|Thursday, 12 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-13
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 13, 2005
 Greek political leaders congratulate Mahmoud Abbas on election as Palestinian president
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis congratulated Mahmoud Abbas, the newly-elected President of the Palestinian Authority, on Wednesday.
"On the occasion of your election as president of the Palestinian National Authority, I would like to convey my warmest congratulations and my best wishes for the success of your mission and for the realization of the national goals of the Palestinian people, as these were envisioned by the late president Yasser Arafat," Stephanopoulos wrote in the congratulatory telegram he sent Abbas.
"I would also like to reiterate that Greece will continue to support the creation of a Palestinian state through a revival of the peace process and the full implementation of the Road Map for effective cooperation between all the parties involved," he said in the telegram.
Karamanlis, in addition to expressing his sincere congratulations to Abbas, described his victory in the election as "one more important step for the Palestinian people toward statehood."
"Greece believes that it is a matter of high importance and priority to revive the peace process and fully implement the Road Map through effective cooperation between all the interested parties," he added, stressing that Greece would continue to make every possible effort for the support of the Palestinian people for a just and lasting peace in the area.
 Turkey's behavior not consistent with its desire to join EU, government says
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Turkey's behavior was not consistent with its desire to become a full member of the European Union, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Wednesday in comments regarding Tuesday's incidents near the Imia islets.
He said the government was monitoring Ankara's behavior and informing the EU, in accordance with article 20 of the conclusions of the recent EU summit in Brussels.
The spokesman also noted that Turkey's behavior, not just towards Greece but in all areas, was being closely watched by the 25 EU member-states.
Antonaros stressed that Greece's sovereign territorial rights in the Aegean could not be called into question and were defended by the government.
Asked if Greece might veto Turkey's accession course on October 3, he said the past statements made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis continued to apply but noted that Turkey still had to make a lot of progress in order to begin accession talks.
On Tuesday, the Greek foreign ministry said that Turkey's latest provocations contravened the European principle of good-neighborly relations and that "such behavior is watched and evaluated".
The reactions followed reports that two Turkish coast guard patrol boats had been sighted approaching the Imia islets and surrounding waters on Tuesday morning, arriving at 10:00 and 11:30 a.m., respectively. The two Turkish vessels eventually left the area at 1:50 p.m. after initially refusing demands by a Greek coast guard vessel that they depart, sources said.
According to the same sources, the incident was receiving heightened attention from the defense ministry, since it constituted a departure from past patterns in Turkish provocations, both in terms of the length of time the two vessels remained in the area and their refusal to depart immediately when a Greek vessel intervened.
In 1996, the Imia islets sparked the worst crisis in Greek-Turkish relations since 1974 after the Turkish military and government of that time disputed Greek sovereignty of the tiny islands and, by extension of the territorial waters and continental shelf surrounding them.
 Alternate gov't spokesman comments on Erdogan's Moscow visit
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)"The Greek government awaits the conclusion of [Tayyip] Erdogan's visit to Moscow before assessing the outcome of the visit," Alternate Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Wednesday, speaking of the Turkish Prime Minister's visit to the Russian capital.
Asked whether reports that the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project is not progressing, Antonaros said that this was not true and efforts to finalize the signing of the agreement are still under way.
 Greek Public Order Minister Voulgarakis continues official visit to China
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, within the framework of his current official visit to China (January 8-15), had a series of contacts with ministers, representatives of the Olympic Games Organizing Committee "Beijing 2008" (BOCOG) and with other senior officials related to China's Olympic Games.
A Greek Public Order Ministry announcement on Wednesday said that the meetings were held in a particularly cordial atmosphere and the good relations and the prospects of cooperation between the two countries were confirmed.
After the meetings, the Greek public order minister made the following announcement: "The first round of meetings with ministers and other senior officials related with the preparations of the program of the security of the 2008 Olympic Games was completed here in China with success.
"It was ascertained in these meetings that there is common awareness on the issue of the security of the Olympics.
"Great interest was shown on the part of China on the transfer of technical know-how and the experience which we have acquired from the Olympic Games in Greece, and, on our part, we expressed the will to respond to this invitation."
Voulgarakis' program is continuing with the Greek delegation's trip to Shanghai, where there will be a new round of contacts with Chinese officials.
