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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-09-02

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

September 2, 2005


  • [01] British EU presidency tables new draft text in reply to unilateral Turkish statement
  • [02] PM Karamanlis meets with Interior Minister
  • [03] Government's judiciary reform paying off, PM says
  • [04] Gov't spokesman on cutbacks in reporters' pools covering PM's visits
  • [05] Restructuring of Macedonia-Thrace Ministry approved
  • [06] Gov't on rates for mass transports, future of OA
  • [07] Gov't, PASOK trade accusations over previous foreign ministry's funding to NGOs
  • [08] Public Order Ministry Secretary-General meets South African counterpart
  • [09] Russian ambassador attends event in memory of children killed in Beslan terrorist attack
  • [10] PM Karamanlis meets ADEDY presidium; statements by ADEDY president and Interior Minister
  • [11] PM Karamanlis meets GESEBE
  • [12] Satisfaction expressed over Development Ministry's program to support very small trade businesses
  • [13] Government wants new civil servants payscale in 2006
  • [14] Gov't approves 113 information society projects
  • [15] Yiakoumatos says combatting of unemployment is Labour Ministry's top priority
  • [16] PASOK party criticizes government over market profiteering
  • [17] EU seeks return of funds from Athens airport construction
  • [18] Olive producers to get top subsidy
  • [19] Stocks surge in late buying spree
  • [20] Deputy FM Skandalakis inaugurates photographic exhibition of Greek monuments
  • [21] 9th International Environmental Science and Technology conference begins in Rhodes
  • [22] Beginning of new ecclesiastical year celebrated at the Fanar
  • [23] 80 tones of tobacco, of which 4.5 million contraband cigarettes could have been made, has been seized by police
  • [24] Youth summer camp brings together some 200 youngsters from around the Mediterranean, Balkans
  • [25] Gov't: Incompatibility clauses in football pools will be enforced
  • [26] Britain says Turkey must implement protocol

  • [01] British EU presidency tables new draft text in reply to unilateral Turkish statement

    NEWPORT, Wales 2/9/2005 (ANA/F. Karaviti)

    The new draft text of the European Union's reply to the unilateral statement made by Ankara (concerning the non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus) and presented earlier on Thursday by the British EU Presidency at the informal Foreign Ministers Council at Newport in Wales requires further improvement, according to foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos.

    "The British Presidency presented a new draft text at the informal Council of Foreign Ministers at Newport today on the European reply to the known unilateral Turkish statement," the foreign ministry spokesman said at the end of the afternoon session, adding that a discussion lasting for many hours followed between the foreign ministers.

    "The Presidency's new proposal, despite its visible improvement which renders it a basis for further negotiating, requires more improvements.

    "For this reason, Foreign Minister Mr. P. Molyviatis stressed that the desirable common denominator does not exist yet. Both he and the Foreign Minister of Cyprus Mr. Iakovou requested from the British Presidency the continuation of the discussion at the level of Permanent Representatives. There Greece, always in cooperation with the government of Cyprus as well as its other partners, will pursue further necessary improvements.

    "The Greek and Cypriot proposal, which was also supported by other partners as well, was accepted and the text will be discussed again at the meeting of Permanent Representatives in Brussels which is expected to convene next Wed. September 7, 2005," Koumoutsakos added.

    Greek FM spokesman stresses importance of clear EU signal to EU hopeful Turkey: A Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Thursday reminded that an under-consideration "counter-statement" by the EU's 25 foreign ministers must clearly condemn Turkey's standing refusal to recognize a European Union member-state, in this case Cyprus.

    Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos made the statements from Newport, Wales, where a council of the Union's foreign ministers was due to convene.

    Koumoutsakos also echoed Greek leadership's position that Ankara's unilateral statement in July - attached to a customs union extension protocol with the EU - reiterating that it doesn't recognize EU member Cyprus "fails to produce legal results".

    He also said the EU's response should make it clear that the protocol must be fully implemented.

