|Tuesday, 22 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 22, 2003
 Euro-Mediterranean energy conference concludes with the adoption of ‘Athens Declaration’
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)The third Euro-Mediterranean Conference of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in the field of energy concluded in Athens on Wednesday, unanimously passing a new Declaration of Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.
The declaration, as Greece’s Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said, titled “The Athens Declaration”, is the new political framework reaffirming European and Mediterranean nations’ resolve to cooperate for the establishment of a genuine energy policy.
Special reference was made to the connection of Greece’s natural gas network with Turkey, which is to be concluded in 2005, as well as to relevant discussions between Greece and Italy.
Tsohatzopoulos, who chaired the meeting, said during a press conference that Greece was transforming into a European energy hub for the entire European and Mediterranean regions.
The “Athens Declaration” also refers to Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s intention to promote bilateral cooperation on energy. To this end, a tripartite technical working team is to be set up, with the participation of representatives from Israel, Palestine and the EU.
EU Transport and Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio, who expressed satisfaction at the development, said the setting up of the working team was decided in order to consolidate energy plans of mutual interest to both Israel and Palestine. She stressed that the team is also open to participation by other states.
“Energy would be the basis on which we will build stability and peace across the Euro-Mediterranean region,'' she said.
Palestinian Authority representative Azzam Shawwa, also Energy and Natural Resources Minister, underlined that the specific development would be the first step towards a new relationship with Israel.
Commenting on the same development, Israeli Energy Minister Joseph Parizky noted that though deep political differences existed between his country and Palestine, at least a decision has been taken for joint efforts to arrive at cooperation on energy.
At the same time, the Israeli minister expressed hope that the working team would facilitate an improvement in the quality of life for both sides. “May this be the first flower to bring spring,” he added.
The energy meeting also decided that essential energy cooperation among Euro-Mediterranean nations be supported in order to shape a comprehensive energy network for natural gas, oil and electric power.
Tsohatzopoulos underlined the consensus achieved with regard to the need for energy policy convergence between the specific region’s countries to create what he called a single Mediterranean energy market.
Both Tsohatzopoulos and de Palacio underlined the need for contribution by the private sector to energy-related investments.
With regard to priorities set for the period 2003-2006, participating ministers reaffirmed their interest in the importance of renewable energy sources under the perspective of a viable energy future.
 FM represents Greece in EU's constitutional convention in Brussels
BRUSSELS 22/05/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)The presidium of the convention for the Future of Europe met on Wednesday here to discuss the economic governance of the European Union.
Foreign Minister George Papandreou represented Greece in the talks that focused on the specific function and responsibilities of the Eurogroup.
Discussions were led by a four point agenda that included the general economic directions, the penalties for the non-undertaking of measures for the decrease of budget deficits and the coordination of the economic policy within the EU.
Concerning the representation of the Eurozone, as well as the EU in international organizations, Papandreou said that there were disagreements, especially on the part of Britain - which is not a member of the Economic Monetary Union - but were resolved via a compromise proposal that allows the EU to decided through an increased majority vote for the measures the Union will propose to international for a.
''It is imperative that we coordinate and maybe some day we may achieve a unified representation on foreign policy issues, such as the United Nations,'' Papandreou said.
Papandreou also spoke of the necessity for the formulation of a unified EU strategy on foreign policy issues, which will facilitate the dialogue between the EU and the USA.
He underlined that for the first time in history the recent informal council, that took place in Kastelorizo, Greece, the presidency proposed the listing of the foreign policy priorities of all the 25 member-states, which then, following a dialogue they could become Union policies.
''Turkey, Cyprus and the Balkans could become Union policies,'' Papandreou said.
He also spoke of the coordination of the means of foreign policy implementation with the instituting of a ''full-time'' foreign minister of the EU, who will also be responsible for proposing security issues, ''with the hope of upgrading the role of Europe and begin on a new basis the discussion for a mondus vivedi with the USA''.
