|Friday, 7 August 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 2, 2003
 PM says EU presidency and safeguarding national interests top priority for gov't
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis said in a written statement on Thursday the European Union presidency and safeguarding national interests are a top priority for the government.
The prime minister, who chaired a meeting of close associates of his on Wednesday night, indicated that in July he will be announcing the next targets of the government's work and proposals on modernizing the political system, adding that ''our steadfast target is holding elections in the spring of 2004.''
Simitis, referring to recent talk of scandals, said he will not bow to pressures and will not pardon anyone, whether he is a friend, associate or third person, but also warned that ''we shall not condemn on the occasion of suspicions, un-substantiated reports and extortionate exaggerations.''
''The government's immediate work is determined by what is necessitated by the country's interest. Greece's dominant obligation at this period is the European Union's presidency. Performing this obligation upgrades the country's prestige and increases its possibilities. Therefore, the presidency and safeguarding our national interests is our top priority. It is not feuds between businessmen and the turmoil created,'' he said.
''Is it a coincidence that the commotion caused by talk of scandals coincided with our presidency's strongest moment so far, the accession of Cyprus to the EU and the signing of the Accession Treaty in Athens? I can ascertain one thing with certainty. Those who are handling this case, in their effort which lacks prudence, are not promoting the country's interest. We shall not follow those who are creating an atmosphere of crisis, adjusting ourselves to their behavior,'' he added.
Simitis went on to say that those believing they are pressuring the government at present are wasting their time.
''I shall not bow to pressures. Our target is one: the progress and prosperity of the Greek people. I am working for these, I have achieved a great deal and I shall safeguard it. We owe it to the Greek people. We have an open front against corruption and we have proved it,'' he said.
Simitis also said the government has detected and publicized tax evasions, bogus invoices and illegal behavior and will continue to do so without hesitation, desiring transparency everywhere and always.
''We shall not pardon anyone in this effort of ours, whether he is a friend, associate or third person. Because our main concern is integrity and legality. We shall not pardon nor cover up. But we shall not condemn on the occasion of suspicions, unsubstantiated reports and extortionate exaggerations. We have already requested the assistance of justice. I believe it will preoccupy itself soon and with determination,'' he further said.
''The integrity of political life and the vulgarization of public life concern all. All the parties. They must feel responsibility not only for others but also for themselves. We have an obligation to confront all those desiring to cultivate the image that unlimited selfishness and minimal responsibility dominate politics,'' he said.
Simitis stressed that the government will continue its work intensively to prepare the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, promote major and small projects and get new ones started, achieve high rates of growth and more prosperity and consolidate peace in the area with new steps in Greek-Turkish relations and the issue of Cyprus.
In another development, Simitis held talks with Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis at the Maximos Mansion on Thurs-day, concerning latest political developments and the climate created by a newspaper's reports regarding members of the government.
''This climate evidently bothers me. It is a climate that does not suit PASOK, but I am certain we shall overcome it soon,'' Skandalidis said afterwards, adding that whatever initiatives are necessary will be taken by the prime minister when he considers it fit and in accordance with developments.
 ND spokesman accuses PM of avoiding probe of scandals by Parliament
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy party spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, commenting on statements made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday, accused him of being a ''co-founder of the corrupt regime.''
Roussopoulos said ''national suppliers and contractors, vested interests, a major scandal at the Stock Exchange and corrupt modernization have paraded through Mr. Simitis' court for seven years.''
According to Roussopoulos, ''now that the end is drawing near the prime minister, as if nothing of all this has touched him not only refuses to have the scandals probed by Parliament but also says he will attempt to modernize the political system in the summer.''
ND's spokesman further said ''Mr. Simitis can no longer hide behind his finger. He is also a co-founder of the corrupt regime and all the Greeks are aware of this.''
Responding to Roussopoulos' statement, government spokes-man Christos Protopapas said ''Mr. Roussopoulos' delirium and his affront against the person of the prime minister prove how timely and effective today's intervention by Costas Simitis is.''
 Greek and Japanese PMs to chair EU-Japan summit on Friday
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister and European Union Council President Costas Simitis hosted a working dinner for his Japanese counterpart Junichiro Koizumi on Thursday night. Koizumi arrived in Athens earlier in the day to chair Friday's European Union-Japan summit with Simitis.
The two prime ministers are expected to have a private meeting after the summit and hold a press conference.
 FM: resolution of Cyprus issue within UN framework a central objective
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, on Wednesday said the ''touching and historical moments we observe taking place in Cyprus for the first time after decades are due to Cyprus' European course and the fact that Europe does not tolerate any divisions or walls such as the Berlin Wall''.
