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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-08-05

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 5, 2004


  • [01] IOC President Jacques Rogge discusses Olympic Games with PM, says Athens is ready and fantastic Games will take place
  • [02] Greece absolutely ready to host the Games, last gov't meeting on Olympics concludes
  • [03] Foreign ministry to brief Mexico following arrests of Mexican journalists
  • [04] Greece and Cyprus foreign ministries discuss joint action at UN Security Council
  • [05] Cyprus and Greece agree on common action plan
  • [06] FM receives Chinese ambassador
  • [07] Two Turkish warplanes violate national air space over Limnos
  • [08] Finmin says Olympic project delays have hurt public deficit
  • [09] Gov't blames economic woes on its predecessor
  • [10] Government issues leaflet for tourists outlining prices for basic goods and services
  • [11] Hotel staff in Attica stage 24-hour strike, meet employment minister
  • [12] Stocks drop, tracking European markets
  • [13] Gov't seeks use for Olympics equipment after games
  • [14] Survey shows new wave of Greek writers are making an impact abroad
  • [15] EU backs any move towards rapprochement
  • [16] Missing persons issue under the spotlight
  • [17] UNFICYP resolution adopted by UN General Assembly
  • [18] Cyprus government welcomes Commission's release of funds for de-mining

  • [01] IOC President Jacques Rogge discusses Olympic Games with PM, says Athens is ready and fantastic Games will take place

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge discussed the Olympic Games with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis at the Maximos Mansion on Wednesday night, in the presence of Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia and 2004 Athens Olympic Games Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.

    "Athens is ready and fantastic Games will take place," Rogge said after the meeting, stressing that he was greatly impressed by the city's appearance and by the excellent organization.

    "I was coming to Greece for seven years and I am extremely happy to be here shortly before the great celebration," Rogge said and, replying to a question on the issue of security, added "we are confident that Greece has done everything that is humanly possible."

    "The city's appearance even impressed its citizens, while the participation of people in this image is even more impressive," Daskalaki said, while Karamanlis and Petralia also praised the citizens' participation in the effort.

    Lastly, replying to a question on the controversial issue presented by the BBC of an IOC member being bribed, Rogge said "we do not know details. The Ethics Committee is examining the facts, we shall be looking at the issue tonight and we shall take the necessary action."

    Athens arrival: International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge arrived in Athens at noon on Wednesday and was given a warm welcome at Athens airport by Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Greek Olympic Committee President Lambis Nikolaou.

    Rogge said "it is a real magical moment. The last moment after seven whole years of preparation, and the entire world is waiting and I am very enthusiastic. I am absolutely confident that Athens is ready. In any case, the IOC always expressed its confidence in the Organizing Committee and the government and we will certainly have excellent and successful Games."

    Referring to the issue of the Games' security, he said the draconian security measures will not affect the Games, adding that the government did all that was humanly possible.

    Daskalaki said Athens is absolutely ready to host the Games, which was also ascertained during the Interministerial Committee's morning session chaired by the prime minister, and thanked all the Greeks who are trying to help and respect the measures.

    "The time has come for us to show the entire world that the decision to assign the 2004 Olympic Games to Athens was correct," Daskalaki said.

    [02] Greece absolutely ready to host the Games, last gov't meeting on Olympics concludes

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greece was now absolutely ready to host the Olympic Games with absolute safety, the government committee for Olympics preparations concluded on Wednesday during its final session.

    The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and attended by all parties involved in organizing the Games, including Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni and Athens Olympics Organizing Committee chief Gianna Angelopoulos.

    It covered the final details of arrangements for the Olympics and ascertained that there were no outstanding problems. The mood was upbeat as ministers emerged from the meeting, with several prepared to wager that the Athens Games will be the best yet.

    Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis announced that the last part of the transport network, the train station at Neratziotissa, will be delivered on Thursday, while Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis stressed that everything was going according to plan with respect to security measures, while he thanked the public for "responding in a way that no one could have believed".

    He said that the C4I security systems were working perfectly and that all the staff operating them had been fully trained.

