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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-17

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

February 17, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek European Commissioner hails entry into force of Kyoto Protocol as a 'historic day'
  • [02] Foreign Ministry spokesman Koumoutsakos on FYROM name issue
  • [03] Deputy FM Valinakis to visit Serbia-Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia
  • [04] Tourism minister carries out official visit to Bahrain and Qatar
  • [05] PM meets six New Democracy MPs
  • [06] PM to visit Samothrace on Saturday
  • [07] New US ambassador Ries pays courtesy call on interior minister Pavlopoulos
  • [08] Admiral Ηinofotis assumes leadership of Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • [09] Air Force strengthens its air and sea rescue network in the Aegean
  • [10] Government reiterates that state-sector wage increases are above inflation
  • [11] Greek economy to slowdown in 2005, PwC report
  • [12] PM Karamanlis confers with transport minister Liapis on OA tender, road safety reforms
  • [13] Greece may get extra year to lower deficit
  • [14] Gov't announces energy project worth 40 million euros
  • [15] Greek fuel market grew 1.0 pct in Jan-Nov 2004
  • [16] New EU directive on air transport reinforces passengers' rights
  • [17] BSEC conference to be held in Athens
  • [18] Basiakos addresses seminar on the theme 'The implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy in Greece'
  • [19] Bank workers to strike Feb 21, 28
  • [20] Household debt up 28.9% in 2004
  • [21] General Secretariat for Consumers sets up European Consumer Centre
  • [22] Stocks rise in across-the-board buying
  • [23] Supreme Court instructs prosecutors to press charges against judge, six lawyers
  • [24] Parliament passes bill creating Patras Cultural Capital 2006 organization
  • [25] Holy Synod agrees on main points to present to senior clergy on Friday
  • [26] National Educational Council convened Wednesday
  • [27] Main opposition leader visits schools, stresses threat to the environment
  • [28] Ioannina airport back in operation after radar breakdown repaired
  • [29] President of the Republic receives Greek expatriate students
  • [30] Envelope containing white powder sent to British Council in Athens
  • [31] New York hopes to host 2012 Olympics
  • [32] Cyprus government supports bilateral trade
  • [33] Cyprus Foreign Minister: protests to US over illegal visit will continue
  • [34] State Department: No change in US recognition policy on Cyprus

  • [01] Greek European Commissioner hails entry into force of Kyoto Protocol as a 'historic day'

    BRUSSELS 17/2/2005 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    Greek European Commissioner for the environment Stavros Dimas on Wednesday hailed the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol as a historic day, during a joint press conference held with Environment Minister Lucien Lux of the Luxemburg Presidency and the president of the European Parliament's environment committee Karl-Heinz Florenz.

    He said the EU had been led the process of negotiating, signing and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, which he described as a only first step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and dealing with the urgent and major problem of climate change.

    In comment on global warming, Dimas said that the temperature of the Earth had increased by 0.6 centigrade in the past century and by 1 degree centigrade in Europe. He expressed confidence that Europe will meet the target of reducing emissions by 8 per cent relative to 1990, noting that the reduction in 2002 had been 2.9 per cent in the 15 EU member-states before enlargement and 9 per cent among the 25 EU member-states.

    He also stressed the need to extend international cooperation on the issue of climate change. The EU, United States, Russia, China and India currently produce 75 per cent of greenhouse gases on a global level.

    Dimas also announced that EU policy on the climate after 2012 will be discussed at the Upcoming EU summit in March.

    To celebrate the Protocol's entry into force, Commissioner Dimas hosted a reception at 12.30 after the press conference. Invitees were the ambassadors of the 140 countries that have so far ratified the Protocol, Lux, Florenz and members of the European Parliament environment committee and representatives of industry and non-governmental organizations active in the climate change debate.

    Among the major polluters that have so far failed to sign the Protocol are the United States, which produces the largest volume of the world's greenhouse gases, and Australia.

