|Sunday, 11 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-11-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>November 29, 2004
 Everyone must contribute to Middle East peace process, PM Karamanlis says in Cairo after talks with Egyptian president Mubarak
Cairo 29/11/2004 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)The priority at this stage was to maintain unity in the ranks of the Palestinian Authority and on the emergence of a responsible leadership through democratic procedures, Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis said Sunday after talks with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, adding that "everyone must contribute to a resumption of the (Middle East) peace process and to the full implementation of the road-map aimed at the speediest possible establishment of a Palestinian state that will co-exist peacefully with Israel.
Speaking to reporters at the end of a three-day official visit to Egypt, Karamanlis praised the positive and wise stance and moderation with which Egypt was working in that direction. He said Greece always firmly supported respect of the principles of international law and the UN resolutions.
With respect to developments in Iraq, he said that "there is no doubt that the stabilization, reconstruction and organization of this much-tried country will have a positive effect on the wider region", and noted that the recent international meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh placed great emphasis on the important and leading role that the UN must play, and at the same time on supporting the political process in which, he stressed, the greatest possible participation of all the Iraqi political forces was necessary.
Karamanlis told reporters that he had briefed Mubarak on the Cyprus issue, following his recent talks with Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos, l and on the Republic of Cyprus' desire for a solution to be found that would ensure the unity and functionality of the state, based on the Annan plan.
The premier further briefed Mubarak on Turkey's European prospect, and also on the obligations that apply to all the candidate countries for EU membership.
Regarding Greek-Egyptian relations, Karamanlis said the close cooperation between the two countries was ascertained, as well as the two sides' volition for further strengthening and improving their bilateral relations.
Karamanlis, who departed for Athens shortly after his talks with Mubarak, had earlier visited the Pyramids and the Sphynx, while his wife Natasha visited the Greek hospital/old age home in Cairo.
PM meets Egyptian counterpart, signs bilateral agreements on tax, cooperation in research: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis arrived in Cairo early on Saturday morning for talks with the Egyptian government during the second day of an official visit to Egypt, the first by a Greek premier in over 12 years.
Karamanlis was met on his arrival in Cairo by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and the two men began talks shortly after noon, covering bilateral affairs, the situation emerging in the Middle East following the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and developments in Iraq.
After the meeting, Karamanlis referred to a "new page in Greek-Arab and bilateral relations" following his visit to Egypt and officially extended an invitation to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Egyptian premier Ahmed Nazif to visit Greece.
"[The Greek government's] meeting and contact with the Egyptian government acquires greater importance because of developments in this area, in which Egypt plays a major part as a significant regional factor. For our part, we particularly appreciate the moderate and stabilizing influence that Egypt has on the region," Karamanlis said.
Following the official talks, the two sides also signed an agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and an agreement for cooperation in research and technology.
The Greek premier said that, among other issues, the meeting had discussed practical ways of further boosting the traditionally good bilateral ties between Greece and Egypt so as to increase the benefits for both countries, which meant promoting cooperation in the areas of economic activity, trade, science, technology and culture. The two governments also decided to step up the organization of business meetings and contacts between the ministries involved in trade affairs.
Karamanlis stressed the importance of cultural dialogue and promoting closeness between cultures in the current era and said it was necessary to upgrade mechanisms for political dialogue between the two countries in order to contribute to initiatives promoting regional dialogue and cooperation.
With regard to EuroMediterranean cooperation, in particular, he said this had not yet proved its reliability or met the goals for which it was established and he called for greater investment in the process. He said there should be a balance between the eastern and western Mediterranean and that Greece could act as a gateway for Egypt into the European Union, while Egypt might become a gateway for Greece into the surrounding region, where it played an important and stabilizing role.
Both the Greek and Egyptian premiers noted that the balance of trade between Greece and Egypt was relatively small and stressed that it could be increased. Nazif, in particular, said that business people could help in this direction through cooperation and investment in the tourism, energy, transport and agricultural markets.
After his talks with Egyptian officials, Karamanlis and his wife Natasha visited the Acropolis in Cairo, while Mrs. Karamanlis had earlier attended the presentation of a Greek book translated into Arabic at the Cairo Opera and the city's Al Halil bazaar.
