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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-21

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 21, 2005


  • [01] PM Karamanlis visits Evros, inspects damage caused by floods along river
  • [02] PM Karamanlis: Government's goals are competitiveness and progress, with citizens supported by State
  • [03] State Department denies chill in relations with Athens, Greek foreign ministry
  • [04] State Department: No change in U.S. policy on recognition of occupied Cyprus
  • [05] Athens mayor and former premier Mitsotakis meet with Greek community in Cairo
  • [06] Minister of State opens Greek-Turkish journalists' conference, stressing improved relations
  • [07] Diplomats debate Greek-Turkish foreign policy
  • [08] Greece supports new monitoring mechanisms for small arms at UN Security Council
  • [09] Gov't to send immigration bill to parl't within days
  • [10] PASOK leader supports Portuguese Socialist Party candidate ahead of Feb. 20 elections
  • [11] Main opposition leader reports high turnout in party vote
  • [12] Government media bill expected by early summer
  • [13] Gov't says file on Nov. 17 terrorist group still open
  • [14] Gov't making slow but sure progress, minister says
  • [15] Communist Party vows to work for more support
  • [16] Church of Greece Hierarchs end meeting, decide to set up Supreme Examining Council
  • [17] Gov't pledges to spur growth
  • [18] Greece and Bulgaria to sign protocol for cooperation in road and rail links
  • [19] Explosive device at Patriarchate an armed hand-grenade, Turkish police say
  • [20] Truck carrying battery acid overturned in Keratsini; emergency services called out to contain leak
  • [21] Russian-flagged cargo ship safe after running aground
  • [22] Foreign nationals account for 10.3% of population, survey shows
  • [23] President of the Republic launches education centre
  • [24] SAE's Europe branch convenes in Thessaloniki
  • [25] Cypriot UN ambassador denounces Turkish 'construction frenzy' in occupied Cyprus

  • [01] PM Karamanlis visits Evros, inspects damage caused by floods along river

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Saturday morning visited areas flooded by the Evros River, whose rising waters swept over its banks to inundate crops and threaten houses the previous day.

    Karamanlis was briefed on the extent of the damage at Mandras near Didymotichos, which was hardest-hit by the floods, by regional authority general secretary Mihalis Angelopoulos and Evros Prefect Nikos Zambounidis.

    In statements afterwards, the premier stressed that the entire machinery of the state, local authorities, regional authorities, the Civil Protection General Secretariat, the Armed Forces, the police and the emergency services had mobilized promptly and effectively, declaring a state of emergency in the area before a serious problem arose and thus avoiding the worst.

    "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that give their best, especially in such difficult hours," Karamanlis added.

    At the same time, he noted the need for public works to improve anti-flooding defenses in the area and fully protect local inhabitants and their property, as well as for better coordination and cooperation with other countries that the Evros River traverses, such as Turkey and Bulgaria, in handling the flow of water down the river.

    "At this point I want to underline that the priority is to restore the damage. We must immediately proceed with the assessment of damages so that compensation for victims can be paid out as soon as possible," he said.

    Karamanlis was accompanied in his on-the-spot inspection by Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis, Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis and Civil Protection General Secretary Panagiotis Fourlas.

    A state of emergency was declared in the region around the Evros River on Thursday night after water levels started to rise alarmingly, creating a risk that the river would flood its embankments. The rise in water levels was attributed to thawing snow in neighboring Bulgaria, where a cold snap was followed by a rapid rise in temperatures.

    Authorities decided to reduce the pressure on embankments by artificially breaching them at selected points and inducing controlled floods away from homes and villages in order to reduce the volume of water coursing down the river.

    Immediately after his visit to Evros, Karamanlis departed for a scheduled trip to the island of Samothrace, which was also hard hit in a recent wave of bad weather, where he is due to visit the local archaeological site and museum and speak at the local Arts Centre.

    Minister praises emergency services in handling northern flood: Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Sunday praised handling by state services of flooding in the northeast after the Evros river broke its banks.

    "The state's presence was effective, acted to prevent damage, and, despite the volume of water that was unprecedented for Evros, there have been no problems," Pavlopoulos told reporters in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

    Speaking at the scene of flooding, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis welcomed a drop in the water level to 6.08 meters from 6.25 meters but warned that the situation remained critical.

