|Thursday, 23 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-17
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>April 30, 2003
 EU high commissioner praises Greek EU presidency for 'achieving so much'
LUXEMBOURG 17/6/2003 (ANA - G. Zitouniati)European Union Security and Defense High Commissioner Javier Solana praised the European Union's Greek presidency at a press conference here on Monday for achieving a great deal and handling a host of issues.
Solana was speaking on the occasion of the last General Affairs Council before the EU summit due to take place in Thessaloniki later this week.
''It is difficult for one to find a presidency in past years in which so much was achieved and so many issues were handled in six months, from the war in Iraq to the enlargement of the EU and from the European constitution and defense to the situation in the Middle East and Iraq,'' he said.
Solana, as well as the EU's Foreign Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, praised the Greek presidency's rich and constructive work, making special reference to Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Prime Minister Costas Simitis.
''Our Greek friends handled difficult issues with a particularly delicate way and provided a splendid example of how one can be a gentleman and politician at the same time,'' he added.
Council President Papandreou, referring to the outcome of Monday's session, spoke of ''hard work with excellent achievements which strengthen the EU and promote its international role in new challenges.''
In the framework of the European security and defense policy, the Greek minister referred to the EU's role in Africa, and the Congo in particular, where the Council decided to send a part of the European army on its second peacekeeping mission (after FYROM), parallel to diplomatic, economic and political moves.
The 14 foreign ministers also examined, as Papandreou said, the issue of weapons of mass destruction, aimed at the control of their transportation and importation, to enable transparency and effective preventive policy.
They also expressed concern over the situation in Iran and warned Tehran to avoid the use of force and to comply with international rules.
In addition, they discussed the European defense strategy, based on a relevant proposal by Solana expected to be decided at the Thessaloniki summit which, as Papandreou said, initiates a ''new era for European defense, promoting the European values of democracy, human rights and sustainable development.''
Papandreou also met on the sidelines of the session with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Nabil Saat, confirming Europe's interest in promoting the Road Map in the region.
The foreign minister, his U.S. and Russian counterparts and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will be meeting on Sunday at ''quartet'' level to intensify efforts to back this peace process.
 PM discusses EU summit with Austrian chancellor, optimistic over its success
VIENNA 17/6/2003 (ANA - D. Dimitrakoudis)Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis discussed next week's European Union summit in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel on Saturday, as part of his ''tour of European capitals'' in preparation for the summit, and expressed optimism over its success.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Simitis, at the end of their two-hour talks, Schuessel congratulated the prime minister repeatedly for the effective work and the excellent handling of the Greek EU presidency, a ''very difficult'' presidency, in view of economic problems faced by all of Europe, international problems, the war in Iraq, relations with the United States and the Middle East issue.
Making an account of his tour of European capitals (24 in all following the accession of 10 new member-states), Simitis said that during his contacts he ascertained a will for cooperation and possibilities for a better solution to problems.
On the question of the European draft constitution, the prime minister said there are certain points which must be clarified and added that the new members must cooperate to understand the EU and that they will be able to produce very positive results through cooperation.
Simitis further said that, according to his experience from these visits, everything cannot be accomplished now and must take place gradually so that what is probably not feasible at the moment can be achieved later.
He said that in Thessaloniki the heads of government, who will be briefed on the European draft constitution by Constitutional Assembly President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, will have to decide on the Intergovernmental Conference where the discussion on European constitution issues will have a frame-work, a base and a direction aimed at the completion of its work before the next Euro-elections on June 15, 2004.
Regarding the second main issue to be discussed at the Thessaloniki summit, that of illegal immigration, the European Council president said decisions must be taken on speedy, specific and effective action, since it is a worsening problem.
He added that apart from the combatting of the phenomenon and its settlement, a reply must be given to the question of the immigrants' accession to society, where the social dimension will play a great role.
Replying to a question on what the countries of southeastern Europe can expect from the Thessaloniki summit, Simitis said that an improvement in current cooperation will be sought and more financial resources and more common programs will be provided, while the prospect of accession after the fulfillment of necessary preconditions will be given to the countries of the western Balkans.
Schuessel also hailed the Greek presidency's initiative to have the countries of the western Balkans participate in the Thessaloniki summit.
