|Wednesday, 26 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-07
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 7, 2003
 French president praises 'masterly way' Greek EU presidency has handled issues
PARIS, 07/06/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)French President Jacques Chirac expressed appreciation on Friday for the "masterly way" with which the Greek European Union presidency has handled the EU's affairs so far.
Chirac was speaking after holding talks with Greek Prime Minister and current European Council President Costas Simitis, who arrived in Paris as part of his tour of European countries and briefed him on the EU summit to take place in Thessaloniki on June 20-21.
The talks were also attended by Foreign Minister and Council of General Affairs chairman George Papandreou, Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and European Affairs Minister Noelle Lenoir.
Chirac said the main issue of the summit is the Convention, adding that the report by European Assembly chairman Valery Giscard d'Estaing will be obtained and there will be the opportunity of discussing it.
''All the ability of the Greek presidency will be needed which will allow us to reach a final agreement. Undoubtedly, it is a difficult issue, but I have absolute faith in the Greek presidency and I told the prime minister that France will do everything possible to support and help the presidency,'' Chirac said.
The French president added that a draft constitution will be able to be reached and reminded the Greek prime minister of the main targets.
"They are a stable presidency, for example of a 2.5-year duration, of the European Council and elected with a reinforced majority and renewable only once, Chirac said.
In addition, a Council president who will carry out these duties exclusively, and a powerful, as far as possible, Commission with a president elected by the European Parliament who will have the means to organize and manage his group.
Moreover, the greatest possible extension of the rule of voting with a reinforced majority and, lastly, a European foreign minister who will provide greater cohesion and impetus for the EU's foreign activities.
''We also discussed the Greek presidency's initiative, which France fully supports, and which concerns the June 21 summit, on Saturday morning, with the countries of the western Balkans. Greece, due to its geographical position, can be the 'representative' of this region towards the European Union. The EU's commitment in this region must be strengthened. It constitutes the only means of establishing peace and democracy in the countries of the western Balkans,'' Chirac further said.
The French president said he also discussed with the Greek presidency the need, in agreement with the Commission and following a proposal by the Commission, of reaching the establishment of a world fund for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. This fund must be backed with a billion dollars.
''I would say there is a certain identity of positions between Greece and France and a determination for the success of the Thessaloniki summit, something which is not evident today, but we shall do all we can to enable it to be a success tomorrow (for the Thessaloniki summit to be a success),'' Chirac added.
On his part, Simitis thanked Chirac for his praise, but added that success was due to the assistance of France which helped Greece during a period of crisis which was not at all easy.
The prime minister said on the issue of the Convention that there were some countries saying that discussions must be continued because a compromise has not yet been reached.
''The presidency does not agree. There must be a continuation. Decisions must be taken in Thessaloniki on the Intergovernmental Conference. A decision must also be taken that this Intergovernmental Conference will finish its work before the Euro-elections in June 2004, because the Europeans must be aware of the draft of the new constitution before they are summoned to the polls,'' he said.
Simitis further said a commitment must be undertaken and a more effective EU must be achieved at this summit.
''The essence of the problem lies here. And this means that we must have a constitution for Europe and it also means that the Assembly's work must be taken into consideration. The Convention's work does not constitute material of selective interest. It constitutes the framework of discussion after the Thessaloniki summit,'' he added.
He reiterated that an effective Europe must be achieved which will act immediately, adding that this is necessary because the world is evolving continuously.
Simitis said that what is wanted from Europe is for it to become a ''leader'', to set the tone and mark changes in the modern world.
''We want a Europe which will adjust to modern-day global requirements and not a Europe subjected to the petty interests of member-states,'' he said.
 Greek president invites French counterpart to visit Greece
PARIS, 07/06/2003 (ANA - O. Tsipira)Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis delivered an invitation from Greek President Kostis Stephanopoulos to French President Jacques Chirac during their talks here on Friday.
With his invitation, Stephanopoulos is inviting the French president to visit Greece to be proclaimed an honorary member of the Athens Academy. President Chirac accepted the invitation.
Simitis, accompanied by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Deputy Press Minister Telemahos Hytiris, visited Paris in the framework of his European tour in preparation for the EU's Thessaloniki summit.
The prime minister also met with Constitutional Assembly President Valery Giscard d'Estaing.
