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Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-04-04
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>April 4, 2005
 Greece sends condolences to Vatican over Pope's death
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)The President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias, on Sunday sent condolences to the Vatican following the death of Pope John Paul II.
"I wish to convey the grief felt by the Greek people and me personally, on announcement of the Pontiff's demise. This is a day of mourning for the Christian world and the international community," Papoulias said in a telegram.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis praised the late Pope as "great among the great" for his devotion to the defense of freedom, and for his sense of sacrifice, apparent even in his final stretch of illness and pain.
In Istanbul, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stated that the Pope's death was a loss for the whole of Christianity, and for moves to attain peace and justice around the world.
"We share in the mourning of millions of Roman Catholics around the world, our brothers," the patriarch said.
In Athens, Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece described the late Pope as a major figure in Roman Catholicism, a flag bearer for freedom and human rights.
"With his astounding activity all over the planet, Pope John Paul II safeguarded the prestige of his Church, despite many kinds of attack, with zeal, resoluteness and respect for the traditions of Roman Catholicism," the archbishop added.
The leader of the main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement, George Papandreou, said that the pontiff had been an enlightened leader and proponent of human rights, also working to modernize the Catholic Church and attain rapprochement with Orthodox Christianity.
The Catholic Church of Greece announced that it would open a public book of condolences on Monday.
 Greece holds talks with UN mediator on FYROM name dispute
NEW YORK 4/4/2005 (ANA/P Panayiotou)Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis held talks at the weekend with Matthew Nimetz, a UN special mediator, on finding a name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) that is acceptable to both sides.
The two officials made no statement after the one-and-a-half hour meeting on Saturday at the Greek ambassador's residence in Manhattan.
According to diplomatic sources, Valinakis repeated the government's position that Greece is ready for a compromise solution that would aid ties with the neighboring country, contribute to peace in the region, and have a favorable impact on FYROM's endeavor to join the European Union and NATO.
Valinakis told Nimetz that Athens was seeking a solution as soon as possible, although FYROM's position of adopting two names was not open to discussion, UN sources said.
The statement was to pre-empt a possible proposal by Nimetz for a specific compromise solution in the near future, according to the same sources.
Both Nimetz and Washington were concerned about the lack of a positive response from FYROM, which had failed to put proposals on the negotiating table, a move that would have shown willingness for consensus, the sources said.
In addition, FYROM would find it even harder to implement its European and Euro-Atlantic objectives if a consensus-based solution could not be found; and this was understood in the European Union, they added.
 PM meets public order, interior ministers
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis met Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis for talks ahead of the latter's schedule of visits abroad, beginning with the US at the end of next week.
In a separate meeting on Saturday, Karamanlis met Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos for talks on a range of issues.
 Public sees new tax rules lowering purchasing power, polls show
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)The majority of the public sees purchasing power hurt by new tax measures announced last week, according to two opinion polls released on Sunday.
In an Alco survey published in the Proto Thema newspaper, 83% of people polled said that the measures would hurt household income, with 8.0% forecasting a slightly adverse impact, and 3.0% - on the border of statistical error - anticipating no negative repercussions.
Fifty five percent of respondents believe that the measures are unfair on the public, with 22.0% saying they are probably unfair, and 5.0% describing them as fair and 10.0% as probably fair.
Of voters who cast their ballot for the ruling New Democracy (ND) party in March 2004, 59% view the measures as unfair, and 34% believe they are unnecessary.
Asked how they would view the government after implementation of the measures, 5.0% said they would have a positive image, all of them ND voters, while 36.5% predicted holding a negative image.
Again of total voters, 72% reported they were either unsatisfied or slightly satisfied with the government's performance; with ND voters in the last national election accounting for 37.0% of the total.
According to a survey conducted by Metron Analysis for the Imerissia financial newspaper, two out of three members of the public disagree with the government's new tax measures.
Of respondents, 27.2% are satisfied with the government's economic policy, down from 37.4% in the last corresponding opinion poll, which was conducted two months ago.
Saying that the government's economic measures were moving in the wrong direction were 53.4% of people polled; and 45.2% noted that the state of the economy was better under the former premier.
Opposition says gov't measures to bring social upheaval
Economic measures taken by the government will bring social upheaval in their wake, the leader of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology, Alekos Alavanos, said on Saturday.
