|Saturday, 29 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-03-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 2, 2004
 PASOK leader outlines party's policies for culture, the arts, education
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)PASOK president George Papandreou emphasized his party's focus on culture, education and the arts on Monday, addressing an audience at the Athens Concert Hall.
He stressed his commitment to making culture an aspect of all PASOK policies, noting that the culture ministry could play a role in inspiring thought on how to make culture a catalyst in Greek society.
According to the PASOK leader, his plans also focused on the economics of arts and culture, seeking to make this a growth sector along the lines of the British model, where the music industry had higher exports than steel.
Another aspect was to promote quality, innovation and experimentation, while a third goal was to increase ability in the arts by exposing the general public to cultural products via education in the arts in all sectors, with the help of new technologies and the assistance of various cultural bodies.
Papandreou also stressed the international promotion of Greece's cultural identity through the Internet and using culture as a bridge for communication with other traditions.
He said that Greece, because of its geographical position, should assist in dialogue between cultures for the peaceful resolution of differences, as an alternative to violence, while he stressed the success of the Olympic Truce initiative that had been signed by all the countries participating in the United Nations.
He urged Greek artists to contribute to this cause, stressing the importance of fighting for a progressive attitude to the arts and culture, that will combat simplistic attitudes and phobic approaches to things that are different in a multicultural society like that of Greece and Europe.
 PASOK leader pledges support for low-income groups, farmers
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)A series of measures to support low-income groups in Greece, including a doubling of pensions for farmers via the extension of the EKAS pension benefit to the farmers' social insurance fund OGA, was announced by PASOK leader George Papandreou during an interview broadcast by the private television station Alpha on Monday.
Papandreou also let it be understood that more announcements will be made over the coming days regarding PASOK's program for the next four years if it is elected into government.
Adding the 200-euro EKAS pension supplement to farmer pensions will raise the monthly income of each farmer from pensions to 400 euros - or 800 euros per couple, Papandreou said.
He also pledged to extend EKAS to other pensioners that did not now qualify, such as those insured by the seamen's fund NAT, and to abolish a 5 per cent contribution to the LAFKA 'Social Insurance Fund Solidarity Account'.
According to Papandreou, this will bring pension increases to the level of inflation at least, while the aim was pension increases that were greater than inflation.
PASOK's president stressed that there would be no change to the system for issuing early pensions, except possibly a reduction in the lowest age limits and contributions, and that pensions will henceforth be issued within the space of three months. In addition, he said the practice of re-evaluating disability pensions would be abolished and each fund will acquire an advice bureau to provide information to those insured on the procedures for issuing pensions.
Papandreou announced a series of measures targeting large families with four or more children, the most important of which was a guaranteed job in the public-sector for at least one child from such families.
He also promised free public transport for the unemployed and the introduction of coupons covering day-care for small children, equal to the cost of a state-run nursery. These will also be valid for parents sending their children to private day-care centers, though parents will have to pay the difference in fees.
On housing policies, Papandreou said PASOK would continue providing subsidies, especially for young couples, so that their loan repayments were equal to the cost of an average rent.
On the question of non-state-sector universities, he stressed that this would be implemented within the limitations set by the Constitution but that the resulting establishments would be non-profit and not exactly universities but tertiary education institutes certified and controlled by the state.
He said the state would invest in the public higher education system, while state universities will have the option of founding non-state tertiary institutes that will not be included in the general university entrance system.
He said the latter will be changed through systematic dialogue with the appropriate bodies, stressing that this was a major issue that required delicate handling.
PASOK spokeswoman: measures for low-income groups a priority: Commenting on announcements made by PASOK leader George Papandreou on television, party spokeswoman Anna Diamantopoulou on Monday said that the next eight years will belong to the citizens and PASOK's priorities will be changed on the basis of this choice.
