|Wednesday, 23 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-09-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Cabinet focuses on final drive to complete 'Greece 2004' program
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)The regular cabinet meeting on Thursday focused on the final drive to carry out the 'Greece 2004' program, with Prime Minister Costas Simitis urging his ministers to ''complete the government cycle with strength and determination''.
''With the resolution of outstanding issues a climate of confidence in the government will be established and the government will come to the elections with optimism and an air of victory. There are goals, programs, prospects and determination,'' Simitis stressed.
Outlining the results of the meeting to reporters in detail, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that priority would be given in September to the events at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), where the prime minister is due to make his central economic speech on Saturday night.
Protopapas warned that works related to Thessaloniki would not figure in this speech but would be dealt with during meetings with local bodies on Saturday. On Saturday night, Simitis is to give an address at a dinner held in his honor by business people.
Cabinet focuses on final drive to complete 'Greece 2004' program
On Wednesday next week, meanwhile, the cabinet is to convene to discuss the Social Charter and economic convergence, which will be presented by the prime minister at Zappeion later on.
Protopapas said this would be a subject of ''dialogue with the people'', with the charter for each region made an issue of public dialogue within each region.
The cabinet is also due to meet within September to discuss the budget for 2004, to complete debate on regional organization of the country and the electoral law, since Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis will convene a cross-party committee to work on a draft bill for election law reform after September 15.
On September 19, Simitis is to inaugurate a new dock in Igoumenitsa and will be keeping a close watch on the adherence to deadlines for the Athens 2004 Olympics, for which he has stressed that there is ''no room'' for personal antagonism and conflicts.
Over that time, the prime minister will have successive meetings with ministers to monitor the implementation of the 3rd CSF and the closing of final accounts for the 2nd CSF.
In the meantime, PASOK MPs have been given until September 15 to submit their 'statement of means' forms and discussion will have begun on wage scales.
On this issue, Simitis stressed that it would have to be settled on the basis of what the economy could bear and that the government would have ''tell it like it is'' in response to labor mobilization.
Among the major issues to be dealt with within October will be the EU summit for the Intergovernmental Conference, which will occupy the cabinet and also be discussed in Parliament. The Summit will take place on October 16, while PASOK's Parliamentary Group will convene on October 15.
Also within October, the government expects to pass the new developmental law, a new local authorities code and a new law for the 'statement of means' declarations.
The top priority in November will be discussion of economic policy in view of the new budget, while final decisions on election law reform are also expected to be taken at that time. There will also be a meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Narcotics and the prime minister is to tour the regions.
Among the highlights in December will be the EU Summit on December 12-13, the passing of the budget, while the cabinet will meet to discuss small- to medium-sized businesses and shipping policy in view of the lifting of cabotage on January 1, 2004. In the period from January to the elections in Spring, Protopapas said the government planned to complete implementation of the ''social package'' announced on Tuesday, preparations for the Olympics, to complete inspection of the 'statement of means' declarations, to conclude hiring for the new public-sector jobs that had been announced and carry out privatizations, combined with the entry of institutional investors in banks, as well as negotiations for special wage scales.
During this time, the government also expects to prepare a bill on joint funding of public works, upgrade inspection mechanisms at the Agriculture Ministry, take decisions on buildings without planning permission, build a database on immigrants, complete the program for the health sector and hand over the former royal properties to the Greek people, Protopapas said.
 Yiannopoulos, long-time PASOK deputy and minister dies at the age of 85
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Ruling PASOK long-time deputy Evangelos Yiannopoulos died at the age of 85 on Thursday at about 6 a.m. at the Athens Medical Center, following a two-month hospitalization, as of press time the causes of death were not announced.
Yiannopoulos, who graduated from the Athens Law School, was a founding member of PASOK and was elected to the Central Committee of the party continually for consecutive terms since 1976.
He was first elected deputy to the Parliament in 1981, and was reelected since then to date, from the B' District of Athens, while it was also that same year that he was appointed to his first government post, by late prime minister Andreas Papandreou, and served as transportation minister. In the ensuing years, he served from the post of the labor minister, merchant marine minister, minister of the Aegean, and minister of justice.
Yiannopoulos served in the Greek Armed Forces during the Second World War having fought in the Albanian front, against the invading Italian forces and participated actively in the National Resistance Movement against the German-Italian-Bulgarian occupation of the country.
