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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-03-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

March 15, 2005


  • [01] President Papoulias sworn in, says he is assuming his duties at difficult time for country
  • [02] Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos congratulates new Greek counterpart
  • [03] UN-brokered talks on FYROM name issue to resume in next few weeks
  • [04] Deputy foreign minister in Washington for talks
  • [05] PASOK leader briefed by Syrian FM on steps to ease Lebanon crisis
  • [06] All pre-electoral promises will be fulfilled in four-year term, ruling ND secretary says
  • [07] Parliament President Benaki-Psarouda addresses Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly
  • [08] European ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros says European constitution will boost democratic way of life
  • [09] Communist Party leader visits Perama
  • [10] World Council of Hellenes Abroad briefs gov't on activities
  • [11] European Commission decides to jointly fund two Greek programs
  • [12] Government in talks with ship repair workers on sector revitalization
  • [13] Renowned 'laika' composer Stavros Kougioumtzis dies at 73
  • [14] Three-day holiday heightens with musical events, traditional kite-flying
  • [15] Cyprus President committed to Commonwealth ideals

  • [01] President Papoulias sworn in, says he is assuming his duties at difficult time for country

    Athens, 15/3/2005 (ANA)

    Karolos Papoulias was sworn in as the country's 6th President of the Republic, since the end of the junta era in 1974, at noon on Saturday and said he is assuming his duties at a difficult time for the country.

    Papoulias, 76, added that it is a period with a crisis in institutions and values, adding that the Greeks must intensify their efforts to protect the country's name both abroad and at home so that the motherland cannot hurt them, their children and their grandchildren.

    The new president left his home, located in the Athens district of Exarhia, at 11.40 a.m. and arrived at the House of Parliament five minutes later, amid tight security measures.

    He was welcomed by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda who led him to the packed Parliament Hall, where he was sworn in during a ceremony officiated by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos.

    After the ceremony, President Papoulias descended the steps leading to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located outside the House of Parliament, and laid a wreath.

    He then shook hands with the prime minister, the Parliament President, deputies, senior armed forces officers and foreign diplomats and then boarded his car at 12.40 p.m. and arrived at the Presidential Mansion a few minutes later.

    Outgoing president Kostis Stephanopoulos welcomed the new president on the threshold of the Presidential Mansion and both stood to attention as the national anthem was played by the Presidential Guard. Immediately afterwards, he led President Papoulias to his office where he addressed him formally.

    The outgoing president said in his address that the country has enjoyed a smooth period of political life in past years, but he also stressed the need for procedures of control and of the imposition of sanctions to be strengthened in certain aspects of political life since what public opinion is hearing lately is unfortunate.

    "You are accompanied by the wishes of all the Greeks and of me for personal happiness and for the consolidation of democracy, which the people love and are proud of," he said.

    He further said that institutions are functioning smoothly in Greece and this is due to the political parties which observe the constitution and behave with a sense of responsibility and with wisdom.

    "Fanaticism has been rejected by the citizens and this is a paramount democratic virtue. Maybe even greater than national unity which exists, one way or another, when the target is a common one, meaning defending democracy and just national causes," the outgoing president added.

    He went on to say that he is confident that President Papoulias "will do everything to serve national interests", as he had done when he had been a minister.

    President Papoulias said in reply that he was moved by his predecessor's words, adding that he had also been moved by him in the past "when you had been expressing your concern over major national issues" and that "you succeeded in becoming the voice of the form of government and of the average citizen who is struggling for a better tomorrow and a fairer world."

    The new president also said "you annoyed powerful friends of ours and you also said rough words about the social majority. You said the truth. Your truth."

    Concluding his address, President Papoulias said the outgoing president is "leaving a heavy heritage" and stressed that he will try to live up to what he had created.

    The new President of the Republic, the sixth since the restoration of democracy in Greece, will receive courtesy calls from the political party leaders later in the week.

    His first official visit abroad in his new capacity is tentatively scheduled for May, when he will go to Moscow to attend events marking the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

    The 50th anniversary events, in May 1995 in Moscow, had been attended by Papoulias' predecessor, Costis Stephanopoulos.

