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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-08-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

August 2, 2005


  • [01] Gov't denies plan to raise retirement age for women
  • [02] Turkey's non-recognition of Cyprus a "paradox that must end", Koumoutsakos tells NET
  • [03] Rhen: Implementation of protocol is essential by Turkey
  • [04] PASOK spokesman attributes responsibility to the government over fire in southern Attica
  • [05] PM confers with FinMin on economy
  • [06] Athens to host 2006 World Cup in Athletics, IAAF decides
  • [07] Theodorakis given honorary doctorate at Crete University, during event for his 80th birthday
  • [08] Gov't urges consumers to contain energy consumption during peak morning hours
  • [09] Greece, China seek closer cooperation
  • [10] Cosmote buys parent firm's stock in GloBul, Cosmofon
  • [11] Minister repeats vow to protect ferry passengers
  • [12] Australian donation two of rapid-reaction all terrain bushfire fighting vehicles to Greece's Volunteer Fire Fighting Brigade
  • [13] Greek stocks rise in thin summer trade
  • [14] Emergency compensation for homes lost to Attica fires, but not those built in forest
  • [15] Greek swimmer Grigoriadis wins gold medal in 50-metres backstroke in World Championship in Montreal
  • [16] Cypriot President: Turkey's declaration legally invalid
  • [17] Cypriot President: Committed to work for real reunification of island

  • [01] Gov't denies plan to raise retirement age for women

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Monday denied planning to rise the pensionable age for women following allegations of pressure from European Union authorities.

    "There is no question of changing the general framework of the social insurance system within the government's current four-year term of office. That is to say there is no question of changing the age requirement or lowering pensions etc," the employment and social protection minister, Panos Panayiotopoulos, said in a statement.

    He was responding to a storm of criticism from trade unions and the political opposition earlier in the day sparked by a newspaper report that the EU was pressuring Greece into making women retire five or more years later and scrapping other positive discrimination measures contained in the social insurance system.

    "Consultations on the social insurance system are essential, as this will help us to defend the rights of coming generations. It will be a lengthy dialogue to extend beyond this four-year term," Panayiotopoulos said.

    "The government's relationship with Brussels is not as described in certain publications. We do not feel that Brussels is dictating solutions to us in a form of British colonialism," he added.

    Opposition parties on same-age retirement for men and women in civil service: Main opposition PASOK and the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Monday both reacted to rumors of an EU-imposed equalization of retirement ages for men and women each from a different angle.

    The issue hit the headlines after the European Commission sent a warning letter to the Greek government concerning ages of retirement for men and women in the civil service and armed forces.

    PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos, responsible for employment, social policy and health issues for his party, stressed that social insurance matters were not regulated by the Community but by the EU member-states.

    He urged the government to "stop fuelling with deliberate danger-mongering concerns over pension rights and thus push many civil servants and others covered by state insurance funds into early retirement, especially women."

    Venizelos also pointed out that both the Greek Constitution and European Community law called for positive measures in favor of women, as a means to deal with low employment by women.

    "There are differentiated ages of retirement for men and women in nearly every EU member-state," he stressed.

    A KKE announcement, meanwhile, said that the EU demand to make the age of retirement of women in the civil service the same as that of men was "one more link in the chain of its anti-labor policies. The goal of the EU is to increase exploitation, since this is demanded by the needs of capital for greater profitability."

    It called on the New Democracy government to take a clear stand on the issue and stressed that "the measures against the people will come piecemeal and will not stop. This is why the popular reaction must be generalized," they said.

    According to the women's section of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party, the measure was presented as a measure for equality but was actually one that made conditions of life and work for women more difficult.

    Pointing out that the measure was proposed at a time when the climate for conditions of work and insurance in Greece and Europe were becoming ever more difficult, Synaspismos noted that the trend for shrinking the social state and related spending was creating a risk of sweeping away positive measures to protect motherhood, which did not constitute gender discrimination.

    [02] Turkey's non-recognition of Cyprus a "paradox that must end", Koumoutsakos tells NET

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Turkey's decision to accompany its signature of an EU customs union protocol with a statement reaffirming non-recognition of the Cyprus Republic was a "political and institutional paradox that must end," foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos reiterated during an interview with the state TV channel NET on Monday.

