|Wednesday, 30 September 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-03-09
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 9, 2005
 PM focuses on government's insistence on mild fiscal adjustment in Foreign Press Association interview
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, speaking during an interview at the Foreign Correspondents Association on Tuesday night, focused on the government's insistence on mild fiscal adjustment, with the parallel combatting of state extravagance and the promotion of reforms and structural changes.
The prime minister stressed that mild adjustment does not mean ''lack of boldness or inertia, as is misleadingly mentioned by some,'' adding that a great wager lies ahead.
"The economy must stand on its feet in the next two years. Therefore, I will do what I must to enable the national economy to stand on its feet. Because only then will every Greek citizen be able to hope for a better tomorrow for himself and his family," the prime minister said.
Karamanlis confirmed his main priorities, saying that in 2004 the citizens voted for a political change, requesting a new governance and the re-establishment of the state.
He added that his government is shaping a new safe economic environment with determination and stability and wise steps, promoting structural changes, while it has already started the laborious effort to decrease the exorbitant deficit.
The head of the government referred briefly to the situation he found, saying that a year ago problems were found which were pinning the country down and capturing the creative forces of society.
He mentioned the absence of a ''suitable institutional frame-work'' for attracting investments and for strengthening enterprise and the extremely limited performance of a public sector, terming it a ''kingdom of bureaucracy'', corruption and of vested interests.
"I did not conceal the truth from you and I will never do so because I am convinced that a government can only succeed with the support of society," he said.
"We declared 2005 a year of competitiveness, we ratified the new tax law, we ratified and we are implementing the new development law which finances the development of old and new businesses as much as 55 percent, we ratified the law which creates a new framework on the licensing of processing businesses, we doubled the rate of absorption of the 3rd CSF's funds, we are promptly promoting the deregulation of energy markets, we are going ahead with the institutional interventions which are necessary for the promotion of investments of great importance and we are going ahead with the preparation of special town planning projects for renewable energy sources and tourism," the prime minister added.
Karamanlis made special reference to the promotion of a new generation of privatizations which will bring new investments and new jobs and will produce 1.6 billion euros.
He referred to the full privatization of the National Bank, the release of the public sector from the obligation of maintaining 51 percent in certain public utilities and to the determined effort to achieve the privatization of the Olympic Airlines and to the promotion of the listing of the Eleftherios Venizelos airport's shares at the Athens Stock Exchange, while noting that the process has already begun for the listing of the Post office Savings Bank at the stock exchange.
"We have a difficult path to cross over the next two years. We are aware how just many of the citizens' demands are, particularly of those who are in greater need. We would like to be able to provide more opportunities if the economy had greater endurance," the prime minister said and added that the government is determined to adhere to its program strictly.
Karamanlis also made special reference to Tuesday's International Women's Day, underlining the composite role every Greek woman is called on to fulfill at present.
"We are linking the policy of equal opportunities with all the focal axes of our policy in education, development, employment and social cohesion. Our target is to cover the deficit of equality in business activity, in the labor market and in participation in decision-making centers," he said.
Replying to questions the prime minister indicated that changes will be taking place in public utility services in his across-the-board interview at the Foreign Press Association and replying to questions on Tuesday night, while categorically ruling out the possibility of a government reshuffle.
The prime minister stated that his government will exhaust its four-year tenure and left open the possibility of going ahead with a constitutional amendment after the year 2006.
Karamanlis said he never concealed existing problems and noted that, although the effort is difficult, reducing the deficit below 3 percent at the end of 2006 is feasible.
"We were the empire of deficits," he said and stressed that reforms must take place to boost the country's competitiveness, as well as productivity.
Referring to public utilities, the prime minister stressed his readiness for dialogue with all and without taking anybody by surprise.
Karamanlis said the deregulation of working hours must take place since the country cannot stay behind in the 60's and 70's since the world is forging ahead.
The prime minister further said that announcements by the hierarchy concerning its internal crisis were in the right direction, adding that he supports every measure aimed at self-cleansing and that he does not agree with leveling measures.
