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

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

September 9, 2003


  • [01] Greek inflation eases to 3.3 percent in August, yr/yr
  • [02] PM's itinerary for the coming week
  • [03] Gov't on possibility of UN mandate for Iraq
  • [04] Greek foreign minister to visit Cyprus, U.S. in September
  • [05] Europarliament honors late president Karamanlis
  • [06] PM holds talks with PASOK Secretary ahead of Tuesday's Executive Bureau meeting
  • [07] Ex-minister Veryvakis expected to assume Yiannopoulos' seat
  • [08] Former Indian premier signs Olympic Truce declaration
  • [09] Social, economic charter to match Lisbon targets, PM says
  • [10] Gov't, ND spokesmen trade charges
  • [11] Trade unionist brushes off government's social package
  • [12] Greece-Cyprus trade up sharply in 2002
  • [13] Gov’t to table draft law seeking lower car prices
  • [14] Petrol station owners threaten with strike action
  • [15] Greek stocks end sharply down on Monday
  • [16] Interviews for 2004 volunteers around Greece begin this month
  • [17] Veteran politician, attorney Yiannopoulos laid to rest
  • [18] Vartholomeos expresses optimism over Halki School of Theology reopening
  • [19] Greek youth rank 1st in consumption of tobacco and alcohol in Europe
  • [20] Nikea municipality mayor arrested for overdue debt
  • [21] Organization of World Heritage Cities symposium to be held in Rhodes Sept. 23-26
  • [22] Washington's Shakespeare Theater to perform in Athens
  • [23] Cyprus FM Iacovou denounces illegal Turkey-pseudo state agreement
  • [24] Cyprus FÌ Iacovou satisfied with three-year extension of US import restriction

  • [01] Greek inflation eases to 3.3 percent in August, yr/yr

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greece's annual inflation, measured by the consumers' price index, fell to 3.3 percent in August from 3.6 percent in July, the National Statistics Service said on Monday.

    NSS, in its monthly report, said that the inflation rate was 3.5 percent in August 2002.

    The consumer price index was unchanged in August from July, after recording a 0.2 percent increase in the same period last year.

    Harmonized inflation was running at 3.3 percent in August compared with the same month in 2002, the core inflation (excluding volatile fuel and fresh produce prices) fell to 3.0 percent in August from 3.8 percent in August 2002.

    NSS's secretary-general, Nikos Karavitis, commenting on the August inflation figures said he did not exclude a further fall in inflation over the next few months as fresh produce prices were steadily falling.

    The August CPI figure reflected a 5.6 percent increase in food and non-alcohol drinks' prices, a 4.8 percent rise in hotel, coffee, restaurant prices, a 4.6 percent increase in education prices, a 3.6 percent increase in transport prices and price rises of 3.3 percent and 3.0 percent, respectively in services and housing. Communication prices, however, fell 3.6 percent in August.

    [02] PM's itinerary for the coming week

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    The government spokesman on Monday announced the prime minister’s itinerary for the coming week, following a weekend when Premier Costas Simitis inaugurated the Thessaloniki Inter-national Fair with a customary state-of-the-nation speech where he cited an extra social spending package worth 2.6 billion euros.

    On Tuesday the prime minister will brief President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos, followed by a meeting with National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis.

    Later on Tuesday, he will chair a session of the ruling party’s executive bureau.

    The so-called “economic and social charter” will be unveiled by the government on Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting, followed by a public event at the Zappeion Hall.

    The premier will chair an inter-ministerial meeting on Thursday focusing on security for the 2004 Olympic Games of Athens, following his visit to a local school in the Athens area.

    Finally, on Friday Simitis will meet with Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis before receiving a group of noted Greek athletes, and followed by a meeting with the leadership of the exporters’ association.

    [03] Gov't on possibility of UN mandate for Iraq

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Monday said it would support the United Nations in case the international organization approves any new mandate for strife-ridden Iraq.

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas also reiterated Athens’ standing policy of choosing alternatives towards aiding the reconstruction of ravaged countries -- similar to the detachment sent to Afghanistan -- rather than dispatching combat troops overseas.

    Protopapas made the statements in reply to press questions at a regular briefing on Monday.

    [04] Greek foreign minister to visit Cyprus, U.S. in September

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou is due to carry out a working visit to Cyprus on Wednesday and Thursday, during which he will have talks with the country's state and political leadership.

    During the meetings and the dinner that will be given in his honor by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, talks with cover all aspects of the Cyprus issue and preparations for Papadopoulos' visit to Athens on September 16.

    While on Cyprus, Papandreou is also due to speak at an event organized by Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot teachers at the Ledra Pallas Hotel about the future of education on Cyprus.

