|Monday, 17 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-03-12
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 12, 2004
 New FM meets UN envoy for Cyprus
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Greece's newly sworn-in foreign minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday discussed the latest developments in United Nations-led talks for a Cyprus solution and the next stages in the process before the end of March with visiting UN envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto.
After his meeting with Molyviatis, de Soto expressed hope that the talks would lead to Cyprus' reunification before it officially joined the European Union on May 1.
The UN envoy said his first meeting with the new Greek foreign minister was satisfactory and that they had both agreed to work hard to achieve results in the ongoing talks taking place on the island based on a plan prepared by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Asked whether there will be a meeting between the four sides, namely Greece, Turkey, the Greek-Cypriot and the Turkish-Cypriot communities, de Soto said he was unable to answer at this time, revealing only that he had contacted all the sides involved and would be speaking with the Turkish side on the issue.
Finally, de Soto denied that there was an alternative plan if the talks failed.
''I do not think that we can give any extension. We have already delayed too long. The margins are very tight. All the sides have made a commitment to achieving the target within the time schedule foreseen by the Annan plan,'' he said.
Prior to his meeting with de Soto, Molyviatis had also discussed developments concerning the Cyprus talks with Cyprus Ambassador to Greece Leonidas Pantelides and Cyprus' permanent UN representative Andreas Mavroyiannis.
He also had a meeting with a Cypriot diplomat to discuss details of a visit to Athens by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos at the weekend.
Commenting on his meeting with the UN envoy, meanwhile, Molyviatis said he had assured him that the Greek government was working for a viable solution that was in accordance with UN resolutions and compatible with EU standards and laws, so that both Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots can enjoy the benefits of joining the EU together.
He announced that talks between Greece and Turkey on security and guarantees will being next week on the level of ministry staff.
PASOK leader meets UN Cyprus envoy: UN special envoy for Cyprus Alvaro De Soto, currently in Athens for consultations with the foreign ministry's new leadership, met with main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Thursday afternoon.
Emerging from Papandreou's residence in the Athens suburb of Kastri where the meeting was held, De Soto said he had a ''very useful discussion with Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis'' and thanked the Greek government which arranged for him to have a meeting with the PASOK leader.
''Mr. Papandreou is a good friend and when we meet many and interesting issues arise in our discussions,'' the Peruvian diplomat said.
 US secretary of state Powell on Cyprus issue
WASHNIGTON 12/04/2004 (ANA/T. Ellis)US secretary of state Collin Powell opined that an agreement for a Cyprus solution would be accepted by both communities on the island republic if it was seen by public opinion as "fair, with the two sides giving something and taking something", while testifying before a House subcommittee on Wednesday.
Powell said he was not aware of any opinion polls indicating that the existence of a possibility that the Annan plan could be rejected, but on the contrary stressed the positive climate created following the free movement between the two communities instituted nearly a year ago.
"Suddenly, people started going and visiting friends on one side or the other of the Green Line, and telling their leaders that they want a solution to this problem," Powell said.
Referring to the support of the international community, Powell said that "my instinct tells me that if the Cypriots see that their leaders have reached an agreement with which they can agree, and which the international community strongly supports, and they examine the benefits of the entire island's accession to the European Community rather than only the Greek Cypriot side's, they will see that it is in their interest to vote in favor of such a development".
Powell contacts new FM on the phone, discusses Cyprus, Olympics: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday contacted Greece's newly sworn-in foreign minister Petros Molyviatis on the telephone to wish him good luck in his new duties.
Molyviatis said that they also discussed developments in the Cyprus issue and preparations for the Athens Olympics in August, noting that Powell appeared certain these would be successful.
 US State Department spokesman says US considers Annan plan 'workable'
WASHINGTON 12/04/2004 (ANA/T. Ellis)The US believes the Annan plan is ''workable'', while negotiations underway and changes which may be done to it can make it even more workable, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Thursday.
Boucher said the UN secretary general's proposal offers a ''good and fair'' solution for all on the island and called on the parties involved to take it into serious consideration as they try to achieve a solution.
The State Department spokesman also said US Secretary of State Colin Powell congratulated new Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis by phone on the assumption of his duties and discussed the Cyprus issue with him and welcomed ''the announcement by the Greek government with which it expressed support for progress in the talks.''
Boucher added that the two foreign ministers will be in contact in the near future which will be decisive for the Cyprus issue.
