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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 03-12-31
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>December 31, 2003
 PM Simitis issues invitations to int'l leaders to attend Olympic Games
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday issued invitations to the leaders of the European Union Member and Acceding-States, along with those of the three EU candidate countries – Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey – to attend the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, between Aug. 13 and 29.
The Greek premier also sent out invitations to the presidents of America and Russia, as well as to the leaders of China, Japan, Canada and Australia.
Finally, Simitis issued an invitation to United Nations Chief Kofi Annan for the “Olympic homecoming”.
The prime minister reiterated that Greeks are extremely proud to host such a major event, one closely linked with “our common historical and cultural inheritance”.
 Rogge message ahead of 'Olympic' year
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge on Tuesday reiterated that the 2004 Games will leave a tremendous legacy for Greece, while at the same time expressing the Lausanne-based entity's complete confidence in ongoing preparations by Greek organizers.
“The year 2004 will mark the return of the Olympic Games to the land of their birth, Greece, the cradle of Olympism. The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, which will take place in Athens from 13 to 29 August 2004, are certain to be unique", the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in his end-of-year message.
“In less than eight months the Olympic Games return to Athens. Their hosting has always been a major challenge. Difficult days will also lie ahead. The endeavor, however, is great and inspired, it will leave a major legacy for Greece, as many Greeks have already realized,” Rogge added.
He was particularly pleased to see that 1,000 signatures have already been collected for the Olympic Truce during the Athens Games, and he also stressed that the return to the roots of the Games will also be a chance to highlight the values of Olympism, with the 2004 Games whose watchwords will be tolerance, solidarity, peace and friendship.
 PASOK secretary expresses confidence about developments within party
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)PASOK Central Committee Secretary Mihalis Chrysohoidis on Tuesday said the party was prepared to ''do battle for the progress and prosperity of Greek society'' and that committees to support its election campaign would be set up in all areas of the country after the holidays.
He expressed confidence about upcoming developments within PASOK and stressed that the party had proved that it could handle crises and overcome difficulties in the past and would do so again.
Chrysohoidis made the statements shortly before the start of a meeting with PASOK prefectural committee secretaries from Thessaly, Macedonia and Thrace.
He also referred to Prime Minister Costas Simitis, saying that he would act as a model for future generations in Greece.
''Greece now has a governor who has succeeded in taking the country forward in the past eight years, in leading Greek society toward progress. Costas Simitis is a leader, a politician of grand mien and I believe he will be a model for the new generations,'' he said.
PASOK's secretary said that Simitis had absolute control over developments and he would make the decisions necessary at the time that he judged right and in the way he saw fit, he added.
 Politicians’ messages for the New Year
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)Parliament President Apostolos Kaklamanis, in a message for the New Year, noted that 2004 is a “milestone” year for Greece and Hellenism because of two very significant events: the holding of the Olympic Games in Athens and Cyprus’ full membership in the European Union.
On its part, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), stressed its proposals for what it called an ''anti-imperialist, anti-monopolist front aimed at power for the people''.
KKE said its proposals were the only ones that would be effective in this fight and at the same time bring radical change nearer.
In its New Year’s Eve message, the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) said it feels sending a positive message to Greek citizens, which are “living under a painful daily grind, economic insecurity and unemployment”.
Synaspismos said its positive message is “based on the conviction that the Greek people have the power, knowledge and mood to change the current social and political reality in the direction of renewal, progress and social justice”.
The out-of-Parliament DIKKI party’s president, Dimitris Tsovolas, issued a statement calling 2004 a year that will witness the “activation” of common citizens in order to create better conditions for the improvement of society’s standard of living.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos referred to the major problem of unemployment among young people, as well as corruption, the interests of the wealthy as opposed to the poor and moral corruption, concerns he said are evident on an international stage today.
Referring to Greece, specifically, he said technology has made incredible leaps and bounds that transform our lives on a daily basis, although the spiritual side of society remains under-developed and weak.
 Cyprus House speaker says Turkey's EU negotiations date linked to Cyprus issue
NICOSIA 31/12/2003 (ANA/G. Leonidas)Cyprus House of Representatives Speaker Demetris Christofias said on Tuesday the granting of a date for the beginning of accession negotiations for Turkey must be linked to the Cyprus issue and should be utilized for a solution to be found to the problem.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Athens News Agency (ANA), Christofias said December 2004 is a very good opportunity and called on the European Union and the international factor to utilize it suitably.
