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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-03-18

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

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

March 18, 2005

CONTENTS

  • [01] Greek and Luxembourg PMs discuss EU's fiscal prospects, Turkey's European prospects and Stability Pact
  • [02] Athens: Continuing Turkish violations in Aegean an obstacle to normalization
  • [03] U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman on Cyprus issue
  • [04] Athens firm on stance vis-a-vis FYROM name issue
  • [05] European Constitution and 'primary shareholder' law dominate Thursday's parliamentary debate
  • [06] Skepticism over article 14 of the constitution, according to government sources
  • [07] Deputy FM says about 10 NGOs failed to meet commitments in 2004
  • [08] President Karolos Papoulias to receive customary submission of congratulations
  • [09] Voulgarakis addresses Council of Europe ministers' meeting in Warsaw
  • [10] Trade union group cites strong strike turnout
  • [11] Greek, Cyprus central bank to sign memorandum of cooperation
  • [12] Greek economic sentiment index up 10.1 pct in 2004
  • [13] Gov't urges EU to issue one- and two-euro notes
  • [14] EU commissioner outlines nutrition, exercise action plan
  • [15] Hotel Chamber says extended shopping hours 'a positive step'
  • [16] Natural gas utilities of Turkey, Italy, Greece push forward with pipeline project
  • [17] Egyptian envoy decries 'bad press' aimed at Egyptian potato imports
  • [18] DEH denies report of alliance with French EDF
  • [19] Stocks slump in blue-chip selling
  • [20] Full compensation to the families of the victims of the 'Ricomex' factory
  • [21] Two earthquakes jolt Samos
  • [22] "Panorama of contemporary Greek cinema" opened in Paris
  • [23] Turkish university honors Athens 2004 president
  • [24] Federation decision on Kenteris, Thanou on Friday
  • [25] Sports minister meets with French ambassador Delaye
  • [26] Cyprus and Poland agree on need to solve Cyprus question
  • [27] Cypriot President proposes new UN initiative on Cyprus

  • [01] Greek and Luxembourg PMs discuss EU's fiscal prospects, Turkey's European prospects and Stability Pact

    LUXEMBOURG 18/3/2005 (ANA/A. Panagopoulos)

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Luxembourg counterpart and European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker discussed the European Union's fiscal prospects on Thursday, as well as neighboring Turkey's European prospects and steps it must follow, the Stability Pact and the Lisbon strategy.

    Karamanlis, who will have dinner in Brussels on Monday night with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said "now is the time for Turkey to prove in practice that it can and, indeed, intends to fully comply with the acquis communautaire. We are expecting the Turkish government to take all necessary measures to fulfill all criteria and commitments, as they have been set by the European Council."

    Juncker said on his part that "the sooner Turkey signs the Ankara protocol, for which it has committed itself, so much the better for itself and the EU."

    According to reports, Karamanlis pointed out during the talks that high standards have been set for Turkey now, following the decisions taken by the EU on the indefinite suspension of negotiations with Croatia.

    The prime minister said that, in light of Monday's meeting, the atmosphere has improved and a good personal relation undoubtedly exists.

    "I think that this helps, but it does not mean we agree fully. However, this is not a reason not to discuss with the prime minister and the government of a neighboring country," Karamanlis said.

    Replying to a question by the press on violations of Greek air space, the Greek prime minister said we have committed ourselves to smooth out our relations with Turkey fully.

    "Evidently, the path is not easy to achieve this target. There are many obstacles, the climate is much better. We support the European prospect of Turkey, because we expect that a Europeanized Turkey will be a much more compatible neighbor for Greece and the other countries," he said.

    Karamanlis also said that Turkey must prove step-by-step that it adopts European conditions, such as human rights, minority rights and the way it behaves in its foreign relations.