    [02] Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos congratulates new Greek counterpart

    NICOSIA 15/3/2005 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos addressed a message of congratulations on Saturday to new Greek President Karolos Papoulias on the official assumption of his duties.

    President Papadopoulos also addressed a letter to outgoing Greek president Kostis Stephanopoulos. The contents of the message and the letter were not publicized.

    [03] UN-brokered talks on FYROM name issue to resume in next few weeks

    NEW YORK 15/3/2005 (ANA/P. Panagiotou)

    UN-brokered negotiations between Greece and FYROM for finding a solution to the FYROM name issue will resume in New York in the next few weeks, UN secretary general Kofi Annan's special representative on FYROM, Matthew Nimetz, told reporters on Saturday after a working lunch with Greece's visiting deputy foreign minister Yannis Valinakis and the country's permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, in Manhattan.

    Nimetz indirectly but clearly conceded that the two negotiating continued to have different approaches to the issue.

    Nimetz told reporters that he had a "very good meeting" with Valinakis, adding that the deputy minister had explained the position of the Greek government.

    "Throughout these years, we have had many discussions, but Mr. Valinakis analyzed the position very clearly," Nimetz said, noting that "the Greek government is devoted to resolving the issue in a way that satisfies everyone".

    He further expressed hope that progress would be made.

    Replying to a related press question, Nimetz explained that "a solution does not mean compromise, but rather understanding by each side", and added that "the two governments are responsible, and recognize that if this problem is solved, it will be good for their countries and the region".

    He conceded, at the same time, that "obviously the positions differ, because if they held the same position, then we would have no issue (for discussion)", but added that "despite that, I see real interest for a solution, and we will continue the efforts".

    Valinakis, in turn, said that "this was one of the regular meetings we have commenced since last summer...We had a very interesting discussion".

    "I can also reiterate that I outlined the Greek government's position, that a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue would facilitate our bilateral (Greece-FYROM) relations, help in achieving stability in the Balkan region, which we all know is particularly necessary, and, naturally, would facilitate Skopje's course to the Euro-Atlantic institutions. It is something that we consider would be positive," Valinakis said.

    "The Greek side supports the conversion of the Balkans into a European neighborhood. We hope that the other side will display the same constructive stance that we have manifested, and that it will realize precisely the need to proceed to its European perspective via the road of a mutually acceptable solution," the Greek deputy foreign minister added.

    Valinakis had a meeting earlier with the members of Greece's permanent representation to the UN to examine issues concerning Greece's participation on the UN Security Council (as a non-permanent member for the two-year period 2005-2006), particularly in light of Greece's assumption of the rotating Security Council presidency in July.

    Valinakis will visit Washington on Monday, where he will hold talks with US government officials at the White House and the State Department.

    Greece strong supporter of UN-brokered talks on FYROM's name: Greece fully supports UN-brokered talks underway with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) aimed at finding a mutually acceptable name for the neighboring country.

    "We immediately reactivated (the process) and we fully support the talks in New York that aim to hold a substantive discussion, not just for the sake of form, in order to find a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue," Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis told the US National Herald newspaper in an interview.

    Valinakis made it clear that if FYROM showed intransigence, then its move towards the European Union would be harder.

    Greece backed a jointly agreed name to achieve three outcomes: a further improvement of bilateral ties with FYROM; reinforcement of regional stability and cooperation; and a smooth course for FYROM towards Euro-Atlantic institutions, he said.

    [04] Deputy foreign minister in Washington for talks

    WASHINGTON 15/3/2005 (ANA/T Ellis)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis is visiting the US capital for talks with government officials on bilateral ties and regional issues.

    At the White House, Valinakis will meet Daniel Fried, head of European affairs at the National Security Council; and at the State Department, William Burns, assistant secretary for political affairs.

    Valinakis earlier visited New York, where he held talks with Matthew Nimetz, the special UN secretary general's special envoy, on the status of talks under UN auspices aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution on a name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    [05] PASOK leader briefed by Syrian FM on steps to ease Lebanon crisis

    BEIRUT 15/3/2005 (ANA - P. Haritos)

    Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou met with Syrian Foreign Minister Faruk Al-Sharah on Monday who briefed him on Syria's intentions regarding the next steps it plans to take to achieve the easing of the Lebanon crisis.

