|Sunday, 19 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-05-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 4, 2004
authorities Melbourne 4/5/2004 (ANA/S. Hatzimanolis)
 Main opposition leader outlines disagreements with government on Turkey
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party leader George Papandreou expressed extensive disagreement with the government's policy regarding Greek-Turkish relations on Monday.
The only point on which Papandreou agreed was on the visit Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan will make to Greece this week; yet the PASOK leader disagreed with the nature of Erdogan's tour of Thrace in Northern Greece.
Papandreou commented on the statement made by Government Spokesman Theodore Roussopoulos according to which the Turkish premier will be touring Thrace in order to meet with fellow Muslims.
''Based on that logic, the Muslim world, and the Arab world should have the same right. This is not what a PASOK government would have asked for,'' Papandreou said.
He also said that the Muslim minority in Thrace is not a Greek-Turkish issue, but a matter of consolidating rights and equality. The same holds true for the Greeks in Istanbul and other regions in Turkey. He also said that his party would continue to support ''equality before the law, equal rights and the right to individual determining of one's identity ''.
PASOK's president also criticized the government for announcing that it would not veto Turkey's demand for setting a date for EU accession talks in December 2004. ''Even if that is their decision, it shouldn't be announced eight months in advance,'' he said.
Papandreou will be meeting with Erdogan and the first item on his agenda will be regarding the Patriarchate, ''especially after the latest developments,'' and Turkey's European course. He will also discuss the Cyprus issue, Greek-Turkish relations, and Greece's policy towards Turkey in relation to Europe.
G. Papandreou says occupation of Iraq must end
''The occupation of Iraq must end,'' Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party leader George Papandreou said on Monday.
''During this transition period the UN must take responsibility so that power is handed over to the Iraqis,'' he added.
Papandreou emphasized that the European Union must support the UN so that it takes responsibility for Iraq, while describing the result of the occupation - Iraqis being tortured by US and British military - as ''unacceptable,'' and ''horrid.''
Speaking of the Middle East, Papandreou stressed that Europe must play a role in bringing peace to the region and towards the creation of a Palestinian state, ''with a secure Israel.''
 Turkish PM to carry out three-day visit to Greece from May 6
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to carry out a three-day official visit to Greece from May 6-8 at the invitation of Greek premier Costas Karamanlis.
During Erdogan's stay, the two heads of government will discuss bilateral relations between Greece and Turkey and exchange views on regional and international issues.
Erdogan will also be received by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki during his visit.
The Turkish premier will be accompanied on his trip to Athens by a number of Turkish business people and members of the Turkish media, while the Greek-Turkish Business Council will be convened on the occasion of Erdogan's visit.
On his last day in Greece, the Turkish prime minister will carry out a private visit to Komotini.
 PASOK leader unveils Euroelections proclamation, blasts government policy
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Monday unveiled his party's proclamation for next month's European parliament elections, carrying the slogan ''We are creating the Greece of tomorrow, today''.
At the same time, Papandreou launched a scathing attack against the New Democracy government, accusing it of ''inertia'' and ''inactivity'' on all the important issues it has handled to date -- particularly citing the government's stance on the Cyprus issue, especially during the Buergenstock negotiations, on the rift between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece, on the Olympic Games, and the economy.
On its handling of the Cyprus issue, the Olympic Games and the economy, Papandreou accused the government of placing Greece under supervision, while also charging that the government was engaged in a "devastating effort" to "tarnish" the economy.
He further criticized the government's policy on the issue of excessive prices, adding that the fuel prices were unacceptably high.
On Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's forthcoming visit to Greece, Papandreou said that Erdogan was "welcome", disagreed with the nature of the Turkish PM's planned visit to Thrace, and said he would put forward the issue of the Ecumenical Patriarchate during his own meeting with Erdogan.
Papandreou further announced that former MP for Thessaloniki Spyros Vougias has been appointed the party's press spokesman, while Nikos Athanassakis, head of the press office to now, has been appointed director of the PASOK parliamentary group services (DYKO).
He also announced the creation of a central committee for the Europarliament elections, comprising many party cadres, including Costas Laliotis.
 Communist party says Europe should put people's needs first
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Presenting her party's manifesto for the upcoming Euro-Parliament elections in June, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga said her party wanted Greece and Europe to put meeting people's needs before capitalist profit in their priorities.
