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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-06

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

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

May 6, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: common understanding among the ''25'' required on common defense policy
  • [02] FM: Cyprus' accession a European success
  • [03] Parliament president says Iraq crisis has shaken many foundations
  • [04] PM to embark on tour of Baltic, East European countries this week
  • [05] FM: Greece has evolved into country that advances security, peace and cooperation
  • [06] FM has telephone talks with U.S., Syrian counterparts
  • [07] FM Papandreou confers with visiting NATO SACEUR Gen. Jones
  • [08] DM and Supreme Allied Commander of Europe discuss NATO's administration
  • [09] Gov't rules out early elections
  • [10] Gov't spokesman warns for need of caution on Cyprus problem
  • [11] Karamanlis calls for a Europe of 'solidarity, cohesion' at EPP meeting
  • [12] ND leader delivers speech at welcoming ceremony for new EPP Eurodeputies
  • [13] Turkish fighter planes infringe Athens FIR
  • [14] Latest 'Avriani' attack against State deputy Neonakis; MP counter-attacks
  • [15] Latest round of Greek-Turkish contacts in Athens this week
  • [16] Military exercises this month
  • [17] Greek producer price index up 2.2 pct in March, yr/yr
  • [18] Greece seeks closer energy ties with FYROM
  • [19] Anomeritis attends European meeting on shipping safety
  • [20] Schiesser Pallas of Switzerland closes Greek operation
  • [21] Greece on the list of Union's worse in implementing EU law, latest IMS review
  • [22] Labor confederation leader proposes collective European negotiations
  • [23] ASE ends above 1,750 level on Monday
  • [24] Int'l Broadcast Centre for 2004 Games completed
  • [25] Saunders' widow calls for stiff sentences for her husband's killers
  • [26] EU conference on tourism in Crete
  • [27] Kaklamanis sends message to Turkish counterpart over quake
  • [28] FM underlines inequalities between developed and developing countries
  • [29] PASOK Eurodeputy calls on EU to head effort to remedy cultural disaster in Iraq
  • [30] Greek aid convoy attacked outside Baghdad
  • [31] Ecumenical Patriarch addresses conference on EU's future in Athens
  • [32] EU Council of Youth Ministers adopts Common Conclusions on youths' future
  • [33] Interior, labor ministers address conference on gender equality
  • [34] EU education ministers meet in Brussels
  • [35] Drugs and illegal arms bust by police in Thesprotia
  • [36] US diplomat believes movement of people does not settle division
  • [37] Serdar Denktash stalls party leaders' effort to resume UN talks
  • [38] De Soto says crossing of divide does not address the remaining problems

  • [01] PM: common understanding among the ''25'' required on common defense policy

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, speaking in Athens on Monday to European Affairs Committees of European Union and candidate-state national Parliaments (COSAC), said that the EU '25' needed to come to a ''common understanding'' regarding common foreign and defense policy for Europe (CFDP).

    Addressing the 29th COSAC Conference, Simitis, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, referred to the ''mini-summit'' held on April 29 by France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg in an initiative to discuss the issue of common defense policy in the Union, and stressed the need for reinforced cooperation among the ''25'', ''always with common understanding''. Simitis said he had consultations with the leaders of the four nations regarding their CFDP initiative so that the issue may be brought up for discussion at EU bodies and at the Constitutional Convention.

    He said the informal EU summit in mid-April in Athens had agreed that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana would put together a proposal on the issue to be tabled at the Thessaloniki Summit in June.

    The prime minister also referred to Cyprus' EU accession, and he blamed what he called the intransigence exhibited by the Turkish-Cypriot leadership and Ankara's vacillation for preventing a solution to the island's political problem. He also stressed that ''there is still time'' for a solution to be achieved before 1 May 2004, when Cyprus will become a full member of the Union.

    Simitis said that the position of the Turkish-Cypriot community ''became apparent in recent days when tens of thousands of Turkish-Cypriots crossed the dividing 'green line' to show, along with the Greek-Cypriots who also crossed on the other side, that their coexistence was entirely compatible''.

    Finally, the prime minister stressed the need for a strong and unified Europe, one without any ''friction or centrifugal forces'' and said that efforts in handling many issues, as for example the phenomenon of illicit immigration and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), required coordination and trans-national policies.

    ''This is not a question of choosing between the national state and a unified Europe, this is a question of making a choice between a strong Europe and a weak Union of the '25', one with unproductive friction and centrifugal forces'', he said.

    [02] FM: Cyprus' accession a European success

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Cyprus' accession into the European Union was a European success, Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Monday in his address to the 29th Conference of the European Affairs Committees of the 25 EU Parliaments (COSAC) in Athens.

    Greece currently holds the rotating EU presidency and Papandreou is head of the EU Council of Ministers.

    He noted, however, that the political problem on the island republic remained, despite the new dynamic for communication that had emerged with the easing of restrictions to movement on the island and the spontaneous and enthusiastic response by the ordinary public on Cyprus, who had flocked to visit the 'other side'.

    The ''positive and touching developments'' that created this climate had toppled the myths, stereotypes and prejudices that would have Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots unable to live together, he added.

    He noted, however, that these developments did not mean that a solution to the political problem had arrived, since this also required political will.

