|Sunday, 17 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-05-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>May 26, 2004
 PM extends message of peace and friendship to neighboring countries in address at Thessaloniki forum
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis extended a message of peace, friendship and cooperation to neighboring Balkan countries in an address at the 10th annual forum in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Tuesday.
"Our vision for the region is based on our common European future and it wants weapons to be silenced forever, war preparations to be left to yesterday and all of us to devote ourselves to the role of development and prosperity," he said.
Karamanlis stressed that "all neighbors must invest in development and not confrontation" and reminded that Athens and Ankara decided recently to cancel scheduled armaments orders.
The prime minister, referring to the Athens Olympic Games, said the country is preparing to hold the Olympic Games under conditions guaranteeing maximum security and underlined that "we are fully aware of security needs being created by the international climate and we are responding with all means to the requirements of the international conjuncture, securing the assistance of friends and allies and official cooperation by NATO and paying the highest cost in the history of the Games for security measures."
Karamanlis went on to say the struggle against time is being won and preparations are securing all guarantees for absolute success.
He promised to have the implementation of the Greek reconstruction plan for the Balkans speeded up and indicated that there had been a great delay despite the fact the plan had been ratified since 2002.
"We believe that the plan will be placed in a correct orbit soon to be able to fulfill its targets and to enable us to contribute more effectively to prosperity, stability, peace and the European orientation of the Balkan peninsula," he said.
Karamanlis reiterated that he supports Turkey's European vocation, noting that "we want a Turkey that will honor international law, human rights and European principles" and stressing support for pursuing a concerted, workable and viable solution to the issue of Cyprus, based on the Annan plan, which will guarantee conditions of security and prosperity for all inhabitants on the island.
He added that Cyprus' accession to the European Union can create a new momentum for rapprochement and harmonious cohabitation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. He also said the development of Greek-Turkish economic cooperation was positive and spoke at length of economic diplomacy.
Referring to the issue of the Middle East, Karamanlis said there should be a solution based on the recognition of a Palestinian state and the guaranteeing of Israel's security.
 PM Karamanlis meets Serb counterpart Kostunica
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Greece supports the European prospects of Serbia and Montenegro and also of the other countries of the region, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said immediately after a meeting he had in Thessaloniki on Tuesday night with his Serb counterpart Vojislav Kostunica, on the sidelines of a business conference on Southeastern Europe.
"We are observing the reforms of the Kostunica government, some steps have been made but the market economy must be consolidated," Karamanlis stressed.
On his part, the prime minister of Serbia said that over the past few years significant steps have been made in his country for the legal and institutional framework with the criterion of the country's European prospects. At the same time, Kostunica called on Greek entrepreneurs to invest in his country.
Kostunica will pay a private visit to Mount Athos on Wednesday morning.
Serb Prime Minister Kostunica proposes experiment of Serb and Albanian cohabitation in Kosovo: Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, following the more or less negative response from the Albanians and the international factor to Belgrade's proposal for the cantonization of Kosovo, proposes the experiment of cohabitation between Serbs and Albanians in the valley of Presevo-Bujanovac in southern Serbia, as it has been applied since 2001 after the end of hostilities between the Serb military and armed Albanian groups.
Speaking at a business forum on southeastern Europe in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Tuesday, Kostunica referred to Kosovo and said the Serb side is proposing many solutions for a settlement of the problem.
They include a model applied in southern Serbia which anticipates increased powers in local administration where Albanians form the majority, a mixed police force and other things agreed by the leaders of the region's Albanians and the Djindjic government, ending fighting which had broken out.
"It is an experiment we made in southern Serbia and it would be good if we implemented it in Kosovo as well," he said.
Referring to the prospect of independence for Kosovo, the Serb prime minister said "this prospect means for us to sacrifice the future for a bad past. This position is counter-European. The question is if the EU will allow fragmentation to take place. I am not sure of the reply."
