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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-24

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

May 24, 2003


  • [01] FM Papandreou attends G8 Paris meeting on global affairs
  • [02] Simitis lauds UN Security Council decision to lift sanctions off Iraq
  • [03] EU Commissioner tells Denktash ''it takes two to tango''
  • [04] Greek FM to address South-East Europe meeting on Saturday in Athens
  • [05] ND leader says Ankara ‘trapped in mistaken and dangerous practice’
  • [06] Israeli FM on Crete for Euro-Med meeting
  • [07] Greek parliament president urges fight for a ''better Europe''
  • [08] Europarliament president says Future of Europe Convention has achieved purpose
  • [09] President receives the heads of EU National parliaments in Athens
  • [10] Strong reactions to French Institute's verbal exam subject choice
  • [11] Athens World Economic Forum underlines Greece’s role as EU presidency
  • [12] Greek gov’t to seek closer economic relations with Turkey
  • [13] Soros urges businesses to invest in Southeast Europe
  • [14] OTENET's connection with int'l internet web mostly re-constituted
  • [15] Greek companies investing in Cyprus on the rise
  • [16] Meeting on closure of Schiesser Pallas unit in Greece fruitless
  • [17] Attica local authorities send letter to PM over 3rd CSF
  • [18] SE European countries to set up tourism council
  • [19] Greek consumers complain over slimming center services
  • [20] ASE ends below 1,700 level on Friday
  • [21] Olympics ticket-sale methods comply with EU competition rules, Commission says
  • [22] ATHOC head in Larissa to inaugurate Olympic Support Bureau
  • [23] Olympic Games security exercise held in five cities
  • [24] EQUAL - Conference on immigrant incorporation policies held on Friday in Athens
  • [25] Red Cross president gets four-year suspended sentence for breach of faith
  • [26] Suspected ELA terrorist released on bail; new N17 suspect denies charges
  • [27] N17 trial adjourned until Monday
  • [28] AHEPA to hold conference in Athens on Saturday
  • [29] Greek railway workers' donations for Iraq relief operations
  • [30] Humanitarian aid from Greece, Cyprus departing for Iraq on Saturday
  • [31] Two Greek air force transport planes carry humanitarian aid to Algiers
  • [32] Venizelio hospital receives EU distinction for its health info network
  • [33] EU ministers discuss IT contribution to the health sector
  • [34] EU culture ministers' informal council in Thessaloniki on 25 May
  • [35] Greek Cypriots make historic visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
  • [36] Foreign minister: right to appeal against Turkey safeguarded
  • [37] DIKO and RTP discuss measures

  • [01] FM Papandreou attends G8 Paris meeting on global affairs

    PARIS (ANA – O. Tsipira)

    A meeting of the G8, the group of the world’s eight most wealthy nations, foreign ministers opened here on Friday, with discussion focusing on Iraq, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

    Greece’s Foreign Minister and current president of the EU General Affairs Council George Papandreou represented the European Union.

    Speaking to Greek reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, he said that “the G8 foreign ministers are evaluating global developments and crisis areas. Today we especially referred to regions such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, the Mid East and Iraq. On the occasion of yesterday’s discussion on narcotics, we referred to Colombia. We also looked into Congo, where a serious humanitarian situation prevails and could possibly extend into a greater dimension.”

    According to the Greek foreign minister, all participants hailed the United Nations Security Council resolution to lift sanctions on Iraq, a move that brings out a fresh unity among the international community. “Let us hope that such unity would prove real and that the UN’s role would again be weighty, not only with regard to Iraq but also on an international level,” Papandreou added.

    In addition, he noted that “as European Union, we hailed the (UN) resolution, which now allows the EU to take initiatives not only in the humanitarian area but also in the areas of reconstruction, supporting democratization and creating a better future for the Iraqi people.”

    Stability in the area, according to the Greek minister, is highly important owing to its neighboring proximity to the EU. Stability, he said, would in addition have an impact on Turkey’s path towards EU admission.

    Replying to a question as to whether the Cyprus issue was touched upon by the G8 foreign ministers, Papandreou said Cyprus was not among the crises debated on Friday’s session, but the specific issue was of concern to the G8 members, as they have many times taken decisions in relation to Cyprus in the past.

    Papandreou said that according to information he had from US sources, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had recently had a communication with US President George W. Bush, and that their discussion focused on the current situation on Cyprus following the free movement allowed through the green line, with Bush stressing that negotiations should resume on the basis of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s plan for a settlement to the long-running Cyprus problem.

    Asked to comment on US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit to Paris and whether this signaled a normalization of relations between the US, Europe and France, Papandreou said that irrespective of recent disagreements on Iraq, there is now the will to move forward in a way that would safeguard the UN’s role, as well as peace and stability in the wider region.

    “The EU has also taken an initiative to develop a strategy of its own on international affairs through ‘internal’ dialogue and analysis based on our European interests,” Papandreou said.

    [02] Simitis lauds UN Security Council decision to lift sanctions off Iraq

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minster Costas Simitis, in his capacity as European Union Council President, on Friday termed as ''a very significant step'' the decision of the United Nations Security Council to lift the economic sanctions that were imposed on Iraq 13 years ago.

