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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-07-02

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

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

July 2, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greece ready for UN Security Council presidency, FM says
  • [02] Gov't seeks consensus on pension system reform, FinMin says
  • [03] Papandreou: Treating Ecumenical Patriarchate according to EU rules is in Turkey's interests
  • [04] Greek Armed Forces chief visits Kabul, holds talks with NATO and Afghan leadership
  • [05] Deputy defense minister and FYROM ambassador meet in Constanta
  • [06] Ruling ND lead over main opposition PASOK widens to 2.4 pct, Metron Analysis poll shows
  • [07] Evert still a member and former president of ND, gov't stresses after row in Parliament
  • [08] EU Commission welcomes ratification of Euro-Constitution by Cyprus
  • [09] French premier attends event at Greek Embassy in Paris
  • [10] New Greek ambassador to Cyprus presents accreditation
  • [11] Combatting fuel smuggling, tax evasion, top economic policy issues, FinMin says
  • [12] Government stresses high growth, continued effort to meet budget targets
  • [13] National Bank's report on SE European and Mediterranean banking systems' outlook for 2005
  • [14] FAA announcement on upgrading Greece's safety rating to highest int'l category
  • [15] Athens Int'l Airport announces further reduction in fuel cost for airlines
  • [16] Greece to float 16.44 percent of OPAP's equity capital
  • [17] Greek stocks end week 1.15 pct higher
  • [18] Defendants acquitted in supplementary ELA trial
  • [19] Journalists' conference begins in Samothrace
  • [20] Archbishop Christodoulos and other members of Holy Synod to become organ donors
  • [21] Cypriot President Papadopoulos welcomes approval of EU Constitution
  • [22] Cyprus certain of objective British EU presidency
  • [23] Talat repeating Denktash's tactics, Spokesman says
  • [24] Britain wants to hear how to reach agreed Cyprus solution

  • [01] Greece ready for UN Security Council presidency, FM says

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis expressed his confidence on Friday that Greece - which will assume the UN Security Council presidency for the month of July - is ready and able to rise to the challenge and will serve its term successfully.

    "My belief stems from the fact that Greece's foreign policy has always been based on respect for international legitimacy, international law, international rules and the universal values of peace, security and balanced economic growth throughout the world," Molyviatis said.

    "We believe that protection and respect for human rights is necessary in order to achieve these goals. The institutional and political protector of all these is the United Nations and of course the Security Council, whose presidency we are assuming" he added.

    Molyviatis said that Greece's success during its presidency will depend on constant cooperation with all Security Council members, both permanent and non-permanent.

    He also referred to plans for reform within the UN and promised that "we will work with all Security Council members in this great effort for a UN which will fulfill the hopes and vision of peoples around the world."

    According to a statement issued by Foreign Ministry Spokes-man George Koumoutsakos, the Greek presidency will deal with issues, such as East Africa, the Middle East, terrorism and the replacement of those peacekeeping troops whose term is coming to a close.

    The program will be finalized during the first meeting of the Security Council under the Greek presidency on July 5, after it has been discussed with all council members.

    The program also includes an open session over which Molyviatis will preside. The session is to focus on cases of humanitarian crisis within the context of the council's role as keeping the peace and ensuring security.

    [02] Gov't seeks consensus on pension system reform, FinMin says

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    A dialogue on the country's pension system will be a long-term procedure while the government does not intend to reach any decisions over the issue during its four-year term, Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Friday.

    Speaking to reporters, after a meeting with a visiting delegation of International Monetary Fund's officials, the Greek minister expressed the hope that the dialogue, to begin soon, would reach a consensus between political parties so that the issue would not have to be a pre-election point of friction in the next elections.

    Commenting on the country's fiscal deficit, Alogoskoufis said that information arriving from Brussels (bringing the country's deficit to 6.7 pct of GDP from 6.1 pct initially reported) was not accurate and that negotiations between Greek finance ministry and EU's authorities were currently underway.

    "Our effort to implement this year's budget is difficult but will be successful," Alogoskoufis said.

    [03] Papandreou: Treating Ecumenical Patriarchate according to EU rules is in Turkey's interests

    ISTANBUL, 2/7/2005 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The leader of main opposition PASOK George Papandreou on Friday urged Ankara to abide by EU rules on human rights in its dealings with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, stressing that this would be in Turkey's own interests.

