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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-02-22

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 22, 2005


  • [01] PM Karamanlis to raise Balkan affairs at NATO and EU leaders meeting in Brussels
  • [02] Greek ministers brief Brussels on 'primary shareholder' law
  • [03] Gov't downplays significance of Portuguese election on local political scene
  • [04] Athens on results from Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus
  • [05] BSEC ministers meet in Athens, agree to join forces against bureaucracy and graft
  • [06] PM asks Parliament president to set date for off-the-agenda debate on health issues
  • [07] Church proceeds with internal corruption probe; handful of measures approved
  • [08] PASOK president doesn't foresee early elections
  • [09] Third Greek-Turkish Reporters Convention held in Athens
  • [10] ND Eurodeputy calls for revocation of Commission's decision to halt distribution of Greek newspapers to Greek correspondents
  • [11] Parliament president receives ambassadors of Algeria, Belgium
  • [12] Greece and Bulgaria to cooperate in improving road and rail networks linking two countries
  • [13] Gov't seeks to make Thessaloniki business centre for Balkans
  • [14] All preparations for new financial crimes unit in motion, finance ministry reports
  • [15] EU will continue subsidizing cotton, Commission says
  • [16] Gov't to ease cash crisis for exporters hit by euro rise vs dollar
  • [17] Tourism Ministry aims to promote 'medical tourism'
  • [18] Gov't on strike at private radio station
  • [19] Greek Food Safety Agency withdraws sauce from market after EU warning
  • [20] National Quality Council holds first meeting
  • [21] Stocks drop in profit-taking
  • [22] Greece gave its best for the Athens 2004 Olympics, mayor Bakoyannis tells event in Egypt
  • [23] Stephanopoulos attends events marking the liberation of Ioannina
  • [24] Deputy Culture Minister Tatoulis inaugurates 'Crusades, Myth and Reality' exhibition
  • [25] Greek delegation attends 3rd International Earth Observation Summit in Brussels
  • [26] Psytallia sludge is not polluting environment, EYDAP officials assert
  • [27] Gene technology's prospects positive in the long term, Agricultural Ministry's SG says
  • [28] Cyprus government evaluates voting in Turkish occupied areas
  • [29] US welcomes result of ''elections''

  • [01] PM Karamanlis to raise Balkan affairs at NATO and EU leaders meeting in Brussels

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Monday announced that Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis intended to raise the issue of the Balkans and their current situation and prospects at a meeting of NATO and European Union leaders taking place in Brussels on Tuesday.

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros announced that the premier will be departing for Brussels on Monday afternoon. He clarified that Karamanlis was on a very tight schedule and will not be meeting with any of the other foreign leaders during his visit, pointing out that such contacts were usually made on the sidelines of official meetings.

    Antonaros was unable to confirm whether the premier would also raise the matter of the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over its adopted name of 'Macedonia', noting only that it was among Balkan issues.

    Accompanying Karamanlis on his trip to Brussels will be Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Minister of State Theodoros Roussopoulos and Deputy Economy Minister Christos Folias.

    [02] Greek ministers brief Brussels on 'primary shareholder' law

    BRUSSELS 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek ministers Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Theodoris Roussopoulos, who hold the interior/public administration and ministry of state portfolios, respectively, met here on Monday with Internal Market Directorate-General Alexander Schaub for talks focusing squarely on the recently ratified "primary shareholder" law.

    The law, proposed by the government and recently passed by a majority of Parliament deputies, fulfills a pre-election promise by the ruling New Democracy party to curb the influence of state contractors and suppliers in the broadcast media (radio and television) sector.

    The meeting took place after an initiative by the Greek government and in the wake of certain reservations aired by the Commission.

    Deputy Economy Minister Christos Folias also participated in the meeting.

    [03] Gov't downplays significance of Portuguese election on local political scene

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Monday dismissed any parallel between the political situation in the east Mediterranean country and results from the weekend election in Portugal, noting that "Greeks vote in Greece, not the Portuguese".

    Same-day reports by a segment of the local press cited parallels between a high-profile "fiscal audit" carried out by the government last year and a similar initiative undertaken by a previous centre-right government in Lisbon.

