|Monday, 23 November 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-15
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 15, 2005
 Health minister says measures have reduced shortage of hospital beds by 90 per cent
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis on Friday said that the government's pilot program had reduced the shortage of hospital beds and the phenomenon of patients waiting in corridors by 90 per cent in Attica overall, in statements after meeting Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday.
The minister said his talks with the premier had covered the entire range of issues concerning the health and welfare ministry and its program for 2005.
In particular, they had focused on a current shortage of beds in state hospital ICUs, for which the waiting period was two to five days on average. As a temporary measure, it was decided that the health ministry will 'rent' 30 ICU beds from the private hospital Errikos Dunant at the rates given by the Greek state sector, to cover the needs of the state health system.
Responding to questions, he said the shortage of ICU beds was actually a shortage of staff, since there were currently 120 ICU beds in state hospitals that were not being used because of a shortage of trained nurses.
Kaklamanis said a government proposal to bypass the ASEP state-sector recruitments system in order to hire nursing staff had been rejected by Parliament, since a unanimous decision was required to overcome a Constitutional ban on recruitments outside ASEP. The government had then settled for a compromise solution, hoping to speed up the process so that staff would be hired in eight or nine months instead of the usual 2.5 years.
He said that Karamanlis had agreed with the ministry's emphasis on human resources in 2005, while most of the staff recruited would be for special units, such as ICUs, heart attack wards, kidney dialysis units and other specialist wards.
Kaklamanis said the premier had also approved the ministry's legislative program for 2005, with four bills scheduled to be passed in the first months of 2005, in addition to the artificial fertilization bill pass on Thursday.
The bills will legislate for organizational changes to the National Health System, the prescription of medication, with the abolition of the list currently used by state insurance funds, a bill for public health and procurements and finally, primary health care.
During the meeting, the premier had also given the go-ahead to planned ministry actions for welfare, including a draft bill to financially support poor and large families.
Kaklamanis said the ministry had met and exceeded its targets relative to the 3rd Community Support Framework, with a particularly successful program for mental health in the Balkans that came under the Stability Pact. He also reported great progress in the "Iasis" program to computerize state hospitals.
Conversely, he added, the government had not been as successful in the fighting drugs and was waiting for the proposals of the OKANA drug rehabilitation group for a new National Action Plan.
PM pays surprise visit to Evangelismos hospital on Friday: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis paid a surprise visit to Evangelismos Hospital in central Athens on Friday at 8 a.m., shortly before his scheduled meeting with the health ministry's leadership at Maximos Mansion.
Karamanlis, accompanied by Nikitas Kaklamanis and Athanassios Yiannopoulos, Minister and Deputy Minister of Health and Social Solidarity, and the hospital's administrator visited various departments within the hospital and spoke with medical staff and patients. Nursing staff told the prime minister that they faced a shortage of personnel, which he said would be addressed gradually.
After his 40-minute visit, Karamanlis told reporters that "the state's sensitivity and effectiveness is tried daily in the health sector," adding that "we are trying to solve problems that have accumulated from the past."
He also noted that during the past month and a half, a pilot program has been implemented, aiming to address the shortage of hospital beds and the phenomenon of patients waiting in corridors on camp beds. "Our aim is to improve health care services and to do away with the embarrassing camp beds," the prime minister said speaking of the program.
He said that program results have so far exceeded expectations, considering that from 130-140 camp beds that used to line the corridors of Evangelismos on a daily basis that number has now shrunk to 15-20. This however, does not mean that all problems have been solved, he said.
"We are correcting imperfections and the help of the medical and nursing staff is precious," Karamanlis said. "For citizens to respect government, government first has to respect citizens," he concluded.
Gov't spokesman on PM's visit to Evangelismos Hospital: Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Friday said that a visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to the Evangelismos Hospital in Athens on Friday morning sought to verify whether the health ministry's policy to reduce shortages of hospital beds and the 'corridor camp-bed' phenomenon had been effective.
According to Roussopoulos, the health ministry's pilot program appears to have yielded results. Whereas the hospital might have had as many as 100 to 150 patients waiting in the corridor when it was on emergency duty in the past, this figure had now been reduced to just 15, Roussopoulos said.
Commenting on reports that the premier had had to intervene in order to find a patient a bed in an ICU unit, Roussopoulos said that the problem was not a shortage of ICUs but a shortage of staff to run them.
