|Wednesday, 16 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-11-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 4, 2004
 PM Karamanlis congratulates George W. Bush on re-election
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis sent a congratulatory telegram to George W. Bush on Wednesday, who on November 2 was re-elected as President of the United States.
Karamanlis said he was ''certain that the long-standing and close ties between the United States and Greece will continue to develop in the future, since relations between the two countries are firmly based on the friendship'' between the American and Greek people.
Bush defeated Senator John Kerry, the Democratic candidate from Massachusetts.
US envoy, local GOP and Dem chiefs on American presidential election result: The US ambassador's residence in central Athens on Wednesday morning was the local focal point of the American presidential election, as US expatriates, Greek-Americans, the media as well as the embassy's leadership and staff anxiously looked on as the ballot in Ohio swung the pendulum clearly in favor of incumbent George W. Bush.
"The American people have spoken. We can't draw any conclusions until the final results are in. Today it's the results, tomorrow we'll talk about the future," US envoy Thomas Miller told reporters amid a diplomatic residence filled with television screens, a couple of computers and a campaign-style atmosphere.
The chairwoman of the Greek chapter of the Republican Party (GOP), Katerina Papathanasiou, said Bush's re-election centered on the fact that a majority of American voters recognized that the incumbent was a strong leader.
By 9:30 a.m. (Athens time) most media outlets in the United States were convinced of incumbent George W. Bush's victory over Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry.
The local GOP chairwoman also noted that President Bush convinced more US voters that he could best guarantee America's security and its interests.
Conversely, Democratic Party chief in Greece Bill Kyritsis expressed his utter "shock" at the result, accusing the Bush camp of using "fear" as a primary factor to win the 2004 presidential election. Kyritsis also charged that the economy had taken a back seat to terrorism during the latest US presidential campaign.
Finally, he predicted that Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards from North Carolina, would be one of four or five contenders for the Democrats in 2008, whereas Hillary Clinton would come under strong pressure to vie for the nomination as well.
"It was a fascinating race, pretty much what people predicted it would be … I think the big victory here that some people don't pay too much attention to is the turnout, it's a big victory for democracy. Remember, we (in the United States) don't have to vote like in many countries, it's voluntary ... the fact that we're at 60 percent (voter turnout), or something like that, I think is a terrific statement about how participatory democracy works," Amb. Miller added.
Referring to Greek-US relations in the wake of a Bush re-election, Amb. Miller cited what he called a "remarkable continuity" in bilateral relations since his first assignment in Greece in 1985.
In an unrelated issue, Miller -- who is expected to remain as Washington's envoy to Athens until roughly late December -- said Greece's recent election to the United Nations' Security Council, as a non-permanent member, for a two-year term (2005-2006) means that the breadth of Greek-US cooperation now extends to every corner of the world, and not just to the Balkans, the Cyprus issue or to Greek-Turkish relations.
"With the (Greek) foreign minister we can just as easily talk about North Korea and Darfur now as we do the Balkans and Cyprus," Miller said, adding that international terrorism remains a serious problem.
 Bush, Kerry messages to Greek-American community
WASHINGTON 4/11/2004 (ANA)Both candidates in the US presidential election, incumbent George W. Bush and Democratic contender John Kerry, addressed messages to Greek-American voters over the recent period, similar to messages normally issued by US presidential candidates in past elections and ones aimed towards numerous ethnic groups in America.
Both Bush and Kerry mentioned Greece's regional role, Athens' successful hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games as well as the long-standing Cyprus issue.
On his part, the junior senator from Massachusetts referred to concern on the part of the Greek Cypriot side regarding deficiencies in the Annan peace plan. He also cited the need for a "just" solution to the Cyprus problem.
Bush referred to Greece's contribution to the international anti-terrorism campaign with the allocation of the Souda naval station on Crete. Additionally, the US president praised the Greek-American community for its economic contribution and vigor as well as its strong moral values.
