|Friday, 22 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 28, 2005
 ┼vents commemorating the Holocaust held in Thessaloniki
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)A series of events, organized by Thessaloniki's Jewish community to commemorate the 60th anniversary since the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, was held in Thessaloniki on Thursday.
The events for the anniversary began in the northern Greek city on Thursday afternoon with a memorial service and the laying of wreaths at the Holocaust Monument.
In addition to crowds of local residents and officials, the ceremony was also attended by Israeli Transport Minister Meir Sheetrit, Greek Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis, Deputy Foreign Ministers Evripidis Stylianidis and Yiannis Valinakis, Thessaloniki Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis, the new United States Ambassador to Greece Charles Ries, German Ambassador in Athens Albert Spiegel and other diplomats.
Amongst the gathered crowd, silent and lost in thoughts and memories, were 12 survivors of the horror in concentration camps like Auschwitz and Treblinka, where an estimated 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews were exterminated by the Nazi regime.
The anniversary also coincides with the establishment of January 27 in Greece as a "Day of Memory" for the Holocaust.
Addressing the gathering, the Israeli minister expressed sorrow for a "new voice of anti-Semitism that is being heard in Europe," indicated that "some have not received the message". He said that he had come to Thessaloniki to thank the Greek State for establishing a "Day of Memory" for the Holocaust and for efforts to teach the events of that time in schools.
He also noted that Greece was one of few places under German occupation where Christians had hidden and saved many Jews at a risk to their own lives. "Greece is an example of courage and humanity. I came to bring the message that Israel lives, that Jews live," he added.
A brief address was also made by Ambassador Ries, while the German Ambassador noted in his speech that "as a representative of the country responsible for the Holocaust, I bow in deepest sorrow to the dead".
"We should not forget our daily duty of creating a culturally diverse society - democratic and open and one which respects differences," Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou said during a speech he made at another event held at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall on Thursday evening. "Today we condemn violence, absolutism, racism and anti-Semitism," he added.
Other speakers included Tsiartsionis and Moses Konstantinis, President of the Central Israelite Council of Greece, as well as David Saltiel, President of Thessaloniki's Israelite Community.
German Foreign Minister Joska Fischer addresses event in memory of Holocaust victims: ''Germany feels a great shame for Nazi crimes in Greece, at Distomo, Hortiatis, Kalavryta,'' German Foreign Minister Joska Fischer told an event organized Thursday evening in Thessaloniki by the city's Jewish community to commemorate the 60th anniversary since the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.
Fischer, who is due to meet his Greek counterpart on Friday morning, also said the Nazi crimes ''will always be part of our history'' adding ''we have a special responsibility that they never happen again.''
 Deputy FM says Greece ready to implement reconstruction plan for Balkans
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis told reporters on Thursday that Greece is ready - with funds set aside for 2005 - for the implementation of the Greek Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (ESOAB).
"Delays are no longer due to us but to the recipient countries...We have sent teams of engineers and economists to all the recipient countries in the Balkans, we have renegotiated priorities and we are ready to announce the realization of certain projects," Stylianidis said.
He also noted that the recipient countries need to respond effectively and within a specific timeframe and explained that Greece is waiting for a response from Bulgaria, Romania and Bosnia regarding the first, major projects.
 Greece's presence on UN Security Council deemed constructive
NEW YORK 28/1/2005 (ANA/P.Panayiotou)Greece's participation as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council has been described as "constructive" by UN diplomatic sources. Specifically, in the first month of its membership, Greece appeared prepared both in scheduled as well as in informal negotiations that have been carried out with numerous committees.
Greece presided over the Sanctions Committee for the Ivory Coast, served as vice president on the committees dealing with Rwanda and Somalia as well as the committee responsible for the fight against terrorism.
During its first month on the UN Security Council, Greece supported that peacekeeping forces remain in Georgia and Lebanon. In the upcoming weeks, a Contact Group, in which Greece will also participate, will be sent to Kosovo.
