|Friday, 13 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-12-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 6, 2004
 EU entry for Turkey depends on compliance with norms, PM says
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Saturday that Greece would welcome a European orientation by Turkey but gaining entry into the bloc would depend on the neighboring country's ability to meet established norms.
"We believe that Turkey on a European track could benefit all, but the road to Europe depends on Turkey itself, on its ability to align with the EU's constitutional, economic and political rules, and on its response to fundamental criteria that apply to any country whose ambition is to become a member of the European family," Karamanlis told the ruling New Democracy (ND) party's central committee.
The criteria for meeting EU standards were Turkey's internal situation, respect for religious freedom and the rights of minorities, foreign policy, a respect for international law, and Ankara's treatment of Cyprus, the prime minister said.
"Turkey's failure to recognize the Republic of Cyprus and the presence of Turkish occupation troops in its northern sector are a paradox that is incompatible with the philosophy and the institutional and political reality that are entailed how the European family functions. All these are factors that are being evaluated and will continue to be taken into account not only by Greece but also by our European partners," he said.
At the same time, Greece wanted to improve ties with Turkey, and wished to see an immediate solution to the Cyprus problem that would be functional and viable on the basis of the Annan plan, in line with UN decisions, and compatible with European legislation; and that would also allow all inhabitants of the island to enjoy the benefits of EU membership in security and stability.
Turning to other external issues, Karamanlis noted that the government backed an acceleration of peace moves in the Middle East, and supported an EU orientation for countries lying north of Greece.
A new attempt would be made in New York on Monday to find a mutually acceptable solution for Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to resolve their differences over the neighboring country's wish to call itself "Macedonia", the name of an adjoining Greek province.
"This is the only problem in our otherwise good relations," the premier noted.
Finally, he said that the new European constitution would be sent to parliament for ratification after open dialogue, apparently maintaining his rejection of a proposal by the ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) that the matter be put to a referendum.
Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis told the meeting that the government's aim was to build up a new economy for the country while boosting growth and social cohesion.
ND's secretary, Vangelis Meimarakis said that party was satisfied with the government's performance, and was lending its full support to the endeavor.
After Karamanlis' speech, PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis released a statement accusing the prime minister of praising himself and his government, and merely acting as "the opposition to the opposition."
In a countering statement, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos picked up one of Athanassakis' charges that the government was creating a "virtual reality", saying it was PASOK that had given wrong economic data to EU authorities, and the matter had now come to light throughout Greece and the continent.
 Ruling party against early national elections
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Ruling New Democracy is against holding national elections next year that would be mandatory if parliamentary parties are unable to reach consensus on a candidate for president of the republic, the party's political planning division said in a circular sent to central committee members.
"We do not aim for early elections although we are not afraid of a ballot. If necessary, we are ready to wage an election battle and win," said the document distributed at an internal meeting on Saturday.
The party had based its long-term program on a four-year term in office, also aiming to win national elections ordained in 2008, ND's political planning division said.
The group also told central committee members that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis knew how and when he would make his proposal on a candidate for president that aimed for consensus and unity, as stipulated in the country's constitution.
In addition, the document stated that senior officials of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement held conflicting views on the matter, with the party itself displaying "arrogance."
 Main opposition eyes return to power
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)The leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), George Papandreou, said on Sunday that his party was eyeing a return to power as the government had failed to keep its election pledges.
The party would actively seek to regain the office it lost in national elections on March 7, 2004 rather than sit back and await the fall of the current government "like a ripe fruit," Papandreou told a party conference on a new social state.
He accused the government of implementing policies that lowered household purchasing power, of being two-faced, and of occupying itself with the past instead of the future.
In addition, the government had failed to negotiate for Greek interests to ensure that Ankara's European orientation would benefit the surrounding region, and "open fronts" had been created with Turkey and regarding the Cyprus issue, the PASOK leader claimed.
Due to political mismanagement, ties between the European Union and Turkey did not move through Athens, leaving Greece's voice unheard, he added.
Among PASOK's priorities were transforming a past notion that the social state dampened growth; targeting areas of need and offering tailored welfare in contrast to blanket spending; and redistributing income in favor of disadvantaged social groups and poorer regions, Papandreou said.
"At the core of the new social state is the concept that the public must have a sense of security and certainty," he noted.
Main opposition party gets new youth leader: The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement's youth group on Sunday elected Vassilis Kitsios as its secretary.
Kitsios was the sole candidate for the post at the election held at the end of a three-day meeting of the party's youth section, gaining the support of 633 voters out of a total of 1071 registered delegates. Also cast was 19 blank votes and seven invalid ballot slips.
A rival faction in the youth movement abstained from voting due to internal rifts that extended the meeting by one day.
 Communist leader blasts two largest parties
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)The leader of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Aleka Papariga, on Sunday accused the country's two largest parties of hypocrisy in their talk of consensus for the election of a new president of the republic in spring 2005.