 FM gives interview titled 'dialogue not necessary with U.S. on everything'
BRUSSELS 22/05/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Belgium's Flemish newspaper ''De Standaart'' published an interview with Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday under the title ''Dialogue is not necessary with the U.S. on everything.''
The report said Papandreou, being the European Union's Council of Foreign Ministers president, has been spending more time in Brussels than in Athens lately since he has been representing his government at the European Conference over the past few weeks, which is preparing reforms in the EU.
It further said the Greek foreign minister does not reject the proposal of the U.S. for American observers to closely watch reforms in the EU and pointed out that with the European Council in Thessaloniki and afterwards with the meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush coming up, Papandreou is trying to restore relations between the EU and the United States.
''However, the EU member-states must agree among themselves on this first,'' Papandreou said, according to the report, and added that he is ''optimistic and has the impression that all member-states desire cooperation after the drama of Iraq.''
Referring to relations with the United States, Papandreou said a common position with the U.S. is in the interests of the EU because only in this way will it be able to play a role in future developments in Iraq.
''The Greek presidency is trying to trace a common position on foreign policy issues. It is requesting, for the first time, from member-states to present their priorities. With the assistance of the European Parliament and the Commission as well, a common vision can be traced for foreign policy which will constitute the basis for the understanding with the U.S.,'' he said.
The foreign minister further said ''an agreement with the U.S. on foreign policy issues is one thing and an agreement between member-states on shaping a common European position is another. Member-states should agree with each other first.''
Papandreou also stressed that ''the existence of American observers to watch reforms in the EU is not a bad idea. Not, of course, that there should be observers at the inter-governmental conference which will take the final decisions, but there should be a structure through which the Americans will be informed of what is taking place in the EU. For example, it would not be bad for there to be a separate Forum where representatives of the European or National Parliaments, as well as national personalities, will discuss with members of the Senate about reforms at European institutional organs and about what is taking place on Defense and Foreign Policy issues.''
 Simitis to meet with Blair on Thursday, in light of EU Summit in June
LONDON 22/05/2003 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday will meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss the agenda of the Thessaloniki EU June Summit.
Simitis' visit here is part of the tour of European capitals in light of the June Summit as Greece holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union.
Representatives of the EU and of the European high commissioner for defense and security affairs Javier Solana will be present in the meeting.
At the focus of the meeting will be the new Constitution of Europe, now drafted by the convention for the future of Europe, a very sensitive issue for the British government, due to internal reactions.
Blair has met, a few days ago with the president of the convention Valery Giscard d' Estaing, in light of Simitis' visit.
 Greek deputy FM hails signing of MNEPR, urges focus on environment
STOCKHOLM 22/05/2003 (ANA - S. Aravopoulou)The Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in Russia (MNEPR) was signed on Wednesday here, a result of efforts of the Euro-Arctic Council of Barents that began in 1999 with the participation of the European Union.
Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis represented the European Union in this historic day for the limitation of nuclear arms in Europe.
Co-signatories to the agreement were the Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Magriotis for the European Union, and representatives from the United States, the European Atomic Energy Commission, France, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Norway and Britain.
The nuclear energy safety in Northwestern Russia is rather great, since there are serious problems of storage and destruction of the nuclear waste that stem mainly from the decommissioning of old submarines and icebreakers.
Magriotis, speaking on behalf of the European Union at the signing of the MNEPR agreement, said that the framework agreement will be a useful tool in the solution of the major problems associated with spent fuel management and the safety of radioactive waste management in North West Russia, but that in addition to nuclear safety issues, interest should also focus on the environment.
Magriotis, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said that the signing of MNEPR was an important step forward, which should be followed by many more.
''The ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and safety in the shipping sector are only two of the issues still pending settlement, where our cooperation (with Russia) could continue'', the deputy minister said.
