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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-06-30

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

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

June 30, 2003

CONTENTS

  • [01] Main opposition presents farm policy, raps government
  • [02] Gov't repeats plan to hold polls on schedule in spring 2004
  • [03] EU welcomes Israeli, Palestinian pact
  • [04] EU, China to hold talks in Athens Monday
  • [05] Greek diplomat: Solution to Cyprus issue still possible by May 2004
  • [06] Ministers say EU enlargement extends education dialogue
  • [07] European conference on business and people with special needs
  • [08] Greek Church to seek referendum on Europe's Christian origin
  • [09] Merchant marine minister to Cyprus next week
  • [10] Chinese foreign minister to sign Olympic truce on Monday
  • [11] Memorial event held for children killed in bus crash

  • [01] Main opposition presents farm policy, raps government

    Athens, 30/06/2003 (ANA)

    The main opposition New Democracy party on Sunday presented its agricultural policy, also sharply criticizing the government for what it claimed was neglect of farmers and their products.

    ''The prime minister has been notable in his absence from all the major battles for Greek farm products,'' ND leader Costas Karamanlis told a rally in the town of Larissa.

    Karamanlis said that the domestic sector's products were uncompetitive, held back by slackness in state services and corruption in the echelons of power.

    He also charged that funds from the European Union had been wasted without bringing growth, and opportunities lost.

    ''ND has no magic solutions and will not make cheap pledges. We are presenting realistic proposals as we believe that the farm economy has a future in Greece,'' Karamanlis said.

    He added that his party would set a priority on negotiating for Mediterranean products in the European Union, and he would take part personally in talks to protect Greek products if ND won national elections.

    The party's spokesman for planning, George Souflias, told the rally that ND had an eight-point farming policy, as follows:

  • An overhaul of the agriculture ministry and associated organizations

  • Organic links between farm producers and the companies that sold and processed their products

  • An overhaul of the system for support of farmland

  • Implementation of integrated growth plans for farming regions; and award of investment incentives and incentives to young farmers

  • Making use of funds and opportunities under the EU's common agricultural policy, and funds from the bloc

  • Production of high quality, safe, primary and manufactured goods with a high added value

  • Measures to attain cohesion and improvement in the quality of life in the farm sector

  • Creation of a reliable information system in order to properly apply policy; and the completion of trade registers.

    Souflias added that following a shakeup, the current agriculture ministry would be renamed the agricultural development and foodstuffs ministry, obtaining expanded powers.

    Gov't says nothing new in ND farm plan: Later in the day, the agriculture ministry said in a statement that ND's farm policy contained nothing new.

    ''Nothing new or innovative is proposed for the farm sector or for the inhabitants of rural areas. The party is recycling its bad old self from 1990-1993, which led it to defeat,'' the statement said.

    ''The program mainly repeats actions and measures from the (EU's) Third Community Support Framework package that the government is currently applying. The only new aspects are writing off the debts of farmers to the Agricultural Bank of Greece, and lower VAT for sector inflows,'' it added.

    [02] Gov't repeats plan to hold polls on schedule in spring 2004

    Athens, 30/06/2003 (ANA)

    The government on Sunday reiterated that it will call national elections on schedule in spring 2004.

    Last week, the leader of the main opposition New Democracy (ND) party, Kostas Karamanlis, first said the country needed early polls. He repeated the call on Sunday.

    ''We understand Mr Karamanlis' anxiety, as his request has failed to move the public,'' government spokesman Christos Protopappas said in a statement.

    ''He is striving in vain, however. Elections will take place in the spring of 2004, and that is when he will have the opportunity of receiving a reply,'' the spokesman said.

    Later in the day, ND spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos responded that the government itself had failed to ''to be moved by the public's problems''.

    ''The government's only anxiety, its only concern, is how it can hang on to power,'' Roussopoulos said in a statement.

    ''The time that Prime Minister Costas Simitis is trying to gain is lost time for Greece. This is something the entire public is aware of,'' he added.

    In an interview to the Typos on Sunday newspaper, ND's parliamentary spokesman, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, said he believed the government was likely to call early elections in the autumn.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos told the same newspaper in a separate interview that there was no logic in calling early polls, and that the ruling PASOK party would not benefit.

    [03] EU welcomes Israeli, Palestinian pact

    Athens, 30/06/2003 (ANA)

    The European Union on Sunday welcomed a disengagement deal by Israelis and Palestinians that the bloc sees as a move towards peace.

    ''The (EU) presidency welcomes the agreement in principle regarding the withdrawal of IDF forces from the northern part of the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem, as well as the assumption of security responsibility by Palestinian authorities in the said areas,'' the EU's Greek presidency said in a statement.

    ''The international community applauds these developments, which are the result of a compromise, and constitute an important step for the implementation of the first phase of the Road Map, the statement said.

    The EU called on the two sides to show prudence and a sense of responsibility in order to move towards a goal of peace and stability in the Middle East.

    ''The demonstrated spirit of compromise should prevail in the pursuit of the aforementioned objective,'' the statement added.

    Local government authorities back Israeli, Palestinian pact: Greek, Israeli and Palestinian local authorities said on Sunday that they backed a disengagement pact between Israelis and Palestinians as a move towards peace.

    Signing a memorandum for peace and cooperation with its Israeli and Palestinian equivalents in the city of Thessaloniki, the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece said the move may signal peace for the Middle East.

    [04] EU, China to hold talks in Athens Monday

    Athens, 30/06/2003 (ANA)

    The European Union is to hold ministerial talks with China on Monday to discuss a wide-ranging agenda including ties between the two sides, human rights, and trouble spots around the world.