 Former US envoy Nimetz sees U.S. in secondary role relative to EU in the Balkans
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)United States interest in southeast Europe will continue but become smaller, with the European Union taking over as the leading mover of events in the region, former U.S. envoy and General Atlantic Partners LLC stockholder Matthew Nimetz said on Tuesday, during the 10th Thessaloniki Forum for Southeast Europe.
Nimetz said that the United States viewed the Balkans as part of a single zone stretching from the Middle East to central and eastern Europe and the shores of the Caspian Sea, while it did not consider Russia as a competitor country and its foreign policy was influenced by the large numbers of U.S. citizens that originated from this part of the world.
He also refuted arguments that the small size of certain Balkan nations was an impediment to growth, pointing to a recent World Economic Forum report that showed that some of the most developed nations in the world were very small, such as Hong Kong, Ireland, Taiwan, Switzerland and others.
The forum was also addressed by Bulgarian Minister for European Affairs Meglena Kuneva, who said that regional cooperation between southeast European countries was only possible within the framework of European integration.
She said that Bulgaria, Greece and Romania could assist the western Balkan states enter European structures more rapidly.
A representative of the Russian foreign ministry said Russia took a favorable view of European integration for southeast European countries as a "road with benefits and prospects for all", and underlined the common interest of Russia, Kazakhstan, the Ukraine, Greece and the Caspian Sea countries in promoting natural gas in western Europe.
Greek foreign ministry official Alexandros Filon referred to Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying that they were now on the outskirts of NATO through the Partnership of Peace program and that this helped establish a sense of security in the region that facilitated potential investors.
He also underlined that Greece supported non-governmental organizations active in crisis hotspots while noting that the events in Kosovo in March had prevented the withdrawal of peacekeeping troops that would otherwise be available to guard the Olympic Games in August.
According to the head of the EU-Turkey Harmonization Committee Yaser Yakis, the conflicts that had marked the Balkans in the 1990s had been "unfortunate", not only because of their repercussions for the people in the region but also because they had destroyed business and investment opportunities in the region.
He asked the EU and the international community to actively deal with the problems created by bungled intervention during the previous decade and said that the confusion caused by a multitude of initiatives, institutions and bodies for political and economic cooperation in the Balkans does not help coordinate forces and resources to achieve faster economic growth.
He said that Greece, along with Turkey, supported every initiative to coordinate efforts within the framework of the Stability Pact and could contribute to instilling a climate of confidence.
 Powell satisfied with talks with PM Karamanlis in Washington
WASHINGTON 26/5/2004 (ANA/T. Ellis)U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Tuesday appeared satisfied from the discussion he had at the White House last week with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
Asked by reporters to comment on the contents of the meeting as regards the Cyprus issue, Powell said that through the rejection by the Greek Cypriots of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan for a settlement of the political problem in a referendum on April 24, "an opportunity was lost but ways are being sought for there to be progress." He reiterated that Washington's intention is to take measures in support of the Turkish Cypriots.
"We had a good discussion with Mr. Karamanlis and we continue to feel that it was an opportunity that was lost when the Greek Cypriots did not accept it (the plan) at the referendum," Powell said, adding that "we are looking at ways which will allow us to proceed in the direction of Kofi Annan's plan."
Regarding the stance of the United States towards the Turkish Cypriot community which voted in favor of the Annan plan, Powell reiterated the expressed intention of U.S. President George W. Bush's government to support it, stating:"We are examining points in which we can help as regards the needs of the Turkish Cypriots."
 Greece will not send military forces to Iraq, government spokesman Roussopoulos reiterates
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)"The government will not send military forces to Iraq," Greece's government spokesman reiterated on Tuesday, replying to press questions at a regular briefing.
Roussopoulos noted that Greece was already participating in international peacekeeping missions, as provided by its international agreements.
