|Wednesday, 29 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-07-23
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>July 23, 2002
 EU Commissioner says Third CSF course "positive"
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)EU Regional Policy Commissioner Michel Barnier on Monday said he has a "generally positive" picture of progress in implementing a Third Community Support Framework.
Addressing members of a Greek parliament's European Affairs Commission in Athens, Mr. Barnier also referred to problems in a Land Registry program while he expressed worries over the likelihood of problems facing Greece's railways program.
He also expressed his surprise and regret over Greek reactions to a series of letters sent to the Greek prime minister by the Commissioner. "Our aim is Greece to succeed and to fully absorb funds from a Third Community Support Framework, totalling 27 billion euros," the EU Commissioner said.
"The sum is huge and I am not surprised by any problems, which, however, we must overcome," Mr. Barnier told the parliament commission.
The 51-year-old French politician referred to the success of a program on "Information Society" and said that a EU cohesion budget should reach 0.45 percent of the EU's gross domestic product ahead of a EU expansion. He stressed, however, that funds from a cohesion budget should be correctly absorbed "to silence those who opposed them."
Commenting on a course for a EU expansion, Mr. Barnier said that all 10 candidate countries of the first wave were adhering to a timetable agreed with the EU.
Mr. Barnier said he supported an independant Europe, an ally and partner of the US, with its own social model that could deal with regional conflicts more effectively than in Bosnia.
2004 Athens Olympic Games: European Union Commissioner Michel Barnier, responsible for regional policy and the Intergovernmental Conference, said on Monday the 2004 Athens Olympic Games are a great event for Greece and all of Europe.
Speaking at a press conference at the end of his contacts in Athens, he said his visit focused on the Olympic Games, the implementation of the EU's cohesion policy and the EU's future and the reforming of the EU's institutional bodies.
Referring to the Olympic Games, Barnier said ''from my experience as president of the Olympic Games in Albertville in 1992, I reached the conclusion that the two years preceding the beginning of the Games are exciting years, but at the same time very difficult ones. It is a marathon which one should cover at race speeds.''
He said that the entire world will focus its attention on Greece from August 13 to 29, 2004 and added that Greece has a rich history, as well as great prospects.
Barnier further said the movements of the 130,000 athletes, the people accompanying them, journalists and spectators of the Games constitute one of the most important challenges of the Games.
He went on to say that the EU, to help Greece meet this challenge, is jointly financing many infrastructure projects including the construction of the tram network, the extension of the Metro until Stavros and the rail link between the Spata airport and downtown Athens. Projects jointly financed from the EU amount to one billion 400 million euros.
Barnier had a series of meetings with Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, Finance and Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou.
He also met with Prime Minister Costas Simitis, while also participating in an audience before Parliament's permanent European Affairs Committee at the invitation of President Costas Vrettos.
Barnier said that during his meeting with Christodoulakis he examined progress in implementing cohesion policy.
He also said he is convinced of Christodoulakis' will to strengthen management and control structures which shall enable Greece to effectively use the amount of 27 billion euros anticipated for the 2000-2006 period.
Regarding the closure of the 2nd Community Support Framework (CSF), the European Commission examined the processes proposed by the finance and economy ministry to check the compatibility of expenditures with national and EU legislation concerning public contracts.
 Charges filed against 10th suspected N17 member in custody
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)The 10th suspected member of the terrorist group 'November 17' to be rounded up by police was brought before a public prosecutor on Monday to be charged with his involvement in the group.
Police identified their suspect as Thomas Serifis, 36, who was picked up in Morfio, Thesprotia on Sunday.
After being charged, Serifis was also taken before an examining magistrate, who gave him until Thursday to prepare his testimony.
Serifis, an OASA bus driver living in Galatsi, was charged with participating in a criminal group, construction, supply and possession of explosives, complicity in grand weapons possession, causing explosions with others, armed robbery, theft, illegal weapons possession and weapons use.
The suspect appeared before the public prosecutor without a lawyer and sources said he admitted all the charges.