Speaking to reporters, Papandreou said ''the strong message that Greece desires co-existence has met with a positive reception from Turkish-Cypriots citizens, adding ''the citizens' decision to change things means that an unacceptable situation that has caused a decades-old division cannot be perpetuated''.
''Myths are shot down, a great number of people are interacting and coexisting in a humane way; Turkish-Cypriots and Greek-Cypriots have the capability to coexist, while the resolution of the Cyprus issue on the basis of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan is still a central and crystal-clear objective'', he said.
Papandreou also referred to new measures taken by the government of Cyprus, which he said would contribute to the co-existence of the two communities, as well as to the promotion of a solution on the basis of UN proposals.
The ''Green Line'' in Cyprus that has for almost 30 years partitioned the island republic, separating the free areas from a breakaway Turkish-Cypriot regime in the north that is recognized only by Ankara and supported by Turkish occupation troops, was opened for the first time just before Orthodox Easter last weekend.
The official confirmation of Cyprus' accession into the European Union in mid-April has led to pressure from EU partners for a final resolution of the island's political problem and for the Turkish Cypriot community to abandon its intransigent policy.
Asked about the possibility that the Turkish-Cypriot regime led by Rauf Denktash would be internationally recognized due to the recent ''goodwill gestures'', Papandreou said that the authority in the northern part of the island was not recognized by anyone internationally, including the EU and the UN, and that a spontaneous and very touching expression of citizens could not change the stance of the international community.
''Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots desire a solution to the Cyprus issue and it is the responsibility of leadership on all sides to tend to this problem and turn Cyprus into an example of peace and security'', he said.
Earlier, the Greek foreign minister had a meeting with Turkish ambassador to Athens Gigit Alpogan, which focused on the informal EU foreign ministers Council on Friday and Saturday on the Greek Aegean island of Kastellorizo.
After the meeting, the Turkish ambassador made positive comments about the recent developments in Cyprus and expressed hope that the visits exchanged between the two communities on the island would continue smoothly.
He said that developments were a step towards a solution, however, he avoided any reference to the ''Annan plan'' and only expressed hope that the phenomenon of the free-movement would turn into a regular process.
 Defense council discusses ministry finances, EU defense
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)The finances of the defense ministry and the recent EU "summit of four" held by France, Germany, Denmark and Luxembourg on European defense dominated Wednesday's meeting of the Defense Council chaired by Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.
Papantoniou hailed the initiative of the four, which he said reinforced the efforts of the Greek EU presidency for a common European defense.
He said the initiative was not a unilateral, separatist action but one that contributed to establishing a common European defense.
The Greek minister reiterated, meanwhile, that if Europe was to have credibility in relation to the United States it would need its own fighting force with the participation of more and more countries as a powerful tool for exercising a common foreign policy.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, Papantoniou said that Greece would not match any removal of Turkish occupation troops by removing Greek troops on the island republic.
Greece was fulfilling its treaty obligations and had not entered into any race with Turkey over placing troops on Cypriot soil, he stressed.
The meeting also made decisions for unified financial organization and control of the armed forces and the building of housing for the new professional troops.
 U.S. report says Greece has made progress in battle against terrorism
WASHINGTON 02/05/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)The U.S. State Department in its annual report on terrorism ascertained that ''in 2002 Greece made significant progress in the battle against internal terrorism.''
The annual report, released on Wednesday, said ''For the first time the Greek authorities arrested suspects for participation in the November 17 Revolutionary Organization''.
The report described the ''November 17'' as one of the most deadly terrorist groups in Europe these past 30 years.
It further noted the continuing efforts of the Greek authorities to eradicate other smaller terrorist groups such as ''Revolutionary Nuclei'', ''ELA'' and ''May 1''.
U.S. State Dept. lauds Greek gov't's anti-terrorist successes: The Greek government has made tremendous progress in confronting terrorism, U.S. State Department anti-terrorist service high ranking officials said on Wednesday here, during the presentation of the latest State Department report on terrorism around the world.
The same officials speaking during a press conference stressed that based the anti-terrorism data this was a historic progress made by Greece and expressed the wish of the U.S. government for the closure of the offices of ''some terrorist organizations'', which as they said are open in Athens.
 Workers celebrate May 1st Labor Day with rallies
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Workers of both the private and public sectors of Greece's economy celebrated the May 1st Labor Day with rallies in all major cities of the country, while those of Athens and Thessaloniki were highlighted by an anti-war tone.
