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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-01-19

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

January 19, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] Foreign minister urges matched cut in arms spending for Greece, Turkey
  • [02] Main opposition leader blasts ruling party before March 7 poll
  • [03] Athens mayor charges gov't with mismanagement of economy
  • [04] Voters want to see radical shift in ruling party policy
  • [05] Opinion poll gives main opposition the lead in March 7 ballot
  • [06] Israel expected to formally recognize Jerusalem patriarch
  • [07] Unions seek 8.0 pct pay rise, cut in working hours for 2004
  • [08] Communist Party says lowest wage should be 1,100 euros pm
  • [09] Greece has low infant mortality rate
  • [10] Police nab four in cocaine-trafficking bust
  • [11] German national arrested at airport for weapons possession
  • [12] Foreign students arrested near air force camp
  • [13] Coastguards find 77 migrants aboard ship, arrest crew
  • [14] Papadopoulos flies to Athens for consultations with Greek government
  • [15] House delegation discusses Cyprus problem and issues of common interest in Cuba

  • [01] Foreign minister urges matched cut in arms spending for Greece, Turkey

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    Greece and Turkey should embark on a gradual, matching reduction in defense spending, Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Saturday.

    Papandreou, the sole candidate for leadership of the ruling party, said PASOK would make the proposal a foreign policy priority if it won general elections on March 7.

    Speaking at the start of a tour of the country's northeast, he said that Greece had turned a new page in its ties with Turkey in recent years.

    ''Although not all the problems have been solved, a course to navigate has been set, new conditions have been created, and 2004 will be a decisive year for a policy of peace and security in the region,'' Papandreou told a public meeting in Alexandroupoli.

    ''We have been inspired by the past, but we are not imprisoned by it,'' he added.

    Papandreou, son of the late Andreas Papandreou, the PASOK party's founder and premier for many years, also pledged to use his personal prestige to persuade investors from abroad to bring their capital to Greece.

    He also said that he wants to see less red tape and a simpler legal system.

    ''I will seek simple laws that will not allow unlawfulness or misinterpretation and that will not reinforce corruption,'' Papandreou told a meeting on Saturday with young people in the northern town of Komotini less than two months before general elections.

    On Sunday, Papandreou also met Greek Moslems in Rodopi, telling them that the days of social exclusion were over, and that he would work to remove any sense of discrimination for the northern minority.

    Greek Moslem backing for Papandreou: ‘he Imam of Didimotiho, Hassan Mohammed, told Papandreou during another public meeting that he had the support of Greek Moslems.

    ''We are devoted to our Greek homeland, our country, the country in which we were born, that we love and that loves us. We have never lived better, because here, apart from religion, there is no other difference between us,'' the imam said outside Didymotiho's mosque.

    Papandreou said he welcomed an improvement in Greece's ties with neighboring countries, which had brought an immediate and positive impact on the Moslem minority in Thrace.

    ''Today, we are evolving a perspective of permanent peace, so that Thrace, Macedonia, northern Greece may become the basic lever for us to develop ties with our neighbors,'' he told party supporters.

    ''We have broken down the walls diving Christians and Moslems, and we are moving towards a multicultural Greece,'' the foreign minister added.

    ‘he minister and possible future premier had also pledged to Moslems that he would institute an in-depth Turkish language learning program in schools.

    George Papandreou says ruling party removed barriers for Pomaks: Foreign Minister George Papandreou said on Sunday that ruling PASOK had removed barriers for Pomaks in the north that divided them from the rest of the country, and the party would do the same for all citizens.

    ''We will abolish all barriers that bar citizens from participation in society,'' Papandreou told the residents of Pomak villages in the prefecture of Xanthi during a tour of the area.

    ''We want to build a new relationship of confidence between the state and its citizens,'' he added.

    ND reaction: The main opposition New Democracy (ND) party said on Saturday that a government proposal of embarking on a gradual, matching cut in defense spending with Turkey was inconsistent with existing contractual commitments.

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who is also the sole candidate for leadership of the ruling party, said PASOK would make the proposal a foreign policy priority if it won general elections on March 7.

    ''Mr Papandreou, as a member of the government's foreign policy and defense council, along with the prime minister and de-fence minister, is responsible for signing armaments programs that have committed the country to an unprecedented sum of 18 trillion drachmas for the next 10 years,'' ND press spokes-man Theodoros Roussopoulos said.

    The spokesman also noted in a statement that ND leader Costas Karamanlis had twice discussed the possibility of joint spending cuts in armaments with Turkey's premier in Ankara last year as a natural outcome of peace in the region.

