|Saturday, 25 May 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-10-03
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 3 , 2003
 FinMin unveils 2004 budget draft plan
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Greece's 2004 budget envisages a 6.2 percent increase in revenues and a 6.9 percent rise in public spending compared with 2003, Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, presenting the new budget's main figures after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Mr Christodoulakis said the budget envisaged a reduction of the general government's deficit to 1.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2004 from 1.4 percent this year and a high growth rate for the Greek economy.
Greece's GDP is forecast to rise by 4.2 percent next year, from 4.0 percent in 2003, annual inflation to drop to 3.0 percent from 3.5 percent and unemployment to ease to 8.0 percent from 9.0 percent over the same period. Real wages are expected to rise by 3.4 percent, up from 2.4 percent in 2003.
The Greek minister stressed that the new budget was growth-oriented because it was maintaining high growth rate, it envisaged a more fair distribution of incomes, higher real pay increases, tax reform benefits, and boosting employment. Mr Christodoulakis said next year's budget included increased spending due to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
He reiterated that the budget would not include any new taxes.
More analytically, 2004 budget envisages a 6.2 percent increase in revenues to 41.420 billion euros, spending would rise by 6.9 percent to 42.550 billion euros and interest spending to rise by 4.3 percent to 9.750 billion euros.
Primary spending are forecast to rise by 7.7 percent to 32.8 billion euros, while spending in a public investment program are forecast to rise by 7.6 percent to 9.25 billion euros.
Spending on co-funded projects are expected to rise by 14.7 percent to 5.3 billion euros, while spending on the national leg (including Olympic projects) are expected to rise by 5.6 percent to 3.95 billion euros next year.
The general government's deficit is forecast to fall at 2.03 billion euros, or 1.2 percent of GDP in 2004 from 1.4 percent of GDP (2.19 billion euros) this year.
Mr Christodoulakis said that the budget also envisaged an average 7.9 percent pay rise to workers in the public sector in 2004, spending of 100 million euros on new hirings and a 12.7 percent increase in pension funds' subsidies.
The government budget also forecasts a 7.7 percent rise in primary spending next year from 7.6 percent in 2003. The general government's debt is expected to fall to 98.5 percent of GDP (161.55 billion euros), from 101.7 percent (154.81 billion euros) this year.
Mr Christodoulakis said that a fall in public debt next year would result from increased privatization revenues (forecast at 3.0 billion euros) and from the sale of lottery licenses.
Cabinet meeting discusses 2004 draft budget: A cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, on Thursday discussed a draft text of the 2004 budget.
Mr Simitis, addressing the meeting, said that 2004 was the year that the country was promoting economic and social convergence and at the same time the government was implementing a package of social measures.
"It is also the year of the Olympic Games," the prime minister said.
The Greek premier stressed that next year's budget was aiming to support growth, employment, to ensure a more fair distribution of income and to cover the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Commenting on a recent turmoil in the European Union over excessive budget deficits run by member-states like France, Mr Simitis noted that the Greece was passing through a sensitive period and stressed that no one wanted the European Union to make any recommendations to the Greek government over its economic policy next spring.
The cabinet meeting agreed that next year's budget was not moving towards increasing fiscal deficits but it remained steadfast to containing deficits.
Mr Simitis underlined that the 2004 budget should aim to increasing citizens' confidence to the economy, not only through offering increased pay but through establishing a feeling of stability, plan and aim.
ND reacts to draft 2004 budget unveiled by government: Main opposition New Democracy on Thursday criticized the draft 2004 budget unveiled by the government, claiming that it created a situation that might quickly lead to a public finances crisis since it seemed to have left out significant sums, such as the cost of the Olympics or the additional spending pledged by the government.
ND economic affairs coordinator George Alogoskoufis called for honesty in recording the indices of the 2004 budget in order to deal with future problems.
''The figures at our disposal for the past eight months show that the deficit is more than twice the size it was last year. They show major excesses in spending and major shortfalls in revenue,'' Alogoskoufis said.
Unless these factors had been taken into account in the draft budget, this would little more than an indicative, ''pre-electoral'' budget that served the communication needs of the governing party, he added.
Opposition criticizes draft budget for 2004: The Communist Party of Greece on Thursday sharply criticized the government's draft budget for 2004, saying the public would suffer further.
''When the government says growth, it means growth in profits for the rich, and when it says social policy, it means alms and distribution of poverty. The aim is to silence intense public outrage,'' the party said in a statement.
Separately, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology charged that the budget draft included an artificially created surplus.
''This optimistic artificial surplus cannot hide the real deficit in social sensitivity and credibility that characterizes the budget,'' the party said in a statement.
