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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-09

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

May 9, 2003


  • [01] Greek, Polish premiers focus on June EU Summit during meeting in Warsaw
  • [02] FM to visit Israel for talks with Israeli gov't, Palestinian Authority
  • [03] EU's defense chiefs discuss European CFSP
  • [04] Verheugen cites 'other options' if Cyprus not reunified by May 2004
  • [05] Foreign ministry denies reports of divergence of views between Athens-Nicosia
  • [06] Thessaloniki prepares for June EU summit
  • [07] Ideas for gov't reform 'a strictly personal viewpoint', Kosmidis says
  • [08] Alternate FM issues statement on Friday's EU Day
  • [09] ND leader to hold talks with Austrian Chancellor on future of Europe
  • [10] Labor minister addresses event on social cohesion in Europe
  • [11] Vartholomeos calls for Turkey's speedy accession to
  • [12] Deputy FM meets with Japanese ambassador
  • [13] Greece ranks first in software piracy in Western Europe, BSA says
  • [14] Hellas Sat ready for launch at Cape Canaveral
  • [15] Main opposition tables draft bill for transparency in politics
  • [16] Main opposition backs bill on international accounting standards
  • [17] EU to tackle consumer fraud
  • [18] Industry says jobless may rise to 20 pct in absence of gov't action
  • [19] Profit taking ends six-day rally on ASE
  • [20] Suburban railline progress examined
  • [21] British Olympic Committee satisfied with Athens Olympic Games installations
  • [22] Distinction between economic dimension of sport and commercialization underlined
  • [23] SARS quarantine facility created at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos int'l airport
  • [24] Chrysohoidis chairs EU Justice and Home Affairs Council
  • [25] Minister says agreement reached on mutual recognition of fines
  • [26] Vassilis Xiros recognized by witness to N17 murder of Peratikos
  • [27] The EU's 25 declare determination to crack down on doping in sports
  • [28] Deputy sports minister Lianis meets with EU Commissioner Redding
  • [29] President Papadopoulos warns against untimely initiatives
  • [30] US Ambassador: Annan plan open for changes but not drastic
  • [31] European Commission says pseudo state stamps not accepted

  • [01] Greek, Polish premiers focus on June EU Summit during meeting in Warsaw

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Prime minister and European Council President-in-office Costas Simitis met with his Polish counterpart Leszek Miller in Warsaw on Thurs-day the eighth stop in his tour of European Union member-states and acceding countries.

    The two premiers’ talks lasted for more than an hour and ware followed by a press conference.

    Miller said that during the meeting he had the opportunity to express his opinion concerning the preparation of the Summit's agenda, recognizing that the issues to be discussed in Thessaloniki in June will be very important.

    ''We, also, discussed Greece's experiences in its course toward the European Union and all those elements that certify that Greece, within the EU, was able to hasten reforms and its modernization,'' Miller said, adding that ''this is very important for us, since during this period we are preparing for the Polish referendum (for the ratification of accession)''.

    On his part, Simitis congratulated Poland's leadership and people for the successful accession bid and reassured the country's voters that the positive aspects of accession outweighed the negative in Greece's experience.

    He spoke of the benefits of EU funding for infrastructure projects and underlined that ''the second very positive results is that the accession to the EU aids, as it happened with Greece, to the European integration and the position of every country in the international economy''.

    ''No state, at this time, in Europe - and I believe anywhere in the world - can solve its problems without the cooperation with other states,'' Simitis said, adding that ''a specific example, we discussed with Mr. Miller today, is the issue of illegal immigration. There are hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants that cross the borders of the EU, thus this problem should be handled through coordination among countries''.

    Responding to a journalist's question on the EU's stance concerning North Korea, he said that the EU was very clearly against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, adding that for that reason there should be a dialogue with North Korea and a close cooperation with the USA and the UN, aiming to end production and use of such arms.

    Miller, on his part, commenting on a question on Euro-Atlantic relations following the enlargement, said that Poland is interested in having as best EU-USA relations as possible, adding that in his view the accession of new member-states would not be a problem in the quality of those relations.

    Concluding the press conference, Simitis responded to a question on the EU presidency's position concerning Poland's participation in the occupation of Iraq, saying that ''Poland is a member of the coalition, as are other European states, for example Britain, Denmark, that sent military troops to Iraq''.

    ''In my opinion, those that participated in the war, should deal with the logistics of security and peace in Iraq. They should, also, prepare the conditions for the rebuilding of that country,'' Simitis said.

    ''Our view is that on the issue of Iraq's reconstruction the central role should be played by the United Nations, since that can secure, in the best way possible, peace in the wider Middle East,'' Simitis concluded.

    [02] FM to visit Israel for talks with Israeli gov't, Palestinian Authority

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, current head of the EU Council of Ministers while Greece holds the rotating EU presidency, will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories on May 12-13 for talks with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority's leadership, the foreign ministry announced on Thursday.

    Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said that Papandreou hoped to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, with confirmation of that meeting still pending, Palestinian president Yasser Arafat and the new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

    The spokesman said that Papandreou, as head of the EU foreign ministers' council, would insist on the implementation of the road map for the Middle East, while stressing that this was not connected to any other terms or conditions.

