2004.
Athens’ vigorous campaign to return the Parthenon Marbles comes only a few weeks after the British Museum’s director curtly dismissed the idea of ever returning the sliced off friezes or even loaning them for display during the 2004 Athens Olympics.
British Museum Director Neil MacGregor was quoted in the “Sunday Telegraph” last month as saying the London-based museum was the best venue to display the antiquities in "the context of the wider world”. The ancient sculptures -- depicting mythological scenes -- have long been known as the “Elgin Marbles” after the early 19th British diplomat who bribed local Ottoman officials in order to slice them off the Parthenon before shipping them to England.
On his part, MacGregor said they should never be returned to Greece, while he was terminating "substantive discussions" on the matter.
Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos will host a dinner for the delegates later in the evening, with former British Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen speaking on the subject during the reception.
Venizelos was quick to address MacGregor’s uncharacteristically sharp comments late last month, saying the British museum director would change his view if he came to Athens.
"I invite him to visit the Parthenon at the Acropolis. I am certain that this will help him put things into perspective," the Greek culture minister stated.
Lord David Owen proposes alternating Parthenon Marbles exhibition: Lord David Owen proposed on Wednesday the signing of an agreement anticipating an alternating Parthenon Marbles exhibition in Greece and Britain.
Lord Owen was speaking during an official dinner hosted by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos for delegates participating in a conference on the Parthenon Marbles.
The British former foreign secretary set the year 2004 as the time limit for the Parthenon Marbles to come to Athens and to the Acropolis Museum, currently under construction, and 2012, the year Britain contests the Olympic Games.
In the event Britain fails to host the Olympic Games, Lord Owen proposes that the agreement should anticipate the renegotiating of the specific date.
 President Papadopoulos says Cyprus talks only under UN auspices
NICOSIA 13/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Wednesday negotiations for a Cyprus settlement could take place only under UN auspices.
Papadopoulos' reply came after being asked whether he would meet Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who had earlier said he would send a letter to the Cypriot President outlining the changes he would like to make on the third UN Secretary-General's plan for a Cyprus settlement and if Papadopoulos agreed, then the two could meet next week.
''The negotiations which we (Greek Cypriot side) hold are under UN auspices only," the president said.
 Cyprus Government satisfied with UN stance, says spokesman
NICOSIA 13/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government is satisfied with the way the United Nations is presenting the outcome of The Hague talks, and is scheduling a campaign to inform foreign governments, including members of the Security Council, and the foreign press on its positions, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Wednesday.
Chrysostomides stressed the government's readiness to continue efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, within the UN framework, even after signing the European Union Accession Treaty on April 16 on the basis of ''all the proposals which have been submitted and the efforts underway, including the Annan plan which is the most complete plan before the parties for negotiation,'' he said.
In his first briefing after the collapse of The Hague talks, Chrysostomides said there is a ''general acknowledgment that the Turkish Cypriot and the Turkish sides are entirely responsible,'' something which was confirmed through statements made by State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher, British envoy Lord David Hannay and a Foreign Office spokesman.
''The responsibility lies with Mr. Denktash, and the Turkish side said it was not in a position to reply to the issues of security, something which was fundamental in the commitment to refer the plan to referenda,'' the spokesman said.
Asked if the government is satisfied with the way the UN are presenting the results of The Hague talks, Chrysostomides rep-lied, ''Yes, with Annan's statement mainly, which presented the actual facts.''
''I believe that the UN have this time a clear picture of who is the obstacle in promoting a proper solution to the Cyprus problem,'' the spokesman noted.
Chrysostomides said the government is planning a campaign, through the Foreign Ministry, to enlighten foreign governments mainly, including the members of the Security Council, permanent and non-permanent members, and the foreign press.
Asked if the Annan plan remains on the table, even after April 16, Chrysostomides said ''the President has always pledged that efforts for a Cyprus settlement will continue even after April 16 and this is a message that should be sent to the Turkish Cypriot community so that it does not consider that with the signing of the Accession Treaty our side (Greek Cypriot) will abandon efforts to solve the Cyprus problem,'' he said.
Regarding Turkish Justice and Development Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan's stance, Chrysostomides said ''there is a great change from his previous positions which seemed flexible and diplomatic, that he was trying to support a solution to the Cyprus problem in a way which was different from Rauf Denktash's.''
However, ''at this moment it seems there is full accord with Denktash's positions,'' and it appears that now that Erdogan will become Prime Minister, he ''is adjusting to the demands of today's political arena in Turkey,'' Chrysostomides said.
Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said he was prepared to put a UN peace proposal to a referendum and that he was ready not to reopen the plan's substantive provisions if the other side was prepared to do likewise.
Annan said his Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto would report to the Security Council, and de Soto's office on the island would close in the coming weeks.