|Saturday, 19 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 19, 2003
 EU ministers agree to back quality shipping, public transport
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)European Union ministers on Saturday agreed to set a priority on boosting quality in merchant shipping and public transport.
Backing a proposal by the EU's current Greek presidency, the transport and shipping ministers said measures were needed to develop and upgrade shipping services in areas including safety, environmental protection, entrepreneurship and competitiveness.
During the informal meeting held aboard a ship plying Greek waters, the ministers also agreed that the image of shipping needed improving in the eyes of the public.
The shipping economy is key to Europe as ninety percent of transportation in the EU is carried by sea. Dependent on the sector's performance are many affiliated industries.
Briefing media on the outcome of the meeting were EU Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, Greek Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis, and Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis.
The officials also noted that youth in Europe were not opting to become seamen, resulting in the majority of crews being formed from less developed countries at a time when European unemployment remained high.
Needed were career orientation for youth, proper training for shipping sector staff, improved working conditions, and incentives to shipping firms to recruit staff from the EU, which has the world's largest fleet.
The Greek presidency's proposals are to be presented for finalization and endorsement at a formal shipping ministers' meeting to be held on June 5 in Luxembourg.
In addition, ministers at the meeting will revise a directive on accelerating the withdrawal of older, single hull tankers. The Greek fleet is ahead in modernization with 70 percent of tankers equipped with double hulls, Anomeritis said.
The ministers also welcomed a proposal by the Greek merchant marine ministry that a European strategic studies centre for shipping should be set up in the port city of Piraeus.
Plan to Spur Use of Public Transport: Verelis said the ministers approve a Greek presidency proposal 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, he noted.
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, with funding from both the state and private capital discussed as an option, Verelis said.
The measures to aid circulation would include extending the use of bus lanes and giving circulation priority to public transport.
Greece possesses the largest fleet of environment friendly, natural gas powered buses, the minister noted.
The ministers agreed unanimously that a common EU policy on public transport was needed, he added.
Represented at the meeting were 22 EU members states, including the latest wave of arrivals, and officials from five other countries.
EU ministers pledge tougher marine pollution measures: European Union transport and shipping ministers on Sunday pledged to take measures that will boost safety at sea, and by extension, protection of the marine environment.
The ministers ended an informal meeting aboard a ship plying Greek waters with a declaration to promote quality shipping, safety of navigation, and prevention of pollution from marine and land-based sources.
They also underlined the need for strict adherence to the law, and for the creation of reliable rapid response systems in dealing with pollution, which would involve cooperation among EU states.
EU Commissioner Loyola de Palacio told reporters that following the recent Prestige oil spill disaster, the EU's executive Commission had proposed the withdrawal of single hull tankers and upped fines for polluters.
Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis urged ministers to agree on the creation of a European marine monitoring system that would employ satellite technology to locate pollution.
Greece holds the European Union's rotating presidency.
 EU defense ministers to take stock of rapid reaction force
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)European Union defense ministers are to meet in Brussels on Monday to take stock of the bloc's rapid reaction force and possibly announce the EU's full operational capacity for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid missions.
Chaired by Greece, the EU's rotating president, the informal meeting will also look at performance of the rapid reaction force's peacekeeping venture in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Other items on the agenda are the anticipated endorsement of Greek presidency proposals to forge agreement on creating a European armaments organization, and to strengthen the European arms industry with backing from the EU's executive Commission.
Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who will chair the meeting for Greece, left Athens for the Belgian capital on Sunday. The session is preparatory to an EU summit due to be held in Thessaloniki in June.
 Main opposition says gov't has poor public works record
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party on Saturday blasted the government for what it branded as a chronically weak performance in construction projects.
Targeted by ND leader Costas Karamanlis were delays in building a suburban railway for Athens and a sluggish pace, flawed workmanship and cost overruns in projects linked to the Athens 2004 Olympics.
''We must not sacrifice quality to the altar of zeal in meeting deadlines or cost overruns or fake construction, as it is all of us, the public, that will foot the bill, and the shoddy workmanship will burden us all,'' Karamanlis told residents of the Athens suburb of Aghii Anargyri.
''Who is to blame? The handful of people in government. Who will be laughing behind our back? All those who are not shown the way out are the people who will continue to block growth and progress for the country, for the city, and for its inhabitants,'' he said.
Gov't rejects opposition criticism of track record in construction: The government on Saturday rejected sharp criticism by the leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, Costas Karamanlis, that it chronically mismanaged infrastructure projects.
