|Thursday, 17 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-08
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 8, 2005
 IMF praises growth in Greek economy over recent years, gov't fiscal audit; cites concerns over public finances, future prospects
Washington, 8/2/2005 (ANA)The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) executive directors on Monday backed up a recent appraisal by the IMF's staff analysts for the Greek economy, which cited "past reforms, financial market deregulation, interest rate declines associated with euro adoption as well as a stimulus from Olympics spending" as responsible for the strong growth in the economy over recent years.
However, a press release from the executive board meeting, held over the weekend, noted that "widening economic imbalances threaten future growth prospects. The public finances have deteriorated sharply - only in part because of the Olympics - and the high debt-GDP ratio has fallen very little, with recent data revisions revealing that the fiscal position is much worse than earlier thought," a reference to the recent fiscal audit completed by the government.
Concerning the controversial fiscal audit undertaken by the Karamanlis government and sharply attacked by the main opposition PASOK party, the IMF stressed that "Directors welcomed the initiative by the new government to launch a fiscal audit immediately upon taking office," while adding that the IMF "regretted the significant past understatements of the deficit and public debt."
The Washington D.C.-based international organization warned that lack of accurate fiscal data "has hindered surveillance " but supported "the ongoing efforts of the authorities, working with Eurostat, to improve reporting, and the decision to compile financing-side fiscal data beginning in 2005."
Among others, the IMF executive directors said the key priorities for Greek officials are a strong and sustained fiscal consolidation effort "along with further improvements in fiscal transparency, and structural reforms to put in place the conditions for sustained increases in output and living standards."
 Papoulias all but assured of presidential chair during Tuesday vote in Parliament
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)The 300-member Greek Parliament convenes on Tuesday with the sole agenda item being the election of a new president of the republic, as the only declared candidate for the post, former foreign minister Karolos Papoulias, is all but assured as the next head of state.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis nominated Papoulias, a one-time top cadre with the PASOK party, late last year, while main opposition leader and PASOK president George Papandreou immediately voiced his support for the pick.
The maximum number of votes by deputies from ruling New Democracy and main opposition PASOK that Papoulias can receive is 282, more than enough to send him to the presidential mansion as the successor to Kostis Stephanopoulos. Any tally of more than 269 - the number received by Stephanopoulos on Feb. 8, 2000 out of 298 MPs present - will be a record.
Stephanopoulos' second five-year term concludes on March 11, 2005.
Conversely, Parliament's two smaller parties, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos), are expected to propose another candidate. Nonetheless, deputies of those two parties are unlikely to vote for Papoulias. Two hundred roll call votes during a first round are necessary to elect a president of the republic.
If successful, Papoulias will be the sixth president of the republic since the restoration of democracy in 1974, having been preceded by Mihalis Stasinopoulos, Constantinos Tsatsos, Constantine Karamanlis, Christos Sartzetakis and Stephanopoulos.
 FM Molyviatis meets with UN Special Rep in Kosovo
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis discussed the latest developments in Kosovo and the emerging prospects in the greater region during a meeting he had with UN Special Representative in Kosovo Soeren Jessen Peterssen on Monday.
After the meeting, Molyviatis expressed Greece's strong interest in Kosovo's future, which constitutes a serious pending issue according to the minister, and emphasized that Greece will continue to work for peace and stability in the region as well as its integration in European structures.
On his part, Peterssen said that he takes into account Greece's contribution to help put Kosovo on the EU agenda, and also referred to the role Athens could play as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council during the next two years.
Petersen predicted that 2005 would be an interesting year regarding the regime that will be established in Kosovo and stressed the importance of reinstating normal living conditions for the minorities in the region. He said that all sides - including Serbs from Kosovo as well as from Belgrade - must participate in the dialogue and expressed hope that a solution could be reached during the latter half of 2005.
Papandreou receives UN special rep for Kosovo Jessen-Peterssen: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday met with the UN's Representative for Kosovo and head of the UN Mission in Kosovo, Soeren Jessen-Peterssen.
Afterwards, the Danish-born Jessen-Peterssen told reporters he discussed all of the latest developments affecting the region with Papandreou, Greece's former foreign minister.
