|Friday, 15 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-08-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>August 30, 2005
 Karamanlis: Greek stance on EU-Turkey ties unchanged; commitments though must be fulfilled
PRAGUE, 30/8/2005 (ANA - S. Goutzanis)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis issued two separate yet clear messages for EU hopeful Turkey and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Monday, following talks here in Prague with his host, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek.
Karamanlis emphasized that Athens' strategic decision to back Turkey's European prospects is unchanged, although Greek leadership is taking into account all of the latest developments and information.
In echoing the most recent statements by several top Greek foreign ministry officials, Karamanlis reminded that Ankara must fulfill all the criteria governing Turkey's course towards the EU. He added that an appendix tacked on by Turkey to its extension of a customs protocol with all 10 new EU members -- whereby the EU hopeful reminded that it continues to not recognize EU member-state Cyprus -- merely created more problems "that must be dealt with within the EU framework".
The Greek prime minister also stressed that Ankara should desist from creating "ambiguities" as far as the substance and meaning of its signature on the document extending the customs protocol was concerned. He said Ankara was now called upon to implement the protocol with all of the EU member-states.
Regarding FYROM, the Greek Prime Minister tersely noted that the land-locked neighboring country's leadership failed to react positively to an initiative by the UN Secretary General for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name issue" and, moreover, showed no cooperation in the matter.
"This is a parameter that must be calculated, and one that weighs on the examination of that country's (FYROM) European prospects," Karamanlis said.
Along those lines, the Greek PM made it clear that as far as Athens is concerned, "there is no prospect of discussions regarding FYROM's accession talks to proceed."
Meanwhile, Karamanlis told reporters that talks with Czech PM Paroubek were extremely productive, with discussions focusing on the future of European integration and ratification of the draft EU Constitution.
"We examined the issue of fiscal prospects, namely, the size of the (EU) budget and Community funds that will be allocated to members between 2007-2013," Karamanlis said, adding that both Athens and Prague have successfully cooperated on the specific issue as part of a group of 17 EU member-states that actively support the decades-old policy of vigorous cohesion.
On his part, Paroubek noted that the Union's fiscal prospects for 2007-2013 were discussed, while noting that his government has clearly expressed its opinion regarding accession negotiations with candidate-states. Additionally, he said the Czech Republic and Greece have a similar view vis-a-vis the Union and its social as well as political character.
"We agreed that this cooperation should continue so that we can jointly promote our positions. In every instance, it is important that negotiations conclude quickly with an agreement that ensures the significance of the policy of cohesion, the just allocation of the costs of expansion and one that deals with the challenges and problems arising from the different level of development amongst the 25 EU member-states," Karamanlis stressed.
EU-Turkey relations were also on the agenda of discussions, as Karamanlis briefed his Czech counterpart on Athens' positions, especially ahead of a pair of crucial meetings at the EU level in the coming week regarding Ankara's European prospects and the customs union extension protocol problem.
Finally, Karamanlis invited Paroubek to officially visit Greece.
EU-Turkey relations amid the prism of Greek-Turkish ties and the ongoing Cyprus issue dominated much of the alternate government spokesman's press briefing on Monday, especially in light of a recent series of comments regarding Ankara's prospects by European leaders.
"The Greek government, as you know, has repeatedly called on Turkey to clarify its position on Cyprus. The prime minister, in fact, referred to this issue last Friday during a (ruling) New Democracy central committee meeting ... whatever we have said still stands," Antonaros said in reference to a recent high-profile statement by French President Jacques Chirac calling on Ankara to clarify its position.
Asked by reporters if EU hopeful Turkey should begin accession negotiations without first recognizing EU member-state Cyprus, Antonaros stressed:
"Discussions going on these days within the European Union are at a very crucial, sensitive and significant point. Turkey has assumed specific commitments vis-a-vis the 25 EU member-states, ones that it is now called on to implement and respect. This is what we, as the Greek government, are waiting (for Turkey) to do."
Additionally, Antonaros confirmed that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has received a letter from German opposition conservative leader Angela Merkel regarding EU-Turkey relations, noting that the latter's positions were being closely examined "within the framework of Greek foreign policy's parameters, which aim at promoting national interests."
