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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-13

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

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

May 13, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM: Enlargement a turning point for both the EU and Europe
  • [02] PM Simitis expresses need for completion of EU's political unification
  • [03] PM to visit Portugal and Malta this week, gov't spokesman says
  • [04] DM and U.S. official discuss weapons of mass destruction and Iraq
  • [05] Government responds to main opposition's criticism
  • [06] Turkish warplanes violate Greek national airspace
  • [07] Greece, Russia debate natural gas, oil supply projects
  • [08] FinMin chairs Eurogroup, ECOFIN meetings
  • [09] Retail banking to lead growth in Greek banking sector, report says
  • [10] EU conference on labor protection in Alexandroupolis
  • [11] Doctors in Athens, Piraeus to strike for more SARS measures
  • [12] Greek Stock Exchanges seen privatized in the summer
  • [13] New common agricultural policy likely to be voted by end-June
  • [14] Greek stocks end lower on Monday
  • [15] PM chairs joint inter-ministerial, ATHOC meeting on Athens 2004 Games
  • [16] Archbishop Christodoulos visits ATHOC HQ
  • [17] Launching of 'Hellas Sat' postponed for at least 24 hours
  • [18] Verelis, Kazamias: Hellas Sat an historic event for Greece and Cyprus
  • [19] Press minister files second slander suit against Kouris, 'Avriani'
  • [20] Xiros brothers recognized as robbers by witness in N17 trial
  • [21] Prince of Wales arrives in Kavala for visit to Mount Athos
  • [22] Culture minister expresses sorrow over death of Graham Binns
  • [23] Police pick up 201 illegal immigrants in sweep of northeast Greece
  • [24] Parliament speaker supports dual nationality for Albania's ethnic Greeks
  • [25] Book festival dedicated to peace opens in Athens
  • [26] Conference stresses need for revision of EU TV without borders directive
  • [27] Government: we want negotiations as soon as possible
  • [28] Turkish policy unchanged, says Cypriot spokesman

  • [01] PM: Enlargement a turning point for both the EU and Europe

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    The accession of 10 new member-states into the European Union was a historic turning point in the development of both the Community and Europe as a whole, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and current president of the European Council told a seminar on ''Greece, the EU and the future of Europe'' organized by PASOK at Athens' Old Parliament on Monday.

    The Greek premier also stressed that Europe now needed a new Constitutional framework and that the Greek EU presidency intended to propose discussion of a draft European Constitution that would be prepared by the Convention for the Future of Europe at the June summit under the Greek EU presidency in Thessaloniki.

    Through the recent signing of accession treaties, Europe had knocked down the last remaining vestiges of the wall that had once divided the European continent, creating mechanisms for rallying together and development that offered new opportunities and capabilities to its member-states, Simitis said.

    He described enlargement as ''an inevitable undertaking'' that was inextricably linked with the course toward the future, as well as an ''ambitious attempt'' to effect a transition from an incomplete state structure to a more complete one.

    When EU leaders meet in Thessaloniki in June, he added, they will hold talks based on the Convention's proposals for a draft European Constitution.

    He stressed that this would be more than a series of amendments or additions to the various EU treaties, which were no longer comprehensible to the general public, but a new text that would redraw the basic rules and guidelines for the Union.

    The Greek premier stressed that discussion of such a draft treaty by the EU would be a major step forward and noted that the Union's cohesion and effectiveness was chiefly due to a drive to promote its policies, which prevented a slough or the development of 'centrifugal' forces at this very sensitive phase in the EU's history. This allowed it to remain a Union of values for its people and societies not just a vast melting-pot of market mechanisms, he added.

    According to Simitis, the values that such a new Constitution would consolidate are those of freedom, democracy, peace, development and prosperity, as well as cohesion and solidarity. It would also introduce powerful institutions and organs based on the principles of equality between small, medium and large member-states, so that Europe could be adequately represented, formulate effective policies and take rapid decisions and be able to play a role for peace and sustainable development around the world, as well as accept in its ranks those countries that wished to join.

