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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 02-12-07

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>

December 7, 2002


  • [01] Simitis, Berlusconi agree Turkey should be given EU 'date' in 2004
  • [02] FM Papandreou, Libyan counterpart Shalgam, discuss Cyprus, Euro-Med cooperation
  • [03] Protopapas: Greece seeking to keep interest in Cyprus issue alive after Dec. 12
  • [04] US envoy: US supports Cyprus' EU accession, Annan efforts for solution
  • [05] EU FMs to examine preparation of EU Copenhagen summit
  • [06] Deputy FM departs for visit to Syria and Lebanon
  • [07] Gov't responds to ex-king's comments following ECHR ruling
  • [08] Greece strongly interested in political normality in Serbia
  • [09] ND's Political Analysis Group examines Copenhagen scenarios
  • [10] KKE condemns Israeli leadership for latest Mideast violence
  • [11] Balkan Committee general assembly to take place in Turkey
  • [12] Golden Aviation named frontrunner in sale of Olympic Airways
  • [13] PPC's public offer seen three times oversubscribed at home
  • [14] Retail sales index rises in September
  • [15] Greece to subsidise holidays in Cyprus under social tourism plan
  • [16] Greece calls for tighter ship safety rules
  • [17] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks slump in glum trade
  • [18] Authorities brace for bad weather over the weekend
  • [19] Athens promises int'l vaccination program via 'Cultural Olympiad'
  • [20] Thessaloniki doctors call for N. Greece transplant-handling center
  • [21] OKANA drug group reports rise in users of 'hard' drugs
  • [22] Three women honored for their contribution in expatriate Greek communities
  • [23] Italy-bound truck loaded with migrants intercepted
  • [24] UN envoy to be principle go-between to encourage dialogue
  • [25] Denktash says solution impossible if Cyprus accedes to EU
  • [26] UN envoy says Cyprus talks entering new phase
  • [27] Markides calls for unity in view of developments

  • [01] Simitis, Berlusconi agree Turkey should be given EU 'date' in 2004

    ROME 07/12/2002 (ANA - L. Hatzikyriakos)

    Rome and Athens share common positions on almost all bilateral issues, while they also share the same positions on several issues concerning Cyprus and Turkey, Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday, following a meeting they held here on Friday.

    Prime Minister Costas Simitis arrived in Rome for meetings in light of Greece's EU presidency.

    The two leaders agreed on the subject of setting a date for the initiation of EU accession negotiations for Turkey, Simitis said, adding that delays in setting a date make the positive message Europe wants to send to Turkey less clear and positive. Simitis, Berlusconi agree Turkey should be given EU 'date' in 2004. ''I would like to reiterate what I said before. We should give a positive message to Turkey and in regards specifically to the date. The more the date for the initiation of accession negotiations is delayed, the more the message becomes less clear and positive,'' Simitis said, adding ''we believe that the date should not be moved up for many years, but to be set for earlier. To be set for 2004, as Mr. Berlusconi said.''

    ''But, of course, to (also) be set under specific preconditions, that will guarantee that when the negotiations begin, certain criteria would have been met, which are necessary so that Turkey could follow the developments of the European Union,'' Simitis stressed.

    Simitis, responding to a question on the Chirac-Schroeder proposal for the setting of a date in 2005, and that of Berlusconi for a date in 2004 and whether there would be an agreement in Copenhagen, said ''this is what I discussed with (German Prime Minister Gerhard) Schroeder and (French Prime Minister Jacques) Chirac and with other prime ministers in the EU.''

    ''Their opinions do not coincide. We, I reiterate, believe, that the closest the date is set the more positive the message to Turkey would be, the more it will make it easier for Turkey to make some moves and for this reason in Copenhagen, we will support this position,'' Simitis said.

    On his part, Berlusconi said that ''(Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria) Aznar and (British Prime Minister Toni) Blair agree with us concerning the date''.

    Speaking on whether the Annan plan for the Cyprus issue could become an obstacle for the setting of a date for Turkey, Simitis said ''as I said before the time until Copenhagen is very short. It is improbable that the negotiations for the plan will be completed by Copenhagen and in the event that they will not be completed they will have to continue, with everyone's understanding that effort is necessary for a conclusion''.

