|Monday, 18 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-05-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 5, 2004
 PM meets Patriarchate's delegation, discusses Church crisis
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday received a four-member delegation sent by the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar, Istanbul, which briefed him on the Patriarchate's views regarding a crisis in relations with the Church of Greece.
One of the options discussed, according to sources, is a visit to Phanar on Wednesday by Education and Religious Affairs Marietta Yiannakou, before Patriarch Vartholomeos departs on Friday for engagements elsewhere.
Emerging from the meeting with the premier, Ephesus Metropolitan Chrysostomos said that Karamanlis was extremely respectful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He refused to comment on the possibility of a visit by the Education minister to Phanar.
He denied asking that presidential decrees for the appointment of the new metropolitans in the 'new land' sees not be signed.
Earlier, the delegation met Deputy Foreign Minister Panagiotis Skandalakis for talks on all aspects of the crisis, followed by a meeting with Yiannakou.
After the meeting with Skandalakis, the Ephesus metropolitan stressed that "basic things need to be done so that the Patriarchate does not feel that it's at a disadvantage. We are trying to neutralize the tension that has been created. We are carrying out this dialogue in order to defuse the crisis."
The delegation is also scheduled to meet Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Radical Left President Nikos Constantopoulos.
Patriarchate delegation briefs Communist, Coalition leaders on Church crisis: An Ecumenical Patriarchate delegation visited Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Tuesday and briefed them on the Patriarchate's views on the ongoing crisis between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Church.
''The delegation briefed us on its view and on how they see developments in relations with the Autocephalus Church of Greece. We remain with the same position we have. We do not desire to involve ourselves in the domestic affairs of the Church. We believe matters could have developed in a better way if separation between the Church and the state had taken place. The problem might possibly not have disappeared but it could have been handled in a better way,'' Papariga said after the meeting.
''What preoccupies us is that this dispute must not affect the Greek people and must not divide them, with some defending the one side and the others the other,'' she added.
''The subjection of Churches to the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not mean disputing the integrity and unity of the Greek state. Neither does the Autocephalus nature of the Greek Church mean secession, autonomy and full independence from the Ecumenical Patriarchate,'' Constantopoulos said on his part.
''It is in the interests of both Orthodoxy and Hellenism to strengthen the prestige and function of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The universality of Orthodoxy is an acquired right for the Church and the state which must not be degraded, disputed or marginalized,'' the Coalition party leader added.
Education minister to meet Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos on Thursday: Education Minister Marietta Yiannakou will be meeting Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos at the Phanar at 4 p.m. on Thursday, following consultations held on Tuesday.
According to a statement by the government spokesman, Yiannakou will be conveying a proposal to the Phanar aimed at contributing to the easing of tension existing between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece.
 Turkish PM Erdogan's tour of Thrace of a 'private' nature
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's planned visit to Thrace was of a ''private'' nature and not part of the formal itinerary of his upcoming official visit to Athens, Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Tuesday.
Koumoutsakos explained during a regular press briefing that ''in all official visits by heads of government of other countries, there was a formal and an unofficial program'', adding that ''Mr. Erdogan's visit to Thrace concerns the private part of the visit''.
Greece, he added, ''has no reason whatsoever not to wish a visit of a private nature to the region of Thrace'', and refrained from commenting on press speculation, stressing that ''our Moslem compatriots living in Thrace enjoy complete equality before the State and the laws in the exercise of their rights, while they also actively participate in the economic and social life of their region''.
He noted that there were specific programs for youths that were subsidized by EU funding.
Koumoutsakos said that, at this time, the official part of Erdogan's visit was still being worked out, adding that the minister of Macedonia-Thrace as well as deputy foreign minister Evripidis Stylianidis would greet Erdogan on arrival in northern Greece, in accordance with traditional Greek hospitality.
The spokesman said that Erdogan's visit to Athens reaffirmed that the course of Greek-Turkish relations was in a ''climate of constant improvement'', adding that there was good contact between the two prime ministers.
