|Thursday, 23 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-07-01
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>July 1, 2002
 Authorities believe injured bomber tied to terrorist groups
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Officials with Greece’s anti-terrorism squad apparently believe a critically injured bomber, found at the scene of a blast at the busy port of Piraeus late Saturday evening, is tied to one or two “marginal” terrorist groups that have re-surfaced over the recent period.
No name was given for the man, hospitalized under draconian security measures at an Athens hospital, although other reports claim police at press time were searching residences and even screening suspects. According to reports, the suspect lost his left hand in the blast and sustained life-threatening injuries, while authorities officially announced that two hand grenades and a .38 caliber handgun were found nearby.
The location of the attack, in Greece’s largest port of Piraeus, along with the type of grenades found point to the shadowy “Popular Resistance” (Laiki Antistasi) group.
The same terrorist group assumed responsibility for a grenade attack almost two weeks ago on the Piraeus office of ruling PASOK deputy Panagiotis Fassoulas, a popular Greek basketball star during the '80s and '90s. The same group apparently also carried out time-bomb attacks against a local insurance firm's offices and a multinational bank branch in nearby coastal districts.
Conversely, the manner in which two makeshift explosive devices linked to the suspect were reportedly built - using household alarm clocks, common detonators, nine-volt batteries and most probably dynamite - also cast suspicions on the more notorious "Revolutionary Nuclei" (Epanastatiki Pyrines) group, cited in the US State Department's list of the 25 most lethal international terrorist organizations last year.
The first bomb's explosion, which experts believe was detonated prematurely, injured the glove-wearing suspect. A police bomb disposal unit destroyed the second device.
Unconfirmed press reports on Sunday had Greek authorities ruling out any connection between the unidentified suspect and the deadly "November 17" group, one of the most infamous and elusive urban terrorist cells still in existence.
The first explosion was reported outside the ticket offices of a local ferryboat operator at approximately 10:10 p.m. (20.10 GMT), while the second bomb was later spotted near the same offices with the revolver and grenades nearby.
Other press reports state that authorities believe an accomplice fled the scene when the first bomb went off, whereas several media outlets also claimed a vehicle whose state license plates did not match the model was confiscated a short distance away.
Gov't spokesman on latest press claims regarding 'Nov. 17': The government spokesman on Sunday dismissed several front-page stories in a handful of Athens dailies the same day claiming that Greek and foreign intelligence services were close to uncovering the leadership behind the notorious "November 17" terrorist group.
The stories, appearing in the Sunday editions of "To Vima", "sto Karfi" and "Apogevmatini", claim that authorities are either on the brink of arrests or close to announcing the names of suspects.
Spokesman Christos Protopapas merely noted that the articles published on Sunday "have nothing to do with reality."
Speaking on the same subject during his party's two-day central committee, Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Nikos Constantopoulos first sternly condemned phenomena of terrorism, before offering his view such "scenarios" are being used to pressure and "implicate" Greece. He also claimed that an "imported political crisis and destabilization" is being produced.
 PM winds up tour of Preveza and Arta prefectures
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis ended his two-day tour of the prefectures of Preveza and Arta with a visit to the town of Arta on Saturday where he expressed confidence that his PASOK party will win again in the next general elections.
Focusing on government policy, Simitis said changes it is promoting do not have an economic and social character alone, but primarily a national one.
He also referred to the issue of the convergence of the Greek economy and society with other European countries, underlining that convergence means the transformation of society.
Simitis further said the government's work, proposals and program are faced with populism and nihilism on the part of the main opposition New Democracy party and accused it of sterile reaction.
He also criticized ND for being provocatively absent from major issues concerning the country's future, adding that it is unsuitable for the country, as it has shown with its position on the social security issue.
''The people will severely punish those who are conscientiously, continuously and provocatively absent from the country's major issues,'' he said.
Simitis said ND has learnt nothing from its defeats and has received no message from lessons taught to it by the Greek people.
Referring to projects carried out in the region, Simitis said that 160 billion drachmas will have been invested in the region of Arta by the year 2006.
He also said that with the new motorways the isolation of the Epirus region and of all of western Greece will be lifted definitely.
Simitis visited the municipalities of Louros and Filothei as well in the morning and talked with local inhabitants and officials.
 FM says he is honored by the people's trust
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou, in an interview with the Sunday newspaper ''Eleftherotypia'', said the ruling PASOK party can and should change, adding that he feels honored by the people's trust in him as indicated in opinion polls.