He entered politics in 1950 with the EPEK party and in 1961 he became a member of the Union of the Center political party, while during the seven-year dictatorship (1967-1974) he defended many of those arrested for political reasons, resulting to his eventual arrest and exile.
He was member and often president of numerous grass-roots organizations and professional associations, including the Athens Bar Association, while he also was a local news paper publisher in the 1950s and 1960s
He is survived by his wife and one son and a daughter.
His post as deputy will most likely be filled by Eleftherios Veryvakis.
Giannopoulos to be buried on Monday: Government spokesman Christos Protopapas referred to statements made by Prime Minister Costas Simitis and a number of ministers over the death of veteran politician Evangelos Giannopoulos who died early Thursday.
''He served the country, the people and our movement. He was a unifying voice in PASOK'', Protopapas said.
He said the funeral would take place on Monday at public expense, adding that it would be attended by the Prime Minister and the entire government cabinet.
Political leaders express condolences to family: The political leadership of the country expressed its sorrow over the death of veteran politician Evangelos Giannopoulos, who died on Thursday, at 6 a.m.
Prime Minister and PASOK President Costas Simitis expressed his condolences and those of the government to his family and stressed that as a member of PASOK, Giannopoulos contributed to the successes of the governments to which he was a member.
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis also expressed his condolences to the family of the late parliamentarian, calling him a model politician and a fighter for democracy.
Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis said, on behalf of his party, that Giannopoulos was a fighter all his life and his long political carrier showed a deep focus on his ideas.
Synaspismos party leader Nikos Constantopoulos said that the late deputy was a very significant person of the public life with a distinct action and special contribution to democratic and social ideas.
The Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) issued a press release also expressing its sorrow over the demise of the PASOK deputy.
 Informal meeting of EU foreign ministers to be held at Riva del GardaRIVA del GARDA, Italy, 05/09/2003 (ANA)
An informal meeting of EU foreign ministers begins on Friday at Riva del Garda, near Milan.
No decisions will be taken at the informal meeting but it will be an opportunity for an exchange of views on serious matters concerning the EU's activities, particularly in the sector of institutional reforms and European foreign policy.
The agenda includes the issue of Iraq and the role which the United Nations is expected to be called upon to play in this region, the Middle East issue and European security strategy.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou will attend the informal meeting, as will High Representative for EU Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana.
 Olympic Airways overhaul gets parliamentary approval
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)A government bill to allow the creation of Olympic Airlines, successor to state-owned Olympic Airways, was approved by parliament on Thursday.
Voting in favor of the bill were 52 deputies of the ruling PASOK party with 46 opposition parliamentarians voting against.
Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis told the house that the recreated airline would be in the market for a buyer, aided by banks and the ministries of finance and transport.
The government has tried to privatize Olympic in the past but each attempt fell flat.
Staff of the ailing airline has opposed the government's overhaul plan. A strike on Thursday severely disrupted services.
 Greek govt presents improved public investment report
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Greece's Public Investment Program payments totalled 5.191 billion euros by the end of August, accounting for 58.2 percent of total payments worth 8.918 billion euros, official figures showed on Thursday.
An economy and finance ministry report said that payments rose 41.40 percent compared with the January-August period in 2002, with August payments along totalling 830 million euros. Payments for co-funded projects totalled 2.418 billion euros, while for national projects totalled 2.773 billion euros.
Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas, presenting the report, said that "our main aim is to continue and accelerate our course towards convergence in all sectors, approaching the EU's strongest economies and to intensify our efforts to complete economic and social cohesion that will contribute in improving living quality and prosperity for every Greek citizen".
 Foreign capital needed to repair Road Axis 10, minister says
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Foreign investments will be needed to complete the rebuilding and repair of Road Axis 10 through Serbia, since the sums available from both Greece and Serbia did not cover the funds required, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos said on Thursday at a special event at the Thessaloniki International Fair focusing on Greece's National Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (NPERB).
He said the Greek government intended to exert pressure for the start of work on the section of the road within the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as soon as possible, however, hopefully within the next six months.
On the section of the road running through Serbia, he said delays had been caused because the Serb side had not yet submitted an application for funding from the NPERB, even though the Greek side had earmarked 100 million euros for the project, which Serbia will have to match with 140 billion euros.
According to Serb Deputy International Economic Affairs Minister Geordana Lazarevic, however, the total cost of rebuilding the road on Serb territory will come to about three billion euro, with an additional one billion for peripheral infrastructure such as petrol stations, service centers, parking lay-bys etc.