    The fiscal audit resulted in a revision Greece's budget deficit figures for the coming period.

    The EU Commission in early February recommended an extension, to the end of 2006, of a deadline for bringing Greece's budget deficit below the 3-percent benchmark. The deficit was re-calculated at an estimated 5.5 percent of GDP in 2004, with the Commission forecasting 3.6 percent this year and meeting the limit of 3 percent for 2006.

    The Karamanlis government's decision to proceed with the fiscal audit, however, has been supported, among others, by Eurostat, the EU Commission and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Conversely, it was bitterly opposed by the main opposition PASOK party, which was in power during the 2000-2002 period, the focus of recent deficit revisions.

    Papandreou hails results of Portuguese election: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday said the victory of the socialist party in Portugal a day earlier was also a defeat for "neo-liberal forces" and petty political games, a reference to a high-profile "fiscal audit" that recently revised Greece's budget deficit figures.

    Papandreou said the policy of ordering a fiscal audit -- a pre-election promise implemented by the Karamanlis government -- has already caused negative repercussions.

    Moreover, he said Portuguese citizens, just as their Greek counterparts, reject the notion of "economic shock therapies", whereas, for instance, the socialist governments moved Portugal along "the path of development".

    [04] Athens on results from Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Monday voiced its hope that the "election process" in the Turkish-occupied areas of northern Cyprus over the weekend will contribute towards the Turkish Cypriot side's willingness to play a "more productive role in finding a solution to the Cyprus problem".

    The Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state is recognized only by Turkey, although the leadership elected in so-called elections held in the occupied areas serves as an interlocutor for the internationally recognized and EU member-state Republic of Cyprus.

    [05] BSEC ministers meet in Athens, agree to join forces against bureaucracy and graft

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Interior and justice ministers of Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) pact countries meeting in Athens on Monday signed a joint declaration for an administrative agreement to tackle bureaucracy and corruption. Greece currently holds the rotating presidency of the BSEC.

    The 12 ministers met under the auspices of the Greek foreign ministry and agreed to create a permanent working committee to promote administrative organization and cooperation, whose target will be "institutional renewal and good governance".

    At a press conference afterward, Greek interior and justice ministers Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Anastasios Papaligouras, respectively, stressed the importance of administrative infrastructure in promoting economic cooperation within the BSEC and stressed that Greece's experience within the European Union could be very useful to its BSEC partners.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said the meeting had been a great success, with BSEC member-states represented at a high level, including two deputy premiers from Georgia and Turkey. He said this lent additional weight to Monday's decision to combat bureaucracy and graft and also highlighted the commitment of BSEC member-states to strengthen the pact and the multilateral cooperation between its members.

    [06] PM asks Parliament president to set date for off-the-agenda debate on health issues

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday sent a letter to Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki, asking her to set a date for an off-the-agenda debate on health issues in Parliament.

    In his letter, Karamanlis stressed that a strategic goal of the government was a better life for all Greek citizens. Health, social solidarity and the degree to which the state fulfilled its obligation to provide all citizens with modern and high-level health services were a basic parameter in this effort, the premier added.

    "From the first moment that we undertook the responsibility of governing the country, we have made coordinated efforts in this direction and have been consistent in carrying out our government program, lending an ear to every useful idea that contributes to carrying out this national and social vision," he said.

    Karamanlis also noted that understanding and joint effort by all political forces was a condition for moving more quickly to a modern health system and expressed the view that a debate on "Health and Social Solidarity" between the political leaders in Parliament might help in this direction.

    [07] Church proceeds with internal corruption probe; handful of measures approved

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    A spokesman for the standing Holy Synod on Monday provided more information over ongoing and internal Church of Greece investigations into charges of corruption, financial graft and inappropriate behavior by a bevy of high-ranking ecclesiastical leaders, mostly Metropolitans and Archimandrites.

    Among others, the spokesman said a recently established Holy Synod committee of Metropolitans will probe the same-day press reports alleging that Metropolitan of Attica Panteleimon controls an off-shore company that manages money of at least 18 bank accounts in his name.

    Panteleimon has already been suspended from duties at his archdiocese (which covers much the prefecture surrounding the greater Athens area) for six months.