    [02] PM Karamanlis: Government's goals are competitiveness and progress, with citizens supported by State

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    A competitive country, a society that produced and progressed and a State that was close to its citizens were the three main political goals of the government, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Saturday as he addressed a gathering on the island of Samothrace.

    The premier also referred to the situation left in its wake by the previous PASOK government, saying that his government's policy was to restore fiscal stability and the reliability of the Greek economy without transferring this burden onto its citizens.

    "Our country now faces many serious problems, since hidden debts and public deficits have led to a major fiscal problem. The reforms and changes that have for many years been needed to the state and the economy have not been carried out. Our competitiveness declined; our exports were shrinking; development was limited only to certain sectors and did not spread to the whole country; regional and social inequalities were widening; unemployment was and remains the greatest social ill in our country; bureaucracy and corruption had become a scourge of society; the State had turned its back on the citizens," Karamanlis said.

    He stressed that the government wanted to deal with the problems at their roots and would initiate a series of "bold institutional interventions, a revolution of quality" in all aspects of public life, the state and its services. As examples, he cited the government's recent tax reforms, the new development bill and a new and simpler set of rules for business start-ups.

    Karamanlis also underlined the government's policies for development outside the capital, referring to the problems faced by Samothrace and prospects for development on the island.

    He pledged that the State would stand alongside the islanders in their efforts to restore damage suffered during a recent spate of bad weather, noting that livestock farmers will be compensated within two months from the official record of damage and crop farmers within three.

    He also promised the island its own, fully-equipped Civil Protection agency branch that will be able to deal with extreme weather conditions independently and that the island will be included in various regional programs underway in northern Greece.

    Finally, Karamanlis pledged that damage to the roof of the Samothrace Museum will be quickly repaired and that the government will work to promote the island's archaeological site as a destination for visitors.

    [03] State Department denies chill in relations with Athens, Greek foreign ministry

    WASHINGTON 21/2/2005 (ANA - A. Ellis)

    U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Friday denied a report in the Greek newspaper "To Vima", according to which Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis was unwelcome in the United States and the Greek desk at the State Department "almost non-existent".

    "Well, the Greek desk exists. I have friends who work there and I see them often and they definitely exist and still work hard on U.S.-Greek relations," Boucher said, stressing that Greece and the United States remained "good allies and friends" and that bilateral relations were "fine".

    "Greece is an important ally of ours, and I don't think anybody should ever denigrate that. We have been working with them. The Secretary had a brief conversation with Foreign Minister Molyviatis during her recent trip to Europe, and I'm sure they will continue to talk and see each other and work together on the many issues that we have in common," he said.

    [04] State Department: No change in U.S. policy on recognition of occupied Cyprus

    WASHINGTON 21/2/2005 (ANA - A. Ellis)

    U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Friday underlined that a recent visit to the occupied northern territories of Cyprus by a U.S. business delegation and the U.S. commercial attache in Ankara did not signal a change in U.S. policy on recognition of the Turkish-occupied territories on Cyprus.

    Asked if he considered the visit legal, Boucher described it as a "normal business and economic visit".

    "It doesn't have any legal implications or any implications for our policy of recognition," he added.

    Asked to clarify why the United States was now proceeding with such business trips after avoiding them for the past 30 years, the spokesman said the U.S. was now making an effort to "end the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriots" and considered economic exchanges and activity to be one way to do that.

    [05] Athens mayor and former premier Mitsotakis meet with Greek community in Cairo

    ALEXANDRIA 21/2/2005 (ANA - N. Katsikas)

    Continuing their visit to Egypt on Saturday, former premier and honorary New Democracy president Costas Mitsotakis and his daughter Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis met representatives of the Greek Community in Cairo.

    Visiting the Cairo Greek Community Hospital, as well as institution and schools run by the Community in the Egyptian capital, Bakoyannis expressed admiration for the work it had accomplished and proposed to Community leader Christos Kavalis that there be a joint celebration of the Greek Community's centennial in Cairo and Athens.

    "It is significant when a historic community exhibits such energy and initiatives, especially when it has no support from a national centre," she stressed.

    Admiration for the community's work was also expressed by Mitsotakis, who last visited Cairo 13 years ago when he represented Greece at events marking the 50th anniversary since the battle of El Alamein in 1992.