 Gov't says national interests will determine its final stance on Turkey's EU entry
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)The government's final stance on Turkey's accession to the European Union will be determined on the basis of national interests, deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Wednesday in response to questions about a recent sharp rise in airspace violations and infringements above the Aegean by Turkish air force planes.
The spokesman said that the government was calmly monitoring Turkey's behavior and informing Greece's EU partners and allies when this was deemed necessary.
He also noted that nothing had so far occurred to cause the government to change its stance on Turkey's EU entry.
Greece considered that Turkey had carried out notable domestic reforms but needed to learn to behave in a European manner and respect its obligations on a European level, Antonaros added.
 Defense Minister begins Moscow visit
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos left for Moscow on Wednesday, following an invitation by his Russian counterpart Sergei B. Ivanov.
The two ministers were due to meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, while the official welcome in Spiliotopoulos' honor is scheduled for Thursday morning, followed by a meeting with Ivanov at the Russian defense ministry. At the same time, bilateral talks between the two countries' delegations will also be held.
Later on Thursday, Spiliotopoulos will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, followed by visits to the Kremlin and the War Museum.
 European Council meeting to be held in Brussels Thursday
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)The first European Council meeting of the Dutch Presidency of the EU will begin in Brussels on Thursday. The Lisbon Strategy and the ratification of the EU constitution will be the key items on the Council's agenda, while the issue of EU enlargement is not expected to be dealt with extensively as it is scheduled for analytical discussion in December.
According to the meeting schedule, only European Commission President Romano Prodi will briefly refer to EU enlargement and the progress made by candidate countries on Friday when he presents the Commission's reports of October 6.
Former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok, will present the Kok Report which was drawn up by a high-level group under his direction regarding the progress of the Lisbon Strategy, concerning issues of social and economic policy.
The EU Council will call upon EU member states to make every effort in informing EU citizens on the European Constitution, which must be ratified within the next two years.
Other issues on the Council's agenda for the two-day meeting which will conclude Friday, include the multi-annual program for EU policy aimed at achieving peace, safety and justice in the Union and developments in Iraq.
Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi will be attending Friday's working lunch.
 EU progress on 'Lisbon strategy' unsatisfactory
BRUSSELS 4/11/2004 (ANA/V. Demiris)Progress achieved in the European Union on the promotion of the so-called "Lisbon strategy", four years after the summit held in the Portuguese capital, is considered unsatisfactory according to a report by a group of experts, headed by former Dutch prime minister Wim Coq.
The summit had set the aim of "the EU becoming the most competitive economy in the world in 2010."
The report, publicized officially here on Wednesday, underlines the unsatisfactory rates of progress in achieving the targets set in Lisbon and the need for speeding up reforms.
The report will be discussed by heads of state and government of EU member-states on Thursday afternoon, on the first day of the two-day summit.
It attributes delays to the lack of political commitment and determination and to the unwillingness of governments of member-states to go ahead with reforms to strengthen economic growth in Europe.
Referring to Greece's performance, the report says that the Greek GDP per capita (expressed in purchase strength units) amounted to 73 percent of the 15 EU member-states' average in 2003.
Portugal is last among the "15" with 68.3 percent. The average for the "25" was 91.2 percent.
In 2003, the employment percentage in Greece reached 57.8 percent, as against 62.9 for the "25" and 64.4 for the "15". In addition, the percentage of women's employment in Greece was 43.8 percent last year compared to 55.1 for the "25" and 56 for the "15".
Lastly, 20 percent of the population in Greece was threatened by poverty in 2003, compared to 15 percent for both the "25" and the "15". Long-term unemployment amounted to 5.1 percent of the economically active population in Greece in 2003 as against 4 for the "25" and 3.3 for the "15".
 Greek Deputy FM Stylianidis holds talks with Hungarian counterparts in Budapest
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis had important meetings in Budapest with Hungary's Deputy Foreign Ministers, Istvan Major, responsible for economic diplomacy issues, and Andras Barsony, responsible for European Union issues, a Greek foreign ministry announcement said on Wednesday.