    During his address, the Greek premier did not spare criticism of domestic preoccupation with petty party-politics and stressed that Greece's participation in processes for European integration could not proceed on ''automatic pilot'' and that the Greek presidency was not a ''public relations exercise''.

    Strong Greece was intimately linked to Europe, while the development of a common foreign policy and especially a common European defense policy was one of the main factors for strengthening the Union's role internationally, Simitis said.

    [02] PM Simitis expresses need for completion of EU's political unification

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis and current president of the European Council on Monday stressed the need for the completion of the political unification of the European Union through an evolving process which will continously strengthen its federal characteristics.

    Addressing a luncheon of the European Publishers Association, the Greek premier said that the present reality goes to show that the EU's national societies and in extension their leaderships are not yet ready to accept bold steps towards this direction.

    What is needed is a strong Europe through formations which will arise from mutual compromises of federal positions and transgovernment rapprochements, Simitis said, noting, ''a Europe however which will be effective.''

    Therefore, what is essential is the strengthening of the role and powers of the European Commission, he said. ''It embodies and expresses the 'communal model of integration'. It secures basic balances. Consequently, it should be reinforced. For this to happen, the President of the Commission should be elected by the European Parliament and be 'ratified' by the European Council,'' Simitis added.

    Referring to the future of Europe, the prime minister said a strong Europe cannot just be a big market, stressing also that a strong Europe is not composed simply from the institutional upgrading of the EU's Common Foreign and Defense Policy. What is needed is ''the undertaking of responsibility towards what is going on in the international scene. A comprehensive policy on the problems of globalization,'' he said.

    Simitis further noted that Cyprus' accession to the European Union is an ''important contribution to peace and stability in the region,''

    adding:’ We worked and will work - Greeks and Cypriots - with stability and consistency for the settlement of the political problem, the problem of the island's partition, for a just, viable and workable solution. It is necessary for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to continue.''

    [03] PM to visit Portugal and Malta this week, gov't spokesman says

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis, current head of the European Council, will visit Portugal on Tuesday and Malta on Wednesday for talks with his counterparts in both countries, government spokesman Christos Protopapas announced.

    Briefing reporters from Corfu on Monday, he said the premier was due back in Greece on Thursday for a meeting with Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, while on Friday he was scheduled to meet Health Minister Costas Stefanis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    The spokesman also referred to a conference on the social role of advertising and the electronic media taking place on Corfu, underlining that its results would be particularly significant.

    Along with the results of an informal meeting EU ministers for audiovisual media on May 24-25, they would form the basis for revising the Community's 'TV without frontiers' directive, he said.

    Papandreou-Shalom: Israel awaits Palestinian premier's effective moves against terrorism JERUSALEM 13/05/2003 (ANA - D. Konstantakopoulos)

    The new Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen will have to prove his ability to combat terrorism and realize reforms, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on Monday, after his meeting with visiting Greek Foreign Minister and current EU Council of Ministers President George Papandreou.

    ''We are ready to resume the peace process with the Palestinians and we hope that the upcoming meeting, of Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Abu Mazen, will create a better atmosphere and personal contacts that may allow for the progress of the peace process,'' Shalom said.

    ''We confront an opportunity and we are ready to take it. If the others want to do so we will move forward,'' Shalom added.

    ''We should not allow for a new failure now that we have this opportunity, the Abu Mazen government and the road map,'' Papandreou underlined, expressing the hope that the European Union will play a more significant role and that the future is composed of a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state.

    Papandreou also noted his sympathy for the average Israeli citizen ''that is faced with the immediate and unjustified terrorist threat,'' while he called the issue of security absolutely necessary for both sides.

    He also expressed his wish for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state that will be prosperous and will be free of violence and stressed the necessity for the establishment of trust between the two sides.

