|Wednesday, 26 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-26
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>June 26, 2003
 President Bush and Greek PM emphasize need for Europe-U.S. cooperation
WASHINGTON 26/06/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)U.S. President George W. Bush and Greek Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis, speaking at a joint press conference on Wednesday after the first U.S.-EU summit after the Iraq war, emphasized the need for cooperation between Europe and the U.S. to confront ''common threats.''
Simitis characterized the transatlantic relation and interdependence between the U.S. and the EU as being of ''fundamental importance.''
He also referred to constructive talks and placed emphasis on the fact that both the U.S. and Europe support freedom, democracy and human rights.
President Bush noted that since World War Two and throughout the entire postwar period the U.S. had strongly supported European unity, adding that both sides of the Atlantic are being called on now to cooperate to confront the ''common threat'' which is international terrorism.
He said that agreements were signed and joint statements were made on Wednesday concerning the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as well as many trade issues such as negotiations on the deregulation of air transport, which are expected to lead to more and cheaper flights between the U.S. and Europe and within Europe.
The U.S. president also referred to the two agreements signed by Justice Ministers Philippos Petsalnikos and John Ashcroft on mutual judicial assistance and the extradition of criminals.
The Greek prime minister referred to the necessity of the EU's cooperation in the Middle East and the promotion of the ''Road Map'' and underlined the agreements signed by the two justice ministers, saying they are the first the EU is signing with a third country.
On the question of differences separating the two sides of the Atlantic, Simitis said ''we will not always have the same positions'' but friendship presupposes the handling of problems in a disciplined manner.
''What unites us is more than what separates us,'' the Greek prime minister said and pointed to European activation in the security sector with the deployment of peacekeeping forces in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bosnia.
He explained that it would be a mistake to interpret Europe's strong defense, which contributes to promoting security for the U.S. and all countries in the region, as a conflict with NATO.
Simitis said that all should respect international law and mentioned in this framework that Greece has publicly proposed the method of the International Court at The Hague to resolve the difference with Turkey regarding the delineation of the continental shelf.
President Bush placed particular emphasis on the need for characterizing and handling Hamas as a ''terrorist organization'', while in connection with Iran he insisted that ''the free world'' expects Tehran to comply with the demands of the international community.
European Commission President Romano Prodi, also present at the joint press conference, referred to the known statement by the U.S. defense secretary on an ''old and new'' Europe, said the United States are too ''young'' to solve all the problems by themselves.
 Joint EU-US Summit Statement on Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)The Joint Statement by European Council President Costas Simitis, European Commission President Romano Prodi and U.S. President George W. Bush on the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction after their meeting in Washington on Wednesday is as follows:
''1. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems constitutes a major threat to international peace and security. The threat is compounded by the interest of terrorists in acquiring WMD. This would undermine the foundations of international order. We pledge to use all means available to avert WMD proliferation and the calamities that would follow.
. We will work together to strengthen the international system of treaties and regimes against the spread of WMD. This implies the development of new regimes, as appropriate, and reinforcement of existing regimes. We will pursue the goal of universal membership of relevant multilateral treaties and agreements.
. We will seek to ensure strict implementation and compliance. We are willing to work with all those who respect international non-proliferation norms; we are committed to dealing effectively with those who ignore them or cheat.
. We will support, when necessary, non-routine inspections.
. We recognize that, if necessary, other measures in accordance with international law may be needed to combat proliferation.
. We will work together to deploy our combined political and diplomatic influence most effectively in support of our non-proliferation objectives.
. We will work together to develop further a common assessment of global proliferation threats.
2. We welcome the statement on non-proliferation by European Union Heads of State and Government at Thessaloniki and the G8 Declaration of the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. We reaffirm our joint commitment to relevant treaties and agreements, in particular the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We will work together in all areas to stop and reverse proliferation.
. We will explore ways to make the International Atomic Energy Agency's Safeguards Agreements and Additional Protocols a standard for nuclear cooperation and non-proliferation. We urge all States with nuclear facilities or activities to ratify and implement these Agreements and Protocols without delay. Furthermore, on an urgent and exceptional basis, taking account of the increase in the Agency's workload in this area, we will support an adequate increase in the IAEA safeguards budget to ensure the credibility of the IAEA's verification system.
