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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

February 4, 2002


  • [01] Papandreou meets with Cem in NYC; Cyprus covered
  • [02] FM gives interview to CNN Turk channel
  • [03] FM extends Greek sympathy and solidarity over Turkish quake
  • [04] Turkish media underline Greek solidarity over earthquake
  • [05] Greek and Syrian presidents express common desire for widening of relations
  • [06] Papandreou: Better Greek-Turkish ties work in favor of Cyprus
  • [07] PASOK secretary attends meeting on local elections
  • [08] Survey shows no government can handle corruption
  • [09] Avramopoulos calls for early elections
  • [10] Minister says all proposals by farmers to be discussed
  • [11] ND leader to meet Greek ship owners' board on Monday
  • [12] ATHOC president briefs IOC's Executive Committee on Olympiad
  • [13] Seismologist: Afion quake unrelated to local seismic activity
  • [14] UN Security Council to discuss Cyprus problem this month

  • [01] Papandreou meets with Cem in NYC; Cyprus covered

    NEW YORK, 04/02/2002 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou met with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem here on Sunday for a brief meeting that included an overview of the latest developments in the long-standing Cyprus issue.

    “... We had a chance to review the latest developments, especially in regards to the Cyprus issue, where both sides wanted ... to encourage the continuation of this process".

    Papandreou told reporters that his contacts with Cem also focused on Athens’ proposal for the commencement of exploratory contacts at the foreign ministry department heads’ level “in order to find points of convergence”.

    Such “exploratory contacts”, he added, would be aimed at “examining whether convergence on certain points” exists. He made the statement in response to a query if any specific issue, such as the Aegean’s continental shelf, was discussed.

    “Our discussion also revolved around our bilateral cooperation. We discussed an initiative that we’ve jointly taken to support Bulgaria and Romania as countries that are eligible for NATO, and in the next (NATO) summit meeting we want them to be designated as NATO candidate-states,” the Greek FM told reporters.

    He also mentioned that a joint bid by the Greek and Turkish football federations to host the 2008 Euro championship was discussed.

    Finally, Papandreou said he conveyed his condolences to Cem over the loss of life from an earthquake that struck west-central Turkey earlier in the day, noting that Greece was ready to assist in any way Ankara deems necessary.

    Brief meeting on Friday: Papandreou held a brief meeting with his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem on Friday and agreed to have a private and lengthy discussion with him on bilateral relations during the World Economic Forum taking place here.

    Papandreou said the Greek government has instructed senior diplomats to begin exploratory contacts to ascertain the possibility of resolving the continental shelf issue, as well as other major issues not related to territorial disputes, such as the question of the Patriarchate.

    The talks will be conducted on Greece's behalf by the foreign ministry's civil director, who will be discussing with his Turkish counterpart the possibility of drawing up an agreement based on a common framework to enable these issues to be settled by the International Court at The Hague.

    Papandreou said the whole framework should be based on specific principles, such as respect for territorial integrity, international treaties, international law and European vested interests, as well as paragraph 4 of the Helsinki summit agreement and all that it anticipates.

    He underlined the existence of an "unprecedented change" to the degree that certain agreements have been ratified in Parliament. He further said that the beginning of direct talks in Cyprus and its accession course have changed the entire scene, while Turkey's European candidacy sets out a "road map" containing the country's commitments.

    Papandreou said these facts constitute an "important con-juncture" which can be of help in the effort to change bilateral relations as well.

    Papandreou participated in a round-table discussion on Friday (together with Cem and other officials) on the issue of Europe's possibility of defining and exercising a unified foreign policy.

    His position, as well as that of his interlocutors, was that Europe is going ahead with a unified foreign policy and should strengthen its security by further developing its military power and consolidating its cohesion at operational level.

    [02] FM gives interview to CNN Turk channel

    NEW YORK, 04/02/2002 (ANA - T. Ellis)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou, in statements to the CNN Turk television channel, said contacts between Athens and Ankara have started two years ago with positive results.

    He added that they include agreements ratified by Parliament, the signing of many other agreements, the decrease in tension and cooperation at economic level.

    Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum over the weekend, Papandreou said what is important is the beginning of "exploratory contacts at diplomatic level" to ascertain whether through diplomatic channels "the achievement of a framework allowing for further progress is possible."

    Referring to Turkey's willingness to resort to the International Court at The Hague and the fact that it is following Greece's will for an exploratory dialogue at diplomatic level, Papandreou said it is the will of both sides to find a "common framework" safeguarding mutual respect, respect for territorial integrity, international law, respect for what has already been agreed, the peaceful settlement of differences and the existence of a common European future.

    On the question of the dialogue's time framework, he said that instructions have been given to diplomatic services to have discussions begin as soon as possible.

    Questioned whether he feels the same pressure as his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem when he turns up for talks on such issues as the Aegean, Papandreou said the issues separating the two countries are longstanding and are surrounded by many myths and problems.

    Papandreou added that what is essential is to have extremist voices, fear and force put aside to enable the promotion of common interests which are far more than those separating the two countries.

    [03] FM extends Greek sympathy and solidarity over Turkish quake

    Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)

    Foreign Minister George Papandreou expressed Greece's sympathy and solidarity to the hard-hit Turkish people and the Turkish government, upon hearing of the earthquake which struck in the Bolvadin area in Turkey on Sunday.

    Acting on instructions by Papandreou, the Greek ambassador to Ankara has already contacted the Turkish foreign ministry and Assistant Deputy Foreign Minister Ilkin, expressing the Greek government's availability and readiness for the immediate sending of humanitarian aid to the earthquake-stricken region.

    [04] Turkish media underline Greek solidarity over earthquake

    ISTANBUL, 04/02/2002 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)

    The Turkish media once again underlined the immediate solidarity expressed by Greece over the killer earthquake, which struck Turkey on Sunday.

    They highlighted the activities of Greek Ambassador to Ankara Ioannis Korantis, who is coordinating the aid Greece can provide immediately. Greece and Turkey had scrambled to assist each other when killer earthquakes had struck both countries in 1999.

    Turkish rescue groups from the AKUT rescue service are already heading to the earthquake-stricken area from Istanbul. The tremor is not linked to the Anatolian fault, which had caused the earthquakes in 1999.

    [05] Greek and Syrian presidents express common desire for widening of relations

    DAMASCUS, 04/02/2002 (ANA - N. Megadoukas)

    Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos, currently on a three-day official visit to Syria, and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Asad expressed their common desire on Saturday night for the further widening of commercial and economic relations between the two countries.

    Moreover, such a development also includes the signing of two agreements on the avoidance of double taxation and protection for investments to facilitate business activity.

    President Stephanopoulos invited President Asad to pay an official visit to Greece, while it was stressed during a joint press conference that the two countries have common views on political issues.

    Greece and Syria underlined the need for the implementation of international norms and agreements, as well as of UN resolutions on the problems of Golan, Cyprus and Lebanon and the Palestinian issue.

    Referring to the problem of terrorism, President Asad stressed the need for a distinction to be made between the meaning of terrorism and the meaning of resistance and that a special UN conference should be convened on the issue.

    President Stephanopoulos said that acts carried out in the framework of national liberation struggles should not be directed at unarmed citizens, adding that President Asad assured him that there was no such case with the Hizbollah organization.

    President Stephanopoulos said the European Union should intensify its efforts to achieve a common foreign policy and be in a position to intervene in global developments in a better way.

    President Asad, referring to the Palestinian problem, stressed the need for the implementation of UN resolutions. On the question of the waters of the Euphrates River, a problem in relations between Syria and Turkey, he said both sides have the inclination of promoting a solution.

    Both presidents agreed that cooperation between Greece and Syria should be promoted in the tourism and cultural exchange sectors. They also discussed energy issues, particularly oil and natural gas pipelines.

    Stephanopoulos concerned over Middle East: President Stephanopoulos, addressing a dinner given in his honor by his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Asad on Saturday night, expressed deep concern over continuing violence and bloodshed in Palestinian territory from wherever it may come and whoever its victims may be.

