|Sunday, 17 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-01-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 29, 2005
 Greek, German FMs reaffirm 'excellent level' of bilateral relations, discuss Iraq, Iran, EU finances
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)The excellent level of Greek-German relations was reaffirmed Friday in Thessaloniki by Greece's and Germany's foreign ministers Petros Molyviatis and Joschka Fischer, respectively, following talks they had on the sidelines of events organized by the local Jewish community commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The events for the anniversary began in the northern Greek capital on Thursday afternoon with a memorial service and the laying of wreaths at the Holocaust Monument. An estimated 50,000 Thessaloniki Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Treblinka.
The anniversary also coincides with the establishment of January 27 in Greece as a "Day of Memory" for the Holocaust.
The two ministers discussed bilateral relations, developments in Iraq and Iran, the situation in the Middle East and the Balkans, and EU finances.
"Our discussions were friendly, substantive and very useful. We reviewed bilateral relations, and ascertained their excellent level and our desire for their further expansion," Molyviatis told reporters after the meeting, while Fischer noted the "excellent level of bilateral relations".
To a question on EU finances and disagreement among the '25' on whether to increase or cut back Community funding for the 2007-2013 period, Fischer expressed hope that "a compromise satisfactory to everyone" would be achieved.
He stressed, however, the need for discipline in expenditures.
Questioned on progress in the talks with Iran concerning its nuclear program, Fischer replied that there was "room for optimism", adding that much would depend on Teheran's stance, but declined to elaborate further.
Fischer arrived in Thessaloniki late Thursday night from Berlin, and addressed an event held by the local Jewish community.
The German minister's flight to Thessaloniki was not without mishap, however, as the Luftwaffe's "Challenger" aircraft that departed a military airport in Berlin to bring Fischer to Thessaloniki met with technical problems three minutes into the flight, and the pilot was forced to return and make a forced landing in Berlin, according to sources cited by the German news agency DPA. The sources told DPA that a fire broke out on the plane, for reasons as yet unknown, causing thick smoke. Fisher was switched to a Cessna plane rented on the spot, and departed again for Thessaloniki with a nearly two-hour delay.
A German foreign ministry spokesman simply corroborated the incident.
Addressing Thursday night's event, Fischer said that "Germany feels great shame for the Nazi crimes in Greece: at Distomo, Hortiatis, Kalavryta", and said he felt horror at the thought of the "death trains" leading to Auschwitz.
"We shall never forget these industrialized crimes, committed on German orders and by German hands," the minister said.
He said that a piece of the history and culture of Thessaloniki, a city that was, until then, known as the Jerusalem of the Balkans, had been wiped out, adding that "these crimes will always be a part of our history", and noting that "we have a special responsibility that they will never again be repeated".
 Greek Consulate in New York hosts event commemorating Greek victims of the Holocaust
NEW YORK 29/1/2005 (ANA/P.Panayiotou)The Greek General Consulate in New York on Thursday evening hosted an event in the memory of Greek Jews who were killed during the Holocaust.
The event included the showing of a documentary depicting the criminal acts carried out by the Nazis as well as testimony provided by survivors.
Speakers at the event included Archbishop of America Dimitrios, Greek General Consul Ekaterini Boura, Kavala MP Yiorgos Kalantzis and Hy Genee, President of the Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue.
 PM meets Cypriot main opposition leader for talks on Cyprus problem
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday received Cyprus' main opposition Democratic Rally (DISY) party leader Nicos Anastassiades, who is currently in Athens for talks with Greece's political leadership regarding the Cyprus problem.
After the one-hour meeting, Anastassiades said he had outlined his views and concerns regarding the Cyprus issue, and that his policy aimed at the quickest possible undertaking of initiatives to avoid a division of Cyprus.
"I believe that a common denominator will be found, so that, beginning in Cyprus, we form such opinions and policies that will lead us in the right direction," he added.
He also expressed "categorical disagreement" with a statement by U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, who said that the U.S. saw property transfers involving Turkish Cypriots "as one of the issues to be resolved as part of a comprehensive settlement, through the UN process".