''Major deviations in implementation of the current budget with revenue lagging, spending in excess, and burgeoning deficits reveal the truth,'' the statement added.
 Foreign ministry on Supreme court ruling regarding Thrace minority
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Asked to comment on press reports alleging that an impending ruling by Greece's Supreme Court might lead to recognition of the Moslem minority in Thrace as ''Turkish'', foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis said the government was waiting for the Supreme Court's final decision on the matter.
A responsible stance demanded respect for the discrete roles of the various branches of authority and, in this case, the processes and decisions of independent justice, Beglitis said.
''Greece's policy on the Thrace minority is based firmly in respect for the rules of international law and international treaties, in particular the Treaty of Lausanne,'' he added.
The reports appeared in the newspaper ''To Vima'', which noted that a Supreme Court justice had accepted in his recommendations that the use of the terms ''Turkish Union'' and ''Turks of Western Thrace'' by members of the minority was legal.
 Alternate FM defends ICAO deal before Parliament Committee
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis defended an agreement with the ICAO establishing 14 new international air-corridors as an ''exceptional success'' during a debate on the issue by Parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday.
The agreement is due to be ratified on Friday, unless objections are raised, while it will be formally ratified by the ICAO on October 8 and will go into effect as of December 25.
The deal was slammed by main opposition New Democracy MP Spilios Spiliotopoulos as ''concessions to Turkey with no exchange'', however, while Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Liana Kanelli said it ''sold off national rights at a cost of one billion drachmas''.
Under the deal, 14 new air-corridors will be created in the area above and around the Aegean, of which nine are Greek, one is Turkish and five are mixed.
Countering the criticism, Yiannitsis reiterated that the deal had no negative aspects but instead upgraded the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), utilized its central geographical position and would allow the needs created by the Olympics to be met with speed and safety.
He also noted that the deal had helped curb Turkish objections to a long-standing Greek request for new air-corridors and would create several links to Greek islands, while Greece stood to gain one billion drachmas compared to 200 million for Turkey.
Finally, he noted that Greece retained the right to intercept Turkish planes entering Greek airspace or the Athens FIR.
Deputy Defense Minister Lazaros Lotidis, meanwhile, strenuously denied that Turkey would be free to violate Greek airspace under a height of 13,000 feet.
''I absolutely and categorically underline that we will continue to demand that Turkey submit flight plans for its military aircraft within the Athens FIR and to intercept infringements and violations,'' he stressed.
 Papantoniou to attend informal meeting of EU defense ministers in Rome
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou departs on Friday for Rome where an informal meeting of EU defense ministers will be held.
The defense ministers of the ten EU acceding countries and the NATO Secretary General have also been invited to attend.
EU-NATO relations, the development of military capabilities and the creation of the European Organization of Armaments, Research and Capability, which is being promoted following a proposal by Greece during the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003, will be discussed at the informal meeting.
On Saturday the defense ministers will discuss the role of the European Union and its peace missions in the Balkans, as well as the Mediterranean dimension of the European Security and Defense Policy.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Papantoniou will hold talks with counterparts of EU member-countries.
 Defense ministry to spend 2.7 bln euros on social, growth policy
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)National Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said on Thursday that funds totalling 2.7 billion euros will be released by the ministry for social and growth spending on an annual basis starting in 2004.
Papantoniou was speaking to reporters after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis after release of the government's draft budget for 2004.
Defense spending next year is to drop by 1.7 percent as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), representing 2.7 billion euros in comparison with 2000 when defense expenditure totalled 4.91 percent of GDP.
 ND leader receives Fanar rep; Patriarch accepts meeting with Christodoulos
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Thursday received the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s representative in Greece for talks that lasted roughly one hour – a meeting that comes on the heels of a recent high-profile souring of relations between the Istanbul-based Patriarchate and the leadership of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece.
Speaking afterwards, the Patriarchate’s representative, Metropolitan of Pergamus Ioannis, said Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos has accepted an invitation by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos for a meeting between two of Orthodoxy’s pre-eminent leaders. However, Ioannis said no consultations have taken place over the time and place of such a meeting.
At issue is whether the powerful Church of Greece will submit to the Patriarchate’s demand that it approve a list of eligible candidates to fill the now vacant ecclesiastical throne of the Thessaloniki bishopric (northern Greece). The post was left vacant after the death of long-time Thessaloniki Metropolitan Panteleimon II over the summer.
The Patriarchate’s representative, Metropolitan of Pergamus Ioannis, later told reporters he merely briefed the ND leader, although he stressed that absolutely no “intervention” is being requested to smooth-out the recent friction between the two Churches.