On his arrival in Cairo, the Greek premier had also visited the Anwar Sadat mausoleum and laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as well as touring the Cairo Museum.
On the last day of his visit on Sunday, Karamanlis is scheduled to tour the Pyramids before meeting Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and attending a working dinner given by Mubarak in the Greek premier's honor.
 PM confirms Greek involvement in the training of Iraqi troops in third country
CAIRO 29/11/2004 (ANA - A. Panagopoulos)Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, currently on an official visit to Egypt, on Saturday confirmed that Greece will participate in the training of Iraqi troops but clarified that this would take place in neither Iraq nor Greece but a third country.
Responding to questions shortly after his meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Karamanlis made the following statement:
"We have repeatedly stated that we wish to assist the reconstruction of Iraq and we are of course ready to participate in the training under NATO auspices of certain security elements in Iraq. The precise schedule will be decided in conjunction with NATO. What is certain is that this training will not take place in Iraq nor in Greece."
 Main opposition leader attends European Socialists' summit in Madrid
MADRID 29/11/2004 (ANA - D. Makri)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Saturday attended a Party of European Socialists (PES) summit held here in Madrid, with the participation of five heads of government and 20 socialist party leaders.
During the meeting, which ended on Saturday afternoon, Papandreou had the opportunity to meet his European counterparts and brief them on his recent trip to Ramallah and his talks in Israel with Shimon Perez and Palestinian officials.
Talking to reporters, Papandreou said he had conveyed his views on developments in the area and the need for socialist parties to play a decisive role in the peace process for the region. Recent events in the Ukraine and the need to establish democratic principles were another issue discussed at the meeting, as was the European Constitution Treaty, for which PASOK has asked that there be a national referendum.
During the summit, the socialist party leaders discussed the prospects of Turkey's accession to the European Union and its relations with the EU after December 17, when European leaders will decide about giving Turkey a date for the start of accession negotiations.
Papandreou criticized the Greek government's stance on this issue, saying that he would have expected it to speak more clearly where such matters were concerned.
"Personally, I adopted a position on the issue of Turkey, stressing the strategy we have followed all these years, which essentially says 'yes' to Turkey's European prospects but also says 'yes' to solving the major problems that concern Greek-Turkish relations and Cyprus," he said.
"In this framework, I stressed that we must in our decisions noted the need for the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations with specific phraseology - which was accepted - for Cyprus recognition, the withdrawal of troops from Cyprus and, of course, good neighborly relations in accordance with the UN charter," Papandreou noted.
PASOK's leader said his proposals had been adopted by PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, who had also asked him to become vice-president of the European Socialists' assessment team for Turkey.
 Government's economic policy is a four-year policy, economy minister Alogoskoufis says in newspaper interview
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)The government's economic policy is a four-year policy, and there is nothing incidental or pre-electoral about it, it is a decision that had been taken before the previous elections, economy and finance George Alogoskoufis said in an interview appearing in Sunday's edition of Kathimerini daily.
"We knew that the problems we would face were immense, just as we knew that our strategy would be one of mild adjustment," the minister added.
Referring to the growth of the national economy, Alogoskoufis noted that following the Athens 2004 Olympic Games "we must head to a different manner of development of the Greek economy".
"The development of the economy can no longer be based exclusively on public investments, as was the case in the past and in recent years with the Olympics projects. We must head to a rational growth that is based on the private sector, the outward-reaching sectors of the economy, as is a large section of industry, commerce, services and tourism. Naturally, the construction branch will continue to be of great importance to the growth of the Greek economy, but we must ensure that growth must come from the private sector," he explained.
Turning to the initiatives the government intends to take in the economic sector following the new taxation and developmental bills, Alogoskoufis said that the goal was to advance an institutional framework for the small, co-financed projects, which was lacking. "This will be one of our main initiatives at the beginning of the coming year," he said.
On the matter of the recent fiscal audit of the Greek economy, the minister said that it was a central choice of the government, a "basic ingredient of our platform" which was "materialized in the best possible way".