According to the Cypriot party leader, the issue of property transfers was not one for negotiation but a fundamental issue and element of a solution to the Cyprus problem.
"Those measures should be taken that will prevent the illegal appropriation and alienation of Greek-Cypriot properties," he added.
 Greek main opposition leader interviewed by Italy's 'Espresso' magazine
ROME 29/1/2005 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)In an interview with the Italian magazine "Espresso" on Friday, the leader of Greece's main opposition PASOK party George Papandreou commented on the political situation in Greece and its relations with neighboring Turkey.
He praised the choice of Karolos Papoulias as a candidate for Greek president, saying that it accorded with the principles of the Constitution since the Greek political world was united in its high esteem for Papoulias.
Outlining his ideas for "participatory democracy" meanwhile, he stressed that it was a new model of government where citizens were directly involved in making political decisions and in which political power was subject to control by voters.
Regarding Turkey, he expressed support for its European prospects but stressed that its government had to prove that it wanted to live peacefully with its neighbors and had to intensify its efforts to resolve outstanding problems, such as disagreements over the Aegean or the Cyprus issue.
"We want Turkey to show that it has the will to take the necessary steps, in accordance with the criteria of Copenhagen and Helsinki and the resolutions of the United Nations. If it succeeds, this will be a positive turn for the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean," Papandreou said.
He also rejected the description of being "pro-American", saying that he was a friend of the American people but did not agree "with the choices of the U.S. government that run counter to peace and cooperation between peoples".
 New U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to include Greece in European tour
WASHINGTON 29/1/2005 (ANA/T.Ellis)New U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and newly appointed deputy secretary Robert Zoellick intend to pay visits to all NATO member-countries, including Greece, U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said on Friday.
Responding to a relevant question, Boucher said that Greece is one of the most important U.S. allies, adding that in this spirit Rice and Zoellick will prepare their program so as to include a visit to Athens before next spring.
 Papariga meets with DISY's Anastassiades
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Friday received the president of Cyprus' DISY party Nicos Anastassiades, who is continuing a visit here and contacts with Greek leadership.
 Hellenic navy chief on official visit to Turkey
ISTANBUL 29/1/2005 (ANA)The chief of the Hellenic Navy general staff (YEN), Adm. Antonis Antoniadis, began an official visit here on Friday, the first on a bilateral basis and one "of heightened significance", as he said.
Adm. Antoniadis' visit here comes following an invitation towards the chief of the Turkish navy to visit Athens during the 2004 Olympic Games.
"Problems exist ... they will be solved in various manners, but this does not mean that the two countries, the two navies cannot work together and have good relations," he said, adding that the respective navies have traditionally enjoyed good relations and have avoided 'incidents'.
Moreover, he said recent provocations in the Aegean is the result of "misunderstandings" on the local level.
 Top Greek diplomat receives US under Secretary Kennedy
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Foreign ministry general secretary Amb. Georgios Gennimatas on Friday received visiting US under Secretary Laura Kennedy at the ministry, with talks focusing on bilateral issues, as well as developments in the region, including Greek-Turkish relations and the long-standing Cyprus issue.
 ESHEA leadership meets with Minister of the Interior
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Members of the Athens Journalists' Union (ESHEA) Executive Board met with Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Friday to discuss issues regarding the media sector.
According to a statement released by ESHEA after the meeting, issues such as Union-proposed solutions for contract employees, journalists' insurance funds, lack of transparency regarding media ownership, increased unemployment in the sector and others were discussed.
Representing ESHEA at the meeting were Manolis Mathioudakis, President; Nikos Meggrelis, Secretary General; Dimitris Tsalapatis, Treasurer; Yiorgos Stefanis, board member; and Lazaros Belitsis, Legal Adviser.
 CNA senior delegation on official visit to ANA, meeting with FM Molyviatis
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Senior executives of the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) on Friday paid an official visit to the Athens News Agency (ANA), and also met separately with minister of state Theodoros Roussopoulos and foreign minister Petros Molyviatis.
