|Tuesday, 19 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-05-06
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 6, 2004
 Karamanlis outlines gov't's priorities, strategy at Economist conference
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Wednesday evening outlined his two-month-old government's priorities and directions, both on the domestic and the foreign policy fronts, to a crowd of mostly international dignitaries and media gathered in Athens for the yearly Economist roundtable series of discussions.
Speaking on the day that marked the 100-day countdown to the closely anticipated Athens Olympic Games, Karamanlis stressed that the country's unprecedented expenditures for security translate into ''Athens being the first city in the history of the Games with such dense and advanced security network...''
''It is a tragic irony that the Games, a symbol of peace, today necessitate unprecedented measures for security,'' he noted earlier, hours after negative international media attention briefly focused on Athens after three makeshift bombs caused material damage to a police station in the Greek capital.
''Amid the gray (landscape) of international insecurity, Athens in 2004, Greece of 2004, ensures the maximum security for all. We want the Olympics and Paralympics Games which identify with the highest human values to become the starting point for the revival of the Olympic ideal,'' Karamanlis told delegates, including a handful of leaders from neighboring states, at a seaside resort southeast of Athens proper.
In terms of the other major issue dominating the headlines in Greece over the past month, namely, high-profile developments regarding Cyprus, the Greek premier reiterated that Athens is committed to finding an ''agreed to, functional and viable solution to the Cyprus problem based on the Annan plan. A solution that leads to the reunification of the island and ensures conditions of security and prosperity for all of its citizens.''
Less than two weeks after the Greek Cypriot community voted 'no' to the Annan plan and days after the island republic joined, together with another nine countries, the European Union in its largest expansion ever, Karamanlis stressed that EU membership means a ''new dynamic for rapprochement and the harmonious co-existence of Greek and Turkish Cypriots ... We Greeks want a solution, and we are working to keep international and European interest active (for a solution''.
His statements came less than 24 hours before he officially receives Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Athens.
In turning to the domestic front and to the Greek economy, Premier Karamanlis did not mince his words in detailing what he said his government inherited from the previous PASOK government, citing a fiscal deficit double in size than what was previously declared; an inflation rate almost double the 'euro zone' average, as well as unacceptably high unemployment.
''There are no magic solutions. We can, however, change things... Our goal is a balanced and dynamic development; an increase in employment, a bridging of the gap between regional and social inequities. Our primary goal is to strengthen the growth rate,'' he said.
In pointing to the 'tools' for achieving higher and sustained growth in a post-Olympics Greece, Karamanlis listed ''economic stability'' as the number one priority, before citing his New Democracy party's long-standing campaign promises of tacking corruption and reducing redtape and bureaucracy. Curbing tax evasion while at the same time slicing the country's corporate tax rate to 25 percent of undistributed profits that are re-invested.
International relations, Greek-Turkish ties: As the premier of the only country of the Balkans in the EU, Karamanlis reiterated that Athens fully backs the European prospects of each and every country in the region, including Turkey.
''We support every effort by its (Turkey) government aimed at convergence of the neighboring country with the constitutional, political, economic and Community acquis communautaire. Our strategic goal is to normalize Greek-Turkish relations; rapprochement between the two countries and two peoples, as well as development of bilateral cooperation in every sector,'' he added.
The premier said Greece seeks peace and cooperation with all neighboring states based on the principles of inviolability of borders, respect for human rights and to the peaceful resolution of differences.
Finally, in relation to the thorny Middle East problem, Karamanlis said his government backs efforts for a resolution to the problem ''based on the recognition of a Palestinian state and the guaranteed security for Israel.''
 Bomb blasts outside Kallithea police building
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Three home-made bombs exploded behind the police precinct in the Athens suburb of Kallithea early Wednesday, causing damage but no injuries. A warning call had been placed to an Athens daily a few minutes before the blasts, but it was not immediately known whether the unidentified caller claimed responsibility on behalf of any organization. Bomb squad experts, however, said the home-made bombs resembled those used by the "Revolutionary Struggle" group against Athens' courthouse complex and a Citibank branch in 2003.
The first explosion occurred at 3:55 a.m., followed by a second explosion at 4:00 and a third blast at 4:29, outside the building that houses the Kallithea police department, the local security police offices, and the Kallithea traffic police.
The caller phoned Eleftherotypia daily at 3:47 a.m. warning of the impending bomb explosion, and the police precinct building was immediately evacuated.
The first two bombs exploded at the entrance of the police precinct's garage on Kremou street, while the third exploded at a guard post near the old entrance, also on Kremou street, which has not been in use for the past five years since the shut-down of the precinct's lockup facility.
The chief of the counter-terrorism squad Stelios Syros and commander of the Attica security police Vassilis Tsiatouras arrived quickly on the site, but had made no statements as at press time.
Bomb disposal experts also carried out a controlled explosion on a black briefcase found outside the present main entrance of the building on Laskaridou street, but it turned out that the briefcase contained only documents.
The experts said that the explosions were caused by homemade timebombs comprising a tabletop watch, a detonator, 9V batteries and dynamite.
Government spokesman: Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said later that even isolated incidents that could take place anywhere in the world were treated by the Greek authorities with "due seriousness and responsibility".
He said that according to information collected so far, there was no indication that Wednesday's incident was linked with preparations for the Olympic Games to be hosted by Athens in August.
"The Greek authorities, in collaboration with the corresponding authorities of the European Union, the US and NATO, have designed a security system that guarantees the smooth holding of the Olympic Games," the spokesman said.
He said that terrorism in Greece, as represented by the activity of specific organizations, "has been wiped out" and "the terrorists are in prison", adding that any incidents were "isolated" ones.
On the Olympic Games, which are just 100 days away, Roussopoulos said that "all the security measures have been taken, and the expenditure is multiple that foreseen in the preceding Games".
"The (Olympics security) planning will bring about satisfactory results," he added.
Public order ministry and police sources: No organization has claimed responsibility for the explosions outside the Kallithea police precinct early Wednesday, but public order ministry and police sources said that the home-made bombs resembled those used in a similar incident outside the courthouse complex on Evelpidon street in central Athens in September 2003 and an attempt against a US-based Citibank branch shortly afterwards in the Neo Psychico suburb, both of which were claimed by the "Revolutionary Struggle" group.
