|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-02-05
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>February 5, 2003
 PM says ND identified with far-right with its opposition tactic
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday accused the main opposition New Democracy party of identifying itself with the far-right in using this type of opposition tactic.
He also compared phrases currently used by ND with phrases used by military junta dictator George Papadopoulos justifying the dictatorship.
Simitis was criticizing ND during a Parliamentary debate called by ND leader Costas Karamanlis on corruption in the public sector.
The prime minister referred to many examples to refute ND's argument that the government is responsible for phenomena of corruption and mismanagement.
He added that ND chose the policy of bravado as a form of confrontation and termed this policy a ''far-right policy.''
Simitis said the people have heard this before. He further said the words bribery, accommodating friends, the corrosion of institutions, squandering, scandals, excesses, offhandedness, decline, etc were words used by Papadopoulos and his satellites to justify their existence.
He said doesn't the neo-right see that it is becoming far-right and submitted in Parliament a pamphlet issued by the junta.
Simitis accused ND of not respecting the government's effort and struggle and of not putting forward arguments, which can be discussed.
''You are putting forward extremities and nonsense, such as the re-founding of the state,'' he said and called on all the parties, society, public administration and justice to give battle against real corruption and not bogus corruption created by ND.
''Every time the country achieves steps of progress, ND fortifies itself with populism, denial and talk of disaster. They have read the same photocopy we are hearing today as well of an extravagant government and regime practices. ND is repeating the most unprecedented lies with the most evident ease. There is no ND, there is New Demagoguery,'' he said.
Simitis said that wasn't it the ''ineffective government'' which put the country in the EMU? Which caught the ''November 17'' organization? Which contributed to the accession of Cyprus? Which won the Olympic Games and is proceeding with their carrying out and Olympic Games projects with the paces of Sydney?
Referring to ND, Simitis said it speaks of re-founding the state and in reality it means reinstating its party friends, even if they have been removed from the public sector by court rulings.
''Meaning you want to tell your supporters that we shall hire you whatever decision by a judicial organ exists?'' he added.
Simitis further said ''government decisions are taken with the criteria of transparency, legality and serving the public interest. This is annoying for many. We are not interested. We are not going to distribute pies.''
On the question of extortion, Simitis said ''we ascertained again in the judicial investigation being carried out on extortion by journalists that few citizens are willing to cooperate with the authorities. The others are afraid of their involvement. However, the combating of corruption necessitates the active presence of all. Passive citizens help corruption to spread.''
Main opposition leader criticizes gov't in off the agenda Parliament discussion: ''The delirium we are watching is a shame and plight for the prime minister of the country. You have no right to criticize the party that re-instituted democracy and took Greece into Europe,'' main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis said on Tuesday evening.
Speaking during an off the agenda discussion on a question tabled by ND concerning corruption, Karamanlis responded to criticism by Prime Minister Costas Simitis, saying ''it is a shame to bring books by the (former) dictator here. I am accusing you because you have become the government of corruption and vested interests''.
He called on reports drafted by foreign organizations, as well as by Greek agencies, which in his opinion make Simitis' speech ''a version of Alice in Wonderland''.
Karamanlis referred to the report by the ''International Transparency'' organization, which ranked Greece in 44th place, down from the 25th it held in 1997, ''below Chile, Uruguay, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Namibia and Botswana''.
He also spoke of the CRECO group of the Council of Europe, where it was stressed that the ''most common problem are the non-objective tenders for public works''.
''ASEP (Supreme Council for Personnel Recruitment) in its annual report said that the law establishing it, has been amended more than 60 times, which have made its implementation difficult and complex, resulting in its willful or non-willful violation,'' Karamanlis said.
He went on to note problems of the Greek economy and the way the government reacted to reports from the state controllers office to notations of hidden dept, while other state financial institutions noted in their reports that the ''black-market economy represented 30 per cent of the country's GDP''.
Karamanlis detailed several cases, which he called documented examples of corruption, saying ''justice has a reason to speak now'', including a special mention of the ''state supplier'' and the policy of the government in supporting him with contracts with the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) and its purchases abroad.
Finally, Karamanlis spoke of his party's program to ''re-establish'' and thus restructure the state bureaucracy and his party's action plan in the event that it wins the next elections.