So far, Serbia has sought the aid of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank, securing approval for a loan of 600 million euros.
More information on the procedures and deadlines for this project was expected to be available on October 14-15 when Greek President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos visited Belgrade, Loverdos said.
He described Road Axis 10 as the largest project in the NPERB, with particular symbolism, and expressed confidence that the 100 million euros provided by Greece will act as a start in attracting more foreign capital to this investment.
During the event at TIF, a list with the official proposals for funding under the NPERB was handed out, concerning six major public works projects in Balkan countries. The program has also given 14 million euros to 18 private ventures representing a total investment of 50 million euros.
So far, 22 proposals for the funding of smaller public works, budgeted at 660,000 euros, have been submitted.
 Finance Minister rejects opposition criticism of social package
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Thursday that criticism by the main opposition party of the government's new social package was unwarranted.
''I would advise ND to stop panicking about the possible fiscal repercussions that application of the measures announced by the prime minister will have,'' Christodoulakis told reporters in the Cretan town of Hania.
''This panic only goes to show the conservative party's rage against any kind of social policy. We will go ahead with our social policy and expand it, side by side with progress in growth and prosperity,'' he added.
 Price hikes 'the biggest problem facing Greeks', Karamanlis says
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Rocketing prices were the biggest problem currently faced by Greek people according to main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis, in statements made after a meeting with the consumer groups INKA, the Union of Greek Consumers and EKPOIZO on Thursday.
High prices and inflation were perhaps the present government's ''greatest failure'' Karamanlis continued, claiming that Greek citizens were daily faced with a 'European' cost of living that had to be covered with salaries that stood at just 57 per cent of the Community average.
Responding, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said the ND leader's statements "fully reflected the impasse and confusion within ND" and that the positive results arising from the government's efforts to combat unemployment and high prices were known to all.
 Greek FDIs slow significantly in 2002, UNCTAD report
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Foreign Direct Investments in Greece fell in 2002 to 50 million US dollars from 1.58 billion dollars in 2001, a report by the United Nations on Commerce and Development said on Thursday.
The World Investment Report showed that Greece was a negative investment pole last year, although Greece's FDI Stocks remained steady above 12 billion US dollars in the last three years at 12.056 billion dollars in 2002.
The report also ranked Greece in the 113th position among 118 countries in the list of FDI Performance, and in the 36th position (one step lower from 2001) in the list of FDI Potential Index.
Greece also ranked 28th in a list of 30 economies hit by an economic slowdown in 2002. In absolute numbers, FDI fell almost by 2.0 billion dollars in Greece, while the US - the leader in the list - suffered FDI losses more than 113 billion US dollars. Spain ranked seventh, France 12th and Portugal 24th in the list.
Foreign Direct Investments fell 21 percent in 2002 globally to 651 billion US dollars, after registering a 40 percent fall in 2001. The 2002 figure is half the 2000 total, reflecting decreased inflows to 108 out of a total 195 economies in 2002.
Outflows were reduced in 73 out of a total 151 countries, UNCTAD's report said. Outflows from the US rose 15 percent to 120 billion dollars, while in the EU outflows fell by 13 percent to 394 billion dollars and in Japan they fell by 18 percent to 31 billion dollars.
Developing countries' investments fell by 4 billion US dollars to 43 billion, while investments from Central and Eastern Europe rose by 700 million dollars to 4.2 billion, with the Russian Federation the leader investor in the area.
A fall in foreign investments in the period 2001-2002 (the biggest in the last three decades) is attributed to a combination of macro-economic factors (weak economic growth, or recession in several developed countries, and falls in stock markets) micro-economic factors (low corporate profits) and institutional factors (slowdown in privatization, corporate scandals, bankruptcies) worldwide.
UNCTAD said that the volume of foreign investments to developing countries accounted for one-third of their Gross Domestic Product in 2002, up from 10 percent in 1980.
Global volume of foreign direct investments totalled seven trillion US dollars in 2002, 14 times more than in 1980.
 Statistics service reports on Greek regional GDP in 2001
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)The regions of Central Greece, Southern Aegean and Attica recorded the highest per capital gross domestic product (GDP) in the country in 2001, while Western Greece, Eastern Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus the lowest GDP rates over the same period, the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
The NSS report showed that Central Greece recorded the highest per capital GDP figure (5,792,281 drachmas), followed the Southern Aegean region (4,590,513 drachmas) and Attica (4,308,112 drachmas).