 Deputy FM meets Greek expatriates' representatives in Chicago
CHICAGO 26/5/2004 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis completed his contacts in Chicago on Tuesday with a meeting with Greek expatriates' representatives and the columnist of the newspaper "Chicago Tribune" John Kas, who is of Greek origin.
Valinakis attended a reception given for him on Monday by the local Consular Authority, attended by distinguished local expatriates, and honored Constantine Zografopoulos, a person with special needs from Chicago, who will participate in the Olympic Torch Relay.
Later in the day, the deputy foreign minister attended a dinner with the Metropolitan of Chicago Iakovos, Council of Hellenes Abroad President Andrew Athens and businessman Christos Tomaras.
Valinakis will travel to Los Angeles on Tuesday for meetings with "think tanks", expatriates and representatives of the press.
 Papandreou says the Euro-elections ticket is the new force of PASOK
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, asked by reporters on Tuesday whether his party's European parliamentary elections ticket constituted a renewal and a risk, stated that "we are going dynamically forward," adding that "the ticket is the new force of PASOK, shows the very good potential we have, the future and of course PASOK will go forward."
Papandreou further stressed that the Euro-ticket "gives a new optimism for the Euro-elections and is a first step in a great effort, in which there is room for all, all of PASOK, an effort for the real reconstruction of the movement."
Asked whether those who are not participating in the Euro-ticket means that they are placed in retirement, the PASOK leader replied negatively, explaining that "nobody is placed in retirement, all are welcome and we will all work together."
Finally, to a question whether he was concerned by opinion polls and particularly about one which was presented on Monday night which showed that PASOK was 7.7 percentage points behind the ruling New Democracy (ND) party, Papandreou replied that "we are proceeding dynamically forward with the aim also of the Euro-elections, but not only the Euro-elections."
 Minister in talks with US economic officials
WASHINGTON 26/5/2004 (ANA/A.Ellis)Deputy Finance Minister Petros Doukas on Tuesday held talks with US government officials on financing the public debt and the outlook for the Greek economy.
The officials from the US finance ministry and state accounting office discussed fiscal control systems and latest developments in the economy.
Doukas reported that interest had been shown in a privatization drive that the government is due to announce.
 Tourism minister announces ad campaign to link Olympics with tourism in Greece
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)While briefing Parliament's Production and Trade Committee on Tuesday, Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos announced a special emergency advertising campaign to link the August Olympics in Athens with Greece's tourism product and a program to capitalize on the Games over the coming period.
He also announced plans to establish a code of behavior and ethics, an advice bureau for tourists and a nationwide tourist information centre operating in six languages.
According to the minister, failure to promotionally link the Olympics to Greek tourism was a key cause of the industry's run of bad seasons in recent years.
Regarding ministry policy for the future, Avramopoulos said a top priority was to include tourism in the new European constitution so that it will become one of Europe's developmental policies. For Greece in particular, he said the ministry's goals included the creation of 150,000 jobs in tourism over the next 10 years, increasing tourism's contribution to GDP to 34 per cent in the same period and boosting investments by making transactions simpler as well as opening up new markets like China, Japan and India.
He also revealed plans to rename Hellenic Tourist Properties (ETA) SA as the Company for Tourist Development and Environment SA and to revert to the former regime for managing and making use of state-owned properties.
 Coalition leader, GSEE trade union chief seek protection of worker incomes from 'Olympic' price hikes
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)In a meeting with Coalition of the Radical Left party leader Nikos Constantopoulos on Tuesday, the head of Greece's largest umbrella trade union organization, the General Confederation of Workers of Greece (GSEE), called for changes to the tax system to protect worker incomes attacked by a wave of price hikes in the run up to the Olympic Games in Athens this August.
GSEE chief Christos Polyzogopoulos stressed the need to protect the purchasing power of salaried employees, while stressing that this was best done by preventing high prices in the first place. He said the unions would be on guard against profiteering in view of the Games and warned that Greece would pay dearly for such phenomena if they were left unchecked.
