|Thursday, 20 February 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 06-03-22
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>March 22, 2006
 Turkey should live up to its obligations, FM tells AP
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis called on Turkey to live up to its obligations as a prospective EU member, including the retraction of a threat to declare war if Greece expands its territorial waters in the Aegean Sea, during an interview she gave to the Associated Press in Athens on Tuesday.
Bakoyannis also said that Turkey's Islamic government should allow the re-opening of a theological seminary that is important for the survival of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul where the spiritual leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians has his headquarters.
"The final European course of Turkey will be judged by Turkey itself. Turkey has assumed some obligations and these obligations must be implemented," she told the AP.
"All countries adjusted their laws, accepted the European standards so that they could join the EU. Turkey must also do this. There is no Europe a la carte for any country, and not for Turkey," she said.
According to the AP, Bakoyannis said Greece's relations with Turkey, the Turkish occupation of the northern part of the island of Cyprus, and the volatile western Balkans would be key issues she would discuss with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a meeting in Washington on Thursday.
Bakoyannis leaves for her first official visit to the US on Wednesday.
She said that a media report that Turkey would declare war if Greece extended its territorial waters from six to 12 nautical miles from the coast was an "anachronism".
Turkey's leading Hurriyet newspaper reported Monday that a classified Turkish foreign policy document it obtained said Greece cannot increase its waters to 12 nautical miles, and that Turkey must maintain its deterrence in the face of such a threat. The report could not be independently verified, according to the AP.
"I think this is an anachronism," Bakoyannis said. "Turkey at times is reported in the media as bringing back this position. This position is against the law of the sea and it is an issue that concerns the European Union. I have many times said that these types of declarations don't help Turkey come closer to Europe, which it has said is its main goal."
Relations thawed in 1999 and Greece became Turkey's leading EU sponsor. Turkey also has until the end of the year to open its ports and airports to trade from Cyprus.
"It was not an easy decision to promote and support the European course of Turkey," Bakoyannis said.
She said some progress had been made on restarting talks to unify Cyprus after the rejection by Greek Cypriots two years ago in a referendum of an UN-sponsored peace plan. She said recent talks between Cypriot President Tassos Papadopoulos and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan "again put forward discussions for the promotion of a viable solution on Cyprus."
One of Turkey's more important obligations, Bakoyannis added, was to respect human rights and religious freedom. She said it could start by re-opening the Halki seminary located on a Turkish island off Istanbul which has for generations trained the Patriarchate's priests, AP notes.
"The issue of the Patriarchate has to do with religious freedom inside Turkey. The existence of the Patriarchate in the long run is dependent on the function of the theological school at Halki," she told the AP. "It is not by chance that all countries in Europe and the United States urge Turkey to change its policies on the theological school of Halki and let it function like it did before 1971."
Turkey has been under pressure from the United States and the EU to re-open Halki, closed in 1971 under a law that put religious education under state control.
Although Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos - a Turkish citizen and ethnic Greek - is considered to be the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox, Turkey has long refused to accept any international role for him. It rejects his use of the title 'ecumenical' or universal, and argues the patriarch is merely spiritual leader of Istanbul's dwindling Greek community.
"I believe that if Turkey opens the Halki School it will send a very important, symbolic message to the entire world. That an Islamic government like that of Mr. Erdogan respects human and religious freedoms," Bakoyannis told the AP. "I have said this many times to my Turkish interlocutors and I admit I am very saddened that no action has been taken in this direction."
 PM confers with foreign minister in view of U.S. trip
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday had a meeting with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in view of her upcoming trip to the United States.
Exiting the meeting, Bakoyannis referred to the statements made by Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan concerning the implementation of the EU customs union agreement with Cyprus, saying that they did not bring Turkey closer to the EU.
"Turkey has undertaken specific commitments, which it must uphold in 2006," Bakoyannis stressed.
Regarding her trip to the U.S., the foreign minister noted that relations between the two countries are traditionally good and that contacts are always useful.
 Foreign ministry on Bakoyannis' visits to US, Cyprus
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos on Tuesday outlined further details of an upcoming trip to the United States by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, as well as announcing that the foreign minister will visit Cyprus on April 4-6.
Outlining contacts during her U.S. trip, meanwhile, the spokesman said that this would include participating in an event to celebrate Greek Independence Day that would be attended by U.S. President George Bush.
The Greek foreign minister is also scheduled to meet U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of the U.S. president's aides for domestic security issues to discuss visas for Greek visits to the U.S., Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Senator Paul Sarbanes.
Other engagements will include attending a mass for the Greek national holiday at the Aghia Triada Cathedral in New York. While in the city, she will take part in a discussion at the U.N. Security Council on Haiti and there is a high probability that she will meet with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The spokesman ruled out any discussion of the illegal phone-tapping affair between Rice and Bakoyannis, noting that it was a first visit by the foreign minister to the U.S. that had a specific character and framework and aimed to promote Greek interests and positions.
Regarding the foreign minister's trip to Cyprus, Koumoutsakos said she was going at the invitation of her Cypriot counterpart George Iacovou and would also be meeting Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and House of Representatives Speaker Dimitris Christofias.
 FM and Cyprus House of Representatives speaker discuss Cyprus issue
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and the Speaker of the House of Representatives and secretary general of the Cypriot Leftist AKEL party Demetris Christofias held talks on Tuesday, focusing on developments regarding all aspects of the issue of Cyprus in light of the visit Bakoyannis will be paying to the United States as of Wednesday.
