|Tuesday, 18 June 2013|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-10-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>October 31, 2003
 Fighting joblessness a top gov't priority, Premier reiterates
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)The cabinet on Thursday reaffirmed that increasing employment and reducing joblessness were a top priority for government policy.
Addressing a cabinet meeting focusing on labor issues, Prime Minister Costas Simitis underlined that the entire range of government policies, including those for taxation, development and social insurance, were tools that the government would use in its effort to combat unemployment.
A high growth rate was a prerequisite for achieving full employment and the government would make use of every opportunity to complete its policies for a social state and welfare protection, he stressed.
Addressing reporters later, Simitis said that unemployment rates had dropped to the European Union average of 8.9 per cent this year, falling by 2.2 per cent in relation to 2000, while there had also been a significant rise in employment levels.
Within that time, the government had created 324,000 job opportunities, 394,000 vocational training opportunities and 367,000 retraining opportunities, Simitis reported.
He also announced that the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) will be begin a new series of programs in November that will give 154,000 people an opportunity to train in 25,000 positions in the civil service within the social services sector and that the government will be subsidizing employer contributions for unemployed mothers with two children.
The premier stressed the need to link training with the country's production needs in order to tackle structural unemployment.
Referring to the convergence charter, Simitis reiterated that the government's goal was to achieve 6 per cent unemployment by 2008 and to increase employment by 1.5 per cent annually, and by 2 per cent for women.
In addition, the government wanted to create new opportunities in the short term for unemployed youths and sought to reduce non-wage-related labor costs by 15 per cent, he said.
According to government spokesman Christos Protopapas, meanwhile, the premier had begun the meeting by urging ministers to vote in favor of a Parliament Committee proposal to lift immunity from prosecution for MPs in certain categories of cases in a roll-call vote that followed later on Thursday.
Simitis stressed that the issue was important, since the public did not like to see MPs abuse the privilege when the immunity concerned their own private affairs rather than political issues.
The cabinet was next addressed by Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis regarding a report on the Greek economy by the European Commission that differed on many points from the estimates given by the government.
Protopapas noted that the Commission agreed with the government's estimate of 4 per cent growth in 2004, noting that this would allow job-creation policies to continue.
The spokesman said the main difference lay in the estimated size of the 2004 deficit, which was calculated in a different way by the Greek government and the Commission.
According to Protopapas, the Commission's method under-estimated revenue and overestimated spending, while it was likely that the Commission had added the social package to spending twice.
In response to questions, meanwhile, the spokesman said that the prime minister had agreed with the views of Christodoulakis.
Labor minister details plan to combat joblessness: Labor and Social Security Minister Dimitris Reppas on Thursday released the contents of a government bill to combat unemployment.
Boosting employment was at the top of the government's priorities, Repppas told a news conference.
Key measures are as follows:
 Greek foreign minister meets Chilean president in Santiago
SANTIAGO, 31/10/2003 (ANA - D. Constantakopoulou)Foreign Minister George Papandreou was received by Chile's President Ricardo Lagos on Thursday, during the Greek minister's three-day tour of South America.
The meeting took place at the historic presidential mansion in Santiago, where Chile's elected president Salvador Alliende was ousted and killed in a coup led by General Augusto Pinochet in 1973.
Lagos gave Papandreou a tour of the areas within the presidential mansion that came under attack during the US-supported coup, which went on to set up one of the most repressive and blood-steeped dictatorial regimes in the history of Latin America.
The two men also held talks on all aspects of Greek-Chilean bilateral relations and issues of regional integration in Latin America and Europe.
Chile, as most Latin American countries, favors a more active role by Europe but has problems with the EU's agricultural policy and its stance within the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Papandreou also met the president of Chile's Senate and visited the Centre of Hellenic and Byzantine Studies at Chile University and the Andres Bello Diplomatic Academy.
 Parliament lifts immunity of five deputies
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis on Thursday expressed his satisfaction over the voting process and results of a parliamentary vote to lift the immunity of five deputies so as to be tried on non-politically motivated charges.
