|Wednesday, 13 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 14, 2005
 PM Karamanlis calls on Greek scientists abroad to return to Greece
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday issued an open invitation to Greek scientists living and working abroad to return to Greece as he declared the start of the first meeting of the new National Council for Research and Technology, headed by professor Dimitris Nanopoulos.
Stressing that the new Council members were dynamic and chosen on the basis of merit, he said they constituted a new invitation to Greek scientists everywhere in the world. He also announced the foundation of a National Committee for Research and Technology by the development and education ministries and the introduction of a framework to link production and higher education institutes, such as universities, technical colleges and research centers.
"The government plans to create a National Commission for Research and Technology, while the Development and Education ministries are cooperating closely and a National Council for Research and Technology is delivering its first recommendations. These recommendations will become the basis for the government's future legislation," Karamanlis said.
The Prime Minister noted that in today's international competitive environment the government's goals depended on the economy's competitiveness, the productivity of the public and private sectors and the ability to produce new knowledge. "Our guide in this direction is the creation of a future school, restructuring infrastructure and integrating meritocracy and evaluation with our policy choices," he noted.
Karamanlis underlined the country's scientific community's great potential and stressed that Greece could win over new era challenges through a collective effort and a composition of views and ideas.
Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou said that the key to achieving the Lisbon targets was to foster an information society and prevent brain drain to countries abroad.
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said Greece was beginning at a relatively low level and that changes to policy on research will aim to ensure transparency, meritocracy and that excellence was rewarded.
Prof. Nanopoulos said that Greece was not making proper use of its researchers and that radical changes were needed. He underlined that there was no room for party political choices in research. He said the new Council's basic goals included making contact with Greek scientists abroad and forging links with major research centers in Europe and America.
 Foreign ministry comments on latest Turkish provocation; bilateral meeting on Friday
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)The latest in a series of more-or-less regular Greek-Turkish contact meetings will take place here on Friday, according to the foreign ministry.
Amb. Anastasios Skopelitis will represent the Greek side, while Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Tuygan will represent Ankara.
Meanwhile, asked about this week's high-profile provocation near the Imia islets by a pair of Turkish coast guard patrol boats, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos reiterated that Greece "remains within the framework, spirit and letter ... of Paragraph 20 of the recent European Council's Conclusions".
Along these lines, he added that Athens steadfastly adheres to the goal of normalizing Greek-Turkish relations.
Finally, regarding a recent Turkish foreign ministry statement on the latest Imia incident referring to "normal activity", the spokesman merely replied that "this was Turkey's view".
 New U.S. ambassador meets foreign minister for customary courtesy visit
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)The new United States Ambassador to Greece Charles Ries on Thursday met with Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis for the customary courtesy visit paid by new envoys on their arrival.
After the meeting, Ambassador Ries said he was impressed by Greece's stance in the surrounding region, particularly the fact that Athens understood that Greece would benefit from Turkey's continued progress toward Europe and had supported the European Council's historic decision to give a date for starting accession negotiations with Turkey.
Ries said he was very happy to be in Athens and that he had been impressed by Greece's efforts over the past years. He said his meeting with Molyviatis had covered a range of issues, including an upcoming visit by U.S. President George Bush to the European Union in February in a bid to improve Euro-American ties.
The ambassador also noted that there was almost daily cooperation between the U.S. and Europe, such as in efforts to provide humanitarian relief to the victims of the Southeast Asian tsunami. He said that Americans had been favorably impressed by the generosity of the Greeks in this effort and pointed to cooperation between the U.S. and Greece in Afghanistan, the Ukraine and other issues.
Asked about his priorities as ambassador, Ries said that the Embassy's agenda would not change and that there would be no significant departures from the priorities of his predecessor Thomas Miller.
"I hope to work closely with Greece on the major issues concerning Transatlantic ties, NATO, the EU and in efforts to restore peace and democracy in the world," he said.
Pointing out that he specialized in economic and trade matters, the U.S. diplomat said he would strive to boost bilateral ties in this area, encouraging investment by the private sector.