Moreover, Ioannis noted that although the issue is complex, goodwill is needed by both sides to find a solution, before adding that different interpretations are being applied over the administrative control of the so-called “New Lands” bishoprics and ecclesiastical districts – all in northern Greece as well as on the northern and eastern Aegean islands liberated and incorporated into the rest of the country after 1912-13.
The administration of dioceses in those areas was “temporarily” handed-over to the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece by the Patriarchate in 1928 through a Canonical Act by the latter.
 Powell: Cyprus progress more difficult after middle 2004
WASHINGTON 03/10/2003 (ANA/T.Ellis-CNA)US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday reiterated his country's support towards the Annan peace plan for Cyprus and said that he encourages both sides on the island to try to solve the Cyprus issue as soon as possible.
Speaking to reporters during a press conference in Washington, Powell said that ''certain actions will take place within the EU in the middle of 2004 which, if we don't have progress or success by then, will make progress and success more difficult after the middle of 2004''.
Powell also expressed the opinion that if either side has changes that they'd like to submit with respect to the Annan plan, ''let it be part of the discussion between the two sides in the implementation of the plan and let's not go back to ground zero and try to rewrite the plan''.
''The Annan plan is a good basis for discussions and we hope that both parties will continue to see the Annan plan in that light'', he said.
US Secretary of State said that he encourages both sides to do everything they can to ''keep the process of reconciliation moving forward and to try to do it as quickly as possible''.
 Greek, Turkish foreign ministry general secretaries meet in Ankara
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Foreign Ministry General Secretary Anastasios Skopelitis on Thursday met in Ankara with his Turkish counterpart Ugur Ziyal for the 15th round of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey, according to a statement by foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis.
 Alternate FM Yiannitsis begins visit to Croatia on Thursday
ZAGREB 03/10/2003 (ANA/N. Melissova)Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis arrived here on Thursday for a two-day visit to Croatia, as part of an effort to strengthen the European orientation of the country and the development of bilateral business and tourist relations.
On Friday, Yiannitsis will be received by Croatian President Stjepan Mesic and will hold talks with Croatian Foreign Minister Tonino Picula and Alternate Foreign Minister Ivan Simonovic.
In the afternoon of the same day, Yiannitsis, heading a delegation of businessmen and Hellenic Tourist Organization officials will visit Dubrovnik.
 U.S. State Department lists 25 terrorist groups, including two Greek ones
WASHINGTON 03/10/2003 (ANA/T. Ellis)The U.S. State Department issued an announcement on Thursday, in accordance with U.S. legislation, declaring that it believes of the existence of 25 terrorist groups, including the Greek terrorist groups "November 17" and Revolutionary Nuclei".
According to the announcement, the U.S. government maintains the ability to act against the specific groups and deems illegal persons living in the U.S. offering material support to these groups.
 Coalition party leader tours Karditsa prefecture, refers to farm products
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party leader Nikos Constantopoulos, speaking on Thursday in the framework of a tour of the prefecture of Karditsa in central Greece, referred to developments in the farm sector based on the proposals of the European Union's Commission on the region's main farm products.
Constantopoulos, who also commented on the government's economic policy and problems facing Greek society, focused on the EU's proposals on main farm products and said ''if the proposals are applied they will lead to a dramatic decrease in agricultural income and production with unpredictable consequences for employment, industry and life in the countryside since thousands of low and medium bracket farmers are in danger of going bankrupt and leaving their villages.''
 IKA urges for higher ceiling in equity investments
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)A government-sponsored law allowing the creation of private security and pension funds, approved by parliament in 2002, is a significant innovation expanding choices and possibilities of social security coverage to workers, Dimosthenis Daskalakis, secretary-general of the country's Social Security said on Thursday.
Addressing a seminar held at the British ambassador's house in Athens, with the participation of experts and officials from the UK social security system, Mr Daskalakis stressed that the new law paved the way for the development of supplementary non-state security structures.
He said that a reform of social security systems in the country was necessary because of the introduction of new technologies in the labor market, a rising demographic problem and the will to maintain an acceptable living standard for pensioners.
Social Security Fund's governor Miltiadis Nektarios, addressing the seminar stressed that a more energetic action by pension funds' mutual funds management companies and the use of foreign asset managers were the most modern and effective method of managing pension funds' reserves.
Mr Nektarios urged for a higher ceiling in investing pension funds' reserves to equity portfolios and a liberalization of investments beyond the country's borders, including securities and equities in the eurozone.
He said that Greece's pension funds' reserves totalled around 14.7 billion euros currently and predicted that reserves could exceed 22 billion euros by 2025.