Diamantopoulou particularly stressed the announcements regarding welfare measures for those on low incomes, such as the introduction of the EKAS benefit into the pension system for farmers, which will boost the combined income of farming couples from pensions to 800 euros a month, the abolition of a 5 per cent contribution paid by pensioners to the LAFKA 'Social Insurance Bodies Solidarity Account', free transport for the unemployed and a job in the public sector for one child in every family with four children or more.
''The body of commitments that concern the less privileged social strata, farmers and those on low pensions are a priority for PASOK in the coming four-year term,'' she said.
Finally, Diamantopoulou clarified that the cost of introducing the EKAS benefit to the OGA farmers' fund and the number of people that will benefit from this has been calculated and she expressed conviction that the economic state of the country will allow this change in economic priorities.
Communist party slams PASOK pledge for OGA pensions as 'hypocrisy': The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday accused PASOK president George Papandreou of hypocrisy, in the wake of his announcement about extending the EKAS pension supplement benefit to farming pensions and other measures for those on low incomes.
KKE dismissed the measures as ''last-minute'' announcements made in the hope of netting votes from the lower-income strata, which would afterwards be followed by even tougher and more inhuman policies against the working class.
''PASOK president G. Papandreou remembered that the country had enough wealth and has 'raised his bid','' a KKE announcement said, adding that both main opposition ND and PASOK would continue to promote the privileges and profits of the plutocracy after March 8.
 PASOK leader addresses rally in Larissa
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Ruling PASOK leader George Papandreou, addressing a rally in the city of Larissa, central Greece, on Monday ahead of Sunday's general elections in the country, said "PASOK is and will continue to be the farmers' party."
Papandreou said he will run for election as a candidate deputy in the prefecture of Larissa to strengthen his party's traditional ties with the farmers.
''The farmer, the stockbreeder, the fisherman and the woman farmer owe us nothing. We owe and we owe a great deal for your love, your confidence and your support. And I, looking at you in the eyes, commit myself that I will do what I owe to do: I will observe the contract of honor and solidarity signed with you by George and Andreas Papandreou. I must also do it to honor the memory of my grandfather and my father and also to honor the farmer and the woman farmer,'' Papandreou said.
The PASOK leader, announcing a series of pledges for farmers, said the pension of a farming couple must reach 800 euros, half the compensation payable for damage caused by this year's snowy weather will be payable as of March 1, while compensation will be paid direct to farmers without delays, whereas the entrepreneurial spirit of young farmers will be encouraged and the reorganization of agricultural production will be promoted.
Papandreou, criticizing the main opposition New Democracy party and its leader Costas Karamanlis, warned that "a mistaken vote will turn the country many years back in the past in the economy, the social state and in national issues.''
He further wondered ''what Mr. Karamanlis has changed in this party? Which new ideas and which new members he has promoted and what has he offered to the country? Is or is not the ND party bound by party and group leaders?"
Papandreou went on to say ''he has brought nothing but talk of disasters and nihilism'', adding that ''ND speaks of scorched earth. It is the easy way for it to revoke all that it is promising in its election program.''
The PASOK leader warned that ''the Greek people will not allow ND to dissolve and wipe out their struggle and toil. The Greek people will not allow ND to lead them to ordeals.''
 ND leader Karamanlis 'not anxious', certain of ND election victory
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Monday said he had no anxiety over the outcome of Sunday's elections, expressing certainty that his party would emerge the victor.
Speaking on private Antenna radio station, Karamanlis criticized ruling PASOK party's new leader George Papandreou, saying that he had hoped that, with Papandreou's election to the PASOK leadership, the political climate of the pre-electoral showdown would change ''because he has given indications of decency, and is a politician of a different generation'', but ''suddenly in recent days I see a diversion into hysteria and politicking reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s''.
Karamanlis said that he would not follow suit, because his party wanted the confidence of those who would not vote for ND. ''I do not wish to create a sense of alienation to anyone, since I don't want even those who will not vote for us to feel that they are opponents, because we do not see them as opponents''.