He particularly stressed the need to protect middle incomes, which were hardest hit under the present tax system.
Constantopoulos said the union's demands were fair and socially equitable, while stressing that workers in Greece had to cope with high prices, injustice and insecurity brought about by the failure to achieve convergence.
He called for a "brave redistribution of produced wealth, a just and democratic tax reform and policies in favor of employment and social protection."
 Greece, Russia, Bulgaria to make new commitment on oil pipeline deal
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Greece, Russia and Bulgaria are to hold a service meeting next week to prepare a memorandum of cooperation on a long-delayed plan to build a pipeline that would carry Russian oil to Alexandroupoli through Burgas, Deputy Development Minister George Salagoudis said on Tuesday.
"We want firstly to advance the issue on a political level," Salagoudis told a business forum in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
He said that the project had gained fresh impetus following recent contact between Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Russian President Vladimir Putin; and that Russia was favorably disposed to its continuation.
Salagoudis criticized the previous government, which lost power in national elections on March 7, for key delays two years ago that had further delayed the scheme.
 Tax reform to boost economic growth, combat social imbalances, FinMin says
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)A tax reform planned by the government will aim at boosting Greek economic growth through encouraging business initiatives, combatting social imbalances and reducing tax burden on lower incomes, Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday.
Addressing the first meeting of a special commission, formed by the government to draft tax reform proposals, Alogoskoufis said: "Our ambition is that a tax reform could become a powerful weapon for growth and combatting social imbalances".
"Our aim is to create a new tax system that will encourage business initiatives and investments, reducing tax burdens on lower incomes and support public revenues in a rational and fair way," he added.
The Greek minister urged the commission to draft specific proposals that would help in the creation of a simple, stable and fair tax framework. He specifically urged for the need to have long-term stability, simplicity and transparency. "We seek a tax reform that will become the starting point for a new economic course," Alogoskoufis said.
 Gov't bill redefines part-time work in public sector
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)The government on Tuesday sent a bill to parliament redefining the terms for recruiting part-time employees in the public sector.
"Part-time work is not a measure to combat joblessness. It simply assists people who want to work part time, and state services that want to recruit people with specific qualifications," Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos told the house.
 Gov't to draft supplementary budget if needed
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)The government may draft a supplementary budget for 2004 if a major deviation from targets is noted, Deputy Finance Minister Adam Rengouzas said on Tuesday.
Rengouzas was addressing a parliamentary economic committee.
 Greece, Belgium sign tax agreement
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Greece and Belgium on Tuesday signed an agreement envisaging the settlement of income tax for Greek and Belgian citizens living abroad and better coordination in an effort to combat tax-evasion in both countries.
The agreement was signed by Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Belgian ambassador to Greece Claude Rijmenans.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Alogoskoufis said that the agreement would help in the creation of a modern and stable tax rule framework covering bilateral economic relations in the Eurozone environment. The agreement is an updated text of an older agreement and aims to adjust tax issues to the latest tax trends prevailing in the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
 Stocks drop in slim trade
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Stocks finished lower on the bourse with players cautious in a slim market, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,328.85 points, showing a 0.76 per cent decrease. Turnover was 99.6 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.96 per cent lower; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.53 per cent down; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.10 per cent lower.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 229 to 77 with 55 remaining unchanged.
 IOC chief Rogge sees problem-free countdown to 2004 Games, confers with PM Karamanlis
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Visiting IOC president Jacques Rogge on Tuesday departed from a meeting with prime minister Costas Karamanlis with the certainty of a problem-free countdown to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, with preparations at a peak.
Rogge held a half-four meeting with the prime minister, who has also retained the culture ministry portfolio to stress his government's priority on the Olympic Games. The meeting was also attended by alternate culture minister Fani Palli-Petralia, and Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki.
According to sources, Rogge and Karamanlis examined the course of Games preparations, with the IOC chief expressing absolute satisfaction with the development f the projects.