Two separate rallies were held in Athens, one organized by the Supreme Civil Servants’ Administrative Council (ADEDY), the Labor Center of Athens (EKA) and the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), while the other was organized by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated PAME organization.
In Thessaloniki the celebrations were even more fragmented as three different rallies were held, one by KKE's PAME, a second by the Labor Center of the city and a third by small in number non-Parliamentarian groups.
The GSEE in a resolution called for a 35-hour working week, without a decrease in pay, respect for collective labor agreements and labor legislation and a socially guaranteed minimum income which should be above the poverty line.
GSEE organizing secretary Yiannis Panagopoulos, as main speaker, having first referred to the matters of the war in Iraq and the struggle for peace, said only one political change was acceptable in the social security issue - that of a generous increase in pay for low bracket pensions.
ADEDY representative Grigoris Kalomiris referred mainly to the relation between the trade union movement and the new movement against globalization and the hopes which this has created.
In the other rally, KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga referred to the ''new package of measures against the working people'' and to what is referred in the new social security scheme. She noted that ''the widening of the government's anti-popular measures should alert the working people and unite the trade unionist forces.''
 ND: Corruption real and due to government actions and omissions
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)The problems of corruption and vested interests were real and entirely due to the government's actions and omissions, main opposition New Democracy spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Wednesday.
Roussopoulos particularly stressed that the offence of ''breach of faith'' had been converted from a crime to a misdemeanor under the present government.
He also criticized the government's ''main shareholder'' bill for the media, saying it opened the way to the control of the media and public information by state-sector suppliers.
The ND spokesman referred to the massive slide of the Greek stock exchange in 2000, in which millions of small investors lost large sums, saying that no state control mechanisms had seemed to operate properly at that time.
Responding to the criticism, government spokesman Christos Protopapas accused Roussopoulos of involvement in ''the war of business interests'' and of using the attacks made by the paper ''Avriani'' against members of the government for petty party-political advantage.
Kouris testifies to prosecutor regarding ''Avriani'' allegations: "Avriani" owner George Kouris on Wednesday gave evidence to public prosecutor Elli Toubanou, who is conducting a preliminary investigation into the paper's allegations of shady dealings between members of the government and business man Thanassis Athanasoulis.
Shortly before giving testimony, Kouris said his aim in running the articles was to purge PASOK from "certain thieves and the gang that surrounds them" while he urged investors to file lawsuits regarding the activities of Altec owner Athanasoulis on the stock market.
After his two-hour session with the prosecutor, Kouris said he had given evidence regarding all the persons mentioned in his paper’s articles.
Earlier on Wednesday, meanwhile, Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas filed yet another slander suit against the paper and those responsible for it over an article about a house he is building in Vrilissia, while his lawyer warned that further suits for damages were to follow.
 Greek EU Presidency statement on Middle East ''Road Map''
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)The ‘Road Map’ presented by the ‘quartet’ to Israel and the Palestinian Authority is a starting point and a framework for action and progress to achieve peace in the Middle East, an announcement by the Greek Presidency on behalf of the European Union said on Wednesday.
At the same time, in order to avert a likely destabilization in implementing the ‘Map’, the Presidency calls on both sides to refrain from actions that would feed extreme propaganda and to try and marginalize extreme and terrorist elements existing within their respective communities.
The Road Map, says the announcement, was drafted at a crucial period in time for the history of the region and represents the most appropriate way, in the opinion of the quartet, for the two parties to achieve peace. The specific initiative is a vital part of international efforts to promote comprehensive peace on all levels.
The Presidency, however, stressed that the pace of progress would depend on both parties’ activation, dedication and good faith.
The Presidency said that it expects “the official approval of the Palestinian Prime Minister and his government, would contribute to speeding up the Road Map implementation pace.”
In an appeal to both sides involved, as well as to Israel’s neighboring states, the Presidency underlined that “such a solution of two nations to the Israel-Palestine conflict would only be possible through an end to the violence and terrorism, the obvious acceptance by both parties of the objective of the negotiated solution, through the efforts to maintain Israel’s security and the normalization of Palestinian life and the establishment of a peaceful and democratic Palestinian state on the basis of United Nations Security Council resolutions 224, 33, and 1397.”
FM hands Mideast plan to reps of Israel and the Palestinian Authority: Foreign Minister George Papandreou, in his capacity as president of the European Union's council of foreign ministers, on Wednesday received Israel's Ambassador to Athens Ram Aviram and Ambassador of the Palestinian Authority Abdullah Abdullah and handed them the ‘Road Map’ drafted by the ‘quartet' for peace in the Middle East.