 Parliamentary investigative committee submits its report on arms procurements case
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)The multi-partisan Parliamentary committee investigating alleged irregularities in the procurement of the Russian-made TOR M1 anti-missile system on Friday submitted its report to Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki.
The report is expected to be discussed by Parliament, with both ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK planning to submit demands for this to Psarouda-Benaki next week.
Receiving the report, Psarouda-Benaki said Parliament attached "great importance to all initiatives by MPs that ensured transparency in public life".
In a press conference afterwards, ruling ND MP Yiannis Tragakis, who chaired the committee, said the parliamentary committee's report found that the previous leadership of the national defense ministry had, through actions and omissions, "had caused political, financial and military harm to the Greek State".
He said the responsibility for any further action now lay with Parliamentary plenum and that ND left all options open, as shown by the opening of the accounts of the Cyprus-based company Drumilan, which showed a suspicious route for money from Moscow to Cyprus, then New York and finally Geneva.
Tragakis also noted that the left-wing parties, particularly the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology, had discerned "political responsibility" in the actions of PASOK ministers, in contrast to main opposition PASOK MPs on the committee, who seemed totally unaware of them. A number of ND MPs on the committee also listed instances of suspect actions related to the purchase that they believed had harmed the Greek State.
Responding, PASOK coordinator on the committee Andreas Loverdos noted that all three of the opposition parties, in their findings, had concluded that there had been no breach of faith by the ministers involved and accused ND of "having the gall to set up the frame but not the courage to say what it proposed" for the ministers in question.
Meanwhile, 105 ruling ND and 107 PASOK MPs have proposed that parliamentary investigative committee's report on the TOR-M1 and TPQ-37 system purchases be discussed by Parliament.
 Meeting held in New York on FYROM name issue
NEW YORK 15/1/2004 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)The representatives of Greece and of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as well as the special United Nations mediator, expressed reserved optimism on the negotiations which continued here on Friday regarding the FYROM name issue.
The second meeting, within the framework of the resumption of the efforts to find a final solution to the problem, took place at the Offices of the Permanent Greek Representation at the UN.
UN special mediator Andrew Nimetz stressed that there is no time limit to the talks, but at the same time left it clearly to be understood that the talks cannot continue indefinitely, stressing that "we want to solve the problem." To a question on the meeting, he said "a very good discussion was held."
FYROM's Ambassador to Washington, Nikolas Dimitrov, even though he declared that "we had good talks," nevertheless recognized that "there are certain common positions between the two countries, but also differences, which we hope to solve."
To a question whether progress was achieved, he underlined that he was reservedly optimistic, but that it is also very difficult to speak about the essence of the issue.
Finally, Greece's Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, noted: "The discussion was pleasant. Each supports his views. We exchanged ideas and we will see. Each time small or large steps are made."
A new meeting will be held in the second half of February.
The United States late last year unilaterally recognized FYROM with its constitutional name of "Republic of Macedonia".
 FYROM president says no change in 'name issue' policy
SKOPJE 15/1/2004 (ANA)The president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Branko Crvenkovski, remained adamant on Friday concerning the "name issue" between his landlocked Balkan country and neighboring Greece.
Crvenkovski said FYROM position's remains unchanged, a reference to a "double name" solution whereby the Skopje government uses the name "Republic of Macedonia" in international dealings and another name, acceptable to Athens, in bilateral dealings.
Moreover, the FYROM leader told reporters that his country now retains "more arguments" to bolster its position, in comparison with past meetings with the Greek side.
His statements come ahead of a new round of Greek-FYROM talks under the United Nations' auspices in New York. Up until now, the talks have failed to record any progress on the nagging issue.
Relations between Greece and the former Yugoslav state to its north have dramatically improved since the two countries signed an interim agreement in New York nearly 10 years ago under the UN's auspices. Currently, only the "name issue" ranks as a difference, albeit a thorny one, between Athens and Skopje.
Successive Greek governments, the overwhelming majority of public opinion in the east Mediterranean country as well as numerous ethnic Greek communities around the world are adamantly opposed to FYROM's attempt to use the name "Macedonia", citing historical and political reasons.
Under the terms of the agreement, Greece and FYROM are responsible for commencing and continuing negotiations to find a mutually acceptable solution, with Athens repeatedly pointing to the term "mutually".
According to recent figures, Greece ranks first in terms of foreign investment in FYROM, roughly 300 million euros.
