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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-09-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

September 3, 2003


  • [01] Simitis unveils social package worth 1.7 bln euros
  • [02] Critical period for foreign policy ahead, Papandreou says on 'Flash' radio
  • [03] Premier receives ruling PASOK party secretary
  • [04] FM receives US Congresswoman, discusses western Balkans
  • [05] Interior minister's list of EU's regions committee approved
  • [06] Ruling PASOK party to celebrate 29th anniversary on Wednesday
  • [07] Deputy FM meets with expatriate Greek politicians
  • [08] Greek unemployment fell to 8.9 pct in second quarter
  • [09] Greece suffers from high social imbalances, report says
  • [10] Greece's cosmetics market grows strongly, report
  • [11] Central Europeans see Greece as most favorable tourist destination
  • [12] Civil aviation workers to strike Thursday over new Olympic Airways
  • [13] Greek stocks suffer heavy losses on Tuesday
  • [14] ATHOC chief sums up results from August's 'test events'
  • [15] New Zealand police delegation in Athens, discuss Olympic Games security
  • [16] Culture minister discusses Olympic Games with Australian ambassador
  • [17] Yiannitsis tours prefecture of Rodopi
  • [18] Giotopoulos' statement delayed until Thursday
  • [19] Weak tremors register in Iraklion, seismologists appear unconcerned
  • [20] EU regional, cohesion policies key to integration, eurodeputy says
  • [21] New Greek general consul in Istanbul
  • [22] President Papadopoulos says Annan's plan could still work
  • [23] Al-Shara assures of Syria's steady support to Cyprus
  • [24] Euro MPs call on Pat Cox to put pressure on Ankara

  • [01] Simitis unveils social package worth 1.7 bln euros

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday unveiled a ''social package'' of measures, worth 1.7 billion euros, aimed to support Greek families, farmers and small- and medium- sized enterprises.

    ''With this social package we are exceeding the EU's average social spending and achieving real convergence without burdening the Greek economy,'' the Greek premier said.

    Simitis stressed that the government was able to adopt a social spending program because of the country's high growth rates and the government's fiscal policy.

    The government's ''social package'' includes measures to reduce fuel costs for farmers, raising farmers' base pension by 30 euros to 200 euros per month, and abolishing a tax on agricultural land's transfer.

    Also, offering an annual subsidy of 1,000 euros for every child studying in other cities, reducing a tax for buying new cars by 20 percent, raising a supplementary pension and creating 25,000 part-time jobs in the public sector. The package also includes measures to reduce fuel costs for enterprises.

    The prime minister stressed that the package would accelerate the country's incomes convergence with the rest of the EU.

    Economy minister: National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, later, said that 2004 will be the year of ''harvest for the fruit'' not only for development measures but for measures concerning social policy as well.

    He added that the cost of the measures does not exceed the fiscal capacity of the Greek economy, noting that the target for the rate of development is 3.8 and is fully attainable, while it is possible that it may be higher.

    Speaking of unemployment, he said that it was declining and the 8.9 per cent unemployment announced by the Greek Statistical Service for the first quarter of 2003 is the lowest of the decade.

    He added that another 93,000 people found jobs according to the data of the statistical service.

    ''We achieved and solidified convergence,'' the minister said, adding that for the first time ever spending for social policy exceeded that of the European Union average, while social policy now has a base for further development.

    ''Greece does not diverge from the EU indexes, and the per capita income, as it is expressed in units of purchasing power is increasing continually the past four years and we are not in the last place among member-states anymore,'' he said.

    ''We did very many and important things till now and we have solidified development, we have many more things to do yet,'' he added.

    ''In this framework, from Jan. 1, 2004, we have a new package of measures of a social character, for the development of rural areas, and for the support of employment,'' he said adding that development without increased employment is one without vision.

    He also said that the government supported small and medium businesses, which are the backbone for development, while referring to the need of upgrading of public administration.

    Speaking on specific issues, the minister noted that the 2003 budget condition is ''normalizing'' concerning incomes, while spending will be curtailed.

    He went on to announce that taxes on private automobiles with a factory list price of under 50.000 will be reduced by 20 per cent, thus lowering the after tax price of cars.

    Also, he added that motorcycles with engines of under 125 cubic centimeters will not be subject to taxation, while taxes on the rest of the motorcycles will also be reduced as those on cars by 20 per cent.

    On a more ecological note, the minister also announced special taxation treatment for cars that are considered environmentally friendly, as taxation will range from 0 per cent to 10 per cent, while regular cars' taxation will range from 5 per cent to 50 per cent, decreased from 7 per cent to 88 per cent.