    ''We support Abu Mazen and the road map, this is the message we give to all sides, we support the reforms,'' Papandreou said, responding to questions about his meeting with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Tuesday.

    On his part, Shalom said that Israel wishes for and is ready to begin negotiations and wants to ''decrease the blank points between the road map and the vision of (U.S. President George) Bush''.

    [04] DM and U.S. official discuss weapons of mass destruction and Iraq

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State on International Security Issues John Bolton on Monday discussed problems related to weapons of mass destruction and the issue of Iraq.

    ''We had an interesting discussion regarding the handling of the problem of weapons of mass destruction. With regard to our European reply to this issue, I remind that the foreign minister had raised the issue at the informal Council of Foreign Ministers in relation to the shaping of a common European strategy on handling problems linked to weapons of mass destruction, their proliferation and the danger they can constitute concerning peace and security in our countries,'' Papantoniou said.

    ''A second issue concerns the issue of Iraq regarding the postwar reconstruction period. I pointed out to Mr. Bolton Greece's very great interest both as a public and private sector and the Greek economy being present in this period of reconstruction. Because, as it is known, there are considerable debts of Iraq towards Greek construction, primarily, companies, while there are also many Greek companies in the technical sector as well, as well as in other sectors, which could contribute in participating in wider joint ventures undertaking reconstruction projects in Iraq,'' he added.

    He went on to say that the foreign and national economy ministries are processing a plan according to which revenues from the projects will help in paying off past debts.

    Bolton said the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction must be restricted, adding that it is one of the top priorities of the Bush administration.

    He further said it is very important that hostilities come to an end in Iraq and talks are held with Greece, which has been a friend and ally for many years and also with its present position being exercised in the EU's presidency.

    Papantoniou also stressed that there is no question of military forces being sent to Iraq, but there is always the issue of Greece's participation in humanitarian operations, which has not yet been raised.

    Commenting on the launching of the first Greek satellite, Papantoniou said ''this launching is a success for Greek technology and there is no doubt about this issue. This fact is very important. This satellite belongs to OTE (the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization) and will have a telecommunications use, which means that it will facilitate and will speed up international communications a great deal'', adding that the National Defense General Staff is considering the possibility of having a military satellite created to collect information.

    Loverdos meets with US counterpart Bolton: Greece’s Deputy Foreign Ministers Andreas Loverdos met with U.S. Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton on Monday in Athens for a discussion on issues pertaining to the preparation of a US–EU summit meeting, to be held in Washington on June 25, according to an announcement issued by the Greek foreign ministry.

    Specifically, the two officials’ talks touched upon the proliferation of mass destruction weapons and the likelihood of certain countries obtaining such weapons.

    Bolton said the specific issue was very likely to be examined during the US-EU summit, while he asked Loverdos to see that it is included in the agenda of June’s Thessaloniki EU Council.

    [05] Government responds to main opposition's criticism

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    The country is being governed and governed well, and this was proved by the international initiatives undertaken by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the response to him, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday in response to criticism from main opposition New Democracy.

    The prime minister's statements on May 1 still applied and Simitis would strictly adhere to the time frame he had set, Protopapas told reporters on Corfu.

    He also reiterated that the proposals made by cabinet secretary Sokratis Kosmidis were simply the secretary's personal views and were not in any way binding for the premier.

    [06] Turkish warplanes violate Greek national airspace

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Fifteen formations, 35 aircraft, of Turkish warplanes made an equal number of infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on Monday which developed into 75 violations of national airspace, press reports said.

    The Turkish aircraft entered the Athens FIR over eastern Aegean without submitting flight plans, which constitutes an infringement. They were recognized and intercepted by Greek warplanes, while in nine cases the interception process developed into an engagement.

    The reports said eight of the Turkish aircraft recognized were armed. Greek Air Force sources believe provocations on the part of the Turkish Air Force will continue without any easing off being visible.

    [07] Greece, Russia debate natural gas, oil supply projects

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greece and Russia on Monday discussed details of projects to supply natural gas and oil to Greece, Europe and the Balkans.