 ND's Alogoskoufis cites danger of cut-backs in CSF funds
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy George Alogoskoufis on Thursday called on the government not to proceed with any revisions to the all-important 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF), warning that the next government should assume negotiations for any revisions.
Alogoskoufis, who heads the main opposition’s economy portfolio, also referred to a government failure in absorbing CSF funds, while other ND officials cited internal EU Commission correspondence that details problems in implementing the Community framework packages in Greece.
According to Alogoskoufis, several problems have been recorded in terms of the 2nd CSF as well, with the EU either requesting 15-percent cuts for the entire package or the strict monitoring of all programs – something, he said, will mean even greater loss of funds for Greece.
 Greek gov’t reports budget surplus in August
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)The Greek budget showed a surplus of 164 million euros in August, a development contributing in reducing the budget deficit in the first eight months of 2003 compared with the January-July 2003 period, the finance ministry said on Thursday.
A ministry announcement also forecast that this positive trend would continue in the next months, reinforcing a government prediction that the state budget would executed without any significant divergence from original targets for the year.
Regular revenues rose 5.6 percent in the January-August period compared with the same period last year, meeting the annual target for 2003, while the sum collected so far accounted for 64.9 percent of annual forecasts.
Primary spending in the first eight months of 2003 accounted for 66.9 percent of annual credits, while its growth rate fell to 6.2 percent in August, nearing a budget target for an annual increase of 6.0 percent.
Interest payment totalled 7.544 billion euros, compared with an annual target of 9.4 billion euros. A ministry report said that interest payments' growth rate was slowing down on a monthly basis.
 Fresh stake for sale in Public Power Corporation
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)A maximum 15.7 percent stake in Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation SA is to be sold in a domestic public offer for retail and institutional investors, a private placement to institutionals abroad, and a private placement to staff.
The finance ministry said in a statement on Thursday that retail investors and employees were likely to receive free shares as an incentive to holding the stock.
The coordinated offer, which is due towards the end of October 2003, is likely to total a maximum of 36.5 million shares, representing 15.7 percent of stock.
Handling the offer will be Alpha Finance, Deutsche Bank, EFG Telesis Finance, National Bank of Greece and Morgan Stanley.
 Kavala TEI says it may close due to financial problems
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)The administration of Kavala's Technological Educational Institute (TEI) on Thursday said it urgently needed funds from the Education Ministry in order to keep afloat, warning that it might be forced to close its doors in 10 days time unless its demands are met.
Due to its dire financial straits, the TEI has been unable to pay temporary teaching staff on the payroll for May, June and July, while it also owes large sums to publishing houses for the books used by the student body and has been unable to give rent subsidies for students for a whole year.
 Greek stocks jump 2.02 pct on Thursday
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks surged on Thursday as a positive climate in international markets encouraged sentiment in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index ended 2.02 percent higher at 2,052.86 points with turnover an improved 131.4 million euros.
All sector indices ended higher with the Publication (4.38 percent), Textile (4.15 percent) and Wholesale (3.54 percent) sectors scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks jumped 1.98 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index rose 2.23 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index soared 3.50 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 325 to 22 with another 15 issues unchanged.
Volume of derivatives trade rises in September: The number of contracts traded on the Athens Derivatives Exchange rose by 59.34 percent in September 2003 from the previous month to total 1,299,870 transactions, market authorities said on Thursday.
The average daily number of transactions increased to 29,543, showing a rise of 44.85 percent from August, authorities said in a statement.
September 2003 marked an all-time high in volume since the derivatives market was launched, the statement added.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 115.0 mln euros Thursday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers lag sellers on Thursday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of October 2 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,178 1,151
 IOC president glad with Olympic Truce draft resolution at UN Security Council
LAUSANNE 03/10/2003 (ANA - F. Karaviti)International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge on Thursday expressed satisfaction over the tabling of a draft resolution at the UN Security Council on the issue of the Olympic Truce, as well as certainty that it will be ratified.
Rogge was speaking here at the end of a board meeting of the International Olympic Truce Foundation.
Rogge also hailed the recent ratification of the Ottawa Treaty (on the abolition of the use of personnel mines) by Greece and Turkey and referred to an ''excellent effort on the part of Greek Foreign Minister Mr. George Papandreou.''
The IOC president, who will attend an upcoming Security Council session to promote the resolution on the Truce, further said ''it is very easy for one to speak of a truce. However, it is extremely difficult for us to have tangible results. Now, however, with the resolution to be ratified by the UN, we also have the results in practice.''
Rogge also supported the idea of directly linking the Olympic Torch Procession with the dissemination of the idea of the Truce.
''The flame will also carry the idea of the truce to the embattled regions from where it will pass,'' he said.