The ND leader said that ''we politicians are the servants and the citizen is the boss'', adding that the citizen was receiving ''cold indifference, confusion and bureaucracy from the State'', and pledging that ND would give incentives to public sector employees for better performance, and would implement evaluation, because ''whoever is to undergo evaluation becomes better''.
Karamanlis further said that he would use people who do not belong to ND's political sphere but met the criteria of capability and honesty, adding that not only was he open to such cases, but would in fact seek them out.
The wager for the country, he said, ''is to succeed in quality and efficiency, and this will require inspiration, participation, disposition and work by many people, and this is why I extend my hand to all the citizens''.
Karamanlis further pledged, as government, to hold dialogue with the other political parties so as to achieve a minimum consensus in order to change certain things for the better, especially in areas that should be above and beyond party criteria such as education and foreign policy.
He further said that better management of the resources was necessary, noting that the problem in Greece was not lack of funds but mismanagement, adding that 10 billion euro were lost annually due to corruption and bureaucracy.
 Karamanlis says PASOK leader G. Papandreou 'is attempting to divide the people'
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, addressing an election rally in Agrinio, western Greece on Monday evening, used strong language against the ruling PASOK party and that of its leader George Papandreou, accusing the latter of ''attempting to divide the people.''
Karamanlis said that ''to those who search in murky waters to find solutions to their impasses, we answer clearly with our principles, values and program.''
He added that ''to those who do not see the corruption and went to support vested interests, we tell them to read the latest European Union reports.''
He went on to say that if his party wins the March 7 general elections, ''it will respect and trust all the citizens, serve all Greeks, will not recognize party identities, but will reward merit, reward contribution and serve social justice.''
''We reach out to every citizen and put a final end to tags, discriminations and the divisions of the past because there will be no 'ours' or 'theirs' in the Greece of tomorrow.''
Criticizing Papandreou, Karamanlis said that ''to those who started calmly and went to extremes, which started with modern populism and reached blackmailing dilemmas and meaningless promises, we ask whether they believe that anyone can believe them.''
The ND leader stressed that ''on March 8 the country is making a fresh start, we are opening a new chapter of development and prosperity,'' adding that ''this prosperity will be for all Greeks and not only for the few of the system, because the citizens can no longer tolerate lost opportunities.''
Concluding, Karamanlis said his party ''stands by the farmer, the small and medium-size enterprises, the working people and pensioners'' and ''cares for the unemployed and the youth who study without support and suitable means.''
 PASOK calls on MP to clear his name in junta-era incident
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Ruling PASOK’s press office on Monday called on one of its candidates to “immediately disprove” allegations, aired hours earlier on a popular late-night investigative TV program, that he participated in the beatings of four army conscripts during the seven-year junta in Greece.
Otherwise, the press release warns, the Parliament MP and incumbent – Stavros Vrentzos from Irakleio, Crete -- should immediate bow out of the race.
On his part, Vrentzos’ camp circulated a written statement categorically denying the allegations. “Their charges are completely false. S. Vrentzos suffered, was imprisoned and tortured by the junta. He fought against it (junta) with every means possible, on every occasion...” the release read.
Vrentzos also promised to seek legal redress in the matter after the elections.
Moreover, he met on Monday at PASOK’s downtown Athens headquarters with the party’s secretary, former public order minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis, with spokeswoman Anna Diamantopoulou later saying that the deputy provided what he said was proof that refutes the allegations.
Diamantopoulou, Greece’s EU Commissioner, added that Chrysohoidis will review the material and respond by Friday.
Asked if the ruling party backs its deputy and candidate, Diamantopoulou noted that PASOK does not want there to be even the slightest blemish or doubt about its stance; “there will be a very clear answer so that not even the slightest shadow remains,” she said.