After the meeting, Rogge, accompanied by Angelopoulos and Petralia, went to the main Olympic Stadium, where they were joined by former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, for an on-the-spot inspection of the work being done, including the Velodrome and the Calatrava roof, and a briefing on the projects by Games secretary general Spyros Kapralos and officials from the construct in companies that have undertaken the projects.
The sources said Rogge and the other members of his inspection team expressed satisfaction with the progress.
Rogge, accompanied by Angelopoulos, was also due to meet later in the day with main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou.
 IOC President Rogge satisfied with Olympic preparations
NICOSIA 26/5/2004 (ANA/Leonidas G.)International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge expressed his satisfaction with Greece's Olympic preparations upon his arrival at Larnaca Airport on Tuesday afternoon. Rogge emphasized that after his meetings in Athens and visits to Olympic venues, he ascertained that significant progress regarding preparations in general and completion of Olympic works specifically, has been made.
The IOC president also said that work is progressing according to schedule.
As for the Games' security, Rogge said that no one can guarantee 100% security, but he is convinced that with the help and cooperation of other countries Greece will make significant and effective efforts on the issue.
Later in the afternoon, Rogge met with Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and later gave a lecture on "Olympic Challenges."
 PASOK leader meets with IOC President
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou reiterated his belief that the 2004 Athens Olympic Games will be the safest in Olympic history, following his meeting with IOC President Jacques Rogge and Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Tuesday.
Papandreou emphasized that he discussed security measures and Olympic preparations with the IOC President who in turn said that he is optimistic about the final result.
Rogge asserted that Greece has done everything, everything necessary to stage safe Games. "This is a message not just for the Greek people, but for the international community as well, regarding the course of the Olympic Games," Papandreou said.
Asked to comment on the improved tone of the international press following the completion of Olympic projects and progress on the Athens Olympic Sports Complex (OAKA) roof, Papandreou said, "increasingly, as more projects are completed after many years of preparations, Greece will prove that proper preparations were made and that we are capable of hosting the best and safest Olympic Games."
 International conference on 'Sports and the World Media' begins on Tuesday in Athens
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)A five-day international conference on the theme "Sports and the World Media" kicked off on Tuesday at the Zappeion building in central Athens, providing journalists with a "preview" of the city before the Athens Olympics in August and an opportunity to exchange views on the issues surrounding sports and news coverage.
The conference is due to end on Sunday, with about 150 members of the international press attending, and is organized by the Athens journalists' union ESHEA and the International Journalists' Federation.
It will provide an opportunity to present the effort being made by Greece to organize flawless Olympics and to provide a first briefing to the journalists that will be covering the Games, according to the Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee's press and media general director Seraphim Kotrotsos. He pointed out that, in three months time, Athens will be hosting one of the most important sporting and global events in the world and will be able to highlight its modern image as a European city as well as its rich ancient heritage as the birthplace of the Games.
Kotrotsos stressed that Greece was working hard to organize unique Games on a human scale, which would be the central motto of the Athens Olympics. He also emphasized that the Marathon runners will for the first time have the opportunity to run the authentic classical Marathon route and that several events will take place against a backdrop of unique monuments, such as the cycling route beneath the Acropolis, the archery event within the original Panathinaiko Stadium where the modern Olympics were revived in 1896, and the shot-put events at ancient Olympia.
Referring to press and media facilities for the Olympics, Kotrotsos said the main press centre will have facilities for up to 5,500 reporters and 1,100 photographers for the print and written media, while the International Broadcasting Centre will have facilities for 15,000 journalists and technicians for radio and television, in addition to the 21,500 journalists that will be able to transmit text, audio and images to audiences of over four billion throughout the world from media centers at individual Olympic facilities. He said the two main media centers will be ready for use from July 13, while five out of seven press villages were now ready and the remaining two were 90 per cent completed.