 Government on US Secretary of State's visit to Turkey
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday said that a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Turkey and four European countries was made in order to come into contact with the countries with the highest level of involvement in Iraq.
He was responding to questions on why Rice's tour had not included a stop in Greece.
He also noted that Greece's positions will be presented at an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers that will take place in Brussels on Wednesday.
Concerning a statement by Rice that an end to the isolation of Turkish-Cypriots was "under consideration", Antonaros said that the Greek government was in favor of "adhering to international legality on Cyprus".
 Karamanlis meets with Macedonia-Thrace minister
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday received Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis at his office for talks focusing mostly on the ministry's role in expanding relations in the SE Balkans.
According to Tsiartsionis, the ministry's new role is to strategically coordinate all the actions for intra-state and inter-state development in the region.
Moreover, the minister expressed his confidence that neighboring Bulgaria will enter the European Union in 2007, something he said has translated into a challenge for properly exploiting the development.
 Government on corruption problems within the Church
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday said that the government supported the Church's efforts to clear up internal corruption problems and would take all action needed on a legislative level.
"Phenomena that damage the institutions of society must be wiped out using transparent processes, so that the Greek public watching the events in surprise has a sense of justice and can regain confidence in the institutions," he said.
He said the government had not yet received the Church's proposals for legislative reforms to clean up the Church, decided on by the Permanent Holy Synod last week, but reiterated that the government would examine these and reply once it received them.
Commenting on a series of measures announced last week by Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras, Antonaros stressed that these were directed mainly at transparency within the justice system and did not concern issues related to the Church.
 PASOK president meets with EU Commissioner for the Environment
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou met with European Commissioner responsible for the Environment Stavros Dimas at PASOK headquarters on Monday. During the meeting, Dimas briefed Papandreou on issues that fall under his jurisdiction. The two officials discussed environmental issues specific to Greece, such as waste, dumping grounds, biodiversity and environmental protection.
Dimas called the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, which begins on February 16, "a most important development."
Asked how national law relates to EU law, on occasion of the 'primary shareholder' law that was recently passed, Dimas replied: "Every nation applies its national constitution, which is the ultimate national law, but if a case is referred to the European Court of Justice then that court will apply European law. The new law has not yet been called into question, perhaps this will happen in the near future."
Asked to comment on recent developments in the Greek Church and the Greek justice system, Dimas said that as a Greek citizen he is saddened by all that has been going on, but expressed hope that the problems plaguing the two institutions will soon be weeded out permanently.
 Main opposition leader addresses party gathering marking his first year as PASOK president
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) President George Papandreou on Monday evening addressed a party gathering marking his first year as party president.
In his speech, Papandreou attacked the government on all fronts, economic, foreign policy, fight against corruption, saying that ''despite all pre-election promises, when they came to power the masks have fallen and nothing has changed.''
Referring to the Cyprus issue, the PASOK leader said that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis ''in order to avoid political costs has avoided the issue itself. But the problem remains under harder conditions for Greece."
He charged that Greece's international position has weakened, the prestige of the country in the international and European arenas has decreased, the national interests were at stake in a climate of introversion and absence of strategy, while ruling New Democracy party ''after Cyprus' EU accession takes out of the European framework all our national issues, bringing them on a bilateral level''.
 SYN calls for referendum on EU constitution
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party is pushing forward with its proposal that a substantial debate regarding the European Constitution be held before it is ratified by Parliament. SYN President Alekos Alavanos on Monday announced that a referendum within his party would be held on the issue.
Speaking at a press conference, in the capacity of President of SYRIZA's (Coalition of the Radical Left) Parliamentary Group, Alavanos strongly criticized main opposition PASOK and ruling New Democracy, reiterating his party's demand that a referendum for the ratification of the European constitution be held.
"We cannot accept ultimatums. In other words, [we cannot accept] that in March 2005 Parliament will announce its approval, when other member-states have until the end of 2006 to decide whether they will accept or reject the referendum, when the UK has decided to hold a referendum in the summer of 2006. Why [is the decision in Greece to be made] so rushed, on the sly, without the participation of society and the country's citizens," he said.
