The U.S. State Department clearly distanced itself from the heavy-worded article penned by former State Department official Wayne Merry who frets of "a potential bloody disaster" at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Emphasizing that Mr. Merry is a "former" official, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that he was not in a position to comment on the content of the "Los Angeles Times" article, since he had not read it in its entirety.
"Not having read the entire article, I can't parse through them (the accusations). But generally, no, we don't share the accusations. And this is our view of the situation," he said.
Mr. Boucher also stressed that "as in all such events, the possibility exists that terrorists will attempt to use the venue to advance their agenda. And that was evident, I think, in the CIA threat assessment testimony yesterday. But at this time we have no specific information that would indicate a particular threat to the Games."
The State Department spokesman also stated that "the U.S., along with several other countries, has formed an Olympic security advisory group for the 2004 Olympics. The group has traveled to Athens to meet with Greek officials late last year, and they will return this spring for further consultations.
"As we've said many times, it is very important for the Greek government to continue to take concrete steps towards the arrest and prosecution of terrorists. But in terms of the Olympics and this project, there's this international group that will be meeting with the Greeks and will be working with them to ensure that we have a safe Olympics."
The Thessaloniki Court of Appeals has approved Italy's extradition request for Francesco Prudentino, an Italian national believed to be a senior member of the biggest cigarette smuggling racket in Greece, Italy and the Balkans.
Acting on an international arrest warrant, Thessaloniki police arrested the 52-year-old Prudentino on December 22. After the local court sentenced him to 19 months in jail for possessing forged documents, Prudentino posted bail for his release.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhailova, presently on her first official visit to Greece, met with her Greek counterpart George Papandreou yesterday, with whom she discussed bilateral political and economic relations, the situation in Yugoslavia and the Balkans in general, the course of Bulgaria's accession to NATO and the European Union and the Alexandroupolis-Burgas oil pipeline.
In a joint press conference following the talks, Mr. Papandreou underlined the excellent cooperation enjoyed by Greece and Bulgaria on bilateral issues and on regional ones as well, on which there is an identity of views.
The Greek FM characteristically stated that friendship between the two countries "is not only historical, but timely as well."
Regarding issues concerning the European Union's and NATO's enlargement, Mr. Papandreou hailed the progress achieved by Bulgaria regarding its accession to Euro-Atlantic institutions and added that Greece "will always be at its side."
Mr. Papandreou stated that his discussion with Ms. Mikhailova, also focused on the crisis in southern Serbia, where the two officials agreed to include the matter among top priority issues tob e discussed at the Interbalkan summit on February 22-23 in Skopje.
Moreover, the two foreign ministers also discussed the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the course of economic cooperation and cooperation in the transport sector.
In turn, Ms. Mikhailova said that her official visit to Greece "constitutes a message for the cooperation of a strategic nature between the two countries".
She further stressed that her talks with Mr. Papandreou have always been very fruitful and comprehensive, adding that "at present we have the possibility of exceeding the narrow nucleus of our bilateral relations and including our cooperation in a European perspective."
The Bulgarian FM was also received by the President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos during a courtesy call yesterday afternoon at the presidential mansion.
Acting Greek government spokesman Tilemachos Hitiris stated that Greece takes all necessary security measures for the 2004 Olympic Games.
The statement was made when he was asked to comment on the interview of former "Athens 2004" organization head, Stratis Stratigis, with Australia's ABC television channel. According to Mr. Stratigis, the next "17 November" terrorist organization target could be "Athens 2004" organizing committee president Ms. Yianna Angelopoulou-Daskalakis.
Mr. Hitiris stated that it is not helpful to continue the talk on terrorism, while responding to the question if measures are being taken for the protection of Ms. Angelopoulou-Daskalakis, he stated that the responsible agencies are doing their job.
Finally, when he was called to comment on the statement made by the US State Department spokesman concerning the statements on terrorism in Greece that were made by Wayne Merry, a former US State Department and Pentagon official, Mr. Hitiris responded that the statement in question keeps a clear distance from the statements made by the former US official, adding that the issue has ended for Greece.
Undersecretary of press and acting Greek government spokesman Tilemachos Hitiris in statements he made to the Skopje newspaper "Vetser", denied the rumors that circulated in Skopje on an imminent agreement on the pending issue of the FYROM name involving the adoption of a proposal tabled by the Greek side. Mr. Hitiris stated that the talks for the solution of the problem continue and the Greek government is making efforts to reach a solution that will be to the interest of both states.
Regarding the recognition of the Christian Orthodox Church in FYROM, which is allegedly included in a "package of offers" made by Greece in exchange for the solution of the problem, Mr. Hitiris stated that this is an issue of negotiations between the Churches.
In the briefing of reporters in Athens today, Mr. Hitiris stated when he was asked to comment on the rumors concerning an imminent meeting of the prime ministers of Greece and FYROM, that if such a meeting is held it will be announced.
Mr. Hitiris, responding to a question on whether the Greek government has made a proposal to FYROM suggesting the names "Nova Makedonija" or "Dolna Makedonija", stated that proposals on the issue of the FYROM name are being tabled by the Greek and the FYROM side.