PM says defaming gov't's work in every way is ND's permanent tactic: Prime Minister Costas Simitis, responding to criticism by the main opposition New Democracy party during a Parliamentary debate on corruption in the public sector on Tuesday, said defaming the government's work in every way constitutes ND's permanent tactic.
Referring to ND's main element of criticism, the report by Transparency International, Simitis said it is not a prestigious international organization, such as the OECD, but a private business.
He added that its remarks are based on subjective assessments and not objective appraisals and called on ND leader Costas Karamanlis to see the company's board in Greece ''and ask whether its members have anything to do with ND.''
Responding to reactions by ND deputies, Simitis reiterated that if ND has evidence it should appeal to justice.
''Take the closets with evidence you have to the public prosecutor,'' he said.
Opposition party leaders criticize government on corruption issue: Communist Party of Greece Secretary General Aleka Papariga on Tuesday accused the government and Prime Minister Costas Simitis personally, of being primarily responsible for the climate being created during the run-up to the elections.
Papariga, who was speaking in Parliament during a debate on corruption in the public sector called by the main opposition
New Democracy party added that ''talk of the far-right shows that the government is determined to aggravate the climate of confrontation with the creation of artificial dilemmas.''
She also spoke of government announcements for scandalous privileges regarding ship-owners' capital and added that the fact Greece has become a springboard for the war in Iraq is a scandal.
Papariga also said the fact that the names of members of terrorist organizations have been in circulation for months without them being arrested is a scandal and called on journalists to resist leaks from police sources, even at a cost.
Referring to her party's policy on the handling of the problem of corruption, Papariga said it will use three means. Firstly, Parliamentary control, secondly, popular social control with independent unions and, thirdly, individual and collective resistance to the wave of corruption.
Coalition of the Left and Progress leader Nikos Constantopoulos criticized the government, saying that during its term in office the criterion of innocence is being abolished, according to which a defendant is considered innocent until proven otherwise, and termed this phenomenon ''corruption of institutions.''
Constantopoulos said the confrontation between the leaders of the two major parties in Parliament shows their intention to lead the country with extreme polarization until the elections.
He appealed for the need of a different political climate being created, adding that ''this morass of corruption should stop being the country's dominant issue.''
 FM Papandreou stresses importance of EU-Arab dialogue
BEIRUT 05/02/2003 (ANA - F. Karaviti)Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, current president of the EU council of ministers, in Beirut on Tuesday stressed the increasing importance of a European Union-Arab countries dialogue.
Following his meeting with Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud and Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud, Papandreou pointed to the willingness of Lebanese and Arab leaders to cooperate with the EU on conveying a clear message to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and did not rule out the possibility of a joint EU-Arab initiative to dispatch to Baghdad a special delegation of Arabs and possibly also Europeans.
''It is imperative to mobilize the Arab world in order to send a clear message that a final effort must be made for peace within the framework of UN resolution 1441'', said the Greek foreign minister, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
''Relevant decisions will be taken at upcoming meetings among Arab countries as well as in the European Union. There is already talk about the repercussions of a possible war and the Arab countries have realized that they must assume an active role. In no instance, however, do they wish a break-up of Iraq, and they have set as a key priority the advancement of a parallel peace process in the Middle East'', he said.
Papandreou on Tuesday is flying from Beirut to New York where he will attend the UN Security Council meeting on Iraq, after which he will resume his Mideast tour.
 EU presidency to push for greatest convergence of views on Iraq crisis
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)The Greek EU presidency will exhaust all possibilities for achieving the greatest possible convergence of views in the European Union on the Iraq crisis, Greece's defense minister Yannos Papantoniou reiterated on Tuesday, and reaffirmed that in no instance would Greek troops be deployed in operations in Iraq.
Papantoniou made the statements after a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis covering the developments in Iraq and preparations for Thursday's Cabinet meeting, which would discuss defense issues for the first time.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Papantoniou said that although there were differences of opinion among the EU partners and no common EU stance had been achieved on the Iraq crisis, the Greek EU presidency would nevertheless exhaust all possibilities for achieving the greatest possible convergence of views so that the EU would ''either advance a peaceful settlement of the problem, if possible, or ensure adherence to the procedures based on the principles governing the UN''.
The defense minister further reiterated that in no instance would Greek troops be sent to operations in Iraq.
Greece, he added, would back such operations provided a relevant decision was taken by the International Community, but clarified that the backing would only concern the provision of facilities.