 Albanian policy vis-a-vis FYROM name issue unchanged
SKOPJE 14/1/2004 (ANA)The issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) recognition as simply "Macedonia" by neighboring Albania, especially after a recent visit by the FYROM premier to Tirana, generated increased press interest here on Thursday but no new development.
Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano reiterated to his visiting FYROM counterpart Vlado Buckovski that Tirana will "support whatever solution is derived from (bilateral) negotiations being conducted at the United Nations (between Greece and FYROM)."
Nano also said that regardless of what name the two countries (Albania and FYROM) use in bilateral correspondence, his country will use the UN-approved name, FYROM, in international fora and when involving third countries.
No official confirmation of Albanian recognition of FYROM as 'Macedonia', gov't spokesman says: Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Thursday said that there was no official confirmation that Albania planned to recognize the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with the name 'Macedonia'.
He said reports on the issue concerned statements made by Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano on Wednesday following his meeting with FYROM Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski, but that these were not at all clear.
According to ANA correspondents in FYROM and Albania, Nano said that Albania used the name 'Macedonia' in its bilateral dealings with FYROM but used the UN appellation FYROM in dealings with third countries. He also said that Albania will support any solution arising from the negotiations taking place between Greece and FYROM at the United Nations.
 Athens on Russian stance vis-a-vis Cyprus issue
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Athens on Thursday noted that Russia's policy vis-a-vis the long-standing Cyprus issue "was and is policy of principles, one that is distinguished by responsibility and continuity".
The foreign ministry's spokesman made the statement during a regular press briefing, and in reference to recent comments by Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the Cyprus issue during a visit to Moscow by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
 Athens reiterates importance of Serbian refugees' safe return to Kosovo
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Athens on Thursday confirmed that a high-level Greek diplomatic delegation is currently visiting Belgrade, southern Serbia and the Kosovo province as part of a wide-ranging fact-finding mission.
According to the foreign ministry, members of the delegation have and will meet with numerous local and regional leaders as part of direct briefings on the situation in the wider area.
"The visit also confirms Greece's volition to contribute to the strengthening of peace and security in the region through a distinct European prospect, as this was put forth during the Thessaloniki (EU) Summit," ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said.
As far as the thorny Kosovo problem is concerned, the spokesman said Greek diplomats have stressed a need for the absolute respect of international law, the United Nations' charter, the principles of Helsinki and the European Union's criteria and principles.
Among others, Greece emphasized the priority of Serbian refugees' return amid conditions of security, as well as the restoration of damaged churches, monasteries and cultural monuments.
According to Koumoutsakos, the leadership in Kosovo expressed an interested in Greek investments in the UN-administered province, as well as in planned privatizations.
Members of the delegation include foreign ministry political director Amb. Alexandros Mallias, Athens' ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro, Mihalis Spinelis, the head of Greece's liaison office in Pristina, Karolos Gadis and Prof. Evangelos Kofos.
Foreign ministry delegation touring Serbia to reaffirm Greek commitment to peace and security in and around Kosovo: A delegation made up of diplomats stationed in southeast European countries and Balkans specialist Prof. Evangelos Kofos was currently touring Belgrade, south Serbia and Kosovo, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said on Thursday.
In numerous meetings with officials in these areas, the Greek delegation was seeking a first-hand briefing on the situation there and reaffirming Athens' desire to contribute to establishing peace and security in the area through a purely European prospect, such as that initiated at the Thessaloniki, Koumoutsakos said.
He said the group included foreign ministry political director Alexandros Mallias, the Greek Ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro Mihalis Spinelis and the head of the Greek Association in Pristina Karolos Gadis.
In Kosovo, particularly, the Greek delegation had stressed the need for absolute respect of international law, the United Nations charter, the principles of Helsinki and the criteria and values of the European Union, the spokesman added, with particular emphasis on the return of Serb refugees to Kosovo in conditions of safety and the restoration and protection of churches, monasteries and monuments.
