|Tuesday, 14 July 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-05-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 29, 2003
 PM says Greece will help Canada in bid for investments in Balkan countries
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Wednesday Greece intends to help Canada in its bid for investments in Balkan countries, adding that it looks forward to closer cooperation on economic, trade and transaction issues. Simitis held talks with his Canadian counterpart Jean Chretien, who is visiting Athens as of Tuesday in the framework of the summit with the European Union. Chretien extended an official invitation to Simitis to visit Canada. Talks between the two prime ministers focused on the Balkans, and the sensitive region of Kosovo in particular, prospects for Cyprus and relations between Greece and Turkey.
PM says Greece will help Canada in bid for investments in Balkan countries: The talks, which took place at the Maximos Mansion, were also attended by the foreign ministers of Canada and Greece, Bill Graham and George Papandreou respectively.
Simitis said in statements afterwards that Canada's participation with peacekeeping forces in the region of Kosovo gives the country direct involvement in developments.
The Greek prime minister said bilateral relations between Greece and Canada are excellent and there are strong feelings of friendship for the country hosting a big community of Greeks, helping it to become incorporated and to develop.
He added that Canada should constitute a model for the European Union on the issue of the incorporation of immigrants who are currently increasing in number in Europe.
The Canadian prime minister said the situation in the Balkans was discussed at length since he wanted to have a clear picture of the region from the Greek authorities.
He placed emphasis on the fact that there is a big Greek community in his country and so he feels particularly close to Greece.
On the question of criticism he received from the White House's press spokesman for remarks he made on Tuesday regarding his differentiation from the United States, Chretien said he discussed the economic state of America in light of the G8 summit, since economic stability in the region is an issue of primary importance.
He added that he cannot understand why the Americans are annoyed by criticism made by him of their economy in good faith and which is not personal.
Chretien further said Canada is being criticized for not investing a great deal of money in defense, adding that the struggle against terrorism after September 11 has increased Canada's expenditures with its participation in the alliance against terrorism in the region of Afghanistan.
 Simitis, Chretien, Prodi underline good EU-Canada relations
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis, currently the European Council president in-office, at a post EU-Troika - Canada Summit press conference on Wednesday, held jointly with Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien and European Commission President Romano Prodi, underlined the good EU-Canada relations and collaboration on international policy issues.
The Greek premier said discussions at the meeting had focused on developments in the Middle East and cooperation of the international community for the reconstruction of Iraq within the framework of the United Nations, and that various Canada and EU subjects had been discussed on the level of cultural and student exchanges.
Simitis said the EU had followed a policy similar to that of Canada vis-a-vis the US-British-led war on Iraq, since it believes in an institutional role for the UN on international issues.
On his part, the Canadian prime minister referred to the large Greek community in Canada, the international and bilateral issues that he discussed with Simitis and Prodi, and stressed discussions had been carried out in a very positive climate.
The president of the European Commission placed emphasis on cooperation between Canada and the European Commission on the promotion of a UN resolution regarding postwar reconstruction of Iraq, and stressed that the UN did not play any role in the war on Iraq and that it was time to regain its place in the international community.
''We appreciate all efforts for upgrading the UN'', Prodi said.
Prodi slams draft EU Constitution at joint EU-Canada press conference in Athens: President of the European Commission Romano Prodi, at a joint press conference held on the occasion of the EU (Troika)-Canada Summit, referred, inter alia, on the Convention for the Future of Europe, launched criticism on the draft European Constitution, and warned that the clause it contained on majority voting failed to promote the vision of the Nice Treaty.
''In the meetings I had with the Prime Ministers of Greece and Canada, I had the opportunity to discuss the situation on the Convention for the Future of Europe,'' the European Commission president said, adding ''I have to honestly admit that the draft text presented by the Presidium of the Convention is a disappointment. Despite all the hard work we have all put into this, the text that's now before us simply lacks vision and ambition.''
''It does not solve the problems created by the Treaty of Nice. On he contrary, it is in some respect a step backwards: for example in the area of majority voting where the Union has to move forward to avoid paralysis,'' Prodi went on.
''I want to say this as a wake-up call for the members of the Convention. We cannot let ourselves become victims or hostages of a text that fails to propose solutions, that threatens to paralyze Europe,'' he concluded.
EU Troika meet with Canadian FM Graham, discuss Mideast, Iraq: The Middle East and Iraq were the focus of a meeting in Athens on Wednesday between the European Union 'Troika' and visiting Canadian foreign minister William Graham, who is accompanying prime minister Jean Chretien on an official two-day visit here.
