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Athens News Agency: News in English, 04-04-27
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Gov't prepares for Erdogan visit in early May27/04/2004 23:29:08
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis conferred with the foreign ministrys leadership on Tuesday regarding the upcoming visit to Athens of Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as the formers state visit to Washington next month.
Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis and Deputy FM Yiannis Valinakis briefed Karamanlis following a Cabinet meeting focusing on health ministry-related issues.
According to reports, Molyviatis expressed his satisfaction with the results of Monday's EU Foreign Ministers' council meeting in Brussels, while citing displeasure by London and Berlin with the April 24 decision by the Greek Cypriot community. The same sources said the veteran diplomat told Cabinet members that EU member-states, nevertheless, have a positive view of Athens' position on the recent Cyprus developments.
Meanwhile, in reference to Wednesdays meeting between Karamanlis and visiting Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, the government spokesman underlined the coordinated actions by both governments in Brussels and at all EU fora.
Asked about Greek-Turkish relations in the wake of the ?no? vote by Greek Cypriots to the Annan peace plan, spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos reiterated that Athens has disengaged the referendum result from the policy of improving bilateral relations and Turkeys burgeoning European orientation.
Finally, in answer to press questions about the Annan peace plan itself, Roussopoulos said it ?may return, no one can say that it is finished?. He said this issue will be discussed on Wednesday.
 Govt to seek restructuring of hospital debt next month27/04/2004 23:26:38
The Greek government on Tuesday announced its decision to seek a restructuring of state hospitals' debt to suppliers of medical and healthcare equipment, totalling 2.0 billion euros, by next month.
Speaking to reporters, after a cabinet meeting, Health and Social Solidarity Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said that after the restructuring of the debt the government would seek a reform of the supply system in the Health sector, as envisaged in the government's economic programme.
According to ministry officials, the restructuring of the debt would be made through bond issuance.
Kaklamanis said that the government's next goal was to draft a new law envisaging the abolition of medicine lists, a move aimed to reduce healthcare costs.
 Development minister unveils market regulatory measures27/04/2004 23:25:36
Development Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou on Tuesday said he
planned to publish two presidential decrees and three ministerial decisions in the next few days, aimed to better regulate outdoor commerce in the country.
The presidential decrees will provide licencing system and the
ministerial decisions will provide the necessary inspection and penalty systems for the market.
Speaking to reporters, Papathanasiou said that the measures were
aimed to combat informal trade in the country. Commenting on recent
informations over a decision by the State Council to annul a regulatory framework of medicine billing, Papathanasiou said that the government was planning to reform the current status in the market.
 Part-time employment expected to increase in light of Olympic Games27/04/2004 23:22:52
Part-time employment is expected to increase in Greece in light of the Athens Olympic Games, according to the commercial director of the Adecco Hellas company Christos Misailidis.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, he said that his company alone, which specialises in this sector internationally, is handling 4,000 jobs this summer.
He further said that a 15-member group has been created to focus exclusively on the needs of the Olympic Games and the company has taken action to provide it with the ability to fill in job vacancies.
The duration of part-time employment contracts is usually between one to three months.
 Hellenes Abroad president Andrew Athens briefs parliament president27/04/2004 21:06:49
World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Andrew Athens on Tuesday briefed Greek Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on the SAE's activities and in particular regarding the granting of medical services to Greeks of countries of the former Soviet Union.
At the same time, Athens took the opportunity to congratulate her on her election as parliament president.
Psarouda-Benaki on her part hailed the work carried out by the SAE and promised the Greek parliament's undivided support to the Council's efforts to promote and implement its objectives.
 Parliament speaker receives SAE president Andrew Athens27/04/2004 19:07:46
Parliament speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Tuesday received Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Andrew Athens, who congratulated her on assuming her new position and briefed her on SAE activities around the world, particularly regarding the provision of health care services to ethnic Greeks in former Soviet countries through a chain of Medical Centres.
Psarouda-Benaki congratulated the SAE on its work and promised Parliament's unstinting support in efforts to promote and implement its plans.
She also underlined the potential benefits of deeper cooperation with Parliament's new cross-party committee for overseas Hellenes and developing closer ties between the Greek Parliament and the U.S. Congress.
 Church crisis deepens after surprise elections of 'New lands' metropolitans27/04/2004 19:06:26
ANKARA (ANA - A. Kourkoulas) The crisis in relations between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece has deepened following the unexpected elections of metropolitans for vacant 'New Lands' dioceses in northern Greece by an emergency meeting of the Hierarchy of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece.
Phanar mobilised its response on Tuesday, calling a major Holy Synod meeting of independent Orthodox Churches to examine the situation created by what it sees as unilateral actions on the part of Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.
The Synod is expected to include church leaders attached to the Ecumenical throne in countries ranging from faraway Korea to the Dodecanese islands, Crete, Europe and America.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate claimed that it had not yet been officially informed about any of the actions and decisions initiated on Monday by Christodoulos.