According to information, NATO was examining, without having yet reached decisions, a request by Turkey that measures be taken to protect that country in the event that military operations on Iraq were launched.
At Thursday's meeting, the Cabinet will be briefed on the general policy directions in the country's defense sector.
Papantoniou clarified, however, that the Government Council on Foreign Affairs and Defense (KYSEA) remained the authoritative body on issues concerning Greece's armaments programs, reorganization of the Armed Forces, and other related matters.
Four 'Iraq letter' EU leaders contact Greek PM, gov't says: Four of the eight European leaders that signed a letter supporting the United States stance on Iraq had contacted Greek Prime Costas Simitis to discuss the latest developments in the region and the EU stance on the Iraq crisis, government spokesman Christos Protopapas revealed on Tuesday.
The spokesman said Simitis held talks over the phone on Monday night with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso and Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, noting that the four foreign premiers had initiated the contact.
Protopapas also pointed out that Simitis had last week ordered his aide Theodoros Sotiropoulos to come into contact with his counterparts in all European governments over the letter.
Representatives of the five EU member-states that had signed the controversial letter had told Sotiropoulos that the initiative was an expression of solidarity with the US and had stressed the need for a common EU stance on the Iraq issue.
Apart from the four countries above, the ''Eight'' included EU member-state Spain and EU candidate-states Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The spokesman also pointed to a recent statement by Blair, who said that if the US side submitted new evidence to the UN Security Council, a second Security Council resolution on Iraq might be required.
The Greek EU presidency was greatly displeased at last week's initiative by the ''Eight'', which came just three days after the EU General Council had expressed a common position on the Iraq crisis, complaining that it received no advance warning of their intentions and that the initiative damaged EU unity and weakened the Union's voice in world affairs.
 Greek presidency sounding out reactions to EU summit on Iraq
BRUSSELS 05/02/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)The Greek EU presidency was currently sounding out reactions among other European Union governments to the prospect of an EU summit to discuss the Iraq crisis, a European Commission spokesman said in Brussels on Tuesday.
Speaking during the regular press briefing, Chief Commission spokesman Jonathan Faull said that no date had been set and that a final decision on whether to call such a summit would be made after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.
The U.S. side is expected to present new evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and that it is seeking to obstruct UN weapons inspectors in their mission.
He also noted that calling such a summit would only make sense if it were absolutely clear what it could achieve.
 Papandreou to attend Wednesday' UN Security Council briefing on Iraq inNY NEW YORK 05/02/2003 (ANA - P. Panikos)
Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, current president of the EU council of ministers, arrives in New York on Tuesday to attend a UN Security Council briefing by US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who, US sources said, will provide the Council with ''compelling proof'' on Iraqi production of biological and chemical weapons.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, whose country is holding the Security Council's presidency for February, will chair the Security Council meeting, to take place on Wednesday, which is being convened at foreign ministers level.
Papandreou, while in New York, will meet with his counter-parts from the EU member-states and members of the Security Council, and will possibly have separate meetings with Powell and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
 Coalition leader and Iraqi envoy discuss delegation's possible Baghdad visit
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Coalition of the Left and Progress (Synaspismos) party leader Nikos Constantopoulos and Iraqi Ambassador to Athens Farouk Al Fidyan on Tuesday discussed the possibility of a Greek Parliamentary delegation visiting Baghdad.
In a statement, Constantopoulos once again expressed his opposition to a war against Iraq, while the Iraqi diplomat accused the United States that its target is to ''lay its hands'' on the oil and defend the interests of Israel in the Middle East.
Both Constantopoulos and Fidyan said they are optimistic that the anti-war demonstration scheduled for February 15 will be a success.
 Deputy FM Loverdos in Washington for talks on Balkan reconstruction
WASHINGTON 05/02/2003 (ANA/T. Ellis)Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos is currently visiting Washington where he will meet with senior U.S. government officials and businesspersons, with whom he will discuss investment plans for the reconstruction of the Balkans and issues of international development aid.
On Thursday, he will attend ''National Breakfast Prayer'' events.
During his stay, Loverdos will meet with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Andrew Natsios, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Alan Larson and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs Janet Bogue.
Loverdos will also attend a working luncheon with American businesspersons, organized by the Hellenic American Heritage Council, and meet with the leadership of the American Hellenic Institute.
