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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-05-24

Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

May 24, 2004


  • [01] Ruling, main opposition parties announce Euro-election slates
  • [02] SURVEY: Euro-election voters give ruling party eight-point lead
  • [03] Greece eager to see Iraqi democracy
  • [04] International conference begins Monday on security for Athens Olympics
  • [05] Defence minister meets Balkan counterparts for talks on regional stability
  • [06] Government to spur business through social-oriented policy
  • [07] Olympic torch to cross newly built Greek bridge August 8
  • [08] Greenpeace activists end blockade of ship carrying GE soya

  • [01] Ruling, main opposition parties announce Euro-election slates

    Athens, 24/5/2004 (ANA)

    The ruling New Democracy (ND) party on Sunday announced its candidates for European parliamentary elections on June 13 with a former defence minister, Yiannis Varvitsiotis, heading the 24-member slate.

    Ranking second on the slate is Antonis Samaras, a foreign minister under an ND government in the early 1990s.

    In the next four places are current ND eurodeputies Antonis Trakatelis, George Dimitrakopoulos, Kostas Hatzidakis, and Roda Kratsa.

    Varvitsiotis said in a statement that the ND slate backed strengthening Greece's position in Europe and wanted the continent to be powerful, politically united, economically developed, and socially just.

    ND's secretary, Evangelos Meimarakis, noted that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' choice of candidates showed that the party was supported by a broad voting alliance, and the slate aimed at forming social consensus.

    The leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), George Papandreou, placed Mary Matsouka, 33, at the head of the party's slate. Matsouka is a board member of the General Confederation of Employees of Greece, and head of the staff association of Athens-quoted Cosmote.

    In second place is Stavros Lambrinidis, general director of the international Olympic truce centre, and an honorary ambassador.

    The 24-member PASOK slate is equally divided along gender lines with 12 female candidates and 12 male showing an average age of 39 years.

    [02] SURVEY: Euro-election voters give ruling party eight-point lead

    Athens, 24/5/2004 (ANA)

    The ruling New Democracy (ND) party, which took office on March 7, has an eight percentage point lead in voter preference at 41.5 per cent of the total, an opinion poll released on Sunday showed.

    In a survey commissioned by the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper, the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) ranks second at 33.5 per cent; followed by the Communist Party of Greece (7.0 per cent), the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (4.0 per cent), and the Laos party (3.0 per cent).

    Of voters polled, 52.0 per cent thought ND leader and current premier Costas Karamanlis was the best option for prime minister, with 30.0 per cent backing PASOK president George Papandreou.

    [03] Greece eager to see Iraqi democracy

    Athens, 24/5/2004 (ANA)

    Greece is eager to see Iraqis establish their own democracy, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told US television on Sunday.

    "We believe that the process should be pursued as far as possible of a transfer of power, so that full democratisation can be accomplished as soon as possible, a full transfer of power to the Iraqi people," Karamanlis said in an interview to PBS news.

    "Of course we're all sharing the burden, and we all have a share of the responsibility of contributing to the reconstruction of Iraq. In our opinion, the best-case scenario would be for this to happen under the aegis, the umbrella, of the United Nations, as this would allow the greatest legitimisation of the procedure," the prime minister said.

    Asked whether Greece's policy on Iraq would change now that the New Democracy party was in power, the premier replied: "In foreign policy at least we have succeeded in not having major party clashes. Basically, in foreign policy, we have followed a joint strategy. Which doesn't mean we don't have minor disagreements in tactics. But we do have the same basic perception, which has not changed in the Iraq issue either."

    Karamanlis added that he had heard President Bush's views on Iraq during talks in Washington with the US leader last week.

    In an interview to CNN television, the prime minister was asked whether he would support immediate NATO intervention in Iraq similar to that in Afghanistan.

    "We want to see the swiftest possible process for a transfer of power, for the democratisation and reconstruction of Iraq. What we support above all is every endeavour that, as far as possible, is brought under the aegis of the United Nations," Karamanlis said.

    "Now if this happens, we are open to discussion on the steps to follow," he added.

    [04] International conference begins Monday on security for Athens Olympics

    Athens, 24/5/2004 (ANA)

    An international conference on security for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games will be held on May 24-26 at the headquarters of the event's national organisers.

    The key purpose of the conference, which is being held in line with standard practice in previous Olympics, is to brief representatives from the 202 national Olympic committees of countries that will participate in the event, and for representatives of sponsors.

    Delegations from countries participating in the Olympic Advisory Group and security experts will also take part in the conference. Among items on the agenda are protection for VIPs, transport security, and global terrorism.

    Scheduled to address the opening of the conference are Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, and the president of the Athens 2004 organising committee, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.