The Troika, comprising the foreign minister of current EU president Greece, George Papandreou, the EU's High Representative for foreign relations Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for external policy Chris Patten, met with Graham at the Zappeion Hall for talks that centered on the situation in the Middle East and in Iraq.
 PM says Turkish military chief reiterating Turkey's known positions of the past
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Prime Minister and European Union Council President Costas Simitis, commenting on recent statements by Turkish armed forces chief Hilmi Ozkiok, said on Wednesday he is reiterating Turkey's known positions of the past.
Simitis also said discussions have been made on the issue in the EU and decisions have been taken. He further said the decision has been taken that these issues must be settled and resolved by 2004.
The prime minister said that, consequently, both Greece and the EU will continue smoothly the relation with Turkey, waiting for it to respond to its obligations.
 ND responds with more criticism to PM's Tuesday charges
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) on Wednesday was quick to respond to Prime Minister Costas Simitis’ scathing attack a day earlier, with a party spokesman demanding that the premier identify each and every one of the “business interests” he claims are threatening his government.
Speaking to ruling PASOK party joint Parliamentary group and central committee meeting on Tuesday in Athens, Simitis attributed the negative climate on the domestic front to a ''carefully orchestrated attack'' from main opposition ND and big business, an attack he said aimed to prevent the government from completing its work.
ND spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos said the economy is a political issue, while stressing that a new economic policy is needed and that a new ND government will solve the problems accumulated by consecutive PASOK governments.
The statements came after a meeting of the main opposition’s sector heads.
Deputy George Alogoskoufis, who heads ND’s economic sector, said it was “reasonable” for his party to want the PASOK government’s demise, as the latter has failed miserably, while the economy has turned into Simitis’ “Achilles heal”.
“Instead of problems the only thing the prime minister sees is conspiracies,” Alogoskoufis said.
Finally, high-ranking deputy Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the prime minister is unwilling to “accept reality” or criticism.
“All he has to do is see who supported him and who is supporting him in order to understand who the vested big business interests are,” Pavlopoulos said.
 'Sariza' military exercise concludes in N. Greece
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The latest three-branch military exercise wound up this week in northern Greece, with President Kostis Stephanopoulos among the official observers of the maneuvers.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the “Sariza” exercise, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou again commented on the latest and stepped up violations of Greek air space over the Aegean by Turkish warplanes, noting that Athens’ efforts at rapprochement with Ankara have so far “not paid off”
“Conversely, we’ve ascertained an increased aggressiveness on the side of Turkey, which emphasizes tension in bilateral relations and gives rise to dangers,” he said.
The exercise was also observed by the German Chief of Federal Armed Forces Staff, Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan.
 Chairman of NATO military committee Gen. Kujat due in Athens
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee (CMC), General Harald Kujat, was due to arrive in Athens on Thursday on a two-day official visit at the invitation of Greece's National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) chief Gen. George Antonakopoulos.
While in Athens, Kujat would meet with the Armed Forces military leadership to discuss issues of military interest related to Greece's membership in the Alliance.
The Chairman of the Military Committee (CMC) is selected by the Chiefs of Defense of the NATO member states for a three year term of office. He acts exclusively in an international capacity and his authority stems from the Military Committee, to which he is responsible in the performance of his duties. He normally chairs all meetings of the Military Committee.
The Military Committee, comprising the chiefs of defense (CHoD) of the Alliance member countries, is the highest military authority in NATO, working under the overall political authority of the North Atlantic Council, the Defense Planning Committee (DPC) and the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG).
 Karamanlis issues message to mark anniversary of Greece's EU accession
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)On the occasion of the 24th anniversary since Greece signed its then European Communities accession treaty, on May 28, 1979, main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis issued an announcement on Wednesday in which he stressed that the anniversary marked a day of celebration and memory.
“It is a day of celebration because this anniversary coincides with the year of Europe’s reunion and Cyprus’ accession into the EU. The new Europe of 25 member-states and 480 million people is the best proof of the strength of European values, which firstly flourished in Greece,” Karamanlis remarked in his statement.
He further added that it was a day of memory, as all Greeks remember that their country managed through adverse conditions to enter into a supranational scheme of partnership and stability.