    Commenting on the 4th Community Support Framework (CSF), the prime minister said "Greece supports the Commission's proposal. We believe that it is a fair and balanced position. Greece has been an ardent supporter of the recent enlargement. However, we believe that the cost of enlargement must be shared in a fair and balanced and equal way between member-states. The Commission's proposal guarantees the success of enlargement, while simultaneously it promotes cohesion, as well as competitiveness in the EU. At the same time, it confirms the promotion of the EU's common targets. We believe that this is also confirmed by the need for us to reach an agreement and I assured the prime minister, Mr. Juncker, that he will have our full support in his effort to have it concluded by the end of Luxembourg's presidency."

    Juncker said the target of Luxembourg's presidency is to have the issue solved until the June summit, but he indirectly recognized that difficulties exist in negotiations, adding that "we are aware where the weaknesses are and we shall try to address Greek concerns as far as possible."

    As far as the Lisbon strategy is concerned, both prime ministers agreed that the course so far has been inadequate and much remains to be done.

    Karamanlis said he briefed Juncker that "our attention will focus on fiscal stability, the promotion of growth and mild adjustment, as well as the improvement of education and training."

    Both prime ministers further said that difficulties also exist in the effort to achieve agreement on reforming the Stability Pact.

    "Greece welcomes this initiative. Of course, we are steadfastly orientated towards respect for the framework of the Pact and for relevant decisions. However, we believe that certain regulations of the Pact are particularly strict and do not adjust to the fiscal adjustment of member-states," Karamanlis said.

    Juncker said there are proposals by the presidency and the positions of the Greek government, adding that "we know that the economy and finance minister has struggled like a lion in favor of these positions in the latest meetings and I explained to my friend, Costas, the basic elements of the conclusions we have reached as regards the Lisbon strategy."

    [02] Athens: Continuing Turkish violations in Aegean an obstacle to normalization

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Greece on Thursday reiterated that continuing violations by the Turkish military in the Aegean region are a distinct obstacle to further normalization of Greek-Turkish relations, "something that Greece is actively working towards", a foreign ministry spokesman added.

    Spokesman George Koumoutsakos stressed, moreover, that the European Union is being constantly briefed over the Turkish military's activity in the Aegean, especially infringements of Athens FIR regulations and national airspace.

    His statements came in response to a press question citing recent comments by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who referred to a "mutual understanding" by Ankara and Athens over the matter.

    In a related development, Koumoutsakos confirmed a trip by Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis to Ankara, probably on April 12-13, following a Turkish government invitation.

    Meanwhile, in statements touching on Cyprus, the spokesman said Greek involvement on matters of security and guarantees would be forthcoming if a new round of talks were to commence.

    The response came in the wake of a press question citing Turkish officials' statements in favor of a meeting of representatives from Greece, Turkey and the two communities on the divided east Mediterranean island aiming at a solution to the long-standing problem.

    Furthermore, he dismissed certain press reports claiming a rift between Nicosia and Athens over the Cypriot government's positions regarding direct trade with the Turkish-occupied areas of the island republic.

    Athens on Turkey's signing of a customs union protocol with EU's new members: Greece on Thursday reiterated that Turkey must sign a customs union protocol with all of the European Union's members, including Cyprus, by Oct. 3.

    In response to a press question, foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos stressed that this pending issue continues to be a "thorn" in the neighboring country's "difficult and painful" accession course.

    [03] U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman on Cyprus issue

    WASHINGTON 18/3/2005 (ANA/T. Ellis)

    The United States, through State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli, reiterated on Thursday that "it supports the reunification of Cyprus on the basis of the (UN) Secretary-General's (Kofi Annan) solution plan, and in a way which will be acceptable by majorities in both sides of the island."

    Asked to clarify the next steps which must be taken, Ereli reminded that "Mr. Annan has asked from the sides to think on the results of the referendums of last year and to reach proposals on how we can proceed forward." He added that on the part of the U.S., "we support this approach."

    In reply to another relevant question, the U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesman underlined that the decisive factor for both the sides is to reach a final form of the solution "in a way which will be acceptable by majorities and in the sides."

    [04] Athens firm on stance vis-a-vis FYROM name issue

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Greece on Thursday underlined that resolution of "pending issues" with the neighboring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will dissolve obstacles in the latter's course towards the European Union and NATO, a direct reference to the "name issue" still plaguing bilateral relations between Athens and Skopje.

