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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-14

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

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

May 14, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Simitis discusses forthcoming EU summit with Portuguese counterpart Barroso
  • [02] Stefanis briefs European Parliament plenum on SARS epidemic
  • [03] Turkish warplanes shadow Greek aircraft participating in aeronautical exercise
  • [04] Gov't terms T/C leader Denktash 'incorrigible'
  • [05] Gov't spokesman on election law
  • [06] EU Presidency condemns terrorist attacks in Riyadh
  • [07] A strong euro to benefit eurozone, global economy, Greek FinMin says
  • [08] Greek gov’t discusses economic policy
  • [09] Greek economic competitiveness falls in 2003, IMD report
  • [10] EU's agriculture ministers meet in Greece to discuss common farm policy
  • [11] ND meeting focuses on CAP
  • [12] EU needs social insurance overhaul, officials say
  • [13] EU Competitiveness Council discusses European defense equipment market
  • [14] Tourist arrivals to fall by 5.0 percent in 2003, report says
  • [15] OTE telecom in talks with Cypriot government
  • [16] Greek stocks end 1.62 pct higher on Tuesday
  • [17] ATHOC president comments on SARS danger for Olympic Games
  • [18] Parliament deputies tour 2004 sites, venues
  • [19] First suspected SARS case in Greece
  • [20] Psychiatrists testify on mental health of Savvas Xiros in N17 trial
  • [21] Greek minister stresses immigration, crime at Adriatic and Ionian Initiative
  • [22] Justice minister calls for broader global cooperation against people trafficking
  • [23] Christodoulos: Flawed European immigration policies spur human trafficking
  • [24] New seat on modern Greece at Georgetown University
  • [25] President Papadopoulos says measures not even a step to solution
  • [26] Government says Simitis' statement indicative of cooperation

  • [01] PM Simitis discusses forthcoming EU summit with Portuguese counterpart Barroso

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis, currently on a tour of European capitals ahead of the EU summit in Thessaloniki in June, held talks in Lisbon on Tuesday with his Portuguese counterpart Jose Manuel Durao Barroso.

    Barroso congratulated Simitis ''for the exceptional work during these difficult months, during which the Greek Presidency stood capable of proving that in Europe, with the involvement of the heads of governments, during a specific period of time, significant progress is being achieved for our mutual vision which is a strong European Union.''

    The Portuguese premier added that ''the European Union, during these months, benefited much from the experience, knowledge and intelligence of Prime Minister Costas Simitis, as well as by the capability of all his associates.''

    With regard to the EU summit in Thessaloniki, Barroso said he viewed as the main issue the presentation of the conclusions of the Convention for the Future of Europe. ''We will also discuss certain matters relating to European expectations concerning defense and security,'' he added.

    ''Another important issue at the summit in Thessaloniki, which is included in the agenda following a proposal by the Greek Presidency, is the combatting of illegal immigration. At this point also, Portugal supports the efforts for a common EU rapprochement. Certain EU member-states experience this problem more, but it constitutes an issue on which we are all obliged to jointly work together,'' he concluded.

    On his part, Prime Minister Simitis noted that it is the first time that 25 member-states will take part in the EU summit. ''The 10 states, though they are not yet full members, have the right to also present their views and there is agreement that they will participate in the decisions of the summit,'' he said.

    Simitis further said that this EU summit, despite the fact that important decisions will not be taken in the sense that there will be a change in the EU, it is an important summit because the plan of the new EU Constitution will be presented by Convention for the Future of Europe President Valery Giscard d'Estaing.

    The EU summit in Thessaloniki, Simitis said, will probably propose that the inter-governmental conference should start at the end of October or early November, so that the countries which have the need to discuss d'Estaing's proposals, so that the parliaments of the member-countries which want to discuss d'Estaing's proposals to have the necessary time.

    ''We believe that this discussion of the new Constitution should end before the European Parliament's elections on June 15, 2004, because European citizens should have knowledge of the constitution before they vote,'' Simitis concluded.

    FM Papandreou meets with Arafat-Sharon to promote 'road map' RAMALLAH

    14/05/2003 (ANA - D. Konstantakopoulos)

    Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Tuesday welcomed Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who visited him at his office here, thanking the European Union for the visit and for its efforts toward peace in the Middle East.

    Papandreou is on a visit to the region in his capacity as European Union foreign ministers' council chairman, to promote the ''road map'' to peace.

    ''We agreed to promote the 'road map', so as to push the Israeli side to accept it,'' Arafat said, thanking the quartet for its work on the road map.

    On his part, Papandreou stressed that there should be no more bloodshed and that peace should be achieved, giving hope to the Palestinian people, who want to live in a state that is prosperous and to lift the fear of the average Israeli citizen.

    ''I understand the caution, the skepticism even the cynicism, with which this peace initiative is faced from time-to-time after so many failures, but today there is a new opportunity, the 'road map' with very specific terms,'' Papandreou said.