He said the Turkish prime minister's official visit here would be ''strongly economics-oriented'', with a broad examination of the course of bilateral relations, while planning for and utilization of the existing opportunities for further deepening those relations would also be discussed.
Koumoutsakos said that, in its entirety, the visit would contribute to consolidation and strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries.
PASOK leader expresses 'serious reservations' on Erdogan's tour of Thrace
Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou has expressed ''serious reservations'' on the part of his party regarding Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's tour of Thrace.
Papandreou had expressed his reservations during a press conference on Monday and reiterated them on Tuesday during a meeting he had with Parliamentary members of the Movement.
Papandreou associates said after the meeting that ''the fears concern the fact that the political framework and the agenda of Erdogan's tour is not clear.''
According to sources, it was stressed at the meeting that ''the (Muslim) minority is not a Greek-Turkish issue and cannot constitute an object of negotiation between the governments of the two countries.''
According to the PASOK leader's associates, the government should provide a briefing on Erdogan's visit to Thrace.
 Voulgarakis comments on State Department report
NEW YORK 5/5/2004 (ANA/P.Panayiotou)Asked to comment on the State Department's report regarding terrorism, Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis told reporters here on Tuesday:
''Of course, since everyone realizes the great efforts made in Greece and everyone understands that terrorism on a national level is a closed subject, it doesn't concern the country, it is not a problem for the country, that's positive. When international observers give a positive assessment of the country's progress - and are strict in their evaluation - then I think this is positive in light of the 2004 Athens Games, where 202 countries, thousands of athletes, and thousands of officials will be present,'' Voulgarakis said.
''I am therefore very pleased when these types of reports make positive comments about our country's efforts,'' he added.
However, the minister clarified that ''I said I am pleased with the report's overall message, I didn't say I agree with everything in the report.''
Asked about his visit to the States, Voulgarakis responded: ''The main reason we are here is to exchange ideas concerning international security issues. Of course, we are interested in Olympic Games security. These will be the two main topics of discussion during our meetings in Washington. The United States have helped us very much both in terms of experience and know-how. Furthermore, we are working together very well in addressing issues related to security on a worldwide scale.''
 Public order minister meets NY mayor
NEW YORK 5/5/2004 (ANA/P.Panayiotou)Olympic Games security, Greece's experience in the matter and the problem of terrorism in general were some of the main points Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg discussed during their meeting on Tuesday morning.
After the meeting, Voulgarakis told reporters that ''matters of common interest'' were discussed and added ''there are a lot of issues, since New York is a big city which effectively fought organized crime and was also able to overcome the terrible terrorist attack, which has created a lot of side effects.''
''It's impressive how much New York's economy has improved and we had a pleasant and lengthy discussion on the subject,'' Voulgarakis stressed.
The public order minister also invited the mayor to attend the Athens Olympics.
''He assured me that he would be very pleased to see how the Games are staged in Greece. He knows that security is a priority for our country, plus the fact that New York is one of the candidate cities for the 2012 Olympic Games and so he probably wants to have a personal opinion of how Olympic Games are organized considering his city's aspirations,'' Voulgarakis explained.
 EU Greek Commissioner calls for implementation of Lisbon Strategy
STRASBOURG 5/5/2004 (ANA)The need for a political commitment both by the old and the new EU member states for an extension of political coordination beyond fiscal issues, in order for the Lisbon Strategy to be implemented, was expressed here on Tuesday by EU Greek Commissioner Stavros Dimas in a speech he gave at the plenum of the European Parliament.
''It would not be in the interest of the economic and social development of the EU if some step was made which would distance us from the primary role of securing a dynamic and innovative economy, with more and better jobs and better social cohesion,'' he said, recognizing that the challenge is more so for the new 10 member-states.
 PM receives former PM Constantine Mitsotakis
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis received former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis on Tuesday in light of the latter's departure for the United States.
Mitsotakis said his visit to the prime minister was usual and current issues were discussed.
