|Saturday, 19 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-03-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 29, 2003
 Hijacked Turkish plane on domestic flight lands in Athens for refueling
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)A Turkish Airlines plane on a domestic flight from Istanbul to Ankara was hijacked on Friday night and landed at Athens international airport shortly after midnight for refueling. There were conflicting reports at press time as to the number of hijackers on board and their demands.
Earlier reports said the hijackers intend to have the plane refueled at Athens' ''Eleftherios Venizelos'' airport and then head for Germany.
Greek sources said that two Greek F-16 fighter jets had taken off and monitored the plane all through the Greek airspace.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis was informed of the incident and a meeting was taking place by competent ministers.
The Greek authorities' next moves will depend on the demands of the hijackers, whose identity remains unknown.
Flight TK 160 took off from Istanbul airport at 10 p.m. and according to Istanbul deputy prefect Salim Eskioglu the Airbus 310 jet was carrying 194 passengers and a nine-member crew. He said the plane changed direction for Athens while over Bantirma.
According to an ANA dispatch from Ankara, a woman passenger told the second channel of Turkish state television that there were four hijackers. Also on board is ruling Justice and Development Party deputy Vahit Eldem who told the same channel by phone that a hijacker was in the cockpit. The ANA dispatch, quoting Anadolu news agency, said that a hijacker was carrying plastic explosives.
Turkish CNN Turk channel said among the passengers were two ruling party deputies and a former deputy and minister.
Another ANA dispatch from Ankara said Anadolu reported that Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in a telephone conversation with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou said that of paramount importance for Turkey was the health of the passengers and crewmembers.
 Papandreou discusses economic cooperation with Latin American ministers
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Foreign Minister and current EU Council of Ministers president in-office George Papandreou on Friday stressed the common values shared between Europe and Latin America, after a meeting of the Rio-EU Group held in Athens.
Speaking during a press conference Papandreou said that issues discussed included the two region’s economic cooperation and the role they could both play in the international scene, as they shared common principles.
“Even on major issues, such as Iraq and the Middle East, there is a great identity of mentalities and views, especially when it comes to the role of the United Nations in the settlement of problems globally,” Papandreou remarked, adding that the role of the UN was underlined by both European and Latin American ministers attending the meeting.
Papandreou noted the optimistic outcome of the meeting, as Greece’s initiative regarding the Olympic Truce was singed by all nations' ministers attending the meeting, at a time when global peace is at a crucial crossroads.
In reply to a question as whether EU enlargement would harm Latin American markets, the Greek foreign minister said that enlargement could play a very significant role in development of EU-third countries ties, as many nations, especially the poorest ones, would benefit from access to the European single market.
EU-Rio Group meeting constructive, Yiannitsis says: Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Friday held a press conference, following the conclusion of the meeting between the EU and the Rio Group of countries, which focused on political and economic issues.
Speaking of the meeting, Yiannitsis said that it was an interesting and constructive one, adding that Europe and Latin America share views on the Iraq crisis and the Middle East in general.
''The EU and Latin America stand closer than ever before,'' he said, adding that special attention was paid to the social cohesion and called on all parties to work hard for the success of the 3rd Ministerial Meeting that will take place in Mexico in 2004.
Peruvian Foreign Minister Alan Wagner also addressed the press conference, expressing his satisfaction over the success of the meeting, stressing that Latin American countries place special importance on the issue of social cohesion.
Speaking of Iraq, he underlined the standing position of the region's countries in support of the role of the United Nations in the rebuilding or Iraq, immediately after the war, and also spoke of the importance of the UN Security Council institution.
European Commissioner Chris Patten spoke at the press conference, noting that technical delays in talks between the EU and Latin American countries, on a bilateral level will not continue, adding that the talks will go on unhindered.
He underlined the excellent level of the EU-Latin American relations, speaking of the parallel promotion of both the political negotiations and the economic negotiations.
 Dialogue on Iraq humanitarian aid, reconstruction, within UN framework, FM says
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)The issue of humanitarian assistance for, as well as the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, must be discussed within the framework of the United Nations, Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou, who currently chairs the EU Council of Ministers, told a press conference late Thursday.
