|Friday, 22 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-05-14
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 14, 2004
 ATHOC denounces attempt by reporters to illegally enter worksites
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Athens organizers (ATHOC) on Thursday called an attempt a day earlier by a pair of British journalists and three representatives of a German television network to enter Olympic venue worksites without permission as "unethical".
According to a press release, ATHOC noted:
"Yesterday, (Wednesday) shortly before midnight, a journalist and a photographer from a British newspaper were stopped by a special ward of the Greek Police inside the Athens Main Olympic Stadium. The two individuals had entered - without permission - in order to " test the implementation of the security measures", as they stated soon afterwards. They were apprehended and brought in for further questioning at the Maroussi Police Station.
Once their personal identification was verified by the Police (passport and journalist ID), they were released.
The two British newspaper representatives had earlier attempted to enter the Athens Olympic Sports Complex, through the Olympic Aquatics Centre entrance, but a member of a private security company prohibited them from doing so.
A similar incident took place yesterday at the Hellenikon Olympic Complex, when three representatives from a German TV station were stopped and brought in for questioning at the Hellenikon Police Station. Disregarding the relevant rules, they attempted to film the Canoe/Kayak sport areas. Once their personal identification was verified they, too were released.
On the occasion of the above incidents the ATHENS 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games would like to state the following:
1. ATHENS 2004 absolutely respects the freedom of the Press and the work carried out by journalists. For this purpose, ATHENS 2004 organizes venue tours for Mass Media representatives on an almost daily basis, where they are thoroughly updated on the progress of Olympic preparations. In addition, ATHENS 2004 has repeatedly informed all Mass Media in Greece and abroad about the accreditation procedure for entering and photographing Olympic Venues. The British newspaper and German TV station representatives in question never informed ATHENS 2004 or any of the State's agencies, nor did they request permission to enter the grounds of the Olympic Stadium.
2. It must be noted that in the sport venues, security measures are in effect (as was proven in the case in question and in other cases as well), but not on an Olympic level; this will be the case in July after the completion of the construction works, the "lock down" and the" security sweep".
Following the security sweep, only those possessing an Olympic accreditation or a ticket will be allowed to enter Olympic Venues.
3.It is obvious that similar behavior - which could be interpreted as guided by an intention to harm the image of the Athens Games and Greece, - goes against journalist ethics and does not contribute to the strengthening of the trust and security of this great celebration of peace and sport.
 Public order minister warns foreign reporters Olympic Games security no game
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, in an interview with the private radio station Flash 96.0 on Thursday, warned reporters, particularly foreigners, that security for the Athens Olympic Games is a serious affair and it is no game.
Voulgarakis was speaking after police detained reporters of the London Times newspaper who had attempted to enter the worksite at the Athens Olympic Stadium.
The minister underlined the ''risk of irreparable consequences'' for the reporters themselves in the event a similar effort is repeated since, as he said, police who are responsible for security at Olympic Games venues are exercising their duties with absolute responsibility and seriousness.
Referring to the incident involving two reporters of the Times, Voulgarakis said this attitude is rather strange and that the visit should take place secretly because this ''intensifies an atmosphere which has been shaped a long time ago by the newspaper in question which is trying to prove in every way that security measures in Greece are not the proper.''
The minister said the reporters could have contacted officials and have projects and activities taking place shown to them, as was the case in the past with many reporters.
Voulgarakis said in his interview that he had a telephone conversation with the British ambassador to Athens and drew his attention to the fact that ''what is taking place here is no game'' and that ''problems or complications, which nobody desires, must be avoided in the future.''
Voulgarakis also explained that as the date for the beginning of the Olympic Games approaches, security measures will be stepped up which, as he added, is known to the international community and to all who have watched planning.
 Police briefly detain 2 Brit. journalists for illegal entry in Olympics venue
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Police late Wednesday briefly detained two British reporters who illegally entered the OAKA main Olympic complex in an attempt to prove that security measures were insufficient, Athens security police said Thursday.
Police said that two reporters from the Times of London, identified as 32-year-old Paul Rogers and 28-year-old Alicia Peak, tried to enter the OAKA premises at 11:00 p.m. Wednesday but were turned away by a private guard, who told them that entry was forbidden.
The reporters then went to a side street and entered an unfenced section of the construction site, heading for the OAKA Stadium, and were again spotted by an on-duty security guard, who alerted one of several police patrol cars in the area.
The reporters were arrested and taken to the nearby Maroussi police precinct, where their identities and identification papers were confirmed. Three hours later (about 2:00 a.m.) they were released without charges being made.
A ranking police official said the construction site in question was not stringedly guarded because it was a vast construction site with more than 1,000 workers at any given time, but added that it was continuously patrolled by police and seasonal guards on foot, as well as by guards at specific points.