Papandreou, Deputy President of the International Olympic Truce Foundation, said ''from a general idea we have now created an international centre with widespread acceptance by personalities of culture, politics and arts, with serious possibilities of it developing into an extremely powerful tool in the hands of those desiring to promote peace in the world.''
 Gov't pledges better access to public buildings before Paralympics
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Deputy Welfare Minister Vassilis Kontoyannopoulos on Thursday admitted that accessibility to public buildings for people with special needs was a real problem in Greece but promised measures to improve the situation before the start of the Paralympics in 2004.
"We do not hide the problems but will make coordinated efforts to put in place the structures that will allow people with special needs to move easily by the start of the Paralympic Games," he said.
The minister also announced that back-payments of a 5 per cent increase to disability benefits will have been paid by November and that the government intended to spend 110 million euros on improving living conditions for people with special needs during the next four-year term.
 Minister satisfied with promotion of illegal immigration issues
BRUSSELS 03/10/2003 (ANA/A. Simatos)Public Order Minister George Floridis expressed his satisfaction here on Thursday over the promotion of issues concerning the handling of illegal immigration, the granting of asylum and the managing of the European Union's sea borders, based on conclusions reached at the European Council in Thessaloniki.
Floridis said that during Thursday's EU Council of Justice and Domestic Affairs Ministers the need was stressed for the completion of procedures on concluding agreements regarding the readmission with third countries (primarily of high immigration risk), while the issue was also promoted of providing 250 million euros, secured from EU funds, for economic backing for third countries of origin and passage of illegal immigrants.
Widespread consent was also reached in connection with the Commission's proposal on creating a European Border Control Agency on condition, however, that the national jurisdiction of member-states will not be affected concerning the managing of their borders.
Addressing his EU counterparts on this issue, the Greek public order minister said ''we believe that experience to be obtained by the operation of the common carrier, which as we point out must fully develop its responsibilities and convene with its anticipated composition, will contribute substantively to the elaboration by the Commission of the proposal for the creation of the European Agency which will constitute the first step in the direction of establishing the European border police.''
Also discussed during the Council was the issue of promoting the Italian presidency's initiative on the ''Plan of Action for combatting illegal immigration by sea in the Mediterranean'', as well as the establishment of two Sea Border Management Centers, with parallel operational responsibilities and allocation based on geographical criteria in which Greece, Spain and Italy are showing strong interest.
 Deputy FM holds press conference with SAE president
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis on Thursday held a joint press conference with World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Andrew Athens, in light of the 5th World Assembly of SAE.
''We decided to work on a specific plan and with specific goals,'' Magriotis said detailing the plans and aims of the 5th Assembly, which will take place next December in Thessaloniki.
The minister said that this year's assembly is dedicated to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and their promotion, with significant parallel events, such as the organizing of a one-day conference for journalists of Greek national origin from around the world.
On his part, Athens said that ''all Greeks that live abroad are always at Greece's side and with all our forces we will support the 2004 Olympiad, which will be both successful and safe''.
He then spoke of the programs of SAE concerning the medical aid of countries of the Black Sea, for which he said ''we proved that our programs become reality''.
According to Athens SAE funded the construction and operation of three medical centers in Georgia, one in Armenia, two in the Ukraine and one in Albania, while another two have been scheduled for southern Russia and Uzbekistan.
 EPP, Ecumenical Patriarchate to hold dialogue on religion in Euro-Constitution
BRUSSELS 03/10/2003 (ANA/M. Spinthourakis)The building of a new Europe after 2004, in light of the results of the Conference for the Future of Europe and the Inter-governmental conference will be the focus of the 7th convention of the Orthodox Church and the European Peoples' Party (EPP) Europarliament Group.
The meeting will take place in Istanbul on Oct. 16 and 17, and the Orthodox Church is represented by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
This dialogue has been taking place for the past four years and is organized by the EPP's Europarliament group at the invitation of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos.
The convention will be attended by representatives of the Orthodox Church, other churches and religions, representatives of the Turkish government, of the Italian EU presidency, the government of Luxembourg and of certain EU member-states political parties.
Greece's main opposition New Democracy (ND) Eurodeputy Antonis Trakatelis will head his party's delegation to the convention, since ND is a member of the EPP and will participate in the dialogue.
Speaking of the event, Trakatelis underlined that the chosen agenda reflects the real interest and decisiveness of the EPP, the largest group in Europarliament, and notes its intent to continue its efforts for the clear mention of the religious and more so of the Christian values in the European Constitution, which along with Greek and Roman civilizations constitute the base of the European value system.