    Regarding Tuesday's incidents involving a number of Mexican journalists that were arrested over apparent breaches of security, Voulgarakis stressed that the security measures had a particular protocol that guaranteed a secure environment for everyone.

    [03] Foreign ministry to brief Mexico following arrests of Mexican journalists

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    The Greek foreign ministry on Wednesday announced that it was arranging a briefing of Mexican Embassy staff on the security plan for the Olympic Games, after two separate groups of Mexican journalists fell foul of Greek security personnel on Tuesday. A spokesman said the ministry would clarify Games security arrangements that led to the journalists' arrest.

    Four Mexican journalists were arrested on Tuesday evening while filming near an Athens military base housing Patriot defense missile batteries. Earlier on, a Mexican TV crew and their interpreter claimed that they had been detained and beaten by Greek coastguard officers in Piraeus.

    A probe into the allegations of violence was launched by the Greek coast guard on Tuesday.

    [04] Greece and Cyprus foreign ministries discuss joint action at UN Security Council

    NICOSIA 5/8/2004 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    Delegations from the Cypriot and Greek foreign ministries on Wednesday began talks in Nicosia to plan joint action on outstanding issues at the United Nations and European organizations linked to the Cyprus problem.

    These include the handling of the Cyprus problem at the UN Security Council, European Union regulations for funding and direct trade with the occupied territories in northern Cyprus, and issues before the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

    The Cypriot delegation is led by Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iakovou, who said the joint-action program was nearly ready and will be presented to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    [05] Cyprus and Greece agree on common action plan

    NICOSIA 5/8/2004(ANA/CNA)

    The governments of Greece and Cyprus on Wednesday agreed on a common action plan which will cover a wide range of future activities and developments on Cyprus which are related to the European Union, the UN, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and other fora.

    The common action plan was decided during a meeting on Wednesday morning in Nicosia between delegations from the Foreign Ministries of Greece and Cyprus and was subsequently presented to President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos.

    In statements, Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou who chaired the Cypriot delegation said it seems that the EU Dutch Presidency will examine the European Commission regulation for direct trade with Turkish Cypriots at a later stage and now it is dealing with the financial regulation and the measures to economically support the community.

    He also said that a detailed plan on how the closed port of Famagusta will operate as well as on the fenced off area of the town, will be conveyed to the European Commission and Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen as a specific proposal and a copy will be sent to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    The Cypriot minister revealed that on August 23 UN representatives will arrive on the island to take a close look at the role and mission of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and during September Annan will prepare his report on UNFICYP's mission, which will be conveyed to the Security Council.

    Expressing satisfaction over the results of the meeting, General Director of the Greek Foreign Ministry George Yenimatas said they had a very useful and constructive discussion with the president and that these will continue within the excellent climate of friendly relations between the two countries.

    Minister Iacovou said he holds regular cooperation with his Greek counterpart Petros Moliviatis and ministry officials, noting that the collaboration with the Greek ministry is "close and successful."

    During their discussions, he added, they prepared an action plan, which has alternative proposals and handlings, stressing that during August there will be various contacts with the Dutch presidency and other EU partners, on September 3 COREPER will meet, followed by the Council of Ministers, and the General Affairs Council where the regulation for the economic assistance to the Turkish Cypriots will be examined.

    [06] FM receives Chinese ambassador

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Wednesday received the ambassador of the People's Republic of China to Athens, Tang Jenji.

    According to the latter, bilateral relations were discussed, as well as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

    Regarding the latter, the Chinese diplomat said facilities in Beijing will be ready by the end of 2006, while in response to press questions regarding a latest round of international criticism on China's human rights record, the envoy said the "situation is constantly improving, and whatever charge is unfounded".

    [07] Two Turkish warplanes violate national air space over Limnos

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    Two Turkish F-4 warplanes flew over the northeastern part of the island of Limnos, at an altitude of only 500 feet, at 14.50 on Wednesday.

    The Turkish aircraft were intercepted by Greek air force jets, while being trapped by the radars of land-based anti-aircraft weaponry.

    Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos monitored the operational situation from the National Operations Centre.