Stylianidis discussed the prospects of further improving bilateral economic relations, with the objective of strengthening exports, the creation of joint companies in the Balkans and the further strengthening of tourism cooperation, given that Greece constitutes the top country for Hungarian tourists.
Also discussed was the improvement of infrastructures in the Balkans, aiming at better connected transport, as well as facilitating procedures at borders which come between the two countries.
The two sides exchanged views on issues of mutual interest which concern the European Union, as well as bilateral political relations.
The Greek deputy foreign minister also presented Thessaloniki's bid to host EXPO 2008, analyzing the specific advantages of this choice for Hungary as well.
Finally, during his stay in Budapest, Stylianidis had meetings with the Greek business community active there in the sectors of investment, foreign trade and tourism, as well as with representatives of the Greek community.
 MPs on Parliament's transparency committee demand briefing on media bill
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Members of Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee, including former Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis, on Wednesday demanded that Parliament be immediately briefed on a draft bill being prepared by the government on transparency issues within the mass media.
Kaklamanis asked why TV channel owners should be "in the know" about the contents of the bill when MPs knew nothing and stressed that the resulting bill should not end up being a "compromise" and asked that it be tabled within the current Parliament's term.
 Turkish warplanes violate Greek national air space
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Violations of Greek national air space by Turkish warplanes continued on Wednesday. According to press reports, nine formations of Turkish aircraft made 12 infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), which developed into 11 violations of national air space in the north, central and southern Aegean.
In all cases the 21 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while in four cases the interception process developed into mock dogfights.
Five of the aircraft were armed.
On Tuesday, 13 Turkish warplanes had made six violations of national air space in the region of the central and southern Aegean and two mock dogfights had taken place.
 Gov't announces 11-mln-euro training program for new businessmen
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday announced a program, worth 11.2 million euros, calling for the training of 2,317 new businessmen as part of a government-sponsored program "Competitiveness".
A total of 489 applications were submitted with the program which envisaged a total of 11,220 hours of training. The training program aims to educate new businessmen in management principles, management and operation of a modern business, consultancy support, operating plan, marketing plan, financing of small- and medium-sized enterprises, export marketing, financial management, innovation and electronic commerce.
 Gov't pledges to pay debt to construction firms
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Wednesday reassured contractors that the government would soon pay its debt to the sector.
In a meeting with the union of construction companies STEAT, Souflias discussed problems facing the construction sector and underlined that the ministry was in a constant dialogue with companies over the implementation of a new law on public works and prices and over draft legislation on project studies to be unveiled next week.
The Greek minister stressed that a problem with a delay in payment by the state was being solved after a discussion with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Tuesday.
Souflias reiterated a ministry's plan to tender public work projects, worth 2.5 billion euros, over the next five months. "The construction sector is a vibrant sector and we want it to remain that way. It is a national asset and we intend to support it in every legitimate way," he added.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, STEAT presidency said they welcomed the minister's initiative to resolve the problem and said that the state's debt to construction companies could be well above 1.0 billion euros.
STEAT's president George Syrianos, however, criticized strongly the policy followed by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos. Syrianos said that the Economy ministry backed away from initial pledges and noted that a development law would be implemented with a big delay. He noted that the construction sector employed around 330,000 people and warned that due to a crisis prevailing in the market several companies could announce as many as 30,000 lay offs.
Syrianos rejected criticism by Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos over low quality works in the Olympic Village and urged the government to speed up payment to companies.
 Gov't reiterates desire for bourse 'bubble' probe, stresses support for SMEs
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Deputy government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday reiterated that the government would do everything in its power to ensure a full investigation of the Athens stock market 'bubble' in 1999-2000, in accordance with the wishes of Greek society.
He refused to comment on criticism voiced by judges' unions over the actions of Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras, who asked a Supreme Court Public Prosecutor to lodge an appeal against a decision to dismiss charges in a stock-market related case, saying only that the prime minister had full confidence in the minister and that Papaligouras had acted within the bounds of his constitutionally appointed tasks.