    According to foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis, however, Turkish-Cypriot opposition parties have refused an invitation to meet with Papandreou during his visit and exchange views on the Cyprus issue.

    The spokesman said that the possibility of a new initiative for Cyprus on the part of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appeared unlikely at this time, given that the intransigent attitude of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash did not create the right conditions for the resumption of talks.

    At the same time, he noted that the final target was the full accession of Cyprus to the European Union on May 1, 2004.

    On a planned visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to Athens, Beglitis said that no firm date had yet been decided but it would probably take place within October.

    On Monday, meanwhile, Papandreou will represent the Greek government at the inauguration of a new European Parliament hall bearing the name of Constantine Karamanlis and will then travel to Sweden to take part in the campaign initiated by Swedish Premier Goran Persson for Sweden's entry into the Euro-zone.

    After his return from Cyprus, Papandreou is next scheduled to visit the United States on September 15-16 to receive a prize for his work as head of the EU Council of Ministers, while he is also expected to meet US Secretary of State Colin Powell and White House Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

    [05] Europarliament honors late president Karamanlis

    BRUSSELS 09/09/2003 (ANA- A. Panagopoulos)

    The European Parliament on Monday honored late president Constantine Karamanlis, with a somber event, for his contribution to the efforts for the European integration.

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis - nephew of the late president - members of the European Parliament's European Peoples' Party (EPP) and leading members of ND were present at the event.

    In his address to the dedication of a hall of the Europarliament to the name of the late president, Costas Karamanlis stressed that every leader is judged by his ability to set and achieve visions, by his ability to foresee conditions, by his ability to prioritize and his talent to understand each step forward.

    He underlined Karamanlis' unwavering faith in the European prospect of Greece, noting his belief of Greece's position in Europe, which was so intense that as the late president said time and again, ''his soul became dry to achieve it''.

    EPP President Wilfred Martens also addressed the event underlining that Karamanlis was a great leader, who believed for the political integration of Europe to go forward with success, it would have to be cultivated more intensely and with passion.

    ''The inheritance of Karamanlis is not fading with the years, rather it is growing stronger,'' Martens said.

    On his part, Papandreou noted that despite the fact that late president Karamanlis did not express his political party, he recognized the contribution of Karamanlis to the accession of Greece to the European Union.

    Papandreou underlined that the accession opened a new page in the history of the country and noted that the Greek people today accept the European vision in its overwhelming majority, while there was a wide understanding between the political forces of the country concerning the European issues.

    He welcomed the initiative of the Europarliament to safeguard the European memory adding that this was an owed and just honor to Constantine Karamanlis.

    Kaklamanis also addressed the event, calling Karamanlis a great Greek Europeanist leader, who believed with a passion in the role Greece can play in Europe.

    He added that Karamanlis detested intolerance and fanaticism, noting his great contribution toward the reconciliation of the Greeks.

    Europarliament President Pat Cox underlined that the hall that was named after Karamanlis is the bridge connecting the two buildings of the Europarliament and thus symbolizes the connection and cooperation between the European countries.

    ''Karamanlis was a great Greek Europeanist before such terms came to be,'' Cox concluded.

    [06] PM holds talks with PASOK Secretary ahead of Tuesday's Executive Bureau meeting

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis held a one-hour long meeting with ruling PASOK Central Committee Secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis in Athens on Monday night in view of Tuesday's session of the party's Executive Bureau.

    No statements were made after the meeting. However, press sources said that they discussed issues which will concern Tuesday's Executive Bureau meeting.

    In particular, the two men discussed ways to coordinate the action of the government and party, and more specifically how the party will support in an organized way the government initiatives.

    A second issue which will preoccupy Tuesday's meeting of the Executive Bureau, and which was discussed during the Simitis-Chrysohoidis talks, concerns the formulation of the tickets for the upcoming elections, an issue which, according to a decision taken by the Executive Bureau's previous session, must close by the end of October.

    Under discussion will also be the issue of the international symposium on the theme "the future of socialism", with the participation of prominent European socialists, which is scheduled to take place by the end of November.

    [07] Ex-minister Veryvakis expected to assume Yiannopoulos' seat

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Veteran PASOK cadre and former minister Lefteris Veryvakis is expected to assume the Parliament seat left vacant last week after the death of long-time deputy and former minister Evangelos Yiannopoulos.

    The runner-up in Athens’ second election district (the largest in the country) on the PASOK ticket and next in line for Yiannopoulos’ seat -- former minister Yiannis Haralambous -- announced on Monday that he will decline the Parliament seat because of his ongoing term as the mayor of Nea Ionia, a large municipality in northwest Athens.