Speaking at the Athens University maths and physics department, Papariga pointed to rising unemployment and poverty and said these were the most typical 'products' of European capitalist unification, along with an increase in pensionable age, reductions in wages and pensions, privatization of education and health.
According to Papariga, the latest developments were also leading to the militarization of the EU to a force for state violence and repression.
She said her party offered a people's alternative to the 'one-way road of capitalism'' and would protect working-class rights, peace, and the right of every people to decide which socioeconomic and political system it preferred.
 PM Karamanlis confers with FM Molyviatis
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Prime minister Costas Karamanlis met Monday with foreign minister Petros Molyviatis to discuss matters falling under the minister's competency.
No statements were made after the meeting, and Molyviatis refrained from replying to questions regarding Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's upcoming visit to Athens and Thrace, and on the dispute between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church of Greece.
 Delegation from Ecumenical Patriarchate to meet PM, President
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be meeting a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul on Tuesday at 14:00.
The delegation, which arrived in Athens on Sunday night, is also scheduled to meet President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Monday evening.
According to sources, it intends to brief the premier on the positions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding a dispute with the Church of Greece over the bishoprics of the 'new lands', while it will ask the government to delay the signature of presidential decrees that formalize the appointment of three new metropolitans that were elected last week.
Earlier on Monday, the visiting clerics had a meeting with Deputy Foreign Minister Panagiotis Skandalakis and Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou.
Government sources said on Saturday that the government is prepared to intervene in the dispute between the two Churches only if asked to do so by both sides and only on specific terms.
The same government sources also noted that the government will enforce the laws, as it has done in the past.
According to an ANA dispatch from Istanbul, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos has also been in contact with Archbishop of Albania Anastasios to discuss Friday's Synod meeting at the Patriarchate regarding the crisis in relations with the Church of Greece.
An announcement from the Athens Archdiocese, meanwhile, has denied any imminent plans for a meeting between main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos. The announcement said the Archbishop had 'outstanding engagements' but would be glad to meet with Papandreou ''at a more opportune time''.
 Turkish warplanes infringe air traffic regulations, violate national air space
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Two Turkish F-16 warplanes approached two Greek A-7 Corsair jets at a distance of 10-15 meters, in violation of safe air traffic rules, while they were carrying out a training exercise in the region of Megisti on Monday morning.
The Turkish aircraft were recognized and intercepted by Greek warplanes that arrived in the region.
A total of seven formations of Turkish warplanes made an equal number of air traffic regulation infringements in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on Monday, which developed into 10 violations of national air space in the regions of the islands of Chios, Lesvos and Limnos.
The 18 Turkish aircraft were recognized and intercepted by Greek jets, while in seven cases the interception process developed into an engagement. Five of the Turkish warplanes were armed.
In another development, Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos flew in a F-16D aircraft on Monday morning in the framework of his visit to the 110th Combat Squadron, the Regular Air Force headquarters and NATO's Air Force sub headquarters in Larissa (CAOC-7). The flight over the Aegean lasted 55 minutes.
According to press reports, four Turkish f-16 warplanes reached the limits of national air space (10 nautical miles), while two Greek F-16s, one of which was carrying Spiliotopoulos, were flying to the east of the island of Limnos.
The Turkish aircraft left the area on arrival of two Greek F-16s and two F-4s and the exercises were completed successfully.
''I feel fine, just like a man who visits his second home feels,'' the defense minister said later and praised the professionalism and capabilities of the air force pilots.
 Cyprus' EU membership will formulate appropriate environment for just solution
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Cyprus' accession to the European Union will formulate the most appropriate environment for a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus issue, since it is anticipated that EU membership will give the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots a feeling of security and ensure fundamental human rights in the framework of the acquis communautaire, which every member state must strictly adhere to, the trade director of Cyprus' ministry of commerce, industry and tourism, Andreas Petrondas, said Monday in Athens.
Speaking at the first event organized by the commercial department of the Cypriot embassy in Athens after Cyprus' formal accession on May 1, Petrondas noted that Cyprus, with its modernized economy, was ready to become part of a peaceful and flourishing Europe, in which the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots could make use of the immense opportunities provided by the island's accession.
He further said that Cyprus' accession will bring substantial benefits from the already existing EU member states.
Petrondas said that Cyprus' merchant fleet, which was the sixth largest in the world, added to the EU fleet, would render the latter the number one maritime power in the world.
