|Sunday, 15 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-01-02
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January2 , 2004
 President, Premier, political leaders issue New Year's messages
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Wednesday conveyed his optimism that 2004 will be a very good year for Greece, during his New Year’s message.
Stephanopoulos says he believes elections will be conducted in a calm and democratic manner, while the 2004 Olympic Games will be eminently beneficial for the country’s economic development.
Messages for the New Year were issued on Wednesday, on the eve of 2004, by the leaders of all the political parties and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
In his message, the prime minister said that the year 2004 will be a crucial year for Greece, during which it would host the Olympic Games and when the pace of its future progress and convergence with other European Union countries will be decided.
He underlined that several major foreign policy issues, such as relations with Turkey and the Cyprus solution, will reach a critical juncture in the coming year.
Stressing that much had already been achieved in the past years of effort, he noted that much still remained to be done to further improve and modernize the country.
''The Greece we desire - a society of creativity and prosperity, solidarity and tolerance - is possible. As long as we believe in our strength,'' he said. 2004 a year of 'responsibility', Karamanlis says
On his part, main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis focused on the many difficulties of the past year, such as rising prices, corruption and others and stressed that 2004 will be a year of ''responsibility'' when solutions to these problems will be sought, while expressing confidence that Greece ''deserved and could do better''.
He said his party proposed a new economic policy based on neoliberal choices and social solidarity, that would both increase the wealth generated by the country but also ensure that it was fairly distributed.
Karamanlis said the coming year provided an opportunity for a solution to the Cyprus problem and to improve relations with Turkey, while underlining that the immediate aim of all Greeks in 2004 was to host successful Olympics.
ND would wholeheartedly support preparations to organize the best and safest Games since their revival, he underlined.
KKE leader sees major youth mobilization in near future: Communist Party of Greece (KKE) general secretary Aleka Papariga called on the poor working classes to acquire the self-confidence required to bring about changes in Greece, and predicted that Greek youth would rise and help organize a major counter-attack in the coming years.
She also said that her party's thoughts over these days turned to the victims of "imperialist wars", such as the people of Iraq, and more generally the victims of poverty, hunger and natural disasters, such as the people of Iran.
''We all know that in natural disasters, those who lose their lives and homes are the poorer, working classes, who live under the most appalling and miserable conditions,'' she added.
President receives PM, party leaders and ministers at Presidential Mansion : President Kostis Stephanopoulos was visited at the Presidential Mansion on Thursday morning by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, party leaders, ministers, former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, the leadership of the police and representatives of Olympic Games medalists.
Apart from exchanging wishes of a personal and family nature with his guests, President Stephanopoulos expressed his hope that ''the country will do well'' in the new year.
Simitis assured him that ''it will do well'', while the president responded by saying ''I am equally optimistic.''
Simitis also received deputies of his ruling PASOK party at his office in Parliament, who wished him well on the occasion of the new year.
President, PM and party leaders attend church service at Athens Cathedral :
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos officiated at a church service held at the Athens Cathedral on Thursday morning, on the occasion of the new year, in the presence of President Kostis Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, party leaders and senior officers of the armed forces.
The president, prime minister and party leaders were welcomed at the entrance to the cathedral by Athens Mayor Dora Ba-koyianni.
New year welcomed with spectacular celebration at Syntagma Square in Athens: Thousands of people packed downtown Syntagma Square in Athens on Wednesday night to welcome the new year, the year in which the Greek capital will be hosting the Olympic Games, with a spectacular celebration hosted by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni.
Singers entertained the crowds until the early hours of the morning on a stage set up in front of the Houses of Parliament, while a magnificent display of fireworks lit up the sky at midnight.
Streets in the centre of the capital were closed to traffic until about 4 a.m. on Thursday, allowing thousands of people to enjoy themselves in streets free of vehicles.
Bakoyianni wished the inhabitants of Athens well and stressed that ''joy and laughter do not only belong to children but also to us grown ups as well.''
 PM Simitis, ND leader Karamanlis send season's greetings to Cyprus president
NICOSIA 2/1/2004 (ANA/G. Leonidas)Greece's Prime Minister Costas Simitis and main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis have sent season's greetings to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.
In his message, to the Cypriot President, Simitis said:''Thanking you cordially for your message on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year celebrations, I also wish, on behalf of the government and myself, to convey to you all my wishes for progress and prosperity.