On the other hand, Thrace and Epirus were the poorest regions (measured on per capita GDP) with 3,223,211 drachmas and 3,269,905 drachmas respectively.
NSS, however, stressed that both Thrace and Epirus were growing faster than the country's average growth rate, at 8.0 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.
Central Greece (9.2 percent) and Ionian Islands (8.2 percent) recorded the highest growth rates in 2001, while the average per capital GDP rose by 6.8 percent in Western Macedonia and 5.3 percent in Thessaly.
The report also showed that the Attica and central Macedonia regions accounted for 55.5 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product, with Attica accounting for 37.7 percent, western Macedonia for 2.8 percent and southern Aegean for 3.0 percent.
 Gov't counters Alpha Bank report on "social package" spending
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Spending on development now was higher than in the past, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Thursday, in response to comments made in a market report released by Alpha Bank on Wednesday, which said that the government's newly announced "social package" would increase the public deficit by 2.4 per cent of GDP.
Unlike in past eras, when only 35 per cent of public spending concerned developmental policies, the current figure for development-related government spending was 75 per cent, Protopapas said.
The spokesman stressed that the social package was connected to the course of the domestic economy, and he pointed to that were the outcome of reductions in defense spending.
''Everything is programmed. All the measures that are not institutionalized are within budget'', he said.
 Strike disrupts Olympic Airways flights
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)A 24-hour strike by civil aviation workers on Thursday severely disrupted Olympic Airways flights, mainly to destinations abroad.
The Federation of Civil Aviation Unions went ahead with the stoppage despite a court ruling declaring the action illegal.
In addition, flight attendants collectively called in sick, apparently to bypass the repercussions of staging a strike ruled as illegal.
Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis said he had ordered an enquiry into the affair.
Workers are protesting against a government bill to restructure Olympic Airways, which is to be renamed Olympic Airlines and restrict its business to flights.
 Greek stocks extend decline for fifth session
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended lower for the fifth consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Thursday, unable to recover from a recent strong wave of profit taking.
The general index ended 0.18 percent down at 2,138.91 points, off the day's lows as a bout of buying orders late at the session helped share prices recover early lost ground.
Most sector indices ended higher, with the IT Solution (2.42 percent) and IT (0.77 percent) sectors scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day, while the Retail (2.25 percent), Holding (1.94 percent), and Insurance (1.26 percent) sectors suffering the heaviest percentage losses.
Turnover was a moderate 154.2 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.07 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.72 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 0.61 percent higher.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 163 to 153 with another 55 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Cosmote, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, Alpha Bank, National Bank of Greece, and Football Pools Organization.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover
at 141.5 mln euros Thursday
Equity Index Futures:
Total turnover in derivatives market: 141.5 mln euros
Bond Market Close:
Sellers match buyers on Thursday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of September 4 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,090 1,065
 Athens Mayor and ATHOC chief have working meeting on Olympic Games
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni met the head of the Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) Gianna Angelopoulos at the Athens Town Hall building on Thursday for a working meeting focusing on the 2004 Cycling Road Race that is to take place in the centre of the city.
After the meeting, Angelopoulos praised the Athens Municipality on its good organization for the race, saying it showed the high level of municipality services.
Bakoyianni said Athens would continue cooperation with ATHOC with ever increasing intensity up until the Games and that the Municipality's goal was that Athens should gain from this sporting experience.
 Alleged N17 leader denies charges, doesn't condemn group
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)''I don't agree with the actions of N 17, but I don't condemn them'' alleged November 17 mastermind Alexandros Giotopoulos stressed In his long-awaited rejoinder before the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court that began on Thursday.
''The actions of the 'organization' constitute armed political struggle, which aimed at overturning the system. Such action did not develop in an angelic society, it can not be judged based on the criminal code,'' Giotopoulos said.
After he concluded his statement, during which he often consulted prepared notes, Giotopoulos stubbornly refused to answer any questions put to him by the prosecutor on the bench, claiming bias on the latter's part, while he refused to remain on the stand to answer questions put by those representing civil suits in the case - a stance also adopted earlier by Dimitris Koufodinas, a man described as the operations chief of the terror group that has admitted his involvement in N17.