He said that officials on both sides in Kosovo, both Serb and Albanian, showed high esteem for Greece's role and capabilities, while the Kosovo government had expressed a desire for Greek investments and the involvement of Greek businesses in privatizations. All sides also seemed aware of the role that Greece might play as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
 EU Enlargement Commissioner Rehn on Turkey's conduct towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)The European Commission has often stressed the problems faced by the non-Muslim religious communities in Turkey, including the difficulties which the Greek Orthodox community and Ecumenical Patriarchate face, such as the fact that a permit for the re-opening of the Halki Theological School is not being given, the matter of ownership and the continued lack of a legal status for the non-Muslim religious communities.
This is stated by Finnish Commissioner responsible for Enlargement issues Oli Rehn in his written statement to PASOK Eurodeputy Nikos Sifounakis, replying to a relevant question by him to the Commission on the difficulties which the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek community of Istanbul face by the Turkish government.
Rehn said that the Commission has raised these concerns to the Turkish authorities on the occasion of various meetings on various levels, such as within the framework of the regular observation of Turkey's compliance to the political criteria of Copenhagen.
Within this framework, the Commission will continue to observe matters linked with religious freedom and encourage Turkey's authorities to take measures, both on a legislative level as well as its implementation, so that this freedom to be secured in practice in Turkey, the Finnish Commissioner's letter of reply concludes.
 National Council on Foreign Policy to meet Jan. 25 - Agenda announced
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)The results of the recent EU summit, the prospects regarding the Cyprus issue, the FYROM name issue, Greece's participation as a non-permanent member on the UN security council, developmental and humanitarian aid and the confrontation of extraordinary events were on the agenda for the National Council on Foreign Policy (ESEP), which would be convened on January 25, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos announced on Thursday.
 SYN President concludes two-day visit in Thessaloniki
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Alekos Alavanos, President of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party concluded his two-day visit in Thessaloniki on Thursday with a visit to Kordelio community and meetings with representatives of the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce.
After meeting with Chamber representatives, Alavanos was surprised to learn of the decline in business and commercial activity in Thessaloniki and called for measures to be adopted immediately to counteract the decline.
On Thursday afternoon he met with Andreas Kourakis, SYN leader in the Municipality of Thessaloniki.
 Govt's economic team seeks ways to raise budget revenues
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Greek budget revenues grew by 5.5 percent on average in 2004, Finance Deputy Minister Adam Regouzas said on Thursday and noted that budget spending were cut as much as possible.
Speaking to reporters, Regouzas said that the ministry will hold a meeting with all tax agencies' heads next week to set targets for this year's budget revenues.
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, commenting on recent press reports said that a government decision to offer amnesty to repatriated capital would not face any problems with the European Union and stressed that the program would end on February 4 as scheduled.
 Gov't sees part-agreement with cotton farmers over output controls
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos said on Thursday that the government and cotton farmers had reached a partial agreement on controls for cotton output.
"Talks were constructive and well-intentioned proposals were made. There was a partial agreement," Basiakos told reporters after negotiations with representatives of Thessaly cotton farmers also attended by deputies of the ruling New Democracy party and local government officials.
"We agreed to continue controls...All output declarations by producers will be checked, and, as a result, it's likely that the rebate (subsidy payment) will increase, which today is 23 drachmas a kilo," the minister said.
The representative for Thessaly cotton farmers, Thanassis Kokkinoulis, said the talks were fruitless as the ministry had rejected a key demand that all cotton output currently held by farmers should be absorbed.
He added that farmers would decide in coming days whether or not to take their tractors to the streets in a protest blockade.
Communist Party leader addresses rally in Larissa, focuses on farmers' issue: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, addressing a party rally in Larissa in central Greece on Thursday, said the farmers' problems cannot be solved with aspirins and called on working people to support the farmers' struggles.
Papariga added that compliance, discipline and respect are necessary for whatever is in the interests of the small householder as part of the common interest with other working people.
She further stressed that KKE has a realistic and fair political proposal for the thousands of small householders in the countryside, whether they are involved in plant or animal production or fishing.
Referring to the issue of cotton in particular, Papariga said the entire production of cotton must be absorbed, to enable farmers to live in humane conditions, while whatever losses exist must be shouldered by the government.
