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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-17

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

May 17, 2003, 2003


  • [01] Christodoulakis, Barnier discuss details of CSFs
  • [02] Greece denies 'cooperation to lift embargo' on Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus
  • [03] Turkey attempts to downplay reported violations in the Aegean
  • [04] Tsohatzopoulos comments on Turkish violations in the Aegean
  • [05] Greek PM, FM discuss major EU issues, Cyprus problem
  • [06] Greek PM to visit UK, Ireland, Slovenia next week
  • [07] EU foreign and defense ministers council on Monday in Brussels
  • [08] European Defense
  • [09] FM addresses EU-African states' round table discussion in Athens
  • [10] Tsohatzopoulos attends ESP presidium meeting in Brussels
  • [11] Greek EU presidency proposes spurring use of public transport
  • [12] EU Commissioner Fischler to visit Athens on Monday
  • [13]
  • [14] Gov't says main opposition's education program serves private sector
  • [15] Full coordination of Athens, Nicosia, Greek ambassador to Cyprus says
  • [16] Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot journalists to jointly visit Brussels on Monday
  • [17] US, EU relations cannot be upset by war in Iraq, speakers in conference say
  • [18] Labor minister addresses EU conference on local action for job creation
  • [19] Greek economy - weekly review
  • [20] Air traffic controllers in 24-hour strike on Monday
  • [21] ATHOC president briefs IOC in Madrid on 2004 Olympic Games project progress
  • [22] Biggest seizure yet of fake 2004 merchandise reported here
  • [23] SARS readiness exercise held at major Athens hospital
  • [24] Parliament speaker addresses Ionian-Adriatic Initiative
  • [25] Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Cappadocia
  • [26] Prince Charles returns to London following 5-day stay at Mount Athos
  • [27] Magistrate concludes investigation into ELA, May 1
  • [28] Romanian court rejects polygraph testing in Passaris case
  • [29] Police on the trail of international ring of con-artists targeting banks
  • [30] Greece and Cyprus have dismissed
  • [31] Spokesman urges Turkey to heed UN call
  • [32] Cyprus government dismisses Denktash's claims
  • [33] Cypriot youths call on UN to maintain active role
  • [34] Greek-Turkish Cypriots move across the divide

  • [01] Christodoulakis, Barnier discuss details of CSFs

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Issues pertaining to the European Union’s Second and Third Community Support Framework (CSF) have been central to a meeting on Friday between Greece’s Finance Minister and current ECOFIN president Nikos Christodoulakis and EU Regional Policy Commissioner Michel Barnier.

    The meeting, held on the sidelines of an informal EU Council on Regional Policy in Halkidiki, also examined the preparation of the Fourth CSF, to be in effect 2007-2013, following the admission of the ten new member-states in May 2004.

    With regard to the Second CSF, after the closing of the package in the member-states, the final data will be available at the end of June 2003, when the Commission would have concluded its inspections of the files of 700 projects and actions of a total cost of eight billion euros.

    According to current data, Greece is expected to 'miss out' on approximately 360 million euros, which Christodoulakis said represents 2-2.5 percent of the total funds of the specific CSF.

    Barnier said that the ‘loss’ for other EU member-states would range between 0.7 percent and 10 percent of the allocated community funds.

    Speaking during a joint press conference after the end of the informal Regional Policy Council, Christodoulakis and Barnier refereed to the Fourth CSF, with Barnier thanking the Greek minister, as well as Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas for the fine organization of the meeting.

    In addition, referring to the regions of the CSF’s “Target 1”, which includes Greece, Barnier said that following EU enlargement, other states would be added to the same target-region. He said that the major part of the Fourth CSF’s budget would be directed to new member-states.

    The EU Commissioner also said that funds would be concentrated to those regions that mostly need support.

    Christodoulakis stressed that the enlargement of the EU means, among other things, more potential for economic growth and the formulation of new conditions of greater inequalities within EU-25 than in EU-15.

    He said convergence promotes solidarity within the Union, but the same policy would also promote growth across the EU, not only for those member-states, which are less developed that others. “The entire Europe would benefit from convergence policies,” he added.

    Referring to the Fourth CSF, Christodoulakis said that Greece would claim the funds needed to achieve a greater degree of convergence with other EU member-states.

    [02] Greece denies 'cooperation to lift embargo' on Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek foreign ministry on Friday denied Turkish newspaper reports that the foreign ministers of the two countries had ''agreed to cooperate for the lifting of the embargo'' on the Turkish-occupied sector of Cyprus.

    ''The Turkish media are continuing their favored tactic of manufacturing information, distortion (of the truth) and disinformation, in an effort to bring reality to their own measure,'' Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said in a statement.

    Beglitis referred to the position of the European Union, ''which is absolutely clear and has also been expressed by the European Commissioner for enlargement, Gunther Verheugen. Turkey and the Denktash regime are obliged to contribute to resolving the political problem of Cyprus in the framework of the UN and on the basis of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan,'' Beglitis said.