    According to the former premier, having lived through the decline of Egyptian Greeks all these years, he was now surprised to find that the community "was again alive".

    During their visit Kavalis outlined the Community's work in order to restore Greek community institutions and organizations to financial health, noting that the Greek hospital had ended the previous year with a surplus of 50,000 euros, whereas four years ago it had been 105,000 euros in the red.

    Later on Saturday, Bakoyannis was scheduled to meet Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq Hosni, followed by a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit and the Governor of Cairo Dr. Abdul Azeem Wazir on Sunday.

    After Sunday, the Athens mayor and Mitsotakis will visit Alexandria and Greek Community foundations there, while on Monday they will both be received by the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa Theodoros II.

    On Monday afternoon they will attend the official launch of the "Dialogue between Cultures" Conference organized by the Library of Alexandria, in which Bakoyannis but also the mayor of the Greek island of Hydra will be speaking.

    [06] Minister of State opens Greek-Turkish journalists' conference, stressing improved relations

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos on Saturday delivered the opening address for the 3rd Greek-Turkish Journalists Conference that will take place in Athens over Saturday and Sunday, organized by the Greek-Turkish Initiative Team and the Athens prefecture.

    Stressing the great improvement in bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey in recent years, Roussopoulos said it proved that the quality of relations between the two countries largely depended on a common desire for cooperation and dialogue.

    "We have to remember that the quality of relations between our countries is not a factor independent of our own actions and volition. On the contrary, it is directly proportional to the extent of the influence in each of our societies of one simple conviction: That cooperation is a more effective strategy than conflict; that dialogue is a better way of solving our differences than intransigency. That a peaceful future of friendship and solidarity between our countries will benefit both peoples," he said.

    Such actions did not only concern the governments of Greece and Turkey but all social forces on either side of the Aegean, including journalists, business, scientists, artists and ordinary people, he added.

    Referring to the European Union's decision to give Turkey a date for the start of accession negotiations, he said this was both a practical and symbolic ratification of Turkey's European prospects that opened up a new era.

    At the same time, he noted that a "long and difficult road" lay ahead, in which Greece and Turkey would have to speed up the process of overcoming the deeply ingrained prejudices and stereotypes of the past.

    The conference is being attended by 40 Turkish journalists, some of them working for major Turkish dailies and TV networks. It will take place in two parts, one on "Prospects within the European Union" and the second on "A Review of the Past Years".

    [07] Diplomats debate Greek-Turkish foreign policy

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    Experts from Greece and Turkey debated foreign policy between the countries at a forum arranged by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) with Istanbul's Policy Centre.

    "We are fighting yesterday's battles. Greece's territorial integrity would not be further safeguarded if we extended our territorial waters, and neither would Turkey be more secure if it acquired a rocky islet in the Aegean," Ambassador Vyron Theodoropoulos said in Saturday's discussion.

    "We have to reassess our differences and incorporate them in terms of current conditions in each of the two countries, and in terms of their priorities. Greece and Turkey should think about whether it really suits them to perpetuate their differences over the Aegean. Turkey, especially, should re-examine its position in the light of its move towards Europe," Theodoropoulos said.

    According to Ilter Turkmen, a former foreign minister, no major progress was likely to be seen in the Cyprus issue over the next four to five years.

    In addition, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos would continually be seeking recognition of the Cyprus Republic by Ankara, Turkmen said.

    At the same time, extension of customs union between Turkey and the Cyprus Republic would go ahead without incident, the veteran diplomat forecast.

    [08] Greece supports new monitoring mechanisms for small arms at UN Security Council

    NEW YORK 21/2/2005 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)

    Greece supports the introduction of new binding mechanisms for tracing and monitoring small arms and light weaponry, such as the use of certificates for final users of such arms, the Greek UN Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis said during an opening meeting of the UN Security Council on Friday.

    Greece is a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2005 and 2006.

    [09] Gov't to send immigration bill to parl't within days

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government will send to parliament a bill in coming days that contains its new immigration policy, also seeking consensus from other political parties to forge long-term measures, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said on Sunday.

    "The policy will show respect for immigrants and their personalities, and it will be based on maintenance of law and order," Pavlopoulos told a seminar held by the Immigration Policy Institute in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.

