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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-08-13

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

August 13, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Countdown to Athens Olympic Games begins
  • [02] US envoy: No information to substantiate al-Qaida presence in Greece
  • [03] Greek consumers complain over quality and cost of services
  • [04] Greek stocks end Tuesday's session flat
  • [05] Second 'test event begins on Fri. at closely watched Schinias venue
  • [06] Greenpeace: 2004 Games a 'lost opportunity' for local environment
  • [07] Tourism board chooses new Olympic Games logo
  • [08] British teenager dies in brawl on Rhodes
  • [09] Cyprus prepares for legal battle with Turkey
  • [10] UN plan on Cyprus best way to solve problems faced by Turkish Cypriots

  • [01] Countdown to Athens Olympic Games begins

    Athens, 13/08/2003 (ANA)

    Today’s Aug. 13 date – one year before the 2004 Olympic Games – generated statements by ATHOC’s head as well as several and government officials a day earlier.

    ATHOC President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Tuesday appeared particularly stern in comments to the organizing committee’s administrative staff.

    She noted that “test events” have so far been successful, a fact she said is recognized by all national delegations, including the International Rowing Federation.

    However, she stressed that certain unfortunate events, like the high winds during the first two days of the rowing competition at the Schinias Rowing Centre, as well as the food poisoning of members of the German junior rowing team, were merely isolated events, which however, ''should make us learn from our mistakes.''

    The ATHOC chief also let it be understood that after the pre-Olympic test events, the work of all ATHOC executives will be assess.

    Moreover, other officials also made statements regarding the Aug. 13 date.

    In his message, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said: ''Greece feels confident and proud of the work done in relation to its Olympic preparation.''

    ”We spent a lot of time debating, exchanging views, trying to overcome non-constructive criticism and reservations …Now everyone witnesses that Games-related projects are going ahead and are near completion. No-one is entitled to have reservations on the result of the Olympic preparation, which has been the most systematic and most ambitious plan of the country's true modernization.''

    Finally, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni welcomed the beginning of the last year to the Olympic Games, calling it a year of hard preparation work, for everyone.

    “The success of the Olympic Games of 2004 will be a success for Greece, and especially of Athens. It will prove to the entire world and to all the Olympic family that the Games can be re-baptized in the freshness of the ancient Olympic spirit in the country that twice gave birth to them,” Bakoyianni said.

    “Athens dared, based not only on its historical laurels, which in any case are amongst the most renowned in the world, but on the will of its citizens and that of all Greeks to transform this historic heritage into a modern success,” she added.

    Bakoyianni went on to issue a call to all European and global friends of the Olympic Games to visit Athens or turn their “gaze” to the city, noting that “Athens is preparing for 2004. Athens is placing the foundations for its future, both for the Games and for its further development as a historic, urban centre and a modern large city”.

    Costas Kartalis, head of the culture ministry's Olympic works secretariat, said: ''one year before the Games, preparations are progressing smoothly and methodically.''

    He added that 2004-related projects were now ''visible'', and that related difficulties, whether minor or major, were being overcome.

    ''Athens, ancient Olympia and the other Olympic cities (Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos and Iraklion), are being transformed through projects that are providing solutions to long-term problems. Up to 95 per cent of the Olympic projects are to have a vital post-Olympic use, enhancing urban functionality and quality of life,'' he said.

    [02] US envoy: No information to substantiate al-Qaida presence in Greece

    Athens, 13/08/2003 (ANA)

    The US ambassador in Athens on Tuesday reiterated that his government “does not have any information to substantiate a claim” of a presence by the notorious 'al-Qaida' terrorist group in Greece.

    US Ambassador Thomas Miller made the comment to the ANA, a day after a US State Department spokesman pointed to his bureau’s yearly report, entitled “Patterns on Global Terrorism”, when asked to comment on a recent eyebrow-raising article in the “New York Times” that included a mention of Greece, among other countries.

    The Aug. 6 NYT story, headlined “U.S. Is Inspecting Overseas Airports for Missile Threats”, at one point read: “...Al Qaida and its terrorist affiliates have long been known to operate in Greece, Turkey and the Philippines, and American air carriers fly to all three countries.” Even more annoying for the Greek government was the fact that no attribution, even the standard “unnamed sources”, was provided in support of the newspaper's claim.

    “...more generally we cooperate very closely with Greece on the al-Qaida threat and with other terrorist threats around the world,” Miller said from his embassy office in Athens on Tuesday.

    According to an ANA dispatch from Washington a day earlier, US State Department spokesman Philip Reeker, responding to press question concerning the NYT report on purported al-Qaida activities in Greece, referred directly to the department's “Patterns on Global Terrorism” 2003 report.

    A supplementary State Department press release issued a few hours later, stressed that there was no information to substantiate a verifiable al-Qaida presence in Greece.

    The unsubstantiated and cursory mention of Greece vis-a-vis the infamous Islamist terror band caused a firestorm of criticism from local politicians and media, as the government, law enforcement agencies and Athens 2004 Olympics organizers (ATHOC) enter the final stages of preparations for next year’s all-important Games.