    Koumoutsakos' statements came during a radio interview with the state-owned NET network.

    An initial document tabled by the British EU presidency a day earlier at a COREPER meeting was not accepted by the Greek side, with Athens requesting an unambiguous response to the July gambit by Ankara.

    Finally, Koumoutsakos said Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis was due to meet with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul either late Thursday evening in the Welch resort or on Friday, depending on the Turkish minister's arrival.

    Meanwhile, in a related development from Brussels, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht was quoted by the Belgian daily "La Libre Belgique" as saying that "... it would be difficult for me to imagine, and I believe Turkish leaders are thinking the same thing, that accession (of Turkey) can take place without Cyprus' recognition. However, it is not correct to say that this recognition comprised a prerequisite for the commencement of negotiations," an ANA dispatch from Brussels reported.

    Athens says EU must respond clearly to Ankara's failure to recognize Cyprus

    Greece on Thursday again reiterated its position over the increasingly complex gamut of EU-Turkey relations, all amid a recent cascade of strict language by a handful of European leaders vis-a-vis Ankara's failure to recognize EU member-state Cyprus, amongst other issues.

    "The process of deliberations is continuing," government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said, adding:

    "The (Greek) prime minister just recently stressed that the European Union must clearly respond to Turkey's unilateral statement (of continuing to not recognize Cyprus). This is our position, one that we are promoting in constant cooperation with the Cypriot government and other European governments".

    The spokesman's remarks came following a press question referring to a warning by several Cypriot ministers a day earlier, namely, that the island republic would consider vetoing the commencement of EU-Turkey accession talks if the Union's "counter-statement" isn't improved. The latter document was presented by the current British presidency.

    Roussopoulos, moreover, said the British document was "not judged as satisfactory". He added that Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis immediately spoke by phone on Wednesday with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos when the relevant text was tabled.

    Finally, Molyviatis was scheduled to speak by phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Thursday.

    [02] PM Karamanlis meets with Interior Minister

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met with Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Thursday in light of the upcoming International Thessaloniki Trade Fair (TIF) and ahead of his meetings with trade unionists and professional groups later in the day.

    According to Pavlopoulos, he briefed the prime minister on local governments' financial issues, to which significant changes have been made, as well as issues pertaining to civil servants.

    Pavlopoulos and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis will be meeting with representatives of the civil servants' union ADEDY around noon on Thursday.

    [03] Government's judiciary reform paying off, PM says

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The government has made significant achievements regarding judiciary reform but more remains to be done, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said after visiting the Justice Ministry on Thursday, a practice the premier has adopted as part of his review process of ministries' progress.

    "The judiciary is Democracy's strongest foundation," Karamanlis said after his meeting with Justice Minister Anastassios Papaligouras.

    The government's key objectives regarding the judicial branch, from the moment it took office, were to modernize the judiciary, upgrade its quality, speed up processes and reinforce its independence, he explained.

    In terms of quality upgrading, Karamanlis said that from January until today, a number of judges found to have violated their oath have been expelled.

    "We have adopted strict measures that reflect the government's volition to crack down on corruption, and to support the overwhelming majority of judges who are honest," Karamanlis said.

    The prime minister also referred to the legislative measures the government has taken as part of its reform program, such as simplifying and accelerating pre-trial procedures, improving the operation of criminal courts, and reinforcing defendants' rights.

    In terms of infrastructure, Karamanlis said that significant progress has been made with the building of new court houses and prisons, and the modernization of courts' computer systems.

    "Our interventions are already bringing about results; they are leading to significant changes that will soon become apparent to citizens - often inconvenienced when dealing with the court system - as well as to judges and lawyers," he said.

    PASOK party criticizes PM's statements at justice ministry: Main opposition PASOK party public administration and justice coordinator Miltiades Papaioannou on Thursday criticized statements made by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis during his visit to the justice ministry, saying that "he cannot treat with disdain the considerable work done by PASOK governments in the justice sector".