He noted, inter alia, that "there is no issue of sanctions against Greece", adding that "if we had not restored transparency, naturally there would have been a problem because the European statistical service (Eurostat) was after the Greek government for the past 2-3 years, and it was only a matter of time before Eurostat itself discovered the deficits that were uncovered with the fiscal audit".
Questioned on the timing of the government's announcement of the candidate it would nominate for the post of President of the Republic, Alogoskoufis said he believed that "the government should open it up at the proper time, which is certainly inside the New Year".
 Turkey has not received 'carte blanche', on Greece's position at EU summit next month, Greek ambassador to Cyprus Panagopoulos says
Nicosia 29/11/2004 (ANA/G. Leonidas)Greece is proceeding constructively, positively and creatively on the issue of Turkey, but is at the same time reminding Ankara that it has not received a "carte blanche", Greece's ambassador to Cyprus Christos Panagopoulos said in an interview appearing Sunday in the Cypriot newspaper "Fileleftheros".
Replying to questions, Panagopoulos left open all prospects with respect to the final position Greece will take on December 17 -- at the EU summit which will decide on whether to grant Turkey a date for commencement of negotiations for its EU accession -- if Turkey did not realize that it must fulfill its obligations.
"The right of veto should not be vilified," he said, adding that a veto "is truly a very serious issue, however, institutionally, it exists".
"We do not want to think of that, which in fact is not desired, but if the other side's (Turkey) provocative attitude forces us, all the prospects are open," he warned.
Asked whether there were any indications of results from Athens' and Nicosia's campaign to have conditions included in the Conclusions of the December summit, the Greek envoy replied that "we have a long way to go, mainly on the hottest issues, and naturally on the contentious issue of setting a date for commencement of Turkey-EU accession negotiations".
There was a prevailing impression that the Turkey chapter would be in play up until the last minute, despite the fact that the current EU presidency, just as every EU presidency, wants to prepare all the issues in advance of the summit, Panagopoulos said, adding that it was an item that would dominate the summit.
He added that Greece's and Cyprus' campaign was not aimed only at the summit Conclusions, but also at impressing upon the European partners "that which was very clearly put forward" by Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis and Cyprus president Tassos Papadopoulos during Karamanlis' recent visit to Cyprus "that there is the strategic choice of Turkey's European course".
"We support that course. But at the same time -- and this is the particularity that must be explained in personal contacts -- Turkey cannot consider that because we have this initial position it means that it has secured a 'carte blanche'...In not doing anything, or even worse in following a provocative tactic and attitude towards us, that it consider that it will secure a date for the commencement of its accession negotiations with the EU. This message is being passed," Panagopoulos said.
To a question on whether the issue of recognition (of the Republic of Cyprus by Turkey) would be included in the summit Conclusions, Panagopoulos said there were many and varying opinions.
Diplomatic relations must be established, relations must be normalized, there must be protection of the consular nature of the citizens, etc., he said, adding, however, that "today, there is a total void".
Panagopoulos explained that it was incomprehensible that Turkey was not transacting with an EU member state, "and this is what must be corrected before December 17". But Turkey will find this ahead of it "because life will continue", he said, adding that "it is in its interests to resolve this matter. I think that some quarters in Ankara perceive that Turkey must transact with all 25 EU member countries".
Asked whether any scenario existed that between December 17 and the date of commencement of Turkey-EU accession negotiations there would be a new effort to resolve the Cyprus issue, Panagopoulos explained that there were landmark dates, such as December 17, "but I don't think that they should be considered as the end of the world". "It is, however, a significant date for the Cyprus issue and Turkey's relations with the EU. There are other landmarks. The next one will be -- provided Turkey secures it -- the date of commencement of its accession negotiations. I don't know when that will be, but the second half of 2005, or perhaps a little later, has bee heard. Bug there is no specific plan that will determine a new process (aimed at a Cyprus solution). In other words, there is no specific timetable, although we desire it, and President Papadopoulos has repeatedly stated that he is prepared to begin the negotiation process again".
Panagopoulos also said that there were differing assessments on probable gestures on Turkey's part.