    "Greece rapidly needs to adapt to new conditions and policies on immigration already in place in other European Union countries," the minister said.

    Among innovations to existing law is the fact that would-be immigrants will have to know why they are coming to Greece, how long they will stay, for whom they will work and which social insurance fund they will join, he added.

    [10] PASOK leader supports Portuguese Socialist Party candidate ahead of Feb. 20 elections

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    PASOK President George Papandreou, the leader of Greece's left-leaning main opposition party, has lent his support to Portugal's Socialist Party leader Jose Socrates in his pre-election campaign, ahead of Portugal's general elections on February 20.

    Papandreou addressed a dinner given by Socrates for various personalities supporting his candidacy on Friday night and afterward took part in a pre-election rally organized by Socrates' Socialists.

    In his speech, PASOK's leader compared Socrates' efforts to modernize Portugal's Socialist Party with his own efforts within PASOK.

    He also claimed that Greece's current prime minister, Costas Karamanlis, had gotten his own inspiration from former Portuguese premier José Manuel Durao Barroso, who is widely viewed as quitting the crisis-stricken premiership in his country to take refuge in the European Commission presidency.

    According to Papandreou, a vote for Socrates would also be a victory for Europe and the Portuguese vote would send a strong message to Greek voters.

    [11] Main opposition leader reports high turnout in party vote

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    George Papandreou, leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), said on Sunday that voting turnout was high in polling to choose delegates for a national congress on March 3.

    "This shows optimism, interest, volition, and conviction about PASOK's tomorrow and the future of Greece," Papandreou told reporters when he cast his vote.

    "The government has created very great pessimism." he added.

    [12] Government media bill expected by early summer

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos said in an interview published on Sunday that he expected a government bill regulating the media would be ready by early summer.

    The bill will tackle the concentration of media in few hands and issue of licenses to radio and television stations, said Roussopoulos, who is also government spokesman, in an interview to the Sunday Vima newspaper.

    "It is unacceptable that 18 years after operation of the first non-state radio station that only a few in Athens have operating licenses. And 16 years after private television was launched, official licenses have yet to be awarded to private TV stations," Roussopoulos said.

    "This is unacceptable at best, and shows how the (former) PASOK government favored independence of the media and modernization of the state," he added.

    [13] Gov't says file on Nov. 17 terrorist group still open

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis said in an interview published on Sunday that the file on the November 17 terrorist group was still open.

    Asked by the Sunday Hora newspaper if the group had been fully exposed, the minister said: "From the moment that the hard executive core has been exposed and all the killings have been resolved, the organization is deemed to have been exposed...(But) the file has not been closed. There are angles in the affair and questions that are still being probed and will be probed until convincing answers have been found.''

    Turning to the recent killing of a security guard outside the British military attaché's residence near Athens, the minister said all options were open.

    "If we're talking about a terrorist act, we're dealing with a type of terrorist operation of unprecedented violence. While the investigation is in progress, however, it is difficult to make an assessment," Voulgarakis said.

    [14] Gov't making slow but sure progress, minister says

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said in an interview published on Sunday that the government was making steady progress in reforms it has promised.

    "(Ruling) New Democracy made a commitment to change and reform, and that is what it is doing. The government is taking slow but steady steps towards meeting its commitments," the minister told the Sunday Vradyni newspaper.

    He was asked whether the government's four-year term in office that began in March last year was enough to achieve its targets.

    [15] Communist Party vows to work for more support

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) said on Sunday that it would work to secure more support, especially from workers and trade unions, also taking active part in issues of local government and youth.

    In a political resolution released at the end of a party congress, the KKE said it would also continue its initiatives against imperialism and war, showing solidarity with oppressed peoples.

    "The party's mobilization and its upward course in recent years have confirmed the vitality of communist ideas. The attempt by opponents to relegate the party to the sidelines, to deprive it of the prestige it has accrued through its history, has failed to bear fruit," the resolution said.

    [16] Church of Greece Hierarchs end meeting, decide to set up Supreme Examining Council

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Hierarchs of the Church of Greece, a body including all metropolitans and bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church, ended a crucial meeting spread over two days on Saturday evening with a decision to set up a Supreme Examining Council that will look into all complaints involving high-ranking members of the clergy.