''The upcoming EU-Russia summit (on 29 May in St. Petersburg) will be held with the participation of all EU member states, and will offer an opportunity for continuing and, why not, broadening our cooperation'', he concluded.
 DM expresses need for completion of European defense and security unification
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou on Wednesday stressed the need for speeding up procedures regarding the completion of European unification in the defense and security sectors.
Papantoniou, making an account of the 12-month Greek presidency in the sector of European security and defense policy, said Europe must obtain reliability and the necessary special weight to enable it to intervene in international developments more substantively.
The minister referred, as an example, to the problem of Iraq, saying that if Europe had a strong political voice and a strong military force it could have asserted itself at the UN and the war might not have taken place.
Papantoniou focused on the creation of the European military force composed of 60,000 men and women. According to conclusions reached at the recent Council of Defense Ministers, the 25-nation European Union currently possesses the operational capacity to carry out humanitarian and peace missions.
He also reiterated that the initiative of the ''four'' does not constitute an independent action, but a contribution by them to the collective effort for a common European defense. He further clarified that the European defense does not function competitively towards the United States, but in a balancing nature on the international scene.
However, he noted that if blocking occurs at the inter-governmental conference, then European defense should go ahead with a nucleus of countries. Regarding the coverage of shortages in weaponry systems, Papantoniou placed emphasis on the procurement of weaponry systems for strategic transportation, meaning the acquisition of transport aircraft.
Commenting on the upsurge in Turkish aggressiveness and the insistence of Turkey's military establishment on illegal unilateral claims against Greece, Papantoniou said the Helsinki summit is a one-way road as far as Greece is concerned, with the hope that there will be reciprocation at some time.
Papantoniou reiterated that there is no question of European countries participating in military operations in Iraq, adding that Europe's initiatives will touch on humanitarian aid.
 Parliament president: Early elections when gov't term completed
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Wednesday added his voice to the latest speculation about early elections in the country, stressing that “neither a (government) reshuffle nor election-mongering is the country’s problem.”
He also said general elections will take place as scheduled in the Spring of 2004. Kaklamanis spoke at a press conference prior to this week’s first conference of EU parliament presidents, being held in Athens. Furthermore, he said he doesn’t believe a reshuffle is necessary and that the prime minister himself has not referred to one.
 Draft law on local gov't campaign spending
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)A draft law tabled by the interior ministry foreseen maximum campaign spending in local government elections, similar to legislation already governing national elections.
One of the primary points in the new bill calls for the mandatory appointment of a campaign finance manager for each election combination to be named by the lead candidate in the election list, i.e. the candidate for mayor or prefect.
For candidates in municipal and prefectural councilors’ races, ceilings of between 5,000 to 40,000 euros (in Athens municipality) are foreseen – 60,000 euros for mayoral candidates in the largest municipality of the country.
Personal election centers, which to critics epitomize the extravagant spending by some candidates, are also prohibited, along with banners, posters and photographs in public places and pamphlets via newspapers.
 Gov't announces inquiry into 'foreign matter' found in aircraft parts at Araxos
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)The Army General Staff had ordered a disciplinary and criminal inquiry to shed light on how foreign materials had found their way into the bolts of a military aircraft at Araxos, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday.
The inquiry aimed to discover who was responsible but also to boost checks for flight safety, he said.
 Press minister denies reports of controversy surrounding draft media bill
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas on Wednesday denied reports that a draft press ministry bill being discussed by a parliamentary committee was fraught with controversy and stressed that bill removed none of the powers or duties of the National Radio and Television Council (ERS).
He said the bill would put the ESR in charge of checking the use of stock as collateral by television stations raising loans and resulting changes in shareholders' equity stakes.
The minister stressed that the 45 days allowed for such inspections under the bill was more than adequate.
 Greek EU presidency - new e-Vote on environment and sustainable development
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)A Greek European Union presidency press release on Wednesday announced the launch of a new e-Vote on the Environment and Sustainable Development, as a follow-up to the international conference on Sustainable Development hosted jointly by the Greek foreign ministry and the World Bank on May 6-7 in Athens.