“Europe is now on the eve of the submission of a draft plan for a Constitutional Treaty. Our country is called upon to preserve its interests in creating a future Europe having an equal representation ... a Europe that will in no way harm the fundamental value of equality of the nations making it up”, concluded the opposition leader.
 Pangalos: Those responsible for bring Ocalan into Greece not in the dock
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The people that were truly responsible for smuggling rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan into Greece were not sitting in the prisoners' dock, former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos said on Wednesday.
Pangalos, who lost his post as foreign minister over the Ocalan affair, was testifying before a mixed jury court in the trial of 13 people accused of illegally bring Ocalan to Greece in January 1999 and disrupting the country's harmonious foreign relations.
He also claimed that the state's chief suspect, retired Navy Captain Antonis Naxakis, had played a ''technical role'' in bringing Ocalan into the country and had been misled into believing that granting the Kurdish leader political asylum would be a simple formality, since his arrival had been preceded by a vociferous movement to allow Ocalan entry supported by MPs, journalists and others.
In this Naxakis had miscalculated, since accepting Ocalan would have turned Greece into another Iraq and cost the country its place in Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), Pangalos said.
The arrival of the head of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) had put Greece in a very awkward position and exposed it to a possible invasion from Turkey, while Ocalan refused to follow a program worked out by the Greek side, Pangalos noted.
The PKK leader was eventually captured by Turkish intelligence forces in Kenya, where he had taken refuge in the Greek Embassy.
Pangalos refused to reveal more details about the Greek program and also refused to comment on a text sent by Ocalan from a Turkish jail, noting that this had been approved by Turkish authorities, while he advised the court against adopting the statements contained within it.
Finally, he said the charges against author Voula Damianakou were unfair, since she was being made to suffer for offering humanitarian assistance to a person who had been in need.
The court next heard testimony from Alekos Papadopoulos, who had been interior minister at the time of the incident. Papadopoulos said the government's official position had been that Ocalan was not welcome in Greece.
He described Naxakis' decision to smuggle the fugitive PKK leader into Greece as a ''mistake,'' and a bad estimate the entire situation surrounding around the Ocalan issue.
According to the former minister, Naxakis had acted under ''strong emotional charge'' and, in his opinion, had not intended to harm Greek interests.
Regarding his own actions once Ocalan's arrival became known, Papadopoulos said he had immediately ordered an investigation and the arrest of all employees involved, since the country had found itself in a very difficult position.
Next on the stand was former MP Costas Badouvas, who said Naxakis had acted solely on his own initiative in the affair.
The trial was adjourned until Friday, when the former head of the Greek intelligence service (EYP) Haralambos Stavrakakis and former EYP agent Savvas Kalenteridis are expected to testify, along with cabinet secretary Sokratis Kosmidis.
 Gov't on Mitsotakis quip regarding judicial investigation
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The government on Wednesday mostly brushed off speculation by the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party regarding early elections in the fall.
In another matter, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said the government is in no position to select who is assigned judicial investigations, a reply to a high-profile comment by ND honorary president and former premier Constantine Mitsotakis on Tuesday
Mitsotakis stressed that an appellate level magistrate should have been assigned the controversial case dealing with allegations against local IT magnate Socrates Kokkalis, a case that was eventually shelved.
 Canadian FM signs Olympic Truce Statement
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Visiting Canadian Foreign Minister William Graham signed the Statement of World Personalities in Support of the Olympic Truce Initiative in the presence of his Greek counterpart George Papandreou in Athens on Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, Papandreou referred to the idea of truce from ancient times, that is, the halting of wars throughout the duration of the Olympic Games and expressed the hope that this idea will be able to be perpetuated.
On his part, the Canadian foreign minister hailed the effort for the revival of the idea because, as he said, the Olympic Games are not just sport, they are also the laying down of arms, because during the sport events, arms should be laid down.
 Greece spends same percentage of GDP for pensions as other EU countries
BRUSSELS 29/05/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)The level of expenditures for pensions in Greece is about at the same level, as a percentage of GDP, as that of the other European Union member-states, that is in the region of 12.5 percent.
This is noted in a report by the European Statistical Service (Eurostat) on welfare expenditures in EU member-states, publicized here on Wednesday.
The report says that expenditures for pensions corresponded in Greece to 11.1 percent of GDP in 1991, 11.3 in 1993, 11.7 in 1997 and 12.5 in 2000.
Regarding the 15 EU member-states, expenditures for pensions corresponded on average to 12 percent of the average GDP of the EU in 1991, to 12.9 in 1993, 12.9 in 1997 and 12.5 in 2000.