Asked to comment on statements by National Bank of Greece governor Takis Arapoglou that there was a 'surfeit' of small to middle-sized businesses in Greece, Antonaros stressed that the government's economic policy was decided on by the prime minister and no other.
The spokesman underlined that SMEs were the backbone of the economy and that the government had taken and would take measures to support them, including the developmental bill due to be tabled in Parliament.
Deputy Finmin says gov't does not align itself with banker on SMEs: Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas on Wednesday stressed that the government did not align itself with the statements made by National Bank of Greece governor Takis Arapoglou, who asserted that there was a 'surfeit' of small and middle-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Greece.
"Mr. Arapoglou is not a member of the government. The government expresses its policies through its statements and the statements of the prime minister, as well as through the 2005 budget tabled in Parliament," Doukas underlined.
Doukas was responding to questions regarding the Arapoglou statements put by main opposition PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos in Parliament.
 IOBE report calls for urgent review of Greek pension system
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)The Greek pension system, along with those of Italy and Austria, is one of the three European pension systems whose problems were escalating most rapidly and are in urgent need of review, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Institute of Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) based in Greece, which stressed the need to encourage private savings and insurance to help deal with an emerging crisis.
IOBE underlined that the problems of the Greek pension system needed to be tackled immediately, since the situation was deteriorating extremely rapidly and current inaction could lead the country to an impasse.
Among the contributing factors, IOBE listed demographic imbalances, such as an ageing population, rising life expectancy and low birth rates, high public debt, large social insurance fund deficits and high unemployment.
The report predicted that spending on state pensions by Greece would rise to 19.6 per cent of GDP in 2030 and 24.8 per cent of GDP in 2050, up from 12.6 per cent of GDP in 2000. It also noted the relatively small assets of private pension funds in Greece, which currently account for just 4 per cent of GDP, when compared to other countries such as Canada (48 per cent of GDP) the UK (85 per cent of GDP), the Netherlands (113 per cent of GDP) and Switzerland (102 per cent of GDP).
GSEE trade union slams IOBE report, pledges to resist attempts to curtail pension rights: The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), Greece's largest umbrella trade union organization, on Wednesday expressed strong opposition to a report put out by the Institute of Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) calling for urgent reforms to the Greek pension system, and said it would fight all attempts to curtail workers' pension rights.
According to the trade union group, the IOBE report formed part of a pattern of attacks on the social insurance and welfare system by "various centers and financial interests" and was an extension of the statements made by Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas and National Bank of Greece governor Takis Arapoglou.
 Greece, Russia, Bulgaria to discuss oil pipeline project
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)A tri-party meeting of working groups from Greece, Russia and Bulgaria, will be held in Athens, November 4-5, to discuss a plan to build an oil pipeline linking Burgas (Bulgaria) with Alexandroupoli (Greece).
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas will address the meeting of the working groups. The Greek group, headed by Development Deputy Minister George Salagoudis, will present an update feasibility study on the Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline.
The three groups are expected to discuss thoroughly all aspects of the plan with the aim to proceed with the next phase of the program, the signing of a political memorandum of cooperation between the three countries.
 Greek closed-end investment funds' assets rose in October
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Greece's 21 listed closed-end investment funds' net assets totalled 1.381 billion euros at the end of October from 1.283 billion a month earlier, an increase of 98 million euros, official figures showed on Wednesday.
A monthly report by the Union of Institutional Investors said that the average arithmetic return of closed-end funds was -2.05 percent from the start of the year, while the average weighed return was 5.69 percent over the same period. The Investment sector index is up 2.33 percent so far this year, while the composite index of the Athens Stock Exchange is up 9.97 percent over the same period.
Eleven funds reported positive internal value returns, ranging from 0.36 to 11.79 percent, while the remaining 10 reported negative returns, ranging from -1.27 to -32.62 pct. The average discount of the sector was -11.05 percent at the end of October, with only one firm traded at a premium and the other 20 at a discount, ranging from 3.85 to 30 percent.