    Communist Party backs reduction in NATO, not Greek armaments: The Communist Party of Greece on Sunday criticized a proposal by Foreign Minister George Papandreou that Greece and Turkey should forge a joint arms reduction plan.

    ''Armaments for NATO's needs and plans should be reduced, not armaments serving the country's defense,'' the party's general secretary, Aleka Papariga, told a supporters' meeting.

    [02] Main opposition leader blasts ruling party before March 7 poll

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    The leader of the main opposition New Democracy party repeatedly criticized ruling PASOK over the weekend, saying its officials were stale, addicted to power, and divided after 20 years in government.

    ''The prime minister himself recently explained that they have abandoned their ideology and want the alternation of power to be effected by their party only,'' Karamanlis told a party election rally during a tour of the Peloponnese.

    ''His successor (George Papandreou) seems, like an irresponsible stranger, to be condemning the entire (ruling) party, and all its recent governments. He is one of PASOK's longest-serving ministers, and, after 14 years in ministerial posts, is acting as a newcomer,'' the ND leader said in Pyrgos on Saturday.

    Papandreou is the sole candidate for PASOK's leadership in a snap move to change the party's leadership before general elections on March 7.

    Karamanlis claimed that in criticizing PASOK's past, Papandreou had failed to acknowledge that ND had been right to state the lack of genuinely free education in Greece; to call for reform of the state; to condemn corruption and arrogance; and to warn of the ruling party's distance from the public.

    ''Why was Papandreou silent for so long, backing the choices, the behavior and the attitudes that he is now calling mistaken?,'' Karamanlis asked.

    The ND leader also said that his party would set growth in the regions as a priority, along with improving education and taking care of needs of the public.

    ''The heart and soul of New Democracy's policy is people, and we will make no compromise whatsoever on this principle,'' Karamanlis told supporters in Tripoli on Sunday.

    [03] Athens mayor charges gov't with mismanagement of economy

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni on Sunday accused the government of calling the country's economy powerful while 30 per cent of young people were jobless.

    ''One in five Greeks lives below the poverty level...and Greece has become a model to avoid for new countries joining the European Union,'' Bakoyianni told a women's meeting of the main opposition New Democracy party in the northern town of Alexandroupoli.

    [04] Voters want to see radical shift in ruling party policy

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    Voters want to see a radical shift in policies of ruling PASOK if Foreign Minister George Papandreou takes the party's helm, according to an opinion poll released on Saturday.

    Conducted by Metron Analysis for the Ta Nea newspaper, 54.2 per cent of respondents said they wanted Papandreou to usher in a complete change in policy; while 35.4 per cent sought a continuation of policies implemented by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, accompanied by certain changes.

    Asked whether they had more confidence in PASOK led by Papandreou for the next four-year government term, or in the main opposition New Democracy party led by Costas Karamanlis, 43.4 per cent opted for the ruling party and 39.5 per cent for ND.

    In a poll commissioned by the Eleftherotypia newspaper from Opinion, 38.5 per cent of respondents said they believed PASOK was the best able to govern; and 37.8 per cent chose ND.

    [05] Opinion poll gives main opposition the lead in March 7 ballot

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    The main opposition New Democracy party emerged as favorite among voters in national elections set for March 7, with 41.1 per cent of respondents in an opinion poll saying ND was the most suitable party to rule, followed by 35.5 per cent for ruling PASOK.

    The favorite for prime minister was George Papandreou at 40.1 per cent, followed by 39.3 per cent for ND chief Costas Karamanlis. Papandreou is expected to become PASOK party leader next month.

    Commissioned by Sky radio station from pollster Rass, the telephone poll sampled 1,218 voters on January 14-16, with a 2.8 per cent margin of error.

    The survey was published by the Sunday Kathimerini news-paper.

    [06] Israel expected to formally recognize Jerusalem patriarch

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    Israel is expected in the near future to formally recognize Patriarch Irineos of Jerusalem, diplomatic sources said on Sunday.

    The move has been unanimously endorsed by Israel's cabinet.

    Irineos was elected to his post in August 2001, gaining immediate recognition from Jordanian and Palestinian authorities.

    Greece's foreign ministry has worked hard to secure Israeli recognition.

    [07] Unions seek 8.0 pct pay rise, cut in working hours for 2004

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    Unions are seeking a wage rise of 8.0 per cent for 2004, accompanied by fewer working hours, the head of the country's largest umbrella trade union group said on Saturday.