The highest percentage of expenditures for pensions among EU member-states, as a percentage of GDP, appeared in 2000 in Italy with 14.7 percent and the lowest in Ireland with 3.6 percent.
 Greece to set up new supervisory authority for insurance market
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Wednesday presented a plan to set up an independent supervisory authority to supervise the domestic insurance and re-insurance sector.
The plan envisages the creation of an independent legal agency, based on the standards of Greece's Capital Markets' Commission, and the set up of a new coordinating body between all independent authorities to supervise the country's financial and insurance market.
Mr Tsohatzopoulos said the plan would be debated with other government ministries and announced that a final proposal would be ready in about a month. The biggest issue of the debate, however, is expected to be which ministry will be responsible for the new agency.
The Greek minister stressed that the new agency would ensure transparency in the market. The agency will have a nine-member board and its budget will be covered by both the state budget and a small percentage of the annual premium production in the country.
 Greek FinMin and Canadian minister for international trade meet in Athens
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Greek National Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency, on Wednesday met with Canadian Minister for International Trade Pierre Pettigrew and European Com-missioner for Trade Pascal Lamy within the framework of the EU-Canada Summit, a Greek finance ministry press release said.
At the meeting, participants discussed bilateral EU-Canada trade relations and the negotiations currently carried out at the World Trade Organization on the deregulation of international trade. All parties confirmed their common wish for the successful completion of the negotiations, the release said.
Both sides placed great emphasis on the growth dimension of this round of negotiations, as well as to the support of developing countries.
A bilateral issue central to discussions was also the advancement of an agreement to facilitate investments and trade. Both sides expressed warm support for such agreement, which is of particular interest for Greece since it would attract Canadian investment capital.
 E-commerce in Europe problematic, survey says
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)One in 10 European consumers who ordered a product through the Internet never received the product although he paid for it in advance, a pan-European research revealed on Wednesday.
The survey, compiled in the second half of 2002 by nine independent experts and presented on Wednesday in Düsseldorf, Germany, also showed that 34 percent of all orders made in the Internet were not serviced.
The survey showed that in cases of credit card payments, almost one in four (24 percent) debits was made at the time of the order, a policy creating serious problems to consumers as the delivery time was in some cases large enough and in other cases the product failed to be delivered at all.
One in three European consumers (31.5 percent) did not get a refund of money in cases of timely return of a product, while only 37 percent of return cases were fully compensated.
The survey showed that 7.0 percent of electronic shops failed to offer detailed information over the final cost of a product, with only 33 percent of e-shops offering easy access to price information to consumers.
The survey said that a 9.0 percent of e-shops failed to give their geographical address, while a 46 percent of total shops did not offer enough information on personal data protection policies.
''The findings and conclusions of the survey justify a relatively low degree of consumer confidence in transactions through the Internet and European and national legislative and administrative authorities still having a significant task ahead to ensure a stable operation of electronic commerce in Europe,'' Greece's largest consumer organization (INKA) said.
 Greek EU presidency - conference on aquiculture launched on Thursday in Athens
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Representatives from the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Commission on Regions, the governments of the EU's ''25'', along with leaders of production classes, environmental organizations and consumer organizations will assemble in Athens on Thursday and Friday to discuss the future of aquiculture in the EU, a Greek agriculture ministry press release said on Wednesday.
At an international conference organized by the Greek agriculture ministry within the framework of the Greek European Union presidency, participants will review European strategy prospects and goals for the development of the aquiculture sector and will focus on prospective policy, legislation and guidelines that could contribute to the development of aquiculture into an integrated economic activity, competitive and environmentally viable, the release said.
The Greek European Union presidency has already initiated relative discussions at the Council and the European Parliament, based on an announcement submitted by the European Commission in December regarding a strategy for the development of the aquiculture sector.
 Gov't reiterates claim of 'scandal-mongering' by hostile business circles
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The business interests that were stirring up scandals targeting the government had given themselves away through the timing, the content and the conduits they had used in their attacks, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Wednesday.
He was answering questions regarding the speech made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday to a joint meeting of PASOK's central committee and parliamentary group, in which he had claimed the existence of business interests that were seeking to undermine the government and prevent it from completing its program.
The spokesman also challenged main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis to openly name those he accused of graft and improper links with big business.
At the same time, he noted the government's efforts to keep business interests out of politics and invited ND to actively prove its desire to cooperate in achieving this goal.