    He underlined the support of the road map offered by the U.S., the EU, Russia and the United Nations, adding that ''we are determined to do everything to realize it. Finally, of course, that will be judged by the on the side protagonists, who I call to move on,'' Papandreou stressed.

    ''The issue is not my life,'' Arafat said, ''but the lives of my people and that which they suffer on this holy land of peace''.

    ''Every day our infrastructure is destroyed, attacks are taking place,'' he added, calling for the return to the ''peace of the brave'' which he signed with murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin.

    Referring to EU initiatives in the Middle East, Papandreou said that ''they say that Europe is divided, but concerning the Middle East problem we are united, all 25 of us are united''.

    On his part, Arafat said that obstacles were never placed on meetings between Palestinians and Israelis of all levels and expressed his satisfaction over the work of the Palestinian group charged with the reforms.

    Papandreou also commented on the new government, saying that the European Union supported the relevant statements of Prime Minister Abu Mazen.

    Papandreou met with Mazen whom he reassured that the Union is fully ready to support the ''road map'' and expressed the belief that Mazen is determined to promote reforms and the creation of a strong state structure that will enforce the rule of law and order. Papandreou noted that all these actions will need reciprocal action from Israel, as the ''road map'' prescribes.

    FM: Roadmap a peace opportunity that shouldn't be allowed to fail: Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon here that the long-anticipated ''roadmap'', a peace plan aimed at finding a solution for the Palestinian issue sponsored by the ''Quartet'', was a fresh opportunity for peace that should not be allowed to fail.

    The Greek minister, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said the Union was prepared to contribute to the peace process and stressed the EU's increasingly important role in the region, especially following its enlargement with the accession of Cyprus and a Turkish candidacy, saying these developments have brought it closer to the Middle East.

    During talks that also included regional issues, Papandreou said he expected Israel to assist the new Palestinian leadership under Prime Minister Abu Mazen.

    ''This is an opportunity for Israel to cooperate with Abu Mazen for its security, he said.

    Papandreou, who earlier met with Patriarch of Jerusalem Irineos and a number of Israeli politicians, at press time was meeting with Israeli President Moshe Katzav. Later in the day he will travel to the autonomous Palestinian territories to meet with President Yasser Arafat, Prime Minister Mazen and other members of the Palestinian leadership.

    Mideast peace process's success prospect based on decisiveness, Greek FM

    says ALBIRA 14/05/2003 (ANA - D. Konstantakopoulos)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is also the presiding minister of the EU council of foreign ministers, on Tuesday said that the success of the Middle East peace process and that of the ''road map'' was not a matter of optimism, but a matter of decisiveness.

    Papandreou made the statement, following his meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Saath, adding that the Palestinian side was determined to reach the final success despite the obstacles placed by the Israelis, having received the U.S. assurances.

    ''I am here as the presiding minister of the EU council of ministers, to support the 'road map','' Papandreou stressed, issuing a call for the opportunity not to be missed.

    Papandreou reiterated the insistence on the necessity for a secure Israel and for a viable Palestinian state, while responding to a relevant question, he underlined that "we are working very closely with U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powell," in reference to a telephone conversation the two men had after Powell's recent talks with the Palestinian leadership.

    [02] Stefanis briefs European Parliament plenum on SARS epidemic

    STRASBOURG 14/05/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    Greek EU Council of Health Ministers President Costas Stefanis, briefing the plenum of the European Parliament here on Tuesday on measures for coping with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) ''mystery pneumonia','' stressed the urgent need for the creation in Europe of a Centre for the Monitoring and Control of Diseases and the promotion of a common policy on health issues.

    The minister explained that there is not as yet significant progress as to the way the virus is transmitted, nor visible prospects for inoculation or medicines for therapy.

    In view of this, isolation was necessary and urgency for the creation in the countries of Europe of special Negative Pressure Isolation Chambers, he said.

    Stefanis, who briefed the plenum on the results of the emergency meeting of the EU Council of Health Ministers which took place on May 6, was required to give details on the ''suspect'' case in Athens on Monday. He explained that the term ''suspect'' is used when a person who has traveled to countries which have been infected shows the clinical picture of the disease. He noted that for the time being the incident in Greece is termed as ''suspect'', as the results of the identity of the virus are awaited.

    The specific person in question in Greece has been placed in isolation and is under close observation, the minister said, noting that Greece, in contrast to other European countries, possesses quite a number of negative pressure isolation chambers in Athens as well as in many provincial cities.

    During the discussion at the plenum, the Eurodeputies expressed many differing views concerning preventive control, isolation and ''quarantine.''

    Many asked for the restriction of air travel and for health control not only on entry but also on departure from a country. Others showed sensitivity regarding the respect of human rights.

    Stefanis stressed that the aim of the Greek EU presidency is for the issue of public health to be one of the main priorities of the Convention for the Future of Europe and expressed the hope that the regular meeting of the ministers on June 2 will give the necessary impetus towards this direction.