CNA president Aristos Aristotelous and director Themis Themistocleous visited the ANA headquarters in Athens and held talks with ANA general director and chairman of the board George Tambakopoulos, managing director Nikolas Voulelis, and international relations consultant and former general director Andreas Christodoulides.
The two sides expressed their conviction that the excellent cooperation between the two news agencies would continue, and that their bilateral relations would be further reinforced.
The CNA delegation later held separate talks with Roussopoulos and Molyviatis.
The CNA executives will round up their visit on Friday evening, with their attendance at an official dinner in their honor hosted by Communications secretary general Margarita Papada-Heimona and information secretary general Panayotis Livadas.
 SYN President attends World Social Forum
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Alekos Alavanos, President of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party arrived in Porto Alegre, Brasil on Friday to attend the World Social Forum (WSF) being held there from January 26-31.
Alavanos went to Brasil from Argentina, where according to a SYN statement, he met with Greek community associations.
The problems concerning Greeks in Argentina the most, according to the SYN statement, are: difficulties in visiting Greece due to the high exchange rate of the euro against the peso; education, since many children of Greek origin are third generation and have lost contact with the Greek language; maintaining ties with Greece.
On Saturday, Alavanos will be attending a seminar within the context of the WSF, organized by the Espaces Marx Foundation and titled "Social movements, possibilities, institutions, social transformation strategies, experiences and potential in Latin America and Europe."
During his stay at Porto Alegre, he will also be meeting with members of the Greek community there.
 KKE in favor of Nobel Peace prize being awarded to 5 Cubans held by US authorities
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) expressed their support for the 2005 Nobel Peace prize being awarded to five Cubans who are currently being held by US authorities in Miami.
The five individuals are: Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, Ramon Labanino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez, Fernando Gonzalez Llort and Rene Gonzalez Sehweret.
According to the letter signed by KKE MPs and Eurodeputies, the five individuals are imprisoned "because they uncovered efforts that aimed to undermine their country's independence and integrity and they defended their position thus contributing to world peace and security."
 Palestinian leader replies to letter of congratulations from Archbishop Christodoulos
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday sent a letter to Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, in which he thanked the Archbishop for his good wishes following Abbas recent election.
 GSEE decides to stage 3-day protests in March
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)The management of the General Confederation of the Employees of Greece (GSEE) decided on Friday that it will stage a series of protests/demonstrations over the course of three days from March 17-19. The most significant event will be an anti-war protest on March 19, on occasion of the second anniversary since the Iraqi war began.
GSEE also decided that the strike of May 1 (Labour Day), which this year coincides with Easter Sunday, should be held on May 11.
According to GSEE, the major issues concerning workers at present and which should be priorities for unions are insurance/social security, labor relations, working hours and contract employees.
The civil servants' union ADEDY is scheduling similar events. On Thursday, ADEDY representatives will meet with Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos to discuss wages and hiring in the public sector.
 Greece, Russia, Bulgaria move closer to building Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Greek Development Deputy Minister George Salagoudis on Friday hailed the signing of an agreement between Greece, Russia and Bulgaria paving the way for the construction of an oil pipeline between Burgas (Bulgaria) and Alexandroupoli (Greece).
Speaking to reporters in Moscow, the Greek minister said that "we had a difficult cooperation that ended successfully. I think that today's tri-party meeting made a decisive step towards completing the project and achieved two significant goals. First, creating an initiative group by oil companies. These companies met today for the first time and signed a protocol setting TNK-BP as the coordinator of the group. They also set goals and a timetable for their work. The tri-party commission also signed a protocol to meet again on March 9-10 in Moscow to examine the recommendations of the companies' initiative group. After that, the three governments are expected to sign a political memorandum on the project by March 15".
Salagoudis said that except from the three companies registered in the protocol, other companies such as Lukoil, Gazprom, Rosneft and Transneft participated as observers during the first initiative group meeting. "I thin this very positive and showed an expanding group. We believe this expansion will continue to include more oil companies in the consortium to build and operate the pipeline," the Greek minister stressed.
