|Sunday, 17 November 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-03-19
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 19, 2005
 Political leaders attend Parliament debate on healthcare system
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Debate over the public healthcare system and social solidarity dominated Parliament's off-the-agenda addresses on Friday, with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis first taking the podium to announce a series of legislative initiatives and reforms in the coming period.
The premier said initiatives included: reforms in primary healthcare and the code of medical ethics; upgrading the quality of provided medical services, better protection of public health, abolition of a closed-end list of prescription drugs reimbursed by state, transparency in procurement contracts and a more rational exploitation of the health ministry's property. The code of ethic changes mainly refers to stricter prohibitions against illegal payments towards physicians and hospital staff for otherwise free services.
Additionally, he criticized the state of the healthcare system that his government inherited, citing long queues of patients outside out-patient clinics, lengthy delays for prescribed medical examinations, the frequent appearance of cots in hospitals' hallways filled with patients and the lack of transparency in state contracts, among others.
"As long as there is even one cot, or one patient without a bed, we will not be satisfied," he stressed.
In terms of the nagging issue of state hospitals' debts, a matter Karamanlis lumped in with "burdens from the past (governments)", he said the government will reschedule the total debt - roughly 2.4 billion euros - in the upcoming period.
"These (debts) had not even been recorded in the budget ... this was a practice employed by (current main opposition) PASOK to transfer the burdens of the past into the present," the prime minister charged.
In addressing the legislature for a second time, following statements by opposition leaders, Karamanlis mostly countered criticism by main opposition PASOK -- "what we have defined as a four-year program will be implemented within four years ... You cannot condemn the government for not doing in one year what you have not done for a quarter of a century."
Finally, he said top state hospital administrators that agreed to work within a "new policy framework" remained at their posts and were not replaced.
"You cannot demand the maintenance of the standing establishment where tolerance towards illegality reigned; you cannot refer to meritocracy (in a sector) where you established a partisan party state," Karamanlis underlined.
Papandreou: In initially succeeding Karamanlis on the podium, main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou launched into a sharp attack over the government's economic policies, saying repercussions were being felt in the healthcare sector.
Moreover, Papandreou appeared to dismiss Karamanlis' call for consensus on policy affecting the healthcare sector, asking: "how can we consent to inactivity and the substitution of communication ploys for policy".
"As main opposition you scorned the healthcare system with your 'cockroach politics', now as the government you are demolishing it ... all of what the prime minister said is merely a continuation of PASOK government decisions," he said.
KKE: On her part, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) General Secretary Aleka Papariga noted that the prime minister "exercised only a verbal criticism of the previous government and not a substantive one".
She added that her party believes the public healthcare system should be free, extensive and modern.
"The (public) healthcare system should not burden the insured and should not exclude anyone," Papariga said.
Synaspismos: Finally, Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos charged that both Karamanlis and Papandreou failed to touch on the issue of the "massive growth", as he said, of the private healthcare sector.
He also said initiatives and actions to improve healthcare must be linked with improvements in the environment and the quality of life, calling for even stricter prohibitions against advertising of harmful products.
 Gov't on upcoming Karamanlis-Erdogan meeting
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Athens on Friday noted that all issues affecting Greece and Turkey will be up for discussion during a meeting in Brussels on Monday evening between Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos made the statement during his regular press briefing.
Moreover, he reiterated that Greece's positions on any procedure for resolving the long-standing Cyprus problem are well known and in line with proposals recently set out by Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos.
The spokesman made the statement in response to a press question referring to a proposal by EU Commission President Josť Manuel Barroso towards Erdogan for holding a three-party meeting on the Cyprus issue.
 Karamanlis receives EU Commissioner Kyprianou
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday met with visiting EU Commissioner for health and consumer protection Markos Kyprianou, the latter's first official visit to Greece since assuming the post.
The Cypriot Commissioner, who told reporters he has personally known Karamanlis for the past 20 years, briefed the Greek premier on issues falling within his portfolio.
In response to press questions, Kyprianou said the issue of the so-called "primary shareholder" law was not brought up during the meeting. He added that discussion over the matter by the Commission has been postponed ahead of a briefing by Greek Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and a team of legal experts next week.
"We will listen to the views of the Greek government and then a decision will be taken," he said.
Kyprianou was also received here by Agriculture Development Minister Evangelos Basiakos and the ministry's top political leadership.