Police analysts believe Wednesday's attack was not linked to the Olympic Games, given that the target selected was a police station and not an Olympics venue or other facility. They also opined that the incentive behind the attack was the ongoing trial of five suspected members of the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA) group or the imminent transfer of the convicted "November 17" terrorist group members from the high-security prison in Korydallos, near Piraeus, to a high-security facility in Larissa.
Kallithea bomb attacks unrelated to Olympics, police chief says: The triple bomb blasts behind a Kallithea police precinct earlier on Wednesday were a domestic issue that was unrelated to the Athens Olympics, Attica police chief George Aggelakos told reporters later the same day.
He described the attack as an ''isolated incident'' carried out by the ''remnants'' of Greece's domestic terrorism.
According to the police chief, the evidence showed similarities between the type of explosive device used in the attack and other bombs set at various Athens targets over the years.
He also noted that the investigation was continuing and that the Greek police were prepared to deal with such incidents. He stressed that security preparations for the Olympics were extremely good and that Greece was a secure country.
Regarding the motives for the attack, Aggelakos said these appeared to be linked to domestic issues that had nothing to do with the Olympics and that it probably targeted the police. He said the leadership of the force was particularly concerned by the half-hour gap between the first two explosions and the third, which seemed to indicate a desire for casualties or serious injury among officers investigating the blasts.
Following Wednesday's attack, all police precincts and other police services had been ordered to increase their guard and be on the alert, Aggelakos added.
The triple blast in the Athens suburb of Kallithea caused damage but no deaths or injuries. A warning call had been placed to the Athens daily 'Eleftherotypia' a few minutes before, allowing the building to be evacuated. Bomb squad experts said the home-made bombs resembled those used by the ''Revolutionary Struggle'' group against Athens' courthouse complex and a Citibank branch in 2003.
The first explosion occurred at 3:55 a.m., followed by a second explosion at 4:00 and a third blast at 4:29. The first two bombs exploded at the entrance of the police precinct's garage on Kremou street, while the third exploded at a guardpost near the old entrance, also on Kremou street, which has not been in use for the past five years since the precinct's lockup facility was shut down.
Bomb disposal experts said that the explosions were caused by homemade timebombs comprising a tabletop watch, a detonator, 9V batteries and dynamite.
In statements regarding the attacks, the government and political parties stressed that this was an ''isolated incident'', while a statement issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) noted that there was no connection with any Olympic venue.
 Government asserts bombs in Kallithea unrelated to Olympic preparations
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis termed the explosions in Kallithea in the early hours on Wednesday as ''an isolated incident'' and stressed that ''they do not affect the security of Olympic Games preparations.''
Karamanlis stressed that Greece's efforts and the close collaboration with the relevant EU authorities, NATO, and the US, ensure the Games security.
Minister of State in charge of government and communications issues and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos made the following statement: ''Greek authorities are giving even isolated incidents which could occur in any part of the world, the necessary seriousness and responsibility they require. The evidence so far does not indicate that today's incident is connected to Olympic preparations. The Greek authorities, in collaboration with the relevant authorities of the EU, the US, and NATO have designed a security system which ensures the smooth staging of the Olympic Games.''
In another statement related to terrorism, Roussopoulos said ''terrorism in Greece, carried out by specific organizations, has been eliminated. Any incidents are isolated events; the terrorists are in jail.''
Reactions-Party leaders, IOC: Political party leaders reacted Wednesday to critical international media reports related to the early morning bomb blasts outside the Kallithea police precinct, reiterating a statement by prime minister Costas Karamanlis that the incident was an "isolated incident", which was echoed by an IOC spokeswoman, who said the incident was not connected with an Olympic venue.
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou said that he felt the need to assure that all the Greek governments, past and present, had been and were taking "all measures to guarantee secure Olympic Games".
Papandreou said Wednesday's incident was an "isolated" one, and that the Games would be conducted with security.
Coalition of the Radical Left (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos said that the "game of slandering Greece has been played many times, and by the same circles that wish to exercise pressure, with destabilizing scenarios". He added, however, that such efforts would not succeed.
Theodoros Pangalos, a former foreign minister under the preceding PASOK government, pointed out that such incidents occurred in many European countries and were not of significance.
"We are in a position to ensure the Games," he said.
IOC: Meanwhile, according to a Reuters dispatch from London, IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Wednesday that "obviously it's an incident which is not connected with an Olympic venue".
"We understand it's a relatively small incident," she said, adding that the IOC was in close contact with the Greek authorities.
"We believe the matter is in hand with the Greek authorities," Davies said.
 Blair expresses confidence in Greek authorities after Athens bomb blastsLONDON (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)
British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday expressed confidence in the way that Greek authorities were handling a triple bomb attack against an Athens police station earlier that morning.
Asked about the attack and security for the Athens Olympics in August, Blair stressed that the Games had to go on as planned, in spite of the bomb attacks.
''Our ministers are in constant contact with Greek authorities and we have absolute confidence in the way they are handling the whole matter,'' he said.
An announcement by the Greek government and the Greek police has described the attack as an ''isolated incident'' carried out by the ''remnants'' of Greece's domestic terrorism that was not linked to the Olympics.
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos noted that Greece was working closely with the European Union, the United States and NATO in preparations for the security of the Games and had designed a security system which guaranteed the Olympics would be carried out securely.
Pointing out that the cost of the measures was multiple that of other Olympics, the spokesman said this planning would bring satisfactory results.
Roussopoulos also noted that terrorism in Greece, ''as expressed through the action of specific groups'' had been wiped out.
''Any incidents are isolated and the terrorists are in prison,'' he stressed.
 US State Department concerned over recent bombings in Greece and CyprusWASHINGTON (ANA/T. Ellis)
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher on Wednesday expressed concern over recent bomb attacks in Greece and Cyprus.
Boucher appeared reserved over Wednesday's bombing in the Athens district of Kallithea, avoiding to make any assessment of the case and stating that there is not enough information, while pointing out that the case is being investigated by the Greek authorities.