According to Kotrotsos, Athens was ahead of Sydney and Atlanta in its volunteer program with over 160,000 applications submitted, despite Greece's poor tradition in volunteerism, while he stressed the city's huge effort in security, with a budget three times that of Sydney.
The visiting journalists were also greeted by Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis, whose ministry is in charge of coordinating Olympics preparations. The minister stressed the security aspect of the Games, noting that it was the first major global event being held after the attacks of September 11, 2001 and an opportunity to prove that the new threats did not inspire fear in the citizens.
Athens 2004 president speaks at 25th IFJ World Congress: "We've focused most of our efforts on security. No other organizing committee and no other government has placed greater emphasis on security - in the Olympic Village, in the venues, in Athens, in Greece," Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said on Tuesday addressing the 25th International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) World Congress being held in Athens through May 30.
"Greece's security budget is a record-breaker in Olympic history. Security personnel numbers 70,000, while the security strategy - the most comprehensive in Olympic history - is being finalized," she said.
Speaking about the venues, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said that 21 sports facilities and one media village have already been completed, while the roof over the Athens Olympic Sports Complex and work at the Olympic Village are nearing completion. "Members of the media will have at their disposal two of the largest and most advanced broadcasting facilities in the world: the Main Press Centre and the International Broadcasting Centre which are ready," she noted.
As for the sports venues, Angelopoulos-Daskalaki pointed out that 39 sports events were successfully held, with many participants and visitors describing them as being the best in the world.
Roussopoulos addresses 25th IFJ World Congress: "Greece, due to the staging of the Olympic Games, will soon be in the international spotlight. As a result, it will have the opportunity to show its modern image, but needs the honest cooperation of the international media to show its real image; if this is not done, even if tangible results are achieved, it is difficult to change the initial bad image that will have been conveyed," Minister of State and Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said on Tuesday, addressing the 25th International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) World Congress being held in Athens (Zappeion Hall) through May 30.
"Despite citizens' mounting distrust, the mass media remain the primary channel of information," he said. Roussopoulos emphasized that, "the relations between the mass media and the State, the mass media's dual role as corporations and sources of information, the safeguarding of freedom of opinion as a prerequisite for Democracy, the battles against persecution of journalists, as well as the struggle to ensure the prerequisites for unobstructed journalism, must all serve as cause for concern and topics for continuous dialogue."
"We welcome you home, since this year Athens will be the home of journalists," Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni said in her opening speech. "You will witness the changes in Athens, since we have a lot of city programs, and you will work at one of the best press centers - Zappeion Hall," she added.
President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos sent a written address, asking journalists "to fight for the upgrade of their occupation to a social function as well."
Manolis Mathioudakis, President of the Athens Journalists' Union opened his address saying that "Journalists write the history of our times." He emphasized that, "we welcome you to Athens, honoring all active journalists and especially 43 of our colleagues who died in Iraq trying to uncover the truth in a war that was based on lies."
IFJ President Chris Warren referred to the problems journalists face worldwide. "We represent 500,000 journalists from 130 associations in 105 countries. We have many battles to fight and one of our main duties is the exchange of information," he said.
The congress is being organized by the IFJ in collaboration with the Athens Journalists' Union.
 US offers radiation detectors to Greece
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham on Tuesday presented the stationery and mobile radiation detectors to be used during the Athens Olympic Games and afterwards in Greece.
The presentation was made during a special ceremony held in the Development ministry at the presence of Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas, Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, Development and Finance Deputy Ministers George Salagoudis and A.Regouzas, Mrs Anita Nilsson representative of the International Atomic Energy Organization and L.Kamarinopoulos, chairman of the Greek Commission of Atomic Energy.
The radioactive danger prevention program envisages the installation of stationery and mobile radiation detectors at the country's seven largest airports, 12 ports and 13 land border access points, upgrading protection systems at Demokritos research reactor, 22 hospital clinics and sensitive industrial units, installing portable radiation detectors at customs' stations, police special forces and at the Greek Commission of Atomic Energy's 10 laboratories around the country.