Speaking earlier in the day, on the issue of Tuesday's presidential elections, Alavanos reiterated that SYN would not vote for Karolos Papoulias as President of the Hellenic Republic. He referred to a related decision made by his party's Central Committee and said that "we will refuse our vote to the candidate jointly nominated by New Democracy and PASOK. We refuse, as we did on the election law, as we're doing here, as we do in basic political choices to legitimize bipartisanship and allow the Left to be the political 'tail-end.'"
 Austrian EU Commissioner reminds the prerequisites for start of Turkey's accession talks with the EU
Vienna, 8/2/2005 (ANA/D.Dimitrakoudis)Austrian EU Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, responsible for external relations and policy of European good-neighborliness, has stated that "the basic prerequisite" for the start of Turkey's accession talks with the European Union is Ankara's obligation to extend the Customs Union with Cyprus as well.
She made the statements during a recent meeting in Vienna with representatives of the Austrian press at which a review was made of the first 100 days since the assumption of the new term of the European Commission.
As a further prerequisite for the start of these negotiations, Ferrero-Waldner stressed the need for the strengthening of democracy in Turkey and the protection of human rights, at the same time noting that if these prerequisites are not met, the procedure for the start of accession talks with Turkey could stop at any moment.
During the same meeting with the representatives of the Austrian mass media, the Austrian Commissioner particularly praised Greek Commissioner Stavros Dimas for the immediate activation on his part of all the EU protection policy mechanisms following the catastrophic earthquake which struck Southeast Asia on December 26.
Ferrero-Waldner is currently on a visit to the Middle East.
 Courtesy visits to transport minister by US, UK ambassadors
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Monday held successive meetings with the new US and British ambassadors to Greece, Charles Ries and Simon Gass, respectively.
No statements were made afterwards.
 PM extends thanks to Greek citizens for their support in family's grief
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday conveyed the thanks of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his family "to all the Greek citizens who have in every way stood by them in their grief for the loss of his father Alekos Karamanlis".
 Turkish warplanes violate Greece's national air space, infringe Athens FIR
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)The number of Turkish warplanes which entered the Aegean air space without submitting flight plans increased on Monday.
According to press reports, eleven formations of Turkish warplanes made an equal number of infringements of the air traffic regulations of the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) which developed into ten violations of Greece's national air space in various regions of the Aegean.
In all cases the 32 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by corresponding Greek fighter jets while in two cases the procedure of interception developed into a mock dog-fight.
It was reported that four of the Turkish aircraft were armed while two were photographic Phantoms.
 Sioufas presents development ministry's report on Lisbon Strategy
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Greece is in second-to-last place among the 15 EU member-states regarding the Lisbon Strategy criteria, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas pointed out on Monday as he presented the ministry's report on the Lisbon Strategy and how to achieve its related goals.
Sioufas emphasized that "the time has come to move from theory to practice," indicating that the basic tools with which to boost Greek competitiveness will be the new tax and development laws, as well as the new system for granting commercial licenses. He also said that meeting the Lisbon Strategy goals is an economic and social necessity and that efforts to meet these goals would be continuous.
The Lisbon Strategy was formulated during the EU Summit meeting in Portugal in 2000 and aimed at making the EU economy the most competitive by 2010. However, an interim evaluation which was carried out by former Dutch Minister and Chairman of the High Level Group for the Lisbon Strategy Wim Kok in 2004, revealed that achieving this goal would prove difficult for the EU. For Greece, matters are more difficult, since the country lags behind in all areas.
The report which Sioufas presented on Monday includes proposals for structural reform, such as: liberalization of energy, transport and telecommunications markets; implementation of healthy fiscal policies; reinforcing the regions; promoting research, technology, innovation; reinforcing entrepreneurship; etc.
The report also points out that Greece's competitiveness is not only low, but is also on a steady decline. According to a study conducted by the International Institute for Management Development, Greece ranked 31 in the world in 2001, 42nd in 2003, and 44th in 2004. Additionally, compared with other EU member-states, Greece has the poorest performance in competitive terms from 1996-2003.
The 2004 Kok Report stressed that the main shortcomings of the Greek economy were high debt, long-standing unemployment, unemployment among women, delays in pension reform, lack of competitiveness in the energy market and delays in adopting EU directives.