 Latest round of Greek-Turkish dialogue concludes
ISTANBUL, 07/03/2003 (ANA – A. Kourkoulas)Turkish diplomatic sources here have reportedly referred to the ongoing dialogue between Athens and Ankara as “positive”, following the 11th round of contacts between foreign ministry officials from both countries earlier this week.
The 11th round of contacts was held in Ankara, with the Turkish delegation led by Amb. Ugur Ziyal, while the corresponding Greek delegation was headed by Amb. Anastassios Skopelitis.
According to sources on the Turkish side, Ankara continues to pursue a “comprehensive solution” to a series of pending Greek-Turkish differences, such as the Aegean’s continental shelf, airspace over the Aegean, rocky islets and even territorial waters. The same sources claimed that Athens insists on its standing policy of referring the continental shelf issue to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for adjudication, a precursor to resolving other differences.
The next round of contacts is scheduled for Athens in July.
Gov't praises Euro-parliament resolution on Turkey, Cyprus, Athens, 07/06/2003
The Greek government on Friday stressed that a Euro-parliament resolution this week regarding Turkey’s European course in relation to a solution for the Cyprus problem retains its “own significant value”
“Europe is not willing to accept Turkey’s intransigent stance, which leads only to stalemate,” government spokesman Christos Protopapas said during his regular press briefing in Athens.
Meanwhile, asked about the prospect of “incidents” in the Aegean on the part of the Turkish military, the spokesman underlined that “...we are ready to defend our territorial sovereignty”. He doubted, however, that the Turkish side would proceed with any such actions.
 EU Council of Justice Ministers ratifies EU-U.S. extradition agreement
BRUSSELS, 07/06/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)The European Union council of Justice Ministers convened in Luxembourg on Friday, under the chairmanship of Greek Justice Minister Filippos Petsalnikos, and unanimously ratified the text regarding the extradition agreement between the EU and the United States and gave authorization for its signing in Washington on June 25 during the summit between U.S. President George W. Bush and Greek Prime Minister and EU Council President Costas Simitis.
Speaking at a press conference after the Council meeting, Petsalnikos said ''the agreement has considerable added value'' in relation to existing similar bilateral ones (between EU member-states and the U.S.).
He added that countries having a bilateral agreement can invoke the reasons for refusing extradition and that the new EU agreement permits the refusal of extradition when the death penalty is in force in the country making the request, while it also safeguards the protection of personal data.
The justice minister said new bilateral agreements to be signed in the future between EU member-states and the United States must be compatible with the new EU agreement to be signed in Washington.
When a request for extradition is submitted by the United States simultaneously with a European arrest warrant by a member-state, the agreement does not anticipate equality between the two but leaves the solution to the discretion of the extraditing country.
Member-states which are not linked with an agreement on mutual judicial cooperation with the United States so far can also resort to public order to refuse to convey information.
Apart from the agreements with the United States, the Council of Justice Ministers also reached a political agreement, based on a proposal by the Greek presidency, on a draft regulation on international jurisdiction and the recognition and application of decisions concerning differences in marriages or parental care.
 EU justice, home affairs Council focuses on immigration, asylum, EU borders
BRUSSELS 07/06/2003 (ANA - M. Spinthourakis)Immigration, a common asylum policy and outer European Union borders control were the focus of discussions at the third session of Justice and Home Affairs Council under the Greek Presidency on Friday in Luxembourg, with Greek Minister of Public Order Mihalis Chrisohoidis chairing the meeting on issues of Home Affairs.
The discussion focused on a number of critical issues as a follow up to the Seville Council, in view of the up-coming Thessaloniki European Council: - Proposal for a Council Directive concerning the status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents - Proposal for a Council Directive on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals and stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection. - Amended proposal for a Council Directive on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugees status. - Presidency and Commission reports on the follow-up to Seville on Immigration, Border Control and Asylum
On the first issue, the Council came to a political agreement on the entire proposed Directive after lengthy negotiations. The Directive aims at defining a legislative framework for the long-term residents (EC long-term residents status).
All delegations, showing political will and courage, made concessions in order to achieve an agreement for such an important legal text. It should be underlined that this text marks a decisive step towards the integration of legal immigrants in the societies of the European Union.