    The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), whose ultimate objective is to stabilize global greenhouse gas emissions at a level that would prevent dangerous human-induced interference with the climate system. Under Kyoto, the EU-15 has committed to reduce its overall emissions of the six greenhouse gases controlled by the Protocol to 8% below the 1990 level by 2012. Each EU-15 Member State has an individual target set under a 'burden-sharing' agreement. The rest of the EU-25 has individual reduction targets of 6% or 8%, except Cyprus and Malta which have no targets.

    PM comments on Kyoto Protocol: "International action regarding environmental protection is confirmed today as the Kyoto Protocol goes into effect," Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in a statement issued on Wednesday evening, referring to the treaty on reducing greenhouse gases.

    "Greece is an active participant in this initiative, taking into consideration that awareness and action on issues related to environmental protection are not just an element of modern civilization, but also a determining factor of its quality," he continued.

    "It is this quality that we must safeguard in practice each and every one of us, separately and together - institutional and private entities, local government and citizens," he added.

    He also pointed out that environmental problems have a negative impact on everyone, but more so on the underprivileged and on future generations. Karamanlis said that society has a duty to not only protect the environment, but to also improve it.

    "It is in this vein that we are steadily adopting policies based on environmental justice and sustainable development, aiming at social justice, citizens' prosperity and sustainable management of the environment," he concluded.

    [02] Foreign Ministry spokesman Koumoutsakos on FYROM name issue

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos reiterated on Wednesday Greece's firm will for the talks which are being conducted at the United Nations headquarters in New York for the reaching of a mutually acceptable solution to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) name issue to be speeded up.

    In a foreign ministry announcement Koumoutsakos stated: "The firm will of Greece for the talks which are being held in New York for the reaching of a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue to be speeded up and to become substantial is known for some time now. This position of ours has been adopted following Greek activation also by the European Union and constitutes henceforth a European position. Within the framework of these talks a series of proposals and alternative formulations have been presented. This procedure is in progress and is being held in accordance with specific practices and regulations, particularly with regard the character of its confidentiality. Greece continues to work constructively and systematically for the successful conclusion of this procedure. We hope that the other side will show the same constructive spirit."

    [03] Deputy FM Valinakis to visit Serbia-Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis will begin visits as of Thursday to Serbia-Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia, the foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.

    His first stop will be Belgrade where on Thursday he will meet with Serbia-Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic. During the meeting issues of bilateral interest and regional development will be discussed, in light of the assumption by Greece of the presidency of the South East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP - former Balkan) in May.

    In the afternoon of the same day, Valinakis will go to Slovenia to participate in the meeting of the European Affairs deputy ministers and senior officials from 17 European Union countries. The meeting will be held within the framework of the regular cooperation with his counterparts on the EU's fiscal prospects for the period 2007-2013, and in continuation of the corresponding meeting which was held at the initiative of the Foreign Ministry in Athens on January 17.

    On Friday, the Greek deputy foreign minister will go to Croatia where he will represent Greece in the swearing-in ceremony of Croatian President Stjepan Mesic.

    [04] Tourism minister carries out official visit to Bahrain and Qatar

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday carried out an official visit to Bahrain and Qatar, made at the invitation of the heir to the royal throne of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa and the Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, to whom he delivered messages of friendship from Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    The two leaders extended invitations to Karamanlis to visit their countries.

    During the visit, Avramopoulos had talks with government ministers and representatives of the local tourism and hotel sectors that aim at the launch of a new period in the economic and investment ties between Greece and the two Arab states.

    The two sides also announced the start of a direct flight from Athens to Qatar by KatarAir from the end of March and an increase in Gulfair flights between Bahrain and Athens.

    In Bahrain, the Greek minister signed a cooperation memorandum for tourism issues with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Muhammad Abd-al-Ghaffar Abdallah that also provides for the exchange of know-how and to encourage investments in the hotel industry.

    In addition, it was decided to open Greek tourist bureaus in Bahrain and Qatar, which do not yet have any Greek embassies or consulates, and that a program for an exchange of visits by business people and government bodies should be made to encourage bilateral cooperation in both the private and public sectors.