    Papandreou was speaking in Turkey, during the graduation ceremony for the class of 2005 at Sabanci University.

    During his visit to Turkey, Papandreou visited Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Fanar, Istanbul and discussed issues concerning the Patriarchate.

    After the meeting, PASOK's leader said Turkey stood to benefit by highlighting the role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which he said was "Turkey's link to the Christian world and proved that the country was multicultural."

    "I see that in Turkey there are fears concerning the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I think that there shouldn't be any fears. I believe that to have the centre of Orthodox Christians in a Moslem country is an advantage for Turkey, for Europe and for the entire world," he told reporters.

    [04] Greek Armed Forces chief visits Kabul, holds talks with NATO and Afghan leadership

    Kabul, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    The head of the Greek Armed Forces General Staff Admiral Panagiotis Hinofotis, following talks with Afghanistan's leader-ship and the NATO force commander in Kabul, on Friday said that Greek forces in Afghanistan had been praised for their role in the country's reconstruction by both local leaders and the Alliance.

    During the visit, Hinofotis handed out NATO medals to Greek soldiers for their participation in the mission.

    He was also received by Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, who thanked Greece for the services it had offered his country and expressed his desire that Greek forces remain and continue assisting with Afghanistan's reconstruction.

    The armed forces chief also visited the installations of the Greek Special Battalion deployed in Kabul and the newly set up Greek military hospital at Kabul's international airport.

    Finally, he exchanged views with NATO officials on preparations for when Greece takes over the running of the airport in December and visited multinational force units in the Kandahar region with Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General James. L. Jones.

    Admiral Hinofotis returned to Athens on Friday.

    [05] Deputy defense minister and FYROM ambassador meet in Constanta

    Constanta, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    Relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will continue to improve, Greece's Deputy Defense Minister and FYROM's ambassador in Romania agreed during a meeting on Friday in Constanta.

    The two men were also confident that a solution that was satisfactory to both sides will be found on the outstanding issue of FYROM's official name, during brief talks held in the port city on the sidelines of a ceremony to hand over command of the Southeastern European Brigade (SEEBRIG).

    Before the ceremony, the Greek minister had intervened to ensure that the order of flags of SEEBRIG member-states was changed, placing FYROM before Greece on the basis of its official name at the United Nations.

    Prior to his intervention, FYROM's flag had been placed after that of Greece because organizers had taken the term 'Macedonia' into account instead of FYROM. Flags of member-state countries are position in alphabetical order.

    Greece objects to the use of the name 'Macedonia' by its northern neighbor on the grounds that it might encourage expansionist policies against Greece, since there is a northern Greek province that shares a border with FYROM that has the same name. Greeks are also incensed by the attempts of FYROM Slavs to "usurp" and claim descent from the famous Macedonian general of antiquity Alexander the Great, whose ancient kingdom lay roughly within the borders of the present-day Greek province of Macedonia.

    [06] Ruling ND lead over main opposition PASOK widens to 2.4 pct, Metron Analysis poll shows

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    The ruling New Democracy party's (ND) lead over main opposition PASOK party has widened to 2.4 percentage points, according to the results of an opinion poll conducted by Metron Analysis on behalf of the municipal radio station "Athens 98.4".

    According to the results, 36.1 percent of respondents, with respect to intention of vote (if elections were held tomorrow), said they would vote in favor of ND, against 33.7 percent who said the would vote for PASOK -- giving the ruling party a 2.4 percent lead -- while 7.6 percent said they would vote for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), 4.3 percent for the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN), 4.0 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally party (LAOS), and 1.1 percent for other parties, while 5.1 percent would cast blank votes and another 8 percent said they were "undecided".

    Also, 41.9 percent of the respondents considered current Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis as "the most suitable for prime minister", followed by PASOK leader George Papandreou with 27.9 percent.

    Regarding who they believed would win the general elections if they were held now -- regardless of their own voting preference -- 51.8 percent said that ND would emerge the victor, against 25.8 percent who felt that PASOK would win.