    "Today, after 18 months of government tenure, he is trying to cover the government's non-existent work in the sector of justice as well with attacks on PASOK," Papaioannou said.

    Responding to this criticism, Justice Minister Anastassios Papaligouras said "indeed PASOK as a government carried out the 'considerabale work' of degradation and disdain for justice. It is logical that it does not want to see the considerable and multi-faceted work currently being carried out by the government."

    [04] Gov't spokesman on cutbacks in reporters' pools covering PM's visits

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The press ministry on Thursday defended its cut-backs on journalists' pools accompanying the prime minister's foreign visits, saying the costs were excessive.

    "We must proceed with cutbacks in public spending ... but we're not simply making cuts in general, because, for instance, we did not eliminate the expenditure of roughly 700,000 euros allocated every month by the state for the transportation of all newspapers. We proceeded with cutbacks in expenditures that dealt with the prime minister's trips - instead of praising this effort is there criticism?" government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said during his regular briefing on Thursday.

    [05] Restructuring of Macedonia-Thrace Ministry approved

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    A presidential decree providing for the restructuring of the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry was signed into effect by President Karolos Papoulias on Wednesday.

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had announced the decision to reorganize the ministry at the 2004 International Thessaloniki Trade Fair (TIF).

    Following restructuring, the ministry will be comprised of 18 departments, each one interconnected with other ministries, but without falling under their jurisdiction.

    "The ministry was assigned responsibilities, most of which were never exercised," Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis said during a press conference, because "relevant divisions were never established."

    According to Tsiartsionis, the restructuring will help the ministry upgrade its services and will reinforce "its role in the broader region as a headquarters for growth and development."

    Finally, Tsiartsionis said that the ministry will need roughly 143-227 employees compared with the 117 it currently employs. The ministry's budget will remain the same, he said.

    [06] Gov't on rates for mass transports, future of OA

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday said all interested parties will be called by the relevant transport minister "in the coming days" to discuss the issue of rates for mass transit systems, a particularly topical matter of late amid skyrocketing international oil prices.

    Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the statement to reporters when asked if the state-run railways organization, OSE, will raise its ticket prices as of Jan. 1, 2006.

    Regarding state-run Olympic Airways (OA), the spokesman was asked if the government was considering its closure in the likelihood that European Commission demands the debt-ridden national carrier return 240 million euros back to the state's coffers. Roussopoulos merely noted that the Commission will convene this month, "and we'll wait and see its decisions".

    Alavanos stresses support for state-owned OA, touches on flight safety: Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Thursday reiterated his party's firm backing for keeping Olympic Airways under the state's umbrella, while speaking during a one-seminar organized by the party here on the issue of flight safety and OA's public ownership.

    Alavanos sternly criticized previous Greek governments for the dire situation the national carrier now finds itself in, charging that a lack of transparency, political party expediencies, pandering to various vested interests etc. landed the company in today's difficult situation. The Synaspismos leader added that his party wants debt-ridden OA to remain a state-owned carrier resting, however, on "healthy foundations".

    "It (OA) has operated for 15 years now on the verge of closing ... under such circumstances it was unable to grow," he said, while adding that OA's flight safety record is impeccable.

    Finally, Alavanos said Synaspismos will propose the establishment of a Parliament committee to focus on airline safety.

    [07] Gov't, PASOK trade accusations over previous foreign ministry's funding to NGOs

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The government and main opposition locked horns in Parliament on Thursday over the previous foreign ministry leadership's management and control of funds granted to various non-governmental organizations, the ubiquitous NGOs.

    The charges and counter-charges came amid debate over the establishment, under the culture ministry's auspices, of an organization to promote volunteerism, entitled "Ergo Politon" (Citizens' Work).

    Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis initially criticized PASOK leader and former foreign minister George Papandreou for trying, as he said, to keep NGOs financially dependent on the foreign ministry's purse strings.