 BSEC transport ministers agree to cultivate closer transport links with EU
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact transport ministers meeting in Thessaloniki on Friday unanimously adopted a joint declaration calling for closer cooperation between the BSEC and the European Union for the extension of the Indo-European Transport Network into the Black Sea region.
They also agreed on developing maritime routes in the Black Sea in order to improve combined transport, with emphasis on facilitating border crossings and reducing administrative hurdles in order to improve commerce-linked transport.
The private sector is called on to play a key role in this procedure by funding the necessary projects.
Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Greek Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis described it as a success and stressed that developing transport links with the Black Sea was a priority for Greece, which would help develop economic, commercial and cultural ties with countries in the region.
Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis said the ministerial meeting had been organized in Thessaloniki through a joint initiative by the Greek foreign ministry, in collaboration with the Greek transport and merchant marine ministries.
"Our aim was to provide a new boost to links between the countries of Southeast Europe and the Black Sea in the transport sector, ultimately aiming at the creation of a single transport area in the wider region that will give rise to new special interest sectors," Stylianidis said.
 Protesting farmers press ahead with roadblocks along national highway
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Protesting farmers on Friday launched an indefinite roadblock of the Thessaloniki-Edessa stretch of the national highway, at the Parlimni exit in Pella prefecture.
According to president of the Federation of Agricultural Associations of Pella Prefecture, Christos Hatziantoniou, the national highway was closed off by tractors at the Paralimni exist at noon on Friday, and would remain blocked off indefinitely.
The Pella Federation representatives were due to meet Friday night, however, to discuss and re-assess the situation.
Meanwhile, farmers in Serres prefecture were meeting to discuss whether to go ahead with an indefinite roadblock they have decided on the Thessaloniki-Promahonas stretch of the national highway, or whether to continue with closure of the highway at regular intervals as they have been doing for the past eight days.
At this time, the national highway at the Petritsi exit was blocked off by tractors since 9:00 a.m., causing queues at the Greek-Bulgarian border of vehicles wishing to pass through the Promahonas border post on both sides.
President of the Federation of Agricultural Associations of Serres Prefecture, Costas Xenitidis, told ANA that the farmers of the region were determined to keep up the roadblock along the national highway leading to the Greek-Bulgarian border indefinitely, in reaction to the "situations" announced by the Cultural Development ministry regarding farmers who were in violation of farm legislation, as the farmers in question denied the charges.
At the same time, he said, the farmers wanted a commitment from Agricultural Development minister Evangelos Bassiakos on the size of "co-responsibility rebates", in order to remove their tractors from the roadblock at the Petritsi exit.
Also, farmers gathered at the Halkidona exit on the Thessaloniki-Edessa stretch of the national highway also blocked the highway for one hour beginning at 1:00 in the afternoon, in a symbolic move.
Further, farmers also set up a roadblock along the national highway at Tempe at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, and said the tractors would remain there for 24 hours, in the initial stage of their mobilization.
Only ambulances and "emergency situations" were allowed to pass through the roadblock.
Parallel roadblocks have been set up along the national highway at Velestino and Drougos, while the turn-offs at Kefalosi and Almyros were also due to be closed off in the afternoon.
Cotton producers in Larissa prefecture were due to meet Saturday morning to decide on whether to continue their roadblocks, and persisted in their demand for the absorption of unsold quantities of cotton that were produced legitimately.
 Hellenic Telecommunications Organization suspends payment of 40.6 mln euros to suppliers
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)A Hellenic Telecommunications Organization's board meeting on Friday decided a temporary suspension of a board decision (dated December 17, 2004) to pay 40.6 million euros to Intracom, Siemens and ANKO for the supply of telecommunications equipment in the period 2003-2004.
A board announcement said the decision was taken following the start of a judiciary investigation in the contracts. Hellenic Telecom's board said it ordered an internal investigation on why contracts covering the afore mentioned period were not signed and on lack of detailed records on technical support services offered by the three companies to the Organization.
Hellenic Telecoms also decided to hire a foreign firm to evaluate the fairness of the contracts' value.
