|Sunday, 16 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-12-27
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 27, 2003
 Greek aid to quake-ravaged Iran
Athens 27/12/03 (ANA)An emergency and rescue unit based in Thessaloniki is reportedly ready to depart for a quake-ravaged city in southeastern Iran if requested, the Greek foreign ministry announced on Friday. Other units are also on stand-by.
Athens will also send 250,000 euros for quake-stricken residents of Bam, in SE Iran, the foreign ministry announced.
The decision to send immediate aid was taken by Foreign Minister George Papandreou and Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos. At the same time, Loverdos is in constant communication with Public Order Minister George Floridis and the General Secretariat for Civil Protection in order for an emergency and rescue team to be ready to depart for the quake-stricken area, in the event that the Iranian authorities request such assistance.
A severe tremor, measuring up to 6.7 on the Richter scale, rocked the Bam area just before dawn on Friday morning. Casualties are expected to reach the thousands.
In a subsequent telegram to Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis expressed his condolences over the loss of life in the Bam region as well as the Greek people’s solidarity to Iran.
He reiterated that Greece is at Tehran’s disposal for the dispatch of rescue units or humanitarian aid.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Costas Karamanlis also conveyed his condolences to the Iranian president and people.
 Deputy DM visits Greek military contingent in Kosovo
Athens 27/12/03 (ANA)Greek Deputy Defense Minister Theodoros Kotsonis on Friday visited the Greek peacekeeping contingent’s (EL.DY.KO-2) base at Urosevac in the UN-controlled Kosovo
province at the head of a high-ranking military delegation.
In a brief address during a Christmas dinner also attended by representatives of other countries’ military contingents and local political officials, Kotsonis said the future of the often strife-ridden region’s peoples does not lie in confrontation but in dialogue and understanding, and under the condition that peoples live within international recognized borders.
Six hundred and thirty-five men and women serve in the Greek contingent in Kosovo.
 PM Simitis sends Christmas message to Cypriot President Papadopoulos
Nicosia 27/12/03 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Thursday expressed his determination to continue the struggle for the success of the joint Greece-Cyprus objective, with the achievement of a comprehensive, just, lasting and functional solution of the Cyprus issue.
In a Christmas Day message to Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos, Simitis said:’ thanking you cordially for your message on the occasion of the Christmas and New celebrations, I also wish, on behalf of the government and myself, to convey to you all my wishes for progress and prosperity.
''With the completion of the incorporation of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union on May 1, 2004, the struggles of Cypriot Hellenism are vindicated. We hope that this indisputable great European success will also mark the settlement of the Cyprus issue and the reunification of the island to the benefit of all its population.
''On my part, I wish to assure you again of our determination to continue the struggle for the success of our joint objective, with the achievement of a comprehensive, just, lasting and functional solution of our national problem.''
 Presidential guard choir sings carols for President Stephanopoulos
Athens 27/12/03 (ANA)The Armed Forces Orchestra and the Presidential Guard choir on Wednesday sang Christmas carols before President of the Republic Kostis Stephanopoulos.
The president also heard carols sung by the Holargos Municipality’s Children’s' Choir, the Children of Athens Police Officers Choir, the Piraeus prefecture Saxophone Orchestra, the Greek-French School ''Jeanne d’Arcy'', the Aegean Philharmonic Orchestra 'Euterpe' and the ''Hamogelo tou Paidiou'' children’s charity choir.
Apart from the scheduled groups, there was also impromptu carol singing by four school girls from the 15th Athens Primary School, who arrived without previous arrangement and asked to be allowed to sing.
 US reaction to Greek-Turkish pipeline deal
Washington 27/12/03 (ANA-T. Ellis)The US government this week praised a Greek-Turkish agreement envisioning the construction of a natural gas pipeline linking the two east Mediterranean countries.
The agreement was signed on Tuesday in Ankara, and will ostensibly lead to the delivery of 500 million cubic meters of natural gas from Azerbaijan to Greece, via Turkey, beginning in 2006.
W Washington said the pipeline will serve not only as another important economic link between Greece and Turkey, but also will provide a new source of natural gas for Greece, with the prospect of connecting to markets in the heart of Europe.
Up to 11 billion cubic meters annually of natural gas is targeted for transport to Turkey, Greece and Europe in the second phase of the project.
Closing rates of December 24 2003
Parities in euro
Foreign Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,250 1,222
Canadian Dollar 1,648 1,610
Australian Dollar 1,686 1,647
Pound Sterling 0,707 0,691
Pound Cyprus 0,590 0,576
Swiss Franc 1,571 1,535
Danish Kr. 7,502 7,331
Norwegian Kr. 8,487 8,293
Swedish Kr. 9,163 8,954
Yen 134,1 131,1
 Europol report on organized crime in Europe & the Balkans in 2003
Brussels 27/12/03 (ANA-G.Daratos)Organized crime in the European Union and the Balkans significantly increased in 2003 compared to the previous year, with protagonist gangs from Albania and Turkey, and to a lesser degree from Romania and Bulgaria, according to the latest report by Europol.
The report by the Euro-police, Europol, which was published a few days ago, revealed that the organized criminal gangs in Europe increased from 3,000 in 2002 to 4,000 in 2003. At the same time, the number of their members increased from 30,000 in 2002 to 40,000 in 2003.
Particularly active were the Albanian gangs who in recent years have dynamically infiltrated the European crime market, dealing mainly in the distribution of narcotics, especially heroin, and in the trafficking of women.
Europol also ascertained an increase in cooperation between European criminal organizations with corresponding gangs from third countries, such as in the United States, Canada, China, Turkey and Vietnam.