    Furthermore, Tatoulis cited what he said was a statement by one-time deputy FM Ioannis Zafeiropoulos, who upon his resignation charged that Papandreou was using the ministry's "secret ac-counts" to create a "mechanism that will bring him (Papandreou) to power and unseat the prime minister of the country at the time, Mr. (Costas) Simitis."

    Tatoulis' statements in Parliament generated a heated reaction by PASOK parliamentary spokesman Haris Kastanidis, who initially said he was unaware that "in order to unseat a political leader you need to control the NGOs."

    He also called on Tatoulis to either present evidence backing up his accusations or immediately surrender his deputy's immunity from prosecution in order to be tried for slander.

    [08] Public Order Ministry Secretary-General meets South African counterpart

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Public Order Ministry Secretary-General Leonidas Evangelidis on Thursday received his South African counterpart at the ministry.

    Also present at the meeting were the Public Order Ministry's Director of the Security Studies Centre (KEMEA), Vassilios Constantinidis, and other ministry officials.

    The purpose of the visit was the transfer of experience and technical know-how which the Public Order Ministry acquired during the planning and implementation of the security measures for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, in light of the hosting of the World Soccer Cup by South Africa in 2010, according to an announcement.

    [09] Russian ambassador attends event in memory of children killed in Beslan terrorist attack

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Russian Ambassador to Athens Andrei Vdovin and the Russian pupils' community in Athens on Thursday attended an event held on the first anniversary of the tragedy that occurred at the Russian school in Beslan after a terrorist act and resulted in hundreds of pupils losing their lives.

    The event was held at the school for children of the Russian embassy's staff, at the opening of the new school year, while a delegation of pupils and parents from the 4th school of Halandri was also present and expressed hope for "security for children all over the world."

    The Russian ambassador stressed the need for all to rally round the struggle to combat terrorism, saying that children are the most holy cells of society and pointed out that those who harm them in such a way "are not human beings."

    Poems were recited during the event, a minute's silence was observed and flowers were laid in memory of the dead.

    [10] PM Karamanlis meets ADEDY presidium; statements by ADEDY president and Interior Minister

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday evening held a meeting at the Maximos Mansion with the presidium of the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), ahead of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

    ADEDY President Spyros Papaspyros said that he stated to the prime minister that "the government has the possibility to announce the economic and social policy, thus terminating the austerity and forming the conditions for meritocracy and progress of civil servants."

    The ADEDY president noted that Prime Minister Karamanlis underlined the fiscal restrictions that exist and that the prime minister will give answers at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

    "Therefore, the trade union movement is continuing its stance of struggles and claims," Papaspyros said.

    Papaspyros said that ADEDY will hold a rally at the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair, noting that "the mobilizations of the working people have a political character and the dilemma of pro-government or anti-government does not concern the president of ADEDY."

    Following the meeting with ADEDY's presidium, Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said: "Regarding the meeting with ADEDY, I would like to reiterate the two commitments which exist on the part of the government. And they are, as I have stated, a joint policy of the two involved ministries, that is, of the Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralization Ministry and the National Economy and Finance Ministry."

    Pavlopoulos said that "for the first part, the Code, which constitutes the institutional basis of the legal relations of the civil servants, this will be ready in a climate of consensus with ADEDY in October and we hope that by the end of October or early November it will have been endorsed."

    [11] PM Karamanlis meets GESEBE

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday afternoon had a meeting at the Maximos Mansion with the General Confederation of Small Manufacturers and Professionals (GESEBE) and was briefed on its demand and positions ahead of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.

    GESEBE President Dimitris Asimakopoulos stated that he reminded to the prime minister that Greece is in 21st place regarding the caring and evaluation of the small businesses out of the European Union's "25".

    Asimakopoulos said that he asked of Karamanlis for there not to be an excessive increase in municipal dues and the public utilities charges.

    The GESEBE president stated that the premier said he would seriously examine all their demands.