Referring to the ongoing crisis between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Church, he said ''we are not taking up a position between the Patriarchate and the Greek Church. Let them reach an understanding between themselves. It is the state's duty to implement the law.''
Mitsotakis also noted that the country's economic situation is bad, adding that he is not concerned at all that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be visiting Thrace, in northern Greece, during his visit to the country.
 Deputy FM Valinakis to attend EuroMed Conference in Dublin
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Deputy foreign minister Yannis Valinakis will represent Greece at the EU's EuroMed Conference to be held in Dublin May 5-6, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Tuesday, adding that Greece placed particular importance on the efforts concerning prosperity and security in the wider Mediterranean region.
On the sidelines of the Conference, Valinakis will meet with his counterparts from Egypt, Algeria and Palestine, the spokesman added.
The topics to be discussed at the EuroMediterranean Conference include: European strategy for a new partnership relationship with the Mediterranean and the Middle East; European new neighborhood policy and the Barcelona process; Improvement of the working methods of the Euro-Med Cooperation; Function of the EuroMed Parliamentary Assembly; Strengthenging of cooperation for combatting terrorism; and Libya's participation in the EuroMed Cooperation.
 Inner cabinet meeting focuses on defense policy
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)The fundamental axes of government defense policy, in which maximizing the use of human resources will have a central role, were the focus of Tuesday's meeting of the inner Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Immediately afterward, Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos announced that an omnibus bill regulating Armed Forces personnel issues will soon be tabled in Parliament.
Among others, this will allow an additional 5,000 professional troops to be recruited to the armed forces and review the five-year armed forces procurements program to introduce cutbacks.
The minister revealed that certain companies had been asked to renegotiate contracts by the general secretariat of Financial Planning and Defense Investments.
 PM to meet Albanian counterpart on Wednesday, spokesman says
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is scheduled to meet Albanian premier Fatos Nano on Wednesday morning at 10:30, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos announced.
The premier will later address 'The Economist' conference in Athens at 21:00 on Wednesday evening.
 FM Molyviatis to meet with Albanian PM, Romanian deputy PM, and Barak
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis will meet Wednesday with Albanian prime minister Fatos Nanos for talks on Greek-Albanian bilateral relations, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos said Tuesday.
During the meeting, which is scheduled for 11:30, the two men will discuss Albania's European prospect, the consolidation of relations, and minority matters which, the spokesman explained, no longer comprised bilateral matters but were within the framework of the EU's acquis communautaire, as were all issues concerning the democratic institutions and human rights.
Koumoutsakos said that Molyviatis would also meet with Romanian deputy prime minister Ioan Talpes, who holds the portfolios for European integration, defense and justice issues, at 12:30, and with Israeli former prime minister Ehud Barak at 13:00.
 Archbishop to meet main opposition leader next week
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, the head of the Greek Church, will meet with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou next Monday at 9:30 in the morning.
The meeting will take place at PASOK'S headquarters on Harilaou Trikoupi street.
 Piraeus Bank Group shows higher Q1 earnings
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Piraeus Bank SA, which is listed on the Athens bourse, on Tuesday reported that the group's consolidated earnings before tax in the first quarter of 2004 rose by 52.6 per cent to 55.0 million euros against the same period a year earlier.
In a statement, management of the private sector bank attributed the rise in profits, the best quarterly performance for three years, to a continuous improvement in revenue from commercial banking operations.
 Greece shows drop in world IMD business ratings
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Greece has dropped to 44th place in the Institute for Management Development's global competitiveness ranking for 2004, which includes the world's 60 most developed countries, slipping from 42nd place a year earlier.
In the same rating for 2000-2004, Greece dropped 10 places to rank 44th from 34th, IMD said in its annual report, which was released in the northern port city of Thessaloniki by the Association of Industry of Northern Greece (SBBE).
''The major deterioration in the country's overall performance is mainly due to major losses in most categories of the evaluation,''
SBBE's president, Dimitris Symeonidis, told a news conference.