''The discussion for confrontation of the issue of humanitarian assistance and also the reconstruction, post-war, of Iraq, must take place within the framework of the UN,'' Papandreou, whose country currently holds the rotating six-month EU presidency, said during a press conference at the close of the first day of a two-day meeting in the Athens coastal suburb of Vouliagmeni between EU foreign ministers and their counterparts from the four South American nations (Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil) known as the Mercosur states, and Mexico and Chile.
''I believe that Mr. Tony Blair (British prime minister) spoke abut this with the US president (George Bush), as it is a position with which Britain has agreed in the framework of the European Union,'' Papandreou said.
''However, it is too early to make assessments,'' he added.
On the discussions with his Latin American counterparts, Papandreou ascertained an identity of views on many of the international political issues discussed, including a road map for resolving the Palestinian problem.
Papandreou further ascertained coinciding views with the Mercosur states on issues concerning trade, combatting drug trafficking, security, and international terrorism, and stressed the importance of boosting cooperation between those countries and the EU.
The EU's High Commissioner for Foreign and Security Policy, Xavier Solana, told reporters that he endorsed the text of Conclusions of last week's EU summit in Brussels with respect to the central role the EU should play in the Iraq crisis and safeguarding that country's territorial integrity. ''The view of the 15 (EU) member states has been stipulated, and at the highest level,'' he noted.
With respect to the identity of views between the EU and the Latin American states, Solana stressed that ''In today's complex situation, such discussions make me believe that the world can be governed differently, and become a better one''.
Paraguay foreign minister Jose Moreno Rufinelli, who chairs the Mercosur foreign ministers' council, agreed with Papandreou on the coincidence of views on many of the major international issues, and expressed a desire for closer cooperation with the EU.
"Europe can teach us much, with its immense experience from the Union and its integration. The fact that such formations are capable of functioning and developing gives us hope," he said, referring to the integration being attempted by the Mercosur (Southern Common Market) members.
As for the EU-Mercosur economic and trade negotiations, Rufinelli and EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy both said they were progressing in accordance with the timetables.
Lamy added that the EU, in its relations with Latin America, will, when it is needed, "prove that the promises are not just words".
Action plan for humanitarian aid to Iraq in place, minister says: The Greek foreign ministry had long ago prepared an action plan for dealing with the humanitarian aspects of the conflict in Iraq, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said on Friday.
The measures envisioned by the government targeted both the needs of potential waves of refugees leaving Iraq and of civilians that remained within the country, especially children, he said.
He also clarified that humanitarian aid from Greece would be handled by the United Nations and its organizations, while bilateral aid would be sent through Greek Embassies and non-governmental organizations.
Loverdos said that NGOs had submitted action plans that were now being assessed by the ministry.
The minister also noted that no refugee issue had arisen as yet and that no refugees had turned up at the Iraq-Jordan border, contrary to media reports. Aid being collected in Greece was being placed in storage and would be sent when the time was judged to be right, he added.
''For this reason, it is preferable if the public contribute in cash or foodstuffs with a long shelf-life,'' Loverdos said.
 PM: 'We support every effort to end the war in Iraq'
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Greece supports every effort to end the war in Iraq and protect Iraqi civilians, Greek Prime Minister and current president of the European Council said on Friday.
''Let it end as soon as possible; let peace and democracy be restored in Iraq; Let international legality be wholly supported,'' the premier said during his speech at a PASOK seminar focusing on the results of the informal European Union summit.
While the war in Iraq was a painful reality, it must not be allowed to immobilize the EU, Simitis stressed.
"The Union must go on. In this unprecedented international crisis the Greek presidency has the opportunity, the knowledge and presence of mind to look forward and act appropriately, with acuity, stability and realism," he said.
The Greek premier predicted, meanwhile, that Greece's membership of the euro-zone would give its economy enough resilience to withstand the repercussions of the Iraqi conflict.
''With the euro and our economic policy we give our economy resilient traits that only the economies of large countries with strong currencies had in past crises,'' Simitis noted, stressing that this was the first time that a major crisis had not had an impact on the Greek currency.
Referring to the Lisbon strategy, the prime minister said there was pressure to quietly abandon the strategy of 2000 and adopt a ''so-called more realistic and certainly more conservative and less ambitious policy'' with more limited goals, focusing chiefly on enterprise and markets.