    The Greek foreign ministry will be responding with a verbal demarche to the Turkish air force's provocative act.

    [08] Finmin says Olympic project delays have hurt public deficit

    BERLIN 5/8/2004 (ANA/A Lidorikis)

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday that delays in completing projects for the Athens 2004 Olympics had led to additional costs, burdening the public deficit.

    A large proportion of overall costs had hurt the national budget in 2003 and 2004, Alogoskoufis said in an interview to Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.

    The public deficit was likely to remain above 3.0 percent in 2004, and it may increase further.

    "'We will do our best to have the deficit below 3.0 percent for 2005," the minister said.

    He noted that 2005 would be a year of adaptation as the budget for that year would contain state spending cuts. A first draft of the budget is due for parliament at the end of October.

    "We are in control of the situation and we will submit a budget under which the deficit will easily recede, given that there will be no longer be the cost of the Olympic Games, there will be new revenue, and state spending will be contained," Alogoskoufis added.

    He also pledged a new round of privatization over the next three years that would begin in the middle of 2005.

    Alogoskoufis favors investment by foreign banks in Greek credit institutions, rather than domestic mergers, the newspaper said.

    Among Alogoskoufis' plans were private management for airports and ports, it added.

    Finally, a bill is to be sent to parliament in November that would help to attract foreign investors.

    [09] Gov't blames economic woes on its predecessor

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday that the sorry state of public finances was due to a fictitious 2004 budget and irresponsible economic management by the formerly ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK).

    Responding to criticism earlier in the day by PASOK, Alogoskoufis said: "The people who created today's problems should go into hiding instead of making a rumpus."

    The main opposition party had charged the government with increasing the public deficit, shrinking revenue, and increasing primary spending within its first five months in office following the release of economic data by the State Accounting Office on the state of the 2004 budget.

    "Tough austerity will greet us in the new year," PASOK's statement said.

    [10] Government issues leaflet for tourists outlining prices for basic goods and services

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    The development ministry on Wednesday issued a leaflet in six languages that provides foreign visitors to Greece with indicative starting prices for more than 70 basic goods and services.

    The leaflet is available in Greek, English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese and will be distributed at all points of entry into Greece, sports facilities, museums and the centers of Olympic cities.

    It provides starting prices for 20 types of commonly used services, such as transport, healthcare, recreation or restaurants, and 50 commonly used products, including food, drinks, alcoholic beverages and others.

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said that 300,000 copies of the leaflet have been printed initially and stressed that his ministry would be ruthless in dealing with incidents of overpricing.

    "If someone tries to take advantage of the Olympics for personal profit, this is damaging for the country," he underlined, while noting that gloomy forecasts had so far been proved wrong and that markets were operating normally.

    The minister also announced a new hotline for consumer complaints at the number 1520, at the ministry's General Secretariat for Consumers, which will operate between the hours of 8:00 and 20:00.

    [11] Hotel staff in Attica stage 24-hour strike, meet employment minister

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    Representatives of striking hotel workers in Attica on Wednesday had a meeting with Employment Minister Panos Panagiotopoulos and demanded that he take action to deal with the problems faced by workers in the hotel sector.

    The minister promised to mediate with hotel owners and then inform the hotel worker unions of the outcome of his initiative.

    Union head Christos Katsotis accused hotel owners of intransigence and was caustic about an offered raise of just 0.92 euros a day, noting that hotel staff earned some of the lowest salaries in the country and that over half were employed on a 24-hour basis.

    The union is demanding that the basic wage for the sector be increased to 1,100 euros a month, as well as an Olympic bonus. It warned that it was prepared to continue strike action into the Olympic period, with a decision on further action to be taken at a general meeting in Athens on Wednesday afternoon.

    [12] Stocks drop, tracking European markets

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower in across-the-board selling with players influenced by declines in European markets, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,296.65 points, showing a decline of 1.44 percent. Turnover was 97.3 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.61 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.06 per cent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.28 per cent down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 229 to 70 with 55 remaining unchanged.