 Government's 'main shareholder' bill passed by Parliamentary Committee
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)The ruling New Democracy MP's on Parliament's Justice Committee on Wednesday passed the government's draft bill on public works contracts and the media, which includes a contentious 'main shareholder' definition, despite strenuous opposition from main opposition PASOK.
According to Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras, the measures in the bill will ensure that media enterprises cannot be covertly used by businesses as "battering rams" for securing state contracts and would protect democracy and popular rule.
Minister announces changes to media ownership bill: Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday introduced changes to a government bill that restricts simultaneous corporate ownership in the media and construction sectors, aiming at transparency.
Among key changes are a clause that cites a conflict of interest in ownership of public works contracting firms and the publishers of magazines, which are now described as having political or economic content, formerly worded as social content.
The changes were announced during discussion of the bill by parliament's justice committee.
 PM and education minister discuss priorities for education in 2005
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday had a meeting with Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou to discuss the government's priorities for education in 2005.
Yiannakou stressed that the ministry's central goal was to improve the quality of all aspects of education, from that of buildings and facilities to books and reducing the need for double shifts.
She said that national dialogue on issues concerning education will begin on January 21, with the prime minister attending the first session, while stressing that dialogue in this area was a fundamental choice of the government. The minister also referred to the need for an overall assessment of the state of education in the country and for the country to meet its international commitments, saying it had so far failed to do this.
Other areas emphasized by Yiannakou were life-long education and retraining and the need for multilingualism, noting that an exclusive focus on English "subtracted" from a country's culture. In addition to the above, the exposure of Greek youth to culture through the introduction of cultural studies classes at all levels of education was discussed during the meeting.
 Deputy FM, PASOK MP address ELIAMEP event on EU Constitution
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Addressing an event organized by the Greek think-tank ELIAMEP on "the European Constitution and its repercussions on member-states" in Zappeion on Wednesday, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis referred to the creation of a joint system for handling EU external borders and said that the European Constitution "established a clause of mutual support against external threats and attack".
He said that Greece would be among the first countries to ratify the EU's Constitutional Treaty and do everything in its power to remain in the foreground of developments, using every opportunity to strengthen Europe and Greek interests.
He stressed the government's desire for an extensive campaign to inform the public on the Euro-Constitution and asked for the support of universities and research institutes, such as ELIAMEP, as well as the media in this effort.
PASOK MP Anna Diamantopoulou, coordinator for her party's defense and foreign affairs sector, said that the EU had been overtaken in the foreign policy and defense sectors but said it was likely that global developments and the needs to create unities would lead the EU to leap forward in foreign policy and defense, as it had done with the euro.
Diamantopoulou also criticized member-state governments that had failed to cultivate a "European identity" in their citizens and for blaming all ills on the EU while taking credit for all successes. According to Diamantopoulou, the EU Constitution will promote democracy, efficiency and transparency.
 SYN President begins two-day visit to Thessaloniki
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Alekos Alavanos, President of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party, called on supporters of the Left and those dissatisfied with the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party to support SYN, in Thessaloniki where he began his two-day visit on Wednesday.
Specifically, Alavanos said: "We extend an invitation to everyone, there is a seat for everybody, but the party will still go on with or without all those invited."
Regarding a possible cooperation with PASOK, Alavanos said that SYN had ruled out that possibility during its conference, but that the party's door was open to the people of PASOK. Speaking of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), Alavanos said a 'seat' was always available should KKE be interested in engaging in talks.
On Wednesday, Alavanos visited various work sites and talked to workers about their problems. He emphasized that unemployment is a core issue which affects all social groups. He said that SYN aims to stage an effective fight against unemployment, noting that in order to do so, a series of measures, such as regional investment and labor reform are necessary. Alavanos also said that to better protect the unemployed, an increase of unemployment benefits provided over an extended period of time is also necessary.
Finally, regarding the 'primary shareholder' bill, Alavanos said that SYN had recommended three changes. Should the ruling party not accept them, then SYN would oppose the bill, he said.
On Thursday, SYN's president will be visiting the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and will be meeting with workers' groups to discuss environmental problems affecting the region.
 Greek Ambassador Vassilakis addresses UN Security Council session on Haiti problem
NEW YORK 13/1/2005 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)Greece's Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, on Wednesday made his debut at the UN Security Council, given that Greece as of January 1, 2005 is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a two-year period.
Ambassador Vassilakis spoke during the morning session of the UN Security Council on the issue of the Haiti problem.