At the spring EU summit, the Greek EU presidency had offered a convincing and comprehensive answer to these concerns, Simitis said.
''The transition to a knowledge-base economy, sustainable development and reforming the European social model are still realistic and achievable goals,'' he stressed.
By confirming the EU's focus on the Lisbon strategy and vision and by not allowing itself to be swept up in the dramatic events within the United Nations and Iraq, the Greek presidency succeeded in keeping the bar high in the search for quality development, Simitis concluded.
Based on the results of the summit, the Greek premier said priority issues were increasing employment and social cohesion; promoting innovation and enterprise; deepening the unified market and internal connections within Europe; and protecting the environment.
 Gov't: Greek presidency right to stress UN role in post-war Iraq
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Statements by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spanish premier Jose Maria Aznar in the past week confirmed that the initiative taken by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis as European Council president to emphasize a special role for the U.N. in post-war Iraq had been correct, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Friday.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels as the war began had stressed in a joint resolution that the U.N. should have a key role in humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts after the conflict.
"The role and the prestige of the U.N. is a point that is of great interest to us," the Greek spokesman noted.
In statements on the eve of his departure for a meeting with United States President George Bush on Wednesday, Blair had assured reporters "that it is our desire to ensure that the U.N. is centrally involved."
Speaking on Spanish radio on Thursday, meanwhile, Aznar said that "post-Saddam Iraq must be to a very great extent the responsibility of the United Nations."
 French president and ND leader discuss Iraq and future of
EU PARIS 29/03/2003 (ANA - A. Panagopoulos)French President Jacques Chirac and main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis discussed the crisis in Iraq and the future of the European Union here on Friday.
Karamanlis said in a statement he was against the war and expressed the hope it will end as soon as possible with as few casualties as possible.
He further stressed the need for the UN to play a role in the post-war period and Europe to obtain a voice which will be heard and taken into account.
Referring to cross-Atlantic cooperation, Karamanlis said it should take place on the basis of equality and mutual trust.
The ND leader supported the creation of a Eurozone for foreign policy and defense policy issues, even if all member-states do not agree.
''The EU should go ahead for all who want and can. Greece both wants and can and must be at the centre of European evolution and at the centre of Europe,'' he said.
According to reports, Karamanlis expressed concern to the French president whether Europe will be able to overcome dissent and the recent feud.
President Chirac appeared optimistic that difficulties will be overcome.
A discussion was also held on the issue of Cyprus and the negative stance of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, as well as on Turkey's European prospects, on which Karamanlis expressed his steadfast positions.
ND leader addresses event organized by de Gaulle and Karamanlis foundations: Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Friday the European Union should speak with one voice on foreign and security policy issues.
Karamanlis, who was speaking at the French Academy at an event organized by the Constantine Karamanlis and Charles de Gaulle foundations, said it is regrettable that the only common position the EU has on foreign policy issues is the wish to confirm that it can take a common position.
He added that Europe, at a time when its commitments on the same ideas and values are being put to the test, is delaying to respond to the demands of its citizens for a common foreign and common defense and security policy.
''If some EU countries believe that they cannot provide a continuation to the desire of our peoples for a common foreign policy and a common defense policy then we will be obliged to adopt reinforced cooperation, meaning a Eurozone defense, which is not and which cannot be beyond our capabilities,'' he said.
Referring to the Iraq crisis, Karamanlis said ''the Security Council must constitute the framework of international legalization and the EU could constitute a power of stability, peace and of the normalization of the situation, immediately after the end of military operations. We all have a responsibility and primarily France, being a permanent member of the Security Council, as well as Greece in its capacity as current EU president not to leave the people of Iraq to their fate.''
 DM Papantoniou on official visit to US next week
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Greece's defense minister Yannos Papantoniou on Saturday begins a nine-day official visit to the United States for talks with US government officials on EU-US relations and to address a Foreign Policy Association event.
Papantoniou, who currently chairs the EU Council of Defense Ministers, will have separate talks in Washington on Tuesday with US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
On Wednesday he will fly to Dallas to attend the handover ceremony of the first F-16 Block 52+ Fighter Falcons commissioned by Greece from the Texas-based Lockheed Martin company.
On Thursday, Papantoniou will be the keynote speaker at a Foreign Policy Association (FPA) event in New York, before going on to Boston for a lecture at Harvard University on Friday.
