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Macedonian Press Agency: News in English, 03-10-17
From: The Macedonian Press Agency at http://www.mpa.gr and http://www.hri.org/MPA.
 SIMITIS OPTIMISM ON COMPLETION OF EU CONSTITUTION DIALOGUEBrussels, 17 October 2003 (14:51 UTC+2)
His optimism that discussions on the Constitution of Europe will have been completed by the end of the year, was expressed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, during his press conference this afternoon in Brussels. Mr. Simitis stressed that there will be bilateral meetings of the Italian Presidency will all member-states in the immediate future, so that a plan for the finalization of the Constitution, which will be the topic of another intergovernmental conference, can be presented by November.
Mr. Simitis went into detail concerning the issue of European Defense, stating that the European Constitution includes a series of provisions pertaining to the issue. Specifically, he said, the gradual creation of a system for joint defense and mutual assistance in case of an attack by a third country, the formation of a system of a structured cooperation (which will be responsible for the organizing of more complex missions than those of a humanitarian character) and the creation of a European Equipment Service (to deal with research and the defense industry) was foreseen.
Mr. Simitis did not foresee any changes in the Cyprus issue prior to the elections in the occupied territories in December, while he expected pressures on Turkey in 2004.
Meanwhile, there was no further meeting between Mr. Blair and Mr. Simitis regarding the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and the Prime Minister did not provide an answer to related questions.
 ATTEMPTS AT UNDERSTANINGIstanbul, 17 October 2003 (12:21 UTC+2)
The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patrarchate decided to keep the bridges of communication up, without giving up its rights, while it expressed its grief at what was said in Greece on its ecumenical nature. A plan by ecclesiastic circles to reduce the Patriarch was denounced by Mr. Vartholomeos, attributing the crisis to human ambitions and bad counseling of the Archbishop. I prefer peace, but if I am challenged to war, my quiver is full, said the Patriarch in his television interview.
 ELECTORAL BATTLE FOR THE RETURN OF THE MARBLESAthens, 17 October 2003 (12:44 UTC+2)
The issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles prior to the 2004 elections was raised by Prime Minister Costas Simitis in a meeting with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, in the margin of the informal EU Summit in Brussels. Mr. Simitis confessed he is losing the elections, commented ND Spokesperson Thodoros Roussopoulos, who accused Mr. Simitis of using a national issue for party and electoral interests. The event that the return of the Marbles is being discussed by the Greek and UK Prime Ministers should be greeted by all Greeks, without a party reflex, stated Minister of Culture Evaggelos Venizelos. However there is information that there had been prior discussion between the two PMs on the return of the Marbles in correspondence between them, while Mr. Blair's last letter left room for hope, according to Flash radio.
The Prime Minister's first and foremost goal is that the Marbles be back before the 2004 Olympics, stated Government Spokesperson and Minister of the Press Christos Protopapas, in response to ND's criticism.
Greeks fully comprehend that the three months between the elections and Olympics with the interjection of Euroelections will not suffice for this venture to be completed, he added.
But, unfortunately, ND is once again scorning our national goals, shrinking them to the level of party interests, he concluded.
ND's criticism was also characterized as a tragic political mistake, if not a strike at the effort for the return of the Parthenon Marbles by Minister of Culture Evaggelos Venizelos, in statements he made this morning to Flash radio. He also wondered if ND would prefer Cyprus not be incorporated to the EU, since there is always the chance that PASOK will use that to its electoral advantage. He also mentioned that the Greek and British PM had also communicated on the Marbles issue in letters.
The fact that the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles is being discussed by the Greek and British PM and not for the first time today is very important in this issue and should be greeted by all Greeks, without a party reflex, said Minister of Culture in statements yesterday.
The formal Greek position on the return of the Marbles, as I have repeatedly expressed it in Greece and abroad, aims at the formation of an exhibition of the entire sculpture decorating the Acropolis, with the signature of both the Acropolis and the British Museum, said Mr. Venizelos.
As I have repeatedly stressed to the British Media, the British Prime Minister is the one who can provide a solution, overcoming traditional resistance and promoting a modern perception of his country on international cultural cooperation, he noted.