He further said that after Cyprus' full accession, the EU will become a party involved in the Cyprus issue.
Christofias went on to say that the EU not only has the right but it is also obliged to contribute to efforts to solve the Cyprus issue.
Reiterating the willingness of the Greek side for negotiations based on the Annan plan, Christofias said changes to be made to it to enable it to become more workable should not be many and should be limited to substantive issues.
The House speaker added that the Greek side, in its effort to help in the finding of a ''just, under the circumstances, viable and workable solution'', is prepared not to contest even privileges which might possibly be granted to the Turkish Cypriot community through the Annan plan.
Christofias said the Greek Cypriot side has no intention of harming the well-intentioned interests of the Turkish Cypriot community.
He also noted that the result of the ''elections'' in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus showed that the majority of the Turkish Cypriot community favors a peaceful reunification of Cyprus.
This will, he added, would have been formulated in an even stronger way if it had not been adulterated by the interventions of the Turkish establishment and the inclusion of a great number of settlers in the so-called ''electorate.''
Christofias said what is necessary to achieve the resumption of substantive talks is for the messages of the so-called ''elections'' to reach Turkey and, in parallel, they should be utilized by the international factor with pressure being exerted on Ankara to align itself with the UN's resolutions on Cyprus.
He said statements by Turkish Chief of Staff show that Ankara's diplomatic and military establishment supports the partitioning policy of Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
He also noted that statements made at times by the Erdogan government in Turkey were not accompanied by tangible gestures.
Christofias said an excellent level exists in relations between the Parliaments of Cyprus and Greece, adding that in this framework a joint effort for initiatives to be taken on the Cyprus issue will continue.
 Government and opposition clash over Defense Institute president's resignation
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)The issue of Defense Analysis Institute President George Sotirellis' resignation has developed into a strong political clash between the government and the main opposition New Democracy party.
The defense ministry's information department responded on Tuesday to Sotirellis' letter of resignation, which contained reports of ''untransparent and customer practices by people close to'' Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou.
The ministry's announcement said the minister has never, neither he personally or with direct associates of his, become involved in any way in the Institute's issues or activities, adding that nor did he authorize or allow anyone to act or behave as his ''overseer.''
It added that the Institute is governed by a multimember board ''composed of worthy people of known prestige and it is logical for there to be disagreements or different views between them during the handling of various issues''.
Sotirellis, for reasons concerning him, resigned from the above post and his resignation was accepted, it said.
The development also drew reaction from ND, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party and the Democratic Social Movement.
 Simitis condolences to Bulgarian PM
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis on Tuesday sent his condolences to his Bulgarian counterpart Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha over the recent deaths of Bulgarian soldiers serving in Iraq.
“Allow me to convey to your and the families of the victims by sincerest condolences,” Simitis said.
 FYROM PM certain name issue will be solved during his tenure
SKOPJE 31/12/2003 (ANA/N. Frangopoulos)Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski expressed certainty on Monday that the issue of his country's name will be solved during his government's tenure (due to last until September 2006).
It is the second time recently that Crvenkovski expresses such certainty, but without determining where it is based on.
Speaking during a press conference on his government's priorities for 2004, Crvenkovski said the name issue is quite complex and its aspects must be examined step-by-step, adding that it is not only a political one but is also related to the security situation in his country.
''Time is working for us since more and more countries are using our constitutional name. The name issue is not only a political and national issue but it is also a security issue since it is used by extremist groups such as the Albanian National Army which claim that when a country lacks a name then all the remaining issues are also open,'' Crvenkovski said.
 Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling completes purchase of Tsakiris
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling SA on Tuesday announced the completion of the purchase of Tsakiris Snacks, a subsidiary of listed Plias ABEE and the second largest potato chip producer in Greece with an annual turnover of around 6.0 million euros and a market share of 10.0 percent.
The purchase deal was worth 6.2 million euros and has already been approved by Coca-Coca Hellenic Bottling's board.
Doros Konstantinou, the group's chief executive, stressed that Coca-Coca Hellenic Bottling was acquiring a well-known brand with a long tradition in Greece and noted that the group was in a position to further develop the brand.