    Additionally, the spokesman -- Metropolitan of Syros Dorotheos -- said a set of measures aimed at more transparency and tighter control within the influential Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece were overwhelming passed by the Holy Synod's members over the weekend.

    Measures include the establishment of a high-ranking council charged with probing allegations of corruption (61 votes out of a possible 71); participation of a layman counsel at ecclesiastical tribunals (65 votes); as well as the submission of a "statement of means and wealth" by high-ranking Church leaders (61 votes).

    Gov't again comments on Church-related issues: The government on Monday again answered questions referring to ongoing corruption furor plaguing the Church of Greece's top leadership, with the spokesman stressing that the government will applaud every measure to combat corruption and mismanagement.

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros answered a bevy of questions dealing with mostly Church-related issues, noting that many of the developments to see the light of day recently are an internal Church matter.

    [08] PASOK president doesn't foresee early elections

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou said he did not see a reason for early elections to be held, in comments he made after the meeting of the Secretariat of the National Council for the party's restructuring, which was held in Athens on Monday.

    He also said that if Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had wanted early elections he could have achieved this by naming a presidential candidate which it knew PASOK would not agree on. Instead, the government nominated Karolos Papoulias, who had served as foreign minister under PASOK governments, and who won the majority vote in Parliament earlier this month.

    Regarding the crisis facing the Greek Orthodox Church, Papandreou said that transparency needs to prevail throughout the institution. He also stressed that the issue is not merely removing the guilty individuals, but rather effectively protecting the institution itself. He accused the government of trying to control the Church and being indifferent to whether it functions properly as an institution or not.

    [09] Third Greek-Turkish Reporters Convention held in Athens

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    State Minister Theodoros Roussopoulos, Turkish State Minister Beshir Atalai, members of the media and others were among those attending the Third Greek-Turkish Reporters Convention which was held in central Athens on February 18-20.

    The conference was co-organized by the Greek-Turkish Initiative Team and the Athens Prefecture.

    Speaking at the conference, Atalai referred to the two countries' friendly relations and cooperation and stressed the great importance of relations between the two countries' journalists. He also referred to the Turkish government's efforts to meet EU standards and emphasized that the basis for relations between the two countries should be 'healthy communication'.

    Atalai talked about the progress achieved in bilateral relations, highlighting the 25 agreements signed by the two countries. He said that he had witnessed first-hand the warm and friendly mood existing between the two sides when he escorted Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his trip to Greece last year.

    Finally, he said that the Turkish government hopes to further improve bilateral relations in order to resolve all problems, which according to Atalai, will not only benefit the two countries, but will benefit peace, stability and security in the region.

    The convention's two main topics were "Prospects in the European Union" and a "Review of Recent Years."

    Turkish Journalists participating in the convention included Ishmet Berkan, Ali Sirmen, Gouduz Aktan, Mehmet Gilmaz, Zeinep Oral and others. Greek journalists participating in the conference included Pantelis Kapsis, Kostas Spyropoulos, Giannis Pretenteris, Babis Koutras and others.

    [10] ND Eurodeputy calls for revocation of Commission's decision to halt distribution of Greek newspapers to Greek correspondents

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Ruling New Democracy (ND) Eurodeputy Manolis Mavrommatis, in a written question on Monday called for the revocation of the decision by the officials of the Press and Mass Media Services of the European Commission with which was halted the distribution of the Greek newspapers at the Press Centre where the correspondents of the Greek and other foreign newspapers work and have their offices.

    According to a press release by the press office of the ND's Parliamentary Group at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday, Mavrommatis ascertained that the Commission's press services significantly decreased the distributed press to the permanent foreign correspondents, while in the case of the Greek journalists the halting of Greek newspapers and publications was entire.

    Mavrommatis, Vice-President of the Parliamentary Group on Mass Media at the European Parliament, made known this incident to the relevant services, while in a question to the relevant Commissioner, he asked on what criteria this decision was taken.

    [11] Parliament president receives ambassadors of Algeria, Belgium

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Monday received Belgian Ambassador to Athens Peter Moors and the Algerian Ambassador in Athens Ahmed Benyamina. During a brief meeting, Psarouda-Benaki exchanged views with the two foreign envoys on European issues, such as the ratification of the European Constitution treaty.