''With the completion of the incorporation of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union on May 1, 2004, the struggles of Cypriot Hellenism are vindicated. We hope that this indisputable great European success will also mark the settlement of the Cyprus issue and the reunification of the island to the benefit of all its population.
''On my part, I wish to assure you again of our determination to continue the struggle for the success of our joint objective, with the achievement of a comprehensive, just, lasting and functional solution of our national problem.''
On his part, in his message to Papadopoulos, ND leader Karamanlis said:''2004 is expected to be a landmark year for Cyprus and Greece. On the one hand because Cyprus accedes to the European Union as a full member, and on the other because Greece will be at the centre of world interest due to the hosting of the Olympic Games.
''At the same time, the great challenges for Cyprus and Greece remain, particularly with regard to the finding of a solution to the Cyprus problem. A solution based on UN resolutions and in accordance with the acquis communautaire. A European solution which will be aligned to the European present and future of all Cypriots, to the benefit of the whole of Cyprus.
 Third plane with humanitarian aid for Bam departs on Saturday, Loverdos says
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos and the General Secretariat for Civil Protection announced on Wednesday that a third C-130 cargo plane will depart for Kerman Airport in southeastern Iran on Saturday carrying humanitarian aid for the thousands of people affected by the killer earthquake which struck the historic city of Bam at dawn last Friday.
The aid, consisting mainly of pharmaceuticals, will be accompanied by members of non-governmental organizations, among them the ''Greek Rescue Team'', ''Doctors of the World'', ''Doctors of the Heart'' and the ''Doctors Without Frontiers'', who, after helping in the delivery of the material, will return to Greece on the same plane.
 PM and Papandreou plan meeting on Jan. 2, source claims
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou are likely to meet on January 2 to work out their next moves with regard to changes within ruling PASOK party, including a rumored changes in its leadership structure, a source revealed on Wednesday.
The same source said the two men spoke over the phone on Tuesday night and that Papandreou expressed full support for the prime minister's initiatives.
Aides of the foreign minister, meanwhile, have denied that there is any question of disagreement between Papandreou and the premier or that anyone is entitled to speak on Papandreou's behalf.
It is considered almost certain that Simitis will announce his intentions after the feast of the Epiphany and that these will include an emergency congress in the third week of January that will change PASOK's charter, so that Papandreou can be elected party leader in the beginning of February by a vote among party members.
Deputy press minister confirms telephone conversation between PM and FM : Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, confirmed reports of a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday.
Hytiris said nothing was arranged between the two men during their telephone conversation and also denied that they would be meeting on January 2, the date on which the prime minister will be leaving for Korakohori.
He further stressed that the prime minister and the foreign minister will not be meeting in Korakohori either, adding that Simitis will be back on January 5.
Hytiris also told reporters that Simitis had another telephone conversation with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Wednesday morning.
''Apart from an exchange of wishes, the two men also discussed latest developments following the 'elections' in the occupied territory (in Cyprus). Both the Cyprus president and the Greek prime minister expressed optimism that there will be mobility in the new year for a solution to the problem of Cyprus,'' Hytiris said, adding that ''goodwill is expected on the Turkish Cypriot side to enable matters to move forward.''
 FM Papandreou most popular Greek politician in countries of SE Europe, poll says
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou is the most popular Greek politician in the countries of southeastern Europe, according to an opinion poll carried out by the Kappa Research company and published in the newspaper ''To Vima.''
Papandreou is in fourth place on the list of politicians, behind French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and European Commission President Romano Prodi, with 55 percent of respondents having either a positive or more or less positive opinion of him.
The poll covers the countries of Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Serbia-Montenegro, Turkey and Albania and concerns a sample of 5,450 households. It was conducted between December 4-17, 2003.
Chirac heads the list with 58.6 percent and is followed by Schroeder with 58, Prodi with 55.8 and Papandreou with 55.
Greece and Serbia-Montenegro give Papandreou first place with 68.2 percent and 66 percent respectively, while Cyprus gives him second place with 94.8, behind Prime Minister Costas Simitis who garners 96.2 from the Cypriots.
Moreover, Bulgaria gives the Greek foreign minister seventh place with 48.7 percent, Turkey fourth with 31.8 and Albania eighth with 50.8.
The poll further reveals that Simitis enjoys 48.9 percent of positive opinions by Greeks, 43.4 by Bulgarians, 96.2 by Cypriots, 60.1 by Serb-Montenegrins, 31.6 by Turks and 50.6 by Albanians.
 Main opposition leader speaks with Turkish premier on the phone
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis spoke over the phone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday morning, during which they exchanged wishes for the New Year but for improved bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey.