On the contrary, Boucher was more specific regarding the explosion occurring outside the residence of Cyprus' Democratic Rally party leader Nikos Anastassiades on Tuesday morning.
Asked to comment on the two incidents, Boucher said ''we are always concerned when we see attacks such as these. As regards Cyprus, we are deeply concerned over the assumption of responsibility. There was a Greek Cypriot organization which assumed responsibility and expressed political motives for the attack. This is also something which causes great concern. We condemn the attack against the residence of Mr. Anastassiades. We look forward to a full and in-depth investigation by the Greek Cypriot government and to the arrest of those who were responsible for what happened. Regarding the events in Greece, of course we are concerned with every explosion which takes place, but at this point the Greek authorities are investigating the explosions and therefore I do not have much information about them.''
 Greek, Albanian PMs reaffirm good bilateral relations
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Greece and Albanian on Wednesday reaffirmed the good relations between the two countries, after prime minister Costas Karamanlis' talks in Athens with visiting Albanian premier Fatos Nano.
Karamanlis told reporters after the meeting that relations between the two countries were on a firm and irreversible course, and that the common volition existed for meeting the challenges of the era within the framework of the European Union, with attention turned to the future rather than the past.
The prime minister said that impetus needed to be given to bilateral relations in more sectors, in addition to the economy, military cooperation and security, and stressed that Greece stood at the side of the Albanian government and people in the major effort they will need to make to achieve the targets set out by the EU for Albania's European course.
Karamanlis stressed the need for insurances of the rights of the Greek minority in Albania "in practice", noting that the participation of the Human Rights Union party in the government coalition in Albania proved the active participation of the Greek minority in that country's political and social affairs.
The Greek premier further stressed that the social and economic incorporation of the Albanian immigrants would be advanced, noting that they contributed to economic stability in Greece and to Albania's economic growth.
Nano, in turn, invited Karamanlis to pay a state visit to Tirana, noting that bilateral relations were solid and expressing satisfaction that Greece will continue to be at Albania's side also in its course to the EU.
Nano also called for a clear timetable for Albania's accession to NATO to be forthcoming at the Istanbul conference, adding that the fact that two EU and NATO members -- Greece and Italy -- were bordering countries to Albania constituted a guarantee for his country.
The Albanian prime minister said he had met with understanding vis-a-vis the continuation of the procedures for legalization of Albanians and their incorporation into Greek society, while he also pledged the incorporation of the Greek minority in Albania in the stages of the procedure for Albania's European course.
"The immigrants and the Greek minority are a bridge between the two people," Nano said.
Premier Karamanlis' wife, Natasha, and the Albanian prime minister's wife had a breakfast meeting at Zappeion.
Earlier, Karamanlis conferred with high-ranking foreign ministry officials on Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit here, which begins Thursday in Athens.
 Foreign minister meets Albanian PM, Romanian deputy PM and Barak
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis had a series of meetings with visiting foreign officials on Wednesday, including Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano, Romanian Deputy Premier Ioan Talpes and former Israeli premier Ehud Barak.
The meeting with Nano was about Albania's European prospects and the implementation of the Peace and Cooperation Treaty signed by Greece and Albania in 1996.
Talks between Molyviatis and Talpes, who is in charge of European integration issues, covered Romania's rapprochement with European laws and institutions and the meeting with Barak focused on the latest developments in the Middle East.
No statements were made after any of the meetings.
 Parliament president and Albanian PM discuss bilateral relations
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki referred to possibilities of further strengthening bilateral relations between Greece and Albania on such issues as cracking down on crime, combatting terrorism, confronting smuggling and the effective guarding of borders in talks with Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano on Wednesday.
On his part, Nano called for Greece's support for his country's accession to NATO and the upgrading of its relations with the European Union. The very good level of Greek-Albanian relations was also confirmed at the meeting.
 Turkish PM Erdogan arrives in Athens on official visit on Thursday
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in Athens shortly on Thursday on an official visit to Greece.
Shortly after his 8:45 p.m. arrival at Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos international airport, Erdogan will be the guest at a private dinner at the home of Greek prime minister Costas Karamanlis in the east Attica harbor town of Rafina.
The two prime ministers will hold talks at the Maximos Mansion (government headquarters) on Friday morning, after which he will be received by President of the Republic Costis Stephanopoulos.
At noon on Friday, Erdogan will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in central Syntagma Square in front of the parliament building, after which he will call on parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki, followed by an official lunch hosted by the Greek-Turkish Business Forum.
At 4:30 in the afternoon, Erdogan will meet with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, followed by separate meetings with Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga and Coalition of the Radical Left (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, and a call on Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni at 6:00 p.m.
Erdogan will attend a dinner in his honor at the Maximos Mansion at 9:00 p.m., while the rest of the Turkish delegation will attend a dinner in their honor at Zappeion.
The official leg of Erdogan's visit concludes on Saturday morning at 9:30 at a departure ceremony at the Maximos
Mansion, after which he will leave for the airport to head on to Kavala for a private visit to Thrace, in northern Greece.
Replying to press questions, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos clarified that the itinerary for the private leg of Erdogan's visit was known to the government, adding that "no negotiation was made on its content".
 FM: Athens continues to back Turkey's EU prospects
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Greek foreign minister Petros Molyviatis on Wednesday reiterated Athens' decision to maintain its support for neighboring Turkey's European orientation and to continue efforts at improving bilateral relations, in statements just twenty four hours before an official visit here by Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The veteran diplomat, who assumed the foreign ministry portfolio two months ago after the election victory of New Democracy party, said it would be a mistake for Athens to try and block Turkey's European prospects. He, nevertheless, said the Cyprus issue remained at the core of Greece's foreign policy concerns, although this problem should not impede Greek-Turkish relations.
Molyviatis' latter comment came in response to a question on the Cyprus issue during the opening session of the 8th «Economist» Round Table with the government of Greece, and in light of last month's rejection of the Annan peace plan by a large majority of Greek-Cypriots.
He added that this policy of normalization with Ankara will benefit both the Greek and Turkish peoples, as well as the entire region, while lobbying Turkey's recent efforts towards meeting Copenhagen criteria and expressing a hope that Turkey will fully implement reforms. Moreover, he noted that this policy of rapprochement is shared by the current and previous Greek governments.
