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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-07-30

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

July 30, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] New Democracy elects party secretary, Political Council; PM addresses Central Committee
  • [02] Parliamentary Summer Recess Committee ratifies amendment on overdue loan penalty rates
  • [03] NATO's "Distinguished Games" operation goes into effect
  • [04] Archbishop Christodoulos: Yes to Moslem mosque, no to Islamic Studies Centre
  • [05] Newly-appointed Army General Staff chief pays courtesy call on Archbishop Christodoulos
  • [06] Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis leaves for brief holiday on island of Ios
  • [07] Central bank study shows women in Greece are paid less than men
  • [08] Greenpeace asks government to reduce VAT for solar-powered systems
  • [09] Journalists tour OTE's operations centre and IBC
  • [10] Stocks nose down in range bound trade
  • [11] Olympic Village inaugurated
  • [12] Mosquito-free venues another priority on Athens organizers' agenda
  • [13] Catering: Stabilizing prices ahead of Olympics
  • [14] Medical, dental care programs outside Olympic venues detailed
  • [15] First section of Athens-Corinth motorway opened to traffic
  • [16] Suburban railway and metro begin runs to and from airport
  • [17] Northern Athens phone network out due to malfunction
  • [18] 89% of Greeks believe the EU must adopt the European Constitution
  • [19] Man with mental health problems behind information placing terrorists in Greece
  • [20] Actress Rena Vlachopoulou dies aged 81
  • [21] Cyprus to present proposals for Turkish Cypriots on Friday
  • [22] Cyprus and US wrap up talks for agreement on WMD

  • [01] New Democracy elects party secretary, Political Council; PM addresses Central Committee

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    "We are going for many more Greek victories," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis stressed on Thursday as he addressed ruling New Democracy's Central Committee, outlining the government's goals and the policies that define the modern social centre. The Central Committee convened to elect a new secretary, for which the previous secretary Vaggelis Meimarakis is the sole candidate, and a new Political Council.

    "We are going for Greece's victory in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, for a victory of the new government policy against a legacy of adverse conditions inherited from the past and a victory of Greek society against daily problems, inequities, discrimination and shortfalls. We are going to change Greece," Karamanlis said.

    He particularly stressed the social aspect, saying that considerations of social impact would be central to government policy and action.

    The premier also outlined goals for a new model of government, characterized by industriousness, collective effort, efficiency, decency, honesty and high moral standards. He underlined that signs of arrogance or pride would not be tolerated, nor 'client-relations' with voters and discrimination on a party-political basis.

    "We have to serve the common good and there are no margins for straying from this for anyone," he stressed.

    With respect to the Olympics, Karamanlis said the aim was to send a worldwide message of civilization and humanity so that the Olympics and Paralympics in Athens became a catalyst and an example for a new rapprochement between the nations, as well as an example of how Greece could become optimistic, modern and dynamic.

    "This is the new historic challenge, this is the opportunity for all Greeks and the time is now," he said.

    Lastly, the premier congratulated Meimarakis on his successful term as ND Central Committee Secretary and said he was certain he would continue to fulfill the role successfully after his re-election during Thursday's vote, when the party was called to elect a new Central Committee secretary and the seven non-Parliamentary members of the Political Council.

    With the votes counted, Meimarakis was elected by 481 votes for, while there were 21 spoilt votes and three blank votes. In total, 502 of the 561 that were registered participated in the election.

    In the vote for the Political Council, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis surged ahead of the other candidates with 329 votes, with the runner-up getting 254. The seventh candidate in line, G. Patsoyiannis was not elected due to an affirmative action quota and his place is taken by Fevronia Patrianakou, who received 97 votes. There was a total of seven spoilt votes.

    The election process for the seven MPs on the Political Council was waived earlier in the day because the candidates equaled the number of positions available. They include George Voulgarakis, Nikos Kaklamanis, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Dimitris Sioufas, Vyron Polydoras, Marietta Yiannakou and Fani Palli-Petralia.

    PASOK comments on premier's speech at ND's central committee meeting: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), in an announcement on Thursday evening commenting on Prime Minister and New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis' speech at the party's central committee meeting on Thursday morning, said:"The meanings 'Centre', 'Social Centre', 'Progressive Party' and all the others which Mr. Karamanlis promptly discovered, are for the New Democracy flags of opportunity. And with flags of opportunity, policy is not exercised in support of the people and the country."