    A foreign ministry spokesman, nevertheless, said the Skopje government appears "ensnared in positions and rhetorical intransigence, and doesn't comprehend the messages it is receiving from Brussels (the European Union) and elsewhere".

    Spokesman George Koumoutsakos reiterated that Athens continues to assiduously maintain a "productive policy and substantive dialogue" vis--vis the "name issue".

    Asked about Greek civil aviation authorities' refusal this past week to allow the over flight of a plane carrying the FYROM prime minister, Koumoutsakos reminded of Greece's standing practice since 1992 regarding airplanes and airlines employing the name "Macedonia" or "Macedonian"

    Finally, he stressed that the EU's recent decision not to commence accession negotiations with Croatia serves as a "firm message to all" of the Union's insistence that potential candidate countries meet criteria and conditions for entry.

    [05] European Constitution and 'primary shareholder' law dominate Thursday's parliamentary debate

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    The two major parties' consensus - New Democracy and PASOK - on ratification of the European Treaty and PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos' criticism of the primary shareholder law were the main highlights of the special parliamentary committee's discussion on Thursday.

    Venizelos accused Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of being 'hostage' to the primary shareholder law in his talks in Brussels as well as 'hostage' to the fiscal audit which he characterized "a strategic error."

    "The prime minister is not pleading with anybody for anything. He is fighting in Brussels, defending and promoting the country's interests with dignity in order to reverse the harsh reality. We should regard him with respect and appreciation. Nor is the prime minister hostage to the fiscal audit despite those who are trying to convince everyone that the problem is not the reality but the revelation of the reality," Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said in response to Venizelos.

    As for ratification of the EU Treaty, Molyviatis explained the government's decision to reject the opposition's demand for a referendum on the matter, saying "The government is primarily interested in informing the Greek people. We have already started an awareness campaign which we will continue after the treaty is voted on in Parliament."

    Orestis Kolozov, moderator of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), emphasized that "we are called upon to ratify a document which strengthens the activities of large capital disguised as a constitutional treaty." He also criticized the fact that the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (SYN) party, which is the fourth largest in Greek Parliament, is represented in the EU for ratification of the constitution, but KKE, which is third, is not.

    SYN moderator Nikos Constantopoulos emphasized the need for a referendum to be held regarding ratification.

    "Parliament does not operate as a bureaucracy without society's participation, but in cooperation with society," he said.

    Independent MP Andreas Andrianopoulos said the government's persistent refusal for a referendum is "incomprehensible" given that it deals with an issue that will affect the country's future for many years to come.

    [06] Skepticism over article 14 of the constitution, according to government sources

    LUXEMBOURG 18/3/2005 (ANA/A.Panagopoulos)

    Government sources, referring to the constitution as it is related to the main shareholder law, on Thursday said the problem lies with article 14, paragraph nine of the constitution.

    "The question is if a discussion will begin on a change in the constitution, since the problem lies with article 14, paragraph nine of the constitution (regarding the law on the main shareholder) and the executive laws," the sources said.

    They added that the article was ratified by both parties and wondered whether "the two parties must come forward now and say that they made a mistake."

    The same government sources said skepticism exists since the revision of the constitution must take place after 2008, stressing that there must be an agreement between both major parties on this issue.

    The problem, they added, is neither the settlement on economic self-sufficiency nor the percentage of the main shareholder, adding that procedures have been speeded up in the European Commission and the issue has reached a marginal level due to the publicity it has received.

    [07] Deputy FM says about 10 NGOs failed to meet commitments in 2004

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis, speaking at a press conference on Thursday, said "about 10 non-govern-mental organizations (NGOs) of those accredited to the foreign ministry did not meet their commitments in 2004, and as a result we are requesting the return of money we gave to them or they must give us explanations."

    Stylianidis said the ''NGOs are a basic level for exercising development policy and humanitarian aid but the accreditation of 360 organizations at the Greek foreign ministry, when the superpowers of development policy work with 60 and 80 NGOs, is an exaggeration.''