    Referring to the peace plan for Cyprus presented by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, he said this would have to be discussed in the light of the new climate that had been created and that this issue had come up in his recent talks with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul.

    Finally, Papandreou referred to the ''historic decision'' taken at the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Kastellorizo, at which EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana had presented a proposal drafted with all the member-states for a common European security strategy.

    This proposal would be presented to the final EU summit under the Greek presidency in Thessaloniki and would also form the basis of talks with the United States government at a summit meeting on June 25 in Washington, he said.

    [03] Parliament president says Iraq crisis has shaken many foundations

    Athens 02605/2003 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said on Monday the recent crisis in Iraq has shaken many foundations of the international order, both in the United Nations and the European Union.

    Kaklamanis, addressing the 29th Conference of Parliamentary European Affairs Committees of EU member-states, candidate countries and the European Parliament (COSAC) in Athens, said it is the duty of all to defend the prestige of the UN.

    ''The natural mission of the UN is, apart from its humanitarian work, pacification in the hard-pressed region and safeguarding the function of democratic institutions,'' he said.

    The Parliament president further said that all should draw the necessary conclusions on the need and possibilities of exercising a common foreign policy and an autonomous security and defense policy, as well as improving the European Union's image and role on the international scene.

    [04] PM to embark on tour of Baltic, East European countries this week

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis began the week with the swearing in of new Deputy Public Order Minister Pantelis Tsertikidis and a meeting with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday.

    On Tuesday morning the prime minister is to depart for a tour of the Baltic states and and eastern European countries. On his itinerary are stops in Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw, Budapest, Bratislava and Prague.

    PM briefs Stephanopoulos on his European tour beginning Tuesday: Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday visited President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos in order to brief him on the goals of a tour of the 10 new European Union member-states that the Greek premier will begin on Tuesday and preparations for the final summit under the Greek EU presidency in June.

    In statements after the meeting, Simitis said the government was making efforts to promote Greece and, in an indirect dig at main opposition New Democracy, he spoke of ''other parties'' that wanted ''to keep scandals on the daily agenda''.

    He said the June summit in Thessaloniki would be such an opportunity to showcase Greece.

    Simitis said his message to the new EU member-states would be one of cooperation within the EU for the joint handling of problems, while he underlined that this message would be sent from Greece.

    The Greek premier also stressed that the top priority for himself and his government would be to successfully complete the Greek EU presidency and thus promote the country's image.

    Criticizing the stance displayed by ''certain other sides'', he said the government's mandate from the Greek people had been to promote the country and that he intended to carry this out.

    [05] FM: Greece has evolved into country that advances security, peace and cooperation

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greece's image has evolved from a ''problem country'' to that of a country that advances security, peace, cooperation and common policies, foreign minister George Papandreou said Monday. Commenting on a newspaper article on the image Greece presented in its foreign policy, Papandreou said that ''the country's picture has changed, and from a problem-country, Greece today has evolved into a solution-country, a country that advances security, peace, cooperation and common policy positions in many areas''.

    Naturally, he added, there were still many problems that needed to be resolved, citing the Cyprus issue, the need for a more permanent cooperation relationship with Turkey, and also the European prospects of the Balkan countries.

    ''It is an important moment for Greece, which has the ability to play a role on the international chessboard,'' he said.

    Asked to comment on recent press articles on internal events in the ruling PASOK party, Papandreou said that the recent articles naturally gave rise to concern, but expressed his conviction that PASOK had the strength to overcome the problems and to contribute to the country's political modernization.

    [06] FM has telephone talks with U.S., Syrian counterparts

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Monday had a telephone conversation with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, according to a briefing by foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis.

    Beglitis said that Papandreou briefed Powell on the results of the informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers' council in Rhodes and Kastellorizo, focusing on the EU-USA relations, Middle Eastern developments, after the release of the road map to peace, and the reconstruction of Iraq and the role the UN should assume in this country.

    [07] FM Papandreou confers with visiting NATO SACEUR Gen. Jones

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    NATO's new Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), General James L. Jones, met Monday with Greek foreign minister George Papandreou for discussions on the changes taking place at political and military level as well as the future of the Alliance.

    Gen. Jones, who undertook the position of SACEUR on January 17 and the post of Commander of the United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM) the preceding day, is on his first visit to Athens in his capacity as SACEUR.

    According to statements to the press after their meeting, the two officials also discussed the issue of NATO enlargement and the rapidly changing conditions as the Alliance will soon number 26 member countries.

    Gen. Jones said that NATO was a successful alliance that was capable of responding to special situations and international challenges.

    [08] DM and Supreme Allied Commander of Europe discuss NATO's administration

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and the new Supreme Allied Commander of Europe General James L. Jones held talks on Monday on the new structure of the NATO alliance's administration through which its headquarters are drastically reduced.

    Papantoniou said afterwards that Greece claims a considerable presence in the new structure of the alliance's administration, adding that any assessment on the course of negotiations is premature.

    He also said Greece will struggle to maintain a strong presence and participation.

    According to press reports, Papantoniou raised the issue of continuous and provocative violations of Greek national airspace by Turkish warplanes with Jones.