    ''Implementation of the road map is a priority,'' Beglitis said, while expressing hope that the negotiations would be relaunched as the only avenue for creating two separate states.

    While in the region, Papandreou will also meet Jerusalem's Orthodox Patriarch Irineos, he said.

    Asked about an alleged plot to murder the Patriarch that recently hit the headlines, Beglitis expressed concern and respect for the ''autonomy of the Patriarchate'' and hope that unity would prevail for the good of the Patriarchate and the wider region.

    He also announced that representatives of Israel and the Palestinian Authority had been invited to attend the Euro-Mediterranean Cooperation foreign ministers' conference that will take play on Crete on May 26-27.

    [03] EU's defense chiefs discuss European CFSP

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    The future prospects for Europe's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in relation to NATO, was the focus of discussions at the regular biannual meeting of the Military Committee for the European Union at the level of chiefs of defense that concluded on Thursday in Athens, a Greek National Defense General Staff press bulletin said.

    Greek Chief of Defense Army General Georgios Antonakopoulos briefed the Committee on the progress of current issues advanced by the Greek presidency such as the EU's military capacity, ability for rapid response, capability for space applications for military purposes and common European military training, the bulletin said.

    There was unanimous consent among the EU's defense chiefs regarding the Union's military capability for carrying out a full range of conflict prevention and crisis management tasks, known as the Petersberg tasks. Participants at the committee agreed that the Union had all the necessary means for rapid response in case of emergency, which enables the materialization of the demand for rapid action forces.

    The military assessments made at the meeting are expected to be included in the conclusions of the defense ministers’ council that will be held on 19 May in Brussels.

    The Committee was also briefed on progress of the CONCORDIA operation carried out by the EU at the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) since 1 April 2003, following a request submitted to the EU by the local government, and NATO consent and provision of administration facilities.

    The Athens meeting provided the forum for the maiden participation of Cyprus, Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Malta, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and the Czech Republic in the Committee, all of whom signed Accession Treaties with the EU on 16 April 2003.

    The EU's defense chiefs issued a joint directive that included the meeting's conclusions and a road map for the steps to be taken before their next meeting.

    [04] Verheugen cites 'other options' if Cyprus not reunified by May 2004

    NICOSIA 09/05/2003 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    European Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen on Wednesday said the Union wanted a reunified Cyprus to join the bloc, although other options are available if this doesn't occur by May 2004, when the island republic becomes a full member.

    Speaking to Turkish journalists in Berlin, Verheugen reiterated that a resumption of talks on the Cyprus issue is an issue falling under the United Nations' aegis.

    However, the Commissioner expressed hope for a solution in cooperation with the UN and with the support of both Greece and Turkey, all before the date of Cyprus' full EU membership.

    Regarding Turkey's European course, Verheugen said it was very important that the country meet criteria set forth by the EU, adding that this would be in the interests of both Ankara and the Union.

    He also hailed steps taken by the Turkish government toward democratization, saying such steps represented progress that had not taken place in Turkey for the past 80 years.

    [05] Foreign ministry denies reports of divergence of views between Athens-Nicosia

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    The foreign ministry on Thursday categorically denied press reports claiming a divergence in views between Athens and Nicosia over developments concerning the Cyprus issue.

    Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis told reporters the issue is being discussed with the leadership of Cyprus on a regular basis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou and his Cyprus counterpart George Iakovou have frequent direct contact on all developments.

    Regarding the intentions of the Cyprus government on the possibility of sending a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan aimed at the resumption of the talks process, the spokesman said all options are being discussed with the leadership of Cyprus which will evaluate facts.

    He added that all this will also be discussed during the meeting Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos will be having with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on May 26.

    Beglitis praised the free movement of citizens in Cyprus, but added that the issue is not being resolved since the main problem of Cyprus is the political one.

    In this context, Papandreou raised the issue with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul on the island of Kastellorizo last weekend, on the sidelines of the European Union's informal Council of Foreign Ministers, stressing that discussions must take place in the framework defined by Annan's plan.

    Beglitis further said that following the signing of the Accession Agreement, and in light of new developments and facts in Cyprus, we must view the aspects and provisions of the Annan plan again in cooperation with the secretary general and the EU, which is now playing a very important role on this issue.

    On the question of ''exploratory contacts'' between Turkey's Assistant Deputy Foreign Minister Ugur Ziyal and Greek Foreign Ministry Secretary General Anastasios Skopelitis, focusing on the issue of defining the continental shelf, the spokesman said they were held in a warm climate and in a constructive way, adding that the next meeting will take place in Ankara in June.

    [06] Thessaloniki prepares for June EU summit

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis on Thursday chaired a meeting attended by representatives of political parties, local government authorities, movements, unions, associations, chambers of commerce and industry to work out the support needed for the events that will take place in Thessaloniki during the European Union summit in June.

    According to Paschalidis, the municipalities have allocated space for organized forms of protest, in conjunction with all the necessary infrastructures that will be needed to serve the hundreds of protestors that will descend on the city.

    They also decided that local city transport will be increased and it will be free of charge, with the use of a special card that will be subsidized by the ministry.