Responding to reporters’ questions on why the same process was not followed in the case of former economy deputy minister Christos Pachtas (who was fired and excluded from PASOK’s ballots a few weeks ago in light of a controversy surrounding building permits at the Porto Carras resort), Diamantopoulou referred to a “transitional period at the time, with other characteristics, and of course, not five days before the election”.
 PM visits Lefkada, accuses ND of irresponsibility
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis, speaking in the municipality of Sfakiotes on the Ionian island of Lefkada on Monday, underlined ''mistaken assessments'' and ''predictions'' made by the main opposition New Democracy party in the past.
''New Democracy predicted that we would not join Economic and Monetary Union and it was wrong. It predicted that the Rio-Antirrio bridge will never be made and it was wrong. It predicted that the 'Eleftherios Venizelos' airport will never operate and it was wrong. It predicted that the Attica motorway will not be made and it was wrong. Those in charge of ND are irresponsible, superficial and off-handed and this is the great danger. Because they will lead the country to insecurity, they will create crises and when there is no stability recession is created in the economy,'' the prime minister said.
Simitis called on ''the country's progressive and democratic forces to vote for PASOK'', to give a mandate to PASOK of renewal and to vote for PASOK who has George Papandreou as its leader.
 PASOK spokeswoman challenges ND to clarify its stance on ASEP
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)PASOK spokeswoman Anna Diamantopoulou on Monday challenged main opposition New Democracy to clarify its stance regarding the retention of the ASEP system for public-sector appointments.
She was commenting on a statement made by ND parliamentary candidate Tzovana Fragouli on television, who said that the ASEP system will have to be abolished ''so that our own people can be appointed''.
Noting earlier statements by ND leader Costas Karamanlis that there was no room in ND for those seeking to ''set up'' their personal friends and acquaintances, she urged him to back this up with actions that proved his commitment to transparency by removing those that did not share this view from ND tickets.
 KKE leader Papariga accuses PASOK, ND of having 'similar policies'
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, addressing a general election rally in Thessaloniki, northern Greece on Monday evening, launched an attack against ruling PASOK leader George Papandreou and at the same time accused PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party of having ''similar policies.''
She also criticized the Coalition of the Radical Left, stating that ''through its stance, it is not contributing to the combatting of bipartisanship.''
Commenting on Papandreou's proclamations on farmers' pensions, she termed them as ''a fraud'' and called on people ''to take no notice of these promises.''
The KKE leader further charged that ''PASOK and the ND are competing as to which will take the final qualification by the industrialists, bankers and ship owners.''
Papariga said ''the PASOK leader has proven to be more daring than the ND leader, that is, he has shown his teeth more clearly, and if someone cannot see this, he is making a big mistake.''
The KKE leader said that ''the visions of the 'new era' and of liberalism announced by PASOK and the ND have no relation to the interests of the Greek people.''
She also accused the Coalition of the Radical Left of ''compromises and a vague policy.''
 SYN leader Constantopoulos addresses rally in Patra
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader and head of the Coalition of the Radical Left, Nikos Constantopoulos, in an election campaign rally in Patra, Peloponnese on Monday evening, launched an attack against ruling PASOK and the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party.
He said that the two mainstream parties ''never assumed the responsibilities of their government policies'' and ''always attributed responsibility to each other.''
Constantopoulos criticized what he termed ''the openings'' to the Left by PASOK and ND, stressing that ''they both remembered the Left during the election campaign period but in essence they want it marginalized,'' adding that ''the progressive citizens are no longer fooled.''
Noting that the ND ruled from 1990 to 1993, he asked:''Does anyone want us to return to this policy?''
Concluding, he said ''the same present leadership of PASOK is attempting to make the Greeks forget the policy of (prime minister Costas) Simitis.''
 SYN leader meets with Civil Servants' Council
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)''The polarization that the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) is trying to create will not influence the public,'' Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party leader and head of the Coalition of the Radical Left, Nikos Constantopoulos, said after meeting with the leadership of the Civil Servants Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY) on Monday.