    The defense minister stressed the danger of accidents during bogus dogfights in which Greek warplanes become engaged in their effort to intercept Turkish aircraft violating national airspace.

    Jones has already visited Ankara as part of his courtesy visits to NATO member-states on the occasion of his assuming his new duties.

    Papantoniou also referred to progress in work concerning the course of completing infrastructure for the European rapid reaction force and clarified that Jones made no comment on the initiative by the four countries for the creation of a European defense.

    [09] Gov't rules out early elections

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    The next general elections would take place in spring 2004 and none of the scenarios regarding early polls would be borne out, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday in response to questions.

    He said that Prime Minister Costas Simitis had sent a letter to all members of the government, asking them to wrap up any outstanding issues by the end of June.

    He refused to comment on the latest press attack on PASOK MP Mihalis Neonakis or the articles appearing in the same paper about himself, saying that the "government spokesman does not comment on issues that are not connected to government activity".

    [10] Gov't spokesman warns for need of caution on Cyprus problem

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Particular caution was needed at present on Cyprus, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday, noting that free communication was positive but did not necessarily imply a solution of the Cyprus problem.

    Regarding the Turkish-Cypriot side's decision to ease restrictions to free movement on the island, Protopapas said that Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had found him in a position where he was forced to take this measure.

    [11] Karamanlis calls for a Europe of 'solidarity, cohesion' at EPP meeting

    BRUSSELS 06/05/2003 (ANA – V. Demiris)

    European Union expansion, the future of Europe and strengthening cooperation in the defense sector were at the forefront of talks here on Monday by the European People's Party (EPP) leaders, including main opposition New Democracy (ND) President Costas Karamanlis.

    In his statements, the ND leader reiterated that EU expansion was sealed in Athens last month, while specifically mentioning Cyprus.

    “…we must proceed with determined steps towards a Europe of cohesion and solidarity; for a more socially sensitive Europe; a Europe that provides the same opportunities for prosperity, employment and security to all European citizens,” he added.

    Moreover, he stressed that the goal is to transform a Europe of “25” into a more effective and operational Union, saying that the Convention for the Future of Europe’s role now becomes even more crucial.

    Additionally, he said a robust European involvement in international affairs necessitates the Union proceeding towards a common foreign and defense policy.

    Finally, he said Greece should play a primary role towards this direction, “as it is the only country (in the European Union) that continues to be threatened,” a direct reference to Turkey.

    [12] ND leader delivers speech at welcoming ceremony for new EPP Eurodeputies

    BRUSSELS 06/05/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    ''Cyprus' accession to the European Union significantly enriches our Union and the strategic importance of its presence in the Mediterranean,'' main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis said here on Monday in his speech during the welcoming ceremony of the new Eurodeputies of the European Peoples' Party (EPP) from the 10 new acceding countries.

    Karamanlis expressed his regret over the fact that ''there still exists in Cyprus an illegal and irrational military occupation,'' noting that the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU constitutes an historic example of the strength of the EU's values.

    With regard to Turkey, Karamanlis said he supported the country's European prospects, clarifying that the degree of its European steps depends mainly on itself. ''This step, however, despite whatever proclamations, appears not to be so fast,'' he noted.

    The ND leader further said that Turkey continues to nurse anti-European practices, as was shown again by its recent stance on the Cyprus issue. He expressed the hope that ''Turkey finds the calm and self-confidence which is required for it to proceed in substantial reforms in its interior, but also to at long last exclude force and the threat of force from its behavior towards those who are now its European neighbors.''

    Concerning the discussions being held at the Convention for the Future of Europe, Karamanlis stood in favor of a strong president of the Commission and of a European Commission which guarantees the strengthening of the EU method, while he expressed reservations on the institutionalization of a permanent president of the European Council.

    [13] Turkish fighter planes infringe Athens FIR

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Two Turkish F-16 fighter jets infringed the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on Monday at 11:55, flying close to a P-3 Orion on a training flight 50 miles southeast of Rhodes.

    The Turkish plane came within two miles of the P-3, flying 2,000 feet above it. They were intercepted by Greek air force fighter planes.

    [14] Latest 'Avriani' attack against State deputy Neonakis; MP counter-attacks

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    The latest front-page banner headline by the “Avriani’” tabloid against a high-profile PASOK cadre came on Monday, with the party’s former organizational secretary and current State MP Mihalis Neonakis targeted this time.

    “Avriani” questioned where Neonakis found 300 million drachmas (900,000 euros) in the late 1990s to invest in the then booming Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), while also alleging that an investment firm in which he owed stock manipulated the bourse via insider trading. Using a more-or-less derogatory headline, the paper asked where the “poor, lazy and sinecural dentist” found so much money to “gamble” on the bourse.

    Neonakis quickly blasted the paper’s accusations in a hastily called same-day press conference, charging that he worked as a professional for 15 years without holding any government position and without managing a drachma of public monies. He also said all of his investments have been publicly disclosed, while charging that the paper, owned by controversial publisher George Kouris, published a story filled with utter lies and inaccuracies.

    Finally, he said he will also sue Kouris and the paper for libel.