The Lisbon Strategy will be re-examined during the upcoming EU Summit meeting which will be held in March. Greece plans on formulating a National Action Plan, for which the Prime Minister's economic office will be responsible for coordinating its implementation.
In other related news, Sioufas met with Swedish Ambassador to Greece Marten Grunditz and President of Ericsson Hellas Bill Zikou. Zikou briefed the minister on his company's activities which include human resources training, research and technology, transfer of know-how, providing support to software manufacturers, and absorption of EU funds in the IT sector.
 European Commission approves of Greek development law
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)The European Commission, according to a statement issued by the Greek Finance Ministry on Monday, approved of development law 3299/2004, which it considers compatible with the European Constitution.
Following the go-ahead by the Commission, the ministry will be issuing a series of decisions so that submission of investment plans can begin and the development law can start being implemented.
Finally, the ministry also pointed out that the law was approved by the European Commission in less than two months.
 DZ Bank buys 10% share of local bank set up by 14 cooperatives banks
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Germany-based DZ Bank has purchased a 10-percent share of Panellinia Bank, a financial institution jointly established three years ago in Greece by the 14 cooperative banking groups operating around the country.
Although the sale price was not announced at a press conference in Athens on Monday, top officials from the Greek bank noted that Panellinia's share capital was raised by 8.5 million euros after the deal. Panellinia operates 18 branches in Greece.
 Alogoskoufis visits General Secretariat of Information Systems
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday visited the General Secretariat of Information Systems where he was briefed by General Secretary Dimosthenis Anagnostopoulos and other officials on its work and programming. The minister visited the data centers and the working areas of the Secretariat.
"The Economy Ministry has set as its primary aim the upgrading of the General Secretariat of Information systems. A very significant job has already started in order to make up for the delays which have existed in the past. An upgrading of all the systems is already being made," Alogoskoufis said.
The Economy Minister added:" Our aim is to proceed even further in the utilization of all the information data, for more cross-checks of data to be made and more objective checks, so that we can have a more fair taxation system, to broaden the taxation basis and to confront tax evasion. The programs of the General Secretariat of Information Systems, which have the full support of the leadership of the Economy and Finance Ministry, aim for there to be better contact between the state and the taxpayer, but also a more fair and objective taxation system."
 Tourism minister meets with country's prefects regarding development of Greek tourism
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Dimitris Avramopoulos, Minister of Tourism Development met with the country's prefects on Monday to discuss coordination of actions in order to help promote and develop Greek tourism.
Specifically, tourism development programs in the regions, advertising, communication strategy and cooperation between the regions and the ministry were the main issues discussed during the meeting. The meeting was the first to be held since the establishment of a special committee, which comprises the ministry's leadership and the leadership of the National Tourism Organization (EOT), as well as board members of the Union of Prefectures of Greece (ENAE) and the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE).
Avramopoulos stressed tourism's importance in the balanced development of the regions and emphasized that "a prerequisite for the successful implementation of the new strategy in tourism on a national level is the joint effort between central and local government." He added that in the past "there had never been a concerted and coordinated policy for tourism; rather improvisation and sloppiness prevailed."
 The City of Athens to establish a Tourism and Economic Development Agency
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis on Monday submitted a proposal before City Council to establish a tourism development agency in collaboration with the private sector, as part of efforts to raise the Greek capital's profile as a year-round tourist destination.
According to a press release, the non-profit Athens Tourism and Economic Development Agency will comprise the City of Athens, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Hellenic Hoteliers Chamber, the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises, the Hellenic Association of Tourist and Travel Agencies, and the Hellenic Retailers Association.
The municipality considers support and promotion of Athens' tourism industry vital as the sector has the potential to stimulate the city's wider economic development.
At Monday's City Council meeting, Mayor Bakoyannis presented the plans which account for the state of tourism in Athens, the policies and achievements of other European cities and Olympic host cities, as well as international tourism trends.
The agency, which is in its formative stages, will act as a platform of cooperation between all relevant agencies and organizations in the Attica region, whose aims will be jointly promoted.