    ''This makes evident that the date of negotiations initiation does not depend on the resolution of the Cyprus issue,'' he said, adding ''but I want to stress that during the accession process of Turkey, what is of significance is that Turkey should confront those problems in a positive manner so as to be able to cooperate with the European Union''.

    [02] FM Papandreou, Libyan counterpart Shalgam, discuss Cyprus, Euro-Med cooperation

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    The Cyprus issue, Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, cooperation in police matters and in confronting terrorism, illegal immigration and crime, as well as the latest developments regarding Iraq, were among issues discussed in Athens on Friday between foreign minister George Papandreou and his visiting Libyan counterpart Abd Al-Rahman Shalgam.

    Shalgam, whose formal title is Sec. of the Gen. People's Committee for Foreign Liaison & International Cooperation, and Papandreou also discussed matters of regional cooperation and the priorities of the Greek EU presidency in the first half of 2003.

    In statements after their meeting, the two men stressed the importance of boosting Euro-Med cooperation during the Greek EU presidency.

    Shalgam said that the countries of the Mediterranean region were looking forward to Greece's EU presidency, since Greece knew the region well and could play an important role.

    The Libyan official invited Papandreou to visit Libya, and proposed that Greece also participate in the dialogue group encompassing the Mediterranean community and the European countries of the region, in view of its enlargement with the membership of Egypt.

    Papandreou said that Cyprus' accession into the EU, the resolution of the Cyprus issue, and the issue of a date for the commencement of Turkey's EU accession talks, were not linked among each other but nevertheless created a new momentum.

    He reiterated that a resolution of the Cyprus issue was not a prerequisite for Cyprus' joining the EU, and added that setting a date for commencing talks between the EU and Turkey on the latter's accession of the Union would aid in resolving the Cyprus problem now or even later.

    [03] Protopapas: Greece seeking to keep interest in Cyprus issue alive after Dec. 12

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    With the margins for achieving a solution to the Cyprus issue before the Copenhagen summit now impossibly tight, Greece's aim was to keep international interest in the problem alive so that negotiations for a solution would continue after December 12, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Friday.

    The spokesman was clarifying the proposals made during a recent visit to Ankara by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    An EU decision on this issue is a proposal that could make a positive contribution,'' he added.

    He said a German-French proposal regarding an accession date for Turkey was ''positive'' and constituted progress, since it ''created a better basis for talks''.

    [04] US envoy: US supports Cyprus' EU accession, Annan efforts for solution

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    United States Ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller on Friday declared Washington's support for Cyprus' EU accession and the efforts of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan for a solution to the Cyprus problem, while reiterating US faith in Turkey's European prospects.

    Speaking at a conference in Thessaloniki entitled ''EuroAtlantic: a community of values'', Miller urged the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot sides to show ''wisdom and courage to bring a bright future closer'' and noted that the next few days would most likely be the most crucial in decades for the region and its relation with the EU.

    Miller noted that a lot of work was being done in many capitals around the world on the Cyprus problem and that a ''great success'' was possible at the EU summit in Copenhagen.

    During the Greek EU presidency, which begins on January 1, 2003, Miller said the US intended to intensify dialogue with the EU on three issues chosen by Greece: the situation in southeast Europe, the Caucasus and central Asia, illegal migration and security.

    The conference was also addressed by Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who said that one of the priorities of the Greek EU presidency would be to deepen and enrich EU-US dialogue.

    ''Partners with the characteristics and special weight of the EU and the US have to engage in constant and honest dialogue,'' he stressed.

    The conference is taking place in Thessaloniki and was jointly organized by the Greek foreign and Macedonia-Thrace ministries, the US Embassy in Athens and the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP).

    [05] EU FMs to examine preparation of EU Copenhagen summit

    BRUSSELS 07/12/2002 (ANA - Y. Zitouniati)

    European Union foreign ministers will meet here on December 9-10 to examine preparations for the EU's Copenhagen summit and all important enlargement issues still pending.

    Diplomatic sources said what will happen with Turkey, regarding the date for the beginning of its accession negotiations with the EU, as well as Cyprus' upcoming accession, will be discussed informally during the ministers' working lunch to facilitate the taking of relevant decisions at the summit.

    The sources consider a ''conclusions plan'' by the Danish presidency on these issues at the General Affairs Council ''risky'', since it could burden the psychological climate in countries involved and then the momentum of events to overturn all possible scenarios.

