|Wednesday, 29 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-07-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>July 17, 2002
 Government discusses Olympic Games security
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Security at the Athens Olympics in 2004 was the focus of a meeting on Tuesday between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and the leadership of the public order, defense and culture ministries.
In statements afterward, Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said the meeting had focused on technical aspects of coordinating the defense and public order ministries.
The others attending were Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Deputy Public Order Minister Evangelos Malesios.
Press sources said that the meeting had also covered issues such as guarding Greece's borders and plans to set up a Security Command Center for the Olympic Games.
The meeting was immediately followed by a session of the government committee for Olympic Games preparations, with Olympics Organizing Committee (ATHOC) chairwoman Gianna Angelopoulos attending.
PM, ATHOC president react to Olympic Village accidents: Labor accidents at Olympic Village workplaces, which have already claimed the lives of four workers and caused the injury of many people involved in the biggest project in view of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, triggered the intervention of Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos Daskalaki during Tuesday's Interministerial Committee meeting and the immediate reaction of Prime Minister Costas Simitis who called for the taking of measures against contractors failing to observe security measures.
Daskalaki called for the government's intervention on the issue and proposed the creation of a committee including the participation of the labor ministry, the Labor Inspection Service and ATHOC, despite the fact the Organizing Committee is not directly involved in the construction of projects.
Simitis, also alarmed by the labor accidents, agreed absolutely with Daskalaki and, according to reports, called for an investigation to be carried out and if it is ascertained that contractors do not fulfill security conditions they shall be dismissed from projects, as is also anticipated by the relevant law.
During the Interministerial Committee's meeting on the Olympic Games, Simitis called on ministers concerned not to slacken and to ''chase'' those responsible for projects who have to supervise them closely.
On its part, the Coalition of Left and Progress (Synaspismos) on Tuesday said that the labor ministry was greatly responsible for the labor accidents that have taken place at the Olympic Village.
Synaspismos said that ''intensified labor to the benefit of subcontractors and intense work schedules with unrestricted number of overtime hours for each worker have resulted in often mourning for human lives'' and asked the government to obligate the ''large subcontractors to comply with their responsibilities and not view human lives as expendable''.
 PM to chair meetings on Olympics preparations, property tax
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis met Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Tuesday at 10:00 to prepare for a cabinet meeting on Thursday, government spokesman Christos Protopapas announced.
The cabinet meeting is to focus on property transfer tax and the taxation of real estate belonging to offshore companies.
After the meeting with Christodoulakis, the prime minister chaired a meeting focusing on Olympic Games security prior to a meeting of the full government committee for Olympic Games preparations at noon.
On Tuesday evening, meanwhile, he is to meet with the government's communications team.
On Wednesday, Simitis will visit Greek railway (OSE) projects at Tempi and Platamona, returning to Athens for a meeting with Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis at 19:30.
The prime minister is scheduled to meet Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis on Friday, after which he will visit the Social Security Foundation's (IKA) computer center at 12:00.
He is scheduled to call on President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos next Monday, while a visit to the public works in Kakia Skala and a cabinet meeting on agricultural policy are among his engagements for next week.
 Police confirm that they have second N17 weapon
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Ballistics tests have confirmed that yet another of the weapons found at the Patmos Street safe house in Athens had been used by the terrorist group November 17, police announced on Tuesday.
Police spokesman Lefteris Economou said the second weapon was a 0.45 caliber pistol whose registration number had been filed off and had been used in a shootout between N17 and police in Sepolia on November 20, 1991.
The 0.38 caliber revolver found by the authorities had also been used during the same incident.
Economou said that crime labs were continuing to work on the other evidence found in the two safe houses discovered by the police and that their findings would be released as they came out.
Among the finds are more 0.45 caliber pistols and other weapons that have not so far been used in hits by the group. Police suspect that ballistics tests on these weapons could help shed light on robberies and other unsolved crimes that may have been carried out by N17.
Meanwhile, police are still looking for suspected N17 member Dimitris Koufontinas who has so far eluded capture, even after his photographs were released to the media. A search of his holiday home in Plaka, Keratea did not turn up any useful clues but the authorities believe that he is still within the country, possibly in a hideout he had prepared beforehand for such a time.