 Unprecedented conference on journalism ethics, professionals linked with state sector begins
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)A wide-ranging and thoroughly unprecedented conference on the issue of journalists' professional relations with the wider public sector and ministries commenced on Thursday with the participation of the relevant government minister, opposition representatives, board members of journalists' unions and dozens of reporters.
The conference was quickly called late last week by Minister of State Thodoris Roussopoulos, himself a well-known broadcast journalist before being tapped as spokesman of then main opposition New Democracy, and following a heated Parliament debate on the role of journalists in the public sector and the issue of ethical standards for the latter.
The issue erupted last week after Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) president Manolis Mathioudakis told a Parliament sub-committee that two previous press ministers in PASOK governments had occasionally threatened to "open their desk drawers and take out a list with the names of journalists on the state's payroll".
Mathioudakis immediately noted that he was not referring to past press ministers in attendance at the time, namely, Evangelos Venizelos and Telemahos Hytiris.
The mini-furor that followed led to Thursday's conference, with Roussopoulos noting that "what's being sought here is the establishment of principles and rules that every government is obliged to follow".
He also said the phenomenon of "multiple positions" by certain journalists should end.
On their part, PASOK's representatives, Hytiris and veteran press minister ex-general secretary Nikos Athanassakis, said they did not disagree with the need to set down the conditions for establishing "conflict of interest" provisions, however, they criticized Roussopoulos for the timing in announcing the current initiative.
On his part, KKE deputy Antonis Skyllakos said he favored clear-cut and absolute "conflict of interest" clauses.
Finally, Coalition of the Left press official Nikos Voutsis noted that "vested interests" want to control and manipulate the news process, while agreeing with proposals by ESHEA.
 Justice minister briefed on high-profile probe into judicial corruption
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)An ongoing investigation into an alleged cabal of judges, trial lawyers and judicial officials taking bribes to parole convicted felons dominated a meeting on Thursday between Justice Minister Anastasis Papaligouras and the country's top Supreme Court leadership, including the president of the justices as well as the high court's chief prosecutor and judicial inspector.
The issue jumped onto the national spotlight last week following an expose on a news program hosted by noted investigative journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos.
In statements afterwards, the justice minister said he was briefed on the effectiveness of measures taken by the independent judiciary to deal with the high-profile scourge of corruption in the justice system.
He also announced a legislative initiative to place stricter measures for rogue justices and attorneys, among others.
Doctors, prison officials, social workers and even a high-ranking priest were implicated in the scam, which allegedly took bribes from mostly convicted drug smugglers.
 Karamanlis deemed more suitable for PM than Papandreou survey finds
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis enjoys a significant lead over main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou as more suitable for the post of prime minister, according to a survey conducted by VPR-C on behalf of Skai radio, whose findings were announced on Thursday.
Specifically, 1,000 people throughout the country were surveyed on January 20 and 21 and asked to provide their views on the country's economy, the power of the mass media, farmers' protests and other issues.
The survey found Karamanlis was popular with 52% of those surveyed compared with 19% of those favoring Papandreou.
According to the survey, the main issues that concern those surveyed in the order of greater importance are: unemployment, low wages and pensions, education, crime and healthcare.
In terms of addressing daily problems, 36% said that New Democracy was more competent compared with 13% who chose PASOK.
As for the role of the mass media in Greece, 82% responded that the mass media has more power than the Constitution foresees, while 91% believe that certain businesspeople influence political life. Additionally, 87% believe that the fight against corruption and graft is important, while 57% believe that the government is determined to address it. Asked which party they trust to curb corruption and graft, 40% of those surveyed said New Democracy, 17% said PASOK, while 25% said they didn't trust any government.
 Former SYN President meets with Cyprus' main opposition leader
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)A series of initiatives and actions are necessary for Cyprus to capitalize on its EU accession, former President of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party Nikos Konstantopoulos said on Thursday after he and a SYN delegation met with Nicos Anastassiades, President of Cyprus' main opposition Democratic Rally party.
Konstantopoulos said that political forces in both Greece and Cyprus must agree on a strategic framework in order to address the set of new circumstances that have resulted after Cyprus' EU accession and the referenda.