The quartet - UN, EU, USA and Russia - drafted a plan composed of specific steps toward peace in the region, focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
Papandreou called on both sides to refrain from statements and declarations, which could create tensions, while he discounted the efforts of marginal groups to derail the peace efforts.
He also called on both sides to marginalize the extremist elements, promising similar action by the European Union.
Papandreou stressed that the ''Map'' prescribes specific steps and phases that should be accomplished for the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005, so as for two states to exist in peace and security.
''We have worked very hard on this issue, the 'Road Map' is a significant starting point, we need the good will and willingness of both sides,'' Papandreou stressed.
 'Green light' by the European Commission to Thessaloniki Metro contract
BRUSSELS 02/05/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)The European Commission on Wednesday gave the ''green light'' to Thessaloniki metro contract and published the results of an investigation concluding ''there is no indication that the contract for the construction of a metro system in Thessaloniki breaches EU public procurement law''.
Prompted by a report filed by ''Macedonian Metro'' against the award of the project to the ''Thessaloniki Metro'' consortium, the Commission's investigation concluded that the contract awarded in 1999 to the Thessaloniki Metro Joint Venture Company did not breach the principle of equal treatment of all bidders and it was a legitimate concession contract.
The Commission considered that the principle of equal treatment of all bidders was not infringed by the contract, noting that any successful bidder for the contract could have negotiated the final contract on similar terms, without incompatibility with the tender documents, which left a wide margin for interpretation with regard to clauses that could be negotiated by the preferred bidder.
The Commission also said that in its view, the concession holder, Thessaloniki Metro would bear a share in the investment risk, in other words, its income from the project remained uncertain, and that it was therefore appropriate for the contract to be defined as a concession contract, rather than a public works contract, in which case profit would be subject to tougher procurement rules.
In the Commission's view, the fact that in the final version of the contract, the defined depth of the tunnels was different from that set out in the tender documents did not constitute an unacceptable modification given that the tender documents specifically foresaw the possibility of such amendments.
At any case, following verifications made with the Greek authorities, the Commission considered that the financial guarantees submitted by Thessaloniki Metro were adequate in the light of EU public procurement rules.
The total cost of the project is estimated at more than 700 million euro, while, as mentioned in the Commission's conclusions, the Greek authorities will have to submit their financial arrangement for clearance under EC Treaty state aid rules.
 OECD ministerial session examines growth prospects and third world investments
PARIS 02/05/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)The OECD discussed growth prospects, regaining the confidence of investors, measures of transparency and investments in the third world during its two-day annual ministerial session which came to an end here on Wednesday.
Many developing countries which are not OECD members had also been invited to the session.
Speaking to Greek reporters later, Finance and Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis referred to the outcome of talks, ascertaining that ''controlled optimism'' prevailed.
On the question of growth prospects, Christodoulakis said discussions reached the conclusion that the period of uncertainty created by the war in Iraq has been overcome and prospects are considered favorable.
He further said the stage of intense market undermining due to bad accounting practices detected last year, as well as due to risks entailed by Japan's banking system, also appear to belong to the past.
''We believe that we have now entered the phase of growth recovery with signs appearing more intense in the second half of 2003,'' he said.
Regarding investments in the third world, he said the idea dominating discussions is that there should be cooperation between private and state capital.
Christodoulakis referred during the session to relations with third countries, which will be a main issue at the ministerial session to take place in the Mexican city of Cancun in September, saying that the Cancun meeting should be a ''round of growth.''
The minister also said agriculture and trade transactions are important issues which must be resolved at Cancun, but warned that it is unacceptable that in order for third countries to gain the European Union must lose and for this reason a mutually beneficial solution should be found.
Another issue Christodoulakis referred to in his address was that of international trade and stressed the great importance promoting regional trade cooperation has for international growth.
Christodoulakis also said a problem requiring a solution is the fact that many countries hold discussions with international organizations without holding transactions with neighboring countries in their area.
''International trade is not only a factor of growth, but also a factor of peace, acquaintances and democratization,'' he said.
 Economic sentiment drops in Greece, improves slightly in EU, euro area
BRUSSELS 02/05/2003 (ANA – B. Demiris)The economic sentiment indicator (ESI) in Greece recorded the highest drop of 0.5 percent in April compared to March among the rest of the EU, according to an announcement by the European Commission here on Wednesday.
Economic sentiment increased slightly in April 2003 in both the EU and the euro area, following its drop in March. It increased by 0.2 percentage points in the EU, reaching a value of 98.2, and by 0.1 percentage points in the euro area, where it attained a value of 97.