''It was a very significant process. There was a taboo in force for 160 years. The cases of the lifting of immunity were rare and there had to be intense pressure from the public opinion to be lifted in the past. We took a great step,'' Kaklamanis said.
''It was understandable that some deputies thought that here we ruled on cases before they reached the court of justice, as it was understandable that the Greek people believed that when we take somebody to court we condemn him or when we do not we exonerate him,'' he added.
''Today, the Parliament reconfirmed its respect for the public sovereignty. The people, justly, demand that there should be no differentiation between citizens, regardless of their position,'' he said.
Kaklamanis also spoke of the new system concerning the lifting of parliamentarians' immunity, which mandates that all cases regarding deputies would be sent to the prosecutor of the Areios Pagos - Greece's supreme court - who will decide on their merit and then he would send those back to a relevant parliamentary committee, which would decide on whether those cases may be politically motivated or not.
In all, Parliament lifted the immunity of two ruling PASOK deputies and of three main opposition New Democracy deputies.
 Pangalos to undertake role in PASOK's Central Election Committee
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Former foreign minister Theodoros Pangalos on Thursday was placed in charge of ruling PASOK's Central Election Committee, according to an announcement by PASOK secretary Michalis Chrysohoidis, who is generally responsible for all committees.
Also former government minister Alekos Papadopoulos has undertaken a coordinating role in the Central Programming Committee, Chrysohoidis said during the first meeting of this committee which is composed of 40 members and has created eight work groups a total of 400 PASOK cadres are participating.
The object of the committee is to draft the PASOK government program for the 2004-2008 period.
 Ecumenical Patriarch appeals to education minister for Halki's re-opening
ISTANBUL, 31/10/2003 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Thursday handed to Turkish Education Minister Huseyin Celik the official application for the re-opening of the Halki School of Theology.
The memorandum that accompanied the application also addressed other educational issues of the Greek community in Istanbul and along with his delegation he discussed in detail the issues with the minister.
Following the meeting, Celik said ''I believe it is necessary, for the consolidation of the democratic structure of the Turkish state to have free education in Christian Theology''.
He noted that religious education can be provided under the control and supervision of the state and that this provision does not only concern one religion alone, but Islam, Christianity and Judaism as well.
''There is no meaning in opposing the re-opening of a school which provides education for Christian theology,'' he stressed, noting that the issue of the Halki academy has been outstanding for some 32 years and that it will be referred to the General Directorate of Special Education which will rule on the issue.
 Combatting of AIDS main priority of government of Congo, FM Mangalibi says
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister of the People's Republic of Congo Antoine Ghonda Mangalibi, currently on a working visit to Greece, in a speech in Athens on Thursday said that the priority of the government of Congo constitutes the combatting of the plague of AIDS.
Mangalibi, in the speech he gave at the foreign ministry, referred to the challenges which his country is facing in the effort for reconstruction following a five-year war which cost the lives of more than three million people.
The foreign minister of Congo said that with regards AIDS, infrastructures were needed to confront the virus afflicting his country and noted that he looked forward to help by the international community for coping with the plague.
Mangalibi also referred to his country's problems and that of the region in general.
During his visit to Greece, Mangalibi met on Wednesday with Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis and was received by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and on Thursday met with Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis.
The visit by the official from Congo was the first since 1991.
 Greece rises to 39th place in global competitiveness rating
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Greece rose to 39th place in 2003 from 43rd position a year earlier in a global business competitiveness rating compiled by the World Economic Forum.
Releasing the data on Thursday, the Association of Greek Industry (SEB) said the rise was attributable to an increase in ratings for corporate strategy and operation, and in quality of the national business environment.
At the same time, Greece fell to 33rd place in 2003 from 31st position in the previous year in competitiveness for advancing growth in the future, SEB reported.
The decline was attributed to a drop in the country's macroeconomic climate rating.