"The island's reunification, a rapprochement between the two communities and an agreed upon solution all require a common desire for cohabitation and co-existence within an EU member state," Konstantopoulos said.
 Greece elected to UN compensation committee governing council's presidency
GENEVA 28/1/2005 (ANA)The United Nations compensation commission's governing council on Thursday elected Greece to the presidency and Japan to the vice-presidency of the governing council for 2005-2006 period.
The two countries replace Germany and Angola, respectively, who held the positions in 2003-2004.
The permanent representative of Greece, Amb. Tassos Kriekoukis, will preside over future sessions of the governing council, according to a press release.
The UN Compensation Committee (UNCC) is a subsidiary organ of the United Security Council. It was established in accordance with Security Council resolutions 687 (1991) and 692 (1991) to process claims and pay compensation for direct losses and damage suffered by individuals, corporations, governments and international organizations as a direct result of Iraq's unlawful invasion and occupation of Kuwait in the early 1990s.
 Development minister meets new envoys of China and Britain in Athens
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday received the new Chinese Ambassador in Athens Tian Xuejun and a high-ranking delegation from the Embassy of China for talks relating to trade, research and technology, development and investments. The new Chinese envoy also presented Sioufas with an invitation to visit China.
Also on Thursday, the minister met the new British Ambassador in Athens Simon Gass, who was accompanied by the Embassy's director for economic and European affairs, and discussed bilateral trade, development and investments.
 New US envoy Ries tours northern Greece
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)New US ambassador to Greece Charles Ries on Thursday visited the northern port city of Thessaloniki, where he was received separately by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis, the city's mayor, Vassilis Papageorgopoulos and the prefect of Thessaloniki, Panayiotis Psomiadis.
In brief statements, Ries noted that northern Greece is significant for Washington due to its position in SE Europe.
Asked by a reporter the name of the region he was touring, the US envoy replied "Greek Macedonia". He also noted that the United States encourages both Turkey and Greece to cooperate on regional issues, a reply to a press query on whether he is concerned with Ankara's recent provocations in the Aegean.
On his part, the minister briefed Ries on the government's priorities for the region, while inviting him to visit the autonomous monastic community of Mount Athos and the museum/tumulus at Vergina.
 Greece needs to reform public finances and pensions, EU says
BRUSSELS 28/1/2005 (ANA/M Spinthourakis)Greece needs to create long-term viability in public finances and reform the pension system , the European Union said in a second implementation report on its 2003-2005 broad economic policy guidelines.
The country still had excessive deficits in 2004; and pension reforms appeared insufficient to contain a budgetary burden arising from an ageing population, said the executive Commission's report released on Thursday.
After one and a half years of implementation of the EU guidelines, Greece had achieved limited progress in meeting the targets. Despite robust growth, measures were not taken to lower the public debt and fiscal deficit at a brisk enough pace, and the country still deviated from a target of a balanced budget or budget in surplus.
Looking at progress to achieve sound budgetary positions, only eight EU countries broadly managed to achieve and/or maintain a budget of close to balance or surplus, setting them in a better position to deal with economic fluctuations and the impact of ageing populations, the report said.
Furthermore, the impact was still unclear of measures taken in Greece to improve productivity, although progress had been seen in the attempt to switch to an information society.
In the electricity market, full competition had yet to be attained, but measures taken were in the right direction. And although attempts had been made to simplify the economic and taxation environment, the rate of harmonization of national and EU law had slowed.
Limited progress had been seen in reducing structural unemployment and boosting employment, especially among women. Measures taken to make wages match productivity differentials as part of salary talks were inadequate; the impact was unclear of government moves to spur part-time work and flexibility in the labor market due to major stumbling blocks; and the question of the viability of public finances and social insurance systems, including pensions, was disquieting.
Finally, Greece's performance in adapting national legislation to EU rules on the bloc's single market worsened in 2004. On November 30, the country had failed to incorporate 5.1% of Community directives that were due by then, granting Greece 20th place in an EU-25 ranking on harmonization; and on October 31 Greece had 84 pending cases of breaches of the bloc's law on the single market, taking 10th place in the EU-15, the Commission noted.
