|Wednesday, 11 December 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-04-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>April 30,, 2004
 Bank of Greece governor warns of inflation danger
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Bank of Greece governor Nikos Garganas on Thursday expressed his concern over a possible jump in the inflation rate in the country ahead of the summer Olympic Games and urged the government to adopt a tight fiscal policy.
Presenting his annual report on the economy, Garganas sounded worried with a widening fiscal deficit and public debt levels and urged for greater transparency in fiscal management. The central banker predicted that achieving real convergence "will be a major challenge for the country's economic policy in the current and the next decade".
Bank of Greece's governor set out five policy priorities: - Promoting structural reforms to enhance labor market flexibility and adopting more effective employment policies and reforming a procedure of setting wage pay rises. "A more effective function of the labor market must be achieved in a way combining employment flexibility and safety for workers," Garganas said. - supporting business activity through the creation of a business-friendly environment, - accelerating privatizations and the deregulation of certain crucial markets to boost competition, - upgrading education and attracting foreign scientists in Greece, - promoting a restructuring of public administration to become more effective.
The bank's report emphasized on fiscal restructuring, including efforts to effectively deal with the social insurance problem. "The social insurance issue remains open," Garganas said.
The central banker urged for cuts in primary budget spending, a development linked with transparency and the abolition of special accounts by government ministries.
Garganas, however, declined to comment on whether the government's pre-election policy pledges could be implemented in view of the current economic situation and after the news that the country's fiscal deficit exceeded the 3.0 percent limit set by the Stability Pact.
He set, however, three preconditions to achieve the government's "ambitious" goals: First, adopting widespread economic and institutional reforms to boost the country's economic growth potential, second, adopting a suitable fiscal policy orientated towards growth and stability and third, adopting a new policy on rationalizing spending in the healthcare sector and dealing with the social insurance problem to ensure a sustainable and long-term fiscal balance.
Garganas urged for reforms in a procedure of setting wage pay rises and for measures to promote flexibility in the labor market and boosting employment.
BoG chief fears exacerbation of inflationary pressures due to Olympics:
Nikos Garganas, the governor of Greece's central bank, on Thursday expressed strong concern of an exacerbation of inflationary pressures in August due to the Olympic Games.
Presenting the Bank of Greece's annual report on the Greek economy, Garganas called on the government to reform to the fiscal order set out in the Stability Pact by reducing the budget deficit and, in that framework, opposed ''generous increases in the public sector''.
Garganas also set out three conditions for achieving what he termed the ''ambitious targets'' set by the new government. First of all, the adoption of a wide range of further economic and institutional reforms aimed at raising the growth potential of the Greek economy. Second, implementation of an appropriate fiscal policy, which he said should be geared toward growth and stability. Third, the adoption of specific policy, such as, for example, the rationalization of expenditure for health and healthcare, and tackling the social insurance issue, in order to ensure a sustainable fiscal balance in the long-term.
The Bank of Greece governor also called for the advancement of changes in the salary determination procedure so as to ensure that salaries reflect the differences in productivity. He further proposed the formulation of flexible conditions in the job market in order to increase employment.
 EU adopts Cyprus Green Line regulation
BRUSSELS 30/4/2004 (ANA -A.Simatos /CNA)The Council of EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers meeting in Luxembourg approved on Thursday a proposal entitled ''Green Line Regulation'', which determines the legal framework of the crossing of goods, persons and services as from 1st May 2004 in Cyprus.
The regulation clearly determines the legal framework of the
demarcation line (dividing the government-controlled southern part and the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island) and safeguards that the ''Green Line'' does not constitute an external border of the EU. It also secures the central role of the Republic of Cyprus concerning the responsibility and control of commercial transactions, an official statement said here on Thursday.
Regarding the treatment of goods arriving from the areas not under the effective control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus, these shall be accompanied by a document issued by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce duly authorized for that purpose by the Commission, in agreement with the Government of Cyprus or by another body so authorized in agreement with the latter.
All goods coming from the north and complying with the EU conditions shall have the status of Community goods.
According to the regulation, the competent authorities of the Republic shall check the authenticity of the document provided by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.
The approval of the regulation confirms the willingness of the
Republic of Cyprus to reunite Cyprus and to economically recover the Turkish Cypriot community by developing relations and commercial exchanges, the statement concluded.
The regulation also anticipates that the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus will check all persons crossing the ''Green Line'' with the purpose of combatting illegal immigration by citizens of third countries and to detect and prevent any threat for public security and state policy.