Four brothers of alleged terrorist questioned by police: Four brothers of alleged terrorist Savvas Xiros are being examined by the Counter-Terrorism Service in Athens and Thessaloniki, while an authoritative source said they were not arrested but will be asked for clarifications on issues regarding their brother's testimony.
Savvas Xiros was injured when a bomb he was carrying exploded during a botched attack in Piraeus on June 29.
His brother Christodoulos was brought to the Counter-Terrorism Service in Athens and his brothers Dimitris, Vassilis and Nikos were brought to the corresponding service in Thessaloniki.
Reports late Tuesday night said that Dimitris and Nikos Xiros were released.
Meanwhile, judicial sources made it clear that no charge has been brought against Dimitris Koufontinas, allegedly a member of the November 17 organization, and at this stage police is seeking him.
Police have the possibility of arresting Koufontinas without an arrest warrant being issued against him, with the communication to him of the relevant wanted criminal bulletin, and examining him initially as a main witness in the case in the framework of the preliminary enquiry.
In the event evidence collected by the Counter-Terrorism service reveals his participation in criminal acts perpetrated by November 17, again issuing an arrest warrant against him is not necessary since participation in November 17 is considered a continuous offence and the defendant will be brought before a public prosecutor in the 24-hour framework set by the law for first-instance felonies.
Gov't denies rumor of N17-linked arrest in Strasbourg: Government spokesman Christos Protopapas on Tuesday denied rumors that an arrest linked to the terrorist group November 17 had been made in Strasbourg, involving a man named Alexandros Giotopoulos.
There was no arrest, Protopapas stressed, while he refused to comment on questions alleging the involvement of a former Greek intelligence service chief in the affair.
Commenting on revelations that the fugitive Dimitris Koufontinas may have been a member of a PASOK youth group for school-age children, Protopapas said that this was not something that allowed one to draw any significant conclusions since thousands had joined and then quit the party within that age group at the time.
 'Moslem Brothers' rule out relations with November 17
ROME, 17/07/2002 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)Maumun El Hodeibi, a spokesman for the ''Moslm Brothers'' organization in Egypt, said on Tuesday in reply to a question by the ANSA news agency on alleged relations with the November 17 organization ''these reports lack absolutely any logic because there are no common interests, targets and principles.''
He further ruled out any knowledge of the organization ''which, according to what the press writes, has principles of a Marxist type and this is impossible for the Moslems, who have no contacts with the atheists.''
 Greece hails Bosnian, Yugoslav and Croatian presidents meeting
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Greece on Tuesday welcomed the meeting between the presidents of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yugoslavia and Croatia to discuss the situation in the Balkans.
''The meeting between the Presidents of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yugoslavia and Croatia constitutes a particularly positive development for the stability, cooperation and security of the wider Balkan region,'' Greek foreign ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis said.
Beglitis said the meeting is of historic significance and opens new prospects of peace and cooperation between peoples and countries in the Balkans.
''We hail this meeting and reconfirm Greece's will to support the effort of reconstructing Balkan countries and the prospect of their accession to Euro-Atlantic institutions,'' Beglitis added.
 Former minister Angeliki Laiou gives up seat in Parliament
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)PASOK state deputy and former government minister Angeliki Laiou on Tuesday gave up her seat in Parliament in a letter to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who has accepted her resignation.
Government spokesman Christos Protopapas said that Michalis Neonakis would replace her.
In her letter to Simitis, Laiou noted that ''a seat in Parliament was not an end in itself'' and that the things she was able to contribute and would like to contribute in the future were not dependent on her role as an MP. She also placed herself at the prime minister's disposal and said she was prepared to offer what help she could to the government, PASOK and the country.
Simitis praised her role in Parliament and the government and said her availability to help in the government's work would be considered soon.
Laiou was born in Athens in 1941 and is a Byzantine Studies fellow at Harvard University in the United States, as well as being a member of the Athens Academy. She served as deputy foreign minister for Simitis' governments from April 13, 2000 until November 20, 2000 when she resigned for personal reasons.
Her replacement Neonakis trained as a dentist and was born in Rethymno in 1958. He became a member of PASOK in 1977 and has been on PASOK's Central Committee since 1984 and secretary of the party's policy organizing sector since 1996.