Talks mostly revolved around an exchange of views for better monitoring of foodstuff production, imports, slaughterhouse infrastructure, animal feed checks and the humane treatment of livestock.
 PM Karamanlis to meet with German Chancellor on Monday
BERLIN 19/3/2005 (ANA/P.Stangos)Bilateral relations and issues related to international and European policy will be the key topics Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will be discussing when they meet here on Monday on the eve of the emergency EU Summit that will be held in Brussels.
According to diplomatic sources, the two leaders will also discuss the revision of the Stability Pact and the Lisbon Strategy which are the main topics on the EU Summit's agenda. According to sources, Greece's and Germany's views - each for their own reasons - converge on both issues.
On the contrary, Greece and Germany do not agree on the EU's fiscal prospects. Greece supports the European Commission's proposal that funds allocated to the Fourth Community Support Framework (2007-2013) should equal 1.24% of the EU's GDP, while Germany is adamant that funds should not exceed 1% of GDP.
Again the same sources claim that Greece will also address the Cyprus issue and Turkey's EU prospects. While Germany was one of the initiators in promoting the directive which calls for direct trade between the EU and the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, both countries more or less agree on Turkey beginning accession negotiations on October 3.
The Balkans, Kosovo and the pending issue regarding FYROM's name are also expected to be discussed during Karamanlis' and Schroeder's meeting.
 Top Italian diplomat in Athens for talks on Balkan developments
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The Italian foreign ministry's director general, Giovanni Caracciolo, on Friday met with high-ranking Greek foreign ministry officials for talks over the latest developments in the Balkans, especially the situation in Kosovo.
According to a ministry press release, the contacts are part of Athens' heightened interest in regional developments, while also emphasizing the importance that Greece bestows on close cooperation with Rome vis-a-vis the specific area.
 Balkan Committee's Political Bureau to convene in Kavala
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Future political cooperation concerning the 2007-2013 period, the new policies of the European Commission on the development of good neighborliness between European Union member-states and bordering countries and the economic development of the Balkans and the Black Sea are the issues to be discussed at the meeting of the Enlarged Political Bureau of the Balkan Committee and the Black Sea Committee.
The meeting, to be chaired by the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Regional secretary general Michalis Angelopoulos, has been scheduled for April 1 at the Balkan Committee's permanent base, the city of Kavala.
It will be the first meeting following the merging of the two Geographical Committees, the Balkan Committee and the Black Sea Committee, according to a decision taken during the General Assembly of the Union of Regional Coastal Areas of Europe in Stavanger, Norway.
 President Papoulias receives well-wishers at Presidential Mansion
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The Presidential Mansion opened its doors on Friday for the ceremony during which President Karolos Papoulias received well-wishers on the assumption of his presidential duties.
The prime minister, the Parliament President, the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, opposition party leaders, cabinet members, Supreme Court presidents, deputies and Eurodeputies, the heads of foreign diplomatic missions and other dignitaries offered their congratulations and good wishes.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis wished him "every success, good strength and keep us all united with the power of God."
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos wished him a "good term of office and every success for the nation and the people."
Main opposition PASOK party leader George Papandreou said "warm wishes. I am confident that you will do well."
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga wished him a "good effort in difficult international conditions."
Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party leader Alekos Alavanos said "I wish you every success and health."
The ceremony was not attended by former prime ministers Costas Simitis and Constantine Mitsotakis.
 Gov't on judicial investigation into 1999-2000 bourse dealings
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The government reiterated on Friday that the Athens Stock Exchange "bubble" of 1999-2000 "is not forgotten and will not be written-off".
In response to a press question during his regular briefing, government spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos said an in-depth judicial investigation has proceeded, while the entire issue -- which he initially termed as the "stock market scandal" -- has now been referred to Parliament.
 FM to attend White House ceremony marking Greece's National Independence Day
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, at the invitation of U.S. President George W. Bush, will attend a ceremony at the White House on March 28 to mark Greece's National Independence Day (March 25th).
A relevant announcement was issued on Friday by the Foreign Ministry on Friday.
 PASOK leader Papandreou meets new Secretary of party's National Council
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou met on Friday with the Secretary of the party's National Council, Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou, to whom he wished good luck in her new duties.
Papandreou assessed that "there was a very positive acceptance not only at the National Council, but in general in Greek society" to her election and added that "we are ready for reforms and work."