Vassilakis recalled that Haiti was the first country which recognized the Greek revolution for the creation of the modern Greek state.
Among other things, he stressed that Greece supports the development of national dialogue between all the sides, the holding of democratic, local, parliamentary and presidential elections, the normalization of the internal situation, full respect of human rights, the continuation of financial aid to the people of the island and the creation of conditions of security.
Furthermore, he noted that Greece supports the efforts of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy for Haiti, Ambassador Juan Gabriel Valdes, adding that the Greek state has offered humanitarian aid for the needs of the citizens of Haiti.
 President Stephanopoulos congratulates Diamantouros on re-election as European Ombudsman
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Wednesday sent a telegram congratulating Greek candidate Nikiforos Diamantouros on his re-election to the post of European Ombudsman, expressing his "sincerest congratulations on your well-deserved and triumphant re-election".
 Turkish warplanes violate Greece's national air space
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)The Turkish Air Force on Wednesday yet again resorted in violating Greece's national air space over the Aegean.
According to press reports, seven formations of Turkish warplanes and a solitary plane entered the Aegean without submitting a flight plan and in seven cases violated the national air space in the region of the central and northern Aegean.
In all cases the fifteen Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter jets.
It was reported that three of the planes were armed. Furthermore, two aircraft were photographic "Phantoms" and one of naval cooperation.
It is noted that all the data is forwarded to the foreign ministry so as to take the relevant actions.
 Al-Jazeera executive details network's ground-breaking success to Athens audience
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)The broadcast editor of the pioneer satellite network Al-Jazeera told an Athens audience on Tuesday that the Arab-language broadcaster essentially broke the monopoly of state-controlled channels in the Middle East and Arab world.
Al-Jazeera executive Yasser Thabet also countered what he described as an impression in the west that his network only focuses on a particular region, namely, the Middle East, pointing out that tsunami devastation has been the "lead story" for several days running at the Doha, Qatar-based broadcaster.
Thabet reiterated on more than one occasion that the ground-breaking network's emphasis on absolutely independent newsgathering and airing stories from the "other side" have endeared it to a "thirsty" Arab public -- and also earned it several powerful enemies. Call-in shows and talk shows or roundtables with guests from opposing sides, even on 'taboo' issues by Mideast standards, are the other elements he said have also fueled Al-Jazeera's unprecedented popularity.
Moreover, he pointed out that Al-Jazeera (Arabic for "peninsula") correspondents are still not accredited in some Arab countries, whereas it was sharply attacked by both opposing sides (the Saddam regime and Washington) prior to the US invasion of Iraq, and as even criticized as "pro-Israeli" initially by the Palestinian Authority for interviewing Israeli political leaders.
The western-educated Thabet fielded a handful of questions by audience members after a brief address, particularly about Al-Jazeera's ownership and operations. He stressed that it is modeled along the BBC, following a roughly 135-million-dollar initial investment by Emir of Qatar in the mid 1990s.
Finally, he credited the Pan-Arabic network's enormous name recognition in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack with having an operational and fully-equipped bureau in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Along the same lines, he said the network sends a correspondent to a region only if he or she has experience in that country and is familiar with its language and customs, "and is also reporting from the street ... not their hotel room".
Thabet was the guest speaker at a seminar on journalism ethics organized by the University of Athens' Department of Communications and Mass Media and the association of magazine and web editors (ESPHT).
 FinMin says gov't to adhere to 2005 budget provisions
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)The Greek government will fully adhere to its 2005 budget provisions with emphasis given to contain spending, strengthening competitiveness and supporting an export-oriented trend of the economy, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with Greek Industries' Union president Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, Alogoskoufis stressed that 2005 would be a crucial year for the economy although he added that "we must be optimistic".
Kyriakopoulos said that 2005 would be a difficult year and added that the economy should be more attractive for investments.
The two men discussed common initiatives, by the government and the private sector, to boost the economy and agreed to have a new meeting next week.
The Greek minister also met with the president of the Athens Stock Exchange Members' Union, Alexandros Moraitakis. The two men discussed ways to restore the market's credibility and the union's proposals on a draft law aimed to combat market manipulation.
 Gov't to present incomes policy for 2005 by end January
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)The government will present its incomes policy for 2005 by the end of the month, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters, the Greek minister said that the European Commission has reassured him that a new development law implemented by the government was in line with community legislation and noted that the Commission was expected to present its opinion in writing soon.