While in the US, Papantoniou will also meet with members of the Hellenic American Heritage Council and Senator Paul Sarbanes, while on Monday he will meet with Archbishop Demetrios of America.
 Gov't appeals to Greek journalists in Iraq to leave war zone
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)The Greek government on Friday urgently appealed to Greek journalists currently in Baghdad covering the war to leave Iraq for their own safety.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas called for "everyone's" assistance to convince 16 Greek journalists in Iraq covering the war to leave Iraq.
He said that the Press ministry, in cooperation with the foreign ministry, was looking into ways of evacuating the Greek journalists from Baghdad, but added that most of them refused to leave.
Protopapas expressed great respect for the journalists' professional conscientiousness, but added that their physical wellbeing and safety took precedence.
He appealed to the mass media and journalists to help convince their colleagues to depart Baghdad.
 Turkish PM says Turkey wants meeting of Cyprus guarantor countries
ISTANBUL 29/03/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday Turkey wants a meeting of the guarantor countries, namely Britain, Greece and Turkey, of Cyprus and of the two sides on the island to discuss a way of resolving the Cyprus issue, adding that Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has already started relevant actions.
Referring to recent criticism by the president of TUSIAD, who called on the government to publicly accept proposals by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a base for a solution to the Cyprus issue, Erdogan said his government wants to take some step and that he discussed this with Gul.
 7 formations of Turkish fighter jets infringe on Athens' FIR, all intercepted
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Seven formations of Turkish fighter jets infringed on Athens' Flight Information Region (FIR) and in two occasions they violated Greek airspace over the central Aegean and east of the island of Rhodes on Friday, according to press reports.
In all cases the Turkish aircraft were intercepted by Greek jets, while in six cases the interceptions developed into mock air-fights.
The same sources noted that the Turkish aircraft were armed.
 Greece says initiative for ''mini summit'' on defense geostrategically positive
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)EU president Greece viewed an initiative by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg to call a ''mini summit'' on common EU defense policy as ''geo-strategically positive'' a Greek government spokesman said on Friday.
Spokesman Christos Protopapas told reporters at a regular press briefing that although the initiative did not address all questions, it nevertheless ''gave rise to a debate that was necessary for conditions to mature''.
In any case, as Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis had indicated to the Parliament on Thursday, defense matters were excluded from enhanced cooperation and any serious discussion on such matters presupposed a dialogue with the US.
Protopapas also said that Greece, due to its capacity as the EU president in-office would not participate in a meeting of the seven medium and small EU states in Luxembourg on institutional issues, adding that the Greek prime minister would have to compound all views at the Summit on 16 April in Athens, therefore Greece would play a decisive role.
''Greece does not lay aside problems for the last part of the presidency, it solves them during the presidency'', he indicated.
 'Declaration for Peace' by 50 women MEPs to demand stop to Iraq war
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Fifty women members of the European Parliament will demand ''a stop to the insanity of the war in Iraq'' in a 'Declaration for Peace' that they will sign the following Monday at the Athens Acropolis.
The initiative for the declaration was taken by PASOK MEP Anna Karamanou, who is also president of the European Parliament's Committee for Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities.
Karamanou has also called an emergency meeting of the European Network of Parliamentary Equal Rights Committees in Athens on the same day that will discuss issues pertaining to the participation of women in dialogue in Europe and the legal, economic and social dimensions of women’s' rights.
 EU on opposition crackdown in Zimbabwe
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Declaration by the Greek Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the crackdown on the opposition in Zimbabwe
''The EU strongly condemns the unprecedented violence and repression against the opposition after the protest actions of 18-19 March 2003. The EU is especially concerned by the recent events and condemns the wave of arbitrary arrests of approximately 400 opposition supporters many of whom have suffered ill-treatment and even torture by security forces. At least 250 people had to be hospitalized, dozens are reported missing, and at least one MDC member has died.
The European Union calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to respect the constitutionally guaranteed right of the Zimbabwean people to protest peacefully. The stay away of 18-19 March was predominantly peaceful. While, in spite of MDC's calls for peaceful action, serious incidents took place at the margins of the protest action, under no circumstances can this justify this unprecedented violence against opposition supporters.