 Putin's statements on Cyprus in line with Moscow's past policy, Greek gov't says
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)The statements made by Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the Cyprus problem, following his meeting in Moscow with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were not a departure from Russian policy for the Cyprus issue, Greek government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Friday.
Russian policy was marked by continuity and consistency, the spokesman added, pointing out that Putin had spoken about a united island and a solution that would be found within the framework of the United Nations.
In statements on Tuesday, Putin said Russia would support the plan of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to find a solution to the Cyprus dispute, and any resolution arising from the plan's implementation, dropping Russia's previous objections.
He also described the economic isolation of northern Cypriots as "unfair" in talks with Erdogan.
Last April Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution put forward by the United States and Britain, Cyprus' former colonial power, to encourage Greek and Turkish Cypriots to adopt a U.N. plan to unify the Mediterranean island.
 Commission takes Greece to task over three cases involving environmental law
BRUSSELS 15/1/2004 (ANA)The European Commission on Friday announced that it will refer Greece to the EuroCourt over three cases involving EU environmental law, including unprecedented pollution in northern Greece's Lake Koronia.
The other two cases involve pressure by the Commission at "strengthening Greek law in order to provide better protection against air pollution" and "getting Greece to transpose the Emissions Trading Directive, one of the most important EU initiatives to combat global climate change".
According to the Commission, Lake Koronia, in Thessaloniki prefecture, is "an internationally important wetland that has been harmed by over-abstraction of water and serious industrial and agricultural pollution."
A press release issued from Brussels, meanwhile, Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, who is also Greece's representative on the Commission noted that "Greek citizens are very proud of the rich biodiversity of their country and are also very concerned about air pollution. It is important to preserve the natural wealth of Greece and improve the quality of ambient air, especially in big cities.
"…This is our legacy to future generations. Full implementation of EU legislation will ensure this. Greece must therefore improve its practices and make additional efforts to implement EU environmental law correctly."
Furthermore, the Commission states that "Greece has not established and effectively implemented an appropriate legal protection and conservation framework and has not taken adequate measures to prevent the degradation of the lake and disturbance of fauna and flora. In particular, Greece needs to adopt and implement an adequate legal regime aiming at the conservation of the lake and at the reduction of pollution caused by dangerous substances.
In terms of the third decision, the one relating to "emissions trading legislation", the Commission notes that "along with several other Member States, Greece has not yet adopted national implementing legislation to give effect to a directive establishing an EU greenhouse gas emissions trading system ... starting on 1 January 2005 ("the Emissions Trading Directive"). The deadline for doing so expired on 31 December 2003."
The full text can be found at the Commission's website: http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm
 European Commission sends reasoned opinion to four EU countries for violation of interest and rights legislation
BRUSSELS 15/1/2004 (ANA/V. Demiris)The European Commission sent a reasoned opinion, the last stage before resorting to the European Court, to Greece, France, Italy and Portugal on Friday for violating European Union legislation on the taxation of interest and rights.
The Commission called on the four countries to inform it of measures they have taken to implement the EU directive on the common interest and rights taxation system.
The directive anticipates that member-states must implement necessary clauses by January 1, 2004, at the latest. However, Greece, France, Italy and Portugal have not yet disclosed clauses they have implemented in compliance with the directive in question.
 Meeting between PM and Archbishop Christodoulos a 'social call', gov't spokesman says
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)A planned visit by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, to the home of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in Rafina on Friday night was described as a "social call" earlier on Friday by government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos.
According to the spokesman, the meeting was not taking place to discuss particular problems. He noted that the Archbishop had often visited the premier in the past, when Karamanlis was head of the main opposition.
 President Stephanopoulos hosts reception in honor of Diplomatic Corps
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)President Kostis Stephanopoulos hosted a reception in honor of the Diplomatic Corps on Friday night. Apart from being greeted by President Stephanopoulos, the guests were also welcomed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis.
Guests included main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou, the ruling New Democracy party's honorary president Constantine Mitsotakis, Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou, Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis, Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis and PASOK Deputy Theodoros Pangalos.
Almost all foreign delegations in Athens were represented at the reception, while newly-appointed U.S. Ambassador to Athens Charles Ries was among the foreign diplomats present.