    Avramopoulos was accompanied on the visit by the head of Parliament's Trade and Industry Committee George Kalatzis, the chairman of the Greek Tourism Organization Aristidis Kalogeropoulos-Stratis, the head of the tourism ministry's international relations department Ambassador Dionysis Kodellas and Olympic Airlines chairman Petros Papageorgiou.

    [05] PM meets six New Democracy MPs

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday continued a round of meetings with ruling New Democracy parliamentary deputies, meeting another six MPs in ND's Parliamentary group.

    The meetings with the MPs covered the economy, developing areas of Greece outside the capital and major cities and the major problems of daily life, such as education, health and employment. The meetings are focused on the Parliamentary group's agenda, ways of furthering the government's work and improving coordination between the government and party and problems concerning MPs individual constituencies.

    [06] PM to visit Samothrace on Saturday

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will visit the island of Samothrace on Saturday. He will visit the archaeological site on the island at 10:30 and speak at the cultural centre an hour later, before returning to Athens.

    [07] New US ambassador Ries pays courtesy call on interior minister Pavlopoulos

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    The new US ambassador in Athens, Charlies Ries, paid a courtesy call Wednesday on interior and public administration minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

    During the meeting, the two men discussed matters pertaining to the function of public administration, and to tackling the immigration problem, which is of concern to both the US and Greece, within the framework of the regulations of the European Union, of which Greece is a member.

    No statements were made after the meeting.

    [08] Admiral Ηinofotis assumes leadership of Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Admiral Panayiotis Ηinofotis assumed the leadership of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during a special ceremony held at the Military Academy in Vari on Wednesday. Ηinofotis succeeds General George Antonakopoulos who held the position during the past three years.

    Senior officials of the Defense Ministry attended the ceremony.

    [09] Air Force strengthens its air and sea rescue network in the Aegean

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Air Force is strengthening its air and sea rescue network in the Aegean.

    Following the recent deployment of a Super Puma helicopter at Limnos airport to carry out a search and rescue mission, as of Wednesday another helicopter, of the type AB-205, is undertaking air and sea rescue duties from Santorini airport.

    Thus, the disposal of the air and sea rescue network of the Hellenic Air Force in the islands of the Aegean has been transformed as follows: One Super Puma in Limnos, one AB-205 in Chios. one Super Puma in Rhodes, one AB-205 in Santorini, one AB-205 in Iraklion and one Dornier in Hania.

    [10] Government reiterates that state-sector wage increases are above inflation

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Wednesday reiterated that wage and pension increases offered by the government were above inflation and chiefly benefited those on low incomes, in response to questions claiming a policy of austerity.

    He stressed that this was the first year that wage rises were above inflation with the exception of those announced by the previous government at the end of 2003, which he said had been given in view of the upcoming elections in 2004 and had not been fully calculated in the budget.

    Responding to questions on an estimated one billion euros spent by parents on additional tuition for their children outside the state school system, Antonaros noted that about half this sum went toward learning foreign languages.

    According to the spokesman, "one could only praise the desire of parents to have their children learn foreign languages". Concerning the other half of the amount, which might reflect the state school system's inadequate preparation of children for tertiary education, Antonaros noted that the government had initiated dialogue on education in order to pinpoint and deal with existing problems.

    In answer to questions on the ongoing crisis within the Church and recent statements by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, meanwhile, Antonaros again reiterated that the separation of Church and State was not an issue for the government.

    The spokesman also announced that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be having another round of meetings with New Democracy MPs on Thursday, while on Friday he will attend an off-the-agenda debate in Parliament on farming issues, followed by a meeting in Parliament with Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology leader Alekos Alavanos requested by the latter.

    [11] Greek economy to slowdown in 2005, PwC report

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    PricewaterhouseCoopers on Wednesday said it expected the Greek economy to slowdown in 2005, with GDP growth estimated at 2.75 percent this year.

    PwC's analysts expect, however, the Greek economy to accelerate slightly in 2006 with an estimated growth rate of around 3.0 percent.

