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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-05-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 22, 2004
 Greece a factor of peace, maturity and progress, PM tells U.S. Council of Foreign Relations
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)Greece has established itself as a "factor of peace, maturity, and progress," in Europe, the Balkans, and the eastern Mediterranean, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Friday during a speech he gave to the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington DC, wrapping up his four-day official US visit. "We will prove worthy of this responsibility," he added, committing to "a strong and productive trans-Atlantic relationship," as well as a strong and effective European Union.
Referring to international terrorism, Karamanlis spoke of the need for "a decisive leadership," and the existence of "joint responsibility." As for Olympic Games security, he reiterated the massive amounts Greece has spent to ensure safe Games, as well as the multilateral cooperation between Greece and another seven countries, with the US playing a leading role in the matter, and the involvement of NATO.
The prime minister described Greece as "a source of inspiration," and a country offering significant investment opportunities.
He also spoke about Turkey, emphasizing that the country's European orientation, "which Greece warmly supports," has set into motion forces of reform and moderation and has begun to transform Turkish society. Karamanlis also mentioned the good personal relationship he has with the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, noting that "never before have Greek and Turkish leaders met so many times in such a brief period." He also said that Greece will be at Turkey's side, helping the country to converge with the European constitutional, political and economic framework.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, Karamanlis emphasized that the results of the recent referenda "must be respected," and said that the rejection of the Annan Plan cannot be the end of the road for Turkish-Cypriots. He asked that both sides, Turkish-Cypriots and Greek-Cypriots, continue their efforts towards building a common future, always using the Annan Plan as a basis.
"Our effort to solve the Cyprus issue, eliminating distrust in Greek-Turkish relations, Turkey's efforts towards a European course, promoting Romania's and Bulgaria's EU accession, encouraging the western Balkans towards a European course - all these things will change our neighborhood forever," the prime minister said.
 PM Karamanlis: No hint for dispatch of Greek troops to Iraq - Press conference winds up US visitWASHINGTON D.C. 22/5/2004 (ANA/T. Ellis)
There was no hint made concerning the dispatch of Greek troops to Iraq, Greece's prime minister Costas Karamanlis said early Friday (Greek time, late evening US time) at a press conference in Washington, winding up his five-day official visit to the United States.
"There was no hint for the dispatch of Greek military forces to Iraq," Karamanlis said, while noting that Greece was already participating with contingents to peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Karamanlis further noted that "in the direction of better preparation for, and the security of, the (Athens 2004) Olympic Games, we cannot undertake additional obligations".
He endorsed a speedy transfer of power and the democratization of Iraq, while also stressing Greece's active participation in that country's economic reconstruction.
The prime minister described his talks in the US capital with president George Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney as "constructive", noting that the issue concerning visas for Greeks entering the US was not discussed.
On the Balkans, Karamanlis reiterated Greece's firm position that there must be no change of borders. With respect to his discussions with the US leadership on Kosovo, he said Athens and Washington shared the same concerns, adding that he had brought up the matter of the Kosovar Albanians and the stance they are maintaining in the region.
Karamanlis urged active support for the Balkan countries so that they could consolidate democratic institutions, and political and economic normality, stressing the importance of keeping open the prospect of their inclusion in the wider European structure.
Greece, the prime minister noted, was the top investor in the Balkan region and actively taking part in its reconstruction.
Regarding the FYROM name issue, Karamanlis said there were no new developments in the on-going UN-brokered negotiations, but added that there was good cooperation between Greece and FYROM, stressing that "more flexibility is needed on the part of FYROM in order for us to move forward".
Asked to comment on the differences between his ruling New Democracy party (ND) and the main opposition PASOK party (formerly the ruling party), Karamanlis said it was his standing policy not to speak about domestic affairs when abroad. He did stress, however, that it was a great achievement for Greece, and an indication of maturity, that there was now consensus on foreign policy matters -- albeit this did not mean absolute agreement -- unlike in the previous decades.
Karamanlis also expressed full satisfaction over President Bush's statement on the security of this summer's Athens Olympic Games, saying that it ''constitutes a vote of confidence the fact that his father (former president George Bush Sr.) will in essence head the U.S. delegation.''
He explained hat he briefed the U.S. leadership in depth on preparations for the Olympic Games and on the close cooperation with allies and partners, which is in progress, on security matters, underlining that Bush's response was very satisfactory.