 Greek inflation stable at 3.1 pct in December, yr/yr
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Greek annual inflation was 3.1 percent in December, unchanged from the previous month, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.
NSS, in its monthly report on the consumer price index, said that the December figure reflected a 7.4 pct increase in housing prices, a 4.4 percent rise in healthcare prices, a 4.3 pct increase in education prices, a 3.8 pct rise in hotel-cafe-restaurant prices, a 3.4 pct increase in clothing-footwear and a 2.8 pct rise in transportation prices. Food-Beverage prices rose 1.9 pct in December, while telecommunication prices eased over the same period.
 Government rules out interest-free loans to farmers
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday ruled out the prospect of interest-free loans to farmers currently seeking state subsidies for their crops.
He said talks between farmers and the agriculture ministry over the issue were ongoing and that further developments would arise after a meeting on Thursday between the ministry and farmer union representatives.
 Greek gov't to auction public works worth 5.0 bln euros this year
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Wednesday announced the ministry would auction public work projects worth 5.0 billion euros this year, beginning with 1.0 billion euros auction in January 31.
Speaking to reporters, Souflias noted that the previous government was solely responsible for a recent EU warning over a possible suspension of payments for projects executed in the period 2001-2003. He also urged the main opposition party to help ND's government to deal with the problems it has created in the past.
The Greek minister said that efforts made by his ministry and the Economy and Finance ministry, and discussions with the European Union, would ensure that no money would be lost nor there would be a suspension of payment. "I believe that in the end we will find a solution," Souflias said.
Souflias announced the auction of projects worth 1.0 billion euros in January 31 and stressed that contractors should be very careful with their discounts. He noted that works related with the Athens and the Thessaloniki metro would total 1.6 billion euros this year.
The Greek minister stressed that his ministry topped the list of ministries with the highest EU funds' absorption rate, at 43 percent in the first 10months of ND's governance last year.
 Greek business delegation to visit Egypt in March
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)The Arab-Greek Chamber of Commerce and Development on Wednesday announced it was organizing a Greek business visit to Egypt, March 18-23, as part of its efforts to boost trade and economic relations between Greece and Arab countries.
The meeting will offer Greek businesses the opportunity to meet with Egyptian businessmen from the commerce, industry, tourism and investment sector of the Arab country.
 Greek merchandise trade deficit 2.448 bln euros in November
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Greece's merchandise trade deficit totalled 2.448 billion euros in November, the National Statistics Service said on Wednesday.
NSS, in its monthly report on the country's trade balance, said that the total value of import-arrivals in November rose by 445.7 million euros, up 14.5 percent from the same month in 2003, to 3.528 billion euros, while export-deliveries rose 12.7 percent to 1.080 billion euros over the same period.
 KEDKE's Executive Board discusses economic future of local government
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)The Executive Board of the Central Union of Greek Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) convened on Wednesday to discuss the economic future of local government and particularly the state grant for 2005 as well as the union's proposals for the distribution criteria of the THISEAS investment program.
Regarding the finances of the institution, KEDKE President Paris Koukoulopoulos said that Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos committed himself that a further 50 million euros would be given in 2005.
The Executive Board of KEDKE decided to undertake a study which will examine the possibility of the assumption of taxation powers by the municipalities, while a proposal by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis for another study which would include the whole issue of the finances of local government, was rejected.
With regard the THISEAS issue, the Executive Board did not reach a conclusive position on the program's distribution criteria, as these were presented by the Internal Affairs Ministry, however, the KEDKE leadership proposes that in the three years of operation of the program for 2 of the 3.5 million euros which is the total figure of THISEAS to be shared to the municipalities with objective criteria and the remaining sum with program criteria which the government will enact on the basis of national options.
 DEKA SA chairman and board set free after appearing before examining magistrate
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)The chairman and board of the Public Company for Transferable Securities (DEKA SA), the state-owned securities firm, were released on their own recognizance on Wednesday, following their testimony before an examining magistrate regarding DEKA's activities on the stock market prior to the general elections in 2000.
The charges against the company's chairman and five board-members include repeated counts of breach of faith against the public sector, in addition to criminal charges of embezzling public funds.