The slight increase in the ESI is attributable to improvements in the consumer and retail trade confidence indicators. These improvements more than offset a further deterioration in the industrial confidence indicator. The construction confidence indicator remained unchanged in the euro area but deteriorated in the EU as a whole.
In the EU ‘15’, the economic sentiment indicator improved in Ireland (by 0.6 percentage points), Germany (0.3), Austria (0.2) and Luxembourg (0.1). It remained unchanged in Belgium and France. The indicator declined in Portugal, Sweden (0.4), the Netherlands (0.3), Italy (0.2) and, to a lesser extent, in Denmark, Spain, Finland and the United Kingdom (0.1).
 Athens Bourse Close: Stock send higher in lively trade
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished higher on Wednesday with players buying into mainly high capitalization paper, including banks and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE).
The general share index gained 1.58 percent to end at 1,691.52 points. Turnover was 397.1 million euros, fuelled by a block trade in Cosmote with Telenor of Norway selling 9.0 percent of its holding in the firm to institutional investors.
OTE closed with gains of 2.78 percent.
On Tuesday, players dumped stock in OTE and its mobile subsidiary Cosmote on news that Morgan Stanley had lowered its rating on the heavily traded parent firm, lowering their prices sharply and dampening sentiment across the board.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.34 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 1.28 percent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished with gains of 1.22 percent.
The FTSE/ASE-140 closed 2.04 percent up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 219 to 97 with 44 issues remaining unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 81.5 mln euros Wednesday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Wednesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of April 30 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,122 1,096
 Greece responds to quake hit Turkey, pledging aid
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)The Greek government responded immediately providing aid to the earthquake victims of Southeastern Turkey, with initial funds reaching to 300.000 euros and further assistance in manpower.
Southeastern Turkey was hit by a quake measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale that caused the death of 84 people, injured some 350, while more than 100 children are said to be buried alive in the rubble of their dormitory.
Thus, the Greek government, which is also presiding over the European Union, via Foreign Minister George Papandreou pledged a squad of 25 disaster rescue men and a C-130 to trans-port them, along with materiel for the relief of the population.
Papandreou contacted his counterpart Abdullah Gul and expressed the sympathy of the Greek people and the government over the high death tool and also pledged Greece support for the immediate relief assistance.
Deputy Foreign Minster Andreas Loverdos was placed in charge of coordinating Greece's efforts for the relief of the population both as far as Greece is concerned and as far as the European Union aid mechanisms are concerned.
The mission to Turkey will begin as soon as the Turkish foreign ministry sends the necessary signal and provides an airfield for the landing of the C-130.
FM extends condolences to Turkish counterpart for quake victims: Foreign Minister George Papandreou, currently on the island of Rhodes to attend the European Union's informal Council of Foreign Ministers, said on Thursday night he communicated by phone with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul and extended the Greek government's condolences to him for the victims of the earthquake which struck the neighboring country.
Papandreou added that Greece will send aid to Turkey.
The foreign minister also referred to the issue of Cyprus, saying the collapse of the dividing line is creating a new dynamic in Cyprus, but this does not also mean recognition of the illegal Turkish Cypriot "state".
He further said it was necessary to find a solution to the problem in the way indicated by the international community.
Papandreou underlined that the myth that Greek and Turkish Cypriots could not live together has collapsed with what has happened in Cyprus in past days.
 Government seeks way out of Liosia dump crisis
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou on Wednesday met Ano Liosia Mayor Nikos Papadimas in a last-ditch attempt to find a way out of the deadlock over the partial closure of the Liosia dump, the main recipient of the capital's rubbish, before the mountains of refuse begin to pile up in the streets.
The municipality has triggered a crisis with its announcement that it will drastically reduce the amount of refuse that the dump accepts daily to one tenth of the normal quantity on the grounds that it is unable to handle more.
In statements after talking with Papandreou, the Liosia mayor said the minister's decision to create new dumps and public health issues would be taken into account in a municipal meeting later that day, hinting that the dump would be reopened.
Papandreou was harshly critical of those protesting against the establishment of new ''hygienic burial'' dumps, saying the delays were the joint responsibility of both local government and the state.
She urged the Ano Liosia mayor to re-open the Liosia dump, stressing that no one area was justified in holding the entire capital hostage.
She also stressed that the government had decided to put an end to the ''disgrace'', as she called it, of illegal dumps throughout Greece and that a bill on waste management in Attica and the rest of Greece would be ready within May.
Regarding Attica, she underlined that a comprehensive plan existed for all stages of refuse management and that this would be put into action.
