|Saturday, 16 February 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 01-05-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 28, 2001
 Papandreou reaffirms commitment to rapprochement with Turkey
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou has reaffirmed his commitment to a policy of rapprochement between Greece and Turkey, also criticizing opponents of the attempt at detente.
"Our approach is right. It has allowed the possibility of a really substantive improvement with Turkey in many sectors," Papandreou told the Kathimerini newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.
"There is a relative detente. We must continue in this direction," he added.
The minister attributed criticism of the rapprochement policy to "a rationale of defeatism", "big words" and "heroic inaction."
Asked to comment on the Bush administration's attitude to Cyprus joining the European Union, Papandreou said: "They told me with absolute clarity that they have the Helsinki decision as a base," which does not require resolution of the Cyprus problem before entry.
The minister recently visited the US, his first official trip to Washington since the new administration assumed power.
Also asked to explain a foreign ministry document that expresses fears of a possible Turkish backlash at the time of Cyprus' entry into the 15-nation bloc, the minister replied: "We are ready for any provocation, if any arises."
He added that Greece, as a serious country, "prepares for all contingencies," while doing its best to foster peace.
Turning to the Balkans, Papandreou said that US officials he had spoken to during his visit had shown interest in Greek proposals on handling the region's crisis and asked for regular contact on the matter.
The minister said he believed the US would contribute to resolution of Greece's name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. He avoided mention of any possible US pressure on FYROM.
Finally, Papandreou welcomed a recent meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying their communication on a personal level was very good. Powell showed interest in Greece's proposal for an Olympic truce, and asked an associate present at the meeting to closely monitor the issue, he added.
 Voters opt for ND as party but Simitis as PM, poll says
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)Voters would cast their ballots in favor of the main opposition New Democracy party in a national election, but would opt for Prime Minister Costas Simitis as premier, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday.
The poll, which was commissioned by the Sunday Vima newspaper and conducted by Kapa Research, showed voters giving ND 29.7 percent and the ruling PASOK party 22.9 percent, lagging by 6.8 percentage points.
Coming next in voter preference were Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos' party at 9.1 percent; the Communist Party of Greece, 5.8 percent; the Coalition of the Left and Progress, 2.7 percent; and the Democratic Social Movement trailing with 0.9 percent. Simitis took 31.7 percent of the vote as best candidate for Prime Minister followed by ND leader Costas Karamanlis, who gained 30.8 percent.
In addition, ranking top in popularity stakes was President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos with 89.2 percent of the vote.
Among senior PASOK party officials, Foreign Minister George Papandreou was the favorite; and from ND, George Souflias.
Finally, running neck and neck as the best successor to Simitis in the PASOK party leadership were Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos at 24.9 percent and Papandreou at 24.8 percent, the poll showed.
 Ex-minister says PASOK needs to shape up soon or lose election
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)Theodoros Pangalos, a deputy of the ruling PASOK party and a former minister, said that the government needed to solve its problems within two months or risk losing the next national elections, due by April 2004.
In an interview to the Vima newspaper published on Sunday, Pangalos accused the government of being technocratic and solely oriented towards economic policy.
He called on senior party officials to rally in order to win the country's three largest municipalities, proposing that Foreign Minister George Papandreou should stand in Athens, Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis in Piraeus, and Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos in Thessaloniki.
 Greece will not tolerate obstacles on Cyprus' EU course, Greek envoy says
NICOSIA, 28/05/2001 (ANA-G. Leonidas)Greece will not tolerate obstacles to Cyprus' accession to the European Union, once the accession talks are complete, Greek ambassador to Cyprus Christos Panagopoulos said.
"Greece made it clear that it would not tolerate any obstacle put forward to Cyprus' European Union entry when the island republic concludes successfully its accession talks," Panagopoulos said, during an interview with the CyBC television Saturday evening.
Panagopoulos also said that soon after Sunday's parliamentary elections, the governments of Cyprus and Greece would intensify contacts on the island republic's EU accession course, adding that a visit by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou to Nicosia in the fall or even earlier in the year was probable.