. We will strengthen both export controls on materials and technologies related to WMD and their delivery systems as well as their enforcement and implementation. We believe that national controls should include criminal penalties for the illegal export, transshipment or brokering of weapons of mass destruction, missile delivery systems, and materials or technology for use in WMD or missile programs. We will work together with like-minded partners to tighten export controls, where necessary providing assistance to create and improve effective, enforceable national export control systems. We agree to introduce catch-all provisions, where appropriate. We will share information so as to identify new patterns of procurement by State and non-State actors. We will seek new methods to stop the proliferation trade to and from countries and entities of proliferation concern.
. We will work together in the framework of the BTWC to strengthen national control over pathogenic micro-organisms and toxins and, in the framework of the CWC, to foster the elimination of all chemical weapons.
. We will strengthen identification, control and interdiction of illegal shipments, including national criminal sanctions against those who contribute to illicit procurement efforts.
. We emphasize the importance of cooperative threat reduction programs with third countries.
3. We will cooperate actively to address specific proliferation challenges. In particular:
. We condemn North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its failure to comply with the IAEA safeguards agreement, which undermine the non-proliferation regime. We call on North Korea to refrain from any action that would further aggravate the problem. We strongly urge North Korea to visibly, verifiably and irreversibly dismantle that program and to come into full compliance with international non-proliferation obligations, as a fundamental step to facilitate a comprehensive and peaceful solution.
. We express our continuing serious concern at Iran's nuclear program in particular as regards the pursuit of a full nuclear fuel cycle, as announced by President Khatami. We are troubled by the information in the IAEA's report detailing Iran's failures to meet its safeguards obligations and we fully support ongoing investigation by the IAEA to answer the unresolved questions and concerns identified in that report. Iran must cooperate fully with the IAEA, remedy all failures and answer all questions. It must also sign and implement an Additional Protocol, without delay or conditions, as a significant first step towards addressing those concerns.
. We remain concerned at the pursuit of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and missiles for their delivery by a number of other States. We will continue to monitor these closely and to exchange information, including with other concerned States.
4. Proliferation is a threat not only to our security, but also to the wider international system. We call for a halt to proliferation activities in a way that is demonstrable and verifiable.
Non-proliferation is a global challenge which requires a multifaceted solution. We need to tackle it individually and collectively - working together and with other partners, including through relevant international institutions, in particular those of the United Nations system.''
 Joint EU-US Summit Statement on Hydrogen Economy
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)The joint Statement by European Council President Costas Simitis, European Commission President Romano Prodi and U.S. President George W. Bush on the Hydrogen Economy, after their meeting in Washington on Wednesday, is as follows:
''We affirm our commitment, on behalf of the United States and the European Union, to collaborate on accelerating the development of the hydrogen economy as part of our broadening cooperation on energy. We aim to enhance the security of energy supply, increase diversity of energy sources, and improve local and global environmental quality. Our cooperation will lay the technical, legal, and commercial basis needed to accelerate the commercial penetration and trade of emissions-free hydrogen technology world-wide, in cars, buildings and power generation, to secure to our citizens and our posterity the abundant, secure, and clean energy required to sustain growth, ensure security, and protect the environment.
In this context we see the potential of the hydrogen economy in establishing a secure energy supply through clean and environ-mentally sound systems. We will seek to build on complementarities in our research efforts in exploring actively all technology options, including a major focus on renewable energy sources, for boosting the development of hydrogen energy.
We agree to:
further the goals of sustained economic growth;
strengthen our cooperation to work for universally compatible codes, standards, and regulations;
strengthen our cooperation on research and development; and work together to foster public-private collaboration.
This effort will enable us to leverage resources; bring to bear the expertise of the public and private sector to solve the complex challenges surrounding the hydrogen economy; establish sound, universally compatible codes, standards, and regulations for hydrogen fuel utilization; and provide a strong and broad foundation for the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy and other partnerships in support of the hydrogen economy.''