We strongly condemn President Mugabe's recent appeals on 21 and 22 March to smash any democratic opposition. These appeals actually triggered this new wave of violence.
The EU reiterates her call on the Government of Zimbabwe to respect human rights, to immediately cease its campaign of violent repression and to call to account those responsible for the use of violence and torture.
To this end, the EU calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the results of the by-elections in the constituencies of Kuwadzana and Highfield reflect the freely expressed choice of the electorates there.
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 [Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway], members of the European Economic Area align themselves with this declaration.
 Labor minister sees fall in unemployment, stresses Lisbon strategy
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Unemployment in Greece would continue its downward slide, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas predicted on Friday in his address to a PASOK seminar on the results achieved by the
Greek EU presidency at the informal EU spring summit in Brussels.
On a European level, the minister underlined the importance of social policies for the Community at the present time.
In re-activating the Lisbon strategy and bringing it to the forefront, the Greek presidency was proposing and highlighting modernization of Europe's social model as Europe's main weapon and key advantage in attaining sustainable development and full employment with social cohesion, he said.
Far from being a luxury, social policies were a vital necessity and this became apparent when one measured the cost of their absence, Reppas noted.
The minister said that an extra year of education and training for each EU citizen would yield a 5 per cent increase in the EU's overall productivity. Investments in health care and work safety would increase productivity by reducing lost work hours through accidents, with poor working conditions estimated to cost the EU economy roughly 3 per cent of its GDP each year and 500 million working days lost per year through labor accidents.
Within Greece, he said the downward trend in unemployment seen in 2002, where unemployment fell to 9.9 per cent from 10.5 per cent in 2001, would continue. But he also noted pressures on the labor market, such as a loss of jobs in primary production that offset gains in the secondary and tertiary sectors, an increase in undeclared and uninsured unemployment and the fact that jobs created in Greece were full-time, unlike those in the rest of the EU.
The seminar was also addressed by Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, who said Greece had competitive advantages that might help it speed up development and further convergence with other EU economies if used correctly.
Among these he mentioned an investment program currently underway, structural reforms, competitive productions costs and land prices, good labor relations, the quality of human resources and Greece's strategic geographical position in enlarged Europe.
 EU approves measures to support European airlines
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)An EU Transport Ministers Council in Brussels on Friday approved a recommendation by Greek Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis for taking emergency measures to support European airlines suffering from a war in Iraq.
The Greek EU Presidency's proposals envisaged payment of compensation, on occasion, to European airlines losing flights because of the closing of airspace because of the war.
Mr Verelis said the decision by the Council to approve the Greek EU presidency's proposals were a very significant fact.
 EU awards to companies for diversity, gender equality, life-long learning
BRUSSELS 29/03/2003 (ANA - A. Simatos)The European Commission on Thursday in Brussels presented three special awards to an equal number of companies for excelling in diversity, gender equality and life-long learning, and announced the 2003 list of the 100 best workplaces in the EU in the area of quality at workplace environment.
Greece's Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou presented the life-long learning at the workplace award to Finland's Hannes Snellman, the diversity at the workplace award to Ireland's Intel and the gender equality at the workplace award to Germany's Schering at a special award ceremony here in Brussels.
Six companies from Greece were also included in the list of Europe's 100 best honored for the quality of their workplace environment that was determined through a process analyzing corporate policies as well as employees’ views on their own employer.
In her post-award speech, Diamantopoulou pointed to the Commission's commitment to the Lisbon strategy and mainly to efforts for the development of a job market that would not generate any exclusion problems for certain social groups.
''The companies that have already ventured into placing the weight of their investments in their own human resources and the employment of special social groups have found that such investments are profitable'', the Commissioner said.
 EU Parl't committee adopts Greek MEP's report for employees
BRUSSELS 29/03/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)The European Parliament's Committee for Industry, Foreign Trade, Research and Energy on Friday unanimously approved a report by Greek New Democracy MEP Christos Folias on ''promoting economic participation of employees in businesses''.
Folias said that economic participation in companies by their workforce should be encouraged but should on no account be mandatory. He also stressed the danger that replacing wages with participation in profits or company shares might undermine efforts to support social insurance systems.
 ASE ends week 3.34 percent lower
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks fell sharply in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday hit by international fears over a prolonged war in Iraq.