 Athens municipality launches new program for strays
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)The Athens municipality on Thursday announced a new program for stray animals that will seek to reverse the country's bad image in this area and deal with the thousands of strays that live in the streets of Athens.
Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni said the program was timed to coincide with Protection for Animals Day on October 4.
The new program will collect, sterilize, vaccinate and electronically tag strays, creating a database of the 5000-odd animals in the city, as well as setting up two fully-equipped municipal veterinary clinics to cover their medical needs.
The municipality will also lease a space that will provide shelter for up to 100 animals recovering from treatment or sterilization, put together special teams to pick up strays and a volunteer network to sensitize public opinion on this issue.
Lastly, Bakoyianni encouraged Athenians to adopt an animal themselves and said that 20 strays will be symbolically put up for adoption at a special event from 10:00 to 18:00 at Klafthmonos Square on Saturday for Protection of Animals Day.
The public can call in to report strays and ask the new municipal services to intervene at the numbers 210 5220520 or 210 5277580.
 Second defense attorney in 'N17' trial begins final argument
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)The second defense attorney to offer a final argument at the closely watched “November 17” terrorism trial mostly continued along the same motif as the first defense counsel to address the court this week, as he claimed that the terror band’s actions were, indeed, “politically motivated”.
“Rejection of the request regarding the political (nature of the) crimes aimed at depriving the defendants of their true judge, thereby equating them with common criminals… You (the court) have made a mistake,” attorney Dimitris Paraskevopoulos, who represents alleged “N17” member Vassilis Tzortzatos, said.
“These people, the ones who have admitted their participate, began with certain visions. They were not slothful and idle,” he added.
As far as the once-elusive urban terror group’s booty from several bank and post office robberies is concerned, Tzortzatos’ defense attorney called these actions part of the “political crimes”. Moreover, he said the estimated 2.34 million euros taken at gunpoint by the N17 members isn’t that significant a sum of money.
“If you divide these 800 million (drachmas) by the 25 or 30 years that the group operated, you will see that it translated into a pack or two of cigarettes and transportation money to each one of them (N17 members). Why are we asking where the money from the robberies went to?” the lawyer asked. (one euro equals 340.75 drachmas)
 Russian vessel, forum to honor 175 years of Greece-Russia diplomatic ties
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)A Greek-Russian forum is scheduled this month at several ports around the east Mediterranean country where the Czarist Russian fleet saw action in the 18th and 19th centuries, as the initiative commemorates the 175th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Russia and the modern Greek state.
The forum is being organized by the Russian Federation’s committee for technical and defense cooperation with third countries and the Russian embassy in Athens, all in association with several local administrations in Greece. The goal of the 10-day forum (Oct. 16-25), according to organizers, is to further develop bilateral political, business and defense sector cooperation.
According to a press release from Moscow, the Russian naval vessel “Yamal” will visit the Ionian holiday island of Corfu, the Navarino Bay battle site in the south-western Peloponnese, the Saronic island of Spetses, the Cyclades island of Syros, as well as the major port of Piraeus (Athens area).
Navarino Bay was the site of a landmark sea battle in Oct. 8, 1827 between the combined allied fleets of Great Britain, France and Russia and the opposing Turkish-Egyptian fleet. The annihilation of the latter opened the way for Greece’s independence from dour Ottoman rule.
In Spetses, the Yamal, carrying a visiting delegation comprised of Russian officials, dignitaries, entrepreneurs and diplomats, will be on hand to participate in events commemorating the 1769 “Orloff Revolt” in the Peloponnese – a precursor to the 1821 Greek War of Independence.
For its role in the revolt, Turkish forces sacked the small island of Spetses, home to numerous ship-owning families at the time.
Finally, a Russian navy band will perform on Corfu and Syros.
 38 migrants intercepted off eastern Aegean island
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)The coast guard intercepted a total of 38 illegal migrants late Wednesday night off the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos.
The group -- 33 men, four women and a child -- were attempting to reach Greek territory aboard a seven-meter vessel after first disembarking from the opposite Turkish coast. According to reports, 13 Somalis, 12 Pakistanis, five Iraqis, seven Afghans and a Moroccan national comprised the group. All of the above were detained.
 Publisher Mihalopoulos released from jail for health reasons
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)The Athens Misdemeanors Court Council on Thursday ordered the release of publisher Grigoris Mihalopoulos, who had been remanded in custody pending his trial on charges of extortion and fraud involving business people and high-ranking clerics.
The Council granted Mihalopoulos' petition for his release on health grounds and ordered that he instead post bail of 40,000 euros and report to his local police station at regular intervals, while forbidding him to leave the country.
According to sources, Mihalopoulos will be released from jail on Monday.