Panagis Vourloumis, the Organization's chairman and chief executive, expressed his full confidence to the work of Greek justice and hoped the procedure to be completed as soon as possible.
 Greek gov't sets up body to deal with textile industry's problems
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday signed a joint ministerial decree calling for the creation of a Permanent Commission and a Permanent Working Group to deal with the problems and examine plans to boost Greek textile and clothing industries' competitiveness.
Economy and Finance ministry's secretary-general G.Mergos will head the Permanent Commission. The Commission will work to plan and recommend policy measures aimed to solve the textile industry's problems along with monitoring their implementation.
 EU releases Greek regional per capita GDP for 2000-2002
BRUSSELS 29/1/2005 (ANA/V Demiris)Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency, on Friday released regional per capital GDP for countries in the bloc.
The three years of data, which include Greece, will be used to assess eligibility for EU funding if the bloc reaches agreement this year on the fiscal outlook for 2007-2013 and on rules for structural funding.
The 2000-2002 data is likely to place the following Greek regions under Target 1 of the structural funds for areas with a per capita GDP below 75% of the EU average, if agreement is reached. (Per capita figures in brackets).
 EU sets Greek tax burden at 38.6% of GDP in 2003
BRUSSELS 29/1/2005 (ANA/M Spinthourakis)The tax burden in Greece in 2003 represented 38.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), according to data for the European Union's 25 members compiled by Eurostat.
In the eurozone, the average for the same period was an overall tax burden (taxes and social security contributions) of 42.2% of GDP; and in the EU-25 of 41.5%, Eurostat said in data released on Friday.
In 2003, the Greek tax burden was lower than 39.8% in 2002.
The report showed that indirect taxation in Greece was relatively higher than the EU's other members, along with social insurance contributions. At the same time, direct taxation was relatively low, the survey said.
 Gov't backs closer business ties with Cyprus
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Friday that he saw room for expansion in business links between Greece and Cyprus.
Addressing a seminar arranged by the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Athens Cypriot Centre, Sioufas said the geographical location of the two countries was strategic in linking the European Union, Middle East and Balkans.
Cyprus' minister of commerce, industry and tourism, Giorgos Lillykas, called on the two countries' governments and businesses to set the scene for bilateral cooperation targeted at markets in the Middle East and Balkans.
 Greek households' debt rose to 50.14 bln euros in Nov. 2004
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Greek households' debt totalled 50.14 billion euros at the end of November 2004, up 28.4 percent from the same month in 2003, the Bank of Greece said on Friday.
The central bank, in its monthly report on credit expansion said Greek households borrowed a total of 11.081 billion euros in consumer and housing loans in the 12-month period from November 2003 to November 2004. It also noted that November's credit expansion growth exceeded October's 27.4-percent rate.
Consumer loans exceeded 16.6 billion euros, up 37.4 percent on a year-on-year basis, slightly down from a 38.1-percent growth rate in October. The Bank of Greece said that despite a slight slowdown in consumer credit, credit card debt was still high in November (23.1 percent), while housing loans rose 24.5 percent to 32.1 billion euros.
Businesses borrowed 4.7 billion euros in the 12-month period, while savings deposits totalled 124.875 billion euros in November from 123.971 in the previous month, an increase of 12.8 percent.
 Greek Food Safety Agency withdraws French mineral water citing unfair competition
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Greece's Food Safety Inspection Agency (EFET) on Friday asked for the withdrawal from the local market of a bottled water under the brand name Contrex - a natural mineral water bottled in France - until changes are made on its label.
EFET said the bottled water's label breached the country's Food and Beverage Code 433/83 and was misleading consumers. EFET also said the brand was practicing unfair competition in the market.
The agency underlined that the product was absolutely safe and that the violation of Greek market regulations referred only to labelling.
 IOC releases Athens 2004 Olympics marketing report
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)The International Olympic Committee (IOC) released its marketing report on the Athens 2004 Olympic Games on Friday.