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov told reporters after a meeting in Moscow that works on natural gas was underway, with tenders ahead to find a strategic investor in gas-fired power plants to include Thessaloniki; and for construction of sections of a gas pipeline for areas in Greece.

    ''The two countries have a joint responsibility to promote the targets of bilateral energy cooperation that were signed during President Putin's visit to Athens,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

    Turning to planned construction of a pipeline to bring Russian oil to Greece via Bulgaria, the minister said he expected a agreement between the two states to be signed in two or three months.

    ''It is important to note that as part of this pact, the private or public engineering contractors that will be chosen to form the construction consortium for the project will have to ensure feed for the pipeline with quantities of oil adequate for economic operation of the system in coming years,'' he said.

    ''Russia is sounding out the possibility of ensuring this guarantee from oil companies that are likely to take part in construction of the pipeline. Bulgaria and Greece have already successfully accomplished this, arriving at specific companies,'' Tsohatzopoulos noted.

    At the same time, Greece would not contribute to ensuring quantity, as it was not a producer country, unlike Russia.

    ''So we are waiting for Russia to make a final choice of firms in the near future that will guarantee distribution of the essential quantity of oil, and the contribution by these companies to construction, the minister added.

    Tsohatzopoulos had said previous talks with Yusufov in Paris that contact would be made with Japanese construction firms in connection with the projects following consultations he held with his counterpart from that country.

    Tsohatzopoulos also discussed energy issues involving Russia and the European Union with Yusufov.

    He has said that Greece's aim is the unification of all Balkan networks, in order to create a regional energy market, in electricity and natural gas. The venture is included in the EU's trans-European networks.

    ''Already agreed with Turkey is the unification of natural gas transportation systems, as well as a link of the two countries' electricity networks,'' he said recently.

    Tsohatzopoulos and Yusufov were preparing for an EU energy ministers' meeting in Brussels on May 14, and for an EU summit with Russia in St Petersburg on May 31.

    [08] FinMin chairs Eurogroup, ECOFIN meetings

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis was to chair a Eurogroup meeting on Monday and an ECOFIN meeting on Tuesday in Brussels.

    The Eurogroup meeting would discuss the general economic situation and economic policy in the eurozone, developments in productivity, labor cost and prices and issues related with the eurozone and the European Convention.

    The ECOFIN meeting will discuss a preliminary draft EU budget for 2004, economic policy, Austria's updated stability program, financial services (pension funds) and taxation issues in the European Union.

    EU budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer will present the EU's draft budget for 2004 as it was adopted by the European Commission on April 30.

    [09] Retail banking to lead growth in Greek banking sector, report says

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    The retail banking business will spearhead the development of the domestic banking sector in the future despite the great progress recorded by several banking services in the last 10 years, a report by National Bank of Greece said on Monday.

    The report stressed that Greek households' debt remained low and predicted its further rise after an expected deregulation of consumer credit caps in the domestic market, while financing of small and medium-sized enterprises was another factor expected to boost banking services.

    National Bank's analysts said they expected the housing credit, investment products and insurances services to record the biggest growth in the coming years. The report said that housing loans, as a percentage of Greek GDP accounted for 15.1 percent, half the Eurozone average (30.9 percent), while mutual funds accounted for 18.1 percent of Greek GDP (from 43.2 percent in the Eurozone) and insurance income accounted for 2.0 percent of GDP (compared with 7.0 percent in the Eurozone).

    Greek banks were also facing positive development prospects outside the Greek borders, especially in the Balkan region, the report said.

    The report stressed that Balkan banks were expected to benefit from an increasing demand for loans, a prospect expected to support high and sustainable economic growth rates in the region.

    Greek banks invested a total of 500 million euros in the financial system of Southeast European markets.

    Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, FYROM, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro were showing satisfactory economic progress, supporting Greek banks' plans for a more expanded presence in the region, National Bank's report said.