 PM Karamanlis sends condolences to Spanish counterpart for Madrid train massacre
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent a message of condolences to his Spanish counterpart Jose Maria Aznar on Thursday for what he said was the murder of innocent citizens during the terrorist attack on Madrid's rail network.
Karamanlis said in his message ''acts of hatred cannot reply to any of the challenges of our new century and for this reason they must be defeated and they shall be defeated.''
The prime minister further said ''please convey my sincere sympathy to the families and relatives of the victims on behalf of the Greek people and myself personally.''
The terrorist attack in Madrid resulted in 190 people being killed and over 1,200 injured.
New Greek FM sends condolences: Greece's newly sworn-in foreign minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday expressed his condolences and deepest sympathy toward the Spanish government and the families of the victims of a series of bomb blasts that tore through rush-hour trains in Madrid earlier that day.
In a letter to his Spanish counterpart Ana Palacio, Molyviatis also condemned the attacks, which caused the death of large numbers of people.
Greece's main opposition condemns terror attacks in Madrid: The president of main opposition PASOK George Papandreou on Thursday condemned the terrorist attacks that took place in Madrid earlier the same day, which cost dozens of innocent lives.
''Within Europe that is being built with rigorous adherence to democracy and human rights, no appeal to the defense of rights can justify acts of blind violence and terrorism,'' Papandreou said in his statement.
He also expressed his condolences toward the Spanish government, the Spanish people and the families of the victims.
SYN delegation to visit Spanish Embassy to offer condolences: A delegation from the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), headed by its leader Nikos Constantopoulos, will visit the Embassy of Spain at 10 a.m. on Friday to offer condolences for the terrorist attack on Madrid's rail network on Thursday morning which killed at least 190 people.
Athens Archbishop sends condolences to Spain's PM Aznar: ''On hearing the sorrowful news of today's repulsive attack on innocent people at three train stations in Madrid, we express our deepest sympathy and extend, along with all our clergy and our pious Greek people, our utmost fervent prayers to our Lord for the prevalence of His Peace to Your country and the souls of Your friendly people,'' Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos said in a message to Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on Thursday.
 Karamanlis begins term by focusing on 2004 Games; top cadre urged to stay
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Newly elected Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday began his day with a meeting focusing directly on crucial preparations for the upcoming 2004 Olympic Games, as he met for one hour with Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on the issue.
Palli-Petralia later headed for a briefing by outgoing culture ministry general secretary for the Games Costas Kartalis, who resigned this week in the wake of the PASOK party’s election defeat on Sunday.
According to sources, however, the new Karamanlis government wants Kartalis, viewed as the previous culture ministry leadership’s “point man” for Olympic preparations over the past few months, to remain at his post.
New Democracy party and Karamanlis easily swept to power on Sunday with a nearly five-point lead over rival PASOK. In naming his Cabinet on Tuesday, Karamanlis kept the culture ministry portfolio for himself, an indication of the significance placed on Olympic preparations, according to political observers.
Among the biggest concerns inherited by the new government is the intricate new roof over the main Athens Olympic Stadium (OAKA), along with a major contractor’s (bourse-listed European Technical) inability to meet deadlines and construction standards on the classical Marathon route (connecting downtown Athens with the township of Marathon) as well as delays in completing the new tram (southern districts) and suburban rail (northern districts) networks in Athens.
Another meeting on Karamanlis’ agenda for Thursday is with new Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas.
 PM holds first Olympic Games-related meeting
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis held the first meeting pertaining to Olympic Games issues at the Maximos Mansion on Thursday evening, one day after his new government was sworn into office.
The meeting which lasted more than two hours was attended by the ministers George Souflias (Environment, Town Planning and Public Works - YPEHODE), George Voulgarakis (Public Order), Theodoros Roussopoulos (State and Government Spokesman), Fani Palli-Petralia (Alternate Culture Minister), and Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.
The main topics of discussion were the Games' security, infrastructure works being carried out by YPEHODE, and the Culture Ministry's sports projects.
Additionally, it was decided that the government would announce its proposed solutions to all Olympics-related problems following the prime minister's meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge on Saturday.
 PM and ND Secretary discuss discrete roles for gov't, party
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)After a two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday to discuss relations between the ruling party and the government, New Democracy Central Committee Secretary Vaggelis Meimarakis said that the party would have a specific and discrete role, which would support the government and communicate its decisions.