The report contains all the information and figures linked to the marketing activities of the Athens Games, including sponsorship, broadcasting, ticket sales, merchandising, the torch relay and the image campaign "Celebrate humanity."
"The Athens 2004 Marketing Report heralds the success of Olympic marketing programs and the power of Olympic partnership," IOC President Jacques Rogge emphasized in his introduction to the report.
 Bank strike on Monday
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Bank employees' unions have called a nationwide strike for Monday in demand of a unified pension fund and to express their opposition to the prospect of individual banks' creating such auxiliary funds.
The main employees' union, OTOE, has also threatened to strike every Monday in February.
 Stocks rise in wake of correction
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher after a downward correction in the previous session that followed six straight increases, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,954.06 points, posting a rise of 0.43%. Turnover was 205.5 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.02% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.60% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.12% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 209 to 98 with 50 remaining unchanged.
The general share index gained 1.72% on the week.
 Rio-Antirrio bridge to remain closed indefinitely while experts investigate cause of fire
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)The Rio-Antirrio suspension bridge remained closed for a second day on Friday, with experts brought in by the French-Greek construction consortium unable to say how long it would be barred to traffic. The company experts have been at the bridge since early morning to inspect the damage caused by a fire in one of the supporting cables - which subsequently snapped - and determine its causes. They are expected to announce when the bridge will re-open after meetings over the weekend.
Commenting on Friday, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said that no announcement had yet been made regarding the cause of the incident.
"At this point the causes are being investigated and for this reason the bridge has been closed to traffic. We have been assured by the construction company and experts that looked into the matter that there is no danger for the bridge," he said.
In statements to the Athens News Agency, meanwhile, public works ministry general secretary Thanassis Kouloumbis said experts were still unsure whether the problem was caused by a failure of the bridge's lightning protection system or a bad choice of materials, or possibly a combination of both.
He stressed that the bridge had been closed chiefly as a precaution, not so much because of the loss of a single anchoring cable but in order to carry out safety checks and rule out more serious problems.
The operating company "Gefyra SA" held an emergency meeting late on Thursday night at the former construction site regarding the unexpected problem, with Kouloumbis, the Gefyra consortium's chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Teyssandier, the project's technical director and Gefyra consortium technicians among its participants.
So far, however, operators could only guess at the cause of the fire, with one explanation being that the bridge was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm that passed overhead. If that should prove to be the case, lightning protection experts stressed that it points to a problem in the bridge's lightning protection system.
Another possibility is that the fire was the result of friction caused by strong vibrations due to the adverse weather conditions prevailing at the time. According to sources within the fire department, the fire might have been the result of internal overheating of the cables, one of which broke while the adjacent one suffered damage.
A complaint over general fire safety on the 2.25-kilometre bridge has been filed with the Supreme Court's public prosecutor by ruling New Democracy MP Petros Mandouvalos. The complaint has been referred to the Patras public prosecutors office, which has called Mandouvalos to testify.
The fire in the bridge cable broke out on Thursday morning, and the bridge operators immediately ordered the bridge closed to traffic as a precaution. The cable snapped soon afterward and fell onto the surface of the bridge.
 Police official cites problem of organized migrant smuggling rings
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)The head of police for Attica prefecture (the greater Athens area) on Friday announced that authorities over the past year have broken up seven separate migrant smuggling rings operating in the Greece, arresting 61 suspects and freeing 151 illegal migrants held captive by the rings.
In statements to the press, Greek Police (EL.AS) Brig. Gen. Stefanos Skotis said combatting illegal migration is one of the biggest problems facing the force, while close cooperation with other European countries facing the same problem or serving as final destinations for illegals trying to enter Greece is being expanded.
His comments followed the latest arrest of migrant smugglers in the Athens working class district of Kolonos.
Thousands of mostly Third World nationals attempt to enter Greece, primarily from neighboring Turkey, every year. Tens of thousands of migrants from neighboring Balkan states -- illegal and legal -- entered Greece in the 1990s, a situation that, however, has stabilized over recent years. Additionally, Greece absorbed thousands of ethnic Greeks from the former Soviet Union.
