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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 08-03-03

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

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

Monday, 3 March 2008 Issue No: 2834

Politics

CONTENTS

  • [01] No agreement reached in FYROM name talks
  • [02] FM Bakoyannis calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza Strip
  • [03] PASOK spokesman calls for broad 'front' against corruption, slander
  • [04] SYRIZA leader again rejects cooperation with PASOK
  • [05] Opinion poll sees decline in mainstream parties, PM maintains lead
  • [06] Opinion poll on foreign policy issues
  • [07] 'Serbia has a European prospect', Greek ambassador reaffirms
  • [08] WPC Balkan Peace Movements end meeting, sign joint resolution
  • [09] Education Minister Stylianidis visits Kavala
  • [10] Annual armed forces promotion, retirement process begins
  • [11] DEH calls for restriction of electricity consumption between March 3-6
  • [12] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday
  • [13] Immigration Policy Institute president gives interview to ANA-MPA
  • [14] Police arrest two for smuggling antiquities, cigarettes
  • [15] Wildfires in Florina, Grevena
  • [16] Earth tremor off Samos island
  • [17] Cloudy on Monday
  • [18] Panathinaikos tops Super League standings
  • [19] President: we are ready for a solution

  • [01] No agreement reached in FYROM name talks

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)

    UN special mediator on the FYROM name issue Matthew Nimetz announced that the rift between Greece and FYROM remained, and that there has been no agreement, but nevertheless the two sides desired continuation of the efforts for finding a solution to the problem, in statements to the press after a two-hour joint meeting at his Manhattan office with the negotiators of the two countries on Saturday.

    Replying to questions, Nimetz said that a new meeting has not been set, adding that the Greek and FYROM negotiators to the UN-mediated name talks, Ambassadors Adamantios Vassilakis and Nikolai Dimitrov respectively, would be returning to their countries.

    He also said that he had not submitted any new proposal or new document during Saturday's meeting, and opined that there would be negative consequences in the region if the name issue was not resolved.

    Saturday's meeting had been preceded by separate meetings with Vassilakis and Dimitrov on Friday, after which he said he had ascertained a "substantive rift".

    Nimetz told reporters that the proposal, or text of ideas, he had submitted to the two sides during talks in Athens on February 19 did not satisfy either side, adding that he did not present any new ideas during Saturday's meeting.

    "The positions are different," he said, noting that "neither side is in a position to say that my proposal is the correct solution, there is still no agreement."

    Nimetz said that the two Ambassadors would return to their countries, and would remain in contact with him.

    He said that no date has been set for a new meeting, but added that both sides desired continuation of the process, "which they consider truly important".

    The UN mediator reiterated that a resolution of the name issue would be of benefit to both countries and to the region, adding that with no solution "the problems will be significant".

    Replying to questions, Nimetz said that "I am a UN negotiator, I have no power here (on the issue), but I think that it is acknowledged in both countries that there will be immense benefits from the achievement of some kind of solution".

    Asked whether the two sides agreed on something, Nimetz stressed that they agree on "mutual respect".

    Nimetz reiterated that he had not presented any new proposal or document, while to a question on whether the time was right to upgrade the talks to ministerial level, the UN envoy noted that "the two ambassadors are experiences, very clear, they have the confidence of their governments, and expressed the views of their governments very well", adding that "I do not seek upgrading, that is a political decision".

    Asked if he desired US assistance to help the situation, Nimetz stated "not only the US, but other countries as well, particularly European countries that are friendly with both sides, must continue to speak with them on the issue and urge them to finding a constructive way to a solution".

    [02] FM Bakoyannis calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza Strip

    Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, commenting on Sunday on the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, called for an immediate ceasefire and stressed that the only hope for peace is the path of dialogue and diplomacy.

    "I am extremely concerned over the dramatic escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip that has such a great cost in human lives. Logics and practices of collective punishment are inconceivable. We condemn them categorically. Peace and security are not achieved with mass military force nor with rocket attacks and other terrorist acts," she said in her relative statement.

    "Together with our partners in the European Union, we call for an immediate ceasefire in every act of violence and for self-restraint. The only hope for peace is the path of dialogue and diplomacy in the framework of the effort that began in Annapolis last November. It would be a mistake to abandon this path," Bakoyannis concluded.