Among Greece's other rankings were the following:
''Major shortages in infrastructure, delays and problems in the Greek regions, especially northern Greece, remain open questions that brook no further delay,'' Symeonidis added.
 Agricultural Insurance gets contract for Athens Olympics
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Agricultural Insurance SA is to insure equipment at installations belonging to the national organizing committee that will be used in the Athens 2004 Olympics, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
The contract covers both sporting and non-sporting installations with insured capital totalling up to 180 million euros, the statement said.
 Insurance coverage for Olympic equipment signed
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Agriculture Bank's affiliated insurance subsidiary, Agrotiki Asfalistiki, has won the contract to insure equipment at Olympic venues and other facilities managed by the 2004 Athens Olympic Games organizing committee (ATHOC).
The insurance policy covers damages of up to 180 million euros, and includes coverage against natural disasters, fire and explosions "resulting from whatever source".
The same company has been selected as the primary contractor in terms of liability insurance for the 2004 Games.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks nose down in range bound trade
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished lower in range bound trade with players focusing on the banking sector, traders said.
The general share index shed 0.19 per cent to end at 2,533.81 points. Turnover was 124.8 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.11 per cent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 1.26 per cent down; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities lost 0.88 per cent.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 220 to 83 with 61 issues remaining unchanged.
Closing rates of May 4 2004
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,215 1,188
 100 days before the Games Athens organizers confident of success
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)One hundred days before the 2004 Olympic Games begin in Athens, Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia, IOC President Jacques Rogge and Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki expressed their confidence that the staging of the Games will be a success.
''One hundred days before the Olympic Games we are making the utmost effort in realizing our common goal. The Olympic Games are a source of pride for all Greeks. At the same time they [the Games] serve as a starting point for new avenues of growth for our country,'' Petralia said.
''As we enter the final stretch together, most of the preparations are already complete. More work remains, however, and we are continuing our close cooperation with the Athens Organizing Committee and the Greek government, to ensure that everything needed for the Games to succeed is in place,'' Rogge said.
He added that ''all the reports I receive indicate just how fast and how hard Greece is working to complete preparations - not only for the Games - but for improvements to the country's cultural, urban and transport infrastructure that will continue to serve generations to come.''
''In one hundred days, the world's most skilful athletes will assemble in Greece for the historic homecoming of the Olympic Games - and we will be ready to welcome them. Athens will be great for the athletes, Greece will be great for the Games,'' Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said.
''Athens will be working around the clock to prepare for the Games, testing and putting into place the world's greatest Olympic venues, and the largest, most comprehensive and best-funded security effort in Olympic history,'' she stressed.
''In addition, we will offer athletes and officials the world's most historic venues, as well, including the stadium in Olympia, home of the ancient Games; the Panathinaiko Stadium, in which the modern Games were reborn; the original route of the Marathon; and a cycling course that travels beneath the Parthenon and past some of Athens' most significant sites,'' she added.
 Controversial Olympic project approaching completion
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Just 100 days before the Athens 2004 Olympic Games' opening ceremony, the famous Calatrava roof of the Olympic Stadium remains the number 1 priority for the government and for the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee.
However, after the pace of work on the roof has picked up in recent weeks the government is optimistic that it will be finished soon and may be slid into place over the following days. The initial deadline for the project had been the end of April.
A ''Times of London'' article which reported that the IOC had sent Athens an ultimatum setting a May 20 deadline for the roof's completion, drew sharp reactions from the IOC and the Greek government who deny the reports. ''There is no ultimatum. The time schedule on which the government and the IOC have agreed is being followed,'' Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said on Tuesday.
 ATHOC dismisses press reports on Torch Relay security
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Athens organizers (ATHOC) on Tuesday flatly rejected press reports out of Australia (Herald Sun) claiming that they demanded the presence of armed guards from Greece to accompany the Olympic Torch through its relay in Melbourne, among others.
