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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-04

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

June 4, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] EU finance ministers forge deal on bank deposits tax
  • [02] EU-NATO meeting: FM says EU turning into important strategic factor
  • [03] G8 summit ends after examining global growth and sustainable development
  • [04] Greek defense minister attends WEU Parliamentary Assembly session
  • [05] 'Turkish foreign policy is totally isolated', spokesman says
  • [06] Greek firms' participation in Iraq discussed; DM on airspace violations
  • [07] Alternate FM reviews results of Greece's EU Presidency
  • [08] Parl't committee to summon ministers for briefing on NGO state funding
  • [09] EU-Med cooperation - meeting on immigration, terrorism on 15 June in Brussels
  • [10] EU Commission adopts package of measures for Turkish Cypriots
  • [11] Boards of Hellenic Petroleum, Petrola okay merger deal
  • [12] Agriculture minister addresses European Parliament on farm policy reform
  • [13] MPs criticize ELBO for its role in army vehicles tender
  • [14] Thessaloniki presents bid to host EXPO 2008
  • [15] Greek stocks end higher on Tuesday
  • [16] ATHOC reports satisfactory demand for 2004 Olympics tickets
  • [17] 3rd World Press Operations Briefing focuses on 2004 preparations
  • [18] EU Commission calls for better integration of immigrants in member-states
  • [19] Informal meeting stresses need for organized EU solidarity framework
  • [20] EU calls on 700 Kosovo gypsies to return to temporary camp
  • [21] No security alert on night of Ocalan's arrival, witness tells Greek court
  • [22] Alleged 'N17' leader claims authorities 'framed him'
  • [23] Cultural Olympiad exhibition on Mediterranean cultures at Cycladic Museum
  • [24] European Art exhibition at the Dupont Circle Galleries in Washington
  • [25] Red Cross and European Commission launch plan to save children
  • [26] Cyprus President briefs National Council on developments
  • [27] UN report routine document, says spokesman

  • [01] EU finance ministers forge deal on bank deposits tax

    LUXEMBOURG (ANA / M. Spinthourakis)

    European Union finance ministers on Tuesday reached a compromise formula on taxing deposits held by citizens of the bloc in other member countries.

    Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told reporters that the 15-year dispute had ended following a last minute agreement with Italy, which had so far blocked a deal on the package.

    Greece, which chaired the meeting as the EU's rotating president, proposed offering Italian dairy producers a 14-year time span to pay off fines totalling 650 million euros in interest-free installments in return for its consent to the bank deposits package.

    Italy, which accepted the offer, had originally sought a reduction in the fines imposed on farmers for exceeding milk quotas in return for lifting its veto on the deposits pact.

    Under the bank deposits tax agreement finally passed, 12 EU members out of the current 15 have agreed to an information exchange on deposits held in their states by EU nationals from other countries of the bloc. The pact takes effect on January 1, 2005. Remaining outside the data exchange are Luxembourg, Belgium and Austria, which are to tax the deposits at source instead of releasing information, as they wish to retain banking confidentiality.

    The tax in the three countries will be 15 percent of interest between 2005 and 2008; 20 percent until 2011; and 35 percent beyond that year. Seventy five percent of the tax collected will be given to the country of origin of the EU nationals holding the accounts.

    Also at the meeting of EU finance ministers, the last under Greece's six-month presidency of the bloc, it was agreed to ask France to lower its deficits in 2003 and 2004, Christodoulakis said.

    Finally, the ministers endorsed guidelines for the EU's economic policy, which will be put to a summit to be held in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki later this month.

    The guidelines include tight fiscal discipline and measures to ensure long-term viability of social insurance and pension funds, the minister added.

    [02] EU-NATO meeting: FM says EU turning into important strategic factor

    MADRID 04/06/2003 (ANA - F. Karaviti)

    Foreign Minister and European Union Council of Ministers President George Papandreou, commenting on NATO's decision to back Poland in its mission in the reconstruction of Iraq and to assume the leadership of the international force already active in Afghanistan (ISAF) in August, said on Tuesday the European Union was turning into an important strategic factor as transatlantic dialogue is developing.

    ''In Thessaloniki, the Greek presidency will present the work it has prepared together with the European Union's High Commissioner on Foreign affairs Mr. (Javier) Xavier Solana and we hope that the foundation will be laid for equal cooperation with the United States. In any case, only such a relation can safeguard the promotion of peace and security on the planet,'' he said.

    Referring to reactions on initial conclusions announced by the European Assembly on the future constitution of Europe, Papandreou spoke of ''extremely important work by the Assembly'' and ''differences which, even if they are not bridged, will not prevent us from reaching an agreement in principle with alternative formulations for controversial issues.''

    Papandreou was speaking on the sidelines of the summit of NATO member-states' foreign ministers which began here on Tuesday focusing primarily on the alliance's transition from the post-Cold War era to that of international reality as it has been shaped after the attacks on September 11, 2001.

    A finalized text ratified by the alliance makes reference both to cooperation between the EU and the United states and to the leading role the alliance is assuming with regard to Euro-Atlantic security.