"The measures will hurt the public, and clearly demonstrate the government's tough, anti-social and class-based approach," Alavanos told a meeting of the party's central committee.
 Gov't: Greece supports patriarchates, controls none
ISTANBUL 4/4/2005 (ANA/A Kourkoulas)Greece supports Orthodox patriarchates around the world but cannot control their operation, Deputy Foreign Minister Panayiotis Skandalakis said on Sunday.
"Greece always assists all the patriarchates. Our country cannot control any patriarchate," Skandalidis told reporters after a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
"Recent developments at the Jerusalem Patriarchate made a meeting essential with the spiritual head of the Orthodox Church," Skandalidis said after the 80-minute session.
Ecumenical patriarch receives Greek officials: Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis on Saturday met Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for talks on outstanding problems between the church and the Turkish government.
Both told journalists after the meeting that they hoped the difficulties would be resolved in the near future as part of Ankara's commitments to the European Union.
 Patriarch Eirinaios denies committing crime
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)Patriarch Eirinaios of Jerusalem has denied committing a crime and says he will not resign from his position in the wake of accusations that he sold church property to Israelis.
"I will not resign, I have not committed any crime," Eirinaios told the Eleftheros Typos newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
The patriarch also said that if any real estate had been sold or leased, the transactions were null; and that he had not signed any sale documents.
He added that he had no problems with Palestinian, Jordanian or Israeli authorities; and that a foreign ministry committee sent to Jerusalem to investigate the property sale allegations had been set up at his request.
 No US position on Jerusalem Patriarchate
WASHINGTON 4/4/2005 (ANA/T Ellis)The US government has not taken a stand on a dispute centering on the Greek Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which has been accused of selling church property to Israelis.
"I realize the events (in the dispute) are going on, but we don't have a position on the Greek Patriarchate in Jerusalem. That's our position. Our position is we don't have a position," state department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters in reply to a question.
 Archbishop sees smear-campaign against Church
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece claimed on Sunday that a smear-campaign had been launched against the Church.
"What is being sought is the destruction of institutions and of the faith, and relegation of the Church to the sidelines," the archbishop complained from a suburban pulpit.
While acknowledging shortcomings that had come to light, he decried a smear campaign that he said was aimed mainly at discrediting senior clerics.
"The Church does not have prosecutors or prisons to incarcerate the guilty. Our sanctions are spiritual," he added.
 Finmin sees economic policy pay-off in 2007
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)The country will begin to reap the benefit of economic policy in 2007, Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis said on Sunday.
"The government's plan for reshaping the economy is concrete and clear-cut. The result will be visible from 2007. Effort by the public will bring returns," Alogoskoufis told a conference in the northern town of Komotini.
"Our objective is a different model of growth. Greece can move more effectively and more rapidly in today's environment," the minister said during a tour of the northeast.
He also reported that the north's lesser developed eastern Macedonia and Thrace regions were at the centre of government planning.
"These areas have the right to embark on a new track of powerful returns, growth and progress and become a hub of for economic activity for the wider region, the eastern Balkan peninsula - and they will accomplish this," the minister said.
"For many years, the Greek regions, especially Thrace, were kept out of government priorities, as the growth model pursued at that time was distorted and Athens-centered," he noted.
But a new development law and many provisions in recent tax legislation were designed to spur rapid and balanced growth in the regions.
Turning to the country's revised stability and growth pact announced last week, Alogoskoufis repeated that the government had sought mild but undeviating adaptation coupled with bold structural changes.
Public spending would be contained and rationalized, without hurting the basic workings of the state; and a rise in public revenue would be sought with minimum repercussions on the public, business and exports, Alogoskoufis added.
 Government to recall tainted honey
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)The government has ordered an inspection drive for honey beginning on Monday following discovery last week of illegally high levels of a substance used as an insect repellant in state-tested samples.
Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou told an emergency news conference on Sunday that 57.9%of samples showed levels paradichlorobenzol topping a ceiling set by the European Union.
Any brands found to exceed the limit would be recalled from the market, Papathanasiou said.
Citing data from the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, he assured that the level found so far did not pose a hazard to health due to the relatively small quantity of honey that could be consumed on a daily basis.