    [13] Gov't seeks use for Olympics equipment after games

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    The government said on Wednesday that a committee would make recommendations by end-October on how Athens Olympics equipment and fittings worth more than 100 million euros could best be used after the games.

    The material, which includes hotel equipment, seating, automobiles, electronic hardware, medical equipment, electrical appliances, and audio-visual devices, belongs to Athens 2004, a state SA company set up to organize the 2004 event.

    The committee is to include representative of the national Olympics organizers, the ministries of finance and culture, Olympic Real Estate SA, and economists.

    [14] Survey shows new wave of Greek writers are making an impact abroad

    Athens, 5/8/2004 (ANA)

    A study conducted by the National Book Centre to track down Greek titles translated into foreign languages has revealed that foreign readers are slowly discovering a new generation of Greek authors and a new image of modern Greece, apart from the most frequently translated great poets Costas Cavafys, Odysseas Elytis, Yiannis Ritsos and George Seferis and the novels of Nikos Kazantzakis.

    New writers whose work has been translated and published abroad include Vassilis Vassilikos, Rea Galanaki, Apostolos Doxiadis, Menis Koumantareas, Pavlos Matesis, Andreas Staikos, Thanassis Valtinos, Zyranna Zateli, Demosthenes Kourtovik, Petros Markaris, Costas Mourselas, Dido Sotiriou and Evgenia Fakinou.

    According to professor of modern Greek literature and translator Jacques Bouchard, who presented the results of the survey on Tuesday evening, the emphasis has switched from Greek poetry to prose that gives new insights into life in the Greek countryside and capital. He said the center's survey found that 1,400 Greek works of literature have been translated and published abroad into 40 European and other languages.

    Modern Greek poets that have been translated into at least five other languages include Manolis Anagnostakis, Nassos Vagenas, Kiki Dimoula and Antonis Fostieris. Greek theatre, on the other hand, is massively under-represented with just a handful of translated plays, as are short stories, Cretan literature and the treatises from the era of the Greek Enlightenment.

    Also scarce are translations of poets and writers well known and highly regarded in Greece, such as Dionysis Solomos, Andreas Calvos, Kostis Palamas, Angelos Sikelianos, George Vizyinos and Alexandros Papadiamantis, while Greek children's literature abroad is dominated by Evgenios Trivizas for young children and Alki Zei for teenagers.

    The largest number of Greek works translated into any single language is in French, with 264 titles, followed by English with 215, German with 179, Spanish with 132 and Italian with 90. The survey also revealed that the number of Greek titles translated into Turkish had risen to 67, and at least nine modern Greek writers have been translated into Chinese.

    [15] EU backs any move towards rapprochement

    NICOSIA 5/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The European Union would welcome any initiative to bring the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities together, Andriaan van der Meer, head of the European Commission Representation office here, has said.

    He also welcomed a package of measures the government of Cyprus announced last week with a view at facilitating the Turkish Cypriots with regard to trading with the Greek Cypriots, including exemption from value added tax payments and easing of arrangements for trucks crossing from the northern Turkish-occupied areas of the island to the southern government controlled part.

    Addressing a gathering of British residents in occupied Cyprus, at the village of Lapithos, Van der Meer outlined EU policy towards the northern part of Cyprus and said its success depended now on individual initiatives from the business community but also on further steps towards normalization of the situation on the island.

    ''The Commission will soon make funds available for the de-mining of the buffer zone'', he said.

    This, he added, would facilitate the opening of new crossing points.

    At present there are four crossing points to and from the occupied areas, which have opened since April 2003 following the partial lifting of restrictions on free movement by the occupation regime.

    One of the measures the Cyprus government has proposed was the opening of more crossing points to facilitate contact between the two communities even more.

    Ambassador van der Meer talked about the EU Green Line regulation on the free movement of persons, goods and services on the island, saying that the necessary legal framework for its implementation is already in place.

    He also talked about a draft EU proposal on direct trade between the Union and the occupied areas, which he said aimed at ending the ''economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community''.

    The EU, he said, has adopted a draft proposal on financial support of the Turkish Cypriot community amounting to 259 million euros for the period 2004-2006.