 Transport minister says countries of SE Europe must invest at least 1.5 pc of GDP in road network improvement
SOFIA 4/11/2004 (ANA/B. Borisov)Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis, speaking at an international business conference here on Wednesday, suggested that the countries of southeastern Europe must invest at least 1.5 to 2 percent of their GDP to improve the road network in the region. The conference is being attended by over 1,000 European businessmen, including many Greeks.
Focusing in his address on the investment climate in southeastern Europe, Liapis said Balkan countries can achieve the aim of completing the network of both the "vertical" and "horizontal" European road networks in the region by 2010.
Speaking in the presence of his counterparts from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, FYROM and Slovenia, Liapis underlined the wider region's key role for the European Union and the new opportunities provided by the EU's recent enlargement.
 Greece, Bulgaria in talks to upgrade railway
SOFIA 4/11/2004 (ANA/B. Borisov)Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis said on Wednesday that Greece and Bulgaria were in talks to modernize a railway linking Sofia and Thessaloniki.
The aim of the project would be to reduce traveling time between the two cities to five and a half hours, sharply down from seven and a half to eight hours at present, Liapis told the Athens News Agency on the sidelines of an investment forum.
Work was proceeding on a railway between Thessaloniki and Istanbul, which should open to the public early in 2005; and the trip would last 12 hours, he added.
 Communist Party expresses support for farmers' protests and demands
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)In an announcement issued on Wednesday, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Political Bureau expressed its support for the demands and protests by Greek farmers, accusing both main opposition PASOK and ruling New Democracy of adopting the same damaging policies on farming, whether they were in government or in the opposition.
"The ND government is continuing the anti-farmer policies of PASOK governments, which move along the lines of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the revision of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)," the announcement said.
According to KKE, these policies allowed massive imports of agricultural goods that grossly undercut domestic farm production and chiefly hurt small and middle-sized farms while benefiting big business and industry.
 SBBE provides cash grant to historic Greek school in Istanbul
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Representatives of the Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE) traveled to Istanbul to give cash grants, on behalf of their members, to the historic Greek school in Istanbul - Megali tou Genous Scholi - which recently celebrated its 550th anniversary since its founding. The event was held on October 26, at Istanbul's Sismanoglio Foundation in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
SBBE President Dimitris Symeonidis emphasized the Association's contribution to supporting Greek-Turkish commercial relations and called on the people of both countries to overcome past differences and to work together to achieve growth and development.
SBBE representatives also met with the management of Turkey's industry association TUSIAD and discussed issues of mutual business interest. Both parties agreed to sign a cooperation memorandum whose main objective will be the submission of joint proposals for projects within the context of EU cross-border cooperation. Furthermore, SBBE and TUSAID representatives also discussed the possibility of creating Greek-Turkish business entities in order to take on investment initiatives in the Turkish-speaking countries of the former USSR, the Balkans and in eastern Europe.
 Minister wants cruise shipping, ports in development bill
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said he wanted to have cruise shipping and ports entered under investment incentives in the government's new development bill.
The ministry was preparing a proposal for incorporation of the two sectors, the minister told a news conference.
 Stocks nose up in consolidation
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished higher in a bid to consolidate after a series of rises, with players raking in their gains in profit-taking, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,549.35 points, showing a rise of 0.02 percent. Turnover was 163.5 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.20 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.47 percent down; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.05 percent down.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 137 to 133 with 87 remaining unchanged.
 President Stephanopoulos inaugurates 'Libraries of Hellenism' exhibition
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Wednesday night inaugurated the "Libraries of Hellenism" exhibition in the presence of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou and former Parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis.
The exhibition is being housed at the Greek Parliament Foundation for Parliamentarianism and Democracy which is at the junction of Philellinon and Mitropoleos streets at Syntagma Square in central Athens.