    This latest opinion poll was concluded on Monday, and covered a period in which the issue of the changes in the banks and the DEKO public utilities were the dominant topics.

    According to the poll results, ND remained steady in its percentages vis-a-vis a similar poll conducted in April, while PASOK lost ground, mainly due to the negative picture that emerged during the motion of censure in parliament and the main opposition party's awkwardness over the OTE early retirement deal.

    Due to that climate, Karamanlis' popularity increased while there were repercussions on Papandreou's image, which are evident in the responses to the question on the most suited for prime minister, in which Karamanlis' lead over the PASOK leader widened vis-a-vis the April opinion poll, while the popularity of the KKE, SYN and LAOS was also boosted.

    [07] Evert still a member and former president of ND, gov't stresses after row in Parliament

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Friday underlined that New Democracy MP Miltiades Evert remained a member and the former president of the party

    He was responding to questions concerning a highly visible row between Evert and ND MP Yiannis Kefaloyiannis in Parliament the previous day, triggered by Evert's refusal to vote in favor of a bank pension systems amendment introduced by Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis. In previous days, Evert had also accused Alogoskoufis of giving some banks favorable treatment and giving them inside information about the planned reforms.

    One reporter asked Roussopoulos if there were "nitwits" within ND, in reference to reports that Kefaloyiannis called Evert a 'nitwit' when talking to another MP in the corridors of Parliament.

    Asked about his personal feelings toward Evert and about the former ND chief's stance in Parliament, Roussopoulos stressed that Evert "is still a former president and member of the party".

    He also said that he had no knowledge of any plans for a meeting between Evert and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, stressing that the government considered the matter closed.

    [08] EU Commission welcomes ratification of Euro-Constitution by Cyprus

    BRUSSELS, 2/7/2005 (ANA - F. Dalabekos)

    The European Commission on Friday welcomed the ratification of the European Constitution by Cyprus, which became the 11th EU member-state to say 'yes' to the treaty.

    Commission spokesman Jonathon Todd said that Cyprus' ratification was a strong and encouraging message of hope after the resounding rejections in French and Dutch referenda, and one indicating its "commitment to Europe".

    He clarified, however, that the situation was different after the twin rejections in France and the Netherlands and a decision by EU leaders in June to postpone the ratification process until after November 2006.

    He noted that the EU Commission was to use the intervening period as one of "reflection", in which EU member-states will be encouraged to engage in active dialogue with their citizens so that their hopes and fears concerning Europe's future might be heard.

    Todd said that the Commission intends to carry out visits to all the member-states in order to promote "Plan D" - standing for dialogue and democracy - and then present the results of its efforts in June 2006, under the Austrian presidency of the EU.

    The next nationwide referendum on the Euro-Constitution is scheduled for July 10 in Luxembourg.

    Cyprus endorsed the European Constitution through a simple majority vote in its 56-member Parliament, after a stormy session interrupted by a bomb hoax.

    [09] French premier attends event at Greek Embassy in Paris

    PARIS 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    France's new Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and his wife were among guests attending a farewell party for Greece's Ambassador in Paris Dimitris Karaitidis, held at the Greek Embassy on Thursday night.

    According to analysts, the premier's presence among other members of foreign diplomatic missions and notable Greeks in France was an unusual display of "respect and affability" and he praised Karaitidis' contribution to promoting relations between Greece and France.

    Referring to the friendship between Greece and France, he said this was "firm and strong" and underlined the role currently played by Greece in Europe.

    [10] New Greek ambassador to Cyprus presents accreditation

    NICOSIA, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's new ambassador to Cyprus, Dimitris Rallis, on Friday presented his accreditation to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    During the ceremony, Rallis stressed that Greece and Nicosia unwaveringly believed in the ability for resolution of the Cyprus issue, looking ahead with self-confidence and leaving behind the difficulties and tribulations.

    "Greece and Cyprus are working jointly so that a new, well-prepared procedure may begin seeking a solution on the basis of the Annan Plan, which has serious prospects of resulting in agreement among all the sides," Rallis said.

    He said the strategic goal was the achievement of a just, functional and viable solution that respected the decisions and resolutions of the UN and was compatible with the European values and principles.