    According to reports in some Turkish and Turkish Cypriot newspapers, Greek and Turkish foreign ministers George Papandreou and Abdullah Gul had ''agreed to cooperate for the lifting of the embargo'' on the occupied sector of Cyprus.

    [03] Turkey attempts to downplay reported violations in the Aegean

    BRUSSELS, 17/05/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Turkey on Friday attempted to downplay Greek reports of Turkish violations in the Aegean and an incident earlier in the week in which a Greek aircraft was shadowed by two Turkish F-16 warplanes during a Greek aeronautical exercise.

    During a visit to Brussels, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told Athens News Agency that ''despite problems existing between the two sides, talks between Greece and Turkey are carried out in a satisfactory manner'', adding that nevertheless ''such incidents make their appearance from time to time''.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday notified the European Commission of Turkish violations in the Aegean, and a foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday said that a demarche over the incident would be lodged with the Turkish foreign ministry.

    The Turkish minister told ANA that the Greek side had raised the issue of violations during his meeting on Thursday with Papandreou. However, he added, this was not the only focus of their discussions, and overall Greek-Turkish relations were reviewed.

    Papandreou on Thursday said he had conveyed to his Turkish counterpart Athens' intense displeasure over the incidents in the Aegean, and that Gul had claimed ignorance of the incidents. The Greek minister noted that the political directors of the foreign ministries of the two countries had been instructed to investigate the increasing incidence of national airspace violations in the framework of dialogue for good-neighborliness measures.

    Gul also told ANA he backed a reinforced economic cooperation between Greece and Turkey, and stressed the need for an increased flow of investments, as well as tourists, from Greece to Turkey.

    Moreover, he said his government was determined to press ahead with the reforms required to meet the Copenhagen criteria, noting that after 40 years, EU-Turkish relations were at a decisive juncture for establishing the launch of EU accession negotiations in the later part of 2004.

    ''If we fail to attain this national goal, there is a risk for other types of ideas and mentality to prevail in Turkey'', the Turkish foreign minister warned.

    A Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday said the increasing number of airspace violations and infringements over the Aegean by Turkey would have a negative impact on its prospects for European Union membership.

    [04] Tsohatzopoulos comments on Turkish violations in the Aegean

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    A spate of airspace violations by Turkish planes above the Aegean were a reflection of intense competition at very high levels within Turkey regarding the policies the country should adopt, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said on Friday in Ioannina.

    ''It is a question of analyzing Turkish strategy, as this is emerging through recent developments. I believe that Turkey is undergoing a special period marked by intense domestic com-petition over the content of the policies the country will finally adopt,'' the former Greek defense minister said in response to questions.

    Tsohatzopoulos said that this competition was taking place at very high levels between traditional bodies, both within politics and outside politics.

    ''As a result, we are seeing the coexistence of efforts to implement a policy of rapprochement with the EU with a hard stance on the Cyprus issue, which itself has followed from a stance on the same issue that seemed a lot more open to dialogue and ready to accept conditions, either in the form of the UN Secretary-General's plan or as proposals from the EU,'' he noted.

    If the increased and provocative violations in the Aegean were factored into this picture of mutable behavior, a complete picture of the transitional nature of Turkey's behavior emerged, Tsohatzopoulos said.

    The minister advised a calm, level-headed approach to the situation but also stressed the need for ''a clear message to Turkey and the EU''.

    The Greek government on Thursday reiterated that it supported Turkey's European course but stressed that provocative behavior in the Aegean would impact negatively on its prospects of EU entry.

    ''We want neighborly relations, cooperation, rapprochement and joint efforts to deal with issues,'' Tsohatzopoulos said.

    [05] Greek PM, FM discuss major EU issues, Cyprus problem

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    In a lengthy meeting lasting nearly three hours, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday discussed all the major issues that are likely to occupy the European Union during the last six weeks of the Greek EU presidency and in the run-up to the Thessaloniki summit in June.

    In statements afterward, Papandreou said they had covered a range of issues, including the debate on the future of Europe and the draft EU Constitution, the European prospects of Balkan countries after they met the Copenhagen criteria and immigration, which he said was still a priority concern.

    The meeting also focused on the latest developments in the Cyprus issue, in view of a visit to Athens by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos to Athens in 10 days time, and a meeting between Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul in Brussels on Thursday, in which the Greek minister raised the issue of Turkish airspace violations above the Aegean.

    According to Papandreou, Greece's policy on this issue was ''characterized by consistency and cohesion'' while he stressed that Turkey's European process was extremely significant and that it would have to meet the criteria that applied to all EU candidate-countries, namely respect for international law and the principles of good neighborliness.

    [06] Greek PM to visit UK, Ireland, Slovenia next week

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis will be in London during the coming week to prepare for a conference on progressive government taking place in the city on July 11-12, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Friday.

    On his way back from the UK, meanwhile, the Greek premier will make stops in Dublin on Friday week and Ljubljana on Saturday for talks with his Irish and Slovenian counterparts.