 Suburban railway makes first test run on new route to Corinth
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)The first test run on the suburban railway's new route from Larissis station in central Athens to Corinth was held Friday morning, with passengers including Transport and Communications minister Michalis Liapis and deputy minister Tasos Nerantzis.
During the first test run, the train stopped at the four intermediate stations at Nea Peramos, Megara, Kinetta and Agious Theodorous, which are almost completed, before ending at the new terminal station in Corinth.
Liapis told reporters afterwards that the test run had bee a "complete success", stressing that work to complete the infrastructure projects would be accelerated so that the new route on the suburban railway would be open to the public in May.
 Commission refers Greece to Eurocourt over farmers' technical assistance regime; Lavrio station
BRUSSELS 15/1/2004 (ANA)Greece, along with another six EU member-states, was referred on Friday to the Eurocourt by the European Commission over a total of 20 alleged "breaches of EU public procurement law".
Specifically, in terms of Greece, the Commission said it decided to refer the country to the European Court of Justice "over irregularities in the award of several contracts to provide technical assistance to Greek farmers …," irregularities it said were recorded prior to 2003.
In backing up its charge, the Commission said the irregularities stemmed from the Greek government's -- a reference to the previous Simitis government -- attempt to help farmers benefit from certain European Union support under the Common Agricultural Policy by signing "...technical assistance contracts with specialized firms every year, on the basis of a competitive procedure.
"However, in 2001 it (the government) departed from that approach and directly awarded contracts for the management of a framework program and for the detailed implementation of that program, without following the procedures for notification and competitive tendering required by Directive 92/50/EEC," the Commission notes.
Furthermore, the Commission said it did not accept Greek authorities' argument that "despite their disagreement with the Commission, they have in practice complied with the reasoned opinion sent in December 2003 ... by having subjected the contracts to competition in line with the Directive and through the Secretary-General of the Agriculture Ministry issuing a circular.
"...According to the information available to the Commission, the alleged opening up to competition of the contracts in question since 2003 is no more than theoretical as, through the application of various mechanisms, the same association of farmers has been awarded the contracts. The Commission considers in addition that there is a continued risk of similar infringements occurring in future and that the Secretary-General's circular did not, as drafted, allow the infringement to be corrected and could even have led to a repetition of it," the statement added.
Lavrio power plant: In an unrelated case affecting Greece, the Commission also said it was also referring the tender for a controversial new Public Power Corp. (PPC) thermoelectric plant in Lavrio, southeast of Athens, to the Eurocourt.
"The Commission considers that the two companies that reached the last phase of the procedure (submission of financial bids) did not meet the conditions set out in the call for tenders, despite the fact that in the announcement of the call and the invitation to tender it was explicitly stated that any bid not meeting the specific requirements would be rejected," the Commission notes, adding:
"One of the companies concerned did not have the requisite experience, while the bid submitted by the second company, which was in the end awarded the contract, did not comply with one of the conditions concerning the long-term maintenance agreement. By accepting these two companies for the final stage of the procedure, and by awarding the contract to one of them, the DEI (PPC) infringed Article 4§2 of Directive 93/38/EEC (excluded sectors), as well as the principles of the equal treatment of participants and of transparency set out in the ECJ's case law. Failure to apply these principles may be unjust not only to the companies that take part in a given procedure, but also to those who might have participated if they had known that the contracting entity would not apply the terms it had itself set in the tender."
The full text can be viewed at: http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm
 No state subsidies to cotton farmers, gov't says
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)Deputy Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Alexandros Kontos repeated on Friday that the government would not subsidise cotton producers as the move would contravene European Union law.
"On the one hand, EU rules do not allow this, and on the other hand, when you give national subsidies, you undermine the country's negotiating power in the EU," Kontos told reporters.
 ND Secretary Meimarakis speaks to farmers in Serres
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)Ruling New Democracy (ND) party Central Committee Secretary Evangelos Meimarakis on Friday expressed the need for the problems facing farmers to be solved through dialogue, given that "the government is following a pro-agricultural policy."
Meimarakis made the comment in talks he had in the morning with farmers' representatives in the city of Serres, northeastern Greece, within the framework of the visits he is making in the Greek regions.
"There is maturity, cool-headedness and sensitivity on all the sides for us to discuss and reach solutions," Meimarakis noted, adding that the problem of the cotton producers, who are currently threatening with actions, "is neither an overall agricultural one nor nationwide."
He said "the New Democracy and the government is following a friendly policy towards the farmers," noting that "the matter is centered in a specific region and on a specific type of cultivation."