    [05] Defence minister meets Balkan counterparts for talks on regional stability

    Athens, 24/5/2004 (ANA)

    Defence Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos on Sunday held separate meetings with his counterparts from Serbia-Montene-gro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Romania at which he outlined Greek policy on consolidating peace and stability in the Balkans.

    Spiliotopoulos also said concerning Kosovo that borders should not be changed.

    Spiliotopoulos met the ministers on the sidelines of a conference in Thessaloniki on safeguarding peace and democracy in the Balkans arranged by the ELIAMEP organisation.

    Minister to take part in world conference on Balkan security: Deputy Defence Minister Vassilios Mihaloliakos is to take part in an international conference in Bulgaria next week on security, peace and democracy in the Balkans, his office said in a statement on Sunday.

    Mihaloliakos' trip to the neighbouring country on May 25-27 will also include a meeting for talks with his Bulgarian counterpart, and a visit to Hemus 2004, an international defence trade fair, the statement said.

    [06] Government to spur business through social-oriented policy

    Athens, 24/5/2004 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Sunday that he aimed to spur business activity and competitiveness through a social-oriented policy.

    New jobs were urgently needed, coupled by an improvement in competitiveness, an area in which Greece was lagging, Sioufas told a forum on employment and business arranged by Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni and the French ambassador in Athens, Bruno Delaye.

    At the same time, a social angle was essential to the plan that would support groups including women, youth and people with special needs, Sioufas said.

    Greece, Netherlands seek to boost ties in technology, education: Greece and the Netherlands are seeking to boost cooperation in education, science, and research and technology following a meeting of ministers from the two European Union countries.

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas held talks in Athens on Sunday with the Netherlands' education, arts and science minister, Maria Van Der Hoeven, and the country's ambassador in Athens, Paul Brouwer.

    [07] Olympic torch to cross newly built Greek bridge August 8

    Athens, 24/5/2004 (ANA)

    The Olympic torch is to cross the Rio-Antirrio bridge spanning a stretch of sea in western Greece on August 8 following completion of the link's roadway, which is scheduled for next week.

    The lengthy bridge's final two sections are to be joined on Monday in preparation for passage of the torch.

    Expected to carry 10,000 automobiles daily, the bridge will open to traffic after the Athens Olympics in August-September.

    Ôiming, data services successfully tested on Olympics course: Timing and data supply systems were successfully tested at a track and field meet at the weekend staged on a course to be used in the 2004 Olympics.

    National organisers of the Olympics said in a statement on Sunday that all systems worked smoothly in the technology test event, which was also monitored by Swatch, a sponsor in the games.

    Arranging the meet was the Hellenic Association of Amateur Athletics (SEGAS), the statement said.

    [08] Greenpeace activists end blockade of ship carrying GE soya

    Athens, 24/5/2004 (ANA)

    Activists from the Greenpeace ship 'Esperanza' on Sunday ended a blockade of a bulk carrier in the Saronic Gulf that was carrying 40,000 tons of genetically engineered soya and 14,000 tons of maize from Argentina after harbour authorities pledged to seal the cargo until controls were completed for illegal GE imports, officials of the merchant marine marine ministry said.

    Four campaigners boarded the 'Flag Tom' from inflatable boats on Saturday, locking themselves to the ship's hatches to prevent off-loading of a part of the cargo believed to be GE until authorities arrived for controls as required under European Union legislation.

    "We have taken action today to protest the uncontrolled import of GMOs into the Greek market. We are asking the ministry of agriculture and the food inspection authority to act immediately and conduct proper controls to ensure consumers are fully informed about all GE products entering Greece," Myrto Pispini, a Greenpeace activist, said before the protest ended.

    Some 10,000 tons of the GE soyabeans and 7,000 tons of the maize from the bulk carrier were intended for import to Greece, with the ship's next port of call believed to be Israel. The soyabeans were assumed to be GE because they come from Argentina where 98% of the soya grown is GE. The status of the maize was not yet known, Greenpeace said in a statement.

    Greece imports about 500,000 tons of soya annually from the US, Argentina and Brazil, an estimated 60% of which is GE or GE contaminated; and the figures for annual maize imports to Greece are unclear, the statement said.

    GE soya covers over 14 million hectares in Argentina; and land is being converted for GE soya production, which has lead to Argentinean families being removed from their lands to plant the soya, bringing environmental and social problems, Greenpeace added.

    Last week in northern Greece, conventional non-GE maize seeds were found to be GE contaminated in an area of more than 100 hectares in Drama. The agriculture ministry ordered destruction of the contaminated field.

    New EU regulations on traceability and labelling came into force on 18 April this year, which enforce labelling for food products and animal feed containing genetically modified organisms authorized by the EU.

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