Xenoyiannakopoulou thanked Papandreou for his confidence in her and committed herself that with all her strength she will try to offer "in this new phase PASOK has entered, in this new victorious course" so that "we can all proceed together forward, collectively and dynamically."
 Euronem hosts event on Turkey's EU accession course
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The Athens-based European Network of Communications and Information (Euronem) in association with the European Parliament's office in Athens hosted a special event on Friday dedicated to Turkey's EU accession course.
Participating in the event were PASOK MP Evangelos Venizelos, Member of SYN's (Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology) political secretariat Nikos Chountis, honorary ambassador Vyron Theodoropoulos and international expert Panayiotis Karafotias.
During his address, Venizelos referred to the issues the EU will have to address if Turkey becomes an EU member and predicted that if Turkey does join the EU at the time it is estimated that it will, many things will have changed by then and the European Union may very well be transformed into a union of 'two-speed Europe'. For Greece, Venizelos said that Turkey's EU accession would perhaps mean stability and security in bilateral relations and the possibility of stronger economic and trade relations.
Regarding ratification of the European Constitution, Chountis said he favored that a referendum be held to decide the treaty's ratification. As for Turkey, Chountis expressed concerns that Turkey's accession would create problems. "These problems are related to the economy, foreign policy, but also to the European Union's boundaries," he said.
Theodoropoulos stressed the logistical problems that Turkey's EU accession would create, due to the country's size, but also its poor performance regarding human rights. The ambassador also discussed the possible problems that may arise if Turkey does not join the EU, highlighting the tension Ankara might create for Brussels in terms of foreign policy. As for the free movement of people, Theodoropoulos said that Greece had every right to be particularly cautious and on-guard in respect to Turkey.
Finally, Karafotias discussed the concerns Europeans have regarding Turkey's possible EU accession. He cited Muslim fundamentalism, Turkey's slow rate of democratization, and the continuous and extensive violation of human rights as top concerns.
 ND alternate secretary holds talks with Greek American community dignitaries
NEW YORK 19/3/2005 (ANA/P. Panayiotou)Ruling New Democracy (ND) party Alternate Secretary Ioannis Miras had contacts of both a courtesy and informative character with dignitaries of the Greek American community during his brief stay here.
His main destination in the United States was Washington, where he represented ND at the International Democratic Union (IDU), of which ND is an active member.
The IDU's work included the meeting with the Campaign Managers Committee, at which a detailed analysis was made of the election campaign of George Bush by Ken Mehlman, the head of the Republican party, and by Terry Nelson, a state political director.
A similar presentation of the successful election campaign of Australia's Liberals and of re-elected Prime Minister John Howard was made by the party's federal director Brian Loughnane.
"The active presence of ND at these forums not only gives it the possibility of having stable and useful knowledge and an aspect of how international developments are shaped in strategic decision-making centers, but also guarantees it a place in the charter of protagonists and not of spectators," Miras said in a statement to the Athens News Agency (ANA).
 KKE delegation meets with exiled Kurdish political groups
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The situation in Iraq and the Kurdish issue, among others, was discussed here on Friday by visiting delegation of the political party Kogra-Gel and the exiled Kurdish parliament with a delegation from the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
According to a KKE press release, an exchange of views took place at the meeting, particularly over the situation in Iraq and repercussions for the Kurds, Turkey's EU prospects and even the condition of Kurdish refugees in Greece.
 Anti-war rally held in Athens on Iraqi war anniversary
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)An anti-war rally was held in front of the Athens University on Friday afternoon by members of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) affiliated union PAME and the Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace.
Speakers said the rally was held "on the occasion of the second anniversary since the outbreak of war by NATO and America in Iraq and six years since the black anniversary of the war against the people of Yugoslavia."
The main message sent by demonstrators was "an end to the participation of Greek soldiers in NATO and EU troops and Greece's abstention from the operations of the new world order."
PAME representatives said the rally comes at a time when considerable anti-war mobilizations are taking place in most cities in Greece. The rally is not only aimed at ''keeping alive memory of imperialist crimes but it is also aimed at denouncing new criminal plans being processed and implemented by the Americans against peoples in the name of combatting terrorism.''
Peace group organizes anti-war rally in Thessaloniki: Hundreds of people participated in an anti-war rally organized in the northern city of Thessaloniki on Friday by the Thessaloniki Committee for International Detente and Peace, holding photographs of victims from bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia.
Demonstrators called for a pullout of all occupation armies from Iraq and Afghanistan and the immediate return home of all Greek soldiers.
