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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 04-10-23

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

October 23, 2004

CONTENTS

  • [01] DM condemns latest series of Turkish violations in Aegean; one formation ventured into firing range
  • [02] Molyviatis' comments at the Interministerial Meeting on Cooperation in Southeast Europe
  • [03] Foreign Minister begins two-day visit to Skopje
  • [04] Defense Ministers of Greece, Albania and FYROM meet in northern Greece
  • [05] Education minister refers to distinct roles of Church, state
  • [06] Cyprus spokesman says Greek PM's visit very significant
  • [07] U.S. examines aspects of possible air link with Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus
  • [08] Cyprus defense minister to visit Thessaloniki to attend three-day celebrations
  • [09] Interior Minister Pavlopoulos says 'prestige of the country is shielded on the basis of truth'
  • [10] PM briefed by deputy culture minister; bill pending
  • [11] President of the Republic receives ambassadors of Pakistan, Chile, Belgium and Paraguay
  • [12] Sioufas meets with Romanian envoy
  • [13] Alogoskoufis places political responsibility on previous PASOK gov'ts over 'doctored deficits data'
  • [14] Gov't is monitoring developments in oil markets
  • [15] Capital Markets' Commission report in early 2005, FinMin says
  • [16] Trade balance deficit rises in August 2004 over August 2003, ESYE says
  • [17] Unions ask gov't to sort out social insurance body's finances
  • [18] Industrial research with international cooperation to be strengthened
  • [19] Citigroup raises target price for key Greek banks
  • [20] New links to open between Patra and Catania, Sicily
  • [21] Stocks up fuelled by blue-chip bank buying
  • [22] Road safety the focus of next week's EU transport ministers' informal meeting
  • [23] Sportswriter Syrigos leaves hospital
  • [24] Celebrations in Athens for 59th anniversary of United Nations
  • [25] Interior minister confers with local gov't officials
  • [26] Bulgarian couple arrested in Crete trying to sell a 3-month old baby
  • [27] UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 1568 on
  • [28] Cyprus FM to make representations over US illegal airport inspection
  • [29] British minister advocates early accession talks for Turkey

  • [01] DM condemns latest series of Turkish violations in Aegean; one formation ventured into firing range

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Greece's defense minister on Friday referred to Turkey's coveted desire to begin European Union accession talks vis-a-vis a series of same-day airspace and territorial waters violations in the Aegean, including an incident where Turkish warplanes ventured into an activated firing range.

    A total of six Turkish formations, 12 F-16 aircraft in all, infringed on Athens FIR regulations on seven instances, with 14 subsequent violations of Greek airspace recorded in the north and central Aegean. Additionally, a Turkish coast guard vessel again approached the tiny isle of Imia, in the eastern Aegean, for a third straight day.

    Speaking from the northern city of Kastoria, Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos stressed that Greece's standing policy was to condemn such actions, "especially in light of Turkey's efforts for accession into the European Union".

    In the most serious violation, one formation of Turkish F-16 fighter planes flew over the Andros firing range, located northeast of the Cyclades island in international waters. Two Hellenic Navy vessels were, in fact, were firing at targets within the range when the violations occurred. According to reports, the intruding warplanes flew at a height of 200 feet, coming within 200 meters of the surface vessels and interrupting the exercise.

    In terms of the airspace violations, in three instances the interception process turned into an engagement between Greek fighter planes and intruding Turkish warplanes.

    In all instances, the Turkish warplanes were intercepted by Greek fighter planes.

    Turkey's stance will be assessed definitively by EU summit on December 17, spokesman says vis-a-vis Turkish violations: Turkey's stance will be assessed definitively on 17 December by the EU summit, alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros said Friday, adding that the Greek government was closely, and in detail, following what was taking place.

    He was responding, during a regular briefing, to press questions on recent statements by Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that in no instance would the Turkish occupation forces be withdrawn from Cyprus and that their presence in the Turkish-occupied northern part of the island republic "is legitimized by the Annan plan, which the Turkish Cypriots have accepted".