The KKE would continue to forge its own way, avoiding involvement with ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK, Papariga told a party meeting in the Athens suburb of Peristeri.
"This is linked to releasing the people from the confinement of false ideologies and the strategy of ND and PASOK," she said.
'With each day that passes, it is becoming harder and harder for them to create any substantive confrontation as their programs are as alike as two peas in a pod. What divides them is party hostility, literally to obtain the comfortable seat of power; and rivalry for control of the state apparatus," the KKE leader added
 Opinion Poll: Ruling party 6.7 points ahead of main opposition
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)The ruling New Democracy (ND) party came top in voter preference with a lead of 6.7 percentage points over the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in an opinion poll published on Sunday.
Of voters polled, 39.8% said they would vote for ND in a national election, followed by 33.1% for PASOK; 6.1% for the Communist Party of Greece; 3.2% for the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology; 2.8% for LAOS; 1.5% for another unspecified party; and 13.5% were uncertain or said they would cast a blank vote.
Tipped to win elections at the end of the government's four-year term on the basis of impressions so far was ND according to 54.0% of respondents, followed by 21.5% for PASOK.
Asked who was most suitable for the position of prime minister, 53.1% opted for the current premier, Costas Karamanlis; and 31.7% chose George Papandreou, head the main opposition.
Viewing the government's image as positive were 42.6% of respondents, with 32.5% holding a negative picture, and 24% saying the image was neutral.
Asked which possible candidate for president of the republic was likely to gather the highest level of consensus among political parties, 24.3% opted for Nikos Constantopoulos, leader of the Coalition; 18.1%, composer Mikis Theodorakis; 16.1% for ex-PASOK premier Costas Simitis; 11.1% for parliament speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki; and 10.9% for Apostolos Kaklamanis, the former parliament speaker.
The nationwide telephone poll was conducted by GPO for the Sunday Typos newspaper between November 30 and December 2.
In another opinion poll released on Sunday, 31.5% of respondents said early elections in March would benefit ND, and 15.5% believed PASOK would gain advantage.
In addition, 55.3% of people polled believed that the president of the republic should be a political figure, and 32.4% that the post should not be held by a political figure.
The nationwide telephone poll was conducted by Rass for the weekly To Paron newspaper between November 30 and December 2.
 Opinion Poll: Nearly 90% of Greeks say no to Turkish claims
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Nearly 90% of Greeks believe that the government should not bow to Turkish claims against Greece, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday.
Of respondents, 89.3% said the government should insist that the claims be withdrawn, with 8.0% saying it didn't need to pursue this policy.
Asked if Greece should insist on immediate recognition of Cyprus by Ankara in return for Athens' agreement to the start of European Union entry negotiations for Turkey, 82.1% of respondents agreed, with 13.8% saying it wasn't necessary to insist.
On another foreign policy issue, 57% disagreed with a statement that Greece was under no threat regardless of the country name chosen by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), with 40% expressing agreement.
Asked which of four stated current issues were most important, 49% opted for FYROM's final name; 25.1% developments in an enquiry into state finances; 12.7% election of a new president of the republic; and 5.4% the work of a fact-finding committee on armaments.
The nationwide telephone poll was conducted by Rass for the weekly To Paron newspaper between November 30 and December 2.
 Europarliament sets priority on religious freedom in Turkey
ISTANBUL 6/12/2004 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)The European Parliament lays special emphasis on full religious freedom in Turkey, the institution's president, Josep Borrel, told reporters.
He was speaking on Saturday after a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and a meeting hosted at the Orthodox Church headquarters in Istanbul for the representatives of religious communities in Turkey.
Christian groups briefed Borrel on the problems they are continuing to face in the neighboring country.
Also visiting the Patriarch at the weekend was the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, Theodoros II, who is paying an official visit to Istanbul.
 Turkish patrol boat violates Greek territorial waters
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)A Turkish patrol boat on Sunday violated Greek territorial waters, sailing 600 yards east of the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean.
The boat withdrew as a Hellenic Coastguard vessel sailed into the area, authorities said.
 Greece, FYROM to resume UN talks on name rift
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FY-ROM) are to meet under UN auspices in New York on Monday to resume talks on a future name for the neighboring country.
The talks will be undertaken by the two countries' representations at the UN, and the international organization's special envoy for the issue, Matthew Nimetz.
The meeting is part of an interim agreement that aims to forge a solution acceptable to both sides.
 UNESCO countries to debate drafting anti-doping convention
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Ministers from UNESCO countries are to meet in Athens on December 6-8 to debate drafting an international convention against doping in sport on the eve of 2005, designated as UN world year for the sporting and physical education sector, organizers said on Sunday.