According to an announcement by the Committee, the rally was organized to mark the second anniversary "of the criminal attack and occupation, by the U.S. and its allies from the European Union and NATO, of Iraq and six years since the barbaric America-NATO war in Yugoslavia and the occupation of Kosovo."
The demonstrators marched by the U.S. consulate, where they burnt an American flag and shouted anti-war slogans, and by the British consulate before returning to the statue of Venizelos, where they gathered, and dispersing without incident.
 Two helicopters of the Greek Army join EU peacekeeping force in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Two Chinook helicopters of the Greek Army landed in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Friday afternoon to join the EU peacekeeping force already stationed there, according to the Greek Defense Minister.
 Greek fiscal deficit jumped to 6.1 pct of GDP in 2004, Eurostat
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Eurostat on Friday revised upwards Greece's fiscal deficit to 6.1 percent of GDP in 2004 and the country's public debt to 110.5 percent of GDP over the same year.
The EU executive's statistics agency, in its report on EU member-states' fiscal condition, said Greece's fiscal deficit was the highest in the EU-25, followed by Malta (5.2 pct), Poland (4.8 pct), Hungary (4.5 pct) and Cyprus (4.2 pct). Only six EU members reported a fiscal surplus last year. Denmark (2.8 pct), Finland (2.1 pct), Estonia (1.8 pct), Sweden (1.4 pct), Ireland (1.3 pct) and Belgium (0.1 pct). The EU's average fiscal deficit was 2.6 percent of average GDP, while Eurozone's average deficit was 2.7 pct in 2004.
Greece's public debt was also the highest in the EU, followed by Italy (105.8 pct), Belgium (95.6 pct), Malta (75 pct) and Cyprus (71.9 pct). The average public debt in the EU was 63.8 pct of average GDP, while in the Eurozone was 71.3 pct.
Greece's fiscal deficits were 3.6 pct in 2001, 4.1 pct in 2002 and 5.2 pct in 2003, while its public debt was 114.8 pct, 112.2 pct and 109.3 pct, over the same period respectively.
Eurostat, in its announcement, said it could revise again data for Greece, Italy, Portugal, Latvia and Lithuania in the future.
Greek gov't cooperates closely with Eurostat to address past problems: Greece's Economy and Finance ministry on Friday said that Eurostat's figures on the country's fiscal deficit and public debt over the last four years reflected the heritage of fiscal disorder and irresponsibility left to New Democracy's government by the previous PASOK governments.
Commenting on Eurostat's data, showing Greece's fiscal deficit at 6.1 pct of GDP in 2004, the country's Economy and Finance ministry said the government was cooperating closely with the European Commission to promoting fiscal transparency and to address past problems, such as recording EU funds' inflows, unrecorded state hospitals' debt to suppliers and Olympic Games' spending.
Greece needs more fiscal adjustment efforts, Commission says: The EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner's spokeswoman on Friday said figures released by Eurostat concerning Greece's fiscal deficit and public debt were not final, and noted there were issues needed to be clarified between the EU's statistics agency and Greek authorities.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Almunia's spokeswoman said the European Commission expected a strict implementation of Greek budget this year, while she noted that following Eurostat's data, Greece's fiscal adjustment effort would be higher than original estimates.
She stressed that an ECOFIN council agreed to activate Article 104G against Greece over the country's excessive fiscal deficit and noted it was the first time that an EU member-state entered this particular stage of the process.
Main opposition says government unable to manage state finances: The main opposition (PASOK) party on Friday accused the government of being unable to manage state finances following release earlier in the day by Eurostat of Greek budget deficit figures.
"This confirms the New Democracy government's total inability to manage Greece's state finances," PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said in a statement.
"The government is submitting new data for 2000 and 2003 adopting an accounting method for hospital debts that it had rejected for defense spending. The government should explain this," Athanassakis said.
The New Democracy government took office in March, 2004.
Government says it inherited unpaid bills: In a separate statement, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros responded that the current administration had inherited unpaid bills from its predecessor.
The debts left by the PASOK government covered hospitals, defense, Olympics projects, and election pledges never included in the 2004 budget, Antonaros said.
"PASOK should make a major apology to the Greek public for the massive deficits and debts that it left behind," he added.
 FinMin in Brussels on Sunday for Eurogroup meeting
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Greek Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis will represent Greece at an extraordinary Eurogroup and an expanded Eurogroup Council meeting in Brussels on Sunday, to discuss plans to reform an EU's Stability and Growth Pact.