    The deputy minister further said that to make sure from now on that these organizations will fulfill their role with transparency and effectiveness the foreign ministry has enacted a new and stricter legislative framework.

    Referring to economic diplomacy, another pylon in exercising foreign policy, Stylianidis said ''we are going ahead with restructuring with the adoption of two presidential decrees, whose target is the full inclusion of the Economic and Commercial Employee Offices in the foreign ministry, readjusting the international network of economic diplomats, in accordance with our targets in international markets and the smoothing out of relations between economic diplomats and political diplomats.''

    He said the aim of economic diplomacy is "strengthening Greek enterprise with the promotion of Greek exports and joint ventures. We are planning the lifelong training of diplomats, we are taking care to see that Greek businessmen are informed and to organize business missions."

    The markets of the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the Turkish market are in the front line of Greek interest.

    [08] President Karolos Papoulias to receive customary submission of congratulations

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias will receive at the Presidential Mansion at 5 p.m. on Friday the customary submission of congratulations by the prime minister, the parliament president, the archbishop, the main opposition leader, former presidents of the republic, party leaders, ministers, alternate ministers, deputy ministers and senior judiciary members.

    Following will be heads of foreign diplomatic missions, former prime ministers, the vice-presidents of parliament, the Greek Commissioner in the European Union, deputies and Euro-deputies.

    In continuation, congratulations will be submitted to the President of the Republic by the president of the Athens-Piraeus Broader Prefectural Local Administration, the prefect of Athens, the mayor of Athens, the members of the Holy Synod, the heads of foreign religions, the president of the Athens Academy, the Legal Council of the State and the European Mediator.

    They will be followed by the leadership of the Armed Forces and of the Security Corps, the deans of the Higher Educational Institutes (AEI), the president of the Athens Bar Association, bank governors, charity organizations, the presidents of Chambers, representatives of the press and representatives of the producer classes.

    [09] Voulgarakis addresses Council of Europe ministers' meeting in Warsaw

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Greek Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis, speaking at the meeting of interior and public order ministers of the member-states of the Council of Europe, which took place in Warsaw on Thursday, expounded on the Greek experience in the confrontation of terrorism and to the organization of a major meeting, such as that of the Olympic Games, in an environment of complete security.

    Voulgarakis, who attended the meeting as the central speaker, following an invitation by Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis, referred to the "tragic dilemma", which, as he said, is faced by the democratic governments, to confront terrorism in accordance with the rules of Democracy or to resort to its drastic cracking down, acting then, however, undemocratically. "Our fear in both cases is that Democracy will finally be the victim," Voulgarakis underlined.

    The Greek public order minister, citing the existing experience, said that "for a successful confrontation of terrorism on a national level, what is needed is a batch of legal, political, economic and social measures."

    The minister termed as of decisive importance cooperation between the services of the imposition of law enforcement, the judicial and economic authorities, civil protection and health. Of equal importance, particularly in the cases of terrorist threats, he said, is cooperation and communication of national authorities with the citizens. Otherwise, he noted, the lack of communication and objective briefing of the citizens usually concludes to panic or mass hysteria, while the timely briefing restricts the consequences and the losses of a terrorist attack. Proper communication means excellent cooperation between the relevant authorities and the mass media, he underlined.

    He went on to say that beyond the close cooperation and the various initiatives which Greece is developing within the framework of the European Union, also significant is the intensification of Greece's cooperation in the broader region of southeast Europe, of the Adriatic and the Ionian, organizing channels of communication for speedy briefing and exchange of information concerning illegal activities. Furthermore, Greece has up to now signed 21 Bilateral Police Cooperation Agreements with various states.

    [10] Trade union group cites strong strike turnout

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    The General Confederation of Employees of Greece (GSEE) said on Thursday that turnout was strong in a 24-hour strike by bank, state run telecoms, postal and electricity employees and a four-hour walkout including civil servants, public transport and aviation workers, journalists and shop employees.

    The stoppages were called to protest against government policy affecting incomes, pensions, and company restructuring in state-run corporations.