The newspaper's front-page report, entitled ''The PASOK I want'', adds that on the question of succession in the party's leadership Papandreou said ''something has not been proposed to me for me to reject it.''
Commenting on opinion polls showing the main opposition New Democracy party leading PASOK, he said ''we must change the party's structures'' and added ''I propose a deeply radical incision of democratization in the party.''
Papandreou further said the party's grassroots believe that if the party's current course continues then PASOK will be faced with a problem of survival.
Referring to scenarios concerning succession in the party's leadership, he said ''nobody can speak on my behalf'' and that scenarios are not the reply to the citizen's demand for vision.
''I have said, however, the logic saying that because the government has problems the solution should be sought in one person should be opposed,'' Papandreou added.
 Greek EU commissioner addresses journalists' conference
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Greek European Union Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said on Saturday European issues are presented in the Greek press through very specific angles having to do with very special issues (Greek-Turkish relations, the Community Support Framework, the Cyprus issue and the agricultural sector).
Diamantopoulou was speaking on the last day of the 10th Panhellenic Journalists Conference on ''Europe and the mass media'' on the island of Samothraki.
She said that providing adequate information for the Greek citizen on European issues is necessary at a time when Europe has already begun one of the most important dialogues concerning Europe's enlargement and the new model for its governance.
Diamantopoulou presented data concerning the European audiovisual market, the biggest in the world. It has been estimated that its rate of growth amounts to 70 percent and its turnover to 145 billion euros.
Europe currently has 1,500 channels (including digital ones), 50 of which continue to control two-thirds of television viewing on a European scale. Television employs 220,000 people and radio stations 8,000, while publishing firms amount to 1,100.
Diamantopoulou further said journalists and people employed by the mass media are the most disorganized and are the working people with the fewest rights at European level. She added that it is one of the few sectors in which there is no social dialogue at this level.
Referring to mergers in the mass media, Diamantopoulou said there have been mass mergers on a global scale. Consequently, there are seven huge companies today, four American, two European and one Japanese.
 Tsovolas discusses Cyprus issue with Cyprus Parliament Speaker
NICOSIA, 01/07/2002 (ANA - G. Leonidas)Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI) party leader Dimitris Tsovolas held talks on the Cyprus issue with Cyprus Parliament Speaker and leftist AKEL party secretary general Dimitris Christofias on Saturday.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Christofias said the discussion on the Belgian model (concerning a solution to the Cyprus issue) was unnecessary and reiterated that what is necessary is attention on the four main issues raised by the UN secretary general.
Tsovolas pointed out that vigilance and close cooperation between Cyprus and Greece and all of Hellenism is necessary at this crucial phase for the question of Cyprus. He added that what is needed primarily is great care, while it is imperative to remain distant from naive and historically inaccurate views or assessments.
 Interior minister expresses optimism over elections
NICOSIA, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis, in an interview with the newspaper ''Fileleftheros'', expresses optimism over the outcome of October's municipal elections in Greece.
"On the basis of the course of local administration in Greece and changes brought about in past years, as well as knowing the persons, the candidates we are fielding all over the country, I have no illusion that PASOK (the ruling party in Greece) can rally itself and win," he said.
Skandalidis further said that "the first stop is the conference we will have in the coming week and which I believe will reverse the climate", adding that he is optimistic over the outcome of the municipal elections.
 ND leader addresses Karamanlis Institute for Democracy
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis, addressing an event organized by the Constantine Karamanlis Institute for Democracy over the weekend on effective governance in the 21st century, appealed to all citizens desiring the re-establishment of the state, meritocracy and the enactment of common rules.
Karamanlis said those seeking these principles should follow the options of liberal policy, adding that ''whoever does not participate is accountable for the perpetuation of corruption and the situation we are experiencing.''
He also said governance in the 21st century cannot be petty-partisan expediency and personal vanity, while it cannot be identified with crafty minorities maintaining limited expectations, making minor efforts and aiming at staying in power to satisfy selfish pursuits and narrow interests.
Referring to international developments, Karamanlis said the entire world has entered a new era and that one is experiencing the process of the creation of a new economic, social, political and cultural environment on a global scale.
On the question of Cyprus, Karamanlis said it is up to us to see Cyprus a full European Union member in the spring of 2003.