Of a total 350,000 euros in start-up capital, the municipality has contributed 300,000 euros.
"Athens' tourism industry has remained static for a long period of time. This is impacting negatively on the city's economy, considering the important role tourism plays in business development and the competitiveness of the economy," Mayor Bakoyannis told the City Council.
"The Olympic Games brought Athens to the forefront of international attention, offering the city a unique promotional opportunity and the potential to boost development. The city's new infrastructure and its successful hosting of the Games conveyed to the world the impression that Athens is a capital of world-class standards. Now that Athens is equipped with modern facilities and services, there is great scope for development in the post-Olympic period.
"We believe that these prospects could become reality through the planning and implementation of a development policy focused on supporting and promoting the city's tourism sector," she added.
 Serbian President B. Tadic to participate in Greek-Serbian investments conference in Athens
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)With the participation of Serbian President Boris Tadic, the official starting dinner will take place in Athens on Tuesday night of the conference "Greece, Serbia-Montenegro, Cooperation Initiative" which aims at attracting Greek investments in Serbia-Montenegro.
The conference, which is held under the auspices of the governments of both the countries, is being held with the participation, apart from the president of Serbia, of four Serbian ministers and five deputy ministers (from the Greek side Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis, Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis and other deputy ministers) as well as with the participation of many economic agencies and organizations from both sides.
It is expected that during the conference a protocol of cooperation will be signed between the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia.
 84.9 mobile telephony subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in Greece in 2002
BRUSSELS, 8/2/2005 (ANA/V.Demiris)Subscriptions of mobile telephony in Greece in 2002 came to 84.9 per 100 inhabitants, marking a 17 per cent increase compared to 2001.
Over the past years the development of mobile telephony in Greece, but also in the other European Union member-states, is spectacular given that in 1995 the subscriptions of mobile telephony in Greece was just 2.6 per 100 inhabitants.
The information comes from a report released in Brussels on Monday by Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Commission, on mobile telephony in the EU of the "25".
In 2003, the highest numbers of mobile phone subscriptions per inhabitant were in Luxembourg, Sweden and Italy.
Luxembourg (120 per 100 inhabitants), Sweden (98), Italy (96) and the Czech Republic (95) recorded the highest numbers of mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in 2003. The lowest numbers of mobile phone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants were recorded in Poland (46), Latvia (52) and Lithuania (62).
There is no data on Greece for 2003.
In the "25", the subscriptions of mobile telephony per 100 inhabitants came to 79.9 in 2003, marking an 8.6 per cent increase compared to 2002. In 1995, these subscriptions were just 4,9 per 100 inhabitants.
 Greek stocks advance towards 3,000-level in Monday trading
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Greek stocks ended the first session of the week on an upbeat note on Monday, as the composite index stayed above 2,900-level to finish at 2,941.37 at the Athens Stock Exchange.
The index rose 1.04 percent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.89 percent; the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index jumped 0.69 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.81 percent up.
Only foods & beverages and Investments sectors suffered minor losses (0.16 percent and 0.12 percent, respectively), while the Textiles sector scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.22 percent), followed by Base Metals - Cement, with a 2.9-percent increase.
Turnover was a brisk 213.4 million euros.
In the broader market advancers led decliners by 234 to 71 with another 49 issues unchanged.
Equity Index Futures:
Foreign Exchange Rates: Monday
U.S. dollar 1.306
 Second 'ELA' terrorism trial begins with six defendants
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)Six defendants, four of whom have already been convicted on terrorism-related charges linked to the ultra-leftist terror band "ELA", returned to the dock on Monday after an appeals court ruled that a series of attacks on government buildings were subject to a 20-year statute of limitations and not the customary 15-year limit.
Three of the four convicted "ELA" terrorists are imprisoned, while the fourth, Christos Tsigaridas, was freed from jail last month due to health reasons, namely, an acute heart condition. Tsigaridas, 64, an engineer by training that resided in an exclusive "embassy row" neighborhood (Paleo Psychico) prior to his arrest, had assumed "political responsibility" for the urban guerrilla band's actions prior to the last trial.