 Main opposition leader to attend EPP presidency meeting
BRUSSELS 05/02/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)Main opposition New Democracy leader Costas Karamanlis is due in Brussels on Wednesday to attend a meeting of the European People's Party (EPP) presidency.
During his stay in Brussels, Karamanlis will meet EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pedro Solbes, EPP President Wilfried Martens and New Democracy's MEPs.
 Turkish judge says thousands of Greek Cypriots to resort to European Court
ISTANBUL 05/02/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)Turkish European Human Rights Court judge Riza Turmen warned on Tuesday that thousands of Greek Cypriots will resort to this court if the Cyprus issue is not resolved.
''The Turkish military extended its jurisdiction in Cyprus and the region joined Turkey's jurisdiction area. For this reason Turkey is responsible for human rights violations. Turkey is considered responsible in claims submitted by Greek Cypriots so far,'' he told the ''Milliyet'' newspaper and added that if the Cyprus issue is solved the Cypriot state will be the Greek Cypriots' litigant and not Turkey.
Most claims concern property rights and it is expected that they will be settled in a favorable way for the Greek Cypriot side.
 EU Commission approves humanitarian aid to Africa
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)The European Commission has approved a humanitarian aid plan to help meet humanitarian needs in Africa, totaling 71 million euros. More specifically, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will receive 35 million euros, while 16 million euros will be given to meet needs in three countries in Coastal West Africa (Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia), and the remaining 20 million euros will be destined for civil war-ravaged Sudan.
These funds will be channeled through partner organizations working in the field by the Humanitarian Aid Office, ECHO, which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson. ''ECHO always aims to provide humanitarian assistance on an equitable, needs-driven basis. The DRC program has been one of our biggest in recent years because the needs there are so great'', said Mr Nielson. ''2003 will be no exception. However, this year ECHO will be able to focus more on front-line humanitarian priorities such as health and food, as longer term donors complete their take-over of substantial health, food security and rehabilitation programs''.
Congo: In Congo, despite recent progress on the political and military front, the country is still plagued by instability and faces a great number of challenges. Humanitarian needs are as great as ever, and Congolese continue to die in large numbers, with mortality rates approaching five times the sub-Saharan norm in some front-line areas. However only a small proportion of this 'excess mortality' is directly attributable to acts of violence. The main killers are not bullets and machetes, but malaria and malnutrition, owing to the breakdown of food production and basic health services.
ECHO funds will be used to treat some 60,000 acutely mal-nourished children, while addressing the causes of malnutrition by providing their families with food, seeds and tools. About 115,000 families with malnourished or otherwise vulnerable children will be assisted in this way.
ECHO will continue to support the Congolese public health system through the provision of drugs, training and supervision. Specific action will also be taken on mother and child healthcare, reproductive health, malaria, emergency obstetrics and secure blood transfusion. The fees charged by the health system will be greatly reduced, because even the token amounts involved have been shown to deter the poorest people from seeking medical help. Taking into account a likely increase in demand due to lower fees, ECHO aims to assist some 4.5 million people in 55 health districts in 2003.
Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia: The three countries of Coastal West Africa covered by this decision have experienced a succession of wars and civil strive over the last 13 years. Although recent developments in Sierra Leone have been positive, substantial amounts of humanitarian and rehabilitation aid will still be necessary in 2003. ECHO funding will support the re-integration of an estimated 220,000 people that are returning home after refuge in Guinea or in other parts of Sierra Leone. ECHO will also target about 60,000 Liberian refugees, as well as vulnerable people living in newly accessible areas who have lost much of their basic infrastructure due to the fighting.
Guinea is the long-term host of large numbers of refugees fleeing strife in the region. Although most of the 70,000 refugees from Sierra Leone should be repatriated in 2003, an additional influx of Liberians (in addition to the 50,000 already in Guinea) cannot be ruled out. ECHO will support the logistical aspects of repatriating refugees to Sierra Leone through the first half of 2003, as well as health and non-food items. Refugees from Liberia will continue to need a humanitarian package consisting of health, water/sanitation, shelter, non-food items and protection.
However the conflict in Liberia develops over the next 12 months, vulnerable and internally displaced people will remain dependent on humanitarian aid. ECHO will provide this as needs arise and access allows. ECHO funds will be used primarily for health care, water and sanitation, non-food items and protection.
Sudan: Large numbers of Sudanese people are dependent on emergency relief aid due to almost twenty years of civil war. The long-term conflict has killed more than 2 million people and has forced the displacement of about 4 million more.