    "The continuing destruction, on the part of Israel, of houses and infrastructure projects, which are acts leading the Palestinian people to desperation, is a particularly negative element," President Stephanopoulos said.

    He pointed out that there is the risk that a continuation of this policy will entail dangers of an overall flare-up, which can possibly destabilize the entire eastern Mediterranean region.

    President Stephanopoulos said "Greece calls on both sides to implement the ceasefire and the international community's proposals for peace and reconciliation."

    He added that there can be no real peace in the region unless all sides respect and accept the Security Council's 242 and 338 resolutions and the Golan Heights are returned to Syria, where they truly belong.

    Referring to the issue of Cyprus, President Stephanopoulos expressed the hope that "the dialogue which has begun once again will signal the sincere swing of the other side, which is categorically refusing to implement UN resolutions and has been systematically undermining until now efforts being made both by this organization, and on the part of the government of Cyprus and that of Greece as well, to find a permanent solution."

    President Stephanopoulos congratulated President Asad on Syria's election as a non-permanent member of the UN's Security Council and thanked the Syrian government and himself personally for their positive stance at all international organizations, and the Islamic Conference Organization in particular, on issues, which are sensitive for Greece and Cyprus.

    He also referred to issues concerning Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and Greece's participation in procedures to deepen European Union institutions and expand it to the south with Cyprus and Malta.

    President Stephanopoulos also said "the most effective handling of phenomena of extremism and terrorism is the eradication of their causes and the strengthening, through time, of regional formations of development and mutual understanding."

    Referring to the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, the Greek President said Greece is promoting "the noble undertaking of the Olympic Truce with the purpose of having the period of the Olympic Games giving peace a chance."

    Business forum: President Kostis Stephanopoulos said on Saturday his visit to Syria will constitute the beginning of a closer, longer and more profitable cooperation in relations between Athens and Damascus.

    President Stephanopoulos was addressing a forum of Greek and Syrian businessmen, underlining the important role businessmen can play in economic development.

    He added that what is also necessary is the activation of governments to enable necessary measures to be taken to facilitate business activity.

    The Greek president expressed respect for Syria's late president Hafez al-Asad, father of the country's present president, saying that he had friendly feelings for Greece, feelings that Greece reciprocated with sincerity.

    Earlier, during his talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, President Stephanopoulos referred frequently to his father and to his close friendship with the late Greek prime minister and founder of the PASOK party Andreas Papandreou.

    Stephanopoulos meets Antioch Patriarch: President Kostis Stephanopoulos, continuing his three-day official visit to Syria, attended a church service on Sunday morning and met with the Patriarch of Antioch Ignatios.

    Later in the day, President Stephanopoulos held private meetings with Syria's first Vice President Hadam, Prime Minister Miro and the Parliament president with whom he discussed bilateral issues and the Middle East question.

    In the evening, Stephanopoulos gave a reception in honor of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, while earlier he held a meeting with representatives of the Greek community in the country.

    Stephanopoulos arrived in Damascus, Syria, on Saturday on an official three-day visit, the first ever by a Greek president, to the country at the invitation of President Bashar al-Asad.

    He is accompanied by Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis, Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos and a group of Greek businessmen who are active in the region.

    Greece attributes particular importance to contacts with Damascus, due to Syria's role in the Arab world and to relations Greece is continuing to maintain with countries in the region.

    [06] Papandreou: Better Greek-Turkish ties work in favor of Cyprus

    Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)

    Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou over the week-end again touched on the current developments in Greek-Turkish relations in a press interview published by a mass circulation Athens daily, where he stressed, among others, that continued rapprochement works towards the process for a Cyprus solution.

    "First of all, I believe the effort towards a further rapprochement in our relations with Turkey, as well as the resolution of certain problems, assists, in an auxiliary manner, the Cyprus question process. Secondly, over the past two years we have made a systematic effort to solve certain problems in developing bilateral cooperation in several sectors with significant success," he was quoted in the Sunday edition of "To Vima".