Kamarinopoulos, addressing the ceremony, said that "radioactive materials have never been used before by terrorists and stressed that the impact of radiation substances on human lives was particularly limited compared with the impact of chemical or biological attacks".
He stressed that measures to deal with a possible radioactive danger was evidence of the importance placed by Greece on safety issues ahead of the Olympic Games. "This program is unprecedented around the world and is considered as a model by the International Atomic Energy Organization," he added.
US Secretary said that the radiation detector devices would upgrade the ability of a rapid action force to offer protection to the public in case of such an attack, while also help in detecting and confiscating any nuclear substances smuggled across the country. Abraham said that "the summer Olympic Games will be a success and the best ever".
Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas thanked the "friend and ally country" for the offering of these devices.
 Paralympics Torch Relay program to be unveiled Friday
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) president Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) president Phil Craven will unveil the program for the 2004 Paralympics Torch Relay on Friday, May 28, at noon, it was announced on Tuesday.
The presentation will take place at the conference hall of the ATHOC headquarters on the corner of Iolkou and Filikis Etairias streets in the Nea Ionia suburb.
The ATHOC and IPC chiefs will also present the Paralympics torchbearers' official outfit.
 Extended shopping hours during the Olympic Games
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)The Athens 2004 Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, trade groups, unions, and the Municipality of Athens, after months of negotiations reached a decision on shopping hours during the Olympic Games on Tuesday. Stores will open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Shops will remain closed on Sunday.
 Greenpeace activists board ship carrying GM soy in Preveza
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)The Greenpeace ship "MV Esperanza" on Tuesday intercepted the Cyprus-flagged "UBC Beaumont" and has prevented it from unloading its cargo of 18,000 tones of GM soy at Preveza port. The ship had set sail from Argentina and was escorted through the Ionian by the "Esperanza", which is currently patrolling Greek waters
Greenpeace activists boarded the Beaumont when it docked at Preveza and have so far prevented its cargo from being unloaded. The GM soy flour had been ordered by a company in Epirus to be distributed as animal feed.
The coast guard has not made any arrests so far and Greenpeace representatives are currently meeting Preveza authorities, asking them to forbid the ship to unload its cargo.
The environmental organization has been lobbying the Greek government and authorities to strictly enforce recently passed legislation regarding the traceability and clear labeling of GM foods and their derivatives, so that consumers are aware of the contents of the products they buy and can avoid GM products if they choose.
 Athens 2004 President congratulates Greek mission on reaching Everest summit
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Athens 2004 President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki sent a congratulatory telegram on Tuesday to Pavlos Angelatos, the leader and sponsor of the Greek mountaineering mission which climbed Mt. Everest last week.
"I would like to congratulate you personally as well as the team members on conquering the world's highest summit. We are proud of you," Angelopoulos-Daskalaki wrote.
The Greek team will be returning to Athens next week.
 Minister to European meeting on road safety
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis leaves for Slovenia on Wednesday to attend a two-day meeting of European ministers focusing on road safety and growth for European transport networks.
Also on the agenda of the transport ministers' session are improving controls at border posts, Liapis' office said in a statement on Tuesday.
 Bulgarian arrested for smuggling drugs into Greece
Athens, 26/5/2004 (ANA)A Bulgarian national has been arrested after smuggling more than 300 grams of heroin and cocaine into Greece, police in northern Greece said Tuesday.
They said the 27-year-old man was arrested shortly after his entry into Greece through the Promahonas border crossing on the Greek-Bulgarian frontier.
Police said that, acting on a tip-off, the Bulgarian's ca was stopped shortly after entry into Greece, in the 4th kilometer of the Thessaloniki-Kavala national highway, and a search of the car turned up two packets of cocaine totalling 171 grams and another packet of cocaine weighing 151 grams.
The drugs were confiscated and the detainee was taken before a Thessaloniki public prosecutor.