Turning to the issue of Greece's foreign policy priorities, Molyviatis directly pointed to Cyprus and the upcoming 2004 Olympics.
In terms of Cyprus, he reiterated that the island republic's EU accession is a historic milestone and a new beginning for all Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
«There are no last opportunities in life,» he said in relation to last month's referendum.
Additionally, he said the Greek \Cypriot community should not vilified because of its 'No' note, «as peoples' decisions should be respected by all».
«The reunification of the island remains as the goal,» he said.
Finally, asked about Erdogan's visit to the Thrace region of northeastern Greece, the home to a Moslem minority, Molyviatis said «Greece is a free and democratic country and that it would be inconceivable in this day and age to tell a visitor, no less an official one, where he could or could not travel.»
 US State Department spokesman indicates no renegotiating for Annan planWASHINGTON (ANA/T. Ellis)
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher indicated on Wednesday the Annan plan on Cyprus was not subject to renegotiation.
''I think the secretary general, the US and others have made it clear that it (the Annan plan) does not constitute an object of renegotiation. There are no plans for us to go back to the negotiating table. There are no plans for us to renegotiate matters which were not raised in Switzerland or which have already been negotiated,'' Boucher said, adding that ''this is the proposal (which has been submitted). We have said this in the past as well. We shall reiterate it and we insist on this position of ours.''
Commenting on Secretary of State Colin Powell's first contact with the Turkish Cypriots' so-called ''prime minister'' Mehmet Ali Talat, Boucher said ''the secretary had a very good meeting yesterday with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mr. Talat. The secretary praised the ''respected support provided by the Turkish Cypriots for the UN's draft solution''. He expressed his regret over the rejection of the plan by the Greek Cypriots which did not allow for a united Cyprus to join the EU and did not permit the Turkish Cypriot community to enjoy the full benefits of participation in the EU.''
Boucher further said ''the secretary pointed out to Mr. Talat that we are reconsidering our policy and we are coordinating ourselves with our European partners with the view of limiting the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots. this process is continuing. The State Secretary stressed that we are examining a series of measures which aim at being aligned in general, but not necessarily identical, with the steps taken by the EU.''
 Deputy DM discusses cooperation with US in research and technology sectors
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Widening cooperation between Greece and the United States in the sectors of research, technology and defense industries has been agreed in talks between Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Michaloliakos and the US Defense and Technical Cooperation Committee in the framework of the Hellenic American High Level Advisory Committee's 11th session, due to come to a close in Washington on Thursday.
The strong desire existing on both sides to further strengthen Greek-American relations was also confirmed in his meeting with US Assistant Defense Secretary Mira Ricardel.
Addressing the Hellenic American Institute in Washington, the deputy defense minister referred to the stabilizing role played by Greece in southeastern Europe, to Greek-Turkish relations, developments on the issue of Cyprus and the Athens Olympic Games.
Commenting on Turkey in particular, Michaloliakos expressed the hope that its ''irrational and historically inaccurate demands which create tension in the region will come to an end'' and reiterated that the new government has good intentions and is open to a sincere dialogue with the neighboring country.
As regards the Cyprus issue, he pointed out that the negative result in the April 24 referendum by the Greek Cypriots does not mean ''no'' to reunification but to the specific plan. He also assessed that the Annan plan was not the last opportunity for the island's reunification.
Michaloliakos also expressed confidence that Greece will organize the best and safest Olympic Games.
 PASOK leader meets delegation from Ecumenical Patriarchate
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Wednesday met a four-member delegation sent to Athens by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar, Istanbul to present its views regarding the crisis in relations with the Church of Greece to the Greek government and the political parties.
The delegation handed Papandreou a letter from Patriarch Vartholomeos, which also thanked him for his aid to the Patriarchate over the past years.
After the meeting, Papandreou stressed that the unity of the Orthodox Church had to be preserved and that a government initiative to send Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou to Phanar was correct, though belated.
Papandreou also called on the government to use the upcoming visit by Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and to raise the issue of releasing the Ecumenical Patriarchate from the bonds of Turkish law that did not allow it to play its proper role in the Orthodox faith and worldwide community.
The main opposition leader described this as a human rights issue and stressed that he would also urge Erdogan to move in this direction, noting that this would help Turkey's EU accession.
Speaking for the patriarchal delegation, Ephesus Metropolitan Chrysostomos said there had been complete understanding in the meeting with Papandreou and that the delegation had successfully completed its mission in Athens.
Asked how the Patriarch's letter had been received by the other political parties in Greece, Chrysostomos noted that the parties had different views but were united in wanting a solution to the crisis, rather than an ending at the Patriarchate's expense that would be embarrassing for Orthodoxy.
 Parliament speaker briefed on Church crisis by Patriarchal delegation
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Parliament Speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Wednesday received a four-member delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Phanar, Istanbul, which handed her a letter from Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos and outlined Phanar's positions in a crisis that has arisen in relations with the Church of Greece.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos revealed that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Education and Religious Affairs Minister Marietta Yiannakou had met on Tuesday night to discuss a government initiative to resolve the crisis and Yiannakou's visit to Phanar.
The Patriarchal delegation asked for understanding to avoid exacerbating the crisis in order to avoid having recourse to justice and preserve the unity of the Orthodox faith.
The head of the delegation, Ephesus Metropolitan Chrysostomos afterward expressed satisfaction with the meeting, saying that Benaki was well informed on the issues.
On her part, Benaki stressed that the Greek state and Parliament wanted to make the best possible contribution to overcoming the impasse and resolving the differences so as to preserve the unity of the Church.
 Russian ambassador Vdovin pays courtesy call on parliament president
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Russian ambassador in Athens Andrei Vdovin on Thursday paid a courtesy call on parliament president Anna Psarouda-Benaki.
Vdovin congratulated Psarouda-Benaki on the assumption of the parliament presidency, and conveyed to her an invitation from her Russian counterpart to visit the Russian parliament (Duma).
Psarouda-Benaki accepted the invitation, and stressed that the good relations between Greece and Russia at political level as well as among the two peoples and the two countries.