 Karamanlis meets Archbishop Anastassios in Tirana
TIRANA, 17/07/2002 (ANA - I. Paco)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday arrived in the Albanian capital of Tirana for an unofficial two-day visit.
Karamanlis had separate meetings with Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania, the Chairman of the Human Rights Party in Tirana Vangjel Dule and Former Albanian Prime Minister Ilir Meta.
Later in the day, Karamanlis attended a dinner hosted in his honor by the leader of the Opposition Democratic party Sali Berisha.
On Wednesday, Karamanlis will be meeting ruling Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano, while meetings are also expected with Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and the country's newly elected President Alfred Mojsiu.
 ND leader meets Yugoslav President Kostunica
BELGRADE, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis met here on Tuesday with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica as part of a two-day visit to Yugoslavia and Albania by a European Peoples Party (EPP) delegation including EPP President Wilfried Martens.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Karamanlis said President Kostunica's contribution to the region's stabilization is recognized by all, adding that he has made great efforts to have wounds left in the country by the adventures of the past decade healed.
Karamanlis further said he is worthy of congratulations for the Sarajevo meeting where countries, which had fought each other fiercely in the near past, met.
''It is of great importance that we discussed the future of the wider region with President Kostunica and President Martens. We made it clear to him that the European Peoples Party believes that the prospect for the European Union is to include all the Balkan countries, which shall strengthen the region's stability,'' Karamanlis said.
Karamanlis also said the prospect of President Kostunica's party is to join the EPP's family and attend the next EPP congress in Estoril, Portugal, with observer status.
The EPP delegation then left for Albania for meetings with the country's political leadership.
 ND MEP Xarchakos: Idea of European Constitution is ripe
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)The idea of a 'European Constitution' was ripe, and adoption of such a document would be an indication of substantial unification, main opposition New Democracy (ND) Eurodeputy Stavros Xarchakos said Tuesday.
Speaking to the Athens News Agency (ANA) as part of a series of interviews on the new Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) decided to revise the EU treaties, Xarchakos called for more EU funds to be earmarked for culture, while he also strongly endorsed a common European foreign policy and defense.
Xarchakos said that the 15-nation bloc's imminent enlargement and the need for a more flexible decision-taking process had played a major role in the decision to call a new IGC. This flexibility was not linked with new targets, however, but with acceleration of the procedures for the current actions, he said. ''I fear that the vision and will for activation in new areas is lacking, while dangers are arising for the so-called 'small' countries such as Greece, which will have smaller abilities to control some developments in the future,'' he added.
In his opinion, the ''now-ripe idea of a European Constitution'' should be advanced, ''which could be founded on the Charter of Fundamental Rights''.
The European Union was an ''islet of prosperity in a troubled world'' while ''globalization, on the other hand, resembles a huge melting pot of cultures and languages, with an economistic and miserable view of the modern-day world,'' Xarchakos said, adding that the attractiveness of the 'European model' was proved by the desire of the countries of eastern and central Europe to join.
''I prefer the term 'globality', fraternity of the peoples, respect of cultures, peace with justice. This globality is a totally opposite meaning to globalization,'' Xarchakos said.
Asked whether the EU member states' governments were willing to give up authorities for the sake of political union, Xarchakos said he did not believe the EU governments were ready to take that ''big step'', although according to a Eurobarometer survey in March more than 50 percent of the European citizens wanted a common European defense and 71 percent wanted a common foreign policy. ''The people, therefore, supercede their governments, but unfortunately we see few moves in that direction''.
Asked what Greece's role could be in reinforcing the Balkan countries preparing to join the EU, Xarchakos pointed out that the EU and Greece could provide assistance to those countries, but those countries in turn had the obligation to respect the particularity of the minorities living in them, and cited the examples of the Greeks who used to live in the Bulgarian towns of Plovdiv and Burgas, who had either left their homes or, those remaining, were no longer taught Greek, and the persecution suffered by the Greek minority in Albania.
 Mayoral candidate Papoutsis proposes ''Athens Digital City''
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Citizen participation in public affairs through the Internet is projected by the program ''Athens Digital City'' proposed by the ticket of Athens mayoral candidate Christos Papoutsis ''Beautiful City''.