    He will travel to London on Tuesday, spend Wednesday on preparations for the conference and meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday.

    Prior to his trip, Simitis will have a series of meetings with members of the government, starting with a meeting at noon on Friday with Health Minister Costas Stefanis and at 13:00 with Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    On Monday the premier will discuss the 3rd Community Support Framework with Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Deputy Finance Minister Christos Pachtas. They will later be joined by Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas, Agriculture Minister George Drys and a high-ranking official from the Health Ministry.

    On Monday at 13:30, meanwhile, Simitis will meet the head of Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC), Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki and then Public Order Mihalis Chrysohoidis at 14:00 and on Monday evening at 19:00, Simitis is to receive visiting European Commissioner for agriculture Franz Fischler for talks on reviewing Europe's Common Agricultural Policy.

    Before he departs for London on Tuesday evening, the Greek premier will meet Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas and preside over a meeting of PASOK's Executive Bureau.

    [07] EU foreign and defense ministers council on Monday in Brussels

    BRUSSELS, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Developments in Iraq, the Middle East and the course of the European security and defense policy will be the focus of discussions at the European Union's foreign and defense ministers Council meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels under Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, respectively.

    Discussions on Iraq will continue an exchange of views begun during the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Rhodes earlier this month, regarding the role that the UN should play in the post-war reconstruction of Iraq.

    The ministers' are also expected to place special emphasis on the stance of the EU at the UN Security Council, where discussions are underway on the draft resolution submitted by the US on Iraq.

    Papandreou will also brief his counterparts on the results of his recent visit to Israel and Palestine last week, as well as the talks he held there with local leadership on the implementation of the ''roadmap'' for a settlement of the Mideast problem, a peace-plan drafted by the EU, US, UN and Russian ''quartet''.

    The Council will also review EU-Russian relations and will adopt a number of resolutions regarding the Western Balkan region.

    Papandreou will be accompanied by Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis and Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos who will chair the Council's discussions on Tuesday on EU policy for development.

    [08] European Defense

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    With regard to European Defense, the work of the Greek presidency will be concluded at the Capabilities Improvement Conference on 20 May in Brussels, a ministerial conference dedicated to the arms requirements of the European Rapid Response Force, ways to meet such requirements, as well as the definition of principles that will govern the assumption of missions by the force.

    The EU defense ministers will also review ways to ensure the force's operational preparedness in 2003, an implementation of the Overall Military Goal. The defense ministers will further-more discuss the course of the Greek proposals that were adopted at the European Council in March with regard to boosting relations between European Defense and the European defense industry, with the creation of a European Arms Organization.

    This is an effort to align national requirements so as to create a common European defense market and increase spending on research and technology in the defense sector with the allocation of additional EU resources for funding the program.

    [09] FM addresses EU-African states' round table discussion in Athens

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Friday addressed a round table discussion on African development attended by representatives from the European Union member-states and from African countries, in Athens, organized by the Greek EU presidency.

    Papandreou focused of the relationship between Europe and Africa since the 1950s, calling on the 1950 example of Robert Schumann who ''declared that Europe would, with increased resources, be able to pursue one of its essential tasks: the development of the African continent.''

    ''In the year 2000, the Heads of State and Government of African states and of the European Union, in Cairo, said that they were committed to working towards a new strategic dimension to the global partnership between Africa and Europe. And there they agreed on a plan of action,'' Papandreou stressed.

    He underlined that over the past 50 years living standards in Africa fell by 20% and noted that two million Africans die of AIDS every year, while more than 200 million are affected by war, calling those afflictions ''weapons of mass destruction''.

    He called on Africans to ''take courageous steps to get rid of these problems, adding that ''the establishment of the African Union, and the introduction of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) is clear evidence of the commitment of Africans to extricate themselves and the continent from the malaise of underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalizing world''.

    ''It must be matched, now, by a new approach from the outside, and a new partnership must be forged. From Greece’s point of view, we have not yet reached a desired level of developmental assistance to Africa,'' he said adding ''we wish to be a strong advocate of an effective and ongoing Europe-Africa dialogue, leading to a mutually beneficial partnership''.

    ''I believe we have an historical duty to support NEPAD and the African Union in these first and very important stages. We must try to reverse negative trends – recent ones in developmental and humanitarian assistance, in debt servicing and market access,'' Papandreou said.

    [10] Tsohatzopoulos attends ESP presidium meeting in Brussels

    BRUSSELS, 17/05/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)

    Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Friday participated in a conference of the European Socialist Party (ESP) presidium, in his capacity as vice president of the party.

    ESP is preparing for the International Democratic Forum that will take place in November in Paris, on the platform of a so-cialist strategy of development based on the European social model, which will be a response to globalization.

    The presidium discussed the next steps of the European socialist parties in light of the new conditions of an enlarged European Union and the modern challenges leading up to the ESP congress in March 2004 and the Euro-elections of June 2004.