In a related development, Nicosia's Fileleftheros daily newspaper revealed on Sunday that Turkey proceeded with a confidential demarche to all EU member-states except Greece, in which it demands the freezing of Cyprus' EU accession course.
Citing reliable sources, the paper said the four-page confidential document codifies Ankara's well-known arguments against Cyprus' EU accession.
The document says that Cyprus' EU entry would lead to the annexation by Ankara of the Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, destroy efforts to resolve the protracted Cyprus problem and provoke a crisis with repercussions on both communities on the island as well as on Greece, Turkey, the EU and on stability and peace in the region.
The paper notes that with this demarche, Turkey's threats for destabilization are now addressed directly to Brussels.
 FYROM's FM rules out compromise over country's name
SKOPJE, 28/05/2001 (ANA)The new Foreign Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Ilinka Mitreva, on Saturday, said that her government remained steadfast in its position on the name of the country, during her first press conference.
"Our position is the use of the constitutional name of our country internationally and the concession to Greece to have the ability to use the name it wishes in our bilateral relations," she said.
Mitreva ruled out the possibility of negotiations with the Albanian extremists for changes in the political system or structure of the country, adding that none of the articles of FYROM's constitution represents an obstacle to the development of democracy and human rights.
 Balkan political leader's club meets in Sofia to discuss the region's European future
SOFIA, 28/05/2001 (ANA - B. Borisov)Political leaders from eight Balkan countries met here over the weekend to discuss ways to establish European systems and values in the Balkans, while aiming to promote good neighborly relations between countries of the region.
Former Greek foreign minister Michalis Papaconstantinou was present in the meeting that included former Bulgarian president Zelio Zelev, Romanian President Ion Iliescu, former Romanian president Emil Constantinescu, former Turkish president Suleyman Demirel, former president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Kiro Gligorov, Former Albanian prime minister Fatos Nano and former Romanian prime minister Petre Roman.
The initiative for the current meeting of the Balkan Political Club, a non-governmental organization, belongs to Zelev.
"We must get to know with our neighbor. This is the only way to say 'no' to hatred and distrust, to stop disputes and confrontations and to build those bridges of friendship and trust that will lead us to the European Union and will abandon to the pages of history the sad picture of the Balkans as the 'powder keg of Europe," Papaconstantinou said.
 Alternate FM concludes visit to China, after Asia-Europe conference
BEIJING, 28/05/2001 (ANA - D. Konstantakopoulos)The President of the Chinese Union received alternate Foreign Minister Elizabeth Papazoi on Sunday for Friend-ship with Foreign Countries Haosu Chen and the President of the Chinese Federation of Women Peigiun Peng.
With these meetings Papazoi concluded her contacts in Beijing, preparing Prime Minister Costas Simitis' visit next month, while she participated in the Asia-Europe foreign ministers' meeting (ASEM).
The "Asia-Europe Meeting", which just concluded in Beijing, stressed that there should be a new round of talks on international trade, which should take into account the interests of all countries.
The participants also promised to deal with the problems of underdeveloped countries plagued by problems born by globalization.
Following her visit to China, Papazoi will visit Uzbekistan, where she will meet with the country's President Islom Karimov and will hold talks with the political leadership of the country, in light of Uzbekistan's efforts to forge closer relations with Greece.
 Social security issue on ruling PASOK's EB agenda on Monday
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)The social security issue will be on the agenda of the ruling PASOK Executive Bureau meeting on Monday and the meeting of the party's Central Committee next weekend, sources said.
The EB's agenda will include discussion on a written proposal drafted by party Secretary Costas Skandalidis, regarding the problem. If approved, the proposal will be debated in the central committee's meeting, which was requested by 62 of its members.
 Gov't to announce road safety measures aiming at a 20 per cent reduction
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)An integrated package of road safety measures, aiming at reducing accidents by 20 per cent over the next four years, would be announced soon, Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said Sunday in Thessaloniki.
Addressing a conference entitled "Road Accidents-A national cause", the minister said that the effective coordination for the implementation of road safety measures would reduce accidents, as efforts over the past two years have already produced results.