According to police spokesman Lefteris Economou, meanwhile, Serifis had admitted under questioning to the following crimes:
Setting a home-made time bomb in the uninhabited home of Georgios Katsimihas in the Athens suburb of Vrilissia on February 22, 1989; stealing military equipment from the Sykourio army camp in Larissa on December 24, 1989, stealing rocket launchers (bazookas) from the Athens War Museum on February 3, 1990; and the robbery of a Ergasias Bank branch in Peristeri on July 18, 1990.
So far, another eight people have been charged in connection with the case. Police are also holding injured bomber Savvas Xiros, the first member of the terrorist organization to fall into their hands after a botched bomb attack in Piraeus. Xiros has admitted his involvement in N17 and is currently being treated for severe injuries in an Athens hospital under guard.
''N17'' suspects say Giotopoulos led several terrorist attacks: ''November 17'' suspect Alexandros Giotopoulos played a key role in a score of terrorist activities carried out by the notorious guerrilla group, according to preliminary testimonies given by four other individuals involved in the same case.
Brothers Christodoulos and Vassilis Xiros, Vassilis Tzortzatos and Costas Karatsolis, all charged in connection with the ''N17'' case, on Monday said that Giotopoulos, under the code name ''Lambros'', participated in several activities carried out by the urban terrorist group that eluded capture for more than a quarter of a century.
According to Christodoulos Xiros, Giotopoulos was in the hit squad that participated in the 1989 assassination of New Democracy deputy Pavlos Bakoyiannis, along with Vassilis Tzortzatos, codenamed ''Stamatis'', Savvas Xiros, codenamed ''Michalis'', Dimitris Koufontinas, codenamed ''Loukas'' and Iraklis Kostaris, codenamed ''Harris''.
Karatsolis said that ''Lambros'' was waiting at a nearby location during the 1988 robbery of the Vyronas Police Station carried out by a team that included Kostaris, Tzortzatos, Koufontinas, Savvas Xiros and Christodoulos Xiros, codenamed ''Manolis''.
According to testimony given by Vassilis Tzortzatos, in April 1987 Giotopoulos and Koufontinas had proposed the bomb-attack against a bus in Athens loaded with US military personnel. Vassilis Xiros said that, prior to the May 1997 assassination of Greek shipowner Constantinos Peratikos, he had met together with Giotopoulos in Piraeus with someone who had given him the impression of being the leader of the ''N17'' group.
Tzortzatos also said that Savvas Xiros and Koufontinas made frequent trips to Thessaloniki, northern Greece, to examine the possibility of carrying out an attack against the military forces at the time deploying to Kosovo. He also referred to a ''N17'' house in Piraeus, where he said the terrorist group stored guns, rockets and explosives.
According to Tzortzatos, the February 1985 assassination of Nikos Momferatos was carried out with the participation of Christodoulos Xiros, Dimitris Koufontinas, an individual under the code name ''Alekos'', Tzortzatos himself and possibly one more person.
Christodoulos Xiros referred to his acquaintance with Giotopoulos, as well as with a man called ''Nikitas'' and a 45-year-old man introducing himself as ''Alekos''. He also named a man previously involved in the case of a bomb explosion as his ''link'' to ''N17''.
Finally, Christodoulos Xiros named Koufontinas as the person who carried out the assassination of police officer Christos Mattis during the 1984 National Bank robbery at Petralona.
So far, nine people have been charged in connection with the case. Police are also holding injured would-be bomber Savvas Xiros, the first member of the terrorist organization to fall into their hands after last month's botched bomb attack in Piraeus. Savvas Xiros, currently hospitalized under guard for severe injuries he suffered during the botched bomb attack, has admitted his involvement in ''N17''.
''November 17'', named after the date of a 1973 student uprising against the 1967-1974 military junta in Greece, has carried out 23 assassinations of Greek and foreign nationals since it first emerged with the murder of CIA Athens station chief Richard Welch in 1975.