 PM expecting official mandate from EU summit to bridge rift with United States
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis is expecting an official mandate from the European Union summit in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, later this month to bridge the rift with the United States during his meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington.
Extensive agreement exists now in European capitals that the clash with the United States must come to an end and ways are being sought to achieve this.
The fact that France, Germany and Russia endorsed a proposal made by the United States at the UN Security Council on May 22, which in essence confirms Washington's supremacy over Iraq, is a characteristic example of the Europeans' determination.
However, bridging the rift created by the war in Iraq, and in which mass demonstrations by European citizens played an important role, is expected to be no easy affair.
The issue will be probed extensively at the EU summit and, according to conclusions draw, the difficult task will be assigned to Simitis who will be traveling to the United States on June 24.
 FM warns Ankara violations game in Aegean meaningless and dangerous
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)Foreign Minister George Papandreou strongly warned Ankara on Monday that the "game of violations in the Aegean is meaningless and dangerous and does not contribute to the handling of problems".
Speaking to the NET television channel, he assessed that this game could lead to a tragedy and lives to be lost due to mistaken moves, creating greater tensions not only in the Aegean but between the two countries as well.
 Special ceremony begins on Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
GENEVA 17/6/2003 (ANA - Nadia Robin)The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control opened for signing at a special ceremony at the World Health Organization here on Monday after being ratified recently in the framework of the organization’s 56th Assembly.
The convention was signed by 28 countries from all over the world (including 10 EU member-states and three acceding countries). It is expected to be implemented after its ratification by 40 countries, while it will remain open for signing here until July 22 and afterwards until July 29, 2004, at the UN in New York.
Health and Welfare Minister Costas Stefanis signed the Convention on behalf of Greece and together with Commissioner David Burn on behalf of the European Union.
''With the Convention we now have the first multilateral legal framework for tobacco control and for the protection of all our citizens from tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke, thus enabling them to live healthier and longer lives,'' Stefanis said.
The minister went on to say that ''the Convention is a clear expression of our shared views on what has to be done and I frankly believe that this Convention will be the catalyst for advancing national, regional and international action and global cooperation.''
Stefanis also stressed that ''efforts should now focus on the rapid entry into force of the Convention and the European Community will do its utmost to be also amongst the first to ratify the Convention.''
Replying to questions by the Athens News Agency (ANA), Stefanis said ''I think it is indeed a historic day and I feel particularly honored to have the privilege of being the one to sign this Convention on tobacco on behalf of the EU members.''
Referring to the repercussions of smoking for health, he further said ''reports have been existing for many years and they leave do doubt. Eight people die of smoking every minute in the world and five million a year.''
On the question of how smokers will be separated from non-smokers in Greece, Stefanis said ''it is very difficult. Greece is one of the difficult countries for many and different reasons. Because a big part of the population smokes, the number of young people who smoke is increasing continuously and all entertainment centers do not have such a tradition making it easy for such separations to take place.''
 Finance minister makes account of Greek EU presidency on economic issues
BRUSSELS 17/6/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)Finance and Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis made an account of the European Union's Greek presidency on economic issues before the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee on Monday.
Referring to the presidency's achievements, Christodoulakis said Greece has proved over these past six months that it can handle with success the big and small issues which together compose the day-to-day life of European integration and that a small country, such as Greece, can compose, inspire and affect the future course of the new enlarged Europe.
He said the chapter of economic policy was of particular importance over the past six months, since economic policies were called on to provide convincing and reliable replies both to the short-term problem of economic hardship in Europe and the medium-term one of major structural reforms and the seeking of new development sources.
Regarding the Stability and Development Treaty, Christodoulakis said the decision of all members of the Eurozone and the Economic and Monetary Policy Council is that the Treaty is quite a flexible framework for exercising macroeconomic policy which, at the same time, secures the stability which is necessary for exercising monetary policy.
Christodoulakis also said a speedup in structural changes is necessary to enable the EU to promote its growth prospect.
 Talks on Common Agricultural Policy revision to be resumed on Tuesday
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)Talks on revising Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be resumed on Tuesday, in a new meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers, after agriculture ministers agreed on Friday to extend negotiations to facilitate the ratification of a compromise proposal by the European Union's Greek presidency.