    [12] Greece and Bulgaria to cooperate in improving road and rail networks linking two countries

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis and his Bulgarian counterpart Nikolai Vasilev, who is also Bulgaria's Vice Premier, signed a cooperation protocol on Monday, whereby the two countries will improve the road and rail networks that link Greece to Bulgaria.

    The meeting was held at the Promahonas railroad station and was attended by Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Nikos Tsiartsionis and Deputy Finance Minister Adam Regouzas as well.

    By signing the protocol, the two sides have agreed the following:

    To begin immediate operation of a luxury train between Thessaloniki and Sofia, with a running time of 5h30m down from a current 7h40m.

    To upgrade the rail network between Thessaloniki and Sofia by 2011 with the objective of having trains complete the journey in 3h30m.

    To link by rail Bulgaria's port of Lom on the Danube with the port of Thessaloniki by 2013, in order to facilitate transport to central Europe.

    To complete the construction of a highway linking Thessaloniki with Sofia by 2013 - a priority within the context of the Intra-European Transport Networks.

    To implement specific administrative measures in order to reduce waiting times at the borders.

    To increase the number of staff at Greek customs at Promahonas in order to cut down on delays.

    To open a new border crossing in June 2005.

    Liapis said that "all problems related to road and rail connections between Greece and Bulgaria will be resolved as soon as possible in order to facilitate citizens' transportation as well as the transport of goods, with the objective of further developing commercial relations between the two countries."

    The Greek minister also said that the Greek government is willing to actively contribute to Bulgaria's EU accession efforts and thanked Vasilev for his excellent cooperation to date.

    On his part, Vasilev said that Bulgaria will be ready to join the EU within the next two years and emphasized that his government has already begun efforts to facilitate citizens' communication and the transport of goods. In this vein, Vasilev said that two more trains have been added to the Thessaloniki-Sofia route. He also stressed that efforts are under way to reorganize customs so that visitors from Greece are not inconvenienced.

    Tsiartsionis said that the signing of the protocol "opens new avenues of cooperation and prosperity for the two peoples."

    Regouzas, on his part, announced that aside from increasing the number of customs employees, new technology would also be installed with the ability to scan merchandise and goods in seven seconds, thus drastically reducing waiting and inspection time.

    [13] Gov't seeks to make Thessaloniki business centre for Balkans

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government wants to make the northern port city of Thessaloniki a business centre for the Balkans, Deputy Finance Minister Adam Rengouzas said on Monday.

    Needed were better infrastructure, growth of services, and full use of human resources, Rengouzas told a meeting of northern industrialists on the economic future of the country's second city.

    The prime minister had announced that a centre for innovation would be created in the city's eastern quarter; management headquarters of the Interreg program would be relocated to Thessaloniki; a bureau would be founded to promote farm products; an automated post office sorting bureau was to be created; a bill to establish an international university was being advanced; and an integrated infotech system for investors in Greece and abroad would be developed, Rengouzas said.

    Among projects due for completion by 2008 were a section of the Thessaloniki metro, extension of a central motorway from Larissa to Thessaloniki, completion of the northwest-northeast Egnatia Highway and its offshoots, and improvement of the city's international airport, he added.

    [14] All preparations for new financial crimes unit in motion, finance ministry reports

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    All preparations needed for a new financial crimes unit to replace the SDOE were now in motion, the finance ministry announced on Monday, following the signature by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis of a presidential decree that outlines the new organization's structure and operation.

    The new outfit - named the Special Inspections Service - was one of the government's pre-election pledges and is designed to be a more modern, flexible and upgraded version of its predecessor that will be more effective in clamping down on major incidents of fraud, smuggling and large-scale tax evasion, particularly new types of illegal transactions and scams using electronic media, the Internet and new technologies.

    The new service is to acquire an Internal Inspections department to promote transparency, a department specializing in e-commerce and electronic crimes and operational headquarters to look into major cases involving subsidy and grant fraud, money-laundering and illegal banking and stock market transactions.