    Neonakis is the latest PASOK cadre, following Press Minister Christos Protopapas, Minister of State Stefanos Manikas and former public order minister Evangelos Malesios, to be targeted by “Avriani” in front-page sensationalist attacks alleging corruption and graft.

    All of the individuals named by “Avriani” and others in PASOK maintain that the paper is spearheading a smear campaign against the ruling party.

    [15] Latest round of Greek-Turkish contacts in Athens this week

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    A foreign ministry spokesman on Monday announced that the 10th round of Greek-Turkish exploratory contacts will commence in Athens on Tuesday, with Foreign Ministry General Secretary Amb. Anastasios Skopelitis representing Greece and his counterpart Amb. Ugur Ziyal representing Turkey.

    [16] Military exercises this month

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    A military exercise (code-named Sariza 2003), including all three armed forces branches, is scheduled for late May in northern Greece, while naval maneuvers are scheduled during the same period, although no location was disclosed on Monday.

    An ongoing naval exercise off the central Greek coast, meanwhile, will be completed on May 8, according to a general command staff press release.

    [17] Greek producer price index up 2.2 pct in March, yr/yr

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greece's producer price composite index (including domestic and foreign markets) rose 2.2 percent in March 2003 compared with the same month in 2002, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.

    NSS said that the monthly index fell 0.2 percent from February in contrast with an 1.0 percent increase recorded in the same period last year.

    The average producer price index rose 2.2 percent in the 12-month period from April 2002 to March 2003, compared with the corresponding period last year. The average index has recorded rises of 2.0 percent and 6.9 percent in 2002 and 2001, respectively. The year-on-year composite index in March 2003 reflected a 3.1 percent in the domestic market index and a 0.1 percent rise in the foreign market over the same period.

    [18] Greece seeks closer energy ties with FYROM

    SKOPJE 06/05/2003 (ANA/N.Frangopoulos)

    Greece would like to evolve closer ties in the energy sector with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in order to complete connection with trans-European networks for oil, natural gas and electricity.

    Speaking to reporters in FYROM's capital on Monday, Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the two countries also were examining protection of the environment in connection with energy projects, especially conservation of Doirani Lake and the River Axios.

    In addition, Tsohatzopoulos told FYROM's prime minister, Branco Crvenkovski, during talks that Greek firms were interested in investing in the neighboring country.

    Among them was the Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation, which may seek to acquire FYROM's state electricity utility under a privatization project.

    [19] Anomeritis attends European meeting on shipping safety

    BRUSSELS 06/05/2003 (ANA – M. Spinthourakis)

    Issues relating to the European and international shipping world, such as boosting shipping safety, protection of sea environment against pollution, shipping protection against terrorism and other criminal acts were central to discussions held in the Belgian capital on Monday in the context of the Second European Parliamentary Symposium on shipping safety.

    The event was held at the European Economic and Social Committee building under the auspices of European Parliament President Pat Cox. The Greek European Union Presidency was represented by Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis, who is currently presiding over the Council of shipping and sea transports ministers.

    Summing up the discussion, Anomeritis referred to the imperative need for essential implementation and effective compliance control with the existing international and European shipping regulations. He stressed that such regulations are a catalyst to achieving the targets of boosting shipping safety and sea environment protection.

    Additionally, Anomeritis underlined the important role EU member-states and their respective shipping authorities are called to play towards this direction.

    [20] Schiesser Pallas of Switzerland closes Greek operation

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    The multinational Schiesser Group of Switzerland announced on Monday that it would close one of its two Greek operations at the end of the month.

    In a statement, the parent company said that Athens-based Schiesser Pallas, an underwear manufacturer, had shown the lowest level of competitiveness among all the Group's plants in Europe, coupled with high operational costs.

    The result was that the firm, 70 percent of whose output was ordered by Scheisser AG, was no longer viable, the statement said.

    The Group was undertaking a restructuring in order to meet a worldwide recession and fierce competition from countries undercutting the market. Factories would be shifted to Balkan and Asian countries, Scheisser said.

    Another plant owned by Scheisser in Komotini, northern Greece, was competitive and would expand, creating jobs, the statement added.

    [21] Greece on the list of Union's worse in implementing EU law, latest IMS review

    BRUSSELS 06/05/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    The latest Internal Market Scoreboard published on Monday by the European Commission in Brussels illustrated that Greece continues to appear among the bloc's members with the greatest difficulties in implementing the Union's Internal Market Directives.

    According to the review, Greece shows an implementation deficit of 3.3 percent of directives that have not been written into national law after the deadline for doing so has passed, with Italy holding the worse record at 3.9 percent, closely followed by Portugal (3.7 percent) and Ireland (3.5 percent).

    [22] Labor confederation leader proposes collective European negotiations

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) President Christos Polyzogopoulos, addressing the annual European conference of fiscal sector employees on Monday, proposed the establishment of an institution of collective European negotiations and agreements and the coordination of trade unions' action with the calling of strike action in Europe.

    The conference was organized by the federation of bank employee unions (OTOE) in cooperation with UNI FINANCE at a downtown Athens hotel.

    Polyzogopoulos said the trade union movement in Europe must intensify its efforts to enable the consolidation of European collective negotiations and agreements to be imposed, which is an essential element of European unification's social dimension.