 Former PM Mitsotakis meets Finmin, urges 'decisive' action in economic issues
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Former premier Constantine Mitsotakis, the honorary president of ruling New Democracy, on Thursday called on the government to proceed more decisively on economic issues after being briefed on the state and prospects of the Greek economy by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.
Mitsotakis said it was vital to proceed rapidly and give the economy a developmental boost in order to deal with its major problems.
He stressed that the finance ministry's task was a great and difficult one, while also stressing the need to give weight to the protection of the environment.
On his part, Alogoskoufis said his meeting with the former premier had been constructive and covered a range of issues and that Mitsotakis had made a great many suggestions on how to accelerate development and the decisions that must be taken in order to tackle fiscal problems.
Finally, the minister reiterated that 2005 would be a crucial year in which decisions will have to be made.
 Greece gets ranking in European mutual fund asset chart
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Greece took 14th place among 23 countries in a table of European mutual fund assets by size for September 2004.
The European mutual fund market totalled 4.05 trillion euros, up from 3.76 trillion euros at the end of 2003.
Greece held a 0.76% stake of the market, with France and Luxembourg taking the lead at 24.2% each.
 Survey: European public mostly at ease after three years of euro
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Three years after introduction of the euro, citizens in the eurozone have become familiar with the currency, no longer thinking in the old national monies for common purchases, knowing the approximate value of the euro against the dollar, expecting new EU members to also adopt it, and believing that this will be beneficial for consumers overall, according to an EU survey released on Thursday.
At the same time, citizens don't appear to know that they can withdraw cash and make purchases with their bank cards in other euro zone countries without incurring any supplementary fees, said the Eurobarometer survey carried out by the bloc's executive Commission in November 2004.
The study also reveals that more than half of the public in the euro zone has at least heard about the Stability and Growth Pact and see it as a guarantee for a strong and stable euro.
Sixty nine percent of the Greek public said they had no trouble using the euro, higher than a eurozone average of 52%, with 17% of that country's public saying they experienced many difficulties, and 14% minor problems.
A majority of euro-area citizens (52%) now mentally calculate in euros for their everyday purchases and the number of people who continue to think in their national currencies when considering buying a house or a car has decreased by five points to 49% compared with a 2003 survey. Twenty seven percent of Greeks said they only calculate in euros with 27% employing drachmas only as a measure, and 45% using both.
The Eurobarometer survey reveals that a large majority of eurozone citizens (72%) now considers the euro an international currency like the dollar or the yen. Forty eight percent of all respondents correctly evaluate the euro/dollar ratio (+13 points on 2003) versus 55% of Greeks; and 51% declare themselves 'not at all' concerned with it, the same as Greeks.
Most eurozone respondents (79%) are aware that the new member states will adopt the euro, and most believe this will be beneficial to consumers.
On broader questions of Economic and Monetary Union, the survey shows that 55% of eurozone residents have heard about the Stability and Growth Pact. versus 45% of Greeks. Yet more than half of eurozone residents who say they have heard about it don't know very well what it's about.
This is the third annual Flash Barometer survey to measure public opinion on the euro and EMU since 2002.
It was conducted in the 12 euro zone countries and covered the practical aspects of using the euro, future expectations, use of the euro outside the euro zone, social and economic consequences of the euro and the broader framework for EMU.
 ADEX reports 1.10 pct increase in 2004 turnover
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)The Athens Derivatives Exchange (ADEX) on Thursday said its turnover rose by 1.10 percent last year and stressed that 2004 was a year of general improvement, with a higher number of investors, a small restructuring of the number of the market's members and more active customers.
ADEX said that the average number of contracts per active customer code totalled 311 in 2004 from 300 in 2003 and 253 contracts in the last three years.
The derivatives market also reported an improvement in equity futures contract turnover reflecting the introduction of nine new such contracts during the year.
 EU says Greek law on taxing company capital breaches directive
BRUSSELS 14/1/2004 (ANA/V Demiris)The European Union's executive Commission said on Thursday that it would ask Greece to amend its tax legislation on raising capital.
