|Sunday, 11 April 2021|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-01-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>January 30, 2006
 Local communities' interests a priority, PM says
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)Local communities' interests are the priority, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said presenting ruling New Democracy's local election strategy during the party's Central Committee meeting on Sunday.
"Local government elections are undoubtedly of a political content," he said, adding that "we support distinguished [cadres], we promote and support not only cadres from our political arena, but also candidates who are strongly supported by local communities, who express constituents' demands."
Karamanlis also said that the ND government will not sacrifice benefits to local communities by engaging in divisive practices and irrational fanaticism.
Referring to the constitutional revision being promoted by the government, the premier referred to the main points of the revision which include: permitting the founding and operation of private, non-state and non-profit universities; reinforcing the judiciary's independence; strengthening transparency in the political system, the public sector and the mass media; ensuring transparency in MPs' campaign spending, taking measures that will not permit the state budget to be affected by past years' figures and others.
Karamanlis also referred to the issue of Church-State relations, saying that each has a distinct role and if there are issues that need to be settled they can be addressed through existing law.
As for changing the procedure regarding the appointment of the President of the Republic, Karamanlis said that experience to date has proven that the existing system "is beneficial to our political system."
"We want a broad and essential dialogue with all political forces, with the scientific community, with social and professional organizations. We are looking for understanding, consensus from all political forces," he said.
This year will be definitive for the economy, for fiscal reform, for securing sustainable development, and increasing employment, he continued.
Furthermore, he said that the government is placing particular emphasis on reforms aimed at cleaning up the broader public sector by fully implementing the law regarding state utilities (DEKO), facilitating entrepreneurship and liberalizing the energy sector.
Karamanlis reiterated that he will not back down in the face of attacks and difficulties engineered by all those afraid of change and the future.
The premier also wished main opposition PASOK President George Papandreou success as he assumes the leadership of Socialist International, to be announced on Monday.
As for the problems created after this week's snowstorm, Karamanlis expressed support to those individuals facing difficulties because of the inclement weather and expressed satisfaction with state agencies' response to the ensuing problems.
"It is well known that the more significant problems arose in regions that do not frequently experience similar weather phenomena, which leads to useful conclusions, allows us to identify causes and to promote necessary measures," he said.
 ND Sec't, Interior Minister, Athens Mayor on local gov't elections
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)Ruling New Democracy Secretary Evangelos Meimarakis, Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis presented their views on the upcoming local government elections, addressing the party's central committee during a meeting on Sunday.
Meimarakis said that ND will not forge any core alliances with any political party during the 2006 municipal elections, effectively summing up the committee's conclusions.
He added that ND encourages cooperation on a local level.
Furthermore, Meimarakis said that the candidacy for prefects and mayors in prefectures' capitals is a political choice, while in all other cases arrangements will be made on a local level.
On his part, Pavlopoulos said that ND can show its superiority regarding its ideology on local government and added that local government means democratic self-organization and the operation of local institutions.
"We want local government to no longer be under the guidance of the state," he said, adding that by reducing the required majority to 42% for the election of mayors and prefects alliances on a local level are encouraged.
In her address, Bakoyannis called for speeding up the evaluation and selection process of municipal and prefecture candidates.
She said that politically, nomination is not that important, but rather the framework and procedures for the evaluation of candidates.
 President Papoulias meets Pope Benedict
VATICAN, 30/1/2006 (ANA)Greece's president of the republic, Karolos Papoulias, on Saturday met Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican following a five-day official visit to Italy.
The two officials exchanged greetings in German and withdrew to the smiling pontiff's office for a 15-minute meeting, later to be joined by ministers accompanying the president.
Benedict awarded Papoulias the Vatican's highest medal, receiving from his visitor a silver tray portraying Christ and the disciples.
Accompanying the head of state were Education Minister Marieta Yiannakou, Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsionis, Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis, and Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis.
President Papoulias also met the prime minister of the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sontano.
Yiannakou is to write to Sontano about forming a committee that will settle the issue of the legal status of Catholics in Greece.
Papoulias returned to Athens later in the day.
President Karolos Papoulias returned over the weekend after a five-day visit to Italy, satisfied with the results of his meetings with political leaders there.