This new e-Vote tackles highly topical issues such as shared water, shared future and knowledge and asks Europeans to rate the quality of their environment, requesting their input on various ways to improve it, the release said.
A bold experiment in e-democracy, the e-Vote also gauges citizens' views on issues such as the relationship between trade and sustainable development in third countries, and the role of various actors in shouldering the responsibility for sustainable development.
The e-Vote offers anyone the opportunity to visit http://evote.EU2003.gr and to share their ideas, opinions and suggestions about the present and future EU, the release said.
Moreover, the Greek presidency invited all interested media organizations in the enlarged Europe to become Media Partners of e-Vote. For more information on Media Partnerships, interested parties can take a look at http://evote.eu2003.gr/EVOTE/en/partnersmedia.stm.
 Greece seeks 300 mln euros in EU funds to help Balkans
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Greece has sought about 300 million euros in aid from the European Union to assist countries of the Balkans, foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said on Wednesday.
The request for funding from the bloc's budget was made at a recent EU foreign ministers' meeting, Beglitis told a news conference to announce details of a World Economic Forum conference to be held in Athens.
''A historical cycle of clashes in the Balkans is over and the future of countries in the wider Balkan region lies in a united Europe,'' he said.
''Through the Balkan reconstruction program and more general initiatives, Greece has supported and contributed to the economic growth of countries in the region, and to their gradual entry into the European family,'' the spokesman added.
Global financier George Soros is to co-chair the World Economic Forum's regional meeting in Athens on 23-24 May.
Conference delegates will look at the political and economic situation in southeastern Europe, and the outlook for the region.
Also chairing the session, an offshoot of the Davos forum in Switzerland, is the governor of the National Bank of Greece and president of the Union of Greek Banks, Theodoros Karatzas.
Supported by Foreign Minister George Papandreou, the conference's delegates include prime ministers, ministers and corporate executives from 31 countries.
Soros is a shareholder in Hellenic Land International SA, a holding company and developer, through Soros Real Estate Investors, his first investment in Greece. The remainder of the firm is owned by Panayiotis Mihalos, founder of DTZ Mihalos SA.
 Three-year figures show more jobs gained then lost, gov't says
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Figures for employment over the past three years showed that the balance of both jobs gained and lost and the balance of business start-ups and closures was positive, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday.
He was responding to questions regarding a recent wave of highly visible company closures that are expected to make larger numbers of workers redundant. They include the factory of Swiss-owned Schiesser Palco in Athens, the Antonopoulos supermarket chain and the cosmetics retail chain Yvonni Stores.
Protopapas presented figures showing that 978,266 notifications for the hiring of new staff compared to 534,805 notices of termination of employment were submitted in 2000, while the same figures for 2001 were 1,053,155 jobs gained compared to 597,575 lost and 1,080,310 new positions compared to 590.777 jobs lost in 2002.
The figures for 2003 showed that 200,665 new staff had so far been hired and 118,809 notifications of termination had been submitting, meaning that the ratio was more or less unchanged and that more jobs were being created than lost.
The figures also showed that 71,100 new businesses had been set up over the past three years, indicating that more businesses were opening than closing overall.
At the same time, Protopapas stressed that unemployment was a priority concern and pledged ''bold measures'' on the government's part if there were mass lay-offs.
''Chiefly, however, we are interested in establishing a healthy economy that will generate jobs and this is the goal we are striving toward through the 3rd Community Support Framework, efforts to boost competitiveness, the developmental law and the Manpower Employment Organization,'' he said.
He said a proposal by Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou to set up a special fund for workers that were made redundant was ''interesting'' and stressed that the government had already taken measures for unemployed people above a certain age, establishing very high subsidies for employers that hired a member of this group.
