|Friday, 19 July 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-16
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 16, 2005
 Inner Cabinet discusses ratification procedure for EU Constitution
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)The Inner Cabinet convened on Tuesday, chaired by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, to discuss ratification of the European Constitutional Treaty.
Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis told reporters after the meeting that the European Constitution would be tabled soon in parliament for ratification by Greece's 300-member House, adding that a 70-member committee comprising members of all the political parties represented in parliament would be set up to discuss the new Constitutional Treaty in 4-5 sessions, which would be followed by a debate by the parliament plenary, which would also take place in 4-5 sessions.
Molyviatis said that the European Constitution was a very important step towards the unification of Europe, and noted that it was the product of compromise, as were all the issues concerning the EU, "in accordance with the democratic operation of Europe".
He said that the country's full participation in the EU was a prime strategic choice of the ruling New Democracy party and its founder, the late Constantine Karamanlis, adding that ND and the government sere serving that choice with consistency.
"We are pleased that almost all the other political forces agreed, along the course, with this strategic choice, and we are proceeding in the EU with consensus," Molyviatis noted.
Greece to be among the first countries to ratify European Constitution, Deputy FM says: Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis on Tuesday evening explained the government's decision to be among the first EU member states that ratify the European Constitution, while addressing a special event organized by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy and the Hellenic Centre for European Studies under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry.
"Our position is crystal-clear: Greece at the centre of Europe; Greece at the heart of European developments. This is the only way we will be able to guarantee Greek citizens that their interests will be safeguarded, that the opportunities of the 21st century will be capitalized upon," Valinakis said.
He explained that being "at the heart of European developments" means that Greece will participate in all new European institutions involving closer political and other cooperation.
"For all of the above reasons, the Greek government decided that Greece should be among the first countries that ratify the Treaty. We have the political will, the determination, so that Greece is among Europe's protagonists," he added.
In closing, Valinakis said: "Every step forward the Union takes is a step from which Greece benefits. Greece benefits with the European Constitution."
KKE and SYN comment on ratification of European Constitution: "The so-called European Constitution is the highest legal tool the European plutocracy possesses and its aims is to strengthen its [the plutocracy's] position and its attack against the working and lower economic classes of all EU countries," the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said in a statement it issued on Tuesday, regarding ratification of the European Constitution. Furthermore, KKE called on the Greek people to reject any European Constitution and to say 'no' to the European Union.
The Political Secretariat of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party was less broad in its criticism. In a statement it issued on Tuesday, SYN criticized the government for the fast-track process it is adopting in ratifying the European Constitution, claiming that in doing so it "excludes the people's participation" in the process and has an "an undemocratic character," since, as SYN points out, the EU's deadline for ratification is November 1, 2006.
Furthermore, SYN insists on its position that Greek citizens are properly informed on the issue in order to ensure that all views are heard and insists that a referendum should be held to decide whether the EU Treaty will be ratified or not.
SYN also criticized PASOK because although the main opposition has mentioned the possibility of a referendum it has not taken any action to realize it, but rather has quietly consented to the government's 'fast-track' tactics.
Finally, SYN also expressed surprise with KKE, which despite having stated its opposition to the European Constitution, it has failed to demand a referendum, thus leaving the field wide open for the Constitution to be ratified in Parliament within the context of bipartisan consensus.
 Deputy FM Stylianidis says Greece willing to contribute in intensification of European development cooperation policy
BRUSSELS 16/2/2005 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)The sessions of the informal EU Council of Development Cooperation Ministers meeting ended in Luxembourg on Tuesday. Greece was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis.
The meeting dealt with the implementation of the European program for supporting those affected by the tsunami which struck Southeast Asia on December 26, the international struggle for the combatting of AIDS and the course towards the implementation of the United Nation's millennium objectives.
Also discussed were the prospects and the orientations of the European development cooperation policy.
Stylianidis in statements expressed Greece's will to contribute in the intensification of the European development cooperation policy. Specifically, the need was underlined by the Greek side for Europe to have common objectives and not to restrict itself only to the individual objectives placed by each member-state.