    ''The package aims at facilitating the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging the economic development with particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island, through approximation and alignment with the acquis and by improving contacts between the two communities with the EU,'' he added.

    The Turkish Cypriot side has not yet responded to the package of government measures announced last Friday. It has however rejected another package of confidence building measures aimed to develop a sense of security among Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

    The government had proposed the opening of eight additional crossing points along the ceasefire line, disengagement of military forces from the walled part of the capital Nicosia and from the wider Dherinia-Famagusta and Strovilia areas, in eastern Cyprus, de-mining of landmines by both sides, return of the fenced area of Famagusta to its legal owners, joint operation by Greek and Turkish Cypriots of Turkish occupied port of Famagusta and restriction of military exercises.

    [16] Missing persons issue under the spotlight

    NICOSIA 5/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    UN Secretary General Kofi Annan intends to send a letter to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in a bid to press on with the resolution of the humanitarian issue of missing persons, in particular the concurrent investigation of cases by the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP) and exhumations in the island's northern Turkish occupied areas, well informed sources have said.

    The letter is expected to be in line with the letter and the spirit of his earlier letter of December 2003 with regard to the issue of missing persons. Papadopoulos replied within days to the December letter saying he accepted the Secretary General's terms. Denktash has yet to respond formally to the UN call for exhumations and investigation with convincing evidence about the fate of missing persons.

    Turkey's ''declaration of intention'' presented to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in early June with regard to the issue of missing persons is considered by various circles as an indication but no proof of its real intentions to respond to Annan's call.

    Meanwhile the government of Cyprus, assisted by the Committee of Relatives of Missing Persons, is working methodically in line with a strategy drafted in coordination with the Committee with a view at making headway in solving the humanitarian issue of missing persons and ascertaining their fate, as sources close to this effort have told CNA.

    Exhumations and identifications of remains, buried in graves in the southern government controlled part of Cyprus, have already taken place at the initiative of the government of Cyprus.

    The Turkish Cypriot side has not yet allowed similar exhumations to take place in Turkish occupied north, where it is believed that Greek Cypriot persons listed as missing are buried.

    [17] UNFICYP resolution adopted by UN General Assembly

    NICOSIA 5/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN General Assembly resolution concerning the financing of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus circulated on Tuesday as an official document.

    The resolution, which contains the proposals of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, refers to the UNFICYP mandate as set out by Security Council resolution 186 (1964) and its decision to appropriate to the Special Account for the UNFICYP the amount of 51,992,2000 dollars for the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005, inclusive of 47,240,400 dollars for the maintenance of the Force, 2,176,900 dollars for strengthening the security and safety of the staff and premises of the Force, 2,105,100 dollars for the support account for peacekeeping operations and 469,800 dollars for the United Nations Logistics Base.

    It notes that a one-third share of the net appropriation, equivalent to 16,444,900 dollars, will be funded through voluntary contributions from the Government of Cyprus and the amount of 6.5 million dollars from the Government of Greece.

    Furthermore, it decides to apportion among Member States the amount of 29,047,300 dollars at a monthly rate of 2,420,608 dollars, in accordance with the levels set out in General Assembly resolution 55/235.

    At the same time, taking into account its voluntary contribution for the financial period ended 30 June 2003, that one third of other income in the amount of 641,666 dollars in respect of the financial period ended 30 June 2003 shall be returned to the Government of Cyprus as well as 286,055 dollars to be returned to the Government of Greece.

    [18] Cyprus government welcomes Commission's release of funds for de-mining

    NICOSIA 5/8/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus government, through its spokesman has described as "an exceptionally positive development" the release by the European Commission of 2.5 million euros for de-mining in Cyprus.

    According to a press release issued by the European Commission Representation to Cyprus, work for the actual mine clearing in the buffer zone can begin by September. The de-mining operations will first focus on the area of the buffer zone in and around Nicosia.

    Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides told CNA on Wednesday that "promoting de-mining, especially in the buffer zone, will help in opening new crossing points along the dividing line and especially in creating better communication between the two communities."

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