The Greek prime minister yet again denied information that the American side indirectly raised a demand for tighter security measures for U.S. athletes.
Karamanlis underlined that regarding the security of the Games, Greece has spent 1.2 billion dollars, three times that spent for the preceding Sydney Games and thirty times more than at the Games in Atlanta in 1996.
Turning to the Cyprus issue, the premier said that he conveyed to the US president the message that Greece is pursuing the reunification of Cyprus and that the Greek Cypriot rejection of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's plan should not be interpreted as a 'no' to resolving the long standing political problem of the island republic.
He termed as ''encouraging'' the fact that in his talks at the White House and the Congress there were no objections to the basic aim which is the reunification of the island. He described the Annan plan as a basis for every new effort for a solution to the problem, noting that for any points needing renegotiation "the Republic of Cyprus has the first word".
''If there is no solution we will have a situation where both sides will be losers, while if it is solved we will have a situation of victory for both sides," Karamanlis said, adding that the Turkish Cypriots will also benefit from a solution.
The premier said that during his talks, the upgrading of relations between the U.S. and the Turkish Cypriots was not raised, adding that ''any effort for their strengthening cannot mean a de facto recognition.'' He added that both Greece and the Greek Cypriot side agree on the advancement of programs supporting Turkish Cypriots.
He said that it is premature for one to speak of a resumption of initiatives at this period of time, but underlined that ''this is not the end of the road".
Karamanlis explained that after the recent rejection of the Annan plan "we have entered a stage of re-assessment of the situation", stressing that the Cyprus issue must remain on the table, and expressing hope that new initiatives would be undertaken soon.
On Turkey's EU prospects, Karamanlis said that having Turkey on a European course would be "to everyone's benefit, and also serves Greece's interests".
"It is not a matter of exchanges, but one of strategic choice, which is nationally beneficial," the premier said in reply to a question about what Greece had gained in exchange for its unconditional backing of Turkey's European prospect.
A senior-ranking US official told ANA that Karamanlis' visit and his talks with Bush were viewed as "very constructive" by the US side, adding that the Greek premier's presence was "impressive" and praising his presentation of the Greek positions.
On the Cyprus issue, the official said that Karamanlis and Bush shared the view that "the Turkish Cypriots must be helped", and reiterated the US view that the Annan plan constituted the only solution.
On Games security, which was at the top of the agenda in Karamanlis' meetings with both Bush and Cheney, the official said that the Greek authorities have made "immense progress" in the direction of ensuring the protection of those visiting Athens for the duration of the Games.
As for Greek-Turkish relations, the US side believes that they are proceeding in the right direction, and was encouraged by the "personal chemistry" that has developed between Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as Greece's backing for Turkey's European prospect, including its position in favor of the EU summit in December setting a commencement date for accession negotiations with Turkey.
After his White House meetings on Thursday, Karamanlis visited the US Congress where he met with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House International Relations Committee, where talks focused on Olympic security and the Cyprus issue.
Karamanlis was due to wind up his Washington visit with an address to the Foreign Relations Council.
Papandreou on PM's US visit: Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou said on Friday that he will ask the government to brief him on Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' visit to the US. Papandreou noted that while PASOK was in office, bilateral relations between the two countries improved, "regardless of possible differences on specific policies." Furthermore, he expressed his conviction that, "it is always a positive thing for us to maintain these good, bilateral relations - it's in our nation's interest."
Speaking of the Olympic Games, Papandreou said that he supports the government in its attempt to convey the important message that the country will be a safe place during the Olympic Games, as well as in its attempt to stage the best Games ever, something for which "all Greeks will be proud, regardless of political affiliation."
Additionally, Papandreou said that he wants to be briefed on the major issues pending, such as Greek-Turkish relations and the Cyprus Issue.
 Deputy FM Valinakis to stay on for talks in US, attend EU-Latin America & Caribbean summit in Mexico
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)Deputy foreign minister Yannis Valinakis will represent Greece at the 3rd EU-Latin America & Caribbean summit to take place in Mexico on May 27-28, it was announced Friday.
Valinakis, who is currently in the US with prime minister Costas Karamanlis, will remain in there for a few more days for meetings with US officials, media, foreign policy institutes and representatives of the Greek community in the US, from where he will head directly to Mexico, the foreign ministry said.
Valinakis was scheduled to meet Monday with undersecretary of state for political affairs Marc Grossman.