    Antonaros also recalled his statement two days earlier on the recent Turkish airspace and territorial waters violations in the Aegean. In that statement Antonaros had warned that "the creation of such incidents is not compatible with Turkey's European prospect and the climate in bilateral relations desired by the two governments and the public opinion in the two countries".

    Questioned whether the latest actions on Turkey's side raised an issue of revising Greece's stance vis-a-vis Turkey's European prospect, Antonaros simply reminded that the final assessment of Turkey's stance would be made on December 17 by the EU summit.

    Asked whether the Greek government would lodge a protest with Turkey, Antonaros said that protests are lodged "when it is useful". He also responded in the negative to a question on whether a meeting of the council of political party leaders would be called ahead of the December EU summit.

    NATO and EU informed on Turkey's provocations in the Aegean: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos on Friday confirmed that Greece's Permanent Representatives at NATO and the EU have briefed NATO's Secretary General and the EU Presidency of Turkey's recent activities in the Aegean.

    Referring to Turkey's provocations, main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that "there has been an escalation of Turkish activity in Aegean airspace and over the region of Imia, with various violations, and other such activities."

    Athanassakis reiterated two questions initially tabled by PASOK MPs in Parliament regarding the matter. The first is whether the government, aside from the demarche it made to Turkey, will address the issue in the same way PASOK governments did in the past, which is to inform NATO and the EU of Turkey's behavior.

    The second question is whether the government insists on the "position it has previously stated that, Greek-Turkish problems, the Greek-Turkish dispute, should not be a part of the European agenda, but should be solved through time and through the good personal relations of the two prime ministers."

    [02] Molyviatis' comments at the Interministerial Meeting on Cooperation in Southeast Europe

    BUCHAREST 23/10/2004 (ANA/N.Melissova)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis' key message at the Interministerial Meeting on Cooperation in Southeast Europe, which was held here on Friday, was that the only way towards peace and prosperity in the Balkans is the potential EU accession of all the region's countries, which today is feasible.

    As for Kosovo, Molyviatis said that "the next months are crucial and it is imperative we avoid violent incidents, such as the ones we witnessed last spring."

    In a joint statement, released at the end of the meeting, the acceptance of Croatia as a new member was announced, while Moldova has been granted the status of observer. The hope that the Kosovo elections, which will take place on Saturday, to be peaceful, democratic and fair for all citizens was also expressed in the statement. The foreign ministers of the nine Balkan countries expressed the need to fight international terrorism, after learning of the beheading of two FYROM hostages in Iraq.

    Finally, special mention is also made to the issue of unemployment in the Balkans as a top priority, following Greece's suggestion.

    Regarding unemployment, Molyviatis pointed out that 4 million people (the equivalent of the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina) are unemployed, the majority of them young people, and that the problem should be considered a top priority since it can take on dangerous social and political dimensions.

    Molyviatis asked for closer cooperation and an upgrading of the Southeast European Forum through the creation of a permanent headquarters, for which he suggested Thessaloniki, and a permanent secretariat.

    In closing, he said that the European vision is our region's "grand plan" in the upcoming years.

    [03] Foreign Minister begins two-day visit to Skopje

    SKOPJE 23/10/2004 (ANA/N.Fragopoulos)

    Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis arrived in Skopje on Friday afternoon on a two-day visit to the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Molyviatis met with EU Special Representative in FYROM Mihael Saalin and was to have later a working dinner with FYROM Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva.

    The Greek foreign minister will meet with Mitreva again on Saturday, as well as with FYROM Prime Minister Hari Kostov and President Branko Chervenkovski. Later on, Molyviatis will meet with the leaders of FYROM's political parties, separately.

    Bilateral relations, the situation in the region, as well as the country's name will be some of the key issues Molyviatis will discuss with FYROM's political leadership. It is expected that the foreign minister will reiterate the Greek government's desire for a substantial - not a superficial - dialogue, in order for a mutually acceptable solution regarding the name issue to be agreed upon.

