|Friday, 19 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-08-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 28, 2003
 PM reviews foreign policy agenda with FM
Athens, 28/08/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday received Foreign Minister George Papandreou for an overview of developments in the country’s foreign policy front.
Their agenda included the course of Greece-Turkey relations, Turkey’s accession path to the European Union, the EU's Intergovernmental Conference, expected to be held in October, and the Cyprus issue.
According to sources, Papandreou is planning to visit Cyprus in the near future.
The foreign minister, following the meeting, announced that more than 100 countries are supporting the Greek candidacy for a non-permanent membership to the United Nations Security Council.
Speaking on the Australian travel advisory concerning Greece, Papandreou said that he had the assurances of the Australian government that there is not anterior motive behind it, but it was based on a constitutional obligation of that country’s government to its citizens.
He added that the Australian government issued similar advisories for its citizens traveling to Italy, Spain, Germany and France, adding that he was not fully briefed yet on the details of the travel advisory for Greece.
Sources said that the Australian ambassador was called to the foreign ministry to discuss the issue.
Papandreou underlined that Greece is a country affording total security that made a significant investment in the safety of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and that effort was witnessed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), noting that the articles on Greece’s security were due to the general climate of international insecurity.
Commenting on the possibility of a visit by Cuban leader Fidel Castro to Greece during the Olympic Games, he said that the EU was against high level visits of Cubans to the EU and of EU leaders to Cuba, due to that country’s violations of human rights. Underlining that "everyone is welcome" on principle, Papandreou said the EU tried to aid Cuba, but it protests strongly the significant violations of rights, stressing that as far as the Olympic Games are concerned, this may be a good opportunity to take the games away from political confrontations.
 Gov't policy on local government strongly criticized at KEDKE emergency meeting
Athens, 28/08/2003 (ANA)An emergency meeting of mayors and community leaders on Wednesday opened with sharp criticism against government policy on local authority, and strong warnings about mobilizations and protests, not excluding possible 'take over' of ministry buildings.
In her speech at the meeting of the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni used tough language over the government's economic policy on local government and called for an end of what she said was ''compromising with the government's inactivity, recantations and indifference''.
''There should be a broad, national agreement for local government, with long-range planning, a specific time table, institutional and economic commitments'', Bakoyianni said.
The mayor of Athens called the government's program for local government (EPTA) ''empty shirt'' and said that the reforms applied under the ''Kapodistrias'' law were a ''mockery, a policy leading to a stagnation in local government''.
Along the same lines, both the chairman of KEDKE Paris Koukoulopoulos, who is affiliated to ruling PASOK, and the chairman of the Union of Local Authorities of Attica (TEDKNA) Petros Philippou, in their address rang ''alarm bells'' for the government and spoke of possible mobilizations.
Last week, a number of municipalities in the northern Greek prefecture of Thessaloniki hoisted black flags at their respective town-hall buildings to protest what they said the poor financial state of local government organizations.
The decision for holding the KEDKE emergency meeting had been taken by the Union immediately after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis in late July.
KEDKE said that during that meeting the premier had failed to give satisfactory answers to its demands regarding the finances of municipalities across the country, consisting of additional financial backing of 300 million euros and the development of a salvation program for debt-ridden municipalities without burdening the rest.
In addressing the conference, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis said he fully justified KEDKE's position, but also placed part of the blame for the existing problems on local government.
''There are incidents of improper management and in many cases the local government is unable to correctly manage its own resources'', Kaklamanis said.
Opposition: In his speech at the KEDKE conference, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis criticized the government over what he said was ''a surplus of arrogance, unreliability and false promises''.
Communist Party of Greece leader Aleka Papariga pledged her party's support to the mayors' mobilizations and said the local government's ''illegally withheld resources constitute a huge economic and political scandal''.
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Nicos Constantopoulos and Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas also strongly criticized government policy on the issue.