The political agreement both for the said Directive as well as for the Directive on family reunification (JHA Council of 28th of February), marks a significant success of the Greek Presidency in the field of legal migration, in accordance to the guidelines of the Seville European Council.
On the second subject of discussion, the proposal for a Council Directive aims at creating a new international protection instrument based on the existing international obligations and on the existing practices of the member-states, distinguishing two complementary categories, refugees, and persons who otherwise need subsidiary protection. The proposal includes provisions for minimum rights and benefits for the above-mentioned categories.
The directive was discussed within the Council during its past two sessions with relative progress. However, it came up to considerable difficulties, faced by a particular country, which did not allow the Council to conclude, as planned, the adoption of the Directive. The issue was referred to the COREPER for further examination.
On the third item, the aim of the Directive is to set up minimum standards on procedures in member-states for granting and withdrawing refugees status.
The Greek Presidency’s intentions have been to reach the maximum possible consensus for the provisions of the first two Chapters of the Directive, a goal achieved to a great extent. In accordance with the Seville requirements, the Directive should be adopted by the end of 2003.
On the fourth subject, concerning the follow-up to the Seville European Council on immigration issues, border-control and asylum, the European Commission presented three Communications that have been recently approved by the College.
In the first Communication on illegal migration, return policy, border control and burden-sharing, the Commission presents an account of the actions taken in the framework of the European Union in this field, and makes recommendations for further improving control of the external borders, issuing of visas and repatriation policy. Particular attention has been paid to the issue of financial perspectives. It has been acknowledged that the priority given to Justice and Home Affairs matters, should be reflected in the Community Budget.
The Second Communication concerned the international protection system. The European Commission invited the Member States, herewith, to complete, in cooperation with the UNHCR and in accordance with their international obligations, the common asylum system, gradually being set up in the European Union. In this respect, the European Commission also invited the Member States to take up pilot programs of limited scale.
The Third Communication refers to the interaction between immigration, integration and employment of legal immigrants. The European Commission underlined the contribution of the “immigration factor” to the well-being of the Members’ States societies and the importance of the immigrants’ integration, in order for the social cohesion of the Member States to be preserved.
The Presidency’s report on the practical implementation of the guidelines described in the Seville conclusions with regard to external borders was approved.
The Council adopted Conclusions about the enhancement of the operational role of the Common Unit of external border practitioners, in order to improve the effectiveness of their management, in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Plan for the Management of the EU external Borders.
Extensive discussion was held on a Draft of Council Conclusions for the development of a common policy on illegal immigration, external borders, the return of illegal residents and cooperation with third countries, which will constitute the basis of the discussions to be held in the upcoming EU Thessaloniki Council, June 20-21.
 Skandalidis, Kinnock on EU administrative reform, better legislation
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)A European Union informal ministerial Council of Public Administration taking place on the Greek island of Rhodes on Friday examined issues pertaining to good legislation practices, human resources and innovation in public services.
In his opening speech, Greece’s Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Minister Costas Skandalidis described the overall reforms in the area of public administration in view of the Union’s enlargement.
He said a single administrative reform was obstructed by the lack of policy on major reform issues, as well as the limited funding made available for administrative structures reforms. He added however, that convergence should not lead to the abolition of autonomy or to wiping out the national schemes the European tradition is based on.
Participating ministers focused their discussion on the simplification of administrative procedures and the implemen-tation by European bodies and member-states of good law-making practices.
Another major point in discussions was the issue of human resources, with the Council ascertaining that member-states are moving away from the seniority rational in public services.
A new European administrative model should be based on the introduction of criteria such as performance, transparency, meritocracy and effectiveness.
With regard to administrative innovations, the Council decided to promote the implementation of a common Evaluation Model of comparative performance.
On the issue regarding electronic governance, it was decided that efforts be continued to improve services to citizens, with a study having already been carried out on the use of electronic signature by public administration executive staff.
European Administrative Reform Commissioner Neil Kinnock, speaking during a joint press conference with Skandalidis, said the improvement of public services aimed at offering better service to citizens was an on-going process that had started two years ago in La Rioha (Spain), continued in Rhodes and is expected to be concluded under the upcoming Italian EU Presidency, in the second half of 2003.