    Also, he said that a special office will be set up along with the press and media ministry's press center to aid the citizens and the visitors in getting to know about the parallel events.

    ''In cooperation with the 3rd channel of Greek Television (based in Thessaloniki), the Macedonian News Agency and the Athens News Agency we are formulating the terms for better briefings and information provision,'' the minister said.

    [07] Ideas for gov't reform 'a strictly personal viewpoint', Kosmidis says

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Cabinet Secretary Socratis Kosmidis on Thursday stressed that the ideas and proposals for sweeping government reform that he had outlined at an event the previous day were a strictly personal and long-held view that in no way presaged moves by the prime minister.

    The Kosmidis proposals, ranging from a reduction in ministries and civil servants to the redistribution of prefectures, were received by some sections of the press as a ''preview'' of a radical cabinet reshuffle planned by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    Speaking on Wednesday, Kosmidis said that government ministries should be reduced to 12, each with just one deputy minister and general secretary, that the civil service should be pared down with limited hiring for management positions, while he called for a redistribution of prefectures, reduction in regional authorities, a drastic reduction in legal entities 'attached' to the state sector and a visible differentiation between legislative and executive power, so that the government was primarily made up of ministers that were not members of Parliament.

    He noted, however, that these were views he had held since 1995 and that the proposals could only be implemented in the framework of a more general overhaul of state and government that might only be carried out by the government that would arise after the next elections.

    This was echoed by Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris in Warsaw, where he is accompanying Simitis on a tour of new European Union member-states, who said that the proposals made by Kosmidis were ''old and in no way refer to the present time'' and that they ''in no way concerned the initiatives that the prime minister will take after the end of the Greek EU presidency.''

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas also pointed out that Kosmidis had clearly stated from the start that the proposals he made were his personal viewpoint and his way of contributing to the general public debate on this issue.

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou greeted the Kosmidis proposals as a ''positive contribution to a debate that must begin for a modernized and healthy political system'' that he said should include issues such as electoral law and public administration.

    He made the statement immediately after his speech at a working meeting organized by the Greek EU presidency and the European Commission on the challenges facing the EU in terms of defense and security in space.

    The minister said the proposal for a smaller cabinet was a ''positive contribution'' while stressing that the final decision would be made by the prime minister alone.

    [08] Alternate FM issues statement on Friday's EU Day

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis on Thursday issued a statement in light of Friday's celebration of the Day of Europe, stressing that ''for decades now the citizens of Europe have lived in an environment of peace, prosperity and democratic freedoms''.

    ''Today, the citizens of the enlarged European Union face new prospects with many new possibilities, but also with many uncertainties. No one can influence the developments and the landscape more than organized societies and political forces. The forces that believe that the European structure secures options and prospects for greater trust, certainty and humanity,'' he said.

    ''In the times to come we will have many battles to wage in Europe. It is worth it. In any case the great aims and the important values are not an issue concerning only governments. Whatever is worthwhile in real life should be part of an everyday personal and collective vigilance and conquest,'' he concluded.

    Karamanlis issues message on occasion of 'EU Day': In light of Friday's celebration of the Day of Europe, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis in a statement on Thursday said that ''the recent accession of the ten new states to the European Union still constitutes yet another reconfirmation of the strength of European values.''

    He added that ''the Europe of six is today the Europe of 25. And this renders the European Union, despite differences which exist at times, the most successful political achievement in history.''

    ''This is why May 9 is a day of pride. It is also however a day of recollection. Because the challenges we have to confront for a really strong Europe, as well as for a Greece which will achieve the substantial economic and social convergence with the other European peoples, are great,'' the ND leader said.

    ''In view of the decisions for its future, we support the vision of a Europe for all, in which all the citizens will share the same sense of security and prosperity,'' Karamanlis added.

    ''Cyprus is also celebrating with us today. The accession of Cyprus to the European Union constitutes a historic vindication of the struggles of the Cypriot people, but also significantly enriches our Union. This is why we believe that the European Union can and must impose its historically justified model for a European solution to the political problem of Cyprus to be given,'' Karamanlis concluded.

    [09] ND leader to hold talks with Austrian Chancellor on future of Europe

    VIENNA 09/05/2003 (ANA - A. Panagopoulos)

    Main opposition New Democracy Party (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis arrived here on Thursday afternoon and on Friday morning will meet Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel for talks on the future of Europe, following the recent crisis in Iraq but also after the EU enlargement.

    Karamanlis is expected to reiterate his positions for strengthened cooperation in the security sector and the need for a balance to be found between the big and small European Union countries in order for the new Europe of 25 states to function more effectively.

    The ND leader will also brief Chancellor Schuessel on his firm positions on the Cyprus issue and also on Turkey's European prospects.

    Karamanlis is due to return to Athens on Friday afternoon.

    [10] Labor minister addresses event on social cohesion in Europe

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas on Thursday said that the securing of social cohesion should be the main prerequisite for the future of Europe.

    Addressing an event in Athens on Thursday on the theme ''For a social Europe, force of peace and solidarity'', organized by the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE) in cooperation with ATTAC Greece, newspaper Eleftherotypia and Le Monde Diplomatique, the minister underlined that there was a need for rules in order for citizens to be able to express themselves genuinely on a political, social and economic level.