    [03] PASOK spokesman calls for broad 'front' against corruption, slander

    Main opposition PASOK party press spokesman Yannis Ragoussis called for the building of a broad, supra-party front comprising politicians, journalists and citizens against corruption, slander and 'yellow' journalism, in an interview with Eleftheros Typos newspaper appearing in its Sunday edition.

    As for PASOK's strategy with respect to the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance, Ragoussis commented that "the citizens need a responsible, alternative proposal of governnance, and not just voices of protest".

    Regarding high-profile MP and former minister Evangelos Venizelos, who had beem a strong critic of PASOK leader George Papandreou after PASOK's defeat in the last general elections and was Papandreou's main contendor for the party leadership in the ensuing internal party election, Ragoussis said he expected of Venizelos and his supporters to do "that which an increasing number are doing every day".

    "We must, all together, contribute to our common effort, to the course towards the future. We must all work together for our country's progress, for a better future for our children," Ragoussis added.

    To another question, he described the account of the New Democracy government's tenure in office as "miserable".

    [04] SYRIZA leader again rejects cooperation with PASOK

    Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) former leader, and leader of the SYN-led parliamentary alliance SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) Alekos Alavanos said that if SYRIZA followed a policy of cooperation with PASOK, which he called a "structural element of the two-party system", it would automatically become a part of the problem (the two-party system), "whereas today we are a part of its solution".

    In an interview with To Vima newspaper appearing in the Sunday edition, Alavanos added that "as convinced as I am that we are on the opposite side, unfortunately, with PASOK's central choices, I am equally convinced that the new majority cannot be achieved without a socialist component inside, or at the side of, the Coalition of the Radical Left".

    He acknowledged that the radical Left cannot, on its own, complete its venture, but needs allies "from below" and is obliged to respect their different courses and history. "We are not prosecutors, but harbingers of the new," Alavanos said.

    [05] Opinion poll sees decline in mainstream parties, PM maintains lead

    A decline in the political strength of the two mainstream parties -- ruling New Democracy (ND) and main opposition PASOK -- and evolution of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance into a political force to be reckoned with, were indicated in a nationwide telephone opinion poll conducted by Kapa Research, the results of which appeared in the Sunday edition of To Vima newspaper.

    ND, however, maintained a 5.9 percentage point lead over PASOK with respect to voter intent.

    More specifically, regarding voter intent (who they would vote for if general elections were held tomorrow), 29.1 percent of the respondents said they would vote for ND, against 23.2 percent for PASOK, 18.4 percent for SYRIZA, 7.5 percent for the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), and 5.1 percent for the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party, while 1.8 percent said they would vote for some other party, 2.2 percent opted for a blank or invalid vote, and 12.7 percent said they were undecided.

    Also 73.9 percent of the respondents said they were "not satisfied" with ND's governance of the country, while 87.9 percent were "not satisfied" with PASOK's work as the main opposition party.

    Further, 60.7 percent of the respondents felt that ND's re-election as government was "negative" or "rather negative", while 42.9 percent opined that nothing would have changed if PASOK had won the elections, 28.8 percent felt that things would have been worse if PASOK had won the elections, and 25.3 percent said things would have been better if PASOK had won the elections.

    To another question, 28.2 percent of the respondents expressed belief that with PASOK in government there would be more prospects for improvement of their finances, while 52.7 percent replied that they did not believe their finances would improve with either of the two mainstream parties in government.

    Regarding who was the most suited for prime minister, premier Costas Karamanlis lead with 41.2 percent, followed by PASOK leader George Papandreou with 19.3 percent, Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) leader Alexis Tsipras with 13.1 percent, LAOS leader George Karatzaferis with 4.7 percent, and KKE leader Aleka Papariga 2.4 percent, while 19.3 percent did not answer.

    Concerning the future of the smaller parties, 52.7 percent of the respondents believed that their electoral strength would increase futher, 19.0 percent believed that many voters would return to the two mainstream parties, 17.0 percent believed that the smaller parties' strength would decline because they recieved votes of protest in the last elections but have no platform, and 9.9 percent believed that their strength would remain approximately the same.