"I am optimistic because I am determined and what must be done shall be done and this is my duty," the prime minister said, adding that decisions taken are for the good of all.
On the question of Turkey's obligations towards the EU on the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus, Karamanlis said Turkey has assumed a series of obligations which are tough and strict and noted that one of them is signing the customs union with Cyprus.
The prime minister mentioned, among other things, that there is a normalization of relations with the neighboring country and an improvement of the atmosphere.
Opposition parties react to premier's interview: Main opposition PASOK party Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis in reaction to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis interview at the Foreign Press Association on Tuesday night said that Karamanlis ''has not convinced even those who wanted to be convinced''.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) in a statement said that the premier's interview was '' deeply anti-labor and anti-popular'', while a Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party said that what Karamanlis said was ''far away from the crucial problems of everyday life''.
Karamanlis, Schroeder to confer in Brussels on eve of EU summit prime minister
Prime minister Costas Karamanlis will meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on March 21 in Brussels, on the eve of the EU summit, press sources in Berlin said Tuesday.
The sources said that the greater part of the talks to take place, during a luncheon, would be taken up by issues to be discussed at the EU summit, particularly the final wording of the decision on revision of the Growth and Stability pact -- the so-called 'Lisbon strategy' -- issues on which the two countries are on the same wave-length, although for different reasons, as well as the EU's fiscal prospects, on which Athens and Berlin also share similar views.
The Karamanlis-Schroeder talks would also focus on developments in the Balkans, particularly regarding management of the Kosovo problem, and also the outstanding FYROM name issue. Karamanlis would also brief his German counter-part on his recent visits to Zagreb, Belgrade and Pristina, the sources said.
SE European issues to be discussed also include the EU accession prospects of the western Balkan countries, as a stabilizing factor in management of the Kosovo crisis, as well as the course of the EU's future enlargement with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.
Also, the two leaders were expected to discuss the Cyprus issue and the course of Greek-Turkish relations in light of Turkey's European course, in which both Greece and Germany have interest, for different reasons.
 Deputy FM responsible for European affairs discusses EU enlargement with British counterpart
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Yiannis Valinakis discussed issues of European concern with his visiting British counterpart Denis MacShane on Tuesday, such as the European Union's next enlargement, the European course of Croatia, the prospects of the western Balkans and the monitoring of the future stages of Turkey's European path.
The two officials also discussed the issue of funds the EU will be providing over the period between 2007 and 2013.
Valinakis briefed MacShane on Greek positions and priorities in light of the upcoming British EU presidency. He said the Greek government is intensifying its efforts for the adoption by all candidate countries of European values and principles to enable southeastern Europe to become a real European neighborhood.
The deputy minister also referred to the process of the European Constitutional Treaty's ratification by Greek Parliament, which will begin on Wednesday, and briefed MacShane on the citizens' information campaign to make the changes to be brought about by the Treaty, both in the EU and in daily life, understood.
 More efficient public sector discussed by inner Cabinet
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)The "Politeia" (state) program for expanding computerization in the public sector, civil servants' continuing education, better services for citizens along with restructuring the often-burdensome state bureaucracy was the focus of an inner Cabinet meeting on Tuesday at the premier's office.
Afterwards, Interior and Public Administration Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos referred to the state of civil defense, pointing to the recent flooding in the extreme northeastern prefecture of Evros and the preventative measures taken to avoid even greater destruction in the region.
Regarding Tuesday's commemoration of International Women's Day, Pavlopoulos stressed that true equality between the sexes will occur when no further measures must be taken, adding that the civil servants' code already includes many benefits for female employees.
 PASOK party leader tours flooded areas in Evros prefecture
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou on Tuesday toured areas recently hit by recent floods in the northern Evros prefecture and called for additional economic backing for local farmers, apart from what is anticipated in cases of natural disasters.
Speaking in Pythio, where he was briefed by prefectural technicians on the extent of damage caused in the region, Papandreou said such economic backing also concerns the restoration of infrastructures in the area, such as rural roads, pumping installations and crops.