 Eleven immigrants injured in melee
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Eleven people were injured in a riot that broke out early Thursday at a temporary housing facility for immigrants on the island of Lesvos, local police said.
They said the incident started out with a heated verbal argument that broke out between groups of immigrants at about 3:00 a.m. at the facility in Pagani, Lesvos, and developed into a melee, with immigrants beating each other with sticks.
Police managed to bring the situation under control a few hours later.
Eleven immigrants were injured in the fight and were taken to hospital. Three of them suffered injuries to the head, chest and ribs and were hospitalized for further treatment, while the remaining eight were released after being given first aid.
 Greece grants scholarships to FYROM university students
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Skopje (ANA - N. Fragopoulos)-- The Greek state has granted seven scholarships for university students from FYROM for studies in economics, the tourism sector and literature at Greek universities.
A ceremony was held Wednesday evening at the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, with the participation of the scholarship recipients and their parents.
Liaison Office counselor Eleni Vakali congratulated the recipients, and noted that such acts could contribute decisively to strengthening the relations and cooperation between the two peoples and countries.
 Greek scientists improve understanding of human genome
Athens, 03/10/2003 (ANA)Two Greek scientists working together with professor Alexandre Reymond have isolated and analyzed a significant amount of the DNA sequences of chromosome 21, sequences existing in the chromosome of the mouse and man, but do not belong to the genes.
This work was published in the website of the U.S. based Science magazine and showcases the work of scientist Manolis Dermitzakis, Prof. of University of Geneva Stylianos Antonarakis and Alexander Reymond for the Geneva based National Genotyping Center.
These seemingly useless sequences were preserved in both mouse and man for the past 70 to 80 million years in both mammals, despite the huge amount of time separating both from their initial common ancestor.
The study went even further comparing the same DNA sequences in other mammals, such as the dog, the pig, the cat the bat and others, improving human understanding of the human genome and the genetic reasons behind human hereditary diseases.
 Christofias: We are ready for Cyprus solution prior accession
NICOSIA 03/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)President of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias reiterated on Thursday the readiness of the Greek Cypriot side to start negotiations on the basis of the Annan peace plan, and resolve the Cyprus issue before May 1, 2004, when the island becomes a full EU member state.
In a speech before the Plenary Session on the occasion of Wednesday's Cyprus Independence Day, Christofias expressed conviction that today's political factors could lead to a functional solution of the Cyprus question.
''The conclusion of Cyprus' course to the EU, Turkey's interest to become an EU state, the will of the Cypriot people to solve the Cyprus issue and to reunite the country, the peaceful reunion of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, that turned over the basic argument of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Ankara's partition policy, are the main factors that, if used correctly, could lead to a solution,'' he stressed.
The House President added that the framework of the solution is the relevant UN Security Council resolutions for Cyprus, the High Level Agreements the principles of International Law and the acquis communautaire.
''We are ready to negotiate on the Annan peace plan for Cyprus with the aim to reach a solution before May 1, 2004,'' he said.
He also noted that the solution of the Cyprus issue needs above all a positive approach and good will from both sides.
''The Greek Cypriot side continuously expresses and proves its good will, whereas the Turkish side has never until now shown such a will,'' House President added.
''We want to find a solution of the Cyprus issue, which we consider as urgent. We fight against the occupation of Cyprus and we look forward to the reunification of Cyprus as a common homeland for Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latines,'' Christofias said.
 FM Iacovou and De Soto discuss prospects for Cyprus talks resumption
UNITED NATIONS 03/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou discussed here on Wednesday with UN Secretary General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro De Soto prospects for the resumption of the Cyprus peace talks.
Iacovou told CNA afterwards that not only De Soto but also other envoys here as well as officials Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos spoke to while in New York last week believe that no progress would be made while Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash remains in the leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community.
''Therefore there can be no development prior to the Turkish Cypriot 'elections' in mid-December,'' Iacovou said.
He noted that he wanted to meet De Soto in order to draw his own conclusions, adding that they evaluated the current situation in the Cyprus problem.
Iacovou expressed the view that the result of the so-called elections in the areas of Cyprus occupied by Turkish troops since 1974 would determine the United Nations' future steps and action to be taken by other mediators, such as the United States and Britain.
''No one takes the risk to make any predictions now as regards the resumption of the dialogue, even after the Turkish Cypriot 'elections''', Iacovou remarked.
Asked if mediators want to make negotiations only with one party, the Greek Cypriot side, Iacovou said that in order to have negotiations both parties have to make their general positions known.
''De Soto confirmed that. He assured me that there are no pre-determined positions by the Secretary General, but he will assess the situation and he will move forward only when he has all facts before him,'' he added.