Chrysohoidis briefs Stephanopoulos on course of investigations into terrorism: President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos and political party leaders on Monday had separate briefings with Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis who informed them on the course of police investigations underway for the terrorism issue.
Earlier in the day, Chrysohoidis met with police commanders assigned to the terrorism case and was briefed on the progress of on-going investigations.
The minister said that the investigation process will continue and that all evidence will be utilized until all persons involved in this case are apprehended and brought to justice.
''We are going to cast ample light on this issue'' Chrysohoidis said, pointing out that he had the full support of the prime minister and the government.
Parliament President: Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Monday visited Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis and briefed him on the results to date of investigations for the break up of the November 17 terrorist group.
According to a Parliament press release, Kaklamanis expressed to Chrysohoidis his full satisfaction over the successful efforts of the Greek Police (ELAS) and of the public order minister ''to rid the country from the plague of terrorism, which apart from its criminal activity domestically, was used to also harm our national interests and the prestige of the country abroad.''
Karamanlis: Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis had a one-hour meeting with main opposition New Democracy leader on Monday to brief him on the latest developments in the ongoing investigation into the terrorist group November 17.
Karamanlis afterwards said he was satisfied with the progress made in stamping out the terrorist group and congratulated the police force on their successes.
He stressed the need to fully illuminate all aspects of the case and give adequate answers to all the questions that arose, and said that an example should be made of all those who were implicated in crimes against the public and the State.
Karamanlis then reiterated his party's support for every effort to stamp out terrorism and underlined that ND's support for the anti-terrorism bill had played a decisive role.
Chrysohoidis pledged that every aspect of the case would be fully investigated and made public, so that society and the families of the victims would receive answers.
He said the case would continue to be unraveled at the same pace as in the past few days.
KKE: The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is reserved over the complete breakup of the November 17 terrorist group, according to the outcome of Monday's meeting between Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis and a KKE delegation headed by secretary general Aleka Papariga.
An announcement by KKE said Chrysohoidis briefed KKE's delegation on the course of breaking up November 17's operational sector and set out his views on the terrorist group's nature and character.
On its part, KKE's delegation presented the minister with the party's positions on November 17 and the combatting of terrorism in general.
The announcement further said that the delegation ''expressed its reservation as to whether investigations will lead to the official revelation of the masterminds who had an interest in using and utilizing this organization for political purposes, both against the popular movement and the exercising of political pressures and interventions by foreign centers on Greek governments.''
Coalition: Public order minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said Monday that light would be shed on the issue of terrorism with full respect for the Constitution and individual rights.
Speaking after a meeting with Coalition of the Left and Progress (SYN) leader Nikos Constantopoulos, Chrysohoidis said that Greece was in general stamping out terrorism with respect to the fundamental rights of the Greek citizens, with respect and devotion to the constitutional and procedural rules.
He said the issue of terrorism would be the subject of an in-depth, studious and scrutinizing investigation, and light would be shed on it. "This is the way we shall continue, with respect to the Constitution, the individual rights, and simultaneously with efficiency," he added.
The SYN leader praised the government's decision to brief the political parties as "positive", and noted that the disbanding of the 'November 17' terrorist group would rid the country's political system from a burden, a shadow that poisoned public life, adding that everyone should acknowledge that the wipe-out of this criminal activity was a great success.
Constantopoulos said that 17N had never managed to find social and political backing in the political system of Greece, and the course of the case to date had proved that democracy was prevalent and strong and would prove even stronger after the case was fully resolved.
He noted that the Greek people sought terrorism to be stamped out and to be fully informed on all aspects of the case.
Constantopoulos said that developments so far proved how 'imaginary and dangerous' all those scenarios that wished to link terrorist activity with political spheres or parties were. "Neither democracy nor the Left have to give account vis-a-vis terrorism. On the contrary, the wipe-out of terrorism must contribute to even further reinforcing the smooth democratic life of the country and the citizens' confidence in the institutions," he said.
The SYN leader also stressed the need for the laws to be abided by, noting that the confrontation of terrorism was to the benefit of society and democracy, adding that all the guarantees for a fair trial should be adhered to with respect.