At the same time, Cyprus' geostrategic position would provide the EU countries access to the big Arab markets, providing an advantage to their economic and commercial interests.
Due to Cyprus' geographical position, serious problems faced by Europe today, such as illegal immigration, drug trafficking and money laundering could be more easily tackled following Cyprus' EU accession, he said.
On business opportunities to arise for Greece and Cyprus, Petrondas said that by utilizing Cyprus' good relations and connections, joint business activities between Greek and Cypriot entrepreneurs could easily develop vis-a-vis countries of the Middle East, Asia and the former Soviet Union.
On the other hand, he added, by utilizing the Greek businessmen's excellent connections with the Balkan and European countries, joint business activity could also develop aimed at the markets of those countries as well.
British ambassador stresses need for financial support for Turkish Cypriots: British Ambassador to Athens Sir David Madden, speaking to the NET television channel on Monday in the wake of the referenda held recently in Cyprus on the Annan plan, stressed the need for financial backing to be provided for the Turkish Cypriots to enable the improvement of their standard of living.
However, the British ambassador ruled out the possibility of Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus being recognized.
''The EU must end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots and provide economic aid for them. At the same time, the Greek Cypriots must realize what has happened. They have joined the EU now, we are very pleased about this, and they must consider what they want for the future,'' he said.
Referring to security for the Athens Olympic Games, Madden reminded that ''the United Kingdom is cooperating with the Greek authorities, we are coordinating the work of the Olympic Advisory Group which includes seven countries having special know-how on security issues, we have been advising and facilitating the Greek authorities for over three years.''
The British ambassador expressed confidence that the Greek authorities, with the assistance of the United Kingdom as well, are working very hard ''to enable us to have very safe and successful Olympic Games.''
 Greece to offer aid to North Korea
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to contribute 30,000 euros to North Korea, through the Greek Red Cross, as emergency aid for the victims of the recent explosion - result of a train accident - which occurred in Ryongchon on April 22.
 Finance minister says government policy will maintain banking system competition
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)The government's policy is aimed at maintaining and backing competition in the banking system and not the creation of a super bank, Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Monday.
Replying to a question on the possibility of two major banks merging and creating a dominant force in the banking sector, the minister let it be understood that the government will not favor such a development.
He said that in such an event the government would resort to legislation determining rules of competition in the country.
Referring to the policy of denationalization, he noted that the government is not in a hurry in this sector.
On the question of the Greek banking system in particular, the National Bank's new administration under T. Arapoglou reportedly believes that in two or three years time conditions in the market will be such that will favor mergers between banks.
 Off-the-agenda debate on economy in Parliament on May 12
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)An off-the-agenda debate between the party leaders on the state of the Greek economy is to be held in Parliament next week on May 12, at the request of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
In a letter to Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Monday, Karamanlis says that an ''beautified version'' of the economy had been systematically and methodically presented in past years, in which crucial indices were ''consistently concealed'' and deficits were presented smaller than they really were.
 EBEA president stresses need for reversing climate of uncertainty in economy
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) President Drakoulis Fountoukakos, referring on Monday to the report on the Greek economy by Bank of Greece Governor Nikos Garganas, stressed the need for bold reforms to enable the current climate of uncertainty and foot-dragging in the Greek economy to be reversed through a creative dialogue with social partners.
''The messages sent by the governor of the Bank of Greece, with his annual report this year, are clear and can neither be disputed or ignored,'' Fountoukakos said in an announcement.
''The government must activate itself intensely and without any delay in two directions: the substantive restriction of public deficits and the creation of more favorable development conditions for the mass attraction of foreign investors and the encouragement and backing, with all available means, of every innovative and extroversive initiative by our private businesses,'' he added.
According to EBEA's president ''at the moment, our country needs a new, sincere budget which will be binding for all, which will not beautify our economic situation and a new and realistic Stability and Growth Program which will not be revised every year, which will be absolutely compatible with the requirements of the eurozone and which will really promote the process of convergence with speedy rates.''
 Greece asked to return 5.0 mln euros to FEOGA
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Greece will have to return the sum of 4.97 million euros to the European Agricultural Fund (FEOGA) for funding of agricultural projects that failed the EU standards, the European Commission said on Monday.
In total, nine EU member-states will have to return to community funds the sum of 119.46 million euros for improper spending on agricultural projects.