''No communication strategy can change reality. The millions of Greek citizens who watched the televised debate among the party leaders have drawn their conclusions. No speech, whether from the balcony or televised, can convince people that there is a clear-cut difference between PASOK and New Democracy,'' Constantopoulos said.
 DHKKI leader addresses indoor rally, calls for 'democratic revolution'
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) leader Dimitris Tsovolas, addressing a rally in an indoor stadium in the Athens district of Aegaleo on Monday night, called for a ''democratic revolution'' through votes.
Outlining his party's program, he said it constitutes the ''integrated, progressive and genuine popular prospect which is not under the domination of the vested big publishing groups and of the foreign factor.''
Tsovolas further said modernization must not be an ideology and a purpose in itself but an instrument for the country's multifaceted development and referred to the ''aggressive development policy with employment and social protection'' proposed by his party.
He also predicted that after the Olympic Games are over "thousands of young unemployed Greeks and foreigners will find themselves in the streets" and stressed the need for a change in economic and social policy in the countryside and the danger of an increase in crime and the worsening of social problems.
Tsovolas said his party will not be daunted by fixed opinion polls and that he was always accountable to the people and is confident that ordinary Greek citizens "will resist the temptations of foul power."
 Greece, Commission discuss farm development programs
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)The European Commission on Monday reaffirmed its decision to offer increased funding to Greek agriculture development programs in the framework of a procedure in an intermediate review of a Third Community Support Framework program, worth 390 million euros.
The announcement was made during a meeting between Greek Agriculture Minister George Drys and a delegation of Commission officials, led by Third CSF special secretary, S. Lourando, to discuss a more effectively implementation of Greek ministry's programs.
The European Commission accepted the Greek government's positions on the issue, while the meeting completed settlement procedures covering the Second Community Support Framework program (1994-1999).
The EU executive's delegation expressed their satisfaction over progress made in implementing business programs by Greece's farm ministry.
 Stocks nose down, shedding gains
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished lower on Monday in selling after mid-session following an early rise, traders said.
The general share index shed 0.22 per cent to end at 2,446.16 points. Turnover was 154.3 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.04 per cent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.12 per cent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished with gains of 0.56 percent.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 160 to 144 with 53 issues remaining unchanged.
Closing rates of March 1 2004
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,251 1,223
 ISAF officials pleased with Aghios Kosmas Olympic venue
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)The president of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) toured the new Olympic facility and marina at the coastal Aghios Kosmas site on Monday, the venue where the Olympic regatta will be held during the August Games.
ISAF President Paul Henderson told reporters afterwards that the new venue was among the best he’s seen, “I would say the best that we have seen in Olympics so far,” the US-born sailing official said.
Other ISAF officials accompanied Henderson during a tour by Athens organizers (ATHOC).
Aghios Kosmas lies southeast of the Greek capital’s downtown, a few hundreds meters south of the old Athens airport along the main coastal highway (Poseidonos Boulevard).
 Kenteris nominated for the IOC Athletes' Commission
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Sydney Olympic Gold medallist Kostas Kenteris (200 meters) was nominated on Monday by the Hellenic National Olympic Committee for the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Athletes' Commission.
Kenteris will vie for the votes of the 16,000 athletes participating in the 2004 Olympic Games and is in a favorable position since Greece, being the host country, will have the most athletes.
''It is a special honor for me to represent all Greek athletes and not only during this vote. This year especially is an opportunity for all of us and for our country to gain a sports presence within the Olympic Committee,'' Kenteris told the Athens News Agency.
Kenteris was chosen by the Hellenic NOC as a candidate, over N. Kaklamanakis, P. Dimas, K. Kachiasvilis, and M. Mouroutsos, since track athletes are considered to be better known among their fellow athletes and therefore more likely to win votes.