    [10] EU conference on labor protection in Alexandroupolis

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Europe must remain on track for economic growth while at the same time protecting workers' rights, Greek Labor and Social Affairs Minister Dimitris Reppas said on Monday.

    Addressing an international conference, held in Alexandroupolis, northern Greece, on "Better work and life - towards a more cohesive and competitive Europe".

    The two-day conference is part of activities included in the Greek EU presidency's agenda.

    The Greek minister stressed that Europe should "invest on human capital" and noted that this was the duty of state authorities, businesses and social partners.

    Mr Reppas said that limiting the number of school drop-outs, and emphasizing on vocational training of adults, non-skilled workers, economic immigrants and farmers leaving the countryside, were the basic tools of this policy.

    Businesses and social partners should be encouraged to organize and fund life training, while state authorities should also take a leading role in this effort since "market forces" cannot lead the employment sector to its maximum level, Mr Reppas said.

    European Parliament Deputy Ioannis Koukiadis, addressing the conference, said that Europe should choose quality competitiveness and not competitiveness of low cost jobs. Mr Koukiadis acknowledged the need for businesses to become more flexible and urged employers to sign a new social contract to neutralize workers' fears and insecurities.

    The conference is held in cooperation with the European Foundation for improving Living and Working Conditions. Labor ministers from Ireland and Bulgaria, academics and other officials participated in the conference.

    [11] Doctors in Athens, Piraeus to strike for more SARS measures

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    The Union of Doctors of Athens-Piraeus Hospitals (EINAP) on Monday announced that it would call a 24-hour strike on Wednesday over the lack of adequate measures in Greek hospitals for dealing with possible outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

    According to EINAP, immediate action and funds from the state budget were needed to deal with the inadequacies at hospitals, noting that the country was currently defenseless against the serious threat to public health posed by SARS.

    [12] Greek Stock Exchanges seen privatized in the summer

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Stock Exchanges SA is likely to be privatized in the summer, a senior bourse official said on Monday.

    Dimitris Papageorgopoulos, supervisor of the company's market activities, said the firm, which owns the Athens bourse, was also expected to purchase a 10 percent stake in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's stock exchange in Skopje.

    He was speaking at an investment seminar in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

    [13] New common agricultural policy likely to be voted by end-June

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    New rules for the European Union's common agricultural policy are likely to be voted before the end of Greece's rotating presidency of the bloc at the end of June, rural development and fisheries commissioner Franz Fischler said on Monday.

    The commissioner based his forecast on consultations held by EU farm ministers on the island of Corfu in an informal three-day session that ends on Tuesday.

    [14] Greek stocks end lower on Monday

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday pressured by renewed selling in blue chip stocks and in particular Hellenic Telecommunications Organization’s shares.

    The general index fell 0.46 percent to end at 1,704.88 points, negatively affected by a 5.50 percent fall in National Bank's share price (its shares were traded ex-dividend).

    Turnover was a low 72.1 million euros. The Textile, IT Solution and Holding sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.58 percent, 1.96 percent and 1.09 percent, respectively), while the Food-Beverage (2.08 percent), Banks (1.98 percent) and Insurance (1.15 percent) sectors suffered the heaviest losses.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 1.01 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.33 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.48 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index eased 0.74 percent.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 50.0 mln euros Monday

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: -1.01 percent

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

  • Underlying Index: -0.33 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (225)

  • Total market turnover: 50.0 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Monday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.06 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 13 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 2.0 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring May 2013 (200 mln euros)

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of May 12 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,169 1,142

    [15] PM chairs joint inter-ministerial, ATHOC meeting on Athens 2004 Games

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday chaired a joint meeting of the inter-ministerial committee and the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee to discuss the course of the projects and the issue of the Severer Acute Respiratory Syndrome in light of the Games.

    It was noted during the meeting that all projects and programs related to the Games are under the control of the government and the organizing committee.