Throughout his statement, Giotopoulos strenuously denied any involvement with N17 and claimed that his entanglement in the case was a well set up ''communications plan'' worked out by the British and the Americans. According to the 62-year-old man that went by the alias Michalis Economou for many years, this plan aimed to downgrade a specific political action and to entangle in the case of terrorism people that acted against the dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974) and remained at large.
Asked by presiding judge Mihalis Margaritis, shortly before the end of the court session, whether he would have the courage to admit his involvement if he were a member of the group, as Dimitris Koufodinas had done, Giotopoulos replied:
''I'm heading for a life sentence now, I'd get a life sentence then. What difference would it make? I'm also being called a coward.''
In his statement, Giotopoulos said the fact he had never been arrested during the years of the dictatorship, despite his intense activity as a member of the group LEA, had worked against him since he had not joined any political party after the restoration of democracy in 1974. ''Most of those that resisted (the dictatorship) gained fame following their arrest and conviction,'' he said.
Speaking of his use of an alias, he said that he changed his name to Economou in 1971 in France, when French authorities discovered a suitcase with LEA's archival material.
He added that he kept the alias after the restoration of democracy in Greece, claiming that he had developed social relations with that name, but also mainly because he was afraid that he would have been found and would have to face the consequences of his actions, as he had mainly acted against Americans.
Giotopoulos continued his statement claiming that his name was the only one, among those now accused of N17 actions with him, that had surfaced before and not immediately after the accidental explosion of a bomb in the hands of an N17 member, which led to the unraveling of the murderous terrorist group.
He underlined that his name had been known to the British and American secret services since 2000, adding that his person facilitated the communications plan of the British and Americans, since it covered three basic points.
He outlined the points saying that they included his lack of political cover, the fact that he ''disappeared'' after the restoration of democracy and the past of his late father - an internationally known Trotskyist.
Giotopoulos argued strongly that the communications plan for the arrest of N17 had been drafted by foreign specialists and pivoted on the existence of a leader.
''Any Greek would have knowledge of the Left and would know that this space is by its nature against any form of leadership. This plan was worked out by foreigners who have as their model the IRA and are targeting Anglo-Saxon public opinion, which cannot accept the capture of group without the arrest of a leader,'' he said.
Giotopoulos said police had tried to intimidate him into confessing to the early N17 hits, for which the statute of limitations had expired, in order to support this communications plan and cover up ''their utter ignorance about the creation of N17 and its early activities'', while they had also studiously cultivated the ''myth of a dominant personality within the group'' to support the leader scenario.
Giotopoulos stressed that no small group of the Left has leaders, while even the ''instructors'' are always on the front lines, adding that if that had happened with him there should be scores of witnesses to recognize him as participant in the actions of the terrorist group.
Responding to charges that because of his education was the leader of the terrorist group, he said that seven of his co-defendants had a better educational background than that of his.
Giotopoulos also claimed that he was intimidated by police, which, according to him, threatened to extradite him to the United States and made mention of the deposition of journalist Costas Bakatselos, who was and eye witness to the murder of publisher Nikos Momferatos, saying ''his case was enlightening on how a false witness is made, as well as how the court is ready to support its judicial opinion on this perjury''.
Apart from producing false witnesses, Giotopoulos also accused police of falsifying physical evidence. He said that all of his fingerprints that police claim to have found within N17 safehouses were on movable objects that could have been planted there, while their number was excessively large in comparison with the number of fingerprints found for Savvas Xiros and Dimitris Koufodinas, both of whom admitted having entered the safehouses in question.
Regarding the testimony of Savvas Xiros, he said this had been extracted by the use of mind-altering drugs, while in the case of Patroklos Tselentis, one of the accused that has admitted his membership in N17 and identified Giotopoulos as a member, he claimed that he had a deal with police.
In closing he claimed his innocence once again and said that the majority of the Greek people know this fact, as shown in an opinion poll where only 20 per cent believe him to be the leader of N17.
Giotopoulos' examination will continue on Friday, repeated a request that Giotopoulos be cross-examined simultaneously before the court with fellow-accused Tselentis and Sotiris Kondylis.
 European Parliament adopts report on fundamental rights in the EU
STRASBOURG, 05/09/2003 (ANA/O.Tsipira)The plenary session of the European Parliament with 221 votes in favour, 195 against and 23 abstentions, on Thursday adopted a report on the situation concerning fundamental rights in the European Union in 2002 submitted by French Euro-deputy Fode Sylla.