The same official also noted that, as of Thursday, Olympic security measures were due to be upgraded at many installations as they were being delivered for use upon their completion.
The official warned would-be trespassers to "not try what the British journalists did" because it could potentially lead to more than just an arrest, such as physical injury.
 Gov't on Olympic Games security
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The government spokesman on Thursday referred to announcements by the Athens 2004 Olympic organizing committee in relation to the detainment of two British journalists, earlier in the day, as the main Olympic Stadium (OAKA).
Spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos added that it is self-evident that such unethical behavior, one aimed at intentionally hurting the Games' image, will be dealt with.
He also said the incident proves that Olympic sites are being adequately guarded.
In an unrelated development regarding a proclamation by a shadowy group, which claimed responsibility for last week's triple bomb strike outside an Athens-area police station, Roussopoulos repeated his previous statement, namely, that the action was an isolated incident "that could have occurred anywhere in the world."
"Greek authorities are dealing (with the incident) seriously, responsibly and effectively with the security system that will guarantee the complete security of the Games," he added.
An ultra-leftist group identified as the "Revolutionary Struggle" claimed responsibility for the explosions outside the Kallithea police precinct. No one was injured in the incident.
 PM Karamanlis, Irish European Council chairman Ahern confer on Euro-Constitution
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Visiting Irish prime minister and current chairman of the European Council, Bertie Ahern, met Thursday with Greek premier Costas Karamanlis ahead of an EU summit in Brussels in mid-June.
After the meeting, Karamanlis underlined Athens' ''firm volition for a positive conclusion of the negotiations on the European Constitution, and, if possible, before the European Parliament elections'' slated for 11-13 June, approximately one week before the June 17-18 summit.
Replying to questions, Karamanlis said that Greece held almost the same positions in the discussion on the Euro-Constitution (on the issue of the double majority system, Greece supports the view that decisions may be taken with a 50 percent majority of the member countries provided that reflected 50 percent of the EU population, while it also desires a reference to the Union's Christian tradition in the preamble of the European Constitution). However, the major issue for Athens is the signing of an agreement.
Karamanlis said that he and Ahern had also discussed the accession prospects of Bulgaria and Romania, which are expected to sign their accession treaties in 2005, as well as the Middle East crisis.
He also thanked Greece's EU partners for their ''support'' to the country's efforts to stage successful and safe Olympic Games.
Ahern, who is on a tour of EU capitals to present the new European Constitution draft ahead of the summit, noted his country's EU presidency's efforts so that an agreement may be reached next month on the Constitution issue.
 Foreign ministry: Cyprus issue prospects a key goal in PM's trip to US
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Making sure that the prospects of a solution to the Cyprus problem remain open will be a key goal during the talks that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will have in Washington, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday.
During his official visit to the United States next week, Karamanlis will be meeting U.S. President George Bush, Vice-president Dick Cheney and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Spokesman George Koumoutsakos said the premier would also reaffirm and further strengthen traditionally good relations between Greece and the U.S. and brief the U.S. leadership at a high level and promote Greece's positions on regional and international issues.
In addition, the visit will be used to brief the U.S. government on the progress of Olympic projects and the results of security preparations for the Games in Athens.
The two sides are also due to discuss bilateral economic ties, while the premier contact the Greek expatriate community in America, the U.S. media and will visit the Metropolitan Museum to promote Greek culture.
 Greek development minister assures Cyprus of Athens' support
LARNACA, 14/05/2004 (ANA/G.Leonidas/CNA)Greece's Development Minister Demetris Sioufas has assured that the Greek government and the country's political forces would continue to support Cyprus.
Speaking on arrival on Thursday at the start of a two-day official visit, he said he was pleased he was in ''Cyprus which is now a member of the European Union.''
Cyprus Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister George Lillikas who welcomed him at Larnaca airport noted the visit coincided with the opening of the Cyprus International Fair, an important event in the island's economic calendar.
He said delegations from Greece and Cyprus would have the chance to discuss a series of bilateral issues to help develop further cooperation for mutual benefit and talk about how best to use Cyprus as an EU member for the region.
Lillikas said Cyprus was strategically located and Greece had the expertise of a successful EU membership, something that would be of particular interest to Cyprus.
 Weston hopes EU membership will give Cypriots sense of security Annan plan didn't'
Washington 14/05/2004 (ANA/T. Ellis - CAN)US State Department coordinator for Cyprus Thomas Weston on Wednesday expressed hope that Cyprus' EU membership will give the Greek Cypriots the sense of security that they felt UN secretary general Kofi Annan's plan did not.
Addressing a banquet hosted by Cyprus' Ambassador to the US, Euripides Evriviades, Weston expressed his disappointment over developments in Cyprus, but stressed that the fundamental aim of all the efforts had been Cyprus' accession to the EU, which became a reality on the 1st of May.