The other defendants include Costas Agapiou, Aggeletos Kanas and Irene Athanasaki, all of whom are serving a maximum 25-year jail term after their convictions. The two other defendants are Mihalis Kassimis and Yiannis Serifis, individuals tried in previous terrorism-related trials and acquitted.
The latter is charged with complicity in the 1994 bombing of a riot police bus in Athens that left one high-ranking police offer dead.
ELA is a Greek-language acronym that stands for "Revolutionary Popular Struggle".
 Court reportedly rules in favor of release for MS-suffering 'N17' terrorist
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)One of the nearly two dozen individuals convicted on terrorism charges related to the deadly "November 17" urban terror band, Pavlos Serifis, will reportedly be freed due to health reasons.
According to reports, a five-member appeals court accepted a motion by the convicted terrorist's attorney. Pavlos Serifis, 48, suffers from multiple sclerosis.
A 6,000-euro bond must be posted, while Serifis -- accused of being a founding member of the once-elusive ultra-leftist group who subsequently faded from its activities -- will not be allowed to travel outside Attica prefecture. He will also be obliged to appear twice a month at a police precinct.
 Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly inaugurated in Nafplio
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)A new, permanent forum for Mediterranean parliaments was inaugurated in Nafplio on Monday, following the initiative of the 4th Conference for security and cooperation in the Mediterranean that is being hosted in the Peloponnese city by Greek Parliament.
The Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly is to serve as the forum for parliaments of Mediterranean countries to be able to discuss issues such as security, cooperation, as well as issues related to culture, politics and the environment. Five-member groups from each of the 25 member states - regardless of size or economic power - will participate in the assembly, while special care was taken to ensure that both sexes are represented equally. Two larger groups will be formed - North and South - to ensure that there is a balance between European Mediterranean countries and African Mediterranean countries. Decisions will be made based on an 80% majority.
"The main idea is to have a link among peoples - not rifts," Rudy Salles, President of the Conference said.
 Two concerts at the Athens Concert Hall dedicated to Theodorakis
Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)The Athens Concert Hall wishes Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis "Happy Birthday" by dedicating two concerts to him in February, on occasion of his 80th birthday.
The first concert will be held on February 9 with Christophoros Staboglis singing songs written by Theodorakis. Staboglis will be accompanied by pianist Stavros Lantsias.
Maria Farantouri will be singing older as well as more recent songs by Theodorakis at the second concert on February 12. She will be accompanied by the Orchestra of Colours, with Miltos Logiadis as conductor.
 Hungary supports Cyprus' efforts to reunify the island
BUDAPEST, 8/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)Hungarian President Ferenc Madl praised on Monday the efforts made by the Republic of Cyprus to reunify the island and stressed that his country supports these efforts.
Madl also said that Hungary supports Turkey's European bid but noted that Ankara has to meet the conditions set by the December 2004
European Council, ''one of which is the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey''.
The Hungarian president was speaking at a press conference after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Tassos Papadopoulos, who is paying a three-day official visit to Hungary.
In statements to the press, President Papadopoulos said that during the talks he explained Cyprus' positions regarding the Cyprus issue and stressed that Cyprus' aim is a functional and viable solution. He also expressed hope that the European Union would undertake a more active role regarding the Cyprus problem.
''We hope for a more active involvement on behalf of the EU in the efforts to solve the Cyprus issue, which we hope will be undertaken by the United Nations'', he said.
The Cypriot president also thanked Hungary ''for the help it offered us during the December EU Council''.
Speaking to the press after the talks, Mandl stressed that ''Hungary supports the efforts made by the Republic of Cyprus to restore the unity on the island''.
Referring to EU enlargement, he said Hungary first of all supports an enlargement with Bulgaria and Romania.
Invited to say why he did not make any reference to Turkey, Madl said that his country ''applauded the European perspective of Turkey'' but noted that, ''as it was stated at the European Council (December 2004), this willingness on behalf of the EU does not mean any commitment for the accession of Turkey to the Union yet, because Turkey has to comply with a number of conditions set by the EU and one of them is the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus''.
''There are more conditions'', he added, and clarified that ''this is not a stance of prejudice against Turkey's accession''.
President Papadopoulos was invited to comment on information that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has undertaken an initiative for a solution of the Cyprus issue.
