|Thursday, 22 October 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-06-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 5, 2006
 Public awareness drive for World Environment Day
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)A three-day public awareness campaign began at the weekend, culminating in World Environment Day on Monday.
Syntagma Square in the centre of Athens was filled with stands carrying information leaflets for the public offered by the borough of Athens, parliament's environmental protection committee and other pro-environment organizations.
"Only through environmental education for each of us can the quality of life be improved for all," Athens Mayor Theodoros Behrakis told visitors.
Hundreds of Athenians took part in a day run, followed by a celebration in central Athens, arranged by borough authorities and backed by the transport ministry with the Greek Olympic Committee. Among the runners was the ruling New Democracy party's mayoral candidate for the capital, Nikitas Kaklamanis, a doctor and former health minister.
In addition, the Environment, Town Planning and Public Works ministry held its own campaign whose main slogan was: "You depend on the environment more than you think." On Monday, the minister, George Souflias, will visit the country's first sea park on the Ionian island of Zakynthos where the Caretta turtle is protected.
"The truth is that in Greece we were slower to realize (the importance of the environment). Condemnation and Greece's pending issues with the European Union and the European Court on the environment, which were bequeathed to us by the previous government, are due to that, along with the lack of environmental training for the Greek public," Souflias said in a statement to mark the occasion.
"Over the past 27 months, we have been making systematic efforts at the ministry for the environment. We have evidently not had enough time to handle all the pending issues of the past 20 years. However, a huge task has been carried out which is recognized by European Union services," he added.
 "Development with no tomorrow" blamed
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)In a message for the occasion, President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias blamed unbridled and unplanned development for environmental destruction as "development with no tomorrow."
"Nowadays, we need a different kind of revolution: a cultural revolution, a radical change in attitude and behavior. We must adopt a correct stand towards Nature, a new ethos, the environmental ethos," Papoulias urged.
"We must come to realize that what we should be seeking is prosperity not wealth," he added.
In another message for World Environment Day, Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis urged seamen to act as an example in protection of the marine environment.
"The sea is an element of vital importance for the country's economy, and for our daily lives. This should be a day of reflection, especially for seamen, as the sea is their place of work, and of toil and of social contribution," the minister noted.
At the same time, the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement complained in a statement that the government had failed to meet its election pledges on the environment.
According to the Communist Party of Greece, a radically new policy was needed for the environment that had no links to profit-generating capitalism and the free-market economy.
In another message, Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece said that whoever loved God also loved the environment.
 Free Dutch roses
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)In a surprise event, Athens-quoted Public Power Corporation (PPC) will give away roses grown in its greenhouse located in the Western Macedonia Lignite Centre.
Three rare species of Dutch roses are grown in the greenhouse, replacing vegetable and herbs grown in previous years.
PPC will also open its Ptolemaida lignite mine to the public, offering guided tours of the interior and areas that have been environmentally restored.
 New call for court to mend ties between Greece, Turkey
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)The former president of the republic, Kostis Stephanopoulos, has restated that employing the International Court at The Hague is an option for the resolution of differences with Turkey, and that demilitarization of the Aegean islands would be an error until agreement is reached.
"Militarization of the (eastern Aegean) islands is necessary as long as there is a threat....After a total decision on all matters at the court, if such a decision is obtained and our relations with Turkey are definitively settled, then there would no longer be a danger of war, nor danger for the islands," Stephanopoulos said in an article published in the Sunday Kathimerini newspaper.
Stephanopoulos, a popular and respected president who served two consecutive terms, initially stated his case for use of the international court in an article last week that sparked a storm of debate among politicians and the public.
"The article's basic concept was to find a solution for all Greek-Turkish differences, in order to restore calm in the two countries' ties. Only when we propose referral of all our differences to the international court will Turkey is compelled to accept the court's jurisdiction, which it has so far sought to avoid," the ex-president stated.
"My proposal seeks avoidance not only of war, but also of heated incidents. My patriotism and my rationale remain intact, and have not been hurt by comments against my article," Stephanopoulos noted.
He also welcomed both the support and opposition that the article had generated as a stimulus to debate and action.
Stephanopoulos also responded to statements by the defense minister on demilitarization of the eastern Aegean islands, which face Turkey.
"I have proposed referral of the matter to the international court, not demilitarization....Militarization of the islands is necessary as long as the threat is extant....When the threat is removed, the minister may then think about what he will do. I do not wish to intervene further in his duties," Stephanopoulos said.