    A PricewaterhouseCoopers report on Eurozone's economy said that Greek economy's slowdown reflected a drop in building activity after the Olympic Games and structural measures adopted by the government with the aim to reduce the budget deficit.

    The report said it expected Eurozone's economic growth to reach 1.75 percent this year and to reach 2.0 percent in 2006, reflecting a decline in euro-exports due a worldwide economic slowdown, a strong euro currency and low consumer demand in most Eurozone economies.

    PwC said it expected Eurozone member-states' budget deficits to average 2.5 percent of GDP this year.

    [12] PM Karamanlis confers with transport minister Liapis on OA tender, road safety reforms

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis conferred Wednesday with transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis, who briefed him on the development of an international tender for the sale of a majority stake in national carrier Olympic Airlines, which has entered the second phase. They also discussed matters related to road safety.

    Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Liapis expressed contained optimism for the sale of OA, stressing that this was the last opportunity, and expressed optimism that binding offers would be submitted in the second stage by credible buyers. The second stage is due to be completed in approximately six weeks.

    Liapis also said that the plan for road safety has been completed after several months of preparation and collaboration with the other authoritative ministries. He said he was due to meet Thursday with environment, town planning and public works minister George Souflias for finalization of the last details.

    Liapis noted that it was a matter of the Inner Cabinet to make the final decisions, after which they would be made public.

    The minister said he has proposed the establishment of a single agency, possibly a General Secretariat, to coordinate the authoritative agencies, a fund with steady revenues to plan and implement road safety programs, and also systematic policing.

    He also spoke of a reform of the KOK road circulation code, with restriction of the penal offenses and increase in the administrative fines, as well as the reorganization of the system of granting drivers licenses.

    [13] Greece may get extra year to lower deficit

    BRUSSELS 17/2/2005 (ANA/V Demiris)

    The European Union may grant Greece a second year in which to lower its fiscal deficit, the commissioner for economic affairs, Joaquin Almunia, said on Wednesday.

    "Our intention is not to create more problems for Greek authorities, and for this reason, we will propose to the (EU) council of ministers that full fiscal adaptation should be accomplished by the end of 2006," Almunia said in reply to a reporter's question.

    "This extension can be granted as we are now acting from a new legal base, which has not been employed in the past, that of Article 104, paragraph 9. This is a new Commission proposal that allows us to ask Greek authorities to lower the deficit to below 3.0% (of GDP) in 2006," the commissioner said.

    Greece's fiscal deficit is forecast at 5.5% of GDP in 2004, but an upward revision of the figure is possible if the latest data held by the Commission is confirmed, he added.

    [14] Gov't announces energy project worth 40 million euros

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Wednesday urged interested parties to submit their proposals on linking alternative energy sources to the country's energy grid, a plan budgeted at 40 million euros.

    The projects to be included in the plan will be funded by the "Competitiveness" Business Program of the Third Community Support Framework.

    The deadline to submit proposals ends December 31, 2005 with the government covering 50 percent of total budget.

    [15] Greek fuel market grew 1.0 pct in Jan-Nov 2004

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek fuel market significantly slowed down in the first 11 months of 2004 reflecting smaller petrol price increases and reduced sales of heating and diesel oil in the country, a report by Stat Bank said on Wednesday.

    The report said that the domestic petrol and diesel oil market grew 1.0 percent in the January-November 2004 period, significantly down compared with a 9.0 percent growth rate in the same period in 2003.

    Stat Bank said that oil product distribution companies sold 9.2 million metric tones of fuel in the first 11 months of 2004 from 9.1 million metric tones in the same period in 2003. A total of 20 companies, with pan-hellenic operation licenses, cover the sector, of which half reported a decline in sales.

    BP ranked first in the January-November period, despite a 0.5 percent drop in sales, followed by EKO with a market share of 17.7 percent and an 1.3 percent decline in 2004 sales.

    Shell reported a 4.4 percent drop in sales, while Avin (a member of Motor Oil) reported a 10.4 pct increase in petrol sales. Jetoil reported an 1.4 percent increase in sales with a market share of 7.4 percent.