Among other member states of the European Union, Greece ranks second to last in growth competitiveness ratings, and last in a scale for business competitiveness.
''It emerges that Greece in recent years has continuously improved its business competitiveness index, but this improvement is not enough to make the country more competitive in comparison with the remaining European countries,'' SEB commented.
EU commissioner says Greek competitiveness needs to rise: Greece's commissioner at the European Union, Anna Diamantopoulou, said on Thursday that the domestic economy needed to be more competitive.
Addressing a meeting arranged by the OPEK think-tank on modernizing society, the commissioner for social affairs said that Greece should focus on opening its markets, rather than on privatization.
Another EU commissioner, Mario Monti, who is responsible for competition, said that a market economy required competition and solidarity.
 Greek industrialists union president focuses on Chinese exports to Greece
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Federation of Greek Industries (SEB) President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos, addressing a dinner given in honor of China's Deputy Trade Minister Zhang Zhigang by SEB's board on Wednesday, underlined the impressive increase in Chinese exports to Greece, as well as the presence of many Chinese products in the Greek market.
Kyriakopoulos said there are dynamic Greek exports sectors such as wine production, olive oil production, tobacco and cosmetics, where Greece is entitled to a more powerful presence in the Chinese market.
He added that there is also a big margin for improvement in the tourist sector with suitable promotion products and facilitating business trips.
Outlining problems facing Greek investments in China, Kyriakopoulos mentioned bureaucratic procedures for licenses, the arbitrary interpretation and implementation of legislation at a local level, state intervention, the creation of monopolies and unfair competition.
Zhang, on his part, agreed with the need to strengthen Greek exports to China, adding that Greek companies must make efforts to promote their products and services even further. He also stressed the possibilities of Greek shipping to offset the negative balance for Greece in bilateral trade.
 Athens Resort Casino IPO suspended
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Hyatt Regency Hotel and Tourism (Hellas) SA on Thursday announced a board decision to suspend a public offering of Athens Resort Casino shares until Hellenic Parness Casino SA and Athens Resort Casino were listed in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The decision was based on the views of institutional investors, who expressed reluctance to participate in a public offering of Athens Resort Casino because the company's shares were not traded in the Greek bourse.
Hyatt Regency Hellas also announced a board decision to pay a pre-dividend to its shareholders after announcing its nine-month results.
 Gov’t approves subsidies to energy saving projects
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos on Thursday signed a ministerial degree to approve subsidies for 36 investments in the framework of an EU-funded Third Community Support Framework project.
The investments, worth 138,796,991 euros, cover projects in energy saving and supporting renewable energy sources, like wind power, small hydro-electric projects, solar systems and others.
Among the companies eligible for subsidies (ranging from 30-45 percent of total budget) are: Pepsico-IVI ABA, Spiliopoulos ABEE, Larko, Public Power Corporation, Mevgal Dairy, Air hotel Capital, Hellenic SpinMills, Intercom Foods, Rhodos Palace Hotel, Preveza SpinMills, Bingo AEBE, Radio Korasidis, Petrogaz SA, Cyclades Windpower Parks, Epirotiki Energy SA, Paradisos SA, Vodafone-Panafon.
 ECB to cut rates by 50 bps by early 2004, report predicts
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Hopes of an economic recovery in the eurozone are based on domestic demand and private investments, along with expectations of improved profit margins, the National Bank of Greece said on Thursday.
In its latest economic bulletin, the Greek bank forecast that investments would rise by 2.3 percent annually in 2004 after three years of declines, while private consumption was also expected to rebound helped by an increased purchasing power in the eurozone - a result of a fall in inflation and a strong euro currency. Consumption growth rates, however, are expected to remain weak (0.4 percent in 2002, 1.2 percent in 2003 and 1.6 percent in 2004), reflecting slow growth rates in employment.
National Bank's report also predicted that fiscal policy in the eurozone would be neutral for growth both this year and in 2004, raising hurdles to a recovery course.