    [03] Turkish warplanes shadow Greek aircraft participating in aeronautical exercise

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Two Turkish warplanes closely shadowed Greek aircraft participating in the aeronautical exercise codenamed ''Triaina'' (Trident) in a region between the islands of Limnos and Lesvos at noon on Tuesday, a day after the Turkish Air Force made repeated violations of Greek airspace.

    According to reports, two armed Turkish F-16 warplanes, which had previously been intercepted twice by Greek F-16 and Mirage-2000 jets, shadowed the Greek F-4 warplanes from a distance of 1,000 feet during two assaults and left the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) afterwards.

    Greek Air Force General Staff members wondered what the neighboring country's next move would be to escalate provocations and hailed calmness shown by Greek pilots.

    They added that the Turkish aircraft had been previously intercepted twice by Greek aircraft, meaning in the language of the air force that they would have been shot down under other conditions.

    They further stressed that the risk of an accident is greater when Greek jets intercept Turkish aircraft during an engagement and when Turkish warplanes buzz a Greek P-3 ORION nautical cooperation plane carrying out a training flight at a low altitude.

    A defense ministry spokesman revealed that the foreign ministry was notified of the new provocative act, which delivered a strong protest to Turkey.

    In addition, NATO was notified through the National Defense General Staff. ICAO was also notified through the Civil Aviation Service since the incident concerns a blatant violation of air traffic rules.

    Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate Greek airspace: Fourteen formations, 34 aircraft, of Turkish warplanes made an equal number of infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on Tuesday which developed into 44 violations of national airspace, press reports said.

    They were recognized and intercepted by Greek warplanes, while in nine cases the interception process developed into an engagement.

    [04] Gov't terms T/C leader Denktash 'incorrigible'

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    The government spokesman in Athens on Tuesday merely refer-red to long-time Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash as “incorrigible” when asked about the latter’s recent statements calling on Greek Cypriots not to seek recourse to the European Court of Human Rights, but instead to seek their properties in the T/C pseudo-state’s “courts”.

    “We’ve abandoned the hope that Mr. Denktash will contribute to finding a solution,” government spokesman Christos Protopapas said during his normal press briefing on Tuesday.

    He also expressed the Greek government’s satisfaction with a recent decision by European Parliament to demand the removal of Turkish occupation forces from the island republic’s northern third.

    Some 200,000 Greek Cypriot refugees were displaced from one-third of Cyprus following a 1974 Turkish invasion of the east Mediterranean island. Efforts over the years to hold Turkey, as occupying force, responsible for not finding a solution to the problem have met with increased success over the years.

    The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers has already accused Turkey of demonstrating ''manifest disregard for its international obligations'' and ''strongly insisted'' that Turkey fully comply with a July 1998 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calling on Ankara to compensate a Greek Cypriot for the continuous violation of her human rights on the island republic.

    In a decision issued on July 28, 1998, the ECHR ordered Turkey to pay pecuniary damages of 300,000 CYP pounds to Titina Loizidou from the Turkish-occupied town of Kyrenia, a further 20,000 in non-pecuniary damages, and 137,084 for her costs and expenses, in the case of ''Loizidou vs Turkey''.

    The CoE's Committee of Ministers, has stressed, among others:

    ''The Committee of Ministers, acting under the terms of Article 54 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter referred to as 'the Convention'),

    ''Deeply deploring the fact that, to date, Turkey has still not complied with its obligations under the judgment delivered by the European Court of Human Rights on July 28, 1998 in the case of Loizidou against Turkey...”

    [05] Gov't spokesman on election law

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Asked about reports of initiatives to boost transparency, such as in campaign finances, on Tuesday during his normal press briefing, the government spokesman said Prime Minister Costas Simitis would meet with Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis next week, with discussions expected to focus on the ministry’s initiatives in the matter.

    Asked about possible changes in the election law, long a demand by smaller political parties wanting a more simple representational system, Protopapas merely noted that the issue must be discussed with the premier and then by the relevant government bodies.

    [06] EU Presidency condemns terrorist attacks in Riyadh

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek EU Presidency in a statement on Tuesday condemned the terrorist attacks that occurred the day before in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, causing many civilian casualties.

    ''The Presidency strongly condemns the terrorist attack that took place in Riyadh yesterday, causing a large number of casualties among civilians of various nationalities. It expresses its deepest sympathy to all Governments and peoples and condolences to the families of the victims who suffered as a consequence of this attack. Those responsible for this horrible and barbaric act of terrorism should be prosecuted and brought to justice. The EU Presidency reiterates its strong and unequivocal condemnation of all forms and acts of terrorism, independently of origin, cause or motive and its unwavering commitment to the fight against terrorism,'' the statement read.

    [07] A strong euro to benefit eurozone, global economy, Greek FinMin says

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    ''The eurozone and the global economy benefit from a strong and stable euro, which has also assisted in checking inflation and boosting demand'' Greek Economy and Finance Minister Christodoulakis said on Monday.

    Mr Christodoulakis, whose country currently holds the rotating European Union presidency, in a joint press conference in Brussels late on Monday along with European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pedro Solbes at the end of a Eurogroup finance ministers meeting, said they expected a recovery of the European economy following the ebb in geopolitical uncertainty and a drop in oil prices.