    Other issues to be discussed during Molyviatis' visit will be FYROM's upcoming referendum on local government, the situation in Kosovo and the western Balkans, as well as the further development of commercial relations between the two countries, as the most foreign investment in FYROM is Greek.

    [04] Defense Ministers of Greece, Albania and FYROM meet in northern Greece

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Security, stability in the region, support of Albania's and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) efforts to join Euroatlantic and European structures, as well as developments in Kosovo were the issues Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos discussed with his Albanian and FYROM counterparts Pandeli Majko and Vlado Buchkovski during a meeting held in Kastoria, northern Greece, on Friday.

    According to press sources, Spiliotopoulos, Majko and Buchkovski agreed to representatives of Serbia-Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina participating, as observers, in the trilateral conference which takes place each year.

    The three defense ministers called on the international community to adopt the necessary measures so that a solution may be found within the context of securing stability in the region.

    Spiliotopoulos reiterated Greece's support towards Albania and FYROM in joining the EU and NATO, which will benefit stability, peace, and cooperation - military included - in southeast Europe. The Greek defense minister also reiterated Greece's steady position regarding territorial integrity, the inviolability of existing borders, protection of human rights and minorities and full implementation of the treaties of Dayton, Ohrid, Belgrade as well as UN Security Council resolutions 1244 and 1345, which are prerequisites for consolidating stability and peace in the region.

    In the future, the trilateral conference will be held in Greece, Albania and FYROM on a rotational basis.

    [05] Education minister refers to distinct roles of Church, state

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Education Minister Marietta Giannakou on Friday echoed a previous statement by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis this week over the need for distinct roles between Church and state, while emphasizing the need for a "substantive and open dialogue with the European Union's religions".

    Giannakou spoke at the same event inaugurated a day earlier by Karamanlis, namely, the 8th Dialogue between Orthodoxy and the European People's Party (EPP-ED) political grouping, which convened in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki.

    "The new constitution of Europe creates an institutionalized dialogue between (EU) structures and religions, and it's religions themselves that must contribute to the social cohesion and development of a free and democratic society, with numerous elements of tolerance and diversity," she told delegates at the event.

    Besides Karamanlis, the prime ministers of Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro, Ivo Sanader and Vojislav Kostunica, respectively, attended the sessions and met separately with the Greek premier.

    Communique cites concerns over attacks on Patriarchate: Meanwhile, official participants at the event issued a joint communique, where they expressed concern for the security of the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate.

    Specifically, the communique cited a string of attacks aimed at the Patriarchate by a "group that is undermining Turkey's course towards Europe".

    In comments to reporters afterwards, Metropolitan of France Emmanuel stressed "all of these attacks against sadden us, because it appears that there are individuals and groups opposed to Turkey's course towards the European Union."

    [06] Cyprus spokesman says Greek PM's visit very significant

    NICOSIA 23/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides on Friday described as a significant event Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' visit to Cyprus on November 12 and 13, following an invitation by Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos.

    Chrysostomides said that during the visit there would be a general exchange of views and the close cooperation between the two governments will be stressed.

    ''This is the first visit of the Prime Minister of Greece (Costas Karamanlis) to Cyprus as Premier, and undoubtedly it is an important event,'' the spokesman said.

    Replying to a question, he said ''cooperation between the two governments continues and contacts and the exchange of views between the president and the prime minister as well as the ministers of foreign affairs of both countries is almost on a daily basis.''

    Asked if Turkey's EU accession course will be examined, Chrysostomides replied, ''Certainly, as well as many current issues."

    [07] U.S. examines aspects of possible air link with Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus

    WASHINGTON 23/10/2004 (ANA/T. Ellis)

    The United States is examining the practical details of a possible direct air link with the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus.

    "Our policy looks forward to finding ways to support the recommendations of the United Nations Secretary-General to facilitate the settlement of the Cyprus issue with the termination of the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community," Deputy State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli said on Friday, adding:" Within this framework we are examining the obstacles which hinder the air link of northern Cyprus with other airports, including those of the United States."

    He noted that within this context, "two officials of the Transport Security Agency visited the airport of Tymbos on October 20-21, so as to gather more details involving the security of airports and flights from and to northern Cyprus."