Press conference on N17 case postponed until investigation is completed: Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis had called off a planned press conference about the November 17 case because the investigation to uncover the terrorist group was still continuing, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday.
The minister would hold a press conference as soon as the first stages of the investigation were completed, he added.
EU Commissioner Barnier refers to issue of terrorism: EU Regional Policy Commissioner Michel Barnier referred to the issue of terrorism during a press conference he gave on Monday at the offices of the representation of the European Commission in Greece, at the close of talks he had with the Greek side on the Olympic Games and the future of the European Union.
Barnier said that the results of the efforts for the eradication of terrorism ''is extremely important'' not only for Greece but also for the whole of the European Union.
Maximum-security cells for ''N17'' detainees: Twelve maximum-security cells are under construction in Athens' Korydallos prison, justice ministry sources said on Monday.
The construction project of the cells, which may increase in numbers if needed, will be shortly completed, possibly tomorrow, in order to receive ''N17'' suspects Christodoulos and Vassilis Xiros, as well as Dionysios Georgiadis, who had been imprisoned on Sunday, or any others that might be detained in the same case, the sources said.
The new ten-square-meter individual cells, mostly located on the ground floor, will have bullet-proof window panes, security doors, electricity, however, no electric sockets, a concrete slab for a bed, a wash basin, a latrine, shower, a plastic table and a chair. There will be no cameras installed inside the cells, however, the public areas will have a closed circuit system linked to the central security system, which will be boosted with additional guards. There will be no members of the anti-terrorist forces posted outside the cells.
The same sources said that ministry of justice leadership had not yet decided on a cell allocation by category of ''N17'' detainees, whether they would keep separately those protected under the antiterrorist law for co-operating with the authorities, or any women who might be involved in the case.
Appeals court justices to meet regarding N17 case: An assembly of Greek appeals court justices is to meet on Tuesday afternoon to decide if the next stages of the November 17 terrorism case will be assigned to special appeals examining magistrates.
According to sources, the justices being considered for the job are Leonidas Zervobeakas, Haris Birbos and Panos Petropoulos.
 Commission president praises Greece's anti-terrorism drive
BRUSSELS, 23/07/2002 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)European Commission President Romano Prodi and European Union foreign ministers attending the General Affairs Council here on Monday, congratulated the Greek government for the blow it has dealt against terrorism ''which has international links and concerns all of Europe.''
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw delivered a personal letter to his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, who briefed his colleagues during a luncheon on the latest developments in the course of breaking up the November 17 terrorist group, hailing the success of the Greek authorities against terrorism.
The Council of Foreign Ministers primarily examined EU enlargement, reaffirming the ''road map'' with specific dates for the 10 candidate countries, including Cyprus regardless of whether its political problem will be resolved.
It was also stressed that political fluidity in Turkey does not permit the promotion of its rapprochement with Europe, at least before upcoming elections, which will probably take place on November 3.
Greece stressed at the Council that ''the EU's door should be kept open for Turkey'', the country's democratization with the fulfillment of criteria set in Copenhagen should continue to be encouraged because otherwise anti-European forces inside the country will be strengthened which no EU country would want.
Papandreou outlined the Greek presidency's priorities in the Common European Security and Defense Policy, from which Denmark, holding the presidency these six months, has been excluded.
He said the promotion of the headline goal for the operational readiness of the European army by 2003 will be continued, just as the effort to seek a solution to pending issues in EU-NATO relations.
Speaking to reporters, Papandreou said in the spirit of the Seville summit, the presidency and the EU's high commissioner on security and defense policy Javier Solana are continuing contacts to enable an agreement to be reached with Turkey on the amended Ankara text without substantive results being achieved so far.
The meeting also examined the situation in the Middle East, condemning Israel's new policy of sanctions against the Palestinian relatives of suspects involved in attacks, as well as developments in the Balkans.