"We feel that Turkey in recent years has made steps in its democratization and some fundamental changes domestically. But the internal clash between the forces that want the democratization of the country and its rapprochement with Europe with the old forces that express the underlying state still runs strong," he said, adding that Turkey, generally speaking, had not abandoned its various unilateral claims against Greece, "which are unfounded".
Asked if Greece and Cyprus shared a common stance on the December 17 summit, Panagopoulos said that there was constant cooperation and continuous coordination, and "this is our fundamental weapon against the situation we have before us".
 Deputy defense minister Mihaloliakos to represent Greece at 1st Reversionary Conference of Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel mines
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)Deputy defense minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos leaves Sunday for Nairobi to represent the Greek government at the 1st Reversionary Conference of the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel mines, being held in the Kenyan capital under the aegis of the UN.
The pact, which was adopted in Oslo on September 18, 1997 and signed in Ottawa on December 3-4, 1997, has been ratified by 143 countries, including Greece and Turkey, and bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines, and stipulates that mined areas must be cleared within 10 years. The US, China and Russia are among 51 countries that have not signed the Convention.
In accordance with the terms of the Convention, Greece submitted to the UN a report in August notifying that it had 1,566,532 mines in storage, and 24,751 live mines (in position), and that it intended to keep a very small number for the training needs of military personnel in mine removal.
It is noted that Greece continues to have live mines in minefields which are cleary marked out and fenced in but which, however, are occasionally entered by illegal immigrants. Specifically, along the Evros region, there were 66 deaths and 149 injuries between 1987 and 2004. In 2003, specifically, there were 11 deaths and 5 injuries, while from the beginning of 2004 to the present there were 4 deaths and 24 injuries.
A ministry announcement said that Greece has removed all anti-personnel mines on its border with Bulgaria, and was proceeding normally in the removal of mines along its border with Albania, while it has also fenced in the minefields along its border with Turkey, in accordance with the Ottawa agreement, and intended to fulfill its obligations within the deadlines set out in the accord.
 Deputy foreign minister attends 10th Francophone Organization Summit
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis on Saturday represented Greece at the 10th Summit of Organization International de la Francophone (OIF) member-states, which took place in Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso in West Africa.
Greece's application for associate membership of the organization was formally accepted during the course of the meeting, along with those of Andorra, Austria, Croatia, Hungaria, Armenia and Georgia.
In his address to the meeting, which chiefly discussed the organization's lines of policy over the next 10 years, Valynakis thanked the member-states for their vote and stressed its additional importance in view of Greece's election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
He also asked the member-states of the Francophone organization to support Greece's bid to host the EXPO 2008 world trade fair, promising that French will be one of the official languages at the fair.
After Greece was officially accepted into the ranks of the 'Francophone', Valynakis said that the country's membership of an organization with its roots in European tradition was "one more sign of our country's traditional dedication to European ideals."
He also stressed that, at a time when Europe was changing, Greece's membership symbolized its position in favor of preserving Europe's rich linguistic legacy and resist the domination by a single language that would also affect Greek in the long term.
"We believe in a Europe that speaks with one voice but not in a Europe that speaks only one language," he added.
Greece's inaugural ceremony will be officially held in Athens on December 3 and 4, to which the President of the Hellenic Republic, the Prime Minister and others have been invited to present their experience with the French language.
 Interior minister chairs 5th Session of regional authority general secretaries
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Saturday chaired the 5th Session of regional authority general secretaries in Thessaloniki, which covered the prospects and future of the regional administrative sections of Greece.
The meeting focused particularly on the administrative reorganization of regional authorities along two main lines: the creation of an administrative authority to handle the Community Support Framework funds and civil protection.
Pavlopoulos and the regional authority heads discussed gender equality issues and projects inducted into the Athens 2004 program that were not completed.
Earlier, the minister met the board of the city's school for the blind to discuss issues pertaining to the operation of the school.
 Greek Communist Party leader tours Thessaloniki, presents positions on farming issues
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga on Saturday visited farming communities in Thessaloniki prefecture and outlined her party's positions on the problems faced by farmers throughout Greece, accusing the government of following the same anti-farmer policies as the previous government of ruling PASOK by adopting European Union policy.