''The difference between us is in the area of diagnosis and treatment. He contents himself with recording problems, he speaks of a map of problems. We, however, want the treatment, the solution to the problems through the map of projects that is currently becoming a reality,'' government spokesman Christos Protopapas responded.
''In 2004 we will be seeing a new Athens, which will offer its residents a better quality of life,'' he said in a statement.
 EU presidency statement on terrorist attack in Morocco
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)The Greek EU Presidency issued a statement on Saturday condemning in the "strongest possible terms" the latest terrorist attack, which occurred hours earlier at dawn in Casablanca.
The statement reads:
"This is the second cowardly and barbarous act occurring within a few days, aimed at innocent civilians.
"We express our profound condolences to the government of the Kingdom of Morocco as well as to the relatives of the victims.
"Those responsible for this dastardly act must be found and punished in an exemplary way. The E.U. and the International Community will fully support all efforts at locating them and will contribute to the determined fight against this phenomenon, which poses a threat to the universal values of humankind."
 EU condemns suicide bomb attack in Jerusalem
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)The European Union on Sunday condemned a suicide attack on a bus in Jerusalem earlier in the day that led to a loss of civilian lives.
The attack occurred almost immediately after a meeting of the Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers, and shortly before the Israeli official's visét to Washington, Greece, the EU's current president, said in a statement.
''This leaves no room for doubt that terror is being used by extremists to block efforts towards renewed dialogue,'' the EU said.
''It is imperative that these suicide bomb attacks should cease, and that we may move away from reprisals to a state of confidence, away from hatred to dialogue, and away from conflict to peace. Both sides must remain dedicated to the road of negotiations, the road to peace,'' the statement said.
 Albanian PM says ethnic Greeks need empowerment
GJIROKASTER 19/05/2003 (ANA/P.Barkas)Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano said at the weekend that ethnic Greeks should feel empowered to exercise more fully the rights they possess under the country's constitution.
Addressing a local meeting of the ruling Socialist Party, Nano cited as examples participation in central and local government, the military, and the police force.
The ruling party was on good political terms with Albania's Greek minority through the Human Rights Union Party, which represents ethnic Greeks in parliament and forms part of the government coalition, the premier said.
He added that Albania was on excellent terms with Greece and the ruling PASOK party government.
 Civil servants to strike Monday, air traffic controllers vote to work
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)Civil servants are to stage a 24-hour strike on Monday to press for higher pay but air traffic controllers originally scheduled to join the stoppage have voted to work, officials said.
Fresh talks between the ADEDY civil servants union and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis are set for May 22. A failure to find common ground at the last meeting led to the strike call.
The union is negotiating a new pay scale that would go into effect on January 1, 2004. Among demands are a minimum wage of 1,050 euros per month, incorporation of allowances into base pay, and an acceptable salary rise for 2003.
 President of the Republic attends northern celebration
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Sunday attended a celebration in Macedonia to mark the liberation of the town of Skra from Ottoman rule in 1918.
''We should recall that Macedonia saved Greece, not only in the wars of 1912 and 1913, which liberated the country, but it also saved Greece in 1917-18'' Stephanopoulos told a luncheon held in his honor by the municipality of Axioupoli.
''Macedonia ranks top in growth, top in economic activity, top in farming and top in dealings with other countries due to its location,'' the president added.
 Minister, main opposition leader commemorate Pontian genocide
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)Deputy National Defense Minister Loukas Apostolidis on Sunday commemorated the Pontian genocide by Ottoman Turks nearly a century ago.
''Greece today cannot be pushed aside. It is a country that can formulate demands on a European and international level, a country that claims its rights,'' Apostolidis told a commemorative event in Katerini, northern Greece.
''It is a country that will fully vindicate the struggles of Pontian Greeks, the struggles of Hellenism ... and will heal the open wound of Cyprus,'' he added.
In Athens, Costas Karamanlis, leader of the main opposition New Democracy party, said that Greece had a duty to secure belated international recognition for the Pontian genocide, side by side with the Armenian genocide and Jewish Holocaust.
The Pontian genocide should also highlight the fact that 150,000 people of Greek origin from the former Soviet republics were currently waging a daily struggle for survival and social integration in Greece a century later, Karamanlis said in a statement.
He claimed that the state had failed to offer the assistance that the newcomers required.
 Meeting of ethnic Greek journalists begins on Monday
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)A meeting of ethnic Greek journalists working in foreign media begins in Athens on Monday before moving to Thessaloniki on May 22-24.
Participating in the meeting, which is organized by the Greek press ministry, are journalists of Greek origin from Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America and Australia.