    Security has repeatedly topped the agenda of related 2004 preparations with Greece expected to allocate several hundreds of millions of euros and thousands of personnel for security during the Games.

    Additionally, a seven-country “Olympic Advisory Group” – the United States, Britain, Australia, Germany, France, Israel and Spain – was developed by Athens and has repeatedly convened to advise the Greek government over the sensitive issue of security.

    Gov’t: Speaking during a radio news program earlier in the day, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos stressed that Athens “did not lose its cool with the article, even if it was a front-page (piece) in the New York Times. Conversely, we waited to see the United States’ (government) position...

    “With a new airport, and the security that it provides, with the capture of ‘November 17’, with successes against organized crime in relation to drugs; with the weapons we intercepted a while back, things that are entering into Greece from outside our borders ... After three days the State Department confirmed this stance ... that the US government is maintaining an excellent cooperation with our government on the issue of terrorism. This arises from our daily contacts with the United States; our contacts with the US ambassador; the information we have from our embassy in Washington; the relations we have at the highest level: Powell-Papandreou, Bush-Simitis...” Loverdos added.

    [03] Greek consumers complain over quality and cost of services

    Athens, 13/08/2003 (ANA)

    Greek consumers are increasingly complaining about the quality and cost of services offered by domestic businesses, mainly slimming centers, official figures released by the Development ministry showed on Tuesday.

    The ministry, in its monthly report, said that Greek consumer filed a total of 4,509 complaints in the period January-July 2003 compared with the same period last year, an increase of 55 percent.

    The report said that 3,662 complaints were filed over the quality and cost of services while the remaining 847 complaints referred to the purchase of goods.

    [04] Greek stocks end Tuesday's session flat

    Athens, 13/08/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended Tuesday's session flat reflecting a shrinking turnover in the Athens Stock Exchange with investors leaving the market for their summer holidays.

    The general index ended 0.14 percent higher at 2,135.20 points after hitting an intra-day low of 2,113 and an intra-day high of 2,145 points.

    Traders said that the market was supported by a limited buying activity in blue chip stocks, particularly telecommunications and banks.

    The Textile, Publication and IT Solution sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (3.87 percent, 2.34 percent and 2.23 percent, respectively), while the Insurance, Telecommunications and Bank sectors scored the biggest percentage gains (1.07 percent, 0.42 percent and 0.15 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.21 percent, while the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell by 0.37 percent and 1.70 percent, respectively.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 259 to 70 with another 70 issues unchanged. Turnover was a low 118.5 million euros.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 77.39 mln euros Tuesday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: +0.21% percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: -0.37 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (228)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 77.39 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Tuesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.20 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 14.8 bps

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring May 2013 (670 mln euros)

    Day's Total Market Turnover: 2.56 bln euros

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of August 12 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,140 1,114

    [05] Second 'test event begins on Fri. at closely watched Schinias venue

    Athens, 13/08/2003 (ANA)

    The new Schinias Olympic Rowing & Canoeing Centre, northeast of Athens, will again appear on the international sports “radar” over the coming weekend when it hosts the 2003 “Canoe-Kayak Sprint” – one of seven Olympic “test events” this month.

    The competition comes a full week after the nearly completed venue – near the ancient battlefield of Marathon -- was first opened for the 2003 FISA World Junior Rowing Championships. Last week’s competition thoroughly lived up to its “test event” nature, with organizers improvising (change of schedules, early start times) on short notice following unprecedented high winds during the first two days of the event, on Wednesday and Thursday.

    While high winds did, in fact, disrupt the first two days of the rowing championships, with some rowers turning into … swimmers when their boats overturned, another weather-related item apparently went more-or-less unnoticed, namely, the fact that the greater Athens area experienced mostly mild summer-time temperatures (low to mid 30s) during a period when western Europe was melting under an exceptionally oppressive heat wave.

    On Tuesday, Athens 2004 organizers (ATHOC) said almost 160 athletes from 21 countries would participate in the canoe and kayak “test event”. Besides the strictly competitive portion of the tournament, it will be the second chance for ATHOC to evaluate the same venue.

    In a mini “dress rehearsal” for next year’s Olympic Games, technicians re-marked the course for the Canoe-Kayak races immediately after the World Junior Rowing Championships concluded last Saturday, an action that will have to be performed in a matter of hours next August. According to ATHOC, the changeover in the rowing canal took seven hours and 15 minutes, a time listed as satisfactory, given the weather conditions of the time.

    Meanwhile, the first teams visited the venue and held their first training runs on Monday, a welcome development for organizers and IOC officials fearful of a repeat of last week’s “intervention” by Aeolus, the mythical god of wind in ancient Greece.

    [06] Greenpeace: 2004 Games a 'lost opportunity' for local environment

    Athens, 13/08/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek chapter of ''Greenpeace'' on Tuesday criticized preparations for the upcoming Athens Games by “recommending” that they be given a “gold medal of lost opportunities for the environment''.