 Australia will send 475 athletes to 2004 Olympics
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Australia will send 475 athletes to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the largest mission with which the country has participated in Olympic Games outside Australia, Peter Montgomery, Australian Olympic Committee Vice President announced on Monday.
Three hundred trainers, doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, nutritionists and others will be accompanying the athletes.
Australia hopes to place among the top five countries on the medals list in this year's Olympics, according to Montgomery. Australia had placed fourth on the corresponding list at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
 Strong earthquake rocks Kalamata
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)A strong earthquake measuring at least 5.4 on the Richter scale rocked Kalamata early Monday, causing residents to rush out into the streets, and also causing minor damage. No major damage or injuries were immediately reported.
According to the Athens Observatory's Geodynamic Institute, the earthquake was recorded at 2:35 a.m. with its epicenter 165 kilometers southwest of Athens, in the sea off Kalamata. The Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory put the trembler at 5.6 on the Richter scale.
Seismologists said the quake was felt strongly in Kalamata due to its small epicentral depth.
Geodynamic Institute seismologist Nikolaos Melis said at dawn that the earthquake emanated from the seismic fault in the Kalamata area that has in the past produced similar and larger earthquakes.
He added that seismologists were monitoring the development of the phenomenon.
According to press information, the quake caused the collapse of a balcony of an abandoned residence in the city center, as well as landslides on the Kalamata-Sparta highway.
The quake awoke memories of a catastrophic trembler in Kalamata in 1986 that devastated the southern Peloponnese town in 1986 in which 20 people were killed, more than 30 were injured and hundreds were left homeless.
 FM addresses letter to EU Commission president for Greek seamen's release
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis addressed a letter to European Commission President Romano Prodi on Monday, calling on him to approach the government of Pakistan for the release of five Greek seamen detained in Karachi.
The letter comes after his intervention at the European Union's Council of Ministers on February 16 where the issue of the Greek seamen's detention was discussed at length, at the initiative of Athens.
The EU troika and Commissioner Chris Patten have already made such an approach to the government of Karachi on the issue of the seamen of the ''Tasman Spirit'' which had created pollution following an accident outside the port of Karachi last summer.
ELA court orders no-show witness to be brought in by force
The Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court that is trying the case of five suspected members of the terrorist group Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), on Monday ordered that journalist Vassilis Zisis be detained and brought in to testify by force after he failed to obey a summons to appear in court.
The court was adjourned and will reconvene on March 10, due to unavoidable engagements by members of the court on Tuesday and on account of the elections.
 Church of Greece and Fanar move closer to resolving their differences
Athens, 02/03/2004 (ANA)The Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate based in Fanar, Istanbul appear to be moving toward a resolution of a dispute that has rocked relations between them for the past eight months, during a meeting of the Greek Church's Holy Synod on Monday.
The meeting unanimously approved a draft text prepared by the Ecumenical Patriarchate that has also been processed by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos and will be sending a copy to Fanar.
According to this, the Church of Greece "confirms the status of the dioceses of the 'new lands' and will send a list of the candidates proposed for metropolitans in the currently empty dioceses of Thessaloniki, Eleftheroupolis and Kozani to the Patriarchate so that it can exercise its rights.
Holy Synod spokesman Metropolitan Theoklitos said that things were moving toward an end of the crisis if everything went as planned.
 Turkish Cypriot side responds to Greek Cypriot side's positions
NICOSIA 02/03/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said that during Monday's meeting in the framework of the UN-led talks aimed at a Cyprus settlement, between him and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot side made its remarks on what the Greek Cypriot side had raised during last week's talks.
Speaking after his return to the Presidential Palace from the talks, Papadopoulos said ''we also discussed the other issues of the first group and we also submitted our positions on the status we want for the territories that will be returned.''
Asked if Denktash expressed his positions on these issues, Papadopoulos said ''we explained our positions and he will express his own tomorrow I suppose.''