The Cypriot president said he was not aware of such an initiative, noting though that Erdogan undertook an initiative towards the United Nations that they should stick by the solution plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
''Annan expresses the view that there are now no prospects for a resumption of the dialogue but my opinion is to cooperate so that, if possible, those circumstances are created, for such a resumption'', he said.
President Papadopoulos also noted that when Turkey says it makes one step forward, he understands that it takes one step forward and then two steps back.
''An example for this is the continuous and organized arrival of Turkish settlers in Cyprus and the selling of Greek Cypriot property to foreigners'', he said.
President Papadopoulos said he would support Hungary's bid to head the EU Centre for Immigration Control.
Both presidents noted that during their talks they ascertained the very good relations both countries share in the political and economic sectors, and said that being EU member states would help enhance their bilateral relations.
Regarding trade relations, Madl said that although they show an increase, there should be more efforts in the future for enhancing the investment and tourism sectors.
''We will prepare a plan for the development of those activities'', the Hungarian President said.
The two Presidents also discussed EU budgetary issues for the period from 2007 to 2013.
Later on, President Papadopoulos met with Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly Slizi Katalin. No statements were made after the meeting.
Meeting with Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany: Hungary supports the peaceful procedure to reunite Cyprus as well as the common effort of Cyprus and Europe for Turkey to sign the protocol extending its customs union agreement with the EU, thus de facto recognizing the Republic of Cyprus, Hungary's Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany said on Monday, after talks with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.
Speaking through an interpreter, Gyurcsany said it would be a long time before a solution was found, by which the Turkish troops would withdraw from the island, but noted that the aim in the near future should be to secure the international legal recognition of the Republic of Cyprus.
In his statements, President Papadopoulos extended an invitation to Gyurcsany to visit Cyprus, which was accepted.
He also said that the Greek Cypriot side is ready for talks at any moment the UN Secretary General believed there was ground for talks that would lead to a constructive solution.
Speaking after the talks which included delegations from both sides, the Hungarian prime minister said they examined the current European affairs and the financial prospects from 2007 to 2013, noting that both countries believe ''it is in our interests to see not a reduction but an increase in the contributions''.
He also said his country believes in the principle that wants those countries which are the less rich to receive more EU funds.
Gyurcsany said he and Papadopoulos agreed on the need to increase cohesion funds from the resources of the enlarged Europe.
The Hungarian prime minister thanked the president for supporting the establishment of the EU Immigration Control Centre in Budapest.
He also said they reviewed the situation following the April 2004 referenda in Cyprus on the UN Secretary General's plan for a solution to the division of Cyprus, as well as the situation created following Turkey being given a date to start accession negotiations in October 2005.
''Hungary believes in the peaceful procedure of reuniting Cyprus and we also support the common effort of Cyprus and Europe so that before the beginning of the accession negotiations Turkey will extend the Ankara agreement of 1963 for all ten new member states. In this way it will de facto recognize the Republic of Cyprus'', he added.
President Papadopoulos said he was greatly satisfied with Gyurcsany accepting the invitation to visit Cyprus.
He also thanked Hungary because as a matter of principle it supports the fundamental positions of the Republic of Cyprus regarding the island's division.
President Papadopoulos referred to the Hungarian contingent of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, noting ''its professionalism and objectivity in carrying out its duties''.
The Cypriot President said the Greek Cypriot side was ready to start accession negotiations at any moment the UN Secretary General believes there is ground for talks that would lead to a constructive solution.
''Īn our side our position is we are ready for talks any time the Secretary General will consider the circumstances for talks exist to lead to a constructive solution. We believe that these preconditions do not exist now and we have asked the Secretary General to work together to create the preconditions to allow the talks to commence as soon as everyone realizes the Annan Plan needs substantial changes'', he added.
To a question by CNA whether the presence of Turkish troops on the island is compatible with Turkey's EU accession course, the Hungarian
Prime minister said he believes that all EU member states should not just have a mutual peaceful intention and international legal recognition but also a powerful, political, economic, cultural and military alliance.
''If we want to be realistic we should note that there will be a long time until a solution is found in which these troops will leave, disappear. We therefore have fewer things in our short-term goal, to secure the international legal recognition of Cyprus by Turkey, which is an important and unavoidable precondition'', he added.