Christofias spoke of favorable developments for Greece and Cyprus, giving as an example the recent ratification by the European Union of the funding regulation for the Turkish Cypriots, the positions of Nicosia for the joint management of the city of Famagusta, under the auspices of the EU, and the meeting between UN secretary general Kofi Annan and Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos in Paris late February.
Christofias termed the Paris meeting positive, adding that it will have prospects "provided Turkey accepts the establishment of technical committees on issues concerning the withdrawal of troops, the population census and the committee to deal with the rift in views between Turkey and Cyprus on a solution to the issue of Cyprus."
He added that "it is in the interests of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots that the committees be established for the discussion on the aspects mentioned to begin."
Commenting on Bakoyannis' talks in the U.S., Christofias said that "Mrs. Bakoyannis will have important discussions. I hope the U.S. will show understanding for positions that are reasonable and can reach the deadlocks and create conditions for a solution to the issue of Cyprus."
Asked to comment on the latest statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey will not open its ports and airports for Cypriot ships and aircraft until the "isolation of the Turkish Cypriots" is lifted, he said that regardless of terms set by Erdogan "Turkey must satisfy obligations emanating from its accession course. Mr. Erdogan wants to be a step ahead. He must realize that he cannot threaten the Union and the Union must show self-respect", adding that "it is in the interests of all for Turkey to revise its position."
 Bakoyannis meets U.S. Ambassador, candidate for UN S-G
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Tuesday met U.S. Ambassador in Athens Charles Ries in order to prepare for her trip to the United States, which begins on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Greek minister met Sri Lanka's candidate for the post of U.N. Secretary General Jayantha Danaphalla.
A ministry announcement said that the Sri Lankan official also had talks with Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis on issues concerning the role of the U.N. that interest the Greek side. These included developments in the Cyprus problem, the UN's role in realizing the Millenium Targets, the importance of security for protecting fuel pipeline networks in the coming years and a restructuring of the organization.
 US Secretary of State Rice 'looks forward' to meeting Bakoyannis
WASHINGTON, 22/3/2006 (ANA-MPA/T. Ellis)U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "looks forward" to her first meeting with her Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis, Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department, Burns noted that "all those of us who work with Greece believe that our relations at this moment are stronger than at any other time."
Burns added that "we have respect for Prime Minister (Costas) Karamanlis, as well as for Foreign Minister Bakoyannis, and I believe that given the fact the cooperation that Greece has shown in Afghanistan and in Kosovo, it concerns a particularly exceptional relation."
 Athens comments on resurfaced 'casus belli' issue with Turkey
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Athens on Tuesday reiterated that adherence to "anachronisms of the past" is incompatible with the new era and "will simply be proven a dead-end", a statement linked to reports out of Ankara a day earlier claiming that Turkey's powerful military establishment continues to view extension of Greek territorial waters as a cause for war (casus belli).
Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos merely noted that an Oct. 3, 2005 decision leading the way for EU accession talks with Turkey "opens prospects for a future of peace and stability, as well as a new era in Greek-Turkish relations".
He also reminded that the unprecedented casus belli issue has already been cited by the European Commission in its November report regarding Turkey, while pointing to recent statements by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, namely, that threats of war are absolutely not a friendly stance between neighboring countries.
"Such reasoning has no place in a united Europe. Turkey will realize this if it wants to become part of Europe..."
Finally, the Greek spokesman confirmed that Athens retains every right to extend its territorial waters based on international law.
Main opposition accuses gov't of 'inertia' regarding Turkey: The main opposition PASOK party on Tuesday accused the government of 'inertia' regarding Turkey following the neighboring country's refusal to implement the EU customs union agreement with Cyprus and related statements made by Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.
"Turkey's refusal to respect its obligations towards the European Union is confirmed on a daily basis; an event which has been facilitated due to the distancing from the Helsinki decisions and the New Democracy government's inertia in foreign policy," Christos Papoutsis, head of the Foreign Policy, Security and Defense Dept. of PASOK's Political Council said.
Commenting on Bakoyannis' statements earlier in the day, Papoutsis said: "Mrs. Bakoyannis should, instead of adopting a policy of inertia and limiting herself to general statements, bring the issue before the (EU) Council of Ministers and clarify whether the government will consent to the opening of Turkey's first chapters in its EU accession talks during the Austrian EU presidency which requires member states' unanimous consent or not."
Papoutsis referred to former PASOK governments' efforts in Greek-Turkish relations, saying that "PASOK governments worked with determination towards improving Greek-Turkish relations, towards achieving peace, security and stability in the broader region, towards Turkey's EU prospects - a course that became associated with commitments, obligations, timeframes and respect for the acquis communautaire. Turkey's obligation to implement the extended customs union agreement with the 10 new EU member states, as well as to cultivate relations of good neighborliness with all EU member states is part of the acquis communautaire."
Earlier on Tuesday, Bakoyannis after meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, referred to the statements made by Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan concerning the implementation of the EU customs union agreement with Cyprus, saying that they did not bring Turkey closer to the EU.
"Turkey has undertaken specific commitments, which it must uphold in 2006," Bakoyannis stressed.
 Defense minister underlines Greek support for Bulgaria's EU entry
SOFIA, 22/3/2006 (ANA/MPA)Greece's Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis on Tuesday underlined that all Greek political parties supported Bulgaria's accession to the European Union on January 1, 2007, during a press conference held in the Bulgarian capital.
Meimarakis has been in Bulgaria since Monday for talks with his Bulgarian counterpart Vesselin Bliznakov, followed by meetings with Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov and Bulgarian Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev.
The minister also stressed the excellent bilateral relations of "mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation" between Greece and Bulgaria, saying that this was a very important positive factor for the two countries and also the entire region.