Referring to the result of the 24 April referenda and the rejection of the Annan Plan by the Greek Cypriots, Weston said that the negative result was due to the concerns of the Greek Cypriots on security issues, which he said he shared.
At the same time, he expressed hope that the accession to the EU will give the people the feeling of security so as to find the strength to move forward.
He also said that the aim to find a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem has become very difficult following recent developments, stressing at the same time that the central direction should not be lost and the main weapon in this effort is Cyprus' unconditional accession to the EU.
Weston thanked overseas Greek Americans for their efforts in bringing the Cyprus problem to the top of the US administration's foreign affairs agenda.
The banquet marked the commencement of the 15th annual International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA)/World
Council of Hellenes (SAE) Cyprus conference, which called for a common line outlining the changes required to the Annan Plan for a solution to the Cyprus problem.
They delegates also stressed the need to make governments aware of the fact that the Greek Cypriots were not against a settlement, and of the fact that they said ''no'' to the Annan Plan because it did not address their concerns.
 Deputy DM and French ambassador discuss issues of bilateral interest
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Deputy Defense Minister Vassilis Mihaloliakos discussed issues of bilateral interest with French Ambassador Bruno Delaye at the defense ministry on Thursday. The ambassador was accompanied by Armaments Attache Michel Gari.
Reference was also made during the talks to France's contribution to security for the Athens Olympic Games, while the deputy minister said proposals are being evaluated together with others that have been submitted.
The possibility of closer and more substantive cooperation in the defense industry between the two countries was discussed, as well as the transfer of know-how to Greece from France to support the Greek industry.
Mihaloliakos reiterated the strong will of the government and of the defense ministry's entire political leadership for absolute transparency on issues concerning the procurement of materials of all kinds and for the exclusion of monopolizing management.
The further strengthening of procurements for defense cooperation in the framework of the European Union, both at operational level as well as in other sectors, was another issue discussed by the two officials.
 Parliament speaker receives visiting Georgia Patriarch Ilya II
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Parliament speaker Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Thursday received visiting Georgia Patriarch Ilya II in Parliament.
Patriarch Ilya was accompanied by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos and metropolitans of the two Churches.
The very strong religious and cultural ties between Greece and Georgia and the good level of cooperation between the governments and parliaments of the two countries were reaffirmed during the visit.
 Communist Party leader says party will launch campaign on its positions
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga announced on Thursday that her party, together with its election campaign, will also launch a campaign to inform public opinion, as well as on the party's positions.
Papariga said that ''on June 14 (the day after the Euro-elections) we shall not feel that there is a new page but, first of all, we will have enhanced our demanding position to meet the new needs which shall exist in the framework of the European Parliament, as well as of the European movement.''
She further said ''we, therefore, say that the Euro-elections provide the opportunity for the European Union to pay for what is has done over these years against peoples and for all that it has done against peace and democracy.''
Papariga also referred to her party's renewal of its Euro-election ticket, saying the choice was not made at random and that the first five positions were occupied by people who have no office but who have action.
She expressed her opposition to the so-called ''slack vote'' in the Euro-elections, adding that the vote must be ''tight and demanding'' and that the party is not making any limitations for itself regarding percentages but, of course, is aiming for a positive result.
Communist party unveils list of candidates in euro-elections: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Thursday unveiled its list of candidates for the European elections in June, with significant changes relative to past elections.
Top of the list is Thanassis Pafilis, George Toussas and Diamanto Manolakou, who will replace current KKE MEPs Stratis Korakas, Yiannis Pattakis and Costas Alyssandrakis.
 PM end education minister visit elementary school in Elefsina
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis visited an elementary school in Elefsina on Thursday, accompanied by Education Minister Marieta Yiannakou, and discussed with pupils problems they are faced with at school, in the neighborhood and in their city.
Karamanlis said his contact with the pupils was a valuable experience, adding that ''I am leaving more optimistic because I saw, from first hand, that the children are informed, sensitized and have an environmental conscience. They judge, they have a vision and claim a better tomorrow.''
The prime minister also said ''this means that the responsibilities of all of us are far greater, that it is our duty to build and offer to them a stronger Greece and a better, more fair and more humane society. And, of course, that we must provide for them better and modern schools and equal access to knowledge.''
 Small-party proposal for pre-election airtime adopted
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The Cross-party Committee on Thursday adopted a proposal by the smaller parties concerning the division of pre-election airtime between the parties up to the European elections.
This will divide 50 per cent of available airtime equally between all the parties and the remaining 50 per cent will be divided as a percentage of their share of the vote.
Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said the decision will be issued by the ministry by next Sunday, while he appealed to voters to promptly find out where they were voting.
He said the information could be found on the Internet, Citizens Service Centers and prefectural authorities.