    Veryvakis was next in line on the PASOK ticket in the specific election district after Haralambous.

    [08] Former Indian premier signs Olympic Truce declaration

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Former Indian premier Inder Kumar Gujral on Monday added his signature to those of the other prominent international personalities who have signed the Olympic Truce declaration at a special event held at the Greek foreign ministry.

    Gujral had earlier met with Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis.

    [09] Social, economic charter to match Lisbon targets, PM says

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Monday that a social and economic charter to be announced this week would match targets set in the European Union's Lisbon summit that aim to make the bloc the world's most competitive economy by 2010.

    Among the targets are boosting employment among women, increasing benefits for people with special needs, lowering joblessness, and boosting entrepreneurship.

    The goals were reaffirmed at the EU's spring and summer summits held under Greece's rotating presidency of the bloc.

    The alignment charter is due for announcement on Wednesday.

    [10] Gov't, ND spokesmen trade charges

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    The government spokesman on Monday charged that main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis was simply offering afterthoughts in response to ruling PASOK’s initiatives.

    “The prime minister’s goal (at the TIF inauguration over the weekend) was to show where we are going; to showcase the country’s prospects and the ongoing work. It is a wager we must win, as the upcoming four-year period entails high risks,” government spokesman Christos Protopapas said.

    In response, ND spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos charged that “Mr. (Costas) Simitis, with his appearance in Thessaloniki, chose to write a disastrous epilogue to his tenure as prime minister, with a barrage of promises, blackmailing dilemmas and irresponsible danger-mongering”.

    “The Greek people cannot be bought out, it cannot be entrapped. Greek women and men are determined to turn the page, period,” Roussopoulos stressed.

    [11] Trade unionist brushes off government's social package

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    A leader of the civil servants union said on Monday that a social package recently announced by the government represented a marginal adjustment for inflation.

    ''If trade unionists' demands on labor issues are not met, then we are likely to stage industrial action in October,'' the ADEDY union's deputy president, Ilias Vrettakos, told a news conference in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

    ''The measures contained in the so-called social package to support the jobless, people on low pensions, and the poor are handouts that do not provide what these social groups require,'' Vrettakos said.

    He added that a proposal by Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on a new pay scale kept base wages low and retained inequalities in pay and pensions.

    [12] Greece-Cyprus trade up sharply in 2002

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greece was the biggest supplier of Cyprus in 2002, for the first ever, with Greek exports totalling 237.3 million pounds, while Greek tourists to Cyprus is up 10 percent so far this year, officials figures showed on Monday.

    Andreas Savvidis, chief inspector at the Commerce-Industry-Tourism Ministry of Cyprus, speaking to reporters during a news conference at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, stressed that bilateral trade transactions were rising by an average annual 9.1 percent rate over the last seven years totalling 279.8 million pounds in 2002, from 171.6 million pounds in 1996, an increase of 63.1 percent.

    Cypriot exports to Greece have almost doubled over the same period to 22.4 million pounds in 2002 from 11.7 million pounds in 1996.

    George Ioannidis, manager of the Tourism Organization of Cyprus, Athens office, said he expected tourist arrivals to fall by 5-10 percent this year, continuing a 10 percent decline in 2002. Mr Ioannidis said that a total of 2,420,000 tourists visited Cyprus in 2002 with tourism revenues totalling 2.0 million euros.

    He stressed, however, that the volume of tourism revenues remained steady at last year's levels in 2003, a sign that Cyprus was attracting quality tourists. Tourist arrivals from Greece totalled 93,217 in 2002, up 3.0 percent from the previous year, with this year's figure likely to rise by 10 percent.

    The number of tourist arrivals from Cyprus to Greece ranged annually between 150,000-180,000. "Greece is the first destination for Cypriots," Mr Ioannidis said. He expressed his satisfaction over the fact that Cyprus attracted one-seventh of Greeks traveling abroad.

    Mr Ioannidis said Cyprus was seeking to attract tourists from the former Soviet bloc, the US and Japan.

    The central bank of Cyprus issued 50 licenses to Cypriot citizens to invest to Greece in 2002, with invested capital totalling 30.9 million pounds.

    The biggest investments were made in the hotel and restaurant, contracting, commerce and real estate sectors.

    Greek investments to Cyprus totalled 24.4 million pounds in 2002, up from 16.4 million in 2001. The money was primary focusing commerce, services, tourism and industry.

    Cyrpus participates at this year's Thessaloniki International Trade Fair as a EU member-state for the first time this year, marking its 43rd participation since its independence.