    "This is a contradiction that must be dealt with as soon as possible, because it overshadows the accession negotiations that Turkey is expected to begin on October 3," Koumoutsakos said.

    At the same time, the spokesman noted that the signature of the protocol extending customs union with the 10 new members of the Community, including Cyprus, had a political and semantic significance that could not be regarded as negligible.

    "It is a step that will become, with the reactions of the European Union, an important step toward normalizing relations between Turkey and the Cyprus Republic. This must not be overlooked," Koumoutsakos stressed.

    Asked to comment on what was seen as a weak reaction by the British EU presidency to Turkey's statement on Cyprus, the spokesman underlined that Ankara's move had been unilateral and that the EU presidency's response was, for the present, only binding for the presidency. A binding EU position on the issue will arise at the end of August, when the 25 member-states will be called to adopt a single and unanimous stance and the views of Greece and Cyprus will have added weight, he said.

    Koumoutsakos also pointed out that the specific negotiation process, where the EU would make the final decision and react to Turkey's statement as a whole, had been proposed by Greece and Cyprus and unanimously accepted.

    He said the practical consequences of the agreement signed by Turkey were that commercial ties between Turkey and all EU member-states will begin without exception, in accordance with European and Community law. He did not go into details, however, on what this meant in the case of Cyprus.

    Asked if Cyprus might block Turkey's accession course if it had not complied by October, the spokesman noted that the accession negotiations were a lengthy and complex procedure and stressed that all EU member-states would judge Turkey's European course at every step.

    Ankara on Friday signed a Protocol extending its EU customs union Agreement to the Union's 10 new members, including Cyprus, but simultaneously issued a unilateral declaration reaffirming its policy of not recognizing the Republic of Cyprus.

    Greece on Saturday warned that the paradox regarding Turkey's policy on EU member Cyprus must eclipse, stressing that it was refusing to recognize a member of a bloc that it was trying to join.

    A British EU presidency statement noted that the Union recognized only the Republic of Cyprus as a subject of international law, and said that the Council of the European Union "will examine the terms of the Turkish declaration in due course with a view to agreeing any further EU response".

    In Nicosia, the government of the Republic of Cyprus expressed "deep regret" over Turkey's unilateral declaration, in a statement issued by government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides, and called on Turkey to abide by the principles on which the EU was founded.

    The EU and the international community recognize the Greek Cypriot government of the Republic of Cyprus as the sole legitimate authority on the divided Mediterranean island, the northern part of which has been under Turkish occupation since 1974. The Turkish-Cypriot regime in the north of the island is recognized only by Ankara.

    PASOK spokesman terms Turkey's non-recognition of Cyprus as unacceptable and unilateral: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Monday termed as unacceptable and unilateral Turkey's statement for the non recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, following the signing by the neighboring country of the Ankara Protocol last Friday.

    Athanassakis also stressed that "this comes as a result of the choices and handlings by the government in foreign policy from the EU summit of last December which allows Turkey to show new forms of intransigence."

    The PASOK spokesman also made mention of "lack of clarity in foreign policy which each time leads to new negative situations."

    PASOK, through its spokesman, called on the government to intervene directly to the Council of Ministers in light also of COREPER, which will convene at the end of the month, so as to confirm the European legality and strengthen the credibility of the political decisions and the institutional functioning of the Union.

    The PASOK spokesman clarified that the position of the Movement for support of Turkey's European prospects is a given fact, adding that that this must be compatible in every case with the full respect of the European treaties and of the acquis communautaire.

    [03] Rhen: Implementation of protocol is essential by Turkey

    BRUSSELS 8/2/2005 (ANA/M.Spinthourakis/CNA)

    EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has said ''our preliminary assessment is that the declaration'' of Turkey stating that Ankara does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus ''does not call into question Turkey's commitment to implement the protocol, which is essential.''

    In a statement, Rehn said the signing of the additional protocol to the Ankara Agreement should clear the way for the opening of accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October, on the basis of the negotiating framework to be agreed by the Council, for which a proposal was presented by the Commission on 29 June.

    Furthermore he stressed ''it is particularly important that Turkey confirms its continued commitment to support efforts for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.''

    Rehn said the signing by the EU - Presidency and Commission - and Turkey of the additional protocol to the Ankara Agreement is a welcome development.