    Merchants give PM sector demands: The National Confederation of Greek Commerce on Thursday presented Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis with a list of sector demands ahead of the premier's annual economic policy speech this month.

    The trade group's president, Dimitris Armenakis, told reporters after the meeting with Karamanlis that he had sought on behalf of member enterprises a smaller public sector, curbs on non-productive spending in the state sector, and continuing support for smaller firms.

    The confederation also wanted to see the abolition of hundreds of redundant state bodies, and a small cabinet, Armenakis said.

    Finally, the premier had assured him that the government would continue offering assistance to small enterprises.

    [12] Satisfaction expressed over Development Ministry's program to support very small trade businesses

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The National Confederation of Greek Commerce on Thursday expressed its satisfaction over the completion of the procedures of the Development Ministry's program (measure 2.11) for the strengthening of very small trade businesses which employ from one to nine people.

    About 2,500 commercial businesses of the country, supported with 80 million euros from the funds of the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), will proceed immediately in in-vestments which exceed 200 million euros.

    [13] Government wants new civil servants payscale in 2006

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The government wants to see a new payscale for civil servants in place at the beginning of 2006, ministers said on Thursday.

    Speaking after a meeting with the ADEDY civil servants union, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis noted that the government would take a major step towards incorporating state workers' allowances into base pay, and towards ironing out inequalities in the public sector.

    Also taking part in the meeting was Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, who said he wanted to see the new payscale phased in from the beginning of next year.

    ADEDY leader Spyros Papaspyrou said that one of his union's main demands was an increase in the base public sector wage to 1,200 euros, a move that would also cover a loss of purchasing power in 2005 incomes.

    [14] Gov't approves 113 information society projects

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The finance ministry on Thursday approved financing for 113 information society projects totalling 97 million euros to develop electronic services.

    "We are focusing on electronic services that meet the daily needs of the public," said the ministry's special information society secretary, Vassilis Asimakopoulos.

    [15] Yiakoumatos says combatting of unemployment is Labour Ministry's top priority

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The combatting of unemployment and the promotion of employment is the Labour and Social Protection Ministry's top priority, Deputy Labour Minister Gerassimos Yiakoumatos said at a press conference at the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry in northern Greece on Thursday.

    He said that in July 2005 the registered unemployed numbered 458,717 compared to 562,289 in the corresponding period last year, that is, a reduction of 18.4 per cent.

    He said that in the region of Thessaloniki, northern Greece, the ruling New Democracy (ND) party inherited from the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) a high rate of unemployment. Yiakoumatos said that in March 2004 the unemployed numbered 57,813 against 53,168 in June 2005.

    [16] PASOK party criticizes government over market profiteering

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Main opposition PASOK party development, competitiveness and consumer policy coordinator Anna Diamantopoulou, speaking at a press conference on Thursday on the government's energy policy, referred to profiteering in the market and to problems facing the financially weaker citizens.

    "The government of New Democracy can no longer be an absolutely inactive government which foments, accepts or tolerates profiteering in the market and has no elements of social justice towards problems touching primarily on low-salary classes and our financially weak citizens," she said.

    Diamantopoulou also said it is necessary for a heating allowance to be given to pensioners, low salary earners, the unemployed and people living in mountainous regions.

    She further pointed out that as a result of fuel price increases it is estimated that the state has already received about 500 million euros from VAT, in addition to revenues anticipated in the budget, adding that money now exists for this allowance.

    [17] EU seeks return of funds from Athens airport construction

    BRUSSELS 2/9/2005 (ANA/M Spinthourakis)

    The European Union's executive Commission said on Thursday that it would seek the return of 12.8 million euros from Greece awarded for construction of Athens International Airport as eligibility rules for funding were breached.

    "These inadequacies were detected during audit missions carried out by the Commission in March 2002 - in the framework of in-depth audits of 70 projects (for the 1994-1999 period) in the four Cohesion Fund Member States in September 2003, and following the assessment of further information provided by the Greek authorities," the Commission said in a statement.