    Speaking after a meeting with Irish Premier Bertie Ahern in Dublin, Simitis stressed that the decision is the first step toward the beginning of Iraq's reconstruction, adding that the decision is also a positive step, because in accordance with the European Union's proposal, the United Nations will play a significant role in the reconstruction process.

    ''We should begin, as soon as possible, so as to aid the Iraqi people to organize the new state, to organize their economy, so as to combat poverty and to achieve its development,'' Simitis underlined.

    Simitis also said that he and Ahern focused mostly on issues concerning the EU Summit in Thessaloniki in June that will deal with the Constitutional issue of the EU, issues of defense and security and the willingness of Europe to play a central role on the international stage.

    On his part, Ahern welcomed Simitis and said that they focused on international issues, but mostly on the conference for the future of Europe that is expected to table its report in about three to four weeks.

    Simitis visited Dublin as part of his EU capitals tour ahead of the Thessaloniki summit in June.

    [03] EU Commissioner tells Denktash ''it takes two to tango''

    NICOSIA 24/05/2003 (ANA-G.Leonidas/CNA)

    It takes two to tango, Greek European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs Anna Diamantopoulou said here on Friday, commenting on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's rejection of the measures the EU intends to announce in support of Turkish Cypriots next month.

    She stressed that if there is complete refusal to cooperate, the EU will not be able to enforce funding or implement programs in some areas.

    Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia, Diamantopoulou pointed out there is only one scenario for Cyprus, the scenario of the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU and the gradual solution of the Cyprus problem, in the logic of one state, where everyone will have equal rights, noting that ''any other plans that the Turkish Cypriot community can become a member of the EU through Turkey has no legal foundation and has been completely rejected by the EU''.

    Diamantopoulou wrapped up a two-day visit to Cyprus on Friday.

    On the Cyprus problem, Diamantopoulou said she and Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen discussed the appointment of an EU envoy on Cyprus, noting ''nothing formal has been decided on the issue by the (EU) presidency''.

    She expressed reservation over the issue, noting that any discussions should take place within the framework of the UN which ''has the initiative and the Annan Plan is on the agenda as a basis for negotiations'' and any EU action or support will take place within this framework.

    The legislative framework of the EU provides the best guarantee to put into operation and make effective a government in a Cyprus state, in the event of a settlement'', the Commissioner added.

    Invited to comment on Denktash's rejection of the EU measures, before they were announced, Diamantopoulou said ''it takes two to tango'', adding that ''if there is complete refusal to cooperate, the EU will not be able to give by force any funding or implement programs in a specific area''.

    She said Denktash's initial reaction ''is extremely negative for the Turkish Cypriots themselves because it basically means refusal of their welfare''.

    ''I want to believe that there will be a review of the position, otherwise communication will become totally unreliable'', she warned.

    Referring to her visits to the control points where Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are crossing the divide, following the easing of restrictions in the freedom of movement, Diamantopoulou said ''it is really an intense feeling to see this ease of movement in the area, see people coming and going''.

    On her contacts on the island, Diamantopoulou said ''it is clear that Cyprus remains one of the countries which have taken significant steps in adopting the acquis communautaire''.

    She also said that Cyprus must maintain its leading position in efforts to complete harmonization with the acquis communautaire.

    Regarding her meetings with Turkish Cypriot politicians, Diamantopoulou said that it was their first meeting at the offices of the Delegation of the European Commission in the government-controlled areas of the Republic, and that she tried to explain in depth the fundamental principle that the EU is negotiating with a state, it is acceding a state and that just like it has done with Germany, the implementation of the acquis communautaire is suspended in one part of a country, until its reunification.

    On the programs for which the EU will provide funding, she said there is long-term support regarding planning after 2007 and in the event of a solution, there is a complete package which includes structures, supporting businesses and human resources.

    There is also a medium-term program for the period 2004-2006 in the event of a solution where funding has been set for 206 million euros and a short-term plan which will be announced on June 3, concerning financial development in the Turkish occupied areas, supporting and easing commercial relations and supporting the cooperation of the citizens' society at all levels.

    Referring to Cyprus' participation in EU meetings, Diamantopoulou said she discussed the issue with President Tassos Papadopoulos, officials and party leaders, and what she has ascertained is that there is a common view that Cyprus should be represented in the strongest way possible.

    Diamantopoulou also met here on Friday with the Ambassadors of the nine remaining acceding EU states to discuss, among other issues, the Cyprus problem and prospects to solve the issue.

    The Ambassadors were informed about the results of her meetings on the island and exchanged views concerning issues which pertain her duties.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. It is scheduled to become a full member of the EU in May 2004.

    [04] Greek FM to address South-East Europe meeting on Saturday in Athens

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is currently chairing the European Union Ministers' Council while Greece holds the rotating EU presidency, on Saturday will address the South-East Europe Meeting in Athens, a Greek foreign ministry press release said on Friday.

    The meeting, which is entitled the ''European Prospect'', is organized by the World Economic Forum, the release said.

    [05] ND leader says Ankara ‘trapped in mistaken and dangerous practice’

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Friday the practice in which Ankara is trapped is mistaken and dangerous.

    Addressing the conference on the European Union's future and borders, on the Aegean island of Rhodes, Karamanlis said all Greeks love peace and want relations of cooperation and support Turkey's European orientation.

    Referring to the latest violations of Greek airspace by Turkish warplanes, he said ''in past days infringements of the Athens FIR and violations of our national airspace have exceeded every precedent since they present an extremely increased frequency and massiveness, as well as qualitative characteristics of particular significance.