    ''This year, the 40-hour barrier has to go. Our inviolable limit is 39 hours for 2004,'' said Christos Polyzogopoulos, head of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE), which represents around 800,000 workers.

    ''There are companies that could apply a shorter working week now, even 35 hours,'' Polyzogopoulos told reporters after a meeting with the president of the republic, Costis Stephanopoulos.

    Polyzogopoulos backs a 35-hour working week, a demand also heard in other European countries, as a means of redistributing labor and easing unemployment.

    [08] Communist Party says lowest wage should be 1,100 euros pm

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece on Sunday advocated a mini-mum wage of 1,100 euros per month.

    ''The lowest wage for workers, on the basis of the cost of living, should be 1,100 euros,'' Aleka Papariga, the party's general secretary, told a meeting.

    ''Workers should seek the abolition of (main opposition) New Democracy and (ruling) PASOK party bills that hurt employment and social insurance,'' Papariga added.

    [09] Greece has low infant mortality rate

    NEW YORK 19/01/2004 (ANA/P.Panagiotou)

    Greece has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, ranking third along with 11 other mostly European countries, according to data released by UNICEF.

    The vaccination rate in Greece for babies under a year old falls slightly below many other European countries, the worldwide UNICEF report said.

    [10] Police nab four in cocaine-trafficking bust

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    Four suspects have been arrested in a cocaine-trafficking ring that allegedly sold large quantities of cocaine from Latin America to Western Europe through Greece, police said on Saturday.

    The arrest of a Dutch national, two Belgians and one Italian in a Piraeus warehouse followed a tip from Belgian authorities two months ago, and ensuing surveillance.

    Confiscated were 33 kilos of cocaine, police said.

    [11] German national arrested at airport for weapons possession

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    A German national is due to hear charges of weapons possession after a scanner at Athens airport revealed a revolver and cartridges in his luggage, police said on Saturday.

    Arrested on Friday, the German was traveling to Hania, Crete from Hamburg in Germany.

    Police have not identified the man.

    [12] Foreign students arrested near air force camp

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    Three students are being held for questioning after a military patrol found them in the vicinity of an air force camp on Mount Hymettus near Athens, authorities said on Sunday.

    Arrested on Saturday, the Athens university economics students from Germany, Poland and France claimed they were hiking on the mountain and lost their way down, officials said.

    Military authorities confiscated a camera found in possession of the woman and two men.

    [13] Coastguards find 77 migrants aboard ship, arrest crew

    Athens, 19/01/2004 (ANA)

    Five suspected migrant traffickers are to hear charges on Sunday after coastguards intercepted a ship in waters off the south-western Peloponnese carrying 77 illegal immigrants.

    The crew of the North Korean flagged tanker were identified as one Georgian and four Ukrainians, who are due to appear before a public prosecutor in the town of Pylos.

    [14] Papadopoulos flies to Athens for consultations with Greek government

    NICOSIA 19/01/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos begins Monday talks with Greek Premier Costas Simitis to coordinate their response to any future developments in the UN-led effort to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus.

    The agenda of the two leaders is expected to cover all issues pertaining to the possibility of a resumption of peace talks and moves by the Turkish side to press on with all interested parties its apparent readiness to work for a Cyprus settlement.

    Papadopoulos and Simitis are set to review developments in the recent past, assess the situation and, assisted by their top aides, are also likely to discuss the work carried out on possible amendments to the Annan plan the Greek Cypriot side may put forward at future negotiations to ensure compliance with the acquis communautaire and see to it that Cyprus as an EU member will be able to fulfill its obligations with a view at drafting a common future strategy.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

    [15] House delegation discusses Cyprus problem and issues of common interest in Cuba

    LARNACA 19/01/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    A Cypriot parliamentary delegation, headed by House President Demetris Christofias, concluded its visit to Cuba, where it paid an official visit, at the invitation of the Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon.

    Speaking to the press Saturday on his arrival to Cyprus, Christofias said that the delegation had the chance to discuss developments in the Cyprus issue and elaborate on them at all levels and exchanged views on common interest issues with Cuba's government and parliament.

    Referring to the delegation's meeting with Cuba's leader Fidel Castro, Christofias said that it was ''a very warm meeting''.

    He said that during their visit, the Cuban officials expressed Cuba's solidarity with the people of Cyprus and paid attention to what the Cypriot parliamentarians told them about the Cyprus problem.

    ''The Cypriot delegation also had the chance to be briefed on the continuous efforts of the people of Cuba to face the problems that emerge by the international isolation the US is trying to impose on them and the efforts of this people to defend their freedom, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Cuba'', Christofias added.


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