The government applies capital duty when a company transfers its registered office or place of management to Greece, and applies an exemption from capital duty to agricultural and maritime companies, the Commission said in a statement.
It said the rules run contrary to the EU's capital duty directive concerning indirect taxes on raising capital that allows member states to subject only the formation of companies, not their transfer, to capital duty, and does not allow Greece to exempt specific economic sectors, the statement said.
The request was made in the form of a reasoned opinion, the second stage of an infringement procedure. If Greece does not amend its legislation within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice.
 Greek gov't dismisses reports over deregulation of shopping hours
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Greek Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou on Thursday dismissed recent reports over a deregulation of shopping hours in the country saying that the government "has never spoken over a deregulation of shopping hours but over a national framework that will cover the entire country."
Speaking in parliament, Papathanasiou categorically dismissed such reports and stressed that any government decision on the matter would be a result of a dialogue with interested parties, based on the interest of consumers, combatting price increases, supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises and creating new job positions.
The Greek minister underlined that a national framework on shopping hours was implemented smoothly in Athens but the adoption of an open framework in the rest of the country had negative consequences in the market.
"We will not make any surprise moves but we are willing to deliberately close our eyes," Papathanasiou said. "The government is honest and does not plan to deregulate shopping hours or to open shops on Sundays. We will put barriers to protect small- and medium-sized enterprises. The government does not intend to leave the system operate without barriers," he added.
 Greek food retail sector healthy and competitive, report says
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Competition in the domestic food retail market is operating in full, with no individual company maintaining a significant position in the market while there are no any characteristics of a cartel formed by super markets, a survey said on Thursday.
The survey on the domestic food retail market, conducted by the Economics University of Athens under Professor George Doukidis, said the Greek food retail market was characterized by intense competition, baring in mind that the basked of products offered in Greece was cheaper compared with other EU countries.
However, data for 55 categories of products, accounting for 90 percent of brand sales in super markets, showed that each category was controlled by two or three enterprises, while suppliers' net profits were three times more compared with those of super markets, both in absolute size and as a percentage of sales.
The survey said that suppliers' healthy profitability, combined with a cheaper basket of products offered to Greek consumers and increased investments by super markets, led to the conclusion that the food retail sector was highly competitive and that market regulations were functioning smoothly.
The 10 top super market chains' net profit margin did not exceed 1.88 percent of turnover, down from a 2.7 pct rate in Europe, the survey said, adding that low profitability of Greek companies was attributed to the market's small size, the large number of stores per person and difficulties in transportation.
The food retail sector created more job positions than any other sector in the country during the last 20 years.
 Stocks rise in wave of blue chip buying
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished higher with players again buying into high-capitalization shares, taking the market closer to 2,900 points, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,892.45 points, posting a rise of 0.78%. Turnover was 177.2 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.00% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.03% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.76% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 158 to 131 with 59 remaining unchanged.
 Suburban railroad will connect greater Attica region with city centre and int'l airport
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)The suburban railroad will, by the end of May 2005, be connecting the greater Attica region with the city centre and the international airport 'Eleftherios Venizelos.'
On Friday, a test run will be conducted between Athens and Corinth, taking approximately 55 minutes, while the ride from Larissis Station to the airport will take approximately 1 hour 10 minutes. Stations that will be operating initially are those of Nea Peramo, Megara, Kinetta, Ag. Theodoroi, Ano Liossia, Magoula kai Thriassio. The last three are already under construction and will be completed by Spring 2006.
The Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) began construction of the Larissis Station - Corinth route in 1996. Since 1999, Erga OSE (OSE's subsidiary) took over the project in cooperation with a consortium. The new line covers a total of 88 km, with the capacity to reach a maximum of 200km/h between Thriassio and Corinth.
Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis will be one of the railroad's first passengers.
 University professor proposes pilot program to protect Thessaloniki from earthquakes
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Vassilis Papazahos, Professor of Geophysics at Thessaloniki's Aristotelio University, recommended the implementation of an earthquake-protection, pilot program speaking before Thessaloniki's Prefecture Council and Panayiotis Psomiadis, Thessaloniki Prefect.