    It was stressed that NATO will provide administrative backing for the 7,000-strong force Poland will be sending to Baghdad, while the announcement also underlines harmonious cooperation between the alliance and the EU, particularly in FYROM where the so-called European army is active.

    Explicit reference is also made to the summit to take place in Thessaloniki between the countries of the EU and of the western Balkans on the sidelines of the European Council.

    ''NATO and the European Union have a common interest in backing Balkan countries in their effort to accede to Euro-Atlantic structures. We are expecting considerable steps to be taken in this direction at the meeting in Thessaloniki. NATO will continue to play a considerable role in the region, both with its programs and with cooperation with the European Union,'' the announcement said.

    Special mention is also made in the announcement of the issue of terrorism and for whose handling NATO appears prepared to use military means as well.

    NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson said after a meeting with the EU presidency in the framework of NATO foreign ministers' spring summit ''we are colleagues and not competitors and we can cooperate in many sectors for security and stability, but our enemy would be the overlapping of duties and responsibilities between us.''

    Lord Robertson further said ''we must handle the development of operational possibilities, but we must take care to ensure that funds provided would not be wasted'' and spoke of the possible assumption of responsibility for the international force in Bosnia by European Union forces.

    ''Although it is too early for us to speak of such a thing, we shall examine all factors, with the interest of the people of Bosnia always being the basic criterion,'' he added, replying to a question on rumors of objections by Washington.

    Papandreou said on the part of the EU ''the question is to what degree we are ready. There is no problem in principle'' and termed the case of the task force in FYROM an ''example of cooperation.''

    The foreign minister further said ''the idea of European Strategic Conception will enable us to find the means, the targets and the way to have this cooperation strengthened and this will be our priority at the European Council in Thessaloniki. Developing a global conscience on international security is our responsibility.''

    [03] G8 summit ends after examining global growth and sustainable development

    EVIAN, France 04/06/2003 (ANA - V. Mourtis)

    The G8 summit ended with a joint statement here on Tuesday after examining global growth, sustainable development, security and special regional issues. The next summit will take place in the United States in 2004 following a proposal by U.S. President George W. Bush.

    On the question of global growth optimism exists on the future growth rates of economies as well as the wish that the United States alone will not be the steam engine of global growth but Europe and Japan as well.

    The current difference in interest rates between Europe and the United States and the strengthening of the euro against the dollar were also discussed during the summit.

    Texts of action were agreed upon regarding sustainable development on the use of research and technology for protecting the environment, the combating of hunger, for water resources and health.

    The discussion on security and international terrorism primarily concerned the creation of an anti-terrorism nucleus of action, measures for the security of shipping and air transport and restricting terrorists from access to weapons of mass destruction.

    A joint statement was also issued against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and against terrorism with radioactive weapons.

    Discussions on regional issues concerned Iraq, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran, Algeria and Africa.

    [04] Greek defense minister attends WEU Parliamentary Assembly session

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou attended on Tuesday a session of the Western European Union’s Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, where in his capacity as current president of the EU Council of Defense Ministers, presented the achievements in the area of defense and security by the Greek EU Presidency.

    Replying to reporters’ questions after the end of the meeting, Papantoniou said the Greek Presidency had achieved laying the foundations of European defense, with the establishment of the Euroforce which is now operational and can undertake important missions, as it currently does in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    The defense minister expounded on the two directions promoted by the Greek Presidency, the first of which is to expand the Euroforce’s missions to cover security issues in EU member-states.

    The second direction is to introduce a clause into the EU constitution stipulating that an attack against a member-state constitutes an attack against the EU as a whole.

    According to Papantoniou, if the EU develops into a collective defense organization, in a form similar to NATO, it would be associated with the North Atlantic alliance but it would at the same time retain its autonomy.

    He further said that Greece would make all efforts within the Convention for the Future of Europe to achieve consensus among all EU-25 member-states on the future of the Union’s defense and security policy.

    [05] 'Turkish foreign policy is totally isolated', spokesman says

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    ''Turkish foreign policy is totally isolated and the military with specific actions is trying to lead us to a front of secondary importance,'' government spokesman Christos Protopapas said on Tuesday in response to ''provocative'' moves by Turkey.

    ''The success of Greek policy however is based on the fact that it remains concentrated on primary matters, such as the settlement of the Cyprus problem,'' the spokesman added.

    The spokesman also denounced as unacceptable and unreasonable a report in the International Herarld Tribune according to which Europe did not meet up to its expectations at the G8 summit.

    ''We have all seen the efforts and the results of the Greek (EU) Presidency's work and nobody can undermine this work,'' Proto-papas observed.

    [06] Greek firms' participation in Iraq discussed; DM on airspace violations

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    Participation by Greek firms in the reconstruction of Iraq and the issue of NATO’s new command structure were reportedly the main topics of discussion on Tuesday between Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and US ambassador to Athens Thomas Miller.

    According to reports, the US side apparently did not preclude the participation of Greece-based firms in the oil-rich Mideast country currently administered by Washington.

    In an unrelated matter, Papantoniou again warned of an accident in the face of continuing violations of Greek airspace in the Aegean by Turkish warplanes.