    For the first time in years, shop workers joined a mass strike, in order to protest against government proposals on new shop opening hours. Major stores in Athens city centre were closed, GSEE, the country's largest trade union umbrella group, said in a statement.

    The union group's president, Christos Polyzogopoulos, told reporters that more strikes would be called if the government failed to change its policies.

    [11] Greek, Cyprus central bank to sign memorandum of cooperation

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    The central banks of Greece and Cyprus on Friday are expected to sign a memorandum of cooperation based on the principles set out by the Basle Commission on Bank Supervision and Community law governing financial institutions' operations in the EU.

    The memorandum, to be signed in Athens by Bank of Greece Governor Nikolaos Garganas and Bank of Cyprus Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou, will envisage the regulation of approving operation licenses to banks, facilitating inspections on financial institutions and exchanging information.

    Three Cypriot banks currently operate in Greece, while four Greek banks operate in Cyprus. The Bank of Greece has signed similar agreements with the central banks of the European Union, as well as with those of Albania, Bulgaria, Serbia-Montenegro, Romania and Turkey.

    [12] Greek economic sentiment index up 10.1 pct in 2004

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Greece's economic sentiment index rose in 2004, compared with the previous year, according to data by the Economic and Industrial Research Institute (IOBE), Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Thursday.

    Speaking to reporters, Sioufas said the economic sentiment index rose by 10.1 percent in the January-December 2004 period, compared with the same period in 2003, exceeding a 9.2 percent growth average rate in the EU.

    The Greek minister stressed that the index recovered strongly last year after a 5.8 percent drop in 2003.

    The business expectations index in the manufacturing sector rose 1.7 percent last year, after a 3.4 percent drop in 2003, The business expectations index in the construction sector dropped 27.6 percent due to the post-Olympic stabilization period,

    The business expectations index in the retail sector rose 3.1 percent in 2004, and the business expectations index in the services sector jumped 13.7 percent over the same period.

    Sioufas said 2005 has started favorably for all sector indices.

    [13] Gov't urges EU to issue one- and two-euro notes

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday called on the European Union to issue banknotes for coins with denominations of one and two euros.

    "The public has a different concept of the currency's value in the form of coins or banknotes," Sioufas told a meeting of the National Consumer Council.

    In a session attended by the EU's consumer affairs commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, Sioufas said the government already had made the proposal at the bloc's Competition Council.

    "The government will intensify its efforts in this direction, Sioufas added.

    Calling on firms to lower their prices, the minister also requested consensus from companies, consumer watchdogs, and trade groups in protecting the rights of shoppers.

    [14] EU commissioner outlines nutrition, exercise action plan

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    The European Union has asked member states to submit national action plans on promoting nutrition and exercise as part of a coordinated move in the bloc, the EU commissioner for health and consumers said in Athens on Thursday.

    Addressing a meeting of the Association of Greek Food Industries (SEBT), commissioner Kyprianou said the European action platform would bring into contact representatives of the food industry, retail sales, suppliers, advertisers, consumer groups and non-government organizations working in the health sector.

    The head of SEBT, Dimitris Daskalopoulos of Delta Dairy, noted that the food industry bore responsibility for applying EU legislation on controls, safety, hygiene and labeling.

    [15] Hotel Chamber says extended shopping hours 'a positive step'

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    The Hotel Chamber of Greece on Thursday said a development ministry plan to extend shop hours around the country was a very positive step towards supporting Greek tourism.

    A Chamber announcement said Greece "as a tourist destination ought to take seriously any consumer behavior of tourists".

    The hotel chamber also urged stores to open on Sundays, and stressed that extended shopping hours would strengthen demand of retailers immediately, as a result of increased consumer spending by tourists.

    [16] Natural gas utilities of Turkey, Italy, Greece push forward with pipeline project

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    A three-party meeting between Botas, Edison and DEPA -- the three companies participating in a project to link the natural gas networks of Turkey, Italy and Greece, respectively -- reaffirmed their commitment to completing the project in timely manner.

    Participants at the meeting, held in Ravenna, Italy, on Wednesday, also agreed that the next meeting, to be held in Turkey in late April, will determine the significant financial factor of transport fees.

