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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-05-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

May 3, 2005


  • [01] President of the Republic meets armed forces troops, coastguard officers on Kastellorizo
  • [02] Head of Cyprus Church Holy Synod sends Easter wishes to Greek president
  • [03] Gov't releases EU Commission's 'reasoned opinion' over primary shareholder law
  • [04] Future belongs to ecumenical idea, Patriarch Vartholomeos tells faithful in Istanbul
  • [05] Patriarch Irineos of Jerusalem defies those who doubt him
  • [06] U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Kennedy to visit Athens on Tuesday
  • [07] No information that Greeks were among victims of Cairo terror strike, foreign ministry says
  • [08] Deputy Culture Minister Tatoulis attends 'Meetings for Cultural Europe' event in Paris
  • [09] Jerusalem Patriarchate denies Israeli paper's report concerning land deals in East Jerusalem
  • [10] Greece takes over chair of Sanctions Committee for Sudan
  • [11] EU Commission to recover misspent CAP expenditure from 10 member-states, including Greece
  • [12] Easter excursionists start returning to urban centers
  • [13] Thriller with Norwegian cargo ship off the port of Pylos
  • [14] Well known journalist Panos Geramanis dies
  • [15] Mediterranean needs early-warning system for tsunamis, geophysicist tells earth sciences conference
  • [16] Arrest in Patras may lead to smashing nationwide drug-dealing ring, police say

  • [01] President of the Republic meets armed forces troops, coastguard officers on Kastellorizo

    Athens, 3/5/2005 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias exchanged Easter wishes and sat down to Easter lunch with officers and men of the Navy, Army and Greek coast guard on the island of Kastellorizo, where he is spending Easter Sunday.

    The president was accompanied by Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis and the Deputy Defense Minister, as well as representatives of local authorities on the island.

    Earlier, at a special ceremony at the Kastellorizo Town Hall, President Papoulias was declared an honorary citizen of Kastellorizo.

    The president will remain on the island until Tuesday afternoon.

    Meanwhile, President Karolos Papoulias on Monday visited the border islet of Ro, which is next to the island of Kastelorizo, to pay tribute to the late Despina Achladioti who for decades was the only permanent resident of the islet.

    Papoulias went to Ro at noon and in statements praised the prudence and contribution of the late "Kyra tis Ro" (Lady of Ro).

    He also exchanged best wishes with the soldiers on the islet and later returned to Kastelorizo.

    PM visits military bases in Attica on Easter Sunday: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis spent Easter Sunday with the troops, in accordance with tradition, visiting the air force base at Tatoi, a tank troops training centre at Avlona and a naval station in Salamina. He was accompanied by the Greek defense minister.

    At all three bases, the prime minister was greeted warmly and exchanged Easter wishes with the officers and troops, taking part in traditional Easter customs, while he ate Easter lunch on the frigate "Psara".

    In statements as he left the Navy frigate, Karamanlis said:

    "Greeks are today celebrating the Resurrection of Christ in a spirit of love. The resurrection of hope and optimism for the victories that we seek in our daily struggles. For the collective and individual successes that are coming. For the vindication of the citizens' expectations.

    "These days highlight the values of life but also the value of fighting for a better tomorrow, for a more just society. A society with more solidarity and more humanity. This is the society that we are all working for with faith and national self-confidence," he said.

    Main opposition leader visits Engineers Corps training centre in Nafplio: Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou also spent Easter Sunday with Greece's troops, visiting an Engineers Corps Training Centre in Nafplio at 13:00.

    In a brief address, Papandreou wished the conscripts, staff and their families a happy Easter, noting that Easter was a great holiday for the Orthodox faith and for Greece, which joined families together.

    He wished health and happiness to all in the armed forces and all Greeks throughout the world that are currently far from their families and their home.

    Papandreou was accompanied by a PASOK MP for Argolida and was received by the Argolida prefect, mayor and the commander of the unit.

    Political leaders spend Easter with the troops: Many of Greece's political leaders, in addition to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, chose to spend their Easter Sunday by visiting troops around the country, in accordance with the Easter tradition.

    Among these was Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga, who visited the air force base at Tatoi, where she exchanged Easter wishes with the troops.

    "These days, the heart, soul and mind of all turn to that which is absolutely necessary and realistic. The resurrection of the peoples," she said in a statement after the visit.

    The troops at Tatoi and at the tank training centre at Avlona also received a visit from Thanassis Leventis, who represented the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party.