"We are heading towards a review of the Millennium objectives and the Secretary-General of the United Nations is preparing a preparatory report for March, where the major matters will be gathered and probably new ideas regarding the objectives. On the level of International Development Cooperation Service, Greece has members who observe the relevant discussions and at the same time they are trained in new technical know-how," Stylianidis said.
Stylianidis also referred to the coordination and the sending of Greek aid to the countries of Southeast Asia.
 Greece in fourth place in EU regarding humanitarian aid contributions to SE Asia
BRUSSELS 16/2/2005 (ANA/V. Demiris)Greece is in fourth place among the European Union's 25 member-states, with a total contribution of 20,277,570 euros, with regard the humanitarian aid which was given for those affected by the tsunami which struck Southeast Asia on December 26, according to data released by the European Commission on Tuesday in light of the EU Council of Development Cooperation Ministers informal meeting in Luxembourg.
According to the relevant chart (dated February 11), Spain was first in contributions with 52,950,000 euros, followed by Germany with 36,913,391 euros and Denmark with 26,648,653 euros.
The total amount of the EU contributions totalled 323,075,708 euros.
 President Stephanopoulos sends message of condolences on al-Hariri assassination
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos on Tuesday sent a message of condolences to Lebanese president Emile Lahoud over the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri and 12 other people in a bomb blast in Beirut on Monday.
Stephanopoulos, in his message, expressed shock over the murder of al-Hariri and the other victims of the bomb blast, and conveyed his condolences to the people of Lebanon and the relatives of the victims.
He further expressed hope that the political life in Lebanon would continue to develop normally, and that terrorism and its abhorrent acts would be effectively averted.
Book of condolences at Lebanese embassy over assassination of former PM Hariri
The Embassy of Lebanon in Athens on Tuesday expressed deep sadness over the assassination of Lebanese former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri in Beirut on Monday, and announced that a Book of Condolences would be opened at the Embassy.
The book of condolences will be open to the public at the embassy premises on no. 6, 25th Martiou street in Paleo Psychico, from 10:00a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.
Al-Hariri and 12other people were killed, and another 120 were injured, in a massive bomb explosion on Monday in the centre of Beirut
 PM meets ruling party MPs, discusses operation of ND Parliamentary group
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday began a round of meetings with ruling New Democracy MPs, in which he plans to discuss the operation of the party's Parliamentary group, ways to further the government's work and better coordination between the government and party, as well as the problems of individual constituencies MPs represent.
Six ND deputies out of 164 in Parliament held talks with the premier on Tuesday, with another six scheduled to meet with him on Wednesday.
 Visit by U.S. businessmen to occupied Cyprus should be in 'UN framework', gov't says
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)The Greek government welcomed activity for the economic development of Cyprus, provided this was within the law and moved within the framework of the United Nations, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Tuesday.
The spokesman was asked to comment on an upcoming visit to occupied northern Cyprus by a group of U.S. businessmen.
"A steady position of the Greek government is the principle that any action that contributes to the economic development of Cyprus is welcome, provided, though that the said initiative moves within the law and the framework of the United Nations and encourages efforts for seeking a permanent, just and mutually accepted solution to the Cyprus problem," the spokesman said.
 Deputy gov't spokesman comments on Cypriot opposition leader's visit to Turkey
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)"All contacts that contribute to the exchange of views are positive," Deputy Government Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said on Tuesday, commenting on Cypriot right-wing opposition DISY party leader Nicos Anastassiades' visit to Turkey on Monday. "However, they [contacts] should not substitute, nor should they be seen as substituting the need for negotiations to be held between governments regarding finding a solution to the Cyprus problem," he added.
Anastassiades went to Turkey last week following an invitation from Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling party.
 D. Goussis the new Hellenic Navy Chief
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Rear Admiral Dimitris Goussis was sworn in as Hellenic Navy Chief, at a special ceremony held at the Naval Academy in Piraeus on Tuesday.
