|Sunday, 16 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-12-30
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 30, 2003
 PM Simitis and PASOK secretary discuss political developments
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis and his ruling PASOK party's Secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis discussed political developments in the country on Monday.
Any developments in PASOK will be scheduled by Simitis himself, apparently after February 14 when the party's Panhellenic Conference will be taking place as the two men decided during Monday's meeting.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Chrysohoidis said PASOK's election program will be discussed at the Conference, as had been decided during a meeting of the Executive Bureau in the past.
Regardless, however, of speculation concerning developments in PASOK, procedures are already underway based on initial planning which had taken place at an Executive Bureau meeting.
Two important elements contained in the planning which have either been implemented or are in the process of being applied are the closing of PASOK's election tickets and the ratification of its election program.
According to relevant reports, Simitis' plans for the immediate future include a speech at an event due to take place in Piraeus on January 18.
On January 18, 2004, Simitis will complete eight consecutive years as prime minister and he will become the country's longest serving prime minister.
His program also includes a visit to his father's home at Korakohori, in the prefecture of Ilia, on New Year's Day where he will be staying until January 5 when he will be returning to Athens.
On January 6, Simitis will attend the sanctification of waters in Piraeus, on January 12 he will visit the tunnel at Tempi and on the next day he will meet with the party's new candidate deputies. In addition, he will be making a two-day tour of Crete on January 15-16.
The date of the party's Executive Bureau meeting, at which political developments will be discussed, was not determined during Monday's meeting, nor was a Central Committee meeting.
 ND considers 'succession' speculation at PASOK
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy (ND) on Monday focused directly on the latest and ongoing speculation concerning a leadership change at both the premiership and ruling PASOK’s presidency, with ND leader Costas Karamanlis meeting in the morning with the party’s top cadres.
ND’s candidates for the upcoming elections are expected to be announced by early February.
Moreover, a high-ranking ND source reiterated on Monday that even if the various “scenarios” of change at Maximos Mansion and PASOK materialize, “citizens will not be fooled, and results will not change in upcoming elections despite whatever rallying is created within the ruling party following any new developments”.
Finally, ND officials said that any successor to PM Costas Simitis is “co-responsible” for the policies followed by the former, and ones which perpetuated citizens’ problems.
 ND's Evert calls for early elections 'for the good of the country'
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)Main opposition New Democracy MP and former leader Miltiades Evert on Monday said general elections should be brought forward "for the good of the country".
According to Evert, events within ruling PASOK were "an admission of the government's failure and acceptance of its coming defeat". The uncertainty they caused in society was harming the economy and ordinary citizens and had to come to an end, he added.
 Tsovolas sharply criticizes developments in PASOK
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)The founder and president of the out-of-Parliament DIKKI party, former PASOK minister Dimitris Tsovolas, on Monday sharply criticized the latest developments in the ruling party, referring to “communication ploys” and machinations by PASOK’s leader-ship.
“… the prime minister, the government and the collective leadership group of PASOK are trying to deceive, politically, the untainted party supporters of PASOK and the Greek citizens … as well as to avoid criticism for the major political responsibility they bear for the country’s unfavorable political, economic and social condition,” Tsovolas charged.
 21st round of Greek-Turkish exploratory talks underway
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)Foreign ministry spokesman Panos Beglitis on Monday announced that the 21st round of exploratory talks between Greece and Turkey was taking place in Ankara, between Greek Ambassador Anastasios Skopelitis and Turkish foreign ministry general secretary Ugur Ziyal.
 Turkish warplanes infringe Athens FIR, violate national airspace
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)Four formations of Turkish warplanes made an equal number of infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR) on Monday, according to press reports.
Two violations of national airspace were also recorded in the region of the eastern Aegean.
In all cases, the 12 Turkish aircraft were recognized and intercepted immediately by Greek air force jets.
It was revealed that two of the Turkish aircraft were armed.
 Athens municipality's 2004 budget ratified on Monday
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)The Athens municipality's budget for 2004 was ratified by the Municipal Council with a majority vote on Monday, while the opposition voted against it.
Addressing the meeting, Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyianni said that according to the new budget an increase of 30 percent is anticipated for social policy funds to support citizens in need of it.
In parallel, the budget's investment orientation will remain, which had become apparent from last year's one when an agreement had been made for the funding of the Athens municipality's four-year investment program by the international banking market with favorable terms for the municipality.