ECHO has planned a comprehensive response to the humanitarian crisis in Sudan covering the next 18 months, starting from January this year. If the cease-fire agreement signed between the Government of Sudan and opposing armed factions in October 2002 holds, areas of the country previously inaccessible to aid workers will be opened up and increasingly large return movements of internally displaced people may start to take place.
If the peace process fails and fighting resumes, continued humanitarian aid will be necessary. Regardless of political developments, ECHO will continue covering the whole territory according to needs, and in strict respect of internationally recognized humanitarian principles.
The priority sectors of intervention covered by this global plan will include health and nutrition, water and environmental sanitation, emergency preparedness and response, and household food security. The global plan also covers operational support for humanitarian operations (e.g., transport, security) and special mandates (e.g. civilian protection and tracing). As well as funding emergency live-saving operations, ECHO support is intended to contribute to a gradual process of recovery by giving people the means to become more self-reliant.
From 1993 to 2002 ECHO has allocat
group, which was responsible for hundreds of bombings in Athens, some with victims.
A police spokesman announced officially the arrest of Christos Tsigaridas at his home in up town Palaio Psychico neighborhood and was questioned in the presence of a prosecutor.
Tsigaridas was named in former East German Secret Police's (STASI) archives with the code name ''Andrew'' and is allegedly the theoretical instructor of the terrorist group ELA.
 Zakynthos cleric names three journalists in extortion case
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Zakynthos Metropolitan Chrysostomos on Tuesday revealed that he had named three journalists in his testimony to a public prosecutor regarding the extortion of high-ranking clerics but noted that Alexandros Stephanopoulos, the target of a related civil suit, was not among them.
''Mr. Alexandros Stephanopoulos was not blackmailing, he said that elections 'go through the cash register','' he said.
Among those named was journalist Grigoris Mihalopoulos, whose name has also been linked with the blackmail of prominent business people with the threat of a hit by terrorists "November 17", and the publisher of an ecclesiastical paper Dionysis Makris.
Asked to estimate how many high-ranking clerics had fallen victims to blackmail, he joked: ''Out of the 80 of us, perhaps 180.''
The Metropolitan also hinted that Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece might be among that number, noting that Mihalopoulos had accompanied the Archbishop on several trips abroad.
Asked to comment on the Zakynthos Metropolitan's statements, a Holy Synod spokesman said justice must be given time to do its work and that people could not be incriminated through social interactions.
The Archbishop's spokesman, meanwhile, dismissed the claims about Christodoulos as groundless.
 Parliament committee debates immigration policy
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Greece’s policies in terms of immigration, the growing problem of illegal migration and the regime governing asylum were the topic of discussion on Tuesday by Parliament’s equality and justice committee members.
One main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy, Katerina Papakosta, called for stricter penalties against convicted people smugglers, as well as considering ways to finance legally registered foreigners’ education by their home countries, as well as toughening procedures for granting political asylum and prescribing a specific number of legalized immigrants for each region or province.
“It is unacceptable for there not to be cooperation between European countries. If Europe does not develop policies to eradicate poverty, destitution and regional conflicts – because there are specific countries of emigration -- then whatever law enforcement policy we’ll have will not offer a solution to the problem,” ND deputy Antonis Bezas said.
On the other side of the political spectrum, veteran Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) deputy Maria Damanaki opened the session by calling for the abolition of a health certificate requirement for renewing residence cards, lowering costs, allowing places of worship and cemeteries for new immigrant groups as well as an emphasis on more cross-cultural education in schools.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) deputy Liana Kanelli mostly echoed Damanaki's comments, while noting: “I have an objection as to what we can expect from Europe”. She also favored issuing three-year residence and work permits for legalized non-EU nationals, as opposed to the current one-year permits.
 Sources claim a strong Greek presence in first 'Euroforce' mission
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Greece and France will have a primary role in the first mission by European Union's rapid reaction force, which is being prepared to take over from NATO peacekeepers in the "Allied Harmony" operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in mid-March, sources said on Tuesday.
According to reports, the first 'Euroforce' mission will be made up of 450 troops, with the Greek contingent estimated to increase by 80-100 after the planning of the mission by EU Common Security and Defense Policy military staff.
The biggest contributor will be France.
