|Friday, 13 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-09-10
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>September 10, 2003
 PM Simitis briefs President Stephanopoulos on domestic, foreign issues
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday briefed President Costis Stephanopoulos on domestic and foreign issues, focusing mainly on economic developments, the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations.
The main topic of discussion was "the convergence for greater prosperity, which presupposes stability and is achieved through development," Simitis told reporters after the one-hour meeting.
"We have stability and high growth rates, but we must all contribute to and take advantage of the opportunities, because convergence is not given to us as a gift by others, just as (Greece's membership in the) EMU was not given to us as a gift," Simitis added.
He said that September was the month of exercise of economic policy, adding that the guidelines for convergence would be unveiled on Wednesday.
The premier also said that the budget figures had already been calculated and the drafting of the budget would be completed by the end of the month, adding that next month's discussions in the EU on the European Constitution and the Intergovernmental Conference would somewhat divert attention away from economic policy, which he noted was of primary concern to the citizen.
 FM visits Sweden to promote country's Eurozone accessionSTOCKHOLM (ANA - F. Karaviti) 10/09/2003
Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday stressed the significance of Sweden's accession to the Eurozone, during his visit here.
Papandreou is visiting the Scandinavian country at the invitation of the country's Prime Minister Goran Persson, in light of the referendum to be held in the country on Sunday for the country's accession to the Eurozone.
''Sweden has a strong economy and a long tradition of social welfare and the defense of democracy. This tradition and its strong voice we need in all decision making centers within the European Union,'' Papandreou said.
The Greek minister will participate in a series of events promoting the ''yes'' vote for the accession.
Swedish FM praises Greek counterpart for his human rights efforts: 'Turkey must have good relations with its neighbors and with regard to the European Union but also with Greece. It must continue its reforms on the issue of human rights and the minorities' rights. Thus, its prospects for accession to the European Union will be improved,'' Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh told the ANA on Tuesday on the sidelines of events which the Swedish government held in order to promote the adoption of the euro, which were also attended by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.
''Greece's policy with regard to Turkey's accession course is exceptionally constructive,'' Lindh added, stressing the relevant efforts by Papandreou. ''Personally, Papandreou has particularly helped in the sector of human rights in Turkey and not only to the benefit of Greece but also to the benefit of the Turks themselves.''
 Papandreou gives pep talk to Greek national basketball team
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)The Greek men's national basketball team, which is competing here in the European Basketball Championship, has qualified for the last ''8'' of the tournament.
Greece will play against Italy in the quarter-finals on Thursday evening.
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is currently visiting Sweden and participating in the Swedish government’s campaign in support of the adoption of the euro, on Tuesday visited the Greek team during a training session.
''On a number of times you have made us proud of your performance. We are close with you in soul and body for the next phase,'' Papandreou said,'' directing himself to both the players and coach Yiannis Ioannidis.
The latter thanked the minister ''for the great honor'' but also the Greek community in Sweden who all these days support the efforts of the national team.
 Papandreou refers to Cyprus visit
STOCKHOLM 10/09/2003 (ANA - F. Karaviti)The coordination between the governments of Greece and Cyprus concerning the ''necessary changes to the Annan plan'' is one of the main targets of a two-day working visit by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou to Nicosia which starts on Wednesday.
''We must see how we can support more effectively these proposals for changes (to the Annan plan) and find ways to bring down the taboos that (Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf) Denktash has raised all these years between Greek and Turkish Cypriots,'' Papandreou told the press here on Tuesday.
Papandreou, who is in Stockholm participating in the Swedish government’s campaign in support of the adoption of the euro, added that the ''EU has its attention focused on the 'elections' that will take place in the occupied areas. It is awaiting the signal of the Turkish Cypriots. From Turkey, in any case, we are receiving, through private and public discussions, the assurances that Ankara wants a solution of the Cyprus problem. Besides, Turkey's European accession course will be judged by this issue as well.''