    He added that strengthening the role of collective European negotiating is in a position to contribute positively to achieving real convergence and necessary for handling problems obstructing the coordination of European trade union activities.

    [23] ASE ends above 1,750 level on Monday

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks jumped on Monday pushing the general index above the 1,750 resistance level - the highest closing in several months - in the Athens Stock Exchange. Traders said buying activity intensified after the market successfully surpassed the 1,700 level in the previous week.

    The general index ended 1.81 percent higher to 1,751.87, with turnover an improved 146.6 million euros. National Bank's shares rose 5.26 percent leading the day's advance.

    The IT Solutions (6.34 percent), Food-Beverage (3.90 percent), Banks (3.84 percent), Metals (3.05 percent) and Investment (2.75 percent) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 2.45 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.52 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 2.40 percent up and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index jumped 2.29 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 284 to 51 with another 28 issues unchanged.

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of May 5 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,130 1,105

    [24] Int'l Broadcast Centre for 2004 Games completed

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    The first Olympic site constructed specifically for the 2004 Games – the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) -- was turned over to Athens organizers (ATHOC) on Monday during a brief ceremony attended by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the country’s top leadership -- 466 days before the next Summer Olympics begin in the Greek capital.

    The new 60,0000-square-metre steel and glass building is located within the main Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA), where five sports venues will host the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, athletics, tennis, two of the gymnastics competitions, the basketball finals, cycling and aquatics.

    Built at a cost of 103 million euros, the IBC stands next to the Main Press Centre and off one of Athens’ main thoroughfares (Kifissias avenue), which connects the northern suburbs with downtown Athens.

    All of the broadcasters beaming images to billions of television viewers around the world in August 2004 will be housed in the state-of-the-art IBC.

    According to ATHOC, the building will host the 8,000 to 10,000 broadcast media staff (reporters and technicians) covering the Games. Besides its above-ground facilities, an underground garage can accommodate 2,500 vehicles.

    In a brief address, Simitis stressed that the completion of the first facility built specifically for the 2004 Games is of major importance, as it will house the television networks covering the Olympics. He also noted that the project was completed on time, while emphasizing its post-Olympic use by future generations.

    “Even the most mistrustful now recognize the scope and successes of our efforts ... With the systematic work that has taken place, we are overcoming the difficulties that have arisen, and achieving the goals we’ve set,” the Greek premier said.

    On her part, ATHOC President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said that “today, almost 15 months before the Games, the first venue has been delivered to the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee ...

    “The Games are nearing. From this Centre the images and progress of Greece will be transmitted to the whole world in 2004. This building is an important project of the Games. We will hand it over to its users, all Rights Holding Broadcasters in television and radio. The contracts signed thus far with rights holders’ amount to more than 700 million euros, contributing significantly to the overall ATHOC budget,” she added.

    ATHOC officials said only outlying areas around the building are pending.

    Opposition criticism: Conversely, a main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) later sharply criticized the project, citing cost overruns, delays and questionable aesthetics.

    “The prime minister and the government have lost count of the project’s cost,” ND deputy Fani Palli-Petralia said, adding that under a revised deadline the site should have been ready in August 2002.

    “... the IBC is characterized by all the problems that accompany the Olympic projects – outrageous costs, delays, lack of transparency and environmental downgrading – a fact that should make the government more cautious vis-a-vis its celebrations,” the deputy, who oversees the main opposition’s Olympics portfolio, said.

    In its press release, Synaspismos referred to an incomplete and empty building that was originally budgeted at 31 million euros “and has already surpassed 100 million euros”.

    “It is unknown what the final cost will be, as well as what its post-Olympic use will be,” the press release concluded.

    [25] Saunders' widow calls for stiff sentences for her husband's killers

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Testifying in the ongoing trial of 19 suspected ''November 17'' terrorists regarding the killing of her husband Brigadier Stephen Saunders, Heather Saunders on Monday described the group's attack as cowardly and urged the court to hand out stiff sentences to the accused.

    Stephen Saunders, a British military attache, was shot down in a busy highway on his way to work in June 2000. He was the last person killed by the notorious terror group, which claimed in its proclamation that he had been involved in the planning of NATO bombing campaigns in Kosovo.

    His widow denied the claim, saying it was "total lies" and that her husband had been an army officer and not an air force officer.

    Before coming to Greece, her husband had served in Australia, Northern Ireland, the United Nations peacekeeping force in Kosovo and Iraq and had been just two years away from retirement, she said.

    Describing her husband was a ''perfectly innocent man'', Heather Saunders said that she did not hate his alleged killers but could not think of any excuse for what they had done.

    ''I wanted to come back and ask them what they thought they had gained. But now I don't have the strength. They are not even worth looking at. I can't do it,'' she said.

    Accused of her husband's murder are the alleged operations chief for the terror band, Dimitris Koufodinas, and Savvas Xiros.

    According to the next witness on the stand, Theodosia Mania, she had seen a man and a woman strongly resembling Koufodinas and his wife Aggeliki Sotiropoulou in the slip road next to Kifissias Avenue one day before the Saunders' hit.

    She said the man had been showing the woman something in the direction of Kifissias Avenue and she believed the couple had been connected to the murder.