Noting that development that would lead to investment and new jobs required a calm and secure environment without uncertainty, Meimarakis said that Bulgaria's accession to the EU could bring only positive results "for all of us".
"We in Greece consider ourselves vindicated for our fervent support of Bulgaria's entry into NATO, because this created a sense of security in the entire region," he said.
In response to questions, Meimarakis said his talks with Bulgaria's president and prime minister had taken place in a friendly, warm climate. The Greek minister said this was a sign but also confirmation that both sides wanted to develop bilateral ties. He said a similar climate had dominated his meetings with his Bulgarian counterpart, with whom he had discussed extending defense cooperation.
According to a government announcement, the Bulgarian premier said that the Greek minister's visit had given a new boost to the development of friendly, good neighborly ties with Greece. He also expressed gratitude for Greece's support of Bulgaria's NATO entry and ratification of Bulgaria's EU Accession Treaty by the Greek Parliament.
Stanishev underlined his satisfaction with the dynamic political dialogue and rising economic cooperation between the two countries and expressed conviction that, with Greece's support, experience and defense industry, it would be possible to speed up infrastructure development plans coordinated with NATO but also to modernize the Armed Forces.
In the meeting with Stanishev, Meimarakis conveyed the regards of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and noted that "building bridges of dialogue, mutual understanding and friendship to benefit the future of the peoples," was a "strategic choice" made by Karamanlis.
Clarifying his statements on Monday regarding the future of Kosovo, Meimarakis said that history had shown that people tended not to accept solutions that were imposed on them and in many cases reacted.
Greece's standing position was that issues and difference must be resolved through dialogue and negotiations, he added, while noting that solutions that were imposed might create new sources of unrest.
"With great caution and with the interests of the wider region always in mind we must create conditions that rule out the emergence of such sources of unrest," he underlined.
He also referred to the role of European defense activities in relation to NATO, saying that European defense and security must both maintain its autonomy and act in a supplementary way to NATO, because Europe hoped to focus more on economic and social directions at this time.
A Greek MP who accompanying Meimarakis on his trip, meanwhile, noted the "warm atmosphere and fruitful dialogue with the Bulgarian Parliament's committee for defense during a meeting with a delegation from the Greek defense ministry and the Greek Parliament's National Defense and External Affairs Committee.
Committee Chairman Panos Kammenos said that this confirmed that bilateral relations in these important sectors were developing.
He also noted that the minister's decision to take part in the visit and in future trips by Parliament's defense committee indicated that the government wanted to actively participate in Parliamentary processes.
 Greek and Romanian DMs confirm excellent bilateral relations in military and defense sector
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Visiting Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and his Romanian counterpart Teodor Atanasiu once again confirmed the excellent level of bilateral relations in the military and defense sector in talks held in Bucharest on Tuesday, while expressing the two countries' will to widen this cooperation to the defense industry sector.
Meimarakis, placing particular importance on the Greek language faculty operating at Romania's National Defense University, said that "we are willing to help its improvement in the framework of our capabilities."
Also discussed during their talks were issues concerning the security situation in the Balkans and the Black Sea and peace operations in the framework of NATO and the European Union.
Referring to the issue of Kosovo, Meimarakis said the phase in which the process for determining the region's status quo has entered is very sensitive and observed that "for there to be a viable and permanent result, consultations must proceed with wisdom and without excessive haste. The future status quo of Kosovo must result from dialogue and negotiations and must not be imposed on any of the parties involved."
In parallel, he reiterated Greece's support for the efforts of Balkan countries to join Euroatlantic structures. He also reiterated that Greece supports the accession of Bosnia-Herzegovina and of Serbia-Montenegro to the Cooperation of Defense Ministries of Southeastern Europe (SEDM), when these countries will fulfill the criteria that have been set.
Lastly, the two ministers agreed to examine the possibility of their joint visit to Afghanistan within the first half of April, 2006, to attend the delivery of Kabul airport's management from Greek to Romanian management.
On Wednesday, Meimarakis will be meeting Foreign Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, received by Romanian President Trajan Basescu and completing his official visit with a meeting with the president of Romania's Parliamentary Defense, Public Order and National Security Committee Mihai Stanisoara.
 Inner Cabinet approves of revised civil servants' code
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)The Inner Cabinet on Tuesday unanimously approved of a revised civil servants' code prepared the by interior and public administration ministry, whereas Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos will present details of the draft law on Thursday.
The Inner Cabinet meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.
In comments afterwards, Pavlopoulos said the draft bill includes 35 innovations, including an upgraded process for evaluations and promotions, better clarification of reasons for disciplinary action as well as ensuring that citizens' requests for information are met. Another foreseen provision allows for voluntary transfers and a transparent system for transfers of civil servants from one ministry to another.
Pavlopoulos said the only difference between the government and the civil servants' union (ADEDY) was the latter's demand that the new code be implemented immediately, which in essence would mean new evaluations for directors and general directors through the public sector. The minister said that June 2007, when the terms of most directors and general directors will expire, will therefore mean the first implementation of the new code for the higher echelons of state bureaucracy.
Main opposition slams gov't over new civil servants' code, gov't responds: Main opposition PASOK Coordinator Miltiadis Papaioannou accused the government of "violating not only the principles of continuity and meritocracy but legality itself" referring to the revised civil servants' code the interior minister announced on Tuesday.
He also accused the government of trying to "re-establish the state of the right-wing party," adding that the code does not contain any 'innovations' as Minister of the Interior, Public Administration and Decentralization Prokopis Pavlopoulos claims.
The inner cabinet unanimously approved the revised code earlier on Tuesday.