In response to other related questions, the spokesman reiterated Athens' standing position, namely, that "Turkey has assumed certain commitments within the framework of a path it chose towards moving closer to Europe. Greece backs Turkey's European orientation because it believes a Europeanized Turkey will contribute so that differences between the two countries are blunted..."
Finally, the spokesman said Karamanlis' schedule while attending the UN's General Assembly meeting has not been finalized, in response to a question on whether the premier will meet with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Recep Erdogan in New York.
 FM and SYN leader discuss Turkey's EU prospects, Cyprus issue
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis met with Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) President Alekos Alavanos on Monday, two days before the Committee of Permanent Representatives convenes in Brussels to discuss Turkey's negotiation framework for European Union accession.
After the meeting, Alavanos noted that for the first time, major countries are putting the pressure on Turkey, a situation "which we must capitalize on," he said.
Alavanos also referred to "the opportunity we have to set a specific timeframe for resolving the Cyprus issue based on the changes to the [UN Secretary General Kofi] Annan plan that the Republic of Cyprus has requested and with the major involvement of the EU in order to find a genuine solution to the Cyprus issue, quickly."
 Cypriot politician seeks Greece's support ahead of EU meetings on TurkeyNICOSIA (ANA/A.Viketos)
Cyprus' Green Party leader George Perdikis has requested Greece's support ahead of European Union meetings that will deal with commencement of Turkey's EU accession negotiations in a letter he sent to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday.
In his letter, Perdikis calls Turkey's declaration that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, which it signed along with the protocol extending its customs union agreement to include the 10 new EU member states, including Cyprus, as "a legal oxymoron and politically unacceptable."
According to Perdikis, accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU - scheduled to begin on October 3 - should be suspended unless Turkey withdraws its declaration of non-recognition.
He has requested Greece's support should Turkey appear intransigent.
 Greek and Chinese defense ministers hold talks in Beijing
Beijing, 30/8/2005 (ANA)The will of the political leaderships of Greece and China for strengthening and supporting the bilateral relations in a broad spectrum of sectors, was reiterated by Greek National Defense Minister and his Chinese counterpart Cao Cangchuan during a meeting they had in Beijing on Monday.
The two defense ministers agreed that the United Nations constitutes the supreme forum for securing world peace and security.
The Greek side briefed the Chinese side on the situation in Kosovo, the Balkans and on Greece's participation in peace missions under the auspices of the UN, while it thanked the Chinese government for its stance in the Cyprus issue, within the framework of the United Nations.
The Chinese side referred to the problems with Japan and Taiwan, to the issue of the European Union embargo, for the lifting of which a decision of the "25" is pending following the adoption of the "Code of Conduct", as well as the joint military exercises with Russia.
On the issue of the security of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, the Greek side reiterated its willingness to offer its experience to the relevant Chinese authorities.
On a bilateral level, prospects were examined for cooperation in the defense industry sector. It is recalled that between Greece and China there is a protocol of cooperation in the defense-technical sector.
 PASOK criticizes gov't over use of Olympic venues, facilities
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK on Monday sharply criticized the government over what it called the latter's inability to properly exploit and utilize Olympics-related venues and installations a year after the Athens 2004 Games ended.
Among others, current PASOK state deputy and former Coalition of the Left leader Maria Damanaki accused the government of lacking any plan for exploiting the Olympic facilities.
Ex-minister Andreas Loverdos, on his part, echoed PASOK president George Papandreou in calling for Premier Costas Karamanlis to give up his culture ministry portfolio.
In a later reply, Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia charged that PASOK's pending "Black Paper" criticizing the culture ministry has "developed into a poorly written novel, one that simply tries to replace a deficit in the main opposition's policy and ideology."
 Watchdog: Unleaded fuel hike adds 15 euros to monthly consumer budget
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)The Greek Consumer Centre said on Monday that a rise in the price of unleaded petrol had added about 15 euros per month to household budgets in comparison with August last year.