    ESP, according to Tsohatzopoulos, is developing a political proposal for the relations of the European Union with the countries that will border it after the conclusion of the enlarge-ment on the basis of friendship and good neighborliness.

    This policy will aim at formulating a strategy of stabilization both within the European Union and in relations with Russia and all other countries of the region down to the Caucasus, on a level of economic cooperation, security and energy balance.

    Tsohatzopoulos also stressed that the EU should secure its independent course, not in conflict with the United States, but based on its own strength, adding that it was agreed that Europe would promote a dialogue for the re-definition of its relations with the US that were tested recently during the war in Iraq.

    He added that European socialists will try to overcome the negative climate with the organizing of an one-day conference for the rapprochement with the Democratic Party of the US, as was done several years ago with the former US president Bill Clinton during the Forum of International Democratic Gover-nance.

    [11] Greek EU presidency proposes spurring use of public transport

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greece's European Union presidency on Friday proposed that the bloc should improve public transport and encourage its use in order to help reduce urban traffic congestion.

    The policy would protect the environment, save energy, and reduce problems stemming from traffic jams, said the presidency's proposal, presented at an informal meeting of EU transport ministers held aboard a ship plying Greek waters.

    The proposal was endorsed with minor amendments.

    According to officials, the number of automobiles circulating in the European Union has tripled to 175 million. The cost of traffic congestion is 80 billion euros annually, representing 1.0 percent of the EU's gross domestic product.

    The plan includes incentives to the public to leave their cars at home and use public transport in urban areas.

    It also contains proposals on raising cash to fund the expansion of public transport and new infrastructure.

    The measures to aid circulation would include extending the use of bus lanes and giving circulation priority to public transport, Greek Transport Minister Christos Verelis said.

    The ministers agreed that a common EU policy on public transport was needed.

    [12] EU Commissioner Fischler to visit Athens on Monday

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    European Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries Franz Fischler will visit Athens on Monday to address a meeting of Parliamentary agriculture committees of the EU's ''25'' taking place that day at the Greek Parliament.

    During his stay in Athens, the commissioner will hold separate meetings with Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, main opposition New Democracy leader Constantine Karamanlis and local labor leadership.

    ND leader sharply criticises gov't over reported massive loss of 2nd CSF funds


    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Friday continued his latest round of heightened criticism of the government, this time focusing on local go-vernment policy during a party-sponsored event on the issue.

    Karamanlis, among others, referred to a lack of leadership by the government and Prime Minister Costas Simitis personally.

    “ confessing to the problem and in promising future initiatives, the prime minister placed his own government in suspension. Such problems, however, are not dealt with like that, nor is a country governed like that. There’s a serious problem with this lack of leadership, but instead of dealing with it, they are planning to create new issues in order to disorientate the people, to shift their responsibilities and to bring down everything to their own level of impasse,” Karamanlis charged.

    In reference to a series of press reports this week claiming that the government lost some 470 million euros from 2nd Community Framework Support funds over the years, Kara-manlis cited what he called an “inept” and “deficient” government, one unable to secure the aid reserved for Greece.

    “They’re wasting massive amounts (of money) in the cogwheels of corruption, giving over everything to a handful of inter-twined contractors and ‘national suppliers’, while abandoning millions in the EU’s unclaimed (box).

    “...and their answer? They respond with taxes on the citizens, refusing to grant the resources that local governments are entitled to, and also accusing others...” Karamanlis said.

    Gov't reaction: In a later reply to the ND leader’s statements, the government spokesman said Karamanlis was attempting to create an extended pre-election climate in the country.

    “He (Karamanlis) doesn’t understand that while referring to a ‘suspended government’, his populism and anti-popular announcements, such as the one about education, at the same time keep place him in a ‘permanent suspension’.”

    [14] Gov't says main opposition's education program serves private sector

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    The education program announced by main opposition New Democracy had proved that the party's goals were to undermine state education and promote private interests, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Friday.

    At the same time, he stressed the importance of ND's announcement on Thursday of its plans for the education system "after it has for years failed to make any political statement" since the public could now compare the contents and social allegiances of each party.

    In practical terms, he slammed the opposition party's program as "fragmentary and slipshod" and reiterated criticism of the timing of the announcement, which came just five days before the start of nationwide university entrance exams.

    He also questioned individual measures and changes planned by ND - such as its plans to scrap all-day schooling that has proved extremely popular with the parents involved - saying that they were designed to foster dividing lines according to income and the privatization of education.

    [15] Full coordination of Athens, Nicosia, Greek ambassador to Cyprus says

    NICOSIA, 17/05/2003 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    Greece's Ambassador to Cyprus Christos Panagopoulos on Fri-day stressed that there is absolute coordination between Athens and Nicosia and that the Greek-Cypriot side is ready to resume the peace process initiative, that Turkish-Cypriot community leader Rauf Denktash interrupted in The Hague in early March.

    He added that this issue will be on the agenda of Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos' talks in Athens on May 26.