The report forecast that eurozone economy would grow by 0.5 percent this year and 1.6 percent in 2004, with a strong euro exchange rate helping to containing inflation to 1.5 percent next year.
In this environment of weak recovery, eurozone's economic growth seems to need further support from monetary policies, the report stressed.
National Bank's analysts predicted that the European Central Bank would further relax in monetary policy in the eurozone, cutting its base interest rates by 50 basis points in two rounds in the last quarter of 2003 and early next year, pushing its intervention rate to 1.5 percent.
 Organic food consumption rises steadily in Greece
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Greece has one of the lowest rates of cultivation areas for organic products in Europe, estimated at 0.9 percent of total cultivated area in the country in 2002, slightly up from 0.63 percent in 1999, Agriculture ministry officials said on Thursday.
An ICAP survey published on Thursday, however, said that despite the small rate of organic farming in Greece, the sector recorded significant improvement in the last few years, recording the biggest annual growth in Europe, at 51.4 percent annually in the period 1993-2002, with businesses in the sector rising by 43.9 percent.
Total organically cultivated areas in Greece reached 292,557 stremmata (one stremma=1,000 square metres) in 2002, mainly in the prefects of Lakonia, Aetoloakarnania, Chalkidiki, Lesvos and Achaia.
The cultivation of olive trees, for the production of olive oil, accounted for the biggest part of organic cultivation in Greece, covering 53.5 percent of total, followed by vineyards, for wine production, at 7.9 percent, wheat (4.8 percent) and citrus trees (3.7 percent) in 2002.
The total number of businesses in the sector (producers, manufacturers, importers) fell by 8.1 percent last year to 6,482 from 7,055 in 2001, while total financial support offered to the domestic sector was 19 million euros, up 9.25 percent from the previous year.
The survey estimates the total value of the domestic organic food product market, in retail prices, at 18.5 million euros in 2002, up 19.4 percent from the previous year, and predicts a 10 percent increase this year.
Domestic consumption of organic olive oil rose an average annual rate of 16.45 percent in the period 1999-2002, while the wine market from organic grapes rose an annual average 53.74 percent, and organic citrus tree product consumption rose an average annual 108.01 percent over the same period.
 Minister questioned over delays in tram, suburban railway projects
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)In a question for Transport Minister Christos Verelis on Thursday, seven main opposition New Democracy MPs asked whether the government had any contingency plan in the case that two major public transport projects, the tram and suburban railway, were not ready in time for the 2004 Olympic Games.
The MPs said that there was significant divergence from original deadlines and budgets for both projects, as well as technical problems and a lack of trains and carriages, due to the inability of Skaramanga Shipyards to construct the number of trains requested by the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) on time.
 Greece-FYROM interstate accord on seasonal work visas soon
SKOPJE, 31/10/2003 (ANA-N. Fragopoulou)Greece and FYROM are slated to sign soon an interstate agreement regulating the regime on the issue of visas to FYROM citizens for seasonal work in Greece.
The accord has already been initialed by the FYROM side, and the Greek side was soon expected to sign the accord as well, according to FYROM foreign ministry spokeswoman Sanda Argirova.
According to the Skopje daily Dnevic, offices that undertake finding seasonal employment in Greece for FYROM citizens believe that the signing of the interstate agreement will open the road for more than 40,000 FYROM citizens for seasonal employment in Greece in 2004.
The newspaper said that some 20,000 FYROM citizens find seasonal work in Greece each year, chiefly in fruit-tree orchards, while in 2004 the number was expected to double, both as a result of the signing of the interstate agreement and of increased staff needs in hotels and restaurants due to the Olympic Games to be hosted by Athens next year.
 Japanese embassy organizes conference on 'Challenge of Japan'
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)The Biotechnical Chamber of Athens, the Greco-Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Japanese embassy in Greece organized a conference on Thursday titled ''The Challenge of Japan: Myth and Reality'', focusing on ways of further strengthening economic relations between Greece and Japan.