He also clarified that he had not meant "grey areas" fabricated by Turkey should be taken to court by Greece. "I have in mind Turkey's ability to do this, unilaterally."
In his original article, Stephanopoulos had said that use of International Court was the only way forward as other attempts to find a solution had failed, both in the process of Turkey's EU entry negotiations and bilateral moves under the Helsinki pact.
Among issues that should go to The Hague were limits of Greek territorial waters; delineation of the Aegean continental shelf; demilitarization of the islands; and entry by Turkish aircraft into the Athens Flight Information Region without flight plans, barring a ruling by the ICAO.
In addition, recourse to the court should be preceded by an agreement between the two countries as Turkey was not part of the court's founding protocol.
Furthermore, Greece's policy of recognizing only one difference with Turkey - delineating the Aegean continental shelf - lacked seriousness. A failure to seek a solution through the International
Court would leave outstanding issues untouched, perpetuating current problems and the threat of a heated incident.
Finally, Stephanopoulos stated that use of the court fell under the Helsinki resolution, which set a deadline for talks until the end of 2004 to be followed by recourse to the court, a move that would guarantee the support of Greece's EU partners.
 Greeks back diplomatic solution with Turkey
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)The majority of Greeks favor a diplomatic solution to differences between Greece and Turkey employing the International Court of Justice at The Hague, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday.
In the poll commissioned by the To Thema newspaper, 66% of respondents backed using the court with 25.7% against and 8.3% unable or unwilling to answer.
The court proposal was made by the former president of the republic, Kostis Stephanopoulos, in an article published on May 28. The nationwide poll was conducted by Metron Analysis on May 30-June 1 with a sample of 800 people.
Supporting a referendum on recourse to the court were 50.5% of respondents, with 43.8% saying the decision should be taken by the government.
On taking a dispute with Turkey over delineation of the Aegean continental shelf to The Hague, 63.7% agreed, 26.2% disagreed, and 10.1% declined to reply.
Other items in a hypothetical agenda at the international court were the status of disputed islets in the eastern Aegean (48.7% in favor, 46.3% against); non-extension of national airspace (46.4% in favor, 43.8% against); non-extension of Greece's territorial waters (46.2% in favor, 45.1% against).
Asked whether they backed demilitarization of the eastern Aegean islands, 54.7% were against, and 8.8% offered no reply.
At the same time, 50.8% of respondents want Greece to maintain its backing for Turkey's move towards the European Union, with 43% against and 6.2% declining to reply.
Concerning acts of provocation by Turkey, Greece should persist in diplomatic settlement, according to 73.4% of people polled. Another 20.5% believe that Greece should respond in like kind, and 1.2% said the country should respond dynamically.
Tension in the Aegean served Turkey's ends, 51.3% respondents said. According to 1.8% the tension served Greece, with 6.4% believing it benefited both sides. Seeing no benefit to either party were 37.1% of people polled.
Favoring the policy on Turkey conducted by former premier Andreas Papandreou in the 1980s and first half of the 1990s were 37.9%. Backing the policy of Constantine Karamanlis before Papandreou were 16.8% of respondents, followed by another ex-premier Costas Simitis at 9.1% from the mid-1990s to 2004.
In support of current premier Costas Karamanlis were 7.5%, and Constantine Mitsotakis in the early 1990s drew 1.9%. Favoring none of the leaders were 15.3% of respondents. Another 11.4% declined to answer.
Asked whether they felt more confidence in Premier Karamanlis handling issues with Turkey or main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) leader George Papandreou, the late Andreas Papandreou's son, 40.3% opted for Karamanlis and 28.8% the PASOK chief. Twenty five percent backed neither and 4.6% gave no answer.
 FM Bakoyannis to meet New Zealand Governor-General
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis will meet on Monday with Governor-General of New Zealand Dame Silvia Cartwright who is on an official state visit to Greece, a foreign ministry press release said on Sunday.
Bakoyannis will also meet on Monday with U.S. Ambassador to Athens Charles Ries.
 Main opposition outlines election platform
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Saturday outlined its election platform for local elections this year.
"The battle will be to improve democracy and the quality of life, back (rights for) citizens, and overturn an anachronistic and centralized model of government," party leader George Papandreou told a nationwide meeting on local government.
"PASOK's new face of government will adhere as closely as possible to the public's decisions. This is the essential difference between PASOK and Premier Karamanlis' New Right, conservative government," Papandreou said.
Among items for public debate was the city of the future, he noted.
Papandreou also stated that the final and detailed version of the party's platform would be presented before elections.