    Papandreou had previously visited Beirut on Sunday where he had met with the opposition's political leadership in the wake of the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

    Leaving the foreign minister's office, Papandreou said "I had the opportunity to visit Lebanon and Syria these days with a delegation of European Union socialists, Lebanon first, to see the foreign minister with their support and to discuss these developments. This crisis must be settled in a peaceful way, there should be a new substantive relation between the two countries, based on UN resolutions, while the Syrian foreign minister assured me that the government of his country is determined to withdraw its forces in accordance with article 1559, as a first stage for which a timetable has already been set and, as a second stage, in close cooperation with the UN and Lebanon for the adoption of a timetable which shall not be delayed and which will be certain."

    Shortly before departing for Greece, Papandreou once again had a telephone conversation with the UN's special emissary Ters Red-Larssen, whom he briefed on his contacts in Lebanon and Syria.

    [06] All pre-electoral promises will be fulfilled in four-year term, ruling ND secretary says

    Athens, 15/3/2005 (ANA)

    All of the promises made pre-electorally by the government will be fulfilled by the end of the current four-year term in office, ruling New Democracy party (ND) secretary Vangelis Meimarakis said in an interview appearing in the Sunday edition of Apogevmatini newspaper.

    Already, in its first year in office, the government has proceeded with important changes and reforms, he said.

    At the same time, Meimarakis clarified that there had been no change of direction in the government but, on the contrary, there was a systematic effort by other quarters to misinform and mislead the public opinion. "It does not arise from anywhere that we will postpone the materialization of our pre-electoral pledges," Meimarakis stressed.

    The ND secretary further noted that "2005 is the year of reforms" that needed to be effected so that the country could progress, and reiterated that the present government "does not pull surprises and does not defraud anyone, it does not say one thing and then do something else".

    "Through dialogue and understanding, we will proceed with the structural changes, fully aware that major changes also give rise to some dissatisfaction," Meimarakis said, adding that "what should count is the good of all, and that is what we are obliged to do".

    Replying to a relevant question, Meimarakis reiterated his desire to remain in the post of party secretary, "always with the agreement of the party leader and prime minister" Costas Karamanlis.

    Asked whether changes were on the horizon, given that senior officials appointed by the preceding PASOK government still remained in the posts in several of the DEKO state utilities and organizations, Meimarakis said that one of the fundamental issues that were clarified at the party Congress were the separation of the political/governmental positions and the State positions. "It goes without saying that the Administration officials must know and embrace the government program in order to be able to materialize it," he said.

    To a comment that many electronic media were severely critical of ND, Meimarakis said that New Democracy had no need of 'protectors' and 'unholy alliances' of that type, and had proved this during its tenure in the opposition. "We owe nothing to anyone except the Greek citizens. We do not manipulate the media. We have simply made it clear that they must fulfill the conditions and act within the rules set out by the State," he explained.

    Asked whether the government intended to "water down" its position regarding the "primary shareholder", Meimarakis replied that the implementation of the law had already commenced, while, to another question on whether ND was prepared, organizationally and politically, to clash with the "guilds of the trade unionists", he noted that the government was following a policy founded on dialogue and "synthesis" of views.

    "Clashes and surprises in decision-taking is not our rationale. The final decisions are taken by the responsible government on the basis always of the interests of the entire society. Naturally, there may be some who will be bothered by the reforms our changes, but our concern is the common good," Meimarakis said.

    [07] Parliament President Benaki-Psarouda addresses Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly

    CAIRO 15/3/2005 (ANA - P. Dimitropoulos)

    Parliament President Anna Benaki-Psarouda, addressing the first Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly here over the weekend, stressed the particular importance attributed by Athens to the "European Neighbour Policy."

    Speaking in her capacity as Assembly vice president, Benaki-Psarouda said the European Neighbour Policy constitutes the most effective motive for dialogue between the EU and countries flanking it.