    On his part, GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos underlined the distance between the citizens and the European institutions, as manifested in the recent war in Iraq.

    [11] Vartholomeos calls for Turkey's speedy accession to

    EU ISTANBUL 09/05/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Orthodox Christian Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos speaking after a service at a Church in Pergamus called on all to wish for Turkey's accession to the European Union soon.

    ''Wish with me for Turkey to enter the European Union soon, something that will be for the good of the country in general, as well as for the specific benefit of Turkey's minorities and even more so for the benefit of the holy center of Orthodoxy,'' Vartholomeos said.

    ''I am hopeful that this day will come soon, even though some agencies and persons would not wish for such a positive development and they state it clearly that they do not favor such a prospect,'' he added.

    [12] Deputy FM meets with Japanese ambassador

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos on Thursday met with Japanese Ambassador to Athens Toshio Mochizuki, who expressed the Japanese government's satisfaction over the successful visit of Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Athens last week.

    Loverdos, on his part, briefed the ambassador on Greece's Balkan Program and Mochizuki expressed the interest of his country's businesses in cooperating with Greek businesses in that framework.

    The two men also discussed issues concerning investment between the two countries and cooperation in sectors of construction, technology and energy.

    [13] Greece ranks first in software piracy in Western Europe, BSA says

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greece remained at the top of the league with the highest business software piracy rate in Western Europe (64 percent) in 2001, despite significant progress made to combatting software piracy, Business Software Alliance (BSA) said on Thursday.

    A BSA announcement expressed its satisfaction over efforts made to combat software piracy in Greece by policy authorities with the support of the Hellenic Company for Audio-Visual Projects' Protection.

    Greek police recently arrested three people with charges of alleged trafficking and distribution of illegal software and other products through the Internet (mostly business application software, PC games, video and audio CDS) in Greece.

    Police authorities confiscated a wide range of computer products, CD and DVD recorders used for reproduction, printers and a total of 19,500 CDs, of which 2,500 included software products and multimedia.

    It was the fifth big success for the Greek police in its battle against illegal software use since June 2002.

    Denmark and the UK were the countries with the lowest business software piracy rates in Western Europe (26 percent and 25 percent, respectively), while the western Europe's average rate was 37 percent in 2001, BSA said in its report.

    BSA said that the average piracy rates in Eastern Europe were 67 percent, 51 percent in the Middle East and only 25 percent in North America.

    [14] Hellas Sat ready for launch at Cape Canaveral

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    The launch of the first Greek telecommunications satellite into space covering the telecommunications needs of Greece and Cyprus in the next 15 years is entering its last stage after a two-month delay to address technical problems that had cancelled an initial launch.

    Hellas Sat is scheduled to be launched on Monday, 12 May from Cape Canaveral, in Florida USA and is expected to take its position 39 degrees east in about a week later.

    Hellas Sat is one of the most updated satellites in the world equipped with two steady beams with 18 transmitters to cover Europe and two mobile beams with 12 transmitters to cover the Middle East, Africa and Southeastern Asia.

    Each transmitter has a band width of 36MHz and can offer a wide range of telecommunication and television services, such as satellite Internet, audio and visual services, and digital satellite television.

    Hellenic Telecommunications Organization’s chief executive Lefteris Antonakopoulos said that the project was a significant step taken jointly by Greece and Cyprus. He added that the satellite would open the space horizon by including Greece among countries with presence into space programs, and it would significantly contribute in broadcasting the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    [15] Main opposition tables draft bill for transparency in politics

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy on Thursday tabled a draft bill in Parliament on "Restoring guarantees of transparency in the finances of political parties and figures, the mass media and state contracts".

    ND said the government had failed to install sufficient safeguards for ensuring such transparency, particularly through the "incomplete implementation" of the 'statement of means' declaration that "cast long shadows" on the "financial transparency of individuals manning the political system, particularly members of the government".

    The bill calls for changes to the 'statement of means' declaration for political figures and parties, articles for reducing the "negative impact" of the main shareholder clause and for combatting oligopolies in public works and proposes that breach of trust while in office once again be made a crime instead of a misdemeanor.

    [16] Main opposition backs bill on international accounting standards

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party is to vote in favor of a government bill that will make the use of international accounting standards mandatory for company finances.

    ''We want to show that there must be intensified checks and greater credibility in company balance sheets,'' ND economics spokesman, George Alogoskoufis, told parliament during debate on the bill.

    Misleading data in financial reports was more to be found in the accounts of state firms than in private sector companies, Alogoskoufis added.

    He also said that legislation in the field existed in the past but was never implemented.

    [17] EU to tackle consumer fraud

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    The European Union is to form a united front against fraud through legislative measures, EU Commissioner David Byrne told an informal meeting of consumer affairs ministers on Thursday.

    Chairing the meeting in Eretria, Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said that a dynamic presence was required by the consumer movement in the bloc, as well as guarantees of participation by consumer unions in policy development to safeguard the financial interests of the public.

    Among the EU's plans are the creation of a data base on European sector legislation, the creation of a state body in each member state to implement laws, and the formulation of a single framework to tackle unfair business practices, Byrne said.