    Having noted that that the ICAO was not involved in this visit, he revealed that at this stage Washington "has not decided whether it will inaugurate an air link between the U.S. and northern Cyprus."

    Asked to explain who the U.S. regards responsible for the so-called isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, Ereli noted that "the prevailing condition and the existing status of the division of the island is one factor of the isolation of the Turkish Cypriots."

    [08] Cyprus defense minister to visit Thessaloniki to attend three-day celebrations

    NICOSIA 23/10/2004 (ANA/G.Leonidas)

    Cyprus Defense Minister Kyriakos Mavronikolas will pay a visit to Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Monday at the invitation of Thessaloniki Prefect Panagiotis Psomiadis to attend three-day celebrations marking the city's liberation from Ottoman rule in the early 20th Century, the name day of Aghios Dimitrios, Patron Saint of Thessaloniki, and the national anniversary of "OHI" Day on October 28.

    During his stay in Thessaloniki, Mavronikolas will be received by President Kostis Stephanopoulos and meet with National Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos and Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsonis.

    On Tuesday, October 26, Agios Dimitrios Day, he will give an address at an event at Thessaloniki University in the presence of President Stephanopoulos, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and main opposition leader George Papandreou.

    On Wednesday, he will visit Vergina where he will deliver a monetary sum, which constitutes a contribution of the Cyprus government, for the completion of the "Monument for the Fallen" at the "Park for the Missing Persons".

    On Thursday, the Cypriot defense minister will visit Serres where he will deliver an address at a gathering of Associations of Cypriot Organizations on the occasion of Greece's national anniversary of "OHI" Day.

    [09] Interior Minister Pavlopoulos says 'prestige of the country is shielded on the basis of truth'

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    "The prestige of the country is shielded on the basis of truth," Internal Affairs, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said at a press conference at the Regional Administration of Crete office in the island's city of Iraklio on Friday.

    In the same press conference, he referred to the "Thiseas" program on Local Government. Answering a question regarding this program, he said that it was directed towards the autonomy of local government and to its development, without central intervention. Pavlopoulos noted that the ministry's credits, the greatest part of which go to local government, will increase by 11 per cent in accordance with the state budget draft law. "This means that despite the bad economic environment the government feels the enormous problem that exists," he said.

    To another question on data forwarded to the European Commission and to Eurostat by the PASOK governments, Pavlopoulos stated the following:" The prestige of the country is shielded on the basis of truth. Others are those who by concealing the truth for years through creative logistics gave the image which our country gives abroad. From then on, the (ruling New Democracy) government was elected to say the truth and others were denounced in the conscience of the Greek people because they did not say the truth." He added:" Would anyone want this government which was elected to give the real dimension of the economy and to deal with the problems to follow tactics which the Greek people denounced?"

    [10] PM briefed by deputy culture minister; bill pending

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday received deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis at this office, as the latter briefed the premier on various issues related to the ministry.

    Karamanlis also holds the culture ministry portfolio.

    Afterwards, Tatoulis said a new legal framework for the ministry will be tabled in Parliament in late November, while he also said a new board of directors has been chosen for the Acropolis Museum Organization.

    He also told reporters that funding has been secured for the construction of the long-delayed museum across from the Acropolis.

    [11] President of the Republic receives ambassadors of Pakistan, Chile, Belgium and Paraguay

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    The President of the Hellenic Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos on Friday received the new ambassadors of Pakistan, Rashed Saleem Khan, Belgium, Peter Moors, Chile, Sofia Prats Cuthbert and Paraguay Oscar Cabello Sarubbi.

    The ceremony of the presentation of credentials was also attended by Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis.

    [12] Sioufas meets with Romanian envoy

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday received Romanian ambassador to Athens Traian Dragomir for talks focusing mostly on the issue of cooperation and investments in the power sector.

    [13] Alogoskoufis places political responsibility on previous PASOK gov'ts over 'doctored deficits data'

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    National Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis on Friday attributed immense political responsibilities to the previous PASOK governments over "doctored data" on the Greek deficits submitted to the European Commission and Eurostat, the EU's statistical service.