He accused ND of not hesitating to present false facts to serve petty party-political ends and of adopting the ''most conservative and extreme positions that are identical to those of industry.''
''It is on these issues that our political differences are highlighted. It is time for ND to tell us its views on the economy. Its crocodile tears when there is a problem do not convince anyone,'' Protopapas concluded.
 Greece: equal treatment for Mediterranean products or no CAP reforms
29/05/2003(ANA)Greek Agriculture Minister George Drys, whose country currently holds the European Union presidency, on Wednesday said that despite lower than expected support from other Mediterranean countries, Greece has stated that Common Agricultural Policy reforms (CAP) were not going to be advanced if the same procedures that apply to milk, wheat and rice are not also followed for Mediterranean products.
Drys said that the Greek presidency had achieved an honest compromise with regard to agricultural reforms, and expressed his conviction that, for the first time, agricultural reforms would be completed during the presidency term of a member-state.
 Merchant marine minister announces grace period for shipping insurance mandate
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis on Wednesday announced that the government is allowing a six-month grace period for shipping companies to secure insurance coverage for passengers, crewmembers, cars and cargo they transport.
The relevant draft legislation allows for the grace period beginning in November.
The draft bill now in Parliament was approved by the plenum.
 Three new vessels raise the Greek flag
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Three new vessels raised the Greek flag, the country's Merchant Marine ministry said on Wednesday.
The new vessels are "Navios Aegean", a 29,400 gt carrier owned by Aegean Shipping Corporation and managed by Levant Maritime International SA, "Evnia", a 31,167 gt carrier currently under construction, owned by Tranquil Navigation Ltd and managed by Blue Planet Shipping Ltd, and "Danae", a 40,662 gt carrier owned by Eaton Marine SA and managed by Diana Shipping Agencies SA.
Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis thanked the three companies for their decision to raise the Greek flag on their ships.
 Economy minister addresses conference on 'Women's Entrepreneurship'
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The strengthening of the role of women constitutes a component element of the government's overall policy for the continuous modernization and long-term economic growth of Greece, Economy and Finance Minister Nicos Christodoulakis said at a conference in Athens on Wednesday on the theme ''Women's Entrepreneurship: From the idea to implementation''.
According to data cited by the minister, there has been a great increase in the entry of women in the labor market in Greece. The percentage of women's participation in employment in 1992 was 42 per cent, while in 2002 it reached 50 per cent.
At the same time, Christodoulakis said, the participation of women in all levels of education has markedly increased these past few years. In 2000, 8.4 per cent of the female population of working age was graduates of schools of higher education. In 2002, 19.5 per cent of employed women had degrees and post-graduate degrees.
The minister further noted that Greece had the highest percentage of self-employed women in the European Union (16.7 per cent).
However, Greek women have high percentages in overall un-employment (14.5 per cent compared to 6.4 per cent for men), and their position in the labor market remains disadvantageous in comparison with men, the minister said.
 Eurostat says Greece has low pc and internet use but extensive mobile phone use
BRUSSELS 29/05/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)Greece ranks among the European Union countries having a low level of personal computer and internet use, but it has an extensive number of mobile phone users, according to a report by the Eurostat service on new technologies in EU countries publicized here on Wednesday.
The report said that the number of personal computers in the EU increased by nine percent in 2001, while the Scandinavian countries, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have the highest percentages for every 100 inhabitants and Greece with eight computers for every 100 inhabitants and Portugal with 12 is distant from the EU average of 31 computers for every 100 inhabitants.
Regarding internet users, the highest percentages are found in Finland and the Netherlands (with 17.2 and 16.7 for every 100 inhabitants respectively), while the EU average is 3.4 users for every 100 inhabitants.
Italy has 1.2 users for every 100 inhabitants, France 1.3, Spain 1.4 and Greece 1.4 where only nine percent of households have access to the internet.
However, Greece ranks among countries having a high percentage of mobile phone users with 75.4 for every 100 inhabitants with the EU average being 73.5. The list is topped by Luxembourg with 98 out of 100.
 ASE surpasses 1,700 level again on Wednesday
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)A spectacular rebound of shares in the bank sector, led by a 4.97 percent jump in National Bank, pushed the Athens Stock Exchange above the 1,700 level on Wednesday.
A positive trend in other European bourses and a renewed buying activity in the domestic market helped the general index end 1.97 percent higher at 1,708.08 points.