 T/C opposition party leader on prospects of meeting with Greek FM
NICOSIA 10/09/2003 (ANA/G. Leonidas)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou will meet with the Turkish Cypriot community parties, albeit not officially, during a lecture the Greek minister will deliver at Ledra Palace Hotel in the buffer zone on Wednesday.
During their meeting they will discuss the present phase of the Cyprus problem, as well as the steps to be taken next.
Earlier, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot party “United Cyprus” cited what he called a misunderstanding regarding a reputed refusal by Turkish Cypriot opposition leaders to meet with Papandreou.
The Greek FM will arrive on the island republic on Wednesday for a two-day visit.
In referring to media reports about the issue, party leader Izet Izcan said the T/C opposition’s proposal was for a meeting at the Ledra Palace, on the ‘no-man’s land’ between the government-controlled areas of the island and the Turkish-occupied northern half of Cyprus, or even at another location in the free and unoccupied areas.
Izcan said the issue is simply one of misunderstanding, while expressing a hope that it will be overcome within the day, thereby allowing for the meeting to occur.
Government on Turkish-Cypriot opposition parties and FM: Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday avoided comment on the refusal of Turkish-Cypriot opposition parties to meet with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou during his visit to the island on Wednesday and Thursday, saying only that the invitation on the Greek side had been correct.
He suggested that this refusal might be linked pre-election concerns among the Turkish-Cypriot parties.
 PASOK Executive Bureau meets, PM to announce Convergence Charter on Wednesday
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Ruling PASOK executive bureau ascertained a change in the political climate at its Tuesday night meeting, Central Committee Secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis said.
The issue was brought up by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in his opening address and all the members of the Executive Bureau agreed with the prime minister's assessments.
Chrysohoidis said the climate was positive and hopeful for the ruling party, adding that PASOK will remain dedicated to its work and targets. He added that PASOK has a political upper hand over the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party and had superior members and was implementing the April 2000 program.
Also discussed at Tuesday night's meeting was the drafting of the Convergence Charter which will be announced on Wednesday by Simitis. Simitis briefed the members of the Executive Bureau on the basic directives of the Charter.
Also discussed were internal matters and it was decided for the party's National Council to be convened on October 9-10 to debate the Convergence Charter and the organizational initiatives which must be taken as well as the strategy plan which the party must adopt ahead of the forthcoming general elections.
Gov't spokesman: Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday reiterated that the Social Charter announced by the government represented the operations plan for its program, which was designed to begin now and unfold while the next government was in office, coming to completion at the end of the next four-year term.
The spokesman repeated this clarification in response to questions and stressed that the government would make a commitment to meet specific targets and figures based on the charter.
Regarding pay rises demanded by certain professional groups, Protopapas said the government was doing its utmost to provide the best possible solution that the economy could bear.
''We would like to hope that the parties will not make other moves during this phase,'' he added.
With regard to the threatened strike by petrol station owners, Protopapas called on ''everyone to do what they could so the ordinary member of the public does not face a problem with his petrol tank.''
 Karamanlis, Prodi discuss European Constitution issues in Brussels
BRUSSELS 10/09/2003 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis met with European Commission President Romano Prodi on Tuesday and discussed the upcoming intergovernmental conference, the developments concerning the draft European Constitution, and the agricultural policy of the Union.
According to sources, during talks the two men arrived at the conclusion that it would be very difficult, but not unattainable, to conclude talks on the European Constitution during the Italian EU presidency.
Karamanlis stressed that the new European Constitution is a huge step forward, but many more remain to be done and stood for the Community type of approach to the Union's governance and against the Intergovernmental cooperation type of governance and requested the upgrade of the Europarliament's role.
Both Karamanlis and Prodi agreed that each member-state should be represented by its own commissioner in the European Commission.
 Coalition leader slams main parties at TIF interview
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Tuesday leveled harsh criticism at both the government and main opposition New Democracy, accusing them of trying to stage an "old-style party-political conflict that will not touch on the real issues but continue the same policy, regardless of the results of the elections".