    ''This will extend the EU-Turkey customs union to all new Member States, including the Republic of Cyprus. Together with the entry into force of 6 important pieces of legislation (which occurred on 1 June), the signature of the additional protocol was referred to in the conclusions of the December 2004 European Council as a step to be taken before the opening of accession negotiations with Turkey,'' he noted.

    ''The signature therefore should clear the way for the opening of accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October, on the basis of the negotiating framework to be agreed by the Council, for which a proposal was presented by the Commission on 29 June,'' Rehn added.

    He noted that at the time of signature, Turkey issued a declaration, in particular relating to Cyprus, which the European Union will examine carefully, for example, to see if there are any legal implications.

    ''Our preliminary assessment is that the declaration does not call into question Turkey's commitment to implement the protocol, which is essential,'' Rehn said.

    [04] PASOK spokesman attributes responsibility to the government over fire in southern Attica

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Monday attributed responsibility to the government, "which would be wrong to hide," over the catastrophic, as he termed it, fire in southern Attica last week.

    The PASOK spokesman, who stressed that until today the main opposition party had avoided to criticize the government, referred to the sufficiency of fire fighting means, stressing that Greece had the strongest fire brigade fleet in all of Europe.

    Athanassakis stressed that the problems were manifested in the first hours of the fires which occurred and added that these were due to the lack of personnel and the lack of organization for the prevention and coordination of the extinguishing.

    [05] PM confers with FinMin on economy

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday discussed the course of the economy and planning of economic policy for the new period, in view of the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF) with national economy and finance minister George Alogoskoufis.

    The prime minister traditionally unveils the government's economic policy for the following year at the TIF in mid-September, while the political party leaders present their views separately throughout the first week of the Fair.

    Alogoskoufis told reporters after the meeting that the government remained devoted to boosting economic growth and increasing employment and social cohesion.

    He stressed that the ongoing policy of reforms would be continued on the basis of the mild fiscal policy, which the minister said remained the government's basic strategy.

    Alogoskoufis said that despite the major problems inherited by the current government, the situation was improving and the problems were confrontable.

    The minister also announced that the bill providing for the imposition of a 19 percent VAT on real estate would be released Tuesday, or at the latest Wednesday, for public perusal.

    Main opposition slams government's economic policy: The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Monday criticized the government's economic policy.

    "The mild adjustment policy died long ago. The finance minister and prime minister are responsible. The government has been implementing non-mild adjustment for the last 17 months," PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said in a statement.

    "Workers incomes have come under attack, and their standard of living. This also applies to small- and medium-sized enterprises, farmers and all households. And more measures are in store," Athanassakis said.

    He was commenting on statements earlier in the day by Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis following consultations with the premier.

    [06] Athens to host 2006 World Cup in Athletics, IAAF decides

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Monday voted unanimously in favor of Greece to host of the 2006 World Championship in Athletics, after the Greek athletics federation SEGAS presented Athens' bid.

    The event will be held in September 2006 at the OAKA Olympic sports complex.

    PM Karamanlis, Orfanos on Greece's hosting of the 2006 World Championship in Athletics in Athens: On the occasion of Greece's hosting of the 2006 World Championship in Athletics after the unanimous vote in favor of Greece on Monday by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis made the following statement:

    "The undertaking of the hosting of the 2006 World Champion-ship in Athletics by our country shows the confidence which the international community has in Greece, following the successful hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games.

    "The utilization of the Olympic heritage which the Games left in our country is a major priority of the government.

    "I am certain that Greece, yet again, will fully respond to the high expectations of the world athletics community.

    "I wish to congratulate all those who systematically worked for the bid to host this great event to have a successful outcome."

    On his part, Deputy Culture Minister for Sport George Orfanos made the following statement:

    "I express my great satisfaction over the undertaking of the hosting of the IAAF World Championship in Athletics which will be held in 2006 in Athens. This result was achieved following the coordinated moves of the Greek government, the Greek Olympic Committee and of its president Minoas Kyriakou, and of Greek athletics federation SEGAS.

    "I am certain that our country, after the successful hosting of the 2004 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, will continue the tradition of successfully hosting top level events, gathering yet again the interest of the people of world athletics."