    ''Maybe on the part of certain centers of the neighboring country a show of force is being attempted on the domestic front. Maybe the exortioning of the EU is being attempted. Maybe they have interpreted moves of rapprochement as weakness. However, their actions certainly constitute insistence on the effort to question the status quo in the Aegean,'' he added.

    Karamanlis said that until today Greece has not achieved neither what it had wanted nor what it could have achieved with its accession.

    ''Greece is distant from its partners regarding prosperity. We are last in income, in purchase power, in competitiveness and in employment,'' he said.

    The ND leader also referred to the issue of international terrorism.

    ''I must underline at the same time that the handling of international terrorism has not ceased to constitute a common target of top priority. The probing of Common European Security and Defense Policy is a necessary precondition for handling new dangers and strengthening the common European construction. Europe must cover, as soon as possible, the serious lag regarding Common Foreign Policy and Security Policy,'' he said.

    Karamanlis also spoke of the new ''Europe of the 25'' and the constitution of Europe as a great historic achievement and base for its course.

    Responding to Karamanlis' statements, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said ''national issues must be handled with seriousness and responsibility and they are not suitable for national exploitation and the creation of impressions at party gatherings.''

    Protopapas was speaking in the city of Larissa, central Greece, where he had arrived to address a conference on television advertising.

    Protopapas added that with its policy the government has promoted the country's national issues in the international community and this is shown by recent international developments, the leading one being Cyprus' accession to the European Union.

    [06] Israeli FM on Crete for Euro-Med meeting

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom will depart for Crete in order to participate in the meeting of foreign ministers of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (the Barcelona Process), an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

    This forum is expected to be attended by the EU’s foreign ministers, Acceding Countries' representatives, of Turkey, as well as ministers from several Arab states who participated in the Barcelona Process -- Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and the Palestinian Authority.

    During the course of his stay in Crete, Shalom will reportedly hold bilateral meetings with a number of his counterparts, the Israeli side said.

    The Barcelona Process began in 1995 with the aim of strengthening relations between Europe and the Mediterranean states, and among the Mediterranean states themselves.

    [07] Greek parliament president urges fight for a ''better Europe''

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Friday said that the post-September 11 atmosphere was clearly heavier and that a new orientation and understanding had emerged on the international stage, often surfacing in international diplomatic policy, exerting influence on global relations and the new world order.

    Speaking to the Conference of presidents of European national parliaments in Athens, Kaklamanis criticized the European Union for ''not only failing to make its views prevail on a global level, but also, on some occasions, failing to forge a common stance'' vis-a-vis the Middle East crisis, the intervention in Bosnia and in Kosovo, and the war in Iraq.

    He nevertheless expressed the hope that ''the consequences of the crisis in the Euro-Atlantic and the Intra-European relations, which was caused by war in Iraq and the new blow that UN credibility was dealt, can lead the writers of the European Constitution to redefine the global role of the EU and encourage the Union proper into a more effective intervention in the future, by exerting a more dynamic influence on global events.''

    Moreover, Kaklamanis said that the Union's primary goal was its enlargement into new European horizons, which he called a ''historic development'' since for the first time it ended the post-World-War-II artificial division of Europe.

    ''In the past we needed more of Europe. We have that. Now, we need a better Europe, and this is what we should fight for'', he concluded.

    [08] Europarliament president says Future of Europe Convention has achieved purpose

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    European Parliament President Pat Cox, speaking to Greek media reporters on Friday on the sidelines of the annual regular conference of European Union national Parliament presidents, said the Convention on the Future of Europe has achieved its purpose and at the Thessaloniki EU summit there will be a draft European constitution for discussion which could not have been imagined a few years ago, even if certain technical points will be pending.

    Cox said compromise solutions maintaining the EU's unity will be found for the controversial issues of the ''double president'', the composition and role of the European Commission and the EU's common foreign affairs and defense policy.

    He went on to say that the Euroelections of 2004 are a unified political event for all the EU and they could not be held in Greece prematurely.

    Cox further said that the EU, no matter how it differentiates its stance from the present-day positions of the United States, cannot get a divorce from them, but added that a ''selective cohabitation'' is preferable to a ''full marriage.''

    The European Parliament president said work accomplished so far by the Convention on the future of Europe is very successful because it has succeeded in achieving consensus on a series of important issues on the future of the EU.

    Cox said the European Parliament supports the existence of a European Commission president having an upgraded role, who will be elected by the European Parliament and who will be accountable to it.

    Referring to the names of Prime Minister Costas Simitis and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as suitable candidates for some of the positions of presidents of EU bodies and of its ''foreign minister'', he said he is not aware whether they shared relevant press speculation and whether they were interested in these posts.

    However, he added that both politicians have the qualifications for these posts, adding that the origin of a capable politician from a small country cannot constitute an obstacle for assuming posts.

    Europarliament president praises conference of EU Parliament presidents

    European Parliament President Pat Cox said on Friday the 1st Conference of European Union Parliament presidents (including the presidents of the 10 new countries and the three candidate countries) was of considerable importance.

    The conference is taking place in Parliament's Senate auditorium and is examining the role of Parliaments in the Convention on the Future of Europe, as well as the political and institutional role of Parliaments in enlarged Europe, which will be a reality in less than a year.