 Deputy minister to represent Greece at EU General Affairs Council
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valynakis will be representing Greece at the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels on May 17, the foreign ministry announced on Thursday.
After the Council meeting, Valynakis will fly to New York for meetings with U.S. government officials, and then on to Guadalajara in Mexico for the EU-Latin America/Caribbean summit.
The Brussels meeting will discuss the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), developments in the Middle East, the western Balkans, Libya, Sudan.
There will also be separate meetings of the defense and foreign ministers of the 25 EU member-states.
 Council of State to celebrate 75th anniversary on Monday
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The Council of State, Greece's highest administrative court, will be celebrating its 75th anniversary with a special event taking place this Monday at noon at Arsakion Hall on Panepistimiou 47-49, with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos attending.
Among the speakers will be Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras and high-ranking judges at the Council of State and European Court.
 Judicial functionaries condemn tortures in American prisons in Iraq
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The ''Society of Judicial Functionaries for Democracy and Freedom'', in view of the tortures in Iraq, in an announcement on Thursday viewed necessary the implementation of sanctions institutionalized for the punishment of crime.
''Humanity is breathlessly observation through the mass media the transmission of scenes of tortures from the American prisons in Iraq. The use of psychological and physical violence against defenseless citizens in Iraq can only lead to a series of violent reactions by the local population, which before having a chance of realizing its ridding of the suppressive regime of Saddam, has been trapped in a 'democracy' of the occupation troops, which humiliate and rape. An outlet from the paranoid cycle of terror does not exist,'' the announcement said.
 Finance minister says Olympic Games preparations will be completed in time
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Finance and Economy Minister George Alogoskoufis, in an interview with the ''Eurobserver'' website on Thursday, expressed his conviction that preparations will be completed in time and successful Olympic Games will be held in Athens in August.
The minister said that in no way will the government spare expenditures related to the Olympic Games, despite the fact these expenditures entail the risk of bringing Greece into conflict with European Union rules.
''In no way will we jeopardize the Olympic Games for this reason. We shall examine other sectors of public expenditures, but not the Olympic Games,'' he said.
Referring to the increase in expenditures for the Olympic Games, Alogoskoufis said the increased expenditures are due to various reasons such as delays and the increased cost of security, stressing that "it is a great deal of money but due to the situation at international level we must be very careful."
 Gov't plans 'quality interventions' in retail market
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The Greek government is preparing a set of actions, called quality interventions, aimed to improve the function of the domestic retail market, Development Ministry secretary-general Dimitris Vretakos said on Thursday.
Addressing an international conference on retail commerce, organized by the Federation of Retail Sales Enterprises (SAPE) in Athens, Mr Vrettos said that the quality interventions would focus on five parameters and pledged that there would be no surprise decisions.
Vretakos said the country needed to operate under single shopping hours and stressed that market price regulations were responsible for the creation of "de facto" cartels in the market. He urged that only regulatory measures should be maintain covering the quality of both products and services.
He said that retail enterprises should be offered financial support through a Third Community Support Framework and greater access in electronic business activity. Vretakos stressed that the government planned measures to reduce operation costs, expected to begin bearing fruit from September, and urged businesses the take advantage of increased demand during the Olympic Games to boost their annual turnover.
Pantelis Panteliadis, chairman of the Federation of Super Market Enterprises (SESAME) stressed that its members did not plan to get rich during the 15 days of the Olympic Games although he expressed his reservation over the ability of the government to implement its plans, saying:
"We agree with the government's plan although much of it sounds like a luxury. We hope that the government won't give in to vested interests' pressures and won't change its course".
 Employers, unions forge two-year wage pact
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Employers and unions on Thursday forged a two-year incomes pact, completing talks for a national collective labor agreement.
Agreed by the Association of Greek Industry (SEB) and the General Confederation of Labor of Greece (GSEE), the pact contains a 4.0 per cent rise in salaries from January 1 2004, with a further 2.0 per cent increase to take effect on September 1, 2004.
From January 1, 2005, wages will rise by 2.2 per cent with a further 3.3 per cent increase to take effect on September 1 of that year.
Both sides agreed to begin talks on introducing a 39-hour working week after the Athens Olympics in August accompanied by an employers' demand for an increase in the ceiling for overtime to 45 hours from 43 hours.
At the end of the two-year period covered by the agreement, the minimum wage should total 591.20 euros, up from 519.17 euros.
Both sides said that the labor pact had taken salaries towards alignment with other European Union countries.
SEB president Odysseas Kyriakopoulos told reporters that the terms of the contract were sustainable by the economy, while GSEE head Christos Polyzogopoulos, described the pact as satisfactory.
 SMEHA urges for speedy completion of ASE scandal probe
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)SMEHA, the Association of Members of the Athens Stock Exchange, on Thursday urged for a speedy completion of investigations over alleged stock market scandals and called for a widening of the probe beyond the ones currently examined by judicial authorities.