As regards the Islamic Conference due to take place later this year in Malaysia, the foreign minister said that he and President Papadopoulos dedicated ample of time for meetings with officials from Islamic Conference member-states.
''I am satisfied with the meetings I had and I don't believe the Turkish positions will prevail in this arena,'' he added.
Iacovou said that the Cyprus government aimed at preventing an Islamic Conference resolution that would contradict the UN Security Council decisions on Cyprus.
Iacovou was due to depart on Thursday tonight for Rome to join the Cyprus delegation, under Cyprus President, that will attend the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the European Union for the opening of the Intergovernmental Conference.
 Cyprus reiterates support for Europe's defenses
LARNACA 03/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus' participation in the European deployment force can provide increased security for the country and offer the Republic the opportunity to contribute more to this aspect of European integration, Defense Minister Kyriakos Mavronikolas said here on Thursday.
Speaking on departure for Rome to participate in a meeting of EU defense ministers and their counterparts from acceding countries, he also said that the annual military exercises ''Nikiforos'' and ''Toxotis'' will take place as planned.
''We believe that our policy towards the European army can on one hand secure a safer environment for Cyprus and on the other it can contribute to the European defenses,'' he said, recalling that a military officer participated in the first EU mission, ''Artemis''.
Replying to questions, he said the Rome meeting will deal with crisis management and the contribution of the European army to the resolution of any conflict.
Defense ministers will also discuss cooperation among Mediterranean countries, non EU members and the establishment of a central forum which will oversee arms acquisition programs.
''Our presence is in line with national interests as an acceding country but it is also an expression of our support for a common EU defense and foreign policy,'' Mavronikolas added.
The minister said that following talks over the past couple of days with his Greek counterpart Yiannos Papantoniou the military maneuvers will take place and their content and planning will be decided by the military leaderships of the two countries.
 Britain calls on Turkey to urge Turkish Cypriots to say yes to Europe
LONDON 03/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)Britain's Minister of State Denis MacShane has called on Ankara to invite Turkish Cypriots in occupied Cyprus to say yes to Europe and give their ''vote'' in December's so-called parliamentary elections to the parties advocating a European future for the island.
Addressing a gathering on Cyprus, on the sidelines of the Labor Party annual congress in Bournemouth, he also said that a UN peace proposal on a comprehensive settlement is the best way forward towards a resolution of the political question.
''I invite Ankara to invite the Turkish speaking voters in the north to vote for Europe and for a better future for Turkey. I believe a united Cyprus coming into the EU will send out a message to the Eastern Mediterranean of historic value and importance,'' he said.
He expressed hope that December's ''elections'' give a ''clear and decisive refutation of anti-European policies that have kept the island divided for so long and that the people in the north, whose future lies in a united Cyprus in Europe, vote decisively for the European option.''
Referring to the Kofi Annan plan on a settlement, he said it is not perfect but it is the best way forward.
''I hope that northern Cyprus votes yes to a European future, we have to get movement in Cyprus. Political maturity will extend, I hope, to the north of the island,'' The British official added.
 EU-Cyprus JPC regrets lack of progress towards a Cyprus settlement
NICOSIA 03/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)The European Union-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee, which held its 24th meeting on September 29-30 in Luxembourg, expressed regret for the lack of progress towards a just and viable settlement of the Cyprus problem, noting that this is due to the continuing intransigent attitude of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, ''who enjoys the support of the Turkish government, and to the continuing occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkish troops.''
In a recommendation adopted unanimously the EU-Cyprus JPC also condemned the illegal ''Customs Union Framework Agreement'' between the Turkish government and the illegal regime in the occupied part of Cyprus and demanded the opening-up of the Varosha area and its settlement by its rightful citizens in accordance with the United Nations Security Council resolution 550.
The Committee condemned the policy followed by the Denktash regime not allowing the operation of the Greek Cypriot secondary school at the Turkish-occupied village of Rizokarpaso and stressed that the fundamental right to education of the enclaved Greek-Cypriot children should be fully respected.
Furthermore it regretted the continuing illegal shipping and aviation embargo imposed by Turkey on vessels under the Cyprus flag and on Cypriot civil aircraft and called on Turkey to terminate this embargo immediately. The Committee stressed that although the present unacceptable situation in Cyprus is contrary to international law and the rights and freedoms of the people of Cyprus are still being violated as a result of the continuing occupation, the interaction between the communities as a result of the partial lifting of restrictions on free movement by the Denktash regime demonstrates that Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live peacefully together.
It called on the illegal regime to stop demanding the presentation of passports at crossing points.