"Rigillis (ND's party headquarters) will not shut down and this may perhaps annoy some parties. It will be a center of political creativity and civilization, without seeking a co-administrative role," Meimarakis said.
In his talks with Karamanlis, the party secretary recommended that the party organs be convened as soon as possible, while he has also proposed that a party conference take place in May.
 Handover ceremony at Macedonia-Thrace ministry
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Outgoing Macedonia-Thrace minister Haris Kastanidis on Thursday turned over the ministry to his newly-sworn-in successor, Nikos Tsiartsonis, at a handover ceremony that took place in a friendly climate at the ministry headquarters in Thessaloniki.
Both the outgoing and new minister stressed that the Macedonia-Thrace ministry is the strategic headquarters for development in northern Greece.
Kastanidis pointed out the need for expanding the ministry's authorities, while Tsiartsonis stressed the need for further development of relations of confidence and economic cooperation with the neighboring countries, competing for the organization of the world exhibition EXPO 2008, and other issues.
"Alternation in power is the fundamental principle of democracy, but the state functionaries will carry on with their mission," Tsiartsonis said, explaining that he intended to keep all the positive work done in place and improve on it and, in that context, called for the assistance of the outgoing minister and outgoing ministry secretary general George Lyssarides.
Kastanidis said he was willing to cooperate with the new minister on any issue required, and praised Tsartsionis, whom he said he has had friendly bonds with since they first met in parliament in 1996.
 New Interior minister has meeting with his predecessor Skandalidis
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)New Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday received his predecessor Costas Skandalidis at the ministry for a meeting requested by Pavlopoulos.
Skandalidis had resigned his post in the pre-election period, which was taken over by a caretaker minister in accordance with election law.
The meeting was held to brief the incoming ministry administration by the outgoing minister and took place in a climate of good cooperation.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Pavlopoulos said he will be announcing his ministry's priorities after Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis outlines his program on March 18.
 New transport minister sets priority on Athens Olympics
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)The country's new transport and communications minister, Mihalis Liapis, said on Thursday that his main priority was to complete works for the Athens Olympics.
On Friday, the minister is due to meet the heads of companies handling the city's tram and suburban railway projects, which are linked to the international event in August.
 Miller observes 'Hercules' Shield' exercise, discusses Olympic Games security
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)U.S. Ambassador in Athens Thomas Miller on Thursday evening visited the Public Order Ministry within the framework of the ongoing ''Hercules' Shield'' major exercise for the security of the Olympic Games.
Taking part in the exercise, which began on Wednesday, are 1,500 Greeks and about 500 American commandos. The latter are mainly from the U.S. military command in Stuttgart.
According to sources, Miller was also due to discuss with Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis on possible increased security measures in light of the terrorist attacks in Madrid earlier in the day.
It has been revealed that the Greek police have taken increased measures since the morning at the Embassy of Spain, the Cervantes Institute, the offices of the Iberia airline company at other buildings of Spanish interest.
A senior police official clarified that these measures were of a precautionary nature and that there was no indication or insinuation that similar attacks could occur in Greece.
Miller had also visited the ministry at noon where, along with Voulgarakis and Police Chief Fotis Nasiakos, he observed the progress of the exercise from the strategic crisis management center which has been set up at the ministry for the security of the Olympic Games.
 New Greek FM sends letter of condolences to Albanian president
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)New Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday sent a letter to Albanian President Alfred Moisiu, expressing his condolences for the tragic death of Moisiu's son in a car accident.
 PASOK leader meets party secretary, Androulakis, Damanaki
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Thursday had successive meetings with the party's Central Committee Secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis and leftist politicians Mimis Androulakis and Maria Damanaki, both of whom had supported PASOK and joined its state deputy list in the run-up to the March 7 elections.
After his meeting with Papandreou at the latter's home in Kastri, Chrysohoidis said there would be no changes to the party's Executive Bureau or Central Committee.
He said the meeting had concerned Friday's meeting of the Executive Bureau and meetings of the Central Committee and PASOK National Council the following week.
''Our aim is to organize the main opposition so as to benefit the people, to defend the rights and gains made by Greek society, to coordinate PASOK and create the PASOK of the new age - a PASOK that is open to society, with strong ties and bonds,'' he said.