The general index fell 1.39 percent to end at 1,517.94 points, with turnover a low 87.6 million euros. The general index ended the week with a net loss of 3.34 percent.
The Textile sector was the only one to score gains (0.30 percent), the Investment index was unchanged from Thursday's closing, while the Publication, IT Solution, Holding and Cement sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (3.50 percent, 2.34 percent, 1.94 percent and 1.74 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 1.69 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.82 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index dropped 0.90 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 1.46 percent down.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 232 to 50 with another 71 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 51.1 mln euros Friday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Friday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
 ATHOC president meets with ''Athens 2004'' national sponsors
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Friday briefed the representatives of companies that have been named ''Grand National Sponsors'' on the course of the preparations for the Games and the developments concerning the sponsor program.
They discussed the sponsor program and ways to promote the sponsors.
The ''Athens 2004'' sponsor program has yielded some 272 million euros, or 137 per cent of the projected amount, with only 10 out of 40 categories completed.
''It is very important for us to have the sponsor on the side of the Organizing Committee, since we have managed to make an Olympic record of support, especially from our national sponsors,'' Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said.
 Meeting of EU sport director generals begins at Ancient Olympia
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)Sports activities in European countries, the values of the spirit of the Olympic Games and the modern-day problems faced by sport, such as violence and doping, are the main topics being discussed at a meeting of European Union member states' sport director generals which began at Ancient Olympia on Friday.
Greece is represented by Sports Secretary General Nikos Exarchos who is presiding over the meeting.
Exarchos noted the importance of the values of the Olympic spirit as a counter-proposal to war and intolerance. In view of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the sports secretary general also referred to Greece's aim to make sport accessible to all, further support amateur sport and also encourage people with special needs to take up sport.
Exarchos also gave emphasis on the need to promote volunteerism, which he said encourages peace and advances mutual understanding and respect among people of different cultures.
 Testimony on Bakoyiannis' murder expected Mon. at 'N17' trial
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)The assassination of well-known New Democracy deputy and journalist Pavlos Bakoyiannis in 1989 as well as a near-fatal bombing attack against former high-ranking PASOK deputy George Petsos and his driver dominated court proceedings on Friday in the closely watched trial of 19 accused “November 17” suspects.
Former ND minister and current Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni, the slain deputy’s widow, as well as their two children were in the specially modified courtroom at Korydallos Prison on Friday.
Testimony in the Bakoyiannis case is expected to commence on Monday.
 Municipality of Athens coordinates humanitarian aid effort for Iraq
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)The Municipality of Athens will begin on Monday an effort to collect humanitarian aid for the children of Iraq, as the Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyianni and non-governmental organizations called on Athens' citizens to contribute to the effort.
The Municipality of Athens will coordinate the effort of UNICEF, the Red Cross, the Doctors without Frontiers, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, the Action Aid, the Pharmacists without Frontiers and the Greek Council for Refugees.
 UNICEF-sponsored 'radiothon' for relief of Iraqi children
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)A 'radiothon' organized by the Greek state radio channel ERA and sponsored UNICEF on April 8 will seek to raise funds for programs to send aid to Iraqi children.
In a press conference on Friday, the head of UNICEF Greece Lambros Kanellopoulos outlined the dire conditions faced by Iraqi children and called on all radio stations to contribute to the effort.
Those wishing to contribute can deposit donations from Friday to the following bank accounts:
National Bank of Greece: 169/480020-64
Commercial Bank of Greece: 031/80191081
Agricultural Bank of Greece: 017040044 16-70
Piraeus Bank: 5049-001837-211
Nova Bank: 519829
Alpha Bank: 115 002002 017649 (procedure K03)
Citibank: 5502 346484
Cash can also be deposited through all National Bank ATMs and on the Internet at the site www.unicef.gr
Quoting figures, Kanellopoulos said that at least one million Iraqi children were at risk of malnourishment and 4.2 million urgently needed basic medical services, while 16 million people in Iraq needed drinking water.
 UNESCO meeting to discuss Parthenon Marbles case
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)The United Nations’ information centre here on Friday announced that UNESCO will sponsor a meeting where Greece’s demand for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum in London will be among the primary topics on an agenda of discussions.
Another issue deals with Turkey’s standing demand for the return of the Bogazkoy Sphinx from a Berlin museum.