    Opposition parties on ''social package'' announced by PM; gov't reaction: Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis reiterated his call for the government's resignation on Tuesday, following the announcement of the government's 'social package' - a series of measures targeting the economically weaker groups in Greek society - by Prime Minister Costas Simitis.

    The prime minister was "promising tips using borrowed money", while the one euro a day increase for pensioners and un-employed should not be presented as social policy, he said.

    Karamanlis slammed the state of the Greek economy and accused Simitis of ''shamelessly promising the same things for the eighth time and again resorting to a new trade in hopes''. He also said Simitis was resorting to a ''desperate effort to buy consciences'' that was ''shameful for public life and showed contempt for the citizens''.

    ND's leader said his party had proposed measures, such as a cheaper fuel for farmers and reduced VAT on farm machinery that had been rejected by the government.

    Responding to the main opposition leader's comments, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said Karamanlis had been ''filled with confusion and panic'' by the ''800 billion drachmas announced by the government''.

    ''Powerful Greece is using the surplus given by growth to take care of its citizens, starting with those that have the greatest need,'' Protopapas claimed.

    He noted that the Inner cabinet had been unanimous in approving the measures proposed by Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and that the meeting had focused on the need for members of the government to have strong arguments linking growth with more active social policy.

    According to Protopapas, Greece had been converging with the EU average in social spending since 1996 and now spent more than the average. He also announced that the 'social package' measures would begin to be implemented from January 1, 2004 except for the cheap fuel for farmers and reduced taxes on cars that will go into effect from next month.

    The measures announced were also slammed by smaller left-wing parties, such as the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) as ''small change'' and ''crumbs and promises''.

    According to KKE, the rise in meager farmer’s pensions and the EKAS income supplement was already dissipated by rises in public utility rates, while the rise in unemployment benefits did not even begin to cover the basic needs of the unemployed. As for the other measures announced by the government, KKE said these would have minimal impact on the real needs and problems of their beneficiaries.

    [02] Critical period for foreign policy ahead, Papandreou says on 'Flash' radio

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    The coming period promised to be crucial for a number of major foreign policy issues for Greece, such as a final settlement of the Cyprus problem or the start of accession negotiations between Turkey and the European Union, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said during an interview with 'Flash' radio station broadcast on Tuesday.

    ''Foreign policy did not come to an end with [the Greek EU] presidency or with Cyprus' accession [to the EU],'' Papandreou noted during the interview, pointing out that important prospects were opening up a solution to the Cyprus problem, in Greek-Turkish relations and for stabilization and economic development in the Balkans.

    ''I predict that developments of the next months will be extremely significant, since apart from the formal accession of Cyprus to the European Union in May 2004, in December 2004 there will be the final assessment of Turkey's course and whether or not to begin negotiations to make [Turkey] a member of the European Union,'' he noted.

    Part of this assessment would include a careful look at a number of issues apart from internal reforms carried out within Turkey, such as progress in the Cyprus issue and in Greek-Turkish relations, he said.

    ''This means that we are before important, highly important developments, in issues of historic importance for us,'' the minister added.

    During the interview, Papandreou confirmed that his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gull was due to visit Athens for the established twice-yearly bilateral talks in the Autumn. He said the meeting would cover a review of Greek-Turkish relations, Turkey's European course and the Cyprus issue, in addition to peripheral issues such as Iraq, the Balkans and the Middle East.

    At another point, Papandreou noted that developments in the Middle East and Iraq might well have a crucial impact on both international developments and the neighborhood of Greece.

    ''We are seeing developments that are painful, not just for the region there but for the entire world, since we are talking about the radicalization of populations - which are either Arabic or Moslem countries''.

    In addition, he noted that Greece had a role in the important developments and challenges within the EU, such as the drafting of a new EU Constitution.

    On domestic issues, Papandreou said the time had come for ''serious, major decisions'' for radical changes to the ruling PASOK party in order to create a party that was ''open, democratic, and modern, that every citizen could feel to be their own.''

    According to the minister, the party had so far moved at a snail's pace in making such changes and he declared himself a warm supporter of the current debate on reforms within the party.

    [03] Premier receives ruling PASOK party secretary

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK party President and Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday met with PASOK party Secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis and discussed matters related to the party.

    Following their meeting, Chrysohoidis said that ''social justice, through policies of redistribution of the national wealth, remains a steady value for our party. This orientation of PASOK, which was announced today and was sealed with the announcements and decisions of the Prime Minister, reaffirms, once again, the character of PASOK''.