 Joint U.S.-EU statement on Transatlantic Aviation Negotiations
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)The full text of the joint Statement by European Council President Costas Simitis, European Commission President Romano Prodi and U.S. President George W. Bush on Transatlantic Aviation Negotiations, after the U.S.-EU summit in Washington on Wednesday is as follows:
''We are pleased to announce our agreement to begin comprehensive air service negotiations between the European Union and the United States in early Autumn, following the early June decision of the Council of the European Union to approve a negotiating mandate for the Commission. This is an historic opportunity to build upon the framework of existing agreements with the goal of opening access to markets and maximizing benefits for consumers, airlines, and communities on both sides of the Atlantic. The European Union and the United States will work together in a spirit of cooperation to develop a mutually beneficial approach to this crucial economic sector in a globalized economy.''
 PM Simitis briefs Greek, foreign reporters on agenda of US.-EU summit
WASHINGTON 26/06/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)Prime Minister and European Council President Costas Simitis briefed Greek and foreign journalists on the agenda of the talks he had with U.S. President George W. Bush and European Commission President Romano Prodi at the U.S.-EU summit at the White House on Wednesday.
The prime minister said the agenda included transatlantic relations, the Middle East and the role of Hamas, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the combatting of terrorism, the signing of two judicial agreements, the Galileo system, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Africa, Cyprus, financial developments, steel, the agreement for the exploitation of hydrogen, Iran, North Korea, genetically modified products, ''open skies'' and the EU's new strategy and relations with NATO.
Simitis said he presented to the U.S. president the results of the recent EU summit in Halkidiki and offered Bush a copy of the European Constitution.
Referring to the weapons of mass destruction, Simitis stressed that technology henceforth allows to a few people to terrorize entire populations as had occurred in the anthrax case, and for this reason ''we are obliged to anticipate (any such moves).'' The Greek prime minister also said that he brought to the attention of Bush the Cyprus issue, stating that the negotiations have stopped and should resume on the basis of the Annan plan which however needs necessary amendments for it to be operational within the European Union.
Regarding the matter of Iran, the prime minister said that the EU has opted for a ''peaceful path'', and in this context, he said, he had a recent telephone discussion with Iranian President Hatami who assured him that Iran wished total transparency on the issue of the construction of a nuclear energy plant which has provoked strong reaction on the part of the U.S.
He added that President Bush did not refer to any use of violence against Iran during their talks.
Simitis underlined that the philosophy governing the U.S. approach to terrorism could not be adopted by Europe, but this did not mean that there would not be close cooperation to the benefit of all.
 EU, US officials hold open discussion ahead of annual summit
WASHINGTON DC 26/06/2003 (ANA - T. Ellis)Greece's foreign minister George Papandreou, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, European Parliament president Pat Cox, US undersecretary of State for political affairs Mark Grossman, and US House of Representatives subcommittee on Europe chairman Doug Bereuter on Tuesday (early Wednesday, Greek time) said in Washington that it was necessary for the US and EU to return to a climate of cooperation, on the eve of this year's annual EU-US summit.
During an open discussion on transatlantic relations organized by the German Marshall Fund, Papandreou presented the conclusions of last week's EU summit held in Halkidiki, northern Greece, and noted Europe's desire for a relationship with the US on an equal footing, since both sides of the Atlantic, despite any difference, generally held the same goals.
''We want you to see us as equals'', Papandreou said, and the position was reiterated by Cox.
Grossman said that Washington has for decades been a staunch supporter of the EU, and also of its enlargement, and described as a ''positive development'' the recent ''strategy for the security of Europe'' presented to the EU leaders by EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, saying it indicated that the EU had the political will to confront international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Grossman congratulated the Greek EU presidency for earnestly supporting the need for transatlantic dialogue and for advancing the discussion of the "real issues" of concern to humanity today, which he said were the problems of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. He added, however, that the pronouncements needed to be followed by actions.
Papandreou, who currently chairs the EU Council of Ministers, said that the EU did not rule out the use of violence, but maintained that such action must have authorization from the UN, and added that the European countries were determined to exhaust all diplomatic and economic means before being obliged to resort to the use of the 'extreme solution' of violence.