Speaking to reporters, SMEHA chairman Panayiotis Voilis, implied that some of the past sins were continued to exist today in the market, particularly among smaller capitalization stocks.
Voilis said that SMEHA members did not agree with Capital Markets' Commission's proposals over a new set of rules in the Athens Stock Exchange and noted that the Commission could have envisaged a high-risk category of shares.
SMEHA chairman said that the number of listed companies in the Greek bourse was big compared with other similar European markets and urged for measures to improve quality and size of listed companies to help attract more capital. Voilis warned of the danger of capital outflows from the Greek market unless the country helped in the formation of large enterprises, through mergers and acquisitions.
He supported plans to extend trading hours for blue chip stocks and stressed that foreign investors were unaware of the exact operation of the Greek bourse despite several road shows and presentations made by ASE in foreign capitals in the last few years.
Voilis said that domestic securities firms improved significantly their financial situation in the second half of 2003 and said that a daily turnover of around 200-250 million euros would ensure the viability of the vast majority of securities firms in Greece.
 New IKA governor pledges to combat contribution evasion
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Ioannis Vartholomeos, the new governor of IKA, Greece's largest pension and social insurance fund, on Thursday pledged to effectively combat contribution evasion and speedier procedures in approving pension payments.
Addressing a parliamentary commission, Vartholomeos, a professor at the University of Piraeus, said that IKA needed specially trained personnel to effectively deal with an extended contribution evasion in the country. "Unfortunately, IKA does not make any inspections," Vartholomeos said and urged for the formation of an internal control department in the fund.
He revealed that the media (10 million euros), inter-city bus services (11 million euros), cooperatives (8.5 million euros) and government ministries and public agencies (18 million euros) were the biggest debtors to IKA.
Vartholomeos urged for a speedy completion of a project to adopt an IT system by the fund, saying that only 18 branches out of a total 324 have entered the system so far.
His nomination was approved by the parliamentary commission.
 Greek trade deficit rose 20.4 pct in January, yr/yr
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The Greek trade deficit increased by 20.4 percent in January compared with the same month last year to total 2.173 billion euros from 1.804 billion euros in January 2003, the National Statistics Services said on Thursday.
NSS, in its monthly report on the country's trade balance, said that the trade deficit -excluding oil- widened by 36.6 percent or 491.4 million euros in January.
The total value of imports-arrivals in January was 3.026 billion euros from 2.696 billion euros in the same month last year for an increase of 12.2 percent. The value of imports excluding oil rose by 447.1 million euros or 20.4 percent over the same period, NSS said.
The total value of exports-deliveries in January was 852.8 million euros from 891.5 million euros last year, for a decline of 4.3 percent. The value of exports excluding oil fell by 44.3 million euros or 5.2 percent over the same period, the statistics service said in its report.
 Stocks rise, led by blue chips
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The Athens bourse finished higher with players buying into high capitalization stocks for a second straight session, retaking 2,500 points, traders said.
The general share index gained 1.08 per cent to end at 2,500.58 points. Turnover was 157.4 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.25 per cent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 0.66 per cent higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities gained 0.72 per cent.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 168 to 117 with 78 issues remaining unchanged.
Closing rates of May 13 2004
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,191 1,164
 Olympic Stadium's western section of roof placed in final position
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The western section of the roof of the Athens Olympic Stadium was placed in its final position on Thursday afternoon when it ''rested'' on its 25-metre deep foundations after sliding along a distance of 72 meters.
The culture ministry, the Olympic Games Organizing Committee and officials responsible for the effort of sliding the roof into position, which got underway at noon on Monday, expressed their absolute satisfaction with the outcome of the undertaking.
Culture ministry officials also stressed that the first resounding reply has already been given to all who doubted the Greeks' ability to complete such a complex construction effort, as the sliding of the stadium's roof into its final position was.
Initial preparations have already started to slide the eastern section of the stadium's roof into place, while the undertaking is expected to be completed by the end of the month. The distance the second section of the roof has to cover is 10 meters less than the first.
 Gov't gives July delivery date for Faliro junction, Olympic venues
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The massive Faliro junction and the Olympic venues on the coast will be ready within July, Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias assured the press after a visit to the site on Thursday.
The Faliro junction where the Kifissos river intersects the coast road will be one of the largest in the country and will cut traveling times from Faliro to Metamorphosi in northern Athens down to 15 minutes. Souflias said that this will be ready apart from two lanes in the second half of June and the rest in early July.
Olympic sports facilities in the Faliro area and the coast, which include a tae kwon do centre, handball and beach volleyball courts among others, have been completed and handed over to Olympics organizers ATHOC, while work is now underway to landscape the surrounding grounds.
The minister said everything will be complete before the end of July, and dismissed reports in the foreign press about delays to Olympic facilities.