    It is also envisaged to have a much smaller but better qualified staff than its predecessor SDOE, with less than 1,500 employees against 1,800 currently working for SDOE, of which at least 70 per cent will have a university or technical college degree and between 20-30 per cent will be newly-hired tax and customs officials.

    Staff will remain at the service for a maximum of four years, with the exception of those working in the drugs and IT departments, and up to 15 per cent of other staff members with a proven track record in the service.

    [15] EU will continue subsidizing cotton, Commission says

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    The European Union will continue subsidizing cotton growing based on a review of community subsidy status agreed during a Farm Council in Luxembourg in June 2003, EU Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel told Greek ND Eurodeputy George Papastamkos.

    In a replay to the Greek Euro MP question in parliament, Mrs Fischer Boel stressed the marginal role of European cotton in the global market and the EU's very limited abilities to affect international prices. Instead, the EU, as the largest cotton import in the world should accept world prices, she said. The EU Commissioner said the Union has pledged to reduce all form of domestic support to the product.

    A review of EU policy on cotton, based on a compromise deal reached in 2003, covered the EU's pledges, therefore the European Union would continue subsidizing cotton growing and did not plan to abolish community production for third countries, the commissioner added.

    The European Commission has transferred all funds, earmarked for cotton growing regions in the EU, to the second pylon covering countryside development policy, the new Agricultural Development Fund.

    Commenting on the Commission's reply, Papastamkos stressed that the EU's international pledges would not affect the cotton subsidy program.

    [16] Gov't to ease cash crisis for exporters hit by euro rise vs dollar

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government is preparing a measure that will aid exporting industries to deal with adverse repercussions from the euro's ascent versus the dollar in 2004, the Association of Northern Greek Industries (SBBE) said in a statement on Monday.

    Earlier in the day, leaders of the SBBE met Deputy Finance Minister Adam Rengouzas, who pledged the measure, which would allow exporters an amortization in a one-off move or spread in equal installments over three financial years, starting with last year's accounts, the statement said.

    [17] Tourism Ministry aims to promote 'medical tourism'

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Tourism Minister Anastasios Liaskos, speaking on Monday at a conference organized by the Academy of Tourism Research and Studies on the theme "medical tourism", said that the Greek tourism product must be strengthened and with the special form of tourism, that of the medical.

    The deputy minister noted that each of the country's regions possesses elements which can offer services, adding that the specific form of tourism contributes to the extension of the tourism period.

    In the direction of strengthening medical tourism, Liaskos said that a draft law is being formulated for spas tourism, with reforms which will strengthen the specific form of tourism. At this point, Liaskos stressed that there is demand for special forms of tourism (spas, medical etc.) with the Tourism Ministry making the required efforts so as to strengthen them.

    Greece has about 823 sources of spas tourism while a few of these are used for tourism purposes.

    [18] Gov't on strike at private radio station

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros on Monday declined to directly comment on an ongoing industrial action at a private radio station in Athens and affiliated Internet news site (Flash FM and, simply noting that employees enjoy the right to strike.

    Asked if a change in ownership at the aforementioned radio station can be traced to the recently passed "primary shareholder" law, Antonaros responded that the law was passed to be adhered to and to ensure transparency in the broadcast media sector.

    [19] Greek Food Safety Agency withdraws sauce from market after EU warning

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's Food Safety Agency (EFET) on Monday intensified efforts to withdraw all quantities of the brand "Worchester Sauce" from the Greek market, after receiving a Community signal on Friday that the product's composition included the cancer-causing substance "Sudan1".

    EFET immediately ordered the product to be withdrawn from retailers' shelves around the country.

    EFET on Monday continued inspections to determine if other products, imported into the country, included the same substance, such as Chinese noodle pasta, frozen meals, salad dressings, mayonnaise, various oriental sauces, etc.

    EFET president Nikos Katsaros, speaking to reporters, said there was no danger for the country's public health and said that use of the product has been banned by the European Union since June 2004.

    [20] National Quality Council holds first meeting

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    The National Council of Quality Development (ESPA) held its first meeting on Monday and set its policy priorities, including coordination of all quality agencies working under the supervision of Development ministry, drafting a new regulatory framework for the supervision of markets and informing both businesses and consumers on quality and market operation matters.