An appeal to Ano Liosia not to insist on its decision to only accept 500 tones of rubbish a day instead of a daily average of 5,000 tones was also made by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni, who said that rubbish should not be used as a means of blackmail by anyone.
In a letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, meanwhile, she called for ''a comprehensive solution that made plans for the day after'' and promoted alternative solutions and used new environment-friendly technologies, while noting that the new 'hygienic burial' dumps and processing stations envisioned for the capital would not be ready until after the Olympics.
She blamed the present problems on deficiencies in government planning but also on the Unified Association of Attica Municipalities and Communities, which had been responsible for managing waste since its foundation 10 years earlier.
The letter was also sent to the leaders of all the political parties.
 PM Simitis chairs meeting on course of 'Society of Information' program
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Within the coming period the bids will be announced for the major informatics projects which will be funded by the ''Society of Information'' program of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Thursday, noting that by the end of the year the government's planning regarding the major informatics programs will be completed.
Prime Minister Costas Simitis chaired a meeting on Thursday on the course of the ''Society of Information'' program which was attended by Christodoulakis, Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Costas Skandalidis, Deputy Economy Minister Christos Pachtas, the special secretary of the ''Society of Information'', Ioannis Kalogirou, the director of the prime minister's economic office, Gikas Hardouvelis and other officials.
Christodoulakis said the bids to be announced for the projects will concern the public sector, hospitals as well as regions.
 Common EU foreign policy finds largest support in Luxemburg, Greece, Italy
BRUSSELS 02/05/2003 (ANA – B. Demiris)Luxembourg, Greek and Italian citizens are the top three supporters among the EU ‘15’, in favor of developing a common EU foreign policy and strengthening the common defense and security policy, according to a special edition of the ‘Eurobarometer’ given to publicity here on Wednesday.
The relevant survey was carried out between Jan. 15 – Feb. 19, 2003, in the Union’s 15 member-states, on a sample of 16,370 citizens. The results were released just a day after France, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg announced their intentions to go ahead with strengthening defense cooperation between them.
In Luxemburg, 78 percent of the citizens asked said they were in favor of a common EU foreign policy, and 12 percent were against, while in Greece, ranking in second place, the rates were 76 percent and 15 percent respectively, followed by Italy’s 74 percent and 17 percent respectively.
The lowest rate of support for a common foreign policy was found in Britain, with 34 percent of the citizens being in favor and 38 percent against.
Overall, 63 percent of EU ‘15’ citizens were in favor and 20 percent against.
With regard to the development of a common EU defense and security policy, 71 percent of EU ‘15’ citizens were in favor and 15 percent against.
A new poll taken during the Iraq war on the same topics is expected to be released in two weeks.
 Justice minister addresses European law conference
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos on Thursday addressed a two-day day conference of European legalists that is taking place in the framework of Greece's EU presidency.
Some 1,000 university law professors, judges and lawyers from 30 European countries are participating in the Second Conference of European Legalists that will conclude on Friday.
''The European Union has set, among other things, as its basic aim the creation of a unified space of security, freedom and justice,'' Petsalnikos said in his address to the conference, adding that ''the Greek presidency has included in its priorities the adoption of a minimum of regulations for the protection of the rights of suspects and the accused''.
''As a first step it (the Greek presidency) submitted a plan of a framework agreement for the implementation of the 'ne bis in idem' so as for someone not to be tried for the same crime in two different member-states,'' the Greek minister said.
 Witnesses identify Xiros brothers as culprits in N17 armed robberies
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)A series of witnesses testifying in the ongoing trial of 19 suspected ''November 17'' terrorists on Wednesday identified Vassilis Xiros as the man who had shot and injured a security guard during an armed robbery of an OTE armored van in Piraeus on May 2, 2001.
The claim was denied by the defendant and also by his elder brother Savvas Xiros, who confessed to both the robbery and to shooting the guard and said that his younger brother had not been present.
Savvas Xiros and Dimitris Koufodinas, the man accused as the operations chief of the organization, further claimed that the witnesses had been ''directed'' to identify Vassilis Xiros.
These included Konstantinos Panagiotou, the security guard who was shot in the leg during the robbery and OTE employee Nikos Kantsos, who claimed to be 70 per cent certain he had seen Vassilis Xiros.
Xiros and Koufodinas noted that another OTE employee, Leonidas Antonakos, had positively identified Savvas Xiros in his testimony to the examining magistrate but then told the court that the shooter ''resembled'' Vassilis Xiros.