    Defense ministry sources on Tuesday said 36 Turkish fighters committed up to 25 violations of Greek airspace in the northern and central Aegean, causing Hellenic Air Force planes to scramble and intercept the encroaching planes. Mid-air engagements were reported in seven instances, while other reports claim that at least seven Turkish warplanes were also armed.

    Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate national airspace: Press reports said on Tuesday 44 Turkish warplanes made 17 infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), which developed into 45 violations of national airspace in the northern, central and southern Aegean.

    In all cases, the Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greek jets, while in eight cases the interception process developed into an engagement.

    It was revealed that nine of the Turkish aircraft were armed.

    [07] Alternate FM reviews results of Greece's EU Presidency

    STRASBOURG 04/06/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    Alternate Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis in a press conference here on Tuesday reviewed the results of the 22 weeks of the Greek European Union Presidency.

    The alternate foreign minister referred to four major entities in which developments were registered during the Greek EU Presidency.

    In the sector of enlargement with the signing of the Accession Treaty in Athens on April 16, the 10 new acceding countries have already started expressing their positions, he said.

    On political developments, the Iraq issue prevailed during the Greek EU presidency, he said, noting that although at first there were differences of views, Europe proceeded in joint statements in February and March. At the end of the war in Iraq, Yiannitsis observed, ''we are seeing the efforts for bridging the differences of the member countries but also the development of a broader consideration for joint foreign and defense policy.''

    The Middle East was another major issue during the Greek EU Presidency. ''The Road Map is a development for which the Union made a great effort in order for it to become a reality and now it is exerting pressure for its implementation,'' Yiannitsis said.

    Yiannitsis also referred to other political fields where the EU's presence is stronger, such as the Euro-Mediterranean Conference, relations with Russia, the western Balkans and third countries.

    On institutional reforms, the minister remarked that the Convention for the Future of Europe will soon conclude its sessions and submit its proposals at the EU summit in Thessaloniki.

    In the sector of ''ad hoc'' individual issues, Yiannitsis referred to a series of reforms and decisions, such as the funding of the enlargement, the status of EU employees, the issue of security in maritime transport, the Stability Pact and the Common Agricultural Policy.

    [08] Parl't committee to summon ministers for briefing on NGO state funding

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee has unanimously approved a proposal to summon the foreign and interior ministers before the committee the following Tuesday at 11:00 for a full briefing on which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) received funding from the state.

    The issue was raised by Coalition MP Fotis Kouvelis, who proposed that the ministers be asked to give details on the size of funding for each NGO and where these funds come from.

    The committee will seek to investigate concerns that the large sums involved are being used to promote party-political interests and to influence voters.

    [09] EU-Med cooperation - meeting on immigration, terrorism on 15 June in Brussels

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    Experts from European Union member states and from Third (outside the EU) Mediterranean countries will assemble in Brussels from 15 through 19 June to discuss immigration, illicit migration and terrorism.

    Taking place within the framework of the EU-Mediterranean countries cooperation, the meeting will also focus on issues associated with reforms in the justice department and the public sector in Third countries in the Mediterranean region.

    [10] EU Commission adopts package of measures for Turkish Cypriots

    BRUSSELS 04/06/2003 (ANA/V.Demiris)

    The EU Commission adopted on Tuesday a package of measures, aiming to promote economic development of the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus and bringing it closer to the EU.

    The Commission proposes financial assistance for 2003 worth 12 million Euro, of which 9 million is for economic development and 3 million for actions aimed at bringing the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the EU.

    The Commission's measures, which have been proposed by Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen, will be submitted to the EU Council of Ministers and the EU-Cyprus Association Council.

    ''The Commission takes up this invitation and sends a clear political signal of support to the Turkish Cypriot community through the following measures, which would start to be implemented in 2003:

    Financial assistance for economic development and for measures bringing the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the EU, and Trade promotion'', the Commission's text says.|

    The assistance for economic development would be implemented in co-operation with the UN and would support: - Six million euro for infrastructure projects for the main cities in the northern part (Nicosia, Famagusta, Kyrenia) focusing on wastewater, drinking water, sewage or rehabilitation issues. - Two million euro for grant schemes for support to SMEs. - One million for feasibility studies to prepare economic integration of the northern part of Cyprus with the EU after a political solution, including preparation of programs for future participation in the EU structural policy. - One and a half million for the support for actions aiming at bringing the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the Greek Cypriot community. - Half a million euro for the support of trade forum organizations. - One million euro for information seminars on the acquis communautaire.

    Commenting on Tuesday's decision by the Commission, Verheugen expressed the Commission's readiness to ''assist to any further efforts to contribute to a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the UN plan, which remains on the table''.

    He added that there is now a window of opportunity for a united Cyprus joining the EU by 1 May 2004, when Cyprus will officially become full member state of the EU.

    ''Meanwhile, in line with the request of the European Council, we should do all we can to help the people of the northern part of Cyprus'', Verheugen stated.

    Regarding trade promotion, the Commission's text reminds a 1994 judgment of the European Court of Justice, which says that movement certificates issued by the so called ''authorities'' of the self proclaimed state in the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, ''have not been accepted under the Association Agreement between Cyprus and the EC''.