All persons desiring to cross the ''Green Line'' will be obliged to undergo at least one check to determine their identity at entry checkpoints located in the areas of the Ledra Palace and Agios Dometios.
As regards citizens from third countries (non-EU member-states) crossing will be permitted for those:
a. in possession of, during the check, a residence permit issued by the Republic of Cyprus or a valid travel document, as well as an entry permit (visa) if necessary, and
b. those not constituting a threat for state policy and public security.
 Gov't says Erdogan's planned tour in Thrace not a cause for concern
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)A planned tour of Thrace by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he visits the country in May is not a cause of concern for Greece, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos told reporters on Thursday.
''Mr. Erdogan is an official guest of the Greek government and is therefore welcome, while his visit indicates the improvement in Greek-Turkish relations and mutual trust,'' the spokesman said.
Regarding the tour of Thrace, which is home to large numbers of Greece's Moslem minority, Roussopoulos stressed that Erdogan had a right to meet with those that shared his religion and that this underlined the maturity of Greek democracy, which faced such incidents without fear, concern and insecurity.
''We have nothing to hide and, on the contrary, we are showing off our achievements. Our democracy is a model of an open society with equality before the law and the state and respect for human rights. We have shed the insecurities of the past and have established a relationship that dispels all forms of suspicion,'' he said.
He stressed that Greece now had a modern European policy on minorities and was building ties of friendship and trust with neighboring countries, in which areas such as Thrace acted as ''firm bridges of friendship and cooperation''.
He announced that the Turkish premier will be accompanied Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsatsionis and Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on the last day of his visit to Greece.
 Result of Cyprus referenda show Russia's veto was justified, Moscow envoy says
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)The results of the referenda on Cyprus vindicate Russia's policy of using its veto at the United Nations Security Council, since Moscow judged that the vote should follow and not precede the referenda," Russian Ambassador in Athens Andrei Vdovin said at an event organized by the Institute of International Relations.
Vdovin was speaking on Wednesday on "Prospects of cooperation between Russia and the West". Referring to the Cyprus issue and the Annan plan for reunification, he said the interests of both sides had not been taken into account and criticized the pressure put on both sides to vote in favor of the plan.
He noted, however, that the Annan plan should remain the basis for negotiations.
 PM to meet UN envoy Alvaro de Soto on Friday
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is due to meet United Nations special envoy for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto on Friday at 11:30, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.
The spokesman reiterated that the reunification of Cyprus through an agreed solution remained a goal of the Greek government and that it will strive to preserve current international interest and the present momentum for a solution undiminished, so as to bring about a solution that provided a sense of security for all Cypriots.
On Thursday morning the premier met World Council of Overseas Hellenes (SAE) president Andrew Athens.
 State Department report says Greece makes progress in battle against terrorism
WASHINGTON 30/4/2004 (ANA/T. Ellis)Greece continues to make progress in the battle against terrorism, particularly internally, this year's State Department report on terrorism said. It gave emphasis to the arrest of the members of November 17 terrorist group and the conviction of most of them.
The report, released on Thursday, invokes statements by the chief of the Greek Police and notes that there are still members of N17 who have not been arrested and that investigations are continuing for their detection.
The report further notes the arrest of five members of the Greek Revolutionary Struggle (ELA), ''the oldest, even though less known terrorist group,'' and gives emphasis to the voting of tough laws according to which terrorism ''for the first in Greek law constitutes a crime,'' while the write-off limit increases from 20 to 30 years.
The report also refers to the continuing actions by anarchists about which it stresses that they cause limited scale damage, even though the target is often businesses of American concern.
It gave mention to cooperation regarding the combatting of international terrorism and within this framework the report notes the participation of Greek units, ships and aircraft in the peacekeeping force which has been deployed in Afghanistan.
Finally, the report stresses the international cooperation of the relevant authorities of seven countries for the confrontation of a possible terrorist attack during the Olympic Games, as well as the spending by Greece of 750 million dollars for this purpose.
 Commission satisfied with approval of 'Green Line' regulation
BRUSSELS 30/4/2004 (ANA - V. Demiris)The European Commission on Thursday expressed satisfaction with the approval of the regulation governing the status of the ''Green Line'' on Cyprus by the Council of EU justice and interior affairs ministers.
A spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen welcomed the Council's decision, noting that if stricter measures would have had to be enforced if the regulation had not been approved.
He said this was a first step toward bringing the two communities on Cyprus closer together and ending the economic isolation of the occupied north of Cyprus.
The Commission plans to submit specific proposals for financial support of the Turkish-Cypriot side in the next weeks, he added.