 PM briefs president on breakthroughs in ongoing N17 case
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Monday expressed confidence that the efforts to stamp out terrorism would arrive at the desired result, talking after a meeting with President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.
"I am certain that we will reach a result that will lead to finally closing this chapter for Greece," Simitis stressed.
At the same time, he noted the need for patience and a responsible approach and stressed that the case could not be wrapped up overnight. The effort would require a lot of evidence and this meant a lot of work and a lot of time, he said.
Apart from the ongoing investigation into the terrorist group November 17, the prime minister also briefed the president on other domestic and foreign policy issues, particularly the latest developments in Turkey and issues related to the Greek economy.
PM's schedule: Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday at 10:00 will meet with Agriculture Minister George Drys, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Monday.
At 13:00 on Tuesday he is scheduled to meet PASOK Central Committee Secretary Costas Laliotis, following by a meeting with the new supreme court chief justice and prosecutor at 14:00.
At noon on Wednesday, Simitis will chair a meeting with Foreign Minister George Papandreou, Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Giannitsis and Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou to discuss the Euroforce issue and the Greek presidency of the European Union.
Thursday is the regular cabinet meeting, which this week will discuss agricultural policy, after which the premier will chair a meeting to discuss public works in Thessaloniki.
This will be attended by Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis, Environment and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Magriotis and Deputy Education Minister Nikos Gesoulis.
At 19:00 on Thursday, Simitis will meet Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis to prepare for the Thessaloniki International Fair (TIF), where the prime minister usually delivers the key economic address for the year.
Simitis is to depart for a brief holiday on the Aegean island of Paros on Friday.
 Greek airforce chief to attend EURAC meeting in UK
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)The chief of the Greek Airforce General Staff, Lt. Gen. (Air) Panayiotis Papanikolaou, is to be in the United Kingdom from Monday until Wednesday in order to attend a meeting of European Airforces Chiefs (EURAC).
 EBO presents first Greek-made Patriot missiles to defense minister
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)The state-owned Hellenic Arms Industry (EBO) on Monday presented the first Patriot missiles assembled in Greece to Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, who visited the firm's special facilities at Lavrio in Attica.
The Patriot missile system will be tested at the army's target range on Crete on Thursday.
After inspecting the new missiles, Papantoniou said they were an ultra-modern defense system that would greatly raise the country's air defense capacity against all threats. He also noted that the experience obtained by EBO through assembling the missiles would allow it to participate in technologically advanced weapons systems production.
The minister stressed that the future of the Greek defense industry lay in collaborating with foreign defense firms in the joint production of advanced weapons systems.
He then said that the government supported a merger between EBO and PYRKAL, the state-owned munitions manufacturer.
Under the deal with US-based weapons manufacturers Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, EBO is responsible for supplying the raw materials, constructing special tools and systems for production and checking, manufacturing the missile launchers and missiles, as well as the final assembly, testing and delivery of the new-generation Patriot missiles.
EBO's contract is worth 19 million dollars and calls for the construction of 200 missiles at the rate of 20 per month, 200 missile launchers, eight launchers for training and the assembly of six radar carriers.
Also participating in the program are the companies Hellenic Aerospace Industry, METKA, Hellenic Vehicles Industry, ELFON, Siemens Hellas, Intracom and Sonak.
 Education minister briefs PM on educational issues
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Education Minister Petros Efthymiou discussed educational issues at the Maximos Mansion on Monday, while Efthymiou later said he briefed the prime minister on all educational issues at all levels since the first session of a government body after the holidays will be devoted to educational issues.
Efthymiou said ''dialogue is the only way of finding solutions to issues'' and ruled out the question of university professors' political mobilization.
He added that on Wednesday he will be meeting a three-member delegation of deans aimed at achieving a productive year.
On the question of whether another bonus will be included in university professors' pensions, Efthymiou said ''by September there will be a legislative settlement for the pensioning issue of DEP members with favorable terms, since, by September as well, the bonus provided during educational holidays will be restored legislatively.''