ATHOC's press & media stated, in a press release:
"As part of its organization of the Olympic Torch Relay, ATHOC has signed contracts with the cities and the National Olympic Committees of the countries that will host the Relay, defining those cities' rights and responsibilities.
"Under the terms of these contracts security for the Torch Relay is undertaken by local authorities, while ATHENS 2004 and its staff support only the organizational side of the Relay … the aim of which is that the Olympic Torch Relay shall have a uniform image and method of operation in every city of the world.
"There was no proposal or request that there should be Greek security guards, with or without weapons, in Australia or any other point of the international route for the Olympic Torch Relay; because -- and we insist on this -- security is the responsibility of the local authorities.
"All articles in the international press about the organization and security of the Olympic Torch Relay in Australia are, thus, baseless, while certain statements made on the subject run counter to the spirit of amity and solidarity by which the Olympic Torch Relay is governed," the press release stated.
 Alternate culture minister inaugurates Olympic exhibit
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)''I invite you to create works of art for the entrance of each Olympic venue,'' Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said in a speech she gave on Tuesday evening on the occasion of the opening of the exhibit, ''The Olympic Spirit and Modern Greek Art,'' held at the Athens Municipality Cultural Centre.
''We can and we must prove that we are not simply inheritors of a great ancient spirit, but that we aim to showcase the new Greece through the Olympic Games,'' the minister said.
Petralia described the exhibit as ''very significant'' since many works were specifically designed for the exhibit.
''The exhibit highlights in the best possible way the relationship between sports and art,'' she stressed.
On display are 75 works of 57 artists, 56 of which are contemporary artists, while one work of art belongs to Yiannis Tsarouchis.
The exhibit is being held under the auspices of the General Secretariat for the Olympic Games and will be held in Athens until June 30.
 Accreditation needed for IOC Coordination Commission visit
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)The IOC's Coordinating Commission for the 2004 Olympic Games will convene in Athens next week, specifically from May 10 to May 13, according to a press release issued on Tuesday.
Athens organizers (ATHOC) reiterated that accreditations will be needed by all media representatives wanting to cover the event, including access to the press work room and the press conference.
 '100-day until the Games' pin unveiled on Wednesday
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)A special event will take place on Wednesday at the Monastiraki old quarter district of Athens, near the Acropolis, to commemorate the unveiling of an "Olympic pin" marking the 100-day countdown to the beginning of the 2004 Olympic Games.
Olympic champions, Athens organizers, sponsors and artists will be on hand.
The special collector's 100-day pin will be issued in 2,000 Greek and 1,500 English editions, respectively, and will be available for only one day at designated Olympic merchandise shops.
 Documentary focuses on Olympic champions from Crete
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Director Lefteris Haronitis and his associates have begun filming for the dramatized documentary "Olympic Champions of Crete," which is scheduled to be released in July, shortly before the Olympic Torch arrives in Iraklion. The film is the initiative of Iraklion Prefect Dimitris Sarris, which Haronitis described as "a cultural investment."
Sarris said on Tuesday that the film is an effort to promote Crete's rich culture and the island's contribution to the Olympic Games.
Filming will take place in Olympia, Delphi, Ancient Kydonia, Knossos, and other important sites.
 Athens mayor attends founding conference of international cities organization
FRANCE 5/5/2004 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni on Tuesday took part in the founding conference of the International Organization of Cities and Local Government taking place in Paris, along with roughly 2,500 elected mayors from all over the world.
The conference aims to found a form of city-level United Nations that will play a role in dealing with the planet's problems.
In her address to the conference, Bakoyianni underlined that diplomacy and cooperation between cities was the great challenge of the present century, as cities and local governments became increasingly important and their activities had an ever-increasing impact on the environment, living standards, justice, multicultural societies and cooperation between people.
Later on Tuesday, Bakoyianni will meet French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, while on Wednesday she is invited to attend an event organized by the French Olympic Committee.