He is also due to discuss matters of Greek interest with experts on European policy and transatlantic relations at the invitation of the Western Policy Centre, before heading for Chicago for meetings with Greek community representatives, and then on to Los Angeles on Tuesday. In LA he will meet with the officials at the Rand Corporation and the Pacific Council on International Policy, before attending a working lunch with the LA Times editorial board.
On Wednesday, he was due to head to Mexico for the summit, leaving for the return to Greece on May 28 with a brief stopover in Tampa, Florida to address the 12th congress of the Panhellenic Federation of Florida.
 Coalition leader meets Palestinian Authority's representative in Athens
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)Coalition of the Radical Left party leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Friday received the Palestinian Authority's representative in Athens Marwan Abdelhamid, who conveyed the warm regards of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Abdelhamid briefed Constantopoulos on the situation in the Middle East and accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of the slaughter of civilians.
In a statement after the meeting, Constantopoulos said that the heart of all humanity beat in Palestine and that Sharon, with the support of United States President George Bush, was trying through force of arms to convince Palestinians that they had no life in Palestine any more. According to Constantopoulos, this policy was exterminating an entire people, butchering civilization, lowering and debasing the value of human life.
 KKE leader meets Representative of the Palestinian Authority in Athens
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)One of the basic elements of the European parliamentary elections campaign of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is also the expression of solidarity to the struggle of the Palestinian people, the party's Secretary General Aleka Papariga told Representative of the Palestinian Authority in Athens Marwan Abdelhamid during a meeting they had on Friday, something she also reiterated in a public statement.
Papariga stressed the "constant interest of the KKE and the solidarity of the Greek communists to the just struggle of the Palestinian people for their survival, their independence and the acquisition of their own sovereign state with East Jerusalem as the capital."
A criterion for voting in these elections "for our people should also constitute the stance of the other parties, the government and the European Union to the Palestinian issue and the condemnation of the barbaric policy of the Israeli government," she said.
On his part, Marwan Abdelhamid conveyed the personal gratitude of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat for the KKE's solidarity to the struggle of the Palestinian people and informed Papariga on the latest developments taking place in the Palestinian Territories "with the latest barbaric attacks by the Israeli army in Rafah and the situation in the Gaza Strip and in the occupied Palestinian territories." The objective, he said, "is the mass displacement of the Palestinian population from its territories and that is precisely the aim of the mass murder of non-combatants, the demolition of more than 7,500 Palestinian homes, the exclusion which they impose and the continuous threats by (Israeli Prime Minister (Ariel) Sharon on the life of President Arafat, believing that in this way they will bend the resistance of the Palestinian people."
 Turkish aircraft seen violating Athens FIR, sources claim
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)Two formations of Turkish military aircraft have been sighted violating Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) regulations 30 miles southeast of Rhodes, sources said on Friday.
All four Turkish aircraft were reconnoitered and intercepted by Greek planes, while in two cases the interception process developed into a mock dogfight.
Official sources said that this type of illegal activity by Turkish planes over the Aegean was routine.
 FinMin, ADEDY discuss new pay rise agreement
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)A current round of negotiations over a new pay rise for civil servants will be completed by September, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and civil servants' union (ADEDY) president Spyros Papaspyros said on Friday.
Speaking to reporters, after an one-hour meeting with Mr Alogoskoufis, Papaspyros said that the meeting was a success and significant ahead of the official start of pay rise talk procedures.
Alogoskoufis told reporters that ADEDY was a partner for economic growth and pledged that both economic and institutional demands by civil workers would be gradually solved in the context of the government's economic policy.
 Current account deficit flat in March, down in first quarter
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)The current account deficit remained virtually unchanged in March 2004 year-on-year, reflecting a major increase in the services surplus and a relatively small rise in the transfers surplus, which offset growth of the trade deficit and income account deficit, the central bank said on Friday.
A widening of the trade deficit was due to an increase in the non-oil import bill, which more than offset a rise in non-oil export receipts, with the oil import bill showing a small drop. The services surplus more than doubled as a result of a surge in net transport (shipping) receipts, the Bank of Greece said in a statement.
Growth of the income account deficit stemmed from higher net interest, dividend and profit payments; and a widening of the transfers surplus mainly reflected an increase in net EU transfers to general government.