    Alogoskoufis said one would expect of the current main opposition party PASOK to engage in "self-criticism on the short-sighted and irresponsible practices it followed in the preceding years", but instead, "the former (PASOK) ministers and their advisors, as well as the then head of the ESYE, are trying to come out on top and continue to write articles criticizing the political transparency".

    He added, however, that the present New Democracy government was restoring the country's credibility, while the draft 2005 budget would rectify the public imbalance.

    The minister further said that the Council of EU Economy and Finance (ECOFIN) ministers, during its meeting earlier this week, had expressed strong concern over the practices followed by the preceding governments over the years 1997-2003.

    The EU Council of Ministers, he said, had expressed strong concern over the underestimation of the deficit as well as over the extent of the overestimations for the years 1997-2003, but it also had acknowledged that the new government (which took office in April 2004), was seeking to present a truthful picture of the deficits. Some ministers, Alogoskoufis added, had even blamed the European Commission and Eurostat for not having given prompt warning of the untruthful picture of the Greek economy.

    The Commission, he said, maintained that warnings had been made, and that an extensive discussion had taken place in tandem on how measures should be taken to reduce the deficit.

    Alogoskoufis said he had reassured his EU counterparts on the Greek government's dedication to transparency and to reducing the deficit in 2005.

    At the same time, he said, the draft 2005 budget would restore the fiscal balance, and added that the government itself would monitor the developments in the budget indices, and not some EU institutional body.

    Alogoskoufis said the Greek economy would not be under "supervision", and assured that all the data that was requested by Eurostat on the deficits of the preceding years had been submitted.

    He did not rule out the possibility of Eurostat seeking certain clarifications, but added that, on the Greek side, there was no further data remaining to be submitted to Eurostat.

    Regarding any disputes over the data concerning the years 1997-1999, Alogoskoufis said that the substance of the matter was that the government would not accept a retroactive application of the 2001 regulations.

    With respect to whether the census of the economy should have been carried out or not, the minister said that given the "avalanche" that had been created -- and despite the fact that no decision had been taken for such a census -- it would have been only a matter of time before the data was reviewed, and in such an eventuality "things would have been much worse" if the census had not been conducted at the initiative of the Greek government.

    "I would have preferred that no diversion had been discovered with respect to the deficits, but we cannot negotiate the transparency policy," Alogoskoufis continued. "The government wants to speak the truth to the Greek people and to exercise policy based on the real facts of the Greek economy," he said.

    Alogoskoufis was due to meet next week with senior representatives of the Civil Servants' Supreme Administrative Council (ADEDY), in the framework of his contacts with representatives of the working people on the draft budget.

    Replying to relevant press questions, Alogoskoufis said that the draft budget was formulated on the basis of the initial forecasts on fuel prices, but added that it was not possible at this time to anticipate the final prices.

    Opposition: Warnings were justified: In reaction, main opposition party PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said his party was justified in warning of the risks that Greece faced under fiscal supervision following the government's special audit.

    Athanassakis said the results of the meeting with EUROGROUP and ECOFIN justified the opposition's reservations about the audit process.

    [14] Gov't is monitoring developments in oil markets

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    The government is monitoring developments in the oil market and will decide on approving financial support to lower income families for use of heating oil accordingly, Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said on Friday.

    Speaking in parliament, Doukas said that higher oil prices could lead to lower consumption and noted that government has not yet seen its VAT revenues rise more than expected.

    Commenting on a past government decision to grant a heating oil subsidy to consumers (in the period 2000/2001) the Greek minister stressed that that move burdened the state budget by 156 million euros. "You know the country's fiscal condition, how squeezed our real capabilities are," he noted.

    [15] Capital Markets' Commission report in early 2005, FinMin says

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Greece's Capital Markets' Commission is expected to complete by the first two months of 2005 a report on the use of capital raised by listed companies from the stock market, Finance Deputy Minister Petros Doukas said on Friday.