The EU executive's agency said that Greece failed to justify - after clearing - spending of 4.97 million euros. France will have to return the biggest sum (58.17 million euros), followed by Italy (21.82 million) and the UK (20.78 million). Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden and Austria are the only countries which were not asked to return money.
"European taxpayers will have to be reassured that their money are spent correctly. The Commission is obliged to ask for the return of funds not properly spent. That's what we did today," EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler told reporters.
The EU's Common Agricultural Policy annual budget totals 45 billion euros and is paid directly to member-states.
 Gov't to unveil draft law on penalty rates this month
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)The Greek government will unveil this month a draft law designed to effectively resolve the problem of penalty interest rates charged by domestic banks on unpaid debt, Economy and Finance ministry sources said on Monday.
The government has pledged in the pre-election period to impose a ceiling on penalty charges so that total debt to banks could not be more than triple the initial capital borrowed.
Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Monday met with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to discuss economic issues ahead of an off-the-agenda debate on the economy in parliament, scheduled for May 12.
Ministry sources said that the country's fiscal deficit could reach 3.2-3.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, exceeding a 3.0 percent limit set by the EU's Stability Pact.
 ND member vice president of the European Senior Citizens Union
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)New Democracy's Maria Mantziafou-Kanellopoulou has been elected for a second three-year term as Vice President of the European Senior Citizens Union (ESCU).
New Democracy was one of the founding members of the ESCU in Madrid in 1995 and has participated in the organization ever since. The ESCU created the Charter of the rights of the Elderly, which was adopted by ND in September 2002.
 ECB Vice President speaks at Harvard
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)''The European Union member states are enjoying economic stability today due to the weight of the new currency, which they trusted in the very short period of five years,'' European Central Bank Vice President Lucas Papademos said during a speech he gave at Harvard University as a guest of the Kokkalis Program.
Papademos said he was completely satisfied with the ECB achieving its targets, underlining that it was not easy establishing a common currency among 300 million citizens.
The ECB vice president also emphasized the euro's value as a symbol of the cooperation among Europe's countries. But, he also referred to the challenges that remain ahead, particularly the adoption of a common monetary policy by various countries of different languages and cultures.
He added that while the euro has been adopted successfully until now, competition with the US dollar will remain. The growth rate in the Eurozone continues to trail the US with an annual growth rate of 1.5%.
 Stocks rise in high-cap selling
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)The Athens bourse on Monday finished higher in selling of high capitalization stocks, having a positive effect on both the general index and the market's overall image, traders said.
The general share index rose 1.08 per cent to end at 2,544.82 points. Turnover was 207.8 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.29 per cent higher; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.19 per cent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities gained 0.21 per cent.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 159 to 142 with 58 issues remaining unchanged.
Closing rates of May 3 2004
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,204 1,177
 Minister unveils new traffic management system for Athens during Olympics
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Public Works Minister George Souflias on Monday unveiled a new system that is currently being prepared by his ministry to control and ease traffic flow in Athens during the crucial weeks of the Olympic Games in August.
Visiting the two centers from which the system will operate, he said this will employ 208 ordinary cameras and another 75 special cameras that will link up to two traffic management centers at the OTE building on Patission Street and at the Athens General Police Headquarters, which will respond to the build up of traffic by intervening at traffic lights or by dispatching traffic police to the area.
The minister said the system will be ready to operate as a pilot phase on June 17 and will be fully operational by August 5, while it will continue to operate after the Olympics, adapted for the everyday needs of the capital.
When fully operational, the new system will gather information from sensors deployed in all areas of the capital, from Kifissia and Paiania to the coastal road, Dafni, Piraeus and Alimos, Karea and Vouliagmeni regarding the number and speed of cars. This information will then be processed by a central computer that will be able to provide a real-time update on traffic conditions throughout the city and alert all the necessary authorities on the situation.
 Athens Mayor holds press conference in Paris
PARIS 4/5/2004 (ANA/O.Tsipira)''The Olympic Games are the greatest international event, full of democratic ideals. We will never accept to retreat in light of a threat. We will never accept to change principles and ideals because of a threat, which for the time being exists only in theory. We the Greeks, and the rest of the world say 'no' and we will succeed,'' said Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyianni during a press conference she held in Paris on Monday in order to brief foreign correspondents on Athens' Olympic preparations.