According to Souflias, the aggregated cost of the works in Faliro, including the sports complex, roadworks and anti-flooding works, comes to about 500 million euros.
 ATHOC chief briefs PM on Olympic Games preparations
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Thursday evening conveyed to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis the excellent impressions which the technocrats of the Coordinating Committee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headed by Denis Oswald got from their recent and last visit to Athens on the course of preparations for the Olympic Games.
On departing from the Maximos Mansion, the ATHOC chief told reporters that ''we will also give a lesson to those who question our capability and we will prove that the Greeks in four years, instead of seven, did everything needed to host excellent Games. And this is a unique message. Because what we seek to show is not only history and culture, but also a state which has prepared itself with the highest standards to organize Olympic Games, the most demanding organization in the entire world. The Calatrava roof is a fact which in essence stresses the capability we have as a country for important constructions.''
She said that what must be understood is that ''Greece with seriousness and conscientiousness is preparing the Games. The issue of security is a top priority.''
 Lord Colin Moynihan meets Sports Undersecretary Orfanos
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)''I believe that in many cases the various comments which have been published in the British Press were misleading.''
This was stated on Thursday by Olympic medalist Lord Colin Moynihan (silver medal in rowing at the Los Angeles Olympic Games) who was received by Deputy Culture Minister responsible for Sport George Orfanos.
Lord Colin Moynihan is a member of the British Conservative Party and was Sports Secretary from 1987 to 1990 in the government of Margaret Thatcher.
On the issue of the security of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, he said: ''We must not forget that this is a government which has recognized that the issue of terrorism is an international matter. Consequently, every effort being made by the seven cooperating countries, which are presided over by the United Kingdom, in cooperation with the Organizing Committee and the government, are making every possible effort and are taking every humanly possible measure to fully secure the safety of the athletes, the spectators and visitors who will come to Athens and of course the Athenian people. I therefore most certainly believe that the issue of security is of utmost priority and is covered by the broader cooperation.''
At the same time he said that he was impressed with the progress of preparations for the Olympic Games. ''I must say that I am extremely impressed by the degree of preparation, not only of the Greek athletes in view of the Olympic Games, but from the degree and speed for the completion of the Olympic projects.''
On his part, Orfanos said that ''the conclusion that can be drawn, and that was also said by Mr. Moynihan in his statements, is that all publicly accept that Greece will host good and safe Games.''
Lord Colin Moynihan had also met Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis on Wednesday.
 Iraqis take to the streets as Olympic soccer team qualifies for Olympic Games
BAGHDAD 14/05/2004 (ANA)Inhabitants of Baghdad and other parts of Iraq took to the streets to celebrate on Wednesday night on hearing news of the country's Olympic soccer team qualifying for the Athens Olympic Games.
Since Iraq could not guarantee the safe holding of its tie with Saudi Arabia the city of Amman, Jordan, was set as the venue for the match which the Iraqis won 3-1 despite the fact their rivals had gone into the lead.
''We are amazed. We will surely do well in Athens as well,'' said the Iraqi team's coach Adnan Hamed after the match.
Iraq will be sending 30 athletes to Greece to participate in the Olympic Games and will be represented, apart from soccer, in boxing, athletics, swimming, weightlifting and Tae Kwon Do.
 Group claims Kallithea police station blasts, cites Greek 'involvement' in Iraq
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The ''Popular Struggle'' group has claimed responsibility for the triple home-made bomb explosions outside a police building in the Athens suburb of Kallithea last week, in a statement sent to the weekly political/satirical newspaper Pontiki appearing in Thursday's issue.
Three home-made bombs exploded behind the police precinct in the Athens suburb of Kallithea early last Wednesday, May 5, causing damage but no injuries. A warning call had been placed to an Athens daily a few minutes before the blasts, but the caller did not claim responsibility for the attack on behalf of any group, although bomb squad experts had immediately said that the home-made bombs resembled those used by the ''Revolutionary Struggle'' group against Athens' courthouse complex and a Citibank branch in 2003.
The explosions were caused by three homemade time bombs comprising a tabletop watch, a detonator, 9V batteries and dynamite.
In a ''statement'', the group claimed that the attack was ''an answer to the Greek state's participation in the 'anti-terrorism' war and a "warning against Greece's imminent, direct 'humanitarian' involvement, with troops, in Iraq''.
The ''statement'' further said that the Kallithea attack was also a "response to the new 'counter-terrorism' law expected to be passed in Greece and which is anything but a 'domestic issue', since similar provisions will be passed in many other European countries", and a response to "the creation of new white cells".
With respect to the Olympic Games, the group protested "Greece's transformation into a fort, NATO's involvement, and the activity of foreign secret services".