Grossman spoke of "necessary flexibility" in order that a multilateral approach was followed wherever possible, but added there must in tandem be preparedness for the use of violence when that was deemed necessary.
He further noted the importance of the common values that united the US and Europe.
Cox, in turn, maintained that the two sides of the Atlantic needed to cooperate more, and called on the US to accept Europe as an equal partner. He proposed close parliamentary cooperation so as to achieve common confrontation of issues arising and avoid the complicated procedures and distortions that follow the adoption of laws, which frequently lead to clashes.
Cox said that the US was the most powerful war machine the planet has ever known, adding that this was a reality that would not change, but he warned that despite its strength, the US "cannot do everything on its own".
"You are perfect in war, but when you enter a country you need others in order to preserve the domestic balance and be able to leave in a short time and efficiently," Cox said.
The four officials condemned the "extremist voices" on both sides the Atlantic. Bereuter, speaking on behalf of Congress, endorsed a more substantive EU role in the Middle East.
Noting that he came from a farming state, Bereuter also urged Europe to accept GM (genetically modified) products, while on the multilateral confrontation of crises, he said that the majority of US legislators of both parties did not see the UN as a necessary organization for the preservation of peace and security, "and this is a reality that the Europeans must realize and take into consideration".
 Gov't: No provision for Greek parliament ratification of EU-US judicial deal
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)The agreement for judicial cooperation on criminal matters between the US and the European Union is not a bilateral agreement involving Greece, therefore there is no provision for its ratification by the Greek Parliament, the Greek government spokesman told reporters on Wednesday.
Spokesman Christos Protopapas said the US-EU judicial assistance agreement referred to relations between the Union and the US, and he cited a relative statement made on the issue by Greek Justice Minister Philippos Petsalnikos. He said a bilateral agreement signed between Greece and the US in 1931, whereby Greece has the right to refuse the extradition of people to the US where they could face the death penalty, remained in force under the terms of the EU-US agreement.
Finally, Protopapas said that, in his opinion, the EU-US judicial assistance agreement ''was a good agreement'' and that it would not change anything with regard to Greek citizens.
At a Summit hosted on Wednesday by US President George Bush in Washington, US and European leaders will sign a number of agreements, including a number of measures relating to mutual judicial assistance between the competent authorities of the US and of the bloc's member states in the common fight against international terrorism.
 Turkish foreign ministry says efforts to continue for solution to Aegean issues
ISTANBUL 26/06/2003 (ANA - A. Kourkoulas)The Turkish foreign ministry reiterated on Wednesday that Turkey will continue efforts to secure a permanent solution to all issues in the Aegean, adding that ''in this framework we have expressed our readiness to discuss the issues concerning airspace at a bilateral level with Greece.''
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hussein Dirioz, who made the remark, was evidently referring to a relevant proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.
Dirioz maintained that accusations made by Greece of violations and harassment of civil aviation ''have nothing to do with reality.''
He further claimed that Turkish military flights take place in international airspace in the Aegean, always with IFF recognition codes activated, while to a great extent flights take place without weaponry.
 Greek and Croatian deputy defense ministers discuss security in Balkans
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)Developments regarding the SEDM initiative, the security situation in the Balkans, and southeastern Europe in general, as well as cooperation in the defense sector were discussed in talks in Athens on Wednesday between Greek and Croatian Deputy Defense Ministers Loukas Apostolidis and Zlatko Gareldjic.
According to reports, the Croatian deputy defense minister praised the work of the European Union's Greek presidency.
 Greek and French general staff chiefs discuss European Rapid Reaction Force
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)National Defense General Staff chief George Antonakopoulos and his French counterpart Henry Bedeja discussed issues concerning the European Rapid Reaction Force and military cooperation between Greece and France during their meeting on Wednesday.
Greece and France are participating in the first mission of the European Rapid Reaction Force, titled ''Omonoia'', in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The French general staff chief also visited Deputy Defense Minister Loukas Apostolidis, while on Thursday he will be visiting the Special Forces Training Centre and the fleet headquarters.