    The Greek minister also referred to the macroeconomic dialogue where representatives of the Council (Troika), the Commission, the European Central Bank and the Social Partners exchanged views on employment, social consent and structural changes in the European economy.

    Within the framework of the Convention for constitutional reforms in the EU, the ''12'' discussed the institutionalization of the eurogroup and a possible extension to the EU presidency term beyond the current six-month mandate.

    Finally, with regard to fiscal developments, the group reviewed the updated stability program of Austria and stressed the need for adhering to commitments on reducing deficit from Germany and Portugal, emphasizing an expedition in structural reforms and the promotion of a dialogue on modernization.

    [08] Greek gov’t discusses economic policy

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    The government's economic policy in the coming months will move on five keystones, such as supporting low-income pensioners, finalizing decisions on a new payroll in the public sector and promoting privatizations, according to finance ministry sources.

    Ministry officials said that the government would seek to create an effective monitoring mechanism to reduce spending in government ministries and the public sector in general. The finance ministry is expected to submit a draft bill to parliament on Thursday, envisaging a new way of evaluating and monitoring government spending. Under the plan, the government will create five audit agencies that will monitor spending in the country's regions, prefects, municipalities, public sector enterprises and government ministries.

    The finance ministry also plans to speed-up privatizations, with the flotation of a new tranche of OPAP's equity capital in the Athens Stock Exchange in June, and a new tranche of PPC's equity capital by fall. The ministry expects to raise 1.2-1.3 billion euros from the two sales.

    The government will also seek to finalize its decisions over implementing a new payroll system in the public sector by January 1, 2004.

    The two remaining keystones of the government's economic policy for the coming months is supporting low-income pensioners and funding of Olympic Games projects without burdening the country's public debt. The finance ministry is considering letting public sector enterprises to fund these projects by allowing them to take over their commercial use after the Games.

    [09] Greek economic competitiveness falls in 2003, IMD report

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek economic competitiveness fell for the second consecutive year to the 26th place in the league of 29 countries with a population under 20 millions in 2003, from the 21st position in the previous, an annual report on World Competitiveness 2003 said on Tuesday.

    The report by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) measured a country's competitiveness based on its economic performance, government and business efficiency and infrastructure.

    The report was presented by the Northern Greece Industries' Union (SBBE), the official representative of IMD in Greece.

    The report said that a continuous decline in Greek competitiveness (its fell by six places in 2002 from a total of 49 countries in the annual table), reflected significant losses in all four categories of evaluation.

    Greece's government efficiency fell to the 28th place in 2003 from 22 in 2002, business efficiency dropped to the 23rd place from 19th, respectively, economic performance fell from the 18th to the 24th position in 2002 and 2003, respectively, while its infrastructure dropped to the 24th place in 2003 from 19 in the previous year.

    It should be noted, however, that despite worsened sector performances, Greece's total marks improved to 34.1 in 2003 from 31.7 in 2002.

    The accession of 10 new economies in the European Union was expected to increase competition in the region, the report said. The most significant competitive impact of the EU's expansion, with a direct impact on the Greek economy, was the attractiveness of most new-coming economies based on their low labor cost, a factor expected to lead to an intensified migration of business towards these countries, IMD report's said.

    The report predicts a massive migration of manufacturing units, particularly from Scandinavia and Germany, towards countries in the Baltic region and the Mediterranean, while countries, such as Portugal and Ireland, were expected to suffer heavily from a transfer of foreign investments towards the new EU member-states.

    IMD said that Greece lagged all other eurozone countries in this year's competitiveness report, while the Netherlands suffered the biggest annual fall (losing seven places) because of the political uncertainty in the country.

    Finland and the US were the most powerful and competitive economies in the world, the report said.

    [10] EU's agriculture ministers meet in Greece to discuss common farm policy

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister George Drys on Tuesday chaired the informal meeting of the EU's agriculture ministers in his capacity as presiding minister, as Greece holds the current six month rotating presidency.

    European Commissioner for agriculture and rural development Franz Fischler, who addressed the meeting said that ''quality has its price'' and that this is confronted by the new Common Agricultural Policy, by the granting of state funded support that will aid quality farming in conjunction with the development of rural areas.

    Fischler also said that the EU was on its way to striking an agreement on the reform of the common agricultural policy, adding that next week a high ranking group would discuss the issue.

    On his part, European Commissioner for health and consumer protection David Byrne, who also addressed the meeting, stressed that new legislation for genetically modified farming products will be ready in July, detailing regulations for the labeling and detection of such.

    Byrne also noted that it is up to scientists to prove any problem causing genetically altered products and stressed the necessity for the labeling of such products for the benefit of the consumer.

    ''I carry out the orders of the EU's member-states, mandated by a legislation that informs in an exact way and clearly the consumer. It is he that decides. For this reason I deem 'impressive' the action of our trade partner (USA),'' Byrne said, commenting on the U.S. appeal to the World Trade Organization concerning freedom of trade for genetically altered foods.