 Police intercepte 19 illegal immigrants on Samos
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Nineteen Afghan illegal immigrants were picked up by the authorities on the Aegean island of Samos on Thursday, where they had been dropped off by a Turkish immigrant-smuggler in a speedboat.
The group was left on a Samos shore and walked toward Vlamari, where they were spotted by local residents who called the police.
The 19 Afghans are now being held at a reception centre for illegal immigrants and are in good health. They have told Greek authorities that they each paid 2,500 dollars to make the crossing from the Turkish coast and that more of their compatriots are waiting in Turkey for a chance to enter Europe.
 Greek prostitutes say Olympic measures blight profession's future
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Greece's licensed prostitutes on Thursday expressed strong concern that a series of measures on the sale of sexual service that are to be introduced before the Olympics will undermine the future prospects of their profession.
During a press conference, the Movement of Prostitutes in Greece (KEGE) opposed a government decision not to modify a bill regulating the sale of sexual services and a decision by the Athens municipality to shut down about 250 existing brothels.
A spokesman for the group said the government's decision essentially made prostitution illegal, thus further reinforcing the illegal international sex trade and human-trafficking rings that he said operated largely unchecked in Greece for the past two decades.
By shutting down the brothels, the 2,000 legal prostitutes will automatically join the ranks of ''17,000 sex slaves controlled by the Mafia,'' he added.
He accused the government of ''supporting the decisions of the Mafia'' and claimed that the law in question was unconstitutional.
 Greek entry qualifies for Eurovision song contest final
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Greece was among 10 nations that qualified for the final round of the 2004 Eurovision Song Contest during an elimination round held on Wednesday night, with the song "Shake it" interpreted by popular Greek singer Sakis Rouvas.
The other nine countries that qualified for the final were Serbia and Montenegro, Malta, Netherlands, Albania, Ukraine, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Cyprus, among 22 contestants.
They join 14 other nations in Saturday's final in Istanbul, Turkey.
 Ohrid and Prespa Lakes at risk from pollutants, scientists warn
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)Two major Balkan wetlands, the Ohrid and Prespa Lakes, are at risk of becoming swamps according to the findings of Albanian scientists presented on Thursday, during the first day of an international symposium on ''Cross-border Pollution'' in Florina, northern Greece.
The scientists said the large parts of the lakes were changing form as a result of falling water levels and low-lying vegetation, in many places giving the appearance of 'rivers' separated by islets.
They said this was due to eutrophication, or a build-up of excess nutrients in the waters, caused by overuse of fertilizers and high water consumption, which destroyed the natural plant and animal life.
Speakers at the symposium also reported problems at Bitola in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia due to pollution generated by local power plants burning low-quality lignite without adequate measures to protect the environment.
This has apparently changed the local climate and produced a large number of airborne particles in the atmosphere, triggering an increase in allergies of the respiratory system in local residents and increased incidence of respiratory complaints such as bronchitis among young children, irrespective of other factors.
A spokesman for the Balkan Environmental Association (BENA) noted that as much as 87 per cent of the pollution generated in Bitola ''traveled'' across the border into Greece, chiefly into Florina.
He said measures will have to be taken by both countries for the management of solid and liquid wastes and to limit atmospheric pollution.
The symposium ends on Friday and was organized by the Florina prefectural authority in cooperation with BENA, the Florina Union of Municipalities and Communities and the Western Macedonia TEE, under the auspices of Western Macedonia University.
 Greek-Turkish Friendship Festival to be held in Alexandroupoli
Athens, 14/05/2004 (ANA)The 3rd Greek-Turkish Friendship Festival will be held in Alexandroupoli, northern Greece on June 19 and 20 within the framework of the program of initiatives of ''Daphne'' for strengthening relations of friendship and cooperation between Turkey and Greece.
This year's Festival entitled ''Bridges and Walls'', underlines the basic objectives of the work of ''Daphne'', the creation of bridges through culture, trade, education and science.
The festival will be held outdoors with the participation of musicians from Komotini as well as distinguished Turkish singer Aylan Algan.
 Cyprus President: new prospects for solution will ariseNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos believes that new prospects and new possibilities will emerge that will help find a political settlement, adding that European principles could help formulate the appropriate conditions for a solution that would address the legitimate concerns of Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Papadopoulos assured Turkish Cypriots of his firm adherence to a functional solution of a bizonal bicommunal federation that would allow Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots live in peace and freedom, security, progress and prosperity.
In his address at the opening of the 29th International Fair, he said this year's Fair opened its gates days after Cyprus joined the European Union, something he described as ''a historic challenge'' which marks the beginning of a new era with great prospects and possibilities as well as problems and difficulties.
President Papadopoulos thanked Greece for its unwavering support in achieving EU accession and added ''without your decisive support, the goal of EU membership of the Republic of Cyprus will not have been achieved.''