    "Thirdly, we're at a point where certain issues are taking an European course, such as Cyprus' accession course or a 'road map' for Turkey's (European vocation), where certain dates are in front of us. At the end of this year, several important decisions in relation to Cyprus will be take, along with the overall expansion process that includes Turkey. Therefore, it is important to assess Turkey's course vis-a-vis our own (bilateral) issues," Papandreou concluded.

    Succession speculation: Asked about a recent increase in media speculation over various "succession scenarios" in the ruling PASOK party and a so-called "post-Simitis" era, Papandreou categorically answered that this speculation must cease. He also termed his cooperation with the prime minister "close and excellent".

    "We had a (party) congress a few months ago and he (PM Costas Simitis) was re-elected with a huge majority and without any contestation. I believe, therefore, that these 'succession scenarios' are probably made-up, and that we should leave them behind and move on to the real work we have in front of us," he said.

    Tsohatzopoulos: On his part, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos also was featured in another interview by an Athens daily on Sunday, with the issue of "succession" arising anew.

    Among others, the one-time defense minister attributes the recent speculation in the media to "personal vanities and other expediencies inside and outside Greece."

    "I want to be very clear on this subject: We cannot have a succession issue in PASOK at this moment. Three months after the congress ... there is no room for talk on such issues," Tsohatzopoulos was quoted as saying by the Sunday edition of "Eleftherotypia".

    [07] PASOK secretary attends meeting on local elections

    Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)

    Costas Laliotis, secretary of the ruling PASOK party's Central Committee, said in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Saturday that "PASOK is aiming at wide social and political consensus and cooperation with forces capable - with their position, program and vision - of giving an impetus and perspective to local administration institutions and the prospect of development for prefectures and regions."

    Laliotis was speaking on arrival at the party's offices in the city to attend a meeting of PASOK's Central Macedonia Regional Council on the party's course towards municipal and prefectural elections.

    He said elections for first and second-degree local administration is crucial since, as he pointed out, the future of the institution of local administration and the future of local societies' development will be decided in the elections in October.

    [08] Survey shows no government can handle corruption

    Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)

    A survey conducted by the V-PRC company and published in the newspaper "Imerisia" on Saturday shows that 53.7 percent of respondents believe that no government can handle corruption.

    The front-page report is entitled "Call of anxiety over corruption", while respondents believe that corruption has spread all over the spectrum of public life.

    On the question of which government can best handle corruption, they replied none 53.7 percent, a New Democracy government 21.8 and a PASOK government 12.6, while 11.9 gave no reply.

    Highlighting the causes of corruption, 25.6 percent of respondents attributed them to citizens' indifference, 20.3 to the bad functioning of public administration, 18.2 to the governments of past years, 17.1 to the inadequacy of politicians and 17 to relations between big enterprises and the state.

    [09] Avramopoulos calls for early elections

    Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)

    Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos, who founded his own political party last year, on Sunday called on the prime minister to call early elections in order to "clear up the political landscape", as he said.

    "If I were prime minister I would have taken such an initiative in order to clear up the murky political landscape, which doesn't favor society, the economy, politics and the institutions," Avramopoulos, the leader and founder of the Movement of Free Citizens (KEP) party, said in televised statements.

    Finally, Avramopoulos said his new party is "completely focused" on the next general elections, explaining why "it doesn't need at this time" a candidate in the Athens mayoral race.

    [10] Minister says all proposals by farmers to be discussed

    Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)

    Agriculture Minister George Drys said on Sunday all the proposals to be presented to him by farmers during their meeting on Monday will be discussed in a dialogue without predetermined positions on the part of the ministry.

    Drys was speaking at a press conference in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, in the presence of Deputy Agriculture Ministers Evangelos Argyris and Fotis Hadzimichalis in the framework of the 18th Agrotica Exhibition.

    "I, as well as Mr. Argyris and Mr. Hadzimichalis are optimistic and I wish to assure you that we shall discuss all the proposals to be presented to us by the coordinating committee of farmers' unions from Larissa," he said.

    Drys further said that "the possibilities we have are not unrestricted and I would like to believe that the farmers will also realize that the ministry is exhausting all the ground at its disposal to satisfy claims."