    DEPA, the Greek state-owned natural gas enterprise, was represented by its president and chief executive Rafael Moisis.

    Botas' general director, Mehmet Bilgic, reiterated that the Turkish side has already launched a tender for the construction of a natural gas pipeline to reach the Greek border, while adding that he expected work to begin in May.

    Construction of a natural gas pipeline in the Greek side was in the implementation stage.

    [17] Egyptian envoy decries 'bad press' aimed at Egyptian potato imports

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Egypt's diplomatic delegation in Greece on Thursday sternly countered recent local press reports based on an agriculture ministry press release earlier in the week that refers to instances of brown rot being detected in imported Egyptian potatoes.

    Egyptian ambassador to Athens Dr. Magda Shahin said the latest "bad press" against potato imports from her country into EU member Greece -- estimated at a hefty 80,000 tons a year -- merely follows earlier administrative measures aimed at blocking the crop from the out-of-season Greek market -- roughly January to April.

    In a press release dated March 15, the Greek agriculture ministry said the bacterium -- Ralstonia solanacearum -- was discovered in a batch of recently imported Egyptian potatoes, while lab tests are continuing to confirm the findings.

    Brown rot has no known implications for human or animal health, although it is termed as a serious bacterial disease that can make infected potatoes unusable.

    Shaheen said a retroactive halving of the number of Greek ports assigned to handle Egyptian potato imports, demands to change packaging in already shipped quantities and even the initial refusal of one port (Patra) to allocate warehouse space for Egyptian potatoes transported by five vessels mark a pattern of obstruction against the specific product, which she underlined is sold at extremely competitive prices.

    "Every Greek consumer should ask themselves why the import of Egyptian potatoes is continuing as normal towards Germany and England, while only in Greece are these false accusations being circulated," the envoy said, adding that even if some instances of brown rot were detected, the entire crop should not be maligned.

    Conversely, she praised efforts by the Greek foreign ministry to resolve any misunderstandings over the issue, while expressing a hope that the matter will be defused in the immediate future before involving third parties.

    The first EU controls against Egyptian potatoes were first introduced in 1996 following outbreaks of the disease in the North African nation, whereas the Community slapped a partial prohibition on that country's 2001/02 crop.

    [18] DEH denies report of alliance with French EDF

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    The Public Power Corporation (DEH), referring to an article in Thursday's edition of the newspaper "Kathimerini" that the company is said to be proceeding to a strategic alliance with the French EDF, said in an announcement on Thursday that discussions are not underway, neither is there any agreed plan between DEH and the French electricity company EDF for a joint implementation of new investments in the domestic and European market.

    [19] Stocks slump in blue-chip selling

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Stocks finished lower with players, especially institutional, selling across the board and taking the market below 3,000 points, traders said.

    The Athens general share index closed at 2,973.90 points, marking a decline of 2.43%. Turnover was 333.9 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 2.95% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 2.27% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 1.78% down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 219 to 58 with 66 remaining unchanged.

    [20] Full compensation to the families of the victims of the 'Ricomex' factory

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    The plenum of the Supreme Court, through its number 10/2005 decision which was published on Thursday, rejected the request of engineers, etc., who made nonstructural changes to the building of "Ricomex" which collapsed in the earthquake of September 7, 1999. The engineers, etc., asked for a reversal of a decision by the Appeals Court which ruled compensation to the families of the victims of the collapsed factory (39 people lost their lives). The Appeals Court attributed to the engineers, etc., the possibility of ill-intent (felony) to their actions.

    Thus, the relatives of the victims will receive full compensation ruled by the Appeals Court.

    [21] Two earthquakes jolt Samos

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Two consecutive earthquakes measuring 4.3 and 4.4 on the Richter scale jolted the island of Samos on Thursday morning, but no damage was reported.

    The earthquakes were recorded at 7:01 and 7:02 a.m., with the epicenter 259 kilometers east of Athens, on the southern part of the island.