 Turkish warplanes infringe air traffic regulations, violate national air space
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Eight formations of Turkish warplanes made an equal number of air traffic regulation infringements in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on Wednesday, which developed into 36 violations of national air space southwest of the island of Lesvos and southwest of the island of Rhodes, press reports said.
The 12 Turkish aircraft were recognized and intercepted by Greek jets.
The reports said six of the Turkish warplanes were armed.
 Merchant marine and tourism ministers discuss 'common course' for tourism
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis and Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos on Wednesday held their first meeting on tourism issues.
In a press conference afterwards, they stressed the need to set a "common course" regarding the problems faced by tourism, especially marine tourism.
They reiterated that developing the domestic tourist industry was a top priority for the government and said procedures to set up the tourism ministry were well underway.
Kefaloyiannis, in particular, stressed the government's determination to restore the Greek cruise sector to its former glory while Avramopoulos noted the need to modernize Greek ports so that they can receive larger cruise liners.
 Gov't aims to boost employment among women and youth
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos said on Wednesday that the government planned to boost employment among women and youth through its new development bill.
''Greece is a champion in joblessness among women and young people,'' Panayiotopoulos told a business conference in Athens arranged by the Economist magazine.
The bill aims to allow create full time jobs for the two groups by means of lower corporate tax, especially for small and medium sized enterprises that should act as an employment incentive he said.
Replying to a question, the minister pledged that there would be work after the Athens Olympics for foreign workers currently employed in projects linked to the games.
He also said that an esteemed 7-8 per cent of the population was foreign workers in employment in Greece or seeking work there.
Panayiotopoulos added that an expired deadline for migrants to submit documentation for residence permits would be extended to the end of 2004 in a gesture of deference to the Olympics.
 Athens hoteliers seek solutions from the government
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)The Hoteliers' Union of Attica (EXA) has asked the government in a recent circular to solve long-standing problems in the sector. EXA submitted the same demands on Wednesday to the new president of the National Tourist Organization (EOT), Harry Kokkosis.
The Union is seeking the following:
- A subsidy of 3,000 euros/room for smaller hotels. EOT has stated that a budget has not yet been approved for these subsidies, but a solution is expected soon following intervention by the finance ministry.
- Legislation that will mandate the removal of trash bins and parked cars at hotel entrances.
- The creation of the Athens Conference Centre in the old Helliniko Airport (East Terminal). EXA has suggested that an Olympic venue could be used as a conference centre after the Games.
- The approval of hotel rates for 2004. Kokkosis reportedly told the hoteliers' trade group that hotel rates which are not excessive will be approved initially.
- The promotion of Attica after the Olympic Games.
Occupancy rates at all Attica hotels declined in March 2004 compared with the same period last year.
 Board okays new president and CEO for OTE telecom
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)The board of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), a heavily traded stock on the Athens bourse, on Wednesday approved the appointment of Panayis Vourloumis as company chairman and managing director.
Shareholders are expected to endorse the appointment at a meeting in June.
 Alpha Bank chairman to head Union of Greek Banks
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)The chairman and managing director of Alpha Bank, Yannis Kostopoulos, on Wednesday was unanimously elected the new president of the Union of Greek Banks by its board of directors.
Alpha Bank is the country's largest credit institution and a blue chip on the Athens bourse.
Officials said that it was the first time in the influential trade group's history that a private sector banker was chosen as president.
So far, each governor of the National Bank of Greece, whose stock is heavily traded on the bourse, has held the post.
The union's new deputy presidents are National Bank of Greece governor Takis Arapoglou; the managing director of EFG Eurobank Ergasias, Nikos Nanopoulos; and the president of Emporiki Bank, George Provopoulos.
 Mutual fund assets rise in April
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Total assets of Greek mutual funds were 31.3 billion euros on April 30, 2004, up 1.1 per cent from the end of the previous month, the Union of Institutional Investors said in a monthly report released on Wednesday.
The rise in mutual fund assets from the start of the year was 855 million euros, marking a 2.8 per cent increase, the report said.
 Olympic Properties SA acquires new executive board
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)The Ministry of National Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Culture announced on Wednesday the new members who make up the Olympic Properties' Executive Board.
Vice President - Dimitris Kyriakakos (architect-urban planning)
Members: Spyros Kladas (lawyer), Leonidas Korres (economist), Michalis Paleologos (journalist).
Christos Hadziemmanouel's appointment as Chairman of the Board had been announced earlier.
 Greece gets more international truck permits from Montenegro
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Greece on Wednesday secured an increase in the number of international truck permits to Europe via Montenegro.
A commission of officials from the two sides that met in Belgrade agreed that Greece should receive 16,000 main permits annually, up from 5,000; and 50,000 transit permits per year from 47,000 at present.
The increase in the number of permits will aid Greek trucking firms seeking to use the route for the transportation of goods to Europe.
 Turkish trucks back up at Greek border in documents wrangleISTANBUL (ANA/A.Kourkoulas)
Around 1,500 Turkish trucks seeking to enter Greece have backed up at a northern customs post following the reported refusal by authorities on the Greek side to accept international insurance documents.
According to Turkish officials, Greek customs authorities at the Kipi post have rejected the truck drivers' documentation because the republic of Cyprus has been removed from a list of countries in which the papers hold force.
Turkey's foreign ministry has said that the documents were issued by a London-based global association of insurance firms; and that orders had been given for the issue of new papers.
The matter would shortly be resolved, according to a Turkish foreign ministry official.
 Danish envoy supports renewable energy investment in Greece
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)The Danish ambassador in Athens, Hans Grunnet, said on Wednesday that he intended to support investments from his country in Greek renewable energy.
Grunnet, who said he was interested in a Greek government plan to remove disincentives and obstacles to the growth of renewable energy, was speaking after a meeting with Deputy Development Minister George Salagoudis.
Salagoudis briefed the ambassador on the ministry's policy for the sector, with special emphasis on wind parks.
 Stocks drop in heavy selling
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished lower in heavy selling, traders said.
The general share index shed 1.03 per cent to end at 2,513.87 points. Turnover was 141.2 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 0.87 per cent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 1.79 per cent down; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities lost 2.25 per cent.