 EU close to political decision on farm policy reform
LUXEMBOURG 26/06/2003 (ANA/M. Kourmousis)Last-minute concessions by the European Commission marked resumption of a meeting of European Union agriculture ministers, the last chaired by Greece's farm minister, George Drys.
At the opening of the session dealing with the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP) and proposed reform, Drys said that the time had come for a decision, as for the past year technical issues had been discussed and only a political decision now remained to be taken.
The minister said the aim of the group was to convey a clear message to all farmers, consumers, taxpayers and trade partners that Europe now had a new CAP which supported the European farming model.
According to sources, the concessions granted by the Commission included a drop in grain prices by 1.5-2 percent from 2.5 percent that was recommended in the executive body's last compromise proposal; the offer of an annual beef slaughtering bonus to Italy; and grant of a milk quota to Greece of 120-150 thousand tones.
 Gov't plans 6.5 pct pay increase to civil workers
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)A Greek government plan to establish a new payroll system in the public sector by January 1, 2004, would envisage pay increases of 6.5 percent, economy ministry officials said on Wednesday.
The plan is expected to be presented by Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis during a meeting with civil workers' union ADEDY on Thursday.
The new payroll system plan will also envisage a gradual integration of a performance incentive to the basic salary of civil workers.
 Greece to host ministerial meeting on research and technology
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)The Greek EU Presidency will host a ministerial meeting in Thessaloniki, June 27, to discuss an Action Plan between European Union and Balkan states aimed to enhance cooperation in research and technology development.
The meeting, chaired by Greek Development Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos, will include all research and technology ministers from the EU, the 10 accessing states and Balkan states, along with observers from the European Investment Bank, the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe and UNESCO.
The ministerial meeting aims to adopt an action plan to enhance scientific and technological cooperation between the European Union and Balkan states. The action plan will set priorities in research cooperation for the next three years and examine all possible funding resources.
Mr Tsohatzopoulos will sign on Thursday, 26 June, two scientific and technological cooperation deals between the European Union, Tunisia and Morocco.
 ND leader Karamanlis accuses government of lack of courage on ASE issue
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Costas Karamanlis, commenting on transactions carried out at the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE), lashed out on Wednesday against the government and claimed that ''everyone is responsible and nobody can claim that he does not know of a criminal act being committed.''
Karamanlis was referring to ruling PASOK executive bureau member Michalis Neonakis who resigned on June 18 for ''reasons of sensitivity'' following the disclosure in Parliament that he had carried out stock transactions on the Athens Stock Exchange during the 1998-2000 period.
Karamanlis added that ''the ball of irresponsibility cannot be tossed from one person to another as they are all equally responsible for the corrupt system of power.''
Speaking at a party meeting in the Athens district of Aghia Paraskevi, Karamanlis questioned whether ''the billions of drachmas transacted by government members at the stock exchange were theirs or were given to them by some people for whatever reasons.''
At the same time he criticized the government for lacking courage as it did not vote in favor of the setting up of an investigating committee to clear the matter.
The ND leader said the economic policy of modernization, and the methods planned, aimed at ''the representatives of the establishment becoming rich and putting the ordinary people on the sidelines.''
 Greek gov't meets resistance in plans to extend shop hours
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)The Greek government's plan to extend the working hours of retail shops is facing resistance by both shop owners and employees.
The issue was discussed on Wednesday during a meeting between Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas, and representatives of Greece's largest trade union umbrella GSEE, shop owners and employees.
The meeting agreed to meet again next month after examining both parties' latest proposals.
The economy ministry seeks to extend the working hours of retail shops by one afternoon per week and by two hours every Saturday, with shops closing at 20.00 from 18.00 currently.
Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Mr Christodoulakis said that the plan aimed to offer more opportunities to retain businesses, to better service consumers and to increase job positions.
The Greek minister stressed that there was no plan of letting shops open on Sundays.
Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas said the government was trying to deal with a readjustment of working hours in the country, based on the European experience and stressed that any changes would refer only to tourist areas.
Trade union and employers' representatives both stressed that a current legal framework was adequate to deal with any problems and rejected the government's reform plans.