Papandreou expressed support for an overall restoration plan for handling such phenomena, with cooperation by local agencies and many ministries, as well as the creation of a work administration group to tackle such cases and ensuing damage.
Earlier in the day, Papandreou chaired in Athens a meeting of the party's Coordinating Body, saying that the first year of the country's governance by the New Democracy party was characterized by the government's inconsistency and un-reliability and by promises which were not kept.
The PASOK leader said the country's retrogression has taken place in the economy, institutions and in its prestige internationally and as a result the Greek citizen and the Greek family are faced with the ''specter of unemployment and the high cost of living.''
Papandreou made special reference to low pension earners, saying that ''they can feel the mockery of the government which is disappointing Greek citizens in their entirety on a daily basis and not only its voters.''
During the meeting, relevant coordinators presented an account of the results of ND's governance in each of their sector's responsibility.
 EU Commissioner urges Turkey to sign protocol, pledges more active role on Cyprus
ANKARA 9/3/2005 (ANA/A.Ambatzis/CNA)European Union Commissioner responsible for enlargement Olli Rehn has called on Turkey to sign, in good time, the protocol to its customs union agreement with the EU extending it to all ten new members, including Cyprus, and pointed out that this is attached to the start of accession negotiations, set for 3 October this year.
Addressing Turkish business leaders in Istanbul on Tuesday, he said the Commission continues to support the resumption of talks for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, under the UN auspices, adding that it is ready to play an active role to prepare the ground for this aim.
''I trust that Turkey will fulfill its commitment by signing in good time the protocol adapting the Ankara Agreement to the accession of the new member states. This is important since this was attached by the European Council to the start of accession negotiations,'' he stressed.
On Cyprus, he said that the opening of the new chapter in EU-Turkey relations offers fresh opportunities to improve relations with the Republic of Cyprus.
''I am convinced that the business community can make a very positive contribution by fostering closer contacts between the two communities on the island and with Turkey,'' he added.
Rhen noted ''a clear desire'' on the part of the Turkish Cypriot community to be reunited and fully integrated into the EU and added ''I know about the current stalemate among our member states which prevents adoption of the Commission proposals for trade and aid, but I remain confident that we will be able to overcome such disagreements''.
On efforts to resume negotiations for a Cyprus settlement, the Commissioner said that in the next few months we must create a new momentum that should be used to take new initiatives on a comprehensive Cyprus settlement.
''The Commission indeed continues to support the resumption of talks under the auspices of the United Nations. We are ready to play an active role to prepare the ground for this aim,'' he added.
Rhen called on Ankara to show zero tolerance towards torture, broaden political reform to facilitate development in the southeast of the country, stabilize its economy and warned that the road ahead towards accession, will be ''long, sometimes uneven and winding.'
The Commissioner said Turkey has fallen short of meeting its obligations with regard to the Customs Union, something he said was ''unacceptable''.
 Greek MPs assure Cypriot president of Greece's support
NICOSIA 9/3/2005 (ANA/G.Leonidas)The delegation of the Greek Parliament's Standing Committee on Defense and Foreign Affairs, currently visiting Cyprus, was received on Tuesday by President Tassos Papadopoulos, whom the MPs assured of the cooperation and support of Greece in Cyprus' efforts to solve the island's political problem.
The delegation, headed by ruling New Democracy deputy Vassilios Magginas, was briefed by President Papadopoulos on the latest developments in the Cyprus problem.
The Greek MPs said ''our support to the efforts of the Republic of Cyprus to find a viable and functional solution of Cyprus' political problem is unwavering.''
The Greek deputies also met with Foreign Minister George Iacovou and Cyprus' House of Representatives Defense Committee.
 Papandreou cites support for human rights, minority groups' participation in Albania
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday received a delegation of neighboring Albania's Union of Human Rights Party -- the political formation traditionally aligned with that western Balkan country's ethnic Greek minority.
The former foreign minister stressed that Athens supports every effort at ensuring human rights and the participation of minorities - especially the ethnic Greek minority -- in Albania's political process.
"...because this comprises a basic obligation of every democratic country; secondly, it contributes to our bilateral relations, and thirdly but just as importantly, it is part of Albania's European course, a course which we support," Papandreou stressed.