Meimarakis further said that "I believe that with discussion we can find solutions which will boost the farmer's income and to discuss with such calmness and in such a way so that we can actually confront the problem not only for today, not only for this year, but also for the next years."
He opposed the prospects of farmers' mobilizations which could lead to the blockade of main highways.
 Greek gov't launches tender for three new metro stations
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Friday announced the opening of a tender for the construction of three new metro stations in the line Syntagma-Airport, budgeted at 80 million euros.
Speaking to reporters, Souflias said that two new stations, at Holargos and National Mint, would be ready by 2007 while another metro station at Aghia Paraskevi will be ready in 2008.
Under the plan, the Syntagma-Airport metro line will close for three months and transportation will be carried out with buses. The Greek minister also announced a tender for expanding the Aghios Antonios-Aghios Dimitrios metro line for another 5.5 km to Hellinikon, budgeted at 400 million euros, would begin in March. Souflias noted that a tender for the construction of a metro line in Thessaloniki would be completed in June.
 "Greek tourism taking off" Tourism Minister says
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)"In this difficult climate facing the tourism industry worldwide, we, with our competitive advantages can enter the international tourism sector dynamically. Greek tourism is taking off," Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said during the speech he made at the graduation ceremony of the Organization of Education and Training in Iraklion, Crete on Friday.
Avramopoulos also emphasized that the Greek tourism sector is being upgraded with hard work and a long-term strategy. "With the business community supporting our policies and with responsibility we will be able to make a qualitative leap, but first we must 'clean up' the messy tourism sector," he said.
"Being on the island of Crete, I would like to say that I find it unacceptable for the flagship of Greek tourism to have an airport such as this one. I always said and will insist that solutions and funds must be found so that Iraklion acquires a modern airport. This will benefit the island's tourism activity and will primarily highlight the image of modern Crete. The Tourism Ministry, therefore, supports any political initiative in this direction," he said.
Avramopoulos also referred to the large-scale advertising campaign of Greece that was launched internationally, which according to the minister has already produced positive results for the new tourist season. He has contributed to advertising efforts by personally appearing at various exhibits and events. He said that the campaign capitalizes on post-Olympic Greece.
Finally, Avramopoulos stressed the importance the government places on tourism education and training and announced his plans for the creation of a Tourism Academy, which will serve as an institution of higher-level education in tourism.
 Indian business delegation to visit Greece this month
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)A 10-member business delegation from India is expected to visit Greece this month as part of a plan to strengthen trade between the two countries.
Indian businessmen will have a two-day visit to Athens before visiting Thessaloniki, January 19-20. During their stay in Thessaloniki, they will meet with Greek businessmen and will hold a silk products' exhibition at the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
 Civil Aviation Authority head resigns
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)Greek Civil Aviation Authority commander Panagiotis Manoussos resigned from his post. Manoussos submitted his resignation letter during a meeting with Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Thursday afternoon.
Both the ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority did not offer any reasons for his resignation. His replacement will be announced in the next two weeks.
 Stocks slip in range bound trade
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower with players taking short-term profits in high-capitalization shares but buying into smaller paper, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,887.86 points, posting a decline of 0.16%. Turnover was 240.2 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.17% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.04% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.20% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 182 to 119 with 57 remaining unchanged.
On a weekly basis, the market rose by 1.35%.
 Mayors of Europe to meet in Paris, following proposal by Athens mayor
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)The mayors of major European cities are to meet in Paris on Saturday, January 15, following an initiative begun by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis.
The meeting will focus on ways that European cities can help in the reconstruction of regions in Southeast Asia that were devastated by the killer quake and tsunami in the area.
The proposal made by Bakoyannis in a letter to her European counterparts was for every large European city to 'adopt' a municipality in areas hit by the tsunami and undertake to build a foundation there, such as a school or hostel.
The response by European mayors was immediate and the meeting was set for Paris, with mayors and local government officials from Europe and other areas of the world attending, in addition to representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and diplomats from countries where the tsunami struck.
 The Representation of the European Commission in Greece holds reception in Athens
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)This year - 2005 - is a crucial year for Europe, Director of the Representation of the European Commission in Greece Yiorgos Markopouliotis said during a reception hosted by his office in Athens on Friday.