    He also said he will be briefing farmers on measures taken by the government, such as additional financing of the ELGA fund with 40 billion drachmas by the state budget.

    ND accuses government of lacking agricultural policy: A main opposition New Democracy party delegation visiting the 18th Agrotica Exhibition in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Sunday accused the government of lacking an agricultural policy.

    George Salangoudis, heading the delegation and coordinating the party's production and commerce sector, said this year's Agrotica Exhibition is taking place at a time which is very crucial for the agricultural sector since farmers took to the streets with their working implements due to the bad policies applied by the government in past years and the harmful European Union regulation which it adopted.

    Evangelos Basiakos, ND's agricultural sector chief, said on his part that although new technologies provide the possibility for the development of Greek agriculture, necessary action, which would make this possible, was not taken by the government.

    Coalition party leader says farmers' problem of top priority: Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party leader Nikos Constantopoulos, visiting the 18th Agrotica Exhibition in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Saturday, said the farmers' problem should be given top priority by all in the country.

    Referring to the farmers' ongoing mobilization, Constantopoulos said "the farmers want to live and not to get rich. They want to solve their institutional and structural problems."

    He added that governments should support the farmers and not lead them to unemployment, while calling on the government to place greater importance on the agricultural sector.

    [11] ND leader to meet Greek ship owners' board on Monday

    EDINBURGH, 04/02/2002 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, who arrived here on Saturday for a private visit, will begin his visit to London on Monday with a meeting with the Greek ship owners' board at the Baltic Exchange in the City where a luncheon will be given for him.

    Karamanlis will be meeting Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith in Parliament later and visiting the British Museum for a guided tour of the hall housing the Parthenon Marbles. Monday's agenda also includes a meeting with ND's Prefectural Committee in Britain.

    After these meetings, Karamanlis and party spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, who is accompanying him, will return to Edinburgh for a meeting on Tuesday with former British foreign secretary and current President of the Conservative Party in Scotland Malcolm Rifkin.

    Karamanlis will also be a speaker at an event to be held at Edinburgh University on Tuesday night and the theme he will focus on is political developments in the Balkans.

    [12] ATHOC president briefs IOC's Executive Committee on Olympiad

    Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)

    Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki briefed the International Olympic Committee's (ICO) Executive Committee, in the presence of IOC President Jacques Rogge, in Salt Lake City over the weekend on the course of preparations for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

    Salt Lake City is the city in the United States where the Winter Olympic Games will be beginning in a few days.

    Speaking after the briefing, Daskalaki said "we are in Salt Lake City to watch closely and learn. Our mission at the Winter Olympic Games began today (on Saturday) with a very positive and constructive meeting with the IOC's Executive Committee."

    She said "we are at the same time more sure and more concerned over 2004" and, referring to Salt Lake City, added "there are new hotels and a new transport system, as well as renewed self-confidence which is obvious. The Games offered a lot to Salt Lake City."

    [13] Seismologist: Afion quake unrelated to local seismic activity

    Athens, 04/02/2002 (ANA)

    One of Greece's best-known seismologists on Sunday warned against linking the 6.2 on the Richter scale quake that struck west-central Asia Minor in Turkey earlier in the morning, claiming the life of dozens of people.

    "The region of Greece was not influenced nor is it expected to be influenced," Thessaloniki University Prof. Vassilis Papazahos said.

    [14] UN Security Council to discuss Cyprus problem this month

    NEW YORK, 04/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the Cyprus problem during unofficial talks on February 26, according to the agenda drafted by the Mexican presidency in cooperation with the member states, which was given to publicity on Friday. Security Council sources said the members of the Council would be briefed on the course of direct talks between Cyprus President

    Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, by the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto. President Clerides and Denktash began direct talks on January 16, under UN aegis, to solve the protracted problem of Cyprus, divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The two leaders have met eight times so far at premises near the Nicosia airport, currently under UN control.

    Meanwhile, Turkish sources said UN chief Kofi Annan would be meeting in New York with Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem on Monday, to discuss issues related to Afghanistan, Iraq and Cyprus.

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