    Greece, via the address of Deputy Agriculture Minister Evangelos Argyris, stood for the support of quality farming with foods of high nutritional value.

    Meanwhile, outside the conference room, some 3,000 farmers from around the country protested the reform of the common agricultural policy in a rally organized by farmers' unions and federations.

    Representatives of farmers' unions from around Europe also participated in the rally and protest.

    [11] ND meeting focuses on CAP

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis chaired a party meeting of his party’s sector coordinators on Tuesday focusing exclusively on the European Union’s revised Common Agricultural Policy, with a ND spokesman later criticizing the government for not including the matter in the Greek EU Presidency’s list of priorities.

    Party spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos said one in five Greek households depends on income derived from the farm sector, while noting that the government should include issues dealing with Mediterranean products in any CAP negotiations.

    “...Otherwise, as negotiations continue, the more unfavorable the conditions for discussions will become,” he said.

    Finally, in an unrelated development, ND deputy Nikitas Kaklamanis briefed the meeting’s participants over measures taken vis-s-vis the so-called SARS epidemic.

    [12] EU needs social insurance overhaul, officials say

    BRUSSELS 14/05/2003 (ANA – M. Spinthourakis)

    A restructuring of social security and pension systems in European Union member states is imperative in order to meet the impact of an ageing population, two senior officials said on Tuesday.

    Greek Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pedro Solbes were addressing a news conference after an economic and monetary affairs council meeting in the Belgian capital. Greece is rotating president of the EU.

    Christodoulakis underlined that problems stemming from an aging population must be addressed to meet the Lisbon Council target of making Europe the world’s most dynamic economy.

    The Spanish Commissioner said reforms were necessary if European governments wished to ensure fiscal viability.

    The Council also approved the economic policy directions of member states.

    Christodoulakis told the Athens News Agency he was satisfied at the outcome of talks, and that recommendations regarding Greece were in line with economic policy implemented by the government.

    [13] EU Competitiveness Council discusses European defense equipment market

    BRUSSELS 14/05/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos chaired a European Union Competitiveness Council meeting here on Tuesday which examined promoting the European defense equipment market and strengthening research in the security sector.

    The EU presidency's conclusions plan on aspects of the European defense industry's competitiveness adopted by the Council recognizes the importance of enacting arrangements capable of leading to a better economic performance, greater harmonization of models, more effective planning and procurement of defense equipment and research and technological development.

    The Council praised the contribution of the European Commission in its relevant report ''towards an EU policy on armaments'', calling on it to submit a new announcement by the end of the year in which it will provide a fuller account of its planned preparatory action regarding research and security and progress achieved in this sector.

    The ministers also exchanged views on the future development of European space policy and its incorporation in the EU's duties which raises a series of complicated and sensitive questions, as Tsohatzopoulos said, which are included in the European Commission's green papers.

    [14] Tourist arrivals to fall by 5.0 percent in 2003, report says

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    A regular survey by the Institute of Tourist Research and Forecasts (ITEP) on Tuesday revealed a high level of uncertainty and general pessimistic forecasts for this year's tourist season in Greece.

    ITEP said that based on the experience of the Gulf War in 1991, when Greece reported a 9.4 percent drop in tourist arrivals, 2003 should be a bad year for Greek tourism. The institute, however, stressed that a rapid completion of a war in Iraq and the fact that the current year was following a two-year period of negative growth rates in tourist arrivals in the country, should limit an expected fall in tourist arrivals to Greece to around 5.0 percent in 2003.

    On the other hand, however, ITEP noted that uncertainty over the SARS epidemic was making it extremely difficult to make any safe predictions over this year's tourist season, expect to forecast a decline in tourist arrivals.

    ITEP said that tourist arrivals fell 1.5 percent last year, although overnight stays dropped 8.0 percent in the country over the same period.

    ITEP's chairman, Mrs Marie Daskalantonaki, stressed that a crisis in the tourism sector would raise unemployment.

    Mrs Daskalantonaki, however, said she was confident over prospects for hotels in the Attica region after the 2004 Athens Olympic Games despite weaknesses in tourist promotion.

    ITEP predicts that Greek economy will grow by 2.5 percent this year (a figure sharply lower from a government forecast of a growth rate of 3.8 percent) and an average inflation rate of between 2.6-3.0 percent.

    [15] OTE telecom in talks with Cypriot government

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    The Cypriot government backs the continuation of talks between Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, and the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority.

    The island republic's Communications and Works Minister, Kyriacos Kazamias, also told OTE's vice president, George Skarpelis, that the government was keen to see completion of the Cyprus Electricity Authority's participation in Hellas Sat, a joint satellite, due for launch on Wednesday.

    Skarpelis, who is also managing director of OTE International, said the satellite operation would aid job creation in both countries, along with technological advances including telemedicine and distance learning.

    [16] Greek stocks end 1.62 pct higher on Tuesday

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended three-day decline on the Athens Stock Exchange to end higher on Tuesday supported by renewed buying activity for blue chip stocks, particularly banks.