She called on farmers to fight alongside workers in the struggle against the anti-working-class policies adopted by the present New Democracy government and main opposition PASOK before them.
 Commercial Bank prepared to discuss alternative proposals for resolving social insurance issue
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)The Commercial Bank of Greece (Emporiki) is prepared to discuss alternative proposals for resolving the bank's social insurance problem, Emporiki president George Provopoulos said in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Eleftherotypia newspaper, one week after the Union of Emporiki Employees rejected the plan he had proposed.
 Trade unionists affiliated to ruling party complain of 'poor communication' with certain ministers
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)The conference of the DAKE trade union group affiliated to ruling New Democracy continued in a climate of controversy for the second day on Saturday, with complaints by trade unionists that ministers and directors of state-sector organizations were refusing to meet employees and discuss their problems.
At the same time, they expressed full support for Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Re-elected DAKE president Costas Poupakis told reporters that "communication with ministers was not at the level trade unionists would like" when asked if ministers were display signs of arrogance.
Earlier in the day, Poupakis had an in-camera meeting with ND Central Committee Secretary Vangelis Meimarakis, after which Meimarakis said that DAKE was a pillar of support for ND and the government through dialogue and understanding in areas that must be improved.
According to sources, Meimarakis admitted that specific ministers had shown symptoms of arrogance during the meeting and had pledged to support DAKE as party secretary so that it had the appropriate treatment from all the government.
On his part, Poupakis stressed that the DAKE had been patient up until the Euro-elections and the Olympic Games but its patience was now running out and he called on Meimarakis to convey the situation and how this was viewed by trade unionists to the prime minister.
 Association of Greek Banks launches informational campaign for customers
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)The Association of Greek Banks (EET) has launched an informational campaign aimed at facilitating and reducing costs for customers in their transactions with their banks.
EET advises customers to opt for alternative networks of banking products and services, such as using automatic teller machines (ATMs) and transactions via Internet (on-line banking) and by telephone in order to reduce the operational cost and fees incurred in their transactions with banks.
The campaign will continue over the coming weeks on a variety of issues of interest to bank customers.
 Delays at Athens airport due to security personnel strike
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)Passengers flying from Athens' 'Eleftherios Venizelos' international airport faced delayed flights and long queues over the weekend due to a strike by the security staff employed by private security firms hired to check passengers and their luggage before boarding.
On Sunday afternoon, the strikers were in a meeting with the management of the contractor firms to reach an agreement, following an earlier announcement that they would extend their strike until 16:15 on Tuesday.
The announcement prompted the airport's management to ask the strikers and the contractor security firms to "heed their responsibilities", while warning that the airport's management would exhaust all legal means to restore the smooth operation of the airport.
The airport management also apologized to passengers on behalf of the airport operator and staff, stressing that there was no dispute between the airport's management and the strikers since the airport did not intend to reduce the number of jobs.
Problems were particularly acute from Sunday afternoon and on Saturday morning, as the airport's own security personnel struggled to process passenger traffic during peak hours.
Sources said the striking security personnel are demanding guarantees that they will keep their jobs from January as well as back pay from their employers.
The airport's contract with the current security firms expires at the end of the year and a European tender is currently underway to select the firms that will take over from January 1. There are no plans to reduce the number of security personnel, however, while an airport announcement said that all the firms that submitted bid in the tender have supplied written guarantees that they will re-employ 75-80 percent of the specialist workforce that is already working at the airport.
 Supreme Court prosecutor refuses to re-open stock market mismanagement case
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)The Supreme Court Public Prosecutors department has refused to follow up an appeal by the Association of Small-Scale Investors seeking to reverse a ruling dismissing charges in case of alleged stock-market mismanagement, finding that there was no cause to move for reversal. Following the decision taken last week, the case has been permanently placed on file.
The investors' association asked the Supreme Court Prosecutor to reverse an Appeals Justices Council ruling that rejected an appeal lodged by an Appeals Court Vice-Prosecutor against an Athens Misdemeanors Justices Council decision to dismiss charges of breach of duty against members of the Capital Markets Commission, related to the activity of bubble stocks in the period Nov. 10, 1999 until Dec. 11, 1999.