    PASOK said that "Mr. Karamanlis' effort to try to convince the ND members that they are not right-wingers but centrists is respected," noting that in another point in his speech, the premier referred to "the flags of the Social Centre and the of Progressive Party", thus "christening the ND as a genuine Progressive Party."

    Concluding, the PASOK announcement said:"However, everything is judged in practice. And the options, policies and the ND's government practice already show their classic right-wing characteristics as an authentic expression of conservatism and regression."

    [02] Parliamentary Summer Recess Committee ratifies amendment on overdue loan penalty rates

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    The Parliamentary Summer Recess Committee on Thursday ratified an amendment on overdue loan penalty rates, which had been improved to include big debts for limited initial capital.

    The amendment was also approved by the main opposition PASOK party, but not by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology, which called for more favorable arrangements to be made.

    "The arrangement is balanced. Problems always exist when there are some limits. We cannot do something because they will tell us that we are going to favor specific businessmen," said Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis.

    PASOK deputies conceded that the amendment produced by the government is an improved one, compared to corresponding arrangements proposed by PASOK, but stressed that the ruling New Democracy party did not dare to table for ratification an amendment it had submitted when it had been in the opposition.

    [03] NATO's "Distinguished Games" operation goes into effect

    BRUSSELS 30/7/2004 (ANA/M.Spinthourakis)

    NATO headquarters in Naples, Italy announced that the preventive operation code-named "Distinctive Games" began being implemented on Thursday, with Belgian, Hungarian and Czech military officials and scientists departing for Greece, near Halkida, where they will stay until August 1.

    The purpose of the operation is for Greece to be fully prepared in case of either a chemical or biological terrorist attack during the Olympic Games.

    [04] Archbishop Christodoulos: Yes to Moslem mosque, no to Islamic Studies Centre

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, who jointly officiated at the Holy Trinity Church in the port city of Piraeus on Thursday, as the Metropolitan of Piraeus Kallinikos had his name day, indicated he is not opposed to the creation of a Moslem mosque, but he is to the creation of an Islamic Studies Centre.

    Asked at the end of the church service about the creation of a mosque in the township of Paiania, outside Athens, he recalled the decision taken by the Holy Synod four years ago which stressed that in principle the Church does not object to the building of a mosque, that is to say a place of worship for Moslems living in the country.

    "We clarify that the Church of Greece is not opposed to the building of a mosque. It is opposed to the building of this Islamic Studies Centre. And we said this from the beginning, when we were asked about this issue by the government at the time," he said.

    [05] Newly-appointed Army General Staff chief pays courtesy call on Archbishop Christodoulos

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Newly-appointed Army General Staff Chief Lieutenant-General Nikolaos Douvas paid a courtesy call on Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos on Thursday.

    Douvas conveyed to Archbishop Christodoulos the military's steadfast respect for the institution of the Church and requested his wishes and prayers for personal success in performing his military duties and for the preservation of peace among peoples.

    [06] Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis leaves for brief holiday on island of Ios

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis left for Manganari, on the island of Ios, on Thursday afternoon for a brief holiday, while his wife Natasha and their twins have already arrived there.

    The prime minister will be back in Athens on Sunday night, since a meeting has been scheduled on Monday concerning soccer violence and legislative arrangements the government will be promoting on the issue.

    [07] Central bank study shows women in Greece are paid less than men

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Working women in Greece are paid 25 per cent less on average than their male counterparts, according to a study commissioned by the Bank of Greece for the July 2004 issue of its "Economic Bulletin" released on Thursday.

    The study showed that men tended to earn more than women in the same wage scale, while the differences were greatest at the lowest and highest salary scales. The differences tended to decrease from the first to the fifth salary scales and then increased again until the ninth salary scale, which was the highest.

    [08] Greenpeace asks government to reduce VAT for solar-powered systems

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    The environmental organization Greenpeace on Thursday submitted a report to the Economy and Finance Ministry, asking the government to reduce VAT on systems using solar power as a measure against climate change.

    The report coincides with new figures released by the European Commission showing that Greece has exceeded the emissions limits set by European law as a way of tackling climate change.

    Greenpeace asks that VAT on photovoltaic and solar heating systems be reduced from 18 per cent to between 0-8 per cent, putting it at the same level as VAT on gas and electricity. It stressed that the current policy undermined the competitiveness of solar power against more polluting energy sources by about 10 per cent.

    According to Greenpeace representative Manos Safos, several European countries with much less annual sunshine than Greece had already reduced VAT on solar-powered systems, among them Britain, France, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.