According to the charge sheet, DEKA invested massively on the Athens bourse in order to support the general share price index and keep it above 5,000 points in the run-up to the 2000 elections, buying up shares in public utilities and state-controlled banks, like the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), the National Bank of Greece and others.
According to the case made against the accused, the state suffered losses of 717 million euros as a result of DEKA's stock purchases between March 10 and April 9, after the same shares were resold at vastly lower prices.
Charges in the affair were originally pressed by ruling New Democracy MP Miltiades Evert, who is also a key witness in the ongoing judicial inquiry.
The accused counter the claims, saying the state actually reaped net profits of 420 billion drachmas as a result of their actions. They also stress that they purchased stocks in reliable companies and noted that the charge sheet does not accuse them of trying to manipulate stocks and that no attempt has been made to accuse them of breaching capital market regulations.
 Stocks rise to hit three-year high
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher with players buying heavily into high-capitalization shares and other paper to take the market to a new three-year high, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,870.18 points, posting a rise of 0.74%. Turnover was 236.1 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.98% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.67% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.50% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 175 to 120 with 58 remaining unchanged.
 Relief efforts for tsunami victims continue
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Attiko Metro SA, the company which operates the Athens Metro, announced on Wednesday that it will participate in UNICEF's fund-raising efforts to help the victims of the tsunami that hit southeast Asia on December 26, 2004. Specifically, Attiko Metro will be placing collection boxes at the following stations: Syntagma, Omonia, Monastiraki, Panepistimio, Ampelokipi, Ethniki Amyna, Dafni, Ag. Dimitrios, and Ag. Antonios. Posters and announcements made over the loudspeaker will inform passengers of UNICEF's and Attiko Metro's initiative.
In another effort, Greek painter Vassilis Halkidiotis has offered a series of paintings, inspired by the December 26 tsunami, for the second telethon the Hellenic Broadcasting Corp. will be holding on January 24. The first telethon succeeded in raising approximately ¬ 18 million.
The Union of Greek Shipowners' Executive Board has set up a bank account for the collection of funds.
Nikos Efthymiou, President of UGS, expressed the shipping community's grief for those devastated by the tsunami in southeast Asia and called on Greek shipowners to make donations to the aforementioned bank account.
Finally, the Greek Federation of Primary School Teachers decided to pay all the expenses involved in building a new school in the affected region, in addition to the ¬ 1,000 it donated in the first telethon.
Greek unions support UNICEF's relief efforts for tsunami victims: Leading trade groups and unions announced that they will be establishing a social support network in order to contribute to UNICEF's humanitarian aid efforts towards the countries devastated by the tsunamis that hit southeast Asia on December 26, 2004, after meeting with UNICEF's Greek branch on Wednesday.
Specifically, the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE), the ADEDY civil servants' union, the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), the Union of Prefectures of Greece (ENAE), and the PASEGES farmers' trade group will be participating in this initiative.
The leaders of the above unions/groups requested that donations be made in cash rather than in kind.
UNICEF's relief efforts include creating care centers for orphans, abandoned and exploited children; providing financial support for the re-opening of existing schools and for building new schools; repairing and re-opening hospitals and medical centers; providing pharmaceutical supplies; and setting up a children's vaccination program.
 Mental illness an 'unseen killer' in EU, Cypriot Commissioner says
BRUSSELS 13/1/2005 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou on Wednesday said that mental health should be given a higher political priority in Europe, calling mental illness "Europe's unseen killer".
Kyprianou, who will address the closing session of the WHO Ministerial Conference on Mental Health on Friday, stressed that mental illness was just as deadly as physical illnesses like cancer.
"More Europeans die from suicide each year than are killed in car accidents or as a result of murder. Yet mental health receives surprisingly little attention - you could say mental illness is Europe's unseen killer. I am determined to change that," Kyprianou said.
According to figures presented by the Commissioner, suicide and self-inflicted injuries claim 58,000 lives in the EU each year. By contrast, traffic accidents cause 50,700 deaths a year and murders or homicides 5,350 deaths a year. The majority of suicide deaths are linked to mental illness, and in particular depression, with 15% of people who suffer severe depression committing suicide, whilst 56% attempt suicide.
 Bulgarian nationals arrested for running prostitution racket
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)Two Bulgarian nationals, a man and a woman, have been arrested for running a prostitution racket using young foreign women.
According to a police announcement on Wednesday, the pair worked through the small ads in newspapers, booking appointments for clients over the phone for hefty fees.