    Deputy DM visits Greek contingent in Kosovo on Easter Day: The deputy defense minister on Easter Day visited the Greek ELDYKO-2 contingent stationed at the "Rigas Fereos" military camp in Kosovo to express his best wishes and told the troops that they were ambassadors of the Greek Armed Forces and the principles of Hellenism.

    In a brief greeting, the deputy defense minister stressed that "Greece, with its active participation and the support of the international community, is working intensively for the Balkans to be converted into a region of democracy, peace, stability and prosperity, on the basis of a common European future."

    On the occasion of his visit, the deputy minister gave the Greek soldiers gifts, such as literature books and portable CD Players.

    [02] Head of Cyprus Church Holy Synod sends Easter wishes to Greek president

    NICOSIA 3/5/2005 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    The Metropolitan of Paphos Chrysostomos, who presides over the Holy Synod of the Cyprus Orthodox Church, on Friday sent a message for the Easter holidays to Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, in which he expressing hope that the efforts of Greek-Cypriots for an end to the Turkish occupation and settlement in northern Cyprus will be vindicated. A metropolitan is a rank of the Orthodox Church roughly equivalent to a bishop.

    [03] Gov't releases EU Commission's 'reasoned opinion' over primary shareholder law

    Athens, 3/5/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Friday released the full text of a 'reasoned opinion' sent to Greece in the past week by the European Commission over its 'primary shareholder' law, which seeks to prevent the participation of companies 'interconnected' with the Greek mass media in tenders for public procurements.

    A 'reasoned opinion' is the second stage in the EU infringement procedure and the Commission may refer Greece to the European Court of Justice unless it receives a satisfactory reply within three weeks.

    Presenting the Commission's text, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that Greece had already declared its willingness to work with Community authorities to find a "common ground", make the necessary amendments to the existing legal framework and at the same time fully ensure the rules of transparency concerning the relations of companies that win state contracts and mass media enterprises.

    Commenting on the contents of the reasoned opinion and Roussopoulos' statement, main opposition PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said the developments "confirmed the government's irresponsible, frivolous and petty party-political motives in the handling of a very important issue, such as transparency and combatting corruption".

    He said that Greece now risked losing significant sums in Community funds because of the government's incompetence and its refusal to cooperate with EU authorities to create a law compatible with the Constitution and Community law, overcoming the problems of the previous law.

    Athanassakis stressed that the government had ignored the Commission's objections to the previous law passed by PASOK, proceeding to table, pass and publish new legislation containing even tougher rules without contacting the EU.

    "In this way they squandered valuable diplomatic 'capital' and undermined the country's standing over a cause that was lost from the start," he said.

    He called on the government and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to take action necessary to ensure that Greece did not lose Community funds that it was entitled to as a result of the government's mistaken policy.

    [04] Future belongs to ecumenical idea, Patriarch Vartholomeos tells faithful in Istanbul

    ISTANBUL 3/5/2005 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    "The future belongs to the ecumenical idea, not to nationalisms, or to localisms or to fanaticisms," Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I underlined during a sermon prior to the resurrection mass at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul. Greeting a large crowd of faithful that had traveled from all corners of the world to attend the mass at the ecumenical Patriarchate at midnight on Easter Saturday, filling the Church and courtyard but also the streets surrounding the Patriarchate, Bartholomew said that the Ecumenical Patriarchate expressed this ecumenical idea "that is daily becoming more important, whether the world is torn by divisions or whether it is progressing toward unification, such as that in Europe".

    [05] Patriarch Irineos of Jerusalem defies those who doubt him

    JERUSALEM 3/5/2005 (ANA)

    Patriarch Irineos of Jerusalem, addressing tens of pilgrims immediately after the liturgy which took place at Patriarchal Church of Saint Constantine on Monday, denounced what he termed the existence of "unscrupulous" individuals who fight against the "Holy Fire".

    "Unfortunately, there are worms and trash who dispute the Holy Fire, even within the brotherhood. Do not be perturbed and do not be influenced by those unscrupulous individuals who say thousands of things and insult the Holy Fire. We do not intend to betray these which we received," Irineos said.

    The pilgrims applauded him and the Patriarch continued to refer to the history of the Holy Fire and in general to the history of pilgrimage. He particularly noted the "hatred" of the Crusaders against the Orthodox.

    Referring to the Armenians and their efforts to carry out the Holy Fire along with him, he said:"Let them hate me. We have no hate. We must rest well with our conscience, we will give word to the Lord, where it will be revealed who the thief is. May my hands be cut off if I have stolen, mud when it is fresh, sticks, when it dries, it drops." He added:"We have not betrayed."