In the first quarter of 2004, the current account deficit narrowed by 1,090 million euros against the corresponding period of 2003 to total 2.178 million euros, reflecting a major rise in both the services and transfers surpluses as well as a decrease in the income account deficit, which more than offset a widening of the trade deficit, the statement said.
The trade deficit grew by 323 million euros versus the same period of 2003, reflecting a 824 million euro, or 12.3%, increase in the non-oil import bill, which more than offset both a rise of 283 million euros, or 12.2%, in non-oil export receipts and a decrease of 218 million euros in the net oil import bill.
In addition, the services surplus grew by 808 million euros owing to a major rise of 723 million euros, or 69.6%, in net transport (mainly shipping) receipts, as well as a drop in net payments under the ''other services'' category
Travel receipts (payments by non-residents for travel services in Greece) increased by 67 million euros, but travel payments (payments by residents of Greece for travel services abroad) grew by 84 million euros; and, as a result, net travel receipts fell by 17 million euros. The income account deficit decreased slightly by 55 million euros owing to a drop in net interest, dividend and profit payments. Finally, growth of 549 million euros in the transfers surplus was mainly accounted for by a 570 million euro, or 34.3%, increase in net EU transfers to general government.
Under direct investment in March was a net inflow of 168 million euros, which largely involved the acquisition of General Bank by Societe Generale.
In the first quarter of 2004, a net inflow of 525 million euros was recorded under direct investment, the central bank said.
At end-March 2004, Greece's reserve assets came to 3.7 billion euros, it added.
 Stocks drop in heavy blue chip selling
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower on the bourse with intense selling again seen in high capitalization stock, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,341.96 points, showing a 1.05 per cent decrease. Turnover was 126.0 million euros. OTE lost 5.66 per cent.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 1.32 per cent lower; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.33 per cent down; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.31 per cent higher.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 154 to 125 with 79 remaining unchanged.
On a weekly basis, the general share index slumped by 5.07 per cent.
 International conference on Olympic Games security
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)The Greek police, in cooperation with the Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC), are organizing a three-day International Conference on Olympic Games security next week in Athens, it was announced Friday.
The conference, which opens Monday, will be attended by Greek and foreign security experts and officials to share their experiences on specialized security topics, a public order ministry announcement said.
Attending will be security officials of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of the 202 countries participating in the Athens Games, security officers of the Games' sponsors, and police and intelligence chiefs of the EU member states and the countries with which Greece is cooperating on Olympics security.
The Olympics Security Operational Plan will be presented at the conference, so that delegates may be informed and prepare their countries' delegations on matters concerning the security of the athletes, VIPs and spectators who will be in Greece for the Games.
The topics include protection of VIPs, security of transports, security of accommodations, specialized issues concerning international terrorism, and information management.
On the final day of the conference, delegates will visit three Olympic facilities in which the participants have expressed interest, namely the Panathinaiko (Kallimarmaro) Stadium where the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and Marathon finish will be held, the OAKA main Olympic complex, and the Olympic Village. The visit will include a tour of the grounds and presentation of the security measures planned.
Taking the opportunity of the conference, public order minister George Voulgarakis said that "only a few days ahead of the implementation of the Olympics Security Plan, we are holding an International Conference in the framework of our constant efforts to continously evaluate our planning, taking the fullest advantage of our international collaborations" on Games security.
 Opening ceremony for the 44th IOA meeting to be held Monday
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)The opening ceremony of the 44th International Olympic Academy Meeting will be held on Monday at Pnyx for new participants. The general theme is "Olympism," with a focus on the "Olympic Games: Cultural and Moral Parametres." The IOA Board has decided that honorary awards will be given during the ceremony. Recipients will be IOC Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch, the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games(represented by Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki), the City of Athens (represented by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyanni) and Voula Patoulidou as the only Greek female athlete to have won a gold medal at an Olympic Games.
Furthermore, IOC President Jacques Rogge will give the "Olympic Order" award to Ioannis Papadoyiannakis, member of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and Head of the Olympic Team for the 2004 Athens Games.
IOA President and IOC member Nikos Filaretos, IOC President Jacques Rogge, Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sports George Orfanos, Athens mayor Bakoyanni and Alternate Culture Minister Fani Palli-Petralia will speak at the ceremony. President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos will be present at the event.
 Interior minister, PASOK leader attend 14th International IT conference in Athens
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos was one of the key speakers at the 14th International Information Technology Conference taking place in Athens on Friday and among the representatives of countries attending that signed a declaration to support the promotion of e-government.