Interior Ministry responds: In response, the Interior Ministry said that PASOK "will be remembered as the main enforcers of partisanship in the public sector," adding that PASOK's statements regarding the government's work "are a mix of lies and myths."
The ministry also notes that Papaioannou has no comment to make on the content of the code "proving that PASOK does not possess any other views nor can it have any objections."
As for innovation, the ministry notes that "anyone can see that the new code has a series of innovative clauses that were completely absent from PASOK's code."
 Papandreou cites citizens' 'insecurity, uncertainty'
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Tuesday referred to what he called "citizens' insecurity" during an address to his party's Parliament group coordinating body.
Papandreou told his party's deputies that he ascertained a "increased insecurity and uncertainty by citizens" during his recent tour of the provinces, while he said this feeling was particularly heightened in Athens, a reference to what he termed as an increase in crime.
In referring to the government's priority of reforms in the public sector and a handful of large state-run enterprises, he said such "so-called reforms" were creating disarray amongst ministers.
Finally, he said PASOK will in the near future concentrate on problems facing the provinces, people in the provinces and farmers
Gov't reaction: In a later reaction to Papandreou's comments, government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos charged that the PASOK leader's latest comments belie a "weakness to express productive criticism, arguments or even serious and realistic proposals."
"Mr. Papandreou's only specific proposal refers to the uninsured (exemption from social security contributions) work of young people ... The president of PASOK merely attempted to deceive Greek citizens when a only a few weeks ago in Parliament he declared that his proposal included the payment of contributions by the state," Roussopoulos said, adding, however, that Papandreou's pre-election proposal did not mention that point.
Finally, the spokesman again criticized Papandreou's recent statement calling on the country's young people to become "rebels with a cause".
 Roussopoulos 'distorts' PASOK leader's statements, spokesman says
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Main opposition PASOK Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis on Tuesday accused Government Spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos of 'distorting' comments made by PASOK leader George Papandreou.
Athanassakis said that "populism, distortion and lies are synonymous with New Democracy, whether an opposition or ruling party."
Earlier on Tuesday, Papandreou spoke of "citizens' insecurity" during an address to his party's Parliament group coordinating body.
Roussopoulos responded, charging that Papandreou's comments belie a "weakness to express productive criticism, arguments or even serious and realistic proposals."
 Latest poll gives ND a 1-point lead over PASOK
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)The latest in a cascade of opinion polls this month gives ruling New Democracy a one-percentile-point lead over rival main opposition PASOK, 35 percent to 34 percent.
In terms of smaller parties, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) earned 6.5 percent of respondents' preferences, followed by the out-of-Parliament Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) with 5.2 percent and the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) party with 3.2 percent. Two percent of respondents said they would vote for another party; 3.7 percent cast a blank or invalid choice while, more importantly, 10.5 percent of respondents declared themselves undecided.
In the ubiquitous for Greek opinion polls question, namely, of who is more qualified for the post of prime minister, Premier Costas Karamanlis was picked by 47.8 percent of respondents to PASOK leader George Papandreou's 35.7 percent.
Specifically, 55.5 percent of respondents expressed a positive opinion of Karamanlis, with Papandreou garnering 46 percent. In terms of respondents that identified themselves as PASOK supporters, Karamanlis earned a 26.35-percent positive rating; 44.1 percent of KKE supporters, and roughly one-third of those identified as Synaspismos supporters.
The opinion poll was conducted by the firm GPO and presented on a private Athens TV station Monday evening.
Government reaction: In a later comment regarding the opinion poll results, both the one commissioned by the television station and one by the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos emphasized that numerous problems plague citizens on a day-to-day basis, "one that we are called on to solve...
"We inherited numerous problems, primarily because of the economic conditions left behind by PASOK, and our efforts are constant..." Roussopoulos said in answer to a relevant press question during his regular briefing.
 Athens queried over ICTY's operation
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)A foreign ministry spokesman in Athens on Tuesday noted that the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) operates on the basis of decisions by the international community, in response to questions on whether Greece is satisfied with its operation.
Spokesman George Koumoutsakos was asked about the court and especially over recent deaths of defendants being tried there, particularly Slobodan Milosevic, as well as on whether Athens considers that the court assists in the rapprochement of peoples in the western Balkans.
 Minister of Macedonia and Thrace stresses need for closer cooperation and coordination with neighboring countries
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Minister of Macedonia and Thrace George Kalantzis stressed the need for closer cooperation and coordination with neighboring countries, with Bulgaria in particular, during his meeting with Regional Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Secretary General Mihalis Angelopoulos on Tuesday to enable an improvement in the management of river waters and to prevent floods that occur on an annual basis.
"The money given every year for compensation and restoration in Evros is a great deal. For once, at last, it must be provided for necessary projects, which will finally solve the problem of floods, in cooperation with third countries, so that funds are used for the development of the prefecture," Kalantzis said.
The minister also expressed satisfaction over the high level of European fund absorption presented by the region in question. He appeared certain that both Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, as well as the remaining two regions in northern Greece, will successfully complete projects scheduled in the 3rd Community Support Framework.
The issues of Greek-Bulgarian cooperation and Evros will also be discussed in the framework of the meeting to be organized by INTERREG's managing authority in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on March 27, in which Kalantzis expressed his interest to participate.
 Greece, Albania team up against bird flu
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)A delegation of Ioannina's Veterinary Agency visited Gjirokaster in Albania on Tuesday in order to discuss and prepare joint initiatives against the bird flu virus.
The visit was the initiative of Ioannina Prefect Alexandros Karchimanis accompanied by an invitation from Gjirokaster's regional director Spyros Xeras.