 EU approves 53-mln-euro credit for Greece
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)An EU Council of Ministers approved credits totalling 53 million euros for projects in central and eastern Macedonia, Thrace, north and south Aegean and Crete, in the framework of a community budget for 2003, Economy and Finance Deputy Minister George Floridis said on Monday.
Mr. Floridis, who attended the meeting in Brussels, stressed the need for an increased funding of EU programs through structural funds and in particular funds earmarked for the reconstruction of the Balkans.
The Greek minister told his EU counterparts that Greece rejected Commission's proposals to cut spending on tobacco, cotton, wine, rice and sugar.
 Car price differences still high, Commission report says
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)Car prices, based on factory gate pre-tax prices, have not converged in the Eurozone despite the introduction of the euro currency, a European Commission report said on Monday.
The report, based on car prices of May 1st, also showed that factory prices for new cars in Greece were among the lowest in the European Union, followed by Spain, Finland and Denmark - all countries with relatively high tax burdens - while Germany and Austria recorded the highest car prices in the eurozone.
The report, based on prices from 18 European and eight Japanese car manufacturers with 81 of their more successful models, showed that a total of 41 car models in Germany had the highest prices in the eurozone, with prices 20-42 percent higher that the rest of the eurozone. In Austria, car prices were more than 20 percent higher.
Price divergence as a percentage of the price in euros before tax in the eurozone were:
 Greek exporters protest limited transport access
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)The Greek Exporters' Union on Monday expressed its serious concern over the transport and distribution of their products to foreign markets through Italy, a phenomenon occurring during the summer months each year.
In a letter sent to Merchant, Economy and Finance, Development, and Transport Ministries, the Union protests over an unjustified and informal behavior of shipping companies that denied or limiting access to transport trucks carrying Greek products abroad, or importing raw materials in the country, a move intended to benefit the transport of tourist cars and vehicles in the Italy-Greece sea line.
"This development is causing huge problems to Greece's exporting businesses as they are unable to safely program production, transport and distribution in foreign markets," the letter said.
Greece's Exporters' Union urged for the intervention by state authorities and for more understanding by shipping companies to solve the problem.
 Greek stocks plunge to their October 1998 levels
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Monday session's in the Athens Stock Exchange sharply lower pushing the general index back to its October 1998 levels.
Traders said investors liquidated positions under the influence of a negative climate in international markets.
The general index ended 1.89 percent lower at 2,083.34 points, with turnover a low 73.1 million euros.
The Investment, Telecommunications and IT Solution sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (2.82 percent, 2.76 percent and 2.38 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks dropped 2.11 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index eased 1.54 percent and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index ended 1.22 percent lower.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 277 to 39 with another 38 issues unchanged.
The most heavily traded stocks in value were Hellenic Telecoms, Space Hellas, Football Pools, Coca Cola HBC, and Commercial Bank of Greece.
Derivatives Market Close: Equity index futures down: Equity index futures on the Athens Derivatives Exchange finished lower on Monday, with contracts on the high capitalization index showing a discount of around 1.0 percent, and on the mid-cap index of about 2.0 percent.
Turnover was 61.0 million euros.
The underlying FTSE/ASE-20 index for heavily traded stocks and blue chips shed 2.11 percent; and the underlying FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization stocks lost 1.54 percent.
In stock futures, the greatest interest was seen in Hellenic Telecommunications
Bond Market Close: Prices mixed in moderate trade: Bond prices in the domestic secondary market on Monday finished mixed in moderate trade focusing on ten-year paper.
The Greek benchmark 10-year bond showed a yield of 5.15 percent, and the spread over the corresponding German bund was 32 basis points.
Turnover through the central bank's electronic system totalled 2.1 billion euros.
 ATHOC chief briefs EU Commissioner Barnier on Athens 2004 projects progress
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)Visiting EU Commissioner for Regional Policy and Institutional Reforms Michel Barnier was briefed Monday on progress in Greece's preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens by Athens 2004 Organizing Committee (ATHOC) chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki, although the breakthroughs in the ongoing terrorism investigation also dominated the discussion.
