|Friday, 28 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 05-04-29
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>April 29 2005
 Molyviatis directly points to Turkey's 'European adaptation' in meeting EU commitments
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis this week issued a clear message vis-a-vis neighboring Turkey's highly touted European ambitions, noting in a published interview that "European adaptation" may be more appropriate for Turkey than the oft-used "European prospect".
The veteran Greek diplomat was quoted in the Greek edition of the "Economist" magazine, which will be included with the "Kathimerini" daily on Friday.
"The EU Commission is closely monitoring Turkey's commitments and will submit relevant reports over its European adaptation," he said, pointing out that one particular article in last December's European Council conclusions directly mentions Ankara's commitment for good-neighborly relations with Greece.
"Whatever can negatively influence the atmosphere in relations between us or decrease the degree of confidence in our communication must be dealt with as a top-priority issue. From this viewpoint, the fact that two countries - with each facing the difficulties they do in their respective economy -- spend massive sums of money for armaments and (military) activities in the Aegean, ones that add nothing to their already known positions, concerns us a great deal," Molyviatis stressed.
The Greek minister underlined that improvement in Greek-Turkish relations cannot be separated from "certain military activities in the Aegean", saying the latter negatively affect rapprochement and good-neighborly relations mandated by the EU.
Moreover, he said Athens is particularly sensitive over Turkey's curious policy of "threats to use violence" in case Greece exercises its international right to extend its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles. He said Athens will not intervened in a recent public dialogue in Turkey focusing on the "casus belli" issue, although he said it was a Turkish policy steeped in the past.
Finally, Molyviatis said a complete normalization of Greek-Turkish ties can come only via the achievement of a viable and operational solution to the long-standing Cyprus issue, one also based on UN resolutions and EU principles. "This solution must be found with negotiations based on the Annan peace plan," he added.
 PM meets Finmin, development minister for talks on current economic issues
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had successive meetings with Economy and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis and Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas on Thursday to discuss current economic issues and the operation of markets during the Easter period.
In statements about his meeting with the premier, Sioufas said he had briefed Karamanlis on the market during Easter and planned institutional changes to the development ministry.
The minister stressed that inspections during the Easter period had increased, both for control of prices and of quality.
"We have made significant strides in favor of the public and consumers. Greek consumers know what they are buying and this is an important achievement for Greek consumers," he said.
Alogoskoufis made no statements after his meeting with Karamanlis.
 Greek defense minister Spiliotopoulos stresses satisfaction with results of Washington visit
WASHINGTON 29/4/2005 (ANA - A. Ellis)Greece's defense minister stressed his satisfaction with the results of his trip to the United States, during a press conference in Washington that wrapped up his three-day official visit on Wednesday.
"We gained the general impression that Greece's role is upgraded, something that was confirmed several times in all our talks, and which is expected to be sealed during the upcoming official visit by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to [Washington]," the minister said.
"We depart with a sense that the talks that took place here were very useful for both sides and that our cooperation will not stop here," he added.
He particularly emphasized the briefing he had given U.S. officials in Washington regarding Turkey's behavior in the Aegean, noting that this caused problems both to Turkey's own European prospects and to general stability, peace and security in the region.
"These past days we added another page of particular value to the history of Greek-American relations, on the basis of mutual understanding, honesty and trust," he said.
The minister, who concluded a round of contacts in Washington by meeting U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, said he had been able to once again confirm the important role played by Greece in the Balkans and the surrounding areas, where Greece participated in peace-keeping missions.
"Greece's participation in peace-keeping missions was a matter of special reference with everyone we spoke with, because our presence and our contribution is truly active and effective," he said.
The minister said that he had also informed the U.S. side of Greek plans to establish a NATO Naval Training Centre at Souda, in accordance with the new NATO structure decided two years earlier, and a Strategic Maritime Transport Centre in Athens that will cooperate with Greek ship-owners to lease the fastest and most modern vessels in the Greek commercial fleet for EU and NATO strategic transport needs, on condition that such missions fall within the framework of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Asked whether Rumsfeld had raised the issue of Greek participation in the peacekeeping operations in Iraq, the Greek minister said that both Iraq and Afghanistan had been discussed during the meeting.
He said that the U.S. side had thanked Greece for its contribution in Iraq, even though it had not sent any troops, since it had contributed about 300,000 euros toward the training of Iraqi forces, equivalent to one tenth of the total cost.