    In any case, it was added, the accession of the Republic of Cyprus should be considered a given fact, regardless of a solution to the political problem. Possible ''admonitions'' for the promotion of negotiations in accordance with the UN secretary general's blueprint are not expected to have the character of preconditions, the sources added.

    On the question of Turkey and whatever scenario is ultimately ''played'', the sources said decisions taken in Copenhagen should remind its obligations emanating from the Helsinki summit and, at the same time, there should be clear commitments that its ''conduct'' regarding the Cyprus issue and Greek-Turkish relations ''will follow it throughout the entire period until its accession to the EU.''

    [06] Deputy FM departs for visit to Syria and Lebanon

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos departed on Friday for a working visit to Syria and Lebanon for talks on development cooperation between Greece and these countries.

    In Syria, Loverdos will be received by Antioch Patriarch Ignatios IV and will attend mass at the Patriarchal Cathedral.

    He will also be meeting Lebanon's prime minister and foreign minister and visit the Balamant Theology Academy.

    Loverdos will complete his visit on December 10.

    [07] Gov't responds to ex-king's comments following ECHR ruling

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Political reverberations from Thursdays hastily called prime-time press conference by London-based ex-monarch Constantine continued on Friday, a week after the European Court of Human Rights awarded three former Greek royals substantially lower damages for their claims on three properties in Greece.

    Government spokesman Christos Protopapas reiterated that the problem of the monarchy in Greece is over, while noting that Constantine, along with his sister and an aunt, initially demanded damages of nearly 490 million euros.

    Furthermore, in reaction to Constantines stated intention of establishing a charitable foundation with the money, the spokesman said the announcement came after the ruling and was made out of expediency.

    Regarding the Greek governments standing demand that Constantine assume a surname -- something he adamantly rejects -- in order to acquire a Greek passport and other legal rights, Protopapas said the ex-king must list a surname, enroll in a municipal roll as well as swear allegiance to the Constitution and Greeces form of government. He referred to similar procedures followed by other former European monarchs wanting to return to their home countries, before citing the example of current Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

    Asked during his regular press briefing about the possibility of Constantine assuming a surname of Vassilias (Greek for king), Protopapas said he could then be called Mr. Vassilias, adding: he can take whatever surname he wishes.

    Moreover the spokesman added that if he (Constantine) wants to visit the country as a foreigner he must then follow all provisions of Greek and EU law.

    During a televised interview in London, the former monarch claimed that on no occasion had he sought a monetary compensation, while he described the Court's ruling as just and that the properties in question were, in fact, his.

    He also claimed that the ruling featured a ''political connotation'' as far as the compensation is concerned, due to the Greek governments ''great intransigence, as he said, vis-a-vis any negotiations or talks for an out-of-court settlement.

    Greece was ordered to pay 13.7 million euros on Nov. 28 by the European Court of Human Rights as compensation to a trio of the country's ex-royals for property seized under a 1994 law, a judgment substantially lower than what the plaintiffs originally demanded and one that satisfied Athens.

    A referendum in December 1974 abolished the monarchy by a 2 to 1 margin, paving the way for the establishment of a Parliamentary republic.

    Two years ago, the 62-year-old Constantine claimed that an international firm had assessed the value of the contested properties at 180 billion drachmas ($450 million).

    In its initial ruling two years ago the ECHR court of justices ruled by a 15-2 margin that Athens had violated Article I of the first protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees the right of property.

    Constantine and two relatives at one point demanded 168 billion drachmas (493 million euros) in compensation for the three contested properties, namely, the Tatoi country estate north of Athens; the Mon Repos summer resort on the Ionian island of Corfu and the Polidendri forest estate in the foothills south of Mount Olympus, central Greece.

    Mitsotakis: Meanwhile, Protopapas also sharply criticized Constantine Mitsotakis government for what he called the shameful 1992 deal with Constantine, as well as the shipments of moveable property from Tatoi under the same New Democracy government in the early 1990s.

    In response to former premier Mitsotakis comments over the matter, Protopapas said the only problem now arising is over New Democracys stance, whose cadres are trying to justify or support even attacks against the Prime Minister (Costas Simitis).

    Earlier, in commenting on Constantines interview, Mitsotakis said he believed the ex-king does not want to play any political role in the country, while adding:

    The man (Constantine) stated his opinion, and hes absolutely right.