 Reports: Turkish warplane interferes with Greek patrol aircraft's mission
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Press reports out of Athens on Tuesday said a Turkish warplane harassed a Greek naval support aircraft (P-3 Orion) as the latter was participating in an “Operation Enduring Freedom”-related exercise over the Aegean.
According to reports, the incident took place on the same day some 40 nautical southeast of the major Dodecanese island of Rhodes, southeastern Aegean, with Greek fighter jets later intercepting the Turkish warplane.
The US-made naval support aircraft was patrolling the region at the time.
Other sources said the incident was not isolated, as Turkish air force planes have continued to infringe on Athens FIR regulations on almost a daily basis over the recent period, whereas on numerous occasions the infringements develop into full-scale violations of Greek airspace – incidents that automatic trigger a response and the dispatch of fighter planes by the Greek side.
 US envoy in Thessaloniki
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)US ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller will speak on Wednesday at a conference in Thessaloniki on the issue of “US Presence in SE Europe in the Post-Cold War Era".
His address will take place at the Museum of Ancient, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Musical Instruments.
Later in the evening, Miller will speak on the issue of Greek-American educational ties during a reception sponsored by the Fulbright Foundation.
 U.S. Embassy opens condolence book for 'Columbia' shuttle
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)The United States Embassy in Athens will open a condolence book in the memory of the victims killed in the tragic "Columbia" space shuttle accident, an embassy announcement said.
The condolence book will be open to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday from 13:00-15:00. Those wishing to sign will need a valid piece of identification to be allowed access to the Embassy.
 Venizelos to attend International Network on Cultural Policy meeting
PARIS 05/02/2003 (ANA/O. Tsipira)Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Tuesday began a three-day visit to Paris where he will attend the ministerial meeting of the International Network on Cultural Policy (INCP).
Venizelos met UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura who he briefed on the priorities of the Greek EU presidency, the Cultural Olympiad and the issue of the return of the Parthenon Marbles.
Culture Minister and EU Council of Culture Ministers Venizelos will take part in the INCP meeting on Wednesday and on Thursday afternoon will hold a joint press conference with the ministers at the end of the sessions.
Later on Thursday, Venizelos will give a speech at the History Research Centre on the theme ''The future European Constitution as basis of a new European Political Culture''.
French ambassador honors 38 Greek officers and NCOs
French Ambassador to Athens Jean-Maurice Ripert honored 38 Greek officers for their contribution to peace in the world, during a special event held at the embassy on Tuesday.
The 38 are the officers and non-commissioned officers of the Greek regiment who were deployed in Mitrovica in Kosovo, in the French sector, and were distinguished for their professionalism and ability in maintaining and consolidating peace in the region.
The 38 Greek officers and NCOs received the commendations of French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie and were awarded the ''Medaille de la defense nationale'' and ''Medaille Commemorative Francaise ex Yugoslavie''.
Present at the event were Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou, Deputy Defense Minister Loukas Apostolidis, Chief of General Staff General George Antonakopoulos, Army Chief of Staff Lt. General Panayiotis Harvalas and many military attaches.
 Exams for State Foreign Language Certificate in April
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Education Minister Petros Efthymiou announced on Tuesday that the first examinations for the acquisition of the State Foreign Language Certificate in French and Italian on the level ''good knowledge'' will be held April 12-13.
The minister said those interested in taking the examinations will receive the certificate after successful participation in written and oral exams which will be held on a national level twice a year.
Allowed to take part are all Greek nationals, Greek expatriates, European Union citizens and foreigners living and working permanently in Greece, regardless of age or level of education. In the present only English, French, Italian and German are included in this program, while later all EU languages will be part of the program.
 Greek finmin says committed in privatization program
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Greek Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis on Tuesday said that the government "will not accept cut price privatizations" and stressed that latest disappointing developments in the sale of Hellenic Petroleum and Olympic Airways "did not undermine a privatization program".
Addressing a parliament economic commission meeting, Mr Christodoulakis noted that the government was fully committed to ensure the viability of Olympic Airways, job positions and the interests of the Greek economy.
"The company will move on regardless of the way a privatization process is being carried out," the Greek minister said.
Mr Christodoulakis said that the government would examine the possibility of Hellenic Petroleum signing strategic agreements with other companies within 2003.
Referring to an annulled lottery tender, he stressed that the program would continue with competitive procedures and not by extending an existing contract.
"A negative international environment will not change our basic criteria and principles in the privatization program," Mr Christodoulakis said.