Asked to comment on the IOC's decision to buy additional insurance coverage for the Athens Games, Bakoyianni explained that the decision does not apply to Athens only. ''From now on, all major international sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, will be insured,'' she said.
She also referred to the great efforts Greece - as the smallest country to ever host the Olympics - had made and is still making. ''We are preparing to receive 202 countries, which is a record number; 11,000 athletes and 21,000 journalists and technicians. The total cost is a record $8.5 billion, while security costs total a record $800 million,'' she said.
''During the Games, Athens will be the safest city in the world,'' Bakoyianni reassured.
The mayor also expressed confidence that Olympic projects will be completed on time. Specifically, she noted that 100 days before the Games, 90% of projects have been completed, test events have been successfully held, and the government has promised that all the projects will be complete. ''When I read what was written about the Sydney Games 100 days before their opening, I am very optimistic,'' she added.
 Westerdam cruise ship part of Olympic hospitality program
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Journalists and television crews visited the luxury cruise ship Westerdam, which is owned by Sportius Hospitality and part of the Athens Olympic Games hospitality program, at the Port of Piraeus on Monday.
The Westerdam will sail to Piraeus again on August 12 and will provide accommodation for 14 National Olympic Committees - Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and the Ukraine - until August 31.
The Rotterdam is another luxury cruise ship which will also provide accommodation for visitors to the Athens Olympic Games.
Sportius Hospitality Presidents Markos Siapanis and Constantine Mitsiou received members of the press and emphasized that with the combined capacity of the two cruise ships (1,579 beds) and another 2,500 beds which the company has reserved in Athens, Piraeus, and Loutraki, the company is one of the major hospitality providers of the Athens Games.
 Australian FM Downer: Security experts collaborating with Greek authorities Melbourne 4/5/2004 (ANA/S. Hatzimanolis)Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer said Sunday that two teams of security experts were collaborating with the Greek authorities on security matters because ''the Olympic Games of Athens could prospectively be a target for terrorists''.
In statements on the Australian television network '9', Downer said that it was very likely that a four-member team of Australian police officers would be sent to Athens for the security of the Australian Olympic delegation.
He noted that the Athens Games would be the first Olympics to take place after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US and, in light of the climate that has been created internationally by the war against terrorism and terrorist activities ''we cannot rule out the Olympic Games as a possible target for terrorists''.
The Australian government was treating the issue of security of the Australian delegation ''very seriously''.
Downer said Australia has already sent to Athens two teams of experts, under the aegis of the ministry of foreign affairs, to collaborate with the Greek authorities, and intended to send four police officers, members of the Commonwealth Police, to act as liaisons with the Greek authorities before and during the Olympic Games this August.
 Alternate Culture Minister to inaugurate Olympic exhibit
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia will inaugurate the exhibit "The Olympic Spirit and Modern Greek Art," at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday at the Athens Municipality Cultural Centre. The exhibit is being held under the auspices of the General Secretariat for the Olympic Games.
 Athens University concert to celebrate Cyprus' EU accession
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Athens University will celebrate Cyprus' entry into the European Union through an original concert held at the Herod Atticus Odeon beneath the Acropolis on Europe Day this Sunday.
The concert will feature a first global rendition of symphonic songs set to the words of 25 contemporary poets from each of member-state of the now enlarged Community, which are dedicated to Europe and to Cyprus.
The songs will be sung in the language of each member-state by Maria Mitsopoulou, soprano, Mary Elen Nezi, mezzo-soprano, Yiannis Christopoulos, tenor, Dimitris Platanias, baritone and Claudia Delmer, mezzo-soprano and the choir of Athens University's music studies department conducted by Nikolaos Maliaras.
They will be accompanied by the Orchestra of Colors, conducted by Miltos Logiadis, while actors Katia Dandoulaki and Yiannis Fertis will recite the lyrics in Greek on stage.
According to Athens University dean Yiannis Babiniotis, the concert was organized as an artistic expression of the political and economic event of Cyprus' accession, since poetry is the "most authentic expression of a people".
The concert is being held under the auspices of Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iakovou and the European Parliament.
In comments on the upcoming concert, Molyviatis said that Cyprus' entry into the European family was an event of great joy and satisfaction that was, however, clouded by the continued existence of dividing lines and walls that had long collapsed elsewhere in Europe.