Veterinary Agency supervisor and head of the delegation Stathoula Sarigiannidi referred to the initiatives the Ioannina prefecture has taken to date, stressing that efforts must be continuous if poultry markets and public health are to be protected.
She added that Ioannina's prefectural authorities are willing to contribute to Albanian authorities' efforts towards the same goal.
During the meeting, both sides also agreed to hold meetings regularly as long as the bird flu virus remains a threat.
 PM to meet Cyprus House Speaker on Wednesday
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is to meet visiting Cyprus House of Representatives Speaker Dimitris Christofias on Wednesday at 10:00, while at 11:00 he is due to speak in Parliament at the political memorial to former premier George Rallis.
 Interior minister, Archbishop Christodoulos issue messages on Day against Racism
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos issued messages on the occasion of the Day against Racism on Tuesday.
Pavlopoulos said in his message that the eradication of phenomena of racism and xenophobia, as well as the prevention of discrimination based on race, gender, nationality, religion or other individual particularities determine the quality of our democracy and constitute inseparable elements of a state of law.
"The demand for strengthening and respecting all kinds of rights of minorities living and working in our country is emerging even more intensely today given that Greece has changed, in past years, from a country sending immigrants to a country receiving immigrants and it is gradually becoming an open and multicultural society. There is no place in this society for racist attitudes which are being encountered in other countries recently, even in European Union member-states," he said.
Archbishop Christodoulos said in his message that "the Church is participating in today's international day against racism and racial discrimination, reminding of the steadfast Christian principle of 'love each other'."
The Archbishop further said "categorically opposed to every form of racial discrimination, apart from walls of hesitation, we shake the hand of the 'closely' and the 'faraway' and we pray for everything good and happy."
 Businessman Yiannis Boutaris to run for mayor in Thessaloniki
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Businessman Yiannis Boutaris, a major shareholder in the winemaking and beverage group Boutaris, whose wines are a household name in Greece and beyond, on Tuesday officially announced his decision to run for mayor in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.
Boutaris said he hoped to be backed by main opposition PASOK but said he would reconsider if the party chose to back another, "more glamorous" candidate than himself because his main goal was to ensure a change of guard in the Thessaloniki mayor's office, which has been dominated by New Democracy-backed candidates in the last 20 years.
 Greece sets priority on tourism for growth
VIENNA, 22/3/2006 (ANA/D Dimitrakoudis)Greece has put priority on tourism as a keystone for growth and job creation, Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia told the European Union on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters after a two-day informal EU tourism ministers meeting, Palli-Petralia said the Vienna session was key as it demonstrated that the new Europe with its new members laid great emphasis on the tourism economy.
Earlier, the minister proposed to her counterparts a joint strategy to enable the EU to meet its targets for tourism policy and the sector's economy.
"A common strategy and coordination will help to make Europe a major tourism destination on a global level," the minister noted.
Areas that required coordination were cohesion, investment under the Community Support Framework, work with the bloc's new members, tackling bird flu, and publicizing new venues, she said.
Palli-Petralia invited her counterparts from the EU, the bloc's applicants and the European Free Trade Zone who took part in the Vienna session to visit Greece in October and take part in a major conference on education and training in tourism.
 Labor minister addresses BHCC event
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)The government remains dedicated to reform Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis said, speaking at a dinner organized by the British-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce in Athens on Tuesday.
Regarding labor market flexibility, Tsitouridis said that the government has completed any related legislation and does not intend any further changes in this sector.
He also referred to social security reform, noting that there is no more time to waste.
The government's intentions during the next two years in office, is to implement the (PASOK's government) Reppas law, to promote the 'cleaning up' of insurance funds, and to proceed with the necessary actuarial studies that will lead to "a better diagnosis of the problem."
He said that reform of the social security system will be the greatest to be carried out during the beginning of the century.
 Hellenic Leadership Conference to be held in Athens in May
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)The Hellenic Leadership Conference will be held in Athens on May 9, 2006. It will be addressed by distinguished management personalities Tom Peters and Richard Boyatzis, as well as by the most famous soccer referee in the world Pierluigi Collina.
Also addressing the conference will be two distinguished Greek leaders from businesses that are active abroad. Professor Takis Athanasopoulos, executive vice-president of Toyota Motor Europe and Dimitris Katsahnias, partner and strategic director of the Air Paris and Garden&Partners companies, will be presenting their personal experience with case studies.
The Hellenic Leadership Conference is the paramount forum of concern, dialogue and information for business leaders in the country. Many issues concerning businesses are discussed and analyzed every year by internationally distinguished thinkers and "gurus" of management and business, political and social leaders.
 Athens airport, Piraeus port sign cooperation agreement
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)The Athens International Airport and the Piraeus Port Organization on Tuesday signed a cooperation agreement aimed to promote combined transport.
The cooperation deal, to be put into effect April 1st, aims to create a new "sea-air" cargo transportation line through fast and simplified procedures to offer a competitive product in international markets.
Speaking to reporters, representatives from the two companies said they expected the cooperation to attract more transit cargo and to support cargo activity, thus promoting the Athens International Airport as a transit hub in Southeastern Europe. A private transportation company, funded by the Athens International Airport for the first year, will handle the transportation of goods between the airport and the port of Piraeus. The new service will operate on the results of a survey drafted by the Piraeus University.
 OTESAT meets Chinese shippers
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Fifteen major shipping companies from China, including representatives of international maritime groups, met in Shanghai to participate in a meeting organized by OTESAT-Maritel to extend its business activities in the global maritime satellite telecommunications market.