 Three foreign nationals arrested for drug trafficking, 88.5 kilos hashish seized
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Three foreign nationals have been arrested in Thessaloniki on charges of narcotics trafficking, police said Friday.
Police said a search of the apartment shared by the three detainees -- whose names were not released -- turned up 89 packets containing a total 88.439 kilos of hashish.
Police confiscated the hashish as well as 5,210 euros in cash as the product of dealing in narcotic substances.
The investigation was continuing, and the three were due to be taken before a public prosecutor later in the day.
 Package filled with bogus euro notes intercepted at train station
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Two local women, 40 and 36, were arrested at the central train station of Athens this week after allegedly picking up a package containing counterfeit 100- and 50-euro banknotes.
The package had been sent from Bulgaria, while the counterfeit money was hidden within a book, police said.
Authorities did not release the names of the two suspects or the exact amount of counterfeit money.
The incident is the latest involving international counterfeit rings ostensibly based in Bulgaria.
 PM meets with actress A. Synodinou
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received Greek actress Anna Synodinou at Maximos Mansion on Friday evening.
During their one-hour meeting, Karamanlis and Synodinou, who also served as high priestess in past Olympiads and was also an instructor, discussed culture-related issues.
No statements were made after the meeting.
 President Stephanopoulos receives ENAE leadership
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Friday received the board of the Union of Prefecture Authorities of Greece (ENAE) and ENAE President Fofi Gennimata.
Emerging from the meeting, Gennimata said that ENAE had briefed the president on the problems faced by prefecture authorities in general and about special problems arising in the dealings between prefectures and regional authorities, as well as their developmental potential.
 Missing Greek in southeast Asia found alive and well
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)Constantinos Priotakis, who on December 31, 2004, had been added to the list of those missing after the deadly tsunamis struck southeast Asia five days earlier, is alive and well according to the Foreign Ministry which communicated with his family on Friday.
 Gov't approves bid for Euro 2012
Athens, 29/1/2005 (ANA)The Greek government on Friday gave the "green light" for the football federation's (EPO) bid to win the 2012 Euro championship, a more-or-less expected move following last year's stunning upset by the Greek national team at Euro 2004.
Greece will face stiff competition from modern stadium-laden Italy, a joint bid by Croatia and Hungary and a possible joint bid by Poland and Ukraine.
EPO is expected to table its bid on Monday, the deadline for submissions.
European football's governing body, UEFA, will draw up a short-list of three candidates in November before announcing the host country in December 2006.
 Cypriot FM: No tight deadlines for Cyprus settlement
NICOSIA 29/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus' Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou has said Cyprus looks forward to the resumption of negotiations for a settlement of the island's political problem, stressing that the procedure must provide for the achievement of an agreed settlement through negotiations, without tight deadlines or arbitrations.
Iacovou also said Nicosia considers the signing and implementation of the Turkey-EU Customs Union protocol as ''an important step'' that will lead to the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Ankara.
Noting that Cyprus does not oppose Turkey's European prospects, he said no other EU country would benefit more than Cyprus if Turkey truly respected fundamental EU principles and values.
Speaking at the Classic Literature, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies Institute of Tiflida University, Iacovou elaborated on the historic, political and cultural bonds between Cyprus and Georgia.
''Although we consider that relations between Georgia and Cyprus are on a very good level, we believe that there is ample of room for their improvement, enlargement and reinforcement, especially after Cyprus' accession to the EU,'' he said, adding that he looks forward to financial cooperation, using Cyprus' experience and potentials, and to the signing of pending bilateral agreements between the two countries.
Iacovou said Cyprus problem has serious similarities with that of Alexandretta, which Turkey, using the Turkish-speaking people in the region, incorporated in the Turkish Republic.
''The Cyprus government's efforts, as well as our proposals in the framework of the UN Secretary General's good offices mission, always aimed at achieving a decent and viable compromise, that will secure the human rights of all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and will consolidate the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of our country, in a way that will not oppose international law principles and will be, after Cyprus' accession to the EU, consistent with the acquis communautaire and the EU fundamental principles,'' he said.