    The meeting, chaired by Industry secretary-general Spyros Papadopoulos, also approved ESPA's statute based on new policies and business directions set by Development ministry. ESPA will be a flexible agency responsible for shaping policy recommendations on quality issues.

    [21] Stocks drop in profit-taking

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower after six straight rises with players raking in short-term gains, especially in blue chips, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 3,036.71 points, posting a decline of 0.90%. Turnover was 203.4 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.22% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.35% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.41% up.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 174 to 117 with 59 remaining unchanged.

    [22] Greece gave its best for the Athens 2004 Olympics, mayor Bakoyannis tells event in Egypt

    ALEXANDRIA22/2/2005 (ANA/N. Katsikas)

    Greece gave its best for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, belying all the doomsayers, and would do likewise for the Greeks of Egypt, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis said Sunday in Alexandria, addressing an event hosted by the Greek community, which she attended together with her father, former premier and ruling New Democracy party honorary leader Constantine Mitsotakis.

    "Greece gave its best self to the Olympic Games of Athens, belying all the Cassandras that Greece could fail. Our country achieved its goal. We are proud not only of the Greece of the past, but also the Greece of today," Bakoyannis said.

    "This Greece will do all it can also for the Greeks of Egypt," she added.

    Mitsotakis, in turn, expressed optimism that, with Greece's assistance, the Greeks of Alexandria and Egypt would succeed in a new beginning, looking forward to a better future.

    The event was attended by Patriarch Theodoros B' of Alexandria and All Africa.

    [23] Stephanopoulos attends events marking the liberation of Ioannina

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos was on hand in Ioannina, northwest Greece, on Monday for celebrations to mark the 92nd anniversary of the city's liberation from Ottoman rule by Greek forces during the 1912-13 Balkan wars.

    The government was represented by the Minister of Defense.

    In comments to local residents and reporters, the outgoing president noted that Greeks should never compromise with the fact of being last amongst the 15 "old" European Union members, as the country's position of being somewhere "in the middle" of the current 25-nation bloc "is not the spot that befits us".

    Three days of events culminated on Monday with a military and civilian parade through Ioannina, the capital of the mountainous Epirus province.

    [24] Deputy Culture Minister Tatoulis inaugurates 'Crusades, Myth and Reality' exhibition

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis on Monday night inaugurated the exhibition "Crusades, Myth and Reality" at the cultural centre "Hellenic World" of the Hellenism Foundation (IME) on Piraeus Street. The exhibition presents a period spanning eight centuries of myths and history.

    On show are 200 exhibits from 21 museums and private collections.

    The touring exhibition came from Cyprus and will then continue its trip after Greece to Italy and Malta, co-organizing countries along with the Pierides Foundation of Cyprus and the Hellenism Foundation.

    The exhibition depicts the influence of the crusades to the cultures of the Mediterranean, starting from the 11th Century.

    [25] Greek delegation attends 3rd International Earth Observation Summit in Brussels

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Research and Technology General Secretary Professor Yiannis Tsoukalas, representing Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, participated at the head of a Greek delegation at the 3rd International Earth Observation Summit, which was held in Brussels within the framework of events marking "Earth and Space Week".

    Attending the sessions of the summit were ministers and representatives of governments from 60 countries as well as representatives of about 40 inter-governmental organizations.

    This global cooperation aims for the creation of a world system of observing the planet which will offer the necessary data for the timely prognosis of natural disasters and contribute in the better handling of crises and the immediate briefing and protection of the citizens.

    [26] Psytallia sludge is not polluting environment, EYDAP officials assert

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Officials of the Athens water and sewage company EYDAP on Monday gave assurances that the sludge produced by the Psytallia sewage plant was not polluting the environment.

    Speaking during a visit by reporters to the Psytallia facilities, they said that the accumulated quantity of sludge on the island was 120,000 tones, with an additional 400 tones produced daily.

    Officials also stressed that the method of gasification proposed by EYDAP for disposing the sludge pile would be a temporary solution, until a sludge-drying plant was ready in an estimated 2.5 years, as promised last week by Environment Minister George Souflias.