Coalition party slams government stance to company closures: Coalition of the Left and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos was strongly critical of attitudes among members of the ruling PASOK government on Wednesday over a recent wave of company closures and lay-offs.
Accusing government ministers of "talking like bosses in the bosses' place," he said they appeared to be holding ordinary voters responsible "because their policies are causing major social deficits".
The Coalition leader further claimed that after 20 years of PASOK governments, "workers have been stripped of all guarantees of protection and have been converted into lifeless objects that anyone can fling out onto the street by closing down their business."
 EU Commission urges Greece to reform pension system
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Greece needs to accelerate procedures to reforming its pension system and to strictly adhere a fiscal discipline policy, the European Commission said on Wednesday.
In its annual report on the fiscal condition of EU member-states, published on Wednesday, the Commission recommended that maintaining macro-economic stability, further reducing its high public debt and promoting structural reforms were the main challenges facing the Greek economy in the next few years.
In its report, titled ''Public finances in EMU in 2003'', the Commission noted the threat of higher fiscal deficits as a result of rising public spending due to an ageing population in Europe.
The report warned that if measures were not taken, Greece, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Austria and Portugal were facing the danger of fiscal deficits. The Commission stressed that Greece and Spain were facing the highest risk, with pension spending rising 12.0 percent as a percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product and 8.0 percent, respectively.
These rates were the highest among EU member-states, the report said.
The Commission recommended that Greece, in order to ensure its economic viability, should take measures to reforming the country's pension system and noted that a Greek Stability Program did not envisage a detail proposal for the solution of this problem.
Greek authorities were also urged to promote supplementary private pension programs and to take measures to enhance spending control.
The EU's executive stressed that despite the country's high growth rates in 2002, the reduction of its public deficit was limited to 1.2 percent of GDP from 1.4 percent in 2001.
Greece, Italy and Belgium are the only EU member-states with a public debt of more than 100 percent of their GDPs. The Commission forecasts that in 2004 only Italy would maintain a debt of more than 100 percent.
The report described as positive the condition prevailing in the domestic economy, a development which combined with successful tax evasion combatting measures and expanding the country's tax base, contributed in raising state revenues above targets.
The Commission also urged Greece to achieve primary budget surpluses in the next decades to continue a restructuring of the country's public finances.
 Greek participation in Skopje trade fair
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Thessaloniki International Trade Fair is organizing an official Greek participation in a 53rd International General Trade Fair to be held in Skopje, FYROM, June 3-7.
A total of 50 Greek companies will participate in this year's trade fair to be held at the Skopski Saem Trade Fair Centre.
The Greek companies will represent the building material, food-beverage, industrial equipment, packaging items and chemical sectors.
Greece is the third largest trade partner of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
 Southeastern European conference on tourism, on Thursday in Athens
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Ministers of tourism from Southeastern European countries will hold a meeting on Thursday and Friday in Athens to discuss common programs for the development and advancement of special forms of tourism, sustainable tourism growth, cooperation during crises, investment incentives and opportunities, and to exchange information and statistical data, a Greek development ministry press bulletin said on Wednesday.
The conference is an initiative of Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos aimed at the advancement of cooperation in tourism among the countries in Southeastern Europe, the bulletin said.
 Public may have option to buy into Hellenic Stock Exchanges
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)The public may have an opportunity to purchase stock in Hellenic Stock Exchanges SA, owner of the Athens bourse, under a tentative government plan to privatize the company.
Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told parliament on Wednesday that a consortium of banks wished to buy a 35 percent stake in the Athens-quoted firm. The shares may then be resold to the public.
''There is no commitment, or agreement or target on the part of the consortium to keep the 35 percent stake for itself, but it would guarantee absorption of the paper,'' Christodoulakis said during debate of a government finance bill that would allow the corporate sale.
He was responding to criticism from the parliamentary opposition that the consortium's stock purchase in Hellenic could lead to a stranglehold of the capital market by banks.