During his visit, Papoulias confirmed the political desire of both countries to further promote bilateral economic, commercial, cultural and educational relations.
According to Greece, further emphasis must be placed on promoting Greek culture abroad. Within this context, the two countries agreed on expanding Greek language courses taught in Italian schools.
On a political level, the two sides agreed that closer bilateral cooperation is needed in regions such as the Balkans, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
 Britain's Straw on the Cyprus issue
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw talked about his recent visits to Nicosia, Ankara and Athens and Turkey's most recent proposal regarding the Cyprus issue in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of the Greek newspaper To Vima.
Referring to his recent visits to Athens, Nicosia, and Ankara, Straw said that these were his own initiative and not officially authorized by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Straw said that he recognizes the Cyprus issue to be a European problem, since the entire island has become an EU member, while the Cypriot government's power applies only to the Greek Cypriot community.
According to the British foreign secretary, no side benefits from a situation that remains stagnant.
Regarding the recent proposal presented by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Straw noted that neither he nor European Commissioner responsible for Enlargement Olli Rehn have adopted the proposal, only that they welcomed it as an initiative aimed at moving things forward.
However, Straw said that he does hail the spirit of this initiative.
As for Ankara's obligations in light of EU accession negotiations, Straw said that it is a separate issue from the Cyprus problem.
According to him, the European Commission must decide whether Turkey has fulfilled its obligations in respect to accession. The Cyprus issue is a separate matter, he said.
Asked to comment on his decision to meet with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat at the latter's 'presidential' office in the northern occupied part of Cyprus and whether this was a gesture signifying an upgrade of the Turkish Cypriot side, Straw said that it was simply in line with his predecessor Malcolm Rifkin when he visited the then Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash in 1996.
Straw said he was sorry that Tassos Papadopoulos, President of the Republic of Cyprus, chose not to meet with him.
 Turkey dedicated to solving Cyprus issue based on UN plan, Turkish FM tells Greek daily
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul expressed his country's dedication to finding a solution to the Cyprus issue within the framework and on the basis of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan in an interview he gave to the Sunday edition of the Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia.
He expressed hopes that such a solution could be agreed upon within 2006, but added that a key prerequisite is for the Greek Cypriot side to submit its views regarding the Annan plan clearly, definitively and in writing to the UN.
Regarding Turkey's recent proposal on the issue and the European Commission's position that it deserves careful consideration, while Nicosia and Athens have rejected the proposal, Gul said that "rejection policies lead nowhere."
He said that he is in favor of "a just, viable solution to the Cyprus issue that will allow Greece, Turkey and Cyprus to create a foundation for cooperation within the framework of a united Europe."
The Turkish minister also referred to Turkey's customs union protocol with the EU, which obliges Ankara to open up its ports and airports to Cypriot ships and planes, saying that "commercial transactions between Turkey and the Greek Cypriot side are being conducted since last year."
"According to our new proposal, we are ready to open our ports and airports to Greek Cypriot ships and planes. At the same time, we expect a lifting of restrictions and the embargo imposed upon Turkish Cypriots," he added.
Asked to comment on Greek-Turkish relations, Gul said that the positive momentum that began in 1999 continued in 2005, referring to a series of measures and actions taken with the objective of normalizing relations.
Finally, regarding Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' postponed visit to Turkey, Gul said that "Turkey will be happy to host Costas Karamanlis at a time that will be convenient for both premiers."
 FM, Serbian president discuss Kosovo
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis discussed developments and prospects regarding Kosovo during a working luncheon with Serbian President Boris Tandic in Athens on Sunday.
Tandic is on an unofficial visit to Greece.
George Papandreou to be elected head of Socialist International ATHENS, 30/1/2006
The head of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), George Papandreou, is to be elected president of the Socialist International on Monday.
Papandreou is the only candidate for the position, following his nomination by a working group of the international headed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero.
Socialist International began its session with a concert at the Athens Concert Hall on Sunday evening featuring world music.
Introducing the session, Papandreou recalled that when his father Andreas, the late premier and founder of PASOK, was imprisoned under the 1967-64 dictatorship, a stranger would sing banned songs by Mikis Theodorakis at his cell bars.
The stranger was arrested and beaten by police but returned undeterred to sing several days later, following his release.
