|Thursday, 26 November 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-02-18
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 18, 2002
 Burg-Zaanoun meeting in Athens; Euro-Med house speakers to visit region
Athens, 18/02/2002 (ANA)Israel’s Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg met here on Sunday with Palestine National Council (PNC) Speaker Salim al-Zaanoun, part of an initiative to achieve an exchange of addresses by the two men before each other's parliament.
The initiative unfolded on the sidelines of the third Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Parliament Presidents and Speakers, which is taking place in Athens, and following efforts by the parliament presidents of the current European Union Troika -- Spain, Sweden and Greece.
During the meeting, the Troika's three parliament presidents reportedly urged that an invitation by Palestinian counterpart -- Palestinian Legislative Council President Ahmed Qurei (Abu Alla) – for Burg to address the Palestinian authority’s legislature in Ramallah be accepted.
Additionally, Greek Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis also said the Troika's three house speakers will accompany Burg when and if such an address takes place.
The Burg-Zaanoun meeting was followed by the two officials' acceptance of a proposal by Kaklamanis and his Troika colleagues for visit by a joint Euro-Med delegation of Parliament heads - EU countries and Arab states - to both Jerusalem and Ramallah in the next 10 days. Jump-starting direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians would be the goal of the latter initiative.
"An era of extremists reigns, and every possible effort must be made for a return of peace. We must draw a red line with the past. We've lost the trust amongst us ... With this initiative by our parliaments, with which I totally agree, we must encourage both governments for peace in the region," Burg said.
On his part, a-Zaanoun said:
"We very much appreciate the European Union's initiative to stop the violence. If it succeeds it will go down in history."
The conference's host, Kaklamanis, also expressed his hope that the initiative will prove fruitful.
"I believe that very soon we will have the opportunity, with the visit by the presidents of the EU's parliaments and the Euro-Parliament, to convey European peoples' desire for violence and bloodshed to stop, and for both sides to return to the negotiations table, aiming for the restoration of peace in the Middle East," Kaklamanis said.
In a related development, the Euro-Mediterranean parliament presidents met on Saturday with Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos.
 Laliotis proposes PASOK-left cooperation, Coalition wants election law changed
Athens, 18/02/2002 (ANA)PASOK secretary Costas Laliotis chose a newspaper's pages over the weekend to unveil the ruling party's proposal for election cooperation with the center-left, and ahead of both the 2004 general elections and Parliament's vote for president in 2005.
Laliotis was quoted in an interview published in the Sunday edition of the "Eleftherotypia" daily that "PASOK's stigma is given by (PM) Costas Simitis and myself", an answer to a question on whether the proposal reflects a personal view or is backed by the ruling party.
The one-time public works and town-planning minister also cited similar political developments in other European countries, noting that "conditions have matured in Greece as well, so that left-left forces (can) find a common pace..."
Among others, Laliotis stressed that PASOK is not the "only expression" in what he referred to as the progressive political landscape, adding also that the ruling party shouldn't monopolies this specific political field.
Conversely, he said the main opposition New Democracy party solely reflects the opposing "conservative pole".
In other statements, Laliotis said such a PASOK-center left dialogue necessitates that interested parties make "concessions", saying ruling PASOK, on its part, should abandon its "arrogance" and "partisan political polarization".
From the smaller parties, PASOK's secretary warned against laying down conditions in order to arrive at the negotiation table.
Finally, he said any possible PASOK-center left cooperation can be tested in three upcoming contests - the upcoming October local government elections; general elections expected no later than 2005 and the president's election by Parliament in 2005.
Speaking from Thessaloniki, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos said the future prospect of cooperation and multi-party governments will become a necessity in Greece, before cautioning, however:
"One condition, though, is for us to recognize that these things deal with the future, whereas today we're in a phase that will evolve with the completion of the government's four-year term...
Constantopoulos' reply: Laliotis' call was answered later on Sunday by at least one party, as Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) President Nikos Constanto-poulos stressed that the institution of a proportional representation election system is an "inviolable condition" for any future cooperation.
Constantopoulos' response, therefore, conceivably bumps any possible PASOK-Synaspismos cooperation to 2008, as the current Constitution mandates that any change in the election law come into effect after the upcoming general elections.
Furthermore, in criticizing the government's policy, Constantopoulos added that "along with the model of one-party governments, the neo-liberal directions of the government's policies must also change."
Synaspismos, to PASOK's left, earned 3.2 percent of the popular vote during the last general election (April 2000) and placed six deputies in Parliament.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE), meanwhile, garnered 5.52 percent and placed 11 deputies in Parliament, whereas the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) - founded by one-time top PASOK minister Dimitris Tsovolas - failed to reach the 3-percent cut-off for entering Parliament, as it polled 2.6 percent of the general vote.
 Venizelos: No disagreements over seized ex-royal properties
Athens, 18/02/2002 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Saturday reiterated that no "internal disagreements" were aired at this week's Cabinet meeting on the nagging issue dealing a legal challenge over three properties in Greece by the former royal family.
Venizelos was the author of a bill in 1994 that confiscated the three properties a development that led the ex-king and two members of one-time royal family to file suit in the European Court of Human Rights.
He also stressed that "there is no crisis; there's a need for the country to defend its constitutional legality and its form of government. He also denied reports that Prime Minister Costas Simitis' comments of "past mistakes" referred to his actions.
"I'm glad that both the government's and Mr. Simitis' position was so clear (on the issue)," he added.