The company, a subsidiary of Athens-quoted Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, said in a statement on Tuesday that it held a presentation emphasizing the quality and range of its Value Added Services, as well as its integrated solutions (terminal equipment, software, airtime, commercial and technical support).
The representatives that participated in the meeting expressed interest in tailor-made solutions for data, software and VPN-MPDS provided by OTESAT-Maritel, the statement said.
OTESAT-Maritel has a presence in Great Britain, Germany, Cyprus, China and the Far East.
 Greek current accounts deficit up 19 pct in January, yr/yr
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Greece's current accounts deficit widened by 19 percent, or by 409 million euros, in January compared with the same month last year, the Bank of Greece said on Tuesday.
The central bank, in its report, attributed this development to a sharp rise in international oil prices and increased spending in interest payments to service the country's public debt. Greek enterprises' direct investments abroad totaled 123 million euros in January, while foreign investments to Greece totaled 257 million euros over the same period.
The Bank of Greece said the widening of the current accounts deficit reflected mainly an 18.6 pct rise in the trade deficit, a result of a 15 percent increase in imports and a 60 percent jump in fuel imports.
The country's service sector surplus fell by 179 million euros in January, reflecting an 88 million euros decline in transport services, while the travel services balance showed a slight deficit in January, after a small surplus in January 2005.
The incomes' shortfall rose in January reflecting higher interest payment on state loans and bonds. The current transfer surplus rose significantly in January because of higher EU net transfers to the general government.
The portfolio investment category reported a net outflow of 993 million euros in January, reflecting the purchase of non-resident bonds. The other investments category reported a net inflow of 3.192 billion euros, reflecting non-residents' purchase of Greek repos.
 Athens Bourse Close: Stocks drop on smaller cap buying
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)The Athens share index closed at 4,168.22 points, showing a decline of 0.15%. Turnover was 267.9 million euros.
The FTSE/ASE-20 index for high capitalization shares ended 0.32% down; the FTSE/ASE-40 for medium cap stocks closed 0.38% higher; and the FTSE/ASE-80 for small cap shares finished 0.21% up.
Of stocks traded, advances led declines at 137 to 133 with 52 remaining unchanged.
The stocks with the highest turnover were Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank, OPAP, OTE, and National Bank of Greece.
Derivatives Market Close: Intracom top in stock futures trade
Equity Index Futures:
Bond Market Close: Buyers match sellers
Foreign Exchange Rates: Wednesday
Reference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.218
 Government announces first digital TV broadcast by ERT
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos on Tuesday announced that the state television channel ERT broadcast its first digital program "Prisma+" on Monday afternoon.
"Land-based digital television is a fact in Greece, as of yesterday afternoon," Roussopoulos told reporters.
The spokesman said that "Prisma+" was a channel with broad-based appeal that was fully accessible to those that were sight or vision-impaired and would broadcast daily for seven hours, with programs that used sign language and subtitles.
In addition to a daily central newscast at 21:00 with a sign-language interpreter and pilot programs with a special sound channel giving narrative descriptions for those unable to see, there will also be children's programs, entertainment, news and informative programs, documentaries, series and films.
ERT's future plans included the creation of two more digital channels, "Cine+" and "Sport+", the spokesman added, noting that the creation of programs targeted at the disabled was a "groundbreaking initiative on a European level".
 Officials say first exhibition halls at new Acropolis museum to open in 2007
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Culture Minister George Voulgarakis on Tuesday toured the construction site for the new Acropolis museum, which lies on a tract of land opposite the Acropolis and Parthenon Temple's south sides.
In comments to reports, the minister said he was satisfied with the rate of progress at the previously delayed project, with a massive skeleton expected to be in place by next month, whereas a glass dome topping the new museum is expected to be ready by August. A tentative completion date for the first exhibition halls at the 23,000-square-metre facility is spring 2007.
Artifacts discovered during excavation work at the site will also go on display at another museum beginning in May.
Additionally, both museum and construction officials left open the possibility that one day a month be reserved for visitors to tour the construction site.
The total cost for the project, including the purchasing of surrounding real estate, is 129 million euros.
Finally, Voulgarakis reiterated that Greece has at no time backed off from its demand that the British Museum in London return the Parthenon Marbles, "we're intensifying our efforts with a friendlier approach, as the international community now appears more receptive to such a request".
 Greece participates in 26th Int'l Book Fair in Paris
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Greek publishing companies were among the 1200 publishers participating in the 26th International Book Fair held in Paris and including 85 lectures from francophone writers including Greek poet Dimitris Analis.
Greece participated for the eighth consecutive year with a 35 square meter pavilion organized by the Culture Ministry.
Representatives from the Greek publishing industry called it a success since it enabled the promotion of Greek titles and provided networking opportunities between Greek and French publishers.
Desmos, a Greek bookstore based in Paris, organized two events within the context of the exhibit, dedicated to modern Greek literature and its relationship to francophonie.
The first event was dedicated to three Greek thinkers of the 20th Century who played a dominant role in the French cultural scene - Costas Axelos, Cornelios Kastoriadis and Costas Papaioannou.
The second event was dedicated to Greek authors who have written in French, including Jean Moreas and Nikos Kazantzakis among others.
The book fair ends on Wednesday.
 EU writes-off E.L.A. from list of terrorist organizations
BRUSSELS, 22/3/2006 (ANA-MPA)The EU Council of Foreign Ministers of the "25" has decided to write-off the Revolutionary Popular Struggle (E.L.A.) from the catalogue which the European Union maintains on terrorist organizations.
This catalogue began to be set up from December 2001 (that is, three months after the terrorist attack in New York) and since then is updated at regular periods.