    [07] Theodorakis given honorary doctorate at Crete University, during event for his 80th birthday

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Composer Mikis Theodorakis was given an honorary doctorate of Philosophical and Social Studies by the University of Crete on Monday, during continuing celebrations of his 80th birthday in Hania.

    During events organized in the city on Sunday night, mean-while, Theodorakis was presented with the 'Dialogue of Civilizations' prize, which is given by the St. Andrew the First-Called Foundation, a Russian non-governmental organization.

    Attending the award ceremony was Russian Ambassador to Athens Andrei Vdovin and Russian officials from St. Andrew The First-Called and other Russian NGOs.

    According to the foundation - which is linked to the also-Russian NGOs World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations and the Centre of National Glory of Russia - Theodorakis was awarded the prize "for his hard work and example of creative service to his homeland", as well as his endeavors in music.

    The International St. Andrew the First-Called Prize is a non-governmental, non-party, non-church and non-political award, presented each year since it was first established in 1992.

    Among its winners are Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, Patriarch Paul of Serbia, Iranian President Mohammad Hatami, Metropolitan Anthony of Surozh, Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, Latvian President Valdas Adamkus, former Indian Prime Minister Kumar Gudjal, actor Vassiliy Lanovoy and others.

    Russian President Putin congratulates Greek composer Theodorakis for his 80th birthday: Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a letter of congratulations to world renowned Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis for his 80th birthday.

    In his letter to Theodorakis, Putin said:" Accept the warmest congratulations for your 80 years. In Russia you are widely known as an excellent composer, a prominent social and political personality and member of the anti-fascist resistance. Your fruitful creative work in various types of music has justly secured you brilliant glory and world respect. The well known 'Syrtaki' has been established in Russia as a symbol of Greek popular music."

    Putin added: "We very much appreciate your great personal contribution to the mutual enrichment of Russian and Greek culture, which have a deep spiritual relationship. I am certain that thanks to such artists as yourself, the cultural foundation is becoming stronger, on which to a significant degree are based the dynamically developing Russian-Greek relations. From the bottom of my heart, I wish you health, prosperity and new creative successes."

    [08] Gov't urges consumers to contain energy consumption during peak morning hours

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Monday urged consumers to contain electricity consumption in peak morning hours, from 11.00 to 15.00 local time, and stressed that ministry authorities and the energy market were in full alert to prevent any major electricity grid black outs in the country.

    Speaking to reporters, Sioufas said Greek consumers, both private and businesses were responding positively to ministry directives on the use of energy.

    According to energy market sources, three electricity production stations were shut down on Monday due to technical problems, but the country's electricity grid continued operating smoothly helped by increased imports of electricity, and minor cutbacks in electricity to major consumers.

    Sioufas said ministry agencies would remain on alert for the next two days due to rising temperatures in the country.

    The Greek minister also announced a package of measures aimed to adopt stricter supervision in the electrical appliances' market after a series of fatal accidents from the use of household appliances last year. The ministry drafted a new regulatory framework for the market setting new standards for electric appliances and installations.

    [09] Greece, China seek closer cooperation

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    A high-ranking Chinese delegation, headed by the vice-governor of Hainan region, Mr Jiang Zellin, met with local officials in the Xanthi prefecture and discussed ways of closer cooperation between the two regions.

    Hainan island is a region of China with a population of 8.10 million people. The Chinese delegation was particularly interested in the structure of farm economy in Greece. The two sides agreed to balance trade transactions by allowing more Greek products in the Chinese market.

    Chinese businessmen are showing increased interest in certain activities of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and for pre-arranged business meetings in the framework of this year's Expo-partenariat. That was the message delivered to Helexpo's chief executive, Themis Kartsionis, during his recent visit to China.

    Kartsionis urged businessmen in the Liaoning province to participate in the 70th Thessaloniki Fair. He attended a ceremony linking the cities of Thessaloniki with Chin-Yiang.

    Chinese businessmen showed particular interest in Decoland, Fashion Forward, Global Exchange and Expo-partenariat.

    Chinese entrepreneurs show interest in Thessaloniki International Trade Fair: Particular interest for specific exhibition dedications at the 70th Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, but also for the predetermined business meetings of the Expo-partenariat, were shown by the Chinese entrepreneurs who Helexpo SA managing director Themis Kartsiotis met during his visit to the Chinese city of Shenyang.