Patterned after e-Europe 2002 and 2005 Action Plans that facilitate the provision of services to citizens through public Internet access points, the program proposed by Papoutsis and his associates ''would further development in Athens through the Smart Local Communities'' idea, increasingly used by local communities worldwide.
Although it ranks among the most developed in the application of IT technology countrywide, the municipality of Athens still lacks in the provision of ''smart services'' to Athenians in comparison with major cities in other countries.
 Gov't enters second phase of tax overhaul
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)The government is launching the second phase of an overhaul of the taxation system, Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told reporters on Tuesday.
Measures in the second phase would focus on inheritance, property transfers and offshore companies, said Christodoulakis after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis on the reform plan.
"The new tax landscape is based on attracting capital, equal treatment and a reduction in red tape, as well as tax relief, especially for low income households," the minister added.
 European Commission says 270,000 new jobs in Greece
BRUSSELS, 17/07/2002 (ANA - G. Daratos)European Commission services estimated that about 270,000 new jobs were created in Greece over the 1997-2001 period.
The Commission does not wish to confirm the figure officially at present, which it considers extremely satisfactory, since it has not yet completed its estimates, which will appear in its annual report in November.
According to the Commission's official data contained in the ''announcement'' by Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou to the Council of Ministers, expected to be ratified on Wednesday, 10 million new jobs were created all over the European Union over the 1997-2001 period, while six million were taken up by women.
 European agreement signed on telework
BRUSSELS, 217/07/2002 (ANA - B. Demiris)A new European agreement on telework was signed on Tuesday in Brussels focusing on higher insurance for 4.5 million employees in that sector.
The accord, signed by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the Union of Industrial and Employers Confederations (UNICE) and the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP) establishes general guidelines, on a European level, regulating labor conditions for teleworkers, providing them the same general rights that apply to office-based employees.
Present at the signature of the accord, Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou said ''this initiative will not only benefit the workers and the companies, but it is the first European agreement to be implemented by the social partners themselves; this evidences the coming-of-age of the European social dialogue''.
Telework is defined as all tasks, which are comparable to those that could be carried out by an employee at the workplace but which may also be done at a distance.
Negotiations for the agreement, which is projected for implementation within the next three years, had started in November 2001; it is estimated that by 2010.
 OTE unveils new organizational structure
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) on Tuesday announced drastic changes in its organizational structure aiming to preserve its leading position in the Greek market and to strengthen its international presence by improving the financial returns of its investments abroad.
OTE said that its new strategy would be based customer orientation, more effective operation and better coordination of internal procedures.
The new organizational plan, approved by the board of directors, envisages creating four specialized business units and creation of a corporate center in the group, to transform OTE into a market oriented, modern and competitive telecommunications group.
The four business units are: -International activities (OTE International), to take over the coordination of all telecommunication activities abroad and the management of all fixed telephony international holdings of the group (Mr. G. Skarpelis will head the unit), -Fixed telephony Greece (OTE's chairman and CEO Mr. L. Antonakopoulos will be transitional head of the unit), -Mobile telephony, in charge of all mobile telephony activities in Greece and abroad (Mr. E. Martigopoulos will head the unit), and -Internet, in charge of all internet activities in Greece and abroad (Mr. G. Ioannidis will head the unit).
OTE's subsidiary Hellascom (to be headed by Mr. G. Maniatis) and the group's Strategic Planning Unit will be directly under OTE's CEO authority.
OTE's Corporate Center will support the CEO's and the group's governing body (to be formed) activities in strategy planning, mergers and takeovers, holdings management, competition, setting goals, monitoring progress and offering incentives for the group's executives.
OTE's new organizational structure will allow the group to face effectively intensified competition in Greece, to fully exploit its internal capabilities in developing its international holdings and to reduce overlapping and to facilitate synergies between group companies.
Hellenic Telecommunications Organizationís transformation will be completed in three stages.
 Environment ministry tables parking spaces amendment
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)An amendment that tightens up parking space requirements for new buildings was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday by Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou.
The amendment greatly limits the owner's rights to avoid providing parking spaces by paying a fee, allowing this option only when the construction of parking spaces in the specific building is either impossible or forbidden.