"We had 110 fewer deaths over the past two years, about 300 fewer heavily injured, over the same period, and 4,000 fewer lightly injured in road accidents," he said.
In giving a more specific example Chrysohoidis said that in past years there were 1.5 deaths per week on the Larissa-Volos highway, while during the past year, since traffic control cameras were installed on this highway, there were virtually no deathly road accidents.
 Greece, EU trying to integrate people with special needs
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)The European Union's Commissioner for Social Affairs, Anna Diamantopoulou, said on Saturday that both Greece and the EU were trying to spur an active role in society for people with special needs.
The way forward was for authorities on an EU level, a national level and a local level to work together in order to ensure that people with special needs were allowed the same rights and responsibilities as the rest of the population, Diamantopoulou said.
Greece's commissioner at the EU was inaugurating an EU citizens' information bureau in the western city of Patras.
 Island Marine Park to act as pilot for new schemes
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)Deputy Environment Minister Ilias Efthymiopoulos said on Saturday that a newly created marine park off the Ionian island of Zakynthos would act as a pilot for similar schemes elsewhere in Greece.
Efthymiopoulos was speaking at a one-year birthday celebration at the island's National Marine Park, which houses the endangered Caretta Caretta turtle.
"Creation of the Zakynthos park means that Greece is meeting its commitments to world organizations on protection of the ecosystem," Efthymiopoulos said.
Operation of the park was being monitored in order to aid future planning for other marine reserves, he added.
 Patriarch tours Cappadocia, ordains church elder
SINASOS, 28/05/2001 (ANA – A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos toured the Cappadocia region of Turkey at the weekend, accompanied by senior Orthodox clerics and Greek pilgrims.
On Saturday, Vartholomeos led a morning liturgy at the Church of Saints Konstantinos and Eleni in the village of Sinasos in Cappadocia, a region that was center of Orthodox Christianity in eastern Asia Minor during the Byzantine era.
During the service, the Patriarch welcomed a recent rapprochement between Greece and Turkey, saying the move would benefit the peoples of both countries and stand as a paradigm for world peace.
His schedule in Cappadocia, which he also visited last year, included receptions hosted by senior local government officials.
On Sunday, the Patriarch ordained Metropolitan Bishop Tarasios of Buenos Aires as an elder of the Orthodox Church, nearly 80 years after the last such ordination in Asia Minor when a pact in 1923 allowed an exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey.
Attending the ceremony held in Prokopio for Tarasios, who studied in the US and Rome and served at the Patriarch's seat in Istanbul for a decade, were hundreds of pilgrims from Greece and the US.
 President Stephanopoulos attends events commemorating Souli resistance
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Sunday attended events in Souli, northwestern Greece, commemorating the town's legendary resistance to Ottoman rule in the 19th century.
The resistance culminated with a leap to their death for 63 Souli women in 1803, who preferred to sacrifice their lives rather than fall into the hands of the Turks and the suicide of several men who blew up the church that was used as an armory, when the enemy entered it.
Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis represented the country's legislature and Healthcare Minister Alekos Papadopoulos represented the government, while European Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou was also present.
 Cretans rally in Athens on 60th anniversary of Battle of Crete
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)Cretans, residents of Athens, rallied on Syntagma Square on Sunday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Crete that took place during the World War II.
Cretan members of citizen groups then marched to the Athens War Museum where representatives of the government, political parties and a large crowd celebrated this Memorial Day.
Earlier in the day, a religious memorial service was held at the Athens Cathedral. Following the service, Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Apostolakis commented on the Battle of Crete saying that "this struggle will remain known in history as a struggle for freedom and dignity".
 Permanent Byzantine exhibition opens in Thessaloniki museum
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)A new permanent exhibition at Thessaloniki's Museum of Byzantine Culture opened on Sunday containing a range of works from the 14th to 19th centuries.
On display are icons representing almost all schools and trends in Orthodox painting, ceramics, coins, religious objects, religious engravings, and documents.
The works in the exhibition, which was inaugurated by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos, are donations from the Ikonomopoulos and Papastratou collections.