On statements made on Sunday by the US State Department's Special Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston and his remark that the side which will vote ''no'' in the referendum for the solution will carry a heavy burden, Papadopoulos said he trusted the judgment of the people of Cyprus.
Responding to other questions, Papadopoulos said that at Monday's meeting Denktash replied to the positions tabled by the Greek Cypriot side.
''He (Denktash) explained again his vision and came back to the positions he always had,'' the Cypriot president said.
As regards statements by the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto that as of this week the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot leaders will have before them each other's proposals clearly, Papadopoulos said: ''I don't know what Mr. de Soto has said. We move on chapter by chapter, we express our views and we submit on special issues documents with more arguments, justifications and references on Mr. Annan's documents.''
Commenting on reports that the Greek Cypriot side suggests the restructuring of the Presidential Council to a Ministerial Council with six Greek Cypriots and four Turkish Cypriots, instead of four Greek Cypriots and two Turkish Cypriots, Papadopoulos said ''we continue to exchange views.''
He also stressed that ''we are not trying by this proposal to remove any of the Turkish Cypriots' rights, so it is not something we pursue for which we must give something in return.''
''We believe that a more functional Presidential Council will be to the benefit of both sides, it will serve the interests of both sides and mainly renders possible our effective and overall presence in all EU instruments,'' he said Papadopoulos also said that Denktash expresses his own views on this, which are not yet finalized.
Asked about Weston's statements on the referenda result and the foreign mediators' position on this, Papadopoulos said ''it is their right to speak out and it is up to them to judge if this kind of statement helps or hinders their efforts to bring about the results they desire.''Commenting on the fact that the people feel fear when they hear Weston saying that the side that will vote ''no'' at the referendum will carry a heavy burden, Papadopoulos said: ''I trust more the judgment and the intuition of our people. When the people are properly informed they will make their own judgment and not follow what others indicate.''
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Talks are currently underway between the two sides on the island, under UN auspices, with a view to reach an agreement that would be put to referenda and allow a reunited Cyprus to join the EU in May this year.
 Weston leaves Cyprus encouraged
NICOSIA 02/03/2004 (CNA/ANA)US State Department Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston said on Monday he was encouraged by his meetings on the island, noting that the talks for a comprehensive settlement are progressing well and have entered the substance of the problem.
Speaking at a press conference at Ledra Palace after a day's shuttling back and forth from the government-controlled areas to the occupied north of Cyprus for meetings which included the leaders of the two sides, Weston said this was an historic moment for the people of Cyprus and the best chance to secure a settlement.
He further pointed out that voting against an agreement in referenda removes the big possibility for a solution to this longstanding issue and that would be a heavy burden to bear.
In his opening remarks, he said he is going from Nicosia to Athens and then Ankara in the wake of all these ''meetings, which have left me encouraged.''
Noting his meetings have not yet ended, he said he had found here in all his conversations that the process for finalizing an agreement and putting it to referenda was ''going forward well, both in terms of the discussions between the leaders, which show they are clearly involved now in discussions of substance and have gone beyond process, and also in the meetings of the technical groups which are evolving as we speak.''
''All of that plus the discussions I had today about the prospects for finalization and prospects in referenda themselves, have left me very encouraged,'' he added.
Weston said his evaluations are based on his discussions on Monday and Sunday and his knowledge of what is going on, noting that he did not have an expectation of a deadlock.
Invited to clarify comments he made on Sunday on his arrival that the side that would reject the proposed solution in the April 21 referendum would bear a heavy burden, he explained that ''the US very firmly believes we are now at a point where we have the best chance in history of getting a settlement of the Cyprus issue.''
He said ''we have an excellent chance of getting what we view to be a just and durable settlement of the Cyprus issue before Cyprus' accession to the EU, and hence incorporate it into that accession to the EU.''
''So we face a situation where the choice will be whether or not to support that settlement or not. Voting against it removes this very big, good possibility of resolving this very longstanding and difficult issue and that would be a very heavy burden to bear,'' he said.