 Defense in ELA trial dismisses Kyriakidou testimony as 'fabricated'
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Defense lawyers for all five alleged members of the terrorist group "Revolutionary Popular Struggle" (ELA) who stand accused before the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court on Tuesday dismissed the testimony of the prosecution's main witness Sofia Kyriakidou as "fabricated".
According to some of them, Kyriakidou had been used by the authorities because of her feelings of jealousy and a desire for revenge against her former husband Aggeletos Kanas, one of the prisoners on trial.
Kyriakidou finished testifying on Tuesday after several days on the stand and the trial continues on Wednesday with the testimony of Ioannis Ventouris.
 Ioannina research team develop IT system for treating bone fractures
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)A new system using information technology to assist in the treatment of bone fractures has been developed by Medical Technology and Intelligent Information Systems Unit attached to the Ioannina University Computer Science department.
Named USBONE, the system helps hasten the healing of fractures and allows the progress of patients to be monitored from home. It has been selected among 109 medical technology products and services to take part in an exhibition that will be held in Cork, Ireland on May 5-6 in the framework of the Irish presidency of the European Union.
The best three products out of 30 selected to take part in the exhibition will receive prizes from the e-Europe initiative.
The USBONE system has two parts, one of which is a small 'wearable' device about the size of a matchbox that can be attached onto an osteosynthesis device used to keep fractured bones in place.
This can both emit and record ultrasound waves and use the information to track the healing of bones, while it also possesses a transceiver that allows doctors to monitor the progress of one or even several patients remotely.
Finally, it can help bones knit about 30 per cent faster through ultrasound treatments recommended by a doctor, which the system executes automatically.
The other part of the system is an easily operated control and monitoring centre used by the doctor that monitors the signals sent by devices worn by the patients.
In tests the system has been shown to be effective, allowing doctors to keep several patients under observation at the same time without their having to make frequent trips to the surgery.
 Greece the theme country at Turin international book exhibition
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Greece will be the theme country at the international book exhibition to be hosted in Turin, Italy, May 6-10.
A few months ahead of the Athens Olympic Games, Greece has the opportunity to present a panorama of its modern literature through a series of events which include book exhibitions, presentations of Greek poets and writers and musical performances.
An organizing committee has undertaken to organize the program on Greece's presence as the theme country at the Turin international book exhibition.
The opening ceremony for the Greek events to take place in Turin will take place on the evening of May 5 in the hall of the historic Teatro Carignano.
 Exhibition of Byzantine paintings in Brussels
BRUSSELS 5/5/2004 (ANA/G. Zitouniati)An exhibition of Byzantine paintings by clergyman Stamatis Skliris will be held here from May 12-30, under the auspices of Greek Ambassador to Belgium Yiannis Korantis.
The exhibition will be split in three entities, namely icons, works on Olympic Games issues and works on ''Greece and the Sea''.
 Ministers debate debts of football and basketball firms
Athens, 5/5/2004 (ANA)Debts mounted by the country's football and basketball SA companies were the subject of talks on Tuesday between Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou, and Deputy Sports Minister, George Orfanos.
The development ministry is currently devising ways of tackling the debt problem.
 Greek Festival in Oxford
LONDON 5/5/2004 (ANA)The Greek Cultural Foundation, in cooperation with the Union of Classical Drama of Oxford University, will hold a Greek Festival in Oxford May 5-15.
The festival is mainly directed at young people and includes a rich program of events, speeches, theatrical performances, literary and musical evenings and special tours for schools of the region to the Ashmolean Museum and Bodleian Library collections.
 EU priorities on Cyprus set out by spokesman for commissioner Verheugen
BRUSSELS 5/5/2004 (CNA/ANA)The EU Commission now has two priorities regarding Cyprus, to lift the isolation of Turkish Cypriots and to keep alive prospects for a settlement and for reunification of the island, said Jean-Christophe Filori, spokesman for enlargement commissioner Guenther Verheugen.