One of the main issues the EU will be focusing on this year will be ratification of the European Constitution, Markopouliotis noted. He added that while Greece would easily ratify the constitution, other member-states have voiced concerns.
In closing, Markopouliotis wished everyone health, peace and happiness in the New Year.
Among those attending the reception were Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis, Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou, former Prime Minister Costas Simitis, former Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, former Public Works minister and PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) MP Vasso Papandreou, President of LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally) Yiorgos Karatzaferis, all European ambassadors to Greece and other officials.
 Greece increases tsunami aid by pledging 20,000 tons of rice for stricken countries
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)Greece announced on Friday that it was increasing its aid to tsunami-stricken countries by sending an additional 20,000 tons of rice now being stockpiled in northern Thessaloniki prefecture.
The decision was unveiled by Agriculture Development and Foodstuffs Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos, following a proposal by Thessaloniki prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis.
 Culture ministry denies giving go-ahead for apartment block on site of ancient temple in Mets
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)The Culture ministry on Friday denied press reports that it had given the go-ahead for the construction of an apartment block on a site occupied by the ancient temple of Artemis in the Athens district of Mets, describing them as "misleading and unfair".
The current political leadership of the culture ministry had at no time agreed to building work or other actions incompatible with ancient monuments, an announcement stressed.
According to reports, the Mets Residents Initiative Group has asked the ministry to immediately expropriate the lot in question in order to protect the temple, carry out excavations and make it possible to visit the site. It has also asked the Athens municipality to make the block a communal space.
In its reply, the ministry gave a detailed account of the history of expropriations of property around the site from 1964 until 2003, noting that the case was again before the Central Archaeological Council, whose decision would "as all others until now on archaeological issues" will be accepted by the minister issuing the relevant decision on the issue.
It said an application by the owners of the lot to build on the property had been denied on the grounds that the properties were in the process of being expropriated and had referred the case to the Central Archaeological Council with a new recommendation that existing structures on the property be demolished and excavation work carried out, whose results would determine whether the owners request to build will be approved.
Major hashish haul in Keratsini, foreign national arrested, other ring members being sought
Police found and seized 6.5 tons of processed hashish in a warehouse in Keratsini, near Piraeus, and a foreign national was arrested, in one of the biggest hash hauls in Greece, police sources said Friday.
The sources told ANA that a team of Attica security police and the SDOE financial crimes squad, acting on a tip, raided the warehouse on Wednesday night and found 6.5 tons of processed hashish in bricks (slabs). A Pakistani national who was in the warehouse was also arrested, the sources said.
The sources, who said this was one of the biggest hashish seizures in Greece, added that investigations were continuing to locate and arrest the other members of the drug smuggling/trafficking ring.
According to early information, the hashish originated from Pakistan and was destined for Greece and other European countries.
Police officials were due to make statements on the case later in the day.
 Gov't orders tests on goats for "mad-cow" disease
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)The government on Friday ordered tests on a random sample of 17,000 goats out a total of four million in Greece for "mad-cow" disease, or bovine encephalopathy, after a goat in France was identified as having the disease.
If any animal tests positive, the size of the sample will be increased, the secretary general of the agricultural development and foods ministry, Thomas Alifakiotis, told reporters in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
 Greek ambassador in Turkey awards students on Olympic Games essay
ISTANBUL 15/1/2004 (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)Students of Ankara University's Greek Language Dept. who participated in and won the essay contest "The Olympic Games and impressions from Greece," received their awards on Friday during a special reception hosted by Greek Ambassador to Ankara Michael Christides at his home.
In addition to the awards, the winners also received round-trip tickets to Greece.
Christides expressed hope that the awards will help further develop relations between the two countries and noted that younger generations are not prejudiced like past generations, making reconciliation between the two countries easier.
 Judge resigns following damaging revelations by investigative journalist on TV
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)An Athens First-Instance Court judge resigned on Friday, citing health reasons, following damaging allegations made against him in a TV report by investigative journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos the previous day.
Justice Leonidas Stathis allegedly demanded 5,000 euros from a lawyer representing the victim of a traffic accident in order to award damages of 59,000 euros.
The justice's resignation has been passed on to the Justice Ministry, which has initiated a disciplinary inquiry into the case, while the president of the First-Instance Court Gerassimos Dionysatos has ordered that Stathis be relieved of all cases he was handling.