    The ''troika'' level talks will be hosted in Athens by Foreign Minister George Papandreou.

    Visiting the capital to take part in the talks is China's foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing.

    Greece is the European Union's six-month rotating president. Its term ends on Monday.

    [05] Greek diplomat: Solution to Cyprus issue still possible by May 2004

    NICOSIA 30/06/2003 (ANA/G.Leonidas)

    Greece's ambassador to Cyprus, Christos Panagopoulos, said on Sunday that conditions still existed that would allow a solution to the Cyprus problem by May 2004.

    In an interview to the island republic's Phileleftheros newspaper, Panagopoulos added that the only obstacle to agreement on the basis of the Annan plan was the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, and the Turkish government, which backed his line.

    [06] Ministers say EU enlargement extends education dialogue

    NICOSIA 30/06/2003 (ANA/G.Leonidas/CNA)

    The accession of ten new member states to the European Union in May 2004 will extend the possibilities for dialogue between them in the field of education.

    This position is included in the final communique adopted on Saturday in Nicosia by the 7th Conference of European Ministers of Education, who agreed to explore new ways of extending the dialogue to the other countries represented in the Conference.

    The Nicosia Conference of European Ministers of Education was co-organized under the Greek Presidency of the EU by the Greek Ministry of National Education and Religious Affairs, the European Commission and the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus.

    It follows previous meetings in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Riga and Bratislava, organized as part of the commonly agreed pre-accession strategy and aiming at strengthening the informal political dialogue between ministers from the European Union and the acceding countries, as well as the EFTA/EEA countries and the countries of South-East Europe.

    Representatives of the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and OECD also attended the meeting.

    The Conference theme was ''Quality in Education and active citizenship'' and addressed European political cooperation in this field, which is one of the common objectives of education and training systems in Europe and the main area of interest of all actors involved in education and training.

    During the Conference, Greek Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Petros Efthymiou and European Commissioner for Education and Culture Viviane Reding recalled that the Lisbon process, initiated by the European Council in the spring of 2000, set a new strategic objective for the European Union for the next decade, namely to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.

    The communique notes that ''three strategic objectives for the education and training systems have been fixed (improved quality, facilitation of universal access and opening-up the systems to the wider world) entailing thirteen associated objectives cove-ring important issues such as basic skills, foreign languages, ICT in education, mobility, teacher training, attractiveness of learning, active citizenship''.

    ''An interim report on work progress towards the common future objectives is under preparation to be submitted to the Spring European Council of 2004'', it adds.

    Furthermore, it says that two workshops were organized in the framework of the Nicosia Conference, providing an opportunity for an exchange of good practices.

    ''Following these discussions, the Ministers agreed on the crucial role of the school in preparing citizens to be active in local, national and European contexts and open to the world. This preparation is aimed at both participation of European citizens and society and the development of European identity based on common values and common cultural traditions'', the communiqué adds.

    It says the ministers ''agreed also on the need to provide teachers with competences required to meet these challenges and on the importance of initial and particularly in-service teacher education in this connection''.

    ''The Ministers welcome the achievements of the Enhanced Graz Process / Task Force Education and Youth of the Stability Pact for the South Eastern Europe and its strategy for future activities. They also welcome the joint memorandum of understanding of the Ministers of Education and Higher Education of South Eastern Europe and its Action Plan, which is expected to strengthen the cooperation with regard to ongoing reform processes of the education systems'', it adds.

    In the communique, the ministers note that ''the accession of a further ten member states to the European Union will extend the possibilities for dialogue between them in that context'', adding that they ''agreed to explore new ways of extending this dialogue to the other countries represented in this Conference''.

    [07] European conference on business and people with special needs

    Athens, 30/06/2003 (ANA)

    A European conference on business and people with special needs will be held in Athens on Monday arranged by the development ministry as part of Greece's rotating presidency of the European Union.

    The meeting aims to encourage and support business activity by people with special needs, helping them to become self-sufficient.

    [08] Greek Church to seek referendum on Europe's Christian origin

    Athens, 30/06/2003 (ANA)

    Archbishop Christodoulos said on Sunday that the Greek Church planned to seek a referendum on stating the origin of Europe as Christian in a constitution for the continent.

    Speaking from the pulpit, Christodoulos charged that a handful of European leaders were trying to obtain approval for a constitution without consulting the public.

    [09] Merchant marine minister to Cyprus next week

    NICOSIA 30/06/2003 (ANA/G.Leonidas)

    Greek Merchant Marine Minister George Anomeritis is to visit Cyprus for a two-day visit starting on Monday to sign a bilateral sector agreement with the island republic.

    Among officials Anomeritis will meet are Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and the island's communications and public works minister, Kikis Kazamias.

    [10] Chinese foreign minister to sign Olympic truce on Monday

    Athens, 30/06/2003 (ANA)

    China's foreign minister, Li Zhaoxing, is to sign support for the Olympic truce on Monday during a visit to Athens.

    Zhaoxing will meet Foreign Minister George Papandreou for talks on the same day.

    Greece is the European Union's six-month rotating president. Its term ends on Monday.

    [11] Memorial event held for children killed in bus crash

    Athens, 30/06/2003 (ANA)

    A memorial event attended by ministers and Olympic medalists was held in northern Greece on Saturday for 21 schoolchildren killed in a recent coach crash in Tempe.

    Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos pledged that the children's birthplace in Makrohori, Imathia would be enriched with a spate of projects to encourage sports in the area.

    Deputy Culture Minister George Lianis told friends and relatives of the children: ''We could not find anything to bring peace in this misfortune, not even for a second. At some point, the athletes decided that the simplest thing was also the best. That they should just come here and stand with the children's mothers and fathers.''


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