    "The project was co-financed with 250 million from the Cohesion Fund. The Community co-financing rate for this project was fixed at 85 % of the total eligible cost of the co-financed part ( 973,303,266) of the project minus the estimated revenue which would be generated and at 11.42 % of the total budgeted cost of the project ( 2,188,607,135), the statement said.

    The overall correction decided totals 12.8 million resulting from a declaration of actual expenditure incurred, which was based on incorrect assumptions on eligible expenditure; application of a flat-rate correction of 2% for non-compliance with publicity and information measures.

    The principal aim of the project was to construct an airport to replace the existing facility at Hellenikon as Greece's principal airport, in order to foster the economic development of Greece and accelerate its integration into the EU's internal market. The project was completed on time and very close to the agreed budget, the Commission said.

    [18] Olive producers to get top subsidy

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Agricultural and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said on Thursday that the country's 541,000 olive producers would receive the highest subsidy possible, which is 1.3225 euros per kilo.

    The income of olive producers would be high this year, as olive oil prices had a commercial value of about three euros, plus the subsidy of of 1.3 euros.

    Downpayments on the subsidy of 1.1736 euros per kilo would begin to be disbursed on October 16, the minister told reporters.

    [19] Stocks surge in late buying spree

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher with players buying heavily into high- and medium-capitalization paper late in the session, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 3,281.00 points, marking a rise of 1.53%. Turnover was 194.4 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.48% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 1.85% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.12% up.

    Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 201 to 61 with 72 remaining unchanged.

    [20] Deputy FM Skandalakis inaugurates photographic exhibition of Greek monuments

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Panagiotis Skandalakis on Thursday evening inaugurated at the foreign ministry a photographic exhibition of Greek monuments which have been included in UNESCO's Catalogue of World Cultural Heritage.

    Joint organizer of the exhibition is the Greek Committee of UNESCO whose president is Kate Tzitzicosta.

    The exhibition, entitled "UNESCO World Heritage - Greek Monuments", consists of black and white photographs of 16 Greek cultural monuments of the ancient, pre-classical and classical period, the Hellenistic era and the early Christian and Byzantine period, which UNESCO chose over the past 15 years.

    [21] 9th International Environmental Science and Technology conference begins in Rhodes

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The 9th International Environmental Science and Technology conference, organized by the International Environmental Science and Technology Network (Global NEST) and the University of the Aegean's environment faculty, began on the island of Rhodes on Thursday morning.

    The conference was inaugurated by President Karolos Papoulias who said "my presence at this conference is a great joy for me, which I hope will contribute to the deepening of collective skepticism on protection for the environment."

    President Papoulias added that "we have reached the verge of perpetrating what is called in the language of theology a 'Crime against Creation'."

    He further pointed out that "a series of environmental disasters, from the Chernobyl system to the wreck of the Exxon Valdez, and from the Ozone hole to the melting of the glaciers, has brought the world before a forgotten truth: That the deification of the logic of profit has consequences, that nature avenges its avengers."

    An address was made on behalf of the government by Aegean and Insular Policy Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis, who referred to the serious problem facing border islands in the region and which is none other than water "which is an international issue, but which is above all an issue of life for many of our islands."

    [22] Beginning of new ecclesiastical year celebrated at the Fanar

    ISTANBUL 2/9/2005 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)

    The beginning of the new ecclesiastical year was celebrated at the Fanar on Thursday with the signing of the patriarchal act concerning the sanctification of new Indiktion.

    Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and all the senior clergymen present signed the "volume" of Indiktion after a religious service was held at Saint George Cathedral at the Fanar.

    Clergymen and pilgrims from Thrace, Mytilene and many other parts of Greece also visited Saint George Cathedral together with Greece's General Consul Alexis Alexandris.