Androulakis said there would be major changes in the main opposition as it went into ''battle formation'' and said his talks with Papandreou had focused on the developments that must be made within PASOK and the announcements that Papandreou will soon be making.
He predicted that cooperation between PASOK and ''center liberals'' will become deeper.
Damanaki had a one-hour meeting with Papandreou that she said concerned the party's strategy as main opposition in the new Parliament and the Euro-elections.
She reiterated that she would definitely participate in PASOK's Parliamentary Group.
 Turkish Ambassador pays courtesy call on new FM
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Turkish Ambassador to Greece Mehmet Yigit Alpogan paid a courtesy call on newly sworn-in Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday.
On Friday, Molyviatis will receive courtesy calls by the ambassadors of Ireland (as EU presiding country), Margaret Hennessy, of the United States of America, Thomas Miller, and of Russia, Andrei Vdovin.
 Gov’t will not seek review of social security system
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)The government will not seek a review of the social security system. It plans to implement all social nature pledges made by the previous government and to implement its pre-election policy platform in the economy, Economy and Finance ministry sources told ANA on Thursday.
The same sources said that Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis asked for all decisions signed in the last two months by the ministry and all supervised state organizations to decide which would be implemented or not.
Mr Alogoskoufis said that no changes in state organizations and banks were expected soon and urged public enterprises' heads to remain at their post until Friday, at least, with the exception of Mr Vasilis Rapanos, head of the council of economic experts, who was asked to remain until the end of March.
The new minister has scheduled a meeting on Friday with Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas to discuss current economic conditions.
''We are in no hurry,'' the Economy and Finance ministry source told ANA when asked about changes in public enterprises' heads.
''Our aim is to maintain a positive climate both with the domestic and foreign markets. We will not make any surprise moves,'' the source added.
Ministry sources also said that Mr Alogoskoufis planned to supervise all legislation drafting procedures to achieve the more effective result possible and to avoid the need of future amendments.
 Greek economic sentiment index eased slightly in February
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Greece's economic sentiment index eased slightly in February from the previous month, but it remained above Eurozone's average, a monthly report by the Institute for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) said on Thursday.
IOBE said that the economic sentiment index in the EU and the Eurozone stabilized in February after a steady, although slow, advance that started in the summer of 2003.
Denmark (0.6 points) and Ireland (0.5 points), followed by Germany and Spain recorded increases in the index, while France and Italy recorded declines. The economic sentiment index was unchanged in the UK.
The report said that the manufacturing sector reported improved
expectations in February leading to a rise in the business expectations index for a third consecutive month. This improvement reflected more optimistic predictions over production, sales and exports. Capacity utilization eased slightly in February from the previous month, while manufacturing companies expect prices to rise, although at a slower pace from January. The survey said 76 of companies expect price stability, 18 percent increase and 6.0 percent a decline.
In the construction sector, economic sentiment was unchanged, although works in progress were down compared with January. Only 15 percent of companies in the sector said that production activity was progressing smoothly, hit by a slowdown caused by bad weather conditions, lack of funding and slower demand.
In the retail sector, sentiment was unchanged with partial improvements. Medium-term prospects of the sector are cautiously optimistic, with 71 percent of companies expecting no change in supply orders.
Finally, in the services sector, the business expectations index eased in February after a slow advance in recent months. The fall reflected unfavorable predictions over current operating figures and more cautious predictions over future activities.
 ASE chairman asks for calm amid sharp drop in prices
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Athens Stock Exchange chairman, Panayiotis Alexakis, on Thursday tried to calm investors' fears amid a sharp drop in prices in both the Greek and other European markets after a series of bombing attacks in Madrid.
"The Greek stock market, along with other international markets, is under heavy pressure in the aftermath of bombing attacks in Madrid this morning. There are no worries over the country's economy and Greek listed companies. In cases like this, investment decisions must be taken calmly, avoiding any hasty moves," Mr Alexakis said.
The Greek market was down around 3.0 percent in midday trading.
 Stocks slump in wake of Madrid terrorist attack
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished lower on Thursday in adverse sentiment triggered by a terrorist attack in Madrid, tracking other European markets, traders said.
The general share index shed 2.46 per cent to end at 2,409.26 points. Turnover was 199.6 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 2.58 per cent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 2.76 per cent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities lost 2.63 per cent.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 305 to 29 with 24 issues remaining unchanged.