According to Papazahos, Thessaloniki is surrounded by numerous faults that since 1902 have caused several earthquakes. According to scientific data, Thessaloniki is not expected to experience any earthquake stronger than 6.5 on the Richter scale in the next few years.
The program would be multidisciplinary and would entail checking public and private buildings, taking preventive measures in case of an earthquake, and applying a methodology for closely monitoring earthquakes. According to Papazahos, the program could serve as a pilot for the rest of the country.
He also said that scientific knowledge necessary to predict earthquakes in the long term is available, but claimed that the state does not wish to capitalize on this knowledge, since it considers it to be a "hot potato." He added that in the past when announcements predicting earthquakes had been released, commercial entities had pressed for such announcements to be withheld since they could negatively affect tourism.
Speaking before Papazahos, Thessaloniki's Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis, suggested that a Scientific Council be established in the prefecture, which will comprise scientists from various disciplines and will operate in cooperation with the universities and technical schools in Thessaloniki, in order to provide data, advice and to set priorities.
 Athenians feel less safe in their city than inhabitants of other European cities, Eurostat says
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)The Athenians are among European citizens declaring that they feel less safe in their city compared to the inhabitants of other European cities, according to a report prepared by the European Union's statistical service Eurostat.
Responding to a question as to how much they feel safe in their city, a positive reply was given by 67 percent of the inhabitants of Liege (Belgium), 68 of the inhabitants of Athens and 69 of the inhabitants of Lisbon (Portugal).
Those feeling the safest in their city are the inhabitants of Copenhagen (Denmark) with 98 percent, Munich (Germany) 97.5 and Helsinki (Finland) 97.
Eurostat also revealed that Athens is the third city in the EU having the greatest presence of people from third countries. The report indicated that this is partly due to the fact that Greece has common borders with four countries that are not EU member-states (Albania, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey).
 EU Court condemns Greece over burning of waste directive
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)The European Court of Justice on Thursday condemned Greece for violating community legislation over the burning of waste. The Court, in its decision, said that Greece failed to implement, as it should have, the necessary legislative, regulatory and administrative regulations to place the country in line with an EU directive over the issue.
The directive 2000/76, approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, called for all member-states to adopt the necessary regulations by December 28, 2002.
 Foreign Minister thanks cruise company for contributing to relief effort
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis on Thursday congratulated L. Kolakis and M. Lambrou, owner and Managing Director of Majestic International Cruises, respectively, for providing a cruise ship that will be used to send humanitarian aid to Sri Lanka, one of the many countries affected by the deadly tsunamis that hit on December 26, 2004.
The cruise ship, in addition to transporting 800 tons of humanitarian aid, will also double as a health care centre, providing medical care to those needing it in Sri Lanka.
 Police officer, guard implicated by investigation into abuse of Afghan immigrants
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)One police officer and a special guard serving at the Aghios Panteleimonas police station have been implicated by an investigation into allegations that Afghan immigrants were abused at the station, sources said. The police investigation was ordered by the Attica General Police Headquarters after the case was reported in the media before Christmas.
The case has now been referred to the public prosecutor's department, while internal disciplinary proceedings against the two officers have also been initiated and the pair has been placed on suspension in view of an upcoming disciplinary hearing that will consider throwing them off the force.
Police said a second investigation, this time into reports of abuse of a Bangladeshi immigrant by police in Bournazi Square, is underway and will lead to similar sanctions if the accusations are confirmed.
 Illegal migrant arrests on Lesvos
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)A total of 13 illegal immigrants were arrested on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos over the last 24 hours in two separate incidents.
Four undocumented foreign nationals, reportedly from a Third World country, were intercepted at the island's main port.
According to reports, the four landed on Lesvos aboard an inflatable craft after first departing from the opposite Turkish coast.
Meanwhile, nine foreign nationals were arrested in the Haramida site of the island on Thursday morning.
The latter told authorities they were ferried over from Turkey aboard a speedboat by a Turkish migrant smuggler.