Papandreou also announced that a presidential decree regulating parking space in Attica would be issued by the end of July and another for parking space throughout the country would be out by October.
 Greek investors suffer heavy losses in foreign equity mutual funds
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Greek investors with foreign and international equity mutual funds holdings are suffering from heavy losses that, in some cases, exceed 50 percent so far this year, reflecting a sharp drop in equity prices or indices in international markets, currently at five year lows.
More analytically, the Greek market's 28 foreign equity mutual funds are showing losses more than 50 percent in 2002, with five of them reporting negative returns ranging from -30 to -50 percent, 11 were showing negative returns of -20 to -30 percent, with the rest showing negative losses of -5 to -20 percent.
The majority of funds invested in this category of mutual funds are managed by the largest mutual funds management companies in Greece.
On the other hand, losses in domestic equity mutual funds, although significant, lagged behind their foreign counterparts, with negative returns totalling -22 percent so far this year.
Out of a total of 74 mutual funds in the category, 50 were showing losses ranging from -10 to -20 percent, while the remaining were showing losses of between -5 and -10 percent.
Market analysts, however, said that Greek investors seemed not to have lost their nerve and retained their positions in the market despite a prolonged bear market.
 Greek stocks drop to new 2002 lows in ASE Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks plunged to their lowest levels this year in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, hit by a wave of selling that pushed other European bourses to their lowest levels in the last six years.
The general index dropped 1.05 percent to end at 2,124.21 points, with turnover an improved 86.3 million euros.
The Textile, Wholesale and Insurance sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (2.66 percent, 2.29 percent and 2.14 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 1.29 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.31 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index fell 1.60 percent.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 286 to 34 with another 31 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecoms, Football Pools, Coca Cola HCB, and Klonatex (common).
Derivatives Market Close: Equity index futures mixed: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished mixed on Tuesday, with contracts on the high capitalization index showing a premium of up to 1.0 percent and on the medium cap index a discount.
Turnover was 122.3 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips lost 1.29 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks fell 1.31 percent.
No trades were seen in stock repos.
Bond Market Close: Prices mixed in brisk trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Tuesday finished mixed in heavy trade focusing on ten-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.18 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.8 billion euros.
Buy orders accounted for about half of trade.
 Minister says Acropolis Museum to be ready before Olympic Games
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Tuesday the Acropolis Museum to be created is a ''new technical reality'' and announced ''Themeliodomi SA'' as the contractor company assuming the first phase of the project's construction.
The foundation stone will be laid at the end of July, while the contractor for the project's second phase will be announced in September.
Venizelos said the Acropolis Museum will be ready before the start of the Olympic Games in 2004.
He was speaking at a press conference during which he presented the members of the British Committee for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles, who arrived in Athens for a briefing on excavation work in the Makriyianni region.
The British Committee's President, Anthony Snodgrass, said with the museum project findings will not be destroyed by weather and climatological conditions and will be protected permanently.
Committee members spoke of a reverse of the negative climate in Britain, regarding both public opinion and the media, in relation to the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
Referring to reports in the newspapers Guardian and Daily Telegraph, which speak of the destruction of antiquities during excavations in the place the museum will be built, Venizelos spoke of ''a strange coincidence during the days the members of the committee are visiting the site of the excavations.''
 GNTO launches tourist information telephone line
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)Foreign tourists visiting Greece will be offered an information and complaint telephone line from July 20 under the code name "Estia 2002", Greece's National Tourist Organization said on Tuesday.
The three-digit line (171) will answer to tourists' inquiries and complaints.
 Ardas 2002 youth camp to take place in Evros
Athens, 17/07/2002 (ANA)The "Ardas 2002" Youth Camp will begin on July 22-28 in Kastanies, Evros, making this the 8th consecutive year for the annual event that began in 1995.
Held very close to the joint borders of Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, 'Ardas' seeks to create a cultural meeting point for Balkan youth through music, sports, games and other competitions and is supported by the New Generation General Secretariat in Greece.
For information try the www.ardas.gr website or contact the New Generation General Secretariat.