At a press conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), Constantopoulos also accused the government of ruling PASOK and Prime Minister Costas Simitis of being unreliable.
"A question is raised regarding the credibility of the political speech expressed at this time and the pre-election game that is being set up," he said.
He also noted that Simitis had ruled out early elections in the past and then proceeded to declare polls prematurely.
 Parties of the left call for a fully proportional election system
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)An event designed to coordinate the actions of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) and of the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) toward the change of the election law to a fully proportional system, took place in the Panteion University on Tuesday.
Speakers from all three parties called for the institutionalizing of a simple proportional system and denied the argument that such a system would lead to unstable governments.
They called for action toward that aim, through the publishing of a declaration, the tabling of a draft law for establishing a fully proportional system and via a protest rally during the day the new election law will be discussed in Parliament.
 Deputy development minister visits island of Ikaria
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos visited the Aegean island of Ikaria on Tuesday, accompanied by high-ranking Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) official and an MP for Samos.
The visit aimed to brief local bodies on a program for spa resorts, while sources claim that there will be an auction of the Spilia spa on October 1, with a budget of 860,000 euros.
 Greece calls for faster return of self-rule to Iraq
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday reiterated that Greece was in favor of a time plan to accelerate the process of returning self-rule to Iraq.
Protopapas was responding to questions.
 Property issue will be a thorny problem after Cyprus settlement, minister says
NICOSIA 10/09/2003 (ANA - G. Leonidas)The issue of the property of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will be the thorny problem which the Interior Ministry will have to cope with after the settlement of the Cyprus issue.
Cypriot Interior Minister Andreas Christou said on Tuesday, in an exclusive interview with the Athens News Agency, that the most serious challenges for the ministry will be evaluation of the property, the payment of compensation or the exchange of properties, as well as the housing of those who wish to resettle at their properties.
Christou clarified that the Turkish Cypriots have the right to return even now to their properties.
In such a case, he said, ''the government is prepared to study separately every case which will be presented, without any rights for the facilitation of the needs of the refugees be affected.''
 FinMin says gov't has "clear targets, specific policies" on economy
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)The Greek government is mapping out clear targets with specific policies and detailed costing for the next four-year period 2004-2008, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a three-hour meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis to finalize details on a new government program aiming to promote economic and social convergence, Mr Christodoulakis said that these policies would seek speedier growth in the next few years, raising employment and creating a society of cohesion and solidarity.
The Greek minister noted that Greece achieved the great goal of participating in EMU in the past and underlined that the aim, in the current four-year period, was to maintain high growth rates and reduce unemployment.
Mr Christodoulakis stressed that the government's targets for to 2004-2008 period "were not wishful thinking but specific policies".
Prime Minister Costas Simitis is expected to unveil the government's program on Wednesday.
 Greek GDP up 0.4 percent in second quarter, Eurostat says
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Greek Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose 0.4 percent in the second quarter of 2003 from the previous quarter, with growth exceeding both the eurozone and the EU average, Eurostat said on Tuesday.
Eurozone's GDP shrank 0.1 percent in the April-June period, while it remained unchanged in the EU-15, the EU executive's statistics agency said in a report.
Spain (0.7 percent) and Finland (0.6 percent) recorded the biggest growth rates in the second quarter of 2003, compared with the first quarter, while Denmark and the Netherlands recorded the biggest quarterly decline (0.5 percent each).
EU Monetary Affairs' Commission, Pedro Solbes, commenting on the GDP figures said that European economic growth rates "were disappointing" in the first six months and predicted a slight recovery in the second half of the year.
Gerassimos Thomas, European Commission's spokesman, stressed that a recovery would depend on retail sales, consumer confidence, rising investments and an expected recovery in global economy and particularly in the US.
Eurostat expects GDP growth of 0-0.4 percent in the third quarter and 0.2-0.6 percent in the fourth quarter in the eurozone.
 Trade unions reject proposal to reduce welfare contributions
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)GSEE, Greece's largest trade union umbrella, on Tuesday strong rejected a proposal by Labor Deputy Minister Rovertos Spyropoulos to cut workers' contributions to the Social Insurance Fund (IKA).