    Aegean Oil reported the biggest percentage rise in sales (20.4 pct), with petrol sales up 35.7 percent in the January-November period.

    Elinoil reported an 8.7 percent rise in sales, while ETEKA reported a 6.9 percent increase in its 11-month sales.

    [16] New EU directive on air transport reinforces passengers' rights

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    George Markopouliotis, Director of the European Commission Representation in Greece and Information Officer Ierotheos Papadopoulos presented the new EU regulation (EC 261/2004) which will go into effect on Thursday and will provide air passengers greater protection in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellation or long delays during a press conference on Wednesday.

    Markopouliotis said the new regulation adopted measures that are customer-friendly, helping EU citizens in day-to-day situations, since millions of people travel by plane on a daily basis.

    According to the European Commission, "The new Regulation enters into force tomorrow, introducing very significant improvements to the protection of air passengers' rights in the Union. It should help bring about a dramatic reduction in the frequency of denied boarding, for which airlines will have to pay compensation as a deterrent (E250 for flights of less than 1,500 km, E400 for flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 km and E600 for flights of more than 3,500 km). Passengers will be compensated for late cancellation and will receive assistance in the event of long delays. There is no right to compensation for cancellation if the airline can provide evidence of extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided."

    The regulation applies to all flights, including charters, operated by European airlines from or to a European airport and to any flight departing from the European Union. By adopting this regulation, the European Commission hopes to improve the quality of service European airlines provide their customers.

    It is noteworthy that over the past three years, the European Commission has received more than 2,000 complaints from EU citizens who were denied boarding.

    Finally, Markopouliotis said that passengers can submit complaints by either calling the hotline 00800-67891011 or by sending an e-mail to mail@europe-direct.cec.eu.int.

    The burden of proof shifts from the customer to the airline or airport, which must now prove if cancellation of a flight was necessary or not.

    [17] BSEC conference to be held in Athens

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Ministry of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization and the Ministry of Justice are organizing a conference of the Organization for Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), which will be held in Athens on February 21. Conference participants will be ministers of the interior and justice ministers of all BSEC member countries.

    The member countries are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldavia, Romania, Russia, Serbia-Montenegro, Turkey, Ukraine and Greece which has assumed the BSEC presidency from November 1, 2004 through April 30, 2005.

    After the conference - whose objective is to tighten cooperation among the organization's members and for Greece to share its know-how - a joint statement on institutional restructuring and proper governance is expected to be signed by the BSEC ministers of the interior and justice.

    [18] Basiakos addresses seminar on the theme 'The implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy in Greece'

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos, in opening the sessions on Wednesday of a three-day seminar on the theme "The implementation of the new Common Agricultural Policy in Greece", said that the government will intensify its efforts of briefing and exchanging views with the relevant agencies in every region of the countryside so that the facts and prospects of the new Common Agricultural Policy are made known to the farmers.

    "We will utilize every possibility, through studies, to each of the 13 administrative regions of the country, of the repercussions of the Common Agricultural Policy, for the restructuring of the cultivations and we will project every available investigative report for new cultivations, so as to give viable alternative solutions to the country's farmers," Basiakos said.

    The seminar will refer to the recent reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, with the implementation of which the way of supporting the agricultural income from 2006 and after will be altered.

    [19] Bank workers to strike Feb 21, 28

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    The bank employees' union said on Wednesday that its members will stage 24-hour strikes on February 21 and 28, continuing a string of walkouts since the end of January.

    Members are seeking introduction of a single supplementary pension system for all banking staff versus a piecemeal arrangement for each bank; and oppose alignment of sector pensions with the main state fund, which would lead to lower pensions and a higher retirement age.

    In addition, banks plan to join key state corporations in a 24-hour strike tentatively scheduled for March 17 to protest against government policy affecting incomes, pensions and company restructuring, the OTOE bank workers' union said in a statement.

    The March strike proposal by the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) is expected to be ratified at a board meeting in coming days. Civil servants may also take part.

    If the strike goes ahead, disruption is expected in services including state railways, telecoms, post offices, civil aviation, electricity and water.