 Comoros authorities say 'Baltic Sky' not on ship registry
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)All seven crewmembers, five Ukrainians and two Azeris, arrested aboard an explosives-laden motorship earlier this week off western Greece have been remanded to custody, following a brief court appearance in the town of Messolonghi.
Speaking to reporters, the Ukrainian skipper of the Comoros-flagged "Baltic Sky" claimed he was ordered to enter Greek territorial waters by the vessel's owner in order to unload the dangerous cargo - 680 tons of explosive and 145,000 detonators - at the small harbor of Astakos, on Greece's Ionian coast, west of Athens.
Meanwhile, the merchant marine ministry announced that authorities on the Comoros islands reported that the "Baltic Sky" is not legally registered on the island republic's ship register, while its documentation is also invalid.
Finally, army units on Wednesday completed the transport of the explosives - mostly ammonium nitrate - and detonators.
 Greek stocks rebound strongly on Wednesday
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks rebounded strongly on Wednesday as selective buying, particularly for bank stocks, pushed the market higher reversing a five-day decline in the Athens Stock Exchange.
The general index rose 1.34 percent to end at 1,906.51 points, with turnover an improved 192.4 million euros.
The Publication, Bank and Industrial sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (10.47 percent, 1.98 percent and 1.30 percent, respectively), while the Textile, IT Solution and Insurance sectors suffered the heaviest losses (3.06 percent, 2.33 percent and 1.42 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 1.61 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.14 percent higher, while the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.24 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 161 to 152 with another 46 issues unchanged.
Derivatives Market Close: Turnover at 77.8 mln euros Wednesday
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers on Wednesday
Greek Benchmark 10-Year Bond
Closing rates of June 25 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,164 1,137
 ATHOC president says Athens will be ready for the 2004 Olympic Games
PARIS 26/06/2003 (ANA/O. Tsipira)''Athens will be ready in everything within the next 14 months for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games,'' Athens 2004 Olympic Games Organizing Committee (ATHOC) President Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said here on Wednesday at an event organized by the television channel ''EuroSport''.
Among those attending the event was also International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge who termed the Games in Athens as important and historic. He expressed the conviction that all will go well and wished Athens every success.
The ATHOC president referred to the benefits the city of Athens will have from the Games, assuring that all will be ready for the Games.
Also attending the event were school children involved in sport as well as athletes.
 City managers for four 2004 'Olympic cities' selected
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)Athens 2004 Olympics organizers (ATHOC) on Wednesday announced the names of four "city managers" for an equal number of "Olympic cities" around the country. The four "Olympic Cities" will host the soccer preliminaries for the upcoming Summer Games.
A pending Parliament bill is expected to outline the exact duties of the 2004 Games "city managers", who will reportedly liaise and cooperate with local government officials in the respective cities: Thessaloniki, Patras, Volos and Irakleio, Crete.
The appointment of a "city manager" for greater Athens, where practically all of the other Olympics-related activities will be hosted, is pending.
Specifically, noted basketball coach, physical education professor and ATHOC's former director of the basketball competition, Efthymis Kioumourtzoglu, was selected for Thessaloniki; journalist and former ATHOC press office director Nassos Nassopoulos was selected as the "city manager" for Patras, a port city in western Greece; Dimitris Dervenis, a shipbuilder and engineer by training long active in local government politics, was chosen for Volos, another port city, Volos, in central Greece; while politician Zaharias Doxastakis (with prefectural and municipal experience) was selected for Irakleio, the largest city on the island of Crete.
 SARS test results on Chinese businessman negative
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)Tests concerning a 36-year-old Chinese marble trader suspected of having Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) -also known as atypical pneumonia- have proved negative.
The results were sent on Wednesday to the office of Health and Welfare Minister Costas Stefanis from a Hamburg institute.
The trader, identified as Lin, is currently being treated in Thessaloniki's Papanikolaou Hospital.
The Chinese businessman, who arrived in Kavala, northern Greece on June 21, was initially proved positive of having SARS. The tests were conducted at the laboratory of Thessaloniki University and because the tests showed positive results, samples were also sent to the special laboratory in Hamburg for confirmation.