 Communist Party leader says Cypriots' 'no' vote a 'step forward'
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, speaking at a press conference in Thessaloniki on Thursday, said the ''no'' vote by the Greek Cypriots in the referendum was a ''step forward'' provided that the result of the referendum ''is utilized.''
Papariga said the issue of Cyprus was deinternationalised with decisions taken in Helsinki in 1999 and blamed the other three parties in Parliament which, as she said, had applauded it.
Criticizing the ruling New Democracy party, she said when it was the main opposition party it did not reveal the essence of the Annan plan, while also blaming main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou for being ''jointly responsible absolutely'' for the shaping of this plan.
Papariga also referred to the ongoing dispute between the Archdiocese of Athens and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, saying a solution must be given in the framework of the Church and warning of the danger of the Greek people becoming divided over the dispute. She stressed that for this reason her party will not take a position.
Later in the evening on Thursday, Papariga will be presenting her party's positions at the Polytechnic Academy in light of the Euroelections in June.
 Greece and Chile sign defense memorandum
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)A memorandum of mutual understanding was signed on Thursday by Greek Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos and visiting Chilean Defense Minister Michelle Bachelet Maria.
Sources said the memorandum provides for the creation of committees to look into prospects of cooperation between Greece and Chile in the defense sector, such as training, armed forces organization and the defense industry.
The Chilean defense minister was also briefed on the security situation in southeast Europe, since his country is one of the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The two ministers praised the very good relations between the people of Greece and Chile and expressed the political will to further develop bilateral ties between their two countries.
 FM Molyviatis discusses Cyprus issue with US ambassador Miller
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)The US does not endorse proposals concerning a renegotiation of the Annan plan for Cyprus, US ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller told reporters Thursday after a meeting with foreign minister Petros Molyviatis.
The two men discussed all the developments in the Cyprus issue following the April 24 referendum on the Annan plan in Cyprus, and Miller told reporters that the US government believed that over the past few months a just negotiation had been carried for both sides.
He said the American side continued to be interested in a solution on the basis of a bizonal, bicommunal federation, but did not support the proposals for renegotiation of the Annan plan.
Miller referred to corresponding statements by the US State Department spokesman in Washington, adding that the Annan plan represented a just and balanced solution for the two Cyprus sides, admitting, however, that it did not give to each side everything that it wanted.
He added that the Annan plan was the best plan to have been put to negotiation in recent years.
 FM Molyviatis, British envoy Madden exchange views on Cyprus developments
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)British ambassador to Greece Dave Madden on Thursday held an exchange of views on recent Cyprus developments with Greek foreign minister Petros Molyviatis.
After the meeting, Madden expressed satisfaction over the EU decisions regarding the Green Line in Cyprus, and noted that as of May 1 Cyprus will be a full member of the European Union.
Questioned on the future of the Annan plan, Madden referred to recent statements by UN secretary general Kofi Annan himself, who said that a renegotiation of his plan was not under discussion at this time.
The situation remains as is, Madden said, expressing hope that the Cyprus problem would find its solution and adding that ''we are all working for that''.
 PM Karamanlis, SAE president Athens confer on oversees Greeks issues
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday conferred with National Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) president Andrew Athens and foreign deputy minister responsible for oversees Greeks affairs Panayotis Skandalakis.
After the meeting, Skandalakis said talks focused on plans to upgrade the SAE and the general secretariat for Greeks Abroad, and other issues.
Athens said he presented new ideas to the prime minister, so that SAE would forge on ahead and so that the State and the people would see that SAE was doing what it should.
He also said that the Cyprus issue was discussed, so that SAE could aid the efforts, just as it has done for the past 30 years, noting that the Greeks abroad needed to know what Greece and Cyprus were aiming for, particularly in view of Athens' upcoming meeting next month with US assistant secretary of state for European Affairs Marc Grossman.
According to sources, it was decided that all oversees Greeks and their federations should be incorporated under the SAE umbrella, and that the main target should be to reinforce education and culture, as well as the continued operation of the medical centers set up in the former Eastern bloc countries.
 PM briefed on culture ministry issues, initiatives
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Thursday was briefed by the culture ministryís leadership and department heads over various culture-related issues Ė as well as preparations for the upcoming 2004 Olympic Games Ė during contacts with several of directors and curators of the countryís largest museums, theatres and fine arts schools.
Karamanlis, moreover, has retained the culture ministry portfolio for himself, part of the new governmentís determination to accelerate preparations for the August Olympics.