Addressing the conference, the foreign ministry's bilateral economic relations general director A. Miliaresis called on Greek businesses to be more ''aggressive'' and determined in the effort they are making to penetrate the Japanese market.
The main speaker at the event was Japanese professor S. Yonekura who examined the issue of ''The Present and Future of the Japanese Company.''
An address was also made by Japanese embassy adviser Ninoniya Hideaki.
Seminar on boosting ties between Greece, Japan: The general director of the Greek-Japanese Chamber, Katerina Katopi, said on Thursday that key tools for Greek firms to penetrate the Greek market were the finance ministry's Hermes program, the Japanese Foreign Trade Organization (JETRO), and the European Union's Gateway to Japan program.
Katopi was addressing a seminar on boosting trade and economic ties between the two countries arranged by the Athens Chamber of Light Industry, the Greek-Japanese Chamber of Trade, and the Japanese embassy.
 Greek stocks end slightly higher on Thursday
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Thursday session slightly higher as a wave of buying interest in the last half hour of trading reversed a prevailing downward trend in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index rose 0.38 percent to end at 2,115.86 points after falling to 2,102 points early in the session, with turnover a huge 541.2 million euros, of which 450 million euros accounted for the transfer of block shares in the framework of Public Power Corporation's latest flotation.
All sector indices ended higher with the Publication, Retail and Insurance sectors scoring the biggest percentage gains of the day (1.29 percent, 1.26 percent and 1.02 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.33 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.51 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 0.41 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 146 to 124 with another 86 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hyatt, National Bank of Greece, Public Power Corporation, Football Pools Organization and Titan Cement Co..
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover
at 45.6 mln euros Thursday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip
sellers on Thursday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of October 30 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,183 1,156
 Samsung signs on as a 2004 'Torch Relay' sponsor
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)South Korean electronics giant Samsung on Thursday signed on as the second major sponsor of the 2004 Athens Olympics’ “Torch Relay”, following Coca Cola.
A relevant agreement was signed in the Greek capital by Athens Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and Samsung VP Il-Hyung Chang during a special ceremony in a downtown hotel.
“Sponsorship for the Olympic Games, beyond participation in an international celebration and the propagation of sports ideals, marks a great opportunity for Samsung to promote its brand name and to acquire international recognition, with the corresponding commercial results,” the Korean multinational’s executive in charge of sports marketing, Sunny Hwang, said.
Samsung's debut on the Olympic stage came during the 1988 Seoul Games, following by sponsorship of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics and the Sydney 2000 Games. Currently one of the world’s largest mobile phone makers, Samsung is also participating as an international sponsor for the 2006 Turin Winter Games and the Beijing Olympics of 2008.
The company’s “Wireless Olympic Works” (WOW) network will be unveiled during the 2004 Athens Olympics, offering a massive flow of transferable data about the Games via mobile telephony, including results, medal standings, information-on-demand (IOD) capability, an Olympic Community Messaging system members of the extended “Olympic Family”.
A “mobile content” option will also offer a photo service and SMS games.
Samsung's cooperation with the broadcast network “Eurosport” was also unveiled here on Thursday.
 2004: European Year for Education through Sport
BRUSSELS, 31/10/2003 (ANA/V. Demiris)With the basic slogan ''Exercise your body, use your spirit'', the European Year for Education through Sport begins on January 1, 2004, following a decision taken during the Greek EU presidency in the first half of this year.
The presentation of the campaign was made here on Thursday by Education and Culture Commissioner Viviane Reding.
As announced, during the course of 2004 about 200 events will be held in 28 countries (the 15 full EU members, the 10 new acceding countries, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein) with the aim of promoting educational values through sport and strengthening the connection of sport and education.
It is an effort to make the European public aware, especially youth, of the importance of sport for the development of personality and social relations.
Commenting on the initiative, Reding said:''The European Year of Education through Sport will be registered in a separate framework for the youth of this continent. Many major events and particularly the European soccer championship in Portugal and the Olympics and the Paralympics in Athens will place the continent at the focus of international attention,'' the commissioner said.
