|Sunday, 16 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-04-11
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>April 11, 2005
 President Papoulias calls on FYROM leadership to seize on 'very good opportunity' for resolution of name issue
Athens, 11/4/2005 (ANA)Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Saturday called on Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) leadership to take advantage of the sudden fillip in international diplomatic activity to resolve the nagging "name issue" still plaguing Greece's relations with its northern neighbor.
Papoulias' comments, from Volos in central Greece, came a day after the Greek government released the particulars of a compromise solution tabled by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, namely, recognition of the one-time Yugoslav state as "Republika Makedonija - Skopje".
In echoing the government's statements a day earlier, Papoulias said the proposal was a good basis for negotiations with FYROM's leadership, "although it (proposal) needs some changes."
Papoulias, a former foreign minister who oversaw a ground-breaking "interim agreement" with FYROM in September 1995, noted that the neighboring country's leadership has been presented with a very good opportunity to contribute to peace and security in the Balkans.
Except for the "name issue" -- the only 'thorn' preventing a full normalization in bilateral ties -- Greece and land-locked FYROM enjoy admirable relations, especially in trade and cross-border investments.
 UN mediator presents proposal for 'name issue'; FYROM leadership appears unmoved
SKOPJE 11/4/2005 (ANA/N.Frangopoulos)Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) President Branko Crvenkovski said here on Saturday that his country has not officially received a UN mediator's compromise solution to resolve the "name issue" between his landlocked country and southern neighbor Greece.
However, Crvenkovski added that the proposal cited by Athens a day earlier, and one attributed to UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, is not acceptable. He said Skopje will find out on Monday, during a meeting between Nimetz and a FYROM diplomat, if such a proposal has been made and what its particulars are.
A UN spokesman announced in New York late on Friday that UN mediator Matthew Nimetz presented to Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) ''ideas to think on'', on the difference concerning the latter's name. The spokesman said that no comment would be made at the present stage.
Moreover, the FYROM president appeared unmoved from his country's standing position, namely, that it should use only its preferred constitutional name - "Macedonia" - a position adamantly rejected by Greece.
Greece on Friday said that although Nimetz' proposal towards Athens and FYROM for recognition of the latter as "Republika Makedonija - Skopje" does not fully satisfy its goals, the proposal nevertheless serves as a "basis for negotiations".
On his part, Crvenkovski said the "Republika Makedonija - Skopje" proposal cited by Athens was merely a "good basis" for negotiations with Greece only regarding the name used in their bilateral relations.
The proposal was conveyed to Athens last week by UN envoy Nimetz, part of the international body's ongoing diplomatic efforts (since 1995) to resolve the only difference -- albeit a major one -- still plaguing bilateral relations between the two Balkan neighbors.
Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis added on Friday that "we are ready to come to these negotiations with a positive and constructive attitude."
Moreover, he expressed a hope that Skopje will do the same in order to allow a full normalization of bilateral relations as well as to further its own progress towards Euro-Atlantic institutions and to bolster regional stability.
Later on Saturday, one Greek diplomatic official in Athens, speaking on the condition of anonymity, expressed surprise over the fact that the Skopje government "after several hours of silence now attempts to dispute the existence and to even downgrade the standing of the clear-cut Nimetz proposal over the name 'Republika Makedonija - Skopje'."
If agreed and adopted by the United Nations, the compromise name proposed by Nimetz will be accompanied by a UN recommendation that it be used by all countries of the international community and international organizations.
Athens strenuously opposes FYROM's use of the name "Macedonia", citing historical and political reasons. Moreover, Greece's largest province, which shares borders with FYROM, is called Macedonia, the same geographical region that more-or-less corresponds with the ancient kingdom of Macedonia.
 Gul comments on Greek-Turkish relations, 'war threat' issue
ANKARA 11/4/2005 (ANA - A. Abatzis)Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Saturday merely referred to efforts at contributing to the resolution of bilateral differences and "cooperation as a symbol of peace" in answer to press questions related to Friday's statement by the Turkish national assembly speaker on lifting a 'cause of war' threat over Greece's right to extend its territorial waters.
"Greece and Turkey are countries that have the volition and are making an effort for a peaceful resolution to differences between them," Gul said.
Turkish assembly speaker Bulent Arinc proposed the lifting of a 1995 'casus belli' against EU member Greece if the latter exercised its internationally established right under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles, including those of its islands.
Gul later said Arinc's statement was part of Ankara's policy for the resolution of all Greek-Turkish problems and the normalization of bilateral relations, although he added that Turkish foreign policy on matters concerning the Aegean were "well-known, and there has been no change".