GSEE, in a statement, urged the government not to begin a dialogue on this issue.
The trade union urged the government to respect an agreement reached during a recent social security reform plan on the regulatory framework of funding the country's social security system.
The statement stressed the need to increase revenues by social security agencies and categorically rejected any calls for reducing contributions to the system.
Labor Deputy Minister Rovertos Spyropoulos in an interview with a daily newspaper on Tuesday said that a successful combat of contribution-evasion created the preconditions for a possible reduction of contributions by both employers and workers by as much as 30 percent.
 Greek exporters want lifting of trade barriers in Turkey
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Greek exporters are demanding the lifting of all trade barriers imposed by Turkey to Greek exports, in their effort to boost exports to the neighboring country.
The Greek Exporters' Union, in cooperation with the state-sponsored Export Promotion Organization, have informed the country's economy and finance ministry over problems facing in their transactions with Turkey.
Ministry officials said that problems facing Greek exports were attributed to lack of information over the prospect of raising exports and to the fact that Turkey was a manufacturer of similar products with Greece and that it was imposing trade barriers to protect its producers.
Greek exports to Turkey rose by 10 percent only in the first four months of 2003, while imports from Turkey soared 76 percent over the same period.
Greece's National Export Council last week unveiled a strategy to promote exports to Turkey and Canada.
 Gov't amendment restricts fee rises for schools to 3.8 per cent
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)An amendment to be tabled in Parliament will restrict the rise in fees by all private educational institutes to 3.8 per cent for the next academic year, the development ministry announced on Tuesday.
The restriction applies to all classes included in the mandatory teaching program but not optional after-school activities, such as riding, drama etc, or the fees charged by boarding schools.
For parents who have already paid higher first installments, the ministry said the difference would be deducted from their next payment.
Deputy Development Minister Kimon Koulouris warned that owners of private schools and tuition institutes would face stiff fines if they did not conform to the new law.
He said the amendment was due to be passed in the next few days by Parliament's standing committee, during a meeting with representatives of private school organizations and of parent and guardian associations.
 Pensions reform not an issue at 'this specific period', Protopapas says
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday stressed that the issue of reforming the social insurance system was "closed for this specific period in time," and that any thoughts on this concerned the future.
Responding to questions, he noted that the solution found had been bravely subsidized from the state budget and any further thoughts on pensions reforms were being referred to a committee for dialogue set up by the Labor Ministry.
 Gas station owners call off strike
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Petrol station owners on Tuesday called off a strike following agreement with the government in lengthy talks.
A union meeting endorsed late Tuesday night the pact.
Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos chaired the meeting, which included representatives of the union, oil trading firms and the finance ministry.
Gas station owners agreed to install electronic cash registers at the pumps compatible with tax department regulations; and a price ceiling will be set in two weeks on liquid fuel in Corfu, Crete, the Dodecanese islands, Arta, Ioannina and the Cyclades islands.
 Greek stocks continue losing ground on Tuesday
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks remained under heavy pressure for one more session to end sharply lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
The general index fell 1.39 percent to end at 2,062.72 points reflecting heavy losses in bank shares, particularly National Bank (-4.40 percent) and Alpha Bank (-4.0 percent).
Turnover was a moderate 155.9 million euros. The Cement sector was the only one to score gains (+0.02 percent), while the Publication (5.10 percent), IT Solution (4.06 percent) and Holding (3.25 percent) sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks fell 1.89 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.80 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index dropped 2.24 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 284 to 47 with another 30 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 163.7 mln euros Tuesday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of September 9 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,122 1,096
 Greek bond market August report
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Global government bond markets remained under pressure in August with trading activity at relatively low levels, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.
In its monthly report on the domestic and foreign bond market, the central bank said that bond prices ended the month with losses as recent economic figures, released in the US and Japan, reinforced hopes of speedier growth in both countries, while encouraging figures over Germany's business climate raised the prospect of a recovery in eurozone economy in the next few months.