    [18] Industry says jobless may rise to 20 pct in absence of gov't action

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    The Association of Greek Industry said on Thursday that unemployment could rise to 18-20 percent if the government failed to take the right economic policy measures.

    Referring to the planned closure of an underwear manufacturing plant in Athens by Schiesser of Switzerland, the trade group's president, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, told reporters that new shutdowns were likely as Greece no longer had low labor costs.

    The phenomenon had already occurred in other European countries and in the United States of America, Kyriakopoulos said.

    The government needed to promote business activity through creation of the right infrastructure and a climate favoring the establishment of new firms, which would bring new jobs, he added.

    [19] Profit taking ends six-day rally on ASE

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended a six-day rally in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday as investors preferred to take profits after a decision by the European Central Bank to hold interest rates steady in the eurozone.

    The general index fell 1.80 percent end at 1,749.95 points, with turnover at 101.4 million euros.

    All sector indices ended lower with the Publication, IT Solutions, Textile, Insurance and Wholesale suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day (4.14 percent, 3.63 percent, 3.56 percent, 3.31 percent and 3.14 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 1.83 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 1.83 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index dropped 2.44 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index fell 1.89 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 305 to 33 with another 19 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 112.3 mln euros Thursday

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: +1.83 percent

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

  • Underlying Index: +1.83 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (570)

  • Total market turnover: 112.3 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Thursday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.12 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 13 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 3.1 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring May 2012 (375 mln euros)


    Closing rates of May 8 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,152 1,126

    [20] Suburban railline progress examined

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    A top government and Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) delegation on Thursday inspected works for the ambitious suburban rail line in northern Athens, a closely watched project whose timely completion is among a handful of “litmus tests” for the progress of 2004-related preparations.

    While visiting an under-construction station in the Koropi area of eastern Attica prefecture – which includes the greater Athens area – as well as a worksite where the rails are assembled, Transport Minister Christos Verelis again promised that the entire 32-kilometre project will be operational by May 2004. He also said rolling stock orders will be met on time by the local shipyard (Skaramangas) that won the contract to supply the electrically driven coaches, as opposed to the initially considered but environmentally ''unfriendly'' diesel trains.

    On her part, ATHOC chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki expressed satisfaction with the project’s progress and congratulated all the sides involved with the construction. The ATHOC president noted that the rail line will become the “backbone” of northern Athens’ mass transit system, connecting both outlying and quickly expanding northern suburbs as well as the new Eleftherios Venizelos Airport at Spata, east of Athens proper.

    The minister added that travel time between central Athens and the airport will also be cut to less than 40 minutes, with first phase estimates pointing to 120,000 passengers daily.

    The project has overcome various delays over the past few years, with repeated changes concerning routes, rolling stock, financing and prospective passenger depots, among others.

    A consortium led by Athens-quoted engineering contractor Aktor signed a contract in March 2002 for 84.5 million euros with Ergose -- the projects subsidiary of state-owned Hellenic Railways Organization -- to undertake works for the suburban rail.

    The suburban railway, part of a wider mass transportation network envisioned for the congested Greek capital that currently includes two new metro lines and an older electric rail line, will centre on a new station in the northwest district of Aharnes, close to where the “Olympic Village” is located. Additionally, a new ''Y-shaped'' tram network is being built with an ''Olympics deadline'' to connect the city's centre with the southern Athenian coastal districts and a bevy of 2004 venues.

    The airport stretch of the railway should help to cope with increased passenger movement during the 2004 Athens Olympics, organizers said, beyond just lessening the daily travel time for local commuters.

    Themeliodomi SA was named the winner of a tender late last year to undertake supplementary projects in construction of a central section of the suburban railway.

    The works between Liosia Station, in downtown Athens, and the Thriasio cargo terminal, in western Attica prefecture, are budgeted at 11.9 million euros.

    [21] British Olympic Committee satisfied with Athens Olympic Games installations

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    British Olympic Committee officials who visited Athens were satisfied with the progress of Olympic Games installations and contacts with Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) members.

    The British delegation visited the Olympic Village and expressed appreciation for the infrastructure and housing conditions provided for athletes.

    ATHOC managing director Spyros Kapralos briefed the members of the British Olympic Committee on preparations for the Olympic Games, while other officials referred to individual programs and gave their British colleagues a guided tour of sports installations.

    British Olympic Committee Secretary General Simon Clegg, who will head his country's delegation at the Games, said ''we are very pleased to be in Athens where the heads of sporting events and the members of the Olympic Committee are carrying out a series of intensive meetings with members of the Organizing Committee. We were particularly impressed with the development of work at the Olympic Village and we expect that the environment will be ideal for the athletes during the Games.''

    [22] Distinction between economic dimension of sport and commercialization underlined

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Thursday there should be a distinction between the economic dimension of sport and, consequently, of the Olympic Games and other tournaments and commercialization, such as in Barcelona and Atlanta.

    Venizelos, addressing the conference on sport and regional development taking place at the Zappeion Mansion with the participation of sport ministers of EU member-states and candidate states, said the 2004 Athens Olympic Games constitute an opportunity for the Greek economy in its entirety to be organized from the beginning and in depth and for major and more systematic interventions to take place within the economy and society.