Closing rates of March 11 2004
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,235 1,207
 New minister on policy for illegal buildings, public works and Olympics projects
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)New Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Thursday said he was confident that the ministry would be able to catch up with the deadlines for Olympics projects under its supervision, in spite of current delays.
Nevertheless, he expressed ''great concern'' over delays in preparing the Marathon route and said he had called the two contractors involved to a meeting, where he would ask them to do their best to complete the project on time. The minister predicted that this would be ready by late June to early July.
Souflias that he would begin visiting Olympic projects for more detailed inspections from Friday.
Regarding a series of measures introduced by the previous government for illegal buildings, Souflias said there would be no further extension to a deadline for applying for electricity for permit-less buildings that ends in March.
He said that all those who applied within the deadline and satisfied the conditions would be hooked up to the electricity grid without problems.
The minister also revealed that he had instructed his deputy minister Stavros Kaloyiannis to look into the issue of illegal building with a view to achieving a final settlement of the issue within the next two years.
''It is my ambition that, when I leave this ministry, there will be a comprehensive town plan,'' he stressed, while noting that priority treatment will be given to areas where the social problems were the greatest, such as those occupied by repatriated Greeks.
Souflias said he intended to scrap a mathematical formula used in awarding public works contracts, though noting that this would happen later on, so as not to interfere with tenders in progress.
He said the government wanted to return to a system of awarding contracts to the lowest bidder but stressed that this required detailed studies and good cost analysis.
 Australian PM Howard certain Athens Olympics will be absolute success
MELBOURNE 12/04/2004 (ANA/S. Hatzimanolis)Australian prime minister John Howard expressed certainty that the Athens Olympic Games will be an absolute success, in a letter of congratulations to the new Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis on his New Democracy party's electoral victory.
"Dear friend Costas, allow me to congratulate you personally, and also on behalf of the Australian government and people, on your victory in the Greek parliamentary elections," Howard said in the letter to his Greek counterpart.
Howard also noted the long-standing, close and strong bonds between Greece and Australia, bond which he said were forged mainly by human relations, recalling that "Australians of Greek origin have contributed the utmost to the development of Australia".
"I take this opportunity to wish you and your government every success in preparing the Olympic Games. Personally, I am certain that they will be a remarkable success," Howard added.
 Karamanlis-Rogge meeting on Saturday
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)A meeting between newly elected Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge was confirmed for Saturday at the premier’s office, the Maximos Mansion in central Athens.
 Mountaineers embark to hoist, Greek, 'Athens 2004', Cypriot flags on Everest
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Twelve Greeks and a Cypriot are determined to hoist the Greek flag, the ''Athens 2004'' Olympic Games flag and the Cypriot flag on the world's highest peak, Everest.
The venture is daring, given that a few years ago, in 1996, one Greek mountaineer lost his life in the Himalayas.
Nevertheless, the 13 are determined and very well prepared.
The mission, which will be divided into two groups, will depart for Nepal on Saturday, March 13, with the aim of conquering Everest in May.
 Venizelos commits to helping government in Olympic preparations
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Former Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos in a written statement on Thursday, asserted: ''I, personally, as well as Mr. Alevras and Mr. Kartalis are at the service of the prime minister, the government, the IOC, and the (Athens 1004) Organizing Committee,'' in response to press reports that commented on Secretary General for the Olympic Games Costas Kartalis' resignation despite the prime minister's request that he remain in his post.
''We have already stated that Mr. Kartalis is ready to offer all necessary services as an expert to either the IOC or the Organizing Committee and is not hindered by any status in doing so,'' Venizelos wrote.
Extensive TV coverage of Athens 2004 Olympic Games in Africa
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge signed two agreements on Thursday, one with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and the other with the Union of National Radio and Television Organizations of Africa (URTNA) for broadcasting rights of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and the Beijing 2008 Games.
The agreements help set two new records for the Athens Games: length of coverage and number of viewers. The Athens Games will be broadcast 13 hours daily, compared to 10 hours of the Sydney Olympics, while an additional 3 million households in South Africa will be able to tune in.
SABC has been broadcasting the Games since 1992 in South Africa. URTNA will distribute a dedicated African feed of the Athens Games to its members, thus covering the rest of the continent.