 State Department report says Greece has increased its counter-terrorist capacity
WASHINGTON 29/4/2005 (ANA - A. Ellis)Greece continued to increase its capacity to combat terrorism, successfully organizing the 2004 Olympics and Paralympics without any terrorist strike, according to the U.S. State Department's report on terrorism for this year.
The report released on Wednesday also notes that Greece has adopted new anti-terrorism legislation that is compatible with EU decisions, approves the European arrest warrant and a fast-track extradition process for suspected terrorists within the EU and for the first time clearly refers to terrorist crimes and terrorist organizations, as well as increasing the statute of limitations for terrorist crimes from 20 to 30 years.
The State Department refers to the convictions of four people as members of the terrorist group Revolutionary Popular Struggle (ELA), the appeals of those convicted for the actions of the urban guerrilla group "November 17" and other outstanding court cases involving terror suspects, while noting that the Greek Police are continuing their investigation into "November 17" and do not consider the case closed.
The report also refers to continued incidents of domestic terrorism and has added the organization "Revolutionary Struggle" to a list of 40 terrorist organizations around the world.
This is described as a radical, leftist group acting against the Greek establishment, that is ideologically affiliated to 'N17' but does not yet have a clear-cut anti-American stance. According to the State Department, it is currently the most dangerous domestic terror group in Greece, having at least 50 members, and is responsible for the bomb attacks against the Athens courts in September 2003 and the Kallithea police station in May 2004, both of which had the unprecedented target - for Greece - of causing human casualties.
The majority of terrorist activity in Greece is described as small-scale action by anarchists and domestic terrorists using makeshift explosive devices, targeting establishment and "so-called imperialist" targets, such as banks, American fast-food restaurants, courts and personnel vehicles.
Among these, the report singles out an attack against two police buses carrying policemen to Korydallos prison, where the jailed N17 members are being held, using a remote-control device in October, during the early-morning rush hour. It notes that no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack and that the investigation is continuing.
It also makes special mention of the murder of a Greek special guard, who was on watch outside the residence of a British Embassy military attache, noting that it was still unsolved and being treated by Greek police as an incident of domestic terrorism.
 U.S. State Department underlines support for Annan plan as 'best solution for Cyprus'
WASHINGTON 29/4/2005 (ANA - A. Ellis)The deputy spokesman for the U.S. State Department Adam Ereli on Wednesday said that Washington continued to support the Annan plan as the "best solution for Cyprus". He was responding to questions on whether the U.S. government might put pressure on Turkey to leave Cyprus and implement U.N. resolutions after 31 years of occupation.
"As you know, our policy with regard to Cyprus is that the best solution for Cyprus is the Annan plan. And that, the Annan plan, provided a way forward that we believed met the needs of both communities [on the island]," Ereli said.
"Those who are committed to a peaceful and equitable solution to this longstanding problem would do well to re-dedicate themselves to the Annan plan and to moving forward with the Annan plan and to finding a way to implement its recommendations," he added.
 Church leaders issues messages for Orthodox Easter
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)Greek Orthodox leaders around the world issued their customary Easter messages this week ahead of Sunday's celebration of the Resurrection, the most sacred ecclesiastical date on the Orthodox calendar.
From Istanbul, Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos stressed that the traditional Easter greeting of "Christ has Risen" proclaims the essence of the Christian faith, namely, the conquering of death.
Vartholomeos adds that Christianity's message continues to be unique and provocative, "as in our era, despite the 2000 years that have passed since the birth of Christ, humanity has not loved life as much as it was honored by God' Son."
Patriarch of Alexandria and All Egypt Theodoros, in his message, notes that Easter is an invitation to look at the world and life with optimism and hope.
Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos underlined that the message conveyed by Christ's resurrection is "victory over death", a message in opposition to modern man's inclination, often times, to seek escape through metaphysical reasoning.
On his part, Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania Anastasios said Easter confirms the spiritual identity of the Orthodox faithful, acting as an impetus to rekindle one's faith.
Situation in Jerusalem: Meanwhile, an ANA dispatch from Jerusalem reported a heavy police presence for Orthodox Easter week services in the Holy Land due to increased tension at the Orthodox Jerusalem Patriarchate and with heightened security concerns emanating from Russian President Vladimir Putin's official visit to Israel.
Embattled Patriarch Eirineos (Irineos) conducted a traditional outdoor service in front of the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem on Wednesday before pilgrims mostly from Greece, Cyprus and Russia, as most Arab Orthodox Christians were prevented from reaching the site.
Eirineos, moreover, again appeared adamant in the face of criticism that the Patriarchate illegally sold (or leased) properties in East Jerusalem to Israeli investors.