    ''The Olympic Games constitute an opportunity for the entire country and the most important element is not infrastructures but the method of work, mentality, productivity and effectiveness,'' Venizelos said.

    Deputy Sports Minister George Lianis said sport is the most decisive means of uniting peoples and, referring to Greek Olympic Games medalists, said ''during the difficult days of the war in Iraq they decided to send their own messages for peace, culture, humanity and fair play'', adding that ''from the Parthenon, the highest point of human civilization, our Olympic Games medalists reminded the whole world that Greece will organize Olympic Games linked with ideals.''

    Sport Commissioner Viviane Redding proposed to the EU's forthcoming Italian presidency (it will follow that of Greece) to examine the expediency and feasibility of an initiative on what the dimensions of the Olympic Games should be as well as the cost of organizing them in order to avoid an existing danger of the over indebtedness of the country undertaking them.

    Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki said ''they are the first Games in Olympic history having the euro as the EU's common currency. In 2004 we shall share with all the citizens of the European Union mankind's greatest celebration and we are particularly pleased because during the Games the citizens of 10 European countries, including Cyprus, will be part of the enlarged European Family.''

    [23] SARS quarantine facility created at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos int'l airport

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    As the official death toll of the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic reached 495 and the overall number of registered SARS cases exceeded the 6,900 mark, Greece announced on Thursday that it had set up a special quarantine facility at its new state-of-the-art international Eleftherios Venizelos airport outside Athens.

    According to the airport's hygiene director Mrs. Makri, the quarantine facility is located in an isolated, fenced-in area outside the main airport complex and is capable of hosting the passengers of a large airplane, which translates into more than 350 people, in the event of a suspected SARS case on board.

    The quarantine facility has its own sewage system, is equipped with special lamps that continuously sterilize the environment, as well as an independent heating/air-conditioning system fitted with special filters to minimize the prospect of spreading of the lethal communicable virus. The facility is further equipped with surgical masks and gloves for personnel and passengers.

    In addition, the quarantine facility has several fully-equipped examination rooms and isolation units where suspect cases are hosted until examination results are forthcoming.

    The facility is staffed by at least seven physicians from the Sismanogleio Hospital, as well as doctors from the EKAB national emergency medical services and nursing staff.

    In the event that a suspect case is ascertained, the patient will be transferred to one of several hospitals in Athens where quarantined treatment units have been set up.

    The overall number of registered SARS cases worldwide has reached 6,903 since the epidemic broke out in November 2002, with China accounting for two-thirds of them, while 495 known SARS patients have died.

    Health minister warns Greek tourism industry to be on guard against SARS: Health Minister Costas Stefanis on Thursday advised the tourism industry, particularly hoteliers, to avoid accepting groups of tourists from areas considered to be SARS hotspots.

    The minister said that Greece had to make preparations to deal with the threat of SARS and take steps to defend itself, pointing out that there was no way to guarantee that the disease might not spread to the country in the near future.

    At the same time, he noted that no SARS cases had yet been reported in Greece and advised everyone to handle the issue calmly.

    According to Stefanis, when dealing with diseases of this type there was no way of ruling out the possibility that they might spread to your region. The only thing to do was to take precautions to contain them and isolate those infected as much as possible.

    Asked by reporters what measures the EU health ministers' council had decided to take to contain SARS, Stefanis said that some countries had wanted stricter measures than others.

    For the time being, he said, Greece had decided against taking the temperature of all travelers at airports, focusing only on passengers considered at high risk of carrying the disease.

    In addition, all staff controlling points of entry and departure into and out of Greece - including the phenomenon of illegal immigration - had been fully briefed on the best ways to check for SARS, Stefanis said.

    He said that international health organizations were not seriously concerned at this phase about the risks that the virus might be transmitted through the distribution of products from Southeast Asia, though the possibility that the virus might continue to live on objects for several days was taken seriously into account.

    The minister said that Greece was prepared to deal with any SARS case that might arise, so as to immediately isolate and treat the patients without placing their environment in danger.

    He said that special 'negative pressure' chambers that would prevent the spread of the virus were being prepared in several hospitals in Athens and Thessaloniki and large regional hospitals and would be ready by next week.

    [24] Chrysohoidis chairs EU Justice and Home Affairs Council

    BRUSSELS 09/05/2003 (ANA – V. Demiris)

    The European Union’s immigration policy has been the centre of discussion during a session of the Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers, which met here on Thursday, presided over by Greek Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis.

    In statement after the meeting, Chrysohoidis expressed satisfaction over the progress achieved in discussions for the approval of two EU directives concerning the ‘definition of refugees’ and arrangement for long-term foreign residents in EU member-states.

    The Greek minister appeared certain that EU member-states’ contribution would help in lifting the last barriers in passing the two directives during the next Justice Ministers Council, to be held in Luxembourg, June 5.

    He added that the all-important issues relating to management of EU external borders, dealing with illegal immigration and EU cooperation with third nations on migration, being a fundamental priority of the Greek EU Presidency, would be further examined during June’s Thessaloniki EU Council.