 DM announces expansion of paid army, military service reduction
Athens, 28/08/2003 (ANA)The government announced on Wednesday that it plans to hire as many as 11,700 soldiers in 2003 and 2004, in a bid to turn half of the country's 80-thousand-strong military force into a paid army.
Announcing the measure from the Epirus town of Preveza, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou added that most hires would be concentrated in border regions, such as Epirus.
Some old military camps in the region would be abolished and the land allotted to local municipalities, Papantoniou said.
The minister further reiterated that the time of military service would soon be cut down to 12 months, and that military life would be upgraded with modern camps and facilities.
Referring to his ministry's economic reform, Papantoniou announced that defense spending would be cut by 2.7 billion euros, an amount that would be re-channeled to fund a package of social measures, to be officially announced by Prime Minister Costas Simitis next week.
 Gov't spokesman dismisses talk about early elections
Athens, 28/08/2003 (ANA)A government spokesman on Wednesday dismissed talk about early elections, while he refused to comment on the reaction of PASOK MPs regarding a recent government initiative for electoral law reform saying this formed part of the ruling party's internal process.
''Conclusions drawn from pertinent discussions will be assessed'', spokesman Christos Protopapas said at his regular press briefing.
Referring to reports over alleged intentions of the Australian government to issue an advisory about travel in Greece, Protopapas stressed Greece was an absolutely safe country, and added the Australian government had taken comparable actions also for Italy, France, Spain and possibly Germany.
The spokesman said that, at any event, the issue would be subject to review by the foreign affairs ministry.
Replying to a question about the presence of British police officers on the island of Rhodes, Protopapas said the Greek government had accepted a request for the dispatch of a Scotland Yard team to the Dodecanese island following a series of serious incidents involving mostly young British holiday-makers there.
''Greece has no objection in improving its tactics when it comes to handling British tourists, including cooperation with British police officers on problems created by their fellow countrymen'', he said.
Asked whether Cuban President Fidel Castro would be invited at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Protopapas said the issue was premature, adding that the list of leaders to be invited had not been prepared yet.
''The basic criteria for the invitations will be associated with the message transcended by the Games themselves. The Olympic Games provide a forum for rivalry but they also send out a message of respect for human rights'', he said, in recognition that on a political level the European Union has decided to freeze relations with Cuba.
''The situation will be evaluated on the basis of the messages of the Olympic Games when the time comes,'' Protopapas said.
 Govt, employers agree social policy will not undermine economic progress
Athens, 28/08/2003 (ANA)Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Wednesday reassured the country's employers union that the government would maintain its fiscal policy.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting between the Greek Industries Union (SEB) with the Premier and Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, SEB's chairman Odysseas Kyriakopoulos said that the union presented and discussed with the prime minister a series of initiatives aimed to boost competitiveness, contain inflation and support employment in the country.
Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, speaking to reporters, said that the government was in a constant dialogue with all productive classes and businessmen to maintain a steady economy growth rate that would create new job positions.
The Greek minister said that growth without employment was "an empty shirt".
Mr Kyriakopoulos stressed that Greek employers "were not opposing measures to support the country's weaker income groups, but that these measures should not jeopardize the country's economic achievements".
The meeting also agreed on measures to contain prices to help fight high inflation rate in the country.
Mr Kyriakopoulos acknowledged that competition was not functioning properly in certain sectors in the economy and pledged that SEB's effort was to improve competition in all business sectors.
 Greek stocks resume advance on Wednesday
Athens, 28/08/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks resumed their upward trend on Wednesday, after a two-day decline on profit taking, supported by a positive trend in other European markets in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index rose 0.20 percent to end at 2,256.09 points, with turnover a reduced 152.9 million euros.