 Minister criticizes ND's economic policy
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos criticized the main opposition New Democracy party's economic policy on Saturday, saying it is pursuing market domination at the expense of working people and accusing ND leader Costas Karamanlis of appointing himself a representative of neo-liberalism.
Tsohatzopoulos, who was addressing a conference on economic growth organized in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, by the ruling PASOK party's local Prefectural Committee, urged the party to begin a struggle against neo-liberalism now.
He also said now is the crucial time for PASOK to counter-attack on an ideological and political level, promoting its positions on democratic development for the benefit of society and the people.
 Coalition party leader addresses central committee
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Coalition of the Left and Progress party leader Nikos Constantopoulos predicted on Saturday that local elections in October will affect political developments in the country.
Constantopoulos, who was speaking at his party's central committee weekend meeting on political and organizational preparation for the local elections, said the present political scene is fluid, the government's visible deterioration can lead to a change in political power and rapid political developments cannot be ruled out.
He criticized both the government and the main opposition New Democracy party and, referring to both the PASOK and ND parties, said the government is applying a neo-liberal policy and, consequently, one cannot choose between those who express and manage the same neo-liberal policy.
 PM visits PASOK youth group festival
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis visited ruling PASOK party's affiliated youth group's festival on Sunday evening at a northern Piraeus district, where he was accompanied by a handful of high-ranking ministers party cadres, including FM George Papandreou and party secretary Costas Laliotis.
Several other top PASOK members visited the youth festival, held at a multiplex cinema center in the working class district of Rendi, earlier in the day.
 Athens assumes informal 'euro zone' presidency
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Greece assumes the presidency of the informal ''Euro zone" group of countries' economy ministers on Monday, replacing Denmark - which has not adopted the euro currency - until Jan. 1, 2003 before serving for the next six months until June, when the country officially assumes the European Union's six-month rotating presidency.
At the same time, the country takes the chair of the European Security and Defense Policy for a year, also starting on July 1, and joins the EU's troika of the current, previous and upcoming presidencies.
 Development minister addresses conference in Thessaloniki
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos outlined possibilities of cooperation between Greece and other countries in southeastern Europe in the geo-energy sector at a conference held in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on Saturday on ''Growth-Environment-Local Societies: The Case of the Mining Industry.''
The Federation of Industries of Northern Greece organized the event.
''There is already a series of proposals for Serbia's market by Greek businesses interested in exploiting minerals, while considerable prospects are also being presented in Bulgaria and Romania as well,'' he said.
Tsohatzopoulos also proposed the creation of a network of clusters in the mining industry sector to enable businesses active in this sector in Greece to be in a position to respond to present-day challenges with greater effectiveness.
 'Independent' newspaper comments on Athens Olympics
LONDON, 01/07/2002 (ANA - L. Tsirigotakis)The British newspaper ''Independent'', in a report written by a columnist on Sunday, says 775 days are left until the opening of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and the ''Cassandras'' are continuing to dominate corridors in the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee.
The report added that the Organizing Committee's assurances that the Games are on a smooth path and that there are only the usual reservations on hospitality and the traffic issue have failed to satisfy Athens journalists who doubt whether everything will be in place at the right time.
It also comments on the campaign for the return of the Parthenon Marbles to Greece and cites former British Sports Minister Tony Banks who said ''there are neither legal nor moral reasons for not returning the Marbles to Athens.''
Banks added that efforts will be made to persuade British Prime Minister Tony Blair that returning the Parthenon Marbles to Greece will enhance his personal prestige on the international scene.
 Mediterranean news agencies conclude 11th general assembly here
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)The 11th general assembly of the Alliance of Mediterranean News Agencies (AMAN) wound up in Athens over the weekend with the organization’s presidency changing hands, with Athens News Agency (ANA) General Director Andreas Christodoulides assuming the year-long post from Tunisia's Agence Presse (TAP).
Delegates from the participating member-agencies unanimously approved of a cooperation protocol with the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA), along with a reciprocal agreement of observer status between the two organizations. AMAN delegates also unanimously approved the membership request of Slovenia's STA and Yugoslavia's Tanjug - with the latter initially given observer status.
The Algerie Presse Service (APS) will assume the AMAN presidency next June, followed in 2004 by the Albanian Telegraph Agency (ATA).