The party's shadow economic spokeswoman, Vasso Papandreou, underlined the need for change in the country's growth model as part of strategy for 2007-2013 and beyond.
Needed were reform of the country's administrative structure as part of fiscal and economic policy, along with change of the social state, education and health.
In addition, the creation of an environment conducive to business was required, Papandreou said.
PASOK was committed to spending 80% of funds on regional projects, with 50% of that total destined for regional programs, she added.
 Papandreou hails procedure for naming PASOK candidate
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Sunday hailed the way local members chose the party's mayoral candidate for the October local government elections in the Athens northern suburb of Maroussi, saying it "strengthened democratic procedures not only in Greece but on a world level as well".
"We want to record down and transfer this experience to many parts of the world...and to use it in other cities (of the country) and for different issues, Papandreou said congratulating the participants.
The procedure followed involved questions from the participating members to the candidates and a two round vote. Panos Alexandris won the election and will be the official PASOK mayoral candidate in Maroussi.
 Communists fear trouble in Aegean Sea, Thrace
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) fears that danger could emerge in the Aegean Sea and northeastern region of Thrace, which borders on Turkey, according to a central committee policy statement released on Sunday.
Economic, political and military interests of the USA are forcing its government to readjust goals and make them more concrete, the document said.
The KKE stated that "Greece should keep out of any imperialist war against Iran or any other of the world's peoples;" and refrain from voting in favor of measures at the UN that aim to exert pressure.
In addition, the country should scrap commitments that would directly or indirectly involve Greece in hostilities; NATO'S Souda base on Crete should close down; all Greek troops abroad should return home; and no soldiers should remain in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Balkan countries or elsewhere, the statement said.
Turning to Turkey, the party stated that the neighboring country was aggressively promoting its claims in the Aegean and claiming joint management due to what it calls "unspecified status" of certain areas.
"It is clear that a de facto operation is in full swing to divide the Aegean that began many years ago directed by the US and NATO," the KKE said.
"The current New Democracy government's responsibility is enormous, as is that of (its predecessor) PASOK, because of which the Greek people has experience of active participation in all European Union and NATO procedures, climaxing in aiding their allies in imperialist wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq," the party noted.
Main opposition PASOK has repeatedly stated that it backs the country's foreign policy; and, along with New Democracy, has exploited the policies of the parliamentary Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology as an "alibi" for their choices, the document said.
 SYN leader reiterates positions on Greek-Turkish relations
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) leader Alekos Alavanos on Saturday reiterated his party's position in favor of the referral of problems in Greek-Turkish relations to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Addressing a meeting of Synaspismos officials, Alavanos also called for a broad debate on relations with the neighboring country because, as he said, the issue of the Aegean continental shelf was not the only problem separating Greece and Turkey.
Referring to the October local government elections, Alavanos said he was optimistic about his party's options and noted Synaspismos' policy of alliances.
 Black Sea group for ethnic Greeks welcomed
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)The president of the Federation of Greek Communities of Russia, Ivan Savvidis, on Saturday welcomed creation of a new region by World Council of Hellenes Abroad for the Black Sea countries.
"I am convinced that this new region will not be divided, but will constitute a sound link with the remaining Greeks of the diaspora," Savvidis, who is also a parliamentary deputy in Russia, told the ANA-MPA in an interview.
"Greeks of the former Soviet Union have different problems as they are not migrants, and have a 300-year history," he added.
Savvidis was speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of World Council coordinators for the European region held in the northern port city of Thessaloniki.
 EU Okays Greece, Cyprus projects
NICOSIA, 5/6/2006 (ANA-MPA)A steering committee for a European Union funded cross-border program on Saturday approved funding for 35 cooperation projects between Greece and Cyprus totalling 17 million euros.
The projects, which are co-financed from the EU's structural funds as part of the 25-member bloc's Interreg program, include business, training for civil servants and the environment.
 Greece to give EU strategic reference plan
NICOSIA, 5/6/2006 (ANA-MPA)Greece is to give the European Union its National Strategic Reference Framework for 2007-2013, visiting Greek Deputy Finance Minister, Christos Folias, said on Sunday.
"The reference framework will describe Greece's main growth targets on a national, sector and regional level, in order to ensure the best planning and the best conditions for the use of EU funds," Folias told a meeting on promoting women in Europe.
"The government is targeting economic and social inclusion for all people, and equality of opportunity for all citizens, both men and women," he said.
The national reference framework is a requirement of new EU regulations for funding under structural and cohesion funds in 2007-2013.