    The proposed Council, whose task will be to investigate charges and make recommendations to the Holy Synod, will be headed by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece and include among its members vice-presidents from the Supreme Court, the Council of State, the State Audit Council and the State Legal Council.

    The Holy Synod is to present its proposals for the Council to the government, which has the power to create such the body.

    The meeting was held to discuss proposed reforms made by Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, made in the wake of damaging allegations and revelations concerning corrupt clerics that have dominated media headlines in the past weeks.

    According to reports, it did not pass without incident, however, with several of the metropolitans protesting strongly over the procedure imposed by Christodoulos.

    The gathering also voted for a new metropolitan for the Patras diocese, electing Chrysostomos Sklifas with a large majority of 66 votes.

    Other measures decided on during the meeting included the simplification of often ornate priestly robes used during religious services.

    [17] Gov't pledges to spur growth

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Sunday that the government was resolved to maintain its drive to boost growth, removing the obstacles that had mounted under the previous administration.

    Among moves taken so far were a development bill providing incentives to growth and a simplification of procedures for manufacturing companies to obtain operating permits, the minister told an annual assembly of the Association of Thessaly Industries in Larissa.

    Part of the change for manufacturers was the fact that prefectural industry departments were being given a development orientation, incorporating staff from town planning and environmental protection units in order to provide a one-stop shop, he added.

    In the northern port city of Thessaloniki, Deputy Development Minister George Salagoudis told a seminar on development initiated by Sioufas that the government was resolved to spur participation by the regions in the country's growth.

    [18] Greece and Bulgaria to sign protocol for cooperation in road and rail links

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis is to meet his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolai Vasilev on Monday at the Greek-Bulgarian border crossing at Promahona, where they will sign a protocol for bilateral cooperation in establishing road and rail links.

    The meeting will be attended by Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis and Deputy Finance Minister Adam Regouzas.

    [19] Explosive device at Patriarchate an armed hand-grenade, Turkish police say

    ANKARA 21/2/2005 (ANA - A. Abatzis)

    The explosive device found in the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar and neutralized by a Turkish bomb squad on Saturday was an armed hand-grenade, Turkish police reported.

    According to an ANA correspondent in Ankara, the unexploded grenade was spotted on the roof of St. George's Church within the Patriarchate grounds by a crew of window-cleaners.

    Turkish police said the grenade may have been thrown any time in the past month but went unnoticed because it did not explode.

    The Ecumenical Patriarchate has been the target of similar attacks several times in the past, with grenades lobbed from the area behind the grounds and always landing near the same spot on the roof of the church. Past attacks have been accompanied by explosions.

    The last time the Patriarchate was the focus of tensions was during the Feast of the Epiphany, when ultra-right-wing protestors had gathered in the area and extremely tight security measures were taken around the Patriarchate's grounds.

    Commenting from Athens, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos unequivocally condemned the incident as "extremist behavior and an act of bigotry" that targeted the "crowning institution of the Orthodox faith worldwide".

    He stressed that such actions "conflict with European values and principles and must be dealt with immediately and effectively by Turkish authorities".

    The spokesman said that Greek diplomatic and consular authorities in Ankara and Istanbul had already conveyed their deep concern over the incident to Turkish authorities and asked for stronger security measures around the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    [20] Truck carrying battery acid overturned in Keratsini; emergency services called out to contain leak

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    The police and fire department in Piraeus were placed on alert on Saturday after a truck carrying containers of battery acid overturned at a junction in Keratsini, spilling hydrochloric acid onto the road.

    Ten fire-fighting vehicles and 30 firemen were called out to contain the leak, which filled the area with acrid, foul-smelling fumes. Police are now directing traffic away from the area while firemen try to stop the leak by dumping sand on the containers.

    According to a fire officer, all measures necessary to stop the leak are being taken.

    [21] Russian-flagged cargo ship safe after running aground

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    A Russian-flagged cargo ship carrying timber ran aground south of the Ionian island of Kefallonia, taking in water, the merchant marine ministry said on Sunday.

    The Baltiyskiy-21, which had left Ukraine headed for Spain, was able to sail away unaided, later anchoring off the island of Zakynthos, the ministry said in a statement.

    No injuries were reported among the vessel's crew of seven Ukrainians and five Russians, and there was no maritime pollution. Coastguard vessels were nearby if assistance was needed, the statement added.