''The privatization is directed towards all parties - to existing shareholders, to the Union of Athens-Quoted Companies, the Athens Stock Exchange Members' Association, the holders of convertible bonds, and to anyone who is interested,'' the minister said.
Among other markets held by Hellenic is the derivatives exchange.
 Greek stocks end 1.39 pct lower on Wednesday
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks came under heavy selling on Wednesday to end sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange, following a trend in other European markets.
The general index fell 1.39 percent to end at 1,708.26 points, with turnover a low 93.3 million euros.
The Cement, Holding, IT, Investment and Industrials sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (3.31 percent, 2.87 percent, 2.69 percent, 2.08 percent and 1.83 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 1.75 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 1.14 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.92 percent lower and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index dropped 1.56 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 247 to 72 with another 46 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 65.1 mln euros Wednesday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Wednesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of May 21 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,178 1,151
 Army chief: Police and armed forces will ensure 'best and safest Olympics'
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)The Greek Armed Forces are being armed, modernized and prepared and will soon be ready to deal with any asymmetric threat to the country's security and able to ensure the safety of the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004, Army General Staff chief Gen. Panagiotis Harvalas said on Wednesday.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day seminar on "Asymmetric threats in the 21st century, consequences and repercussions for international security" that is taking place in Thessaloniki.
"The armed forces and the police will respond in the best possible way for the organization of the best and safest Olympiad," he said.
In his address to the seminar, Harvalas predicted that the nature of conventional warfare would change and the biggest threat would come from terrorism, with unpredictable attacks and hard-to-pinpoint targets.
Apart from international terrorism, other major threats to humanity would come from cyber-wars, illegal immigration, organized crime, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nationalism and religious fanaticism, he said.
 Gov't announces ambitious tram extensions for Athens
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)The government on Wednesday unveiled a highly ambitious plan to extend the under-construction tram network in Athens by up to 57.1 extra kilometers of new lines in the traffic-congested greater Athens area.
Currently, a new “Y-shaped” tram network linking downtown Athens with its southern coastal districts and a bevy of 2004 Olympics venues is being built, with a deadline before next year’s Games in August.
The envisioned extensions – seven in number -- were announced by Transport Minister Christos Verelis, who said the works are projected to be completed in two phases, the first with a 2008 deadline and the second in 2010.
The largest extension (27.6 kilometers) from the port city of Piraeus to the large west district of Peristeri and onwards to Aghia Paraskevi municipality in northern Athens costs 300 million euros. The figure includes rolling stock and infrastructure.
The Athens Polytechnic’s experts committee submitted the study for the extensions.
Finally, Wednesday’s announcement coincided with the arrival of the first tramcar for the new Athens network from a plant in Florence, Italy.
 Greece and Russia sign agreement for cooperation in justice
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)The Greek and Russian justice ministries on Wednesday signed an agreement for bilateral cooperation in justice issues during a ceremony in Athens.
The agreement was signed by Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos and his Russian counterpart Yuriy Yakovlevich Chayka and seeks to upgrade and extend cooperation between the two countries in this area.
It calls for mutual support in the drafting of bills and carrying out feasibility studies for draft bills, the establishment of close ties between judicial authorities in both countries, mutual briefing on the structure and operation of judicial and other services and other measures to promote the exchange of know-how and experience.
Noting that this was the first agreement of its kind between the two countries, Petsalnikos said it would henceforth allow close cooperation between the judicial systems of Greece and Russia.
Chayka also thanked the Greek minister for the "excellent organization" of the EU Troika-Russia meeting that he attended on Tuesday and said that both sides could benefit and learn from each other through the avenues opened by the agreement.
 Legal profession to be sounded out on changes to draft justice bill
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos on Wednesday said he planned to meet with representatives of the Athens Bar Association, judges' unions and legal organizations to hear their views on the changes that he intends to introduce to a bill for speeding up the criminal justice system.