On his part, the president of the Human Rights Party, Vassilis Doules, emphasized that both the party and the ethnic Greek minority in the neighboring country are working hard "so that Albania becomes a member of the European family very soon..."
He added that minority groups will benefit from such a prospect, "because only when equality before the law and justice are guaranteed can members of a society contribute decisively towards progress and their fortunes."
 US envoy on Cyprus issue, FYROM name, Kosovo
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)New US ambassador Charles Ries on Tuesday covered several facets of American foreign policy vis-a-vis the wider region in an address at a morning session of the Athens-based ELIAMEP think tank, where he stressed, among others, Washington's satisfaction with bilateral cooperation in the fight against international terrorism.
He also said that cooperation on the security front did not end with the conclusion of the Athens Olympic Games.
In terms of the long-standing Cyprus issue, Ries said Washington awaits Nicosia's proposals, a direct reference to UN chief Kofi Annan's recent urging towards Cypriot leadership to table specific proposals.
Moreover, Ries echoed previous State Department statements -- hastily made after an abrupt and unilateral decision in favor of Skopje's position by the Bush administration last November -- backing Greece's continuing negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over a mutually acceptable solution to the "name issue". He repeated that Washington would support any resolution achieved through the talks.
Regarding the Kosovo issue, another 'thorn' on the Balkan geopolitical map, Ries said the latter affects overall regional stability, whereas any solution must include all involved ethnic groups.
Finally, he said Athens' position to back neighboring Turkey's European course was correct, saying the decision would also benefit Greece.
 President Stephanopoulos receives defense ministry's leadership on farewell visit
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)President Kostis Stephanopoulos received the defense ministry's civil and military leadership on a farewell visit on Tuesday, stressing the need for the armed forces to remain at high levels of acceptance by the Greek people, now that confidence in all institutions is decreasing unfortunately.
President Stephanopoulos was given a silver coat-of-arms which included the ministry's coat-of-arms with the names of the minister and deputy ministers, as well as the coat-of-arms of each of the general staffs.
 Coalition party to walk out of Parliament during President of the Republic's swearing-in ceremony
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party will walk out of Parliament during the swearing -in ceremony for newly-elected President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, according to a decision taken by the Parliamentary Group and announced by party leader Alekos Alavanos immediately after the meeting on Tuesday.
Alavanos stated that due to the recent serious and multiform crisis which has broken out in the ranks of the Church, ''at the responsibility of the Hierarchy and of its primate the Arch-bishop, the necessity for a clear distinction in the roles of the state and the Church has returned to public discussion.''
The Coalition party leader referred to his party's position on the separation of the state and the Church and to the need of measures being taken apart from the constitutional revision "to enable the Church to confine its action to its spiritual and social role, to rid itself from the temptations and traps of secular power, as we believe that the great majority of religious people desires."
 Parliament president meets with group of expatriate Greek journalists
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Parliament President Anna Psarouda-Benaki on Tuesday met with a group of ethnic Greek journalists that have been honored for their work in 2003 by the General Secretariat for Information.
On her part, Psarouda-Benaki said journalists of the Greek Diaspora contribute to promotion of parliamentary diplomacy and to the activities of a union that represents ethnic Greek lawmakers around the world.
Journalists and media professionals from the United States, Canada, France, Australia, Chile, Albania, Bulgaria and South Africa met with the Parliament president.
 Greek economic performance improved in 2004, minister says
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Greece's major production indexes showed a marked improvement last year, Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Tuesday.
In a review of economic performance in 2004, the Greek minister said that according to National Statistics Service's data, the average annual industrial production composite index rose 0.95 percent in the period January-December 2004, compared with the previous year, with the average annual mining production index rising 0.16 percent, after a 5.25 percent decline in the previous year.
Speaking to reporters, Sioufas stressed that the average annual manufacturing production index rose 0.90 percent in 2004, after a 0.41 percent drop in 2003, while the average annual electricity-natural gas-water production index rose 1.42 percent over the same period.