The report, which focuses on the conditions for arraignment and detention, the protection of personal data and the right to asylum, makes it clear that the human rights situation in the Union caused concerns in 2002, and that it took a turn for the worse in several cases.
With a special reference to Greece, the Euro-deputies ask that the Greek government abolish the criminal law provisions included in article 43b of legal decree No.2623/1953/A-268, which provide for a penalty of incarceration up to twelve months for women that violate a rule that bans the presence of women at the monastic community of Mt. Athos.
Moreover, they asked for the abolishment of legislation that penalizes religious proselytization and that followers of the Muslim faith are allowed to build mosques.
With regard to military duty, they asked that Greek law ruling on the duration of alternative, non-military duty, be revised.
They also asked that Greece signs the European Chart on regional and minority languages and adopt a more aggressive policy for the eradication of racist behavior.
Finally, they asked that Greece ratifies the framework Agreement of the Council of Europe applying to the protection of national minorities and amend national legislation that provides for different ages of consent for sexual relations based on sexual orientation.
Sylla's report was voted down by the parliamentary group of PASOK deputies.
The head of the PASOK deputies George Katiforis submitted to the Presidium of the European Parliament a written justification for the group's negative vote, which included the following:
''Mt. Athos enjoys a special status which was ensured through Common Declaration No.4 in the Accession Treaty signed between the EU and Greece.
The Annex to the Final Act of the Amsterdam Treaty includes Greece's statement which refers to the Common Declaration on Mt. Athos that was added to the Final Act of Greece's Accession Treaty''
Katiforis noted that this year's resolution on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU presented Greece as having made significant progress in the respect for religious freedom and the freedom to worship.
Moreover, he said Greece was praised for the development of independent services to monitor police activities and the operation of rehabilitation institutions, while the European Parliament welcomed the efforts made by the Greek authorities to put together a program for the incorporation of the Rom population, also recognizing the fact that many positive measures have been taken for gender equality.
''The report makes a series of recommendations to all EU member-states'', Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis said.
''In reference to Greece, it notes the progress that has been achieved in a number of critical sectors'', he added.
''With regard to Mt. Athos, it should be emphasized that the area is governed by a status tied to a thousand-year-old history, traditions, values, symbols and religious faith for our country ... The position of the Greek government remains consistent in support of this reality. I also feel that the negative stance adopted by Greek euro-deputies on the entire issue expresses and underlines the serious historical, religious and cultural dimension of the issue and the need for respecting divergence within the framework of the complete safeguarding of human rights.''
Greek Euro-deputy Anna Karamanou (PASOK), who also heads the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities, in a release, welcomed the recommendations of Sylla's report for the ''safeguarding and implemen-tation of democracy, equality and respect for women's rights in daily life and practice''.
 'Dialogue of Civilizations' world forum begins on Rhodes
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)A mostly Russian-backed international forum entitled Dialogue of Civilizations began on an ambitious note in the Greek holiday island of Rhodes on Thursday, with hundreds of delegates from around the world including former prime ministers and high-ranking religious leaders - arriving for three days of panel discussions ranging from security to globalization to dialogue between faiths and cultures.
The forum on the cosmopolitan Dodecanese island is organized by the Center of National Glory of Russia and the St. Andrew the First Foundation, with dozens of top Russian officials and high-ranking representatives of all three major religions in that country and the Balkans Christianity, Judaism and Islam participating.
Delegates from Asia and the Middle East, including prominent participants from India and Israel, are also attending in the forum, officially backed by the heads of states in Russia, Lithuania, Iran and Uzbekistan.
 Report by PASOK Eurodeputy Zorba on European cultural industry adopted
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)The Plenum of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday adopted a report by PASOK Eurodeputy Myrsini Zorba on the present and future of the European cultural industry, a matter which concerns all European Union citizens and in essence the future of European culture, the Press Office of PASOK's Parliamentary Group in the European Parliament announced.
The report refers to the current situation and to the problems faced by European creators of cultural products and makes specific proposals for measures, the implementation of which will be to the benefit of European culture and of European cultural industry, one of Europe's major industries from an economic point of view.
 8th Inter-Christian Symposium being held in Ioannina
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos, Pope John Paul II and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, in messages they sent to the 8th Inter-Christian Symposium being held in Ioannina, northern Greece, expressed their hope for unity.
The symposium, on the theme ''Spiritualism and Christian Teachings in the East and the West,'' comes to a close on Friday evening.