    The general index rose 1.62 percent to end at 1,732.44 points, with turnover an improved 109.6 million euros.

    The Textile, Insurance, Holding and Wholesale sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (6.98 percent, 4.09 percent, 3.72 percent and 3.22 percent, respectively), while National Bank (+4.09 percent), Alpha Bank (+3.04 percent), ETBAbank (+4.35 percent) and Piraeus Bank (+2.86 percent) led the list of advancers.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 1.85 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.50 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index jumped 3.16 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 1.93 percent up.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 296 to 33 with another 30 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 78.2 mln euros Tuesday

    Equity Index Futures:

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

  • Underlying Index: +1.85 percent

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

  • Underlying Index: +1.50 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (287)

  • Total market turnover: 78.2 million euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Tuesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.13 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 13 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 2.4 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring May 2012 (525 mln euros)

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of May 13 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,161 1,134

    [17] ATHOC president comments on SARS danger for Olympic Games

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Tuesday, in response to press reports, reassured the public that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) would not affect the Games in Athens.

    ''Firstly I believe that the connection of this international problem with the Olympic Games is exaggerated and dangerous as the Games will be held some 15 months from now,'' she said, adding ''I would like to stress that Athens 2004 is closely cooperating with the Greek government and the International Olympic Committee and is following the developments and directives of the World Health Organization''.

    ''We canceled events and our communication with people that come from high risk areas - as they are determined by the World Health Organization - and of course we will continue to do so. And if necessary, we will undertake other initiatives,'' she concluded.

    [18] Parliament deputies tour 2004 sites, venues

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    A relevant Parliament committee (cultural affairs) on Tuesday toured several 2004 venues and facilities, with ATHOC 2004 organizers (ATHOC) and a handful of top ministers guiding deputies after a briefing at the ATHOC headquarters.

    Although the ‘brick and mortar’ part of preparations was squarely on the agenda, organizers also commented on the latest SARS scare dominating the headlines on Tuesday, including a report of a suspicious case in Athens.

    “I want to stress that ATHOC is in close cooperation with the Greek government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in following the developments and recommendations by the WHO. We have already taken preventative measures and we’re on constant alert. We’ve also canceled events and direct contacts with individuals coming from high-risk (SARS) areas, as given by the WHO, and of course, we will continue to do this,” ATHOC President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki told reporters.

    She also said it was dangerous to link this international health threat with an Olympic Games that will occur after 15 months.

    Among the more eye-raising projects was the one to transform a 70-hectare tract of an unused coastal property near the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Faliro into parkland.

    [19] First suspected SARS case in Greece

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek health authorities on Tuesday officially confirmed that the first suspected case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), a 23-year-old air-hostess from South Africa, had been admitted to the special isolation chamber and laboratory facility at Athens' Sismanoglio Hospital at midnight.

    The disease, also known as atypical pneumonia, has killed hundreds of people and infected thousands worldwide, mostly in China and Hong Kong.

    In an announcement on Tuesday afternoon, doctors said the woman's condition was good and her fever had subsided and that all the tests completed on her so far had been negative for SARS. The results of molecular analysis tests for the virus were still pending and would be ready by Wednesday afternoon, they said.

    If the woman tests positive in the particular test, doctors will have 100 per cent confirmation of the virus' presence. A negative result, however, would not rule out the possibility that the 23-year-old was a SARS carrier since there was a 60 per cent chance that she might be infected with the virus without showing symptoms.

    According to epidemiologists, the woman might have to remain under observation for up to three weeks in case she developed SARS antibodies later on.

    In the meantime, the 23-year-old air hostess will remain within the special quarantine facility since she fulfilled all World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for establishing suspected SARS cases, including clinical symptoms such as fever, coughing and shortness of breath as well as a recent visit on April 25-27 to Hong Kong, one of the countries worst hit by the disease.

    Health authorities said the young woman was ''the most serious suspected case'' of the SARS virus in Greece. All suspected cases in the country since the epidemic broke out last November have so far tested negative.

    A Health Ministry announcement said the incident was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) as a ''suspected case'' of SARS pending lab results.

    Health minister Costas Stefanis, who left Tuesday morning for Strasbourg where EU health ministers would be discussing the SARS epidemic, stressed in an airport statement before his departure that ''this is a suspected case, and there is no confirmation (of SARS) at this point''.

    He also explained that the flight hostess had a ''light epidemiological history'' and that attending physicians, given the fever and other respiratory symptoms she displayed, had immediately informed the health authorities which, in turn, informed the WHO.

    Stefanis reiterated that the case was ''suspect'', not a confirmed case of SARS, adding that all precautionary measures had been taken from the beginning by all ambulance, hospital and medical personnel involved in order to prevent the virus spreading in the event that it proved to be SARS.

    Sismanoglio hospital also reassured other patients and visitors that the special precautionary measures taken by doctors and nursing staff treating the patient prevented the spread of the virus.