"Song was a political act. It was an act of resistance to the military junta," George Papandreou said.
 Women's Socialist Int'l vows to work for women's rights
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)The Women's Socialist International wound up a two-day meeting in Athens at the weekend, pledging to maintain its campaign for women's rights.
"The road is long, hard and painful. Much has been achieved but much more needs to happen," the group said in a conference resolution on Saturday.
Speakers at the meeting included Aliki Moschi-Gauguet, head of the FAM Network (Women, Art and the Mediterranean), who was voted Woman of Europe in 2004-2006.
Taking part were more than 80 women from 44 countries.
 Main opposition accuses PM of failure to govern
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Sunday accused Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of a failure to govern.
"Unfortunately in his speech today (Sunday), Mr Karamanlis again offered a display of hypocrisy accompanied by an absence of truth and credibility," PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said.
"Only Mr Karamanlis could say 'we're doing well, and we'll do better' about a government like his, because no-one else can see it......Repeating the same thing over and over again as he did today is certainly a communications policy, but it is not a method of government," Athanassakis claimed.
The prime minister was steadily reversing progress by means of conservative policies that hurt the majority of the public and favored the few, the spokesman added.
In a statement later in the day, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said that the public experienced on a daily basis the fact that the country was doing better, and that the government was meeting its pledges.
 PASOK MPs slam gov't, DEH for regional blackouts
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK MPs Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Yiannis Magriotis lashed out on Sunday against ruling New Democracy and the Public Power Corporation (DEH) for the problems in electricity supply experienced by residents on the islands of Cephalonia and Ithaca during last week's snowstorm.
"Both DEH and the government are greatly responsible [for the problems] since the lack of coordination and organization in their operation became apparent. It also shows the blow the choices of [former DEH Chairman Yiannis] Paleokrassas dealt the company," Tsohatzopoulos, former development minister said.
On his part, Magriotis urged the government "to talk less and do more."
 Synaspismos leader in Cuba
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) President Alekos Alavanos is currently visiting Havana as a member of the European Left council, at the invitation of the Communist Party of Cuba.
Alavanos will meet with Cuban officials for talks on Cuba's foreign and economic policy.
 Greek ambassador briefs US officialsWASHINGTON (ANA-MPA/A Ellis)
Greece's ambassador to the United States of America, Alexandros Mallias, held a series of meetings with US government officials Washington this week to brief them on his country's policy around Turkish proposals for the Cyprus issue.
Among officials briefed by Mallias were the defense undersecretary and senior staff at the State Department and National Security Council.
The ambassador noted that Turkey's proposals were a repeat of positions stated in May 2005 in a bid to renegotiate the framework of the neighboring country's relationship with the European Union, a matter that was the subject of tough, lengthy talks until October 3, 2005.
Mallias pointed out that Turkey had failed to comply with its commitments to the EU when the start of entry talks was agreed; and Ankara was now attempting to deviate from the bloc's rules.
 Archbishop of America lays wreath for Makarios
NICOSIA, 30/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/A Viketos)Archbishop Dimitrios of America on Saturday laid a wreath at the tomb of Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus in the Troodos mountains to honor the island republic's first president.
Dimitrios said that ethnic Greeks in the US were working to advance a peaceful and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.
The senior cleric is paying a six-day visit Cyprus that ends on January 29, invited by its president and church synod.
It is the first time that an archbishop of America has visited Cyprus.
 Australian MPs to visit
Athens 30/1/2006 (ANA)A five-member delegation representing Australia's Parliament departed for the Greek capital on Sunday within the context of cooperation between the two countries' parliamentary Greek-Australian Friendship committees.
During their visit, the Australian MPs will discuss expanding commercial relations between the two countries, pensions and other issues of bilateral interest with their Greek counterparts.
 Gennimata on supraprefecture's work and prospects
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)Athens-Piraeus Supraprefect Fofi Gennimata spoke about the supraprefecture's work and prospects in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Eleftherotypia.
Gennimata said that she is concerned with solving the problems in Attica, adding that she believes this is possible through the supraprefecture "which plays an essential role in economic development, urban planning, social policy, environmental issues, transport, civil protection and security."