    Her testimony was strongly disputed by the defense for Koufodinas and Sotiropoulou, who said she had an ''overactive imagination''.

    At the start of the proceedings, meanwhile, the court ordered an inquiry into allegations by Savvas Xiros that he was being dosed with psychotropic drugs and that there were anti-terrorism squad officers posing as guards at the prison.

    The trial continues on Tuesday with more witnesses related to the Saunders' case before moving on to the Vyrona and Sykourio robberies.

    [26] EU conference on tourism in Crete

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Strengthening the competitiveness of European tourism, by adopting common EU policies, is the big challenge facing the European tourism industry in its effort to maintain its leading position in the world tourism market, while the impact from a war in Iraq and the breakout of SARS epidemic are not expected to be either significant or long-lasting.

    These are the main conclusions arising from a European Conference on EU Transport Policies and European Tourism Competitiveness, currently held at Aghia Pelaghia, in Crete. The conclusions of the conference will be presented to an informal EU ministerial and officials' meeting on Tuesday, including all 25 countries of an expanded European Union.

    The tourism sector is largely significant for the economies of EU member-states, with around two million companies employing around eight million people in the industry. The World Tourism Organization expects tourist arrivals in Europe to reach two billion by 2020, with tourism contributing an average 12 percent to the Gross Domestic Product of EU member-states.

    Addressing the conference, Development Deputy Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos stressed the need to include the tourism industry in a European Constitution, currently under drafting procedures.

    Francesco Frangialli, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization, told the conference that international tourism has proven it can overcome crises: in 2001, after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, tourist arrivals globally fell only 0.5 percent, while domestic tourism rose. In 2002, despite an international economic slowdown, tourist arrivals rose 3.1 percent. Mr Frangialli said that the tourism sector would overcome a war in Iraq and the SARS scare, currently plaguing international economies.

    [27] Kaklamanis sends message to Turkish counterpart over quake

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Monday sent a telegram to his Turkish counterpart Bulent Aridc expressing the ''particular sorrow of the Greek people over the killer earthquake that hit the area of Bingol and caused the death of scores of innocent people''.

    [28] FM underlines inequalities between developed and developing countries

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Monday underlined the intensification of inequalities between developed and developing countries in an increasingly globalized environment and spoke of ''the most controversial, moral, political and social issue of our time.''

    Papandreou was addressing a two-day conference on ''the participation of the society of citizens in the EU's political development'', jointly organized by the Greek foreign ministry and the International Development Cooperation Department and the Panteion University.

    The foreign minister pointed to the need for an immediate response by the developed world to the challenge facing mankind, adding that over the next 25 years the world's population is expected to increase by two billion, while 97 percent of this increase will take place in developing countries.

    Papandreou also referred to Greece's ''accession'' to the group of countries providing developmental aid to countries in need of it and to recorded considerable activities in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and sub-Saharan Africa.

    He added that the decrease in poverty necessitates coordination and action both inside and outside the European Union.

    [29] PASOK Eurodeputy calls on EU to head effort to remedy cultural disaster in Iraq

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    PASOK party Eurodeputy and European Parliament Culture Committee member Myrsini Zorba called on the European Union to head the global effort to remedy, as far as possible, the huge cultural disaster experienced by Iraq during the war.

    In a question to the European Commission, Zorba says ''the cultural heritage of Iraq is a possession of all of humanity'' and proposes the undertaking of a series of initiatives to preserve what antiquities have remained in Iraq, the restoration of cultural foundations, the detection of stolen articles and the arrest of antiquities smugglers.

    She further called on the Commission to participate actively, in cooperation with UNESCO, in sending an international group of archaeologists to Iraq who, in cooperation with Iraqi colleagues of theirs, will make a detailed list of losses and notify police authorities in the EU and to Interpol of their findings.

    Zorba further said ''experts at a recent UNESCO conference termed the destruction of a large part of Iraq's cultural heritage as the cultural crime of the century.'

    [30] Greek aid convoy attacked outside Baghdad

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    A Greek convoy carrying humanitarian aid to Baghdad was attacked some 90 kilometers away from the Iraqi capital on Monday, a foreign ministry press release said.

    The convoy was headed by Greek Ambassador to Iraq Glaridis, whose jeep was fired upon twice in an effort to immobilize it but no one was injured, the press release said.

    Glaridis reported the event to Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, noting to him that the group composed of three members of the Greek NGO ''Greek Rescue Team'' and the Greek mission to the country reached Baghdad safely.

    [31] Ecumenical Patriarch addresses conference on EU's future in Athens

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Monday addressed the second day of a conference organized by the Church of Greece on ''Principles-Values for the building of Europe''.

    The Patriarch stressed that today's Europe was partly built on the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations as those were influenced and formulated by the advent of Christianity and thus Europe should turn to its base that was constructed on the values of that religion, now that it is re-establishing itself.

    He added that Europe, even in the case where it is not accepting the metaphysical character of Christianity - a choice that is respected he said - it is obliged to recognize the individual and social Christian moral teachings as its aims or at least as a beginning of its vision.

    Among those to address the conference were ruling party PASOK deputy Theodoros Pangalos and main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Mariana Giannakou.