    Commenting on Papadopoulos' statements that the Greek Cypriot side is ready to restart negotiations on the Annan peace plan, he said that it is self-evident that there should be impro-vements on the plan that concern both communities.

    Referring to reports of talks between the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey for the lifting of the embargo, Panagopoulos said that the news report was made up by the Turkish side.

    ''Our legal and political standpoint is that there is no embargo and thus such an issue was not discussed,'' he said.

    [16] Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot journalists to jointly visit Brussels on Monday

    BRUSSELS, 17/-5/2003 (ANA - A. Simatos)

    Eleven Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists are to make a two-day joint visit to Brussels on Monday, at the invitation of Greek Eurodeputy (PASOK) Myrsini Zorba.

    During their stay at the Belgian capital, the journalists will meet with PASOK Eurodeputies George Katiforis and Dimitris Tsatsos, European Parliament Rapporteur for Cyprus' accession Jacques Poos, Turkish origin German eurodeputy Ocan Ceyhun, and European Union chief negotiator with Cyprus Leopold Maurer.

    On Tuesday, the Cypriot journalists will meet with International Federation of Journalists General Secretary Aidan White and the representative of the European Journalists Federation Renate Schroeder.

    Later on Tuesday, they are scheduled to attend an event organized by the Greek EU Presidency on the opportunity of the 50th anniversary of the Community's bulletin ''Agence Europe'', which will be attended by Greek Foreign Minister and General Affairs Council President in-office George Papandreou, former Commission Presidents Jacques Delors and Jacques Santer, Greek PASOK eurodeputy and member of the Convention for the Future of Europe George Katiforis and Chairman of the EP Committee on Constitutional Affairs Giorgio Napolitano.

    [17] US, EU relations cannot be upset by war in Iraq, speakers in conference say

    NEW YORK, 17/05/2003 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)

    The crisis in the relations between the United States and the European Union caused by the war in Iraq, can not upset their cooperation or the common values and principles that regulate their relations, speakers in a conference organized by the Greek General Consulate here said on Thursday.

    The conference on ''The Europe of the 25 members: Re-discovering an ally of the United States'', at the Columbia University of New York included speakers from the university and a representative of the 10 new EU members, as well as Greece's Ambassador to the US George Savvaidis.

    Greek General Consul in New York Dimitris Platis introduced the speakers and coordinated the panel.

    [18] Labor minister addresses EU conference on local action for job creation

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek EU presidency aims at promoting social cohesion and integration as a basic element of the Union's labor policy, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas said on Friday during his address to an international conference taking place in Rhodes on the ''common action on a local level: more and better jobs, better governance''.

    Reppas stressed the significance of the activation of organizations on a local level for the achievement of the aims of the European Union for an increasing in employment and for social cohesion.

    Reppas, who is presiding over the EU's council of labor ministers, said that the great challenge of the European Union at this stage is increased employment without disenfranchising.

    The decentralization of the implementation of policies of employment and social integration, is attempted through the creation of the European Forum for Local Development and Employment, Reppas said.

    The forum includes representatives of the academic community and of the productive sectors of society, research institutions and representatives of governments of all the European Union member-states.

    [19] Greek economy - weekly review

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    A warning by Greek Industries' Union (SEB) chairman, Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, of an unemployment rate of 18 percent in Greece if the government did not take the necessary measures, sparked a war of words during the week under review, with Prime Minister Costas Simitis describing SEB's forecasts as "completely wrong" and stressing that Greek unemployment rate would continue its decline after 2004.

    Christos Polyzogopoulos, GSEE's (Greece's largest trade union umbrella) chairman, said SEB's forecasts lacked any scientific basis, while there were also unacceptable and politically suspicious.

    Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, addressing SEB's annual assembly, stressed that the government's main aim was to accelerate and deepen political convergence and promoting structural reforms in the country. ND main opposition political party leader, Costas Karamanlis, strongly criticized the government's policy in absorbing EU funds and its handling of the stock exchange.

    In other headline news this week, Greece's largest commercial banks announced they were cutting their fixed interest rates in the housing credit. Greek housing credit rates are currently lower compared with other European Union member-states.

    Industrial production fell 2.3 percent in March 2003, compared with the same month last year, almost halving its decline in February (5.0 percent), National Statistics Service said. Manufacturing production eased 0.9 percent in the first quarter of 2003 compared with the same period last year.

    Tourist arrivals to Greece are expected to fall by at least 5.0 percent this year, the Institute of Tourist Research and Forecasts said in a report.

    Finance Deputy Minister George Floridis announced that a new flotation in Greek Soccer Lottery Organization OPAP would take place in June, while an equity sale in Public Power Corporation was scheduled for this fall. The government expects to raise 1.2-1.3 billion euros from these two sales.

    The Panhellenic Federation of Hoteliers urged the government to take measures to ensuring the economic survival of domestic hotel units, which were facing huge problems because of a crisis in international tourism.

    The Panhellenic Exporters' Union said that Greek exports continued falling in 2002. Presenting preliminary figures by the National Statistics Service, the Union said that exports' value totalled 10.946 million euros in 2002, down from 11.630 million euros in the previous year, a decline of 5.9 percent.