 Public sector may extend hours of operation during Olympics
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)The Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralization Ministry held a meeting on Thursday to discuss ''vital'' public sector services and civil servants' working hours in Athens and the four other Olympic cities during the Olympic Games.
Proposals have been submitted to suspend civil servants' holiday leave from July 15 - Sept. 15, and to have ''vital'' public sector departments, such as sanitation and health care operate on a 24-hour basis.
The Ministry will issue a circular next week with its decisions regarding the above issues.
 National Bank of Greece shows higher Q1 earnings
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Athens-quoted National Bank of Greece said on Thursday that its Group earnings before tax in the first quarter of 2004 totaled ¨ 145.7 million, up 30% year on year.
The Group posted record core profit before tax of ¨ 103.1 million, up 31.6% year on year and 7% quarter on quarter, National Bank of Greece, whose stock is heavily traded, said in a statement.
Results led to a substantial improvement in the Groupís after tax Return on Average Equity, which stood at 18.2% in Q1 2004 against 15.4% in 2003, its highest level in recent years, the statement said.
The same trend was reported for Return on Average Assets, which improved year on year by 13 basis points from 1.01% to 1.14%.
An all-time high was posted by the Group s net interest income, at ¨ 337 million, up 12.2% year on year and 5.1% quarter on quarter.
Group net commission income was up by 21.9% year on year versus the average for 2003, on the back of a strong performance in retail banking commissions and investment banking commissions.
Cost containment also played a role in strengthening the Groupís profitability, the statement said.
Total operating expenses remained virtually flat, up 0.2% on the previous quarter. Compared with the 2003 quarterly average, Group administrative expenses declined by 1.7%, while staff costs grew by 4.7%.
Group lending at 31 March 2004 totaled ¨ 24.3 billion, up approximately 21% on an annualized basis, with the retail banking portfolio sustaining its dynamic performance.
In Q1 2004, the Bank s consumer loan disbursements reached an all-time high, at ¨ 329 million, up 69% year on year. Consumer loan and credit card balances topped ¨ 3.3 billion, up 23% on an annual basis.
New mortgage disbursements totaled ¨ 535 million, out performing the Q1 2003 level by 66%, National said.
Credit to small businesses and professionals registered growth, approximately 38% on an annualized basis, and increased to ¨ 900 million.
Corporate lending also performed well, with financing to large and medium-sized corporates growing by 18% on an annualized basis during the first quarter.
Total Group assets under management (deposits, repos and mutual funds) stood at ¨ 46.1 billion, up 8.1% on an annualized basis. Sight and savings deposits grew by 10% year on year, while mutual funds grew at an annualized rate of 11%, reaching ¨ 7.9 billion.
This improvement resulted in an expansion in the Groupís market share, which now stands at 25.6%, the statement added.
 Transport minister satisfied with progress of HSAP station refits
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Transport Minister Mihalis Liapis on Thursday said that he was satisfied with the progress of efforts to renovate and refit stations along HSAP's overland electric railway line, running from Piraeus to Kifissia.
Speaking after a visit to the Irene and Neo Faliro stations that are currently in the process of being renovated, Liapis said that all 24 of the ageing stations along the route should be ready by the beginning of July, while 40 new trains are to be delivered around the same time.
He said that this would increase the line's capacity by 50 percent, from 400,000 to 600,000 passengers daily.
The minister stressed the importance of the electric railway for the Olympics in August, noting that it linked two of the main Olympic venues, the OAKA Olympic Stadium and the 'Peace and Friendship' stadium in Faliro.
Regarding the new Neratziotissa station, Liapis said that this would be ready on time in spite of the problems and delays that have arisen.
 Philippidis appointment to Attica Bank 'not officially announced', gov't says
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)The government on Thursday stressed that there had been no official announcement regarding the appointment of former Panathinaikos soccer club president Aggelos Philippidis as governor of Attica Bank, as claimed by articles appearing in the press.
The rumors prompted an immediate reaction from former New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert, who said such an appointment would contradict the 'clean government' platform on which ND had won the elections.
Evert stressed that Philippidis was among those implicated in the collapse of the Greek stock market, in which 1.3 million small investors lost their savings, through his involvement in the 'bubble stock' Keranis SA.
 Gov't approves 5.0 mln euros for Greek publicity drive abroad
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)The finance ministry has approved about five million euros in funds to support a tourism publicity campaign abroad for Greece that is due for launch in a fortnight, Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Thursday.
The campaign aims to attract more visitors to the country especially ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympics that begin in August, Avramopoulos said in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
He was addressing a meeting on tourism called by regional authorities.