The price of unleaded gas is currently around 0.96 euro per liter, leading to a roughly 14.6 euro rise from the same month of 2004, the centre said in a statement.
 Finmin sees economic progress
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday that he was pleased with the state of the economy, especially growth forecast at 3.6% for 2005.
GDP growth was 3.5% in the first half of the year, which would be maintained in the second half, the minister told reporters.
He was speaking after separate meetings with the Association of Northern Greek Exporters and the General Confederation of Employees of Greece in consultations on the 2006 budget, which the government is currently drafting.
The government's policy so far had brought a decline in unemployment, a rise in exports and tourism, and a fiscal deficit that was being contained, Alogoskoufis said.
The minister also met Greece's European Union commissioner, Stavros Dimas, for talks on developments in Europe.
 PM to chair gov't meeting focusing on tourism policy on Tues.
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will chair an inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday focusing on the all-important tourism industry, the alternate government spokesman told reporters on Monday.
Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros added that Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos will initially brief the inner Cabinet's members on ongoing developments in the sector.
Meanwhile, in response to reporters' questions regarding the state of the Greek economy, especially in light of a recent increase in the public debt, the spokesman noted that "a country's obligations are not born from one day to the next, efforts to overturn situations that arose over the past 10 to 20 years are continuous" -- a direct reference by Antonaros to previous PASOK governments.
He also said the government has been consistent in meeting its pre-election promises so far, "despite a poor economic climate due to the rise in the price of oil".
 Minister: More than 150,000 Finns visit Greece annually
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)Tourism Development Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Monday received visiting Finnish Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen at the tourism ministry.
Afterwards Avramopoulos noted that more than 150,000 Finnish tourists visit Greece every year, making the east Mediterranean country one of the top foreign destinations for Finns, a fact confirmed by Pekkarinen. The latter noted that last year's successful holding of the 2004 Olympics boosted the country's image among Finnish holiday-makers.
 Minister says government 'will solve passenger shipping problem'
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)Aegean and Island Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis said on Monday that the government will solve the passenger shipping problem.
In a press conference he gave in Rhodes at the end of the Aegean Regatta 2005 international sailing event, the minister said:" The government of (Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis will solve the passenger shipping problem."
He referred to the issues of shipping and to the linking of passenger shipping to the islands and committed himself that "a solution will be found to the problems which were observed this year."
 Gov't approves long-term investment schemes
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)The development ministry said on Monday that it had approved 15 long-term business plans from a wide range of sectors submitted under the government's development law.
The projects worth a total of 76.6 million euros will receive 28.9 million euros in state grants, the ministry said in a statement.
Remaining projects out of a total of 26 submitted under the same program will be examined, the statement said.
 EU funding for upgrading of Athens-Thessaloniki railway approved
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has approved funding for the upgrading and modernization of parts of the Athens-Thessaloniki railway network that will result in a 40-minute reduction in travel time between the two cities.
Specifically, the ERDF will provide 50% of the funding for two projects. The first entails the construction of a 54 km., double, high-speed track between Tithorea and Lianokladi with a budget of ¬ 565.5 million.
The second project, with a budget of ¬ 274 million, involves upgrading of the existing Athens-Thessaloniki railway in order to achieve higher speeds.
The Public Investments Program will fund the other 50% of the projects.
ERGOSE, a subsidiary of the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE), is responsible for the planning and execution of the projects.
 Unions set priority on abolition of overtime law
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) said on Monday that it wanted to see the government scrap a new law on overtime work.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, GSEE president Christos Polyzogopoulos also indicated that unions would seek an additional sum on 2005 wages to help offset a sharp rise in global oil prices that led to a decline in purchasing power.
The GSEE is to release a report on the economy on September 8.
Stocks drop in oil-price woes
Stocks finished lower in glum trade after a new rise in global oil prices dampened sentiment, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,186.35 points, marking a decline of 1.10%. Turnover was 122.9 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.02% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 2.47% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 2.07% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 261 to 35 with 32 remaining unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Alpha Bank top in stock futures trade
Equity Index Futures:
 PM, PASOK leader congratulate Greek duo for winning gold medal in the Women's European Beach Volley Championship
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou on Monday congratulated Vasso Karantasiou and Vicky Arvaniti for winning the gold medal in the Women's European Beach Volley Championship which took place in Moscow.