 Clerides and Denktash look into working program
NICOSIA, 17/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash met here on Tuesday within the context of the fifth round of UN-led direct talks on the Cyprus problem that commenced on Tuesday, and decided on the working program of their next meetings.
UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro De Soto and the two leaders' aides attended Tuesday's meeting, which lasted about an hour.
Clerides was accompanied by Attorney General Alecos Markides, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou and Undersecretary to the President Pantelis Kouros.
Clerides and Denktash launched direct talks in January this year with a view to solve the problem of Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
No progress has been achieved so far because of Denktash's insistence on ''two states'' in Cyprus.
 Kasoulides: Cyprus a bridge between the EU and Middle East
JERUSALEM, 17/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus has the potential of becoming an economic, political and cultural bridge between the European Union (EU) and the countries of the Middle East and north Africa, Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has said.
Speaking during a dinner offered here on Monday night by the Israel Council of Foreign Affairs, in the presence of Jerusalem Greek Orthodox Patriarch Eirinaios, the foreign minister talked about Cyprus' strong feelings ''that it has an obligation to contribute not only to the efforts to halt the escalating spiral of violence in its immediate vicinity, but also to play its role in the efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace that would make the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East an area of peace and stability.''
Introducing the minister, Council member Bein Yohanan made a short reference to the history of Cyprus and its accession course to the EU.
''Cyprus is trying to become part of the EU and at the same time it is part of the Middle East,'' he noted, adding that a lot of Israelis regularly visit Cyprus as tourists and that the relations between the two states are very good despite all the problems of the region.
The Cypriot minister said Cyprus' accession to the EU is the natural outcome of a long-lasting relation with the Union, based on age-old cultural, historic and socio-political ties, common values and shared principles.
''We strongly believe,'' Kasoulides said, ''that Cyprus' participation in the EU will also positively contribute to the achievement of the EU's goals and aspirations'' and that ''the accession of Cyprus will bring the EU in the Eastern Mediterranean and the shores of the Middle East and Israel.''
As Kasoulides said, traditionally, Cyprus has maintained excellent and close historic relations with the Arab world and Israel.
''As a result of this balanced approach,'' he continued, ''Cyprus has been able to maintain its credibility with all the countries in the area and beyond, as a country that can be useful in the efforts for peace and reconciliation in the area.''
The minister reminded his audience that Cyprus had been able to contribute towards the positive conclusion of the standoff at the Church of Nativity in last May.
''By agreeing to provisionally accept the 13 Palestinians on its territory for unlimited period,'' he said, ''Cyprus assisted in the implementation of an EU initiative, thus helping diffuse an otherwise alarming situation.''
Kasoulides said Cyprus had offered itself as ''a behind-the scenes facilitator of the efforts for reaching a settlement of the Middle East conflict.''
Speaking on the Cyprus problem, Kasoulides briefed his audience on recent developments and the UN-led direct talks under way.
''We strongly believe that our irreversible course towards ac-cession could act as a catalyst for a solution to the Cyprus problem,'' Kasoulides pointed out.
 New National Guard Commander assumes office
NICOSIA, 17/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)Newly appointed National Guard Commander, Lieutenant General Athanasios Nikolodemos assumed office here on Tuesday.
He is succeeding the late Commander, Lieutenant General Evangelos Florakis who was killed last week in a helicopter crash with other four army officers.
Assuming his duties, during a special ceremony at the National Guard headquarters in Nicosia, Nikolodemos assured that he would continue Florakis' mission.
Defense Minister Socrates Hasikos, who met Nikolodemos, said the fact that the new Commander assumes his duties after the tragic accident ''strengthens the will for hard work in Cyprus.''
He noted that the Defense Ministry and the National Guard command had assured Nikolodemos of their unwavering support to his difficult task.
Nikolodemos thanked the minister underlying that he is fully aware of the burden of his responsibility.
Nikolodemos was born in 1943, at Gardiki village, in Fthiotida, Greece.
He studied at the Greek Military Academy between 1962 and 1966 and graduated as Second Lieutenant.
He served at various posts in the Greek armed forces and in 1990 he was promoted to the post of Colonel. In 1996 he became a Major General and in 1998 Lieutenant General. He retired from service in 2001.
He speaks fluent English and German.