 National Resistance Day celebrated in Thessaloniki
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)National Resistance Day was celebrated Sunday in Thessaloniki, beginning with a doxology and followed by an event at the Monument of the National Resistance during which representatives of the government, the political parties, the local authorities and resistance organizations laid wreaths at the monument.
Deputy sports minister George Orfanos said that "today is a day of remembrance, a day of common course for the Greek people who remember the struggles waged by the national resistance".
Thessaloniki prefect Panayotis Psomiadis said that the commemoration "proves once again that the Greek people, the political forces, when divided, offer only tribulations to the country and the people, but, united, we can raise Greece even higher".
National Resistance Day is a commemoration in memory of those who lost their lives fighting against the German occupation in 1941-44.
Gorgopotamos 62nd anniversary commemorated: The 62nd anniversary of the blowing up of the Gorgopotamos Bridge, near Lamia, when opposing Greek resistance organizations joined forces for the operation that seriously crippled the flow of Nazi military supplies was celebrated at the site on Sunday, marking National Resistance Day.
Education minister Marietta Yannakou, representing the government at the event, said that the blowing up of the Gorgopotamos bridge on November 25, 1942, constituted one of the most important moments and one of the strongest acts of sabotage that undermined the German campaign and its development.
Ruling New Democracy central committee secretary Vassilis Meimarakis said that the commemoration honored the greatness of the Greek nation, which could accomplish great things and set the example.
Main opposition PASOK deputy Christos Papoutsis said that Gorgopotamos marked the common desire of the Greeks for freedom and democracy, and proved the value of national agreement and the unity of the people when required.
 Ecumenical Patriarch praises Pope's gesture in returning holy relics taken during Crusades
Istanbul 29/11/2004 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos I on Saturday praised Pope John Paul for his "historically important" gesture in returning the relics of two saints that were taken from Constantinople (now Istanbul) during the Crusades in 1204.
Speaking during an ecumenical celebration in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Saturday, where he received the relics of Saints John Chrysostomos and Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus) from Pope John Paul, Vartholomeos said that the gesture redressed an injustice and ecclesiastical anomaly committed eight centuries earlier and hailed it as an act that "healed old wounds and prevented new ones".
"There are no insuperable obstacles when love, justice and peace converge," the Patriarch added during the ceremony.
An announcement by the Holy See underlined that Saturday's act was a sign that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches will jointly move toward unity.
Representing Greece at the ceremony were Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis and the Greek ambassadors to Rome and the Vatican. Also present was Archbishop of America Dimitrios, at the head of a large delegation of Greek expatriates from the United States.
The Patriarch is due to return to Istanbul to celebrate the November 30 feast of St Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, accompanied by a Holy See delegation comprised of Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Bishop Brian Farrell, Archbishop Farhat and Msgr. Johan J. Bonny.
According to a background document from the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Patriarch Bartholomeos I met John Paul II in Rome on June 29, 2004, at which time he invited the Pope to Istanbul, and also asked if the relics of the saints could be returned from the Vatican, where they are kept in St. Peter's Basilica, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. An exchange of letters between the Pope and the Patriarch followed, and this week's encounter is the result of that correspondence.
"The handing over of the relics," says the communique, "is a deep encouragement to walk the path of unity: the mortal remains of the two Saints, Patriarchs of Constantinople, who did everything possible to safeguard unity between East and West, venerated in their land of origin, welcomed with great honors in the Church of Rome, which for many centuries has preserved and venerated them, walk once again on the path to the East, thanks to this gesture of spiritual sharing which nourishes and fortifies communion between the Sees of Peter and Constantinople."
Pope John Paul has asked that the relics be placed in two crystal shrines and enclosed in precious alabaster reliquaries. When they arrive in Istanbul on Saturday, they will be placed in a chapel of the patriarchate and, on the feast of St. Andrew, they will be permanently placed in the patriarchal church of St. George.