Alogoskoufis will remain in Brussels to participate in a Spring European Summit to be held in Brussels on Wednesday, March 23. The Greek minister will present the country's updated Stability and Growth Program for the period 2004-2007 to the European Commission on March 30.
Alogoskoufis, on Friday, met with Culture Alternate Minister Fani Palli-Petralia to discuss a draft law on the use of Olympic facilities and also with the presidency of the Greek Banks' Union on progress of adopting International Accounting Standards by Greek financial institutions.
 Bank of Greece shows lower 2004 earnings
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Athens-quoted Bank of Greece, the country's central bank, on Friday reported net earnings after provisions in 2004 of 205.6 million euros, down from 218.3 million euros a year earlier.
Management is to offer shareholders a dividend on 2004 earnings of 2.85 euros per share, marking a decline from 2.55 euros in 2003, the bank said in a statement.
On the basis of the stock's close on December 31, 2004, the proposed dividend corresponds to returns of 3.0%, the statement said.
Results were not affected by provisions of 558 million euros for future payments to social insurance funds. Net revenue from interest rose by 55.1 million euros to 325.9 million euros in 2004, it added.
 New offer from OTE telecom to break deadlock in early pension talks
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The chairman and managing director of Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), Panayis Vourloumis, has personally invited the Athens-quoted company's staff union to return to the negotiating table for talks on terms of an early retirement scheme.
Vourloumis asked the OME-OTE union to propose members for a worker-management committee that will make recommendations on terms of employment for new staff, the issue that formerly scotched finalization of a preliminary agreement between the two sides, sources said on Friday.
 Greek, Cypriot central banks sign memorandum of cooperation
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The central banks of Greece and Cyprus on Friday signed a memorandum of cooperation envisaging closer cooperation in supervision of financial institutions in both countries.
The memorandum was signed in Athens by Bank of Greece governor Nikolaos Garganas and Bank of Cyprus governor Christodoulos Christodoulou. The signing ceremony was accompanied by a wide range of contacts between high-ranking officials between the two central banks with emphasis given to preparation work ahead of Cyprus' entry in the Eurozone.
The two sides also discussed monetary and foreign exchange policies, communication policy and the need for organizing and regulatory adjustments for the adoption of the single European currency.
 Development ministry urges investigation on consumer products' pricing policies
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Friday asked the Competition Commission to investigate pricing policies in the production and distribution of frozen vegetables, detergents and other consumer products in the country.
In a letter sent to Competition Commission president Spyros Zisimopoulos, the Greek minister said the investigation should seek to unveil any breach of free competition rules in the country since prices in these products varied significantly in the Greek market, compared with other European markets.
Sioufas, accompanied by Deputy Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, also met with Christos Polyzogopoulos, president of GSEE -the country's largest trade union umbrella- and other officials to discuss ways to support the operation of a Labor Academy in the country.
 Greek industrialists call for more links with Turkish firms
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The Association of Greek Industry (SEB) on Friday called for closer links between domestic and Turkish firms.
"Greek and Turkish businesses should cooperate closely in order to play a leading role in economic developments of the Euro-Asian area," SEB's deputy president, Thanassis Lavidas, told a conference on business ties between the two countries.
"There is intense activity in a market of 100 million consumers through beneficial synergies. Incentives for cooperation are the dynamic presence and experience of Turkish companies in Eurasia, and the Turkish economy's gradual European shift" Lavidas said.
The conference was held as part of an international industrial furniture trade fair in Istanbul, WIN 2005, at which SEB coordinated Greece's participation as featured country. The event ends on March 20.
 GNTO employees vote for new representatives
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The DAKE grouping received a majority of votes (51 percent) by National Tourism Organization (GNTO or EOT) employees in a union election this past week.
The Union of Regional Tourism Employees came in second with 23 percent, while the PASKE grouping was third with 19 percent.
 Stocks nose up in correction
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished higher with players buying into blue chips in the wake of declining sessions, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,979.05 points, marking an increase of 0.17%. Turnover was 209.3 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.38% up; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.57% lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.38% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 147 to 113 with 79 remaining unchanged.
 Athens Mayor inaugurates Greek Fashion Week
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis on Thursday inaugurated the first official Greek Fashion Week, organized by the Panhellenic Club of Fashion Designers under the auspices of the municipality of Athens.