 Exhibition on Cypriot civilization at Athens' Cycladic Art Museum
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)An exhibition of antiquities spanning the entire range of Cyprus' rich history, from the late stone age to the early Middle Ages, will be inaugurated at the Museum of Cycladic Art on Tuesday evening at 20:00 by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.
Entitled "Cyprus: a thousand pieces of memory, Thanou Zintili Collection", it brings together some 1500 objects of stone, clay, glass, gold and silver from some of the richest private collections of Cypriot antiquities in the world.
According to the organizers, it is the largest exhibition of its kind ever to be presented in Greece.
The Thanou Zintili collection at the core of the exhibition is the second-largest private collection of Cypriot antiquities in the world, after that of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, and is comprised of over 700 objects. Until recently, it was held at the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam and was then ceded to the Museum of Cycladic Art in the form of a 25-year loan.
 Karamanlis inaugurates 27th Book Exhibit in Athens
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)''You are familiar with the government's commitment to place emphasis on the areas of culture and education. I deeply believe that we must seek Greece's competitive advantages in the modern era in education and culture, in our great inheritance from the past and in our country's cultural activity in the present,'' Prime Minister and Minister of Culture Costas Karamanlis said on Monday evening during his opening speech at the 27th Book Exhibit he inaugurated in Pedion tou Areos in Athens.
''In a world that is thirsty for values and ideals, Greece can and must offer many significant contributions. Today, we possess all that is required to prove that we do not simply manage our cultural heritage, but that we dare to open new avenues of expression, thought, and creativity through original works. All it takes is a stroll around this exhibit to witness this first hand,'' Karamanlis said.
The prime minister then outlined the government's policy regarding books within the context of supporting the Greek language, which includes:
An international book exhibit in Thessaloniki, the creation of school libraries, and reforms regarding taxes on books.
Since this year's book exhibit coincided with EU enlargement, the Association of Athens Publishers and Booksellers, the exhibit's organizers, decided to dedicate a large part of this year's event to Cyprus, thus ''Reminding us of our duty, as members of the European Union, to work tirelessly so that the EU's principles and values serve as examples in solving Cyprus' political problem,'' Karamanlis said.
 Government spokesman, journalists union issue messages on World Press Day
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, in a statement on the occasion of World Press Day on Monday, said there can be no freedom of speech and expression without freedom and access to information.
Roussopoulos added that the criticism of power, respect for the citizen, ethics, truth, news, without the blowing out of proportion and exaggeration, constitute the ingredients of an independent Press.
The spokesman further said over a third of the population of the planet lacks the self-evident commodity of freedom of the press and hundreds of journalists are currently in prison because they wished to inform citizens, while dozens lost their lives in the struggle for news in various parts of the earth.
The Athens Journalists Union (ESHEA) once again stressed its faith in freedom of the press being a cornerstone of democracy.
ESHEA said the so-called war against terrorism, declared all over the world in past years, has created new uncertainties and dangers, adding that new wars are breaking out all the time in the place of expectations for peace.
The Athens Labor Centre (EKA) expressed support for the principles of freedom of the Press and of speech and protested the fact that dozens of journalists lose their lives every year in the line of duty.
 Falcon jet captain gets 35-month suspended jail sentence for Kranidiotis tragedy
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)An Athens appeals court on Monday sentenced Ioannis Androulakis, the captain of the prime minister's Falcon jet, to a suspended 35-month jail term regarding the accident that took place in September 1999 in which seven people died, including Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis.
The court ruled that the captain did not turn on the warning light in time to enable passengers to fasten their seat belts.
The captain had initially been sentenced to five years in jail after he had also been found guilty of making mistaken moves which had resulted in the automatic pilot becoming blocked.
The seven passengers died when the Falcon aircraft started to lose height rapidly and, being unable to fasten their seat belts, they were fatally injured after being knocked about inside the aircraft.
 President to receive honorary doctorate from Thrace university
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos is to be awarded an honorary doctorate from all schools and departments at the Democritian University of Thrace on May 5, on the 30th anniversary since the foundation and operation of this outlying university.
A number of events will take place on the day, including music, dance, theatre and lectures on educational issues and on the university's contribution to the area of Thrace.
 Greek seaman missing from Malta-flagged 'See Two Star'
Athens, 4/5/2004 (ANA)Greek seaman George Soukos, 44, has been reported missing since Monday morning by the Malta-flagged freighter "See Two Star" sailing in waters off the coast of China.