    He also charged that the government has viciously attacked the former monarch, while reminding that the ECHR did, in fact, rule against Greece, ... despite the fact that we belong to Europe we do not respect human rights.

    [08] Greece strongly interested in political normality in Serbia

    BELGRADE 07/12/2002 (ANA - N. Pelpas)

    ''Greece as the future holder of the European Union's presidency and a country of the region (of the Balkans) with a particularly close relationship with Serbia and its people, is strongly interested in political normality which will allow its speedier approach to Europe and its institutions,'' Greek Ambassador to Belgrade Michalis Spinelis said on Friday, in light of Sunday's presidential elections in Serbia .

    It should be noted that for the Serbian elections to be considered valid, over 50 per cent of voters must turn out to vote in Sunday's elections.

    [09] ND's Political Analysis Group examines Copenhagen scenarios

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis chaired a meeting of the party's Political Analysis Group on Friday, during which all possible scenarios linked to the European Union's Copenhagen Summit next week were examined.

    Party members had a lengthy discussion on the position to be observed by the party in each separate case and agreed to avoid tension although being in strong disagreement with the government's moves.

    Dora Bakoyianni reportedly appeared to desire more positive reports from the party in the event Cyprus joins the EU without conditions and footnotes, while many other members expressed different views, saying that the party should underline its distinct positions on arrangements contained in UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's blueprint.

    However, the party fears that many different issues will be presented together as a ''package'' at the Copenhagen summit.

    [10] KKE condemns Israeli leadership for latest Mideast violence

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on Friday issued a press release condemning what it called the continuing criminal attacks by the Israeli army on Palestinian lands, while the party also said responsibility lies with Israeli leadership, which is trying to impose a parody of a solution by force of arms.

    [11] Balkan Committee general assembly to take place in Turkey

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    The Balkan Committee's 2nd general assembly will take place in the Turkish city of Edirne on December 9-10 in the presence of the Balkan Committee's President and Secretary General of the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace region Aris Papadopoulos.

    The assembly will be attended by Deputy Interior Minister Stavros Benos and Deputy Environment, Town Planning and Public Works Minister Yiannis Tsaklidis.

    Papadopoulos will raise the political framework on which the Balkan Committee should act in the future, while the Greek deputy ministers will refer to issues concerning their duties.

    Benos will focus on the applications of electronic administration to serve citizens and Tsaklidis on the Inter-European Transport Networks and their role in southeastern Europe and the Balkans.

    [12] Golden Aviation named frontrunner in sale of Olympic Airways

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Golden Aviation, a consortium led by the Restis shipping group, was declared interim winner on Friday of a tender to privatize Olympic Airways.

    The government accepted the recommendation for frontrunner from its sale consultants, who ranked Aegean Airlines second among a total of six bidders.

    The consultants - National Bank of Greece, Commercial Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank - did not reject any of the remaining offers.

    Negotiations for sale of the majority stake in Olympic are to begin immediately with Golden Aviation, which has offered 150 million US dollars for 70 percent of stock.

    If the talks break down, then negotiations will start with Aegean Airlines.

    In Brussels, Transport and Communications Minister Christos Verelis informed the European Union's executive Commission of progress in the tender.

    He told EU Transport commissioner Loyola de Palacio that the airline would change its name to New Olympic Airways, with Macedonian Airlines as a legal vehicle for the company to emerge from privatization.

    [13] PPC's public offer seen three times oversubscribed at home

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    A public offer held by the Public Power Corporation was about three times oversubscribed at home, and the final share price will be set through book building, underwriters said on Friday.

    The binding share price range in the offer launched on Tuesday was 11.80 euros to 13.0 euros for institutional investors.

    The final price is due for announcement on Saturday.

    Chief underwriters in the public offer in Greece and London, along with a private placement to company employees, are Alpha Finance, Deutsche Bank, National Bank of Greece and UBS Warburg.

    Available in the offer were 23,200,000 common bearer shares at a nominal price of 2.93 euros. The stock total will rise to 30,624,000 in the case of a green shoe option, or over-allotment.

    For non-institutional investors, shares were to be sold at a 3.0 percent discount, or at the bottom end of the price range if the discount brings the price lower than the range's floor.

    On sale was 10.0 percent of the PPC's share capital, along with a further 1.2 percent if a stabilizing mechanism is required, and another 2.0 percent in the event of demand outweighing supply.