    [13] Gov’t to table draft law seeking lower car prices

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    The Greek government is expected by Tuesday to submit to parliament an amendment envisaging reductions in registration duties for new and used cars imported to Greece.

    The measure, included in a "social package" of measures worth 2.3 billion euros announced Prime Minister Costas Simitis last week, envisages an average reduction of 20 percent in registration duties for new imported and used cars and motorcycles in the country.

    The measure aims to speed up a modernization of the country's car and motorcycle fleet, to reduce emissions and improve road safety around the country.

    [14] Petrol station owners threaten with strike action

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    The union of Greek petrol station owners on Monday threatened with indefinite strike action unless the government finds a solution to a dispute over the use of cashier machines in petrol stations around the country.

    The union will meet with representatives of the finance and development ministries on Tuesday in a last attempt to find a compromise solution.

    [15] Greek stocks end sharply down on Monday

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks fell sharply on Monday in the Athens Stock Exchange as investors continued taking profits after a five-month rally of prices.

    The general index dropped 2.55 percent to end at 2,091.70 points, with turnover a moderate 121.3 million euros.

    All sector indices suffered losses, with the Publication, Holding, Insurance, IT and Textile sectors recording the heaviest percentage losses of the day (more than five percent), while the Telecommunications sector suffered the smallest losses (1.05 percent).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 2.29 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index plunged 4.39 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 5.01 percent down.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 336 to 22 with another 10 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 146.0 mln euros Monday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): Close to fair value

  • Underlying Index: -2.29% percent

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

  • Underlying Index: -4.39 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (3,275)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 146.0 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Monday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.40 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 12 bps

  • Most heavily traded paper: 10-yr, expiring May 2012 (1.052 bln euros)

  • Day's Total Market Turnover: 3.1 bln euros


    Closing rates of September 8 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,116 1,090

    [16] Interviews for 2004 volunteers around Greece begin this month

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    The selection process to choose volunteers in four Olympic cities – besides Athens – begins on Tuesday for Irakleio, Crete; Patra, Volos and Thessaloniki.

    Athens 2004 Olympic Organizing Committee (ATHOC) staff-members will visit all four cities over the next two months, with interviews planned with would-be volunteers.

    To date, some 23,000 interviews with potential volunteers for the 2004 Games have been conducted.

    [17] Veteran politician, attorney Yiannopoulos laid to rest

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Veteran political and PASOK cadre Evangelos Yiannopoulos was buried on Monday at the Athens First Cemetery following a funeral service attended by many of the country’s top political, parliamentary and judicial leaders.

    Yiannopoulos, 85, died on Thursday after a lengthy stay at an Athens hospital. He was an elected member of Parliament at the time of his death and had served as a minister in charge of various portfolios in every PASOK government since 1981.

    Leading a delegation that included practically the entire Cabinet, Prime Minister Costas Simitis said “democracy, popular rule, civil rights are considered self-evident over the past few years. But it was not always so. Those are the ideals for which Evangelos Yiannopoulos fought for; his life was a constant struggle, and he brought the winds of change to the labor movement, to labor relations, to the judiciary and to society.”

    All of the country’s major political parties as well as dozens of groups ranging from the Athens Bar Association, where the feisty and well-known Yiannopoulos served as president in the 1970s, to associations of wartime partisans were represented at the funeral.

    Yiannopoulos is survived by his wife, two children and grandchildren.

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos officiated at the funeral service.

    [18] Vartholomeos expresses optimism over Halki School of Theology reopening

    ISTANBUL 09/09/2003 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Monday reiterated his optimism that the Halki School of Theology will soon reopen its doors.

    In a rare appearance on television, for an interview to CNN Turk, Vartholomeos expressed his optimism, and was given the opportunity to explain to Turkish society issues concerning the Patriarchate that create confusion.

    ''We do not want to become a second Vatican,'' he said, explaining the historic origin of the title ecumenical and the position of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in the structure of the Orthodox Church, stressing that the title does not allude to secular power.

    He allayed the fears of Turkish society and noted that these arguments were used by the conservative nationalistic party of Turkey against the Patriarchate.

    Then, also responding to questions during the interview, he spoke in detail of the aims of the Theology School in Halki, underlining that Turkey will be the greatest beneficiary of the results from its reopening.

    [19] Greek youth rank 1st in consumption of tobacco and alcohol in Europe

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    Greek boys and girls, aged 7-18, are increasing consuming alcohol and cigarettes using the majority of their weekly allowances, a survey by INKA said on Monday.

    The survey said that Greek youths ranked 1st in Europe in the consumption of tobacco products and alcohol.