    Prior to the accession of Cyprus to the EU and pending a solution to the Cyprus problem, the Commission proposes that the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce is given the authority to issue movement certificates.

    According to the Commission's proposals, the EC-Cyprus Association Council would adopt a decision, to complement the Protocol concerning the definition of the concept of ''originating products'' and methods of administrative cooperation. It would also lay down, as appropriate, any other conditions under which goods produced or obtained in the northern part of the island have preferential access to the EU markets.

    Asked about the movement of Turkish Cypriot products, Verheugen's Spokesman Jean Christoph Filori, said that it is obvious that those products will be exported via ports, which are under the control of the Cyprus Republic's authorities.

    The Commission's text also refers to the failure of the talks between the leaders of both Cypriot communities in The Hague in March 2003 and states that the European Council has ''very much regretted'' the failure and adds that ''the peace plan of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan remains on the table''.

    ''UN SG has made it known that he will not propose to take any new initiative unless there is solid reason to believe that the necessary political will exists for a successful outcome'', the Commission says and expresses its readiness to assist any further efforts in this context.

    ''The Commission has repeatedly stated its strong support for a comprehensive settlement on the basis of the UN plan. In the event of a settlement, an additional amount of 206 million Euro is foreseen for the period 2004-2006 to support the northern part of Cyprus'', the Commissions text says.

    Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot expatriates issue joint Athens statement: Greek Cypriot expatriates and Turkish Cypriot expatriates in a joint statement issued in Athens on Tuesday announced the establishment of a Bicommunal Initiative for the peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem and for rapprochement of the two communities on the island republic.

    The Greek Cypriot Federation of Cypriot Organizations in Greece (OKOE) and the Turkish Cypriot KIBES, organizations of Turkish Cypriots living in various European countries, had a meeting last Sunday in Athens during which they discussed the protracted Cyprus problem.

    [11] Boards of Hellenic Petroleum, Petrola okay merger deal

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    The boards of Hellenic Petroleum SA and Petrola SA, both quoted on the Athens bourse, on Tuesday approved a merger between the two oil firms, industry sources said.

    Under the merger, state-owned Hellenic, the larger of the two companies, would absorb private sector Petrola, the sources said.

    Gov't: EL.PE-Petrola merger in state's 'best interests': The government again stated on Tuesday that last week’s sudden announcement of a merger between state-run Hellenic Petroleum (EL.PE) and Petrola refineries, controlled by the Latsis group, was “absolutely” in the state’s best interests.

    Speaking at his daily press briefing, government spokesman Christos Protopapas said the government believes the deal, between the two listed companies, will boost competitiveness in the economy and rake in millions of euros for public coffers.

    Oil workers take diverging line on merger: Workers at state Hellenic Petroleum SA and private Petrola Hellas SA on Tuesday showed diverging reactions to a merger plan for the two companies, which are both Athens-quoted.

    Staff union members at Hellenic Petroleum occupied company offices in Athens to try to disrupt a board meeting and delay management's endorsement of the merger deal. The union threatened further action against the plan if it went ahead.

    Workers at Petrola welcomed the planned merger, saying it reflected a global trend in the sector, including Greece, when Aramco merged with Athens-quoted Motor Oil SA.

    In a statement, their union said the merger would boost the new company's competitiveness on a regional level and raise its global profile, benefiting both firms.

    Also on Tuesday, Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos told Radio Thessaloniki that reports were untrue that the state planned to withdraw from Hellenic Petroleum's management.

    [12] Agriculture minister addresses European Parliament on farm policy reform

    STRASBOURG 04/06/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)

    Agriculture Minister George Drys addressed a European Parliament plenum on Tuesday, focusing on the reform of Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

    He said when the Greek government assumed the responsibilities of the Council's presidency on January 1, 2003, CAP reform was at a crucial point.

    Consequently, he added, negotiating the closure of this file was one of the main targets of the Greek presidency which went ahead with the creation of a high level group with the purpose of preparing the Council summit in June.

    ''We are at a crucial moment in the process for the reform of CAP. I am optimistic that with realism and goodwill we shall be able to reach a political agreement during the coming weeks,'' Drys said.

    [13] MPs criticize ELBO for its role in army vehicles tender

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Hellenic Vehicles Industry (ELBO) was strongly criticized by MPs in Parliament's Institutions and Transparency Committee on Tuesday over the part it played in organizing a tender for the purchase of armored vehicles for the Army General Staff.

    MPs from all parties accused ELBO, in which the Greek state holds a 51 per cent stake and the mining group Mytilineos SA 47.5 per cent, of having a conflict of interest since it was called to select candidates in a tender for a product that it produces itself.

    They said ELBO had 'directed' the process to ensure the selection of the American-Israeli firm MA General, with which ELBO collaborates in the manufacture of Hamer armored cars.

    The issue was brought to Parliament's attention after a complaint made by the Greek firm NAMKO, which represents Spain's URO, that there had been no international tender for the contract.