 Natgas bill to parliament in the autumn
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)A bill on the distribution of natural gas in the Greek market will be sent to parliament in the autumn, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Thursday.
During a visit to the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce, Sioufas also said that authorities had ensured adequate electricity supplies for the Athens 2004 Olympics beginning in August.
 Greek exports down 3.4 pct in January, yr/yr
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)The value of imports-arrivals in Greece totalled 3.108 billion euros in January 2004, up from 3.091 billion euros in the same month last year, an increase of 0.6 percent, according to the National Statistics Service said on Thursday.
NSS, in its monthly report, also announced that the value of
exports-deliveries totalled 861.4 million euros, down from 891.5 million euros -- a decline of 3.4 percent over the same period, respectively.
NSS said part of the January figures were based on provisional
data and that the figures excluded trade in services and non-registered transactions.
 ATE's new governor unveils new strategy for the bank
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Agricultural Bank of Greece will remain under the control of the Greek state, the bank's new governor Dimitris Miliakos said on Thursday, adding that all decisions by the previous board to finding a strategic investor for the bank were refuted.
Miliakos said that his main goal as head of ATE would be a fundamental financial restructuring of the bank and improving the quality of the bank's loan portfolio. He announced the immediate freezing of all auctions covering individual farmers' debt to the bank, saying that a forthcoming voting of a new government law on penalty rates for unpaid bank loans would help in improving the bank's financial position.
Miliakos also announced he planned to raise the bank's share in the domestic market through the introduction of modern and competitive banking products and services, giving emphasis in retail banking, a gradual sell of non-financial companies in the group, restructuring of the group and its return to profitability and supporting Greek farmers.
Miliakos said that ATE's financial situation worsened in the last few years, in contrast with other Greek banks' performance.
He also pledged to make ATE a model of transparency and effective management.
"Our vision for the bank is to become a modern and dynamic financial institution steadily growing within a competitive environment and reporting profits," Miliakos said.
Closing rates of April 29 2004
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,192 1,164
 Athens 2004 receives record number of volunteer applications
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)The Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (ATHOC) has received more than 160,000 applications from those wishing to volunteer for the Games - a record number, considering 75,665 had applied for the Sydney Games and 78,000 for the Atlanta Games. Friday is the application deadline.
Of the total candidate volunteers, 55% are women, 78% are up to 35 years of age, and 60% of applications were submitted online (the first time online applications were used).
 La Stampa interviews IOC President Jacques Rogge
ROME 30/4/2004 (ANA/L.Hatzikyriakou)IOC President Jacques Rogge, in an interview published in Italy's newspaper ''La Stampa'', said that despite delays, Athens will have completed Olympic projects on time and the Athens Games will be a success.
''Athens' Olympic preparations have been laborious despite delays due to a number of reasons. Perhaps the Games' organizers had underestimated the difficulties and risks of the truly complex Olympic endeavor,'' Rogge said.
''When Mrs. Angelopoulos was appointed President of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, things moved at a quicker pace and more methodically,'' he added.
Rogge is confident that ''Athens will make it. They have just about enough time left, but they will be ready on time. We might not have the most perfect facilities, but they will certainly be ready,'' he said.
Speaking on the issue of security the IOC president stated ''the efforts that Greeks are making in terms of security is commendable and without precedent. They are working night and day with the intelligence services of the US, the UK, Australia, Germany and France. They have asked for NATO's assistance. The effectiveness of these well-coordinated and thorough efforts has had excellent results."
 U.S. official Goss praises Greek authorities on security ahead of Olympic Games
WASHINGTON 30/4/2004 (ANA/T.Ellis)U.S. Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Porter Goss has expressed his full satisfaction over the considerable progress which the Greek authorities have made in the sector of security, ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
Speaking to CNN, Goss, who recently visited Greece, said:
''The preparations are very good. I think they have done a fabulous job in planning for the security. They have got to get all the pieces ready to go. That's going to be part of the problem. The airport there, their new airport, the road system functioning well, surveillance systems are really good. I'm a little concerned that they are going to have enough time to do the necessary drills. Because there are an endless number of scenarios you can create. The more you practice them, the better you are at security. But my view is I was pleasantly surprised by taking a look at what they have accomplished in the area of security. Frankly, I think their security precautions are somewhat ahead of the other architectures they need to pull off the Olympics. I'm not sure they are going to be roofs on whole stadiums and things. I have to admit I came away pleasantly surprised and encouraged about the security preparation.''
 Petralia visits International Broadcasting Centre
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia together with Press Secretary General P. Livadas, Athens Olympic Broadcasting (AOB)President Manolo Romero and AOB Vice President John Exarchos visited the International Broadcasting Centre on Thursday.