    Kartsiotis called on the Chinese entrepreneurs of the province of Liaoling to participate on the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, on the occasion of the Greek-Chinese Forum which was jointly organized by the municipalities of Shenyang and Thessaloniki, within the framework of the signing of the agreement for the twinning of the two cities.

    [10] Cosmote buys parent firm's stock in GloBul, Cosmofon

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Cosmote on Monday signed an acquisition agreement for the purchase of stock from its parent firm OTE telecom in mobile phone subsidiaries GloBul (Bulgaria) and Cosmofon (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) through a transfer of shares held by MTS of the Netherlands, which holds 100% of paper in Cosmofon for OTE.

    The transfer to Cosmote of GloBul's shares was completed on Monday, while acquisition of MTS' stock is due within the month following procedures under Dutch law, the buyer said in a statement.

    The acquisition price of 490 million (400 million for GloBul and 90 million for Cosmofon) will be paid in two installments. The first, totalling 201 million, is due on the transfer of MTS shares; and the second, at 289 million, will be paid within 40 working days after the deposit of the first installment.

    Quoted on the Athens and London bourses, Cosmote has over 4 million customers in Greece, holding the market's top position, the statement said. The firm operates in Albania through the AMC mobile operator; and in Romania through Cosmorom. Cosmote had managed Globul and Cosmofon since January 2003 by agreement with OTE.

    OTE is Greece's largest telecoms provider, and its group is the market leader in terms of revenue. OTE is listed on the Athens bourse, the NYSE and LSE. Through its investments in south-eastern Europe in fixed and mobile telecom companies, OTE addresses a potential customer base of 60 million people.

    [11] Minister repeats vow to protect ferry passengers

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis repeated on Monday that the government had set a priority on safety for ferry passengers.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with a ferry owners trade group, the minister said that operators who failed to inform passengers of mechanical or other problems in vessels would be punished by law; and they should in any case liaise more closely with port authorities.

    He also noted that the Greek passenger shipping fleet had the youngest average age in the European Union.

    A spokesman for the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement later responded to Kefaloyiannis' statements, describing the state of the ferry sector as "unacceptable" and "tragic".

    [12] Australian donation two of rapid-reaction all terrain bushfire fighting vehicles to Greece's Volunteer Fire Fighting Brigade

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    The Australian Embassy in Athens, the Government of Western Australia, Hellenic Seaways and Austal shipbuilders have teamed up to donate and deliver two rapid-reaction all terrain bushfire fighting vehicles to the Greek Volunteer Fire Fighting Brigade - ESEPA, an announcement by the Australian embassy released on Monday said.

    The vehicles arrived in Pireaus on Hellenic Seaway's new Australian-built fast ferry, Highspeed 5, on 29 July. Media are invited to attend handing over of the trucks to ESEPA at the official Commissioning Ceremony of the Highspeed 5 on Wednesday 3 August at 20.30hrs at Piraeus Main Port, Akti Xaveriou - Pagoda. Official guests will include the Minister of Merchant Marine, Mr Manolis Kefallogiannis and the Ambassador of Australia to the Hellenic Republic, H.E. Mr Paul Tighe, the announcement said.

    Both the Greek and the Australian communities rely on the dedication, commitment and courage of volunteer fire fighters to help protect life, property and the environment in our rural areas. Australia has internationally recognized bushfire fighting experience and a long tradition of helping other countries' volunteer bushfire fighting services through the provision of training, expertise and surplus equipment, the announcement continued.

    When approached by ESEPA for assistance in updating its fire fighting fleet, the Government of Western Australia was delighted to help by donating two especially adapted four-wheel-drive bushfire fighting vehicles. ESEPA has described the two vehicles as 'perfect' for meeting its need for 'first attack' fire patrols in rough and remote terrain where larger, slower trucks cannot go, and as filling a major gap in ESEPA's bushfire fighting capacity, the announcement added.

    The donation was made possible by the generosity of Hellenic Seaways and the Australian shipbuilder Austal who offered to transport the vehicles from Australia to Piraeus on board Hellenic Seaways' exciting new fast ferry built in Perth, Western Australia. Hellenic Seaways' new ferry will not only deliver the fire trucks and a huge boost to Greece's volunteer fire fighters, but it will also provide an impressive, state-of-the-art addition to Hellenic Seaway's inter-island services, the announcement said.