The way that the elections were arranged has deepened conviction in Phanar that the Greek Archbishop's aim was not to defuse the ecclesiastical crisis and find a solution but to make a ''show of strength''. Patriarchate officials are also incensed and embittered over what they see as a ''misinformation campaign'' begun by Athens.
They point out that Christodoulos' actions are now based on a slim majority that is foreign to the traditions of the Church, where decisions on such issues are almost always unanimous.
Church of Greece prelates met for an emergency meeting on Monday that first voted in favour of an agreement with the Patriarchate that declared respect and acceptance of a 1928 act governing ecclesiastical administration of the 'New Lands'.
In a much more closely contested vote immediately afterward, however, the meeting decided to immediately proceed with episcopal elections for the vacant sees of Thessaloniki, Eleftheroupoli, Mesogaia and Kozani.
After fierce and sometimes acrimonious debate in which some metropolitans and bishops walked out, this motion was eventually passed by 35 votes for, 23 against, eight blank votes and five abstentions.
After a marathon session lasting nine hours, in which those who walked out in protest were considered as 'absent', the Church Hierarchy approved the transfer of Metropolitan Anthimos to Thessaloniki, the election of Archmandrite Chrysostomos Avagianos in Eleftheroupoli, Archmandrite Pavlos Papalexiou in Kozani and Archmandrite Nikolaos Hatzinikolaou, head of the Bioethics Committee, for Mesogaia.
Patriarch Vartholomeos has already warned that Phanar will not recognise the elections of the new metropolitans arranged by Christodoulos, while threatening to break ''communion'' with the Archbishop if he went ahead with this course of action.
A proposal for a common session of the Patriarchate's Major Synod and the Synod of the Church of Greece was made on Tuesday by main opposition PASOK's parliamentary spokesman Haris Kastanidis, who warned that the crisis could have "dire consequences on both a Canonical and a national level, with serious geopolitical repercussions".
Kastanidis said that a clash should be avoided and said his party was ready to undertake initiatives as soon as possible, stressing that this stance should be mirrored by other political parties.
 Verheugen: Any EU office in occupied Cyprus in no way a recognition27/04/2004 19:06:19
BRUSSELS (ANA V. Demiris) EU Commission for enlargement Guenter Verheugen on Tuesday cited the Unions intention to open an office in the occupied part of Nicosia in order control future financial assistance to the Turkish Cypriot community.
Speaking here during joint session of the European Parliaments foreign affairs committee with the EU-Cyprus parliamentary committee, Verheugen referred to the need for direct cooperation with the Turkish Cypriots, while reiterating that this absolutely does not constitute any recognition of the breakaway Turkish-occupied portion of the island republic.
The EU Commission also emphasized that efforts to solve the long-standing Cyprus issue and reunify the island must not be abandoned.
Conversely, he hinted at a ?Taiwan? option for the Turkish-occupied north, namely, no recognition but commercial relations with the EU.
Verheugen, moreover, was also critical of the stance of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus ecclesiastical leadership as well as of the positions taken by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos in the run-up to the referenda on the Annan peace plan, which the Greek Cypriot side flatly rejected.
Conversely, he praised the stance by former Cyprus presidents Glafcos Clerides and George Vassiliou.
Finally, he appeared pessimistic over the prospect of another UN initiative in the near future for a solution to the Cyprus problem.
 President Stephanopoulos meets Romanian counterpart27/04/2004 19:05:04
BUCHAREST (ANA) Greek President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos was received by his Romanian counterpart Ion Iliescu on Tuesday, during an official visit to Romania.
They noted the positive development of bilateral relations and cooperation on a regional level in the Balkans, as well as joint efforts by Greece and Romania for stability in the region.
The two leaders reaffirmed the harmonious bilateral relations of their two countries, while Stephanopoulos expressed satisfaction at Romania's European orientation, as well as that of other Balkan countries.
He said Greece will assist Romania's efforts to join the EU as soon as possible.
Iliescu expressed satisfaction with Greece's steadfast support of his country's accession to NATO and the EU and said that relations between the two countries were a factor for stability in the region.
 Weather Forecast: Sunshine on Wednesday27/04/2004 18:51:00
Sunny weather is forecast in all parts of the country. Winds northerly, light to moderate, turning strong in parts of the Aegean. It will be warmer. Temperatures in Athens from 12C to 21C and in Thessaloniki between 11C and 20C.
 Foreign Exchange Rates: Wednesday27/04/2004 18:21:56
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank
U.S. dollar 1.198
Pound sterling 0.669
Danish kroner 7.500
Swedish kroner 9.187
Japanese yen 131.5
Swiss franc 1.561
Norwegian kroner 8.292
Cyprus pound 0.591
Canadian dollar 1.619
Australian dollar 1.634
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