    Papadopoulos, in turn, said that following the referendum in Cyprus on the Annan Plan, Cyprus had found itself faced with many difficulties, "but the obstacles have been overcome, with a well-studies and correct strategy and through the tireless efforts for explaining the Cypriot people's decision (to reject the Annan Plan as it stood), and with the close cooperation of the Greek government".

    He also noted that despite the consistent efforts, the Cyprus problem remained unresolved while the Turkish side, with its policy, indicated that its goal was to upgrade the cessionist entity in the occupied sector of the island republic, rather than a solution.

    Papadopoulos also reiterated that without Greece's assistance, Cyprus' EU accession would not have been possible.

    [11] Combatting fuel smuggling, tax evasion, top economic policy issues, FinMin says

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek government will announce by the end of the month a package of measures aimed to combat fuel smuggling, an activity facilitated by a large tax difference between diesel and heating oil in the country, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Friday.

    The Greek minister, in a radio interview, said the measures would be drafted in cooperation with Development ministry and stressed combatting fuel smuggling and tax evasion would be the centre-point of economic policy in the next few months. Alogoskoufis, however, noted that the government-sponsored measures would not create problems to consumers or farmers and reassured of no extra burdens to citizens.

    The introduction of a Value Added Tax on real estate from January 1, 2006, would contribute in combating tax evasion in the building sector, he said. Alogoskoufis said the ministry would launch a campaign to inform citizens over tax evasion and noted that an International Monetary Fund delegation, currently in Athens, would recommend changes to improve tax inspections and tax collection.

    "We will do whatever possible to deal with fiscal problems, covering both spending and tax evasion. Fiscal problems are big and we may have to take some additional extensive measures," Alogoskoufis said. The Greek minister reiterated the need to start a dialogue with political and parties and social partners over the country's social security system and stressed that the government would not proceed with pension system reforms during its four-year term.

    "This term must be used for dialogue, to reach some consensus, so that the pension system problem will not have to be an issue of political debate before next elections," the minister said.

    [12] Government stresses high growth, continued effort to meet budget targets

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Friday stressed that the government was making every possible effort to meet budget targets and reduce deficits, while noting that Greece enjoyed one of the highest rates of GDP growth in the EU, at 3.5 per cent.

    Roussopoulos was replying to questions concerning the extremely high deficit of 2004, which closed at 6.7 per cent of GDP, and whether the government intended to impose further taxes to cover up the shortfall in September.

    The spokesman said the government was continuing its efforts for public finances, increasing revenues and reducing primary spending in the first five months of 2005, and was now taking important steps to combat tax evasion and fuel smuggling.

    [13] National Bank's report on SE European and Mediterranean banking systems' outlook for 2005

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    The year 2004 was a good one for banking systems in South Eastern Europe and Mediterranean Emerging Markets, a National Bank's bulletin on regional banking systems said on Friday.

    The bulletin stressed that improving macro-economic data and a regulatory framework for banking activity in Egypt, Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkey and FYROM, over the last 2-3 years led to a marked improvement in profitability, quality of assets and capitalization in the sector. This improvement also led large international banks' appetite for investments in the region, either through acquisitions or expanding networks.

    National Bank's analysts expect 2005 to be a very good year also for banking systems in the region, despite the fact that they would face serious challenges ahead, as low interest rates globally would pressure net interest margins.

    Credit activity has still a significant growth prospect in the region, and particularly in the retail banking service. Lack of liquidity in some countries, with saving deposits lacking loans, is identified as a possible problem for future growth.

    In Turkey, the banking market remained immature, with loans totalling 17.7 percent of GDP compared with a 92 pct average in the Eurozone. The market could face problems this year due to lower interest rates, while an expected increase in foreign capital inflows could further boost the performance of a much-promising banking system.

    In Romania, an improved macro-economic environment in 2004, supported the banking sector's growth. This year, banks are expected to suffer a further shrinking of net interest margins. The banking sector has great prospects of growth in the retail banking services, with loans to households, as a percentage of GDP, at 5.3 pct in 2004 from 50.4 pct in the Eurozone. Two more state banks are expected to be privatized this year.

    In Bulgaria, the banking sector improved due to an increasing credit expansion to the private sector. For the current year, credit expansion growth rates are forecast to slowdown with banks likely to adopt cost-improving measures, while acquisitions and mergers are expected to thrive in the country.