    Speaking in parliament, Doukas said that the Commission was expected to impose the necessary sanctions against any company that has violated a capital markets' legislation and stressed that Hellenic Stock Exchanges SA, owner of the Athens Stock Exchange, the Athens Derivatives Exchange and the New Stock Market NEXA, was a fully privatized company which was under the supervision of the Capital Markets' Commission.

    [16] Trade balance deficit rises in August 2004 over August 2003, ESYE says

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    The trade balance deficit rose to 1,886.2 million euro in the month of August, against 1,781.4 million euro in August 2003, according to date released Friday by the national statistics service ESYE.

    According to ESYE, the deficit is the product of the difference between the overall value of imports/arrivals and the overall value of exports/dispatches.

    More specifically, the overall value of imports/arrivals in August 2004 reached 2,704.5 million euro, up by 1.8 percent over the 2,656.6 million euro figure for the corresponding month in 2003.

    Also, the overall value of exports/dispatches in August 2004 reached 818.3 million euro, down by 6.5 percent over the 875.2 million euro figure in the corresponding month in 2003.

    [17] Unions ask gov't to sort out social insurance body's finances

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) on Friday asked the government to look into what it termed an "extremely disquieting financial situation" in the state social insurance organization's budget due to a lack of action by management.

    The GSEE said in a statement that it had asked for a meeting with Employment and Social Protection Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos to air its grievances and ask what action would be taken to improve the IKA organization's finances, including when the state's debts to IKA would be paid.

    [18] Industrial research with international cooperation to be strengthened

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday signed decisions through which industrial research with international cooperation will be strengthened.

    Specifically, approval was given for the accession and financing of businesses to the program "International Cooperation in Industrial Energy and Development Activities at a Pre-competitive Stage", with a total budget of 2,488,918 euros. This program is incorporated to the Business Program "Competitiveness" (EPAN).

    The aim of the Program is to encourage Greek bodies (businesses, industries, research centers, etc.) and to offer them incentives for their active participation in industrial research projects and impetus through development and cooperation on a European and international level.

    [19] Citigroup raises target price for key Greek banks

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Citigroup Smith Barney said on Friday that it had raised its target prices on three Athens-quoted domestic banks.

    For National Bank of Greece, the new target price is 24 euros from 22.3 euros; for EFG Eurobank Ergasias 23.6 euros from 20.5 euros; and for Alpha Bank 26.1 euros from 25.4 euros, Citigroup said in a market report.

    National remains the country's largest bank in terms of assets, holding 37% of the market; Eurobank is viewed at the market's high growth unit, now holding 20% of the market; and Alpha Bank holds 21% of the market, ranking second in loans at 24%, the report said.

    [20] New links to open between Patra and Catania, Sicily

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    A memorandum of agreement to open new shipping and air links between Patra and Catania, Sicily, was signed on Friday by the general secretary of the Regional Administrative Office of Western Greece, Panagiotis Kavvadas and the Governor of Sicily, Mr Chumaro. These new links are part of a broader effort to develop stronger ties between the two regions in the areas of tourism, transport, information technology and trade.

    Kavvadas and Chumaro agreed to the twinning of the two cities and to this purpose, Italian officials will visit Patra in November for the celebrations to name the Rio-Antirrio Bridge the Charilaos Trikoupis Bridge, after the 19th century Greek prime minister.

    The Regional Administration Office of Western Greece has already opened an office in Brussels in order to make best use of E.U. regional development programs.

    [21] Stocks up fuelled by blue-chip bank buying

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Stocks finished higher, with players buying into blue chip Alpha Bank, National Bank of Greece, and EFG Eurobank Ergasias after Citigroup raised its target prices for the three stocks, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,466.89 points, showing a rise of 0.14 percent. Turnover was 141.7 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.39 percent up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.34 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.45 percent down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 174 to 107 with 75 remaining unchanged.

    On a weekly basis, the general share index rose by 1.85%.

    [22] Road safety the focus of next week's EU transport ministers' informal meeting

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Safety on the streets of Europe will be the central topic of discussion at an informal meeting of the EU Council of Transport Ministers, to be held October 25-26 in Verona, Italy.