 President Papoulias arrives in Ioannina
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias arrived in the northwestern Greek city of Ioannina on an Olympic Airlines flight from Athens on Thursday morning, leaving at once for his home in nearby Fragades.
The president made no statements on his arrival, apart from wishing everyone a happy Easter.
President Papoulias will attend the mass at the Church of Aghia Paraskevi in Metsovo on Thursday night and the Good Friday Epitaph procession at Aghios Athanassios Cathedral in Ioannina.
On Easter Saturday, the president will return to Athens and he will be celebrating Easter on the island of Kastellorizo.
 Deputy FM sends Easter wishes to Greeks everywhere
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)Deputy Foreign Minister and Vice President of the Special Standing Committee on Greeks Abroad Panagiotis Skandalakis on Thursday sent a message to Greeks throughout the world on the occasion of the Orthodox Easter.
"Holy Easter, the most important holiday of Orthodoxy, brings with it a message of reconciliation, love and most of all, hope for a new and productive beginning both on a personal and a social level," he stated.
"Staying faithful to the humanitarian values of Hellenism and Orthodoxy so that we can pass on this sacred legacy to future Greek generations, is the only way for us to preserve our identity and national conscience," Skandalakis continued, adding that Greece and Greek communities everywhere must be united if they are to successfully meet the challenges of the times.
The deputy minister also conveyed the Easter greetings of Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
 Greek government appeals to Jerusalem Orthodox faithful for self-restraint
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)The Greek government appealed to all the Orthodox faithful in Jerusalem, and in view of the arrival of a considerable number of Greek pilgrims, to avoid any action that could upset the atmosphere of the Holy days.
Moreover, the foreign ministry is in continuous contact with the local authorities which are responsible for preserving order and stressed in an announcement that the issue of the Jerusalem Patriarchate is above expediencies.
As regards the issue of the transfer of the Holy Flame, the Greek government is observing the usual procedure of sending a special aircraft, headed by a member of the government and a Parliamentary delegation.
 Turkish warplanes violate Greek national air space
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)The illegal activity of the Turkish air force in the Aegean continued on Thursday with a big number of aircraft entering the area without submitting flight plans.
According to sources of the National Defense General Staff, 18 formations of Turkish warplanes made an equal number of infringements of air traffic regulations in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), which developed into 19 national air space violations in the northern and central Aegean.
In all cases, the 46 Turkish warplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greek air force jets, while no mock dogfights occurred between Greek and Turkish aircraft.
Reports said that 13 formations of Turkish aircraft were armed and two were photographic Phantoms.
 Russian delegation begins visit to northern Greece
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)An 84-member delegation from Russia began a tour of the northeastern prefecture of Evros on Friday, invited by local authorities.
The delegation comprises representatives of the economic sector, including Gazprom, officials of the defense and interior ministries, travel operators, and 43 journalists.
The visit is part of a publicity drive for Evros run by local authorities including the prefecture's tourism committee.
 Stocks nose down in light, holiday trade
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)Stocks finished lower in light trade ahead of Orthodox Easter and closure of the market on Friday and Monday, traders said.
The Athens general share index closed at 2,868.45 points, marking a decline of 0.01%. Turnover was 100.8 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.18% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.47% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.39% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 151 to 91 with 80 remaining unchanged.
On a weekly basis, the market shed 2.16%; and gained 2.95% since the start of the year.
 Easter exodus begins with heightened traffic on national highways
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)The Easter exodus from Athens and other major cities in Greece began early on Thursday morning, with heightened traffic loads reported between 6:00-8:00 along the Athens-Corinth national highway.
The flow of traffic evened out from about 8:30 onward, traffic police reported, though remaining steadily higher than usual.
According to the public order ministry, policing is heaviest at danger spots along the road network, where the accident rate is highest, while all four sections of the national highway traffic police operating at the Maliakos 'horseshoe', Tempe, Kiato in Corinth and Egio have been placed on full alert.
The measures, which include the deployment of 2626 officers, 904 patrol cars, 81 plain cars, 270 motorcycles and 20 tow-trucks on national highways, will be in place until the Sunday after Easter.
There will also be fixed and changing police teams to check traffic and catch dangerous traffic violations during peak hours, in order to prevent accidents, in addition to teams within Athens from Thursday afternoon.