Presentation of participating designers' clothes, for the 2005-06 Winter season, begins on Friday afternoon and will be completed on Sunday.
Mrs Bakoyannis, in its inaugurating speech, welcomed both designers and visitors and stressed the significance given in efforts to better organize and promote Greek fashion with the aim to become a substantial commercial asset for the country.
"The Greek Fashion Week is an event that will bring Athens and Greece in general back to the world stage and will integrate Greek fashion creativity to a profitable world fashion industry," the Athens Mayor said.
A total of 27 established and five new Greek fashion designers will present their latest creations during the show, including Mihalis Aslanis, Daphne Valente, Christos Veloudakis, Fani Voutsela, Lakis Gavalas, Deux Hommes, Kathy Heyndels, Liana Kamba, Lucia, MI-RO, Nikos-Takis, Makis Tselios, Markellos Nyktas, etc.
The Fashion Week show also includes a fashion photo exhibition by Nikos Vardakastanis.
 European Commission sounds alarm on possible flu epidemic
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)A flu epidemic with fatalities possibly amounting to 30 million all over the world, according to the most pessimistic scenario, might appear according to the theory of time cycles which appears every 30-35 years.
The European Commission is already sounding the alarm and is trying to coordinate efforts at European level so as to minimize risks.
This was stressed by European Union Cyprus Commissioner Markos Kyprianou during a press conference in Athens on Friday and in reply to questions by the press.
Kyprianou said that the optimistic scenario for a flu epidemic, if it takes place, anticipates seven million deaths worldwide and for this reason both the European Union and the World Health Organization are sounding the alarm.
They have already begun a dialogue with pharmaceutical companies in the EU to ensure that vaccine production will be adequate to meet needs. Cooperation between the public and private sectors is expected for this purpose, while the issue of vaccine storage will also be raised.
Kyprianou's visit is the first visit to Greece by a Cyprus Commissioner.
 Souflias, Bakoyannis discuss prospects for new Panathinaikos stadium
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Town Planning and Public Works Minister George Souflias on Friday received Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis for talks that revolved around the site of a new sports facility for a popular Athens club and the status of squares within the municipality still falling under the jurisdiction of the central government.
Both officials said Panathinaikos' club managements (pro football, pro basketball and amateur sports) will be called on to decide between three options: the Goudi site in east Athens that sits on land formerly used as military barracks and training grounds; the Helliniko site adjacent to the disused former Athens airport southeast of downtown Athens; and the Votanikos site, a recent proposal by Bakoyannis for basing an ultra-modern sports multiplex in the post-industrial and currently gritty district close to Omonia square in central Athens.
"When the team decides we will outline the building permit conditions, as the ministry has the responsibility for town planning," Souflias said, adding that Panathinaikos should move from its current home field off Leoforos Alexandras boulevard, a small and out-dated pitch originally built before WWII.
Local residents have warned of mobilizations and lawsuits to prevent the facility from being built in Goudi, whereas club officials have in the past voiced reservations about coastal Helliniko -- it falls outside the municipality of Athens -- and the Votanikos option was only recently tabled by Bakoyannis.
 Greek deputies refuse to take part in soccer tournament in Antalya
ANTALYA, Turkey 19/3/2005 (ANA/A. Makridis)Greek deputies have declined to participate in a soccer tournament of deputies of Balkan countries which is taking place in Antalya because the deputies of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are participating as "Macedonians".
According to the Greek deputies who were due to participate in the tournament, it was agreed through diplomatic channels for the national teams to be present with the name of their capital. However, it was ascertained that what was agreed was not implemented, while on the contrary, in a press release distributed in the Turkish language, the FYROM team appeared with the term "Macedonia", the remaining with their corresponding national names.
After consultations, the Greek deputies through their head, Arta deputy K. Karabinas, explained to their Turkish colleagues the inability of the Greek team to participate in the tournament under these conditions.
 SEGAS clears sprinters Kenteris and Thanou, IAAF expresses surprise
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)The Hellenic Association of Amateur Athletics (SEGAS) on Friday cleared Greek sprinters Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou, the two athletes who dropped out of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games after charges that they had evaded doping tests. Their coach, Christos Tzekos, however, was suspended from professional sports for four years.
Following SEGAS' decision, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), issued the following statement:
"The IAAF notes the decision to suspend the coach Christos Tzekos for a period of four years but was surprised to learn that the sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou have been cleared of charges that they tried to evade doping controls.