Addressing the symposium, Ioannina Metropolitan Theoklitos noted that inter-Christian symposiums can contribute to the unity of the world and vindicate the mission of the Church.
 Seminar on cultural tourism to be held in Corfu
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)The Ionian Islands' region and tourism authorities in cooperation with the World Tourism Organization are organizing a two-day international seminar on "Cultural Tourism in Balkan States", September 19-20, in Corfu.
Scientists and culture and tourism authorities are expected to present their recommendations in the seminar, aimed to help the Balkan region to benefit from an increasing popularity of cultural travel and to promote the region's cultural identity.
 Greek writer Ilias Petropoulos dies of cancer
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Greek author and poet Ilias Petropoulos died in a Paris hospital on Thursday after struggling with cancer for two years.
Petropoulos was born in Athens in 1928 and studied law at Thessaloniki University, while he settled permanently in Paris in 1973.
Among his works are "The Handbook of a Good Thief" published in 1979, which helped make him known to a wider audience, and several works of prose and poetry published in Greek and French between 1968 and 1993.
He was notable for his fondly irreverent and acute insight into Greeks and Greek society, which provided the themes for most of his work. His last novel, for example, was entitled the "The Turf-cutter" (O Kouradokoftis) and inspired by the craze for G-strings.
His books managed to earn Petropoulos four convictions for the "anarchist nature" of his writing from Greek courts, three of which were issued during the 1967-1974 dictatorship in Greece.
 Ecocinema 2003 to be held in Rhodes from 9 to 14 September
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)A total of 65 films will be screened at the 3rd International Environmental Film Festival (Ecocinema 2003) that will take place on the Dodecanese island of Rhodes from 9 through 14 September, with the participation of a host of significant stage directors from Greece and abroad.
''This year's festival is taking place in the shadow of an unfavorable international political situation," Ecocinema head Elias Efhtymiopoulos said.
Organizers said that selection of this year's films was based on a broad thematic basis, proposing the development of an environ-mental consciousness as an element of daily life.
 U.S. extends restrictions on imports of Cyprus Byzantine materials
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)The United States on Wednesday extended an emergency import restriction on Byzantine Icons and other ecclesiastical materials from Cyprus, unless they are accompanied by an export permit issued by the government of the Republic of Cyprus, a press release issued by the U.S. embassy in Athens stressed on Thursday.
''The determination to extend this restriction for three years, the maximum allowable by law, was made after considering a favorable recommendation from the Cultural Property Advisory Committee,'' the press release added.
The initial emergency restriction went into effect in April 1999 and came as a response to a request of the Cyprus government, which sought protection of its cultural heritage, calling on Article 9 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property.
Cyprus was the first Mediterranean country to seek help from the U.S. in protecting its cultural heritage.
The Byzantine heritage of Cyprus is well known all over the world and many monuments on the island are included in the World Heritage List of protected monuments.
Objects made of metal, ivory, bone, textiles, stone, and frescos are included on the list of the prohibition and the creation dates for such materials range from the 4th century AD to the 15th century AD.
''The Department of State carries out decision-making responsibilities under the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (of the U.S. Congress). The Act enables the United States to impose import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological material,'' the press release underlined.
Since the 1974 invasion and continued occupation of the northern part of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkish forces, many Byzantine monuments and religious artifacts and materials from the occupied regions were plundered and exported for profit, as the government has no control of the region.
 Macedonia-Thrace Union of Journalists to boycott all TIF inauguration events
Athens, 05/09/2003 (ANA)Macedonia-Thrace Union of Journalists (ESHEM-TH) in a release issued on Thursday said it would boycott all events associated with the inauguration of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) to protest what it said was a negative stance adopted by Press Minister Christos Protopapas opposite the problems faced by journalists.
''It is with great regret that we once more discover the government's contempt, and particularly that of Press Minister Christos Protopapas, toward the rule of law that should govern employer-employee relations," said the release which was signed by the Union's Board of Directors.
More specifically, ESHEM-TH said they protested ''the minister's refusal to revise the status of the (journalists) fixed term contracts, which, in place of regular employment contracts, concerns almost all the journalists that offer their services at ERT 3 and the regional ERT radio stations."
The Union's board said they would intensify their efforts until ''full satisfaction of the justified demand of the journalists that work at public radio and TV stations, for the implementation of the principles of labor law, as also foreseen by European Union regulations."