The extension was requested by a number of agriculture ministers, to enable consultations with their governments, and by the Greek presidency itself to examine the various proposals made by ministers.
Agriculture Minister George Drys returned to Athens on Friday and he will examine the proposals together with his advisers to table a new compromise proposal by the Greek presidency as a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement on the proposed revision of Common Agricultural Policy.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Drys expressed optimism that the revision of CAP could be completed next week at the Council of Agriculture Ministers.
He said the new CAP must maintain the European model of agriculture, promote sustainable development and environmental protection, have the European citizen in mind and produce safe and wholesome products for the market and for consumers.
 Minister says EU must support research to enable hydrogen to become competitive
BRUSSELS 17/6/2003 (ANA - A. Simatos)Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos stressed the need on Monday for the European Union and member-states to support research to enable hydrogen to be able to become competitive towards conventional fuel and oil in particular.
Tsohatzopoulos was addressing an international conference organized by the European Commission here on Monday and Tuesday on hydrogen as a source of energy in his capacity as president of the EU's Council of Energy Ministers.
The development minister said the cost of this technology is currently prohibitive, but ''hydrogen appears to be the main fuel of the future, the fuel which will lead us to our energy disengagement and, consequently, the element which will provide a considerable impetus for the aim of sustainable development.''
Referring to the advantages of hydrogen, Tsohatzopoulos said ''it differs from conventional fuel in that it is available everywhere and, in essence, in unlimited quantities and as a result supply never decreases because hydrogen is relinked to the substance from which it is extracted, namely water.''
Tsohatzopoulos further noted that what is necessary is tackling difficulties which have not allowed the use of hydrogen as a main source of fuel so far.
 Foreign ministry to organize event in Thessaloniki for young overseas Greeks
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)The foreign ministry, through the General Secretariat of Hellenism Abroad, the culture ministry and the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE), will jointly organize the first ''Elliniada'' in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, between June 25-29.
The event will be held every two years in the city and will form a meeting place for young Greeks from abroad and provide a framework for competition in sport and art.
Participating in the event will be young athletes from abroad having a remarkable performance in their field of sport. Among other events, the first ''Elliniada'' will include soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball and weightlifting.
The art sector will include, theatre, music, cinema and books. A total of 326 athletes and 40 artists will be taking part in the first event.
The Council of Hellenes Abroad of America extended its congratulations to all the people who worked hard from the beginning of the effort to make the first ''Elliniada'' possible.
 Colloquy in Athens on 'integration of the Roma into the labor market'
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)The foreign ministry announced on Monday that the Greek EU Presidency, in cooperation with the Council of Europe, is organizing an International Colloquy in Athens on “The Integration of the Roma into the Labor Market”.
This Colloquy will take place at the “Divani Apollon Palace Hotel”, Kavouri, on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the participation of representatives of International Organizations and Institutions, such as OSCE, the EU Commission, Council of Europe, UNHCR, IOM, ILO, EUMC and European Roma NGOs.
From Greece, as hosting country, there will be Representatives from local Authorities, Greek Roma Associations, National Independent Authorities (the Ombudsman Office and the National Commission for Human Rights), as well as govern-mental representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Labor, Education and Culture.
The objective of this Colloquy is the acceleration of the processes (at European and national levels) for the solution of the problems of the Roma in various fields of their social life, including the issue of employment. The Hellenic Presidency, by organizing this Colloquy, would like to contribute to the efforts of the international community towards the integration of the Roma into the mainstream of societies.
 Massive joint police, army and harbor security cooperation for EU summit
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)The first and biggest joint operation between the Police, Army and Port Authority will take place in view of the European Union summit in Thessaloniki on June 20-21.
It will also be the first joint exercise to be held prior to the 2004 Olympic Games and will take place in Thessaloniki, Sidonia and Kassandra, Halkidiki, northern Greece.
Taking part in the security measures will be will be more than 15,000 men, of which 10,500 will be police officers, 100 harbor authority officials and 4,000 soldiers and sailors.
The cooperation between the thousands of men will be under the direction of a unified general operational centre which will be coordinated by Greek Police Chief Fotis Nasiakos who will have an open line with the political coordinating centre which will be headed by Public Order Minister Mihalis Chrysohoidis.