All sector indices ended higher with the exception of telecommunications, which fell 0.32 percent pressured by a 1.54 percent drop in Hellenic Telecommunications Organization’s share price.
The Textile, Holding and IT Solution sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (6.24 percent, 4.49 percent and 4.06 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 2.21 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 2.29 percent higher, and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index jumped 3.22 percent.
Turnover was an improved 111.4 million euros. Broadly, advancers led decliners by 305 to 35 with another 24 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Trade at discount Wednesday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers slightly outpace sellers on Wednesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of May 28 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,183 1,156
 Delays in 2004 Olympics residence lease plan cited
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The two consortia selected to manage an ambitious Olympic residence leasing program for visitors to the 2004 Athens Olympics sounded alarm bells on Wednesday, as a presidential decree outlining the program’s specifications and conditions remains in the air.
The delay has also reportedly stalled the signing of a final agreement between the two consortia, led by Athens bourse-listed private banking groups Eurobank and Alpha, respectively, and the Athens 2004 Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC). Although the signing of the leasing agreement is a mostly symbolic act, the ongoing delay may also signal a deeper crisis or even an eventual withdrawal by the two parties, sources said here this week.
Under terms of the plan, the two groups are to evaluate, select and manage private residences leased to visitors prior to and during the hosting of the Athens Olympics – July and August 2004.
Representatives of the two consortia pointed directly at “foot-dragging” by the development ministry, whose portfolio includes tourism-related policy and regulatory authority.
Additionally, the two private concerns said a June 30, 2003 deadline for homeowners to submit necessary documentation is “unreasonable”, while warning of “excessive bureaucracy” in the envisioned procedure for leasing private residences.
Meanwhile, the association representing property owners also voiced its opposition to certain provisions in the expected agreement, namely, the exclusion of residences built before 1981, as well as residences described as “studio suites”. The property owners’ association (POMIDA) also cited excessive “red tape” because of eight separate documents needed for leasing each residence, and stressed that inspections of prospective “2004 residences” should be performed by officials from the consortia themselves and not by the state-run Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT).
The Olympic home leasing program aims to dramatically increase lodgings for the 2004 Olympic Games, in light of an expected shortage in accommodations during the competitions. Athens organizers have even booked 10 luxury cruise ships to host national Olympic committee delegations during the Games.
 Canadian PM believes Marbles issue should be promoted through UNESCO
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien believes that the issue for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece should be promoted through UNESCO and not be reduced to a pressure on the part of Ottawa towards London, the prime minister's foreign and defense policy adviser Claude Laverdure, said in Athens on Wednesday.
It concerns a clarification on the recent resolution by the Canadian Parliament urging the federal government to intervene with Great Britain for the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
 Swedish Committee organizes conference on return of Marbles
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The newly-established Swedish Committee for the return of the Parthenon Marbles has organized a conference titled ''To whom does the past belong? The case of the Parthenon Marbles.''
Well-known names of Swedish art and literature are members of the committee, according to a relevant announcement by Greece's culture ministry.
Greece's positions were outlined at the event by archaeologist Eleni Korka, who made a historical account of the bid to have the Marbles returned and referred to proposals for an exchange of works made to the British Museum by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
 FM addresses ''women & foreign policy'' conference in Athens
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday addressed an event of the Forum of Athens entitled ''Women, peace and foreign policy: the European prospect'' that was organized by the foreign ministry in light of the Greek EU presidency.
''The diplomacy of society, the diplomacy of citizens, of women, has a presence, has a proposal and its voice has to strengthen and have greater effect,'' Papandreou said, adding that ''the role of women is not just to participate in the centers of power for the promotion of peace, but to formulate the conditions, such as the improvement of human rights, stability, development and the consolidation of peace''.
He also referred to the efforts of the Greek EU presidency to promote the role of women in all foreign policy forums of the European Union.
Women from Greece, Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Iraq and Afghanistan are participating in the event.
 First defense witnesses take the stand in 'N17' trial
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The first of several expected defense witnesses in the closely watched “November 17” terrorism trial took the stand on Wednesday to detail what they called the troubled psychological state of one accused suspect following the killing of a bystander in 1992.
The brother of Costas Telios, Thanasis, said his brother experienced “panic attacks” following the death of a college student in downtown Athens in July 1992. Thanos Axarlian was killed when a rocket launched by the lethal terror group against a car carrying then finance minister Ioannis Paleokrassas missed its mark.