Closing rates of May 52004
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,222 1,194
 Petralia and Venizelos speak at Economist conference
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)''The government's plan is to stage successful and safe Olympic Games which will also serve as a starting point for the country's economic growth,'' Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia said on Wednesday while speaking at the Economist Conference being held in Athens.
She added that the deadlines for the completion of projects are tight with the most difficult being the roof of the Olympic stadium, the Marathon route, the suburban railway, and the tram.
''We are not negating anything, but there were delays and we are working day and night,'' she said. However, she reassured everyone ''that everything will be ready before the torch is lit at the opening ceremony.''
''The sports facilities that have been built for the Games are the most significant investment that has ever been made in sports infrastructure,'' she said, adding that ''their post-Olympic use is something which concerns the government.''
Petralia explained that specific plans regarding facilities' post-Olympic use did not exist when New Democracy came into office in March. ''There were only some proposals and there are proposals now as well, from individuals and local authorities,'' she said.
Speaking on the issue of Olympic Games security, the minister said, ''never before have such measures been taken at such a cost. We have 50,000 men and 1 billion euros available, triple the numbers of Sydney's security.''
Former Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos admitted that there were delays and faulty planning in the period right after Athens was elected host city. ''We spent a lot of time on 'internal' discussions, while we also had a lot of court battles and huge expropriation costs. In 2003 alone we had 50 court cases,'' Venizelos said.
On the issue of security, the former minister said, ''There is no safer country in the western world than Greece, something the international community must take into account and for which it should express satisfaction towards our country.''
 Chirac and Bakoyanni attend Olympic event in ParisSTRASBOURG (ANA/O. Tsipira)
French President Jacques Chirac attended the special event organized by the French Olympic Committee in Paris on Wednesday, in light of the upcoming 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Mayor of Athens Dora Bakoyanni was also present as guest of honor.
Chirac expressed his complete confidence in Greek authorities concerning the staging of the Games. ''All countries must be alert along with the Greek authorities in whom I have complete trust to convey the message of peace and to ensure the success of this excellent celebration that is the Olympic Games,'' Chirac said.
Bakoyanni, in statements she made to reporters, thanked the French president for the trust he has shown in Greece and Athens. ''I am certain we will prove worthy of his trust,'' she stressed.
Asked about the bomb explosions in Kallithea, Athens, on Wednesday morning, the Athens mayor said that all evidence so far indicates that it was a small incident whose main objective was publicity. ''It's an isolated event that cannot in any way be linked to Olympic Games security. As I have already said, Greece is working closely with NATO and many other countries for Games security. This isolated incident cannot be associated with Games security; it could happen and it happens in a lot of capitals worldwide,'' Bakoyanni said.
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, also present at the Paris event, said ''We must have trust in the Olympic Games Organizing Committee and in the IOC. All capitals must contribute to the effort of staying alert. Since Munich, we know that we must take preventive measures.'' In closing, he added: ''I trust the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games to take the necessary measures.''
The Athens mayor also discussed Athens' preparations for the Olympic Games. She gave a brief historic overview of the Games' history, going back to the 19th century when French baron Pierre de Coubertin and the Greek Dimitrios Vikelas began efforts to revive the Olympic Games. ''Today the Games are returning to their birthplace and their place of rebirth,'' she said.
''Allow me to inform you that Athens will surprise you. We will receive you in a city that today possesses an excellent underground railway system, covering 75 km; a new tram which will span 26 km connecting the city with the coast; a modern airport; museums; and the biggest Concert Hall in the world,'' Bakoyanni emphasized.
In closing, the Athens mayor said she hoped to have the honor of receiving Chirac in Athens during the Olympic Games. ''His presence will serve as testimony to the close and historic ties between France and Greece, countries which established the modern Olympic spirit,'' she said.
 Olympic champions to carry Olympic Torch in London
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)The British Olympic Committee (BOC) announced on Wednesday the 140 individuals selected to participate in the Olympic torch relay which will start in London on June 26.
Among those selected are five-time gold medalist Sir Steve Redgrave (rowing), three-time gold medalist Matthew Pinsent (rowing), and bronze Olympic medalist Kriss Akabusi (400m hurdles).
"It's the greatest honor to be chosen to participate in the most historic torch relay," Akabusi said.
It is the first time the Olympic Flame will pass through London since 1948. In order to connect the present with the past, the BOC also selected 75-year old Sir Roger Banister, who in 1954 managed to run the mile in under four minutes.
The Olympic Torch will pass through Wimbledon, as well as other 11 residential areas including Brixton and Greenwich.
"I'm sure Londoners will come out to cheer the torchbearers and to receive the Olympic Flame," London Mayor Ken Livingstone said.
 Olympic champions and celebrities participants in torch relay
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)With exactly 100 days to go, 13 cities around the world are celebrating the Athens Olympic Countdown by announcing hundreds of torchbearers for the Athens 2004 International Olympic Torch Relay, presented by the official partners - The Coca-Cola Company and Samsung. The Torch will be carried by athletes, public figures, and thousands of individuals, who were selected for their own ability to inspire and overcome challenges within their own local communities.
Australian 400-metre gold medalist Cathy Freeman will return to the site of her most-storied triumph as the first torchbearer when the Athens 2004 International Torch Relay kicks off in Sydney on June 4. Rio de Janeiro, slated to be the first South American city ever to host the Olympic Torch Relay, was also among those announcing their torchbearers today - including football legend Pele, Ronaldo and Zico.
Sofia, Brussels and Lausanne, headquarters of the IOC also announce torchbearers today, as do eight additional former Olympic host cities in addition to Sydney: Antwerp, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Melbourne, Mexico City, St. Louis, and Tokyo.
"We are pleased that so many people who embody the ideals we will celebrate at the Olympic Games have been selected for the Olympic Torch Relay, and to call the world to Athens," said Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. "With 100 days before the Games begin, Athens is working around the clock; we will be ready when the torch bearers arrive."
During the selection process, sponsors and organizers sought individuals who, through their commitment to their communities, came to embody the Olympic Torch Relay's "search for the best in humanity."