In the EU overall, progress had been made in recent years to complete the single market and improve conditions for business, but much more needs to be done to increase competitiveness through sounder public finances, more active labor policies, more productive investment - including in knowledge - and more integrated markets, in order to step up economic growth and job creation whilst protecting the environment, the report said.
The conclusions were drawn in key reports looking at the implementation of multi-annual targets for the economy as a whole and the internal market, especially employment and the environment.
In 2003, the EU adopted broad economic policy guidelines setting out a medium-term economic policy strategy to make Europe more competitive. The Commission's second implementation report shows that progress continues to be mixed both across sectors and across countries.
On a positive side, the pace of labor market reform in EU countries was maintained, the liberalization of energy and other network industries progressed, competition policy was enforced more forcefully and the European Union's single market functioned better -- all of which contributed to an overall improvement in the business environment and the competitive process, according to the Commission.
But this was overshadowed by only limited progress regarding the transition to a knowledge-based economy - the main objective of the Lisbon Agenda set at a European summit in 2000, in the integration of the internal market in services, and in the achievement of budgetary discipline.
Opposition party criticizes gov't over bank pensions: The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology on Thursday criticized the government for taking advantage of a rift over pension funds between banks and employees in order to pave the way for adverse changes in social insurance that would hurt the public.
In a statement, the party said it supported a wave of strikes bank unions have announced over the issue due to start on January 31.
 "New effort to support research and technology," Greek minister says
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday said that the government has embarked on a new effort aimed to develop research and technology in the country.
Addressing the first symposium on Research and Technology, organized by the Union of Greek Researchers, Sioufas stressed the ministry, in cooperation with the National Secretariat of Research and Technology, was drafting the sub-base of a new research and technology policy. "Research, innovation and cutting-edge technology, are the basic priorities in government policy," he noted.
The Greek minister stressed that education was linked with production procedure and labor market and that the government was drafting the school of the future. Commenting on the new members of a National Research and Technology Council, Sioufas said it "is the first step in linking the country's scientific resources and with Greek scientists abroad".
Mihalis Chrysohoidis, main opposition party PASOK's secretary-general, addressing the symposium said that Greece was far behind from other technologically advanced countries and stressed that the country needed a national strategy on research and technology that would leave behind unfruitful clashes. "We need a social contract on research and development," he noted.
Gerasimos Papadopoulos, president of the Union of Greek Researchers, criticized the absence of the Greek Industries' Union and of the assembly of Deans from the symposium and urged for meritocracy in evaluating scientific work in the country.
 PM Karamanlis briefed on steps for upgrading tourism, attracting visitors to Greece
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed Thursday by tourism minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and deputy minister Anastasios Liaskos on actions launched by the ministry aimed at a qualitative upgrading of Greece's tourism product and the attraction of tourists to the country.
Avramopoulos told reporters after the meeting that "we anticipate a lot from tourism", stressing that the ministry's actions had a 10-year strategic horizon and aimed at rendering tourism a central tool for the country's growth.
"We are carrying on in this course with optimism, planning and determination," he said.
Liaskos, in turn, said that bureaucratic procedures were being simplified, adding that the country's tourism landscape would change in the coming years, and become more qualitative.
 Finance Minister meets with ambassadors of Britain and Turkey
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis met with UK Ambassador to Greece Simon Gass and Turkey's Ambassador Tahsin Burcuoglu separately on Thursday.
According to a statement released by the ministry, Alogoskoufis and Gass reviewed the good economic ties between Greece and the UK and discussed ways to further strengthen relations, particularly in terms of increasing British direct investment to Greece. Alogoskoufis and Gass also exchanged views on projects undertaken by both the public and private sectors, an area where the UK possesses extensive experience, ahead of a relevant bill which is to be tabled in Greek Parliament. Additionally, the two officials also discussed the UK's priorities for its EU presidency which it will exercise during the second half of 2005.