The relics of the two saints were kept in the Holy Apostles church in Byzantium, where the Emperor's tombs were also located, up until 1204. The relics were removed in looting during the first sacking of Constantinople (now Istanbul) and were taken to Venice and from there to Rome, where they were placed in St. Peter's Basilica for safekeeping.
Saturday's ceremony in St. Peter's was transmitted live via television in both the United States and Greece, among others.
 Ecumenical Patriarch expresses hope for revival of theological dialogue between Catholic, Orthodox Churches
ISTANBUL 29/11/2004 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos I on Sunday expressed hope that talks due to begin in Fanar on Monday with an official delegation from the Vatican will lead to a revival of theological dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, which has been stalled for the past six years.
In a sermon on Sunday, Vartholomeos said that the ecumenical dialogue dated back 25 years, when Pope John Paul II, then newly-elected, visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
"The fact that he carried out this official visit to the primary see of the Eastern Church proves in a clear and eloquent way his intention to promote ecumenical dialogue during his papacy," the Patriarch said, noting that this dialogue chiefly concerned good relations with the Orthodox Church, which was closer to the Catholic Church, than with "our protestant brothers".
The Patriarch also referred to the last "eventful meeting" of the mixed committee for theological dialogue in Baltimore, which had resulted in the present impasse, noting that theological dialogue was needed to clear up the theological points on which the two Churches currently disagreed.
The talks will begin just two days after the Vatican, in a high-profile gesture of reconciliation greeted by the Patriarch as 'historic', returned the relics of two saints, former Patriarchs of Constantinople John Chrysostomos and Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus), that were taken from Constantinople (now Istanbul) in 1204 during the Crusades. The return took place during a ceremony and ecclesiastical celebration at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on Saturday in the presence of visiting dignitaries and prelates that was broadcast in several countries around the world. An announcement by the Holy See underlined that Saturday's act was a sign that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches will jointly move toward unity.
On his return to Istanbul with the relics on Saturday evening, the Patriarch was accompanied by a Holy See delegation comprised of Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Bishop Brian Farrell, Archbishop Farhat and Msgr. Johan J. Bonny, who are due to begin talks with a Patriarchal delegation on Monday.
Pope John Paul has asked that the relics be placed in two crystal shrines and enclosed in precious alabaster reliquaries. On the feast, Tuesday, of St. Andrew, patron saint of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, they will be permanently placed in the patriarchal church of St. George.
The relics of the two saints were kept in the Holy Apostles church in Byzantium, where the Emperor's tombs were also located, up until 1204. The relics were removed in looting during the first sacking of Constantinople and were taken to Venice and from there to Rome, where they were placed in St. Peter's Basilica for safekeeping.
 'Bitter Dream' by Iran's Amiryousefi wins 'Gold Alexander' at 45th Thessaloniki Film Festival
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)The film "Bitter Dream" by 32-year-old Iranian director Mohsen Amiryousefi on Sunday won the top prize for best full-length film in the international competition of the 45th Thessaloniki Film Festival, the Gold Alexander, along with a cash prize of 37,000 euros.
The Silver Alexander or "Special Jury Award" and the accompanying 22,000-euro cash prize was shared equally by the films "Harvest Time" by Russian director Marina Razbezhkina and "Una de Dos" (One or the Other) by 30-year-old Argentinean director Alejo Hernon Taube.
The award for best director went to Mexico's Fernando Eimbcke for 'Temporada de Patos' (Duck Season) and the best screenplay award was given to Gonzalo Delgado Galiana, Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll for the film 'Whisky' from Uruguay.
Awards for Best Actress and Best Actor went to Mirella Pascual for her role in 'Whisky' and Simon Abkarian for his part in the Israeli/French production Ve Lakachta Lecha Isha (To Take a Wife) directed by Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz.
'Harvest Time' also won the festival's Artistic Achievement Award, while the jury singled out the Turkish film "Karpuz Kabugundan Gemiler Yapmak" (Boats out of Watermelon Rinds) by Ahmet Ulucay for a special mention.
The award ceremony for the international competition of the film festival took place on Sunday at 20:30 in Thessaloniki's Olympion cinema and was followed by the screening (out of competition) of the film "House of Flying Daggers" by renowned Chinese director Zang Yimou.