    The nationwide poll was conducted by Kapa Research by telephone between February 19-22, on a sampling of 6,379 people.

    [06] Opinion poll on foreign policy issues

    Greek-Turkish relations and the FYROM name issue are the biggest problems in Greece's foreign policy issues, according to a nationwide opinion poll conducted by Public Issue, the results of which appeared in the Sunday edition of Kathimerini newspaper.

    More specifically, 36 percent of the respondents said Greek-Turkish relations, and 35 percent said the FYROM name issue, comprised the biggest problems in Greek foreign policy, in the nationwide poll conducted by telephone between February 25-20 on a sampling of 614 people.

    Also, 51 percent of the respondents believe that relations with FYROM have worsened, while 69 percent believe that FYROM poses a small threat to Greece, whereas 59 percent consider that Kosovo's independence poses a security threat to Greece.

    Further, 48 percent of the respondents believe that the FYROM name negotiations are a battle that will most likely be lost, while another 48 percent believe that the battle can still be won.

    An overwhelming majority of the respondents (86 percent) reject the name 'Republic of Macedonia' for the neighboring state, while the name "Republic of Upper Macedonia" was the more acceptable of the proposed names, with 43 percent of the respondents in favour and 53 percent against.

    Also, 84 percent of the respondents believe that, if a mutually agreed solution does not arise, then Greece should veto FYROM's accession to NATO, while 52 percent said that they would take part in demonstrations on the issue, while 44 percent said that they would not take part in demonstrations.

    To another question on a prospective recognition of FYROM with the name 'Macedonia', 34 percent of the respondents said that such a prospect made them "indignant and livid", 28 percent said it made them "sad and upset", and 22 percent said it would make them feel "shame", while 40 percent characterized such an eventuality as a "necessary evil" and 24 percent described it as a "national disaster".

    On Greek-Turkish relations, 69 percent of the respondents said the remained the same as last year, 11 percent said they have worsened, and 18 percent said they have improved.

    Also, 56 percent of the respondents consider the Aegean to be the most important problem in Greek-Turkish relations, 23 percent considered the Cyprus issue to be the most important problem, and 14 percent considered the minority in Thrace to be the most important problem.

    Further, 60 percent of the respondents have "little or no confidence" in the International Court of Justice at The Hague, while 33 percent have "some or much confidence".

    To other questions, 48 percent of the respondents believe that Turkey's European prospect was not to Greece's benefit, while 75 percent endorsed dialogue with Turkey.

    Regarding the Cyprus issue, 64 percent of the respondents did not believe that finding a solution within the next two years was possible. Further, 65 percent endorsed coexistence of the two communities as one country, and 62 percent believe that Greece and Cyprus have common interests.

    Finally, 50 percent of the respondents believe that the European Union is the power on which Greece should rely, followed by Russia with 16 percent and the US with 4 percent.

    [07] 'Serbia has a European prospect', Greek ambassador reaffirms

    BELGRADE (ANA-MPA/N. Pelpas)

    Serbia has a European prospect, Greece's ambassador in Belgrade Christos Panagopoulos said on Sunday in an interview with the Serbian radio/television station B-92, and stressed that the Greek government has undertaken an initiative for the European integration of all the Balkan countries, among them Serbia.

    The diplomat opined that the solution applied in Kosovo would not serve as the "recipe" for other cases in the Balkans, given that each country had particularities that had no relationship to the Kosovo issue.

    To a comment by a B-92 journalist that, apart from Montenegro and FYROM, Greece too could in the future face problems with the "Albanian minority", Panagopoulos explained that "there is no Albanian minority in Greece".

    "In our country, there are only Albanian economic refugees who came in search of a better life, and there is no fear of vibrations of that kind," the Greek ambassador said, adding that "Greece does not comprise part of the Balkan problem but, rather, a factor for its resolution".

    Asked to comment on the reactions in Serbia following Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence, Panagopoulos said that the diplomatic moves by the Serbian government were "expected" and "legitimate", but added that the incidents outside the embassies and more generally in the streets of Belgrade were "unpleasant" and "condemnable".