    ''For the first time in its history, Europe has the opportunity of building a political order, without being forced to do this by an outside threat,'' Cox said.

    [09] President receives the heads of EU National parliaments in Athens

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Friday received the heads of the European Union national parliaments, who are currently in Athens for a Conference of the presidents of the European national parliaments, a press release from the Greek Parliament said on Friday.

    During the meeting, Stephanopoulos and the Greek Parliament's guests exchanged views on the future of the European Union and the role of the national parliaments in the enlarged Union.

    [10] Strong reactions to French Institute's verbal exam subject choice

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Education Minister Petros Efthymiou, teachers and parents of students protested strongly on Friday the French Institute's choice of subject for the language skills verbal exam, which asked of the students to respond to ''It is ludicrous to organize the Olympic Games of 2004 in Greece''.

    Specifically, the verbal exam for the ''DELF I'' language proficiency exams called for response on the aforementioned subject causing the reaction of the education minister who called it a mistake of the educator who chose the subject and one that does injustice to Greece's cultural relations with France.

    He added that students do not have to take the proficiency exams of all levels at the French Institute as now the State Certificate of Language Skills has been established by Greece.

    The Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee also reacted strongly sending a letter to the French Institute calling the choice ''at least unfortunate'', adding that ATHOC was the first organizing committee to promote the French language to such an extent.

    ATHOC also called on the institute to act in ways of remedying the mistake that was committed.

    The French Ambassador to Athens Jean-Maurice Ripert called Efthymiou and apologized, expressing his deep sorrow for the event, while stressing that the choice of the institute does not express the position of the French government, which supports the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    [11] Athens World Economic Forum underlines Greece’s role as EU presidency

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The majority of foreign speakers addressing the World Economic Forum, taking place for the first time in Athens, believe that the unification of the European Union would be completed only after the gradual admission of South-East European nations.

    During the first day of the event, state leaders, government officials, businesspeople and economic players from the wider Balkan region underlined the decisive role Greece can play in the incorporation of all the region’s countries into the European block.

    Speakers from both the political and business realms also shared the view that the Greek EU Presidency has been a creative one, even at a hard time when EU-US relations and relations among EU member-states themselves have been shaken as a result of varying views on Iraq.

    A focal point in most speeches delivered was June’s Thessaloniki EU Council, which could be a significant opportunity for the EU and South-East European nations to set the basis for their admission path, a policy keenly promoted by the Greek government.

    In addition, contentment was widely expressed by businesspeople attending the forum on the initiatives taken by Greece aimed at strengthening the region’s economies.

    Foreign Minister and current president of the EU General Affairs Council George Papandreou is scheduled to address the forum on Saturday.

    [12] Greek gov’t to seek closer economic relations with Turkey

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek government was promoting new initiatives to strengthen economic relations between Greece and Turkey, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Friday.

    Speaking to reporters during a news conference held in the framework of a World Economic Forum conference in Athens, Mr Christodoulakis said he invited his Turkish counterpart Ali Babacan (who attended the conference) to work together in finding ways to strengthen bilateral economic relations and to promote economic development in the Balkan region.

    Mr Babacan stressed there were substantial growth prospects to promoting bilateral relations, based on the existing friendship and cooperation relations between Greece and Turkey. He also expressed his optimism over finding a solution to the Cyprus problem, based on the common will of the two governments.

    [13] Soros urges businesses to invest in Southeast Europe

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    US investor George Soros on Friday urged international business community to invest in Southeast European markets and announced plans to create a second venture capital fund to promote investments in countries in the region.

    Addressing a World Economic Forum conference, held for the first time in Athens, Mr Soros said that his new fund would give priority to investments in telecommunications, cable television and consumer product companies in Southeastern Europe.

    Mr Soros underlined that the World Economic Forum should send a clear message to a forthcoming EU Summit in Thessaloniki next month, for a more energetic participation of Europe in the economic developments of Southeastern Europe and to promoting initiatives to enhance cooperation between countries in the region.

    The US investor said that the Greek EU presidency was successful and creative amid a difficult period because of the war in Iraq, and political tensions between EU and the US and between EU member-states.

    Mr Soros declined to comment on the Greek stock market saying "I know very little about the Greek market, I cannot make any comments on that".

    The conference was attended by two heads of state, five prime ministers, 20 cabinet ministers and 300 businessmen from 31 countries around the world.

    [14] OTENET's connection with int'l internet web mostly re-constituted

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) internet provider OTENET began to gain access again to the international internet web on Friday, following the loss the Flag, SMW2, SMW3, Colombus2 and other communications cables that are traversing the Mediterranean.

    OTENET was unable to provide services for its clients on Thursday due to the earthquake in Algeria, that damaged the aforementioned international cables

    Other internet providers did not lose access and continued to provide regular services to their clients.

    [15] Greek companies investing in Cyprus on the rise

    NICOSIA 24/05/2003 (ANA-G.Leonidas /CNA)

    Economic and commercial relations between Cyprus and Greece are gradually improving, while investments are also on the rise, Greece's Ambassador to Cyprus Christos Panagopoulos said on Friday.

    Speaking during a press conference on the occasion of the opening of the Cyprus International Fair, Panagopoulos said an example of the rise in investments is the fact that two Greek companies, which are operating in Cyprus, have invested 130 million Euros.