Telios, reportedly considered amongst the most cooperative of the 19 “N17” currently on trial at a specially modified jailhouse courtroom, was portrayed by his brother as “disturbed” and “frightened” after the Paleokrassas attack. Thanasis Telios also testified that his brother, an elementary school teacher, appeared “relieved” when the first arrests of suspected “N17” members were reported last summer, a development that led to his voluntary surrender.
Another man testified that Telios suffered from depression and had been under the care of a psychiatrist. “He obviously had a great weight on his chest, he felt remorse, concern about something he had done,” a friend of Telios, publisher Ilias Melios, said.
Earlier, a prosecution witness recognized Savvas and Vassilis Xiros as the two men he saw waiting in a mini-van near the spot where shipping executive Costis Peraticos was gunned down in May 1997.
The witness said he saw the two brothers on “two or three occasions” on the morning of May 28 and even spoke with them. Moreover, he said a third individual, a blonde woman in her 50s, was also in the mini-van with the Xiros brothers.
Following that testimony, Savvas Xiros engaged in yet another round of verbal sparring with the three-member appellate-level court’s presiding judge and prosecutor, with the former claiming that his confessions and the subsequent indictment were the product of “violence, threats and torture” along with a good dose of “fantasy that was supported by false witnesses.”
However, Xiros – whose botched bombing attempt and capture in July 2002 sparked an unprecedented investigation that led to 20 “N17” arrests – again accepted what he called “political responsibility” for the elusive ultra-leftist group’s actions.
“I accept the choices, principles, theoretical basis and visions of the organization as expressed in ‘November 17’s’ proclamations. I am proud of the acts in which I participated,” he told the court.
In response to Savvas Xiros’ latest statement, presiding judge Mihalis Margaritis shot back:
“Do not think you are addressing idiots. The serious manner in which a defendant is represented is significant. After all of this we cannot concern ourselves any more with this person (Xiros).
“Has anyone tortured you in this courtroom, Mr. Xiros? Did the prosecutor leave the bench and torture you?” Margaritis asked the defendant, one of three Xiros brothers on trial for numerous “N17”-related felonies.
“What I said was that the so-called statements (of mine) were the product of duress, and if you take them into account then you accept this type of interrogation method,” was Xiros’ reply.
Moreover, he again denied that the terrorist group included any female members.
 Attica Highway tolls contravene EU directives, MEP charges
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)A Greek MEP on Wednesday said that the high tolls charged by the Attica Highway contravened a 1999 EU directive and discouraged its use by drivers, thus minimizing the roadway's impact in terms of lowering air pollution.
The issue was raised by Coalition of the Left and Progress MEP Alekos Alavanos during a briefing of the Greek Parliament's European Affairs Committee by Environment Minister Vasso Papandreou.
The minister stressed that there was no Community directive for private cars, only trucks, while noting that the government had already asked the Attiki Odos consortium to change its price policy.
Papandreou also reported significant reductions in carbon dioxide levels in Greece as a whole and overall reductions for pollutants mentioned in the Kyoto Protocol.
She conceded problems with the airborne particles count, which she attributed to public works being carried out for the Athens Olympics in 2004, and predicted that the levels would be drastically reduced after the Games were over.
Responding to other charges by Alavanos that Greece had fallen behind deadlines for air pollution reports to the European Commission, Papandreou said that the data was on its way to the Commission and pointed out that Greece ranked seventh in complaints on environmental issues behind countries such as France and Germany.
 Greece to participate in WHO-sponsored survey on human health
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The international research firm GFK and the Greece-based firm Market Analysis on Wednesday announced that they will be conducting a survey on levels of health in Greece, in collaboration with the World Health Organization.
They said the Greek health ministry had been informed about the planned survey, which will last five weeks in this country, one of 53 participating in the survey worldwide.
The data collected will be used in the comparative analysis of health levels and health services in the countries taking part.
It will be conducting among a sample of 1,000 men and women above 18 years that will be chosen at random from areas throughout Greece and questioned about their needs, views and recent experiences with health services. Participation is voluntary and the answers will be confidential.
 World Day against Smoking dedicated to crackdown on indirect tobacco advertising
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)The World Day against Smoking on May 31 is dedicated this year to the crackdown on indirect tobacco advertising.
The World Health Organization, in its effort to find the main causes for the spreading of smoking, reached the conclusion that two factors contribute to this in a ''cunning'' way. They are fashion and the cinema, which are elements of day-to-day life which constitute a source of ''inspiration'', particularly for young people.