    Following the meeting, Deputy Press Minister Telemachos Hytiris underlined that it is very early to discuss the problem of SARS in relation to the Games, adding that next ''Friday the IOC coordinating committee will convene in Madrid and there I believe that some decisions will be made, mainly on this subject''.

    ''You can understand of course that this is an issue of great importance, mainly as it concerns the several delegations, now, not during the Games, since we hope that until that time (Summer 2004) this issue, that is of concern for humanity will have ended,'' Hytiris said.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, following the meeting, also noted that a review of the preparations for the Games was conducted during the meeting and the good course of the projects and programs was certified.

    According to Hytiris all projects are within their execution timetables.

    Meanwhile the members of the Parliament's education committee will visit the construction sites to be briefed on their progress.

    [16] Archbishop Christodoulos visits ATHOC HQ

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos on Monday visited the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee headquarters to be personally briefed on the progress of preparations for the Games.

    ATHOC President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki welcomed the Archbishop and received him in her office, where they held a closed door meeting, thanking him for his many positive interventions for the Games.

    Archbishop Christodoulos stated that he was impressed by the progress of the volunteer and ticket programs, underlining that the Church of Greece is participating in this national effort.

    He added that the Church has made available to ATHOC some 182 rooms and will hold a series of informative events promoting volunteerism.

    [17] Launching of 'Hellas Sat' postponed for at least 24 hours

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    The launching of the first Greek telecommunications satellite, ''Hellas Sat'', from Cape Canaveral in Florida has been postponed for at least 24 hours due to minor problems in the rocket, officials have said.

    The launching was due to take place between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. Tuesday Greek time and according to reports it is expected to take place on Wednesday about the same time.

    It is the second time the launching has been postponed. The first time was on March 14 due to technical reasons.

    ''Hellas Sat'', which will cover the telecommunications needs of Greece and Cyprus, is an Astrium Eurostar E2000+ model. The 3450 kg spacecraft will carry 30 Ku-band transponders, with an expected life of 15 years.

    This first domestic satellite for the two countries will be used to provide voice, internet, video and broadcast services to European and Balkan markets.

    [18] Verelis, Kazamias: Hellas Sat an historic event for Greece and Cyprus

    NICOSIA 13/05/2003 (ANA/CNA)

    The launching of the first greco-cypriot telecommunications satellite, ''Hellas Sat'', from the Canaveral Cape in Florida, has been described as an historic event by Greek Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis and Cyprus Communications and Works Minister Kyriakos Kazamias.

    In a joint statement, the ministers noted that the launching of Hellas Sat, ''signals a new era for Greece and Cyprus in the Telecommunication's field, as well as their entrance in European Space Agency’’ (ESA).'' |

    ''Hellas Sat, which is the result of close cooperation between the governments in Athens and Nicosia, coincides with Cyprus' EU accession, renders the two countries satellite powers and will cover Greece, Cyprus and 25 other countries of the region,'' the ministers stress in the statement.

    Noting that a goal of decades has been achieved, the ministers add that with the ''Hellas Sat'', Greece and Cyprus are able now to establish their presence in the space. ''The political and economic significance is obvious for both countries,'' they add.

    [19] Press minister files second slander suit against Kouris, 'Avriani'

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas on Monday filed yet another slander suit against media-owner George Kouris, the Kouris-Media Group that runs the newspaper ''Avriani'' and the paper's editor-in-chief Giorgos Tsiroyiannis, over the paper's allegations about a house he is building in the north Athens suburb of Vrilissia.

    In a full-front-page article, the paper claimed that construction costs for the house exceeded one billion drachmas, while a later article also claimed that the building violated the town planning code.

    Protopapas is seeking 1.5 billion euros in compensation, while his suit will be heard before a primary court on October 2.

    This is the second slander suit filed against Kouris by the minister, who on April 24 sued those responsible for the paper and former Altec employee Lili Xynarianou over allegations that he had accepted illegal campaign funds for Altec-owner Thanassis Athanasoulis to finance his 1996 and 2000 election campaigns.