Although Greece has not extended its territorial waters from the present six nautical miles -- which was fixed by law in 1936 -- the country has reserved its right to do so at whatever time it deems it to be in its interests. On May 31, 1995, the Greek parliament ratified the Law of the Sea Convention -- which gives all littoral countries the right to extend their territorial waters, or their 'territorial sea', to an outer limit of 12 nautical miles from their coastline, including their islands, in effect making official a practice exercised for decades by the vast majority of coastal states throughout the world.
A week later, on June 8, 1995, the Turkish national assembly issued a resolution that authorized the Turkish government to take all steps, including military ones, in the event that Greece extended its territorial waters in the Aegean beyond the present six nautical miles.
 Bulgarian president arrives in Thessaloniki
Athens, 11/4/2005 (ANA)Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov arrived in Thessaloniki on Sunday afternoon ahead of a meeting here on Monday with President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Their unofficial meeting is scheduled for around 1 p.m. at a downtown hotel, with bilateral relations expected to dominate talks.
The meeting was originally scheduled for last Friday but was postponed so the two leaders could attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
 Voulgarakis official visit to Washington this week
WASHINGTON 11/4/2005 (ANA)Public Order Minister George Voulgarakis will arrive here for a three-day official visit this week, where he is scheduled to meet with high-ranking Bush administration members as well as the CIA and FBI chiefs.
Among others, bilateral cooperation in the post-Olympics period as well as in southeast Europe will be discussed, as Greece's image in Washington has apparently been dramatically upgraded in the wake of last year's successful hosting of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Other issues on the agenda include efforts to combat money laundering and drug smuggling, to ensure regional security as well as people smuggling.
On Monday, Voulgarakis will participate in a round-table discussion focusing on terrorism, hosted by the DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
 Greek tourism minister foresees better tourism figures for '05
Athens, 11/4/2005 (ANA)Greece's Tourism Minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, over the weekend appeared optimistic that tourist arrivals will rebound this year, as the international situation in the sector is also stabilizing, he noted.
Avramopoulos spoke during the International Tourism Exhibition "Tourism Panorama 2005", being held at the Piraeus exhibition centre.
"A precondition for our success in the future is better coordination, better organization, and especially an upgrading of services..." the minister said.
 Largest department store in Greece opens in downtown Athens
Athens, 11/4/2005 (ANA)The largest department store in Greece, Attica, opened on Saturday in downtown Athens at the ambitious "CityLink" retail and entertainment centre, a 250-million-euro project developed by Piraeus Bank Real Estate that is expected to become fully operational by the autumn.
CityLink will encompass an entire city block building in the city's centre leased from the Army's Pension Fund.
 Farm minister Basiakos represents Greece at Alimentaria exhibition
LISBON 11/4/2005 (ANA)Agriculture Development and Foodstuffs Ministers Evangelos Basiakos inaugurated the Greek pavilion at the international food and beverage exhibition "Alimentaria - Lisboa 2005" here over the weekend, stressing that the F&B sector in Greece is amongst the most dynamic, flexible and competitive, one that accounts for roughly 25 percent of industrial output and employs one-fourth of the workforce in the secondary manufacturing sector.
 Australian minister comments on bilateral pension issue
MELBOURNE 11/4/2005 (ANA)Australian Minister for Family & Community Services, Kay Patterson, told reporters here that Canberra currently pays out a total of 78.9 million Australian dollars annually to roughly 7,600 pensioners in Greece, a statement that comes days after her meeting in Paris with Greek Labor and Social Securities Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos.
Greece and Australia are reportedly in the final stages of reaching a bilateral agreement that will transfer retirement rights of tens of thousands of Greek immigrants who have lived and worked in Australia over the previous decades.
Panayiotopoulos and Patterson held talks in Paris on the sidelines of an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conference.
On her part, Patterson added that she made a very generous offer to the Greek side and is now awaiting an official response from Athens.
 Annual Greek Independence Day parade in NYC
NEW YORK 11/4/2005 (ANA)A message by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was read out during the annual Greek Independence Day parade down Fifth Avenue on Saturday by Deputy Sports Minister George Orfanos, who represented the Greek government.
In his message, Karamanlis refers to Greek-Americans as a bridge between the Greek and American peoples, while he also cited ongoing political developments regarding the Cyprus issue and the FYROM 'name issue'.
Several Greek-American dignitaries, Church leaders and political officials were on hand for the parade.