    [20] Household debt up 28.9% in 2004

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Household debt to banks totalled 50.18 billion euros in 2004, marking a 28.9% rise from a year earlier, the Bank of Greece said in a routine report on Wednesday.

    The year's figure represents 30.5% of gross domestic product, the central bank report said.

    In December 2004, consumer loans rose by 37.4% year on year, the same as in the previous month, with unpaid balances totalling 17.05 billion euros. New mortgages rose by 24.8% year on year versus 24.5% a month earlier. Unpaid balances were 33.1 billion euros.

    Also in December 2004, loans to the private sector (companies and households) increased by 15.8% against the same month a year earlier, and the same as in November 2004. Unpaid balances totalled 117.20 billion euros, the report said.

    [21] General Secretariat for Consumers sets up European Consumer Centre

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    The General Secretariat for Consumers has set up a new service called the European Consumer Centre, where Greeks can complain or seek information following commercial transactions carried out across the border. It will also deal with the queries of European consumers visiting Greece.

    The service will operate for 2005-2006 with the support of the European Union and the Greek development ministry, while it forms part of a network of such centers operating in the 25 EU member-states.

    [22] Stocks rise in across-the-board buying

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher in across-the-board buying with a late round of selling taking the market down from the day's highs, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 3,025.36 points, posting a rise of 0.40%. Turnover was 344.5 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.52% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.08% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.26% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 167 to 124 with 56 remaining unchanged.

    [23] Supreme Court instructs prosecutors to press charges against judge, six lawyers

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    A Supreme Court deputy public prosecutor on Wednesday instructed two public prosecutors to press felony charges for corruption and bribery against First-Instance Court judge Leonidas Stathis and six lawyers.

    He said Stathis should face trial for repeatedly accepting bribes and for legalizing the proceeds of criminal activity through concealment. He also said that four lawyers be charged with misdemeanor offences for bribing a judge and a further two as accomplices to the bribery of a judge that demanded money.

    The two prosecutors were also told to press charges for any other offences that were revealed in the course of their investigation or had occurred in their opinion.

    Meanwhile, Supreme Court president George Kapos has asked for a retrospective inspection of whether First-Instance courts have in the past two years adhered to system of electing the panel of judges by lot.

    Also on Wednesday, First-Instance Court judge Panagiota Tzevi appeared before a Supreme Court justice to answer to charges that she issued rulings in favor of Archimandrite Iakovos Yossakis. If the charges are proved, Tzevi faces possible expulsion from the judicial body.

    Judges, prosecutors and lawyers outline concerns over corrupt justice in Parliament: Representatives of judges, public prosecutors and lawyers on Wednesday outlined their concerns about corruption in justice before the Parliamentary Committee for justice issues, and expressed doubts about whether these could be addressed by a draft bill tabled by the government.

    According to the head of the Public Prosecutors' Union Sotiris Bagias, justice in Greece was a "downgraded institution" with gaps and weaknesses that had already been covered by centers peripheral to justice. He underlined that the judicial body should be allowed to clean up justice and restore the institutions on its own.

    The head of the Athens Bar Association Dimitris Paxinos, however, seemed less convinced that the leadership of the justice system had the will for a thorough clean-up, referring to a "few oath-breaking and inadequate judges" and the "arrogant behavior of judges who think they are gods".

    While admitting that lawyers were also involved in cases of corruption, he stressed that every single one that had been charged and convicted for corruption had received suspended sentences.

    "We carried out our own clean-up, even though we were hindered - we wait for judicial officials to do the same," he said.

    The head of the Judges and Public Prosecutors Union, Supreme Court Vice-President Achilleas Zisis, underlined that "Justice has decided to cleanse itself and will cleanse itself". At the same time, he admitted that the Union had been slow to control the situation in justice in the past.

    He said that the full extent of the problem in justice was not yet known and that a thorough, in-depth inspection of everything was required.

    "With the existing structures, even if more judges come to the Supreme Court there will not be enough to cope with the hurricane of cases. There are structures that must change but these changes must pass through the Bar Association - and that's where we can't agree," he added.