The UNESCO intergovernmental committee’s initiative is part of efforts to promote the “return of cultural property to its countries of origin, or restitution in case of illicit appropriation”.
The body, which consists of representatives from 22 member-states that are all elected to four-year terms, meets every two years to consider cases brought to its attention, according to a press release by the UN information centre in Athens.
 EU informal justice, interior council session opens in Veria on Friday
Athens, 29/03/2003 (ANA)European Union Justice and Interior Affairs ministers on Friday launched an informal council held within the framework of the Greek EU presidency in Veria, Greece, to discuss the issue of illegal immigration that is currently topping the international agenda due to the war in Iraq.
Speaking at the meeting, Greek Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Costas Skandalidis, who is chairing the Council, said it would be best if the majority of the refugee flow from the war zone remained in countries sharing borders with Iraq, adding that active participation on the part of the EU could ensure better conditions at refugee camps with the provision of necessary humanitarian aid.
Other issues to be reviewed at the Council include management of EU outer borders and the development of a common framework for migrant programs already applied by member states.
Moreover, Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos announced that Council participants had unanimously agreed to provide local support to refugees from Iraq at hospitality centers in Iraq as well as in its neighboring countries, and said that the EU had approved a 100-million-euro sum for the project.
Minister says informal EU justice conference focused on five points: Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, speaking at a press conference at the end of the informal European Union conference of justice and interior ministers in Veroia on Friday, said it focused on five points.
The five points are the fair distribution of burdens in accordance with pressures sustained by EU member-states by waves of immigrants and the creation of a common agency to guard borders.
In addition, the creation of a Repatriation Fund for organizing a common policy for immigrants staying illegally, the upgrading of the immigration liaison officer network in third countries to combat illegal immigration and the evaluation of third countries on immigration issues, particularly their effort for the effective guarding of their borders.
Britain presented a proposal during the morning session on asylum concerning practical measures for the creation of places of waiting for people outside EU borders appealing for asylum and from where distribution will be taking place, for those meeting preconditions, to EU countries.
Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis stressed the need for a unified communication code between EU countries, since each one has different experiences on the immigration issue.
EU Commissioner T. Vittorino, referring to the issue of Iraq, said that despite the fact there has been no flow of refugees so far the EU should prepare itself for such a possibility and handle the issue in the region around Iraq.
 New York's leadership to participate in Greek Independence Day
NEW YORK 29/03/2003 (ANA - P. Panikos)New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Gov. George Pataki, state senators and congressmen will observe the grand parade of the Greek-American community on Sunday, celebrating Greek Independence Day.
Pataki held a special event at his offices on Thursday and addressing the participants spoke of ''the significant cultural contribution of Greece, the country that gave birth to democracy, freedom and tolerance, ideas for which the USA and New York are at a state of war today''.
Greek General Consul in New York Dimitris Platis also spoke at the event.
Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis will be present for the events.
 Deputy FM Magriotis meets Archbishop of America Dimitrios
NEW YORK 29/03/2003 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis met with Orthodox Archbishop of America Dimitrios at the offices of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in Manhattan on Friday.
In statements after the meeting, Magriotis said he had the opportunity to hear that the Greek American community will be present at the parade on Sunday honoring Greece's March 25 Independence Day.
On his part, the archbishop referred to the achievements and the particular contribution of the Greek American community in the country.
 Ambassador Kriekoukis on report by UN high commissioner for human rights
GENEVA 29/03/2003 (ANA - N. Robin)Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations, Ambassador Tassos Kriekoukis, speaking on behalf the European Union, referred to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Sergio Vieira de Melo's report, noting among other things that the report includes many interesting ideas regarding issues which constitute a priority for the EU.
The Greek ambassador said the main issues arising is the need for the greater protection of human rights, the prevention of their violation and the need for the development of integrated action aimed at supporting human dignity, equality and the safe-guarding of human rights in a rapidly changing world.
Ambassador Kriekoukis further said that the EU agrees that the programs of technical cooperation should take into account the key role of justice on the prevention of the violation of human rights and to aim at their support.
The promotion and protection of human rights and freedoms should be viewed as a target of priority of the United Nations in accordance with their principles and objectives, he said.