Weston did not want to predict the consequences, noting that those who chose not to get a settlement of this longstanding issue when the opportunity is there, would bear a very heavy burden.
The US diplomat noted he is ''operating under not only the assumption but also the knowledge that the choice is going to be that of the Cypriot people.''
Weston said he had read in press reports on Monday that his remark was taken as a threat, noting however, ''I never use such a word, and that was certainly not my intention. What I intended to convey is that there will be an historic decision put to the people of Cyprus to have a settlement or not have a settlement. And if the decision is not to have a settlement after all this effort and the expectation, that would be a very heavy responsibility to bear. I don't regard that as a threat or anything like it, but a statement of fact.''
He said he did not hear that interpretation from any political party from either side but only in the press.
Weston avoided going into the substance of the negotiations, stressing a solution, if possible, ought to come from the leaders of the two communities. ''As to whether or not any proposals made in the negotiations are inside or outside the Annan Plan, I will not comment on the substance of the negotiations,'' he said, noting that ''you would have to rely on the UN for that judgment.''
The US diplomat said there is a group of countries, mainly European, but beyond that who have a very substantial interest in a settlement being implemented in a good way for EU reasons, like members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, non OECD members, and Japan.
Weston also said there was no truth in reports about an American base in Cyprus.
He reiterated that the US ''will devote all our efforts to support the Secretary-General's efforts for a finalization of the plan and a donors' conference, in doing what we can to make clear that we are supporting a settlement in the expectation that it will be approved and we are not prepared to speculate if it were not.''
 Christofias calls for US influence for positive result of talks
NICOSIA 02/03/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias on Monday called on US State Department Coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston to exert all his influence on the Turkish Cypriot side in order to get a positive result from the negotiations for a Cyprus settlement ''so that a reunited Cyprus can enter the EU.''
Welcoming Weston, who gave assurances that the US is willing to support the implementation of a settlement, Christofias said his visit comes at the most crucial stage of the Cyprus problem.
He said the two agreed on the need for the two leaders in the negotiations for a comprehensive settlement to reach an agreement so that a completed Annan plan will be placed before the people of Cyprus in April for rejection or approval during referenda.
Christofias received assurances from Weston that the US will assist in the financial aspect of a Cyprus settlement.
The House speaker said he and Weston agreed that ''any pressure, appeal or invitation from the part of the powers such as the US, Britain or the EU for a 'yes' should be under the condition that the changes achieved will make the Annan plan viable.''
If that is not achieved, Christofias added, then there will be mixed feelings among the people of Cyprus and that would cause more difficulties.
''I have pointed out to Mr. Weston that it is very significant, and I think we agree on this, that the two sides should show the necessary goodwill and discuss within the framework and basis of the Secretary-General's plan, to exonerate demands that are contrary to the Annan plan,'' Christofias said.
''This should be done,'' he added, ''so that from the first stage the changes agreed will make the solution functional and viable and, if possible, Greece and Turkey will only have to deal with the security issue, thus making the work of the Secretary-General in the final stage easier.''
Christofias said President Tassos Papadopoulos' positions are clearly within the framework of the Annan plan, are creative and aim at a constructive handling of the whole effort.
Weston said they had ''a very sincere discussion about the necessity of the leaders of the two communities at the negotiations that are taking place now.''
He further said that he gave assurances that the US is willing ''to support in every way it can, including in terms of financial resources, the implementation of a settlement.''
 UN Undersecretary-general arrives in Cyprus Tuesday
NICOSIA 02/03/2004 (CNA/ANA)UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Sir Kieran Prendergast arrives in Cyprus on Tuesday for contacts with the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides.
The purpose of his visit is to assess the situation regarding the UN-led talks aimed at a political settlement before Cyprus joins the European Union in May this year.
Sir Kieran will in turn brief UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on his contacts.
During his two-day visit he is expected to meet Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.