    The report predicts that the measure will cause an initial loss of government revenue between 4-7.5 million euros in the first year but the losses will tend to be balanced out by greater sales. It projects that between 2005-2015, the measures will create up to 4,000 jobs while saving the environment and society up to 90 million euros a year through a reduction in electricity consumption and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 1.8-9.4 million tones.

    Similar appeals by Greenpeace in the past had been rejected by the previous government but it now hopes the new government will act on pledges to follow an aggressive policy of promoting alternative energy sources.

    [09] Journalists tour OTE's operations centre and IBC

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Executives of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) gave journalists a tour of OTE's National Network Operations Centre as well as OTE's facilities located within the International Broadcasting Centre.

    The operations centre, located at OTE headquarters in Maroussi, allows surveillance of OTE's national network in real time.

    Approximately 1 million calls are made every five minutes on any given day and approximately 65% of those calls are answered. OTE uses only 45% of its capacity, while to accommodate increased demand during the Olympic Games calls will be channeled to peripheral centers. In light of the Olympic Games, OTE has reinforced its network by 40%, while COSMOTE, OTE's mobile phone subsidiary, increased its capacity 15-fold.

    After the operations centre journalists were given a tour of the International Broadcasting Centre (IBC), the largest building in

    Greece after the terminal building of Athens International Airport with a total covered area of 150,000 sq. meters. As its name implies, the IBC will be the broadcasting centre of the 2004 Athens Games, to an estimated audience of 4 billion. It is the first time in Olympic history that a building has been specially built for this purpose.

    OTE, responsible for transmitting the signal from Olympic venues to the IBC, will do so through an optic-fiber system through two separate networks. The total cost of television broadcasting amounts to 165 million, while the sale of broadcasting rights has generated revenues of 1.5 billion.

    OTE has installed its equipment in the centre, while COSMOTE has also installed equipment that will enable 500 subscribers to talk simultaneously near and around the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA). Both companies have installed back-up systems which will enable their equipment to run for at least 15 hours in case of a power cut.

    [10] Stocks nose down in range bound trade

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower in range bound trade with the market trying to consolidate, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,351.67 points, showing a decline of 0.22 per cent. Turnover was 78.0 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.41 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.69 per cent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.58 per cent up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 145 to 128 with 84 remaining unchanged.

    [11] Olympic Village inaugurated

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    The Olympic Village where 16,000 athletes and their escorts will stay during the Athens 2004 Olympic Games was inaugurated on Thursday. Present at the ceremony were Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Athens 2004 Executive Director Marton Simitsek, IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli, Olympic Village Director Sotiris Vaos and a host of employees and volunteers who will staff the town.

    In a short speech, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said, "Greece has made it. Greece has succeeded in doing something that many people considered as beyond its capabilities. At Games-time we shall answer those people doubting or disbelieving what we have already achieved. We loathe our country being underrated."

    Addressing employees and volunteers, the Athens 2004 president asked that they maintain their passion and their morale in order to achieve their difficult but important task. "I believe in you because I believe in the people of our country, as I believe in the volunteers who love this country," she said. "What is essential is that we send out the message that our country is a dynamic and wonderful one. Our Games will be unique," she concluded.

    Simitsek called the Olympic Village "the best in Olympic history," and emphasized that hospitality and honor must prevail in general and in the Olympic Village as well.

    Felli conveyed the thanks of IOC President Jacques Rogge to all those who worked in building the Olympic Village. "It is all beautiful in this city, but what athletes will remember above all from Greece and the Olympic Village will be the everyday provision of high-level services from volunteers and other employees," he said.

    Finally, it was announced that Ioannis Manos, a member of the Full Board of Athens 2004, will serve as Mayor of the Olympic Village.

    [12] Mosquito-free venues another priority on Athens organizers' agenda

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Athens organizers this week unveiled their 'game plan' to combat pesky airborne invaders ahead of the Olympic Games, although the latter are not the nefarious types envisioned in the biggest security umbrella ever set up for a sports event anywhere in the world.

    In this case, mosquitoes, flies and other pests are the focus of the largest project in decades to control insect populations in the greater Athens area, and especially near Olympic facilities.

    The most prominent "target" is the small wetlands adjacent to the Olympic Rowing Centre at Schinias, in northeast Attica prefecture, traditionally one of the worst breeding grounds for mosquitoes in the greater Athens area.

    Another target is the Olympic Equestrian Centre at Markopoulo (east of Athens proper and near the new airport) a venue that now includes numerous stables, as the only pari-mutuel horse track in the country was recently transferred next to the Olympic facilities. Flies are the biggest concern here, according to the organizing committee (ATHOC).