Skandalidis referred to the unanimous recognition by all 25 delegations taking part in the meeting of the significant efforts made by the Greek Presidency in the area of public administration, adding that participants shared views on the future of a European network of Public Administration.
He also stressed that a strengthening of cooperation was underway at the level of further education and training among all EU-25 and future candidate members, i.e. Balkan states.
A proposal put forth by Greece at the Council regarding the issue of a personal passport for employees was widely accepted. In accordance with the proposal, the issue of such a passport would facilitate the promotion of employees’ professional career, and is also connected to the issue of mobility within the Union.
Skandalidis referred to the efforts being currently made to lift obstacles to mobility posed by national administrations.
Finally, the minister said that the European ministers agreed to lift inequalities in remote and island areas, expressing hope that the decision be also accepted by this month’s EU Thessaloniki Council.
 Karamanlis congratulates Dutch PM Balkenende
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Constantine Karamanlis on Friday conveyed his congratulations to Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, following the formation of a new government in the European nation.
Karamanlis expresses a hope that the new government, under the leadership of Mr. Balkenende, will meet the expectations of “our friends, the Dutch people”.
 Greek envoy gives breakfast for U.S. Foreign Relations Committee chairman
WASHINGTON, 07/06/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greek Ambassador to Washington George Savvaides, gave a working breakfast for U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar last Thursday, in the framework of the Greek European Union presidency, attended by the ambassadors of the EU's 15 member-states and 10 acceding countries.
The European ambassadors and Senator Lugar discussed a series of issues of interest both to the EU and the United States such as the Middle East ”road map”, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and nuclear disarmament.
Emphasis was placed on the importance of transatlantic relations, also in light of the upcoming EU-U.S. summit to take place in Washington on June 25.
 Timely employment issue dominates Parliament debate
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)The government’s employment policy dominated Parliament deliberations on Friday, with the opposition parties pointing to a series of recent and high-profile mass firings and redundancies.
On the government side, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas defended the government’s policy. He did admit, however, that an official unemployment rate of 9.9 percent was high, although it was just as significant to keep GDP rates high as well. He also cited a 2.7 percent increase in employment over the last three months, while saying that Greece offered the most protective framework for wage earners in the European Union.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) deputy Gerassimos Yiakoumatos charged that the government is “promoting a non-existent policy in terms of employment, a failed experiment … and a callous social protection in order to reap pre-election benefits.”
The ND deputy said that based on official figures from the Athens-area first instance courts, 1,189 businesses in the area have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of 2003, as opposed to 1,154 throughout all of 2002. He also said 14 percent of the workforce is comprised for foreign workers.
On her part, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said her party is not convinced that the government’s policy will reduce joblessness, and that KKE will press for more measures to protect employees.
Finally, Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) deputy Panayiotis Lafazanis said the government was a “hostage to big capital, a traffic cop for firings and an architect of bookkeeping alchemies to show a reduction in unemployment.”
 Agriculture minister signs decision on fishing investment plans
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)Agriculture Minister George Drys signed a new joint ministerial decision within the framework of simplifying procedures for submitting and paying investment plans for deep-water fishing, fisheries as well as the processing and trading of fish products, which are part of the 2000-2006 fishing operation program.
The decision, which replaces a previous one, is expected to provide solutions for procedural and bureaucratic problems and considerably reduce time required for the incorporation and payment of plans, resulting in the increase in absorptions from the 2000-2006 fishing operation program.
 Greek weekly economic review
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks recorded the biggest weekly gains this year during the week under review in the Athens Stock Exchange, with the general index ending with a net gain of 9.90 percent. Market analysts said that the bear market of the last three and a half years has ended and forecast a steady upward trend in the market.
On the other hand, small investors remain on the sidelines as a three-year decline of share prices has severely hit their disposable capital.
A merger deal between Hellenic Petroleum and Petrola will lead to synergies of 270-300 million euros in the next five years, Hellenic Petroleum's board said in a news conference this week. Board members from both companies unveiled their plans for the merged company and said that merger procedures would be completed in six months. The advantages of the merger deal include an increase in production capacity, international expansion of the new Hellenic Petroleum company and a reduction of import products.