The Greek minister stressed that the Greek economy's high growth rates did not allow the country to ask for more flexibility in an EU Stability and Growth Pact.
 Euro's dollar parity reflects European fundamentals, central bank says
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)The euro's current parity against the US dollar reflects the European economy's fundamentals, central bank governor Nikos Garganas said on Tuesday.
Differentials in euro-dollar rates did not have a decisive impact on the formation of the euro's parity, Garganas told a conference held in Athens by the European Union's executive Commission.
In addition, the euro's recent rapid surge would not adversely affect the competitiveness of European products as a fairly large chunk of European trade was conducted among countries of the 15-member European Union, the head of the Bank of Greece said.
 Greece, Turkey to sign tourism protocol on Wednesday
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Greece and Turkey are to sign a tourism protocol in Athens on Wednesday during a visit by the neighboring country's tourism minister.
 Talks with Golden Aviation fall flat in sale of Olympic Airways
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)The government has called off negotiations with Golden Aviation Holding of the Restis shipping group in a privatization tender for Olympic Airways, the ailing national carrier, tender consultants said in a statement on Tuesday.
The consultants - National Bank of Greece, Commercial Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank - did not say in the statement whether or not sale talks would begin with Aegean Airlines, which came second in the tender.
A spokesman for Aegean Airlines said it had no information on whether it would be asked to begin negotiations.
 Minister discusses cruise ships with passenger ship owners' union
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis and the new directorate of the Passenger Ship Shipowners' Union, headed by its President Periklis Panagopoulos, on Tuesday discussed issues related to Greek cruise ships.
The two sides agreed to register and promote possible solutions within the month to strengthen their competitiveness.
 National Bank hints of closer cooperation with EBRD
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)National Bank of Greece on Tuesday said it was considering expanding its cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the Balkans.
A bank statement said that National Bank was maintaining excellent relations and an extended cooperation with EBRD, particularly in the Balkan region where EBRD holds equity stakes in United Bulgarian Bank and Stopanska Banka of Skopje, and that it did not exclude further enhancing their cooperation in the near future.
National Bank of Greece's management organized a dinner meeting in honor of EBRD's president Jean Lemierre and the bank's board member Stephanos Vavalides, currently visiting Greece.
The dinner was also attended by government officials, business representatives and bank officials.
 Greek stocks lose more ground on Tuesday
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks came under pressure to end moderately lower in the Athens Stock Exchange on Tuesday, reflecting investors' worries over geopolitical developments and disappointment over a failed privatization of Hellenic Petroleum.
The general index fell 0.62 percent to end at 1,667.19 points, with turnover a low 64.7 million euros.
The IT Solution, IT, Food-Beverage and Textile sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day (3.23 percent, 2.48 percent, 1.82 percent and 1.68 percent, respectively), while the parallel market index for smaller capitalization stocks eased 1.81 percent.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks eased 0.46 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 0.69 percent lower and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index dropped 1.12 percent. The wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 0.56 percent off.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 248 to 70 with another 34 issues unchanged.
Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Tuesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 37.0 mln euros Tuesday
Equity Index Futures:
Day's Market Turnover: 37.0 mln euros
 PM's meeting with ATHOC head rescheduled for Wed.; gov't spokesman
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)A closely watched meeting between Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Athens 2004 Olympic Games organizing committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki was postponed and rescheduled for Wednesday, the government spokesman said.
The meeting was originally set for Tuesday, a day after a high-ranking government and ATHOC meeting – chaired by Simitis – focused on a 750-million-euro “difference” in budget outlays for completing all 2004-related projects and preparations on time.
In answer to questions about same-day media reports claiming Angelopoulos-Daskalaki’s dissatisfaction with a government decision following Monday’s meeting to establish a work group for monitoring budgets related to overlays for various 2004 projects, the government spokesman said “it is self-evident” that the state should be interested in any budget that it is later called on to cover. He also noted that Monday’s decision refers to additional 2004-related works.
The establishment of a new joint cabinet-ATHOC work group is expected to review and evaluate specific budgets of projects and preparations.
“The goal is to achieve the best possible control of costs and the greatest possible cooperation in terms of specific expenses,” a relevant announcement stated.
In addition, a series of follow-up meetings between the two sides (government and ATHOC) will then take place to try and find a compromise over how the 750-million-euro gap will be covered.