    Panagopoulos said that with Cyprus' accession to the Economic and Monetary Union in the next two years, following its full accession to the EU in May 2004, ''there will be a rise in the economic and commercial relations of Cyprus''.

    The Greek ambassador referred to the firm policy of the governments of Greece and Cyprus to strengthen as much as possible relations in the economic and commercial sectors.

    He said the result of this policy was that the two countries have managed to build a framework in which businesses can operate easier, leading to a rise in Cypriots investing in Greece.

    Panagopoulos said that many Greek companies have chosen to invest in Cyprus, bearing in mind that with its accession, the island can become a bridge for markets in the wider region.

    A total of 24 Greek companies are exhibiting products in the Greek pavilion. Greece has been participating at the International Fair since 1976.

    [16] Meeting on closure of Schiesser Pallas unit in Greece fruitless

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Representatives of the labor ministry, the Schiesser Pallas and the workers of the company's production unit in Greece met on Friday, but their attempts to keep the plant open failed.

    The company's representatives insisted on their positions to close the unit, adding, however, that extra cash would be paid as compensation to older workers and those with greater needs.

    The labor ministry, on its part, announced that it will continue its efforts to keep the plant open, but in case that proves impossible it will support the fired workers with re-training programs or with funds to start their own businesses.

    [17] Attica local authorities send letter to PM over 3rd CSF

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    In a letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Friday, the union of Attica local authorities asked him to take steps to facilitate the implementation of the 3rd Community Support Framework and to simplify the bureaucratic procedures involved. They claimed that these were too difficult and onerous for local authorities and prevented the rapid absorption of the funds available.

    Copies of the letter were also sent to Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Interior and Public Administration Minister Costas Skandalidis.

    [18] SE European countries to set up tourism council

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Tourism ministers from Southeast European countries on Friday signed a memorandum of cooperation in Athens, envisaging - among others - the creation of an Inter-Balkan Council for tourism affairs.

    The memorandum was signed in the framework of a tourism ministers' meeting chaired by Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.

    Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Mr Tsohatzopoulos said that the ministers agreed to a creation of a cooperation forum with the aim to promote tourist product in the wider Balkan region.

    The forum's responsibility would be to support ministerial meetings that would take all policy decisions, Mr Tsohatzopoulos stressed. Greece will head the first ministers' council presidency, that will last for 12 months.

    A first example of the will to promote cooperation in the region is a decision to set up a joint gastronomy centre, to be based in Komotini, northern Greece, and to print a joint bulletin on tourism in Southeast European countries.

    [19] Greek consumers complain over slimming center services

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek consumers were increasingly complaining over bad services offered by slimming centers in the country, an INKA report said on Friday.

    The General Federation of Greek Consumers, in its monthly report, called the slimming center sector as the "disgrace of the market".

    INKA said that from a total 36,615 complaints filed with Greek consumers, of which 9,776 last year, pushing the sector to the third position with more complaints in the country. Consumer complaints for slimming center services exceeded 5,050 in the first four months of 2003, INKA said.

    [20] ASE ends below 1,700 level on Friday

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended lower in the last trading session of the week in the Athens Stock Exchange pushing the general index below the 1,700 support level.

    The index fell 0.54 percent to end at 1,690.93 points, for a net loss of 3.43 percent in the week.

    Turnover was a moderate 104.4 million euros.

    The Holding, IT Solution and Construction sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (2.05 percent, 1.53 percent and 1.51 percent, respectively), while the Cement, Investment and Textile sectors scored the biggest gains (1.74 percent, 1.39 percent and 1.06 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 0.58 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.71 percent lower, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.96 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 0.65 percent down.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 227 to 87 with another 48 issues unchanged.

    [21] Olympics ticket-sale methods comply with EU competition rules, Commission says

    BRUSSELS, 24/05/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)

    Ticket-sale methods for the Athens Olympics in 2004 complied with European Union competition rules, the European Commission announced here on Friday.

    A Commission spokesman said that the Commission had agreed to investigate the issue so as to avoid problems such as those that arose during the World Soccer Championship held in France in 1998, where the organizing committee had indirectly discriminated against foreign nationals by demanding that they provide an address in France that tickets might be sent to.

    He also noted that the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) had sought the European Commission's sanction for the ticket sale mechanisms used in the Athens Games and had made modifications based on the Commission's recommendations for sales over the Internet and through national Olympic Committees in the 15 EU member-states, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

    [22] ATHOC head in Larissa to inaugurate Olympic Support Bureau

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The head of the organizing committee for the Athens Olympics in 2004, Gianna Angelopoulos, on Friday visited Larissa in central Greece to inaugurate the first of 43 Olympic Support Bureaus that will be set up throughout Greece in order to boost enthusiasm and involvement in the Olympics in Greek regions.

    The bureaus will be responsible for providing prompt and reliable information on tickets, the volunteer program, supply tenders and other activities related to the 2004 Games.

    Arriving in Larissa, the head of ATHOC met the presidency of the Union of Thessaly Industries and Larissa Mayor Costas Tzanakoulis and afterwards took part in a dinner given jointly by the industrial and local authorities unions of the region at Larissa Fort.

    In her address at the dinner, Angelopoulos stressed the initiatives begun by local business people and noted that ATHOC had made a commitment in cooperation memoranda signed with the city to prefer Greek enterprises in supply tenders where this was possible.