In his statement, Premier Karamanlis said:" With their new golden success, Vasso Karantasiou and Vicky Arvaniti are continuing, with steady and certain steps, their brilliant athletic course. My warmest congratulations for winning the gold medal are accompanied with the wish for good success also in the World Tournament in Athens."
On his part, the PASOK leader said:" My warmest congratulations for your new success, the winning of the first place in the European Championship in Moscow. I wish that with your stability and consistency which distinguish your efforts, you will continue to offer to all the Greek people the joy of victory. I also wish you every success on Greek soil, at the World Tournament in Athens."
 Separate chapter focusing on Pontian history to be included in 12th grade curriculum
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)The education ministry on Monday announced that a long-standing demand by the country's numerous Pontian organizations -- comprised of individuals who trace their lineage to the ethnic Greek communities (Pontians) of the southern and eastern Black Sea shores -- to include the history of Pontian Hellenism in public schools has been met.
Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou said the history of Pontian Hellenism will be taught as a separate chapter in the 12th grade high school history curriculum.
 Greek films and documentaries to be screened at Montreal's Museum of Fine Arts
Athens, 30/8/2005 (ANA)The University Centre of Modern Greek Studies of Montreal, in cooperation with the "SOFIA" Foundation and the Greek Cinema Centre, are organizing a dedication entitled "Landscape of Greek Cinema".
The dedication, which will be held at Montreal's Museum of Fine Arts from September 11-18, includes the projection of long films and documentaries which cover the entire spectrum of contemporary Greek production.
 Cyprus FM:EU to decide on Turkey's EU course in Brussels and Newport
NICOSIA, 30/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou has said that ''the game'' concerning Turkey's European Union accession course will be played at the forthcoming COREPER meeting in Brussels and the informal EU Foreign Affairs Ministers' meeting in Newport.
In statements to CNA from The Hague, Iacovou said he had telephone conversations on Monday with EU partners in view of the COREPER and the Gymnich meetings later in the week.
Iacovou said he had already spoken with his Spanish and Czech counterparts and was expecting to talk with the foreign ministers of Malta, Ireland and Luxembourg.
Invited to comment on remarks by a European Commission spokeswoman Monday that Turkey can start EU membership talks as planned in October despite its refusal to recognize Cyprus, Iacovou replied: "We will wait until Wednesday to see what the real intentions of the interested parties are. I have no intention of commenting on the various statements made.''
''The game will be played at the Committee and the Council meetings in Brussels and Newport", he concluded.
Commission Spokeswoman Francoise Le Bail said Monday that it is "clear that every effort that Turkey can do before October 3 will be very helpful", adding however "there is no legal obligation for Turkey to do more than it has done already".
Iacovou is scheduled to visit Austria and Slovakia before attending the Gymnich meeting from 1-2 September.
 Papadopoulos reiterates decision to fully investigate air crash
NICOSIA, 30/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos issued a statement here Monday declaring once more his firm decision to see that a full investigation is carried out into the cause of an air crash that cost the life of all 121 people on board, most of them Cypriots.
Papadopoulos said that the government and he personally would undertake any responsibility for the air crash, if and when it is ascertained that this lies with the government.
''The government and I personally, we are steadfastly determined to investigate fully, in an exhausting manner, objectively and impartially all the aspects of this tragedy,'' the statement said.
The statement was issued in the wake of comment, remarks and statements by political parties and others on the need to investigate fully and apportion blame wherever it is due and following a call by the main opposition party, Democratic Rally, for an extraordinary session of the House of Representatives to discuss the matter.
On 14th August an Helios Airways Boeing 737 crashed near Athens, killing all 121 people on board, most of them Cypriots. The Greek authorities are carrying out an investigation into the cause of the crash. A Cyprus Commission is also investigating and the government called in EU experts to look into the matter.
President Papadopoulos said the confrontation ''creates a wrong impression among the people that there are those who want and those who do not want a full investigation'' into the cause of the air crash.