 Society will not tolerate such behavior, gov't spokesman says of N. Smyrni soccer violence
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Society was not prepared to tolerate behavior that departed from the rules followed by the majority of citizens on a daily basis, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Thursday regarding the incidents at Nea Smyrni football stadium over the weekend and the obscene slogans against the premier chanted by fans at the Kallithea football ground on Wednesday.
Such displays of obscenity were frowned on by the majority of citizens and by the fans who attended football matches to enjoy the game, while the majority of fans isolated those who crossed the line, the spokesman stressed.
The prime minister and the government had made their position on soccer violence absolutely clear and initiatives to deal with it were already in progress, he added.
He refused to comment on statements by the Olympiakos football club, whose supporters were blamed for the savage violence at Nea Smyrni, regarding efforts to 'wipe it out'.
The incidents occurred on Sunday night when Olympiakos fans without tickets broke through a barrier at the Nea Smyrni football stadium, home ground of opponents Panionios, attacking home team supporters and the few police guarding the game.
 Palli-Petralia gives Olympic bikes to 100 mentally-disabled children
Athens, 14/1/2004 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia on Thursday gave away bicycles used in the 2004 Athens Olympics to 100 children with mental disabilities. Afterwards, children from various institutions participated in a cycling event, organized in part by the road assistance company ELPA.
"Caring for and supporting socially vulnerable groups is the top priority of governmental policy," she said.
She also mentioned that the greatest part of Olympic equipment has already been distributed in most parts of the country with the purpose of covering the immediate needs of the state and of social organizations.
Ioanna Despotopoulou, Secretary General of the Health and Social Solidarity Ministry and President of the Special Olympics, thanked "Olympic Properties SA" for their work. She also thanked Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for making her part of Palli-Petralia's team charged with distributing Olympic equipment to 282 institutions in the country.
Secretary General for the Olympic Games Spyros Kladas also attended the event.
 Cyprus President Papadopoulos: 1960 Agreements a blessing under the circumstances
NICOSIA 14/1/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said here Wednesday that he considers the 1960 London-Zurich Agreements, which established the Republic of Cyprus, a blessing compared with the forceful division of the country following the 1974 Turkish invasion.
President Papadopoulos also said that the Greek Cypriots rejected a UN-proposed solution for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem because they could not tolerate the abolition of their state.
Speaking at the presentation of a book titled ''The legitimacy of the Cypriot state'', Papadopoulos said he had personally opposed the London-Zurich Agreements but, with hindsight and devoid of emotion, he can now say that ''these Agreements are a blessing if one compares
them to what has ensued.''
''Anything is better than the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the forceful separation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots,'' he stressed, recalling that in the early 1960s the people of Cyprus, who had
fought against British colonial rule, were overwhelmed with the idea of enosis (union with Greece) and needed time to reflect on the deal at the time, which he described as ''something better than union with Greece: this was independence for the entire people of Cyprus.''
He said that safeguarding the credibility of the Cypriot state is not a matter of personal choice, nor is it a matter of a routine obligation.
''This is the duty and the responsibility of the people and the leadership and meeting this obligation is a constant and demanding task, which is directly and decisively linked to the prospect of a successful outcome of our efforts for national and natural survival,'' Papadopoulos added.
He explained that the international recognition of the legitimacy of the Republic of Cyprus is the main reason that the Republic is today a full and equal partner within the European Union.
Meanwhile, in Britain, replying to a question on the 1960 Agreements at the House of Lords Baroness Simons said that the 1960 Treaty establishing the Republic of Cyprus and the Treaty of Guarantee, signed in Nicosia on August 16, 1960 are still in force and continue to be binding for the parties involved (Britain, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus).
Referring to the Cyprus problem, Papadopoulos said that the main reason the Greek Cypriots rejected the UN plan (the Annan plan) in the April referendum was because they could not bear the thought of seeing their state being dissolved.
''We have worked very hard to see the Republic being transformed through a new constitution into a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation but we have certainly not worked for the dissolution of the state or the birth of a new state of affairs,'' he stressed.
The rejection of the plan was not a rejection of a solution and reunification but it was merely a positive vote for the protection and the legitimacy of the Cyprus state, he said.