    Later, speaking to journalists, Vartholomeos expressed his satisfaction over developments in the Cyprus issue, terming them positive and stressing his hope that they will continue in the same manner.

    In the afternoon, Vartholomeos spoke at a one-day conference, organized by the Greek Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage and hosted by the Goulandris-Horn Foundation, entitled ''Ecclesiastical Architecture, Tradition and Modern Reality''.

    He also met with Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis and discussed with him issues related to the Greek community abroad and the Patriarchate.

    Ecumenical Patriarch in Halkidiki on May 31, June 1: Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos is to visit Halkidiki on May 31 and June 1 for the inauguration of the new chapel at the Evangelismos Theotokou nunnery at Ormylia on June 1.

    Construction of the chapel began in 1980 and all the murals have been painted by the nuns.

    [32] EU Council of Youth Ministers adopts Common Conclusions on youths' future

    BRUSSELS 06/05/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    The EU Council of Youth Ministers completed its sessions here on Monday under the chairmanship of Eleni Kourkoula with the adoption of Common Conclusions concerning the Future of Activities for Youth within the framework of the 2007-2013 New Generation Programs.

    The Greek minister underlined the particular value of the existing EU action program ''NEOLEA'' and stressed the need for the maintenance and development of the existing EU means which are directed particularly to youth, for the effective implementation of European cooperation in the Youth sector.

    [33] Interior, labor ministers address conference on gender equality

    Athens 06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis and Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas on Monday addressed a conference held in Athens and entitled ''Gender and the Information Society'', organized by the Greek EU presidency and the interior ministry's general secretariat on gender equality.

    ''The technologies of information and communications are the new opportunity for women on condition that this opportunity will not be left to the hand of the market alone, but that there will be political choices, interventions and programs that will work in a preventative way in regards to negative results and will not allow the creation of new dividing lines and new divisions,'' Skandalidis said.

    On his part, Reppas said that productivity is increased with the use of technologies of information and communications, to the tune of some 300 percent, stressing that the job market will demand increased numbers of new employees trained in the new technologies.

    Reppas added that only 15 per cent of the employees in that sector are women, most of which are working in low-level positions.

    European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou underlined that it is a priority of the European Union to close the gap between the genders concerning the knowledge and use of new technologies.

    [34] EU education ministers meet in Brussels

    BRUSSELS 06/05/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    Education Minister Petros Efthymiou on Monday chaired a meeting of the European Union's education ministers that for the first time included ministers from the ten new member-states as observers.

    In his capacity as president of the council of education ministers, Efthymiou stressed that the meeting was ''productive and of historic importance''.

    ''This is the first time that during a council decisions were taken on four issues, of which two concern new programs in the education sector,'' Efthymiou said, adding that the Greek EU presidency has made inroads in promoting the Europe of knowledge.

    The council adopted the conclusions of the criteria for the European character of education, the minister said, adding that this is the first decision for the realization of the Lisbon strategy.

    On her part, European Commissioner Vivian Redding said, during the press conference that was held jointly with Efthymiou, that the handling of the education issues by the Greek presidency and Efthymiou personally were welcomed by the member-states.

    [35] Drugs and illegal arms bust by police in Thesprotia

    06/05/2003 (ANA)

    Police on Monday said they had intercepted a pair of suspected drug runners transporting 56 kilos of cannabis into Greece in a private car.

    They said a search of the car had also revealed five hand grenades, one of which was armed and ready for use, five detonators and 55 9mm bullets.

    The man and the woman in the car were identified as Maria Anastassiades, 32, who was driving, and Albanian national Costas Vekios, 34, from Sarande who was holding the armed grenade.

    Police said they believed the drugs and ammunition had been picked up by the pair on the Greek-Albanian border shortly before their arrest.

    The pair are to appear before a public prosecutor while police are searching for their accomplices in Athens and Albania.

    [36] US diplomat believes movement of people does not settle division

    NEW YORK 06/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The movement of people across the lines in Cyprus does not settle the division of the island, and the complicated questions relating to property and security, and how to bring Turkish Cypriots within the acquis communautaire, questions that remain to be addressed in a comprehensive settlement, US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston has said.

    In an interview with Greek American weekly newspaper ''Greek News'', Weston, who plans to visit Cyprus in June, said he was ''optimistic that there will be other positive measures.''

    The American diplomat says he is surprised that there have been so few problems, regardless of the vast movement of people across the lines, and described as minimal the few incidents of friction that occurred.

    Replying to questions about the recent events in Cyprus, Weston said that although visually they could look like that which the world had witnessed in Berlin in 1989, they are fundamentally different in content.

    ''I think in Berlin in 1989, we were seeing basically the collapse of the Warsaw pact, among other things. I think what we are seeing in Cyprus is a combination of the kind of reaction to long suppressed feelings on the part of both communities of the isle, to know one another and to be with one another and to some extent to demonstrate that they are all Cypriots together,'' he said. Weston said that another element which contributed to it, was the great disappointment on the part of the people of Cyprus, both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, when The Hague talks in March failed to get a Cyprus settlement.

    He said it would be very difficult from now and on to stop the channels of contact.