 STRONG EARTHQUAKE SOUTH OF KALAMATAThessaloniki, 17 October 2003 (19:09 UTC+2)
A strong earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale was recorded at 3.57pm today at the sea, south of the city of Kalamata, southern Greece.
According to Thessaloniki's Aristotle University seismology station, the epicenter of the tremor was located at the sea region, about 100 kilometers south of Kalamata and 500 kilometers south of the city of Thessaloniki.
Seismologist Zafiria Roumelioti stated to MPA that strong earthquakes like the one recorded today are a usual phenomenon in the region.
The earthquake was felt in the city of Kalamata and there are no reports of damages.
 4TH CONFERENCE OF NEW PARLIAMENTARY STATES IN EASTERN MEDITERRANEANRhodes, 17 October 2003 (18:49 UTC+2)
Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis referred to the Iraqi issue, the Palestinian issue and the Cyprus problem addressing the 4th Conference of New Parliamentary States in Eastern Mediterranean that opened in the southeastern Aegean island of Rhodes yesterday.
Mr. Kaklamanis stated characteristically that developments on the issue of Iraq vindicated the international public opinion, which used its infallible judgement and brought down the simplistic scenario that was used as an alibi for arbitrary actions.
On the Middle East problem, he said that it follows a dangerous course, while on Cyprus, he stressed that the country's EU accession creates great prospects for its development.
The three-day conference is organized in Rhodes by the International Institute for Democracy in cooperation with the Greek Parliament. During its proceedings will be examined issues such as foreign policy in Eastern Mediterranean after the war in Iraq, the contribution of parliamentary diplomacy to the promotion of peace and security in the region and the EU enlargement and its effects on Eastern Mediterranean.
 HITIRIS: THE ND REACTION TO THE PARTHENON MARBLES ISSUE IS UNACCEPTABLEAthens, 17 October 2003 (17:26 UTC+2)
Acting government spokesman Tilemachos Hitiris characterized as unacceptable the reaction of the right-wing main opposition party of New Democracy to the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and called on its spokesman Thodoris Rousopoulos to retract its statement because it undermines the efforts made for their return.
Mr. Hitiris stated that Mr. Rousopoulos says that the Marbles should not come to Greece because the government could take advantage of such a development during the pre-election period. Mr. Hitiris said that the return of the Marbles is not being used for the governing party to win the next elections but in order for Greece to have a success in an effort that lasts for years. The elections are used as a time limit because the Olympic Games will take place almost immediately afterwards, said Mr. Hitiris.
 GAINS IN THE ASEAthens, 17 October 2003 (16:52 UTC+2)
Gains were recorded in the Athens Stock Exchange today. The general index rose to +0.64% at 2.124,70 points, while the volume of transactions was at 110.1 million euros.
Of the stocks trading today, 197 recorded gains and 99 had losses, while the value of 88 stocks remained unchanged.
 HITIRIS SUGGESTED CAUTION ON CHURCH ISSUESAthens, 17 October 2003 (16:36 UTC+2)
For every problem there is a solution, and the solution to the problems between the Archbishopric of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate should be reached by the Church itself for its own good and the good of Orthodoxy, stated today acting government spokesman Tilemachos Hitiris.
He made the statement responding to a relevant question by reporters and reiterated that everybody should be very careful, the press included, when dealing with the issue.
 TSOCHATZOPOULOS OUT OF ICUAthens, 17 October 2003 (15:14 UTC+2)
Minister of Development Akis Tsochatzopoulos left the intensive care unit of the Areteio hospital.
His tests were completed and the results were positive and Mr. Tsochatzopoulos was taken to a hospital room. The Minister felt a sharp pain in his right leg yesterday and was taken to the hospital where doctors diagnosed a thrombosis.
The Minister is expected to be released from hospital early next week.
 KARAMANLIS SPEECH AT ENAEAthens, 17 October 2003 (14:51 UTC+2)
An attack against the government's policy in the local government sector was made by President of New Democracy Costas Karamanlis, during his speech at the Union of Prefecture Local Governments (ENAE).
He accused it of being negative towards local government, while he underlined that ND's position, as it is underlined in the party's government plan, is a transition to a powerful local government, with rights and adequate funds. A powerful local government, free of dependencies.