    It said ELBO had pre-selected three companies, two of which represented German interests, in order to make MA General's bid seem the most financially appealing.

    An ELBO board member countered that NAMKO would have been excluded from the tender in any case because it was on the verge of bankruptcy and financially unreliable.

    He also defended the price negotiated by ELBO for the Hamer vehicles, saying it was substantially lower that that for the rest of Europe since ELBO participated in the production and produced 35 per cent of the Hamer parts domestically.

    [14] Thessaloniki presents bid to host EXPO 2008

    PARIS 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    A Greek delegation headed by Macedonia-Thrace Minister George Paschalidis presented at the General Assembly of the International Bureau of Exhibitions (BIE) here on Tuesday the bid by Thessaloniki to host EXPO 2008.

    The candidacies of Zaragoza and Trieste were also presented at the event.

    The minister said that ''Thessaloniki, with a strong Balkan, European and Mediterranean dimension, is seeking through EXPO 2008 to fully express the region of south-east Europe and the Mediterranean.''

    [15] Greek stocks end higher on Tuesday

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    Greek stocks ended higher on Tuesday helped by a wave of renewed buying activity in the last hour of trading in the Athens Stock Exchange.

    The general index rose 0.63 percent to end at 1,779.98 points, with turnover an improved 126 million euros.

    The Cement index ended unchanged from Monday's closing, while the Food-Beverage, Textile, Retail, Wholesale, Insurance and IT sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (2.06 percent, 1.79 percent, 1.72 percent, 1.70 percent, 1.55 percent and 1.43 percent, respectively).

    The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 0.40 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.56 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 1.21 percent and the FTSE/ASE 140 index rose 0.68 percent.

    Broadly, advancers led decliners by 204 to 93 with another 67 issues unchanged.

    Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 92.3 mln euros Tuesday

    Equity Index Futures:

  • FTSE/ASE-20 (high cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +0.40 percent

  • FTSE/ASE-40 (medium cap): At discount

  • Underlying Index: +1.56 percent

    Stock Futures:

  • Most Active Contract (volume): Intracom (775)

  • Total turnover in derivatives market: 138.1 mln euros

    Bond Market Close: Buyers outstrip sellers on Tuesday

    Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond

  • Yield: 3.83 pct

  • Spread over German bund: 13 bps

  • Day's Market Turnover: 3.2 bln euros

  • Most Active Bond: 3-year, expiring June 2006 (869 mln euros)

    FOREIGN EXCHANGE

    Closing rates of June 3 2003

    Parities in euro

    For. Exchange Buying Selling

    US Dollar 1,181 1,154

    [16] ATHOC reports satisfactory demand for 2004 Olympics tickets

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    The Athens Olympics organizing committee (ATHOC) on Tuesday said it was satisfied with the demand for tickets to the 2004 Games within Europe so far and confident that it would reach or exceed target sales for this phase.

    ''We are absolutely satisfied by the course of sales. Our target is 300,000 tickets sold or 20 million euros at this phase and I think we will achieve this. At the same time, we will have surpassed 60 per cent of total ticket sales,'' ATHOC Executive Director Martin Simitsek told reporters during a press conference.

    Simitsek said that 66 per cent of applications came from within Greece and 34 per cent from European countries. He stressed that ATHOC's goal was to sell most of the tickets to Greeks, while noting that they were 34 per cent cheaper than those of the Sydney Games.

    The deadline for applications expires on June 12, in 10 days time, while Simitsek ruled out any extension.

    For events where the demand exceeded supply, ticketing director Mary Manolopoulou explained that a 'lottery' will be held in July 2003, and the tickets distributed among the applicants by a specialized random-selection ticketing program.

    She announced that the second round of ticket sales will begin on September 15 and end on February 29, 2004 but would only be open to those who had participated in the first phase.

    ATHOC provides tickets within Greece, the European Union and the European Economic Area. Residents of other countries must contact their national Olympic committee to inquire if a ticketing service is available.

    No tickets will be sold in March 2004, during which time seating plans will be worked out, and the third phase of ticket sales for any tickets that remain will begin in April 2004.

    According to Simitsek, meanwhile, tickets will be sold until the very last day of the Athens Games.

    ATHOC reported a nine-fold increase in the hits on its Internet site during May relative to April, with 2.6 million visitors. The majority were from the United States, followed by Britain, Greece, Japan and Germany.

    It said that 68 per cent of the tickets available cost up to 30 euros, 55 per cent cost up to 20 euros and 38 per cent up to 10 euros.

    The majority of applications for tickets were submitted through the Internet, while Greeks accounted for 37 per cent of Internet applications.

    [17] 3rd World Press Operations Briefing focuses on 2004 preparations

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    Almost 200 media representatives from the world's top news organizations are in Athens this week for the 3rd World Press Operations Briefing, which began on Monday at a coastal resort.

    In opening the conference’s session, Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said both ATHOC and the Greek government are optimistic about the Games’ prospects, before stressing that all deadlines must absolutely be met.

    “We’re confident, but not over-confident. There’s a great deal of hard work before us...” she said.

    International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice-President Denis Oswald, who also chairs the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the 2004 Games, told media representatives that the Athens Games will be “different” than past Games.