    Ministry sources said Stefanis had ordered that full details of the development of the suspected case be consistently released, regardless of whether the case proved to be SARS or not, while the minister himself said he would be in constant contact with the Infectious Diseases Control Centre.

    The Athens and Piraeus Hospital Doctors Union, meanwhile, announced on Tuesday that it would suspend a strike planned for Wednesday to protest against inadequate precautions against SARS due to the emergence of this case.

    They insisted, however, that planning and preparations to guard against the epidemic had not been adequate and called for more quarantine facilities, such as those at Sismanoglio.

    Ambulance workers also protested that the protective gear they had been issued for such incidents - surgical masks, gowns and gloves - did not adequately protect them from SARS.

    In an announcement on Tuesday, meanwhile, the civil servants' union ADEDY chief Spyros Papaspyrou expressed "regret" that measures for dealing with possible SARS cases had not been fully operative at Sismanoglio when the case arose because of deficiencies in infrastructure.

    He stressed the need to mobilize and improve state health service infrastructure to cope with similar incidents and protect health services employees and the general public.

    Gov't spokesman: suspected SARS case not a cause for concern: Asked to comment on a suspected case of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) admitted to a Greek hospital at midnight, government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday reassured the general public that there was no need for concern.

    He said there had been an immediate response and full preparedness on the part of Health ministry services and that scientists would fully inform the public on the facts.

    "Let's not create problems where there are none," Protopapas said, pointing out that this was a worldwide problem and that in Greece there was only one possible, suspected case.

    He also asked reporters not to "arbitrarily and groundlessly" link the SARS epidemic with the organization of the Olympic Games in 15 months' time.

    [20] Psychiatrists testify on mental health of Savvas Xiros in N17 trial

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Psychiatrists and doctors called in by the court to provide expert testimony on the mental health of Savvas Xiros appeared to concur on Tuesday that the defendant did not show symptoms of mental illness, while they failed to confirm his claim that he had been administered psychotropic drugs while in prison.

    Xiros is one of 19 suspected terrorists on trial in Athens as members of the urban guerrilla group ''November 17''.

    Prison psychiatrist Giorgos Dimopoulos strongly denied that Xiros had been given any form of psychiatric medication, not even simple anti-depressants, and said that Xiros was being monitored by prison psychiatrists even though he did not display any symptoms of mental illness.

    A psychiatrist requested by Xiros himself as an independent expert, Theodosis Christodoulakis, said he had examined Xiros for 3.5 hours on April 5 and had found him prone to obsessive ideas but not psychotic. He said that Xiros did not need any medication for mental problems though he might benefit from supportive psychotherapy since he was in conflict over his confessions in hospital.

    Evangelismos Hospital eye specialist Dimitrios Sykakis said it was possible that some of the medication taken by Xiros for his eye condition might have side-effects on his mental state but noted that the dosage of these drugs was progressively decreasing.

    ''It was a very severe case..we had not other choice. Even if they had side-effects we would still have to give them,'' he said.

    Apart from the psychiatrists, the court on Tuesday heard testimony from two eye-witnesses to a robbery at the Egaleo Post Offices in December 1991 attributed to the terror group.

    Police officer Constantinos Ksintaris, who was wounded during the robbery, was unable to describe or identify any of the culprits apart from the fact that they were dressed in police uniforms.

    A second police officer, Stefanos Grivas, positively identified Savvas and Christodoulos Xiros as two of the five robbers.

    His testimony was called into question by presiding judge Mihalis Margaritis, however, who noted that he had accused two other men with equal certainty in his testimony to an examining magistrate in 1992, and that they were later proved innocent.

    The witness also caved in to pressure from the judges' bench and retracted his claim that Dimitris Koufodinas and Theologos Psaradellis were among the robbers.

    [21] Greek minister stresses immigration, crime at Adriatic and Ionian Initiative

    BARI 14/05/2003 (ANA - F. Karaviti)

    Immigration issues and organized crime were the two issues that Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Magriotis most particularly stressed in his address to the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative summit on Tuesday in Bari.

    Magriotis is representing Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou at the meeting.

    Other issues raised by the Greek minister included the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism sector, environmental protection and protecting cultural heritage.

    According to Magriotis, organized crime and illegal migration were a serious threat to peace and stability, as well as threatening human rights and individual freedoms. He called for close cooperation between the member-states of the Initiative to harmonize their national legislations and ''employ more effective measures against the common enemy''.

    He stressed the need for all countries in the Mediterranean region to implement protocols for controlling illegal immigration and smuggling, particularly Turkey, while he called for the signing of such a protocol between Turkey and the European Union that would be binding for Ankara.

    Greece was also very interested in the signature of a cooperation protocol between countries making up the Initiative for tourism-sector SMEs, which outlined a series of support services.

    ''We are certain that this will help develop joint activities that will benefit these businesses and light industry,'' the minister said, while noting the need to promote sustainable development and protect the environment in the Ionian and Adriatic.

    Speaking on behalf of the Greek EU presidency, the minister also welcomed Slovenia into the ranks of the EU and said Greece was prepared to contribute in every possible way to the development of the Initiative.