Greek Society Against Smoking President Nikolaos Houlis announced on Wednesday that smoking remains one of the main causes of premature death in our modern-day society. Greece ranks high among the most negative statistics in this sector.
According to latest assessments, more than half the men in Greece are smokers, while the percentage of women smokers has increased considerably in recent years.
On the international scene, it is believed that four million people die every year of the harmful effects of smoking, while the prediction for 2030 is that deaths will reach 10 million.
 Press minister attends meeting on globalization and mass media
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Greece’s Press and Media Minister Christos Protopapas on Wednesday underlined the need to create the appropriate legislative framework to allow the operation of electronic mass media under the emerging conditions of globalization.
Protopapas was addressing participants in the first of a two-day meeting on “The impact of the globalization model on the structure and operation of mass media – Dealing with equality affairs through the press,” organized in the context of the Greek EU Presidency by the European Network of Greek Female Reporters.
“In the past few years, a large number of mass media were established, but their survival cannot be taken for granted,” Protopapas said in his speech, adding that digital technology and satellite television have given rise to new considerations in conditions of increasing competition.
In addition, he said that a 1989 EU directive on “Television without Frontiers” should be readjusted to reflect an enhanced social dialogue and be governed by strict rules to protect public interest.
 European ombudsman to attend seminar in Warsaw
BRUSSELS 29/05/2003 (ANA - A. Simatos)European Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros is to visit Warsaw on May 29-30 to attend a seminar on ''The Ombudsman and Community Law'' organized by his Polish counterpart Andrzej Zoll.
On the sidelines of the seminar, Diamantouros will meet his counterparts from the 10 new member-states that will formally join the union in 2004.
He is to address the seminar on the ombudsman's role in ensuring the implementation of the law and protecting fundamental rights in light of the work taking place at the Convention for the Future of Europe on drafting a new EU Constitution.
 Ecumenical Patriarch visits Cassandra farm prison
Athens, 29/05/2003(ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Wednesday paid a visit to the Cassandra farm prison in northern Greece, where he was met by Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos.
The Patriarch handed out crosses to all the prisoners in the semi-open prison, where they spend their time doing agricultural work, while they presented him with a model ship that they had made themselves.
After Vartholomeos departed for a visit to a monastery in Metamorphosi, the minister toured a drug detox and rehabilitation centre that is now under construction at the prison and will have the capacity to treat up to 360 prisoners when it is completed in 2004.
The new centre will include residential buildings, administrative buildings, facilities for job training and education and a modern medical unit, while its total budget comes to seven billion drachmas.
 Klosson says Annan plan unique basis for settlement
NICOSIA 29/05/2003(CNA/ANA)US Ambassador to Cyprus Michael Klosson on Wednesday expressed his country's position that a plan to solve the island's political problem, submitted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, offers a unique basis for a comprehensive settlement, noting that the absence of a solution is not cost free for either side.
In a speech at the Rotary Club of Limassol, under the title ''Toward the Future: Cyprus, the US and Europe'', Klosson noted that while confidence-building measures on the island do not constitute a solution, they improve the atmosphere for pursuing a just and durable settlement.
He also said that Cyprus' signing of the EU Accession Treaty gives the country not only an opportunity but also the responsibility to step up to a broader role on a wider stage, the stage of Europe.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Klosson said ''the US believes firmly that the Annan plan offers a unique basis for a comprehensive settlement that takes into account the interests and needs of the parties,'' adding that ''achieving a just and durable settlement is a top US priority.''
He noted that ''despite our disappointment, the US remains actively engaged in the search for a Cyprus solution,'' adding that ''the Annan Plan was carefully crafted in consultation with the parties to be balanced and fair, addressing the needs of both sides.''
''It is by far the most comprehensive attempt at a settlement, although not everyone can be satisfied,'' he said, noting that the plan can be modified through negotiation but ''expectations that drastic improvements may be achieved through negotiation must be tempered by realism.''
Klosson noted that ''the absence of a solution is not cost free for
either side,'' adding that ''restrictions certainly retard development in the north, but uncertainty about the future casts a shadow over the entire island, inhibiting Cypriots from achieving their full potential.''
Referring to the easing by the Turkish occupation regime of restrictions on the free movement of citizens, Klosson said ''the myth that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots have to be kept apart to preserve peace has been exploded.''
Klosson noted that while confidence-building measures are not a solution, they ''improve the atmosphere for pursuing a just and durable settlement.''