 Cyprus spokesman describes Erdogan's statements 'false'
NICOSIA, 05/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)The government on Thursday described as false and inaccurate statements made by Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Berlin on Cyprus.
Invited to comment on Erdogan's allegations that the Greek Cypriot side did not respond to Ankara's substantial steps and that Turkey did not reject the Annan Plan, the spokesman said that Erdogan's statements are ''false and inaccurate.''
On Erdogan's allegations that Greece's Prime Minister Costas Simitis told him he is unwilling to discuss an issue which will not be solved and that they agreed to meet to talk without intervention by third parties, Chrysostomides said that he is not aware of such issue, nor about any meeting.
 Poos condemns signing of illegal 'deal' in occupied areas
BRUSSELS, 05/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)European Parliament Rapporteur on Cyprus' accession to the European Union Jacques Poos strongly condemned the signing of the so-called "framework agreement for a customs union" between Turkey and the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in the occupied north of Cyprus and called on the Commission and the EU Council to intervene.
His statement was made during Wednesday's meeting of the EU-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee, in view of the 24th meeting of the committee that will be held in Luxembourg from September 29-30.
Poos condemned in the strongest manner the signing of the "framework agreement" and called on the European Commission and the Council to urgently condemn the "illegal and unacceptable" action.
He said the EU Council should react in the same way that the UN Security Council had reacted to the proclamation of the illegal regime in the north because the so-called ''framework agreement'' ''flagrantly violates community legislation."
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the islands territory.
 Cyprus spokesman criticizes Turkey's position on Loizidou case
NICOSIA, 05/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)The permanent representatives at the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers should decide whether they accept Turkey's delaying tactics regarding payment of compensation it owes to Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou in a case of human rights violation, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here Thursday.
''In May President Papadopoulos expressed reservations and raised doubts whether Ankara's stated intention to pay damages was indeed a real commitment on the part of the Turkish government to comply with the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the Loizidou case,'' he said.
The spokesman was commenting on the position adopted Wednesday by Turkey's permanent representative at a Committee of Ministers meeting, who rejected the wording in a reply to a question addressed to the Committee. The reply committed Turkey to payment.
In June Turkey's permanent representative to the Council told a Committee meeting that his government had begun taking the necessary measures with a view to allow the Committee to ascertain at its meeting in early October the payment of just satisfaction to Loizidou.
The Cypriot and the Greek representatives at the June meeting sought certain clarifications from their Turkish colleague who assured them that his declaration did not contain any preconditions and explained that the damages will be paid by October this year.
''The President of the Republic had pointed out at the time that Turkey's intentions were not clear in the wording of a statement by the Turkish Representative before a Committee meeting in June. Three days later, Turkey's Foreign Minister set out preconditions and now it looks as if Turkey's intention is to seek a postponement of the issue so that it does not pay the damages,'' the spokesman added.
''What the other Permanent Representatives at the Council of Europe should do is to decide whether they condone Turkey's approach which is tantamount to ridiculing the Council,'' he added.
Concluding, he said that the Turkish delegation on Wednesday tried to gain time without committing itself to any previous statement it had made.
The European Court of Human Rights ordered Turkey to pay Titina Loizidou 600,000 dollars for loss of use of her property, 40,000 dollars for moral damages and about 260,000 dollars for costs, in addition to eight per cent interest as of 28 July 1998.
Loizidou's house is situated in the northern town of Kyrenia, occupied by Turkish troops since 1974.
 Italian EU presidency to investigate Rizokarpaso schools prohibition
BRUSSELS, 05/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)The Italian presidency of the European Union will investigate the refusal of the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus to allow the operation of schools in the occupied village of Rizokarpaso.
The issue was raised during a plenary session of the European Parliament, which examined human rights.
Italy's Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Roberto Antonione, replying to a question by Greek Coalition Euro MP Alecos Alavanos, informed the European Parliament that the Presidency will carry out an investigation and will take the necessary action.
Alavanos told the plenary that the occupation regime is prohibiting the opening of the Gymnasium at the occupied village of Rizokarpaso and only a few days ago they asked teachers who were to teach at the only elementary school in the occupied areas, to leave.
The Greek Euro MP called for the urgent intervention of the Council of Ministers so that the school and gymnasium can operate and the children and their families will not be forced to abandon Rizokarpaso.
The Italian Undersecretary took the stand to reply to the issue which Alavanos had raised, stressing that he would immediately look into it and if necessary inform the European Parliament.