Goussis, who until now was second-in-command of the Joint Chiefs General Staff, is succeeding Rear Admiral Antonios Antoniadis, who served as Navy Chief for the past three years.
 Development minister meets ambassadors of Denmark, Luxembourg
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Tuesday met the new Danish Ambassador to Athens Niels Henrik Sliben and held talks on commercial and economic cooperation between Greece and Denmark, especially in shipping and shipbuilding.
Also on Tuesday, the minister received Luxembourg's Ambassador to Athens Fernand Kartheiser, who briefed Sioufas on the Luxembourg European Union Presidency's program for the interim revision of the Lisbon strategy and held talks on bilateral economic ties.
 Wage rises are above inflation, government insists
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)The wage rises announced by the government were above inflation and in keeping with its pre-election pledges, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros insisted in response to claims by reporters that the pay rises given were only above inflation for the basic wage, while overall wages were increasing at below the rate of inflation.
"Up until December 12, 2004 inflation was running at 2.9 per cent. The increase for the basic wage is at 3.6 per cent, or 0.7 per cent above inflation, while the increase for overall income stands at 3 per cent, or just above inflation," he said.
He noted that in 2002 - a non-election year in which inflation was running at 3.6 per cent - the pay rise for the basic wage had been 4.3 per cent while that for overall income just 2.5 per cent, a full 1.1 percent below the rate of inflation.
"This government is therefore implementing everything it has pledged to do," he added, pointing out that New Democracy's pre-election program had promised wage increases for employees and pensioners that converged with the European Union average but to be implemented over the full four years of the government's term.
The spokesman also slammed the previous PASOK government, accusing it of offering wage rises at the end of 2003 that were above what the economy could bear in a desperate bid to gain ground in the 2004 elections.
"The ND government has upheld the continuity of the State and fully covered the overly generous wage rises offered by PASOK prior to the elections, while at the same time fulfilling all that it promised in its own election program," he said.
In response to other questions, he said the government had resorted to borrowing in order to pay the increased wages handed out by PASOK but stressed that there was no need for concern and that the government was "certain it can correct the fiscal situation".
PASOK leader Papandreou says gov't deceived the citizens: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, commenting on Tuesday on the announcement made on Monday by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on the incomes policy, said that the citizens feel deceived by the government of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Papandreou added that the government and the prime minister ''lacks credibility'', because the government "gave other promises and the reality which we are living is another." He added that "every day the economy is sliding downhill."
The PASOK leader stressed that there is a "gloomy reality" and that "the Greek citizen feels insecure about the economy, the country's future, his own and that of his family."
PASOK, he added, is struggling "for a serious economic policy which does not exist today."
Papandreou made the statements after the meeting of the party' Coordinating Committee and just before the start of the meeting of the Secretariat of the National Reconstruction Council.
Commenting on Papandreou's statements, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that "seriousness and credibility are identical to the truth and of course they have nothing whatsoever to do with danger-mongering and the adulteration of reality which Mr. Papandreou attempts."
The spokesman added that "the insecurity of the citizen, about which he mentions, was the 'achievement' of the PASOK governments, which brought the economy to the situation which it finds itself today."
Roussopoulos concluded by saying that "the New Democracy government is implementing its pre-election commitments and has proven it, yet again, with the announcement of the incomes policy."
 Economy Minister Alogoskoufis to attend Eurogroup, Ecofin sessions, meet EU Commissioners
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis will meet with EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Danuta Huebner on Thursday. Alogoskoufis will be representing Greece at the Eurogroup and at the EU Council of Finance Ministers (Ecofin) which will be held in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
The Greek minister will meet on Wednesday with Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia, Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas and Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou.
 Greek gov't launches information campaign on new CAP
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Greek Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos on Tuesday announced an information campaign by the ministry aimed to brief farmers and all interested parties over a new EU's Common Agricultural Policy.
Speaking to reporters, Basiakos said the program would include a widespread campaign with seminars, meetings, discussions accompanied by printed material throughout the country.