Hotels in Athens and the wider Attica region reported a significant fall in April compared with the same month last year, hit by a war in Iraq. The Hoteliers' Union of Attica said that ''Athens is witnessing one of the worst tourist seasons in history'', and protested over a ''complete absence of the state and any tourist strategy.'' The Union said that room capacity fell by 25 percent in April.
EU funds to Greece total 4.6 billion euros, or 22 percent of total community participation, Economy and Finance Deputy Minister Christos Pahtas said in the week. Mr Pahtas forecast that another 800 million euros (from a Second Community Support Framework) would be received by the end of 2003.
Greece's mutual funds' market assets totalled 27.8 billion euros at the end of May, slightly up from 27.3 billion euros in April, an increase of 1.87 percent, official figures showed. A monthly report by the Union of Institutional Investors said that the increase in assets reflected a rise in domestic money market mutual funds' assets by 335 million euros.
One in three Greek enterprises is tax evading, the country's financial crimes' squad said in a report. The report, based on inspections made in the first four months of 2003, showed that 32 percent of companies were breaching tax or custom rules.
Greece's producer price index rose 0.3 percent in April, from the same month last year, for a monthly increase of 1.2 percent, National Statistics Service said on Friday.
 Greek stocks jump to new year Highs on Friday
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks jumped to new record highs for the year in the Athens Stock Exchange on Friday, following gains in other European markets.
The Greek market recorded the biggest weekly gains so far this year, ending the week with a net gain of 9.90 percent, with the general index soaring 2.43 percent to end at 1,876.64 points on Friday. Turnover was an improved 173.9 million euros.
All sector indices scored gains, led by Publications (+10.18 percent), Insurance (+8.62 percent), IT Solutions (+7.13 percent), IT (+4.06) and Metals (+3.72 percent).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 2.66 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 2.56 percent higher, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index jumped 3.55 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index ended 2.74 percent up.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 294 to 34 with another 38 issues unchanged.
 Peter Brandes' illustrations for Danish translation of "The Odyssey" on display
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)An exhibition of illustrations by Danish abstract painter/sculptor Peter Brandes for the new Danish translation of Homer's epic Odyssey by Professor Otto Steen Due will be on display at the National Bank of Greece's Cultural Foundation through the end of June.
The exhibition, which opened Thursday evening at the Foundation’s "Eynard Hall" at 20 Aghiou Constantinou Street off Athens' central Omonoia square, is being staged in cooperation with the Danish Institute in Athens.
The exhibition has previously been staged at the State Museum of Art in Copenhagen in autumn 2002, and included a reading of the entire Odyssey.
Peter Brandes, born in 1944, is an abstract painter, sculptor, print maker, ceramic artist, photographer and writer whose raw, abstract expressionist works have their origins in literature, particularly biblical and classical.
Next to Per Kirkeby, Peter Brandes is perhaps the most versatile and important Scandinavian artist working today. His works are in the permanent collection of many of the major European museum and private collections as well as important private and public collections in the United States and in Latin America.
Peter Brandes is a self-taught artist who lives and works between Paris and Copenhagen. The artist himself has said of his work. ''If I could say something with words, I would write a novel, but instead I do a painting...but maybe the painting doesn't work, so then I do a sculpture.''
Brandes' works have been exhibited at the DCA Gallery in New York, the Kinsthallen in Copenhagen, the Galerie Moderne Silkeborg in Denmark, and the La Maison Danoise and FIAC Grand Palais in Paris.
His works have been acclaimed as presenting a high sense of aesthetics and reflection. His drawings, watercolors and clay sculptures "break from the modernistic tradition to which his work typically belongs", according to eminent art critics, and "go behind that tradition and succeed, from within the minimalistic intensity of his images on the basic theme of a rhapsody, to give voice to the story and affirm that the illustrative presentation continues to enhance the plastic arts".
Professor Otto Steen Due's translation of the Odyssey is the third in a series of "The Danish Homer" project aimed at making a new Danish translation of the works of Homer. The Odyssey was preceded by the Iliad and the Hymn to Hermes
Born in 1939 in Copenhagen, Otto Steen Due was a lecturer and professor of Classics at Aarhus University, from where he had graduated with a degree in Classical Philology in 1964. He has also served in the past as director of the Danish Institute in Rome, Counselor of Cultural Affairs at the Danish Embassy in Rome, and is the author of articles and books about Roman poetry and Greek and Roman history, as well as Danish translations of comedies by Terence and Menander, speeches by Greek orators, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Virgil's Aeneid, and more recently Homer's Iliad accompanied by A Companion to Homer's Iliad, and the Homeric Hymn to Hermes , while a leading Danish theatre has commissioned a translation of Sophocles' Antigone.