    [06] U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Kennedy to visit Athens on Tuesday

    NICOSIA 3/5/2005 (ANA/G. Leonidas)

    U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Laura Kennedy begins as of Monday a tour of Ankara, Athens and Nicosia with the aim, as stated by a U.S. State Department spokesman, "to consult with the sides on the way with which they will proceed in efforts for a solution to the Cyprus issue."

    On Tuesday, she will visit Athens and on Friday will go to Nicosia. Kennedy will then visit Brussels and London.

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos stated on Monday that the visit by U.S.Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Laura Kennedy to the Ankara-Athens-Nicosia triangle "does not constitute a new initiative."

    Papadopoulos also said that "the Americans want an initiative which will be effective and comprehensive" and noted that "for this reason the preparation is necessary and unavoidable."

    [07] No information that Greeks were among victims of Cairo terror strike, foreign ministry says

    Athens, 3/5/2005 (ANA)

    No Greeks were among the victims of the latest terror strike in Cairo according to the information gathered by Greek diplomatic and consular sources, the foreign ministry said on Easter Saturday.

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said that the Greek General Consulate in Cairo was in constant contact with Egyptian authorities and had also advised local authorities to step up security around the Church of St. Constantine and St. Helen in the city during the midnight resurrection mass observed by Orthodox Christians as a precaution.

    [08] Deputy Culture Minister Tatoulis attends 'Meetings for Cultural Europe' event in Paris

    PARIS 3/5/2005 (ANA/O. Tsipira)

    French President Jacques Chirac at the Elysee Palace on Monday declared the start of a two-day cultural event in the French capital entitled "Meetings for Cultural Europe."

    Among the large audience were 25 European culture ministers as well as a multitude of guests from the field of arts and letters and music from the European Union's 25 member-countries.

    Greece was represented by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis.

    The French president referred to the common history of the European countries which has a consequence a common heritage and common roots which are enriched through the variety of the cultures.

    Chirac also spoke on the positive points of the European Constitution for the cultural sector and underlined the fact that especially for trade agreements, the principle of "cultural exception" will be implemented, that its, the unanimity of all the member-states will be required.

    [09] Jerusalem Patriarchate denies Israeli paper's report concerning land deals in East Jerusalem

    JERUSALEM 3/5/2005 (ANA - P. Haritos)

    An announcement by the Jerusalem Patriarchate on Friday reiterated vehement denials that Patriarch Irineos I had approved land deals with Israeli interests involving Church property in Arab East Jerusalem.

    The denials were made in response to yet another full-page article appearing in the Israeli daily "Ma'ariv" that printed excerpts of two 198-year leases for such properties signed on August 16 by the Patriarchate's former financial officer Nikos Papadimas, who it said was acting on behalf of Patriarch Irineos.

    The leases concern two Palestinian-run hotels, the Petra and the landmark Imperial near the main entrance of Jerusalem's Old City and appeared under the headline: "The Patriarch denies but the deal can be proved". The paper had obscured the numbers of bank accounts and the names of the leasers, saying only that they were foreign Jewish investors.

    It said the current tenants, a well-known Palestinian family, were unaware of the deal.

    The Patriarchate slammed the newspaper's article as "despicable", urging Palestinian and Orthodox Christians to "turn their back on it", and said it planned to sue the authors and those responsible for the article.

    It said the paper had published copies of the leases "with the sole purpose of once more inciting the Arab people against the Patriarchate, creating concern and unrest, through its lies".

    "Even if such contracts exist, they have no worth or validity since they have not been approved by the Holy Synod, without whose order no one, not even the Patriarch, can either sell or lease."

    "Jerusalem Patriarch Irineos was the one who led the criminal Papadimas to justice, and who is able and worthy of guarding not only the values and traditions but also the interests of the Palestinian people, since he has never forgotten and every times proves that he is Patriarch of Jerusalem and all Palestine," the announcement concludes.

    The scandal involving the church land deals was first made public by "Ma'ariv" in mid-March and has led to a storm of controversy surrounding Patriarch Irineos, leading to Arab demands for his removal and the "Arabisation" of the Patriarchate. Irineos has denied all knowledge of the property deals and laid the blame on the Patriarchate's former financial manager Papadimas, who had been given sweeping powers of attorney by Irineos in May to manage all Church assets.

    Irineos has since sued Papadimas, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, for embezzlement in Greek courts.