Mr. Hitiris also added that the circle of negotiations on the FYROM name continues and expressed the hope that the issue will be settled soon with the adoption of a mutually acceptable name because this will contribute to the stability in the region and the upgrading of bilateral cooperation.
September 14 was declared to be annual Memorial Day for the victims of the Greek genocide in Asia Minor committed by the Turkish state in 1922.
The decision is included in a presidential decree that was prepared by culture minister Evangelos Venizelos and has been forwarded to the president of the republic to be signed.
Small gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index was increased by 0.39% at 3.169,71 points, while the volume of transactions was 128.2 million Euro or 43.6 billion drachmas.
Of the stocks trading today, 265 recorded gains and 54 had losses, while the value of 55 stocks remained stable.
A luxury hotel for state officials and next to it, two taverns and a less expensive hotel were housed in two 2nd century AD buildings that were unearthed during excavations at the ancient city of Dion in the archaeological site of Vergina, northern Greece. Archaeologists reached this conclusion based on a 2nd century AD inscription that was found nearby.
Also, based on another inscription dated back to the 3rd century BC it appears that in the ancient times certain women, like the wives of distinguished men, had increased political rights.
In the same area, hundreds of 2nd century AD copper coins were also discovered which is an indication that the treasury of the temple of Zeus was in the specific region.
The above were mentioned in the 14th scientific meeting on the archaeological work in Macedonia and Thrace that was held in Thessaloniki.
Bulgarian foreign minister Ms. Nadezda Michailova, who is on a formal visit to Greece, had separate meetings in Athens today with Greek parliament president Apostolos Kaklamanis, right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy Kostas Karamanlis and Athens mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos.
In the meetings were discussed the developments in the Balkan region and Bulgaria's European course.
Mr. Kaklamanis expressed Greece's support to Bulgaria's European course and stressed the need for the two countries to cooperate in the effort to safeguard peace and stability in the Balkans.
From her side, Ms. Michailova expressed the view that the confidence in bilateral relations has reached high levels.
Record sunlight hours and high temperatures were recorded this winter by meteorologists in Greece.
A similar phenomenon had been recorded in 1990, while it should be mentioned that this year there was no break in the so-called, halcyon days.
However, according to the Greek Weather Bureau, the weather will change starting tomorrow with rain, strong winds and low temperatures.
Greece and the United States cooperate closely in the effort to counter terrorism which is not just a Greek phenomenon but an international one. This cooperation displays the mutual political will and the good intentions of both sides toward this direction.
The above were stressed by Greek foreign minister Giorgos Papandreou when he was called to comment on the US State Department statement on terrorism in Greece. He also condemned the repeated press reports on the Athens 2004 Olympic Games saying that they not only hurt Greece but the Olympic Games institution itself.
A Greek immigrant who personified the "American dream" by founding a 150-restaurant chain and a gambling-cruise operation, was shot and killed on Tuesday as he was driving on a Miami isolated road, apparently by a hitman hired over business disputes.
According to Miami police, Gus Boulis, a 51-year-old restaurateur from northern Greece's city of Kavala, was driving along a quiet road when a car suddenly pulled up and intercepted him. Another car came from the opposite direction and its driver fired three or four shots at Boulis, police said. Both cars sped off.
Although he had been shot several times, Boulis managed to drive onto a busy street before crashing into a tree in front of one of his restaurants. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
In recent weeks, Boulis had been embroiled in a series of legal entanglements after selling his $147.5-million casino boat operation (Sun Cruz) to a group headed by Adam Kidan, a lawyer from Washington, DC.
Boulis, who emigrated to the United States at the age of eighteen, founded Sun Cruz in 1994 with one boat. Today it operates casino boats in 12 states.
Federal prosecutors forced Boulis to sell the company and fined him $2 million because he owned it without being a US citizen, which is illegal.
The Mayor of Kavala Stathis Erifyllides said that Boulis was an active businessman who never forsook his birthplace. As a matter of fact, according to the mayor, Boulis was in Athens on Tuesday, one day before his murder, in order to scope out investment opportunities.
Greek prime minister Kostas Simitis completed his formal visit to India today and speaking to reporters while flying over Dubai on his way back to Athens, he stated that the talks he had with the government and business representatives in the country were very friendly and positive, adding that they want Greece's help to expand their contacts with the European Union.
Mr. Simitis also confirmed the information that the president of India will visit Athens on April 23.
The prime minister stated that India plays a very big role in the region and until now it had not enjoyed the attention it should have on behalf of the European Union. On the contacts the Greek businessmen had during the visit to the country, he said that they were good and added that the market is wide covering sectors from ship-building material to computers. He also said that the businessmen in India are interested in forging good relations with the Balkans and eastern and central Europe.
He referred to the good relations formed between Greece and India during the time of Andreas Papandreou and Indira Gandhi, saying that Andreas Papandreou has left very good memories to the people of India and this is something we can capitalize on.
He also said that India can assist in the solution of the Cyprus problem and regional issues based on international law.
Mr. Simitis also speaking to reporters, ruled out the likelihood of a government reshuffle at least for a long time.