    [25] Minister says agreement reached on mutual recognition of fines

    BRUSSELS 09/05/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, addressing a press conference on Thursday at the end of a Justice and Internal Affairs Council meeting he chaired, said that after two years of laborious discussions the Council reached a political decision on the important draft decision regarding the mutual recognition of decisions imposing fines.

    According to the draft decision, the relevant authorities of each member-state recognize immediately and take suitable measures to carry out every decision taken by another member-state ruling a fine as part of a conviction for a penal offence.

    Recognition takes place after the decision is communicated by the authorities of the issuing country.

    Petsalnikos said the draft decision anticipates restrictive reasons for refusing to carry out a decision, as well as the possibility of the country carrying out the decision to decrease the fine imposed in certain cases.

    He added that it is expressly noted that decisions on the payment of fines should be in accordance with the European Treaty on defending human rights and the fundamental rights and principles recognized by article 6 of the EU's Treaty.

    [26] Vassilis Xiros recognized by witness to N17 murder of Peratikos

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    A witness in the ongoing trial of 19 suspected terrorists accused as members of November 17 on Thursday said that the defendant Vassilis Xiros was one of three men he had seen fleeing the scene after the murder of shipowner Kostis Peratikos in 1997.

    Police officer Theodoros Avdoulos testified that he had been on guard duty at the nearby Piraeus transfers department on that day, very close to where Peratikos was killed, and had made his way to the spot after hearing the shots.

    He said he saw three men getting into a mini-van as he approached and had immediately taken cover, shouting ''police''. He then saw the three culprits abandon the van and run in the opposite direction, while shortly afterward he saw them pass him by in a taxi.

    The witness said he was absolutely certain that he had seen Vassilis Xiros as he climbed into the van and at the wheel of the taxi.

    Other witnesses to the same hit tentatively recognized Savvas and Vassilis Xiros and possibly Dimitris Koufodinas.

    Earlier on in the proceedings, a witness to the 1988 ELTA robbery in Patissia said he recognized Dimitris Koufodinas as the man that shot him during the robbery. Police guard Theodoros Papapanos said he had taken cover in an adjoining room at the ELTA branch but this was later disputed by defendant Patroklos Tselentis, who had admitted to taking part in the robbery. Tselentis said the police man had shut himself in a closed store-room, from which he had fired two shots after opening the door.

    Also accused of the same robbery was Theologos Psaradellis, who denied all involvement in the specific action but has admitted to taking part in a robbery at the same branch in 1983 along with Yiannis Skandalis.

    Thursday's session began with the testimony of Panagiotis Bozikas, former commander of the Sykourio army camp from which the terror group had stolen quantities of weapons on December 25, 1989.

    According to Bozikas, security at the camp had been lax and the theft was discovered accidentally. He estimated that the operation lasted some five hours and had involved seven to 10 people.

    Also testifying on Thursday was a guard at the war museum, Anastasios Spyridakis, who said he was 50 per cent sure that Christodoulos Xiros was one of the four robbers that had taken two rocket launchers from the museum.

    [27] The EU's 25 declare determination to crack down on doping in sports

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    The European Union sport ministers held an informal meeting on Thursday in Athens focusing on the place of sports in the Community's legislative framework and the future European Constitution, as well coordination among the Union's member-states to crack down on ''doping'' in sport, after the new anti-doping code was adopted at the World Conference in Copenhagen on Doping in Sport on 4 March 2003.

    In a statement he made after the conclusion of the meeting, Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said a broad consensus on the need to include Sports in a special article in the future European Convention was very important and hailed the change in attitude of some member-states, such as Denmark and Britain, who had certain reservations on the issue.

    On the fight against doping, Venizelos stressed the Greek presidency's success in coordinating the ''15'' at Copenhagen, which had resulted in the new ''anti-doping'' code, which the minister said would have to be applied by all sport federations with relative adjustments made in national legislations.

    ''It was very important that all 25 partners agreed at the meeting on the need to conclude a new international treaty on doping, at UNESCO level; therefore, the Greek presidency's initiative now is to prepare a draft international treaty, in cooperation with UNESCO, with the use of the rich material deriving from the European Council's anti-doping treaty'', Venizelos said.

    ''As a country hosting the Olympic Games, we have a very stern stance on the fight against doping'', the minister said, adding ''We are not going to allow the adulteration of athletic performance or athletic results. We will convey that message to everyone, and for that we need the cooperation of all sport federations, which are charged with the responsibility of the application of the new code'', he concluded.

    [28] Deputy sports minister Lianis meets with EU Commissioner Redding

    Athens, 09/05/2003 (ANA)

    Deputy Sports Minister George Lianis on Thursday met with European Commissioner responsible for Education and Culture Viviane Redding and discussed the Greek EU presidency's aim to include an article on sport in the European Union's Constitution.

    ''It is necessary to have an article for sport in the new European Constitution. An article with a social direction in education and solidarity,'' Redding said, also making mention of volunteerism.

    ''Sports can not function without volunteers. Europe can bring to Greece a group of one hundred volunteers, as a symbol of youth that comes to help in the Olympic Games. Also, from all over the world persons with mental disabilities will come to help the youth with special needs during the Paralympic Games, a fact that will contribute to peoples' understanding the great value of sport,'' Reding said.