 Athens 2004 lapel pins - collector's edition
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)A limited number of lapel pins will go on sale at the Olympic Store in Plaka, Athens (Kydathinaion 37), on Saturday, on the occasion of the five months remaining before the 2004 Olympics.
Only 2,000 lapel pins - part of the collector's series ''Five Months Before the Games'' - will go on sale and only for one day (Saturday). The pins will be available in Greek and English and will depict Adrian's Arch.
Olympic champions and many artists are expected to attend the event.
 Increased security measures on Greece's public transport
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Increased security measures have been taken throughout the country's public transport system, following the unprecedented terrorist attack that took place in Madrid on Thursday, killing 190 people and injuring over 1,200.
Hellenic Railways' (OSE) management has decided to step up security measures throughout its network as well as at OSE's buildings.
Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways S.A. (ISAP) has taken similar precautions, as well as increasing patrols of its stations and tunnels, which are already monitored 24-hours daily through a closed-circuit TV system.
Athens Metro security is handled by a private firm and measures remain unchanged.
 Liverpool municipal council calls on British gov't to return Parthenon Marbles
LONDON 12/04/2004 (ANA/L. Tsirigotakis)The city of Liverpool's elected municipal council ratified a resolution with 37 votes in favor and 4 against on Wednesday night, calling on the British government to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
The position taken by Liverpool's municipal authority has a special significance since the city of Liverpool will be Europe's next cultural capital.
The resolution coincides with the intentions of British public opinion which, as recent opinion polls have shown, support as much as 81 percent the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
It is considered certain that the position taken by Liverpool's municipal council on the Parthenon Marbles will also be adopted by other municipal authorities in Britain as well, which will inevitably intensify pressures on the British Museum's management.
 6th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival begins on March 15
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)Terrorism will be one of the central subjects to be examined at the 6th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival which opens - more ambitious than ever - on March 15, according to the Festival's Artistic Director Dimitris Eipidis.
The festival, which cost 400 thousand euros - a relatively low budget compared to other international festivals - will feature 155 films (92 foreign productions and 63 Greek ones) and will deal with themes such as the environment, oppression of minorities and according to Eipides, ''films dedicated to those groups of people who don't have a voice in the mainstream media.''
Thirteen films will deal with the subject of terrorism from different perspectives.
The work of Sweden's famous documentarian Stefan Jarl as well as Holland's Hedi Honigman will be honored at this year's festival, which will take place at the following theatres in Thessaloniki: ''Olympion,'' ''Pavlos Zannas,'' ''John Cassavetes,'' and ''Stavros Tornes.''
 Albanian killed in shootout with police
Athens, 12/04/2004 (ANA)An Albanian national was shot dead on Thursday during a shootout with police, while one officer was seriously injured.
The Albanian was identified as Kristo Nako, 35.
The exchange of fire took place at Lela Karagianni Street in the Athens district of Sepolia.
The police were initially called in by a local resident to intervene in an argument between the dead man and a woman. When the woman requested police assistance, the man initially fled and then opened fire on officers who came in pursuit, seriously injuring police officer Andreas Katsikoyiannis in the chest.
Two other police officers returned fire, killing the fugitive.
The wounded officer has been transferred to the 401 Military Hospital, where doctors say he is in critical condition.
The authorities have initiated an inquiry to determine the exact causes of the incident.
 Cyprus president: Too early to draw conclusions on talks
NICOSIA 12/04/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Thursday it is too early and dangerous to draw conclusions on the progress of the UN-led direct negotiations for a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus problem, despite the fact that most of the positions raised by the Turkish side are contrary to the philosophy and parameters of the UN Secretary-General's plan.
In a speech at the opening ceremony of the trade union PEO's congress, which was read by Labor and Social Insurance Minister Iacovos Keravnos, President Papadopoulos said that what he can reiterate at this sensitive and important present juncture, is that the Greek Cypriot side remains firm in its commitment to continue working positively, constructively and productively with the Secretary-General, on the basis of his plan, to secure a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.
"A solution which will secure the rights of the Turkish Cypriots and will allow them to enjoy the benefits we anticipate to have with our accession to the EU, within the framework of a reunified Cyprus that will be able to effectively implement the acquis communautaire for all, lawful Cypriot citizens, and not cause problems to EU organs or institutions," the president added.
He said "our firm pursuit and constant concern is and will remain the creation of a stable, peaceful and safe environment, necessary for the welfare, progress and well being of all the people of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins."