    She also noted that Larissa would be an integral part of the ''Olympic festival'' since it would host a number of athletes using the training facilities in the area.

    Finally, she announced that the Olympic Torch would be passing through the city on its way to Athens.

    The ceremony to inaugurate the Olympics Support Bureau will take place at 8:30 on Friday night.

    [23] Olympic Games security exercise held in five cities

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The fourth Olympic Games security exercise codenamed ''Lernea Hydra 2003'' was held at a downtown Athens hotel on Friday and at the same time, for the first time, in the four other Olympic Games cities (Thessaloniki, Patra, Volos and Irakleio) through a teleconference system.

    Officers of the Olympic Games' main security bodies, the armed forces and the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, as well as officials from services involved and the press and information ministry participated in the exercise.

    The exercise was carried out with a simulation of events in an actual Olympic Games environment.

    [24] EQUAL - Conference on immigrant incorporation policies held on Friday in Athens

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The incorporation of immigrants in local communities and the advancement of migrant support practices was the focus of a conference organized on Friday at the Chamber of Commerce in Athens within the framework of activities of the Developmental Collaboration for Equality and Social Cohesion of the European Union's EQUAL program.

    Opening the conference, Athens News Agency General Director Andreas Christodoulides stressed the importance of the Conference and the goal set by everyone for the best possible incorporation of immigrants in the communities of their adopted country.

    ''With millions of Greeks having made a second home in Canada, the US, Australia, Germany and many other faraway lands, we have a duty to embrace and support all those who have selected Greece as their adopted country'', Christodoulides said.

    Moreover, he referred to significant steps taken in that direction by the Developmental Collaboration, such as the establishment and operation of reception offices for immigrants, the operation of an electronic observatory and the provision of legal and social support.

    In a message addressed to the Collaboration, European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulos congratulated the effort and called it a ''valuable tool within the framework of the EU's Equal initiative''.

    ''The United Europe wants a comprehensive immigration policy in a common area of people movement, freedom, justice and security'', the Commissioner said.

    The European Union's EQUAL initiative is funded by the European Social Fund and examines ways of eliminating discrimination and inequalities faced by workers and individuals seeking work.

    There are 24 agencies participating in the EQUAL program in Greece under the overall coordination of the Athens News Agency (ANA).

    [25] Red Cross president gets four-year suspended sentence for breach of faith

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    A Three-member Appeals court on Friday passed a four-year suspended jail sentence on Hellenic Red Cross president Andreas Martinis after finding him guilty on charges of breach of faith.

    The court said that Martinis and another 23 members of the Hellenic Red Cross board were guilty of two acts of breach of faith concerning the sale of bequests given to the organization for use in the construction of the ''Errikos Dynan'' hospital in Athens, and for fees paid to unnecessary outside associates.

    The court passed three-year jail sentences suspended for three years on each of the 23 members of the Red Cross board.

    The public prosecutor on the bench had asked for the acquittal of all the accused in the case, who told the court they were proud of having built the ultra-modern ''Errikos Dynan'' hospital.

    [26] Suspected ELA terrorist released on bail; new N17 suspect denies charges

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Special Examining Magistrate for terrorist crimes Leonidas Zervobeakos on Friday order the release from prison of Christos Tsigaridas, one of the suspects arrested in connection with the terrorist group Revolutionary People's Struggle (ELA), sources said.

    Tsigaridas is currently being treated at Evangelismos Hospital, where he was taken after suffering a stroke.

    Sources said he had been ordered to post bail of 20,000 euros and to report to a police station in his area twice a month, while he has been forbidden to leave the country.

    According to the same sources, meanwhile, a man arrested on Thursday as a suspected member of the urban guerrilla group "November 17", Kostas Avramidis, was still being held at the anti-terrorist squad's lockup until he appeared before Zervobeakos to respond to the charges against him.

    In statements to reporters, Avramidis' lawyer said his client denied all involvement with the terrorist organization and that the evidence in police hands did not support the charges against him.

    Avramidis was arrested outside his home in the Zografou area on Thursday, while local residents said there had been a strong police presence in the neighborhood over the last three months.

    At the time Avramidis' was brought in, anti-terrorist squad officers also confiscated documents, books, a computer and disks from his home to be examined in police crime labs.

    [27] N17 trial adjourned until Monday

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The trial of 19 suspected members of the terrorist group ''November 17'' did not resume as planned after a 48-hour lawyers' strike on Friday, but was adjourned until the following Monday because of the death of a close relative of Justice Nikos Zairis, a member of the panel of three judges that are trying the case.

    [28] AHEPA to hold conference in Athens on Saturday

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) will begin a conference at Athens' Old Parliament at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

    The speakers will expound on various themes such as ''Hellenism and globalism'', ''Greek values and globalization'', ''Communication in the ecumenical village'', ''Greek-American relations in the course of history'', ''Pax Americana and international relations'' and ''Globalization of markets or ecumenical values?''

    On Saturday evening the Onassis Foundation will be given an award, while a round table discussion will follow on the theme ''The role of science in Euro-American relations''.

    [29] Greek railway workers' donations for Iraq relief operations

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The panhellenic federation of railway employees on Friday donated 15,000 euros for the people of Iraq and another 3,000 euros to the organization Medecins du Monde to help their relief efforts in the war-torn country.