Additionally, delegates from the 16 out of the 17 member-agencies in attendance approved emergency aid to the Palestinian news agency WAFA, while calling for freedom of movement and the safe of exercise of journalists' professional duties in the Palestinian territories and Israel.
The AMAN general assembly was preceded by an ANA-sponsored seminar entitled ''Mediterranean News Agencies and Olympic Games in Athens - The Digital Challenge''.
 Minister says funds to be provided for prehistoric site
Athens, 01/07/2002 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Saturday his ministry is determined to provide all the necessary funds to promote the prehistoric settlement discovered at Dispilio in the Kastoria prefecture, as well as for the fossilized forest located in the region.
Venizelos was speaking at a conference on the development of the Kastoria prefecture, organized in the town of Kastoria by the PASOK party's local Prefectural Committee.
He also announced that a service responsible for Byzantine and post-Byzantine monuments will be operating in the towns of Kastoria and Florina in September.
 Australia's Short says final agreement must maintain island's unity
NICOSIA, 01/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)The final agreement the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides reach must preserve and maintain the unity of Cyprus, Australia's envoy Jim Short has stressed, adding that ''the door is not closed'' on the prospect of reaching such a negotiated settlement.
Speaking to the press at the end of three days of talks here, Short expressed ''cautious optimism'' that an agreement can be achieved in the months ahead and praised the efforts made by President Glafcos Clerides and the UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto towards this goal.
Short, who left the island on Saturday, will be meeting Britain's representative on Monday in London.
''There is no question that the final agreement reached can be anything but an indissoluble Cyprus,'' Short said, acknowledging at the same time that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash continues to talk about two states.
Asked how an agreement can be reached when the two sides adhere to two different philosophies, he restricted himself in saying that ''I have the impression that the door is not closed on this issue as far as Denktash is concerned.''
He said he had explained to Denktash that the solution of the problem would not be viable, if the Turkish Cypriot leader proposes notions of divisibility. He said he told Denktash that it is up to him and Clerides to agree on the future structure of Cyprus, provided it is within the parameters ''of UN understanding.''
''I believe there will never be another such window of opportunity to solve the problem and I encouraged all the parties to work together.
It would be a matter of grave concern if this opportunity is not grasped,'' he said.
President Clerides has been ''very forthcoming'' at the talks and de Soto is making a lot of effort to make headway, he said, adding that ''it would be very disappointing if by October or November there is no agreement'' at least on the core issues under discussion, which are governance, security, territory and property. Talks can continue after that, he said.
''I come away with cautious optimism. The next few months will be quite critical, talks could continue for a long time but the real opportunity for a solution is in the next few months,'' the Australian envoy said.
Clerides and Denktash have been engaged in direct talks, under UN auspices, since mid January. As the two leaders are wrapping up their current round of discussions on Tuesday, President Clerides believes there is a deadlock due to the insistence of Denktash on two separate states.
Replying to questions, he described as ''wrong'' Turkish and Turkish Cypriot objections to Cyprus' accession to the European Union, prior to a solution on the pretext that there will be two vetoes within the EU against Turkey's membership.
Asked about the possibility of seeing the Cyprus question being part of a package deal of Greco-Turkish disputes, he replied ''there are several important parties who believe that it would be beneficial if the EU were to give Turkey a date for the start of accession negotiations, provided the Copenhagen criteria (which relate basically) to human rights are met.''
On Turkish threats against Cyprus, in the event of accession prior to a solution, he said he did not believe Ankara would go as far as annex the occupied part of the island, if it is serious about getting into the EU itself.
Short said that during his meetings here he conveyed Canberra's support for the direct talks and its strong wish to see them succeed.
He also welcomed a recent joint statement by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots in Australia.
 Italian Minister signs agreements in Cyprus
NICOSIA, 01/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus and Italy have signed two agreements of cooperation in combating organized crime and illegal immigration.
The agreements were signed on Friday night by Italian Interior Minister Claudio Scajola and Cypriot Ministers of Justice and Public Order, Nicos Koshis, and the Interior, Andreas Panayiotou.
The three ministers also discussed plans to set up a European Border Police Squad, in the wake of the recent decisions taken at the EU Seville summit, as well as Cyprus' willingness to work in this direction.
Scajola and Koshis signed an agreement on security issues, which cover combating of organized crime, illegal trafficking, and drugs trafficking. With Panayiotou, he signed a readmission agreement, on the basis of the European pattern, regarding people who travel illegally from one country to another.