    In Serbia/Montenegro, the banking system suffered a steady decline in profitability, although takeovers grew as large European banks (Unicredito, Alpha Bank) entered the market. A restructuring of the banking system, which began in 2002, is expected to bear fruits in 2005 leading to improved financial performances by domestic banks, although profits would be hurt by high provisions for bad loans.

    In FYROM, the banking sector grew, reflecting higher loans to households and to the private sector of the economy. Credit expansion and profitability is forecast to improve this year although banks are expected to witness a further decline in net interest margins.

    In Albania, the banking system remained the most under-developed market in Southeastern Europe, despite an accelerated credit expansion to the private sector in 2004. This trend is expected to continue in 2005.

    In Cyprus, banks witnessed a significant improvement in operating profits, despite high provisions for bad loans. Lower interest rates, as the country entered the European Exchange Rate Mechanism and banks are expected to feel more pressures in their net profits, leading domestic banks to international expansion (mainly Greece) and cost efficiency programs.

    In Egypt, the banking system is characterized as mature, but with significant growth prospects on the precondition that domestic banks adopted restructuring plans. The government plans to privatize state-owned financial institutions.

    [14] FAA announcement on upgrading Greece's safety rating to highest int'l category

    WASHINGTON, 2/7/2005 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on June 30 formally announced it was "raising Greece's safety rating to the highest international safety category following a reassessment of that country's civil aviation authority conducted in May 2005".

    Following is the relevant a press release issued by the Department of Transportation:

    "As a result of the reassessment, Greece's safety rating was raised from Category 2 to Category 1. A Category 1 rating means that the Greek civil aviation authority has been assessed by FAA inspectors and has been found to license and oversee air carriers in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards.

    "This announcement is part of FAA's International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, under which the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate to the United States and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

    "Countries with air carriers that fly to the United States must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations' technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.

    "The FAA, with the cooperation of the host civil aviation authority, assesses countries with airlines that have operating rights to or from the United States or have requested such rights.

    "Specifically, FAA determines whether a foreign civil aviation authority has an adequate infrastructure for international aviation safety oversight as defined by ICAO standards. The basic elements that FAA considers necessary include: 1) laws enabling the appropriate government office to adopt regulations necessary to meet the minimum requirements of ICAO; 2) current regulations that meet those requirements; 3) procedures to carry out the regulatory requirements; 4) air carrier certification, routine inspection, and surveillance programs, and 5) organizational and personnel resources to implement and enforce the above.

    "The FAA has established two categories for the status of these civil aviation authorities at the time of the assessment: (1) does comply with ICAO standards, (2) does not comply with ICAO standards.

    "Carriers from a country in Category 2 status may continue existing operations into the United States at current levels, but under heightened FAA surveillance. Expansion or changes are not permitted while in Category 2, but carriers from the country can operate new services using aircraft wet-leased from a duly authorized and properly supervised U.S. carrier or a foreign air carrier from a Category 1 country authorized to serve the United States using its own aircraft.

    "Carriers from Category 2 countries that do not serve the United States will not be permitted to start service with their own aircraft while the country remains in Category 2 status, but they may use wet-leased aircraft as previously discussed."

    [15] Athens Int'l Airport announces further reduction in fuel cost for airlines

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport (AIA) on Friday announced a new 5 percent reduction in the cost of fuel for refueling by airlines at AIA, in cooperation with the Olympic Fuel Company SA.

    The reduction of the throughput fee -- which is charged by the Olympic Fuel Company --is effective immediately as of Friday, and is in addition to a 23 percent reduction announced by AIA and the Olympic Fuel Company in January.

    "The AIA, in the framework of its responsible policy that has ranked among the top positions in European airports, has proceeded with another important action, which is aimed at boosting the airlines hit by the sprawling cost of liquid fuels," a joint statement by AIA and the Olympic Fuel Company said.

    The two reductions, which total 28 percent on aggregate, are expected to lower the fuel cost of the airlines refueled at AIA by 3.7 million dollars this year vis-a-vis the preceding year.