 Annan: The Cyprus parties are moving ahead slowly
UNITED NATIONS 12/04/2004 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus parties engaged in negotiations to reach a settlement before 1 May 2004 ''are moving ahead slowly,'' UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday.
Responding to questions as regards to the negotiating process Annan said:''The parties are moving ahead slowly. We will stick to the time-table that we have agreed to which also entails my own involvement if the parties do not reach an agreement between themselves by the 22nd, 23rd of March. So it is likely, yes, that I will be involved.''
Asked whether the process will continue in Switzerland he said it is possible.
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash have been engaged in direct talks, under UN auspices, with a view at reaching agreement that would be put to separate simultaneous referenda on April 20 to the two communities.
 Cyprus talks expected to intensify
NICOSIA 12/04/2004 (CNA/ANA)UN-led direct talks between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities, aimed at reaching a negotiated settlement before Cyprus joins the European Union on May 1, are expected to enter an intensified phase once the Turkish Cypriot side submits proposals on the issues under discussion, well informed sources told CNA on Thursday.
So far, Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has put forward at the negotiating table positions which are completely outside the framework of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Cyprus plan, the basis for the Nicosia talks, the sources added.
For the moment, the UN, according to the same sources, being mainly preoccupied with the continuation of the talks, restrict their moves to taking in and noting down whatever is said and done at the negotiations, without any wish to interfere with either the pace or the method the two sides apply at the table.
Denktash, the sources pointed out, should not be allowed to raise such positions and views at the UN-led talks, as repeatedly pointed out by the Greek Cypriot side which notes that his positions are ''incompatible with the letter and the spirit'' of the Annan plan.
One of the issues Denktash is putting forward, according to the same sources, relates to the internal citizenship to be granted by each of the constituent states of the United Cyprus Republic that would emerge from the negotiations.
Denktash, they said, is insisting on religious and racial criteria, essentially aiming at giving the right to many whom he considers Turkish Cypriot ''citizens'' to settle in the Turkish Cypriot
constituent state and acquire its internal citizenship.
Such provisions would enable the flow of people into Cyprus who are not indigenous population, the sources said.
On the property issue, Denktash has refused to discuss proposals by the Greek Cypriot side and has announced he intends to submit his own positions ''at an appropriate time.''
Denktash has also rejected Greek Cypriot proposals on EU-related aspects and is insisting on permanent derogations from community law, the sources also told CNA.
The sources believe that the Turkish side is striving to achieve two goals that relate to core issues under negotiation.
On the one hand, to have derogations from EU rules and regulations accepted permanently by Brussels and on the other to have Cyprus' Accession Treaty renegotiated and ratified anew by the parliaments of EU member states.
The Turkish government has projected these views in its encounters with European and other officials. One such opportunity was provided by a visit earlier this week to Ankara by the EU troika.
The attitude of the Turkish side and its objectives are at the center of consultations taking place these days on the ongoing Nicosia talks.
 British Euro MP calls on Foreign Secretary to retract remarks
NICOSIA 12/04/2004 (CNA/ANA)A British Conservative Euro MP, Theresa Villiers, has called on Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to retract comments he made about Cyprus' accession to the European Union, which she considers contrary to the Union's decisions on Cyprus.
Straw had told CNN Turk in an interview that ''if it is just the Greek Cypriot part of Cyprus which goes into the European Union, then they would represent only the Greek Cypriot part of Cyprus. There is a divided island being admitted to the EU - the Greek Cypriot part of it.''
The EU had decided that the Republic of Cyprus would accede to the Union but if there is no political settlement by May 1 (when the country will join), then the acquis communautaire will apply only in the southern government-controlled part of Cyprus until such time that a solution is found.
''Mr Tassos Papadopoulos is the legitimate President of the entire island of Cyprus, albeit that the presence of the Turkish army prevents his government from controlling the northern part,'' Villiers said in a letter to Straw.
She pointed out that Straw's comments ''are highly misleading and fail to recognize the clear views of the international community.
They also conflict with the terms of Cyprus' accession treaty to the EU.''
The Euro MP invited the Foreign Secretary to clarify whether his statement represented a change to the consistent view held by all British governments in the past 30 years and urged him to retract these comments.
The remarks by Straw led the Cypriot government to make representations to Britain about the comments.