Greek government bonds, traded in the electronic secondary securities market (HDAT), suffered losses between 23-241 basis points in August. The seven-year bond, maturing in May 19, 2010, recorded the biggest fall with its price ending August at 111.83 (yielding 3.96 percent) frm 113.24 (3.76 percent) in July. The 10-year benchmark bond eased to 102.15 (4.32 percent) from 102.95 (4.22 percent) over the same period.
The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German state bond rose to 14 basis points, recovering from an historic low of 13 bps in July.
The yield curve steepened with returns increasing towards the short-end (28 bps for the three-year bonds), while the yield spread between the three- and 20-year bond eased to 190 bps in August from 216 bps at the end of July.
This development reflected mainly a reviewing of expectations over monetary policy in the US and Europe, the central bank said in its report.
The value of transactions totalled 52.24 billion euros in August, down from 60.34 billion euros the previous month and 57.24 billion euros in August 2002.
Investors' attention focused on longer-term bonds, particularly 10-year securities which accounted for 83 percent of total turnover, the report said.
 Prosecutor recommends first guilty verdicts in N17 trial
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)The chief prosecutor at the unprecedented “November 17” terrorism trial on Tuesday initially called for guilty verdicts against a handful of suspects, while sharply condemning some of the most recognizable of the 19 defendants during the his closing argument.
Prosecutor Christos Lambrou first called for a guilty verdict against the lone female defendant, Angeliki Sotiropoulou, saying she was “awash in N17’s criminal activity”. He also said there was enough evidence to convict veteran anti-state labor activist Yiannis Serifis on charges of complicity and participation in the terrorist group that first appeared in December 1975 with the assassination of Richard Welch, the reputed CIA station chief in Athens. If convicted, Yiannis Serifis could face up to 10 years in prison.
However, Lambrou reserved his most vitriolic comments for two of the most prominent defendants: the alleged mastermind of the group, Alexandros Giotopoulos, as well as Sotiropoulou’s current spouse, the notorious group’s reputed “operational chief” and top assassin, Dimitris Koufodinas.
“What type of citizen is he (Giotopoulos)? He didn’t serve his country; He never filed a tax return; He didn’t have a voter’s booklet; Did he ever love Greece? Did he ever care for the people of this country? Does he deserve the right to have an opinion? Mr. Giotopoulos only knew how to kill and fire rockets. But he considered voting as pointless,” prosecutor Lambrou said.
In referring to Koufodinas’ acceptance of “political responsibility” for N17’s various actions over the decades vis-a-vis Giotopoulos’ categorical denial of any involvement with the once-elusive terrorist group, Lambrou said there is no difference between the two.
“Don’t think that the Koufodinas statement fails to fall within this framework. Don’t believe that one is different from the other. Just as they had divvied up roles during ‘N17’s’ activity, so too has each assumed his role in this courtroom.”
The prosecutor, one of two at the trial being presided over by an appellate-level three-judge panel, said the Paris-born Giotopoulos’ refusal to provide an oral rejoinder (instead, he attempted to read from prepared notes) also proved his guilt.
“I greatly concerned myself with the facts in this indictment, as I was afraid I may treat him unfairly. But I didn’t see anything, not a tiny bit, that would have caused me even the slightest doubt,” Lambrou said, while referring to Giotopoulos as an arch-conspirator, a natural leader of the terror group, its ideological mastermind as well as the author of its capacious proclamations.
Giotopoulos, the son of a noted pre-war Trotskyite, achieved minor notoriety as a student activist in Paris in the late 1960s, where he was also visible, according to court records, in activity directed against a military junta then ruling Greece. He literally vanished around 1975, after the restoration of democracy in Greece, only to turn up again on the remote Aegean island of Lipsos as “Michel Economou”. Giotopoulos was arrested on the island in the summer of 2002 as he was about board a hydrofoil.