    The donation is a great example of how co-operation between governments and business, and between Greeks and Australians, can help a worthy cause. The Embassy, the Government of Western Australia, Hellenic Seaways and Austal are proud to help ESEPA with its brave efforts to protect Greece from the destructive effects of bushfires, the embassy announcement concluded.

    [13] Greek stocks rise in thin summer trade

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Greek stocks rose slightly on Monday in typical summer trading with investors leaving the market for their summer holidays.

    The composite index gained 0.01 percent to end at 3,272.27 points, while turnover was a moderate 164.7 million euros.

    The majority of sector indices ended lower, with the Food-Beverage (1.94 pct), Publications (1.41 pct), Constructions (1.15 pct) and Textiles (1.08 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses, while the IT Solutions (1.10 pct), Banks (0.78 pct), Industrials (0.35 pct) and Mineral-Cements (0.19 pct) scoring the biggest gains.

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.27 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 0.94 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 0.39 pct.

    Broadly, decliners led advancers by 185 to 82 with another 64 issues unchanged.

    [14] Emergency compensation for homes lost to Attica fires, but not those built in forest

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Owners of houses that were damaged during last week's extensive fires in northeast Attica will receive two separate emergency sums in compensation, Environment Minister George Souflias announced on Monday.

    The minister stressed, however, that houses built in forest or land reserved for reforestation, where construction is illegal, would not be eligible for other government programs to help them rebuild their homes.

    Souflias made the announcement while visiting the East Attica Prefecture, during talks with East Attica Prefect Leonidas Kouris, local mayors and other bodies.

    Owners of fire-damaged buildings, both legally constructed and those without proper planning permission, will each receive immediate emergency relief aid of 600 euros to cover their basic needs, followed by 6,000 euros to replace destroyed household furniture and appliances, where these have been damaged.

    Those whose houses were legal and had proper planning permission, will then also be eligible for a 15-year, interest-free loan in order to rebuild and repair their homes. One third of this money will be granted by the State.

    This right will not extend to those who had built their houses on land designated as forested or as reserved for reforestation. The East Attica prefect said that the applications will each be examined individually, and let it be understood that those who were in the process of legalizing a building will receive more favorable treatment.

    So far, 130 householders have applied for state aid to rebuild.

    [15] Greek swimmer Grigoriadis wins gold medal in 50-metres backstroke in World Championship in Montreal

    Athens, 8/2/2005 (ANA)

    Aristidis Grigoriadis wrote history at dawn Monday in Montreal by wining the first gold medal of Greek swimming at a World Championship. The 19 year-old swimmer from Aris Thessaloniki won in the final of the 50-metres backstroke in a time of 24.95, a performance which constitutes a new Greek record. He broke his previous record of 25.09.

    Grigoriadis' enormous success followed the bronze medal which the Greek men's water polo team won.

    Congratulations to Grigoriadis were sent by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist (PASOK) leader George Papandreou and Deputy Culture Minister for Sport George Orfanos.

    [16] Cypriot President: Turkey's declaration legally invalid

    NICOSIA 8/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has stressed that Turkey's unilateral declaration of non-recognition of the Cyprus Republic, issued as it signed a protocol extending its customs union with the European Union, has no legal validity.

    Papadopoulos expressed disappointment with Turkey's continuing stance of disrespect to its European commitments. He said he was also disappointed with the reaction of the British EU Presidency, adding that the Cyprus government has reacted ''as it should have done''.

    ''We expected a stronger reaction'', Papadopoulos said Sunday, noting that a final decision will be taken at the EU Council of Ministers.

    He said the EU will decide whether Turkey's statement is contrary to the substance, the content and the effectiveness of the European Council decision, in December 2004, to open accession negotiations with Turkey in October this year.

    Concluding, he said that during talks at the EU-Turkey working committee, Ankara had submitted seven documents which were rejected.

    Turkey has declared that the signing, ratification and implementation of the protocol extending its customs union with the EU to the ten new member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, ''neither amount to any form of recognition of the Republic of Cyprus referred to in

    the protocol, nor prejudice Turkey's rights and obligations emanating from the Treaty of Guarantee, the Treaty of Alliance, and the Treaty of Establishment of 1960.''