Addressing President Stephanopoulos, Parliament President Psarouda-Benaki said that with this exhibition, the series of events which were dedicated to the completion of 80 years since the incorporation of Western Thrace to Greece, are concluded. She underlined that the exhibition reveals "the unifying role of Greek education in the broader region of the Balkans when it, along with the Greek spirit and the Greek business ingenuity, united the peoples of the Balkans who lived under Ottoman rule, not to flatten them or isolate them from their national character but to tone the authenticity of their existence and to gradually lead them to their national identity and subsequently to independence."
She added that "as two centuries ago Greek education opened to the Balkan peoples the road to freedom and self-determination, it can also today broaden and support their European prospects."
 PM briefed on financial and other problems of Archaeological Society
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister and Culture Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday met a delegation from Greece's Archaeological Society, one of the oldest foundations in the country, who briefed him on the financial and other problems that have arisen since the Society stopped receiving state funding in 2001.
The delegation also presented the premier with a memorandum outlining the problems, while Karamanlis promised to give the matter serious consideration, especially since it concerned an institution as historic and important as the Archaeological Society.
 Olympics Knowledge Transfer conference concludes in Beijing
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)The Knowledge Transfer Conference, during which Athens 2004 organizers shared their know-how and successful Olympic experience with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2008 Olympics (BOCOG), concluded on Wednesday.
"The Olympic Games have now been held three times in this third millennium, and Sydney Salt Lake City and now Athens were all great successes," IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Gilbert Felli said. "After each of those Games, we have held debriefing meetings, with transfer of knowledge becoming a key step in the IOC's work to ensure the Games continue to go from strength to strength. Transfer of knowledge plays a key part in work being led by IOC President Jacques Rogge to manage the size and complexity of the Olympic Games, whilst maintaining their quality," he added.
Athens 2004 CEO Marton Simitsek said: "Over the past three days we briefed our friends of the Beijing Organizing Committee on all aspects of Olympic Games preparations. This sharing of information is always key to the success of the Games. Just as Greece gave the Games to the world, we have been delighted to work with the IOC and the BOCOG to help pass on key lessons of Athens 2004."
Representatives of the organizing committees for the Torino Games (2006) and the Vancouver Games (2010) also attended the conference, which dealt with issues such as finance, Games identity and vision, venue planning and operation, test events and the Paralympic Games.
 Memorial service for '60s-era PM Georgios Papandreou
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)A te deum service was held on Wednesday morning in the memory of Georgios Papandreou, a veteran 20th century Greek statesman and prime minister.
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, the grandson and namesake of Georgios Papandreou, attended the service at the Athens First Cemetery, along with several Papandreou family members and past associates of the latter. Georgios Papandreou was also the father of late PASOK leader and three-time premier Andreas Papandreou.
Georgios Papandreou died in 1968.
 Fossilized Forest on Lesvos voted best in Europe
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)The 'Fossilized Forest' park on the Greek island of Lesvos, one of the 25 sites in UNESCO's international Geo-parks network, was voted the best in Europe during the 5th International Conference of the European Geo-Parks Network, held under the auspices of UNESCO at the Madonie Geo-park on Sicily at the end of October.
The Lesvos site received the highest score, with 968 points out of 1,000, while experts from all over the world declared themselves impressed with the infrastructure used to enhance the site, such as the museum, exhibition areas, parkland and the signposted special routes and paths, as well as its potential for promoting local economic growth, eco-tourism and geo-tourism.
Other initiatives that develop the site include educational programs organized by the Museum, with accompanying information packs, events, leaflets, guides and geo-tourism products.
The park on Wednesday received a visit from a six-member delegation from the Chinese geopark of Zhangjianjie in China's Hunan province, which has come to study the Lesvos fossilized forest.
 Health ministry to introduce new system for assessing disability
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)The Health ministry on Wednesday announced plans to introduce a new system for assessing disability that will begin to apply in a year and a half.
Deputy Welfare Minister George Constantopoulos said the new system aimed to establish a fair and objective method for collecting evidence regarding an individual's disability while reducing the amount of red tape required for the issue of disability certificates.
It will be introduced alongside a disability card or 'functionality card' for use by the disabled, who will henceforth be assessed on the basis of international standards and approved scientific methods. One of the ministry's goals is to issue life-long cards for people with permanent disabilities and renewable cards for those temporarily disabled.