    In January, AIA announced a 23 percent decrease in the throughput fee, in collaboration with the Olympic Fuel Company, as well as a zero increase in the Airport company's fuel fee for the third consecutive year.

    The move comes at a time when the international airline industry is being battered by spiraling liquid fuel prices, which has already forced several companies to impose new fuel charges on tickets.

    [16] Greece to float 16.44 percent of OPAP's equity capital

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    The Greek government on Friday announced a flotation of up to 16.44 percent of OPAP's equity capital to domestic and foreign investors through a combined offering in July.

    Under the terms of the offering, OPAP -the Greek soccer pool and betting game organization- will proceed with the offering of up to 16.44 percent of its equity capital to domestic private and institutional investors, to foreign institutional investors and to the organization's employees through private placements. The Greek government will announce more details for the public offering after seeking the necessary approvals by domestic capital markets.

    Alpha Finance, Citigroup, Credit Suisse First Boston, Deutsche Bank, EFG Telesis Finance, Emporiki Bank, Morgan Stanley and National Bank will act as general coordinators of the combined offering.

    [17] Greek stocks end week 1.15 pct higher

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended the last trading session of a highly volatile week with small gains pushing the composite index closer to the 3,100 level in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The index rose 0.42 percent to end at 3,073.64, after reaching 3,092.92 points early in the session. The index ended the week with a net gain of 1.15 percent. Turnover was a heavy 211 million euros, reflecting block trades. National Bank (+3.42 pct) and Hellenic

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.72 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.27 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.58 percent.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 152 to 124 with another 58 issues unchanged.

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: +0.72%

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At premium

  • Underlying Index: -0.27%

  • Greek benchmark 10-year bond: 3.37% yield

  • German benchmark 10-year bund: 3.13% yield

    Foreign Exchange Rates: Monday

    U.S. dollar 1.218

    [18] Defendants acquitted in supplementary ELA trial

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    A Criminal Appeals tribunal on Friday acquitted the six defendants being tried for involvement in several bomb explosions at public services and organizations claimed by the now-defunct Popular Revolutionary Struggle (ELA) terrorist group which were separated from the initial trial on the main body of ELA terror activities, for which the convicted individuals are already serving long sentences.

    Following a five-month trial that began in February, the tribunal on Friday unanimously acquitted Yannis Serifis and Michalis Kassimis, and also acquitted Christos Tsigaridas, Costas Agapiou, Aggeletos Kanas and Irene Athanasaki by majority vote. The defendants, with the exception of Serifis, were being tried on participation in 10 explosions at public services and organizations claimed by ELA, while Serifis was facing charges of complicity in a bomb attack on a MAT riot police bus in the Perissos district, in which police officer Apostolos Velios was killed.

    In its verdict on Tsigaridas, who has assumed the political responsibility for the group for time during which he was a member, the court deemed that there was insufficient evidence that the accused had been involved in any way in the supplementary charges on which he was being tried.

    Agapiou, Kanas and Athanasaki are currently incarcerated at Korydallos prison, after being convicted in October 2004 to 25-year sentences (the longest term allowed under the law, and the product of the merger of a total 1,174 years imprisonment each for convictions on 41 explosions, two attempted explosions, one homicide [Velios], 48 counts of attempted homicide, and procurement and possession of explosive materials). Tsigaridas was also convicted to the same term for the same crimes, but was released from prison on bond in mid-January -- under restrictions that include prohibition of his leaving the country and mandatory appearance at a local police station twice a month -- for health reasons.

    [19] Journalists' conference begins in Samothrace

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    Problems concerning the country's journalists and mainly issues regarding journalistic ethics were examined on Friday during the 13th Panhellenic Journalists' Conference which began on the island of Samothrace.

    The first part of the conference focused on the issue of journalistic ethics and speakers included Vangelis Delipetros, a journalist from the Athens daily "Eleftherotypia", and a member of the Cyprus Journalists Union executive board Cornelius Hatjikostas.

    Delipetros said that "in Greece no private television channel commits itself on issues of ethics and so what remains are the codes of the National Radio and Television Council to set certain limits."

    The conference is being attended by about 400 journalists from Greece, Cyprus and Europe and by university professors, as well as by students from university faculties from Greece and Turkey.