    Oswald praised the facilities as “excellent”, noting that the Athens Games will mark the first time media representatives and staff will be hosted in “press villages”, while he said the main press centre is the finest of any constructed at Olympic Games so far.

    [18] EU Commission calls for better integration of immigrants in member-states

    BRUSSELS 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    The European Commission issued an announcement here on Tuesday, calling on member-states to step up their efforts to integrate immigrants.

    In a new policy paper on immigration, integration and employment, EU Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou and Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Antonio Vitorino predict that labor migration to the EU will become increasingly necessary to fill job and skill shortages.

    However, the commissioners warn that unless more effective policies are developed to welcome the migrants the EU needs, the immigrants will not be able to fulfill their potential nor make their full contribution to economic development. This means that the EU must not only do better to ensure their full participation into the labor market, but also in social, cultural and civic life.

    Commenting on the announcement, Diamantopoulou said: “Zero immigration is not an option. Increased immigration flows are inevitable as a result of 'push' factors such as political instability in the world or welfare differentials. But properly managed immigration will also be necessary in order to meet the future needs of the European labor market. In order to make immigration a success not least for current EU citizens - Europe must achieve radically better integration of immigrants already based in the EU and prepare now for future immigration.”

    The communication reveals the Commissions' thinking on two different but closely related aspects of the migration phenomena. It is another important step in harnessing together different policy instruments so as to promote the development of the common immigration policy. It deals with one of the four guidelines identified by the Heads of State and Government at the European Council in Tampere in October 1999 and so completes the series of policy papers on the common immigration policy for the Union, called for at that meeting.

    Following its 2003 Spring Report on the Lisbon strategy, the paper also examines the potential impact which immigrants are likely to have on employment and economic growth. Given the demographic challenge which the EU is now facing, with its ageing and declining population, the Commission concludes that labor migrants will have an important role in the future in meeting the Lisbon objectives.

    The Commission emphasizes that while immigration, on its own, will not provide a solution to all the effects of demographic ageing, more sustained flows are likely to be necessary to meet the needs of the EU labor market as the EU working age population is expected to shrink after 2010.

    Based on information obtained from a survey of national integration policies and figures on the employment of non EU nationals, the Commission concludes that more needs to be done to promote the integration of established migrants, as well as preparing better for future immigration. It calls for a comprehensive approach and for greater co-ordination of a range of relevant policies.

    [19] Informal meeting stresses need for organized EU solidarity framework

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    European Union deputy ministers and ministry officials participating in the informal meeting held in Alexandroupoli, northern Greece, on June 2-3, in the framework of the Greek European Union presidency, stressed the need for an organized EU solidarity framework to have poor countries supported through developmental cooperation with the transfer of funds.

    Participants examined the role of ''Europe of the 25'' in development since, with its upcoming enlargement, Europe is called on to play a more substantive role in international affairs, undertaking initiatives for the handling of crucial problems facing developing countries.

    Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos, who presided over the meeting, told a press conference that the delegations agreed to the need of an organized solidarity in the EU which will provide funds, underlining that ''the EU, with a 55 percent stake, holds first place in the world in providing development aid.''

    He went on to say ''we highlighted the need for organized solidarity in the EU and we rejected argumentation of a club for rich and poor countries. We are an organized EU which transfers funds to countries in need.''

    [20] EU calls on 700 Kosovo gypsies to return to temporary camp

    SKOPJE 04/06/2003 (ANA – N. Frangopoulos)

    The European Union has called on about 700 Kosovo gypsies camped out on the FYROM side of the Greek-FYROM border to return to a refugee camp near the capital of Skopje, two weeks after the group demanded entry into Greece.

    Following a meeting of EU member-states’ ambassadors here this week, the Greek EU presidency called on the group to accept the Skopje government’s offer for a renewal of their residency permits, along with a promise to examine their requests for refugee status.

    Otherwise, FYROM authorities warned that they may deport members of group of Kosovo gypsies (Rom) back to the UN-administered Yugoslav province. A total of 2,700 Kosovo gypsies have abandoned the province since 1999, FYROM officials said.

    Finally, representatives of the group were told by Greek diplomats in Skopje that they should accept the government’s offer and return to a temporary camp outside the FYROM capital.

    [21] No security alert on night of Ocalan's arrival, witness tells Greek court

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    No extra security had been ordered at Athens airport on the night that rebel Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan arrived in a private plane from Moscow because authorities had assumed that the plane was carrying a Russian official, a witness in the ongoing trial for Ocalan's illegal entry into Greece said on Tuesday.

    Greek Intelligence Service (EYP) officer Panagiotis Maragoudakis said he had received instructions to take additional measures to guard against Ocalan's possible arrival on the two days after Ocalan's actual arrival on January 29, 1999.

    Afterward Maragoudakis' testimony, the defense for retired Navy Captain Antonis Naxakis - one of the state's chief suspects in the case - expressed conviction that the trial was an attempt to cover up political responsibilities and that those in the prisoners' dock were being unfairly accused.