    [24] Parliament passes bill creating Patras Cultural Capital 2006 organization

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Parliament on Wednesday passed a government bill founding the Patras Cultural Capital 2006 Organization, which was back by all the parties except the Communist Party of Greece.

    Presenting the bill, which will organize events in Patras during its year as Cultural Capital of Europe, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis was strongly critical of previous PASOK governments, which he said had failed to make any preparations in the city for its stint as Cultural Capital.

    The statement triggered a confrontation with main opposition MPs, who said the statement aimed to cover up the present government's own inactivity and planning vacuum.

    [25] Holy Synod agrees on main points to present to senior clergy on Friday

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Holy Synod convened on Wednesday and agreed upon the main points Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos will present to the Senior Clergy on Friday.

    According to Syros' Metropolitan Dorotheos, proposals will be based on the following three points:

    Members of the clergy committing moral offences must be taken to trial quickly; utilization of lower clergy and the faithful should be improved; and more mechanisms of control within the Church should be added.

    Dorotheos also emphasized that Christodoulos is concerned about the problems the Church is currently facing and asked the Holy Synod to refrain from premature judgment and to wait until Friday when the archbishop will present his proposals.

    [26] National Educational Council convened Wednesday

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    The National Educational Council held its second scheduled meeting at the Education Ministry on Wednesday.

    "During today's meeting, representatives of all groups - political parties, universities, and others which participate on the council - had the opportunity to express their views," the ministry's Secretary General Andreas Karamanos said in a press conference after the meeting.

    The Council's President, Professor Thanos Vemeris said that issues such as "the autonomy of high schools, evaluating institutions of higher education, continuing education," and others are on the council's agenda.

    In the early afternoon, however, teachers gathered outside the ministry and the Propyleae to express their opposition to the way in which the national dialogue on education is being conducted, calling it "superficial."

    [27] Main opposition leader visits schools, stresses threat to the environment

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou visited the 2nd Primary School of the Athens suburb of Nea Ionia on Wednesday, where he stressed the huge threat to the environment and the serious future problems that lay ahead.

    He said that PASOK was beginning a national dialogue on the environment to discuss all the problems, both in Greece and throughout the world, with the general public and the state and find solutions that offered hope for the environment in the future.

    Papandreou's visit was symbolic in nature, coinciding with the Day of the Environment and the day when the Kyoto Treaty came into effect.

    [28] Ioannina airport back in operation after radar breakdown repaired

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    Flights into and out of Ioannina airport resumed normally at 14:00 on Wednesday after a fault in the airport's radar-assisted approach system was repaired. Traffic had been interrupted since Tuesday evening as a result of the breakdown.

    New snow created additional problems throughout the prefecture, however, adding an additional 50cm to existing snow cover, which in some places was as deep as two meters. Many villages remain cut off, while snow chains are needed on roads in the mountains and rural networks, and several have reported repeated power and phone cuts.

    [29] President of the Republic receives Greek expatriate students

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Wednesday received 22 students descended from Greek expatriates currently studying at various universities in Australia that offer Greek Studies courses. The students are here for six weeks as guests of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

    [30] Envelope containing white powder sent to British Council in Athens

    Athens, 17/2/2005 (ANA)

    A member of staff at the British Council in Kolonaki, Athens on Wednesday found an envelope containing an unidentified white powder.

    The British Council alerted the fire department, which sent a team of 10 specially-trained firemen equipped with special suits to pick up the envelope and take it to the Centre for Special Diseases.

    The envelope's contents will be tested to see if they are toxic or whether the incident was a hoax.

    [31] New York hopes to host 2012 Olympics

    NEW YORK 17/2/2005 (ANA/P.Panagiotou)

    "The Athens experience was unique," a New York City official told the ANA on Wednesday, referring to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. New York hopes to host the 2012 Olympics and according to the official, the Athens Games helped the New York Bidding Committee for the 2012 Games "a great deal", resulting in quite a few corrections being made to the city's bid.