 Greek road accident statistics for February 2005
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)Road accident deaths increased in February this year, relative to the same month in 2004, according to report by the National Statistics Agency on Thursday. It said that 109 people had lost their lives, 124 were seriously injured and 1,144 sustained minor injuries during 1010 traffic accidents throughout the country.
This represented a 4.8 per cent increase in those killed relative to 2004, while serious injuries fell by 16.2 per cent and minor injuries increased by 5.1 per cent.
In February 2004 there had been 104 deaths, 148 serious injuries and 1088 minor injuries in 1008 traffic accidents throughout the country.
The statistics service said that the total killed in traffic accidents during the two months January and February were 226, up from 214 during the same two-month period in 2004 but down from 233 during the same period in 2003.
 National Bank of Greece victim of armored car robbery
Athens, 29/4/2005 (ANA)Armed robbers grabbed 350,000 euros in cash from an armored car transferring money to a National Bank of Greece branch in Athens on Thursday morning.
Specifically, the robbery took place at 10:30 a.m. in Kato Patissia.
The robbers took the weapons of three bank employees standing outside Sklavenitis supermarket where they were meant to pick up the money. The robbers then grabbed six bags containing cash from the armored vehicle, which had been collected from other bank branches and businesses.
 Cyprus spokesman: US follows double-standard policy on Cyprus
NICOSIA 29/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)Cypriot Government Spokesman Kypros Chrysostomides spoke on Thursday of ''a double-standard policy'' on behalf of the US administration as regards Cyprus.
The Cypriot official was commenting on Wednesday's remarks by US State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli, who invited to say if the US administration could put the pressure of the international community on Turkey to leave Cyprus, implementing UN resolutions, as in the case of Syria which is leaving Lebanon after 29 years, he said the best solution for Cyprus was the Annan plan, which ''provided a way forward that we believed met the needs of both communities.''
Commenting on a planned visit to the region by US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs and asked if the trip would take on a fact-finding nature, Chrysostomides said ''the US diplomacy has said Mrs. Kennedy is coming to listen.''
Regarding Ereli's statements, Chrysostomides said there was ''a double-standard policy regarding the withdrawal of troops illegally stationed in third countries, in countries that do not wish their presence there.''
He noted that in the case of Lebanon there was great pressure on behalf of the UN and the US for the withdrawal of the Syrian troops, while the same did not apply in the case of Cyprus. ''The same policy should have been followed here as well,'' the Cypriot official added.
Referring to the Cyprus settlement plan proposed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Chrysostomides said the only competent authority to decide was the people of Cyprus.
The plan was put before the two communities in April 2004 and was rejected by the Greek Cypriots and accepted by the Turkish Cypriot community.
''The decision regarding the plan remains the same and was taken last year. It is a decision on the specific plan, not on the solution, which along with the reunification of our country remains the permanent aim of our side,'' Chrysostomides said.
He added that the aim was for an agreed settlement in the UN framework after proper preparation that would guarantee the successful outcome of the effort.
 Cyprus insists on disassociating EU regulations
NICOSIA 29/4/2005 (CNA/ANA)The Cyprus government insists on the disassociation of the EU financial regulation worth 259 million euros for the Turkish Cypriots and the regulation for EU direct trade with the areas of Cyprus under Turkish occupation, and believes there is no reason why certain countries should insist on connecting the two.
''We want the Turkish Cypriots to be helped. We do not see why all these countries are attempting blackmail by associating these two regulations,'' Cyprus Foreign Minister George Iacovou said on Thursday.
Speaking after signing the condolences book at the Israeli Embassy for the death of former President Ezer Weisman, Iacovou said the two regulations and Turkey's EU accession course would be discussed during the visit to Cyprus by Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rhen and Luxembourg's Minister Delegate for Europe Nicolas Schmit.
Iacovou said Rhen would be looking into the issue of the two regulations, ''despite the fact that he is well aware of our positions, and I think (his visit) is an indication of the EU's serious interest in the Cyprus problem and the chances of reaching a settlement.''
''We want the disassociation of the two regulations. There is no reason why either the Turkish Cypriots or the Turks, or friends of theirs, should in fact postpone the implementation of the financial protocol that will give the Turkish Cypriots 259 million euros and place the process in danger of termination, because if the programs are not approved by the end of the year 2005 and not deposited over the next two years, then any pending funds will be cancelled,'' Iacovou noted.
He added that a settlement of the regulation issue lay in the proposal of President Tassos Papadopoulos for the joint operation of the Famagusta port and the opening of the fenced-off town of Famagusta, which has been a ghost town since the 1974 invasion and occupation of the island's northern third.