However, to finally rule out SARS on the basis of laboratory results, proof of negative serology is required after completion of the third week of symptoms.
Meanwhile, doctors treating the patient said his condition appeared to be improving but appeared flummoxed by contradictory test results for SARS.
Two Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests for the virus carried out at Thessaloniki University initially came back positive for the disease, while a later, more sensitive test carried out late on Tuesday night was negative.
Stefanis stressed, however, that the patient would not be released immediately if the results were negative but remain under observation for at least two weeks to rule out the possibility of SARS completely.
Researchers say only antibody tests taking between 10 and 21 days can fully confirm or rule out SARS cases.
The patient is now in a special isolation chamber and has asked to speak to a Chinese Embassy official via closed-circuit TV. Also quarantined in the next-door chamber is the Chinese businessman's partner, who has so far shown no symptoms but is being kept under observation for precautionary reasons and to assist doctors as an interpreter.
Stefanis also said it was a 'tragic irony' that the patient came from Shanghai, where no SARS cases had been reported since April.
The man left Shanghai on June 14 and arrived in Athens on June 21 after stops in Frankfurt, Milan, Graz in Austria and Rome.
He flew direct to Kavala in northern Greece on the day of his arrival and was admitted to a hospital in the northern Greek city of Drama on Monday with light breathing problems.
 Judge rejects Russian demand for temporary freeze of European Games Ltd assets
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)An Athens Primary Court judge on Wednesday denied a petition filed by Russia's National Sports Foundation seeking a temporary freeze of all legal and actual assets belonging to the company European Games Limited, which has undertaken to install and operate an electronic lotto game in Russia.
In a petition filed on Tuesday, the Russian sports foundation had asked for a freeze of the company's assets until August 29, when its petition for a sequestration order against the company's assets will be discussed in court.
Greek IT tycoon Sokratis Kokkalis, head of the Intracom group, who is cited in the petition as the owner of the company, was notified of the petition, as was an Athens resident identified as Markos Siapanis.
The petition was discussed by the court on Wednesday, with the lawyer Harilaos Economopoulos representing the Russian sports foundation and lawyers representing Sokratis Kokkalis arguing for dismissal.
During the August 29 hearing, the Russian sports foundation will seek a court order to impound the company's fixed and movable assets, including its demands against three off-shore companies and of its real owner, a sequestration order for all its components and the appointment Athens lawyer Harilaos Economopoulos as its temporary manager.
The Russian sports foundation's complaint against Kokkalis will be among the matters discussed on Thursday by the Appeals Council when it considers a recommendation by the supreme court prosecutor for further investigation into charges against Kokkalis dismissed by a lower court, following revelations that the judge involved may have withheld information that would have barred her from trying the case.
 Afghan migrants intercepted on Samos
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)Eight Afghan illegal immigrants were arrested on the eastern Aegean island of Samos on Tuesday, the coast guard said.
Samos lies just across from the opposite Asia Minor coast and Turkish territory, a favorite passage way for mostly Third World migrants and Turkish migrant smugglers.
All eight illegals were first examined at a local health clinic being taken to a specially established detainment centre on the verdant island. According to reports, a Turkish migrant smuggler fled arrest. Other reported cited statements by the illegals that more of their compatriots are congregating in Turkey in order to attempt passage onto European Union territory.
 Defense witnesses rule out Psaradellis' membership of N17
Athens, 26/06/2003 (ANA)Fourteen defense witnesses that testified before the Three-Member Criminal Appeals Court on Wednesday ruled out the possibility that the accused Theologos Psaradellis had joined the terrorist group ''November 17'' or had knowingly participated in its operations.
Psaradellis is among 19 people on trial before the court as an alleged member of the terrorist band. He has denied being an N17 member but has admitted to participating in a bank robbery in 1983.
Among the witnesses was French journalist Gilles Perrault, author of an article published in ''Monde Diplomatique'' in May that attacked the Greek justice system for what he called the ''frightening speed'' of the preliminary examination into the case.