    Greece's Gross Domestic Product jumped to 4.3 percent in the first quarter of 2003 compared with the same period in 2002, National Statistics figures showed. The country's GDP rose 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2002, while investments jumped 7.9 percent in the January-March period compared with the corresponding period in 2002.

    [20] Air traffic controllers in 24-hour strike on Monday

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek and international airlines will face serious problems servicing their scheduled flights next Monday because of a 24-hour strike announced by air traffic controllers, participating in a 24-hour strike by civil servants the same day.

    Civil aviation authorities said that airlines would be able to service one flight for every domestic destination and one flight for every international destination on Monday.

    Airline flights are expected to face problems, although minor, on Thursday when air traffic controllers have announced a four-hour strike from 12.00 to 16.00 local time.

    Aegean Airlines protests against no-fly decision: Aegean Airlines, Greece's largest privately-owned commercial airline, on Friday reacted strongly to a decision by Civil Aviation Authority to exclude it from servicing any international scheduled flight on Monday because of a 24-hour strike by air traffic controllers the same day.

    The airline said it was the second time so far this year that Civil Aviation Authorities banned the airline from its international activities and stressed that it would seek compensation through legal procedures.

    Civil Aviation Authority said that because of the strike, all airlines would have to service only one flight per destination, both domestic and international, on Monday.

    [21] ATHOC president briefs IOC in Madrid on 2004 Olympic Games project progress

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki presented the course of the Athens 2004 Games project progress during the meeting on Friday of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Executive Committee that took place in Madrid.

    According to an ATHOC press release in Athens, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said after the meeting that ''our meetings here in Madrid were particularly constructive and I would like to thank IOC President Jacques Rogge for his contribution to this.''

    ''Fifteen months are left until the start of the Games. We must continue to work daily with the same pace. There is no time to lose. However, it is time for us to show confidence in the work being done. Athens will be ready for the Games. Greece will welcome the return and honor the tradition of the Olympic Games which were born in our country.

    ''We must show confidence because already in all of Athens the results of the efforts are visible: The International Radio and Television Centre has been delivered, while the construction of the Anti-Doping Control Centre will be completed in the coming days,'' she added.

    Asked by a reporter to comment on the issue of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) ''mystery pneumonia','' the ATHOC president said that ''we raised the SARS issue to IOC, on the one hand because of our interest on the matters of the health of the citizens and the security of the country, and on the other because the prime minister of Greece asked for this to be done.''

    ''Athens 2004 and the IOC will respect all the World Health Organization (WHO) directives and the policy which the Greek government will pave,'' she concluded.

    [22] Biggest seizure yet of fake 2004 merchandise reported here

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    The largest ever haul of bootleg Athens 2004 Olympics merchandise reported on Friday, two days after authorities raided a central Athens importer’s warehouse.

    Some 13,500 T-shirts and other clothing featuring the 2004 Games’ emblem as well as the official mascots, Phevos and Athena, were seized in raid. According to reports, arrest warrants have been issued against the owners of the unnamed firm.

    The raid comes before the summer tourism season, when sales of 2004 merchandise are expected to pick up dramatically. Athens organizers (ATHOC) have already warned consumers to check for the items’ authenticity, as a tag featuring a hologram of ATHOC’s emblem accompany official 2004 item.

    [23] SARS readiness exercise held at major Athens hospital

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    A SARS readiness exercise was held at the country’s biggest health facility on Friday, during a week when the first suspected SARS case was first investigated and then disproved following extensive lab testing.

    The exercise was held at the Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens, with a simulation calling for a “patient” to be transported to the hospital by ambulance before being treated in a specially modified infectious care unit.

    Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis was briefed on Friday by Health Minister Costas Stefanis over the government’s measures to prevent any SARS outbreak in the east Mediter-ranean country.

    No cases have been verified so far.

    Stefanis added that Greek authorities are also briefing the World Health Organization on the number of instances investigated for SARS.

    [24] Parliament speaker addresses Ionian-Adriatic Initiative

    RAVENNA, 17/05/2003 (ANA - P. Dimitropoulos)

    Greece unequivocally condemned all forms of terrorism and other kinds of violence, Greek Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis said on Friday in his address to the 3rd meeting of Parliament Presidents of the Ionian-Adriatic Initiative taking place in Ravenna.

    At the same time, Greece was also concerned about the root causes of terrorism, which caused it to spread and become a threat to security, law and order, he added.

    He also referred to Greece's invitation for cooperation against smuggling - an issue that had been brought up repeatedly in a number of regional fora, such as Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, the Black Sea Parliament Assembly, the South East Europe Cooperation Process and the Central European Initiative.

    On the sidelines of the Initiative meeting, meanwhile, Kaklamanis is also scheduled to have a trilateral meeting with European Parliament President Pat Cox and his Italian counterpart regarding cooperation between Euro-Mediterranean Parliaments.