 Development minister in Finland
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas is paying a three-day official visit to Finland invited by his counterpart Mauri Pekkarinen, his office said on Sunday.
Sioufas visited Jyvaskyla University's nanotechnology department and major industrial companies in the city including Metso Paper Oy, Moventas Oy and UPM.
On Monday, Sioufas will hold talks with Pekkarinen, later visiting a technological park and the headquarters of Nokia, the telecoms multinational.
 Helicopter scoops two prisoners out of jail5/6/2006
Two prisoners staged a spectacular escape on Sunday when a helicopter landed in the yard of Korydallos jail and spirited them away, police said.
After picking up the two at Korydallos jail near Piraeus, the helicopter dropped them off near a cemetery not far from the prison, police quoted witnesses as saying.
The Greek and Albanian inmates then drove off on motorcycles, according to witnesses.
Police said that the prisoners escaped with the help of two accomplices who had hired the helicopter from the southern coastal suburb of Aghios Kosmas.
The accomplices threatened the helicopter's pilot with a pistol and a hand grenade, forcing him to land in the prison yard before taking the two escapees.
Justice ministry orders inquiry into jailbreak 5/6/2006
The justice ministry said on Sunday that a preliminary inquiry had been ordered over an escape from Korydallos jail when a helicopter landed in the prison yard and spirited away two Greek and Albanian inmates.
Justice Ministry General Secretary Panayiotis Panouris said in a statement that Minister Anastasios Papaligouras had immediately ordered the inquiry along with an internal administrative inquiry under oath.
Opposition slams gov't over jailbreak 5/6/2006
The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Sunday sharply criticized the government for a spectacular jailbreak earlier in the day.
"...Ministers of the ruling New Democracy party go looking each time for others to assume responsibility for them," PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said.
"The end result is that the lack of security for the Greek public intensifies, along with the sense that whoever resigns nothing can be rectified under the New Democracy government," Athanassakis said.
He complained that the launch of a judicial enquiry and administrative enquiry under oath was not enough.
 Greece backs UN pledge on
AIDS 5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece strongly supports the UN Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, and has renewed its commitment to attaining targets in the fight against the deadly disease, the country's permanent representative at the UN, Adamantios Vassilakis, told a meeting of the world organization last week.
"Greece, having acknowledged HIV/AIDS infection as a priority for public health, established from the very start programs for the prevention of HIV/AIDS infection as well as for the care, treatment and support of people living with HIV/AIDS. We are committed to fight stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS," Vassilakis said.
Greece was fully committed to coordination within the European Union, southeastern Europe and neighboring counties, the United Nations and other international partners.
"This cannot be the work of one man or one nation. Strong leadership and strong partnerships are the way forward. In order to maximize our efforts we have incorporated in our new National HIV/AIDS Strategy the principles of «Three Ones»: One national framework, one national coordination body, one system of monitoring and evaluation," he reported.
The new multisectoral strategy was developed with the help of members of civil society and would be open for public consultation.
"It is time for action," Vassilakis stated.
 Police confiscate contraband cigarettes
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)Patras Port Authority said on Saturday that 847,630 packets of contraband cigarettes had been confiscated aboard a Comores-flagged vessel and three trucks near the city.
Some of the cigarettes were unloaded from the Pannonia at the port of Itea and stashed into the trucks. The remainder stayed aboard.
Unpaid tax on the contraband totalled 1,795,482 euros, police in the western port city said.
Also involved in the operation were the merchant marine ministry's security division, the police force's organized crime division, Patras customs and local police.
 Foreign prisoners should serve time at home
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)The government believes that foreign nationals should serve prison sentences in their country of origin for crimes committed abroad, Justice Minister Anastasios Papaligouras told the European Union last week.
At a meeting of justice ministers in Luxembourg on June 1-2, Papaligouras noted that more than 40% of inmates in Greek jails were from abroad.
The transfer of prisoners to their own countries would ease their time in jail and aid rehabilitation into society on release.
"Prisoners in jail in their country of origin receive key support from their families and friends who may visit. Inmates have no communication problems as their mother tongue is spoken in detention centers, and they can also take part in vocational training programs," the minister noted.
 Finland's Groenholm wins 53rd Rally Acropolis
5/6/2006 (ANA/MPA)Marcus Groenholm from Finland (Ford Focus RS) on Sunday won the 53rd Rally Acropolis of Greece, followed by French Sébastien Loeb (Citroën Xsara) and Finnish Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Focus).
It is the first time that Groenholm, world champion in 2000 and 2002, wins the Rally Acropolis. He finished two minutes earlier than Loeb.