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.

    [17] Cypriot President: Committed to work for real reunification of island

    NICOSIA 8/2/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    The Cyprus government works constructively for a solution that would serve the legitimate interests of all people of Cyprus and is committed to truly reunify the country in terms of territory, society, economy and institutions, Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos, stressed here on Monday, receiving the credentials of new German Ambassador Dr. Rolf Kaiser.

    Presenting his credentials, the Ambassador of Germany underlined that ''while acknowledging the democratic choice exercised by the people of Cyprus in the April 2004 referenda, Germany hopes for talks on a solution that accommodates the interests of both communities to resume soon''.

    ''Germany joins the people of Cyprus in their hope for lasting peace, security and prosperity. Overcoming the painful division of your country remains high on the political agenda. We wish all the political leaders involved courage and determination to perceive the realization of this hope as a common objective'', Ambassador Kaiser noted.

    The Cypriot president further stressed that despite the continuous and genuine efforts of the Greek Cypriot side throughout the years to reach a viable settlement, the Cyprus problem remains unresolved, and reiterated his commitment for a bizonal, bicommunal, federation.

    ''Consequentially, we are firmly opposed to any measures, interim or final, which would tend to solidify separatist attitudes, which would eventually operate as a disincentive to reunification efforts of the economy and of the country, which is an objective which the decision of the 26th of April, 2004, of the Council of Ministers of the European Union, expressly provides'', he noted.

    Referring to the Turkish Cypriots, President Papadopoulos said that the government strongly supports their economic development, as long as it is ''within the norms of international legitimacy and EU laws''.

    The Cypriot president made a special reference to the government proposals to the EU, aiming to enhance the building of trust and cooperation between the two communities.

    Referring to the EU regulation on ''Direct Trade'' between Turkish Cypriots and EU countries, he said that it ''does not have any financial content for Turkish Cypriots, but it is designed to promote purely political aims of the Turkish side for advancing further separatism and political gains for the Turkish Cypriot community''.

    President Papadopoulos said that the government has given its agreement to the Regulation on Financial Assistance to Turkish Cypriots of 259 million euros, since October 2004 and has submitted a number of proposals aiming to expand the 'Green Line Regulation' and therefore further facilitate the movement of persons, goods and services from the occupied area to the government controlled area and to the European Union.

    ''Certain countries, members of the EU and the Turkish-Cypriot leadership, however, block the release of this financial aid, in pursuance of their policy to 'couple' this financial assistance to the so-called 'Direct Trade''', he said.

    Papadopoulos stressed that a tangible step that would significantly contribute to the crystallization of trust between the two communities by unleashing their productive forces in the same geographical area, would be the realization of the proposal of the government of Cyprus for the return of the enclosed city of Varosha to its lawful owners.

    ''This proposal is followed by the government's authorization for the re-opening of Famagusta Port for both communities and under the operational responsibility of the EU Commission'', he added.

    The Cypriot president noted that ''Together with military disengagement and de-mining, tourism and the region's economic development could, thus, be boosted. Such activities would, more than any other confidence-building measure, contribute to the goal of reunification''.

    Furthermore, he said that a common problem both countries face, is illegal immigration, adding that Cyprus and Germany should work together in this area.

    About bilateral relations, he said they are very promising, particularly in the fields of tourism, trade, education and research.

    German Ambassador referred to the ''excellent bilateral relations'' especially to the ''strong'' economic relations.

    On the political level, he said that a large number of visits in both directions successfully foster bilateral relations.

    ''As EU members we are bound to establish the framework in which our citizens can live together in peace, stability and prosperity. Establishing this framework is an ongoing process and requires to define our interests and find compromises with our partners on a daily basis. We firmly believe that Cyprus has much to contribute to this process as a highly respected member of the EU'', the German ambassador said.

    He said that Cyprus has ''many friends in Germany'', especially German tourists, who become ''ambassadors of Cyprus''.

    Referring to the ratification of the European Constitution by Cyprus, Ambassador Kaiser said that this action ''has proven once again that Cyprus adheres to and supports the noble ideas of our Union even in difficult times''.

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