    The survey revealed that 77 percent of Greek pupils, using their increased weekly allowances, were adopting bad eating behavior and were consuming larger quantities of alcohol and cigarettes.

    Consumption of alcohol drinks and cigarettes begins at the age of 7-9 both in boys and girls, it becomes worrying at the age group of 10-12 and climaxes at the age groups of 13-15 and 16-18, the survey said.

    INKA said that young boys and girls up to the age of 12 were using 11 percent of their allowance to buy cigarettes and alcohol, with the percentage rising to 32 percent for the age group 13-15 and 47 percent for the age group 16-18.

    [20] Nikea municipality mayor arrested for overdue debt

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    The mayor of Nikea municipality west of Athens was arrested on Monday as he failed to pay an overdue 10,000 euro bill to a publishing company for an illustrated photography book.

    Mayor Stelios Benetatos was arrested after he forcefully stopped the confiscation of the municipality's assets, the right for which the publisher had won in court, at that point the publisher filled a lawsuit against the mayor and police arrested him.

    The 10,000 debt was the overdue balance of a 30,000 euro debt to the publisher.

    Benetatos was released after he promised to pay the outstanding balance to the company.

    [21] Organization of World Heritage Cities symposium to be held in Rhodes Sept. 23-26

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    New strategies for the management of the historic cities will be discussed during the 7th international symposium of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (O.W.H.C.) which will be held in the medieval city of Rhodes from September 23-26, under the auspices of UNESCO.

    Hundreds of mayors and representatives of the 188 historic cities will meet during the four-day period in Rhodes, as well as scientists and technocrats who deal with issues of preservation, projection and management of cultural heritage.

    At the same time, under the auspices of UNESCO, a separate forum will be held of youths aged between 16 and 19, who were selected by the World Heritage cities, who will discuss and propose programs for the protection of ''vulnerable'' historic cities.

    [22] Washington's Shakespeare Theater to perform in Athens

    Athens, 09/09/2003 (ANA)

    The Washington based Shakespeare Theater will hold two performances of the ''Oedipus Cycle'' on Wednesday and Thursday in Athens' Herod Atticus ancient theater.

    The direction of the three plays, set in Africa and performed by Afro-American actors, is Michael Kahn and the proceeds will go to the construction of the American-Greek Center of Arts located in Halandri Attica, which will open at the end of 2004.

    The Shakespeare Theater performed the famous ancient trilogy of Sophocles two years ago in the United States and Kahn's next goal is to undertake the ''Orestias''.

    The performances are taking place under the auspices of the U.S. embassy in Athens.

    [23] Cyprus FM Iacovou denounces illegal Turkey-pseudo state agreement

    NICOSIA 09/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Foreign Minister Georgios Iacovou stressed before the Informal General Affairs and External Relations Council, that took place in Italy September 5-6, the need to solve problems between EU member states and among EU member states, acceding countries and applicant countries.

    Iacovou told the press after his arrival in Cyprus that he specifically referred to Turkey, which has signed a customs union agreement with the EU. The minister said Ankara had to negotiate an agreement with Cyprus, something it has not done so far.

    ''Turkey has failed to do just that and in addition it chose to sign a framework agreement for customs union with a non existent state, without consulting the EU. These problems have not been solved despite the fact that I have pointed them out in a letter I sent to the Commission and to the President of the Council,'' Iacovou said.

    He noted that his impression from a discussion he had with the President of the Informal Council and other members is that ''Turkey is trying to ease the negative fallout of her actions, by saying that this so-called framework-agreement will not be ratified by any constitutional institution in Turkey and therefore the EU should not worry.''

    Iacovou said that the issues which the Council addressed were Common Foreign Policy and Security Policy High Representative’s Javier Solana proposals on European security, the Intergovernmental Conference, which will look into the new European Constitution and various international and regional issues as the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

    [24] Cyprus FÌ Iacovou satisfied with three-year extension of US import restriction

    NICOSIA 09/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Ministry has expressed satisfaction with the decision of the American government to extend for three years an import restriction on Byzantine ecclesiastical and ritual ethnological material from Cyprus, unless such material is accompanied by an export permit issued by the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

    In a press release on Monday the ministry said the categories of Byzantine ritual and ecclesiastical ethnological material subject to the import restriction include objects of metal, wood, ivory and bone, textiles, stone (mosaics) and frescos. They range in date from approximately the 4th century AD through approximately the 15th century AD.

    The ministry said the restriction first went into effect in April 1999 in response to a request from the government of the Republic of Cyprus seeking protection of its cultural heritage under 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.

    The three-year extension of the restriction is the maximum allowable by US law, the press release concluded.

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