    ''More so these views are in full opposition to the conservative party, which is willing to sacrifice the social interests to the alter of the market. We remain steadfast to the values of social justice, to the values of solidarity,'' he concluded.

    [04] FM receives US Congresswoman, discusses western Balkans

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday met with US Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), with diplomatic sources saying the two officials exchanged views on conditions in the western Balkans.

    Sanchez is currently touring southeastern Europe.

    Papandreou and the US congresswoman discussed issues concerning the combating of terrorism and the course of US-Greek relations.

    Following the meeting, Papandreou received a delegation of the world inter-parliamentary union of expatriate Greek politicians, with talks focusing on the contribution of overseas Greeks towards the holding of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the "Olympic Truce" initiative.

    Kaklamanis receives Sanchez: Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Tuesday received US Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) at his office, with discussions revolving around Iraq and the Mideast, as well repercussions for Europe and Greece.

    Additionally, the Cyprus issue and Greek-American relations were discussed.

    [05] Interior minister's list of EU's regions committee approved

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis' proposal for the new members of the Greek delegation for the committee of the regions of the European Union, was approved by the council of ministers.

    The term of office of the new delegation will last until January 2006.

    The change of the committee was pursuant to the ratification of the Nice Treaty of the European Union.

    [06] Ruling PASOK party to celebrate 29th anniversary on Wednesday

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Ruling PASOK party will celebrate on Wednesday the 29th anniversary since its founding by late prime minister Andreas Papandreou, with a special event at the Panellinios Sports Centre in down-town Athens.

    PASOK President and Prime Minister Costas Simitis will be the main speaker at the event and he is expected to call for unity and refer to the prospects of PASOK and the course of the party since 1974.

    PASOK party Secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis will also address the event. In light of Wednesday's celebrations, on Tuesday, Chrysohoidis noted that ''the values expressed by PASOK, the popular sovereignty and the social liberation, became dominant values of Greek society''.

    Using the term ''Change'' once again as the ''nucleus of the progressive character of the party'', Chrysochoidis said: ''PASOK is against stagnation and conservative values, it adapts to the demands of the times and goes forward along with the great social majority of the country and with international develop-ments.''

    [07] Deputy FM meets with expatriate Greek politicians

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis on Tuesday received a delegation of the world inter-parliamentary union of expatriate Greek politicians and discussed with them the focus of Greece's foreign policy.

    He briefed them on the actions of Greece on the subject of the past six months, making special mention of the Greek EU presidency that took place during the first half of the year.

    He also focused on Greek-Turkish affairs, the Cyprus issue and EU-Turkish affairs.

    [08] Greek unemployment fell to 8.9 pct in second quarter

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    The unemployment rate fell to 8.9 percent of the workforce in Greece in the second quarter of 2003, significantly down from a 9.6 percent rate in the same period last year, the National Statistics Service said on Tuesday.

    NSS said the April-June figures were the lowest quarterly figures ever.

    The figures also showed that unemployment among men was 5.7 percent while the figures soared to 13.6 percent among women.

    Western Macedonia (15.7 percent), Epirus (10.6 percent), Eastern Macedonia-Thrace (10.3 percent) and Central Macedonia (9.9 percent) recorded the highest unemployment rates in the country, while Crete (4.8 percent), Peloponese (6.8 percent) and Northern Aegean (7.0 percent) recorded the lowest unemployment rates.

    Compared with the second quarter of 2002 the unemployment rate has risen in Eastern Macedonia-Thrace, Western Macedonia and the Ionian islands, while it has fallen in Epirus, Thessaly and Attica.

    The statistics service said that long-term unemployed (more than 12 months) accounted for 58.5 percent of total unemployed. NSS said that 39.8 percent of registered unemployed said they preferred full employment, while 48.5 percent said they were willing to work either full or part-time jobs.

    The statistics service said that total employment rose 1.7 percent in the second quarter of 2003 compared with the same period last year.

    Part-time employment accounted for 4.5 percent of total employment in the country.

    [09] Greece suffers from high social imbalances, report says

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greece suffers from high social imbalances, the country's largest trade union umbrella GSEE Christos Polyzogopoulos said on Tuesday.

    He was commenting on the findings of a report compiled by the Labor Institute INE which showed that the income of Greece's 20 percent more rich people was 6.2 times more than the income of the 20 percent less rich. Only Portugal (6.4) and Estonia (6.3) were showing highest imbalances, the report said.