    EYDAP stressed that gasification - which local authorities say will create an additional burden to the local environment and have the same impact as incineration - will not be used if it is counter to EU environmental legislation.

    Municipalities near Piraeus and Keratsini that are closest to Psytallia are opposed to the plan and are currently staging protests against it.

    [27] Gene technology's prospects positive in the long term, Agricultural Ministry's SG says

    Athens, 22/2/2005 (ANA)

    Thomas Alifakiotis, Secretary General of the Ministry of Agricultural Development and President of the Greek Foundation of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, said that the future prospects of gene technology looked positive in the long term, in comments he made during an event held in Thessaloniki on Monday evening titled, "Genetic modification in the animal kingdom."

    Alifakiotis stressed that "despite the fact that the transfer of genes can fail at many stages throughout the procedure, there has been noteworthy progress made in the field, which is very encouraging."

    He predicted that in the future there will be consumer demand for specific products of gene technology despite the skepticism that exists today. "Moral inhibitions will, as usually, be overcome in favor of a higher living standard, increased cost-effectiveness of various procedures and in light of the new possibilities in health care," Alifakiotis said.

    [28] Cyprus government evaluates voting in Turkish occupied areas

    NICOSIA 22/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus Government considers that Sunday's illegal elections in Cyprus' occupied north constitutes a method on the part of the Turkish Cypriots to express their political wishes in relation to the solution of the Cyprus problem, Cyprus Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Monday.

    Chrysostomides told his daily briefing ''the Cyprus Government follows and evaluates political activities in the occupied areas, including Sunday's voting. This evaluation is taking place in the light of the further course of the Cyprus problem and the prospects for resuming the process for a right solution.''

    Furthermore he said ''the Cyprus problem is not only nor mainly a bi-communal dispute. It is par excellence an international problem and its international parameters can only be resolved with Turkey.''

    Chrysostomides said ''the Cyprus Government considers that Sunday's voting constitutes a method on the part of the Turkish Cypriots to express their political wishes, inter alia, in relation to the solution of the Cyprus problem.''

    ''However, because an effort is being made by members of the Turkish Cypriot leadership to monopolize the desire for a solution, it is important to say that it is the form and content of a solution that is of value and not just finding any solution,'' he added.

    He said ''the Greek Cypriot side fervently desires and consistently pursues the reunification of Cyprus through a democratic solution which would unify society, the institutions, the territory and the economy in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation where the rights of all its citizens will be respected.''

    ''While it is undisputable that this is also the wish of the Turkish Cypriot community, unfortunately it is not what can be deduced from the positions expressed by the Turkish Cypriot leaders who won Sunday's voting,'' Chrysostomides said.

    He noted that ''the legal and political stand of the Cyprus Government vis-a-vis the voting in the occupied areas is identical with that of the Security Council, as stated in its resolutions, mainly resolution 550 (1984), which condemns such procedures in the occupied areas as acts that tend to consolidate the division of Cyprus.''

    Chrysostomides said ''Turkey's role in relation to the present and the future of the Turkish Cypriots remaining in the occupied areas should also be taken very seriously into account.''

    ''Therefore the decisive participation of Turkish settlers in the voting should not be ignored,'' he added, noting that ''according to data available to us, Turkish settlers constitute the majority in the occupied areas. Moreover, the overwhelming active presence of more than 35.000 Turkish soldiers should not be overlooked. These facts have an important if not decisive effect on the kind and the quality of positions of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, which is reinforced by the outcome of the voting.''

    Chrysostomides noted that ''the Cyprus problem is not only nor mainly a bi-communal dispute. It is par excellence an international problem and its international parameters can only be resolved with Turkey,'' and expressed the wish that ''the political processes under way in the occupied areas, even under the adverse conditions in which they take place, will contribute to the creation of those conditions for the resumption of the negotiations to achieve a solution to the Cyprus problem under the auspices of the United Nations and in accordance with the resolutions of the Security Council.''

    ''Such a solution should restore the unity of Cyprus and its people, its institutions and economy in the framework of a bizonal, bicommunal federation which will respect the human and democratic rights of all Cypriots and which would allow it to function as an equal and creative member of the European Union,'' he said.