''The International Broadcasting Center is one of the most advanced Centers and the image of the Olympic Games will be transmitted from here; the image of our country will be transmitted from here. Four billion people all over the world will have the chance to not only see Greece, but to participate in this great celebration of Sports - a celebration that connects, unites all athletes, all peoples, all religions, and all civilizations,'' Petralia said after the visit.
Romero said that he was honored by the minister's visit and congratulated the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) on being the first network to set itself up at the Centre.
US television network NBC began bringing its equipment on Thursday and most other networks will begin operating at the Centre over the next few days, Romero explained.
 Olympic Games security discussed at justice ministers' summit
BRUSSELS 30/4/2004 (ANA - V .Demiris)Deputy Public Order Minister Christos Markoyiannakis referred to the Athens Olympic Games and the need to reinforce cooperation among EU member-states' related authorities to ensure their safe staging, during the Council of EU Justice and Interior Affairs Ministers held in Brussels on Thursday.
Markoyiannakis said that Greece is the first member of the EU and the Schengen Treaty to host a major, international sports event under such difficult international circumstances as regards security.
Additionally, he requested that the other member-states help make the Athens Olympic Games the starting point for strong cooperation among all related authorities in preventing any threat - regardless of its origins - from disrupting the peaceful staging of the Games.
''Solidarity among all the EU member-states, of which we speak today, must be proven during the Athens Olympic Games, in order to convey the message of European civilizationís timeless values to the rest of the world,'' he said.
Greece will provide more details on security measures taken for the Olympic Games at the next summit scheduled to take place in June.
 Alternate culture minister meets SAE President Andrew Athens
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia met with President of the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) Andrew Athens on Thursday to discuss the promotion of Greece in the US in light of the Olympic Games, as well as the Olympic Education program which is in progress in Philadelphia and Chicago schools.
The program involves 400,000 schoolchildren. A contest will be held, whereby the winner will be able to come to Athens to see the Olympic Games.
After the meeting, Petralia said she was very pleased with the Council's work and especially with the president's efforts, while emphasizing that the Ministry of Culture will support the Olympic Education program which is due to be extended to Moscow as well.
In addition, the minister stressed that plans had not been made initially for accommodating Greeks from abroad who wished to volunteer for the Games, but said she wished to find a solution to the problem.
Athens also expressed his satisfaction with the meeting with Petralia, whom he congratulated on the work she's doing.
''We must promote Greek culture and of course the Olympic ideal. When someone becomes familiar with Greek history and the country's archaeological wealth, they have a different idea about the Greeks, and that's what we want to achieve,'' Athens said.
 The Son-Art Olympics exhibit opens in Brussels on Thursday
BRUSSELS 30/4/2004 (ANA/G.Zitouniati)Aggelika Korovessi's "Son-Art Olympics" exhibit opens in Brussels on Thursday within the framework of Olympic Games promotion.
The sound of words related to Olympic athletics and messages is transformed into pictorial representations, into sound, sculpture, movement, music and film.
Korovessi is a sculptor who has familiarized herself with the multiple possibilities of electronic technology and has studied linguistic and phonetic structure.
The exhibit is presented by the Hellenic Ministry of Press and Mass Media in cooperation with the Vorres Museum.
 Four-day Olympic security drill to begin May 13
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)''Olympic Guardian II'' is the code name of the 8th security drill organized by the Olympic Games Security Division, which will be held in Athens from May 13 - May 16.
The map exercise assumes that an act of terrorism has occurred and requires participants to respond and manage the crisis in a simulated Olympic Games environment.
The exercise will be conducted in collaboration with the US, (a member of the Olympic Games Security Advisory Group), while other Group members will also participate along with observers from various countries and international organizations, totalling up to 300 participants.
It is the first time that members of the Group's Coordinating Council will participate in an Olympics security exercise.
Olympic Guardian I was successfully conducted last November in Stuttgart, Germany.
 Glykatzi-Arhweiler awarded Ordre due Merite medal by France
Athens 30/4/2004 (ANA)Greek-born academic Eleni Glykatzi-Arhweiler has been awarded the Grand Officier de l'Ordre du Merite medal by France.
The medal was presented to Arhweiler by French Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres at a special ceremony held at the French culture ministry on Wednesday.
 Security Council respects Cyprus referenda result
UNITED NATIONS 30/4/2004 (CNA/ANA)The UN Security Council respects the outcome of the referenda in Cyprus on a UN plan for a settlement but shares the disappointment of UN chief Kofi Annan that efforts to reunite the island did not succeed.