Karamanlis also exchanged wishes for the New Year with Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and the head of the European People's Party (EPP) Parliamentary group president Hans Petering.
 Mitsotakis predicts 'clearcut' victory for main opposition
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)Former premier and honorary New Democracy president Constantine Mitsotakis on Wednesday expressed conviction that the main opposition party would have a ''clear-cut'' victory in the upcoming elections, regardless of developments within ruling PASOK.
He was also critical of recent moves within PASOK for a rumored change in leadership, saying that it was throwing out Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who until recently was considered the party's ''strong card'' among the electorate, ''like so much ballast''.
Regarding his rumored replacement George Papandreou, Mitsotakis said that Greece did not need Messiahs, while Papandreou was ''likeable, but neither young nor a Messiah''.
According to Mitsotakis, opinion polls showed that voters were penalizing PASOK and not Simitis.
 Bllooberg analyst makes positive predictions on growth of Greek economy
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)Bllooberg Economic Agency analyst Matthew Lynn, in an article republished in the newspaper ''To Vima'', makes very positive predictions on the growth of the Greek economy.
The article, containing an assessment of what 2004 will bring for countries, economies and businesses in Europe, says about Greece that ''with the Athens Olympic Games in the summer, Greece will be ready for the biggest economic growth it has experienced over the past two millenniums. This is already happening.''
Lynn also says in his article that "with the economic growth rate amounting to 4 percent, Greece has constituted the fastest growing economy in Europe in 2003. Major businesses are entering the Greek market, including the French Societe Generale, which recently made an offer to acquire a share of the General Bank to enable it to expand into the Greek banking sector. We must expect many articles this summer concerning the new Greek economy."
 Greek govt reviews Crete Regional Programme
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)The Greek government has earmarked the sum of 42 billion drachmas in public spending to support infrastructure projects in the island of Crete, a meeting of the government's economic team said on Wednesday.
The meeting reviewed progress and absorption rates of Crete's Regional Programme and noted an accelerating rate of implementating the program and fund absorption totaling 143 million euros.
The meeting said that Crete's Regional Programme was the most successful of all Greek Regional Programs.
 Greece to develop electronic state procurement system
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)Information Society secretary-general G.Kalogirou on Wednesday announced the inclusion of a program, called "Developing a National System of Electronic Public Procurement", worth 15 million euros to the Information Society Business Program.
The project envisages developing the necessary system to adopt electronic public procurement in the country, as part of an eEurope 2005 action plan adopted by the European Union.
Greek state's suppliers total 400-500 and service around 200 different public agencies through the distribution of 4,500 product codes annually, worth more than 3.5 billion euros.
A successful implementation of the project will contribute to accelerating speed of transactions, lowering costs, reducing errors and facilitating the participation of private sector companies in the procedure.
 FORTHnet to buy Internet Hellas for 3.1 mln euros
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)FORTHnet on Wednesday announced the acquisition of Internet Hellas, an Internet service provider company specializing in data center services in Greece.
A company statement said that the deal would not exceed 3.1 million euros and that both the administrative and operational integration between Internet Hellas and FORTHnet would be completed immediately after completion of the acquisition procedures.
The purchase deal is accompanied by a series of commercial agreements aimed to promote commercial synergies between the two companies.
 Greek stocks end 2003 with net gain of 29.5 pct
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)Greek stocks ended the last trading session of 2003 with new gains in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday helping to raise the year's gains to 29.46 percent after three years of declines.
The general index ended 0.47 percent to 2.263.58 points with turnover an improved 117.1 million euros.
The Insurance index was the only one to suffer losses (0.93 percent), while the Construction, Wholesale and IT Solution indices scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.62 percent, 1.34 percent and 1.27 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.46 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.32 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index jumped 1.33 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 227 to 85 with another 44 issues unchanged.
 Greek bond market ends 2003 inconclusively
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)Greece's secondary electronic bond market ended the shortened last trading session of the year without any transactions on Wednesday. The market operated from 10 to 12 hours but since other European markets - especially the German Bund market - were closed there were no bid or sell orders.
In the domestic Interbank market the 24-hour interest rate by National Bank rose to 2.40 percent from 2.30 percent on Tuesday, while the 48-hour rate fell to 2.12 percent from 2.40 percent over the same period. The one-month rate was unchanged at 2.10 percent, along with the 12-month rate at 2.30 percent.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover
at 46.7 mln euros Wednesday
 Three bodies located off Kos
Athens 2/1/2004 (ANA)The decomposed bodies of three men were located in a sea region off the Dodecanese island of Kos on Wednesday.