Just as noteworthy is the fact that although Greek authorities were searching for Alexandros Giotopoulos since 2000 – following a high-level meeting with French intelligence officials – the connection with “Michel Economou”, a self-described translator of French texts and the long-time companion of a French teacher in Athens, wasn’t made until his arrest.
Lambrou continued by saying Giotopoulos returned to Greece to “block democracy, to injure its institutions and to overthrow the form of government.
“He began moving in the dark; inciting young people, exploiting and using them to participate in violence and terrorism. He himself is a professional failure, slothful and unemployed,” Lambrou charged during his final argument in a specially modified jailhouse courtroom at the Korydallos penitentiary, southwest of downtown Athens.
Returning to the lone female defendant, the prosecutor recommended that Sotiropoulou – the ex-wife of the first man arrested in the case following a botched bombing, Savvas Xiros, and Koufodinas’ long-time companion – be acquitted for the June 2002 Piraeus port blast that led to the terror band’s apparent eradication. Conversely, he called for a guilty verdict against her on a simple complicity count in the murder of British defense attache Stephen Saunders in June 2000.
As far as other defendants mentioned on Tuesday, Lambrou said he will recommend leniency for Patroklos Tselentis, because of the latter’s “sincere repentance”. If taken into consideration by the judges, Tselentis would avoid a life sentence if found guilty.
As far as Pavlos Serifis is concerned, a blood relative of Yiannis and Thomas Serifis, the prosecutor said notebooks found in the group’s safehouses show that he received a substantial amount of money from the terror group’s booty, even though he (Pavlos Serifis) was incapacitated due to a severe injury, Lambrou said.
In describing the entire group, the prosecutor said the court was trying “crimes and criminals” not ideologies, calling the defendants “pseudo-revolutionaries, murderers, robbers, thieves and cowards”.
The second prosecutor, Vassilis Makris, was due to make his final argument afterwards.
 Athens mayor inaugurates new kitchens for homeless, children
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni on Tuesday inaugurated the brand-new, ultra-modern kitchens at the Municipal Nursery, which are designed to daily cater for 6,000 children, homeless people and economic migrants in the capital.
The new kitchens form part of an overall drive to upgrade municipality services to the public.
They have the capacity to cater for the needs of 39 municipal nurseries, in addition to 300 homeless people, 150 economic migrants and 40 children at the new immigrants' creche.
In addition, the municipality aims to cover the catering requirements of 46 former state nurseries that have come into its care in the near future.
 Hellenic Festival to get new chairman after Koukos departs
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)As expected, composer Periklis Koukos resigned as chairman of the Hellenic Festival SA board during a meeting of shareholders to elect a new board for the coming year.
The three-year term of the previous board ended in September and the board meeting was held on Monday evening.
Resisting requests to retain the post, Koukos remained firm in his decision and noted that the program for 2004 was largely complete, so that the changeover should be relatively smooth.
The new Hellenic Festival board, comprised of George Voulgarakis, Argyris Manikas, Grigoris Mourgelas, Olga Daifa, Costas Paschalis, Polyhronis Polyhronopoulos and Tassos Roussos will convene on Wednesday to elect a new chairman from among its members.
 Russian Fleet vessels to visit port of Patras
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Two Russian warships, belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, will be visiting the western port of Patras on Thursday and Friday, and several events have been scheduled for the duration of the visit.
The naval cruiser "Moskva" and the frigate "Smetlivy" will arrive in the port of Patras on Thursday, September 11, carrying vice-admiral N. Massorin. While in Patras, the crewmembers will visit the church of Aghios Andreas to worship the relics of the Saint, who is the patron saint of the city and also of the Russian navy and is depicted on the flags of all the Russian naval vessels.
Two concerts have been planned in the central streets and squares of Patras during the vessels' visit, by the Russian Navy's woodwind orchestra, on Thursday and Friday.
Also on Friday, the public may tour the ships from noon to 3:00 p.m., while the Russian Fleet Commander will lay a wreath at the tomb of the war heroes at National Resistance Square.