 FM Papandreou sends message to non-governmental organization meeting
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)The enlargement of the European Union from 15 to 25 members will not only not weaken its development policy but will give it new vigor and capability to broaden its role globally and strengthen the contribution of the society of citizens in the implementation of programs to reduce by half the current level of poverty in developing countries by 2015.
This was noted by Foreign Minister George Papandreou in a message which was read out on Friday by the Foreign Ministry's Director of the International Development Cooperation Department, George Filippeos, at the meeting on the theme ''The future of Europe in the hands of its citizens''.
The meeting was organized in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, by the Greek Committee of Non-Governmental Organizations for Development.
 Archbishop Christodoulos visits Romania
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos is currently on a visit to Romania.
Addressing an official dinner hosted in his honor on Friday by the Patriarch of Romania Theoktistos, Christodoulos referred to the strong bonds linking the Greek and Romanian people but also the two churches of the same faith which yet again are called on to proceed together in history and to the new European reality.
Regarding the role of Orthodoxy in an enlarged Europe, Archbishop Christodoulos told a press conference that the Europeans view Orthodoxy as the spiritual force which will give a new impetus to the social and cultural life of the continent.
 'N17' continues, hearing pick up on Monday
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)Friday’s session at the closely watched trial of 19 alleged “November 17” members revolved mostly on the cross-examination of a few witnesses, including a police officer who first finger-printed the man authorities allege is the leader of the notorious terror gang.
According to the police officer, Alexandros Giotopoulos was first booked in the early morning hours of July 18, following his arrest on the small Dodecanese island of Leipsos and his subsequent transfer to Athens aboard a helicopter.
The trial will continue on Monday.
 Police seize fake banknotes, Albanian man arrested
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)Police in Thessaloniki on Friday said they confiscated 280 counterfeit 50-euro banknotes in the possession of an Albanian national, who was arrested in Halkidiki prefecture.
Acting on information that an Albanian national was bringing bogus banknotes into Greece, police arrested the unnamed 29-year-old at his residence in the village of Polychrono, where the counterfeit bills were also found.
The suspect claimed the counterfeit banknotes were imported from Bulgaria and that another Albanian man from Tirana gave him the bills to use in Greece.
 Concert at Haghia Sophia's basilica
ISTANBUL, 07/06/2003 (ANA)The Istanbul Philharmonic will give a performance at the Basilica of the splendid Haghia Sophia Cathedral here Friday evening, part of events within the framework of the 31st International Music Festival of Istanbul.
 Visa requirement for Serbia/Montenegro dropped
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)The newly created State Union of Serbia and Montenegro on Friday announced that, as of May 31, foreign citizens will not require visas for entry into the country, and for a period up to 30 days, the embassy here announced.
The decision was handed down by the federation’s cabinet, and especially aimed at European Union countries and the US.
 Wine conference held in Santorini
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)Greece's National Tourism Organization is organizing an international wine conference in Santorini with the participation of university professors, wine experts and producers.
Addressing the conference, GNTO's Chairman Yiannis Patellis unveiled the organization’s strategy to promoting Greek gastronomy and stressed the significance of vineyards to the country's culture.
The union of film clubs is also organizing a seminar in Santorini on the "symbolic role of wine in film-making".
Mr Patellis said that Santorini was selected as the ideal place for wedding ceremonies in a survey conducted in the US and the UK.
 Algerian Olympic Committee delegation visits Patra
Athens, 07/06/2003 (ANA)A delegation of the Algerian Olympic Committee arrived in Patra on Friday headed by its president Mustafa Beraf.
On Saturday morning they will visit various sports facilities, meet local officials and be presented with Patra's bid for hosting the 2009 Mediterranean Games.
 Foreign Minister Iacovou to hold high-level meetings in the US
NICOSIA, 07/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou, will hold high-level meetings during his trip to the US next week, under the light of the partial lifting of restrictions in the freedom of movement to