    [10] Greece takes over chair of Sanctions Committee for Sudan

    NEW YORK 3/5/2005 (ANA - P. Panagiotou)

    Greece, currently a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has been assigned the chairmanship of the United Nations sanctions committee for Sudan.

    After the conclusion of Friday's Security Council meeting, the Greek UN ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis announced that Greece had been unanimously voted to head the sanctions committee for Sudan, provided for under UN resolution 1591 (2005).

    He said the committee will be in charge of monitoring the implementation of specialized sanctions and an arms embargo in the three provinces of Darfur, as well as regularly briefing the Security Council on the progress made, starting from the coming week.

    According to diplomatic sources, the UN committee could play a decisive role in dealing with the crisis in Darfur, western Sudan, where tens of thousands are said to have died.

    [11] EU Commission to recover misspent CAP expenditure from 10 member-states, including Greece

    Athens, 3/5/2005 (ANA)

    The European Commission on Friday announced that it would demand the return of 277.25 million euros of what it sees as misspent CAP expenditure from 10 EU member-states, including Greece.

    It said the money was being recovered because of inadequate control procedures or non-compliance with EU rules on agricultural expenditure.

    The largest sums to be returned are from Spain (113.4 million euros), Italy (68.7 million euros), Greece (25.36 million euros) and France (21.8 million euros).

    [12] Easter excursionists start returning to urban centers

    Athens, 3/5/2005 (ANA)

    The return of thousands of inhabitants of urban centers who spent their Easter holiday in the countryside began on Monday morning.

    Traffic on the national road network is already increased. The main bulk of the return is expected in the evening and night hours of Monday but also on Tuesday.

    This year's exodus was one of the greatest in past years. From April 23 to April 30, 807,100 cars passed through the toll gates. A strong police force is coordinating the entire national road network from Monday morning.

    Police conducted 9,575 alcohol tests on drivers while 189 drivers were found to have consumed alcohol above the permitted limit. In twenty cases cars were brought to a halt and their drivers led to court.

    Heavy ferry traffic is expected at the port of Piraeus which will receive excursionists who went to islands of the Aegean. Over the past week, about 200,000 people went to the Cyclades, Crete and the islands of the Aegean.

    Eighteen people killed so far in traffic accidents during Easter period: Eighteen fatal traffic accidents with an equal number of people killed occurred throughout the country between Thursday and Monday, it was reported.

    The traffic accidents did not occur in regions where the traffic police had taken measures for the Easter exodus but in populated areas and mainly on the provincial network.

    The return from the Easter holidays reached its peak on Monday evening and it is expected that it will be completed late on Monday night when the extraordinary measures taken by the traffic police will end.

    Buses with returning excursionists are filled to capacity while travel by trains was 20 per cent higher than last year's exodus. Likewise, ferry traffic was also greater than last year. According to data released by the Merchant Marine Ministry, more than 150,000 passengers traveled by ship during the three-day Easter period compared to 132,000 passengers last year. The passengers went mainly to the islands of the Aegean, the Dodecanese, Crete and Rhodes.

    Athens International Airport "Eleftherios Venizelos" is also busy and it is expected that 450 flights will be made by late Monday night from various parts of the country to Athens' airport. Air transport from provincial airports was also up, such as those of Macedonia, Rhodes and Crete.

    This year's Easter exodus by Athenians greatest in five years : According to data released by the Public Order Ministry on Monday evening, this year's Easter exodus by the Athenians was the greatest of the past five years, given that more than 800,000 cars passed through the toll gates of the two national road networks with passengers heading for their home towns.

    According to the same sources, by 11 p.m. on Monday it was expected that 500,000 cars will return, while the remaining 300,000 cars will return gradually until Sunday. Contributing to this is the fact that schools are closed and quite a few of the excursionists have combined the Easter exodus with a few-days vacations.

    [13] Thriller with Norwegian cargo ship off the port of Pylos

    Athens, 3/5/2005 (ANA)

    The Harbor Corps went on full alert at noon on Monday when a Norwegian shipping company briefed by phone the Merchant Marine Ministry's Research and Rescue Unified Centre (EKED) that the cargo ship "Banner", which was carrying a load of cement destined for Portugal, "was captured by pirates."

    According to ministry sources, at that moment, the Norwegian ship, which had no Greek seamen aboard, was sailing 50 nautical miles south-west of the port of Pylos in south-west Peloponnese, that is, in international waters and not within the Greek territorial waters.