He attributed the honey-scare that erupted a week ago to poor handling by the head of the country's food regulatory authority, who was forced to resign for slackness in taking action against tainted yoghourt.
 Gov't seeks to make up lost ground on renewable energy
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said on Saturday that the government had set a priority on spurring renewable energy in a bid to take the lagging sector forward.
"Greece is very behind, and the development ministry is taking immediate initiatives to try to cover lost ground," Sioufas said during a visit to Lamia to inaugurate a small hydroelectric plant.
"The government's central aim is investments that create permanent jobs. One hundred and four investments have been rapidly advanced for output powered by renewable energy," the minister noted.
 Supermarkets deny forming price-rigging cartel
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)The SESME supermarket trade group on Saturday denied forming a price-rigging cartel.
A day earlier, the competition commission charged SESME and seven of its members with joining forces to concert pricing in 2001. A fine will be imposed in the near future.
The commission named the offenders as Athens-quoted Atlantik, Veropoulos, Masoutis, Metro, Sklavenitis, Trofino and Athens-listed AB Vassilopoulos.
SESME said in a statement that the commission's decision failed to take into account evidence supplied by the trade group that no wrongdoing had been committed.
It also complained that the commission had announced its decision in a press release, without first informing the parties involved.
 Greek soldier killed in Sarajevo road accident
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)A Greek soldier was fatally injured in a road accident in Sarajevo, Bosnia, military authorities said on Saturday.
The 33-year-old infantry sergeant, a member of the Greek Bosnia Force, was knocked down by an automobile that drove through a red traffic light.
An autopsy will be performed in Athens, authorities said.
 Cathedral service to mark anniversary of Greek-Cypriot freedom fighters
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)A service was held in Athens Cathedral on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Greek-Cypriot National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) liberation organization. Wreaths were also laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square.
EOKA fought a four-year war of liberation against the British occupation of Cyprus in 1955-1959, which resulted in independence for the island republic in 1960.
Among the congregation were Cyprus' undersecretary to the president, Christodoulos Pasiardis, and representatives of Greece's political parties and armed forces.
 Anti-racism rally to mark European action day for migrants
Athens, 4/4/2005 (ANA)Hundreds of protesters against racism staged a rally and marched in central Athens at the weekend to mark a European day of action for the rights of refugees and migrants.
The demonstrators on Saturday pinned a resolution on parliament's door calling for the legalization of all migrants and equal rights for all citizens in Europe.
The march was arranged by the Greek Social Forum, Greek Migrants Forum, the Coordinating Committee of Immigrant and Anti-Racism Organizations, and trade unions.
Speakers asked the government to scrap an immigration bill destined for parliament shortly, claiming it contained half-measures and perpetuated the categorization of migrants, also failing to tackle the issue of an estimated 500,000 illegal workers.
 Cyprus will not accept any change of Ankara Protocol's text, says FM
NICOSIA 4/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)There is no possibility of changing the text of the protocol extending the Ankara Agreement to all ten new member states of the European Union, including the Republic of Cyprus, which Turkey has already accepted, said here Saturday Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou.
Iacovou also confirmed that the Republic of Cyprus has sent a letter to the European Union concerning its positions on the protocol, which Turkey is expected to sign before starting accession negotiations on the 3rd of October.
Speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony at the Presidential Palace where President Tassos Papadopoulos honored the families of the 108 heroes of the EOKA liberation struggle of 1955-1959, Iacovou said ''it is a fact that a letter was sent to Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn who was conducting the negotiations with Turkey''.
He pointed out that ''the letter expresses the positions of the Cypriot Government concerning any addition of notes, sub-notes on the part of Turkey'' that would prevent any reference to the name of the Republic of Cyprus or any other issue in the text.
Iacovou stressed that all necessary measures have been taken on the part of the Cypriot president and the diplomatic service to ensure the safeguard of the interests of the Republic of Cyprus. Asked if there was any reaction from Turkey to this letter, he said he did not know if there was any reaction from anybody.
''Everything that the representative of Turkey will say when he signs the protocol is a formality, for the media and the public opinion in Turkey and will bear no significance whatsoever'', he concluded.
 President Papadopoulos pledges to work for justice for Cyprus
NICOSIA 4/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos assured the families of the heroes of the EOKA liberation struggle that no pressure and threat will force him to sign an arrangement which will tantamount to undermining the present and future of the Republic.