    Countries participating in the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative include Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia.

    [22] Justice minister calls for broader global cooperation against people trafficking

    VIENNA 14/05/2003 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency, told participants of the 12th United Nations Conference meeting on crime prevention and criminal justice here on Tuesday that measures for the protection of freedom and liberty could only be developed through international coordination and efforts, a Greek justice ministry press announcement said.

    The Greek minister, who represented the EU at the conference, in his address focused on progress within the EU against illicit people trafficking and exploitation, which he called a ''phenomenon with grave consequences''.

    Moreover, Petsalnikos placed special emphasis on a Greek EU presidency proposal for adopting a draft decision-framework for prevention and control of illicit trading in human organs and tissues.

    He stressed that governments have the obligation to undertake all necessary measures for the prevention and punishment of illegal trafficking of women and children, securing the capability for remedying harm they suffered and averting any further harm. The Greek minister congratulated the UN committee for the prevention of crime and criminal justice for its impressive work, but called for the necessity of specific steps on an international and regional level to encourage states to undertake initiatives for their cooperation in seeking solutions against the trafficking of human beings.

    [23] Christodoulos: Flawed European immigration policies spur human trafficking

    Athens, 14/05/2003 (ANA)

    Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece on Tuesday said that policies for 'zero immigration' and closed borders that European governments have tried and failed to enforce from 1973 onwards had actually contributed to the phenomenon of illegal immigration and pushed migrants into the arms of people traffickers.

    Addressing an ecclesiastical conference in Athens, Christodoulos said Europe's policies had failed to combat both the causes of migration and to limit its extent and had effectively contributed to transforming legal immigration into illegal immigration and had given people-traffickers room to develop and operate, he said.

    At the same time, it had made immigrants more vulnerable or trapped them in the nets of international organized crime, thus feeding xenophobia, racism and prejudiced views that every immigrant was tantamount to a criminal.

    The head of the Greek Orthodox Church appealed to politicians in Greece and Europe ''not to fight immigrants'' but the reasons that forced people to leave their homes.

    ''Do not limit your imaginations to policies for control - come up with policies and strategies that are worthier of the high office for which the people have elected you,'' the Greek prelate added.

    [24] New seat on modern Greece at Georgetown University

    WASHINGTON 14/05/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    Greece and the administration of Georgetown University signed an agreement for the establishment of a Greek studies seat, which will be funded by the Greek culture ministry to the tune of 500,000 dollars.

    The signing ceremony took place at the Greek embassy here and the Greek Ambassador to Washington George Savvaidis handed Dean Jane Dammen McAuliffe a check for 100,000 dollars, as the first installment of the grant.

    The full amount of funding necessary for the maintenance of the seat is 1.5 million dollars, thus the outstanding one million will be collected from other sources.

    The seat will have the responsibility of developing a program oriented and relevant to modern Greece.

    [25] President Papadopoulos says measures not even a step to solution

    NICOSIA 14/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here on Tuesday that measures announced and applied by the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime are not even a step towards a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus question.

    The president also said that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash aims at eliminating a UN peace proposal, put forward to the two sides on the island by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    Papadopoulos, commenting on recent developments in the effort to resume the stalled peace negotiations, said that Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan never had any different policy on Cyprus than the one the Turkish establishment follows.

    Speaking to the press at the Presidential Palace, he said that Denktash believes that he should do away with the UN in the effort to find a negotiated settlement and wishes to convince everybody that the Cyprus issue was solved when Turkish troops invaded in 1974 and that measures are now the order of the day.

    Last month, Denktash eased restrictions on free movement to and from the island's northern Turkish occupied areas of the Republic.

    Replying to questions, Papadopoulos said Kofi Annan would be ready to undertake a new initiative if the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides accept his plan without terms, something he would consider real proof of political will on their part to proceed with a solution and fix dates for a referendum on the plan.

    He expressed the view that Annan, who was informed on February 28 about the amendments the president wanted to the plan, understands that these changes aim at improving the document and render the solution more viable and workable.

    Invited to comment on statements by Erdogan who referred to two 'states' in Cyprus, Papadopoulos said that the Turkish premier never had any different views than those maintained by the Turkish establishment.

    [26] Government says Simitis' statement indicative of cooperation

    NICOSIA 14/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides has said recent statements by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis indicate the close cooperation between Athens and Nicosia.

    Simitis said the Cyprus problem was that of occupation by Turkey and should be solved within international law. He also urged Turkey to express its willingness for a solution on the basis of the plan put forward by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. ''I note the references of the Prime Minister of Greece to the cooperation between the two communities (in Cyprus), which is confirmed with the increase of contacts between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties," the spokesman said on Tuesday.

    Chrisostomides also mentioned a statement by US Congressman Frank Pallone, who praises the Cypriot government's policy regarding the Turkish Cypriots, which he said proves that the President of the Republic aims at putting into action his promise to continue efforts towards a solution that will meet the interests of both communities.


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