 Original Matisse prints stolen from Lesvos museum
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Thirty pages and original lithographic prints from the master-piece ''Jazz'' - the book created in later life by impressionist master Henri Matisse that is considered one of his most important and ambitious works - have been reported stolen from the Teriade Museum on Lesvos.
The theft was discovered on Sunday by museum director Constantinos Maniatopoulos, after a regular inspection.
The stolen pages were taken from a locked display cabinet in a secure area and had been replaced with other illustrations of lesser value by the same artist.
There were no signs that the display case had been broken into and it is believed that the theft occurred during museum opening hours while the guards were monitoring other areas.
According to Maniatopoulos, despite efforts to improve the museum's infrastructure, security measures were inadequate and antiquated, having been designed over 25 years ago.
Lesvos police have initiated an investigation to find the stolen pages.
The Teriade Museum was founded in 1979 by the influential art critic and publisher of the magazine "Verve" Efstratios Teriade, born Efstratios Eleftheriades on the island of Lesvos. Teriade was instrumental in the initial publication of 'Jazz' in 1947.
 Three Albanians arrested on heroin charges in Thessaloniki
Athens, 05/02/2003 (ANA)Three Albanian nationals were arrested Tuesday in northern Grece as they were trying to sell more than half a kilo of heroin to drug users, police said.
They said Vait Rusta, 24, and 18-year-olds Saimir Novaku and Jani Kacubina, were arrested in the Thessaloniki residential district of Neapolis with 518 grams of heroin in their possession.
Police said the three were arrested as they were attempting to sell the narcotics to drug addicts.
The three were due to be brought before a public prosecutor later in the day.
 World attention might be diverted away from Cyprus, says president
NICOSIA 05/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides has warned that developments in the international political arena may turn the world's attention away from Cyprus, something that could see the political solution remain unresolved for years.
President Clerides noted the unprecedented interest of the inter-national community in a Cyprus solution and said there is no room for mistakes in the handling of the situation at present.
Clerides announced that refugees should be given title deeds to the houses, built on government-owned land and granted to them by the government years ago as temporary accommodation, as a small recompense for the suffering they have endured since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
''We must never forget that tomorrow world developments may be such that the international interest in Cyprus, that is now evident, may be directed to other issues and the Cyprus question could remain unresolved for years to come,'' President Clerides said in a speech on Tuesday as he laid the foundation stone of a refugee community building.
He said Cyprus is at a crossroads where there is no room for mistakes.
''We do not have the luxury to make mistakes, we have to exploit as best as we can the international climate, which is there and favors a settlement in Cyprus,'' he said.
Referring to a UN peace plan on a comprehensive settlement, he said he is trying through negotiations to improve on certain provisions in the plan for the benefit of all Cypriots.
''I believe it would have been a mistake to have refused to negotiate on the basis of this plan, which is backed by the Security Council and Europe, because such an approach would have led us to a terrible isolation with bad percussions for all of us,'' President Clerides said.
He explained some of the provisions in the UN proposal, saying that it sees to it that Turkish occupation troops are withdrawn, about 90,000 Greek Cypriot refugees will return to their homes in the Greek Cypriot administered area and it also talks about one state, with one international personality and one citizenship.
The Cyprus president said that so far the government has given out title deeds to refugees for 5,000 houses and 400 flats built on government-owned land.
''I believe that refugees who will return to their homes after a solution, either in the Greek Cypriot or the Turkish Cypriot ad-ministered areas, should get title deeds for the houses they live in now,'' he added.
Some 200,000 Greek Cypriots, making one third of the island's population, were forcibly uprooted from their homes and properties in the northern part of this east Mediterranean island by the 1974 Turkish invasion troops.
 FM Kasoulides welcomes Grossman's statements
NICOSIA 05/02/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus welcomed statements made by US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman that Cyprus is the doorstep for Turkey's accession to the European Union.
''We must welcome the statement made by the American Undersecretary.
Turkey must realize that it is incomprehensible to hold accession negotiations with the European Union and not recognize an EU member state, the Republic of Cyprus,'' Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told reporters here Tuesday.
He said, ''we must all realize that the Cyprus problem should be solved before the start of the accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU.''
In an interview on Monday to the Turkish daily ''Sabah'', Grossman said that the Annan plan was the last chance for Cyprus.
He also said the ''US will not support an agreement which will bring the pre-1974 period in Cyprus.''