    To another question on whether Greece would stop issuing visas to Serbian citizens, as some EU member countries have done, the Greek envoy stated that "there is no such thought" and, on the contrary "Greece is preparing to receive more visitors from Serbia this year than last year".

    [08] WPC Balkan Peace Movements end meeting, sign joint resolution

    A two-day meeting of the Peace Movements of the Balkans ended in Thessaloniki on Sunday, with the signing of a joint resolution.

    The meeting was held at the Macedonia University's auditorium, organized by the Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace (EEDYE) with the support of the World Peace Council (WPC).

    The Resolution, which will be released on Monday, was unanimously approved by the delegates -- representatives of 12 organizations from 10 WPC member countries in the Balkan region (Greece, Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Turkey, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Ukraine), and a WPC delegation -- and contains references to Kosovo and the Cyprus issue, as well as to the developments in energy issues related to the Balkan countries.

    [09] Education Minister Stylianidis visits Kavala

    Education and Religion Minister Evripidis Stylianidis arrived in the city of Kavala, in northern Greece, on Saturday and promised to have the city's Technical Institute upgraded. Stylianidis is currently on a tour of eastern Macedonia and Thrace.

    Speaking during a meeting of local officials and Parliamentary deputies at the Kavala Prefecture, Stylianidis said that the Kavala Technical Institute will have a considerable increase in the number of students entering it, while its building infrastructures will be improved.

    Referring to projects being carried out in the prefecture of Kavala, the minister said that they are 20 and mainly concern the construction and extension of schools and have a total cost of 29.6 million euros.

    Earlier in the day, Stylianidis visited the Metropolitan of Filippi, Neapoli and Thasos Prokopios. He was accompanied by Deputy Minister Spyros Taliadouros and the president of the School Buildings Organisation, Panayiotis Patarias.

    [10] Annual armed forces promotion, retirement process begins

    The annual process of promotions and retirements in the armed forces began on Saturday.

    The Council of General Staff Chiefs convened on Saturday under the chairmanship of National Defense General Staff Chief General Dimitris Grapsas and considered the cases of senior army, navy and air force officers.

    The Council placed in retirement six lieutenant generals, two rear admirals and seven senior air force officers.

    Financial News

    [11] DEH calls for restriction of electricity consumption between March 3-6

    The Public Power Corporation (DEH), in an announcement on Sunday, calls on consumers to restrict electric power consumption to absolutely necessary levels, particularly during peak hours (from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.) as of Monday and until March 6, due to rolling 24-hour strikes called by the GENOP-DEH union.

    DEH added that cutbacks in electric power supply may take place alternately in cases where the demand for electric power exceeds the possibility of supply, so as to reduce the risk of a blackout to a minimum.

    [12] Foreign Exchange Rates - Monday

    Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:

    U.S. dollar 1.528

    Pound sterling 0.771

    Danish kroner 7.511

    Swedish kroner 9.47

    Japanese yen 159.29

    Swiss franc 1.601

    Norwegian kroner 7.977

    Canadian dollar 1.501

    Australian dollar 1.635

    General News

    [13] Immigration Policy Institute president gives interview to ANA-MPA

    Comparative research between 28 countries on the incorporation of immigrants, carried out by the Immigration Policy Organization and presented in the framework of the third national dialogue hosted by the ombudsman, shows Greece lagging behind other European countries on the issue of immigrants incorporation, such as Spain and Portugal.

    Immigration Policy Institute President Alexandros Zavos focused on this issue in an interview with the ANA-MPA.

    He stressed that for a foreigner to obtain citizenship in Greece he must, among other conditions, have stayed in the country legally for 10 years. However, the registration of immigrants in Greece began in 1998 and , consequently, records with which their legal residence in the country can be certified will only be complete this year.

    [14] Police arrest two for smuggling antiquities, cigarettes

    Police arrested two people in the region of the airport in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, after they were found in possession of an archaeological treasure.

    The two Greeks, aged 57 and 50, were found in possession of a statue 1.15 metres high that dated back to Roman times, that they had concealed in a trailer. According to archaeologists, the statue has a great archaeological, historical and financial value.

    Police investigations also led to the discovery of 2,940 packets of contraband cigarettes in the home of the 50-year-old.