    Thessaloniki Aristotelion University seismologist Costas Papazahos told ANA that the phenomenon was being closely monitored, although it was too early for assessments, which would require 48 hours of monitoring of the seismic activity on the island.

    Samos has produced many earthquakes, some of them of a greater magnitude than Thursday's tremblers.

    [22] "Panorama of contemporary Greek cinema" opened in Paris

    PARIS 18/3/2005 (ANA/O.Tsipira)

    Pantelis Voulgaris' film "Brides" kicked off the Panorama of contemporary Greek cinema, which began in Paris on Wednesday evening and will be running through March 29.

    The movie credits were greeted with a warm round of applause, as the movie ended. Voulgaris was unable to attend, but his wife and screenplay writer Ioanna Karystiani explained that he has just been released from the hospital, is well and is already making plans for his next film.

    Famous director Costa Gavras was present at the film's showing and highlighted the film's high quality.

    Karystiani spoke about her great respect for immigrants - the film's central theme - saying that "Emigration goes against human rights. It is a form of violence that forces us to leave behind our home country, our roots, the people we love."

    "'Brides' pays tribute to women immigrants. It is also an invitation for us to strengthen our relations through compassion, memory and love. In life everything is a journey, [either] far away, out of the country, or within the darkness inside us. Truth does not depend on geography, truth exists in thought," she said.

    Tassos Boulmeti's "Politiki Kouzina" is the second film to be shown in the context of the panorama on Thursday evening.

    [23] Turkish university honors Athens 2004 president

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Kultur, a private university based in Istanbul, honored Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, President of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee, for ''staging an Olympic Games that was superb and unique in both style and content, for her contribution in general to the Olympic Movement, and for her accomplishments in business and the international arena.''

    Students of the university selected Angelopoulos-Daskalaki from among a number of celebrity candidates, awarding her the "Courageous Woman 2004" award.

    A representative of the Greek General Consulate in Istanbul received the award on her behalf, since Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was unable to attend the ceremony.

    [24] Federation decision on Kenteris, Thanou on Friday

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    A Greek athletics federation (SEGAS) disciplinary committee is expected to hold its final session on Friday concerning possible action against world-class sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, and their controversial one-time coach Christos Tzekos over alleged anti-doping violations.

    The disciplinary committee's decision will be announced during SEGAS' board of directors' meeting ahead of its ratification by the same body.

    The final decision will then be announced to the public and the press at SEGAS' offices.

    [25] Sports minister meets with French ambassador Delaye

    Athens, 18/3/2005 (ANA)

    Deputy Culture Minister responsible for sports George Orfanos met with French Ambassador to Greece Bruno Delaye on Thursday and agreed to promote relations and exchanges between the two countries in the sports sector.

    "In the spirit of francophonie we've decided to pursue an exchange program of young people involved in sports and cultural events between France and Greece," Orfanos emphasized. "This will take place within a system which will be set up by a committee made up of representatives of the French embassy and the sports ministry and they will make all the necessary arrangements. The first phase concerns activities that will take place in 2005 and we have already decided on the exchange of 20 youngsters, aged 14-17, who will go to France. Our basic aim is to strengthen relations on a sports and cultural level," Orfanos added.

    "We also discussed the possibility of Greece participating in the conference of French-speaking countries, which will focus on sports and youth," Delaye said. According to the French ambassador, the two officials also discussed the possibility of Greece participating as an observer in the sporting event of the French-speaking countries, which will take place in Nigeria in December.

    Delaye also said that he would like the soccer teams of Marseilles and Piraeus, which are twin cities, to play against each other and asked Orfanos to convey the proposal to Piraeus' soccer team Olympiakos.

    [26] Cyprus and Poland agree on need to solve Cyprus question

    NICOSIA 18/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus and Poland believe that there is a need to resume, as soon as possible, negotiations with a view at finding a political settlement in Cyprus.

    ''We want a resumption of talks, under UN auspices, in order to find a solution as soon as possible with more active participation of the European Union,'' Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos said, adding that the UN-proposed solution plan (Annan plan) remains the framework for negotiations for a bizonal, bicommunal federation.

    Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who was paying an official visit to Cyprus, promised to do his utmost to help find a compromise solution and reiterated his government's consistent support for a single state in Cyprus, that of the Republic of Cyprus.

    Speaking after bilateral talks here on Thursday, Papadopoulos thanked Kwasniewski for the firm support Poland has extended to Cyprus and added ''we feel we can rely on Poland as a country that has always backed us at the UN and elsewhere and our course to join the EU.''

    He said the question of Cyprus, international issues and matters relating to the EU such as financial prospects for 2007-13 and assistance new member states can expect from EU funds were on the agenda of the talks.

    Papadopoulos said both countries support the European Constitution. Nicosia will ratify it through the Parliament and Warsaw in a referendum.

    The Polish president referred to a new proposal his Cypriot counterpart submitted to the UN last month and expressed hope for the resumption of a dialogue.

    ''As President Papadopoulos informed me the Republic of Cyprus has submitted a new proposal to the UN just last month and I hope that there is a chance for the resumption of a dialogue,'' he said.

    ''I can promise that we will do our utmost to find a compromise that would allow for the future unification of the island in a satisfactory fashion,'' he said, noting that Poland was often forced to take courageous measures to settle relations with its neighbors.

    Poland, he went on to say, will continue to support all initiatives by the UN and the EU for a settlement and welcomed Papadopoulos' readiness to reinitiate talks within the framework of the Annan plan.

    ''I hope these talks are reinitiated shortly,'' he said, adding that Papadopoulos had explained to him the reservations of the Greek Cypriot side on the Annan plan.

    Kwasniewski said the ''EU should be more active on this issue and help in finding a solution, especially since the guarantor states most involved in Cyprus (Britain, Greece and Cyprus, Turkey) are all but one members of the Union with the last one aspiring to join.''

    He said this is the first visit of a Polish president to Cyprus and welcomed the fact that both countries are partners within the EU, where as he pointed out, bilateral cooperation can be further developed on various issues such as science, high tech and education.

    Referring to tourism, he said both countries are popular tourist destinations but stressed the importance of proper infrastructure and ''smiling people'' to attract tourists.

    Polish president: Division of Cyprus is a very dramatic situation: Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has described as very dramatic the division of Cyprus. He stressed that his country recognizes one Cyprus Republic and expressed hope that through diplomatic efforts of the UN, the EU and mutual understanding from both sides, a solution can be found.

    Speaking after visiting the ceasefire line, accompanied by Nicosia Mayor Michalakis Zambelas who presented him with the Medal of the Town of Nicosia, Kwasniewski said he had a ''very sad impression'' of the line ''because a divided city, a divided country, a divided nation, is a very dramatic situation''.|

    [27] Cypriot President proposes new UN initiative on Cyprus

    NICOSIA 18/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)

    Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos said on Thursday that the Greek Cypriot side had proposed to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to launch a new initiative to solve the Cyprus problem.

    He explained that the proposal had been conveyed through the Cyprus Republic's Permanent Representative to the UN.

    President Papadopoulos was asked to clarify statements by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, after talks they had this morning, that the Greek Cypriot side had proposed the launching of an initiative by the UN in the direction of a Cyprus settlement.

    At his regular press briefing, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said that about a month or so ago the Greek Cypriot side had conveyed its readiness to engage in fresh negotiations on the basis of the solution plan proposed by Annan.

    He said he was not sure if the members of the National Council, top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus problem, had been informed about this move, noting that it was not an issue that demanded a special briefing.

    ''Our position is that we are ready to begin procedures of renegotiation immediately, aiming at solving the Cyprus problem,'' he pointed out.

    Chrysostomides explained that this position was conveyed to the UN at a meeting between Cyprus' Permanent Representative at the UN and the UN's Deputy Secretary General for political affairs, Sir Kieran Prendergast.

    Replying to questions, Chrysostomides said it did not matter whether this was called a proposal for a new initiative or a mere expression of will to engage in talks.

    Asked if the UN had replied, the spokesman said ''this issue is under constant discussion and examination,'' noting that any answer should come through the Republic's Permanent Representation at the UN.


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