 Strong earthquake jolts Thessaloniki area, seismologists reassuring
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)An earthquake measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale was recorded near the northern Greek capital of Thessaloniki on Thursday, following a strong 4.7 Richter trembler that jolted the area late Wednesday night sending locals out into the streets. No damage has been reported.
The initial earthquake, measuring 4.7 on the Ricther scale, was recorded at 23:15 Wednesday night with its epicenter just 16 kilometers west of the northern Greek capital Thessaloniki, in Nea Messimvria. The quake was felt in Thessaloniki, the Halkidiki peninsula, and neighboring Imathia prefecture.
Seismologists at the Thessaloniki Aristotelion University's Geophysics Laboratory were reassuring, noting that the post-quake activity was developing normally, allaying earlier fears caused by an apparent lack of aftershocks.
Several days earlier, seismographs had recorded a 3.3 Richter quake emanating from the same epicenter.
Seismologists told ANA that the epicenter was not located on a major seismic fault, which meant that chances of a large earthquake were very slim, especially after the development of a string of aftershocks.
The Geophysics Laboratory said that more than ten weak aftershocks of magnitudes smaller than 3.0 Richter were recorded overnight, and given the small magnitudes most of were not felt. The aftershocks reinforced the belief that Wednesday night's 4.7 trembler was the main quake, making the prospect of a new large quake highly unlikely.
Aristotelion University seismology professor Manolis Skordilis told ANA that the aftershocks that followed the 4.7 quake were normal and expected, and all indications were that the situation was developing normally. He noted that some of the aftershocks over the next few hours could be above 3.0 Richter, and therefore were likely to be felt by residents in the area.
Asked if the seismic activity in the Nea Messimvria area could prospectively activate neighboring seismic zones, Skordilis said that there was no reason for concern as earthquakes of this magnitude could not trigger neighboring seismic faults. He also added that there were no major faults in the area.
According to data from the Geophysics Laboratory, a number of earthquakes have been produced by the Nea Messimvria epicenter over the past 20 years, but were of small magnitudes and were felt only in the city of Thessaloniki, which was just 16 kilometers away from the epicenter area.
The Laboratory data showed that the largest of those earthquakes were of a magnitude of 5 Richter, recorded in 1983 and 1996, while a 3.5 Richter earthquake was recorded in early October.
 Health services alerted over gastroenteritis outbreak on cruise ship
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Greek health services, including the Centre for Special Diseases and the health ministry, have been placed on alert to deal with an apparent outbreak of gastroenteritis affecting dozens of passengers on board a British-flagged cruise ship due in Piraeus port on Friday.
Authorities were alerted about the outbreak by the captain of the cruise ship ''Aurora'', shortly after it left Dubrovnik but have not been told the precise number of passengers showing symptoms nor when the outbreak first began.
Health Minister Costas Stephanis stressed that the health services readiness and epidemic control mechanisms operated immediately and as a result, since noon yesterday (Wednesday) there was a full briefing offered by the chief physician of the company that is managing the cruise ship.
''We follow all developments concerning the course of the epidemic and we are confronting all possibilities with forethought. No concern is justified, as for the protection of the health of the general population,'' he said.
The norovirus, which apparently is the culprit of the outbreak causes gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach and the small and large intestines. The symptoms of gastroenteritis are nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea accompanied by abdominal cramps, but is not life threatening.
The cruise ship is carrying roughly 2,000 passengers and has a 700-man crew. Its next stop after Piraeus is Gibraltar.
''Aurora'' cruise ship to continue its program after re-supply in Greece
The cruise ship ''Aurora'' will reach the port of Piraeus to receive mostly medical supplies and then continue its cruise program, a health ministry press release said on Thursday evening.
The press release stressed that following telephone contacts between officials of the Greek health ministry and the vice-president and the chief physician of the company to which the ''Aurora'' belongs to, it was decided that the ship would continue on its course.