Bakoyianni said the investment character of the Athens municipality's activities in 2004 is linked to a great degree to the preparations for the Athens Olympic Games.
For this reason, emphasis is placed on the sector of cleanliness, the restoration and cleaning of the front parts of buildings, increasing greenery in the city and the boosting of funds for school care projects.
 Greek stocks move higher on Monday
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Monday's session slightly higher in the Athens Stock Exchange with prices unable to maintain their earlier bigger gains due to lack of follow-through buying and thin trading conditions in the market.
The general index ended at 2,211.93 points, up 0.11 percent, with analysts predicting low volumes and minor price gains in the next two sessions, the last in 2003.
The Investment and Construction sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (1.08 percent and 0.74 percent, respectively), while the Textile and Publication sectors suffered the heaviest percentage losses (1.08 percent and 0.92 percent, respectively).
National Bank, Piraeus Bank, Alpha Bank, General Bank, Hellenic Telecoms, Cosset, Hellenic Petroleum and PPC were the most active stocks in the market.
The FTSE/ASE 20 index rose 0.28 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index fell 0.09 percent, the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index eased 0.03 percent and the wider FTSE/ASE 140 index rose 0.20 percent.
 Greek-Italian cooperation against illegal migration
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)Greece and Italy on Monday agreed to exchange law enforcement liaisons next month as part of efforts to curb the flow of illegal immigrants between the two countries, with two Italian border corps officers assigned to Patra and Igoumenitsa, respectively, and one Greek coast guard officer stationed in Bari and Ancona, respectively.
The cooperation will take place from Jan. 19 until Jan. 28. The agreement is reciprocal, with liaisons acting as advisers. The total of six liaison officers will not participate in operations or retain the right to bear arms, a merchant marine press release stated.
Mostly Third World migrants have in the past attempted to reach western Europe via the Greece-Italy ferryboat routes, a development that has led to increased security at western Greece’s passenger ports.
In an unrelated development, authorities on Monday announced the arrest of seven illegal migrants -- six men and a woman -- on the tiny eastern Aegean island of Farmakonisi. The group was reportedly ferried to the isle from the adjacent Turkish coast.
 Team of Greek 'Doctors of the World' arrive in quake-ravaged city of Bam
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)Greek ''Doctors of the World'' have arrived in the city of Bam in Iran to offer assistance to the countless injured following the killer earthquake which struck the region at dawn Friday.
The three-member Greek team of ''Doctors of the World'', who witnessed the prevailing chaotic situation in Bam, are at the ''Imam Homeini'' hospital which has suffered extensive damage from the devastating quake which left thousands dead and injured.
The Greek doctors stressed that the need for surgeons was urgent given that there was only one surgeon at the hospital.
 Truck-train collision at level crossing, no injuries
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)A truck was rammed by a Greek Railways (OSE) train on the Thessaloniki-Eidomeni route on Monday morning after it got stuck on the tracks at a guarded level crossing.
There were 50 passengers on board the train at the time but luckily no one was injured.
The driver of the truck also escaped injury since he managed to jump out of the vehicle in time.
According to police, the accident was caused by heavy traffic passing through that point, which trapped the truck on the rails and prevented it going either forward or backwards as the train approached.
 Philippi ancient theatre prepares for events
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)The ancient theatre of Philippi, near the northern port city of Kavala, will host a variety of cultural events ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the state-run Hellenic Tourist Real Estate S.A., announced on Monday.
Similar to the seasonal programs followed for the past 46 years, the theatre will again host a variety of ancient tragedies and comedies, as well as selected musical performances.
 Bank accounts opened for money for quake-stricken residents of Bam
Athens, 30/12/2003 (ANA)The Embassy of Iran in Athens announced on Monday that it has opened bank account No. 101002002040226 with the indication 9999 at ALPHA Bank for the gathering of money for the quake-stricken residents of the city of Bam.
Bank account No. 3400-999999 has also opened at Bank Saderat Iran, which is located at 25-29 Panepistimiou Avenue in Athens.
 Ex-merchant marine minister visits jailed 'Prestige' skipper
BARCELONA 30/12/2003 (ANA)Former Greek merchant marine minister George Anomeritis this week visited the jailed skipper of the ill-fated “Prestige” tanker here, where he repeated his request that Apostolos Magouras be released pending trial.