The Greek minister said that the ministry would also seek drafting of 13 reports to cover all the country's regions. Basiakos said that a new CAP would lead to higher net income for farmers, reduced volume of products, reduction of the EU's farm population, while farmers could face some problems with an intermediate revision of the CAP in 2009.
He noted that a draft law currently underway by ministry agencies would include all pre-election pledges made by the governing ND party.
Speaking to reporters, Deputy Minister Alexandros Kontos said that ministry services were daily monitoring imports of farm products to determine a clearer picture of future cultivations in the country.
 Town planning a key factor in sustainable development, SEB says
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)The Federation of Greek Industries' (SEB) General Council concluded during their meeting on Monday that a carefully-planned environmental policy and town planning are crucial to ensuring the country's sustainable development.
SEB President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos pointed out the particular emphasis SEB places on organized town planning, which is why the organization joined WWF Greece, Greece's Technical Chamber, the Greek Architects Union and the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (KEDKE) in their request to the government to take initiatives in tackling the problem.
According to a SEB announcement Tuesday, George Souflias, Minister of the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works, said during the meeting that "if our country had a well-designed town planning policy, we would have been able to address many problems related to the environment and development." Souflias also mentioned that funds from the Third Structural Community Framework had been approved and that the study for realizing the National Town Planning project would be assigned within the next two months, while the study should be complete by this year-end.
The minister emphasized that there will not be any related problems in the meantime, since regional town-planning programs exist. He emphasized that "it is inaccurate that the General Town-Planning Framework has already been completed and is sitting in the ministry's drawers. The truth is that the first stage of the framework had been completed but ministries' individual policies and the adoption of the framework and its linking with European standards were pending."
Souflias also referred to the problem that has arisen, following restrictions placed on large areas of Greece by the Natura 2000 program. He said that there are "central cores" within these regions that must be protected, but that certain activities in other parts in accordance with specific environmental regulations can be carried out without damaging the ecosystem.
 Greek eurodeputy makes proposal to EU on regional alignment
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)George Papastamkos, a eurodeputy of the ruling New Democracy party, said on Monday that he had made a proposal to the European Union on incorporation of the bloc's regions into funding.
In the proposal to the EU's regional policy commissioner, Danuta Huebner, the euro-parliamentarian said that 16 regions whose per capita GDP fell above the EU-25 average but below the EU-15 norm could be incorporated into an alignment plan without losses, as the additional cost would not exceed six billion euros.
Three of the regions are in Greece - Attica, Central Macedonia and Western Macedonia.
All 16 borderline areas were unfairly at risk of losing substantial development funding due to a statistical revision, Papastamkos said.
 Greek consortium implements plan for development of business activity in Serbia
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)The development plan implemented by the consortium of the "Aristotelis" company of the Commerce and Industry Chamber of Thessaloniki (EBETH) and of Hypertech SA, member of the TREK Consulting company foresees strategies and methods for improving the government structures of Serbia in relation with the citizen and business activity, as well as access by Serbian small and medium-sized businesses to information and cooperation in the financing of businesses.
Specifically, a complete framework of financing and strengthening of businesses, which intend to use informatics as a basic tool for development, was delivered to the relevant ministries of Serbia. At the same time, an operational plan to attract business capital was planned, mainly by international organizations, for the financing of small and medium-sized businesses in Serbia.
 Expanded Greek participation in international trade fairs
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)The Thessaloniki International Fair (DETH SA) is forging closer cooperation with the country's chambers and Greece's Economic and Trade Affairs offices in Europe with the aim to "enrich its exhibition activities abroad".
DETH has already agreed with Thessaloniki Trade and Industry Chamber and the Thessaloniki Manufacturing Chamber for a joint participation in Alimentaria, an international food and beverage trade fair to be held in Lisbon, April 10-13, while the two chambers have also expressed interest for their joint participation in an international building materials fair IBF to be held in Brno, the Czech Republic, April 19-23.