Referring to the absence of a political settlement, he said a lot more could have been achieved by everybody if the UN proposed solution plan provided and unified the economy and free investment throughout Cyprus.
''The people of Cyprus were not given the option of a solution that would meet their minimum objectives and goals or the feeling of security and the safeguarding of the implementation of the solution, which spans over an 18 year period,'' he said.
He noted the decision of the Greek Cypriots to reject the UN Annan plan should be fully respected not only in words but also by deeds because they rejected this specific plan and not a settlement.
Addressing the Turkish Cypriots, he said he remained firm and consistent in his objective to achieve a functional solution of a bicommunal, bizonal federation.
''There will be a continuation, and new prospects and new possibilities will be created. We can, on the basis of European principles and values, formulate the appropriate conditions for a solution that would meet and address the legitimate concerns of Greek and Turkish Cypriots,'' he said.
President Papadopoulos said Cyprus could contribute in a variety of ways to EU objectives and as an outpost of the Union could act as an economic, political and cultural bridge.
He also said that the Fair promoted the dynamism of the local economy and helps inform visitors and Cypriots about the benefits Cyprus offers in various sectors.
Commerce, Industry and Tourism Minister George Lillikas said accession to the EU was not the end of Cyprus' efforts but just the beginning as the country, as a member state, was called upon to modernize its institutions and structures.
The minister referred to the new strategic development plan, which aimed at achieving a satisfactory rate of development and the maximum benefit from EU membership as well as upgrading infrastructure in various sectors such as energy, telecommunications and transport.
He talked about the need for infrastructure for research in applied technology, the necessity to increase competitiveness, support medium sized businesses and promote professional services Cyprus offered.
Lillikas said the government had decided to set up a council for industrial development, strengthen existing grant plans and introduce new ones, create and improve infrastructure for the industry and improve the centre to serve foreign investors.
On tourism, he said 2003 was a difficult year marked by a 4.76 per cent drop in arrivals and a 10.36 per cent reduction in revenue.
Concluding, he expressed hope that the Fair would contribute to the local economy and said that manpower was the most valuable asset the country had in the effort for economic development.
The chairman of the State Fair Authority Loris Tryfon said he envisioned that the Authority would become a modern international fair and conference centre and the business centre for regional development and trade that would link Europe with the Middle East.
He said through the political settlement the centre would be able to serve Turkish Cypriots as well in organizing meetings and conferences because close and friendly cooperation was the one of the aims of the Authority.
He said the Authority apart from organizing the annual international fair also organized a variety of other activities and exhibitions.
Greek Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas in his remarks at the Fair said it operated as a regional institution that brings economic and trade activity closer together.
He said Cyprus' accession could contribute in a positive way towards a political settlement.
Referring to bilateral business links, he said there were possibilities for joint ventures towards the Middle East and southeastern Europe.
 Council of Europe Committee regrets non-reunification of CyprusNICOSIA (CNA/ANA)
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has expressed regret that it was not possible to reunify Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, following a UN proposal for a political settlement.
The Committee also said it would continue its support for the effort to find a political settlement and stressed the importance it attached to compliance with European Court of Human Rights judgments.
''The Ministers noted with regret that, due to the outcome of the referenda in Cyprus on 24 April, the reunification of the island as proposed by the Secretary General of the United Nations was not possible,'' the conclusions of the 114th session of the Committee said.
The Committee also expressed ''determination to continue to support efforts to settle.''
Greek Cypriots rejected in their overwhelming majority (76 per cent) a UN-proposed solution plan, saying it did not provide sufficient guarantees for the implementation of the agreed settlement and furthermore it did not offer the security guarantees they were seeking.
Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the proposal by 65 per cent.
The conclusions of the Committee restated the importance ministers attached to ''guaranteeing execution by member states of the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, stressing inter alia the significance of the positive decisions taken by the Committee of Ministers in the Loizidou case on 2 December 2003 after Turkish compliance, and supporting the position adopted by the chairman of the Committee on 22 April 2004 in the Zadak, Zana, Dicle and Dogan case.''
The Loizidou case, brought against Turkey by Greek Cypriot Titina Loizidou was seen as a landmark decision in that the Court said Turkey by virtue of its military presence in northern occupied Cyprus was in fact responsible for what happens in that part of the island.
The Court also said Loizidou, who claimed her occupied property back, was the legal owner of that property and ordered Turkey to pay compensation for loss of use and continuing violation of her right to enjoy the said property. The Court ordered Ankara to allow Loizidou access to her property.
Turkey last year paid damages amounting to about one million US dollars but has yet to allow Loizidou peaceful enjoyment of her property.
In their conclusions the Ministers reasserted the fundamental importance of cooperation between the Council of Europe and the European Union, since its enlargement.
Norwegian minister of foreign affairs Jan Petersen took over the chairmanship of the Committee until mid November.