Well informed sources in Brussels said on Tuesday that the write-off of E.L.A. occurred after Greece informed the Council that this organization, after 20 years of terrorist activities (1975-1995) ceases to exist.
The write-off of E.L.A. will be legally ratified with the publication of the updated catalogue in the Official Newspaper of the European Communities. The previous updating of the catalogue took place on December 25.
 SAE President Athens to meet U.S. Congress members, gov't officials
22/3/2006 (ANA)World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) President Andrew Athens will have a series of meetings with members of the U.S. Congress and with government officials in Washington from March 23.
The aim of his contacts is to give a briefing on the course of the Medical Centers which are operating in the Greek Communities of the former Soviet Union, but to also ask for support in important issues of Greeks abroad.
"We have invited quite a few important members of Congress who have shown interest in the course of the Medical and Pharmaceutical Care Program. We hope that they will continue to offer their support and in the next two years," Athens said.
On March 24, Athens will attend the reception by U.S. President George W. Bush for the declaration of March 25 as Independence Day of Greece, and at the official dinner which Ambassador John Negroponte, U.S. National Intelligence Director, will host on the occasion of Greece's Independence Day.
On March 28 and 29, the SAE president will take part in the 5th Annual Business Congress for Greek-American Relations in Washington.
 Honorary event to be held in Thessaloniki for Cypriot heroes Tassos Isaak and Solomos Solomou
22/3/2006 (ANA)The feeling that "the sacrifice of their two children and of all of the people of Cyprus has not been vindicated" was conveyed in statements made in Thessaloniki, Macedonia, on Tuesday by the parents of Tassos Isaak and Solomos Solomou, who were murdered by Turkish Cypriot settlers in August 1996, during peaceful demonstrations held against Turkish occupation forces near the town of Derynia in south-eastern Cyprus, near to the buffer zone.
"We have resorted to the European Court 10 years ago for the vindication of the memory of our children and they are requesting from us to name a price for their lives to enable them to issue a decision. We do not count this sacrifice, this blood, in money. The only thing we want is for the responsibilities of the perpetrators and of the accomplices to be attributed," said the father of Solomou, Spyros Solomou.
According to the father of Tassos Isaak, neither the Turkish Cypriot who killed Solomos Solomou nor the 28 people shown by cameras beating his son to death have paid for their acts so far.
The fathers of the dead heroes will attend an honorary event titled "Tassos Isaak-Solomos Solomou. Ten years of memory", organized by the Unified Pancyprian Students Organization (PEOF) in the Aristotelio University's auditorium on Tuesday night.
The main speaker at the event will be Thessaloniki Deputy Costas Gioulekas, while a concert with Grigoris Bithikotsis junior will follow.
 Eclipse of the sun to occur on March 29
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)A total eclipse of the sun will be occurring on March 29 this year, while the Physical History Museum of the Fossilized Forest of Lesvos, in the eastern Aegean, will be organizing a series of events on the occasion that will heighten with the phenomenon being observed with special glasses at the Mytilene Information Centre at the kiosk and museum at Sigri.
The events will appeal to all ages and a special program will be provided for elementary and second stage education pupils. The full program for the events will be announced in the next few days.
The total eclipse taking place on March 29 will be the first in the new millennium and it will only be visible from the Aegean island of Kastellorizo, in the southeastern Aegean, while in the rest of Greece it will be partially visible to an extent of 70-95 percent.
The next total eclipse of the sun will be observed in Greece on April 21, 2088, and will be visible from more locations in the country.
 EYDAP says it has a record of water reserves in its deposits
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)The Athens Water and Sewerage Company (EYDAP), in an announcement on Tuesday on the occasion of World Water Day, said that it has the highest reserves of water ever recorded in their deposits (in Marathon, Yliki, Mornos and Evinos) for the needs of Athens.
The EYDAP announcement added that almost all the deposits are overflowing and the inflow of water from the rainfall and the melting of snow is continuing at a relentless rate.
Specifically, the total amount of water reserves at present comes to 1,426,310,000 cubic meters in its four deposits, against 1,268,920,000 cubic meters of water on March 15, 2004, 1,268,460,000 cubic meters on May 31, 2003 and 1,219,810,000 cubic meters on April 24, 1985.
 Cyprus says Turkey provoking EU
NICOSIA, 22/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Undersecretary to the President Christodoulos Pashiardis said on Tuesday that the latest remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Turkey's customs union protocol was yet another insult and provocation for the EU.
Commenting on Erdogan's statements that as long as there were ''embargoes'' on the Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus, Turkey would not open its ports and airports to the Republic of Cyprus, Pashiardis said that ''if Ankara has a problem with meeting the obligations it undertook towards the Republic of Cyprus, then the EU will have an even greater problem to tolerate these lingering Turkish arbitrariness and provocation.''
''These new remarks by Mr. Erdogan may not come as a surprise for us but for the EU they are yet another insult and provocation,'' Pashiardis pointed out.
He added that the fact that, while Turkey is negotiating its accession to the EU, it chooses which obligations it will meet and which it will not, is not coincidental capriciousness but a symptom of arrogance which certainly has nothing to do with European community behaviour.
 Cyprus says Turkey confirming expansionist policy
ATHENS, 22/3/2006 (ANA)Pashiardis also said on Friday that a national security document signed and put into force by the Turkish cabinet, according to Turkish press reports, confirmed the expansionist policy of Turkey in Cyprus and the Aegean.
Speaking after a Council of Ministers meeting, Pashiardis said that ''if the press report reflects reality and if this reality is not just a reminder and suggestion of Turkey's deep state towards the Turkish Prime Minister, then it is certainly a raw confirmation of the expansionist policy of Turkey in Cyprus and the Aegean.''