Regarding political cooperation on the supraprefectural level, Gennimata said that she has supported it in practice during her term in office.
Asked about the internal situation of the main opposition PASOK party, Gennimata said that "PASOK's unity is a great legacy. We must come across as a group that fights the battle collectively; a group that can listen to the concerns of the people who supported it. If such a strong relationship had been established both amongst us as well as with social groups then the mass media would not have chosen to highlight the bickering instead of our work."
 Regional development main goal, Development Min says
ATHENS, 30/1/2006 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said that regional development will be at the core of the government's development initiatives in the near-term future, in comments he made as he inaugurated a development conference in Drama on Saturday.
Sioufas underscored the importance of natural gas installations in Drama's Industrial Zone as well as the importance of this energy source for household use.
He said that the government, through similar actions and interventions on a daily basis, shows its concern for comprehensive regional development.
Sioufas also made particular mention to the EU funds Greece succeeded in securing for the 2007-2013 period, which for the most part will be allocated for regions' economic support and improving infrastructure.
As for Drama, he said that the prefecture is showing signs of rapid development, an advantage that should be capitalized upon.
On his part, Deputy Finance Minister Christos Folias said that the government aims to make Greek regions the centre of the developmental strategy it has undertaken.
"We won the Olympic Games bet, now the time has come for us to win the bet for total and comprehensive development of Greek regions and to highlight the competitive advantages each region has to offer, because from now on the reality is that we only have challenges ahead," he said.
Deputy Minister for Tourism Development Anastasios Liaskos said that tourism is key in terms of regional development, particularly in regions lacking in other forms of productive potential.
On his part, Drama Prefect Constantinos Evmiridis stressed the need for drawing up developmental guidelines for the prefecture.
He said that one of the local government's key goals is to act dynamically and aggressively, not to engage in bureaucratic and dead-end efforts that lead nowhere.
The two-day conference is being organised by the Drama Prefecture in cooperation with the Regional Union of Municipalities and Communities of Drama under the auspices of the Eastern Macedonia-Thrace Region and the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry.
 Bulgaria hosts forum on growth strategy for Thrace
SOFIA, 30/1/2006 (ANA-MPA/ B Borisov)Bulgaria is the host of a three-day conference on a growth strategy for Thrace attended by local officials from three neighboring countries including Greece.
"New horizons are opening for the whole of Thrace - major infrastructure improvement plans backed by the governments of Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, and joint growth initiatives by local government and other bodies in the three countries," Bulgarian president Georgi Parvanov told the forum.
"These initiatives will contribute to attracting investments and to job creation, and they will forge the way for peace, growth and prosperity for the entire region," he said.
Commentators told the ANA/MPA that Parvanov's presence at the meeting showed the importance Sofia attached to a growth strategy for Thrace as a bridge among the three countries in the new era.
Greece is at the forefront of moves as the only member of the European Union in the Balkans and a provider of knowhow to the region. Also key to change is Bulgaria's bid to join the 25-nation bloc, the commentators said.
The president of the Greek Polis (City) network, Vassilis Tsolakidis told the ANA/MPA that Thracians of the three countries had proposed formulating a joint growth plan that would require creation of a non-profit agency to advance the progam at the EU.
 Memorial service for Greek victims of Holocaust held in Thessaloniki
30/1/2006 (ANA)A service in the memory of Greek Jews killed during the Holocaust was held at the Holocaust Monument in Thessaloniki on Sunday.
Speaking at the event, David Saltiel, President of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, said that anyone doubting the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews in Europe should be condemned, since such views give rise to new racist tendencies.
As for the new location of the Holocaust Monument, now situated at Liberty Place, Saltiel said that it is where it belongs since it is the place where German military forces would bring Jews before sending them off to labor camps.
Thessaloniki Prefect Panayiotis Psomiadis said that Sunday's event was one condemning racism.
On his part, the city's mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos stressed that the world will never forget this crime and that Thessaloniki remembers, grieves for and honors the Greek Jews who died so unjustly.
More than 60,000 Greek Jews were killed during the Holocaust, 10,000 of which were students from Thessaloniki and other parts of northern Greece.