Barnier, who also represents the Commission at the Assembly for the Future of Europe that is preparing the new Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) on revising the EU treaties, was due later Monday to brief the Greek parliament's European Affairs committee on the Assembly's progress.
After her meeting with Barnier, Angelopoulos told reporters that ATHOC was attentively following the serious steps being made to disband the "November 17" terrorist organization.
Greece, she said, had for some time been telling the international community that it was doing everything to stamp out terrorism, and now was doing so with deeds.
Regarding security at the Athens Games, the ATHOC chief pointed out that the government had taken all the necessary measures and had earmarked 650 million dollars for the Games' security.
Barnier told reporters that he was following with interest the terrorism investigation in Greece, adding that the EU would back Greece in every way it could.
As for the Olympics preparations, Barnier said he had not come to the ATHOC headquarters for an inspection, but rather for a briefing, since the Athens 2004 Games would also be 'European' Games.
Angelopoulos also spoke of the 'European' dimension of the 2004 Olympic Games, and both agreed that these Games should comprise a legacy for the coming generations in Greece.
According to sources, Barnier expressed interest in the urban railway and its related problems, as well as the issue of transport during the Games.
After the meeting, Angelopoulos and Barnier visited the Olympic Village construction site and the Press Center.
 2004 Olympics chief calls for safety after building workers die
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki on Monday called on engineering contractors building the 2004 Olympics village to adhere to industrial health and safety rules following the recent death of four workers on the site.
The national head of the Athens games was speaking during a tour of the village with European Union Commissioner Michel Barnier, who is inspecting projects co-funded by the 15-nation bloc.
Angelopoulos-Daskalaki has told the construction workers union that she will relay its complaints over working conditions at the site to the labor ministry and to employers.
 U.S. Embassy to buy adjacent real estate
Athens, 23/07/2002 (ANA)The U.S. Embassy will buy the real estate, which the Civil Employees Share Fund had rented out to it, following an amendment of the bill on the ''building specification transfer'' by Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Vasso Papandreou.
A relevant report of the amendment said that the real estate, adjacent to the U.S. Embassy, would also serve for the security of the embassy and that of the surrounding area.
 Political crisis in Turkey will not affect Cyprus course
BRUSSELS, 23/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)The political crisis in Turkey will not affect Cyprus' course towards the EU because Cyprus' accession is determined only by the Copenhagen criteria, President of the European Commission Romano Prodi has said.
Prodi was answering a question after a meeting he had here on Monday with Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who said that the EU supports the UN Secretary General's efforts to reach a settlement of the Cyprus problem.
Papandreou also noted that peace talks in Cyprus are still going on and expressed the belief that there is a great opportunity for the Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the island to find a solution, irrelevantly of the international developments.
Danish Foreign Minister Stig Moeller whose country is currently holding the EU rotating presidency outlined on Monday the presidency's program before the Foreign Ministers of the EU countries and said the EU supports the UN Secretary General's efforts for a settlement in Cyprus. He also noted that the 1999 Helsinki EU Summit conclusions on Cyprus, which say that a settlement is not a precondition for the island's accession, remain a key reference.
 De Soto briefs EU Danish presidency on direct talks
NICOSIA, 23/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, has briefed Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Per Stig Moeller, whose country is currently holding the EU rotating Presidency, on developments in the UN-led direct talks between Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash since January this year, with a view to reach a comprehensive settlement of the protracted Cyprus problem.
According to a Danish presidency press release issued on Mon-day, speaking after Friday's meeting in Copenhagen, Moeller said ''the conclusions from the European Council's meeting in Helsinki in 1999 remain the key reference'' for Cyprus and that ''the European Union underlines that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.''
''If no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the decision on accession will be made without a solution being a precondition. The EU will take account of all relevant factors,'' the Danish foreign minister added.
He noted ''we agreed that all involved parties now must do their utmost to reach a solution as soon as possible.''
''I emphasized that the European Union's enlargement calendar is fixed. The European Council in Seville confirmed that the European Union is ready to conclude negotiations with the candidate countries that are ready by the end of 2002,'' Moeller stressed.