Parallel awards were given by the FIPRESCI jury to the film 'Lu Mao Tze' (The Green Hat) by Chinese director Liu Fendou in the international competition and the film 'Delivery' by Nikos Panayotopoulos of Greece in the Greek Films 2004 competition.
The Jameson Public Choice Awards went to "Bitter Dream" in the international section and 'My Fevgeis' (Don't Go) by Alexandros Pandazoudis in the Greek Films 2004 section, which comes with a 3,000 euro prize.
The Greek Film Critics Association (PEKK) award was shared equally by the films 'Alithini Zoi' (Real Life) by Panos Koutras and 'CC TV' by Vassilis Katsikis.
Finally, the Greek Union of Film, Television and Audiovisual Technicians (ETEKT) award for a Greek production in the Greek Films 2004 section went to the film 'Nyfes' (Brides) by Pantelis Voulgaris.
 Drug trafficking reaches worrisome dimensions in northeastern Greece
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)The trafficking and use of narcotic substances in northeastern Greece has taken on worrisome dimensions, as nearly every day since the beginning of the year police have been announcing the arrest of individuals charged with supplying narcotic substances to users and the pinpointing of hashish cultivations and youths in possession of heroin, hashish or narcotic pills, according to police sources.
In the latest incident, drug squad police in Xanthi, in cooperation with their colleagues in Drama, arrested two persons on charges of drug possession and trade.
A policeman posing as a dealer set up an appointment with the two individuals, who arrived in their cars, and "sold" a sack containing three packages of hashish weighing a total 3.020 kilos, for 5,000 euro, which the policeman paid for in marked bills. After the transaction was completed, the police officer showed his police ID to the two dealers and, assisted by two colleagues, arrested them.
In a similar incident in Xanthi, a 22-year-old man and 23-year-old woman from Komotini attempted to sell 840 grams of hashish for 1,800 euro to a Xanthi policeman posting as a customer, and were arrested.
Also two Bulgarian nationals who had illegally entered Greece "sold" 12 kilos of hashish to Drama undercover police officers, who arrested the dealers.
 Four visiting Cypriot students detained in air gun attacks on commuter buses in central Athens
Athens 29/11/2004 (ANA)Four Cypriot students who were in Athens on an excursion have been detained and were being questioned by security police in connection with air-gun attacks on urban buses between late Friday night and early afternoon on Saturday on central Panepistimiou Street outside the Grande Bretagne Hotel off Syntagma Square, where the students were staying.
The students are accused of firing against three public transport buses with an air gun, and one of the buses, which was attacked at 2:00 in the afternoon on Saturday, was filled with passengers, but fortunately there were not injuries. The air gun broke one window on each of the three buses.
A police investigation pinpointed the four students, who were detained and the air gun was confiscated.
Security police were investigating the degree of involvement of each of the four students in the incidents in order to draw up case files with which the four detainees would be brought before a public prosecutor on Monday.
 Europe understands Cyprus' positions in view of 17th December
LARNACA 29/11/2004 (CNA/ANA)There is no doubt that there is full understanding in Europe on the positions of the Republic of Cyprus regarding Turkey's EU bid, Foreign Minister George Iacovou stated on Sunday.
Speaking at Larnaca Airport upon his return from Berlin and Madrid, Iacovou said ''our desire is this conception to be translated into practical policy in the EU' Summit Council of December 17th''.
We have the duty, he said, ''to inform all our partners about our positions'' adding this is carried out in various diplomatic levels during the visits of Cyprus President as well as his abroad.
Referring to his meeting with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer he said that they discussed Turkey's prospects in view of the 17th December EU Summit.
''It is known that Germany supports Turkish bid to join the EU'', Iacovou said adding that despite this fact, his German counterpart listened with great interest to the positions of the Cyprus Republic.
Concerning his meeting with his Spanish counterpart in Madrid Miguel Angel Moratinos, Iacovou said that they also discussed about Turkey's prospects in view of the 17th December EU Summit.
He announced that Moratinos will visit Ankara and have discussions pointing out issues raised by the Republic of Cyprus.