    Also called to the stand on Tuesday was former EYP deputy director Philippos Loukopoulos, who said he had not been involved in the affair but was forced to handle it while his superior Haralambos Stavrakakis was out of the country.

    Loukopoulos said that Stavrakakis had warned him on January 29 that Ocalan might arrive in Greece over the next few days but he later learned that the PKK leader had arrived in Greece the same night.

    The affair was then taken over by Stavrakakis the very next day, who cut short his trip abroad, the witness said.

    Thirteen people face charges for bringing Ocalan into Greece, among them Naxakis and two of Ocalan's associates, Yakar Chedkiz and Kaya Aifer. All three are also charged with compromising the country's harmonious foreign relations.

    Ocalan himself faces a charge of illegally entering Greece, while another nine people are charged with assisting Naxakis bring him into the country, including author Voula Damianakou and her daughter Eleni Vasilopoulou, airline pilot Zisis Bechlivanidis, state airport public relations chief Stefanos Evangelatos and airport employee Evangelos Stergiopoulos, Aegean Airlines representative Antonis Simigdalas and Aegean Airlines employee Georgios Mavros, police officer Dimitris Karagiorgis and a police officer detached to EYP, Georgios Magginas.

    [22] Alleged 'N17' leader claims authorities 'framed him'

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    The trial of 19 accused “November 17” terrorists continued on Tuesday with defense witnesses, all testifying as to the character of a handful of defendants during the hearing at a specially modified Athens-area prison courtroom.

    The brother of defendant Anestis Papanastasiou claimed on the stand that the latter’s political convictions were diametrically opposed to those espoused by the terror gang, as detailed in numerous proclamations since 1975.

    “Anestis was pro-European and a modernizer, his friends, in fact, thought him rather conservative,” Athanassios Papanastasiou said of his brother Anestis, before adding that his views clashed with “Third World-type views, such as those of N17”.

    He also said documents on which his brother’s fingerprints were found in one of two “N17” hideouts were readily available amongst politically active college students in the late ‘80s

    Anestis Papanastasiou is a cousin of another “N17” defendant, Nikos, identified in court documents with the alias of “Nikitas”.

    In later testimony, the alleged leader of the group, Alexandros Giotopoulos, claimed that handwritten notes and a draft of a proclamation found at the Damareos St. safe house were “manufactured” by authorities to in order to frame him. Handwriting experts have previously attributed the texts to Giotopoulos, aka Michel Economou.

    The 59-year-old son of a noted Trotskyite theorist also said his handwriting style was well known since the junta era (1967-74).

    Following instructions by the presiding judge of the special three-justice appellate-level, an assistant prosecutor said some portions of the texts attributed to Giotopoulos were, in fact, included in a N17 proclamation issued shortly after the killing of shipowner Costis Peraticos (May 1997), while others were not.

    Regarding questions concerning N17’s “bookkeeping”, one defendant, Patroklos Tselentis, said he never received a “drachma” of the band’s loot, allegedly from bank and post office robberies.

    Finally, when asked by the bench who managed the N17’s “revenues”, Tselentis said unequivocally answered, “Dimitris Koufodinas” – the group’s accused operations chief and top assassin.

    [23] Cultural Olympiad exhibition on Mediterranean cultures at Cycladic Museum

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    An archaeological exhibition tracking the cultures of the Mediterranean from the 16th to the 6th century B.C. was to open at the Museum of Cycladic Art in Athens on Tuesday evening, inaugurated by President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.

    Entitled ''Sea Routes: from Sidon to Huelva'', the exhibition is sponsored by the Cultural Olympiad and features over 1200 artifacts in a variety of materials dating from the later Bronze to the early Iron ages, contributed by 91 museums in 10 Mediterranean countries.

    These included Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, the Vatican City, Malta, Spain, Turkey and Greece.

    According to Cycladic Museum curator Nikos Stambolidis, visiting the exhibition is like taking a journey throughout the Mediterranean, from the coast of Syria and Palestine to the Atlantic and getting a ''condensed glimpse'' of the past.

    Visitors will be able to see items in gold, silver, clay, glass, ivory - even some more exotic materials, such as hippo teeth, ostrich eggs or sea-shells from the Red Sea.

    [24] European Art exhibition at the Dupont Circle Galleries in Washington

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    The renowned Dupont Circle Galleries in Washington, D.C., are opening the summer season with a coordinated exhibition of European art at the Circle's 11 participating galleries.

    In the first such collaboration with the embassies of the European Union member countries, eleven Dupont Circle galleries have opened their doors to artists from the European Union.

    The show offers Washingtonians a glimpse of recent trends in European art and features painting, drawing and photography.

    With a different curator from each gallery, the overall show contains a wide array of styles reflecting Europe’s diversity.

    This event is co-sponsored by the European Commission Delegation in Washington, DC.

    "The Galleries of Dupont Circle" is a consortium of art galleries with coordinated open receptions, situated in the historic Dupont Circle, Washington DC's leading neighborhood for art and entertainment that boasts premier fine art galleries, museums, restaurants and shopping.