During the meeting, participants will receive information on Greece's EU presidency, preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, developments in the Cyprus issue, and Thessaloniki as a centre of economic and cultural exchange.
The journalists will be received by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.
 Bear mauls elderly woman to death
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)A bear savaged an 85-year-old woman to death in a northern mountain village, authorities said on Sunday.
An autopsy confirmed the cause of death after fellow villagers told police they had found large paw prints near the mauled body, discovered on Saturday.
Inhabitants of Anilio and other mountain villages around the town of Ioannina have reported many sightings of bears over the past two months.
The animals have reportedly trampled graves in order to drink the olive oil left in icon shrines.
 Terrorist suspect suffers stroke
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)A suspected member of the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) terrorist group held in custody pending trial suffered a stroke on Sunday and was rushed to hospital for emergency treatment.
Christos Tsigaridas was taken to the Evangelismos hospital in central Athens from Korydallos prison, where he has been detained for several months. No details were given of his condition.
Charges have been brought against Tsigaridas and other suspected members of the urban guerrilla group for attempted murder and weapons possession.
Tsigaridas has accepted political responsibility for acts perpetrated by ELA until 1991, when he says he withdrew from the group.
 Festival in Athens to welcome enlargement of EU
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)The municipality of Athens is to hold an international festival in Athens beginning on Monday to welcome enlargement of the European Union.
Organized by the municipality's Technopoli arts centre, the festival supported by the foreign ministry and embassies of the EU newcomers lasts until June 8.
Entitled ''New borders for the EU'', the event includes information and artwork from the bloc's new members, along with concerts, fashion shows and food presentations.
Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni will inaugurate the festival.
 Annual peace march held from Marathon to Athens
Athens, 19/05/2003 (ANA)An annual peace march was held on Sunday arranged by the Greek Committee for Peace and Detente.
Heading the march from the ancient battle site of Marathon to the centre of Athens was Aleka Papariga, leader of the Communist Party of Greece.
The march is dedicated to the memory of Grigoris Lambrakis, a leftist deputy and peace activist murdered by rightists 40 years ago.
 Iacovou says time for Erdogan to deal with problems
LARNACA 19/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgios Iacovou said on Sunday it was time for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop confining himself to slogans and aphorisms but to face the existing problems.
Speaking on his departure for Brussels to attend an EU General Affairs Council and replying to a comment that the acquis communautaire takes on a new significance within UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan to reunify Cyprus, Iacovou said that Cyprus is an EU member and ''therefore it is inconceivable for the EU and its member states to ignore the implementation of the acquis communautaire in Cyprus''.
Asked if he intends to inform Brussels on the obstacles raised by the Turkish occupation regime regarding liturgies in churches in the occupied areas, Iacovou said that there would be an information campaign on the issue not only within the EU but also in other organizations, which have the obligation to show an interest in such issues.
Iacovou noted that he has requested meetings with European Commissioner on enlargement Gunter Verheugen and EU High Representative on Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana.
 Papadopoulos says no ''embargo'' on Turkish Cypriots
LARNACA 19/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Republic of Cyprus has not imposed any ''embargo'' on the Turkish Cypriots, President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed here Saturday, adding that the restrictions are imposed by international obligations and international organizations.
Invited to comment on the issue of exports of Turkish Cypriot products towards Europe and Turkish statements about a so-called ''embargo'', Papadopoulos said he has repeatedly said that the Greek Cypriot side has not imposed an ''embargo'' on the Turkish Cypriots, adding that ''these restrictions are imposed by international obligations and international organizations''.
Commenting on statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash that he agreed with former President Glafcos Clerides for the creation of a ''black list'', Papadopoulos said he was not aware of such an agreement, adding that there was no such document or note at the Foreign Ministry.
 AHI urges Bush to make positive move on Cyprus
NICOSIA 19/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)American Hellenic Institute (AHI) General Counsel Gene Rossides has sent a letter to US President George Bush urging him to make a positive move towards a solution of the Cyprus problem, for the time is propitious. ''The time is propitious for positive movement on a just and viable solution of the Cyprus problem'', Rossides writes in his letter.
Supporting this view, Rossides refers to Cyprus' entry to the EU and notes that the war on Iraq has demonstrated Turkey's unreliability as a strategic ally by its refusal to help the US, adding that Turkey is of minimal strategic value to US interests in the Middle East and ''an extortionist state''.
Rossides also submits recommendations for a Cyprus settlement based on democratic norms, the immediate return of Famagusta to the government of Cyprus under UN auspices for the resettlement of refugees, the demilitarization of the island and the prompt return of the illegal Turkish settlers to Turkey.