 Stocks rise to 44-month high
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher with favorable market reports on Greek banks by global investment houses fuelling buying in the sector. Shares hit a 44-month high, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,013.41 points, posting a rise of 2.20%. Turnover was 250.6 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 2.64% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.15% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.12% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 197 to 88 with 63 remaining unchanged.
 Gale-force winds disrupt power supply in Attica, air and sea transport throughout Greece
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Extremely strong gale-force winds - occasionally measuring up to 11 on the Beaufort scale - and driving rain that swept the country early on Tuesday caused problems with the power supply in Attica and other areas and disrupted air and sea transport throughout Greece, while the cargo vessel 'Elanta' was forced onto rocks on the north coast of the island of Chios.
At least four people were injured and property was damaged in accidents caused by the bad weather.
By midday on Tuesday, the Attica fire department had received roughly 500 calls concerning fallen trees, signposts or awnings that had come loose and fallen into roads, power lines or cars, or to extricate people stuck in elevators because of power cuts.
Early on Tuesday, a 10mX2m polyester silo from a nearby pasta factory was ripped up by high winds and fell onto the northbound lane of the Athens-Lamia national highway, colliding with an oncoming car. The vehicle swung off course and collided with a parked police patrol car on the hard shoulder, which had stopped so that police officers could direct traffic and position traffic cones on the road. Driver Nikolaos Kotsanis, 28, and police officer Georgios Tsakalis, 31, were both lightly injured and taken to hospital.
A woman was injured and had to be taken to hospital at 8:15 after she was hit by a large tree branch that broke off in the wind on Mihail Mela Street in Kallithea, while another woman in Koropi was hit by a piece of sheet metal that came flying through the air.
Power cuts were experienced in the south and east suburbs of Athens due to trees and other objects falling onto overhead electricity lines, though by midday the problems were mainly limited to the northern suburbs of Filothei, Ekali and Kifissia, with power in other areas restored.
Also without power in the early hours were the Dodecanese islands of Tilos and Nisyros, due damage to the undersea cable that supplies them with electricity from the power plant on Kos.
Problems with the electricity grid were reported from Kavala on the northeast coast of mainland Greece, where lines went down due to high winds.
The area also experienced problems with rising sea levels along the coast, where the waves damaged the municipal swimming pool, a shoreline park and the city's Archaeological Museum, while police were forced to close off the coast road.
According to an announcement by the merchant marine ministry, meanwhile, the 18 seamen on board the St. Vincent-flagged freighter "Elanta" were safe and well and had remained on board the ship with the captain waiting for a tugboat to pull the ship free.
The "Elanta" was bound for a Turkish port with a load of scrap metal when it ran aground due to the strong winds but the ship's hull has not been breached.
The powerful south gales even forced Athens International Airport to turn back incoming aircraft earlier in the day as landings were all but impossible, with flights by Aegean Airlines and Olympic Airlines from Thessaloniki ordered to turn back.
Also cancelled were an Aegean Airlines flight and two OA flights from Athens and Thessaloniki to Lesvos, as well as scheduled OA flights from Athens to Samos, Hania, Naxos and Paros.
The majority of outgoing flights to foreign destinations went ahead, however, albeit with some delays.
Problems were reported from the Zeas Marina in Piraeus, where a cement breakwater was breached at four points and high waves from the turbulent Saronic Gulf surged through into the protected harbor, causing 10 leisure craft to come loose from their moorings and half-sinking a 10-metre plastic-hull vessel named "Set".
Similar problems occurred in the ports of Rafina, Kymi and Lavrio, where ferry boats collided and suffered minor damage. In Rafina, the passenger ship 'Christos' ran aground after it came loose from its moorings.
Ferries were forbidden to sail from the western Greek port of Patras in the morning, with the exception of those traveling from Greece to ports in Italy, and from Kyllini to Zakynthos and Kefallonia.
 Greece will not experience major tsunami for at least 50 years, scientists predict
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Greece will not experience a major tsunami for at least the next 50 years, according to predictions made by scientists at the Geological and Metallurgical Studies Foundation (IGME), the foundation's management announced during a press conference on Tuesday.