The ECHR issued a 15-2 ruling in November 2000 finding Greece in violation of Article 1 of the first protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees the right of property. However, the court said it would examine the issue of compensation for the members of the ex-royal family at a later date, whereas the Greek government has repeatedly warned that former Greek king Constantine is liable for taxes on the seized properties if the ECHR grants compensation.
The ex-monarch, his sister Irene and his aunt Ekaterini (Catherine), had taken their case before a European human rights tribunal in 1994, claiming that the Greek state had violated their rights to "family life, dignified treatment, access to the courts and their property".
Constantine at one point demanded US$1.4 billion in compensation for the contested properties, namely, the Tatoi country estate outside northern Athens, the Mon Repos summer palace on the Ionian holiday island of Corfu and the Polydendri forest estate in the foothills south of Mount Olympus in central Greece.
The Greek government confiscated the three properties on the premise that they were obtained under "dubious circumstances" by Constantine's ancestors and had never really been private property, but public property set aside for use by the royal family.
The properties were first seized a military junta ruling Greece between 1967-73, while the monarchy was permanently abolished in a referendum following the dictatorship's fall.
In 1979 the expropriation of the land was overturned by a Greek court and then confiscated again in 1994 by the then newly elected PASOK government.
 Karamanlis 'reaches out' to non-ND voters
Athens, 18/02/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis on Saturday again favored an outreach for voters of other political parties, especially those on the left, during his address closing the party's central committee sessions.
In his comments, Karamanlis said "partisan fanaticism" leads with "mathematical accuracy to corruption", adding that ND had the political volition to reject the "temptation of partisan politics".
"In our future government such considerations won't have any place. We want capable and honest people in all sectors, and their politics won't be a criteria, their ability and ethics will."
In earlier statements, high-ranking ND deputy George Voulgarakis called on the main opposition party to demand early elections, stressing that the issue isn't procedural but political, and "doesn't refer to constitutional mechanism but to society."
 Greek military contingent departs for Afghanistan
Athens, 18/02/2002 (ANA)The first contingent of Greek troops set to participate in an international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan flew out of Thessaloniki airport on Sunday aboard a military transport plane.
Forty-nine volunteer officers and NCOs departed for Kabul to take up positions some nine kilometers outside the Afghanistan capital. Another 90 troops will follow in the next few days along with the transport of military vehicles and equipment.
The first Greek soldiers in Afghanistan since Alexander the Great's Macedonian legions fought through the very same land in the 3rd century BC are due to arrive in Kabul airport, via a stopover in Dubai, early Tuesday morning.
 Draft bill to reorganize Thessaloniki's industrial zoning
Athens, 18/02/2002 (ANA)The government on Saturday announced that it is preparing a new draft law to reorganize the greater Thessaloniki area's industrial and commercial zoning districts.
The announcement was made during the second forum for "viable development of Thessaloniki", organized by the Macedonia-Thrace Ministry and several other bodies.
 IKA doctors decide on 5-day strike this week
Athens, 18/02/2002 (ANA)Physicians affiliated with the Social Security Foundation (IKA), Greece's largest health and pension fund, announced another five-day strike over the weekend, and beginning on Tuesday.
The decision follows a meeting late last week with the government, and specifically with Labor and Social Insurances Minister Dimitris Reppas.
IKA doctors said assurances offered by the government towards meeting their demands - including the permanent hiring of several hundred contract physicians, extra bonuses etc. - were not sufficient.
 Archaeologists locate Mesolithic 'mixer' in N. Greece
Athens, 18/02/2002 (ANA)Archaeologists in northern Greece have apparently discovered what appears to be the world's oldest household mixer, one dating to the early Mesolithic period, or in other words, more than 8,000 years old.
The deep clay vessel was discovered during an ongoing excavation near the Yiannitsa township, in Greece's northern province of Macedonia, almost six millennia before Philip II and his son Alexander the Great ruled the same area.
Experts that viewed the artifact said the continuous and intense twirling of a wooden shaft fitting into a dent at the vessel's base is the cause of a depression at the base of the artifact.
"Under the circumstances, the invention and use of the (house-hold) mixer is now documented more than 8,000 years ago," archaeologist Panikos Chrysostomou, the director of the excavation at the Mesolithic settlement, recently said at a symposium in the Greek northern port city of Thessaloniki.
Along with the prehistoric "mixer", dozens of early Mesolithic period clay figures depicting individuals and animals have been unearthed in the same dig.
Unearthed residences at the ancient settlement, meanwhile, are described three-part complexes dating from between 6,300 BC to 6,000 BC, while two graves of newborn infants were also located nearby.
 Christofias stressed the need to settle conflicts
Athens, 18/02/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus House President Demetris Christofias stressed here on Sunday the need of solving both the Cyprus and the Middle East problems on the basis of relevant UN resolutions and international law, thereby eradicating two conflicts now poisoning relations between states and peoples of the Mediterranean.
Speaking at the 3rd Conference of the Presidents of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliaments, Christofias expressed regret that the principles of international law and honesty are not implemented by Turkey, which is still occupying one third of Cyprus' territory, while he expressed a hope that with its accession to the EU Cyprus will become a bridge of communication for economic, political and cultural cooperation between EU countries and Cyprus' neighboring countries.
"My country and Malta are the only Mediterranean countries participating in the enlargement process, giving the opportunity for EU expansion to the south," he added.
Cyprus' House President also expressed conviction that Cyprus, which has very good relations with both Israel and the Arabic countries, could contribute at the parliamentary and the governmental level to the promotion of the political dialogue on the Middle East problem, in view to terminate a conflict that causes a lot of suffering to the people of the eastern Mediterranean.