 Cyprus says EU aid for Turkish Cypriots through legal channels only
NICOSIA, 22/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Cypriot Undersecretary to the President Christodoulos Pashiardis said Friday that if the Turkish Cypriots insist on not receiving the sum of 139 million euros in EU aid through the legal authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, then it is exclusively their problem.
Speaking after a Council of Ministers meeting and commenting on the insistence of the Turkish Cypriot leadership for the establishment of a European Commission office, through which the aid would be disposed, Pashiardis said the EU has specified the channels through which it will release the funds.
''The road is known - through the legitimate authorities of the Republic of Cyprus. If the Turkish Cypriot leadership insists on refusing to accept this sum because it will be given through the legitimate authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, then the problem is exclusively its own,'' Pashiardis pointed out.
 European Commission ready to discuss aid implementation
22/3/2006 (ANA)The European Commission has declared its readiness ''to consult with the government of the Republic of Cyprus about major aspects of the implementation of the assistance and will do so,'' head of the European Commission representation in Cyprus Themis Themistocleous said.
Themistocleous was replying to CNA questions regarding the government's role in implementing the EU regulation for the financial assistance of the Turkish Cypriot community.
Asked about the procedure to release the funds to the Turkish Cypriots, Themistocleous said ''the Commission is responsible for directly managing the assistance and is taking all the necessary steps for its implementation.''
''This entails programming the assistance with the Commission taking financing decisions by the end of 2006. In line with usual practice regarding managing of EU assistance, discussions are taking place with the beneficiary community in order to identify needs and priority areas for intervention,'' he added.
Themistocleous noted that ''it is premature at this stage to give details on the implementation structure as this still under consideration.''
Asked if the Turkish or Turkish Cypriot sides have rejected the appropriation through the Republic of Cyprus of the sum of 139 million euros in EU assistance, Themistocleous said he did not know if they have directly notified Brussels.
 Cypriot Speaker: Erdogan's statements are part of Turkish dogma
LARNACA, 22/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)House of Representatives President Demetris Christofias said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan's statements that as long as the so called embargo on the Turkish occupied areas continues Turkey's ports and airports will not open for Greek Cypriots, blends with the revised dogma of the Turkish military which Erdogan signed last year.
Speaking before departing for Athens for contacts with the Greek political leadership, Christofias said that according to the new dogma adopted by the Turkish cabinet following a proposal by the Turkish National Assembly Council, "it is clear that the Erdogan government finds it very hard, if not impossible, to rid of the army's control".
Christofias said the dogma "insists not only on Turkey's indefinite military presence in Cyprus but also to a right for intervention and that all Turkish settlers should remain on the island, thus making Cyprus a hostage".
He noted that it is Turkey's EU obligation to rid of the army's control, adding that in the same framework it is Turkey's obligation to implement the Ankara protocol which relates to Turkey's violation of international rules after the invasion and occupation of Cyprus, by not allowing Cypriot flagged ships and planes at its ports and airports.
 Nicosia Mayor: CLRAE decision on T/C participation should be respected
NICOSIA, 22/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)As long as the Turkish occupation of Cyprus northern third and Turkish settlement continues, under no circumstances Turkish Cypriots can take over the position of the Cypriot representative at the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE), stressed here Tuesday Nicosia Mayor Michalakis Zambelas.
Invited to comment on a statement by so called mayor of the occupied part of Nicosia, Kutlay Erk that his "municipality" is entitled to full membership as well as the position for the alternate member at the Congress, Zambelas said that "due to the existing political situation in Cyprus, Turkish Cypriots can only participate in the Congress' deliberations on an ad hoc basis".
He remarked that the Cypriot delegation to the "Congress strongly opposes any decrease of the Representation of the Republic of Cyprus to the CLRAE which is made up of three permanent members and three alternate members, headed by Zambelas.
He said the Cypriot delegation discussed the issue of the participation of Turkish Cypriots at the CLRAE during a number of meetings of the Congress and its positions are identical with that of the government and the foreign ministry and have been submitted to the CLRAE's president Giovanni Di Sasi, who will pay a visit to Cyprus at the end of May.
 France thanks Cyprus for contributing in maritime safety
NICOSIA, 22/3/2006 (CNA/ANA-MPA)Member of the French National Assembly and chairman of the Committee for Tourism and Maritime, Didier Quentin,
expressed France's appreciation for Cyprus' positive contribution in promoting legislative measures concerning the maritime safety.
Speaking after a meeting of members of the French committee with the House Communications Committee, Quentin conveyed the French Assembly's readiness to further cooperate with the House of Representatives on issues of common interest.
Quentin asked the committee to be informed on the views of the Cyprus House on the Commission's Third Maritime Safety Package known as "Erika III".
Regarding Erika III, Quentin asked the committee which part of the package poses the most difficulties to the House Communications Committee.
The committee's chairman, Nicos Pittokopitis said the Cypriot MPs were informed on the issues related with the civil responsibility of ship owners, accident investigation, the state exercising control on the port and the setting up of a system to monitor and control sea traffic.
Quentin expressed his country's gratitude for Cyprus "positively contributing to all efforts" concerning maritime safety.
The French diplomat called on Pittokopitis to inform him on the quality of the waters in tourist coastal areas as well as the development in these areas where there is "a lot of cement", as he said.
Quentin, who also chairs the National Association of Elected Coastal Districts, said the association cooperates with Cyprus and aims at gaining an exchange of experiences on the issue of coasts.