In his address, Pavlopoulos praised the organizers for not putting technology above the issue of basic rights of citizens, noting that there had to be a compromise between protecting citizens' rights and promoting technology.
In addition to Pavlopoulos, a message sent by Deputy Foreign Minister Evripides Stylianidis was read out on Friday for the government side.
The conference was also addressed by main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou, who focused primarily on the need to involve citizens more actively in international thought and action, instead of just every four years at elections, and to renew democracy. He said the public needed to be educated in the use of new technologies, just as the trade unions had taught their members to read and write at the beginning of the 20th century so that they could follow labor issues and the left-wing press.
He announced that the PASOK party will begin such a process with its members and friends and would soon be inviting public and private IT firms to submit offers for seminars in information technology, whose cost would be shared by the party and the participants.
According to Papandreou, a modern party should not only be a forum to discuss ideas but also provide other services to the public, while he stressed that the views expressed by the public on the Internet will be taken into account when drafting the candidate list for the European elections though they were not regarded by the party as fully representative of the entire electorate.
Papandreou was present at the official start of operations on Friday on the sidelines of the conference of the non-governmental organization access2democracy, whose stated goals are to promote and enhance democratic values through the use of new technologies. Apart from Papandreou, access2democracy's board includes the governor of the state of New Mexico Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Department of Energy secretary, the general secretary of the World Chamber of Commerce Maria-Livanos Cattaui, MIT Media Lab president and founder Nicholas Negroponte and Nobel-prize winning economist and Harvard University professor Amartya Sen.
 'Athlos, Mythos, Eros' exhibition on Fasianos at Benaki Museum
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)An exhibition entitled "Athlos, Mythos, Eros", featuring the work of Greek painter Alekos Fasianos, opened at the Benaki Museum in mid-May and will run until June 27.
Among the highlights are a giant, mural-size painting of Athens and 30 of his best paintings and other art objects, including kites, a flock of brass birds suspended from the ceiling, weathervanes and benches.
The exhibition is part of a Benaki Museum program to promote the work of Greek artists but is also linked through its title and the themes of the paintings to the Olympic Games taking place in Athens this August.
 Bulgarian police to visit Greece to coordinate action for Olympics security
SOFIA 22/5/2004 (ANA - B. Borisov)Bulgarian authorities on Friday announced that senior officers of the Bulgarian security services will be visiting Greece in the coming week for talks with their Greek counterparts in order to coordinate action by the two countries for the security of the Athens Olympics in August.
The announcement was made by the Bulgarian interior ministry's general secretary Boiko Borisov, who will head the Bulgarian delegation.
 Greenpeace warns of more GM crop cargos bound for Greece
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)The Greek branch of the environmental organization Greenpeace on Friday issued additional warnings about ships laden with genetically-modified (GM) crops that were bound for Greece in the next few days.
After Thursday's warning to the authorities about the arrival of the freighter "Flag Tom" from Argentina, the environmental group on Friday said that the ship "Volcano" was expected to arrive in Thessaloniki within hours carrying a cargo of GM soya for use as animal feed.
The Greenpeace ship "MV Esperanza" is currently in Greek waters, having concluded a tour of the Mediterranean as part of an international campaign against GM crops.
The organization has asked Greek authorities to carry out necessary checks and locate all GM cargos, in accordance with new legislation for the labeling and traceability of GM material passed on April 18, which requires the authorities to record the final use of the cargo and determine whether it is appropriately labeled.
A Greenpeace spokesperson said that a lack of proper inspections allowed the food industry to claim it was not using GM ingredients in foods destined for human consumption or as animal feed, when more than 250,000 tones of GM soya were imported into Greece every year, particularly for use as animal fodder.
 Investigation into death of woman on Italian sailboat
Athens, 22/5/2004 (ANA)Police were investigating the death of an Italian woman found floating in the water of Preveza on Friday, while tied to the ropes of her Italian friend's sailboat.
The body of Juseppina Nicolini, who was traveling with Pietro Colombo Giovanni on his Italian-registered sailboat "Delfini Bianco", was found by Giovanni at dawn as the vessel was sailing two nautical miles of Sarakiniko in Preveza.
The body was tied to the vessel's ropes and was being dragged by the vessel.
Giovanni, who said he found the body floating in the water when he woke up Friday morning, informed port officials, who were investigating all possibilities.