He said the confrontation was ''unjustified and unprecedented'' and it creates confusion and extends the ''stress and the pain of the relatives of the victims.''
Papadopoulos said that all conclusions from the investigations (by the Greek and Cypriot authorities and the local police) would be examined as a whole and in a concerted manner ''and responsibility will be apportioned where it is due.''
He reiterated his earlier statement that anybody who is found to be responsible for this tragedy, irrespective of party affiliation, title, connections or interests, will be accountable for his/her actions.
He explained that the investigation underway, by a local commission and by a Greek Commission, relates to the specific flight, to practices and safety standards, license of air companies and crews and checks.
''This is not an ordinary investigation, it is a complex and time-consuming procedure that involves not only individuals but also ministries, services, government departments, compliance with the law, rules and practices,'' he said.
President Papadopoulos said the aim of the investigations, carried out by the Greek independent commission of investigation into air accidents and incidents that is working in concert with the corresponding local committee, is to ''ascertain the precise or possible causes of the crash and not to apportion responsibility, which is the object of another investigation by another body.''
''The focus of the investigation is inevitably the way the Civil Aviation Authority is functioning, the safety standards applied and the compliance by the specific airline (Helios) with international aviation regulations,'' he said.
He said the Cyprus police are conducting their own investigation to establish whether there is any criminal responsibility as a result of actions or omissions by the airline or officials or any other person.
Papadopoulos explained that ''criminal investigators have exactly the same authority as the police have; no more no less'' and explained that investigations into the cause of an air crash is ''an extremely specialized issue'' and that conclusions reached by any investigation committee must be submitted to the Cabinet and then to the Attorney General, who is the only competent authority to decide if charges will be pressed against anybody.
''It is not practically or legally possible to investigate apportioning responsibility and pressing charges against those who are allegedly responsible without ascertaining the exact or possible causes of the air crash, in advance,'' he said.
He said if there is any political responsibility to be borne ''this lies with the government as a whole and me personally and they will be undertaken if and when they are established."
 Report on air crash set to be ready in six months, says investigator
LARNACA, 30/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)A report on the cause of an Helios air crash earlier this month, that killed all 121 people on board, will be ready in six months' time, if all goes to plan, Akrivos Tsolakis, Head of the Greek Investigating Commission on Air Accidents and Incidents said here Monday night, as he arrived on the island to continue his investigations.
He also said the object of the investigations he is conducting is to establish the cause of the accident.
The Helios Airways Boeing 737, from Larnaca to Prague via Athens, crashed near the Greek capital on August 14 killing 115 passengers and six crew.
Speaking to journalists at the airport, Tsolakis said the purpose of the commission's visit to Cyprus "is to meet the conditions set out by international regulations on investigating air accidents and by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the EU and Greek legislation".
''The objective of the investigation of our commission, which is an independent body and acts in line with European rules and regulations, is to establish the reasons that led to this disaster," he pointed out.
He said the Commission will draw as much information as it can from the Cypriot side and put all the findings together to reach a conclusion that will be worthy of the expectations not only of those who lost their loved ones but also of people throughout the world.
"This kind of accident has an international dimension. Everyone is waiting for us to reach an end to the investigation and find out the causes which will provide explanations to everything that has happened", he said.
 China and Cyprus discuss cooperation on health matters
NICOSIA, 30/8/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus and China reviewed Monday their cooperation agreement concerning health matters and decided to further broaden it.
Delegations from the two countries headed by Cyprus' Health Minister Andreas Gavrielides and China's Alternate Minister of Health Chen Xiaohong examined various aspects of the agreement, especially in the fields of infirmaries and mother and child and decided to prepare an action plan.
Gavrielides said that the two ministers will also examine the possibility of Chinese nursing staff working in Cyprus.
In a brief statement, Chen said Cyprus and China have "a good basis for cooperation and a bright prospect''.
He extended an invitation to Gavrielides to visit China. The invitation was accepted.
Chen expressed his condolences to Gavrielides for the Helios plane air crash of 14th August near Athens which killed 121 people, mostly Cypriots.