In a press statement read to the reporters on Thursday by the Council President after deliberations on the Cyprus problem, the Security Council reiterates its strong support for a comprehensive settlement, and looks forward to the Secretary General's forthcoming report in response to which the Council will need to give full consideration to the implications of the outcome of the referenda.
Replying to questions, Pakistan's Permanent Representative of Pakistan, said the statement was a weak text, noting that some wanted other references while others did not.
In its press statement, the Security Council says it ''takes note of the outcome of the referenda held in Cyprus on April 24 on the Comprehensive Settlement on the Cyprus Question. The Council respects the outcome of both referenda.''
''The Security Council shares the UN Secretary General's disappointment that efforts since 1999 to reunify the island have not succeeded and regrets that an extraordinary historic opportunity to resolve the Cyprus issue has been missed,'' it adds.
It also ''reiterates its strong support for an overall political settlement in Cyprus'' and expresses its ''deep appreciation for the
committed and sustained efforts of Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his Special Adviser Alvaro de Soto, in the implementation of the good offices mission, entrusted by the Security Council.''
''The Security Council looks forward to the Secretary General's forthcoming report in response to which the Council will need to give full consideration to the implications of the outcome of the referenda.''
 National Council discusses Cyprus developments after referenda
NICOSIA 30/4/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus National Council (top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem) met here on Thursday for more than two and a half hours to discuss developments in the Cyprus problem after the April 24 referenda in Cyprus on a UN plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said after the meeting that the Council members were briefed by President Tassos Papadopoulos and exchanged views.
President Papadopoulos also briefed the Council on his talks on Wednesday in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
The Council made up of parliamentary party leaders will continue discussion on Wednesday afternoon (May 5).
Papadopoulos will fly Saturday to Dublin for the official ceremony of the accession of Cyprus and nine other countries to the EU.
 House approves last harmonization bills before accession
NICOSIA 30/4/2004 (CNA/ANA)The House of Representatives concluded harmonization with the acquis communautaire on Thursday, by unanimously passing a total of sixty laws and regulations.
The laws and regulations approved on Thursday concern the courts, regulating the exercise of the opticians' profession, companies and accountants, professional driving licenses, fuel products, banking work, state contributions and taxation, commercial shipping and insurance companies.
Legislation was also passed regarding state tenders, stamps and
taxation of property, customs fees, minimum health specifications for workplaces, the Port Authority, the establishment of the Bank Customer Investor Compensation Fund, the establishment of a European university institution in Cyprus, movement allowances for disabled persons, and the regulation of collective betting.
 Cypriot FM satisfied with General Affairs Council conclusion
LARNACA 30/4/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has expressed satisfaction with the conclusion on Cyprus of the General Affairs and External Relations Council held Monday in Luxembourg.
He said his proposal aimed to help the Turkish Cypriot community that would be allocated if Cyprus joined the EU as a reunified country, created very positive impressions, which contributed to the adoption of a positive conclusion by the Council.
As regards the determination of the status of the demarcation line in Cyprus, Iacovou said that COREPER had agreed on a very satisfying regulation, the main provision of which is that the ''green line'' does not consist an external boarder of the EU, while the role of the Cyprus Government regarding its management is fully recognized.
Speaking at Larnaca airport on Thursday on his return from Helsinki and referring to the General Affairs and External Relations Council he attended earlier this week, Iacovou said there were constructive proposals on the part of the EU ministers.
''In the end the conclusion of the Council was very satisfying,'' he
added, noting that this came as a result of his meetings in Luxembourg and of his full cooperation with the Greek delegation there.
Iacovou said he had submitted Monday a proposal regarding the trade of products that concerned products exclusively made in the Turkish Cypriot community, including some industrial products, that will be produced with raw materials from the government-controlled areas.
He noted that he himself had proposed the allocation ''to the Turkish Cypriot community of the help which would be given if Cyprus joined as a reunited country,'' noting that this ''created very positive impressions, which helped to the adoption of this very good conclusion by the Council.''
Regarding the regulation for the status of the demarcation line, provided in Protocol 10, Iacovou said what was agreed in COREPER on Wednesday, in a satisfactory way.
The minister welcomed the fact the regulation provides that the line dividing the Cyprus Republic will not be treated as an external boarder of the EU, ''as some wanted it to be.''
''At the same time, the role of the Republic of Cyprus on the
management of this demarcation line is recognized, while there are provisions on how individuals will be crossing and goods will be transferred,'' he noted.