Presenting the findings of a study carried out in collaboration with the Athens Observatory Geodynamic Institute in 1992-1995, IGME scientists said that the major landslides that cause tsunamis occur in the Amorgos basin and Argos Bay roughly every 100 years and in other areas every 500 years.
The most recent tsunami recorded in Greece was on July 9, 1956 at Amorgos and was triggered by an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale. This generated 20m waves and affected the entire southern Aegean and Crete.
The press conference also covered the foundation's other areas of activity concerning potential natural disasters, such as building earthquake-safe constructions, monitoring potentially active volcanoes, landslides and subsidence and groundwater.
 President Stephanopoulos named honorary member of Athens Academy
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Kostis Stephanopoulos, President of the Hellenic Republic, expressed hope that vested interests in the country's political and business communities will soon be eradicated, in comments he made during his speech at an event at the Academy of Athens on Tuesday evening, which named him honorary member.
Stephanopoulos also stressed the need for 'cleaning up' the Church and the justice system, quickly and thoroughly, referring to recent crises of corruption that have plagued both institutions.
"All the unpleasant events that have occurred recently were the result of the behavior of certain individuals, not a result of the institutions' weaknesses," he said.
Speaking about his role as president, Stephanopoulos said that "the position requires that the person filling it accept every honor presented him, since it is not an honor that targets him personally, but the country's democratic regime which he represents and which is worthy of every recognition and honor bestowed upon it for the way it has been operating in the past 30 years."
Regarding the country's political course, the president said that "since 1974, Greece's political scene has followed a steady course," and emphasized that, "of course the functioning of our regime (...) can and must improve further."
Stephanopoulos also referred to other problems Greece faces, placing education on the top of the list. He also mentioned the country's bureaucracy, the public administration's low level of quality, the state's failure to effectively protect valuable assets (ie., the forests), poor waste management, and protests of specific groups which create problems for the rest of society.
While the president also referred to Greeks' advantages, which according to him, include their intelligence, performance in the arts, culture and science and their sense of patriotism, he stressed that the lack of responsibility towards society in general, is the common denominator in "our national shortcomings."
"We must improve our social behavior; we must become more responsible citizens. We must respect the laws and our obligations; we must respect the life and rights of others, we must protect the natural and urban environment in which we live," he said. "Of course this is a matter of education and culture. Everything can be taught by the family, school, the mass media (...) I believe that the Academy of Athens, which has accomplished a lot, can perhaps take on part of this mission," he added.
Attending Tuesday's event were Academy President Emmanouil Roukounas, academic K.I. Despotopoulos, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Athens-Piraeus Supraprefect Fofi Gennimata, PASOK MP Dimitris Reppas and others.
 President Stephanopoulos inaugurates sculptress Loukia Georganti Museum
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos on Monday inaugurated the Loukia Georganti Museum, housed in the late sculptress' (1919-2001) two-story home and workshop on 20 Anapafseos street near Athens' First Cemetery.
The collection of Georganti's art, which the sculptress had bequeathed to the City of Athens, comprises mainly clay micro-sculptures, effigies of Greek politicians and Athenian mayors of the 20th century, and monumental sculptures in bronze and marble.
Greetings were sent to the inauguration ceremony by tourism minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and deputy culture minister Petros Tatoulis.
 PM Karamanlis presents 2004 state literature awards
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister and Culture Minister Costas Karamanlis presented the state literature awards for 2004 at a ceremony at the Byzantine Museum on Tuesday night.
Karamanlis, who was accompanied by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, presented the awards to the poets and authors, stating that "the obligation of the state is to support every effort for culture." He added that "the national policy for the book, constitutes part of a broader policy for education and culture which respects and protects the creators."
The major literature prize was presented to Costas Stergiopoulos for the entirety of his work.
 Appeals Justices Council appoints magistrates to handle judicial corruption case
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)The Council of Appeals Court Justices on Tuesday appointed Special Appeals Examining Magistrate Yiannis Sideris to investigate the allegations of judicial corruption, with appeals judge Yiannis Fiorakis as his deputy.