    She said Greece is particularly sensitive over the promotion of such a program, noting that "relations of good neighborliness with the countries of the Balkans, with Turkey and Israel, and with the Arab world in particular, make us a country which is very sensitive over the promotion of good neighborly relations."

    [08] European ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros says European constitution will boost democratic way of life

    NICOSIA 15/3/2005 (ANA - G. Leonidas)

    European ombudsman Nikiforos Diamantouros, addressing an event organized here over the weekend by Parliament and the Press and Information Office, said the European constitution will boost the European citizens' democratic way of life, providing for them a supplementary European nationality.

    Diamantouros further said the citizens of Europe will have increased rights as a result of the European constitution's ratification.

    Commenting on the institution of the European ombudsman, Diamantouros stressed that it is the link between the European Union's commitments towards its citizens and their democratic rights which emanate from the European constitution.

    [09] Communist Party leader visits Perama

    Athens, 15/3/2005 (ANA)

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, heading a party delegation, visited the location of Horafa in the seaside town of Perama on Monday where local inhabitants are demanding that the area be provided for them for free use.

    "We know the problems of the region. We know that we are in a region with very high unemployment, with acute problems and in one of the most poor and suffering ones in Attica. We promise on our part, and if you like with the emotion we are feeling in this nice place you have taken over, that we shall exercise the greatest possible pressure for it to be provided for free use by the inhabitants of Perama," Papariga said.

    [10] World Council of Hellenes Abroad briefs gov't on activities

    Athens, 15/3/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Monday heard an account of activities of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) given by its president, Andrew Athens.

    The briefing covered an SAE medical program in countries of the former Soviet Union, a review of the group's activities worldwide in 2004, and future plans, the ministry said in a statement.

    [11] European Commission decides to jointly fund two Greek programs

    BRUSSELS 15/3/2005 (ANA - V. Demiris)

    The European Commission decided here on Monday to jointly fund two Greek programs aimed at improving information and promoting farm products in third countries.

    The Commission ratified 10 programs valued at 20.5 million euros, with EU funding amounting to 50 percent in each program. Programs ratified by the Commission regarding Greece concern olive oil and poultry.

    The decision is part of regulation 2702 which anticipates, among other things, advertising campaigns in third countries on advantages provided by the EU's products regarding quality, nutritious food and methods of production which are not harmful for the environment.

    Agriculture minister calls for adequate funding for new structural policy on rural areas

    Agricultural Development and Foodstuffs Minister Evangelos Basiakos, addressing the Council of Agriculture Ministers in Brussels on Monday, stressed the need for adequate funding to be provided by the European Union for all the aspects of the new structural policy for rural areas, as well as for arrangements securing the full absorption of EU funds.

    Basiakos also proposed the development of a European strategy for the successful implementation of the new Community Support Framework, with priority being placed on the competitiveness of Greek agriculture, environmental protection and social cohesion, particularly in underprivileged areas of the country.

    The minister further called on the Council to agree to means on managing risks and crises in agriculture which will take the structures and singularity of each member-state into consideration.

    [12] Government in talks with ship repair workers on sector revitalization

    Athens, 15/3/2005 (ANA)

    Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis on Sunday met unions of the ship building and repair zone near Piraeus for ongoing talks on revitalizing the sector.

    The climate of the dialogue on upgrading facilities and procedures was excellent, the ministry said in a statement.

    Among items on the agenda were improving existing infrastructure, including gas and water supply networks; new infrastructure to serve larger vessels; and less red tape in dealings with the Piraeus Port Authority, the statement added.

    [13] Renowned 'laika' composer Stavros Kougioumtzis dies at 73

    Athens, 15/3/2005 (ANA)

    One of Greece's most popular laika and laika ballad music composer, Stavros Kougioumtzis, died late Saturday in Thessaloniki at the age of 73. His funeral will be held Tuesday, at 13:00, at the Kalamaria Metropolitan Cathedral.

    "In truth, I was not a loving father to my songs. I did not support them, I did not promote them. I left them nearly helpless. They would either stand on their own, I used to say, or they would die. I didn't want them to be phony, nor with crutches," Kougioumtzis wrote in his autobiography "Open Windows with Closed Shutters". And not only did his songs fend for themselves, they passed the test of time and are still sung by the older and younger generations today.