    ''Our firm target is the reunification of our country the soonest possible. It is with this aim and in the framework of the creation of prerequisites for the resumption of negotiations on the Cyprus problem that the Government has taken a series of measures to support our Turkish Cypriot compatriots unilaterally and through the European Union,'' he said.

    Asked if the government disagrees with the European Commission's position that the result of the elections showed that Turkish Cypriots are committed to Cyprus' reunification, the spokesman reiterated the wish ''that they are indeed committed to Cyprus' reunification through a right solution that will not have any divisive elements, will respect the human rights of everyone, will function democratically and will secure the country's full independence for one creative presence within the EU.''

    Invited to say which references by Turkish Cypriot leaders annoyed the government, Chrysostomides said the government categorically denies references such as ''the Greek Cypriot side does not want a solution'' and efforts to exploit the referendum's result.

    As regards the Commission's position, the spokesman said these references are usual on the part of the EU ''but we oppose the effort to promote the Direct Trade Regulation or 'special measures'.''

    Responding to another question, the Spokesman said the Commission's press release does not mean legalization of illegality, and noted that it is repeatedly stated in the press release that the Turkish Cypriot puppet regime is not recognized.

    Asked if Mehmet Ali Talat, whose party increased its ''deputies'' in the 50-seat ''parliament'' from 19 to 24, is the person with whom the Greek Cypriot side can negotiate, the spokesman said ''this we will see in due time.''

    He also noted a statement by Talat that the new leader of the Turkish Cypriot community will emerge by the ''presidential elections''.

    Invited to say if the government thinks that it is better that any discussion takes place with Turkey, the spokesman said ''our position is explicit that there are aspects of the Cyprus problem that can be solved only with Turkey.''

    Talat wins ''parliamentary elections'' in Turkish occupied areas: The Republican Turkish Party of Mehmet Ali Talat is the winner of Sunday's ''parliamentary elections'' in the Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus, increasing its strength to 44.45 percent and its ''deputies'' in the 50-seat ''parliament'' from 19 to 24.

    In statements shortly before the results were finalized, Talat said his party has not yet decided whether it will cooperate again with Serdar Denktash's Democratic Party or if it will seek cooperation with the Peace and Democracy Movement of Mustafa Akinci in forming a new ''coalition government''. He said the decision will be taken by his party.

    The Democratic Party improved its standing 13.49 percent, compared to 12.93 percent in the previous ''elections'', but lost one ''seat'' and now has six.

    The Peace and Democracy Movement secured 5.81 percent compared to 13.14 percent in 2003 and will have a single ''seat'' in the illegal parliament, instead of six.

    The National Unity Party of Dervis Eroglu took 31.71 percent and 18 ''seats'', compared to 32.93 percent and the same number of ''seats'' in the 2003 ''vote''. He described his party's performance as a ''failure''.

    Talat described his win as ''a victory of the Turkish Cypriot community that wishes peace''. He said a solution to the Cyprus issue is possible before the 3rd of October when Turkey will start accession negotiations with the EU, ''if both sides on the island agree to sit down together at the negotiating table.''

    [29] US welcomes result of ''elections''

    NICOSIA 22/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The US has welcomed the result of the ''elections'' in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus as a reaffirmation of the Turkish Cypriot commitment to a comprehensive solution and reunification of the island with Greek Cypriots.

    They also pledged to continue to work with the UN Secretary General to promote a just and durable solution to the Cyprus problem on the basis of his settlement plan and to continue promoting measures that will ease the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and promote the economic development in the occupied north.

    In a written statement issued Monday, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said ''in their vote on Sunday, February 20, Turkish Cypriots exercised their right to participate in free, fair and democratic elections. We welcome the result as a reaffirmation of the Turkish Cypriot commitment to a comprehensive solution and reunification of the island with Greek Cypriots.''

    He added that ''the United States will continue to work with the UN Secretary General to promote a just and durable solution to the long-standing division of the island, based on UNSG Annan's settlement plan.''

    ''As part of our effort to pave the way for a settlement and reunification, the United States will also continue to promote measures that will ease the economic isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and promote economic development in north Cyprus by expanding business contacts on and off the island,'' Boucher concluded.

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