US General Consul in Thessaloniki Dimitra Pappas was among those present at the event and conveyed a message from US Ambassador in Athens Charles Ries, who made particular mention to the children killed. He noted that some of these children were students of the American School "Anatolia" which has submitted a proposal that a Greek-Jewish studies department be created in their memory.
Yiorgos Tsiotras, Central Macedonia Regional head, laid a wreath at the monument on behalf of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Foreign diplomats, political figures and local government authorities were also in attendance.
Messages for Holocaust commemoration: Messages from leaders in Greece and abroad were read on Sunday at a memorial in Thessaloniki for Jews from the northern port city killed during the Holocaust.
The commemoration was arranged by the prefecture of Thessaloniki and Anatolia, an American college in Thessaloniki.
Messages were as follows:
Results of the first division soccer championship matches played over the weekend:
Akratitos Athens - Egaleo Athens 0-3
Kallithea Athens - Larissa 2-1
Xanthi - OFI Crete 0-0
Atromitos Athens - PAOK Thessaloniki 2-1
Iraklis Thessaloniki - AEK Athens 4-0
Panathinaikos - Ionikos Piraeus 1-0
Panionios Athens - Olympiakos Piraeus (Match to be played on Monday January 30)
Levadiakos - Apollon Kalamaria (Match to be on Wednesday February 1)
The standings after 17 games:
Olympiakos 42 (16 matches)
Apollon Kalamaria 19 (16 matches)
Levadiakos 14 (16 matches)
Panionios 12 (16 matches)
 Cypriot President says UN chief has not taken position on Turkish proposal
NICOSIA, 30/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had not yet made a statement concerning his positions on the Turkish proposals for the Cyprus problem, adding that he had a 35-minute telephone conversation with Annan on January 27.
President Papadopoulos said that when Annan has spoken with those he deems have an interest in the Cyprus problem and the Turkish proposals, he will decide if he will undertake a role in the matter.
''I reiterated that I had written very recently about our request for him to appoint a permanent representative, who will work to prepare the talks,'' the president said, adding that Annan ''agrees that preparation is necessary before becoming involved in a round of talks.''
The president said he told Annan that appointing a permanent representative should not have to wait until after the May parliamentary elections in the government-controlled areas of the Republic, because these elections ''do not affect the handling of the Cyprus problem, which is not done by the House of Representatives but the executive authority.''
 Iacovou says Cyprus will not accept Turkish proposal
LARNACA, 30/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou said the Turkish proposal for a quadripartite meeting on the Cyprus problem would not be accepted because ''this is the longstanding position of the governments of Cyprus and Greece,'' adding that any pressure on the Greek Cypriot side ''will not bring any results, since it would be a violation of the positions of principle we have had for many years.''
Commenting on the insistence of Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat for a quadripartite meeting on the Cyprus problem, Iacovou clarified that ''such an arrangement will not be accepted'' and that ''the UN Secretary General has the Security Council authorization to provide good services to both communities in Cyprus.''
He noted that ''the reasons that we reject the quadripartite are known, they have been presented repeatedly and thus it will not be accepted and neither will the demand of Talat or his prediction'' that a quadripartite meeting will take place in April or May.
Asked if he expected pressure to be exerted on the Greek Cypriot side to accept the Turkish proposal, Iacovou said he did not feel such pressure and noted that ''pressure will not bring any results, since it would be a violation of the positions of principle we have had for many years.''
Replying to questions, Iacovou said the UN Secretary General has mentioned he would examine the proposal.
Iacovou was speaking at Larnaca Airport before departing for Brussels, where he will participate in the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council.
 House President says Cyprus will not accept quadripartite
LIMASSOL, 30/1/2006 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias said Saturday that the Republic of Cyprus would not
accept a quadripartite meeting on the Cyprus problem, as Turkey has suggested, because that would mean placing the Republic and the regime in the Turkish occupied areas of the island on an equal basis, which is in fact what Turkey is pursuing.
Christofias said ''Turkey has announced a quadripartite ten times so far, since the '80s,'' adding that ''we cannot follow these devices of Turkey, this must be clear and anyone on the international scene flirting with this proposal should forget it.''
Asked if the government was concerned over the fact that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan intends to study the proposal, Christofias said Annan had not welcomed the proposal and that ''out of diplomatic courtesy he should examine it.''