    The Thessaloniki-born composer began piano studies at the Thessaloniki State Conservatory at the age of 15. In 1960, at the age of 28, he wrote his first song, while one year later he took part in the then EIR (National Radio Foundation) song contest, which was followed by a long string of successes and collaborations with the biggest names on the Greek music scene at the time, such as Yannis Vogiatzis, Yannis Poulopoulos, George Zografos, and Kaity Homata.

    In 1966 he dynamically entered the theatrical scene, writing the music for George Themelis' theatrical production "The Journey", which was staged at the State Theater of Northern Greece and directed by Evgenios Spatharis.

    In the following years he moved to Athens, where he was signed up by the MINOS record company, and wrote songs for the then up-and-coming singers George Dalaras, Haris Alexiou, Yannis Kalatzis and Viki Moscholiou, who all became leading names in Greek song whose songs are still sung today.

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis sent a message of condolences over Kougioumtzis' passing to the composer's family.

    "Stavros Kougioumtzis was one of the composers who definitively put his mark on contemporary Greek music," Karamanlis' message said.

    "Kougioumtzis' music, but also his ethos and character, will remain alive in all of us who grew to love his great hits," the message added.

    [14] Three-day holiday heightens with musical events, traditional kite-flying

    Athens, 15/3/2005 (ANA)

    The three-day holiday marking Clean Monday came to an end on Monday with musical and other events taking place all over the country and with the traditional custom of kite-flying facilitated by favorable weather conditions.

    Various musical events were organized in Athens on the hills of Philopappou, Strefi and Skouze. The municipality of Athens offered food and traditional "Lagana" bread free, while thousands of Athenians gathered at Philopappou with their families to fly kites and watch the events held in the presence of Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis.

    Meanwhile, traffic authorities have implemented special measures on national motorways as holidaymakers will begin their return to the capital on Monday afternoon.

    [15] Cyprus President committed to Commonwealth ideals

    NICOSIA 15/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has said he hopes to find a negotiated settlement, on the basis of UN resolutions, which is functional and lasting and which will reunite the island, its people, its economy and institutions.

    In a message to mark Commonwealth Day, on Monday, Papadopoulos reiterated the government's commitment to the principles and ideals of the Commonwealth and to enhanced ties among its member states and said he was confident that the Commonwealth would continue to lend Cyprus its support until a solution is found.

    ''We hope for a negotiated solution on the basis of the relevant United Nations resolutions and the principles and values of the European Union, to which Cyprus also belongs as a member state; a solution which is functional and lasting and realizes the reunification of the island, its people, its economy and institutions and the withdrawal of Turkish troops and settlers,'' Papadopoulos said.

    Cyprus, he added, is firmly committed to the principles of the Commonwealth and appreciates its role as a forum where international understanding and consensus promote multilateralism and small states have a voice at global stage.

    Expressing gratitude to all Commonwealth members for their consistent support to the Republic of Cyprus, he said he was ''confident that this support and solidarity will continue until a solution is found to the longstanding Cyprus problem.''

    ''We also appreciate the universal condemnation of the invasion of Cyprus by Turkish troops in 1974 and the continued occupation of 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus," he added.

    He noted that celebrations to mark Commonwealth Day recall the commitments and values of peace, democracy, human rights and solidarity that all Commonwealth members share.

    ''On this occasion, I would like to reiterate the deep commitment of my government and the people of the Republic of Cyprus to the principles and ideals of the Commonwealth and to reaffirm our desire for further strengthening the closed ties of friendship and cooperation between the Commonwealth member states,'' he said in his message.

    Referring to this year's theme, ''Education: creating opportunity, realizing potential'', he said education has an important role to play in building strong communities, generating growth and creating opportunities for the peoples of all Commonwealth member countries.

    The Commonwealth comprises 53 countries and 1.8 billion citizens of different origin, language, faith and levels of economic development and traditions.

    Cyprus joined the Commonwealth after it gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

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