    [25] Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Cappadocia

    ISTANBUL, 17/05/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will embark on a pilgrimage to Cappadocia on Saturday accompanied by Alexandria Patriarch Petros and Georgia Patriarch Ilias.

    He is due back in Istanbul on the morning of May 20.

    [26] Prince Charles returns to London following 5-day stay at Mount Athos

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Britain's Prince Charles, on board the yacht ''Rio Rita'' owned by the Latsis family, returned to the northern Greek city of Kavala on Friday following a five-day visit to the Vatopedion monastery at the autonomous all-male monastic community of Mount Athos, also known as the 'Holy Mount'.

    After arriving at Kavala's ''Philippos'' port, the prince headed for Kavala's 'Megas Alexandros' airport where he boarded a Boeing 737 flight for London.

    [27] Magistrate concludes investigation into ELA, May 1

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Following a final interview with alleged terrorist Mihalis Kassimis on Friday, special appeals magistrate Leonidas Zervobeakos concluded his examinations into the terrorist organizations Revolutionary Peoples' Struggle (ELA) and May 1.

    The case filed will now be forwarded to the Appeals Council, which will decide whether the five suspects accused in connection with ELA's activities should stand trial.

    Kassimis on Friday was asked to respond to an additional 53 charges brought against him, including causing explosions, man-slaughter and attempted manslaughter, and was then set free without any conditions.

    In statements to the press, he attributed his involvement in the ELA case to political motives.

    Still in custody pending the Appeals Council's decision on this case are Costas Agapiou, Christos Tsigaridas, Irene Athanasaki and Aggeletos Kanas.

    [28] Romanian court rejects polygraph testing in Passaris case

    BUCHAREST, 17/-5/2003 (ANA/Rompres)

    The Bucharest Tribunal on Friday rejected as evidence the polygraph testing alleged murder Konstantinos Passaris and his codefendant Mioara Badila underwent.

    The court also ordered DNA forensic tests be rerun on a pair of trousers allegedly worn by Passaris.

    Hearings on the Passaris case will resume on June 6.

    Passaris, who is also wanted in Greece for violent crimes including murder, is currently standing trial on charges of a double murder of employees at a money exchange bureau in Bucharest in November 2001.

    At Friday's hearings, the chief judge told Passaris jokingly, ''you have a good day again. You are very joyful''.

    [29] Police on the trail of international ring of con-artists targeting banks

    Athens, 17/05/2003 (ANA)

    Two foreign nationals now in custody for stealing large sums from an Athens bank using a con trick could be part of an international band of con-artists that had hit a number of banks in Greece in the past 14 months, police said.

    Mexican national Rodriguez Sanchez, 45, and Puerto Rican Roberto Vertuzo, 35, are now being held by police after their hide-out in Neos Kosmos was discovered by a passing member of the public, who tailed them back there after they had stolen some 38,715 euros and 200 Cyprus pounds for a Cyprus Bank branch in Kallithea on Thursday.

    Police are now searching for a third man who evaded capture, Costa Rican Alphonso Octavio, who is suspected as their accomplice, while they also suspect a woman might be involved.

    Apart from the theft on Thursday, the band is also suspected of having hit at least nine banks using the same method, each time walking away with large sums of money.

    The two men arrested were led before an Athens public prosecutor.

    [30] Greece and Cyprus have dismissed

    NICOSIA, 17/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Greece and Cyprus have dismissed reports by Turkish news agency ''Anadolu'' that the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey discussed in Brussels on Thursday various ways to lift the so-called ''embargo'' against Turkish Cypriots by Greece and the Turkish embargo on Greek Cypriots.

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou, dismissing the reports, said he was not aware of such an issue. ''I will dismiss this issue,'' he said, noting he has repeatedly talked with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, in view of their meeting on May 26, ''therefore I doubt such thing has ever occurred.''

    Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Panagiotis Beglitis, referring to Friday's Turkish press reports over the Papandreou-Gul meeting in Brussels, said that ''the Turkish media continue their beloved practice of making up sources, distorting information and misinforming, in an effort to try to bring the reality close to their measure.''

    ''We categorically dismiss the report that the foreign ministers of the two countries agreed to cooperate to lift the 'embargo' on the occupied part of Cyprus,'' Beglitis said.

    He also said the EU's position on the issue was ''perfectly clear,'' as it was recently expressed by Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen.

    ''Turkey and the Denktash occupation regime are obliged to respect it, just like they are obliged to contribute to a solution to the political problem of Cyprus, within the UN framework and based on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan,'' Beglitis added.

    Greece's Ambassador in Nicosia Christos Panagopoulos, rejecting the reports, said the story was made up, adding that ''the legal and political position is that there is no 'embargo', therefore no such issue was raised.''

    He said there is complete accord between Athens and Nicosia and that ''the Greek Cypriot side is ready to resume the peace initiative which was interrupted in The Hague because of Mr. Denktash.''