The IAAF is now looking forward to receiving full documentation in English about this decision, and this will be carefully considered by our Doping Review Board.
The IAAF will then decide whether to accept or reject the decision, and in the latter case it reserves the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration in Sport."
Tzekos, on his part, stated the following after SEGAS' decision was announced: "I am very happy that Kenteris and Thanou have been cleared. I don't care about anything else. I don't feel like the scapegoat; I am satisfied that the two [athletes] were found innocent by the disciplinary committee. I will continue to do what I did right after the Olympic Games - nothing."
 M. Kyriakou meets with IOC President in Lausanne
Athens, 19/3/2005 (ANA)Minos Kyriakou, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) met with Jacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at IOC headquarters in Lausanne on Friday.
During the meeting, Kyriakou and Rogge discussed issues related to the Olympic Movement in Greece as well as the role that the HOC must play on an international level.
"We had a sincere and very constructive discussion with President Jacques Rogge," Kyriakou said after the meeting. "We particularly talked about the matter regarding Ancient Olympia and upgrading its role. I hope that the government will be willing to aid our efforts," he added.
Rogge on his part, said that Kyriakou, with his knowledge and passion for sports was an excellent choice as the person to head the HOC. The IOC president emphasized that the HOC is a very important committee for the Olympic Movement, particularly after the successful staging of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Lambis Nikolaou, former HOC president and member of the IOC Executive Board, was also present at the meeting. "We agreed to upgrade the International Olympic Academy (IOA) based on the IOC's plans, according to which, the IOA will play an international role," Nikolaou said.
 Cyprus President Papadopoulos: We are conducting investigative contacts
NICOSIA 19/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Greek Cypriot side is conducting investigative contacts and has not submitted a proposal to the UN for the resumption of talks on Cyprus, President Tassos Papadopoulos stressed on Friday.
He told reporters on Friday evening that the UN was right in saying no proposal was made by the Greek Cypriots to the UN for the resumption of negotiations to solve the Cyprus problem.
Invited to comment on the UN's reaction to deny that the Greek Cypriot side had submitted a proposal, President Papadopoulos said that the UN made the statement because it was mentioned that a proposal was made. He added that ''the UN is right, a proposal was not made, instead investigative contacts were held.''
Speaking after the opening ceremony of the multisports' complex named ''General Evangelos Florakis,'' the president said he was not obliged to announce every effort and action that is taken ''on a daily basis to achieve the resumption of the talks under conditions that will safeguard a positive result.''
To a remark that the opposition questioned the credibility of both the president and the government, following Thursday's reference by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski to a proposal by the Greek Cypriot side to the UN to restart talks, and the subsequent statement made by the UN that no formal proposal was made, President Papadopoulos pointed out ''that is not what'' the Polish president said.
President Papadopoulos added that Kwasniewski said he heard from the president that contacts were made so that the Secretary-General would try to create the conditions for the commencement of the negotiations.
''Unfortunately, what else can I do when all day long they say we do not want a solution,'' the president wondered, adding that ''in every official meeting I have, I must spend a lot of time trying to convince them that on the contrary we are promoting a solution.''
Asked if there is any reason for the National Council to be informed, President Papadopoulos replied, ''Not in my opinion.''
''It is the government's firm policy, supported by the National Council, that we should pursue in every manner possible the resumption of the talks,'' the president concluded.
 Cyprus' Spokesman says Talat should make up his mind
NICOSIA 19/3/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said on Friday Turkish Cypriot politician Mehmet Ali Talat should decide which constitution suits him, noting that Talat cites either the Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus or that of the illegal regime in the Turkish occupied areas, depending on the situation.
Chrysostomides was invited to comment on a claim by so-called prime minister Talat that in the event a Turkish Cypriot school opens in Limassol it should not operate under the Ministry of Education of the Republic, according to the Cyprus Constitution.
The regime in the areas occupied in Cyprus since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the island, is recognized only by Ankara.
Chrysostomides said the issue of the Turkish Cypriot school was being examined by the Republic and the UN.
''Mr. Talat always operates a la carte. When it suits him he refers to the 1960 Constitution, and in other instances, such as the murder of Guzeltyurtlu (a Turkish Cypriot murdered in the
government-controlled areas along with two members of his family), he refused to recognize the authority of the Republic of Cyprus to provide information and hand over the suspects to the authorities of the Republic for further investigation,'' he added.