Lawyers in Athens, Thessaloniki and Piraeus are opposed to the changes envisioned by the minister and have called a 48-hour strike on Wednesday and Thursday in protest.
The minister said that on Tuesday he had made a series of changes to the bill, which is now being discussed by the appropriate Parliamentary Committee before it is voted on by Parliament.
One of these was to increase the number of adjournments allowed per case from two to three.
In an announcement following debate of the bill at Parliament's public administration bill, Petsalnikos outlined a series of further changes to individual articles.
Discussion of the bill will continue in the afternoon in a closed session.
 Patriarch of Alexandria concludes visit to Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul
ISTANBUL 22/05/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria Petros on Wednesday stressed the necessity for the common course of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Alexandria Patriarchate.
Upon his departure, Petros stressed that ''I am leaving with the best impression, as usual. I know of your love, I know of your solidarity, and as was stressed repeatedly in our discussions in private, two Patriarchates should have a common course. You will have our support, our love and we are sure that we will have yours''.
Petros also spoke of the ''two historic cities'' that host two of the oldest Patriarchates that for 20 centuries have offered so much to Orthodoxy.
 Annual CISAC conference concludes on Crete
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers’ (CISAC) legal and legislative committee’s annual conference (Commission Juridique et de Legislation) wound up on Crete this week, where the issue of protecting copyright and enforcing the regime governing royalties, especially in the European Union in light of its expansion, dominated sessions.
Issues such as promoting effective measures by new EU member-states to protect intellectual property, the industry scourge of pirated works as well as the cross-border transmission of television signals and measures by international organizations (such as UNESCO), were also discussed.
 Conference on European social model opens in Ioannina
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)A two-day conference in the context of the Greek European Union Presidency opened on Wednesday in the northern Greek town of Ioannina on “Modernization of the European Social Model, EU Policies and Tools”.
Greek Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas, who inaugurated the meeting, said that the conference aimed at looking into Europe’s social model and to conclude on an acceptable definition or an institutional consensus regarding the model’s governing values and principles.
To that end, one of the conference’s major targets is to analyze EU procedures in the area of social policy.
The three fields of discussion on how to modernize the EU social model, between approximately 240 participants from many EU member-states are: pensions, social inclusion and social legislation.
Opening the meeting, Reppas stressed that taking as a starting point a landmark decision taken during the Lisbon EU Council, the aim was to make it even more obvious that the Union was there and operated primarily for its citizens, meaning that social protection occupies a prominent place among the targets and choices jointly formulated.
“Our target is to inaugurate a fruitful dialogue to help us reach a political agreement, which would in turn lead to a successful adjustment of the welfare state to the new production model and to the challenges of our times, by utilizing in the best possible way the Union’s convergence and cooperation capabilities,” Reppas said.
 Patriarch to inaugurate Greek painting exhibition in Istanbul
ISTANBUL 22/05/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Thursday will inaugurate a cultural event organized by the Greek consulate in Istanbul, in the presence of the Greek culture ministry's general secretary.
The exhibition, entitled ''Classical Memories in Modern Greek Art'' will last from May 22 to May 26 at the Ataturk Cultural Center in the center of Istanbul.
The exhibition is part of events in light of the Greek EU presidency, and is being held under the auspices of the Greek culture ministry and in cooperation with the consulate and the Greek National Gallery "Alexandros Soutsos".
 Greek and Balkan publishers to meet in Thessaloniki
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)Greek and Balkan publishers will meet in Thessaloniki in an event organized by the Greek National Book Center in cooperation with HELEXPO, in light of the opening of the Balkan Translation Center and the organizing of the SCRIPTA International Book Fair. The Balkan Translation Center was established at the initiative of the National Book Center and aims at developing the cultural dialogue in the region, through the translation and publication of books.
The choice of books to be translated will be made by a joint 11-member committee, which will be composed of academics, writers and critics.
SCRIPTA will be inaugurated in May 2004.