 Judge urges N17 attorneys not to observe 48-hour abstention
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)Appeals Judge Mihalis Margaritis, the justice presiding over the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court where 19 suspected ''November 17'' terrorists are on trial, on Thursday urged defense attorneys not to observe a 48-hour abstention decided on by the Athens Bar Association.
Margaritis said there was a risk that the 18-month pre-trial detention period allowed by law might elapse before the trial had ended and stressed out that all participants in the trial were ''answerable to the Greek people''.
He was responding to an announcement by the defense attorneys in the case that they would abstain from their duties on Monday and Tuesday in accordance with the bar association's decision.
Margaritis expressed his disagreement and asked the attorneys to seek the bar's permission to attend so that the trial could continue.
He also asked the press to highlight the issue and hinted that the justice ministry might have to intervene, stressing that he would not shoulder the entire responsibility.
Earlier, the court session was addressed by Vaggelia Stamouli, representing Iraklis Kostaris.
She said that no evidence had been shown in court that proved her client's participation in the crimes of which he had been accused and asked that he be acquitted of the murders of MP Pavlos Bakoyiannis, ship owner Kostis Peratikos and US Sargeant Ronald Stewart, as well as the robberies of a Vyrona post office and a National Bank branch in Peristeri and a raid on a Vyrona police station.
She said Kostaris had alibis for several of the acts of which he was accused.
The court was next addressed by Yiannis Stamoulis, defense lawyer for Iraklis Kostaris, Kostas Karatsolis and Pavlos Serifis, who asserted his clients' innocence and asked for their acquittal.
His arguments centered on legal technicalities regarding the definition of the charges, which he said should have led the case to be classified as political and tried before a Mixed Jury Court.
He said the pre-trial confessions of the accused should not be admitted as evidence since the law did not allow defendants to be converted into witnesses, while claiming that there were elements of coercion in the behavior of 4th Examining Magistrate Theoni Boura when she examined Pavlos Serifis.
''The authorities wanted to get a deposition from Pavlos Serifis that implicated Yiannis Serifis,'' he told the court.
The trial will resume on Friday with the final arguments in defense of Nikos Papanastasiou by his lawer Panagiotis Roumeliotis.
 Former Greek ambassador to Bulgaria honored with university distinction
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)By decision of the Academic Council of Sofia's ''Saint Clemence of Ohrid'' University, Mihalis Christidis, Greece's ambassador to Bulgaria until recently, was honored on Thursday with one of the highest distinctions by Bulgaria's greatest educational establishment.
The ''Honorary Medal with a Blue Ribbon'' was given to Christidis by the university's rector Boyan Biolchev at a ceremony at the university attended by Bulgarian Culture Minister Bozidar Abrasev and other members of the government.
Biolchev told the Athens News Agency (ANA), the award seals Christidis' special contribution to the dynamic development and strengthening of relations between the University of Sofia and higher educational establishments in Greece.
 Egyptian chess champion diagnosed with malaria
Athens, 31/10/2003 (ANA)A 17-year-old Egyptian chess champion and his coach, both diagnosed with malaria last week while participating in a northern Greece tournament, are scheduled to be released on Friday.
The two malaria incidents are the first reported in Greece in decades, as the often-fatal disease spread by mosquitoes has been eradicated nationwide.
According to reports, the malaria-stricken pair had arrived in Greece on Oct. 22, 15 days after a visit to Nigeria and their return to Egypt. Moreover, another two teenage chess players with severer symptoms than Ahmet Ali, 17, and coach Hasan Kaled, 40, that had stayed behind in Egypt reportedly died from the disease. Both teens were scheduled to participate in the Halkidiki tournament.
Malaria is not transmitted by humans.
 Finnish MP and former rapporteur Laakso calls for census in Cyprus’ occupied areas
NICOSIA, 31/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)Finnish MP and former Rapporteur on the illegal colonization of the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus by Turkish settlers Jaakko Laakso said here Thursday Turkish Cypriots are a minority in their own community and that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is using the Turkish settlers to influence the result of the December illegal elections.