 Police intercept truck carrying 46 illegal immigrants
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Police intercepted a truck near the town of Lamia, central Greece, on Wednesday evening and found 46 illegal immigrants of Syrian origin stacked inside.
The truck stopped a short distance away from a road blocked prepared by police, who had acted on a tip-off, and its driver managed to escape, while the co-driver, also of Syrian origin was arrested.
Police believe that a car driven by an accomplice was ahead of the truck and its driver warned the truck driver when he spotted the police roadblock, enabling him to stop the vehicle and make his getaway.
The illegal immigrants had crossed the Greek border under unspecified conditions, had paid 2,000 euros each and had begun their voyage from the Evros region in northern Greece and were heading for Athens in what police found out was a stolen truck.
Police believe that members of an immigrant smuggling ring had contacted the illegal immigrants, received their fee and stole a truck to take them to Athens.
 Internet child-porn ring disbanded
Athens, 4/11/2004 (ANA)Police have disbanded a four-member Internet child-porn ring that had been uploading child pornography and intimate pictures of unsuspecting women from various parts of the country to several websites since 2002, it was announced on Wednesday.
The four Greek nationals comprising the ring were arrested Tuesday morning, in simultaneous operations in Athens and Serres, after a two-month investigation by police officers specially-trained in PC crimes, who managed to trace the perpetrators' web pages. The four were due to be brought before a public prosecutor, together with their case files, later Wednesday.
Police sources said that the four had created a mechanism through which subscribers to their pornographic websites were automatically diverted to x-rated phone lines abroad, with the unsuspecting visitors being charged exhorbitant rates.
At two houses raided in Athens and Serres, police found and confiscated five PCs, two laptops, three cell phones with stored pictures of naked women, two bank books containing deposits of many thousands of euro, and tens of diskettes and CD-ROMs with indecent material.
Under interrogation, police discovered that the four detainees would convince the subscribers to their web pages to send in photographs of women in intimate moments, and they in turn would send the subscribers photographic material of sexual encounters in hotels, the private beaches of Greek hotels, and of naked young women in the changing rooms of lingerie shops from various cities throughout Greece, all taken without the knowledge of the individuals appearing in the photographs.
According to police, the ring began operating in early 2002, with tens of young women as the victims, and thus it is believed that possibly more people were involved in the ring, and investigations were continuing in that direction.
 Cyprus raises Turkey's obligations with Solana
BRUSSELS 4/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou met on Wednesday with Secretary General of the Council of Ministers and High Representative for the EU's Common Foreign and Defense Policy Javier Solana, with whom he raised Turkey's obligations under the Copenhagen political criteria, regarding the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus and the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from the island.
After the one-hour-long meeting, which was held in Brussels at Solana's office, Iacovou said he was fully satisfied with the interest shown by the High Representative.
Iacovou said he raised with Solana all issues concerning Cyprus, in the context of examining the fulfillment of the Copenhagen political criteria by Turkey, as they have been analyzed by the European Commission in its relevant report.
The Cypriot minister noted that Solana listened with interest and promised to complete a round of talks with certain Commissioners and member states, before a new meeting with Iacovou.
Other issues discussed were the difficulties regarding Cyprus' full participation in EU activities. Iacovou noted that obstacles to this participation were due to Turkey's reactions.
According to community sources, Iacovou told Solana that Cyprus supports Turkey's efforts to come closer to the EU but noted that a country could not begin accession negotiations when it insisted on not recognizing a member state.
Iacovou referred to Cyprus-flagged ships being prevented from approaching Turkish ports and Cyprus Airways not being allowed to use air space over Turkey. He also brought up the issue of Greek Cypriot refugee properties and the number of Turkish settlers in the areas under Turkish occupation, as well as the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from the island.
The minister furthermore pointed to Turkey's numerous vetoes against Cyprus joining international organizations.