    Panagopoulos said that all these issues will be examined during Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos' visit to Athens on May 26.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [31] Spokesman urges Turkey to heed UN call

    NICOSIA, 17/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Turkey should take heed of a UN call that there exist more powerful political realities in international law and order than what Ankara claims to have in Cyprus, government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said here on Friday.

    The spokesman, who was commenting on statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, also said that today's world political arena should encourage Turkey to change its stance quickly.

    ''Gul's positions do not correspond to reality, he is repeating himself and the firm monolithic positions as expressed by Ankara for years,'' the spokesman said.

    He recalled that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in his report on the peace talks had pointed out that the prime responsibility for the collapse of the talks rested with the Turkish side.

    ''Annan also indicated that there are more powerful political realities in international law and the world political arena which Turkey must take into consideration,'' the spokesman added.

    Asked when Ankara might be ready to change its stance, he said that this would depend on many factors.

    ''I believe that the international scene necessitates a change on the part of Turkey and quickly, otherwise its international isolation will be consolidated,'' the spokesman said.

    In a speech in Brussels on Thursday, Gul said that a solution must be based on and reflect the so-called realities in Cyprus, on ''two separate peoples and administrations'' and claimed that neither community has accepted a UN peace plan for a settlement.

    [32] Cyprus government dismisses Denktash's claims

    NICOSIA, 17/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus government dismissed on Friday claims by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that President Tassos Papadopoulos is not sincere in his wish to resume negotiations on the basis of a UN peace proposal with a view at finding a comprehensive settlement.

    Government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said that Denktash must be feeling the international isolation he has led himself into and sense the pressure he is under to end the Turkish occupation of part of Cyprus.

    ''Denktash's claims are an attempt to cover up his own sins, this is just a pretext he is using. The entire international community is

    well aware of his negative, monolithic and fanatical position, which everybody witnessed at the talks in The Hague in March,'' he told CNA, invited to comment on Denktash's claims.

    The spokesman reiterated that the president's positions are well known in the international community and all those involved in the Cyprus question.

    ''His positions are genuine and they have not changed, the president is not tired of repeating his views to all directions,'' Chisostomides said.

    Replying to questions, he said that both the UN and the European Union believe that President Papadopoulos is sincere in his resolve to work for a settlement based on the Annan plan. The president has said that the plan should be adjusted to fit in with the new developments, since the collapse of the talks in March, namely the signing of the Accession Treaty by Cyprus, he added.

    ''Denktash's claims are due to the fact that he feels isolated from the international community and the pressure to end the Turkish occupation,'' the spokesman told CNA.

    [33] Cypriot youths call on UN to maintain active role

    NICOSIA, 17/05/2003 (CNA/ANA )

    Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political party youths have adopted a declaration saying that ''the United Nations should maintain their active role on Cyprus in order to resume talks on the basis of the Annan plan,'' adding that the initiative should focus on finding a just, viable and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem.

    In the declaration, which was presented on Friday at a press conference on the occasion of the 3rd Bicommunal Forum in Budapest, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot youth party branches also stress that the young people of Cyprus ''are no longer misled by nationalist practices of isolationism and divisionism.''

    They also express certainty that the time will come when the people of Cyprus will work, live and struggle together in a common effort to build the future of the children of a federal Cyprus.

    The declaration further welcomes the easing of restrictions on free movement of citizens in Cyprus but notes that the current situation is not a solution and expresses the conviction that a federal Cyprus will benefit both communities on the island.

    The Greek Cypriot Youth party branches that sign the resolution are left-wing AKEL's Youth branch EDON, the Democratic Rally's Youth branch NEDISI, the Social Democrats' NEOS, the Youth branch of the Environmentalists Movement and Demo-cratic Party's NEDIK which participated as an observer.

    The Turkish Cypriot Youth that participated in the Forum and approved the resolution were the Youth branches of the Republican Turkish Party, Patriotic Unity Movement and Communal Liberation Party.

    [34] Greek-Turkish Cypriots move across the divide

    NICOSIA, 7/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Well over 1,000 Turkish Cypriots on Friday morning crossed into the southern government-controlled areas of Cyprus, from the northern Turkish occupied part of the island.

    According to figures, released by the police, by eight o'clock on Friday morning a total of 1,563 Turkish Cypriots came to the free areas of the Republic and 314 Greek Cypriots visited the occupied north.

    All crossings took place through the four designated check points, two in the capital Nicosia and two in the southeast.

    Police also said that by midnight Thursday, over 7,000 Cypriots visited both sides of the divide, with 4,316 Greek Cypriots going to the occupied areas and 3,127 Turkish Cypriots coming to the free areas of the Republic.

    Many of them travel to and from by car, others on foot.

    The crossings began in late April when the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime announced a partial lifting of restrictions on free movement it had imposed in 1974 after the Turkish invasion.

    The Cyprus government has since repeatedly stressed that these crossings do not constitute a solution of the political problem and reiterated its wish to resume negotiations under UN auspices with a view at reaching a settlement.

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