The two magistrates were recommended to the body by Appeals Court chief Haridimos Papadakis.
 Special Olympics 'Flame of Hope' lit in Athens for 8th World Winter Games
Athens, 16/2/2005 (ANA)The 'Flame of Hope' for the 8th Special Olympics World Winter Games that will take place in Nagano, Japan from February 25 to March 6 was lit at Zappeion Hall in Athens on Tuesday, with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos attending.
The torch-lighting ceremony was also attended by members of government, including Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis, Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos and Deputy Health Minister Thanassis Yiannopoulos.
Among the ranks of the officials at the event were Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, Special Olympics International Chairman and CEO Timothy Shriver, the head of the Nagano Games organizing committee Hideo Morita and the chairwoman of Special Olympics Hellas, Gianna Despotopoulou.
Over 2.500 athletes from 80 countries will be participating in the Nagano Special Olympics World Winter Games. Greece will be sending a team of 45 athletes, who will compete in four events: Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and speed skating.
 EU does not recognize separate entity in Cyprus, says spokesman
NICOSIA 16/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)The primary position of the EU, in view of the fact that it does not recognize any separate entity in the Republic of Cyprus, is that it accepts Mehmet Ali Talat on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot community, said here Tuesday Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides.
This is the way the government views yesterday's meeting between European Commission President Jose Barroso and Talat in Brussels, the Cypriot spokesman added.
Asked if there was any pressure on the US side to hold the meeting, Chrysostomides did not rule out any prior contacts, adding that he is not aware of any intervention.
To a question whether the government has any official information on the meeting, Chrysostomides said Barroso in his statements expressed
the hope that there will soon be a new opportunity to promote initiatives under UN aegis, aiming to solve the Cyprus problem.
''Barroso said he repeated the Commission's readiness, if it is asked, to offer its good offices to find a permanent and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, and expressed the Commission's support to open more crossing points in an effort to bring closer Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and to widen the spirit of conciliation between the
two communities'', the Cypriot spokesman said.
 Cyprus spokesman does not rule out Cyprus-Turkey meeting in Nicosia
NICOSIA 16/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides on Tuesday did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between President Tassos Papadopoulos and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Ledra Palace checkpoint in Cyprus. ''If something like that turns up it will be discussed but I am not in a position to give you an answer at this moment. It would be too early on my behalf to make any statement on the issue,'' Chrysostomides said when asked if President Papadopoulos would agree to meet with Erdogan at Ledra Palace, in Nicosia.
Chrysostomides said that ''a meeting with Erdogan had been sought many times to discuss the international aspects of the Cyprus problem.''
Replying to questions, Chrysostomides said President Papadopoulos would not accept a meeting with Erdogan in the Turkish occupied areas of the island, ''since the occupation and the illegal presence of Turkey in the northern part of Cyprus continues.''
 Cyprus government says meetings with Turkish parties useful
NICOSIA 16/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said Tuesday that meetings between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties, as well as between Greek Cypriot and Turkish parties, were always useful and contributed to the creation of a climate of understanding.
Asked if the government considered the continuation of a dialogue between the Democratic Rally (DISY) and the Turkish Justice and Development Party as being positive, Chrysostomides said ''the government's position has always been that contacts between political parties, Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot, as well as Greek Cypriot and Turkish, were always useful and contribute to the creation of a climate of understanding.''
He also read out a Presidential Palace statement, issued after Tuesday's meeting between President Tassos Papadopoulos and DISY President Nicos Anastassiades, which says that President Papadopoulos believes ''the contacts between parties and organizations can contribute to the creation of a climate of trust and the better understanding of each other's positions.''
Asked if the views Anastassiades expressed during his recent trip to Turkey were those of DISY or the National Council, Chrysostomides said that, according to the Presidential Palace statement, Anastassiades said he expressed the positions of the majority of the parties comprising the National Council, as well as the determination and readiness of the Greek Cypriot side for a Cyprus settlement.