For the avoidance of any incident, the transfer of the EU leaders and their entourage will take place by army helicopters.
The "Porto Karras" hotel in Halkidiki where the EU summit will be held, will virtually become a fortress, with massive security both on land and sea.
 Greek deputy FM Magriotis begins tour of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Magriotis was due to depart on Monday on a three-day tour of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia, the foreign ministry announced.
The aim of the trip by the deputy foreign minister, who will represent the Greek EU Presidency, is to strengthen European Union ties with these countries and collect information regarding the appointment of a special emissary for the region.
Magriotis will have contacts with the political leadership of the three countries and also meet with officials of the Greek community in the region
 European People's Party's enlarged summit to take place in Halkidiki
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)The European Peoples' Party's (EPP) enlarged summit will be taking place in Halkidiki, northern Greece, on Thursday with the participation of 10 prime ministers and the leaders of 60 parties constituting the EPP's members and observers.
The summit is attended by the prime ministers of EPP party-members (seven of the 15 prime ministers of the present-day member-states, that is of Austria, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and Portugal and three more from the acceding countries of Slovakia, Estonia and Malta).
The enlarged EPP summit will be preceded on the same day by the conference of European Democratic Union party leaders, which is presided over by main opposition New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis and Norwegian Foreign Minister O. Petersen.
According to an announcement by ND, a joint event between ND and the EPP on the future of Europe will be taking place on Wednesday night and speakers will include Karamanlis and EPP President Wilfried Martens.
 Eurodeputy Katiforis attends joint EU-Turkey Parliamentary Committee meeting
ISTANBUL 17/6/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)The head of the Eurodeputies of Greece's ruling party PASOK, George Katiforis, is in Turkey to take part in the two-day sessions of the 50th meeting of the Joint European Union-Turkey Parliamentary Committee which is taking place here until Tuesday.
The Joint EU-Turkey Parliamentary Committee is comprised of Eurodeputies and members of the Major Turkish National Assembly.
The meeting is being held a few days after the European Parliament's report regarding Turkey's EU accession course.
The report asks of Turkey to rid itself of the existing 1982 Constitution and to proceed in state reforms with the establishment of a new Constitution which will be based on ''European political values'' and ''the abolition of the National Security Council.''
Regarding the Cyprus issue, the European Parliament asks of the Turkish Cypriot leadership and the Turkish authorities ''to take brave measures so as to secure a just and functional solution to the problem, based on the proposals of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.''
In his intervention, Katiforis will support the above positions of the European Parliament.
 Campaign on combatting discrimination in workplaces begins in Brussels
BRUSSELS 17/6/2003 (ANA - V. Demiris)A European informatory campaign on combatting discrimination in workplaces and day-to-day life began here on Monday at the initiative of Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou.
The purpose of the campaign, titled ''Yes to multiformity. No to discrimination'', is to increase the sensitivity of European public opinion on citizens' rights and obligations on combatting discrimination regarding racial and national origin, religious beliefs, age, disability and sexual orientation.
Commenting on the campaign, Diamantopoulou said ''member-states must make more efforts to enable the EU's rules on combatting discrimination to be put into effect before the end of this year. I fear that many member-states will miss the implementation time limits which are now very close.''
According to the results of an opinion poll conducted by ''Eurobarometer'', publicized on Monday together with the beginning of the campaign, only a third of European citizens are aware of their rights is the event of being victims of discrimination.
 EU Commission data on Common Fishery Policy
BRUSSELS 17/6/2003 (ANA - Simatos)The European Commission on Monday made public data on the performances of the EU member-states concerning the implementation of the Common Fishery Policy during 2001.
The data refers to the compliance or non-compliance of the member-states with their obligations emanating from the provisions of the policy.
With regards Greece, there were various violations in 2001 which led to fines imposed by the EU. The violations included fishing in unacceptable areas (166 cases), fake permits (1 case), the use of illegal methods of fishing, (62 cases), the use of illegal fishing equipment (16 cases) and the non-compliance of rules for the protection of small fish (57 cases).
 New bridge of friendship inaugurated between Greece and Bulgaria
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)A new bridge between the posts of Promahona and Koula on the Greek-Bulgarian borders was inaugurated on Sunday by Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and Bulgarian Regional Development and Public Works Minister Valentin Cerovski.