The minister said ''we remain committed to the achievement of a comprehensive, viable and functional settlement of the Cyprus problem, the soonest possible, that will reunite our country and its people.''
''We look forward to the creation of circumstances that will allow the resumption of the negotiating procedure and to this end we have made clear that this procedure must provide for the achievement of a mutually agreed settlement through negotiations, without tight deadlines or arbitrations,'' he said.
He expressed hope that Cyprus' accession to the EU in combination with Turkey's European aspirations will substantially facilitate prospects for a Cyprus settlement.
''Securing this prospect was one of the reasons that the Republic of Cyprus gave its consent to the attribution of a date to Turkey to begin its accession negotiations with the EU, despite its reservations regarding the serious deficiencies as regards Turkey's compliance with the Copenhagen criteria and the fulfillment of its obligations towards the EU and its member states,'' he said.
As regards Turkey's EU course, Iacovou noted that Ankara has been engaged in signing the Protocol of Adjustment to the Ankara agreement to extend its customs union with the EU, taking into consideration the new member states' accession, including that of the Republic of Cyprus.
''We consider the signing and the implementation of the protocol as an important step that will lead to the concrete recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey and to the gradual normalization of the two countries' relations,'' he noted.
 US: no recognition policy change on Cyprus
WASHINGTON 29/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)US policy of recognizing the legal government of the Republic of Cyprus has not changed and Washington has no intention to undermine the legal sovereignty of the Republic, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher has said.
He also said that Washington believes that property issues need to be settled in the context of a final agreement on the question of Cyprus.
''We have always felt that the questions of property are duly and appropriately handled in the negotiation. There's certainly many questions of property that are dealt with in the Annan plan and we support the Annan plan,'' Boucher said, responding to questions.
''Property issues are, of course, important, but as I said before, they need to be dealt with in the context of a final agreement,'' he added.
Responding to questions on a possible shift in US policy with regard to the recognition of the government of Cyprus, Boucher stressed that ''we recognize the government of the Republic of Cyprus. We are not changing that question of recognition, nor have we been asked to change that question -- that issue of recognition.''
''The steps that we intend to take to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, steps that we have taken and are taking, do not in any way change that recognition policy,'' he added.
Responding to press remarks, Boucher noted that this was what Assistant Secretary Paul Kelly said in a letter to a number of members of the US Congress.
''That is entirely consistent with what I have told to you here 1,001 times and what we will tell you tomorrow,'' he added.
Kelly, Assistant Secretary for legislative affairs, said in his letter that ''there has been no change in our policy of recognizing the Republic of Cyprus as the government of Cyprus, nor is there any intent to undermine the legitimate and legal sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.''
Kelly's letter was in response to a letter regarding the illegal airports in Turkish occupied Cyprus. Recent reports have suggested that efforts are underway from the US to introduce direct flights to and from these airports, which have been declared illegal ports of entry following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
Kelly referred to a visit by two US Transportation Security Administration staff to the illegal airport in the Turkish occupied village of Tymbou in October last year. He said it was "a liaison visit to conduct a general review of the aviation security and was fully consistent with TSA's mandate to promote international aviation security. It was not an inspection."
He explained that "the TSA visit was made at State Department behest and funding."
Kelly assured that "the US will not take any action contrary to international civil aviation law, including our obligations under the Chicago Convention."
He added that "our efforts are directed solely at helping to reach a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem, so that all Cypriots can live together peacefully on a reunified island."
 UNFICYP to reduce numbers
NICOSIA 29/1/2005 (CNA/ANA)UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) personnel will begin leaving the island, following a review of the force, and by late March or early April this year it will be reduced to 860 from the current 1,230 UNFICYP spokesman Brian Kelly told CAN on Friday.
The reduction in numbers is part of the troop cuts as these were put forward by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last September. The Security Council has agreed to these proposals.
Kelly said that there would be fewer but more mobile troops and said that a number of manned observation posts will no longer be in use.