 MEPs stress need for solution and reunification of Cyprus
NICOSIA, 5/6/2006 (ANA-MPA)Members of the European Parliament High-Level Contact Group with the Turkish Cypriot community, stressed the need for a solution of the Cyprus problem in the framework of the United Nations, which would lead to the reunification of the island.
The Group gave a press conference on Saturday for Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot journalists after concluding its meetings in Cyprus.
Group Coordinator Francoise Grossetete said that in July the Group will inform the Presidents of the European Union member state parliaments on their meetings in Cyprus.
Referring to the so-called embargo against Turkish Cypriots, Grossetete said that this issue can only be solved through the solution of the Cyprus problem, adding that some steps can be taken towards this goal, through the European Union funding for the Turkish Cypriots.
''We hope that contacts between Turkish and Greek Cypriots will continue to take place so that there is hope that one day, step by step, we will reach a point where we will have reunification of the island,'' she said.
The reunification of Cyprus is far beyond the European Parliament's mandate, Grossetete noted, adding that the solution should be found within the framework of the UN.
Referring to the UN Secretary General's Special Representative in Cyprus Michael Moller, she said he is a very dynamic person and expressed hope that his presence in Cyprus would contribute to the betterment of the situation.
German MEP Mechtild Rothe said that they are focusing on the steps that need to be taken until there is a settlement of the Cyprus problem.
''The EU financial aid packet for the Turkish Cypriots is quite important but 259 million euros are not going to make a miracle. The solution of the problem of isolation will only take place when there is real reunification,'' Rothe said.
German MEP Cem Ozdemir said that the main goal is the reunification of Cyprus, but noted that people cannot wait another 30 years for the solution to come.
He urged the leaders of both communities in Cyprus to show commitment and good will towards reaching a solution, saying that if there is no reunification then a new situation would be formed that would make Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots good neighbors and friends.
Austrian MEP Karin Resetarits expressed the opinion that the Turkish Cypriots are discriminated against due to the so-called embargo against them and added that it is not their fault if the acquis communautaire is not implemented in the occupied areas.
Sean O'Neachtain, an MEP from Ireland, said that he understands the problems in Cyprus since in his country there have been similar problems.
 Ankara must open ports and make steps in Cyprus issue, Christofias says
LARNACA, 5/6/2006 (ANA-MPA)Newly reelected House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias said on Saturday that the Republic of Cyprus seeks to see Ankara making steps that would enable the resolution of the long standing Cyprus problem, as well as steps towards implementing the EU-Turkey Customs Union Protocol by opening the Turkish ports and airports to Cyprus.
''Cyprus does not only want to see Turkey being pressured to implement the Customs Union Protocol, just because Ankara is an enemy or rival. Turkey is of course an occupation force in Cyprus. But what we want is to see Turkey responding so that the necessary actions can be made regarding the Cyprus problem and to facilitate trade by opening its ports,'' Christofias said.
In statements prior to his departure for Athens, the House President pointed out that ''EU leaders, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and European Commission and Council officials constantly repeat that Turkey is showing delay in implementing the Customs Union Protocol and does not respond and should respond.''
''In my opinion, this is one form of pressure, which to a great extent is concerted pressure,'' he added.
Christofias said that Cyprus will continue its efforts towards this goal and will intensify them with the cooperation of the Greek government.
Asked about the excavation works that are currently being carried out in the Paralimni area for potential burial sites of missing persons, Christofias said that the works constitute a positive step.
He added that these actions should had taken place years ago, saying that the continuation of the suffering of the relatives of the missing, Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots, is ''inhuman and should finally reach an end.''
''All efforts should be made for a real and full ascertainment of the fate of the missing persons, whose number is large and larger is the pain and suffering of their relatives,'' he noted.
Asked about the relations between the Cypriot House of Representatives with other parliaments, Christofias said that the Cypriot House will put emphasis in the following five years on its relations with Asian and Latin America countries, as well as with other European parliaments that are not members of the European Union.
''We will develop our parliamentary diplomacy and will further promote our relations with the European Parliament, the EU member state parliaments as well as the parliaments of the United Nations Security Council permanent member states,'' Christofias said.
Referring to the relations with the Arabic world, he said that they are good and will be further enhanced.
He added that the Russian Duma's President will soon be paying a visit to Cyprus and that in mid June a representation of China's National Assembly will also be coming to the island for meetings.
At the end of June, Christofias will represent the Republic of Cyprus at this year's Meeting of the Presidents of the European Union Parliaments, which will take place in Copenhagen.