 Ministry planning facilities for thousands of demonstrators at EU summit
Athens, 22/05/2003 (ANA)The ministry of Macedonia and Thrace is planning camping sites on the outskirts of Thessaloniki (at Agios Pavlos and Menemeni) for hospitality for demonstrators who will travel from all over Europe in light of the European Union summit, multiple trip cards for urban transport buses, fundamental food supply and buildings and halls for their events and interviews to facilitate the thousands of demonstrators and secure, as much as possible, the city's smooth operation during protest events scheduled over the summit's ''controversial'' three-day period in Halkidiki.
''We all want an 'Open city' in Thessaloniki those days. We are trying to print a survey of the demonstrations, without this meaning coercion in any way, to enable the handling, as far as possible, of traffic problems for its permanent residents and for those desiring to visit it,'' Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis said on Wednesday.
The decisions were taken jointly following repeated discussions and meetings between representatives of the ministry and of the three main organizations (''Genoa'', ''Greek Social Forum'' and ''Action 2003'') which are organizing protest events during the summit.
 Cypriot spokesman says UN position unchanged on resumption of talks
NICOSIA 22/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides on Wednesday reiterated the government's readiness to enter negotiations on the substance of what Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos had declared in The Hague.
He said that when negotiations begin, the points that affect the Cyprus problem because of its accession to the European Union would be examined.
Invited to comment on an interview to CNA by the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who said Kofi Annan is very reluctant to reengage in an open-ended way in the question of Cyprus unless there is a clear framework, the spokesman said the UN chief's position ''has not changed since The Hague and as it was expressed in his report to the Security Council and is continuously repeated''.
To a remark by a journalist that the reference is made for both sides, the spokesman said the Secretary General has always talked about both sides.
''I think the UN tactic is the same and expects setting a date for referenda. Our side has not set a date for the referendum either. Therefore the reply to the Secretary General on this issue is pending. We have conveyed that we are ready for the resumption of the negotiations on the substance, on the basis of what has been declared by the President of the Republic in The Hague'', Chrisostomides said.
To a comment that the government's position is different from De Soto's view that the UN do not favor a reopening of the fundamental trade-offs, the spokesman said that this is the view of de Soto and the UN, on the conditions which exist today.
The Greek Cypriot side, he added, ''has expressed its readiness to negotiate on the substance, on the basis of what has been said since The Hague and any negotiation will develop on issues which, if there is an agreement, they (issues) will be included in the plan''.
''Surely issues have changed since the signing of the Accession Treaty and they will have to be taken into consideration'', Chrisostomides said, adding that the government will table them when negotiations start.
Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash rejected the UN Secretary General's peace proposal on a comprehensive settlement covering all aspects of the Cyprus problem during talks in The Hague in March, while President Papadopoulos said it was a basis for negotiation.
 Right to property not a compensation issue, says spokesman
NICOSIA 22/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)The right to property is not a matter of compensation, Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides stressed here on Monday, commenting on announcements by the occupation regime on the issue of property, one of the most contentious aspects of the question of Cyprus.
''The right to property is a right to possession, ownership, exploitation, disposal of property and not a matter of compensation,'' the spokesman said after a cabinet meeting. The spokesman's remarks came in response to reports that the illegal
Turkish Cypriot regime intends to set up a ''compensation fund'' to pay off Greek Cypriots for property they left behind in occupied Cyprus as they fled the Turkish advancing troops in the summer of 1974, when Turkey invaded the island.
Chrisostomides said that nobody could substitute the right to property with any monetary compensation.
Replying to questions, he said the government had been aware of these considerations which the regime in occupied Cyprus was promoting and had taken all necessary measures in good time.
''The issue was examined by the President, in cooperation with the Attorney General and foreign experts,'' he added.
The spokesman said that the Greek Cypriot side insists on respect of human rights and that these tactics applied by the Turkish occupation regime will not produce any results.