 Greeks, Italians live longer without disease than any other Europeans
BRUSSELS 10/09/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)Greeks and Italians have the longest life spans free of disease, according to a European Commission report, drafted to show the social conditions in Europe.
According to the report, Greeks and Italians live free of serious illnesses longer than any other Europeans, with the average age of men being up to 67 years and for women up to 70 years of age.
In comparison the EU average is 63 years for men and 66 for women, while the life expectancy of the EU citizens rose by eight years since 1960 to 75 years for men and 81 for women.
In addressing the issue of unemployment the Commission's report noted that Greece was second only to Portugal in the percentage of unemployment with 10.5 per cent of the active population, compared to a 7.4 per cent Union average.
Also, Greeks were shown in the report as the most prone to live in poverty even after the welfare provisions, with 21 per cent of the population being close to the poverty line, when the Union median is 15 per cent.
 Ecumenical Patriarch to visit Libya
ISTANBUL 10/09/2003 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos will arrive in Libya on Wednesday for an official visit and will meet with the country's leader Muammar Qadhafi and with representatives of the World Islamic Call Society.
Vartholomeos aims, with this visit, to mitigate the differences that may be kindled after the Sept. 11th attack, while his second aim is to promote the inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue.
The Patriarch will deliver a speech at the Islamic College on the relations between Christians and Muslims and will hold mass at the Greek-Orthodox Church of Agios Georgios in Tripoli.
 Parliament speaker meets head of Australia's northern territory gov't
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on Tuesday received the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Government of Australia Clare Martin in Athens. He said their talks had focused on bilateral relations between Australia and Greece and the historic ties between the Australian and Greek peoples, which were renewed in the common battle against fascism and the Nazism at the Battle of Crete.
''We always honor Australians and New Zealanders that fought here for freedom and human ideals and gave their lives on Crete and our other islands,'' Kaklamanis said.
More specifically, the discussion covered educational problems faced by Greeks in Australia.
 Series of HAU seminars for professionals this month
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)The Athens-based Hellenic American Union (HAU) is inaugurating a cycle of seminars outside of the Greek capital as of this month, with separate seminars in Kastoria, northern Greece, and Larissa, central Greece, respectively.
The first seminar is entitled “Management Overview for Managers” (Sept. 23-26) and lasts for a total of 16 hours, while the latter is entitled “Strategic Marketing Management & Trade Marketing Activities” (Sept. 29 to Oct. 1) and lasts 12 hours.
Meanwhile, a intensive four-day workshop on computer security, especially network firewall security for the protection of http, SMTP and DNS services, is being organized by the HAU in Athens in cooperation with the MIS Training Institute (Sept. 22-25).
Finally, a HAU-hosted seminar on the topic of “Sales Forecasting: Predicting Sales Results in Uncertain Times” will be held (in English) between Sept. 29 to Oct. 2 at the Union’s downtown Athens’ headquarters, 22 Massalias St.
For more information or to secure registration, call the HAU at (210) 36.80.006 or 36.80.907, 36.80.065
 12 bodies discovered in Evros River, border region
Athens, 10/09/2003 (ANA)Authorities in the Evros River region, on Tuesday discovered 12 bodies at the river banks, which they believe to be the remains of persons that attempted to enter Greece illegally, as the Evros River is the border of Greece and Turkey.
Police officers stressed that more bodies may be discovered as the search is continuing down stream. Six of the bodies have been recovered and efforts to recover the other six were continuing at press time, but efforts were hindered by the coming of the night.
Authorities had not yet concluded on the causes of death, but officials said that early reports noted the possibility of drowning and the time of death was set at about four days ago.
 US to watch closely 'elections' in occupied Cyprus, warns Weston
NICOSIA 10/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)The United States' envoy on Cyprus has warned Ankara against any attempt to rig the vote in December's ''elections'' in Turkish-occupied Cyprus.
As reported by AFP, special coordinator at the State Department Ambassador Weston said ''elections'' in northern Cyprus amounted to a referendum on EU membership and are ''far too important over whether or not there will be a Cyprus settlement.''