The Greek minister said that the energy production index rose 0.3 percent in 2004, the intermediate goods index increased by 0.95 percent after a 0.42 percent fall in 2003, the capital goods index eased 0.34 percent, the durable goods index rose 2.11 percent recovering from a three-year decline and the non-durable consumer goods index rose 1.96 percent in 2004 after an 1.41 percent drop in 2003.
 Development minister holds talks with EU commissioners
BRUSSELS 9/3/2005 (ANA/M Spinthourakis)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Tuesday that he held talks with European Union commissioners on the sidelines of a preparatory competitiveness ministers' meeting in the Belgian capital for a summit in the spring.
Sioufas told reporters of the following meetings:
 Greece seeks 'golden mean' in EU growth pact revision
BRUSSELS 9/3/2005 (ANA/M Spinthourakis)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday that a middle road was needed in revising the European Union's stability and growth pact.
"A golden mean is required between the need for member states to exploit positive economic circumstances to spur fiscal revitalization, and between increased leeway for movement in exercising economic policy, when for a limited time there is minor fiscal derailment for reasons independent of the will of national authorities," Alogoskoufis told reporters after a meeting of EU finance ministers on the revision plan.
"Greece wishes to retain the pact's basic principles, and backs increasing the time margin for the correction of fiscal deviation, mainly that due to special factors," the minister said.
Citing hosting the Olympics as an example of special deficit-widening, Alogoskoufis noted that European countries that were hoping for the 2012 games already were paving the way for possible fiscal deviation.
The EU finance ministers meeting failed to agree on the stability pact's revision after two days of talks, and have scheduled a special session for March 20 in the hope of forging a compromise before an EU summit on March 22-23.
 Gov't opts for three scenarios in Greek growth-pact revision
BRUSSELS 9/3/2005 (ANA/M Spinthourakis)Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Tuesday that Greece's revised stability and growth plan contained three scenarios, depending on variable economic factors.
Growth rates of 3.9%, 3.3% and 2.9% are forecast in the updated plan, which is due to be sent to the European Union Commission in coming days, Alogoskoufis told reporters after a meeting with the EU's economic and monetary affairs commissioner.
The minister was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day EU finance ministers meeting in the Belgian capital.
 Survey: Terms and conditions of work for migrant workers
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Sixty percent of legal migrant workers said that they worked normal schedules and were paid legally for overtime, according to a survey released on Tuesday by the Athens Labor Centre.
Of legal migrant workers polled, 78% said that employers paid their share of social insurance contributions; and one in four was a member of a trade union.
The average daily wage for legal migrants was 35 euros, falling to about 33 euros for illegal workers. Forty two percent reported that they were paid less than their sector labor agreement; of the total 70% received at least 27 euros per day. And forty three percent of migrants said they were paid less than Greek colleagues.
Twenty percent reported poor working conditions, with 90-95% saying they were on good terms with Greek colleagues, the survey said.
 Greek bond prices down in February
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Turnover in the Greek electronic secondary securities market fell to 59.89 billion euros in February, from 80 billion euros in January, but up compared with 51.38 billion euros in February 2004, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.
In its monthly report on the domestic bond market, the central bank said that average daily turnover was 3.0 billion euros in February, down from 4.0 billion in the previous month, with investors' interest focusing again on long-term bonds, with a maturity between seven and 10 years which accounted for 50 percent of total turnover (29.98 billion euros).
The 10-year benchmark bond (May 2014) was the most heavily traded bond, with a turnover of 13.29 billion euros, followed by the 15-year bond (January 2014) with a turnover of 7.07 billion euros.
The central bank said that 50.1 percent of orders in February were buy orders.
State bond returns rose in the second half of February, following a similar trend in international markets. Greek bond prices recorded losses of 34-175 basis points in February, reversing a seven-month upward trend. The 15-year bond (October 2019) price fell to 126.52 points (yielding 4.06 pct) from 128.27 (3.93 pct) a month earlier.
 Stocks drop in range bound trade
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished lower in a range bound market, excluding block trades, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 3,078.22 points, marking a decline of 0.45%. Turnover was 212.4 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.34% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.38% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.01% down.
Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 153 to 120 with 72 remaining unchanged.
 Hostage situation ends peacefully in NW Greece town hall
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)A hostage situation that briefly arose in a small township of northwest Greece ended peacefully early Tuesday afternoon after a lone gunman released the municipality's mayor and another nine people before surrendering to authorities.
According to reports, the suspect was at odds with the municipality over wages owed to him and his wife, both former contract employees with the town of Thesprotiko, in Preveza Prefecture.
The suspect, identified as 46-year-old Nikolaos Raptis, was taken into custody by police inside the town hall without incident at around 2:30 p.m. after he released the hostages and handed over a handgun to the area's police chief.
 More charges filed against fugitive Vavylis
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)The shadowy fugitive at the centre of last month's furor over high-placed corruption at the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Greece was slapped with additional misdemeanor charges on Tuesday for acquiring a police ID under false pretenses, among others.
Apostolos Vavylis, aka Apostolos Fokas, was also charged with stealing an ID belonging to an Orthodox monk and for impersonating an authority figure, namely, a monk.
Misdemeanor charges of harboring a fugitive were filed against Vavylis' parents; his Israeli ex-wife; a retired police officer, Yiannis Triantafyllakis, also linked with Vavylis' activities at the Jerusalem Patriarchate in 2001; cleric Nikodimos Farmakis - himself under investigation in other cases - and an individual identified as Christos Panagopoulos.
 Prosecutor orders probe into Rhodes land registry charges
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)A first instance prosecutor on the island of Rhodes has ordered an urgent investigation into at least two instances of adulteration, destruction or theft of public documents from within land registry files -- a particularly disturbing prospect given that the Dodecanese islands retain the only rudimentary land registries operating in Greece.
Land registry offices today operate on Rhodes, the large holiday island that is the capital of the Dodecanese islands, as well as on Kos -- vestiges from the islands' Italian occupation throughout much of the first half of the 20th century.
The most egregious instance involves an apparently doctored title that transferred ownership of a valuable 5,000 square-meter tract of land in a tourist area of Rhodes.
A similar incident resulted in charges against employees of the Rhodes land registry recently by another prosecutor.
 Transport minister honors women employed in public transport sector on occasion of International Women's Day
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis on Tuesday received the approximately 100 women employed in the capital's public transport sector as bus, trolley bus and train drivers.
With this meeting the minister wished to honor working women on the occasion of International Women's Day.
Speaking during the event, Liapis referred to the significance of celebrating International Women's Day, stressing that women are able both at the steering wheel of the Metro, the tram, the electric train and the bus and of life, society and politics.
Equality General Secretariat organizes event on women and the mass media: The Equality General Secretariat organized a roundtable discussion on Tuesday on the theme "Women and stereotypes in the mass media" on the occasion of International Women's Rights Day.
The discussion was held in the European Parliament's Hall in Athens and addresses were made by a number of journalists who analyzed models portrayed in the media which were not always in the direction of women's liberation and of equality of the genders but, on the contrary, in the direction of exaggerating the sexual dimension.
It was stressed that despite whatever progress achieved at institutional level, equality has not yet been achieved in practice.
In another development, representatives of Thessaloniki's Labor and Employee Centre and members of women's organizations and social movements demonstrated in this northern city on the occasion of International Women's Day, using the slogan "No to poverty and to violence against women."
The demonstrators assembled before the statue of statesman Eleftherios Venizelos and, carrying banners, marched through the main streets of Thessaloniki, shouting slogans for equality, development and peace.
 Honorary ambassador Theodoropoulos addresses Turkish university on Greece's EU accession negotiating experience
ISTANBUL 9/3/2005 (ANA/A. Kourkoulas)Honorary ambassador Vyronas Theodoropoulos made an address at the Bilgi University in Istanbul on Greece's experience from negotiating its accession to the European Union in the '70s.
The Greek ambassador, who was president of the Central Negotiating Committee, outlined the procedure Turkey will face when it begins negotiations for its own accession to the EU.