None of the witnesses called to testify about the robbery of an OTE security van in Patissia was able to identify any of the suspects but War Museum guard Pavlos Galimatis, testifying about the theft of rocket launchers from the museum on February 3, 1990, said he had been held at gunpoint by a man resembling Savvas Xiros and that the rocket launchers had been stolen by someone resembling Koufodinas.
Taking the stand, Koufodinas denied the robberies ''as these are described in the indictment'' and reiterated that November 17 had at no time claimed political responsibility for any robbery.
At the same time, however, he appeared to try to justify the practice of armed robberies, saying it was used by all armed revolutionary groups who had no access to other means of funding.
Alexandros Giotopoulos, accused as the mastermind of the terrorist organization and the writer of its proclamations, denied all involvement in the robberies and stressed that no evidence connecting him to these activities had ever been produced.
Ergasias Bank supervisor Theodoros Niavis, an eye-witness to an armed robbery at an Ergasias Bank branch on June 29, 1989, identified Savvas Xiros with absolute certainty as one of the culprits in the robbery but was less definite about Costas Telios.
The manager of the same bank, Vassilis Kalliakmanis, said that one of the robbers resembled Dimitris Koufodinas.
The court session ended with testimony regarding a robbery at an Ergasias Bank branch in Peristeri, during which bank clerk Panagiotis Yiannopoulos identified Christodoulos Xiros as one of the culprits.
 UN awards "1502" citizens service centers first prize
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)The Citizens' Service Center by Telephone also called "1502", by the four digit telephone number it uses, was awarded the 2002 best service prize of the United Nations for the category of "improvement of the public services effectiveness".
The Interior Ministry service has the capacity to issue 59 different certificates and affidavits needed by Greek citizens in their every day dealings with Greek bureaucracy.
 Culture minister Venizelos in Cyprus for World Forum of Religions and Cultures
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Greece's culture minister Evangelos Venizelos will be in Cyprus on Friday for talks with the Cyprus government and to attend the second World Forum of Religions and Cultures organized by the Kykkos Monastery.
Venizelos will meet Friday with Cyprus' new president Tassos Papadopoulos and later with education and culture minister Pefkos Georgiades.
The Greek minister will address the Forum on Friday evening.
 Civil Society conference to be held in Athens on May 5-6
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)Delegations from 45 countries in Africa, Central Asia, Pacific, Caribbean, Mediterranean, the Balkans, Europe and Latin America will assemble on May 5-6 in Athens to discuss central issues of global development concerning the communities in North and South, in the framework of a conference entitled ''The role of Civil Society in the Developmental Policy of the European Community''.
The conference is organized within the framework of the Greek European Union presidency with the support of the Greek foreign ministry in collaboration with the European Commission, and it aims to present its conclusions to the EU's Foreign Ministers and thus help sensitize the governments in North and South, as well as mobilizing the creative forces of their civil societies.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and European Commissioner Poul Nielson will deliver the opening speeches at the conference.
 NGO named to coordinate Iraq aid collection, distribution for local gov't
Athens, 02/05/2003 (ANA)The non-governmental organization (NGO) Hellenic Rescue Team has undertaken to coordinate and manage the collection, transport and distribution of humanitarian aid material collected by local government authorities, prefectures and municipalities throughout Greece for Iraq, it was announced Wednesday.
"This task is being carried out to ensure that the aim projected by local authorities -- the timely and proper distribution of aid to its recipients (hospitals, schools and households in Iraq) -- will be achieved," a foreign ministry announcement said.
It added that the effort was under the auspices of Greece's foreign ministry and the Union of Prefectural Governments of Greece.
 Cyprus announces package of measures for Turkish Cypriots
NICOSIA 02/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)The government of Cyprus announced here Wednesday its new policy on Turkish Cypriots as well as a package of measures for the Turkish Cypriots, which was discussed and finalized on Wednesday by the Council of Ministers.
Government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said the government's main concern is that the introduction of the measures, given the continued non-solution of the Cyprus problem, provides those Turkish Cypriots who live in the occupied areas the ability to enjoy the rights and benefits which the Republic of Cyprus grants to its citizens.
He said all measures would be implemented within the framework of international law and the acquis communautaire.
Chrisostomides said the measures could not be interpreted as constituting a danger in acknowledging the secessionist entity or accepting its existence or helping in any way the illegal entity in the occupied areas.
The measures cover the fields of transport, movement of goods, persons, vehicles, employment of Turkish Cypriots, participation in sport events, measures taken to help relatives of missing Turkish Cypriots as well as measures covering medical care, education, culture, telecommunications and others.