The captain of the vessel said that Soukos disappeared at 6:00 local time and that no sign of him had been unearthed by the search carried out so far.
The Greek-owned ship had sailed from the Philippines bound for Thailand.
 President Papadopoulos says EU leaders respect referendum result
LARNACA 4/5/2004 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said that during his trip to Dublin on Saturday, where he attended the accession ceremony for the new EU member states, including Cyprus, he explained to EU leaders the reasons that led to the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriot community in last month's referendum.
President Papadopoulos also said he did not anticipate a new initiative to solve the longstanding Cyprus problem in the very near future, stressing however that the government's strategy to get improvements on the Annan Plan will continue so that a solution can be reached.
Speaking to reporters Monday on his return from London, where he inaugurated the exhibition ''Colours of Medieval Cyprus'' at the Hellenic Centre on Sunday, President Papadopoulos said he talked to many heads of state and explained ''the reasons why, in my opinion, the people of Cyprus voted against the Annan Plan.''
Asked how the EU leaders treated him, President Papadopoulos said ''the atmosphere was very cordial, surely most leaders expressed disappointment for the result of the referendum but all did not fail to note that the decision of the people is respected.''
Invited to comment on his brief meeting with Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the ceremony, President Papadopoulos said it was diplomatic courtesy, noting that he did ''not attach any significance to this type of meeting.''
''He was polite, as always. We exchanged a couple of words about Cyprus but with no special political significance,'' he said.
The Cypriot president said he also had a long discussion with Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, saying they arranged to meet again in the near future. ''I explained the situation to Mr. Verheugen and he explained the meaning of his statement, stressing that he had received the knowledge from Cyprus.''
The European Commissioner had said last month that he felt ''cheated'' by the government of the Republic with regard to its stance towards a UN plan for a political settlement.
President Papadopoulos said, ''I assure you that I was not the person who cheated him,'' noting that although Verheugen named that person, the president did not want to reveal it.
He said he received ''satisfactory explanations'' from Verheugen while at the same time the president reiterated his appreciation to the EU Commissioner for all he has done for Cyprus.
Regarding the EU ''Green Line Regulation'', which determines the legal framework of the crossing of goods, persons and services as of 1 May 2004 in Cyprus, President Papadopoulos said the proposals were drafted by the Republic of Cyprus. ''After very intense negotiations and understanding, the regulation is considered by us very satisfactory,'' he added.
Asked if following the island's accession to the EU he forecasts anytime soon a new initiative to solve the Cyprus problem, President Papadopoulos said ''the general impression is that a new initiative is not anticipated any time soon.''
The Cypriot President said that ''after a short period we will continue efforts on the political strategy we have decided'' and noted that ''we want the resumption of a dialogue, now by whom or when I cannot predict, with the aim to make such changes to the Annan Plan, granting effective assurances for its implementation, including the security issue, thus making a solution feasible.''
 Iacovou: Soon Turkey to face Cyprus Republic recognition issue
LARNACA 4/5/2004 (CNA/ANA)Turkey will soon have to face the issue of the recognition of the Cyprus Republic, because it can not act otherwise within the framework of a functional relationship with the European Union, Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has said.
Referring to the course of the Cyprus issue after the island's accession to the EU, Iacovou said that there is a great will for the solution of the problem not only on the part of the government but also on the part of the EU member-states and therefore soon there will be an initiative.
Speaking on his return Sunday from Dublin, where he accompanied President Tassos Papadopoulos to the official ceremony of the accession of the ten new EU member-states, the foreign minister said ''Cyprus was welcomed with all the honors and joy.''
Asked to comment on a remark by UN Secretary General's Special Adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto that no pressure was exercised towards the Greek Cypriot side to accept the Annan plan, Iacovou said ''it is well known that various envoys were trying to exercise their influence on the Greek Cypriot side to accept the Annan plan.''
''We've always referred to the Cyprus people to exercise their right at the referendum, and this (referendum) was the choice of the Secretary General himself,'' he explained.
Regarding Turkey's ties with the Cyprus Republic, the foreign minister said that the neighboring country ''has a customs union agreement with the EU and within this framework various problems will constantly emerge because of the fact that Turkey does not recognize the Cyprus Republic.''
The Cypriot official reiterated the government's position that it favors Turkey's European prospect.