    INE's report also showed that while incomes imbalances grew, the Greek economy was improving (higher GDP and investments, increased labor productivity) and the country's profitability index was steadily rising since 1991 and that it was expected to surpass the 10 percent average of the so-called "golden period" between 1961-1973.

    The report also noted progress in the convergence of the Greek economy with the EU's average, based on GDP per capita and the unemployment rate.

    Gross real wages increased by 5.1 percent in 2002, reflecting a 4.1 percent rise in productivity and a 1.1 percent decline in labor costs (in real terms), the report said.

    Inez’s scientific director, professor Savvas Robolis, presenting the report said that a rise in the inflation rate could be attributed to higher prices by Greek companies.

    The base salary in Greece exceeded the average of the EU's new members but remained around 50 percent of the EU's wealthiest member-states, Mr Robolis stressed.

    The report highlighted the supremacy of full employment in the country, although it noted that 55 percent of new hiring were made on terms of "flexible" or seasonal employment.

    The report also said that recent changes in the social security system raised the prospects of a viability of the system until 2050.

    It also showed that despite a rise in social spending in Greece, the state participation in social revenues fell to 29.1 percent (from 32.8 percent the previous year), employers' contribution rate was stable at 38.1 percent, while workers' contributions rose by 2.3 percentage points.

    Mr Polyzogopoulos urged for a five-year program to deal with social imbalances in the country.

    [10] Greece's cosmetics market grows strongly, report

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    The value of cosmetics' consumption rose by 9.3 percent in 2002 compared with the previous month, a survey by ICAP said on Tuesday.

    The survey said that skin protection products accounted for the biggest part of the market in 2002 with a market share of 46.2 percent, followed by hair care, make-up and fragrance products.

    ICAP's report showed that around 47.3 percent of total domestic consumption in 2002 was made through a wide distribution network (supermarkets, self-service stores).

    The report said that the cosmetics sector in Greece was very dynamic, with the value of domestic consumption in wholesale prices - excluding children products - raising an annual average 13.6 percent in the period 1993-2002, reflecting a rapid increase in imports.

    Greek exports, however, also rose with an average annual rate of 26.9 percent in the period 1998-2002.

    [11] Central Europeans see Greece as most favorable tourist destination

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greece is one of the three most favorable tourist destinations for citizens in Central Europe, figures from National Tourism Organization’s offices abroad confirmed on Tuesday.

    According to these figures, in Slovakia, Greece is considered the most favorable tourist destination followed by Croatia and Turkey, in the Czech Republic, Greece ranked third after Croatia and Spain, in Poland, Greece also ranked third after Germany and the Czech Republic and in Hungary, Greece ranked first followed by Italy and Croatia.

    [12] Civil aviation workers to strike Thursday over new Olympic Airways

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    The Federation of Civil Aviation Unions on Tuesday voted to stage a 24-hour strike this week to protest against the content of a government bill that will allow creation of a new airline from Olympic Airways.

    The stoppage on Thursday is timed to coincide with a vote on the bill in parliament.

    The federation said in a statement that the government had backtracked on pledges including the status of employees after the corporate overhaul

    [13] Greek stocks suffer heavy losses on Tuesday

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks fell for the fourth consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, ignoring a positive trend in other European bourses.

    The general index ended 2.11 percent lower at 2,150.48 points, off the day's lows of 2,135 points, with turnover a heavy 209.1 million euros.

    All sector indices suffered losses with the Insurance (5.49 percent), IT Solutions (4.68 percent), Publications (4.41 percent) and Base Metal (4.18 percent) sectors recording the heaviest percentage losses of the day.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 2.35 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 2.07 percent down and the FTSE/ASE SMALLCAP 80 index dropped 3.12 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 309 to 39 with another 18 issues unchanged.

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

  • Underlying Index: -2.35% percent

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

  • Underlying Index: -2.07 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (1,691)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 221.0 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Sellers

    outstrip buyers on Tuesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.45 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 12 bps

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring May 2013 (1,091 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.9 bln euros


    Closing rates of September 2 2003

    Parities in euro


    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,093 1,068

    Canadian Dollar 1,519 1,484

    [14] ATHOC chief sums up results from August's 'test events'

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    The head of the Athens 2004 organizing committee (ATHOC) on Tuesday reiterated that her organization retains the wholehearted support of Greek political parties and the country’s citizens, speaking to reporters a week after the last of seven Olympic “test events” concluded in and around the Greek capital.