However, Theodoropoulos underlined differences in conditions and preconditions concerning Greece's accession negotiations, compared with Turkey's current accession intentions, differences concerning the demographic and economic indicators of the two countries, as well as the development of various European institutions.
 Court approves extradition of Greek priest to Spain on child-sex charge
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of extraditing a Greek priest wanted in Spain for a sexual offence against a minor.
According to Spanish authorities, the charges stem from 2001-2002 when the 57-year old priest was teaching Greek to minors in Barcelona.
Held in detention, the priest, who had asked the Supreme Court to reverse on technical grounds a lower court ruling in favor of extradition, will stand trial in Spain.
It was the first instance of a European arrest warrant passing through the Greek courts.
 IOC gives 'Women and Sports' award to Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki
Athens, 9/3/2005 (ANA)Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki was given the international "Women and Sports for 2005" award at the International Olympic Committee's headquarters in Lausanne on Tuesday.
The award was given to her by Denis Oswald, a member of the IOC's executive committee and the president of the Coordinating Committee for Athens in recognition of her great contribution to the hosting of the successful Athens Olympic Games.
The award ceremony was held at the IOC's Olympic Games Museum in Lausanne on the occasion of International Women's Day, since the IOC wants women to play a leading role in the Olympic and sports movement.
Speaking afterwards, Daskalaki said "on the occasion of International Women's Day, it is an honor for me to accept this award on behalf of the countless people from every region and every walk of life, who cooperated to enable the Athens Olympic Games to become a celebration, a magical experience."
 Cyprus FM: Turkey to recognize Cyprus in order to join
EU NICOSIA 9/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)Turkey will not be able to become a full European Union member-state if it does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus, Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou stated on Tuesday.
''It is totally impossible for Turkey to accede the Union without recognizing the Republic of Cyprus. This is not only stressed by British Minister for Europe Dennis MacShane'', Iacovou said, commenting on MacShane's statements that if Turkey wishes to enter the EU, then it is not normal not to have relations with a member-state.
''MacShane makes a step further and speaks about the pre-accession period. Now Turkey is obliged to sign the protocol of adaptation that is foreseen in the Ankara Agreement. I believe that Turkey is encouraged, maybe even pressured, to sign it soon'', he said.
Iacovou noted that MacShane expressed similar views during his recent visit to Cyprus.
The Cypriot minister was referring to Turkey's obligation to sign the protocol extending its customs union with the ten new EU member-states, including the Republic of Cyprus.
Turkey, whose troops occupy 37 per cent of Cyprus' territory since 1974, is the only country in the world which does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus.
Regarding the recent meetings of a four-member US delegation, headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Laura Kennedy, had in New York, Iacovou said that the delegation exchanged views with the UN Secretariat for UNSG Kofi Annan's next steps on Cyprus.
He expressed the view that until there is a new Turkish Cypriot leader in occupied Cyprus at April's so-called presidential elections, there would be no initiatives regarding Cyprus.
Cyprus FM urges Talat to reflect g/c side's will for rapprochement: Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has urged self-styled prime minister in Turkish-occupied Cyprus Mehmet Ali Talat, if he is really interested in the future of Cyprus, to reflect the Greek Cypriot side's will for rapprochement and refrain from making statements against Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.
Invited to comment on Tuesday's meeting between AKEL party headed by Demetris Christofias, who is also President of the House of Representatives, and the Republican Turkish Party led by Talat, Iacovou noted that that recent statements made by Talat are not helpful for the efforts to reach a settlement to the Cyprus issue.
''This is not the first time that Talat launches such an unwanted offensive'', Iacovou said and expressed hope that Talat, ''if he is really interested in the future of Cyprus, to reflect the Greek Cypriot side's will for rapprochement and refrain from making statements against President Papadopoulos''.
Regarding Christofias-Talat meeting in the northern occupied part of the capital Nicosia, the Cypriot minister said that the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties meet frequently and added that Tuesday's meeting is deemed as a ''breakthrough'' because of the fact that Christofias is not only leader of AKEL but also President of the House of Representatives.