On Saturday, Venizelos also launched the northern port city's book fair, held by the Association of Publishers of Northern Greece.
 Lobbies seek court ban on Marathon as 2004 Olympics venue
Athens, 28/05/2001(ANA)Archaeologists and environmentalists have gone to court in a bid to overturn a government decision that allows construction of a rowing and canoeing center for the Athens 2004 Olympics that will be located near the ancient battlefield of Marathon.
According to archaeologists that filed the suit at the Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, the sporting center would cover a stretch of land where Persian ships once docked; and a probable Neolithic site.
Construction would also undermine the wider historical significance of the site of the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, when a small Athenian army defeated a vastly superior Persian force.
The environmentalists who joined the suit say that construction on the land under dispute, which has been declared a national park by presidential decree, contains shrinking wetlands that house wildlife including birds.
Acting under a representative, the four groups to file against the decision are the Archaeological Association, the Greek Association for Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage, the Greek Association for the Protection of Nature, and the Greek Ornithological Association.
The contentious ministerial decision approving the environ-mental terms of the project was issued on September 21, 2000 by the ministers of national defense, town planning, public works and the environment, culture, transport and agriculture.
The archaeologists also complain that the department of the state antiquities division responsible for the site had recommended against its use, naming it as the worst possible choice. Further more, the state's Central Archaeological Council was not asked to make a recommendation, in line with the significance of the project.
In addition, the four groups say that the government's decision contravenes principle and practice worldwide on national parks, including specifications set by the United Nations and European Federation of National Parks.
Neither does a study of the project contain any provision for the impact of construction and operation of the center on the marine ecosystem; nor does it envisage water supply to the site in connection with forecasts of drought in coming years, and when the spring at the site can only provide limited quantities of water.
The government has said that an artificial freshwater lake will be built at the Schinias site, 35 km northwest of Athens. The long narrow lake will stand five kilometers from the battlefield.
The lake is to be built on land occupied by a 1950s airfield, and footpaths to the battlefield and nearby Schinias wetlands will be created as part of a plan to upgrade the area, under the government plan.
The government maintains that the sporting complex will be located in the greater Marathon region, and not near the actual battlefield.
 Left-wing AKEL leading in parliamentary elections
NICOSIA, 28/05/2001 (CNA/ANA)Island-wide, at 40% of the vote counted at press time, to elect the new members of the House of Representatives, left-wing AKEL was in the lead with 35%, followed by right-wing DISY with 33,4%.
Right-right DIKO receives 15,5%, the Social Democrats 6,4%, the New Horizons 3%, the United Democrats 2,5%, ADIK 2,2%, and the Ecologists Movement 1,8%.
The 1.771 polling stations island-wide represent 467.182 voters, who will elect the 56-member House of Representatives.
Polling stations all over the free areas of the Republic closed officially at 17:00 local time, where voters cast their votes.
A half-hour voting extension had been given to some polling stations.
Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou, whose Ministry is responsible for organizing and overseeing the elections, said earlier in the day that he expected some 93 per cent of the total number of registered voters (467.182) to cast their vote.
This is the first time 18-year-olds are voting.
Final results are expected Monday around noon or early afternoon.
Voting took place in the southern government-controlled areas of the Republic for the 56 seat House of Representatives. The Greek Cypriot community votes its deputies. Turkish Cypriots withdrew from parliament in the early 1960s.
A total of 454 candidates contested for the 56 seats, from eight political groups, including six independent candidates. Voters included Greek Cypriot refugees, enclaved people who live in the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, and members of the three religious groups of Latins, Maronites and Armenians, who belong to the Greek Cypriot community. Benito Mantovani, representative of the Latins, has been elected unopposed.
President Clerides, party leaders vote, make statements: Voting in Sunday's parliamentary elections was by secret ballot but President Glafcos Clerides had no hesitation in disclosing to the press that his vote went to the party he himself set up in the mid-1970s, the ruling rightwing Democratic Rally (DISY).