    The local chapter of the well-known international advocacy group issued a press release stressing that with only a year left before the Games, the environmental sensitivities of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Athens 2004 organizers and the government have been “exhausted in preliminary statements.”

    ''The absence of proper mechanisms, and especially of strong political will on the part of the government, organizers and the IOC, has prevented the implementation of their pro-environmental statements,” Greenpeace charged.

    The group mostly focused criticism on Olympic venues, such as the ''Olympic Village'' project in northwest Athens, saying it includes buildings where energy consumption was not compatible with the Greek public works ministry's guidelines or the latest Community Directives for new buildings.

    Greenpeace also charged that local contractors built 2004 projects with commonplace technology and standard practices, instead of employing cutting-edge technology and materials.

    ''Any positive developments exclusively focusing on progress with mass transportation cannot balance out the long list of lost opportunities'', the release said.

    [07] Tourism board chooses new Olympic Games logo

    Athens, 13/08/2003 (ANA)

    The state-run Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) on Tuesday announced the selection of a new logo that it will use in light of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games next year.

    The agency received 144 entries, of which 28 proposals made the first cut, while six received honorable mention.

    The new logo has "Greece" written in white capital letters amid a color background, and "2004" drawn in the background along with a fragment of an olive branch.

    [08] British teenager dies in brawl on Rhodes

    Athens, 13/08/2003 (ANA)

    An early Tuesday morning brawl involving a group of approximately 10 British tourists left one 17-year-old dead at the Faliraki resort, on the Dodecanese holiday island of Rhodes.

    Paddy Doran reportedly had his throat slashed by what police speculate was a broken bottle or another sharp object. He later died while he was being transferred by ambulance to a local hospital.

    Police are holding seven individuals, all British citizens.

    Authorities had not identified a perpetrator at press time, while police are seeking another two British men who reportedly took part in the bloody fracas.

    [09] Cyprus prepares for legal battle with Turkey

    NICOSIA 13/08/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    A team of legal experts is expected to submit to the Cyprus government by mid September its preliminary points with regard to a legal battle against Turkey, before the European Court of Human Rights, relating to violation of property rights.

    Foreign Minister George Iacovou told CNA on Tuesday that the opinion of the three foreign legal professors on Turkish claims that there are ''domestic remedies'' for Greek Cypriots to exhaust before applying to the Court will be ready by the end of September.

    The minister said Nicosia and Athens are coordinating their moves to combat Ankara's maneuvers, which essentially aim at curbing the flurry of applications by Greek Cypriots claiming access, use and compensation of their property under Turkish occupation since 1974.

    ''There is a specific plan of action on this score but we are not going to announce any decisions taken in relation to Turkey's attempts to convince the European Court that there are domestic remedies that should be exhausted before people apply to the Court in Strasbourg,'' Iacovou said.

    Replying to questions, he said the government does not have any information to the effect that 18 Greek Cypriots have applied to a so-called commission for compensation in occupied Cyprus.

    ''The government has the right to intervene in this case before the Court, which concerns an individual application against Turkey, to put forward its arguments,'' the minister explained.

    The Court has invited Turkey to submit written observations by September 30 on whether domestic remedies have been exhausted, in an individual case. The Greek Cypriot lawyer handling the case, the Court said in a letter in early July, will be notified of Turkey's observations in order that he may submit his written observations.

    Replying to questions, the minister said the government is dealing with this matter in a most serious manner because there is a risk that the Court may be misled.

    ''We have to fight this battle and stress that the 'courts' and the 'commission' in occupied Cyprus are illegal. No citizen of any country should be expected to apply to a regime and its institutions which the UN Security Council has branded legally invalid,'' the minister stressed.

    Turkey's recent moves come as it is under increasing pressure from Strasbourg to pay compensation to a Greek Cypriot, Titina Loizidou, for loss of use of her property in occupied Cyprus and allow her access and peaceful enjoyment of her property.

    Scores of Greek Cypriots have filed applications against Turkey claiming compensation for their properties, usurped by the Turkish Cypriot regime Turkey maintains in occupied Cyprus.

    [10] UN plan on Cyprus best way to solve problems faced by Turkish Cypriots

    LONDON 13/08/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    The best way for Turkish Cypriots to solve their problems is to seek a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question on the basis of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan, a British Foreign Office spokesman said here Tuesday.

    The spokesman was invited by CNA to comment on the ''signing'' of a so-called framework agreement for a customs union between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot regime, in occupied Cyprus.

    ''We understand the technical difficulties faced by Turkish Cypriots because of non-recognition,'' the spokesman said, adding ''the best way to solve the problem is to seek a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the UN Secretary General's plan.''

    He also pointed out that in the meantime, the EU has proposed a series of measures to be financed with 12 million Euros to alleviate any problems faced by Turkish Cypriots.

    ''We are giving full support to all those measures,'' he noted.


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