 Leventis Foundation honored for contributions to restore Temple of Zeus at Olympia
Athens, 11/4/2005 (ANA)An event at the ancient Olympia archaeological site was held on Saturday in honor of the Athens-based Leventis Foundation for its contributions towards the restoration of the Temple of Zeus at the site.
Restoration works and research at the site is being conducted by the German Archaeological Institute of Greece, among others.
Deputy Culture Minister Petros Tatoulis represented the government at the event.
 Kileler farmers' uprising commemoration observed
Athens, 11/4/2005 (ANA)Sunday's commemoration of an early 20th century farmers' revolt in central Greece took place without incident and in a mostly calm atmosphere at the Kileler site.
The government was represented by Thessaly regional director Fotis Goupas.
 Memorial service for Eleftherios Venizelos in Athens
Athens, 11/4/2005 (ANA)A memorial service coinciding with the 69th anniversary of the death of Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos was held at his monument in downtown Athens -- Eleftheria Park -- on Sunday.
The service was attended by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias.
Following a wreath-laying ceremony, a video presentation of Venizelos' life and works was screened at the adjacent Megaron (the Athens Concert Hall).
 Speed boat loaded with illegals intercepted off Lesvos
Athens, 11/4/2005 (ANA)Coast guard authorities on the eastern Aegean island of Lesvos intercepted a speed boat on Sunday morning just off the large isle carrying 12 would-be illegal migrants.
The vessel was spotted in the sea region off Agrielia in the early morning hours.
According to reports, the illegals -- all men -- and a 25-year-old migrant smuggler had set off from the opposite Turkish coast.
The nationality of the detainees was not announced.
 Cyprus President: UN plan served foreign interests, was not balanced
NICOSIA 11/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos on Sunday told Greek and Turkish Cypriot young people that he is seeking a political settlement that would stand the test of time and serve the interests of the island's two communities.
In an open dialogue with young people from both communities, he stressed that a UN-proposed solution plan (the Annan plan) was not ''uniquely balanced'', as some had claimed, and served the interests of Turkey and Britain.
''I do not believe that the Annan plan could work or be viable. We want a solution that can last and serve the two communities,'' he said, pointing out that ''unfortunately the primary objective of certain provisions of the plan was to serve foreign interests, Turkey's and Britain's.''
He said the plan, rejected by the overwhelming majority of the Greek Cypriots, was not balanced, ''least of all uniquely balanced''.
''We are seeking to introduce, through an agreement, such changes that would render it viable and workable, changes that would help the plan work without necessarily doing away with rights of the Turkish Cypriots,'' Papadopoulos told an audience of some 80 young persons from both communities who questioned him on a variety of topics after he had inaugurated a Youth Centre in Nicosia.
Responding to questions about the anticolonial struggle in the mid 1950s, he said the ''EOKA struggle was not anti-Turk, it was a liberation struggle against colonialism.''
''The Turkish Cypriots were not a target during the EOKA struggle. On the contrary, there were strict instructions not to hurt any Turkish Cypriot,'' he said.
Asked to comment on recent critical remarks by Turkish Cypriot politician Mehmet Ali Talat about his policies, Papadopoulos said he had never commented on Talat's statements and had never used terms to characterize them.
''Those who believe in a solution through negotiations, if they want to be convincing that they are sincere in their objectives, have to be very careful in the words and characterizations they use about those they want to live with,'' he pointed out.
In his speech inaugurating the Youth Centre, Papadopoulos said the government actively supports a comprehensive policy for the young generation, on the basis of a dialogue with those concerned.
''Nothing that concerns the young people will be decided without their participation,'' he said in his speech, as he announced plans of another two youth centers in Pafos and Limassol.
 Foreign Minister: no planned UN visit at present
NICOSIA 11/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou has said that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has not ruled out a fact-finding mission to Cyprus but no such visit is under consideration at this stage.
''The only way to make progress is to dispatch a senior UN official to the area on a fact-finding mission, to talk to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides,'' the minister said, commenting on Annan's remarks indicating that he is not contemplating to act on Cyprus after the ''elections'' in the Turkish occupied north of the island on April 17.
Iacovou said that ''Annan does not rule out such a visit but it seems that he is not planning anything of the sort in the immediate future.''
Responding to questions, the minister said that Annan is wondering whether it would be best to send an envoy or invite the interested parties to New York so that he can be involved in the effort. ''This is not discouraging,'' Iacovou added.
On the same issue, Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides said that once Annan decides on his next steps, he would inform the government.
''The Secretary General has made it clear in his statements that he is concerned about the question of Cyprus and is in touch with the parties involved while he is looking into all possibilities,'' he added.