    Redding and Lianis also spoke of the freedom of movement of professional athletes within the Union, about television rights and also about the use of illegal substances by athletes.

    [29] President Papadopoulos warns against untimely initiatives

    NICOSIA 09/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has warned that an untimely initiative to resume the UN-led peace talks could lead to another deadlock in the peace effort.

    The president said on Thursday that a UN plan for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus should be amended to fit in with recent developments, including the Republic's accession course to the European Union.

    Papadopoulos dismissed as unfounded claims by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul that the EU and Cyprus are applying a trade embargo against the island's Turkish-occupied areas.

    He also pointed out that the myth on which Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has based his divisive philosophy that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots cannot live together has collapsed.

    ''What many of our interlocutors are concerned about, and we share these concerns, is the possibility of seeing hasty moves or early initiatives lead the peace effort for the resumption of negotiations to a new deadlock or a new undesirable outcome,'' the president said, replying to questions at the Cyprus Red Cross Society.

    He reiterated his readiness to return to the negotiating table and resume peace talks on the basis of the Anna plan, which he pointed out, should be adjusted to meet the new circumstances and the latest developments on the island.

    President Papadopoulos said that he agreed with the view expressed by US Ambassador here Michael Klosson that the Anna plan must be amended to meet EU rules and regulations.

    Asked why he declines to take any initiative on the resumption of the talks, he stressed that the UN Secretary General is fully informed about his readiness for negotiations and all the efforts his government is making towards this direction.

    Dismissing criticism from the opposition, Papadopoulos said that sending a letter to Annan about the resumption of the peace talks is not going to bring about any change, adding that ''everything that needs to be done is being done and the Secretary General is dully informed.''

    Invited to comment on Gul's demand to lift the so-called embargo, he said that the EU does not impose any embargo, explaining that the acquis communautaire cannot apply in occupied Cyprus and that the government is implementing international law as prescribed by court decisions.

    He said measures, mainly economic, his government has announced aim at improving the living conditions of the Turkish Cypriots. The measures include employment opportunities for the Turkish Cypriots and easing of trade between both sides of the divide.

    Replying to questions, Papadopoulos said the crossings of the ceasefire line by Turkish and Greek Cypriots and the emotional scenes of friendship between them prove that Denktash's long standing position that Cypriots cannot live together is nothing but a myth.

    Invited to comment on Friday's visit to occupied Cyprus by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said this is an illegal visit and indicated that it would not be wise for Greek Cypriot political leaders to meet Erdogan.

    On the same issue, spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said any move, however limited, that lifts the fait accompli of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus is welcome.

    [30] US Ambassador: Annan plan open for changes but not drastic

    NICOSIA 09/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson said here on Thursday that there have to be some changes made on the Annan plan, for a solution to the Cyprus problem, as a result of the fact that the Republic of Cyprus has signed on April 16 the Accession Treaty to the EU.

    Speaking after a meeting with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, Klosson warned that the Annan plan is not open for drastic changes.

    He agreed that the recent developments in Cyprus have proven that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live together, but he stressed that the measures taken both by the Greek Cypriot side and the Turkish Cypriot side do not constitute the solution of the Cyprus problem.

    ''Both the relaxation on restrictions of free movement in Cyprus as well as the April 30 Greek Cypriot measures are positive and can contribute to greater contact between Greek and Turkish Cypriots and foster a greater understanding which can improve the atmosphere for a settlement. But of course this is not a solution this is not a settlement,'' the US Ambassador noted.

    Answering to a comment that recent developments have proven that there is no need for a long period of time for people to resettle, as designed in the Annan plan, Klosson said that, those provisions are in the plan and ''have to be sorted out.''

    He expressed his country's commitment for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue within the context of the UN Secretary General's good offices mission and added that the recent Security Council resolution explains the way forward to that.

    ''Clearly there have to be some changes made in the Annan plan as a result of the fact that we passed April 16 and the Republic of Cyprus signed the Accession Treaty. But that does not mean that the Annan plan is open for drastic changes,'' he said.

    He reminded that US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston had said that the Annan plan was ''designed to be brought into effect so that a reunified entity can sign the Accession Treaty on April 16,'' adding ''but that did not happen.''

    Asked whether he thinks that the new status quo could be the solution of the Cyprus issue, Klosson said that ''nobody that I talked to and gone to the northern part or came to the southern part has told me that they are satisfied with the current state of affairs.''

    Klosson said that he would not meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his illegal visit on Friday to the occupied areas of the Republic.

    [31] European Commission says pseudo state stamps not accepted

    BRUSSELS 09/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The European Commission reminded on Thursday of a European Court decision, according to which products from the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus bearing the stamp of the illegal ''authorities'' of the pseudo state cannot be accepted in the Community.

    Commenting on a recent statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul that the so-called ''embargo'' should be lifted, Jean Christof Filori, spokesman for Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, said that there was no community embargo to be lifted.

    What there is, he said, is a European Court decision, according to which the certificates for export issued by the so-called ''authorities'' in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus cannot be accepted because the EU does not recognize these ''authorities''.

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