    [14] Retail sales index rises in September

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    The retail sales index rose by 12.3 percent in September 2002 against the same month a year earlier, the National Statistics Service (NSS) said on Friday.

    NSS said in a statement that the sharpest increases in turnover were reported in large foodstuffs stores (+14.1 percent), department stores (+10.5 percent), and foodstuffs, drinks and tobacco (+9.7 percent).

    In January-September, the index rose by 9.4 percent against the same period of 2001, the statement said.

    The retail sales index was revised this year to exclude Value Added Tax.

    [15] Greece to subsidise holidays in Cyprus under social tourism plan

    NICOSIA 07/12/2002 (ANA/G.Leonidas)

    Greece is to subsidise holidays to Cyprus under its social tourism plan to help people on lower incomes, for the first time taking the scheme outside national borders.

    The island republic's trade, industry and tourism minister, Nikos Rolandis, welcomed the pilot plan following talks in the capital with the head of the Worker Housing Organization of Greece, Yiannis Papamihail.

    Expected to begin in 2003, the program is to be handled by the Cyprus Tourism Organization and the Greek worker-housing agency.

    [16] Greece calls for tighter ship safety rules

    BRUSSELS 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Greece on Friday asked the European Union to back tougher safety rules in shipping both for the 15-nation bloc and other countries.

    Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis told reporters that both adoption and enforcement of measures were key issues; and rules should also apply to non-EU countries in order to align competitiveness.

    Anomeritis was speaking after a meeting of transport ministers in the Belgian capital, where Greece's arguments were presented.

    The minister said that Greece currently checked 29 percent of vessels that docked in Greek ports, higher than a legally ordained requirement of 25 percent.

    Greece has set shipping safety as a priority during its rotating presidency of the 15-nation bloc in the first half of 2003.

    [17] Athens Bourse Close: Stocks slump in glum trade

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    The Athens bourse finished lower on Friday with gloomy sentiment in other European markets triggering a sell-off. Smaller capitalization stocks again were the hardest hit.

    The general share index shed 1.70 percent to end at 1,813.32 points. Turnover was 84.0 million euros.

    The FTSE/ASE-20 index for blue chip and heavily traded stocks ended 1.67 percent down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium capitalization paper 2.44 percent lower; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap equities finished 3.51 percent down.

    Of stocks traded, declines led advances at 327 to 20 with 12 issues remaining unchanged.

    The general share index lost 3.17 percent on the week.

    Bond Market Close: Sellers outstrip buyers on Friday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 4.63 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 23 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 1.9 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 10-year, expiring March 2012 (225 mln euros)

    [18] Authorities brace for bad weather over the weekend

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Authorities throughout Greece braced for more storms and heavy rain on Friday, following warnings of a severe weather front that would hit Greece over the weekend, especially in the north.

    The weather service also predicted gale-force winds at sea and a sudden drop in temperatures from Sunday, with snowfall expected in northern and central Greece from Monday.

    Attica residents, especially those near the flood-prone Kifissos River, were told to expect extreme phenomena and services were instructed to be on standby to implement protection mechanisms around the river.

    The public was warned to take measures for their own protection, especially when moving about abroad.

    Local authorities in areas around the country expected to be worst affected were instructed to be on alert and take additional measures to prepare for problems by the Civil Protection agency.

    In Central Macedonia, all emergency services were put on alert to prepare for the oncoming weather front, even as reports of extensive damage and villages cut off by flooding were coming in from across the border in southwest Bulgaria.

    Extensive flooding was also reported from the northeastern Greek prefecture of Kavala, where the floodwater reached up to 70 cm deep in villages and agricultural land on the shores of the Nestos River.

    Homes were flooded within the city of Kavala itself and on the island of Thassos in the northeast Aegean, while prefectural authorities throughout northeastern Greece were hard at work to clear roads blocked by landslides and other debris carried by the rain.

    The weather front is expected to first reach western Greece on Friday night and spread across the rest of the country on Saturday.

    [19] Athens promises int'l vaccination program via 'Cultural Olympiad'

    NEW YORK 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Friday unveiled an initiative to vaccinate some 1.4 million children around the world over the next few years as part of a project emanating from Greeces ambitious Cultural Olympiad.

    Commenting from New York City, where he spoke this week before the United Nations, Venizelos stressed that seven million dollars will be trimmed from the Cultural Olympiads budget in order to finance the initiative.