    [20] Archbishop Christodoulos and other members of Holy Synod to become organ donors

    Athens, 2/7/2005 (ANA)

    The head of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, as well as other members of the Holy Synod on Friday announced that they were registering as organ donors.

    The move coincides with a nationwide drive initiated by the Greek Church to encourage parishioners to come forward as organ donors, a spokesman said.

    He announced that special forms from the health ministry will soon be sent out to all parishes in the country, following a decision made on Friday during a meeting of the Permanent Holy Synod.

    According to the spokesman, the decision was triggered by a case concerning two infants and a desperate appeal for organs made by their parents, which shed light on the problems faced by hundreds of people on waiting lists for donated organs.

    "It is a great shame that in our country, where medical science has literally worked miracles in the area of transplants, Greek society hesitates to declare its consent to making every one of its members a donor of vital organs after death. This results in the loss of human lives that could have been saved," the spokesman added.

    He also stressed that the Church had long given its consent to organ donations as "an act of love and sacrifice beloved by God," provided the donor made the offer consciously and freely and that absolutely no commercial element was involved.

    [21] Cypriot President Papadopoulos welcomes approval of EU Constitution

    NICOSIA, 2/7/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has expressed deep satisfaction with the adoption yesterday by the island's parliament of the EU Constitutional Treaty.

    ''I would like to express my deep satisfaction and that of the government for the adoption by the House of Representatives of the law, which ratifies the European Union Constitutional Treaty, based on the constitutional provisions in force,'' President Papadopoulos says in a written statement issued on Friday.

    He says ''I am particularly pleased that this decision was taken following a constructive and an in depth discussion during which all views were heard and the pros and cons of all options were stated.''

    President Papadopoulos adds that the government, recognizing the need for citizens to be aware of the content of the Treaty and participate in a procedure that directly affects their future, embarked on a wide campaign to inform and discuss with citizens an issue that directly concerns and affects society as a whole as well as the Republic of Cyprus.

    The Constitutional Treaty is a result of the most enlarged dialogue which has ever taken place in the history of European integration, the Cypriot President notes.

    ''This creates a legacy which should lead to our future course towards a Europe of social solidarity and progress which should come from its citizens, and be directed towards its citizens,'' he adds.

    ''We hope that this procedure for the ratification of the Constitutional Treaty, which has recently faced serious difficulties, will have an auspicious outcome thus imparting further momentum to European integration and reinforcing the position of the Union, internationally'', President Papadopoulos concludes his written statement.

    After a two-day debate the island's House of Representatives approved by majority (30 in favor, 19 against, 1 abstention) last night the European Constitution.

    Cyprus is the first European Union member-state to ratify the European Constitution after the decision of the European Council (16-17 June) in Brussels to allow some time for reflection, following the failure of EU leaders to approve the Constitution at their summit, nearly two weeks ago.

    [22] Cyprus certain of objective British EU presidency

    NICOSIA, 2/7/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides appeared on Friday certain that Britain, which as of Friday assumes the European Union's rotating presidency, would follow an objective tactic, focusing its efforts, as the other presidencies, on the interests of Europe.

    Replying to questions, Chrysostomides also said that it is much easier for a member state to express its national interests when it is just a member than when this state holds the EU presidency.

    [23] Talat repeating Denktash's tactics, Spokesman says

    NICOSIA, 2/7/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The ''letter-sending campaign'' initiated by Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat constitutes a repetition of the positions expressed by former Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash for the past thirty years, Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here on Friday.

    Chrysostomides was commenting on a letter sent by Talat to all European Union member states except Cyprus, EU Commission President Jose Barroso and other EU officials with regard to the Cypriot House of Representative's ratification of the EU Constitutional Treaty.

    [24] Britain wants to hear how to reach agreed Cyprus solution

    NICOSIA, 2/7/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Britain wants to continue to move the Cyprus settlement process, new British High Commissioner to Cyprus Peter Millett has said, adding that he looks forward to hearing ''in more detail'' how an agreed settlement could be reached.

    Millet presented here on Friday his credentials to Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, who reiterated his commitment for an agreed settlement of the Cyprus problem that would be a result of negotiations and not of arbitration and strict deadlines.


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