Some notable torchbearers will include NBA legend and Olympian Magic Johnson; U.S. Olympians Gail Devers, Michael Johnson, Carl Lewis and Edwin Moses; Greek-American actress Jennifer Aniston; and Japanese pop singer Yukio Hashi.
All together, more than 11,000 people will participate in the Athens 2004 International Olympic Torch Relay.
 Greece aims to win more than 13 medals at 2004 Olympics
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)"Our country's goal for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games is to win more than the 13 medals we won in Sydney and hopefully raise them to 20," Olympic Preparations President Yiannis Papadoyiannakis said during a press conference the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) held on Wednesday.
As for the pre-Olympic team, Papadoyiannakis said 670 athletes are members, while members of the Greek Olympic team will be announced July 21.
He also expressed his frustration with the shifting of people's interest regarding the Olympics. "The majority of Greeks, 100 days before the Games, is mostly concerned with security, the venues, volunteerism, and very few are concerned with the Greek athlete, who is the protagonist. The Olympic Games are a sports event, first and foremost," he said.
Regarding the HOC's anti-doping efforts, Papadoyiannakis stated that, "The HOC supports IOC President Jacque Rogge's position which is in total agreement with the entire Greek sports movement for clean Olympic Games in 2004."
Papadoyiannakis also referred to the bomb explosions in Kallithea, saying "We must not confuse isolated incidents with the network of terrorism. Neither foreign athletes nor Greek athletes are in any danger."
 President, PM extend condolences to families of two servicemen killed in accident
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis extended their condolences to the families of two servicemen killed at the Katsimitros army camp near Perama, in the northern prefecture of Ioannina, on Wednesday when an armored personnel carrier crashed into a kiosk where about 30 sub lieutenants were receiving driving training.
Three other servicemen were also injured in the accident, but their lives were not in danger. Seven more servicemen were taken to hospital as well for precautionary reasons after sustaining bruises when the kiosk collapsed.
Karamanlis also reiterated the government's commitment regarding the overall revision of safety rules at all operational units of the armed forces.
As a result of the accident, by order of Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos the commander of the 3/40 Evzones Regiment Petros Papapetros and the commander of the 625 Mechanized Battalion Aimilios Kostoglou were relieved of their duties.
As regards the causes of the accident, reports said the armored personnel carrier crashed into the kiosk when its engine stalled as it was driving downhill.
Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou also said in a statement he was shocked by the deaths of the young servicemen and extended his condolences to their families, while calling on the defense ministry to probe the causes of the accident and support the families of the victims.
 Illegal immigrants in wooden boat towed to shore in Crete
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)A wooden boat carrying 68 illegal immigrants -- of which 6 were suspected of being people-traffickers -- was spotted off the southern coast of Crete on Tuesday and towed to shore, police said.
They said the boat was spotted was sailing 14 nautical miles south of Crete by the crew of a Coastguard vessel, who warned the boat that it was sailing inside Greek national waters and asked it to head back to international waters.
The boat returned to international waters for a short while, but later changed direction and entered Greek national waters again, heading for the southern coast of Crete, feigning engine trouble, local police said.
Two harbor corps vessels towed the boat to shore at Kalous Limenes by late night.
The illegal immigrants, including two children, were taking to Moires, Iraklion for first aid.
This was the sixth such incident in southern Crete since Easter, according to local sources.
 Petralia visits junior high schools in Perama
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)"There may be delays, there may have been mistakes, perhaps there were some excesses as well, but what is important is that we are all working together on a 24-hour basis so that everything is ready - all the necessary infrastructure for the staging of the Games," Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia told students during her visit to Junior High Schools No. 1 and 3 in Perama on Wednesday.
She also referred to the country's potential benefits as a result of the Athens Olympics, including the country's promotion abroad, the growth of the tourism sector, and the utilization of sports facilities and infrastructure.
Speaking of the bomb explosion in Kallithea she said it's an incident that has nothing to do with the Olympic Games and stressed that Greece is a safe country.
In closing, Petralia said, "At the end of this great panhellenic effort we must not forget that Greece will continue to exist after the Games as well, and we want it to be a Greece that is better, stronger, and more optimistic."
Secretary General for the Olympic Games Spyros Kapralos, Greek Olympic Winners Committee President Petros Galaktopoulos, Greek Olympic champions, and the Mayor of Perama Yiannis Lagoudakos were also present.
 New board president takes over at OPEP
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)The new board president of the Organization for the Promotion of Greek Culture (OPEP), Stamatis Mavros, officially took over on Wednesday after a handover ceremony at the culture ministry.
He was welcomed by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis and the ministry's general secretary.
Other new members of OPEP including writer Thanassis Valtinos, director Yiannis Houvardas, archaeologist Yiannis Sakellarakis and Thrace University vice-chancellor Constantinos Simopoulos.
 Justice minister asks for judicial inquiry into Themis Kataskevastiki
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras on Wednesday revealed that he had sent a file on the activities of the firm Themis Kataskevastiki to the Supreme Court public prosecutor, asking him to immediately launch an inquiry into a series of what he called "serious complaints" regarding the firm's activities.
In addition, Papaligouras has for an inquiry into the financial management of Themis Kataskevastiki by chartered accountants and a probe by the Public Administration Inspectors Corps into possible administrative transgressions.
The minister said he had acted after receiving a number of complaints and evidence that raised serious doubts about the way the company had been run in recent years.
He said he had replaced the company's entire board with a new one answerable to the Audit Council president Anastasios Gonis.
Papaligouras also announced plans to set up an interministerial committee manned by staff from the interior, public order, foreign, finance, education and health ministries to coordinate government efforts concerning the increasing waves of illegal immigrants and combat phenomena such as human trafficking.
 6th Eco Festival begins Thursday
Athens, 6/5/2004 (ANA)The 6th Eco Festival ''Environment Meets Culture,'' organized by the environmental organization ''Clean Up Greece'' in collaboration with the Office of the European Parliament in Athens, and the Municipalities of Athens and Maroussi, opens at noon on Thursday at Klafthmonos Square.
Eco Festival events include children's performances, trash art exhibits, and a children's workshop.