    ''This is not a one-time shot. Many of these people, at any rate, will remain in contact and develop their relationships with one another in whatever means they can. There is a real wish to form relationships among Cypriots and I know that will change and I do not think it can be stopped while it has started,'' he said.

    The American diplomat says that many people have played a role in these developments, including the United States and UNFICYP.

    Weston disagrees with the view that recent events left behind the UN Secretary General's plan and that many key questions remain to be answered and this can only be done in a comprehensive settlement.

    He said there are all kinds of areas where ''positive developments are likely.''

    ''I think we just have to wait and see. I would have to add to that, I am optimistic that there will be other positive measures,'' he added.

    Weston told Greek News that the US is expecting people in Cyprus to do everything possible to improve conditions on the island, to remove the division and to get a comprehensive settlement.

    Invited to say if he expects an early resumption of the talks, he said that the United States and himself would be doing everything possible to see that they do.

    [37] Serdar Denktash stalls party leaders' effort to resume UN talks

    NICOSIA 06/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    A proposal by United Democrats leader George Vassiliou for political parties from both sides of the divide to ask the UN Secretary General to resume negotiations for a Cyprus settlement has been rejected here Monday after so-called ''vice-president'' of the Turkish occupation regime, Serdar Denktash, cast a ''no'' vote.

    Vassiliou expressed his regret after the regular meeting of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot parties at the Ledra Palace in the UN-controlled buffer zone in Nicosia.

    He told reporters Denktash believes that at this stage the measures announced should continue before such a decision is taken, adding that Denktash, leader of the Turkish Cypriot Democratic Party and son of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, did not give a specific timeframe for the transitional period before the resumption of the talks.

    [38] De Soto says crossing of divide does not address the remaining problems

    NEW YORK 06/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary General's special envoy on Cyprus Alvaro De Soto has said that the situation as regards crossings of the dividing line in Cyprus is ''deeply moving and long may continue'' but pointed out that ''is not stable and does not address the underlying problems that remain.''

    Speaking on Sunday at a two-day conference on Cyprus at Columbia University, De Soto noted that ''taboos are falling but that doesn't quite get you there'' and called on the Greek Cypriot side now that Cyprus has joined the EU ''to loosen the grip,'' noting ''there are certain things on which it is now perhaps more possible to think big and think far.''

    ''Having heard what I heard throughout the spectrum of society and political parties in the north, about number one, the reluctance to live - as opposed to visit - with the Greek Cypriots and second, the need for acceptance and respect for their separate identity within a unified Cyprus, I find that those things will be difficult to overcome in any negotiation, quite apart from the problem of territorial redistribution and the problem of security and the problem of governance which are dealt with extensively in the Secretary General's report and of course in the plan,'' De Soto said.

    ''The fear of integration remains and the need for accepting a distinct identity for the Turkish Cypriots remains also in accordance with the plan,'' he added.

    Invited by the EU Chief Negotiator with Cyprus, Leopold Maurer, who attends among other personalities the conference to say whether the UN have now the moral obligation to go on with its efforts on Cyprus, De Soto said he was certainly totally taken by surprise with what has been happening on the island ''because there was never anything said to us - at least in the course of the negotiations that led us to believe that something like what was done was done.''

    ''This time around, before we jump in again and lay on the line the prestige and the political weight of the Secretary General behind a good offices effort, is something more than an assumption that all will act in accordance to their interest as we perceive them. Which is why we would like some unequivocal statement of what the interests of the people are,'' he said.

    De Soto wondered if one can conclude from what is happening on the island that people want a settlement within a realistic framework, a settlement in the terms in which it is attainable. He noted that he was not quite ready to make that link yet. ''In the meantime, we stick to what the Secretary General has said,'' he added.

    De Soto expressed the view that the island is dysfunctional in many ways, saying that the UN peace plan is an attempt to reconcile two goals that do not necessarily converge.

    Speaking about the final proposals of Kofi Annan to the two leaders, he said that Annan told them when he met them in Cyprus on February 27 that ''you are not going to make this plan any better by taking more time to negotiate it.''

    ''If you look at the essence of the plan, the whole philosophy of it is that the new state of affairs would have been brought about by the people themselves. And this is part of a somewhat extra-constitutional construction that we tried to put together, in order to get around the very difficult sort of a Gordian knot of this negotiation,'' de Soto added.

    He said that this very difficulty was ''that the Turkish Cypriots on one hand insisted that a settlement should come about as a result of an agreement between two pre-existing states, which the Greek Cypriots would not and probably would never accept. But then you had the other problem, that the Greek Cypriots wanted the new state of affairs in Cyprus to be simply a continuation of the Republic of Cyprus.''

    ''And the Turkish Cypriot leadership, with substantial support amongst the Turkish Cypriot people, felt that they could not simply accept to collapse and fold under the Republic of Cyprus. So you have to find a way to reconcile these two apparently reconcilable positions,'' De Soto noted. Referring to the crossings of the divide, after the easing of restrictions imposed by the occupying regime, De Soto said ''it is wonderful. And of course I am delighted.''

    ''It is deeply moving and long may continue. But of course it would be difficult to reverse it, politically it may be impossible to do it, but it is not permanent. It is not stable and it does not address the underlying problems that remain,'' he added.


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