    During the meeting, the EU transport ministers are expected to mull ways of boosting policing measures, cooperation aimed at taking advantage of road safety policies that have been successfully applied in member states, improvement of the safety standards of vehicles, and determining ways of financing road safety measures.

    Greece will be represented at the meeting by transport and communications minister Michalis Liapis, who will present the Greek positions.

    [23] Sportswriter Syrigos leaves hospital

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Noted sportswriter Philippos Syrigos spoke today for the first time from a downtown Athens hospital, where he is recovering from a stabbing attack by unknown assailants.

    Syrigos said that under no circumstances did he want to place the blame for his attack on anyone in specific, although he referred to three pending matters that may have something to do with his attack. Specifically, he cited the Karaiskaki stadium case, the Octagon Olympic sponsoring matter, as well as the sports doping issue.

    "It is now the job of police, which I believe has the necessary, will to find both the perpetrators of the crime and those who instigated it," he said.

    Regarding his assailants, Syrigos said he did not manage to get a glimpse of them.

    [24] Celebrations in Athens for 59th anniversary of United Nations

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    The United Nations celebrates 59 years since its inception on Sunday, 24 October, 2004.

    According to a press release issued by the Regional Information Office of the U.N. in Athens, Greece, as a non-permanent elected member of the Security Council, honors this historic day, in what is proving to be a critical period for the United Nations regarding its future role.

    Like every year, the national flag of Greece and the United Nations flag will be hoisted at the Acropolis on Sunday, 24 October at 8.30am, followed by the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    [25] Interior minister confers with local gov't officials

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos has met with local government officials from around the country during a conference on the island of Crete, as the conference is being hosted by the municipalities and local governments' association (KEDKE).

    Pavlopoulos also met with the prefects of Irakleio, Rethymno, Lasithi and Hania (the four prefectures of Crete) and discussed the problems of their areas as well as the prefecture as an institution of local government.

    [26] Bulgarian couple arrested in Crete trying to sell a 3-month old baby

    Athens, 23/10/2004 (ANA)

    Local police in Iraklio, Crete arrested two Bulgarian nationals on Friday, who were trying to sell a three-month old baby.

    The arrest took place at 12:30 p.m., when the police officers, posing as interested buyers, met with the Bulgarian couple in order to visit a pediatrician to confirm the baby's state of health. The couple had asked for a 5,000 deposit, which they received in marked notes. The final price had been set at 15,000 by the 26-year old Bulgarian man. The police handed over the money to the man and then grabbed the baby from the 48-year old Bulgarian woman. The Bulgarian pair is in police custody, while the baby is being cared for at the Venizelio Hospital. The police do not yet have information regarding neither the identity of the baby's mother, who is not the 48-year old woman who was arrested, nor the mother's relationship with the arrested pair.

    [27] UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution 1568 on

    UNFICYP UNITED NATIONS 23/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1568 on Friday on the peace-keeping operation in Cyprus (UNFICYP), endorsing the Secretary-General's recommendations for the amendment of the concept of operations and force level of UNFICYP, as outlined in his report of 24 September 2004 and will extend UNFICYP's mandate for a further six-month period ending June 15, 2005.

    According to the resolution, the Council reaffirms all its relevant resolutions on Cyprus, in particular resolution 1251 of 29 June 1999 and subsequent resolutions and urges the Turkish Cypriot side and Turkish forces to rescind without delay all remaining restrictions on UNFICYP and call on them to restore in Strovilia the military status quo, which existed there prior to June 30, 2000.

    The resolution says that the Council welcomes the report of the Secretary-General of September 24, 2004 on the UN operation in Cyprus and reiterates its call to the parties to assess and address the humanitarian issue of missing persons with due urgency and seriousness, welcoming in this regard the resumption of the activities of the Committee on Missing Persons since August 2004.