A press conference will be held at 12:30 p.m. at Esperia Palace. Participants at the conference include: Deputy Mayor of Athens Chronis Akritidis, ''Clean Up Greece'' President Carla Baer Manolopoulou, UN Environmental Coordinator George Kamizoulis, and others.
 Cypriot minister says Cyprus aligned with EU regulationLARNACA (CNA/ANA)
Cypriot Foreign Minister of George Iacovou said on Wednesday that the Republic of Cyprus aligns itself fully with the EU Justice and Interior Ministers Council regulation regarding the legal status of the demarcation line on the island.
Speaking before his departure for Dublin, where he will attend the Euro-Mediterranean Conference, Iacovou said that with the regulation the EU ''safeguards the free movement of European citizens and the movement of goods produced wholly by the Turkish Cypriot community under certain terms regarding health and other complex issues.''
''Thus this issue will be regulated on this basis and despite the fact that the Republic of Cyprus has legitimate concerns, as the regulation says, and these can be met based on this regulation,'' Iacovou added, noting that ''the Republic of Cyprus will cooperate for the implementation of this regulation regarding EU citizens.''
Commenting on statements made on Tuesday by Jean-Christophe Filori, Spokesman for Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, regarding commitments, the Cypriot Minister said the Greek Cypriot side never made any commitment to agree on a UN plan for a Cyprus settlement but always reaffirmed that it wanted a solution.
Replying to questions, Iacovou said Cyprus is almost ready to join the Eurozone, adding that a programme of adopting the euro has already been made.
Asked if Cyprus could join the Eurozone before a Cyprus settlement, Iacovou said they two issues were not related, adding that the euro was expected to be adopted between 2006 and 2007.
''Of course we want a solution before that period. We will take things as they come,'' he concluded.
Earlier on Wednesday, government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides read out to reporters an official statement regarding the EU regulation, explaining the position of and interpretation given by the government.
He said that, among other provisions, all EU citizens will be able to cross the line between the government-controlled and the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic unhindered, while any Cypriot or other EU citizen crossing the line, having entered the Republic by a non-recognized point, will be in violation of the law.
Citizens of third countries will be allowed to move across the line as long as the conditions of the regulation are observed, that is to possess a permit issued by the Republic of Cyprus or hold a valid travel document. Those entering the Republic by a non-recognized point will be in violation of the law and will be subject to deportation.
Regarding the movement of goods, as of May 1 goods produced wholly in the Turkish occupied areas may be moved to the government-controlled areas and be treated as EU goods.
These goods will not be liable to taxation or import duty, and may be consumed in Cyprus or any EU member state, as long as they are accompanied by a document issued by the Turkish Cypriot chamber of commerce or other organization authorized to do so by the EU, in agreement with the Republic of Cyprus.
Other goods from the Turkish occupied areas, such as agricultural and animal products, will be subject to inspection and certification.
The movement of industrial products will be allowed as long as
sufficient processing has taken place in the Turkish occupied areas to be considered local produce.
 Cypriot minister says Turkey moves towards Republic's recognitionLARNACA (CNA/ANA)
Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou said on Wednesday that Turkey made the first step towards recognizing the Republic of Cyprus on Tuesday, by signing an agreement with which it accepts the ''green card'' that includes the Republic in print.
The minister was commenting on Turkish and Turkish Cypriot press reports that 1,500 Turkish trailers were denied entry into EU territory because the insurance documents, known as ''green cards'', presented the Republic of Cyprus as a country not recognized by Turkey.
Iacovou said Turkey signed an agreement on Tuesday by which it accepts the green card in the case of the Republic of Cyprus, noting that ''this was the first step Turkey made regarding the recognition of documents from the Republic of Cyprus.''
The Cypriot minister was speaking on departure for Dublin, where he will participate in the Euro-Mediterranean Conference, in the sidelines of which he is expected to meet with European counterparts as well as Arab ministers in view of the Islamic Conference to take place in June in Istanbul.
 Cypriot EuroMPs and Commissioner ratified by EuroParliamentNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
The European Parliament plenary ratified in Strasbourg on Wednesday the accreditations of six Cypriot members of parliament, who will be representing the Republic of Cyprus until July this year, as well as Cypriot EU Commissioner Markos Kyprianou.
The plenary approved the accreditation of 162 new European Parliament members, including six Cypriots, as well as the ten new Commissioners from the ten member states that acceded to the EU on May 1.
The six Cypriot MPs are Doros Christodoulides and Eleni Mavrou from leftwing AKEL, Panayiotis Demetriou and Lefteris Christoforou from right-wing Democratic Rally, Marios Matsakis from centre Democratic Party, and George Varnava from Movement of Social Democrats EDEK.
 Two DISY deputies expelled from the partyNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
Two opposition rightwing Democratic Rally party (DISY) deputies, Prodromos Prodromou and Rikos Erotokritou, were expelled on Tuesday night from the party.
The party's political bureau decided the two parliamentarians had created a climate of division in the party, after their decision not to abide by the party's majority decision to support the 'yes' vote in the last month's referendum on a UN plan for a Cyprus settlement.
DISY spokesman Tasos Mitsopoulos said at the end of the meeting it was clear that the views of these two deputies should be separated from those of two other party deputies, Demetris Syllouris and Sotiris Samson, who also opposed the party's decision for a 'yes' vote.
He added that the two first by their actions had placed themselves outside the party and were therefore expelled.
''As regards Syllouris it was made clear he could not be blamed, '' Mitsopoulos said.
He added that Samson, the only out of the four deputies who attended last night's meeting of the bureau, had read out before the DISY President and the members of the bureau a letter by which he dissociated himself ''by actions against the party and behaviors tending to split the party.''
Mitsopoulos said at the beginning of the meeting the chairman of the party's ethic council Manolis Christofides, presented a series of events related to the activities, attitude and actions of the four
The presentation was followed by a debate during which different views were expressed, he added.
Mitsopoulos said the possibility of asking the deputies to relinquish their seats in parliament was not discussed during the meeting.
Democratic Rally won 19 seats in the 2001 parliamentary elections, making the second party in the 56-member Parliament, after the left-wing party AKEL, which won 20 seats.