''We would be very concerned about anything which could be regarded as unfair and undemocratic elections,'' Weston said in Rome, as he wound up a 10-day trip to European capitals where he discussed the Cyprus issue.
Referring to concerns over a recent influx of Turks to the occupied northern part of Cyprus in view of the ''elections'', he said ''we are going to be watching very closely.''
He noted that ''if they were to have anything other than the normal growth of population, we would regard that as unfair and undemocratic.''
Referring to efforts for a Cyprus settlement, Weston said he believed a plan put forward by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan ''is the only thing which has any chance of achieving a settlement in time.''
He added that the Turkish Cypriot so-called ''opposition parties'' who agreed last week to form a common platform against Denktash in the December ''poll'' had created a ''fluid'' situation which provided an opportunity for achieving a settlement.
''We are on a very tight timetable. The situation will change in a very fundamental way practically, legally and politically, after May 1st,'' the US official said.
Commenting on Turkish Cypriot leader's stance, he concluded ''Mr Denktash wants a solution, unfortunately the solution he sees is a solution that is not realistic.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.
 Greek foreign minister arrives on island Wednesday
NICOSIA 10/09/2003 (CNA/ANA)Greece's Foreign Minister George Papandreou arrives on the island on Wednesday heading a ministerial delegation for a two day visit during which he will be received by President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and hold meetings with political party leaders or their representatives.
Papandreou will also address a bicommunal gathering at the buffer zone, which is expected to be attended by Turkish Cypriot political party leaders.
The Greek foreign minister will arrive at 14:00 local time (11:00 GMT) at Larnaca Airport where he will make statements. After that, he will head to Nicosia for talks with his Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou and after statements to the press he will be received by President Papadopoulos. Talks between delegations from both sides will follow.
Papandreou will meet Socialist Movement EDEK leader Yiannakis Omirou and then will address a bicommunal gathering at the Ledra Palace hotel in the buffer zone on ''The future of Europe and the Role of Education in the United Cyprus''.
On Thursday Papandreou will meet House President Demetris Christofias and then will attend a ceremony at Strovolos Municipality where he will receive an honorary distinction.
After that, Papandreou will meet the leaders or representatives of parties represented at the House and then give a press conference at 16:00 local time at the Hilton Hotel.
The Greek foreign minister will also meet representatives from
Turkish occupied Rizokarpaso village to discuss with them the issue of the schools of Karpasia and later confer with the Pancyprian Committee of Relatives of Missing Persons.
 Preaccession Program analyses Cyprus settlement aspectsNICOSIA 10/09/2003 CNA/ANA)
The Council of Ministers approved on Tuesday the revised Preaccession Economic Program, which includes an annex analyzing the financial matters that may arise from a solution to the Cyprus problem, especially regarding a settlement based on a solution plan proposed to the two sides on the island by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Announcing this difference in the Program, Minister of Finance Markos Kyprianou said the Annan plan as it stands creates economic problems, noting that the annex includes certain suggestions for improvements.
''We are all optimistic that soon there will be a solution of the Cyprus problem and this will overturn the financial estimates made today based on the Preaccession Economic Program,'' he said.
Kyprianou noted that the annex contains explanations regarding ''the problems that will arise from a solution in the economic sector and which must be tackled.''
Replying to questions, Kyprianou said the EU has requested a briefing on the forecast regarding the economic aspect of the Annan plan.
''However, judging by the fact that this is a program that covers the period up to 2006 and which may overturn our estimates for our economic programs, it must be included in our preaccession program,'' Kyprianou noted.
Kyprianou said the Annan plan ''appears to create some financial problems'', adding that the plan ''does not provide for the more effective functioning of managements'' and thus ''new arrangements will have to be made.''
Asked about the cost of a solution, Kyprianou said no figures were presented in the Program because the procedure was still at the stage of preparation. He noted, however, that the cost could be split into three categories, namely reconstruction, compensation and functioning.