Authorities believe the bodies belong to would-be migrants. A search is continuing in the same region.
 Cyprus president wishes 2004 ends artificial division of island
NICOSIA 2/1/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos expressed the wish that the New Year will see the end of the ''anachronistic and artificial division of Cyprus.''
In a televised message to the people of Cyprus for the New Year, President Papadopoulos said that 2004 would be a year of serious challenges and important opportunities.
He reassured that he would not spare himself of any hard work or efforts to achieve the goal of reaching a solution to the Cyprus issue.
President Papadopoulos also conveyed to the ''Turkish Cypriot compatriots a message of friendship, appreciation'' and expressed hope that the New Year will allow them to share with the Greek Cypriots the benefits and advantages stemming from the accession of a reunified Cyprus to the EU.
''Already in my letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, I have reconfirmed the steadfast and irrevocable will of the Greek Cypriot side to engage in negotiations on the basis of the Annan Plan, whenever he decides, with the aim to reach a more functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, if it is possible before May 1, 2004'' the president stressed.
He expressed the wish that the ''much desired reunification will come bringing again hope and joy to the people of Cyprus who have suffered so much pain.''
Referring to the year of 2004, he expressed the view that it would be a historic landmark for Cyprus, since ''a vision of at least three decades will be fulfilled, with Cyprus becoming a full EU member state as of May 1, 2004.''
The Cyprus president said that Cyprus' European course has been the greatest achievement of the Cypriot people since the declaration of the Republic of Cyprus.
He warned though that this achievement ''should not lead to complacency, self-satisfaction or inertia while endeavoring to attain a functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.''
President Papadopoulos stressed that the Greek government, political parties and people have been the active supporters of Cyprus' efforts to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem and to accede to the EU.
''We also have the full support of Greeks abroad, who strengthen with their multifarious activities, the struggle and the efforts of the people of Cyprus,'' he added.
The president conveyed his wishes for the New Year to all Cypriots, to the soldiers, the refugees, the enclaved, the relatives of the missing persons as well as to the ones on duty in vital services.
''I wish from the bottom of my heart that the New Year will be
creative and productive and that it will open new horizons of growth, prosperity and progress for all the legal citizens of the Republic of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Maronites, Armenians and Latins'' the president said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied one third of the island's territory.
 FM Iacovou describes Turkish leaks to media on Cyprus as intentional
NICOSIA 2/1/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has said that the government evaluates Turkish moves and statements related to the Cyprus problem but considers that news leaks made by Ankara to the press are intentional in an effort to create new positions on the Cyprus problem and the possibility of resuming negotiations.
In statements here Wednesday, Iacovou expressed the view that there is mobility on the Cyprus problem without however an indication from the Turkish side that it has formulated a view for talks in finding a solution.
Iacovou expressed his wish for a solution to the Cyprus problem before 1st May 2004 so that a reunited Cyprus can enter the EU. Replying to a question whether Turkey has submitted its views on the Cyprus problem to the UN Secretary General, as Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has done in a letter to Kofi Annan, the foreign minister
said, ''the Turks have not moved towards the UN Secretary-General's direction.''
''The government, President Papadopoulos, in his letter, as it is known, expresses his desire to restart negotiations on the basis of the Annan plan,'' Iacovou added.
He said there are deliberate leaks from Ankara however the Turks have not clearly stated that they are ''really willing to sit down at the negotiating table to find an overall Cyprus settlement based on the Annan Plan.''
Commenting on the American stance on the Cyprus problem, Iacovou said the ''US accept that the Annan plan can be negotiated and improved.''
 New UNFICYP Commander appointed
UNITED NATIONS 2/1/2004 (CNA/ANA)UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has announced that Major-General Herbert Joaquin Figoli Almandos of Uruguay has been appointed Force Commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP).
General Figoli, 55, replaces Lieutenant General Jin Ha Hwang as Force Commander of one of the UN's longest-running peace-keeping missions.
It has been in place in Cyprus since March 1964.
General Figoli enlisted as a cadet in the Uruguayan army in 1965 and is a graduate of the Uruguay Military Academy, Army Staff College and the National Superior Studies Centre.
He has held various military posts in Uruguay, and has also served with UN operations in India-Pakistan, Cambodia, Rwanda and Tajikistan.
He is expected to assume his duties in January.