    During a scheduled press conference at ATHOC’s Nea Ionia headquarters, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki also referred to one of the “blights” that tarnished the test events’ image early on, namely, a mass food poisoning outbreak that prevented the German junior rowing team for participating in the rowing championship.

    Hotel food contaminated with salmonella was blamed for the incident, just days before the new Schinias Rowing and Canoeing Centre, in extreme northwest Attica prefecture and very near the ancient battlefield of Marathon, was inaugurated. High winds also battered the first two days of the rowing “test event”.

    Conversely, while saying that although any criticism -- such as the ones for the test events -- is welcome, it should also be based on facts.

    On Tuesday, the high-profile ATHOC chief referred to “incompatible attitudes” and “ineffective prevention” on the part of responsible agencies as leading to the embarrassing incident, which marred what turned out to be the mostly flawless hosting of “test events” in another six sports – equestrian, archery, canoe/kayak, sailing, cycling and beach volleyball.

    “Athens has the ability to host magical Olympic Games, and it is working in the best way possible to achieve that goal,” she said, before noting her satisfaction with the holding of the “test events”.

    She also reiterated, as did the IOC’s leadership on several occasions, that such sports events are held to bring problems to the forefront before the actual Olympics are held.

    Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said a comprehensive assessment of how the events were hosted will take place this month, while simply noting that "no one is irreplaceable ... everyone will be evaluated. Whoever is not properly doing their job will be removed. If changes are necessary, I will make them." she said.

    [15] New Zealand police delegation in Athens, discuss Olympic Games security

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Floridis and Greek Police Chief Fotis Nasiakos on Tuesday met a delegation of police from New Zealand, headed by the country's Chief of Police, Robert Robinson.

    Discussed at the meeting, which was also attended by high-ranking Greek police officers, was the issue of the security of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    On Wednesday, the New Zealand delegation will visit Olympic installations and the headquarters of the security department of the Olympic Games.

    [16] Culture minister discusses Olympic Games with Australian ambassador

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday received Australian Ambassador to Athens Stuart Hume and discussed recent comments in the Australian media concerning the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

    Following their meeting at the culture ministry, Venizelos said the ambassador clarified that the various comments in the Australian press and mass media have nothing to do with the official position of the government of Australia and of the state governments.

    The minister noted that the ''press is free, the comments which were published or heard one year before the 2000 Sidney Olympic Games were very harsh, very severe, but nevertheless, he (the ambassador) stressed to me that such type of journalism should not give us any impression whatsoever.''

    On his part, Hume assured the culture minister that the travel advisory issued by the Australian goovernment for Greece , as has been the case for other countries as well, in no way constitutes criticism regarding security in Greece or for the prevarication of the Olympic Games in the security sector.

    [17] Yiannitsis tours prefecture of Rodopi

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis, currently on a tour of the prefecture of Rodopi, northern Greece, told local government officials on Tuesday that ''we have achieved many things all these years, we have achieved them together and we must continue in the same direction, and we will come out winners if we work properly and are realistic and pragmatic.''

    The minister, who was briefed by the local officials and the prefect on the conditions prevailing in the area, said ''there are always problems in the agricultural sector, in infrastructure and businesses,'' noting however that ''we will very soon be in a position to find answers and solutions.''

    [18] Giotopoulos' statement delayed until Thursday

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    The long-awaited rejoinder by alleged “November 17” leader Alexandros Giotopoulos was delayed by a couple of days on Tuesday, as the death in the family of one of the three appellate judges presiding over the trial resulted in a 48-hour postponement of proceedings.

    Giotopoulos -- a self-described translator of French texts and a one-time student activist during the turbulent late ‘60s in Paris who lived for two decades in Greece under an assumed identity -- has denied any involvement with the once-elusive urban terrorist group that plagued the country from 1975 up until the summer of 2002, when authorities believe most if not all of its members were arrested.

    He is expected to make his statement before the court on Thursday.

    [19] Weak tremors register in Iraklion, seismologists appear unconcerned

    Athens, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Three weak earthquake tremors measuring from 3 to 4.3 on the Richter scale were registered in Iraklion, Crete, from Monday night through the early morning hours on Tuesday.

    Seismologists appeared reassuring and said that the tremors, whose epicenter was in the sea area 15 to 20 kilometres north of Iraklion, were superficial, noting that such trembles were common.