Due to attend are more than 50 sports ministers and 200 sector officials worldwide, who will also discuss a strategy to reinforce physical activity in the education system, and sport and women, organizers said in a statement.
Arranging the meeting, which will be opened by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, are Greece's culture ministry and sports general secretariat.
Speakers include UNESCO director-general Koichiro Matsuura; the president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, president of the International Paralympic Committee, Phil Craven; president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Richard W. Pound; and Greece's deputy culture minister responsible for sports, George Orfanos.
 Judges, prosecutors to stage work stoppages in January
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)The Union of Judges and Public Prosecutors said on Sunday that its members would stage two-hour work stoppages on January 27 and February 24, 2005.
The strikes in the country's civil and criminal courts are to protest against what the union called years of neglect of the sector by the government; and to press for financial demands.
In addition, the union pledged to take the Greek state to court if the financial demands of judges were not met.
 Margaret Papandreou making good progress in hospital
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Margaret Papandreou, mother of main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement leader George Papandreou, is making good progress in hospital, the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre said in a statement on Saturday.
Papandreou was admitted to the Athens hospital on Friday after suddenly feeling unwell. Her children, George, Nikos and Andrikos, said that she would remain at the facility for a few days as a preventive measure.
 Greece's largest wind park gains extension
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Greece's largest wind park at 62.5 MW gained a 10.8 MW extension on Saturday, launched by Deputy Development Minister George Salagoudis.
"This type of investment can be made in the regions, giving them new life along with other growth-oriented endeavors," Salagoudis told a ceremony at the new park located in Rhodopi in the north of the country.
The unit belongs to Damco Energy and ATTNE International Construction, formed by the Kopelouzos and Samaras Groups. The overall investment cost was 70 million euros, including part-financing by Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece.
 Delay in signature of three-country oil pipeline deal
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Signature of a memorandum for construction of a pipeline between Bulgaria and Greece to carry Russian oil has been postponed, Bulgarian officials said.
Russia's energy minister requested postponement of the signature that was originally scheduled for early next week in Sofia as he will accompany President Putin on a visit to Istanbul at that time, the officials said.
According to Greek diplomatic sources, a new date is likely to be set by the end of December.
The pipeline is to link Burgas in Bulgaria to Alexandroupoli in northern Greece.
 Police bust baby-trafficking ring
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Three people suspected of running a baby-trafficking ring in the southern Aegean island of Crete are to appear before an investigating magistrate on Monday.
The three were arrested on Saturday after plain clothes police posing as potential buyers made contact with the ring's suspected mastermind, a 50-year-old Bulgarian woman, using purchase of a three-month baby girl as a ruse.
The officers handed over 6,000 euros in marked banknotes as an advance on a total payment of 12,000 euros.
The suspects allegedly sold babies for 10,000-12,000 euros each that were procured from Bulgarian women brought into the country to give birth in Cretan hospitals, bypassing legal adoption procedures.
Buyers were childless couples, according to police in the town of Hania.
Arrested were the suspected ringleader and her son, 18, as well as the baby's mother, aged 22.
Police are searching for the 52-year-old husband of the operation's alleged mastermind, who evaded arrest.
 Two illegal immigrants killed in minefield blast
Athens 6/12/2004 (ANA)Two illegal Turkish immigrants were fatally injured after they unwittingly strayed into a border minefield, setting off explosives, military authorities said on Sunday.
The two youths were apparently trying to cross the border with Turkey into Greece on Saturday night when the accident occurred. The fenced minefield in Evros was equipped with warning signs, authorities said in a statement.
 Cyprus President hopes Cyprus' positions to be adopted at EU conclusions
NICOSIA 6/12/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Sunday he expected Dutch Premier Jan Peter Balkenende, whose country currently holds the EU presidency to listen to the positions of the Cyprus Republic regarding the decisions to be adopted by the European Council on 16 and 17 December and expressed hope that some of those positions will be adopted in the conclusions of the EU Summit.
Balkenende is due to visit Cyprus Tuesday, to discuss with Cyprus President issues regarding this month's meeting of the European Council that will decide on Turkey's European course.
''The first draft of the conclusions has been released. More drafts will follow. I expect that Balkenende will listen to our positions and ponder them, with the hope that some of our positions will be adopted in the conclusions'', President Papadopoulos said.
Invited to comment on press information that the US asked the EU presidency not to impose any preconditions regarding Turkey's European course, and asked whether he himself expected such a stance, President Papadopoulos replied ''yes'', adding that ''this position is not new, it is an old one, that for broad strategic aims and to the interest of Europe, and of the world also, Turkey must become an EU member''.
''The US stance has always been that no political terms should be imposed on Turkey, concerning bilateral relations'', the president noted.
He said ''these are not new terms'' and added ''it is a basic obligation of Turkey towards the EU and this treatment that applies for Turkey has been then same as for all other countries''.