    In his suit, Protopapas denied that he had any financial dealings with Athanasoulis, calling the allegations untrue and slanderous, and said the newspaper had grossly exaggerated the number of election centers he had operated during his campaign.

    In addition, he denied ever having met Xynarianou or that she was in any way involved in the preparation and printing of his campaign posters, pamphlets or photos and in designing or decorating his election centers, as she apparently told the newspaper.

    [20] Xiros brothers recognized as robbers by witness in N17 trial

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    The brothers Christodoulos and Savvas Xiros, two of the 19 suspected terrorists on trial in Athens as alleged members of the urban guerrilla group November 17, were recognized with absolute certainty by a witness on Monday as two of three men that had robbed the Marinopoulos supermarket on December 27, 1987.

    Nikos Nikolakopoulos, at that time a manager in the supermarket, said that two men dressed in police uniforms had pulled him over while he was driving on the pretext of checking his papers.

    They had then used force to take him to the supermarket, which at the time was shut, and to persuade him to reveal the code for opening the safe, after which they had left him tied up to a barrel of feta cheese, unable to move. He was finally able to alert a cleaning crew to the robbery after he eventually succeeded in extricating himself from the barrel.

    The prosecutor on the bench remarked on the ''unusual cruelty'' of the culprits in relation to the barrel incident, while the defense for the two Xiros brothers noted that Nikolakopoulos had claimed to be unable to remember the faces of any of his assailants in testimony before the trial.

    The proceedings ended with the reading out of documents related to bomb attacks attributed to the terror group.

    In statements to the press, meanwhile, presiding Judge Mihalis Margaritis appealed to witnesses to promptly appear in court, noting that the failure of witnesses to turn up was causing problems.

    [21] Prince of Wales arrives in Kavala for visit to Mount Athos

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Britain's Prince Charles arrived in the northern Greek city of Kavala on a flight from London on Monday, accompanied by a friend, in order to visit to the Vatopedi monastery at the semi-autonomous all-male monastic community on Mount Athos, also known as the 'Holy Mount'.

    Shortly after his arrival at Kavala's 'Megas Alexandros' airport, the Prince boarded the yacht "Rio Rita" owned by the Latsis family at the city's port to sail to the Athos peninsula.

    The length of the British royal's stay on Mount Athos has not been disclosed but it is known that he will return to Kavala on his way back to London.

    [22] Culture minister expresses sorrow over death of Graham Binns

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Monday expressed his sorrow over the death of Graham Binns, honorary president of the British Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles.

    According to a press release issued by the culture ministry, Venizelos said that ''Graham Binns was - during all his life - a great philhellene, who struggled from the first moment for the return of the Marbles of the Parthenon to their natural place and offered in that way significant services to the protection of the global cultural heritage''.

    [23] Police pick up 201 illegal immigrants in sweep of northeast Greece

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Kavala police announced on Monday that they had intercepted 201 illegal immigrants in an orchestrated 'sweep' of northeastern Greece and also made numerous arrests on arms and narcotics-related charges.

    Among those now awaiting deportation were Iraqis, Iranians, Turks, Bangladeshis and Rwandans, they said.

    Another 46 people were detained in connection with outstanding convictions against them.

    [24] Parliament speaker supports dual nationality for Albania's ethnic Greeks

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on Monday expressed his support for a bilateral agreement between Greece and Albania that established the right of Albania's ethnic Greeks to hold dual nationality, saying it was a just request.

    Kaklamanis was speaking at a meeting with a four-member delegation of the Delvine-Sarande Prefecture of Northern Epirus Ethnic Greeks Association at his offices in Parliament.

    [25] Book festival dedicated to peace opens in Athens

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos inaugurated the 26th Book Festival, organized by the Society of Publishers and Booksellers in central Athens and dedicated to peace this year, on Monday night.