Perrault described the indictments against both Psaradellis and Yiannis Serifis as ''unjust'' and said the evidence against them was ''an empty file''.
He also dismissed N17 and its members as ''a form of alien with no orbit'' that had no links to society, while he completely ruled out the possibility that Psaradellis might have belonged to the group, saying it was absolutely incongruous for a member of the Fourth International, like Psaradellis, to join a terrorist group.
Other witnesses testified to the character of the accused, saying he was incapable of taking human life, while several testified that his political beliefs were incompatible with a charge of terrorism.
The start of Wednesday's court session again dealt with the conditions under which Savvas Xiros was questioned by police in hospital, with an expert witness claiming that Xiros' rights as a patient had been violated.
Dr Constantinos Nikiforakis, a deputy director of Hania General Hospital's Pathology clinic, told the court that it was barbarous for a patient to be interrogated just one day after being taken off life-support.
''Doctor-patient confidentiality was breached for Savvas Xiros. I do not claim the doctors were forced. Perhaps they did not have the courage to defend precisely what medical practice dictates,'' the witness said.
Addressing the court, Xiros said he planned to have recourse to the European Court of Justice over the conditions under which statements had been taken from him in hospital.
He accused public prosecutor Ioannis Diotos of being the 'architect' of his confessions and repeated that psychotropic drugs had been used on him.
One of the lawyers representing a civil suit against the terror band once again asked that tapes of the hospital interrogations should be submitted to the court. Presiding judge Mihalis Margaritis agreed with the demand, provided the tapes existed and the prisoner gave his consent.
 President Papadopoulos says Cyprus will join the EU with or without solution
NICOSIA 26/06/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus will join the European Union on May 1, 2004, with or without a political settlement, President Tassos Papadopoulos has stressed, pointing out that this is the will of the people and it will benefit both communities.
The president reiterated on Wednesday that he is ready for peace talks any time he is invited, without any terms or conditions, on the basis of a UN peace proposal and said the Annan plan needs many amendments and improvements, not on its philosophy or its core issues, but in order to render the solution more viable and functional.
He also said at present there is no hope for an agreement and added that Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash would be happy either with the solution he is seeking or no solution at all.
The president was speaking at a Rotary gathering here during which he was awarded the Paul Harris Fellow by 16 Rotary Clubs for his contribution to international peace and understanding.
He referred to a package of economic measures the government has put forward in aid of the Turkish Cypriots and said these were decided to ''bridge the gap'' in the standard of living of the two communities and not as charity.
''We want to give them the message that they are being treated as equal citizens of the Republic of Cyprus. I hope they will soon realize that we are the government of all the people, for all the people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, Armenians, Maronites and Latins, who live on our beloved small Cyprus,'' he said.
On the prospects of a political settlement, he said ''right now there are no hopes, there is no possibility of an agreement.''
''Denktash is determined either to get the solution he wants on his terms or no solution, either way he is happy,'' he said.
He explained that the Greek Cypriot side cannot be tied down unilaterally when the other side is allowed to roam about and then claim more than they claim today.
Papadopoulos referred to the ''traditional'' way of finding equidistance, which is to ask the Greek Cypriot side to shift its positions in order to meet Denktash's demands.
The president did not exclude that Denktash may send him a letter inviting him to talks ''heart to heart'' in October or November, as he had done in the past with former president Glafcos Clerides, in a bid to score points and win the so-called ''elections'' in the Turkish occupied north of Cyprus.
''Our position is clear, we are ready for talks at any time, any day, without any terms and without any preconditions, on the basis of the Annan plan, which needs a lot of amendments and a lot of improvements, not on the philosophy, or the core issues but to make it more viable,'' he stressed.
He reiterated his wish for a viable and functional solution that will withstand the test of time and that will not collapse before it even starts operating.
''I assure you that our aim is to establish a unified Cyprus, to have a unified Cyprus join the EU on May 1, 2004, we wish to have a solution by that time but at the same time we tell everybody, friend and foe alike, that Cyprus will join formally the EU on May 1 whether there is a solution, hopefully there will be a solution, or whether there is not because this is the will of the people and it is for the benefit of both communities,'' he said.