Speaking during a ceremony Saturday at the Presidential Palace where he honored the families of the 108 heroes of the EOKA liberation struggle of 1955-1959, he said Cyprus' heroes ''left life without finding justice''.
He said Cyprus did not remain the country which they struggled and sacrificed their lives for because 30 years later, ''we are still experiencing the anguish of the continued national tragedy and a torturous agony for the future of our people and homeland''.
Exactly half a century later, ''we are still fighting for the fundamental human rights, for freedom and survival in this land of history and our predecessors'', the president added.
''During the critical hours which we are undergoing, when our peoples' fate is being tested, there is neither room nor right for making discounts for our reasonable positions and justified demands'', President Papadopoulos remarked.
He said ''our insistence to a functional and viable solution to the national issue should not be regarded as an exaggerated demand, or an extreme pursuit and surely not unwillingness for a solution''.
The Cypriot president said that Cypriots did not reject a solution by rejecting a disabled settlement, which would solidify the divisional tendencies, adding that a bizonal, bicommunal federation would constitute a proper and permanent solution for Cyprus, reuniting the people and the country and protecting the freedoms and human rights of all the people of Cyprus.
Referring to the Annan Plan, which the Greek Cypriot side overwhelmingly rejected last April, he said it did not safeguard the conditions for a proper solution; instead it perpetuated divisional tendencies and the people consciously rejected it.
''We have a historical duty against those who died in our struggles'', said President Papadopoulos, noting ''our generation is called to fulfill these duties. And we have no right to fail''.
''By honoring the heroes of the liberation struggle, I assure them that as the elected leader of Cypriot Hellenism and President of the Republic of Cyprus, I will continue with all my power, to work for the vindication of our tortured island. No obstacle, pressure, or threat will ever make me sign an arrangement that would tantamount to undermining the present and future of our island'', the president concluded.
 Boucher: US opposes militarization of Cyprus
WASHINGTON 4/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)US State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher stated that the US opposes militarization of the Cyprus and has supported UN efforts for a solution based on the Annan plan.
Boucher was asked to comment on statements made by US Ambassador in Nicosia Michael Klosson on March 29th at the Fulbright Center in Nicosia that ''the substantially increased presence of foreign military forces on the island are not an acceptable long-term solution'' and ''the United States has long opposed the militarization of the island''.
Boucher reminded the ''Annan plan called for immediate reduction of Turkish troops, called for a reduction of Turkish troops to 6,000 by January 2011, a further reduction to 3,000 by January of 2018 or when Turkey joins the European Union, whichever comes sooner''.
After that, he said, Greek and Turkish forces would have been allowed to remain at the Treaty of Alliance and Guarantee levels. ''That's 950 Greek, 650 Turkish troops. Simultaneously, beginning in 2010, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey would regularly review troop levels, with the objective of withdrawing all Greek and Turkish troops from the island'', he added.
''So what the ambassador was expressing is longstanding U.S. policy and is very consistent with the provisions of the Annan plan, which we supported'', he concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island's northern part.
 Cyprus - USA sign memorandum to combat money laundering & terrorism
NICOSIA 4/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Republic of Cyprus and the United States have entered into a joint agreement designed to further strengthen their ties in the fight against money laundering, the financing of terrorism and related crimes.
The Memorandum was signed between the Cyprus Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
Cyprus' Ambassador to the United States Euripides L. Evriviades said the United States and Cyprus have long enjoyed a strong relationship, and this new action further strengthens the two countries' record of close cooperation in combating money laundering and denying access to financial systems to those who fund terrorism.
The focus of the Memorandum is international cooperation on issues concerning money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
The goal of the Memorandum is to help facilitate the exchange of any information relevant to the investigation of money laundering, terrorist financing and related crimes.
A news release issued by the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia said the Memorandum ''facilitates the exchange of information relating to money laundering and terrorism finance and formalizes the already excellent cooperation between FinCEN and MOKAS‘‘.
It also said, ''Cyprus is an important partner in the global war on terrorism. Money laundering and terrorist finance are global issues that affect us all and require a global response''.
The Embassy welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding as another step forward in our joint effort to combat money laundering and to deny terrorists access to the international financial system.