    [22] Foreign nationals account for 10.3% of population, survey shows

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign nationals residing in Greece were estimated at about 1.15 million people at the end of 2004, or 10.3% of the population, up from 270,000 in 1991, the Immigration Policy Institute said on Sunday.

    A survey by the institute showed that the largest concentration of non-Greek nationals was in municipal Athens at 132,000, representing about 17% of the city's population.

    Next came the northern port city of Thessaloniki with 27,000 immigrants, or 7.0% of its population.

    Between July 2003 and October 2004, 700,000 residence permits were issued with 509,000 permits in force in January 2004, which fell to 250,000 permits in September of the same year, the survey showed.

    The highest percentage of immigrants with residence permits were Albanians at 63.2%, followed by Bulgarians (9.8%), Romanians (4.3%), Ukrainians (3.4%), Pakistanis (2.4%), and Georgians (2.2%).

    [23] President of the Republic launches education centre

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    President Kostis Stephanopoulos on Sunday inaugurated the international Stavros Niarchos Centre for the Greek Educational Tradition and Professional Training at the University of Ioannina in the country's northwest.

    The centre aims to link ethnic Greeks abroad with their country of origin.

    The centre will receive 130 people from Greece and abroad, mainly young people of Greek origin, with an accompanying lodge offering sleeping quarters to 44 people.

    In his speech the outgoing president of the republic praised president-elect Karolos Papoulias saying that he was aware of the latter's ''virtues and capabilities''.

    Stephanopoulos also referred to the functioning of democracy, the government, political parties but also to the responsibilities of the citizen. The political parties, he said, should propose programs and should explain them to voters. These programs should be implemented when the party proposing them comes to power.

    [24] SAE's Europe branch convenes in Thessaloniki

    Athens, 21/2/2005 (ANA)

    The World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) European branch convened in Thessaloniki on Sunday and examined mainly educational issues affecting ethnic Greeks around the world.

    Stephanos Tambakis, SAE's alternate president, noted that the council needed support from the Greek state, underlining the need for coordinated action between the Greek state, SAE, Greeks living abroad, cultural foundations and private agencies for the promotion of the Greek language and culture as part of the identity of ethnic Greeks.

    [25] Cypriot UN ambassador denounces Turkish 'construction frenzy' in occupied Cyprus

    NEW YORK 21/2/2005 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)

    The Cypriot ambassador to the United Nations Andreas Markoyiannakis denounced Turkish occupation authorities in northern Cyprus for embarking on "frenzy of construction" on Greek-Cypriot properties in the occupied territories, in a letter addressed to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    He also accused Ankara of "even greater arrogance" after the April referendums, in which Greek-Cypriots had rejected the Annan plan for reuniting Cyprus.

    In his letter on Friday, the Cypriot ambassador stressed that the withdrawal of Turkish occupation troops from the island is "not on Turkey's daily agenda", in flagrant violation of successive resolutions by the UN Security Council, the European Parliament and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly that called for unconditional withdrawal, irrespective of any political solution.

    Pointing to statements by Turkish generals that "not even one Turkish soldier will leave Cyprus unless the Cyprus problem is solved", he further accused the occupation regime of unacceptable activity that sought to create new accomplished facts with respect to Turkish settlers and Greek-Cypriot property on the island.

    According to Markoyiannakis, taking their cue from the Annan plan that would have only partially restored the legal rights of Greek-Cypriot refugees to return to their homes and property while allowing Turkish settlers to continue to live in the same, Ankara had launched an unprecedented and frenzied drive for the development and sale of Greek Cypriot-owned properties in the occupied north, as well as illegally importing more settlers from Turkey on the pretext that they were construction workers.

    He also stressed that the main reason why the Cyprus problem still existed and the island republic remained the last divided country in Europe while the human rights of Cypriots continued to be violated was the "continued Turkish occupation of the north part of the island".

    Quoting extracts of resolutions by international bodies, including the UN, which demand the withdrawal of Turkey's troops from Cyprus, Markoyiannakis underlined that Turkey continued to violate the principle that the invasion and occupation of territory by force was unacceptable and that this could not be "changed unless it is corrected by the side that flouts and rules and principles of international law."

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