Asked to what extent the European Union was involved, Chrisostomides said it was particularly involved and noted that the measures do not conflict with the acquis communautaire.
 President appeals to Turkish side to heed people's message
NICOSIA 02/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos called on the Turkish side to respond positively to the message of the people and take measures that will improve the prospects of an effective negotiation of the Cyprus problem, when those resume.
In a statement issued Wednesday after the government announced a package of measures to support Turkish Cypriots, President Papadopoulos further appealed to the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, to make use of the partial freedom of movement that has been allowed as well as the measures announced on Wednesday and continue to point out the unacceptable situation of the division.
He also asked them not to give validity to the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied areas with their actions and attitude and show that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live together in a common country, during a solution that will restore the unity of the state through the European Union which will respect the democracy and human rights of all, without discrimination.
Referring to the measures announced earlier in the day, Papadopoulos said these were prepared a long time ago but their implementation was postponed, as some required further negotiations with the European Union and other factors.
He explained that the collapse of the Cyprus peace talks at The Hague earlier this year was due to the intransigent stance of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, and noted that the popular uprising of the Turkish Cypriots and the signing by Cyprus of the Accession Treaty with the EU ''created conditions which required the formulating of a new policy for Turkish Cypriots who live in the occupied areas.''
Papadopoulos reiterated that Turkish Cypriots are legitimate citizens of the Republic and should know and share the benefits and advantages, which derive from accession and Cyprus' participation in various development and other EU projects.
''Until Cyprus' reunification and an end of the occupation which has been imposed by Turkey, the government will make every possible effort, within the state's economic capability and to the extent allowed by the occupation regime and our obligations to the EU,'' to allow Turkish Cypriots equally to enjoy all the benefits with the rest of the citizens of Cyprus, Papadopoulos added.
Under these circumstances, he said, the government, following deliberations with the National Council, ''is charting a complete policy for Cyprus' reunification in which its policy on Turkish Cypriots will have a leading role.''
Referring to the easing of restrictions on freedom of movement, imposed by the Denktash regime, Papadopoulos said that the spontaneous, unprompted and very friendly behavior of Greek and Turkish Cypriots in their recent contacts proved they can live together in a reunited country rejecting Denktash's allegations that for the safety of both communities the presence of occupation forces is obligatory.
''We condemn the exploitation by the occupation regime of the desire of the people to move freely in their country, in an effort to achieve political benefits by demanding the presentation of passports and the issuing of 'visas' by the occupation regime,'' Papadopoulos said, noting the occupation regime's pursuit to reinforce the secessionist entity can only be denounced and described as’ futile''.
Papadopoulos said the measures announced on Wednesday are not associated with efforts to solve the Cyprus problem but try ''to improve the general political climate in Cyprus and contribute to the level possible in developing contacts and relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.''
''These measures and the measure to partially lift restrictions in freedom of movement by the occupation regime cannot substitute efforts to solve the Cyprus problem,'' he added.
''Our position remains that a solution to the Cyprus problem should be pursued within the framework of the UN, under the Secretary General's auspices and according to the Security Council resolutions and Rauf Denktash's efforts to create the impression that there are 'good neighborly relations' is not the solution.''
Papadopoulos said the UN Secretary General's plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem remains on the negotiating table and repeated his appeal to Denktash, included in his letter to the latter dated April 2, 2003, to accept the continuation of the negotiations based on the Annan plan to find a solution to the Cyprus problem the soonest, based on the Security Council resolutions.
The President of the Republic appealed to the Turkish side ''to respond positively to the message of the people and take measures which only it (the Turkish side) can take that will contribute to improving prospects for an effective negotiation of the Cyprus problem, when negotiations resume.''
''We therefore call on the Turkish side to place the town of Famagusta under UN command, according to Security Council resolutions, for its reconstruction and return to its legitimate inhabitants,'' Papadopoulos said.
He also urged the Turkish side ''to immediately begin the gradual withdrawal of the Turkish occupation forces and settlers from the occupied areas, with the aim to fully demilitarize Cyprus.''
Papadopoulos further called on the Turkish side to take ''all necessary measures to fully implement the Third Vienna Agreement of 1975 on the enclaved,'' to immediately implement the agreement of July 31, 1997 between former President Glafcos Clerides and Denktash on the missing persons and to re-operate the missing person's investigative committee. He also called for the immediate start of restoration and repairs of churches, cemeteries and other religious and archaeological monuments in the occupied areas.
The president finally appealed to the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike, ''to make use of the partial freedom of movement that has been allowed as well as the measures announced today and continue to point out the unacceptable situation of the division.''