    At an event on Friday, Federation chairman Epaminondas Koukos presented a check for 15,000 euros to the president of UNICEF's Greek chapter, Lambros Kanellopoulos, who said that the sensitivity and humanitarian sentiments of the Greek working people and trade unions was once again reflected in the humanitarian aid they have provided.

    Kanellopoulos said that the primary aim of UNICEF in Iraq was to ensure that the children would cease to be at risk of dying from malnutrition, given that cholera in the towns of Basra and Baghdad had assumed uncontrollable dimensions, making the delivery of potable water to hospitals and other institutions in Iraq an urgent necessity.

    Socrates Mitsiadis, a founding member of Medecins du Monde, thanked the federation members for their contribution, noting that the organization’s direct aid to Iraq so far, with the assistance of the Greek citizens, consisted of the dispatch of 20 containers comprising 44 tons of humanitarian aid.

    The organization’s main goal, he continued, was to transfer seriously injured children to Greece for treatment and rehabilitation, given that most of those children had been maimed or severely burned, in tandem with psychological support. Mitsiadis added that the foreign ministry as well as the health ministry were cooperating with the organization on the program.

    [30] Humanitarian aid from Greece, Cyprus departing for Iraq on Saturday

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The third consignment of humanitarian aid from Greece and Cyprus will be sent to the war-battered people of Iraq in a C-130 military transport plane departing on Saturday, a foreign ministry announcement said.

    "We support the people of Iraq in this time of difficulty in every possible way," Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said in the announcement.

    He said the government would not stint on efforts to ensure that the aid collected with care by Greeks and Cypriots would reach its final destination.

    "It is our obligation and commitment that this aid will reach the places where there is need as soon as possible," he said.

    [31] Two Greek air force transport planes carry humanitarian aid to Algiers

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Two Greek air force C-130 transport planes left Elefsina airbase on Friday afternoon, carrying humanitarian aid to Algiers by decision of Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou in the framework of aid offered to the suffering people of Algeria.

    Twenty men of the EMAK special rescue unit, equipped with sonars and two tracked vehicles are going to Algiers, as well as eight volunteers of the non-governmental organization ''Greek Rescue Team'', two university professors and EU experts.

    The two planes are expected back late on Friday night.

    Two more flights with C-130 transport aircraft are also scheduled on Saturday, carrying an additional number of volunteers and humanitarian aid.

    The health ministry is providing 300 tents, 500 blankets, pharmaceuticals and bandages. The armed forces are also sending a large quantity of foodstuffs, blankets and pharmaceuticals.

    Another C-130 flight is scheduled for Amman, Jordan, on Saturday to carry clothing and pharmaceuticals collected by the Athens prefecture for the relief of the people of Iraq.

    [32] Venizelio hospital receives EU distinction for its health info network

    BRUSSELS 24/05/2003 (ANA – A. Simatos)

    Venizelio Regional Hospital of Iraklio’s (Crete) regional health information network (HYGEIANET), received an honorary distinction on Friday during a special event organized in the Belgian capital.

    The distinction, along with another three on e-health and another four prizes “e-Europe in e-health” were awarded in the context of a high-level conference on Electronic Health, organized by the Greek EU presidency and the European Commission.

    The awards were handed out by Enterprise and Information Society Commission Erkki Liikanen, Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne, Greek Health Minister Costas Stefanis and Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Manolis Stratakis. Stefanis, who chaired the conference, issued a ministerial declaration on behalf of the EU Presidency, which was agreed by the 33 ministers from EU, European Economic Area and acceding countries attending the conference on e-Health.

    Having seen for themselves the best e-Health practices already implemented in Europe and the benefits these have brought in terms of cost savings, improved quality and access to care, ministers expressed their renewed commitment to developing national and regional e-Health implementation plans, and to exploring the possibilities for co-coordinating these at European level.

    [33] EU ministers discuss IT contribution to the health sector

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Deputy Transport and Communications Minister Manolis Stratakis on Friday told an EU ministers' meeting in Brussels on the ''Contribution of Information and Communication Technology in the Health Sector'', that Greece, due to its geographical particularities has placed great emphasis on the development of telematic and electronic health, as well as on comprehensive regional networks in the health sector.

    A Greek EU presidency initiative, the conference is aimed at underlining the importance of Electronic Health in the provision of quality health services to all citizens and identify policies that will accelerate progress in that sector.

    [34] EU culture ministers' informal council in Thessaloniki on 25 May

    Athens,24/05/2003 (ANA)

    The formulation of a European cultural identity in the enlarged Europe of the ''25'' is the focus an informal meeting of the EU culture ministers' council to be held in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on 25 through 27 May, a Greek culture ministry press bulletin said on Friday.

    The meeting, which will be chaired by Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos - whose country currently holds the EU presidency - will also discuss the place that culture and cultural policy will have in the future European Constitution, a draft of which will be presented by Convention for the Future of Europe President Valery Giscard d' Estaing at the upcoming European Summit in Thessaloniki in June, the bulletin said.

    [35] Greek Cypriots make historic visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate,

    ISTANBUL 24/05/2003 (ANA-A. Kourkoulas)

    About 300 Greek Cypriots made a historic visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on Friday. It was the first such visit by Greek Cypriots after many decades.