The Telecommunications and Wholesale sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (1.55 percent and 0.60 percent, respectively), while the Base Metals and Holding sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.44 percent and 0.75 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.34 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.97 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.13 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 165 to 143 with another 56 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were the National Bank of Greece, Elliniki Technodomiki, National Lottery Organization, Public Power Corporation and Hellenic Telecommunications Organization.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 104.56 mln euros Wednesday
Equity Index Futures:
Total turnover in derivatives market: 104.56 mln euros
Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Wednesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of August 27 2003
Parities in euro
For Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,107 1,077
 N17 trial: Court hears defense testimony by Serifis, Tselios
Athens, 28/08/2003 (ANA)The attention grabbing trial by an Athens appellate court of the notorious ''November 17'' (N17) terrorist group continued on Wednesday with defense statements by defendants Thomas Serifis and Costas Telios.
Another suspect, Anestis Papanastasiou, who was conditionally released on Tuesday, was also present at the courtroom.
Serifis told the court he accepted all acts that he had confessed to before the trial, but not all the charges brought in against him, admitting that he became a member of the urban guerilla group in 1989 when he placed an explosive device at a vacant home, but actually realized he was a N17 member after a proclamation issued by the group after a War Museum break in.
However, he said he stopped taking part in the gang in 1990 as he was excluded from taking part in the planning of the group's acts.
''My own view is that 'November 17' was a purely political organization comprising fighters in the name of the people. I agreed with many of the things that were referred to in the group's proclamations, and I might still agree with them even today. However, I disagree on the method of action chosen because it could not mobilize the masses,'' Serifis said.
The defendant added he had faced pressure neither to join the group nor after he withdrew from it, and that he was never given any money. He added he knew neither where the arms stolen from various military camps were hidden, nor the location of hideouts.
Serifis, who refused to speak about any of the 18 remaining co-codefendants, also admitted his involvement in breaking in the Skourtis military camp, but said he only had an assisting role.
Costas Telios was next to speak in defense of himself, admitting he met Christodoulos Xios on Ikaria island in summer 1987 and a year later he was introduced to another three alleged members of the gang, under the code names of ''Loukas'', ''Michalis'' and ''Stamatis'' (Dimitris Koufondinas, Savvas Xiiros and Vassilis Tzortzatos, respectively).
They referred to the terrorist group as the ''company'', Telios told the court, adding that he never considered himself as being a member of the group. However, he stressed he was blackmailed in order to remain a member.
Telios, who launched a series of accusations against N17, further stressed that armed violence has proven ineffective, describing the group as ''dogmatic'' and a problem to the country's image internationally.
He said because of his disagreement with the 'death penalties' imposed by the gang, he had been thinking what would happen ''if those people took the power in their hands.''
The defendant admitted his involvement in N17 actions against public prosecutor Costas Androulidakis and former finance minister Yiannis Palaiokrassas, as well as in a robbery.
However, he said he was distressed that he could not avert these acts.
The defendant further classified the terrorist group into three different levels, with the first one comprising alleged head of the gang Alexandros Giotopoulos and Nikos Papanastasiou, as well as another person for whom he knew no details. He said he never saw the faces of these people, and hence he could not recognize them.
The second level, according to Telios, comprised Dimitris Koufondinas, with a leading role, Christodoulos Xiros and Vassilis Tzortzatos. The third level included only Iraklis Kostaris, Telios said.
He claimed the top man in the gang was Giotopoulos, whom along with Koufondinas he described as the most capable persons in the group owing to their extensive knowledge and skillful oration.
He further repeated that the group's code names ''fathers'' and ''kiddies'' referred to the terrorist group ''ELA'' and ''N17'', respectively.
Defense attorney Yiannis Stamoulis demanded that Telios undergoes a psychiatric test. Prosecutor Christos Lambrou proposed that the demand be rejected, with the court expected to decide on the matter on Thursday morning.
 AEK Athens beats Grasshoppers 3-1 in Champions League qualifier
Athens, 28/08/2003 (ANA)AEK Athens beat Grasshoppers of Switzerland 3-1 in a Champions League third qualifying round, second leg soccer match played in Athens on Wednesday night and qualified 3-2 on aggregate.