As regards the European Commission's intention to establish an office in Cyprus' Turkish occupied area, Iacovou said this is something we will see in due time.
Regarding his trip to Helskini, where he met the Prime Minister of Finland, his Finnish counterpart, the Foreign Committee and many deputies from all parties in the Finnish parliament, Iacovou said that this visit took place in a very good climate, convincing his interlocutors that ''any problems will be overcome with our actions and with the explanation of our positions, regarding Cyprus' reunification.''
Iacovou will visit Sweden next week.
 EU delegation head: Green Line regulation to facilitate trade
NICOSIA 30/4/2004 (CNA/ANA)A European Union regulation on trade between the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus and the southern government controlled areas aimed at facilitating trade and other links across the Green Line, head of EU Commission delegation Ambassador Adriaan van der Meer has said, stressing that its significance lies in the fact that the regulation relates to intra-trade only.
In an interview with CNA, two days before the Republic of Cyprus joins formally the EU, Ambassador van der Meer said that the entire island of Cyprus would join on May 1 but the application of the acquis communautaire would be suspended in the northern part of the country, as provided for in the Accession Treaty.
The regulation will come into effect as of May 1.
His comments come in the wake of the rejection by the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots (76 per cent) of a
UN-proposed solution plan for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, put to a referendum last Saturday. Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the UN solution plan by 65 per cent.
''The Green Line (dividing the island) is not the external border of the EU,'' he said, noting that a special arrangement had to be agreed upon by EU members with regard to the crossing of persons, goods and services through the Green Line.
Replying to questions, he said the arrangements in the regulation, adopted on Thursday by the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs, were ''flexible and can be adapted according to further trade patterns,''
noting that the Commission could change the regulations upon information it received.
Asked if the regulation was a fair deal for everybody, he said ''it is a much better approach than what we had before, it could stimulate inter-island trade which can help further links between the two communities which could lead to further reconciliation and understanding.''
With regard to the crossing of persons, he said ''the regulation foresees that the existing system in place now will continue to exist, Turkish Cypriot workers can continue to cross on a daily basis unhampered and people from both communities can meet.''
He explained that all EU and Cypriot citizens, all third country nationals who have entered the Republic legally as well as those residing legally in Cyprus before 1974 (when Turkish troops invaded) would be able to cross into the north.
As far as the crossing of goods, he said ''the scope for intra-island
trade has been very much broadened by applying a gradual approach with clear fixed datelines.''
''Wholly obtained goods in the north can be traded in the other side of the Green Line as long as they comply with regulations as regards protection of food safety,'' he explained.
He said that ''raw materials can cross from the government controlled area to the north, be processed and return to the south.''
The EU delegation head said the Commission has to come up with a decision by July 1 at the latest to arrange for the crossing of other goods, in particular manufactured goods.
He also said the Commission was reflecting on the implementation of the conclusions of Monday's meeting of EU Foreign Ministers with regard to 259 million euro destined for the Turkish Cypriots as well as arrangements for a delegation branch in occupied Cyprus.
 EU Ambassador: enlargement signals end of cold war, increased EU role
NICOSIA 30/4/2004 (CNA/ANA)The head of the European Commission delegation here Ambassador Adriaan van der Meer on Thursday congratulated the people of Cyprus on their country's accession to the EU and invited them to take full advantages of the benefits the Union offers.
In an interview with CNA, two days before Cyprus and another nine countries officially join the Union, the Ambassador said this EU enlargement signaled the end of the cold war and increased the political clout of the Union in world affairs.
He also expressed pleasure because this enlargement offered the EU a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Cyprus formally becomes an EU member on May 1, divided with part of its territory under Turkish occupation.
''I would like to congratulate the citizens of Cyprus on joining the Union, on becoming EU citizens and ask them to take full advantage of EU membership in business, in their private life or other activities.
I am delighted that the EU has reached the eastern part of the Mediterranean,'' he said.
Replying to questions, he said enlargement was important because it abolished dividing lines in Europe and added ''this is a joyful day, these are historic times, they signify the end of cold war.''
He said the acceding countries were well prepared and had undergone a huge process of transformation. ''This was the best ever prepared enlargement,'' he added.
He said today represented the end of an era for the delegation in that both he and his staff would cease to be civil servants in a European Commission delegation in a third country but in a Representation of the Commission in an EU member state.
''The core function of the Commission is to serve the general European interest. This continues to guide our daily work in Cyprus,'' he told CNA.
He said the aim of the delegation was to inform citizens on EU affairs and relay back to Brussels the views of the government and of public opinion on EU policies.