He also said the UN's role ''is absolutely central to the efforts of finding a solution'' and that de Soto will continue to be present at the talks.''
 Government says Denktash's statements a burst of hatred
NICOSIA, 23/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou on Monday described statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, during events organized to mark the 28th anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island, as ''a burst of hatred and intolerance''.
Denktash was quoted as saying that if the Turkish army had not intervened in 1974 the Turkish Cypriots would be in mass graves, and that the Greek Cypriots wanted to take away Turkish Cypriot land.
Papapetrou described the Turkish Cypriot leader's statements as ''leveling, provocative and shameful'', noting that ''even distortion and propaganda have their limits but in this case Denktash has managed to cross them''.
He said the government's response to Denktash was that ''we put hatred and intolerance aside and hold out a hand of friendship and cooperation to the Turkish Cypriots in order to build our peaceful future together in a Cyprus that will be a member of the European Union''.
Referring to a message by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit for the anniversary of the Turkish invasion, that the pseudostate was part of Turkey, Papapetrou said ''we have an official confession by Ecevit himself, who admits and recognizes that his government and Turkey are following a policy of colonization, conquering and dissolving a member state of the United Nations''.
Papapetrou also commented on a statement by Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Sukru Sina Gurel, who attended ''celebrations'' in the Turkish occupied areas of the Republic, that the only reason the Greek Cypriot side was strengthening its defense was to attack the Turkish Cypriots.
The spokesman said the government's response to this allegation was to reiterate ''our proposal for the immediate and without preconditions full demilitarization of the island''.
Papapetrou noted ''it is not the Republic of Cyprus threatening Turkey but Turkey directly or indirectly threatening Cyprus with crises without limits in the event that Cyprus accedes to the EU''.
Cyprus, which opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998, has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. The Turkish invasion took place on July 20.
 Cypriots in Britain demand freedom for homeland
LONDON, 23/07/2002 (CNA/ANA)Thousands of Greek Cypriots living in Britain marched through the main streets of London on Sunday, demanding freedom and justice for Cyprus and the withdrawal of Turkish troops and settlers from Cyprus.
Chanting slogans and holding Cyprus flags and placards, the demonstrators called on the British government and the international community to work for the restoration of human rights of all Cypriots grossly violated by Turkey for the past 28 years.
The annual march, coinciding with the anniversary of the Turkish invasion (20 July 1974) and occupation of 37 per cent of Cyprus' territory, started from Victoria Embankment. The march ended at Trafalgar Square, where the main speaker was Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides.
Headed by British parliamentarians, mayors of Turkish-occupied municipalities and leaders of the Cypriot community in Britain, the march stopped at the Cenotaph, in front of the Foreign Office, where Cypriot veterans of the World War Two, who fought the Nazis as soldiers of the British army (Cyprus was then a British colony), laid flowers.
A delegation of the marchers headed by Haris Sophoclides, President of the National Federation of Cypriots in Great Britain, handed over at 10 Downing Street a letter addressed to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Sophoclides says in his letter that hopes for an agreement in Cyprus by this summer have already vanished, and even the end of the year appears to be an impossible target in view of the political instability that has gripped Turkey.
He refers to Britain's role in matters that affect Cyprus and stresses: ''As the United States and Britain follow a policy of a fairer and more moral world, so we have great expectations of your government, not only for a fair and viable solution to the Cyprus dispute, but also for the future of the European Union and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean''.
In Trafalgar Square, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Kasoulides referred to the tragedy of the Cypriot people over the past 28 years, since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
He stressed that the long period of time ''does not alleviate pain and neither does it do away with the injustice, nor of course does it create right or law''.
Kasoulides noted that there has been no substantial progress in the ongoing UN-led talks between President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, because of the Turkish side's intransigence and insistence on the creation of ''two states'' in Cyprus.
He pointed out that ''our priority was and has been to find a solution through a peaceful dialogue''.