 Greek stocks end 1.86 pct higher on Tuesday
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)Greek stocks ended Tuesday's session sharply higher in the Athens Stock Exchange reflecting strong buying interest for blue chip stocks like National Bank and Alpha Bank (up 4.10 percent and 4.34 percent, respectively), pushing the general index above the 2,250 technical resistance level.
The index ended 1.86 percent higher at 2,252.98 points, with turnover a strong 152.7 million euros.
The Textile, Banks and Publication sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day (3.88 percent, 3.31 percent and 3.11 percent, respectively).
The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks rose 2.24 percent, the FTSE/ASE MID 40 index ended 1.65 percent higher and the FTSE/ASE SmallCap 80 index rose 2.05 percent.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 282 to 39 with another 36 issues unchanged.
Closing rates of December 30 2003
Parities in euro
For. Exchange Buying Selling
US Dollar 1,259 1,230
 Loverdos visits children from Iraq at 'Doctors of the World' hostel in Athens
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos on Tuesday visited the ''Doctors of the World'' hostel in Athens where 25 children from Iraq are being offered hospitality during the New Year season.
Loverdos visited the hostel and talked with the children aged 2-12 and their escorts, stressing Greece's interest in the welfare of the children of Iraq.
Accompanied by doctor Socratis Mitsiadis, he handed out gifts to the children, was briefed on the progress of their health and promised further support.
The children, who are in the stage of recuperation, had been treated in Greek hospitals.
This is the second mission of children (the first was in June) of the ''Chain of Hope'' program which is implemented by the foreign ministry along with the health and welfare ministry in cooperation with the non-governmental organization ''Doctors of the World''.
On his departure, Loverdos wished the children a Happy New
Year and promised that he would visit them again next week.
 Police plan special security measures for New Year's Eve in Athens
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)Police on Tuesday announced that special security measures will be in force from 20:00 on Wednesday until Thursday morning for celebrations ushering in the New Year in the centre of Athens at Syntagma Square and other districts in greater Athens and Piraeus.
They said that 500 officers will be on duty in Syntagma from New Year's Eve, including some in plain clothes that will mingle among the crowd.
A police source said the measures in Athens will not be as strict as those enforced in other European capitals to guard against a possible terrorist hits, though security forces were on alert for all possible incidents.
He said the measures chiefly aimed to ensure that the program of events in Syntagma is carried out without problems and to prevent incidents that might spoil the festive atmosphere, such as the violent skirmish between Albanians and Kurds that spoiled New Year festivities in Syntagma the previous year.
According to the source, police will patrol the outskirts of the square and carry out checks on people behaving suspiciously or who seem likely to cause incidents, while officers are under orders to remove those who are considered likely to initiate violence.
 Greek Red Cross opens bank account for aid to quake-stricken
Athens, 31/12/2003 (ANA)The Greek Red Cross, participating in the efforts by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for the sending of humanitarian aid to cover the needs of the 200,000 people (40,000 families) affected by the killer earthquake which struck the historic city of Bam in Iran at dawn Friday, has appealed for the collection of money to meet basic needs such as medical care, drinking water, tents, blankets, mattresses and cooking utensils.
For this purpose, the Greek Red Cross has opened a special bank account at the Agricultural Bank: Account No. 01704005437-32 where deposits can be made with the indication ''Earthquake in Iran''.
Further information is offered by the International Relations Department (Tel. 210 3621681 - 210 3615606).
 Cyprus Government will not comment on reports about Turkish proposals
NICOSIA 31/12/2003 (CNA/ANA)Government spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides has stressed that the government will not make any comment on recent reports relating to Turkish proposals on a Cyprus solution, pointing out that no proposals have been put forward.
He expressed hope that soon there will be a change of heart in the positions of the Turkish side so that renewed efforts towards negotiations will yield results.
''We have nothing to say because no ideas have been officially submitted to the UN Secretary General on behalf of the Turkish side,'' Chrysostomides said on Tuesday, when asked to comment on press reports about Ankara's much publicized solution plan.
He said there is nothing concrete because there is nothing specific on the negotiating table.
The spokesman said the National Council, the top advisory body to the President on the handling of the Cyprus question, would meet on Monday to review developments and examine future prospects for a solution.
Replying to questions, he said ''I hope that soon there is a change in the stance of the Turkish side, which is expected in order to resume negotiations on the basis of Annan's peace plan to find a settlement.''