Police have also arrested a young Bulgarian woman being driven to an erotic appointment.
The car driven by the man, five cell phones and 650 euros believed to be proceeds from prostitution were confiscated during the arrests, while police are investigating the possible involvement of other people in the affair, since the pair are believed to be members of an international ring involved in the prostitution and sexual exploitation of young women.
 GSEE honors Greek Paralympians
Athens, 13/1/2005 (ANA)The General Confederation of the Employees of Greece (GSEE) hosted a special reception on Wednesday in honor of the Greek athletes who won medals at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos and Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, present at the reception, emphasized that the state will continue to support people who are physically challenged on issues that are important to them.
Petralia also stressed that venues used for the Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games will be available to athletes as they prepare for the 2008 Games in Beijing.
GSEE President Christos Polyzogopoulos, in his address, said that the Athens Paralympics played an important role in changing attitudes and cultivating a sense of responsibility regarding issues related to individuals with disabilities.
Attica Supraprefect Fofi Gennimata, representatives from all political parties and others also attended the event.
 Putin: Russia supports Annan's efforts on Cyprus
NICOSIA 13/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed that Russia supports the efforts made by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan regarding a Cyprus settlement, ''including his plan to develop economic relations with Northern Cyprus, to remove the blockade that it has been in force there for many years''.
Putin added that he recently had the opportunity to discuss with Annan the Cyprus issue during a telephone conversation.
''I would like to stress that Russia supports the efforts of the UN General Secretary - and I recently had the opportunity to discuss this topic with him by telephone - directed to regulating the Cyprus problem, including his plan to develop economic relations with Northern Cyprus, to remove the blockade that it has been in force there for many years," the Russian president said on Tuesday.
Putin's statements were made after a meeting with Turkish businessmen visiting Moscow, with whom he also discussed the Cyprus issue.
The meeting was held during a visit to Russia by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
 Britain honored obligations in 1974, says FCO spokesman
LONDON 13/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)A British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesman has told CNA that in 1974, when Turkish troops invaded Cyprus, ''the United Kingdom did its best to honor its
obligations from the Treaties'' of 1960 that established the Republic of Cyprus.
The spokesman was commenting on confidential papers of the British Government relating to 1974, according to which Britain promised Turkey that the British side would not put any obstacles to what it was planning to do, in effect encouraging it to invade Cyprus.
''The documents speak for themselves. Let the historians draw their own conclusions," the spokesman noted.
''A careful reading of the documents will show that the United Kingdom did its best to honor its obligations from the Treaties," he concluded.
According to the 1960 Treaties, Britain is one of three guarantor powers (the other two being Turkey and Greece) of Cyprus' independence, constitutional order, security and territorial integrity.
British MPs call on Britain to safeguard Cyprus' interests: An early day motion (EDM), submitted on Tuesday at the British House of Commons, calls on the British government to safeguard the interests of Cyprus in the forthcoming
discussions on Turkey's possible membership of the European Union and to resolve the issues of Cyprus ''in which it can and should play a major role.''
The EDM, signed by members of Parliament by all three political parties, also calls on the British government ''to work closely with and to respect the rights of the Republic of Cyprus and its democratically elected President Tassos Papadopoulos.''
The British government is urged to ''make very clear to Turkey that it is in its own best interest to recognize fully and quickly the existence of the Republic of Cyprus which is already a full member of the EU and to clearly work for the normalization of its relationship with the Republic of Cyprus.''
Moreover the EDM calls on the British government to make very clear to Turkey that it should ''fulfill, as soon as possible, its obligations towards Cyprus as stated in the Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 17th December 2004 with regard to signing the Protocol for adaptation of the Ankara Agreement, taking account of the accession of the 10 new member states.''
The EDM notes that the EU has given approval to Turkey to enter into discussions as to possible membership of the Union and adds that the House of Commons ''is aware that the United Kingdom is a strong supporter of Turkey's membership."
The House of Commons further notes that the United Kingdom is one of the guarantor powers for Cyprus and that Cyprus is a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
The motion is signed by MPs Tom Cox, Edward O'Hara, Rudi Vis, Linda Perham, Alan Meale, Syd Rapson, Ann Cryer, Harry Cohen, Paul Flynn, David Drew, Sir Sydney Chapman, David Amess and Andrew George.