Speaking to correspondents in Brussels on Tuesday, Filori said implementation of the two priorities would be based on the decisions on Cyprus taken in Luxembourg last week by the EU/s General Affairs Council.
With regard to a statement made by Verheugen after the referendums in Cyprus last month, that he had been ''cheated'' into believing that the government of Cyprus was committed to resolving the problem before accession, Filori recalled that the settlement of the Cyprus issue had been disconnected from the accession of the island to the Union by decision of the EU summit in Helsinki in December 1999.
At that summit, said Filori, then president of Cyprus Glafcos Clerides ''had given verbal assurances that the Republic of Cyprus would not be the side to obstruct a settlement before accession.''
He added that ''the same assurances had been given repeatedly'' to Verheugen by current president Tassos Papadopoulos.
''All this belongs to the past,'' Filori said. ''Today we have two basic priorities: to lift the isolation of Turkish Cypriots and to keep alive prospects for a settlement of the Cyprus issue and for
reunification of Cyprus,'' he said, adding that realization of the two targets would be based on the decisions taken by the General Affairs Council which met in Luxembourg on April 26.
Cyprus President Papadopoulos, asked to comment on the statements by Filori at the end of a meeting on Tuesday afternoon of the executive bureau of the Democratic Party of which he is president, said he was not aware of the statements and had nothing to say.
 Irish minister says EU committed to assuring Turkish Cypriots
NICOSIA, 5/5/2004 (CNA/ANA)Irish Minister of State for European Affairs Dick Roche said on Tuesday that the EU remains strongly committed to providing tangible assurance to the Turkish Cypriot community that its future will still be in a united Cyprus within the EU.
Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Roche, whose country currently holds the EU rotating presidency, said ''it is no secret that the clear preference of the EU was for the accession of a united Cyprus on May 1,'' noting that ''we greatly regret that following the outcome of the referenda in Cyprus on April 24, it was not possible to achieve this objective.''
He added that the General Affairs and External Relations Council ''is determined to ensure that the people of Cyprus will soon achieve their shared destiny as citizens of a united Cyprus in the EU.''
Referring to the referenda on a UN plan for a Cyprus settlement, which the Greek Cypriot community rejected and the Turkish Cypriot community accepted, Roche said the latter expressed its ''clear desire for a future within the EU'' and noted that ''the Council is determined to end their isolation and to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging their economic development.''
Roche also referred to the adoption by the Council on April 29 of the regulation regarding the demarcation line in Cyprus, noting that ''the regulation was necessary for a smooth accession process.''
''It provides the terms under which the relevant provisions of EU law are applied to the line between the northern part of Cyprus, in which the application of the acquis communautaire is suspended, and the areas in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus exercises effective control,'' he said.
He added that ''the terms of the regulation will facilitate trade and other links across the line while ensuring that the appropriate standards of protection are maintained.''
''I believe that the agreement reached on this regulation reflects clearly the desire of the Council to send a signal of encouragement to the Turkish Cypriot community that its future lies in a united Cyprus within the EU,'' he noted.
Roche said ''the next step will be the presentation by the Commission of the comprehensive proposals requested by the General Affairs and External Relations Council,'' noting that ''they will have a particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island and on improving contact between the two communities and with the EU.''
''The Council has recommended that the 259 million euros, which had been earmarked for the northern part of Cyprus in the event of a settlement, should now be used for this purpose. I welcome the intention of the Commission to bring forward its comprehensive proposals within the coming weeks,'' he added.
Roche noted that there is ''a strong sympathy and a sense of respect'' in the European Parliament for ''the people of Cyprus, of both communities, as they seek to overcome the legacy of a divided history.''
''I regret that the accession celebrations in Ireland on May 1 could not include a celebration of a united Cyprus in the EU. However, the statements and the actions of the Council since the referenda confirm clearly that the EU remains strongly committed to providing tangible assurance to the Turkish Cypriot community that its future will still be in a united Cyprus within the EU,'' he concluded.