According to the same sources, Solana believes all these issues should be discussed in order to find solutions. He also brought up the position of certain member states that the regulation for direct trade between the EU and the Turkish occupied areas should be adopted.
On this issue, Iacovou reminded Solana that Nicosia had submitted a series of proposals to support the Turkish Cypriots and noted that there was no apparent political will on the Turkish side.
 US policy on Cyprus not subject to change of US government, says Papadopoulos
LARNACA 4/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)The US policy on the Cyprus issue is not subject to changes in the US government, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has stated.
Speaking Wednesday on departure for Brussels to attend the EU summit he also expressed the hope for a clear result in US elections so as the situation with the prolonged election recount in Florida in 2000, would not be repeated.
Responding to questions regarding the US policy on the Cyprus problem, President Papadopoulos said: ''I don't think that the US policy changes with a change in government. There are procedures and there are people appointed in responsible positions. In these posts changes may happen, but it is early and pointless on our part to make assumptions and express our preferences for the one or the other candidate''.
 Cyprus President to take part in Brussels EU Summit
LARNACA 4/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos left Wednesday for Brussels to participate in the EU summit that will mainly deal with financial matters, the Lisbon program and the competitiveness of the European economy.
In statements on his departure, President Papadopoulos said the EU summit would furthermore deal with issues concerning the EU's communication with its citizens, and the situation in Iraq, the Middle East and Sudan.
Regarding the enlargement process the Cypriot President said it is on the agenda but it is not certain yet whether it will remain there to be discussed at the next Council meeting in December.
Responding to a question on whether it is possible to grant a Cypriot consent for an accession negotiations date to Turkey without the recognition of the Cyprus Republic, Papadopoulos said the Cyprus government will decide taking into consideration all developments ''and the effort made from now and until then is for the Republic to succeed in what it considers as Turkey's obligations not only vis-a-vis Cyprus but also towards the EU''.
One of the issues to be examined, he added, is the recognition, which is ''directly connected to Turkey's accession negotiations with the EU member-states''.
Responding to a question on a proposal by the island's opposition to conduct an investigation in connection with US funds spent in Cyprus before the April 2004 referenda on a UN plan for a Cyprus solution, he said that no investigation is able to reveal what happened.
''The only ones who know who took money, not for bi-communal programs but especially for the referendum are the ones who took this money and the ones who gave it'', the Cypriot President said.
Asked to comment on a statement by European Commission official Leopold Maurer that some changes would be pursued as regards the Regulation for the Green Line, the Cypriot President said that the Regulation is subject to changes according to the products and the EU laws.
He further noted that it is the occupation regime in the Turkish occupied north that creates troubles on the free movement on the island.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of the island's territory.
 Cypriot Ambassador: Cyprus' division obstacle to human rights
UNITED NATIONS 4/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)The division of Cyprus by Turkish troops constitutes a serious obstacle to the enjoyment of human rights, including freedom of movement, property rights and human rights issues pertaining to the situation of the enclaved Greek Cypriots in the northern part of Cyprus, as well as the question of the missing persons, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Cyprus to the UN Ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis has stressed.
Addressing the Third Committee, at the 59th Session of the General Assembly, on the situation of human rights, Mavroyiannis added ''such a forcible division, ineluctably resulted in massive violations of human rights, as clearly reported by numerous reports of the Secretary General of the United Nations and the decisions of various international bodies''.
''No real remedy to these violations can be found without the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Cyprus, in the same way that, no comprehensive functional and lasting solution can be achieved, without the restoration of the human rights of all of its citizens'', Mavroyiannis said.
He noted that ''suggestions that Turkey has acquitted itself of its obligations in the reunification process and with regard to human rights in Cyprus, because the Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the Annan plan some months ago, while it continues occupation and colonization of the northern part of Cyprus, are simplistic, self-serving and mistaken''.
''Turkey would substantively contribute to the reunification and reconciliation process only if it withdrew its forces from Cyprus, respected established international rules of human rights, and abided by the Security Council resolutions on Cyprus and international law'', the Cyprus Permanent Representative said.