    Other venues and facilities at the forefront of organizers' efforts to control mosquitoes and other insects are the Olympic Village, the main Olympic complex (OAKA) and the Aghios Kosmas sailing center.

    In a press release, ATHOC said the local firm Oikoanaptyxi S.A. was chosen after an international tender to exterminate and control insects near or at Olympic venues.

    It should be noted, however, that Greece has no reported instances of malaria or St. Louis encephalitis, with insect control measures taken to alleviate any nuisance to athletes and fans.

    [13] Catering: Stabilizing prices ahead of Olympics

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    The Panhellenic Federation of Restaurateurs and Allied Professions (POESE) is continuing its efforts to ensure the sector maintains low prices, offers upgraded services and safe products to customers, ahead of the Athens Olympic Games.

    During a press conference on Thursday, Federation President Kostas Zinelis told members in Athens that prices have been stabilized, but there have been incidents of profiteering, albeit to a limited extent. Zinelis called upon consumers to read price lists carefully.

    Zinelis explained that part of the reason prices in the restaurant industry have increased is because of the price increases that have been passed onto restaurateurs by their suppliers.

    The president said that efforts to restrain prices began last summer, while as of 1999 POESE in collaboration with the foodstuffs regulatory authority EFET has contributed in the upgrading of 80% of restaurants and training 50,000 employees.

    During the Olympic Games, consumers will be able to call the hotline 801 116 2222 on a 24-hour basis to make their complaints.

    [14] Medical, dental care programs outside Olympic venues detailed

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Some 300 physicians in the greater Athens area along with 100 dentists' offices in six "Olympic cities" around the country will be part of back-up healthcare services envisioned during the holding of the 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games in August and September.

    According the Athens Medical Association, the affiliated physicians will offer their services exclusively outside Olympic venues and facilities. They will must fulfill specific conditions set by the Association.

    Specifically, a doctor's visit to the affiliated physicians will cost 70 euros; 90 euros for in-house visits. A second visit for the same ailment will cost 50 and 70 euros, respectively. Additionally, if hospital care is required, physicians will be obligated to direct patients to the official 'Olympic hospitals' network.

    A guide with affiliated physicians, including the foreign language each participating doctor speaks, has been distributed to hotels, local government bodies in the greater Athens area, Tourist Police, airports and local embassies. The relevant website for the program is: www.isathens2004.com

    Olympic "dentists offices", meanwhile, will begin service on Aug. 1 in six cities: Athens (54), the port of Piraeus (20), Thessaloniki (10), Heraklion, Crete (8), Patra (5) and Volos (3).

    Free dental care for emergencies (i.e. abscesses, injuries etc.). Participating dentists will be available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. The dedicated website for this program is: www.eoo.gr or (210) 9468700.

    [15] First section of Athens-Corinth motorway opened to traffic

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    The first section of the Athens-Corinth motorway, headed in the direction of the city of Corinth, was delivered to traffic at noon on Thursday. The section is located in the region of Kakia Skala and passes through a network of new tunnels.

    Consequently, the two lanes used so far by vehicles heading for Corinth will be added to lanes headed for Athens. Tunnels to be used by traffic heading for Athens are expected to be delivered for use in December.

    In another development, the new Athens Metro station of Doukissis Plakentias, located in the district of Halandri, was inaugurated on Wednesday, while trains will be reaching the Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport in coming days, using the suburban railway network.

    [16] Suburban railway and metro begin runs to and from airport

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Two major Olympic Games-related transport projects begin operating Friday - the suburban railway and metro routes to and from Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos." It is estimated that tens of thousands of passengers will use these public means of transportation on a daily basis, helping to reduce traffic congestion in and around the capital.

    The official opening ceremony will be held at the airport terminal on Friday at 11 a.m., in the presence of Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis.

    [17] Northern Athens phone network out due to malfunction

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Phone services to Athens' northern suburbs, including 14 Olympics facilities, were greatly impaired on Thursday due to a malfunction at the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) centre in Kifissia.

    The system crashed at around 1:30 on Thursday morning when OTE technicians tried to put a new system designed to upgrade the centre into operation.

    The switch did not go as planned, resulting in the failure of both the old and new systems and putting 42,000 out of 48,000 phones in northern Athens out of operation. These included phones at the Olympic Village, the Cycling Centre, the Schinias Rowing Centre and Olympic facilities in Liosia, Amygdaleza, and elsewhere. About half the phones in Olympic facilities worked using backup systems.