    New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited Athens twice, along with colleagues and associates, in order to witness first-hand Olympic preparations in the Greek capital.

    Next week, New York prepares to host 13 members of the International Olympic Committee within the context of bidding for the 2012 Games. One of the main issues on the agenda that will be discussed is whether or not a stadium will be built on Manhattan's West Side, which is to serve as the primary Olympic venue and has stirred quite a bit of controversy among New Yorkers.

    Finally, the New York federation of Greek associations decided to include New York's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games as the central theme of the National Greek Day Parade which will take place later this year on Fifth Avenue. According to the federation, promotion of New York's bid will be linked to the success of the Athens Games.

    [32] Cyprus government supports bilateral trade

    NICOSIA 17/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Wednesday the government supports and encourages without reservation trade and economic links between Greek and Turkish Cypriots within the law.

    ''Our goal is to see economic and commercial cooperation between businessmen from both communities because we believe this contributes to creating a climate of cooperation and understanding, something that will have wider favorable repercussions on the efforts to find a negotiated settlement,'' he said.

    The spokesman's comments come in the wake of a proposed visit to Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas by US businessmen, who will be accompanied by the commercial attache of the US embassy in Ankara.

    Chrysostomides said that supporting economic development of the Turkish Cypriots must not increase divisive tendencies but it must create conditions for mutual understanding.

    On the visit of the US businessmen, he reiterated the government's disagreement with such moves, pointing out that entry into the Republic through illegal ports of entry in the Turkish-occupied areas.

    The US has said the visit is part of efforts to help lift the ''isolation'' of the Turkish Cypriot.

    [33] Cyprus Foreign Minister: protests to US over illegal visit will continue

    NICOSIA 17/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou on Wednesday described as ''arbitrary'' the decision of US businessmen and the commercial attache of the American embassy in Ankara to arrive on the island via an illegal port of entry.

    ''This arbitrary action violates Cypriot legislation and UN Security Council resolutions,'' he said, referring to Thursday's arrival in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus of American businessmen, who will be accompanied by the US embassy commercial attache in Turkey.

    The minister said that government representations about this have not yielded the outcome Nicosia had asked for.

    ''We shall continue our efforts to end such arbitrary actions which violate not only our laws but also UN resolutions,'' he said.

    Since the 1974 Turkish invasion, Cyprus has declared illegal all ports and airports in the island's Turkish occupied areas.

    US Congressman sends letter to US Secretary of State over illegal visit: US Congressman Frank Pallone has sent a letter to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking for the reconsideration of a visit of an American business delegation to Cyprus' occupied areas, accompanied by an attache from the US Embassy in Ankara.

    In his letter the Congressman said the delegation would be breaking the law by entering Cyprus through an ''unauthorized'' airport in the occupied areas, describing the trip ill advised and illegal.

    ''Entering Cyprus from an illegal port of entry constitutes a violation of both Cyprus' domestic law and international law, and perhaps even more objectionable is the involvement of a US official in violating the laws,'' Pallone said in his letter, according to a press release issued by his office.

    [34] State Department: No change in US recognition policy on Cyprus

    NEW YORK 17/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    US activities to ease the ''isolation'' of the Turkish Cypriots do not change its recognition policy in any way, shape or form, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher has said.

    Referring to the forthcoming visit of an American business delegation to Cyprus' occupied areas, Boucher told his daily briefing in Washington ''there's a team of businesspeople that are going down to northern Cyprus to look at opportunities for cooperation. We are sending somebody from our Commercial Section, as we often do with business groups.''

    Asked if the delegation will visit the occupied areas via the Republic of Cyprus or directly, Boucher said ''they're coming down from Turkey, as we permitted.''

    Asked about a visit to Cyprus of USAID senior official of the Department of State, Thomas Mefford, to promote US-Turkish Cypriot partnership for growth, Boucher said ''I don't know how he traveled there. But in any case, our activities to ease the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots does not change our recognition policy in any way, shape or form.''

    The United States together with all countries in the world except Turkey do not recognize the illegal entity set up in the areas of Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish invasion, in line with UN resolutions.


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