Grasshoppers had beaten AEK 1-0 in the first leg in Zurich two weeks ago.
 Christofias protests to EuroParliament, UN and PACE over Denktash
NICOSIA 28/08/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias on Wednesday called on the heads of the United Nations, the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the European Parliament to make every possible effort to reopen the Rizokarpaso Gymnasium in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, European Parliament President Pat Cox and PACE Chairman Peter Schieder, Christofias condemns Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's refusal to allow the reopening of the school so that children of Greek Cypriot enclaved can attend without having to leave their families and cross to the government-controlled areas of the Republic or the families being forced to leave their homes.
Christofias says that by refusing the request of the government of Cyprus to reopen the school for the enclaved children, Denktash has proven once again that his sole aim is to make permanent the island's division by ignoring the will of his community for a solution and the island's reunification and by showing his intransigence on a humanitarian issue.
He further says that Denktash is violating one of the fundamental
human rights of the enclaved people of the Karpass peninsula, which is the right to education, and totally flouts the Third Vienna Agreement on the enclaved, which Denktash himself had signed.
Christofias calls on Annan, Cox and Schieder to take all necessary steps to secure the reopening of the school and fundamental human rights, especially the right of the small number of Greek Cypriots living in the Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus for free access to education.
 Education and communication key issues at POMAK Congress
NICOSIA, 28/08/2003 (CNA/ANA)Education and communication issues were raised during the last day of the World Federation of Overseas Cypriots (POMAK) Congress.
The Committee, which dealt on Wednesday with Education and Cultural issues, stressed the need to maintain and strengthen unity among educational organizations overseas and urged the government to increase its education missions to teach overseas Cypriot children.
They also referred to the small number of children in schools teaching Greek, as well as the delay in dispatching books to the various communities.
POMAK members said European programs could prove valuable with Cyprus' forthcoming accession to the EU and noted that the Cyprus SAT satellite program should be upgraded and cultural exchanges increased.
They also called on the government to help Cypriot refugees who are repatriated find homes, get cheaper airline tickets with national carrier Cyprus Airways and asked for direct flights from Cyprus to the US, Australia and Africa.
Overseas Cypriots also asked to be granted the right to vote and be able to contribute to the social security fund without having to work in Cyprus, in an effort to have pension rights on the island.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior Kyriacos Triantafyllides told the Congress that the government considers necessary the upgrading of enlightenment of and communication with overseas Cypriots' communities.
For this reason, he said, there is a gradual improvement of the programs offered through Cyprus Sat, while efforts are underway to make the satellite signal available in South America and Australia.
Representative of the Ministry of Communications and Works Andreas Christodoulou said that 120 thousand Cyprus pounds are geared this year for the Cyprus Sat program, an amount scheduled to increase next year.
Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) Director General Marios Mavrikios said CyBC's satellite program is gradually improving with more programs being added to it.
A representative of the Cyprus Youth Organization said 50 thousand pounds have been allocated for overseas youth organizations because the organization considers the role of overseas Cypriots of national significance.
 Cyprus to participate in European regional Forum
NICOSIA, 28/08/2003 (CNA/ANA)The President of the Republic of Cyprus will be represented at a regional Forum on Dialogue Among Civilizations by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Culture Petros Kareklas.
The European regional Forum takes place on August 29-30 in Ohrid of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and is organized by FYROM President Boris Trajkovski with UNESCO.
It will be attended by eight heads of state, political and religious leaders, experts and representatives from civil society and the private sector from all over the world.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Sotos Zackheos will also participate in the meeting.
Kareklas has told CNA that in his address to the meeting he will reiterate the government's support for all initiatives that aim at the creation of the appropriate climate for the understanding among civilizations.
Cyprus can play an important role in this effort as a future European Union member state (it will join officially in May next year), he said.
He noted that Cyprus has played host to the World Meeting of Religions and Cultures and said that the island's geographical location could help promote dialogue among civilizations.