    [18] 89% of Greeks believe the EU must adopt the European Constitution

    BRUSSELS 30/7/2004 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)

    Eighty-nine percent of Greeks believe that the European Union should adopt the European Constitution, against 9% who are opposed, according to results of the EU's Eurobarometer opinion poll which was published in Brussels on Thursday.

    It is the fourth highest percentage in the European Union, after the Italians (94%), Spaniards (93%) and Hungarians (90%).

    The lowest percentage in favor of the adoption of the European Constitution is registered in (Estonia (57%), the United Kingdom (51%) and Sweden (50%), while in Europe of the "25" 79% on average support the adoption against 15% opposed.

    Furthermore, 81% of Greeks (third highest percentage after Italy and Spain) believe that an EU foreign minister seat should be created. Also in favor of this opinion are the Cypriots (77%), while more reserved are the citizens of the Czech Republic (43%), of Slovakia (43%) and of Estonia (39%).

    [19] Man with mental health problems behind information placing terrorists in Greece

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    The man who told police that a terror group had passed through Greece into Belgium in order to attack NATO facilities has turned out to be a 42-year-old Belgian man with mental health problems, who was reported missing by his wife on July 17.

    The man was picked up in Italy a few days ago and had originally posed as a Greek agent who had information that an attack against NATO installations in Belgium was imminent, prompting Belgian authorities to increase security around NATO installations over the weekend.

    According to reports in Belgian papers, the man's true nationality was discovered when police called in an interpreter, who found the man was unable to express himself in Greek. Shortly afterward he began to talk French using Belgian idioms, which helped police ascertain his identity. Authorities are now certain that the 'information' he gave was simply a product of his imagination.

    [20] Actress Rena Vlachopoulou dies aged 81

    Athens, 30/7/2004 (ANA)

    Popular actress Rena Vlachopoulou died of heart failure at an Athens hospital on Thursday evening. She was 81.

    Vlachopoulou had been admitted to hospital on July 16 to undergo surgery for stomach perforation. Her post-operational state had been difficult as she was facing other serious health problems as well and she had lapsed into a coma in recent days. According to a hospital announcement, she died of sudden heart failure at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

    Born on the holiday island of Corfu in 1923, Vlachopoulou had starred in many theatrical plays and films and had made her first professional appearance on the stage in 1940, singing the great success "Little Village Girl."

    Her husband, many relatives and close friends had stood by her during the difficult days she had spent in hospital.

    Party leaders, Athens mayor extend condolences to family of deceased actress Rena Vlachopoulou: Party leaders and Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis extended their condolences to the family of popular actress Rena Vlachopoulou on hearing of her death on Thursday evening.

    Prime Minister, Culture Minister and ruling New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, extending his condolences to her family, said "her films and songs will keep her memory alive forever."

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou said "she offered laughter, happiness and entertainment to all Greeks, who loved her and will always remember her through her films."

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga said "we shall remember her for her cheerfulness, her songs, her laughter and the characteristic roles she played in a unique way."

    The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party said in an announcement "she expressed the average Greek woman, in all her expressions, in an authentic way."

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis said "Rena Vlachopoulou was one of the most important figures of our theatre and cinema," adding that "she will be a model for all younger artists."

    Bakoyannis further said that the municipality of Athens, as a show of respect for her memory, will undertake her funeral expenses.

    [21] Cyprus to present proposals for Turkish Cypriots on Friday

    NICOSIA 30/7/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cypriot government will present on Friday to the public its proposals and other unilateral measures to the European Commission, which aim at enhancing contact and economic relations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and facilitating the more effective implementation of the Green Line Regulation.

    An official press release says that the measures will be presented at a press conference on Friday at the Presidential Palace by Minister of Communications and Works Charis Thrasou and Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism George Lillikas, in the presence of government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides and Director of the President's Diplomatic Office Tasos Tzionis.

    Thrasou will present the decisions of the Council of Ministers regarding the movement of Turkish Cypriot public use vehicles, while Lillikas will present the government's proposals to facilitate the movement of goods and to further strengthen the economic relation between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    [22] Cyprus and US wrap up talks for agreement on WMD

    NICOSIA 30/7/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Bilateral talks between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States of America were wrapped up today at the Cypriot Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aiming at drafting an interstate agreement of cooperation between the two countries to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, their launching systems and materials by sea.

    The talks were held in the broader context of cooperation between Cyprus and the US, and the general effort of the international community to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

    The two delegations were led by Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Sotos Zakhaios and US Ambassador in Nicosia Michael Klosson.


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