    [15] Wildfires in Florina, Grevena

    Two wildfires broke out in the prefectures of Florina and Grevena at noon on Saturday, but were soon placed under control by firemen before they could destroy large expanses of forestland.

    The wildfire in the prefecture of Florina started in a forested area in the region of Leptokaria and burnt an estimated 10 acres of scrubland. The fire in Grevena broke out in the municipal district of Kallirahi and burnt approximately five acres of forestland.

    [16] Earth tremor off Samos island

    A slight earth tremor measuring 4.6 points on the Richter scale occurred at 9:01 a.m. on Saturday in the sea region north of the Aegean island of Samos.

    According to the Geophysics Laboratory of the Aristotelio University in Thessaloniki, the tremor is no cause for concern and it is linked to the seismic activity taking place in the country these days.

    Weather Forecast

    [17] Cloudy on Monday

    Cloudy weather is forecast in most parts of the country on Monday and high temperatures for this time of the year, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 9C to 21C, and in Thessaloniki from 5C to 19C.

    Soccer

    [18] Panathinaikos tops Super League standings

    Panathinaikos Athens retained its lead in the Greek first division soccer championship (Super League) after holding crosstown rival AEK to a 1-1 draw at the Athens Olympic Stadium on Sunday night. Rivaldo put AEK ahead with a penalty (67) and Postiga levelled the score (78) for Panathinaikos. Second placed Olympiakos Piraeus drew 1-1 at home with tough Super League newcomer Asteras Tripoli on Saturday, while AEK remained in third place.

    In other results of matches played over the weekend:

    Ergotelis Crete - PAOK Thessaloniki 2-0

    Levadiakos Livadia - OFI Crete 0-3

    Xanthi - Panionios Athens 1-2

    Apollon Kalamaria - Veria 1-0

    Larissa - Iraklis Thessaloniki 1-0

    Aris Thessaloniki - Atromitos Athens 2-0

    Standings after 23 weeks of play:

    Panathinaikos 50 points

    Olympiakos 49

    AEK 46

    Aris 38

    Asteras 34

    Panionios 34

    Xanthi 32

    Larissa 32

    PAOK 30

    OFI 26

    Atromitos 25

    Iraklis 23

    Levadiakos 21

    Kalamaria 20

    Veria 20

    Ergotelis 17

    NOTE: Panathinaikos, Olympiakos, AEK, Xanthi, Atromitos and Kalamaria each have a game less.

    Cyprus Affairs

    [19] President: we are ready for a solution

    NICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)

    President Demetris Christofias said Sunday he is "more than ready" for a solution in Cyprus, if Turkey is also ready for this.

    The President expressed hope that Ankara will shift its policy on Cyprus and accept UN resolutions, the latest UN-brokered agreement in July 2006 between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities on efforts to resume negotiations and international and European law.

    "We are not the ones occupying territory of the Republic of Cyprus. Turkey does. Therefore we are the first who want to free our country and honour the sacrifice of those who gave their lives to defend their country," he said after the annual church service in memory of a Greek Cypriot hero who fought against British colonial rule in the mid 1950s.

    The President's comments come in response to remarks by the Turkish Prime Minister who called on him to make a good will gesture in order to help reach a political settlement in Cyprus.

    "My reply to Mr Erdogan is that we are more than ready, if Turkey is also ready, to find a solution which will end the occupation and will restore the country's independence, territorial integrity, the unity of the Republic of Cyprus in the framework of a federation and human rights of all Cypriots," he stressed.

    On reports that the UN have a formula to help open a crossing at Ledra street in Nicosia, to and from the northern Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, President Christofias said he would outline his position on the matter once the UN formally approach him to discuss the issue.

    "We are ready, under certain preconditions, to open the crossing point at Ledra street, just as we are ready to open a crossing at Limnitis," on the northwest of the island, he added.

    Efforts to open a crossing point at one of Nicosia's most commercial streets, Ledra, have failed so far. The Cyprus government wants to ensure safe passage of pedestrians crossing from and into the occupied areas but the Turkish military refuses to move back from the vicinity.

    36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana-mpa.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS


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