 Peace talks will be on the basis of UN plan, Cyprus president stresses
NICOSIA 30/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos has stressed that peace talks for a political settlement in Cyprus would take place on the basis of a proposal put forward by the UN Secretary General, as Kofi Annan has said.
''The position of the Secretary General is clear, talks should be conducted on the basis of his plan,'' the president said on Monday, invited to comment on press reports about a new proposal Ankara is working on.
The president said that he was not aware of a Turkish plan and added ''I believe that Turkey's proposals will be formulated in the shape of amendments or observations, it will not be a new, complete plan.''
Replying to questions, he said the Greek Cypriot side is ready for talks any time Annan invites the two sides for negotiations on the basis of his proposal.
The president also said he has not received a response from Annan to his letter with regard to the peace effort and Annan's good offices mission.
Last year the Secretary General presented the two sides on the island with a plan on a comprehensive settlement, which was subsequently revised twice. During talks in March this year, President Papadopoulos said he was ready to hold negotiations on the plan and then put any agreed text to the people. Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash refused to negotiate on it and has since described it as ''dead and buried.''
Annan has told the two sides that they must show him concrete signs of their determination to negotiate and conclude an agreement before he reengages in a fresh round of negotiations. He also wants the two leaders to commit themselves to put the plan to a referendum.
Spokesman says Turkey tries to reverse negative impressions: The Cypriot government believes that Ankara is trying to water down negative impressions it has created within the international community due to its intransigent stance on the question of Cyprus.
''What we expect to see is a change of positions on the part of the Turkish government, so that attempts to solve the problem on the basis of a UN peace proposal before Cyprus accedes to the European Union on May 1 move forward,'' government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said here on Monday.
The spokesman was commenting on statements by Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul that a solution in Cyprus is necessary.
Chrysostomides pointed out that apart from wishful thinking there is no official statement with specific contents on the part of the Turkish government.
''We can see a continuous effort on the part of Turkey to dissipate negative impressions within the world community relating to Ankara's stance on Cyprus,'' he added.
The spokesman explained that these attempts are being made in the wake of remarks by European officials that the absence of a solution in Cyprus could pose a serious obstacle to Turkey's European ambitions.
''We are in anticipation of a meeting between the Turkish government and Turkish Cypriot politicians to see the outcome. We are ready to air our views once the Turkish side officially expresses its positions,'' he said.
In the recent past there has been increasing speculation about a new plan for a Cyprus solution that Ankara is preparing. Last week
Turkish ambassadors serving in Europe and elsewhere consulted in Ankara with Gul.
 Denktash gives mandate to Talat to form new 'government'
NICOSIA 30/12/2003 (ANA/G. Leonidas)Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash on Monday gave the mandate to opposition Republican People's Party leader Mehmet Ali Talat to form a new ''government'' in the Turkish-occupied north of Cyprus.
Earlier in the day Denktash had successive meetings with the leaders of the four ''parliamentary parties'' to whom he announced his intention.
Speaking prior to his meeting with Denktash, Talat said that he did not know whether he would be given the mandate.
National Unity Party leader Dervis Eroglu stated that his party would do its duty in the new procedure for the formation of the ''government'', on the basis of democratic rules.
Asked on the possibility of the four parties participating in the new pseudo-government, Eroglu said that there was no invitation for such a thing and neither was a relevant decision taken.
He added that this issue will be discussed when it is raised with his pro-Denktash party.
The view that the four parties should participate in the formation of the new ''government'' was also expressed by the leader of the Democratic Party, Serdar Denktash (son of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash).
Serdar Denktash said that the program of the new ''government'' should focus on a settlement of the Cyprus problem before May 1, 2004 when the island republic officially becomes a full EU member, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan for a settlement of the Cyprus problem and on internal matters.
Referring to his visit on Tuesday to the offices of the leftist AKEL party and the Democratic Party (DHKO), he said that it would be his first visit to the government-controlled free areas since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied one-third of the island.
He said that the purpose of his visit to the AKEL and DHKO offices was to discuss ''the new period we are going through'' and to comprehend the type of settlement desired by the Greek Cypriots.
Peace and Democracy Movement leader Mustafa Akinci, speaking after his meeting with Rauf Denktash, said that what was important was the aims of the new ''government'', which, he said, was nothing else than a settlement of the Cyprus problem before May 1, 2004, the entry of a united Cyprus into the EU and support for Turkey's bid to join the EU.
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 and the Democratic Party.
The 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.