    ''In the mind of every Greek and every Cypriot is to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate because it is the daily life of our church. I'm very moved,'' Androula Kouma, one of the visitors, said.

    Receiving the pilgrims, Patriarch Vartholomeos said ''now God deigned for the doors to open, for the walls to fall and for the peoples and religions to forge ahead together for a happier future.''

    ''We entered the church different people and come out different people,'' the general secretary of the Pancyprian Association of Paramedics, Andreas Koufis, said.

    The group of visitors were members of the Pancyprian Association of Paramedics who took part in the 30th Panhellenic Paramedics Conference which was organized by the Panhellenic Association of Paramedics in Alexandroupoli, northern Greece.

    The visit to Istanbul was planned before the change in Turkish policy was known, which henceforth allowed to citizens of the Republic of Cyprus to visit Turkey, taking visas either from the airports of Turkey or at the Turkish consulates. The group of paramedics arranged their visit to Turkey through the Turkish Embassy in Athens.

    [36] Foreign minister: right to appeal against Turkey safeguarded

    LARNACA 24/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has said that Turkey cannot take away from Greek Cypriots the right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to claim their properties, in the areas of Cyprus under Turkish occupation since 1974.

    He also said that given the unwillingness of the Turkish side to return to the negotiating table, at present there is no particular reason to press for the resumption of negotiations on the Cyprus question.

    The minister was speaking on Friday on his way to Athens to meet his New Zealand counterpart and then fly to Crete to attend the Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers meeting from May 26-27.

    ''The European Court has ruled in two different cases that Turkey through the presence of its troops exercises effective control in the areas of Cyprus it occupied and is responsible for what happens there,'' the minister said, commenting on plans by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to pay compensation to Greek Cypriots property owners through ''special courts'' operating in occupied Cyprus.

    He pointed out that the Court judgments described the Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus ''a local subordinate admini-stration'' to Turkey and a non-recognised administration by international law.

    ''Turkey cannot through such moves to remove the right to individual appeal to the Court by Greek Cypriots, the legal owners of property in the occupied areas,'' Iacovou said.

    Commenting on the prospects of resuming peace talks, he welcomed Thursday's remarks by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis that there is no point in beginning a fresh round of talks unless the Turkish side changes its positions on Cyprus, which continues to back the creation of two states on the island and refuses to negotiate on the basis of a UN proposal.

    He said that the Greek Cypriot side has repeatedly expressed its readiness to resume talks under the good offices mission of the UN Secretary General on the basis of Kofi Annan's peace plan.

    The Crete meeting will assess EU enlargement in relation to the role of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in reducing tensions following the war in Iraq and discuss the continuing uncertainty in the Middle East peace process. The minister returns on Tuesday night.

    [37] DIKO and RTP discuss measures

    NICOSIA 24/05/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Issues regarding the measures which the European Commission intends to announce early next month to support Turkish Cypriots in the occupied areas of Cyprus as well as the measures which the Cyprus government has already announced, were examined during a meeting here Friday between Democratic Party (DIKO) Deputy President Nicos Kleanthous and Republican Turkish Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat.

    The Turkish Cypriot politician said they examined ''many issues

    regarding the Cyprus problem,'' noting ''we have some problems about the practice of the measures which we face everyday, implementation of course of the problems which are coming from Greek Cypriot departments.''

    Asked about the EU measures, Talat said the Turkish Cypriots are not aware of what they exactly are but from press reports ''it seems they would be a bit problematic in the sense of having the necessity to carry goods to be exported from Greek Cypriot ports.''

    ''In practice we will face problems but of course we will be very glad if we can find ways for Turkish Cypriot products to be exported,'' Talat said, noting that ''free movement of goods throughout the island will be very important and especially if Turkish Cypriot produce'' could be available in the free areas of the Republic.

    Commenting on Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's reaction to the measures, Talat said it was ''based on short pieces of information'' and ''his intuition.''

    Denktash rejected the EU measures for the Turkish Cypriots, despite the fact that they have not been announced yet.

    Talat further expressed the view that the European Union should adjust its law according to the situation in the Turkish-occupied areas.

    ''Laws are for human beings and for social life so they are shaped according to the realities. Okay it is true that European legislation is there but they have ways to accommodate our conditions,'' Talat said.

    He said there could be some kind of ''giving, conceding some powers and competences to organizations,'' for instance the document of origin to be given by the Turkish Cypriot chamber of commerce.

    To a question that he is accused of trying to get votes from the Turkish settlers in his effort to win the so-called ''elections'' in the occupied areas in December, Talat said ''of course we want their votes and we got already a lot of support from the people who originally came from Turkey because they are human beings also.''

    He said his party ''always defended their (Turkish settlers') rights, despite of the fact that they are one of the issues to be tackled in a Cyprus solution.'' Talat said he considers the settlers' issue a humanitarian problem.

    In his statements, Kleanthous said that the measures which the government announced to support Turkish Cypriots, as well as those which the EU will announce, would give a new dynamic in efforts to solve the Cyprus problem.

    Some 80,000 Turkish settlers in addition to 35,000 Turkish troops have outnumbered the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied territory.

    Some 120,000 Turkish Cypriots, making up 18 percent of the island's population, lived in this east Mediterranean island before the 1974 Turkish invasion. Their number has shrunk to some 60,000 according to Turkish Cypriot estimations.

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