    Below are listed the individual EU countries and artists on display at each of the 11 galleries:

    Austria: Maria Moser, Marsha Mateyka Gallery

    Belgium, Flanders: David Alexander Janssen, Studio Gallery

    Denmark: Miki Jacobsen, Anne Vilsboll, Burdick Gallery

    Finland: Melek Mazici, Elizabeth Roberts Gallery

    France: Franck Moeglen, Troyer Gallery

    Germany: August Sander, Kathleen Ewing Gallery

    Greece: Constantine Kakanias, Elizabeth Roberts Gallery

    Ireland: Felim Egan, Robert Brown Gallery

    Italy: Carmello Bolognese, Enzo Faraoni, Patrizia Gozzini, Raimondo Izzo, Silvio Loffredo, Antonio Martini, Alessandro Nuttini, and Ken Tielkemeir, Gallery 10

    Luxembourg: Anne-Lorraine Bousch, Conner Gallery

    Spain: Alberto Reguera, Gallery K

    Sweden: Maria Friberg, Conner Contemporary Gallery

    The Netherlands: Jan van Duijnhoven, Reinoud van Vught, Gallery K

    United Kingdom: Paul Edwards, Aaron Gallery

    The Opening Reception at all eleven galleries is on Wednesday, June 4th from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

    [25] Red Cross and European Commission launch plan to save children

    Athens, 04/06/2003 (ANA)

    A new European road safety campaign entitled: “You've only got one life… So take care!” was launched on Tuesday in Athens by the Red Cross in partnership with the European Commission.

    The EU-wide campaign is aimed specifically at children in the primary school age range (seven to eleven years), and will be the first joint campaign to be expanded to include the future member-states. The campaign is partly funded by car manufacturer Toyota, as part of its charity program.

    Commenting on the plan, Vice-president of the European Commission in charge of Transport and Energy Loyola de Palacio said: “Teaching the children of today will create a culture of safety among tomorrow's teenagers, the main risk group for road accidents”.

    This new campaign, addressed not only to children but also to those responsible for their well being (e.g. parents, teachers, and authorities) is about increasing the safety of children, above all on the roads to school.

    Road crashes are, according to a report by UNICEF, the greatest single threat to children in the OECD countries.

    The Commission CARE (Community Road Accident Database) web site displays new data on children aged 6-11 killed or seriously injured in road accidents.

    The campaign is set in the context of the Commission's 2001 White Paper on European transport policy, which sets as a priority target cutting the 40,000 annual death toll on European roads by half.

    Fourteen national Red Cross societies in EU countries and 11 national societies in candidate countries will take part in activities aimed to reduce the number of school children injured and killed in road traffic across Europe by providing information, raising awareness and exchanging good practice on road safety.

    The Campaign also includes first aid education in schools and in local communities.

    [26] Cyprus President briefs National Council on developments

    NICOSIA 04/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Members of Cyprus' National Council (top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus issue) were briefed here on Monday by President Tassos Papadopoulos on the current situation regarding the Cyprus problem and his recent meetings in Athens and exchanged views on the latest developments in Cyprus.

    Speaking to the press after the meeting, Papadopoulos said that EU measures to encourage rapprochement in Cyprus and help develop the economy in the Turkish occupied areas of the island would be submitted today to an EU Experts Committee before being released.

    Papadopoulos said the measures were decided in close consultation with the government and refer to trade exchanges.

    Replying to questions, he said the measures will have to be approved by the EU-Cyprus Association Council.

    Government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides said that due to lack of time the National Council did not evaluate on Monday the implementation of measures the government had announced for the Turkish Cypriots.

    Chrisostomides said the President also briefed Council members on the government's positions with regard to the Turkish side's intention to set up ''courts'' in the Turkish occupied areas to settle properties claims by Greek Cypriots with property in occupied Cyprus.

    Replying to a question, Chrisostomides said that the US State Department Special Coordinator for Cyprus Tomas Weston would be on the island June 9.

    He reiterated that the easing of restrictions on free movement, imposed by the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime since the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974, is not a solution to the Cyprus problem.

    [27] UN report routine document, says spokesman

    NICOSIA 04/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)

    Government spokesman Kypros Chrisostomides has described as ''routine'' a report by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the UN operations in Cyprus.

    ''Annan's report is a usual report. It does not contain any surprises,'' the spokesman said on Tuesday, adding that ''the Secretary General notes that political will is needed from both sides for the resumption of talks.''

    The spokesman said that the overall assessment of the situation is that there is no political will on the part of the Turkish side to get back to the negotiating table.

    ''We are ready to resume talks on the substance of the Cyprus question,'' he added.

    Chrisostomides noted Annan's reference to the limited easing of restrictions on UNFICYP's (United Nations Peace Keeping Force) movement, which Annan does not consider satisfactory.

    The spokesman also noted the reference to the non restoration of the status quo ante near the village of Strovilia, on the south east, where the Turkish occupation troops prevent UNFICYP's free movement.

    Furthermore, he noted paragraph 27 in the report which says ''the recent developments are not a substitute for a comprehensive settlement'' which is unlikely to be achieved without genuine political commitment to a UN peace plan Annan has submitted to the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides.


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