 Two brothers aged 12 and 13 caught for series of thefts in Hania
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)Police in Hania on Friday reported detaining two juveniles, a pair of brothers aged 12 and 13, for a series of thefts of electronic goods from five shops and 18 private cars in the Hania area from November 24, 2004 until January 3, 2005.
The two boys have confessed to stealing mobile phones, cameras, CD players, stereos, jewellery, clothes, bank books and cash. According to police, they then sold the goods for small sums of money to a third person, who was caught by police in possession of some of the stolen property.
Also under arrest is the children's mother, as their legal guardian.
The two juveniles have occupied the police in the past, while one of them has also spent time in a reform school.
 Lykourezos elected as head of pro football clubs' association
Athens, 15/1/2004 (ANA)Noted Athens trial attorney Alexandros Lykourezos assumed the helm of the professional football clubs' association (EPAE) on Friday after the last of two contenders for the post withdrew his candidacy.
Athanasios Kanellopoulos, the incumbent, bowed out of the race ahead of Friday's election, allowing Lykourezos to easily win the EPAE seat with 21 votes by teams' representatives in favor and three blank ballots.
The one-time New Democracy Parliament deputy, who briefly served as an international legal adviser to former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in the mid 1990s and has represented many high-profile Greek litigants, is by far the most distinguished personality to lead the pro clubs' often beleaguered union.
His election comes less than a week after hooligan violence led to the postponement of a first division match between Panionios Athens and league-leader Olympiakos Piraeus.
 Cypriot FM Iacovou says EU accession changes much
BEIRUT 15/1/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou has said that Cyprus' accession to the European Union has brought about great changes and it is now incomprehensible for the Cyprus problem to be pending, adding that the problem can be solved on the basis of UN resolutions and European principles.
In statements to CNA, Iacovou said that the Greek Cypriot side is ready for a settlement and has made many concessions, but pointed out that it would accept neither partition nor the creation of two separate states under the disguise of a confederation.
Iacovou, who met on Thursday in Beirut with the President and the Prime Minister of Lebanon, said that if Turkey wishes to join the EU it must accept the acquis communautaire and the basic principles of Europe, adding that this is what the Cypriot government is trying to cultivate during the period prior to the commencement of Turkey's EU accession negotiations and it is this that it is asking of its friends to understand.
The minister told CNA that he briefed the President and the Prime Minister of Lebanon about ''the situation in Cyprus, particularly after the accession of Cyprus to the EU and Turkey's bid to secure a negotiating date for itself.''
Asked if he requested the support of Lebanon regarding the Cyprus problem, Iacovou said he did.
''I explained the recent developments. I think that the accession of Cyprus to the EU has changed a lot. It is completely incomprehensible to have the problem of Cyprus outstanding. So, we think that the problem can be solved on the basis of UN resolutions and European principles and particularly those values on which the EU has been created,'' he said.
He added that "if Turkey wants to join this Union, obviously it must accept the acquis communautaire, it must accept the principal values of Europe."
Iacovou pointed out that "this is what we want to cultivate over the next few months, before the accession negotiations with Turkey commence, and this is what we ask all our friends to understand."
"We are ready for a solution, we have made a lot of concessions, from a unitary state to a federal state, two units, but we will not accept partition and we will not accept a confederation, which means the creation of two sovereign states in Cyprus under some kind of disguise. That we cannot accept," he stressed.
Referring to bilateral relations between Cyprus and Lebanon, and the daily flights between the two countries, Iacovou said "this reflects the close relations that exist on the level of ordinary people and particularly visitors."
"There is a bilateral flow of visitors. There are a lot of Lebanese working from Cyprus and we welcome that. It is a very sound basis for fostering future relations and we want to see our relations, on a practical level also, being augmented. Lebanon is of interest to us.
It is our intention to establish here a commercial community and also to promote tourism," he said.
The Cypriot minister was due to return home on Friday night.
 China supports an agreed solution on Cyprus
NICOSIA 15/1/2004 (CNA/ANA)China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has expressed his country's firm support for an agreed solution to the Cyprus problem, on the basis of UN Security Council resolutions and
UN Charter principles.
According to an official press release issued here on Friday, Zhaoxing met on Thursday with Ambassador Sotos Zakhaios, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the sidelines of the international meeting of Small Developing Island States, taking place in Mauritius.
''The two sides reaffirmed the close and friendly ties between the Republic of Cyprus and the People's Republic of China'', the release writes.