Speaking after meeting Foreign Minister George Iacovou, Laakso, who is visiting the island, also said that as long as Denktash is leading the Turkish Cypriot community, there are no real prospects for a Cyprus settlement.
Noting that there has been a great change in Cyprus with positive prospects for a solution, Laakso said that as far as the occupied areas are concerned ''there is still a great problem regarding their democratization. Turkish Cypriots are a minority in their own area, and I have unfortunately noticed that Mr. Denktash uses the Turkish settlers to influence the result of the next elections. Of course, this action is contrary to international law,'' he said.
Asked about conducting a census in the occupied areas, Laakso said this was ''necessary'' noting that in the future discussions on the Annan Plan ''there should be an agreement for a census. Everyone knows the number of people living in the occupied areas and in the free areas. I think it would be good if we know about the circumstances in which they lived in Turkey and see the reasons they came to live in the occupied areas,'' he added.
He said Turkey should undertake a commitment that it will not interfere in the internal issues of an independent Cyprus by allowing Turks to live in Cyprus with the incentive that they will be granted the Cypriot citizenship and the right to vote. ''This is an intervention on the part of Turkey in Cyprus' internal matters,'' he added.
''As long as Mr. Denktash is leading the Turkish Cypriot community, there can be no real prospects for a solution to the Cyprus problem,'' Laakso said, adding that Denktash rejects the Annan Plan and tries in every way to put obstacles in its implementation.
''If Mr. Denktash wins the next elections, it seems that there will not be no possibility of solving the Cyprus problem based on the Annan Plan,'' he added.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.
Some 80,000 Turkish settlers in addition to 35,000 Turkish troops have outnumbered the Turkish Cypriots in the occupied territory.
Some 120,000 Turkish Cypriots, making up 18 percent of the island's population, lived in this east Mediterranean island before the Turkish invasion. Their number has shrunk to some 60,000 according to Turkish Cypriot estimations.
The Turkish Cypriot unilateral declaration of independence was declared ''legally invalid'' by UN Security Council resolution 541 of November 1983, which called on all states not to recognize the self-styled regime and not to facilitate it in any way.
Only Turkey has recognized the bogus state.
 Bundesdag Vice Chairman hopes for a Cyprus settlement before May 1st 2004
NICOSIA, 31/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)Vice Chairman of German Bundesdag Norbert Lammert, member of a German parliamentary delegation currently visiting Cyprus, has expressed hope that Cyprus' accession to the EU will contribute to efforts for a settlement of the island's political problem before May 1st, 2004.
Lammert was speaking after a meeting on Thursday with Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou who briefed the German parliamentary delegation on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem, in view of Cyprus' EU accession.
''We express our hope that Cyprus' membership to the EU will also contribute to solving the domestic problem of this country at best before the entrance date of May 1st next year, if not as soon as possible after that date,'' Lammert said.
Iacovou noted that ''Germany is a very important country and even more important in the EU framework.''
He also noted that the governments of Cyprus and Germany have very good relations and hold many meetings within the EU.
 Women's rights Europarliament committee in Cyprus
NICOSIA, 31/10/2003 (CNA/ANA)A delegation of the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities of the European Parliament is in Cyprus for a three-day visit and was due to hold here on Thursday a series of meetings with Cyprus and EU officials as well as members of the House of Representatives and non-governmental organizations.
Euro MPs Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, head of the delegation, Feleknas Uca, Patsy Sorensen, Koldo and Gorostiaga Atxalandabaso will start their meetings with Head of the European Commission Delegation to Cyprus Andriaan Van der Meer and the Head of the European Parliament Information Office in Cyprus Anthony Comfort.
They were also due on Thursday to meet with House President Demetris Christofias, Accession Coordinator Takis Hadjidemetriou and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labor and Social Insurance Lenia Samouel.
On Friday they will see Interior Minister Andreas Christou and members of the Famagusta Municipal Council.