The increase of gangs in countries of central and Eastern Europe, Russia and in the Balkans is mainly due to political and economic instability, according to Europol.
Bulgarians play a major role in the theft of luxury cars from Germany, to sell mainly in Eastern Europe and Russia in particular.
Greece appears only once in the Europol report which notes that large quantity of contraband cigarettes are smuggled from Greece to Italy from where they are distributed mainly to the United Kingdom market.
 Small vessel runs aground, no injuries reported
Athens 27/12/03 (ANA)A small freighter ran aground off a tiny central Greece harbor after heavy seas caused it to break away from its moorings.
The North Korea-flagged “Lounes” ran aground 150 meters from the pier where it was docked. All six crewmembers, five Greeks and a Syrian national, were unhurt, while no leakage from the vessel’s fuel tanks was reported.
Force 8-9 winds were recorded in the region.
 Rescue effort atop Mt. Olympus
Athens 27/12/03 (ANA)Rescue crews on Thursday morning located three mountain climbers who apparently got lost while retuning from a trek atop Mount Olympus, Greece’s highest peak. The three men were located at an elevation of 2,200 meters up the mountain and are reportedly in good health.
A fire brigade snowmobile has been set to the scene to retrieve the trio of local climbers.
 35 tons of contraband cigarettes found on freighter
Athens 27/12/03 (ANA)Authorities seized 35 tons of contraband cigarettes, some 1.1 million packs, on Friday aboard a North Korea-flagged freighter stranded off the holiday island of Santorini, in the southern Aegean Sea.
The vessel, identified as the “Elisabeth”, had departed Port Said, Egypt for Bar, in Montenegro. Bills of lading claimed it carried a cargo of cement, instead of the “Dorchester” and “Sovereign” brands of cigarettes loaded in its hold.
Its skipper and seven crewmembers were arrested. The names of the suspects and their nationalities were not reported.
 Main opposition ND's Souflias out of hospital
Athens 27/12/03 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy's political planning secretary George Souflias was released from KAT hospital on Wednesday, where he had been receiving treatment after a car accident.
Souflias thanked the doctors, nurses and all those who had inquired about his health as he exited the hospital and also referred to the latest rumors of a prospective change in leadership for ruling PASOK.
He dismissed reports that this had cast ND into confusion, noting that the main opposition had forecast a possible change of leadership for the governing party over a year ago, while he also criticized reporters for referring to the climate within the ruling party when they did not know what was going to happen.
 Twin fire-bomb attacks on ATM, ND office in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki 27/12/03 (ANA)Two fire-bomb attacks targeting an automated teller machine (ATM) and local offices of main opposition New Democracy party were reported in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks and police have initiated an investigation to find the culprits.
 Freighter "Elizabeth" runs aground on islet, crew safe
Athens 27/12/03 (ANA)The North Korea-flagged freighter "Elizabeth" ran aground on the small islet "Christiana" south of Santorini early on Wednesday morning and developed a list after taking on water.
The ship had set sail from Egypt bound for Bari in Italy, laden with a cargo of cement.
A super-puma rescue helicopter was sent out to retrieve the ship's eight-member Ukrainian crew, since prevailing weather conditions in the area were extremely adverse at the time.
The eight men were all unharmed and have been taken to the Santorini Health Centre for a precautionary checkup.
 PASOK office firebombed in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki 27/12/03 (ANA)The latest firebombing using small gas canisters was reported overnight in Thessaloniki, with a ruling PASOK party political office targeted this time, the ninth such attack in the northern city since the beginning of the month.
A fire briefly erupted outside the office before the fire brigade arrived.
Police blame mostly youthful self-styled anarchists for such incidents, which are more-or-less confined to the urban centers of Athens and Thessaloniki.
 Denktash to give mandate for new 'government' probably on Monday
Nicosia 27/12/03 (ANA)Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said on Friday he has postponed giving the mandate for the formation of a new ''government'' in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus at least until Monday.
Denktash said following Friday's swearing-in of the new members of the four-party ''parliament'' in the Turkish-occupied north of the island that he believes that he cannot give the mandate to form a ''government'' before Monday.
In a brief meeting with the ''deputies'' he said that ''he will not meet with them soon.''
Opposition Republican People's Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat, speaking after a joint meeting with Denktash and the leader of the National Unity Party, ''prime minister'' Dervis Eroglu, reiterated his position that time must not be lost for his party to be authorized to form the new ''government''.
''It is not yet final, but the mandate will probably be given on Monday,'' said Talat, whose party is the biggest in the new ''assembly'' and supports a settlement of the Cyprus issue.
However, it was agreed at the meeting that it would be better if Denktash waited until Monday, before he gives the mandate for the formation of the ''government'', so that, as Eroglu said, the results of the talks being held in Ankara between government and diplomatic officials are known.
Eroglu, whose party is pro-Denktash, added that the consultations between the parties for the formation of the ''government'' must continue.
The Republican People's Party garnered the most votes in the so-called Turkish Cypriot ''elections'' on December 14, followed by the National Unity Party, the Peace and Democracy Movement of Mustafa Akinci and the Democratic Party of Serdar Denktash (son of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash).
The new four-party parliament is equally split between supporters and opponents of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan for a settlement of the Cyprus problem.
In Ankara, the Turkish ambassadors in the 15 EU member-countries and the U.S. are continuing for the third consecutive day consultations on Turkey-EU relations and the Cyprus issue. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul took part in Friday's consultations.
The results of the talks will be presented to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.