    The Council welcomes the Secretary-General's review of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Cyprus, pursuant to resolution 1548 of June 11, 2004 and notes that the Government of Cyprus is agreed that in view of the prevailing conditions in the island it is necessary to keep UNFICYP beyond December 15, 2004.

    It takes note of the assessment of the Secretary-General that the security situation on the island has become increasingly benign over the last few years and that a recurrence of fighting in Cyprus is increasingly unlikely.

    Furthermore it welcomes the Secretary-General's intention to conduct a further review on UNFICYP's mandate, force levels and concept of operation in advance of the next renewal of UNFICYP's mandate, continuing to take into account developments on the ground and the views of the parties.

    The Council requests, according to the resolution, the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of the resolution concurrent with the review provided for above and decides to remain seized on the matter, according to the draft resolution.

    UNFICYP, made up of more than 1,000 men and women from various troop-contributing countries, controls the 180-kilometre buffer zone across the island created after the 1974 Turkish invasion.

    [28] Cyprus FM to make representations over US illegal airport inspection

    NICOSIA 23/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Sotos Zakhaios will make an official representation to the US Charge d' Affairs to Cyprus regarding a visit by US experts to inspect an illegal airport in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Cyprus, Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here on Friday.

    Chrysostomides noted that he does not consider realistic direct flights between the US and the occupied areas, adding that for a long time the government has been making efforts at international organizations and especially at the International Civil Aviation Organization to prevent such a possibility.

    ''Our positions are based on international conventions, international law and on the right for every country to define its legal airports and ports for entry to and exit from the Republic of Cyprus," Chrysostomides added.

    Asked if there have been any representations to the US administration regarding the visit of the US experts at the illegal airport in the occupied areas, the spokesman said that when the government was informed about the visit, a foreign ministry official protested to US embassy official.

    "Following instructions by the Foreign Minister, the Permanent Secretary will make a representation to the US Charge D' Affairs to Cyprus within the coming days," Chrysostomides added.

    [29] British minister advocates early accession talks for Turkey

    NICOSIA 23/10/2004 (CNA/ANA)

    Britain believes that the European Union should begin ''without delay'' accession negotiations with Turkey without any new conditions or preconditions, British Minister for Europe Denis Mac Shane said here on Friday.

    Speaking to Greek and Turkish Cypriot journalists as he concluded his visit here, he welcomed the view of the government of Cyprus that no one should seek to veto Turkey's application and noted that Turkey joining the EU will anchor the country into democratic norms.

    Mac Shane said that any new initiative to resume a dialogue for a political settlement should come from within Cyprus.

    ''Turkey should be told in December that all 25 EU governments accept the Commission's report on Turkey's application for membership and negotiations should begin without delay on Turkey's EU accession,'' he said, adding that ''there can be no new conditions, or preconditions.''

    He said he was glad to have confirmed by the leaders of the Republic of Cyprus the view that ''no-one should be seeking to veto Turkey's application in December.''

    Mac Shane reiterated that he understands the concerns of the Cypriot government that wants to see a new approach from Turkey on a number of issues that prevent Nicosia from exercising its full sovereign rights as a UN and EU member.

    He said he also understood the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots that ''their economic development and normal tourism, trade and travel is not on offer to them''.

    He said the question of direct trade between the EU-Ankara should move away from the political sphere into the commercial sphere.

    The British minister said that the presence of Turkish troops on EU soil is not a precondition for the start of membership talks between the Union and Turkey.

    He advocated ''normalization'' of relations between Ankara and Nicosia, adding that no EU member will recognize the Turkish Cypriot regime in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus.

    ''It is a legal impossibility for Turkey to join the EU if it does not have normal relations with all member states'', he said, including Cyprus.

    On efforts to resume negotiations for a solution, he added "we think we have done everything for the time being'', pointing out that the general rule within the EU is that no ''internal or bilateral problems'' should be entering the Union for a solution.

    ''Cyprus needs to find a solution to Cyprus in Cyprus by Cypriots,'' he added, noting that though the Annan plan (UN solution plan) has no legal effect, since its rejection in the April referendum by the Greek Cypriots, Britain sees no alternative to this plan.


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