    [23] 80 tones of tobacco, of which 4.5 million contraband cigarettes could have been made, has been seized by police

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    About 20 people, most probably immigrants from eastern European countries, lived locked up in a basement in Thessaloniki, northern Greece and worked for the production and packaging of millions of packets of cigarettes which were trafficked in Greece and abroad. It is the biggest network of the trafficking and production of contraband cigarettes which has been disrupted in Greece.

    Thessaloniki police have already arrested one man aged 35 and are seeking his brother and three other persons which are involved in the network in which is estimated that a further ten people are implicated.

    In investigations which police made in warehouses in Kavalari, Aghios Athanasios and Kalohori, 80 tones of tobacco, of which 4.5 million cigarettes would have been produced, were found.

    The tobacco had been imported, and used for the creation of cigarette packets labeled with two well known tobacco companies' brand and were distributed throughout Greece but also abroad.

    According to Thessaloniki Security Police Chief Stergios Apostolidis, the tobacco workshop was at Aghios Athanasios and "the personnel, probably from countries of the former Soviet Union, numbered about 20 people and were locked up, producing large quantities of cigarettes."

    [24] Youth summer camp brings together some 200 youngsters from around the Mediterranean, Balkans

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    Some 200 youths from 11 countries and one UN-administered province -- Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Egypt, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Greece, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey and the Kosovo province -- attended the 4th annual youth summer camp from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1 at the YMCA's facility in Halkidiki prefecture.

    This year's summer camp focused on the theme of the "Spirit of Volunteer", an event held under the auspices of the New Generation General Secretariat.

    [25] Gov't: Incompatibility clauses in football pools will be enforced

    Athens, 2/9/2005 (ANA)

    The government on Thursday was called upon to comment on the very probable likelihood that Greek first division teams will be included in the state-run football pools organization's (OPAP) popular fixed odds betting games "Pame Stihima" (Let's Bet), following yesterday's meeting between the relevant deputy sports minister and IT tycoon Socrates Kokkalis.

    Regarding the issue of "incompatibility", given that Intracom founder Kokkalis is also the president of the first division football club Olympiakos Piraeus, last season's first division champion and cup-winner, as well as an influential member of the board of Intralot, OPAP's biggest supplier and contractor, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said a relevant committee's work on the issue has not been completed.

    "...there are strict incompatibility clauses that will be met," Roussopoulos added.

    Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos met with Kokkalis on Wednesday at the former's office.

    According to reports, one unconfirmed date for allowing some Greek first division matches in the "Pame Stihima" game is Sept. 17, whereas a presidential decree must first be composed, tabled and signed.

    OPAP has repeatedly aired its displeasure in recent years over the fact that it was prevented from including Greek matches in its fixed odds betting pools, a ban that forced Greek punters to wager with foreign multinational odds-makers, mostly via the Internet.

    [26] Britain says Turkey must implement protocol

    NEWPORT 2/9/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, whose country is currently holding the EU rotating presidency, said on Thursday

    that the protocol extending Ankara's customs union with the EU to the ten new member states would have to be implemented, noting that during the Informal Foreign Ministers' Council, which began in Newport Thursday, there was a broad but not unanimous agreement on the elements that should be included in an EU statement on the Turkish declaration issued at the time the protocol was signed, saying that it did not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.

    European Commissioner on Enlargement Olli Rehn noted that the signing of the protocol should lead to its ratification and full implementation, which also meant opening Turkish ports to Cypriot vessels, adding that the Turkish declaration could not question the legal relevance and full implementation of the protocol.

    Speaking at a press conference on the conclusion of the first day of the two-day Informal Council, Straw said "no one questioned the conclusions, which were reached in December last year and reiterated in June with respect to Turkey" and noted he remained "reasonably confident" that the EU would be able to meet the deadline of October 3 to begin accession negotiations with Turkey.