''What you have asked in your question will be obviously done not in the beginning but towards the end of the procedure. However, I would like to hope that the end is very near'', he added.
Asked if he believes that the recognition of Cyprus should have been secured before granting Turkey a date, Gyurcsany said that both President Papadopoulos and Hungary wanted to achieve more at the 2004 December European Council.
President Papadopoulos also received this afternoon President of the Committee on European Integration Affairs Matyas Eorsi and Hungary's President at the Interparliamentary Union Gabor Hars and members of the Hungarian-Greek IPU Friendship Group. On Tuesday, the Cypriot President will lay a wreath at the Heroes Square and meet Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky who will hand him the key to the city.
Before leaving for Cyprus via Athens, President Papadopoulos will meet the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Szolt Nemeth.
 Commissioner says all members involved in Turkey's EU talks
NICOSIA, 8/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot member of the European Commission on Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou said Monday that accession negotiations take place with all the member states and thus Turkey has to ''reach agreement with each one individually.''
Kyprianou held a press conference for Turkish Cypriot journalists on Monday in Nicosia and briefed them on the priorities of the European Commission in his field.
He gave information about what he is dealing with at the Commission and said, ''I treat Cyprus as I treat all the other member states. Of course I have special affinity for Cyprus but at the same time I also expect more from Cyprus in relation to the acquis and its applications.''
Kyprianou said the basic aspects in health will be prevention without neglecting treatment and health services, adding that the EU has reached a satisfactory level of health services but prevention is the problem and it is regrettable that many of the illnesses that European citizens have today can be prevented but are not, such as Type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.
He said the focus was on children and that campaigns would continue against smoking and obesity.
The commissioner noted that even some problems of mental health can be prevented through treatment and pointed out that mental health has a social stigma and people do not seek treatment but prefer to hide their problems, which eventually become serious and sometimes lead to suicide.
Referring to HIV AIDS, Kyprianou said it is again becoming a very serious problem in the EU, adding that the rate of infection has increased tremendously in the last few years, mostly among women and young people.
He noted that ''the traditional theory of risk groups does not exist any more, everybody is at risk now.''
On consumer protection, he said the emphasis is now on unfair commercial practices and added that legislation is being discussed in the Council that will prevent businesses from using unfair practices to influence consumers.
Kyprianou said no product can make a claim related to health if it has not been proven scientifically, adding that information on the label of the product has to be accurate and simple so that consumers can understand it ''without having a PhD in chemistry.''
Referring to the Lisbon Agenda, Kyprianou said it is a strategy to make the European economy the most competitive in the world.
He said the aim has not changed but the method, the instruments, how to achieve this will be focused and more targeted.
''The main two words are growth and employment. The idea is to boost economic growth and create more and better jobs,'' he said.
On the Green Line Regulation concerning trade exchanges between the two sides on the island, Kyprianou said changes had been made to broaden the aspects of the regulation.
''My interest in this concerns the animal products which are being introduced now for the first time,'' he said.
Stating that the EU is very strict about food safety, he said that experts are working on this issue.
Asked when the Green Line Regulation would be implemented, Kyprianou said ''the Council has to decide about the amendments,'' noting ''that could happen by the end of the month.''
Head of the European Commission representation in Cyprus Adriaan van der Meer, asked about Turkey extending the Ankara Agreement to cover all ten new member states, including Cyprus, said that the Commission has urged Turkey to initial the additional protocol to the Ankara Agreement as soon as possible, in order to promote the formal adoption of the protocol.
Kyprianou said there was a long way before the procedure was completed, noting that ''it is the requirement placed by European Council in December.''
''This is what is expected before the negotiations begin'' between the EU and Turkey, he said, adding that ''it is an important step.''
Kyprianou pointed out that ''accession negotiations take place with all the member states'' and thus Turkey has to ''reach agreement with each one individually.''
''This is the reality that will happen. The legal and political implications I will not go into,'' he said.
He added that the most difficult part of the acquis communautaire was animal health and sanitary issues, noting that Turkey will be faced with many challenges.