    The Cultural Olympiads message is, therefore, conveyed in the most direct fashion to Africa, Asia and South America, he said, while noting that the Athens-based organization will also serve as a major sponsor for UNICEF.

    [20] Thessaloniki doctors call for N. Greece transplant-handling center

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Doctors, surgeons and transplant specialists at Thessaloniki's university hospital on Friday said that northern Greece should have its own center for handling donated organs so as to bridge the 'north-south' gap in medical care.

    During a press conference on Friday, the doctors said it was unacceptable that transplants were managed from Athens when most donated organs came from donors in northern Greece.

    They also noted that most transplants were sent south to Athens, so that waiting lists from Thessaly upward were growing.

    Another complaint was that medical files of patients needing a transplant that were sent to Athens from northern Greece often took months to process and be added to the data bank, so that valuable time was lost.

    Overall, they said, Greece had one of the lowest donor rates in the EU with just two donors per million population, compared to 13 in Germany and 33 in Spain.

    A factor contributing to this apparent apathy among Greeks was the state of the health system overall, the doctors noted.

    ''When patients are being treated on camp beds in corridors and there are delays in taking patients to hospital, we are not very convincing when we talk about transplants,'' one surgeon pointed out.

    According to figures presented at the press conference, there are currently 3,000 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant nationwide and 200 people waiting for a liver. The waiting list for a heart transplant was small, doctors added, because the supply of donor organs was so tiny that most patients did not bother to add themselves to the list.

    [21] OKANA drug group reports rise in users of 'hard' drugs

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Users of hard drugs and the numbers of teenage and female drug-users had increased in the past five years based on the statistical data gathered by the health services, the Organization Against Drugs (OKANA) said on Friday.

    Reporting on the group's activities in the past five years in Thessaloniki, OKANA president Anna Kokkevi also stressed an increase in the number of drug users that used more than one type of drug and a dramatic rise in users of cocaine and synthetic drugs, such as amphetamines and hallucinogens.

    She said teenage drug users had increased 105 per cent in that period and women users by 33 per cent, while cocaine and synthetic drug users had soared by 181 per cent.

    The rising numbers made it imperative to set up new OKANA centers, she noted, but strong reactions from local residents had made it necessary to suspend the activities of the new centers.

    She presented figures showing that 10 per cent of those admitted to OKANA program had succeeded in overcoming their addiction, while 40 per cent were able to hold down normal jobs. Participants also managed to reduce illegal substance abuse by about 70 per cent and their involvement in illegal activity by 90 per cent.

    [22] Three women honored for their contribution in expatriate Greek communities

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Three Greek women living abroad were honored on Friday by Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis during a two-day conference entitled ''The overseas Greek woman''.

    The conference was organized by the foreign affairs and interior ministries, the Overseas Hellenism General Secretariat, the Equality General Secretariat and the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE).

    Anastasia Krystallidou, manager of a model school in Johannesburg, Theodosia Antoniadou Tziveli, a businesswoman and member of UNESCO's Italian industrialists' Federation of businesswomen of Europe and Maria Vamvakinou, a deputy of Australia were honored for their contribution to overseas Hellenism and the promotion of Greek culture.

    Eleni Bakopanou, a deputy of Canada's federal government, who was also nominated, was not able to attend the conference.

    ''In the persons of these three women we honor the millions of everyday or famous Greek women that contribute everyday to the securing of the Greekness or our expatriate communities,'' Magriotis said.

    [23] Italy-bound truck loaded with migrants intercepted

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Authorities intercepted 35 migrants hidden aboard an Italy-bound lorry at the port of Patra on Thursday evening.

    According to reports, the would-be immigrants were all identified as Kurds. The truck had been scheduled to board the ferryboat Hellenic Spirit. No information was given as to the drivers whereabouts, although authorities reported that the vehicle was confiscated.

    [24] UN envoy to be principle go-between to encourage dialogue

    UNITED NATIONS 07/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN Secretary General's spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said on Friday that ''now that the comments from the two sides are in,'' the UN Chief's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto ''will be the principle go-between, encouraging the two sides to continue a dialogue.''

    He added that ''the effort will be to take the two sets of comments and incorporate them into the Secretary General's original proposal and to try to come up with a single text that both sides can agree to by the 12th of December,'' when the Copenhagen European Council is due to begin.

    Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented the two sides on the island with a solution plan on November 11, and on November 25 asked for them to convey to him the points they would like to see changed.

    The island opened accession negotiations with the EU in 1998 and has closed all acquis communautaire chapters. It expects to be invited to join the EU during the Copenhagen summit.

    [25] Denktash says solution impossible if Cyprus accedes to EU

    Athens, 07/12/2002 (ANA)

    Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said on Friday it would be ''an impossible position for us'' to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem if the island entered the European Union next week during the Copenhagen European Council.

    Speaking to Greek and Turkish reporters on his way to the New York Presbyterian Hospital for a check-up, Denktash said ''I am not bound by views before Copenhagen, this, that or the other happening. I don't know even if I can achieve it. I am not going to tie myself to anything. As we work for a reasonable solution, this is clear.''

    Regarding his reply to a letter sent to him by the UN chief last week requesting the points he wished changed in a Cyprus solution plan submitted by Kofi Annan on November 11, Denktash said ''what we gave was our preliminary fundamental points. We did say there are other points also.''

    ''The reason why the Secretary General forwarded his views, according to his letter, was because he saw no chance of the talks we were holding with Mr. Clerides to take us anywhere and having the EU program in sight, he put forward his views, not on the basis of take it or leave it, but on the basis of a way of starting meaningful negotiations,'' Denktash noted.

    He added that ''when the reactions of both sides were such that he (Annan) could not proceed with it, he sent us a letter saying that we should give him our views on matters with which we didn't agree. And then he would give them to the other side and thus hope to start a process.''

    ''We did that, as you know, both sides did, both sides have strong reservations, on both sides there are movements against the Secretary General's views,'' Denktash added.

    Referring to the meetings the two sides had on Friday in Nicosia with the UN chief's Special Adviser on Cyprus, Alvaro de Soto, who handed the replies of each side to the other, Denktash said ''I suppose this is the day that we shall know what Mr. Clerides has written and he will know what we have written to the Secretary General, and then will see what the process will be.''

    Denktash flies home: Denktash was due to depart from New York at midnight (Cyprus time) for Cyprus via Istanbul.

    Denktash, who underwent open-heart surgery on October 7 at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, visited the hospital on Friday for a checkup.

    To a reporter's wish that ''next time we see you may Cyprus be united,'' Denktash replied ''Inshallah'' (if Allah wills it).

    Denktash was discharged from hospital on October 25, having undergone two operations, open-heart surgery and another follow-up operation but was readmitted on November 17 because of high fever and discharged on November 28. So far, he has not been fit enough to make the transatlantic trip home.

    [26] UN envoy says Cyprus talks entering new phase

    NICOSIA 07/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    The UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto handed here on Friday to Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides the reply of the Turkish Cypriot side to a letter sent to them by the UN chief last week requesting the points they wished changed in a Cyprus solution plan submitted by Kofi Annan on November 11.

    Speaking after the handover of the reply, de Soto said that the Greek Cypriot side's reply would be delivered to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's aide, Ergun Olgun, later on Friday, noting that he will be meeting with President Clerides on Saturday morning.

    ''I hope this is the beginning of an entirely new phase in the negotiations,'' de Soto said.

    ''I have given Mr. Clerides the paper I have received from Mr. Denktash that was addressed to the Secretary General and I have given it to him in the strictest confidence,'' he said.

    The Peruvian diplomat also noted that he would be giving the Greek Cypriot side's reply to Olgun ''also in the strictest confidence.''

    He said that he requested that both sides maintain ''the content of these papers totally in reserve,'' adding that ''there should be no public discussions on either paper.''

    The UN envoy noted that ''to show that we are actually turning a new leaf and entering a genuine phase of much accelerated negotiations,'' he will be meeting with President Clerides on Saturday morning. He also said that he would henceforth be saying ''strictly nothing about what is going on.''

    Invited to clarify what he meant by saying a new phase of negotiations, he said ''with a view to reaching decisive conclusions very very soon.''

    [27] Markides calls for unity in view of developments

    NICOSIA, 07/12/2002 (CNA/ANA)

    Cyprus' Attorney General Alecos Markides pointed out on Friday the need for ''patience and unity'' in view of the coming developments in the Cyprus problem, given the fact that only a few days are left until the Copenhagen European Council.
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