    The festival's 260 pavilions contain thousands of books of all categories, creating the biggest bookstore in the Balkans in the centre of Athens, according to the Society's President Eleni Kanaki.

    Venizelos appeased publishers and booksellers regarding their sector's problems, adding that Greece supports a decrease in VAT, primarily with records and will move in the same direction with books.

    [26] Conference stresses need for revision of EU TV without borders directive

    Athens, 13/05/2003 (ANA)

    A conference on ''Audiovisual media and advertising-Balance between viability and social role of media'', organized in Corfu by the press and media ministry, stressed the need for the revision of the EU directive on TV without borders.

    The conference, attended by representatives of many radio and TV organizations from EU countries, examined the characteristics of this revision, particularly with regard to the prospect or possibility of the media's self-regulation in connection with the needs of the market, social responsibility and their social role.

    Many representatives also underlined that there should be a change in the existing directive concerning time between two advertising intermissions.

    Positions heard at the conference and those to be voiced at the informal conference of EU ministers responsible for audiovisual means, due to take place on May 24-25, will form the basis for the revision plan to be submitted by the EU Italian presidency.

    Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas, who attended the conference, stressed the need of helping all desiring to offer something more than a proposal or a position.

    [27] Government: we want negotiations as soon as possible

    NICOSIA 13/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus government has reiterated its position that UN-led peace negotiations for a comprehensive settlement should resume as soon as possible.

    Government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said on Monday this position has already been communicated to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and to European capitals.

    ''We insist on the resumption the talks, on the basis of what has happened in The Hague, on what the National Council has decided and on the content of the President's letter to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on April 2,'' he said.

    President Tassos Papadopoulos maintains that negotiations should resume under UN auspices, on the basis of Annan's peace plan, with a view at adjusting some of its provisions.

    Chrisostomides said that after the Republic of Cyprus signed the Treaty of Accession to the EU last month, there are issues that need to be dealt with.

    The spokesman said talks should resume in order to reach a political settlement before February next year to avoid a repetition of the scenario which took place at The Hague in March this year.

    Talks collapsed in March when Denktash refused to put the Annan plan to a referendum and demanded far reaching changes to it and its fundamental philosophy.

    ''The President wants to make his positions absolutely clear to everybody. There is no change in his position as this was outlined after the collapse of the talks in The Hague,'' the spokesman said.

    [28] Turkish policy unchanged, says Cypriot spokesman

    NICOSIA 13/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Turkish policy on Cyprus continues to be unchanged, even after the illegal visit to the occupied areas of the Republic by Turkey's premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Cyprus government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said here on Monday.

    ''What President Tassos Papadopoulos had said before the visit (last Friday) was proven right. We did not expect anything positive out of this visit. Erdogan, in spite of appearing to be more flexible, he continues to move within the constraints of the traditional Turkish policy,'' Chrisostomides told his daily press briefing.

    The spokesman pointed out that Erdogan, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and his son Serdar all reiterate the same positions, insist on a solution based on what they call the realities on the island (division, occupation) and maintain the intransigent views they have advocated for years.

    Commenting on Erdogan's call to the Cyprus government to lift the so-called embargo, Chrisostomides said that the government does not impose any embargo on the Turkish Cypriots.

    He explained that the embargo is the result of a decision by the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg, according to which goods exported from Cyprus to the EU must be accompanied by health certificates issues by the authorities of the Republic.

    On the possibility of Cypriot-flagged ships using Turkish ports, the spokesman said Ankara, in accordance with World Trade Organization has an obligation to allow Cyprus-flagged vessels to berth at its ports.

    ''We do not consider this to be a move that lifts prohibitions imposed as a result of the invasion. Turkey has a duty to the international community to end the occupation and to allow Cyprus-registered ships to use its ports,'' Chrisostomides added.

    The spokesman reiterated that the easing of restrictions on free movement to and from the occupied areas, which the Denktash regime imposed after the 1974 invasion, is not a political settlement.


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