The two ministers described the project as a symbol of friend-ship and the political will of both the governments for further development of Greek-Bulgarian cooperation in all sectors.
In a joint press conference, Tsohatzopoulos and Cerovski underlined the particular emphasis that both Athens and Sofia attribute to the Burgas-Alexandroupoli oil pipeline.
Tsohatzopoulos said that the project was of strategic importance for the upgrading of the economic and geopolitical role of the two countries and the integration of the whole region, according to which both sides are continuing to make every effort and are maintaining constant contact with Russia with the aim of the construction of the oil pipeline to start by the end of the year.
 Venizelos inaugurates Greek pavilion at Giardini di Biennale in Venice
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)The inauguration of the Greek pavilion at the Giardini di Biennale in Venice was inaugurated by Greek Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos on Saturday, in the presence of many artists and visitors of this international arts exhibition.
The national commissioner, Marina Fokidi, presented this year's participation by Greece, which is represented by Athanasia Ky-riakakou and Dimitris Rotsios, with the installation of ''Introm''.
Welcoming he guests, Venizelos said that ''the ''Biennale Venice is always the most important arts event on an international level. Greece must show here its modern face, its contemporary art.''
 Photo exhibition on Holocaust of Greek Jews opens in Thessaloniki
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)A photographic exhibition titled ''The Holocaust of the Greek Jews: Persecuted and Saviors'' was inaugurated in Thessaloniki, northern Greece on Monday night in the presence of Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Paschalidis and U.S. Ambassador to Greece Thomas Miller.
The exhibition, presented for the first time at the Mansion of Europe in Strasbourg by the Jewish Museum of Greece, is being supported by the foreign affairs and culture ministries and is being presented for the first time in Greece with the press and media ministry as sponsor.
The exhibition will last until June 29 and will be open for the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day.
 Former U.S. President George Bush to start northern Aegean cruise on Tuesday
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)Former U.S. President George Bush will start a cruise of islands in the northern Aegean on Tuesday.
According to reports, Bush will arrive at ''Alexander the Great'' airport in Chrysoupoli at 9:30 a.m.. He will then travel to the city of Kavala and board the yacht ''Alexandros'', belonging to the Latsis family, with the members of his entourage.
The father of U.S. President George W. Bush will be visiting the islands of Thassos and Limnos, according to the cruise's program.
George Bush had made another tour of the northern Aegean again two years ago, with the yacht belonging to the Latsis family, and had visited the island of Samothraki among other places.
 Massive fire causes extensive damage to building in central Athens
Athens, 17/6/2003 (ANA)A massive fire which broke out at 1.15 p.m. on Monday at a mini-supermarket on the ground floor of an apartment block in central Athens was finally brought under control after causing extensive damage.
The fire, caused from the explosion of gas canisters, swept up to the fourth floor of the building. The fire caused serious damage to the apartments on the first and second floors and to the front of the third and fourth floors.
Damage was also caused to five cars parked outside the mini-supermarket.
No injuries were reported.
 Verheugen to begin contacts in Cyprus TuesdayNICOSIA 17/6/2003 (CAN/ANA)
European Commissioner on Enlargement Gunter Verheugen was due to arrive in Cyprus on Monday evening for a three-day visit.
Verheugen launches his visit on Tuesday with separate meetings with President of the Republic Tassos Papadopoulos and House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias, followed by a meeting with Cyprus' Chief Negotiator with the EU Takis Hadjidemetriou.
On the same day, he will attend a working lunch with the House of Representatives, that is political leaders, members of the European Affairs Committee, members of the Convention on the Future of Europe and observers at the European Parliament.
In the afternoon he will meet with former President of the Republic Glafcos Clerides and will participate in a roundtable meeting with Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot employers' organizations and trade unions.
Later on, the European official will visit the UNDP/EU Omerye project in the presence of Nicosia Mayor Michalakis Zambelas, and will give a speech organized by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry to an audience of representatives of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.
In the evening, he will meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgios Iacovou and will attend a dinner hosted in his honor by the minister.
On June 18, Verheugen will cross into the Turkish occupied areas and in the afternoon of the same day will depart for Brussels, following a press conference in Nicosia.