Ambassador Kriekoukis concluded by saying that the EU is convinced that democracy, responsibility, good governance and the rules of law constitute prerequisites for the support of human rights.
 UN report: Cyprus partition obstacle to respect of human rights
NICOSIA 29/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus' division and the political situation on the island prevent universal application of human rights throughout the country, a UN report has said.
It also notes that a comprehensive settlement of the political impasse would help greatly the situation of human rights in Cyprus.
The report, prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, will be presented next week to the UN Commission's 59th session, which is underway in Geneva. It covers the period up to January 2003, before the collapse of the latest UN effort to reach a comprehensive settlement.
''The human rights concerns in Cyprus derive predominantly from the division of the island and the political situation which to date remains unresolved,'' the five-page report says, noting that the continuing division has consequences on the enjoyment of a number of human rights.
The report refers specifically to restrictions on the freedom of movement, freedom of association, to the non application of Court decision related to human rights violations by Turkey, the issue of missing persons and the economic situation in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus.
''The current de facto partition of the island and the present political situation constitute a major obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights by all Cypriots throughout the island,'' the report says.
It points out that ''the human rights situation would greatly benefit from the achievement of a comprehensive settlement of the political impasse.''
It says that the easing of restrictions on the freedom of movement of Turkish Cypriots is still very sporadic and they seek permission from ''authorities'' in occupied Cyprus whereas all individuals visiting the occupied areas are required by the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime to present a so-called visa.
''The restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNFICYP by Turkish forces and Turkish Cypriot authorities remain in effect,'' the report says, noting that European Commission officials were prevented from visiting occupied Cyprus to lecture to Turkish Cypriot businessmen.
Participation in intercommunal activities by Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots to foster relations and dialogue between them is another aspect related to the freedom of movement and association.
Turkish Cypriots were denied permission to participate in bicommunal events, the report says, adding that disciplinary measures were taken against Turkish Cypriots teachers who attended a concert in a third country.
The illegal regime in occupied Cyprus imposed restrictions on the ability of Greek Cypriots and Maronites living in the northern part of the island to change their place of residence.
Furthermore, it notes Turkey's refusal to implement two court cases against Turkey relating to human rights violations, an individual case and an interstate application.
The UN report refers to the ''imprisonment'' of two journalists in occupied Cyprus working for an ''opposition'' paper for an article ''said to insult'' the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
Following criticism of the regime, the Turkish Cypriot journalists ''were released.''
''The economic situation in the northern part of the island remains dire and continues to suffer from severe shortages of capital, skills and businesses, it is heavily dependent on external fiscal transfer and per capita income is in decline,'' the report adds.
On the issue of missing persons, the report says that the leaders of the two communities ''should without delay take steps to conclusively resolve the issue of missing persons.''
It calls on both sides to cooperate fully with the Committee of
Missing Persons and to ''carry out and conclude any and all necessary inquiries, including exhumations.''
The report also refers to a UN peace plan on a comprehensive
settlement and outlines its main provisions, noting that the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols will be an integral part of the constitution.
 Schwimmer concerned about tension in occupied Cyprus
NICOSIA 29/03/2003 (CNA/ANA)Council of Europe Secretary-General Walter Schwimmer expressed his concern about what he described as "tense political situation'' in the occupied north of Cyprus and appealed to ''all authorities'' to respect, now and in the future, freedom of expression.
In a statement, Schwimmer referred to the "political confrontation regarding a symbolic referendum on the UN plan for the solution of the Cyprus issue" which led to the temporary "arrest" and "indictment" of Turkish Cypriot ''opposition'' leaders of the group "This country is ours" in the occupied areas.
Schwimmer appealed to "all authorities" in the occupied areas "to respect, now and in the future, freedom of expression on their territory," noting "we must not forget that, despite the particular political and legal situation" in the occupied areas, "its citizens continue to be protected by the European Convention on Human Rights."
He said, "repression will not help to bring about a peaceful and equitable solution to the Cyprus question."
The CoE Secretary-General also recalled that for the international community the UN Secretary-General's plan for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem "remains on the table."
The illegal regime in the occupied areas, recognized only by Ankara, prohibited on Tuesday a referendum from taking place in the occupied village of Elia and "arrested" a number of persons, including Turkish Cypriot politician Izzet Izcan.