    Almost immediately, EKED communicated via VHF with the foreign skipper of the ship who stated that the vessel had a mechanical fault which was restored and is sailing normally towards its destination.

    However, according to the same sources, a few minutes later, through the Foreign Ministry, an official Norwegian request reached the Merchant Marine Ministry for an "inspection" of "Banner", which, however, distanced itself and was 85 nautical miles south-west of Pylos, that is, it was approaching Malta's FIR.

    The Merchant Marine Ministry's "Operations Chamber" again communicated with the skipper of Norwegian ship and ordered him to change "course" and enter Greece's territorial waters, something, which, according to sources, the skipper agreed to do.

    Already, two patrol boats of the Harbor Corps and a war ship is heading towards the ship.

    Norwegian cargo ship located by Greek Harbor Corps, heads for Pylos: The Norwegian cargo ship, which was earlier reported as captured by pirates, was located at 19:10 on Monday by a patrol boat of the Greek Harbor Corps as it was sailing at a distance of 50 nautical miles south-southwesterly of the port of Pylos heading for this same port of the Peloponnese, an announcement by the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry said.

    The cargo ship, accompanied by the Greek patrol boat and a rescue boat, will be inspected when it arrives outside the port of Pylos.

    [14] Well known journalist Panos Geramanis dies

    Athens, 3/5/2005 (ANA)

    Well known journalist Panos Geramanis died of a heart attack on Saturday at his country home in Parga where he went to spend Easter.

    Through his sudden death, the "Popular bards" of ERA 2 lost Geramanis' voice which linked Greeks wherever they are on earth.

    Overseas Hellenism will mourn his loss, with whom every Thursday night they had a live communication with him through public radio's "Voice of Greece".

    Panos Geramanis will remain unique because he linked enormous knowledge and love to Greek popular music, bringing it to life through the "Popular bards" program, giving a say to their creators.

    Geramanis was born in 1945 in Vasiliko, Halkida. There, he published in 1964 the "Agrotiki Foni tis Halkidas", while from early on he was also a sports writer for the newspaper "Fos ton Spor". e worked in many newspapers, as an editor, reporter and critic of Greek records, in "Apogevmatini" from 1968-1971, in "Acropolis" until 1981, in "Ethnos" from 1981-1986, chief editor of the magazine "Ellinosovietika hronia", in "Proti" in 1986, in "Kerdos" from 1986-1987 and in "Ta Nea" from 1987 until his death.

    Geramanis will be buried in his home town in Vasiliko, Halkida at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

    The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) in an announcement expressed its deep sorrow over the death of Panos Geramanis and stressed that he was distinguished for his ethics, hard work, critical reviews and his great contribution to journalism. The ESHEA Executive Board conveyed its condolences to his wife Nafsika and his family and bid farewell to a colleague who was a "jewel" for Greek journalism.

    [15] Mediterranean needs early-warning system for tsunamis, geophysicist tells earth sciences conference

    VIENNA 3/5/2005 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)

    The Mediterranean needs an early-warning system for tsunamis, according to Italian geophysicist Stefano Tinti of Bologna University, who was speaking at an earth sciences conference held in Vienna.

    During his address to the conference on Friday, Tinti said that areas around Greece, Italy and Algeria had the 'tectonic conditions' to cause a catastrophic tsunami, such as that which recently struck in the Indian Ocean, at any given time.

    He quoted statistical research showing that 2,000 tsunamis have taken place in the world over the past 4,000 years, of which 250 have occurred in the Mediterranean. The Italian scientist also suggested that the areas most at risk needed local warning systems, in addition to existing large-scale systems, that will be able to warn populations within the space of minutes.

    Other speakers suggested that December's massive earthquake in Sumatra might be the first of a series of large earthquakes that will take place throughout the world in the next decade, pointing to similar patterns in previous centuries.

    [16] Arrest in Patras may lead to smashing nationwide drug-dealing ring, police say

    Athens, 3/5/2005 (ANA)

    Police in Patras on Friday claimed to be on the trail of a ring of drug-dealers with nationwide activity, following the arrest of a 25-year-old Albanian in the port city carrying quantities of cocaine, heroin and hashish.

    They said they had become aware of the 25-year-old's activities and had approached him in Nafpaktos, posing as buyers. At the time of his arrest he was carrying 318 grams of cocaine, while a further 245 grams of cocaine, 1.5 kilos of heroin, 570 grams of hash oil and more than two kilos of marijuana were found during a raid at his home in Petralona, Athens.

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