Speaking after casting his vote, the President said he does not intend to reshuffle his cabinet after the elections, adding that speculation to that effect comes from the media.
"I have just exercised my democratic right, which the law says is compulsory and my conscience tells me that I must vote according to my beliefs," the president said, after casting his vote.
Asked if he voted for DISI as always, he replied "voting is by secret ballot but I can tell you, yes, I did vote for the party."
Invited to say whether he intends to have a cabinet reshuffle de-pending on the election result, the president turned to the press and said "I am not considering this, you are."
First Lady Irini-Lila Clerides and his daughter Keti, who is running in the election with DISI in Nicosia district, accompanied the president.
Media representatives had gathered early in the day at the polling station where the President was due to cast his vote and prepared for live broadcasts. Turkish Cypriot journalists crossed the buffer zone into the southern government-controlled parts of the Republic to cover the elections.
Political party leaders cast their votes expressing optimism that their parties would be included in the House.
At the same time, they said the day belongs to democracy and to the will of the people.
Outgoing House President, Spyros Kyprianou, called for consensus at the new House of Representatives with deputies having as priority the future of the island. He also said he was deeply moved to be given once again the opportunity to cast his vote.
"Today democracy is celebrating and we are proud of the democracy we have and we should safeguard it", he said.
He added the new House "will introduce Cyprus into the European Union" and has "a lot of work to do", he stressed.
To a question that there are 26 seats at the House which belong to the Turkish Cypriot community and are empty, Kyprianou replied "we always wanted the legal representatives of the Turkish Cypriots to acquire their seats, but this requires an end to the occupation, withdrawal of Turkish settlers, a proper solution of the Cyprus problem, based on international law, Security Council decisions and the acquis communautaire, not to mention the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights. But as a matter of principle, the seats are there".
The European Court of Human Rights judgment considers Ankara guilty of human rights abuses in Cyprus. Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern third.
Invited to predict the results, which the Democratic Party (DIKO) will secure, Kyprianou said, "I trust it will do very well".
Kyprianou was the founder of DIKO back in 1976 and held this post until October 2000.
Ruling Democratic Rally leader, Nicos Anastasiades, said his party "will continue to be an important political force in Cyprus."
Speaking to journalists at his hometown of Limassol, Anastasia-des expressed "optimism and trust in the judgment of Cypriot Hellenism".
Anastasiades voiced "absolute optimism" that the people of Cyprus "will honor reliability, work, prospects and vision which are being outlined by" DISY's contribution, adding that "DISY tonight will be a decisive force".
Opposition left-wing AKEL General Secretary, Demetris Christofias, voiced certainty that after the elections AKEL will serve the people of Cyprus from higher posts, noting the people's wish, as it was interpreted in the various opinion polls, "will become a result".
"Whatever the result, it is the people's judgment", Christofias added.
On his part, Democratic Party leader, Tassos Papadopoulos, described the voting as a "day for the people", adding he is "optimistic" about results.
"What was to be said from us has been said. Today is the people's day, and we are awaiting the people's verdict", Papadopoulos added.
Social Democrats (KISOS) leader, Vassos Lyssarides, said the setting after the elections will not be "changed dramatically".
United Democrats leader and former president of the republic, George Vassiliou, accompanied by his wife Androulla, who is seeking re-election, said the new House will approve the island's accession in the EU and promised his party will work for Europe and democracy.
New Horizons (NEO) leader, Nicos Koutsou, said he was certain his party would be the "pleasant surprise" of the elections, noting that the problems facing the new House are great.
He said that with their entry into the House, the NEO will begin work to "reform the state and society through dialogue" and to chart a new strategy for the solution of the Cyprus problem, based on the contents of the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which found Turkey guilty of mass violations of human rights in Cyprus.
Invited to comment on the percentage, which he expects his party to gain, Koutsou said, "today's day belongs to the people who will freely and democratically decide who will enter the new House".
The representative of the Ecologists - Environmentalists Movement (Greens), George Perdikis, said is a "day for the people to decide", expressing the conviction that the Movement will undertake as of Monday a new role with its entry into the House of Representatives.