    [20] EU regional, cohesion policies key to integration, eurodeputy says

    STRASBOURG, 03/09/2003 (ANA/O.Tsipira)

    Manolis Mastorakis, a eurodeputy for the ruling PASOK party, said on Tuesday that the European Union's regional and cohesion policies were central to integration of the expanding bloc.

    Mastorakis, who co-authored a report on the sector that was approved by the Europarliament, said that the policies also reinforced the single market and economic and monetary union.

    [21] New Greek general consul in Istanbul

    ISTANBUL, 03/09/2003 (ANA)

    Ethnic Greek media here welcomed the appointment of Greece’s new general consul for Istanbul, Alexis Alexandris, who hails from the local community in the city, according to reports.

    Alexis Alexandris was also welcomed on Wednesday as the new General Consul of Greece to Istanbul, by the local Greek community press.

    Istanbul's ''Apogevmatini'' called him a ''close colleague of (late alternate foreign minister) Yiannos Kranidiotis, he is considered the right man in the right place and more so at the right time''.

    [22] President Papadopoulos says Annan's plan could still work

    NICOSIA, 03/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    President Tassos Papadopoulos has said Cyprus wants Turkey to become an EU member, provided its behaves like a European country.

    According to Reuters, in an interview with Turkish daily "Radikal", Papadopoulos said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's peace plan for Cyprus could still work if Turkey and Denktash reconsidered and stressed that he wants a solution to the Cyprus problem before Cyprus joins the EU.

    "We are a small country. We do not have the power to push the EU about. We want Turkey to be an EU member, provided of course that it behaves like a European country,'' Papadopoulos was quoted as saying.

    According to Reuters in his interview Papadopoulos "accused Ankara of wanting to "'keep its finger' on Cyprus" and said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed to share Denktash's thinking on the issue.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    [23] Al-Shara assures of Syria's steady support to Cyprus

    NICOSIA, 03/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Foreign Minister of Syria Farouk al-Shara assured his Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou of his country's steady support to Cyprus, based on principles and consistency which reflect Syria's stance at various international fora.

    The two ministers held on Monday extended talks in Damascus, where Iacovou paid an official visit, during which they discussed apart from the Cyprus problem a broad spectrum of issues of bilateral and international interest, an official statement said here Tuesday.

    Iacovou informed al-Shara on the current stage of the Cyprus problem and elaborated on the positions of the Greek Cypriot side on various aspects of the problem.

    During their talks, the excellent level of bilateral relations was reconfirmed and the ministers examined issues of bilateral interest and cooperation prospects after Cyprus' accession to the EU. Within this framework they also reviewed bilateral agreements that need to be adjusted to comply with the obligations stemming from the acquis communautaire. The Syrian minister informed Iacovou on EU-Syrian relations and prospects for their development.

    The two ministers also discussed extensively regional and international problems, emphasizing on the Middle East, the situation in Iraq and international terrorism.

    Iacovou was also received by Ignatius IV, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East and met with Italy's Ambassador in Damascus Laura Mirachian, where they discussed issues related to the EU's role in the region. Italy is currently holding the EU rotating presidency.

    Iacovou wrapped up his visit with meetings with Syrian Premier Mohammad Mustafa Miro and Speaker of the Syrian parliament Mohammad Naji Al-Otri, during which they discussed bilateral, regional and international issues.

    The Cypriot foreign minister conveyed to al-Otri the wishes of Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias and extended an invitation by Christofias to pay an official visit to Cyprus. Iacovou was due to return home on Tuesday.

    [24] Euro MPs call on Pat Cox to put pressure on Ankara

    NICOSIA, 03/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Greek Euro MP Dimitris Tsatsos speaking to the plenary session of the European Parliament has denounced the expulsion of two Greek Cypriot teachers and their children by the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in Cyprus' occupied areas.

    European Socialists deputy Tsatsos has called upon the President of the European Parliament Pat Cox to put pressure on Ankara concerning the illegal actions of its puppet regime in Cyprus' northern part.

    British Euro MP Theresa Villiers also raised this issue before the Parliament, calling on her colleagues to urge Denktash to allow the school to reopen and highlighting the fact that his refusal to do so aims at driving the few remaining Greek Cypriots away from the occupied areas.

    The Greek Euro MP said Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash had threatened to close the Rizokarpaso High School, the only Greek school in the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.

    ''There is no need to stress how many and which fundamental rights and international treaties are being violated,'' Tsatsos said.

    He briefed the European Parliament on the fears and anxieties of the Karpass Coordinating Committee about the possible expulsion of all remaining enclaved Greek Cypriots starting with families with children.

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