Finally, Alogoskoufis said he would visit the UK within the context of reinforcing economic relations between the two countries.
During the meeting between Alogoskoufis and Burcuoglu, both officials agreed that Greek-Turkish economic relations had significantly improved in recent years and discussed ways to further improve the region's new economic environment. Alogoskoufis emphasized that it was particularly positive that Turkey, as well as other countries neighboring with Greece, may potentially join the EU thus reinforcing cooperation among all countries in the region.
 Greek gov't drafts legislation on use of bio-fuel
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)The Greek government is at the final stages of drafting a new legislation aimed to allow the import and use of bio-fuel in the domestic market, Development Deputy Minister George Salagoudis said on Thursday.
In a written address to a Panhellenic Congress of Alternative Fuel, organized by the Panhellenic Group of Chemical Engineers (January 27-28), the Greek minister said that the ministry has already formed a series of alternative scenarios aimed to promote the use of bio-fuel and was in continuous contact with all interested parties, refineries, distributors and producers.
Salagoudis said that the ministry in cooperation with Finance ministry was examining ways to reduce tax on bio-fuel for a specific period of time, in the framework of a European Community directive 96/2003. "We have made a lot of work and we expect our policy to be unveiled in the next few months. Then, we must let the market function," he noted.
Salagoudis said that developing a market of energy cultivation to produce bio-fuel would add value to Greek farmlands and farmers and stressed in cooperation with Agricultural ministry the government was examining ways that bio-fuel to be produce by domestic units using domestic raw material.
 Greece eyes joint ventures with Belgian firms in Balkans
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Greek and Belgian companies could form productive joint ventures in third countries, especially the Balkans, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said on Thursday.
Stylianidis was addressing a preparatory meeting of trade and foreign ministry officials for a visit to Belgium by the president of the republic on February 1-3.
 Stocks drop in short-term profit taking
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished lower after six straight sessions with players raking in short-term gains, especially in banks, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,941.43 points, posting a decline of 0.78%. Turnover was 216.7 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.17% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.37% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.99% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 192 to 122 with 43 remaining unchanged.
 Remnants of ancient Trikke sanctuary unearthed in Trikala
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Archaeological remnants and pottery, believed to be from the ancient city of Trikke (or Tricca), were uncovered Wednesday in a quarter of the town of Trikala, Thessaly prefecture -- which stands approximately on the site of the ancient city -- during digging on a private land plot for the construction of a building.
Trikke, also known as Tricca or Trikka, was an important numismatic center of the ancient world, and is also believed to be the site where the cult of Asclepius, the mythological god of healing and medicine and son of the god Apollo and Coronis, originated. Trikke is the site of the oldest Asklepieion -- sanctuary devoted to Asclepius -- while primary centers of worship were also located in Epidaurus, Corinthia, ╩os and Pergamon.
The finds included copper coins, shards of pottery and portions of statuettes dating from the Hellenistic and Roman periods, clay votive tablets with symbols and faces carved in relief identifying with the god Hermes.
According to archaeologists, the ensuing archaeological excavations on the land plot have so far unearthed a section of a sanctuary of ancient Trikke dedicated to the worship of Hermes, the first such sanctuary to be uncovered in western Thessaly.
Also unearthed were sections of the sanctuary's walls, which are made of large plinths of the local green-hued sandstone rock.
 Rio-Antirrio bridge barred to traffic after fire breaks out in supporting cable
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)The Rio-Antirrio bridge was closed to traffic on Thursday at 11:15 a.m. after one of the bridge's supporting cables caught fire.
The fire occurred at the end nearest to Rio, while use of the bridge in both directions was halted by the management company Gefyra SA as a precaution.
The damage was inspected by technicians of the construction consortium Gefyra SA and Public Works ministry experts, who attributed the blaze to a bolt of lightning.
According to sources, the fire was probably set off by lightning striking one of the bridge's cable antennae, while the incident may point to a lightning protection problem for the bridge generally.