    "In the meanwhile, we have to do two sets of things. One is to agree a statement in respect of Turkey's declaration on the Ankara protocol. There were discussions yesterday (Wednesday) at Permanent Representative level. Today we looked at elements of such a statement," he said.

    He added that "there was further discussion on that, and broad but not unanimous agreement on all its elements and what I hope and I think will happen is that we will be able to get agreement on a precise text with respect of that statement at COREPER and with any luck next week."

    Straw said "we touched briefly on the other thing that has to happen before the 3rd of October, if negotiations are to open on that date, and that is the process with respect to the negotiating framework."

    "We didn't go into that in any detail but that will be the subject of a good deal of discussion at a Permanent Representative level and maybe at a ministerial level," he added.

    Replying to questions, Straw said "it goes without saying that formal documents such as the Ankara Protocol not only have to be signed and ratified but they also have to be implemented and the first two stages are necessary but not as efficient prelude to the third and major stage, which is the implementation."

    At this point, Rehn said "it is self evident that the signature of the protocol of the Ankara Agreement must lead to the ratification of the protocol in good faith and in due course and once it is ratified of course it must lead to its full implementation, which means certainly opening the ports of Turkey to Cypriot vessels."

    "The Turkish declaration in the context of the signature of the protocol does not and cannot question the legal relevance and full implementation of the protocol," Rehn added.

    Replying to another question, Straw said that "during the discussions today there was a broad welcome for the revised text of elements for the statement/declaration of the EU in respect of the Ankara Protocol."

    "We weren't been negotiating line-by-line but I believe that officials won't have that much difficulty in agreeing a text, which ought to be agreed next week," he added.

    He also said that "these discussions have taken place today in the context of the conclusions reached after many-many hours of negotiation last December and reconfirmed again as recently as the June 2005 European Council."

    "And those conclusions speak about negotiations leading to membership of the EU. They raise other possibilities in rather Delphic tones but we are not in a position suggesting that the conclusions reached in December and June by the heads of state and government and the Foreign Ministers in the European Council should be amended and the discussions now are taking place in the context of those conclusions," he added.

    According to Straw, the EU Ministers of Foreign Affairs also discussed the situation in Iran and Russia, the accession course of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, and "three sets of terrible incidents", namely the attack on a Baghdad mosque, the Katrina hurricane that hit the USA, and last year's tragedy at Beslan in Russia.

    EP postpones ratification of Turkey's Protocol: The unilateral declaration by Turkey that it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus is unacceptable, and thus the Protocol Turkey has signed regarding the extension of its Customs Union with all new member states, including Cyprus, which was a precondition for opening accession negotiations with Turkey, has no practical use, German European Parliament Member Elmar Brok said Thursday.

    Brok, who is also Chairman of the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs, called on the European Council and the Commission to find a solution to the problem that occurred with Turkey's declaration, noting that in the event there is no solution, the opening of Turkey-EU accession negotiations, due to start October 3rd, is almost not feasible.

    On Thursday all EP Committees Chairpersons decided to postpone the ratification of the Customs Union Protocol for a session late September, noting ''considering the unilateral declaration by Turkey that the extension of the customs union to Cyprus would not amount to the recognition of Cyprus under international law, this is the only logical consequence''.

    ''As Cyprus could not use Turkish ports or airports, the protocol would otherwise be of no practical use. Due to Turkey's additional declaration on Cyprus, the practical implementation of the protocol is almost impossible, as long as the open questions are not solved. The way Ankara has approached this issue so far is not acceptable'', Brok stressed.

    He underlined that the signing of the additional protocol ''without any reservations'' was the precondition to start negotiations for membership.

    ''It is now up to the European Commission and the Council to find a solution until the European Parliament's second plenary session in the last week of September, so that Parliament can go ahead with the ratification of the additional protocol'', Brok said.

    He concluded by stating, ''Council and Commission have to find a satisfactory answer to this question. Otherwise a decision on the start of negotiations with Turkey on the 3 October is from my point of view almost unfeasible''.

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