Meanwhile, Public Works Minister George Souflias has ordered the ministry's general secretary for jointly funded projects, Athanassios Kouloumbis, to go to Patras for a first-hand briefing regarding the problem.
 Snow disrupts transport, electricity supply in Ioannina
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Heavy snow and low temperatures continued to create problems in the northwestern Greek prefecture of Ioannina on Thursday, with several roads closed, villages cut off and intermittent power cuts.
Main roads became blocked by heavy goods vehicles that came off the road in icy conditions, blocking the flow of traffic, while most villages in the prefecture were only accessible to vehicles equipped with snow chains.
Several areas also had to contend with power cuts lasting several hours, including areas in the centre of the prefecture's capital, and several villages lost their phone connections.
No classes were held at Ioannina University, though exams were held for students that had arrived by noon, and schools remained closed, while all flights out of Ioannina Airport were cancelled, with the exception of one Olympic Airlines flight.
 European Court says Greece violated GMO directive
BRUSSELS 28/1/2005 (ANA/B.Demiris)The European Court of Justice on Thursday decided that Greece had violated EU law regarding the intentional release of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
Specifically, the Court decided that Greece did not adopt the legal, regulatory and administrative provisions necessary for bringing Greek legislation in line with a directive passed by European Parliament and the Council on March 12, 2001 regarding the intentional release of GMOs into the environment and voiding the previous directive 90/220/EC.
The purpose of the 2001 directive is to make member-states' legislation compliant and to protect public health and the environment. The deadline for EU member-states to adopt the necessary provisions in order to comply with the directive was October 17, 2002.
According to the Court, Greece claimed that it has drawn up a draft ministerial decision, which is in the final stages of the review process.
 Greek-Turkish symposium this week on cooperation in 'biopolitics' sector
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)The Biopolitics Organization (BIO) (www.biopolitics.gr <http://www.biopolitics.gr>) is sponsoring a symposium on the issue of "Greek-Turkish Cooperation in Biopolicy" on Friday and Saturday at the Foreign Press Association of Greece's (FPA) Athens headquarters.
The symposium, held under the auspices of Turkish ambassador to Athens Tahsin Burcuoglu, will be chaired by BIO president and founder Agni Vlavianos-Arvanitis and BIO trustee Prof. Rusen Keles of Ankara University.
A host of academics and experts from both countries are scheduled to participate at the event.
 Gov't to unveil Thessaloniki transportation map in February
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Greek Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Thursday said he would announce final plans for a new transportation map of Thessaloniki in late February.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with government and city officials in Thessaloniki, Liapis said a new transportation map would allow the city's citizens to move easier, faster and cheaper.
"We have to upgrade living quality as solving daily problems is our top priority," the Greek minister said. He noted that the government would ignore any political cost. "We will resist all those groups putting hurdles to our plans. First of all, we want to serve citizens," Liapis said.
 Greek-Turkish conference on epigraphy opens in Athens
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Fifteen Greek and eight Turkish experts of epigraphy are participating in the conference "Epigraphic research in Greece and Turkey," which opened in Athens on Thursday. The purpose of the conference is to present recent findings of research conducted in Greece and Turkey.
The conference, which is being organized by the University of Heidelberg in Germany, is considered significant because of the two countries' cooperation and for the information it provides Greek scientists regarding epigraphy originating in regions where Hellenism flourished and which are difficult for Greek archaeologists to access today.
Speaking at the conference, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis said that culture can only serve as a uniting force, citing an old Arabic proverb which says "God tells me to love my parents, logic tells me to love my neighbor."
"Greece and Turkey are neighbors in a region that produces more history than man can consume. This is why we are called upon to find ways to cooperate on all levels of intra-state relations," he said.
 Trio of suspects linked to 50 bank robberies in greater Athens area
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Three local men implicated in almost 50 bank robberies around the greater Athens area since 2002 were in police custody on Thursday after two out three were arrested on Wednesday in southern Athens shortly after allegedly committing another armed robbery.
The trio is charged with making off with a total of 900,000 euros, according to authorities.
Several weapons, fake police IDs and police officers' IDs, bogus driver's licenses and various burglars' tools were also confiscated.
The suspects were identified as Panayiotis Vivilakis, 35, Dimitris Magatas, 33, and Marios Peppas, 31.
 Migrant traffickers arrested in Alexandroupolis
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)A migrant trafficker of Turkish nationality was arrested in Alexandroupoli in Northern Greece on Thursday, while transporting 52 illegal immigrants by truck.
The immigrants had reached Greece by crossing the Evros River by boat with the help of two Iraqi traffickers. Their final destination was Athens where, upon their arrival, they would pay a total of $108,000 to another foreigner.
Later in the day, three other Turkish men were arrested at the border, who were collaborators of the Turkish trafficker, driving ahead of the truck to check for possible police patrols.
The 52 illegal immigrants and their traffickers will be referred to the Alexandroupoli prosecutor.
 Greece to send 45 athletes to 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games
Athens, 28/1/2005 (ANA)Greece will be sending a team of 45 athletes with learning and mental disabilities, along with their volunteer coaches, to the 8th Special Olympics World Winter Games, the president of Special Olympics Hellas Gianna Despotopoulou announced on Thursday.
She said the Greek team will be competing in four events, including Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and speed skating.
The Greek athletes have trained at ski resorts on Mount Parnassus, Mount Olympus, Metsovo and Tria-Pente Pigadia, while the ice-skaters have trained in Bucharest due to a lack of ice-skating facilities in Greece.
The Special Olympics World Winter Games will take place on February 25 until March 6 in Nagano, Japan.
 Cyprus Spokesman: attempts for political gains not helpful
NICOSIA 28/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)Insistence by the Turkish Cypriot side to secure political gains does not help create a climate of cooperation for a political settlement, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides stressed on Thursday.
He also said that the European Union must be aware of this approach and added that the Cyprus government has done all it can to facilitate cooperation and understanding between the island's two communities.
''I believe that every attempt which disguises the desire to obtain political gains is obvious. The EU must understand that,'' the spokesman said.
The spokesman was commenting on statements by Mehmet Ali Talat, self-styled prime minister of the Turkish Cypriot regime, that the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots is not reasonable, claiming that they have given up on their goal to secede.
Talat, speaking after meetings in Brussels, also said that the EU should proceed with a much-discussed regulation on direct trade with the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, a move the Cypriot government does not accept as it involves the use of illegal ports of entry.
''The position of Mr. Talat bears no relevance to reality. The government has put forward measures to promote and facilitate trade between the two communities and to ease exports by the Turkish Cypriots through the legal ports of entry,'' he said.
The spokesman recalled that the government had also proposed the return of the occupied town of Varosha to its legitimate inhabitants in parallel with the opening of the town port, to be operated jointly by the two sides under UN aegis.
Responding to questions, he said government proposals on EU regulations relating to trade refer to special arrangements, primarily on tax matters (VAT) and further facilities for the use of ports under government control by the Turkish Cypriots.
Questioned on attempts to introduce direct flights between the EU and the occupied part of Cyprus, the spokesman said that ''international
conventions and treaties do not allow direct flights to illegal airports on the territory of the Republic.''
Government Spokesman says there is full support from Greece : The Cypriot government considers that the Greek political leadership extends full support to the policies of President Tassos Papadopoulos and his government with regard to the question of Cyprus.
''We believe that the President's meetings in Athens in the past couple of days have shown that there is full support from all the political forces in Greece to his policies on the question of Cyprus and its future course,'' Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides
said here on Thursday, commenting on Papadopoulos' working visit to the Greek capital, which concluded on Wednesday.
Chrysostomides said that apart from statements by Greek Premier Costas Karamanlis, the main opposition leader PASOK president George Papandreou pointed out that Turkey must sign as soon as possible the protocol relating to its customs union with the European Union, thus extending the Ankara Agreement to Cyprus as well.
The spokesman said Papandreou had always advocated that Turkey must afford full recognition to the Republic of Cyprus as soon as possible and that there must be no strict timeframes in any future attempt to find a political settlement.